Potential clients often say something like this to me in our first meeting. They say, “This will maybe sound crazy, but….”
- I both love and hate the person who hurt me.
- I’m not sure if my trauma is “bad enough” for me to get help.
- I think I can read auras.
- I’ve possibly had paranormal experiences that I don’t understand and I don’t tell people about.
- I have sexual fantasies I’m ashamed of, but I can’t stop them.
- Sometimes I miss my abuser.
- I think I may be gifted, but I’m afraid to talk about it because I don’t want to sound full of myself.
- I feel like I’ve been through trauma, but I don’t remember anything like that ever happening to me.
- I’m afraid to talk.
- I’m afraid to slow down or stop talking.
- I think I may have been through some kind of organized abuse.
- My spirituality means everything to me, but I’ve been having second thoughts, and I’m feeling guilty and confused about my church/faith.
- I sometimes feel like I’m two people or something like that, because I have such different thoughts and feelings at different times.
- I do weird things that no one else knows about when I get to feeling scared.
- I have feelings that I’ve never told anyone about.
People say “I think this might sound weird or crazy.” And it usually doesn’t sound weird or crazy to me!
When you say, “This may sound weird,” here’s what I hear:
- People have made fun of my thoughts and feelings before.
- What I’m about to say is very important. It’s so important that I can’t even tell you directly how much this means to me.
- I’m afraid to be misunderstood.
And that’s why I’m often interested in the “crazy” or “weird” things people have to say.
Here’s what I want you to know about that “weird” thing you’re thinking of talking about:
It’s probably important.
Even if it doesn’t make sense to you or to your counselor at first glance, or even if it isn’t literally true, there’s something that’s worth noticing.
(This feels like a good time to mention straight out that I don’t diagnose or treat mental illnesses. I pretty much assume that my clients are “normal,” given the stuff that they’ve been through. Your behaviors and thoughts make sense, at least if we understand the context. I am not trained to look for “disorders,” so I don’t! That means that, if you’re concerned about a potential diagnosis of mental illness, it’s important to see your doctor.)
I like it when clients let me in on a “weird” thing, because it very often means that they’re letting me know something that matters profoundly to them. They are taking a risk, and if they can find understanding from me, if we can together look at the “weird” thing, they’re a step closer to resolution. And it also means they’re not bearing the burden alone anymore of what has often become a secret.
So if you feel like telling your counselor about something weird, it’s a good sign. We’re just not meant to hold onto “weird stuff” alone, and getting it out and finding understanding makes a big difference! And, often, once you mention the weird thing, you find out that what you’re talking about is not uncommon.
Sometimes weird experiences and perceptions take some time and patience to unravel. But it can be done, and having an ally in working through the weird stuff really helps.