Therapy Thursdays


I am not a licensed therapist.

I have not taken a single psychology class.

I don’t even know what Freud invented; I just know he had the nasty-nasty’s for his own mother.

But seriously, those disqualifications aside, I am an excellent shrink.

It's the equivalency of stepping into the kitchen one day and baking your mother's famous chicken spaghetti without looking at the recipe. You've seen her cook it so many times that one day all the stars align and without even knowing it you have soaked in her kitchen wizardry and you can make the stuff blindfolded without even having to taste and see if there is enough salt.

That’s how it is with a good therapy session and me. I have sat in that room so many times, having so many epiphanies, speaking so many unspeakable things out loud about myself, and listening to very smart people as they dissect me, my family, my brain, and my environment; that phrases like “passive aggressive” “I need validation” “trigger words” “reverting to a childlike state” “I’m angry right now because…” and “how did that make you feel” seem like everyday conversation pieces.

I figure I’ve gleaned enough wisdom from my eight years of psycho babel that it is now safe for me to begin sharing those little marriage-saving, sanity-saving tidbits with those who will listen.

Required Participation

I'm taking a humorous approach to this subject but I believe with all my heart that every human being should have to see a therapist. I mean really, can't we all think of ten people we want to send to a shrink? Yep. I can think of about 30. And the scary thing is, the people I would send would probably send me as well. So the feeling is mutual. You make my list, I make yours. We all need a shrink.

If you don’t think you need one, trust me, you people are the worst.

As my friend Becky said, “I didn’t think I had a lot of stuff but then you get in there and you realize, I gotta lot stuff.” And if you could have seen the shocked look on her face when she said that… it made me laugh.

No shame. No weakness. It doesn’t make you crazy (or en vogue, new agey, or relationally elite). It’s just a shift in thinking, an eye opener, someone to sort through the pages with you. The scratched out lines, the scribbled in notes, the holes that the eraser left, the daydream doodles, the A plus and the F minus, the happy face sticker, and the note in red that says, “What happened? Please have your parent sign this paper and return,” Yikes. That one’s the worst.

We have these notebooks saved away with page after page telling the stories of our lives. Our stories are complicated. Happily ever after is for fiction books. We are non-fiction. We know the first part of our book well, too well, but we cannot see the last page. We can only see that there are decisions before us that will get us there. A good therapist walks you through the first part of your book and allows you a chance to process the good and bad chapters. Then they open up a door, then another, then another, and you are like Alice chasing the rabbit through Wonderland, and before you know it they have led you to a place where roads diverge and you can finally, thankfully, look at those roads with a clear mind, free heart, and enough healthy tools in your pocket to pick a road that is better than the one you are on now.

This is not necessarily a drastic measure; maybe the lines have simply been repainted on the road. Or maybe you are getting off a dirt road and onto pavement. Whatever the case, the therapist who is working for your good will walk alongside you as you pause to look at where you came from and will stand still (and sometimes terribly quiet) as you weigh your options and consider your next turn. Your next road. Your next destination.

So it is with that description of what therapy, in my opinion, is all about, that I give you the very first Therapy Thursdays. I hope these little insights will help you as much as they have helped me.


Let’s start off easy. A few months ago Women’s Day magazine said they love the new word hangry. That’s right…


This is apparently what happens when one is so hungry that they actually become angry. And maybe you don’t understand this, but when I read the word I thought, “well sweet Jesus they finally named it!” There are times when I’m not just hungry; I’m hangry. I’m irritable and distracted. I’m mean and cranky. I’m so self-centered that I really don’t even hear other people. If you catch me when I am acting like that, odds are I am not mad at you, unhappy with life, in a hurry, or angry with anyone… I’m just so stinkin hungry that I could eat a small camel and I want everyone to leave me alone and get out of my way and just let me have food. It’s serious.

Ryan hates that they came up with this word. “This is not an excuse for being mean just because you are starving,” he says, “That is not even a real word!” He is convinced I should have the mental capabilities to deny my stomach’s desire for food and remain calm, cool, and collective. He is the master of his universe. Not me… I have no desire to master it, I just want to fix it; I just want food. So I have learned this much: if I am hungry, I eat before I do anything else.

I halt.

A good therapist would teach you right off the bat that you should never attempt anything relationally or internally when you are that hungry because it is quite simply the worst way to enter into rational dialogue. The truth is, some of us aren’t rational when we are hungry. Some people are not rational when they are angry. Some people are not rational when they are lonely. And some people aren’t rational when they are tired.

HALT. Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.

Are you already angry at the world? Then it’s probably not a good time to talk to your teenager who has taken up the hobby of eye rolling. There is a chance you might kick the poor stupid child out of the house. You are angry, cool down first.

Are you lonely? Then you probably shouldn’t get on the phone with your husband who travels full time and have a conversation about his career choice and how that affects your marriage. Before you know it you might say really hurtful things and threaten to leave. You are lonely sweet friend. Have lunch with your sister, call an old friend and catch up on life, meet a new mom, seek out community and put the conversation on hold for a day or two.

Are you tired? Midnight is hardly the time to discuss whether you should move to another state, quit your job, ask your spouse if they are satisfied with your sex life, talk about the kids schedule, or share your lifelong hopes and dreams. And it is definitely not the time to hash out the relationship. You will start talking about the dog needing shots but then you might say something about a monkey and then you might think there is a monkey in your room and then you are snoring and then the monkey is in your bed and then you say mean things to the monkey about how they don’t help enough with the banana peels around the house… and then someone turns on the lamp and there is no monkey, only the other person. And you think, “Did I just say something bad about them?” You are tired, don’t talk.

And that’s how it all begins. Nothing healthy and life giving can be accomplished when you start off on the wrong foot. If you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired trust all the smart people out there who have done the research that proves these things impede rational dialogue….


Address your own condition. Allow the other party to do the same. And then pick up where you almost began. It sounds simple, but it changes everything.

I’m a lot happier after I eat and Ryan is happy after a good nine-hour sleep. Do that and then we can talk about the bills, the bedroom, and the baby. But bring those up on an empty stomach after a long day and I am liable to be the worst possible version of myself. Her name is Crazy Jenny. And she is awful. So I try and keep her locked up by strictly adhering to the HALT system.

Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?

Don’t go there. Repeat. Don’t go there.

Sleep. Calm down. Have a chat with a friend. Get some food.