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In middle school, one of my biggest challenges was expressing my emotions. Due to constant bullying and social isolation, I became stoic around others and would not let anyone see the influence of their hurtful comments like “you have no friends,” “you are fat,” or “you are ugly.” As a result, I came home from school and no one was home, so I ate a lot of cheez-it packets and fun sized halloween candy. Unfortunately, food was not a healthy defense mechanism for my struggles.
The most significant experience I had in middle school was talking with a therapist. He played the role of the friend I knew I could talk to and acted as one of the “guys” in our sessions. During my meetings with him, I learned how to comfortably communicate my feelings to someone else. He was always the first person that I would come to when I had a problem that I needed help with.
Additionally, my relationship with my therapist allowed me to improve my communication with my parents. Even though my parents are very easy to talk with, I felt uncomfortable when I needed to confide in them. I also improved my receptive skills during our sessions because I watched how he digested information and focused on me. This allowed me to be a comforting person my friends in high school could talk to about serious issues in their lives.
While therapy can be considered feminine and makes a man unmasculine in our society, therapy was such a formative experience that I realized vastly improved my mental state and social skills. Additionally, it helped me create meaningful relationships with my friends in high school and deepen my love for my parents.