you gotta love a therapist that calls you Toots

Found the sweetest therapist around… she is an older woman, probably in her late seventies, and her presence alone was so deeply comforting I hardly needed to say anything at all. It was just good to be near her. Because she didn’t know anything about me, I told her a bit of everything and was able to see the whole picture of my life in a new way. I have a big gremlin/inner critic that tells me that whatever I’m going through (or have gone through in the past) is not that bad, that I shouldn’t complain, it could have been worse, that I must be exaggerating… Does this gremlin visit any of you as well? It was so good to have someone hold some of those pieces with me and simply acknowledge what was hard.

As I left her office, she hugged me and said, “Toots, we’ll get through this.”



  1. Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Love this. I feel sometimes like I’m “bugging” my therapist because my problems seem small. I’ve got the same gremlin. I have a feeling that a hug and the nickname Toots would make it all okay.
    Sending you lots of love.

  2. laura lee
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    oh my gosh, where do you live? totally worth whatever you paid. anybody who can pull off toots in such a charming way…. most impressive. congratulations on finding her, she sounds like the bomb.

  3. Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Yep, I totally have this gremlin.
    My grandma Pat used to call me “toots” (she passed away while I was pregnant & on bed rest, unable to visit her) and it makes me so happy to read a little something in your space that brings a smile to my face.

  4. Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I grapple with that gremlin all the time, and motherhood seems to have exacerbated that voice. What I try to remember is that while YES, we most certainly have it a lot better than others, that doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from asking for as much happiness as we can handle. A mother out there that can’t afford to feed her children, or a man that’s been out of work for a year, or a village that doesn’t have clean drinking water or anything else that’s gut wrenching out there in the world is a sad and terrible thing, but it doesn’t mean that those of us that are “doing ok” aren’t allowed to say, THIS SUCKS on occasion. Each of us is on our own private continuum, and there’s one side of the spectrum and then there’s the other side of the spectrum no matter what that spectrum is. I think this also ties into women wanting to do it all without realizing what a gift it can be to ask for help. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding us that it’s ok it’s ok it’s ok. The world needs to hear that.

  5. Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Andrea, I think that my gremlin has had itself spread eagle feet pressed into the floor across my life for a long time. Its a long process to get it to move and stay out of the way but I believe it can be done.
    I am starting by getting back to my roots because that is where I have belonged for all of this time I have been ‘searching’. The Gremlin doesn’t stand a chance there and I am a bit afraid of that because I’m frankly pretty used to having it around and wonder how foreign I will feel without it but maybe it won’t be foreign at all.
    Here we go,
    Much Love

  6. Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    i love that you found her.
    she sounds incredible and such a safe space to let what needs to come out spill.
    and those gremlins and i are way to well acquainted. i’m so glad she allows that space for you to be heard.

  7. Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I regularly went to a therapist last year. And it was a pedicure for my soul. You explained it perfectly- when it’s a good fit personality-wise it feels exactly as you wrote.
    She was exactly what I needed to get me to a healthier place. I miss her. But I am also glad to be in a better place where she is not needed as much, however, I won’t hesitate to see her if a time comes when life gets heavy for me again.

  8. Sarah
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    How weird. I just realized I had that same gremlin only a couple weeks ago.
    I said to myself, Self, some really, really bad (#$)( has happened to you. And you are human, so yes, it is ok and normal that you should have post traumatic stress from these events. It’s ok. It’s ok that horrible things happened and BE KIND to yourself and cut yourself slack because, damm, I’ve been through a lot and I’m doing awesome. And I will heal. It takes time, but I will.
    And you will, too. :)

  9. Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    One of those gremlins used to live in my head, too. Sometimes he will even come back to visit (but not often, these days). I’m glad you have a therapist who can help you show him the door.

  10. Posted April 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I have this gremlin too. ‘There is always someone worse off than you’, I was told as a child. And ‘think of the poor starving children in Africa.’ And I do. As a result, I don’t take my serious problems seriously enough. And everything is relative. We need to recognize that we find life tough, and sometimes we need someone to recognize our struggle for us. Sounds like you have found a wonderful person to help you through a really difficult time. Sending lots of love. xxxx

  11. Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    My version of this gremlin says things like, “You don’t have *that* much to do [or feel]. Why can’t you get it together? Why can’t you stay on top of everything?” Which I suspect is kind of related to yours-a cousin gremlin.

  12. nina
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    She sounds wonderful, another miracle find on your journey!
    Gremlins? Zowies! Lately it’s been all about Japan — as in, You have the audacity to have these petty concerns about your relationship when people in Japan have lost their entire family.
    I think self-compassion is the toughest and, of course, the most necessary. It’s a lifetime of work, that’s for sure! Blessings to you, toots!

  13. anna
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    perfect! much love and compassion for you!

  14. Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    ohhhh I love her! I’m so glad you found her. I need one too! Someone like that please!
    My gremlins are the opposite. they say things like
    No one could understand this ( terminal uniqueness )
    My problems are far worse than anyone else ( HAHA big ego yes? )
    And I over dramatize the small stuff which keeps me from feeling my feelings about the big stuff.

  15. Jennifer in D.C.
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, I love that-“Toots.”
    As soon as I started reading this post I thought, “Yep, I myself can’t wait ’til I can afford to find and go to a truly great therapist.”
    Side note: I once had one nod on me. And I sat there feeling bad that SHE was nodding on ME. Imagine that! $75/hour for a sleeper.

  16. Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh she sounds wonderful – like a warm cup of tea, chicken noodle soup, and your best stuffed animal from childhood all rolled into one. I have enjoyed the times I have seen a therapist – I find it has helped – hard to articulate exactly how but I have always come away feeling better.

  17. Elizabeth
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I have been living with that feeling for years….but never considered calling it a gremlin. (Thank you for that!) The issue I have is not only dismissing what is hard, but also trying to see the bright side..I’m slowly learning to be present in those hard places and allow myself to be sad.
    I’m so glad you found someone who can be with you during this really difficult time. You and Ben remain in my thoughts.

  18. Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Oooh. Jealous. That’s it. I’m moving north and hijacking your therapist and livighappily ever after.

  19. Lex
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s so great just to feel like someone is on your side.

  20. cath
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Being called , “Toots” is the anti-gremlin remedy, don’t you think?

  21. Lisa
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I so psyched myself out in that way that when I was in transition during the birth of my son (and before the epidural) I told the nurses that I was a 4 on the pain scale! And then I subsequently panicked (because of the unbelievable pain) and demanded the epidural I was trying to avoid. Downplaying the severity of a situation is a great coping mechanism, until you find yourself cornered.
    You’ll find a good path out; try to be objective and realistic. A therapist who calls you toots sounds like a perfect start!

  22. Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    oh, i love that she called you toots. That just makes me smile.
    Yes, I always tell myself that what I’m experiencing is not that bad and doesn’t even come close to what other people go through. I always tell myself I’m lucky, even if I feel anything but. It’s so not helpful.

  23. Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    i love this! i’m glad you are comfortable and feeling better!

  24. Posted April 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    yes i totally had this, and it went like: “you should be grateful for what you have, don’t complain about wanting more or that things are hard.” my therapist just helped me see that that was my way of soothing myself when i was wee young and didn’t have the support of the adults in my life. but i carried it into adult life. so she helped me heal from that AND reclaim my right to go after the big, beautiful things in life now! congrats & good for you!!

  25. kim
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink


  26. Trish
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Wrapping you up in a hug…….

  27. marcy
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Those gremlins live in my brain too. When they their chatter is quiter… I remind myself that discounting my experience reduces who I am. I don’t really want that, not for myself and not as an example for my children, so when I can, I call someone who will listen and talk about how bad it is FOR ME. it helps me take the comparison out of it..sounds like your therapist may be that person. sending hugs your way

  28. Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    thank you for your beautiful words and honesty andrea. i haven’t checked in in a while and now am just overwhelmed (in the best way) but how heart-opening reading about your journey is. i had a couple good cries reading about nico’s birth and those lovely older ladies. you inspire me so much through your ability to be yourself here and i want to say thank you to you for all you share-even if it feels messy to you it makes perfect sense to me and helps me to dwell in possibility. much love to you and your beautiful family and your year of abundant thriving!

  29. Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, you are not alone. I am going thru a similar situation and am seeing a therapist tomorrow. Taking care of ourselves makes us better partners and parents.. right? Your therapist sounds awesome. I have always loved the quote “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. You are never alone. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Laura
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    My gremlins are more creative critics. But there is one (I have many and should name them!), anyway there is one that makes me feel like every problem our sons is somehow my fault. I have to talk myself down from that.
    LOVE that your therapist has good-female-nurturer energy toots!
    I have a massage therapist who is older than me and has a mom-aura that makes me feel maternally safe.. a treasure!

  31. Jeanne M
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    totally have the “it’s not that bad” gremlin. Along with the “the way you’re feeling right now is how you’re going to feel forever…it will never be any better” gremlin. I think they travel together, feeding off each other. But yes, things will get better. Blessings to you, Andrea.

  32. Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    yes. recently, this gremlin, and its cousins and friends, have created a deafening chorus. trying to sink into my body and breath and trust/know there is another song. as always, thank you.

  33. Posted April 8, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Love the “Toots” of course, but I especially love that she put things in terms of “we” – not “you”- will get through this. We will indeed get through every bit of this. Together.
    Makes me want to listen “What Do You Hear In These Sounds” by Dar Williams – best song about therapy ever!
    Best, K

  34. Posted April 8, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    At one point, I just let the gremlin move on in. I built a lovely domicile, made it a quilt and tucked it in every night without fail. It finally found it’s own place, now I use the quilt as a placemat for the dog’s dish.

  35. Erin Wilson
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    She sounds like a keeper :)

  36. Posted April 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Yes. That is my gremlin, in my voice, in my mother’s voice, in my voice again but this time louder and shriller. I’m glad you found a great therapist. I’m still looking. Thanks, Andrea. *hugs*

  37. Posted April 9, 2011 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    That gremlin that denies experiences,
    once acknowledged,
    can most certainly be invited
    to leave
    thereby making
    all door ways
    and open.

  38. K
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    It’s kind of an optimistic critic because it knows things could have been worse, but they still DO matter. They still shape you, A. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you should fight or work with a critic. But I am glad you have a good therapist, toots…:)

  39. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

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  40. shawn
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    love that she called you toots – what is not to like about someone that warm and cozy?

  41. Posted April 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    My gremlin comes by another name. I have a few trusted friends with whom I can say, “I need to be small and wormy for a few minutes.” That sounds derogatory, but I don’t mean it to.
    It has taken me years to acknowledge the impact of my husband’s and son’s disabilities on my life. It seemed too scary to acknowledge the inconveniences, mostly small, but sometimes large, and the “I wish” things that come and go. But I acknowledge them now, and lo and behold they don’t take over my outlook. They don’t sabotage the gratitude and love I feel for my life. They’re just the little worms…the composters that keep things clean around here.

  42. Mariella
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    oh, yes! You’re not alone. And thank you for writing about it here so I know I’m not the only one either. Lots of love… ~ M xoxo

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