Mary Smith: One Tragedy Away From Healing Trauma
By Bryan Wish
Mary Smith is a licensed professional counselor with skills and expertise in working with a diverse population in Washington, DC. Mary works with adults who are experiencing difficulties in areas of relationships, anxiety, depression, and transition. She uses many approaches, including: mindfulness, mind-body connection, and a solution-focused orientation. Mary works to promote self-awareness, improve emotional well-being, and develop and enhance personal strengths. She focuses on identifying what emotional hurdles are preventing her clients from emotional wellbeing, and helping them overcome them through more satisfying, fulfilling, and healthy relationships with self and others.
Mary has served the Washington, DC community since 2012, working at the Virginia Hospital Center, The Women’s Center, and in her own private practice. She is also the co-host of the Dating Humans Podcast, a show where Mary teams up with Washington D.C. fireman Frelimo Simba for forward-thinking discussions about relationships. In everything she does, Mary aims to help others work through the helpless feeling and take back the reins of their lives.
Bryan Wish: Mary, welcome to The One Away Show.
Mary Smith: Thanks Bryan for having me. I appreciate you inviting me on here.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. You’ve been a PR star as of late, so I hope you’re warmed up for this.
Mary Smith: Yeah, I’m getting this mic its good use in, so …
Bryan Wish: Good. A few reps. So that’s good. All right, well let’s dive in. Really looking forward to this. What is the one away moment that you want to share with us today?
Mary Smith: So something I want to share with you all today is a situation that happened to me when I was a sophomore in college. I had heard about my ex in high school, his mom had committed suicide, and so that is a pivotal moment that really honed in why I was studying psychology.
Bryan Wish: Wow. I’m sure when you got the news and you knew what your major was or what you were really into, it kind of registered in a different way for you, or a heavier way. So thank you for sharing. So let’s maybe unpack that. When that happened, what was your first reaction? How did it make you feel?
Mary Smith: I actually got a call from a mutual friend of ours and they were like, “Hey, he was out in Colorado,” and they were like, “Hey, someone needs to tell him. He doesn’t know this yet.” So my initial reaction was fear, like I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to break this news to this person who I had had a relationship with but no longer did, and obviously it’s something extremely heavy, sad, all these other emotions I think were coming up for me. But what’s interesting is an emotion that I also had was relief for her because I knew how much pain she was in and so that was a more difficult one I think to allow myself to feel. It didn’t feel right to feel.
Bryan Wish: Wow. So you acknowledged … Because you knew her, you saw maybe with that relationship how much pain she was in prior to ending her life. And so you almost … On one end saw it, maybe she was in a better place for herself or her soul. But on the other end, it’s like … Here’s someone who I don’t talk to at all anymore and how do I maybe be there for him or show up through this, during this time? And I’m sure … It sounds like that created a lot of confusion for you. Is that right?
Mary Smith: Absolutely. Confusion for 19-year-old me that was like, “Whoa. What do I do with this information?”
Bryan Wish: So what did you do?
Mary Smith: Well, I called him and he had actually already found out and what was interesting is that I think he had in a way also shared that relief feeling because he knew how much his mom struggled too. And so he seemed more at peace with it and so I was like, “Oh, wow, okay.” And then honestly I think I had some … Like almost like going kind of rational, like okay, is suicide selfish? All those things that you hear about suicide, and it really like … I started to kind of dive into like the emotions of like, “Okay, am I angry at her?” Because I knew her, her for doing this to like this person that I had once cared about, even though he might not be experiencing that emotion.
So then it was kind of like the world went after we had talked of like, “Wow, she left her son and her daughter and her grandchildren,” but then at the same time, she was in so much mental pain from years of her own trauma.
Bryan Wish: Totally. I bet that was incredibly … I mean just hard. I mean I’m curious … You were dating him. What were some of the things that you saw that you maybe felt … [inaudible 00:05:10] maybe were drivers of that depression from maybe her traumas.
Mary Smith: I would say like … Her inability. Because you could sense when you were around her, she was a lovely person, but there was also lots of stuff. Like heavy stuff that you could sense being around her. And I could definitely sense it, I didn’t realize this at the time, but I could feel lots of people’s emotions and stuff. And so you could sense that she … It was a hard time sitting in herself. She had a hard time not being anxious, and she also had drug and alcohol issues. She tried to regulate herself and it was very evident that she had a hard time regulating herself and so I think that’s what was the driving force behind this.
Bryan Wish: Well it’s interesting, those are acute observations maybe from the physical manifestations of the inner world. When you were with … What was, well, I won’t ask you the name. When you were dating this person, did he share anything specific with you that … I’m going to bring this around, but did he share anything specific with you that maybe … That happened to his mother that she had maybe shared with him or done over the years that helped give these physical expressions some sense?
Mary Smith: Absolutely. I believe that the physical expressions are a manifestation in our adult lives that were a language as a kid. Because like again, as a young child, we don’t have the verbal language. So our memories are stored in the body, and like we get a body sense. It’s almost like when we can’t verbalize something and sometimes what happens to, even in adult trauma, like the body has the language. The body, the body knows, the body keeps score. And so what he had shared with me was that she had lots of childhood trauma. Her dad apparently had his own levels of trauma, but he had anger issues, I’m pretty sure it was emotional, physical abuse and she saw a bunch of shit as a kid. So I mean we think about levels of trauma, I’d say she had many, multiple, multiple traumas in her early childhood and adolescence and teenage years. So it just continued.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Absolutely. And you would say those were unprocessed traumas?
Mary Smith: I think that she had tried to get help here and there and I think it was hard for her to … From what she had told me, there were some therapists that she didn’t trust or that she didn’t like and to be fair, I think whether … She probably, again, there are going to be bad therapists that are not going to be that great that exist. But I also think part of this was it was hard for her to trust anyone. She grew up in an environment where she couldn’t trust her early attachment figures.
Bryan Wish: Right. So how could she let anyone else in to help her through that?
Mary Smith: Right.
Bryan Wish: So thanks for the in-depth analysis here. So let’s bring this back to the relationship and then I’ll bring it back to you. So in your relationship with this person, how did maybe the things pass down to him show up in your relationship with you? With whatever you’re comfortable sharing?
Mary Smith: Yeah, yeah. Well, it was a repetition of that. It was emotional, some physical abuse, and it was something for me and I was like, “Wait a minute. What’s going on inside of me? Am I causing this?” So also it triggered my own shit and then I just replayed back into it. So again, I don’t want to say it was all his shit, because it’s his like his shit triggered my shit and my shit triggered his shit and it was like just a … Not a good relationship, but you could see that he had been raised in this environment where … Like it was almost evident now looking at it through my clinical lens of you can see that he had been raised by someone who had this trauma, but she didn’t do the trauma to him, it’s like the generational trauma that you hear about, that’s undealt with, unprocessed, and again not knowing how to have a healthy relationship.
Bryan Wish: Totally. So it sounds like an inferno.
Mary Smith: Yeah, yeah. I would say so. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. My parents would probably say that too.
Mary Smith: My parents would say that too.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. It’s funny how like the parents can always see the things that the kids won’t listen to, right?
Mary Smith: Yeah. Yeah.
Bryan Wish: Wise people, but they also have their own issues too, so you know.
Mary Smith: Exactly. Yeah, no parent is perfect, but …
Bryan Wish: Right. I mean maybe yours are, but you know, [inaudible 00:10:53].
Mary Smith: They’re pretty close. They’re pretty close.
Bryan Wish: Oh, that’s good to know. So you have good models. Okay, so back to … Let’s go back to … Oh, one question I have for you. Given the line of work that you’re in, one thing that you just shared with me about the relationship about his mom, were all those observations very acute to you then or are those things that you’ve really [inaudible 00:11:18] taking a lot of time to process and learn as you’ve done your own work and you’ve gotten much deeper into the field you have.
Mary Smith: Definitely the latter. When I was in it, gosh, and I wish I could kind of tell my younger self like go to therapy. It was like when I was in it and my stuff was being so much triggered that I was like, “Oh, it’s me, I’m the crazy one.” So I wasn’t able to take that kind of 360 lens and look at, “Wait, what is actually happening here?”
Bryan Wish: Yeah, absolutely. Well that makes sense, and I guess another curious question I have for you is before we move forward on this is you said it was … Most of maybe his stuff, let’s just call it 70% his stuff, but let’s say it was 30% your stuff. Like what do you think were some of the things that you brought in that made it also very unhealthy on your side?
Mary Smith: Well, my inability to regulate my emotions. So I would get triggered because again that’s where my parents’ flaws were is that they didn’t know how to deal with emotions and that’s where my stuff lies is like … I was told that anger was like not an okay emotion, because of how I would have outbursts and stuff. And how it would be … Again undiagnosed ADHD, like loud. And so that stuff came into play and for him, that was like the danger. Like danger, signal, and so his defense would come out and I would be like, “Okay, so my stuff was the inability to regulate my emotions and the insecurity too.” Like not being able to vocalize my needs and my boundaries and so with that inability of both of those I think significant things that make a healthy relationship, it was like that was like the recipe to make that inferno happen.
Bryan Wish: Totally. Well, appreciate you sharing about your parents and also maybe where you saw maybe the gaps back then that you’ve probably had to really work through and address over the years.
Mary Smith: Absolutely.
Bryan Wish: Okay, so back to psychology, back to your college 19-year-old Mary?
Mary Smith: Yeah, 19. Yeah, something like that. 20, 19.
Bryan Wish: Great. So maybe at that time, you had this inkling or this natural pull that psychology was a deep interest of yours and trying to figure out what to do with it. After you made the phone call to one of your last partners, how did everything kind of unfold for you maybe from that moment forward? Was that moment a, “Oh my god, wow, like I’m on the right track, I don’t know what to do,” type of thing and I need to keep diving into this. Like what did that moment perpetuate?
Mary Smith: It perpetuated the drive. Like my drive to continue. Because again, I wasn’t that great at school. Again, undiagnosed ADHD. Like I didn’t know how I should study, and I was horrible at writing papers too. But it pushed me to go, “No, I don’t want to give up on this. I can’t give up on this. I have to do this.” It felt like a calling, it felt like a push, a pull, like a drive to go, “I need to figure out how to study because I need to get into grad school because I need to help people.” Because I believe that if she could have been helped more or better, that this would be … Like this whole cycle would have stopped. At some point in the line of the generations. It’s like again, if we choose to do our own healing, we’re basically stopping generational trauma.
So it was like this pull, this drive, this passion, where I was like all of a sudden I started getting my stuff together and was like, “Okay, I need to apply to grad school junior or senior year,” so …
Bryan Wish: Yeah. I heard a quote the other day, it said, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: I’m sure you’ve heard it.
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: But you’re right when you do that healing, you don’t carry those wounds forward and then kind of put them on others. But one of the questions that … And by the way, I think it’s fascinating that you took it upon yourself to further the drive to then go out and say, “If other people could be helped and break that cycle earlier, they could not only go live healthier lives for themselves but the impact on others, probably more impact from a positive way.” So super, super interesting.
One of the questions I have for you, and I want to build on that, but I want to segue to this. There’s a lot of advocacy right now for sharing about mental health online. And I think that’s incredible that people are open and vocal. But just this conversation, the idea that has come to me is like, “What if …” You said her mom’s depression or his mom’s depression was perhaps perpetuated by a lot of the trauma that she had and never dealt with. By the way, I know there’s a lot of biological factors and maybe it’s chemical and it will never go away, but maybe there are things that can be used to improve it. So I don’t want to take lightly those instances but I wonder if it would be interesting, and I’d love your thoughts as the professional in this space, but if it would … Yes, it’s great to support people in sharing their mental health journey, but what would you say if I said, “What if we celebrated more people who shared how they healed and broke the cycle and really alleviated some of their mental health pains?” Like does that speak to you?
Mary Smith: Yeah, because it speaks … So what you’re talking about is obviously I think it’s needed, right? If we’re like making something and we’re creating something, there’s a bunch of ingredients into the bowl that we need to mix to create something beautiful, right? And I think you’re mentioning people feeling validated by sharing their stories. So speaking up, using your voice, and then others are going, “Oh my gosh. Thank you for sharing. That allowed me to share.” But then there’s this piece on it that if you share how you did it, your journey, like that could be hope for people. And that is something that I often hear a lot of clients, when they’re in the midst of the work, they’re like, “I can’t see me getting better. I don’t see hope.” And again, it’s something that they say people that commit suicide are … The hope has been drained. They’re hopeless. So I think that a story of sharing the journey could give people hope and maybe also like, “Oh, is that how someone else did it?” Again, I try to say everybody’s different, your own healing is going to look differently. But I think it gives people like some sense of power, empowerment and hope.
Bryan Wish: That’s beautiful. Yeah, I think just [inaudible 00:19:03], like what you just said, and people at maybe the end of the rope are hopeless. So just could be interesting for the work you do with clients [inaudible 00:19:14] share those stories as you help them break their own cycles. Share those stories of hope for others, which would be a cool platform for you.
Mary Smith: Yeah, it would be. Are you giving me an idea right now? We’re going to talk about this, Bryan.
Bryan Wish: I got ideas for days.
Mary Smith: We got to create this. I like this, actually.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. You never know.
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: So thanks for going on that tangent with me. I’m always careful diving on these topics that aren’t in my full expertise, so that’s why I got a champion who knows how to articulate their thoughts.
Mary Smith: I think you’re keeping up pretty good. Yeah.
Bryan Wish: Okay, so let’s go back … Let’s keep the thread going here. So you get the drive and I want to go help people like his mom change the course and direction of their life. So where did you go for your … Was it a master’s degree?
Mary Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Master’s degree.
Bryan Wish: So tell us about the journey of getting credentials and doing the things to put yourself in the position to be able to help alleviate pain for the world.
Mary Smith: So what’s interesting is that I feel the need to share part of the journey of getting that which is I remember senior year, my … I guess you could call him guidance counselor, whatever, was like, “You can’t apply to grad school. Your grades aren’t good enough.” And I was like, “No, I need to do this. Like to be a therapist, I have to go to grad school.” And she was like, “Yeah, no.” She just looked at me and was very like … More like not supportive, negative. It was, “You can’t get in. You need to take a regular job and you need to stick with that.” I was like … Of course I cried, but then the outer me was like, “Okay, go fuck yourself.” Excuse my language, and guess what I did? It was almost like maybe she was using reverse psychology because I applied to schools, I talked to another person and they were like, “Okay, why don’t you apply to schools that were new or programs that were new and you could get in?” And so I applied to Marymount University which is in Arlington and they said, “Yeah, your grades aren’t good enough, but you know what? Why don’t you come in for a group interview.” And I was like, “Perfect.” Like that is like … I shine when I’m in a room with someone and I can talk to them.
Like if you looked at my stuff on paper, you’d be like, “Okay, what?” But when I was at Marymount, they were like … I remember picking out, it was a group interview, and they made us pick out these objects and then why did we pick this object and why do we want to talk about it and you know what I picked up? I picked up a shattered family photo, and I was like, “Okay. This family photo …” Why I picked it up was because I think the divorce rate back in this time was like 50%. It’s also probably 75% now, maybe even more. But I picked up this photo and I said, “There is so much unhealed family stuff going on that if we could heal this, if therapists can try to heal this, I think the world would be a better place,” and of course I gave a really killer argument and they were like, “You’re in.” And I was like, “Great.” And then it was two and a half years of class and then internship and then it was working at a non-profit, getting my 3,500 hours to be licensed and then finally, years later, I was like, “Okay. I got licensed.” So that was like … I was able to help when I was an intern and stuff like that, but the feeling like getting my license was that moment where I was like, “Okay. Can I have an impact? Yes.”
Bryan Wish: So the shattered photo I think is a very powerful story in just your whole journey, right?
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: It speaks to me of what I went through as a kid and I was like … I was thinking curbing the divorce rate by breaking the cycle, I’m like there’s something here. Because you’re getting to the root of things. Take me, us, on the journey back to that moment real quick. Was that in a room full of people? What made you pick up the … Why was the shattered photo there, just like maybe more depth around that circumstance.
Mary Smith: Yeah yeah yeah. The way that they did group interviews was they had like two of the teachers or somebody in the program watching a group of us at a roundtable and one of the exercises was to pick up a symbol or an object and it was like how it related I think to psychology or like why do you want to do what you want to do type of thing. And so like I immediately just gravitated towards this object and I think it’s because at that time in college, I was actually studying and kind of working through the thesis of … What was it like … It was about like how Facebook has changed interpersonal relationships. It was social media and how it has changed … Or the impact on interpersonal relationships. And so I was already gearing towards like the impact of relationships and then also knowing that families. Like kind of just seeing, “Okay, why do we grow up in a society where the divorce rate is high yet no one’s really talking about what’s really going on? The dynamics, the change in our society.”
So I think that’s where I was like going with that of like, “Okay, Facebook and all the social media, then the divorce rates got higher. What’s going on?” And obviously as you look at history, divorce wasn’t really prevalent way back when in the fifties because it wasn’t socially acceptable and all that stuff. So I was like, “We’re not getting to the juice of it though.”
Bryan Wish: It’s deeper.
Mary Smith: Interpersonal relationships. It’s deeper than that. It’s how do we relate to ourselves and one another.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, it’s so interesting that you maybe saw the deeper [inaudible 00:26:14]. Just for context, what year was this?
Mary Smith: 2011.
Bryan Wish: Okay, so 10 years. So you knew this system even in the early days of social media. Which I think your insight or your kind of feeling around it was spot on, you’re like, “This is maybe more topical.” And it’s interesting, just to build on this for a second. Somebody reached out to me who was a good mentor in Atlanta and his parents were divorced too. He’s trying to create a software platform with me that brought people together and they’d … Like alignment and like quarterly, like kind of plan it. Like kind of more, like not business relationships but like really to help people get on the same page and communicate and … But we didn’t end up pursuing it [inaudible 00:27:06] but to your point, I think it’s … For that to work, I think you’re right. People have to worry … Hopefully, right? Maybe you can do it together when you’re in a relationship but if they can kind of break those cycles prior, maybe the relationships can start out on a much healthier whole stance. That maybe … Kind of before, and so your insight around social media wasn’t the issue sounds pretty spot on.
Mary Smith: Yeah. It’s interesting because I … Obviously in this career, I just continue to learn and I love that. Because what I knew 10 years ago I’ve already like corrected or heard from another therapist 30 years in the business that’s like, “Wait a minute. No no, what about if you look at it through this lens?” And so I think that’s why I do love what I do because of that continuation in learning. However, I really do stick with this theory. It was a podcast of Esther Perel and she –
Bryan Wish: My girl.
Mary Smith: Yeah, I love her. I love her. Yeah, she was like life-changing to me. Like just her idea of relationships and all that. But she said that you don’t need to come to a relationship like healed and whole, and I thought that was pretty interesting because it kind of went against that whole you can’t love others unless you love yourself first and I’m sitting there, like 20 something, like after a major breakup being like, “I’ve got to work on myself before I can love someone? Holy shit, that’s going to take many years.” And she was like, “You don’t need to do that. You can actually find people that can help heal and you can go through a healing journey with them.” It’s just kind of like things have to align of like you both want to work on it and all that stuff. So that was kind of mind-blowing to me, that you don’t need to come completely whole and completely healed, but it’s about does your partner have the will to work on that with you and grow with you.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. That’s really interesting. That book Man Enough.
Mary Smith: Oh yeah.
Bryan Wish: There’s a section in there and it talks about the relationships and it’s like you both got to bring your own shit to front yard and fertilize it together. But to your point, it takes both people willing and wanting to do that, to tango. And so even if you’re not healed or whole, not that you ever are fully healed or whole, but to your point around what … I’m looking at the book up there. So what Esther said back in her day … Or I guess it’s still her day.
Mary Smith: Yeah, she’s shining still. Yeah, it’s great.
Bryan Wish: How old is she? She’s older, but –
Mary Smith: Yeah, she’s like 30 years older than me? Because she also had a podcast about how therapists should have friends that are 30 years older and vice versa and I was like, “Cool, I do.” Great.
Bryan Wish: So let’s dive into how you got started with your practice. So you went to school. I assume you crushed the interviews, they were like, “Okay. In-person, great. Grades don’t matter, it’s the best way to do it.” Maybe for most people. And so did you start your practice, like just out of the gate on your own or did you like work under people first? Like what was your journey to being out there and helping people?
Mary Smith: I feel like there’s a meme or a GIF, whatever you say, the GIF of … Have you seen Tommy Boy? The movie?
Bryan Wish: Yeah, that was years ago though.
Mary Smith: So he’s like … There’s a GIF of like, “Okay, me describing my past,” and it’s Tommy Boy on a desk with like a fire on the desk and anyway, that’s what comes up for me when you say like how did you start your practice? It’s almost like there was so much bullshit and sweat and tears and even in the licensing, the therapy, the bureaucratic crap of it. And it’s like I feel like it wasn’t an easy journey, and my support came from the other therapists that I worked with, my own therapist at the time, but quite frankly it was really tough because at that point I had been four years working at a … It didn’t start out like this but it became a pretty toxic nonprofit that was kind of telling therapists to crunch out their numbers and we were seeing like heavily traumatized people and I was like just burnt out and I was like, “Something, I got to go. I’m almost close to my licensure.” And so I decided to finally … I was so close, I think I got licensed and what I did was I worked at Renew Psychological Services. Honestly, I loved that place. It’s in D.C., they’ve got like four or five locations and they would let therapists come in and then they would do the billing, they had like coffee and granola bars and printers that actually worked and I was like, “This is fucking great.”
And so while I was building up clients and also I was at that time building up private practice. So I did half and half. I was building up private practice, I was renting out an office from someone that I met at the nonprofit. She had had her own office, and so I was kind of balancing both, until I finally felt comfortable and okay to completely go out on my own and then I think I was about a year and a half in and then the pandemic hit. So I was like … I just had my office, I got all cued and decorated, I was like, “Everybody loves it. It’s comfortable.” And then it was like, “Oh, wait a minute.”
Bryan Wish: Got to go home.
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: Wow. Well it seems like it’s was a … You said hard, but very maybe fast on-ramp for you from working and then also building your private practice which it seems like you’ve scaled up pretty quick. But maybe doing it differently than what you saw at the nonprofit. So it’s conducive to clients’ health. But just go back to what you were saying, you said it was really hard and like a long journey. Unless you said it in what you were saying, were there other aspects that were just really hard that you want to speak to?
Mary Smith: Sure. I mean I think that when you are pre-licensed and you’re working towards your hours, for me it was … I wasn’t making anything in the city. Like it was just enough to I feel like eat and live and pay for rent. And you’re also … I was paying for supervision. So we have to get 3,500 hours and 200 of those are supervision and that’s … I was paying for out of my own pocket and then 3,200 … Wait, yeah. My math is off right now, but … And then the rest were client hours. So there wasn’t much of an option to make a decent living and be able to do everything and the licensing board takes like months to review, they did back in the day take months to review and so it was chaotic in that time.
Bryan Wish: I didn’t realize there was such a barrier to entry. 3,500 hours, like I freaked out when my mom was like, “You need to drive 1,000 miles to drive on their loan.”
Mary Smith: Right, yeah. I think … If someone had told me how much time and how many tears would be put into getting this. I don’t know, I mean I probably still actually, I definitely would still do it, but I’d be like, “Oh no. What am I getting myself into?” Yeah, because there’s not that many options for pre-licensed therapists. It’s not like you can see clients for a full fee or be linked up with insurance companies. Like you can’t do any of that.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Well good for you for persevering through. I’m sure most would have been … Well, many would have been like to hell with this, but again, you put in the work and you’re here. So now that you are actively practicing, building your own private practice and you’ve been doing this now a couple of years, a few years on your own, for you personally, where do you find the most fulfillment or the most gratification from what you do day in and day out?
Mary Smith: Well it’s definitely not from billing or paperwork.
Bryan Wish: You need to outsource for those, come on Mary.
Mary Smith: I know, I’m working on doing that because yeah. That would be great for my lack of organizational skills anyway. I would say my fulfillment comes from seeing my clients and seeing the work that they put in and then finally like that moment of like … Because again it’s like in working through relationships and consciousness, it’s like you don’t see it as like a broken arm and you put a cast on it and then you heal it and then you’re like, “Okay, it’s off, it’s healed, great.” There are these moments that happen in the work that like the client knows, “Oh my god. This is a sign of progress.” Or like, “I didn’t react to this situation that I’ve consistently reacted to for years,” and it’s like … It’s that moment where you’re connecting with them, they’re connecting with themselves. Like they did the work, you just were the guide, and you’re like, “This is great. We’re in it together.” So those are like the most fulfilling moments.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Totally.
Mary Smith: Just being able to hear people’s stories and what they go through and seeing that work.
Bryan Wish: Totally. And I think it’s so interesting, right? Because in maybe Western society that when you think of work is built on functional, productive, things that you can attribute to numbers and your line of work, I mean I’m sure there’s qualitative data that you can quantify. But the work is very … The word’s not coming to me, but it’s very internal and emotional and you can’t always wrap a number around it and you don’t need to. But I’m sure, like … So I’m sorry.
Mary Smith: No, you’re fine.
Bryan Wish: I’m trying to bring it around, but I lost my … So the work for you is maybe different than let’s just say the successful person who runs a sales operation because the way you quantify it is different. So I guess here’s my thought. So when clients are working with you, is it more that you have to pinpoint to them the progress that they’re making and they may not realize it or do you think a lot of your clients are maybe conscious to the internal realizations that you’re noticing when they’re playing backstories to you?
Mary Smith: I think it’s both, which is again, just I think the beautiful work of therapy in and of itself is that it’s teamwork. Because they are probably subconsciously and consciously aware of it, but my skill is showing them and verbalizing, like this is actually what happened to you. So the process, and then they can go, “Oh. Yeah, wait a minute, you’re right.” So like again, when they immediately resonate with it, it’s like it was already there, they already knew it, they just … A lot of people don’t grow up with this language of like what’s the process that’s happening? Yeah.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, no, it makes so much sense. And it’s neat that you get to see that firsthand because you get to say, “Wow, this is why I should keep going?” [inaudible 00:40:10]. So a question, maybe some like more rapid fire questions to kind of end on a fun note.
Mary Smith: I like that. Yeah.
Bryan Wish: So for let’s just say someone is listening and they have a pretty normal life and things are going fine and nothing is like I need therapy or this or that. What would you say to that person maybe who hasn’t had that trigger moment to bring them into I need help to say why they should work with a therapist?
Mary Smith: That’s kind of interesting. You stumped me on a question. But looking at it, if someone isn’t needing … If they’re saying they don’t need help, then I might look at them and say, “Well are you living your life the way that you want to?” And that might spark something. Because there are some people that don’t have a lot of trauma and everything’s grand, everything’s fine, whatever. But maybe that question would be like, “Huh. Wait a minute, am I? I don’t know. I haven’t looked at it.”
Bryan Wish: Right.
Mary Smith: “I want to look at it.”
Bryan Wish: Yeah. And maybe things are fine or they’ve numbed it or they just haven’t confronted the mirror when they really should.
Mary Smith: Right.
Bryan Wish: Well said. Okay, take me Mary ten years out. If we can go this far out. Where is Mary Instagram the crazy therapist, where is your practice, what’s your vision for what you’re doing with the work? Yeah, lay it out.
Mary Smith: Okay. So ten years from now –
Bryan Wish: Or five. Or five, whatever is more manageable to answer.
Mary Smith: Five? Well I kind of like ten years from now. Maybe five.
Bryan Wish: Okay, great. Okay, ten is great.
Mary Smith: I think that there needs to be something where … Because again, our world is going towards remote, right? And the thing that has stopped me from moving places is because I have a license somewhere. I think there needs to be national and international licensing. States, y’all work that shit out. I don’t do that. And with that, what I would like to do is I would like to have a community of people that are willing to come to the table that want to look at themselves or want to say, “Hey, you know, I might be wrong in this situation,” or like, “What’s going on in my relationships with people?” So that I have a community, that people have a community. So again, it’s not mine. I want it to be an us, a we thing, and we’re going all over the world, and we’re talking to different people and we’re talking about the same fucking things which is we all have emotions. We all are people, we’re all trying to relate to one another, what do we need in this world? Well, connection and community.
That’s the number one thing is social bonding and it’s like … That is what I would love in 10 years, if I can create a sense of community for people that feel alone or for people that want to be joined by others and want to just do the work and then show others how to do the work, kind of like a domino effect of a bunch of people being like, “Here’s how to do the work,” and we just go all across the world and there we are.
Bryan Wish: I love it. I think it’s an awesome place to end. I love the vision.
Mary Smith: Thank you.
Bryan Wish: And you’re in the backyard of D.C., so maybe you get some community activism to organize.
Mary Smith: Exactly.
Bryan Wish: So Mary, in the last minute that we have, where can people find you, reach out to you, get to know you?
Mary Smith: Yes. So my Instagram page, @thecrazytherapist, @thecrazytherapist, and then TikTok is … I think it’s @thecrazytherapist1. I don’t know, somebody had crazytherapist, so something like that.
Bryan Wish: I should know that. Go ahead.
Mary Smith: And then yeah. No, it’s okay. I’m like I should know this too, but @thecrazytherapist on Instagram.
Bryan Wish: Awesome, and then you’ll find her on TikTok too if you look closely.
Mary Smith: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: All right. Well Mary, thank you so much. What a blast.
Mary Smith: Thanks again Brian for having me. I appreciate it and it was great to talk to you today.
Bryan Wish: Absolutely.
This post was previously published on BW Missions.
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