On weekdays, Cristy produces The Bob Edwards Show for satellite radio.  This means that Cristy trolls for new books, CDs, movies, and articles; schedules interviews between their creators and Bob; reads/listen/watches the book/CD/movie; writes and cuts the interview; puts a little music in to jazz things up; and mixes it all down into a sound file.  The rest of the time, Cristy just tries to be outside.

This past fall I turned 31.  I know 30 is supposed to be the big number that rocks everyone’s world; I have a friend whose doctor told her that when she turned 30 she needed to come in for a full physical because “that’s when everything starts to change.”  But 30 and I got along really well.

At the turning, 31 felt good, too—a little mellower, perhaps, but steady and fine.  But about 4 months after my birthday, my religious congregation asked me to leave because I was over the age of… of youth, I guess.  Congregations in the LDS church are generally divided up geographically, but there are a number of congregations just for single people up to the age of 31 (to encourage marriage and all of that).  Once 31 hits, you then join the rest of the families, elderly, and whatnots in your local congregation.

I knew it was coming and I felt I was ready for the change from the Swinging Singles Church to the Crying Babies Church.  And I was ready… sort of.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling that I was being asked to go quietly, without a fuss, so as to not disturb the blissful youngsters who were still living high in the singles scene.  I felt discriminated against and shamed, and the depth of my hurt feelings surprised me.

But more important than feeling closed out of this group, I also felt that I had to sit down and really look at my life, evaluate where I was going and what I was doing with myself.  Going to church with only single people, I didn’t have to do that very often, because everyone there was just like me and we were all rolling along together, more or less.  It’s funny how uniformity has a way of muting the desire for self examination.

As I left that group, I felt I was embarking on a totally unknown path with no real guidance.  There were a lot of people to help me through my childhood, teens, and 20s.  And I’ve watched wives and mothers give beautiful words of wisdom to my newly married friends.  But moving into my 30s as a single female felt like unchartered territory, like going to Greenland: I’ve heard of it, I have a vague idea of where it is, but it never dawned on me that one day I would actually GO.  And for heaven’s sake, what does one DO there?

And so, I decided to go to therapy.  Perhaps turning 31 is a strange reason to get therapy, but I’d never done either before.  For one thing, I’d been asked to leave something very dear to me, my comfortable church experience, and I wasn’t sure I could talk about it with the people in my immediate world.  But I was also just curious about therapy.  While paying someone to talk to me seemed strange, it’s what allowed me to do something I had always considered was for someone else, someone who was the therapy type.

Going to therapy meant admitting I couldn’t figure my life out using only the tools that had always served me (religion, good friends, journal).  Once I admitted I needed outside help, I discovered a simple truth: I am the therapy type.  Apparently, I already had the one qualification necessary to be the Therapy Type: a willingness to talk about me.

Next week, Part Two:  Therapy in Greenland.