There is a Dr. Seuss book called I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. The hero starts out the story by complaining that he has many troubles. Dr. Seuss illustrates those for us as little monsters trying to bite and sting the hero. The poor guy doesn’t know what to do, until he hears about a place called Solla Sollew, “where they never have troubles, at least very few.” Understandably, the hero immediately embarks on a journey to find this beautiful place.
I have been on my own search for Solla Sollew. I imagine most of us have. Sometimes, in hindsight, we think we might have been there for a while, maybe in childhood, maybe at the moment we fell in love. But none of us actually lives there. Even when enjoying sunny times in our lives, we don’t ever get rid of troubles.
Sometimes we find ourselves in places that feel like the opposite of Solla Sollew. Divorce. Serious illness. The death of a loved one. My own personal darkest times came during post-partum depression and the months I spent trying to get off of the pain meds after cancer treatment. The promise of a place without troubles is very tempting.
In the book, the journey to Solla Sollew is arduous, and Seussically ridiculous (if he can make up words, then so can I). Our hero gets trapped underground with legions of birds, washed away by a flood, and has to take the place of a sick camel, to name a few misadventures. But he does eventually find the place. Except that the city gate is locked and there is a little creature sitting in the lock who pushes away the key. The disappointed hero hears of another place, Boola Boo Ball, “where they never have troubles, no troubles at all.” He has a decision to make.
We have all been in that place, where we realize that we’ve actually made little progress with our troubles. We seek solutions. There is a misconception among some people that therapy is for those who are weak. If you need help, you must be weak, right? People should be able to muster their strength and push themselves through their lowest points. And sometimes people can. But sometimes they can’t, and that does not make them weak.
The truth is that therapy is for people who are strong. So strong that they refuse to stay in a place of pain. We can’t change the world around us, but we can change how we react to it. We can change ourselves.
The hero in Dr. Seuss’s book decides not to spend any more time searching for a place where there are no troubles. He probably has begun to understand that such a place does not actually exist. So he leaves the locked city of Solla Sollew behind and goes home. But this time, he finds himself a large wooden stick and declares, “Now my troubles will have troubles with me!”
Therapy is the stick. It’s a weapon of the strong. If you are reluctant to share your troubles with a stranger, if you are angry at yourself for not feeling able to deal with your problems, or if you feel ashamed that you might need help, I am here to tell you that you are strong enough to go to therapy. You are strong enough to pick up that stick. You are strong enough to be healthy for the people who love you.
Lots of us have sticks. And let me tell you, knowing there is a way to deal with troubles does not make you feel weak.