Tag Archives: authenticity

The insomnia amplifier (and safe spaces).

Have you ever noticed how everything experienced through insomnia is amplified?

It’s not only the after effects in the following days, but also everything experienced in the middle of the night while I’m lying awake.

Tonight, the cat food smell is bothering me. It’s turning my stomach, and it’s the only thing I can smell… but do you think I’d make a move to throw it out into the kitchen trash? Nope. Because making such large movements would not only “wake me up more”, but it would also wake the animals up, who would then get restless… at least, that’s my excuse. I really just don’t feel like crawling out of bed when I have a mere 30 minutes left here anyway. It would have been 2 hours if I simply did it when it started bothering me, but it was easier to smash my face into the pillow than it was to move the trash. Now I’m regretting it…

It’s not only smell that gets amplified when I can’t sleep. It’s any sound or extra light. It’s textures and temperatures and thoughts…

I could text any number of friends who also deal with insomnia, but that would require a conversation, and I’m not sure I’m up for that just now.

It is also in the middle of the night when, before I think too much about the ramifications, I feel like I might want to talk more about the things my body remembers… before my brain kicks in and I worry about reactions and fall-out, before the shame and secrecy set it, I sometimes think it might be healing to talk about the sexual abuse stuff with someone other than just Dr C… it might be validating to have some honest and uncensored conversations about it.

Then my brain kicks in. I think about what might happen, who might react & how they might react… I think of all the invalidation and scrutiny I would get for it, and the lost relationships… and it no longer seems worth it.

I prefer anonymity. I prefer the safety-net of confidentiality… and my heart sinks a little. I feel defective. Even just thinking of talking more openly about it makes me feel like a bad person. The guilt and shame hit hard.

On the one hand, I know it wasn’t my fault; I know the guilt and shame shouldn’t be mine (but they are). I know they should belong to the person (people) who did those things… I know this, but I also can’t fully accept it.

What if I’m remembering wrong? What if I’m exaggerating? What if I’m really just doing this for attention? What if I’m just that horrible, spiteful child the voice in my head says I am? What if I’m just plain wrong?

The ramifications for the named people wouldn’t be huge, but they’d be there. The ramifications for me would likely be worse. If I mentioned someone, and they didn’t actually do anything, I’d lose friends and family (it’s not like I have proof. It’s just my word against their’s, and I have a history of mental health issues, so… gotta love stigma). I’d be branded a liar & attention-seeking by those closest to me. I’ve already gotten that label from some people, but they are not really people that matter to me; providers I’ve seen only once or twice, family or friends I choose to no longer have contact with…

It’s just easier to talk around it in anonymous circles, or to keep conversations in the safety of the therapy office. That might change some day, but right now, it’s all I can manage. The fear doesn’t exactly stop me from longing to connect more authentically with others, but it stops the actuality of it happening…

I miss the csa group Dr C ran. It was more structured, but we still had chances to connect around the experiences of having gone through what we did, and many of us having dissociation around it… it was a safe place to be vulnerable, and we seemed to share understandings around it all… I don’t really know how the group would work in the long run though. Part of the safety came from the structure and the limited time commitment… but some days I really wish I could sit again in a room of people who understood the struggle without having to search so hard to explain it; and to know it’s safe to give voice to some of the memories.

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Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


an end date…

There was so much I wanted to talk to TM about today, but none of it made it to my lips…

We did talk a bit about last week’s confession around how shitty I’m feeling. We also tried to brainstorm some stuff to give me structure. Well, ok, TM tried to brainstorm. I was having trouble focusing. They moved to the new office over the weekend. I guess today was their first day open at the new location. Nothing was ready. I almost wish TM would have just rescheduled me either to later in the day, or another day. It would have sucked, and I would have felt like shit, but it would have been more productive than today. I guess we were productive for stuff on her end, but not on mine. I kept paying attention to all the noises elsewhere in the office. And the room we were in reminded me very much of a hospital… I hope next week it will be more settled.

She kept trying to tell me it was ok to ask for more support. She talked a bit about the various therapeutic programs and how they took a while to get into. She mentioned some volunteering. I just couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying.  We determined that our last session would be June 23rd…

I kept wanting to wheel myself out of the room (we were both in rolling desk chairs). It looked and felt too much like a locked unit. I kept worrying that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave. Rationally, I know that wouldn’t have happened, but it triggered the fear in me. I wasn’t able to put together that I was triggered till long after I left her. I just knew that in the office, I kept pushing myself and my chair as far back as possible, and I was scared of TM. I wanted to reach beside me and open the door, but I kept thinking it was locked. It felt like TM was matching my discomfort because her chair was all the way back against her wall also. I’m not totally sure if she realized that, or if it happened by accident. I kept waiting for the conversation to turn to me needing a higher level of care, and then being hospitalized. It didn’t happen, but part of me was surprised to have walked out at the end of session. It’s not even like I mentioned safety concerns to her, we actually talked about how much better I have been handling this than in the past. It was just that the room looked so much like a locked mental health unit, I couldn’t pull out of the fear…

I think we may have talked about other things too, but I’m not sure what. Maybe those things took up the whole session time. I know I wanted to tell her some of the stuff flying around in my head. I wasn’t sure how to get them past my lips. I wanted to hand her some of the stuff I had been meaning to give her for the past 2 weeks. I wanted to talk a bit about the support forum. I wanted to talk to her about my experience talking to a friend about some of the stuff TM and I have been covering. None of it squeaked out. None of it made it through the panic.

I kept apologizing for being a pain in the ass. She asked again what made me think I was being annoying. I tried to convey that I had answers, but couldn’t find them in the moment, and that is what I thought would annoy her. I couldn’t get past the internal panic though… I kept giving her “I don’t know” because I couldn’t access the answers in my own head. I couldn’t “act as if”. I couldn’t function… I tried to think whether or not I would be annoyed at a client if they presented like I did. I landed on “no”, but I also could not then translate that to apply to myself. I tried to tell her my self-esteem and lack of self-worth didn’t allow me to move out of that head-space, but it all sounded like jargon to me. I imagined her thinking how annoying I was, how frustrating and resistant and willful I was being, and that if I could just stop being that way, we could get somewhere. I tried again to gain an outside perspective, but I still couldn’t apply my own patience with others to myself. Who am I to warrant any compassion? (At the time, a combination of speaking with a DBT clinician and multiple hospital experiences were crowding my head. I remembered being blamed for not trying hard enough, for not being able to use my skills, for being resistant and willful and deliberately sabotaging my recovery because I was stubborn. I couldn’t separate it from the experience of speaking with TM in the present. I couldn’t look at her, and in my head she looked like the DBT clinician L)…

I did manage to tell her about the line of thinking that allowed me to see some smidge of self-worth last week, and how I kept going back to it to try to get through the weekend. Even as the words left my mouth though, they felt stupid and contrived. I was suddenly reacting to her like I would have G. I was afraid that if I said the wrong thing in the wrong way, or because I wasn’t calling her the most intelligent and worthwhile person on the planet, I was being disrespectful. I didn’t attribute all of my change in thinking to her though. I told her of the success and quietly waited for her to blow up at me… Again, the full realization that I was triggered and responding to the past rather than TM or the moment only hit me long after I left.

We set up a time to check in on Thursday. I protested about being bothersome, so she was going to leave it up to me to call if I needed, but I was able to tell her that I would prefer having something scheduled. I told her I would probably agonize over calling her then end up not deeming anything worthy of bothering her for. She said we would schedule it and she would call Thursday… She left an invitation open for me to call tomorrow too if I feel I need it. I instantly shook my head. That would be too much of an imposition to be able to agree to. Though thinking about it now, I may leave her a message hoping it lessens the anxiety. I would like to be able to let her in on what went on for me today without wasting too much session time.

Even writing about it all is triggering a lot of anxiety and fear. I really hope next week feels different. It will be more than a week for settling in (because of the holiday next week), so I really hope they get things decorated and set up better. And I really hope TM’s office doesn’t feel as triggering as the random room we were in today. When I speak with her on Thursday, I should remember to ask if it would be ok for me to leave her a message over the weekend to help get through it. I know she won’t be there or anything, and I wouldn’t expect a return call. It just sometimes helps to leave her messages.

 


what a difference a night of sleep can make

I feel so much better after finally getting a full night of sleep. Thanks to the sleep cocktail I took last night, I was out for 12 hours ❤

I checked in with TM today, though I was still really “fozzy” at the time because the benadryl had not totally worn off. We talked about the message I had left her asking if she knew of any additional support resources. I was able to clarify that it didn’t need to be therapeutic so much as help with structure. We will both brainstorm individually and re-visit it on Tuesday.

At the end of the conversation, I admitted to her that I didn’t want to lose her right before the move. Her only response was “Mmm…” o_O I hope I didn’t do or say something to prompt the “refer out” conversation. After the phone call, I wished I had asked if that was an Mmm that meant “I know you’re hurting and scared of so many changes” or one that meant “Yeah, we already had that conversation, and I’m waiting to spring it on you next session.” I guess I will find out on Tuesday. My panic has me thinking it’s the second one. It’s the same response I had gotten from De when I asked if she would be referring me before the move, then upon her return from vacation she told me she was leaving the agency (back when I thought I was moving in 2 months time). I dunno. If Tuesday comes and she mentions referring out or terminating before late June, I need to put on my big girl panties and walk away. SO not what I want, but that’s rarely been taken into account anyway, so what’s the difference? I will hold out on panicking till I see her again. I need to remember to ask her about it directly at that time. Till then, just breathing. (I wish this happened at a time I could contact her to alleviate some of the worry from the weekend. Even as we were talking though, their phone system went down. She called me back from an unavailable number that I’m assuming was her personal cell. Tomorrow and Saturday their office will be busy moving to another location, and she wasn’t sure if their voice mails would be functioning normally). Just gotta wait till Tuesday. Not that long. It’s do-able, right?

On a lighter/happier note; something in the way she phrased things the last two times we talked made me feel cared-about (in more than that obligatory therapst-y care, but genuine “I care about you as a human being that I’ve come to know” kinda way). It triggered the memory of a bunch of genuine sentiments I’ve heard over the years but wasn’t necessarily able to internalize at the time. It’s actually a really nice feeling. I’m going to work at carrying it through the weekend.

The self-harm urges have been present today, but they were easier to resist. And it was easier to stay out of bed more of the day also. Quite amazing what a night of quality sleep can do. Can someone forcefully remind me of this the next time I start to spiral down? Thanks 😉


thoughts on today’s session: authenticity

I told TM today that I wasn’t sure if what I remembered happening actually happened. I wish I could remember what she had said in response. I know it was something along the lines of “you wouldn’t have the reactions you do if it wasn’t real…” Something about having the physical reactions I do meaning it’s not just my over-active imagination… but I can’t quite remember what she said.

Only I really don’t want to believe them. I’d much rather they not be true. It would be easier if I was just a really messed-up person with really messed-up fantasies. 😦

I should have remembered it before now, but then again, I don’t remember much of anything…

I managed to tell her how depressed I’ve been. We talked a bit about authenticity and congruencey in life. We came up with a social media analogy: the stuff everyone gets to see is the “Facebook” version of me – the smiles, the functioning, the “I’m fine.” The stuff that is closer to reality is the everything not in the pictures. This is true for everyone, including TM…

 

She was originally just going to check in over the phone, but I told her it was useless: I suck on the phone. So then she offered an additional session… I didn’t like that idea much better either. I know she is busy re-locating her office at the end of this week. She had also suggested that the next session be a “happy” one… I wanted to ask her if she comprehended how invalidating that was after our conversation on being authentic at least in therapy, but I didn’t say anything. I think I’m just going to cancel the additional session and ask if she’s still ok with a check-in call. It’ll just be me saying everything’s fine, but I won’t feel so guilty taking up as much of her time.

I dunno…

I think I just want to hide. If I could spend the next week totally unconscious, that would be fine. I think she was trying to give me permission to hide away for a while, but I didn’t know how to tell her I’ve already been hiding away unless I have to be out of the house for something. It’s not helping me recharge my strength, it just feels safer that way.

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I called her later and left a message canceling the in-person appointment… I really don’t want to be that bothersome.