Tag Archives: change

Good at something

In session today, we talked about the total disconnect I have with everything relating to the “memories” these last few days.

She says it’s because I’m really good at dissociating things.

I guess.

I reiterated that none of it feels real. (I left out that nothing feels real at the moment. None of my history feels like it belongs to me, not even the things I’ve known all along). I reiterated that it’s all just a story I made up, though I can’t figure out why I would do it.

She said that she believed me anyway. She said I might not have any connection to it at the moment, but she was there when the part of me who experienced it also re-experienced it when I told it.

She said she’d hold the “trueness” of it for me…

Ok… that’s good. Because it feels like a tornado whipped through a store-room full of cabinets and sent the papers flying everywhere. Things are mixed up, employees are battered and confused, and the secretary is running around trying to put it all back together again in some semblance of order (hopefully back where it all belongs). It’s nice to have someone take the weight of the truth away from all that running around and fixing… I picture a woman carrying a huge manual while trying to also pick up random scraps of paper. As she bends down to pick up something else, the manual tips to the side and starts to open. It’s tall and held together with flexible rods through one side. It’s much easier to pick all the stray papers up if the manual is not in her hands…

The boy grew up while we were talking (briefly?). For the first time in several sessions, I actually left feeling ok; like I had stated to talk about what was pressing to come out. I’m not quite sure what the boy wanted to cover, but he seemed satisfied with whatever it was we talked about.

I still don’t like this process. I still feel like I’m falling apart more than coming together, but she says that’s a good thing. She says the system has outlived it’s usefulness and now it’s time to move on… I’m not sure I believe that last part. At least, I’m not sure I want to believe it.


Wow, this turned long. and tangential. Sorry.

They say insight helps move you forward. But what if you have all this insight, and don’t know what to do with it? It doesn’t magically change things. It still takes a lot of work, and struggle, and… I’m tired of having insight and not knowing what to do with it.

I called TM and left a message because I realized that my pattern was to crash if I didn’t reach out. So I told her I needed to reach out, and I was hoping just leaving the message would help. It did in the moment, but now I want to crumble again… knowing the reason for the “crisis” isn’t helping to avoid it right now. And having alternate coping skills is not making much of a difference. I guess it’s the small victories: I made it out of the house for a bit. I put off crashing… I guess that’s a positive. And I called TM in hopes of heading off a bigger, harder crash (so far it’s working). Only what happens next week when she suggests an iop again? And what happens when she refers me out even though we have maybe a month left? 😦

I hate that trust comes so hard. I hate that I need to find a paid someone to trust and reach out to. I hate that it always ends so soon. I’ve seen more therapists than I have been in years of therapy. There have only been 3 I was able to see for more than 10 months (and 3 out of the last 4 I only saw for about 4 months each)… JF was an intern when I started seeing her, but she got hired on to keep working at the clinic, so I saw her for 2.5 years (until I graduated). LKB was the first private-practice therapist I saw. She ditched me after 2 years because I was too acute… then Dr C I saw for 2.5 years until I moved. Everyone else was an intern, except De & TM, who were/are limited by agency policy.

There was JJ, DJ (saw her one year during two of the school breaks, so maybe 10 times total), B, CS, JF, TB, JG, LKB, SC (dbt), Dr C, BGR (iop), L (dbt), Dr GD (the center), D, JP, De, TL, and TM… I’m missing a few because last count TM was #18 or 19… who am I missing? I hadn’t included therapists I saw fewer than 5 times, or any psychiatrists, or clinicians associated with hospital programs who I would have only seen a very few times.

Anyway, yeah. Trust is hard, but I seem to have to get around to starting again every few months. It gets tiring. It makes it really difficult to get anywhere. I finally get through the “data dump” stage and it’s time to switch again. That’s why I’m so stubborn around trying to tackle more stuff with TM before our time is up. I need to get further in all this… and I am not sure I will find a therapist I trust would know how to handle the blowout from the sexual assault stuff. I know Dr C tried to get me to deal with it, but I couldn’t get over the shame. Maybe if I can get back in with her, it wouldn’t be so hard this time, but I don’t think she will be around… and I’m still not sure I trust her not to think horrible things of me. There’s some safety in TM working for the sexual assault clinic. She’s likely heard it all, or her colleagues have heard it all, and the judgement would be less… I still have trouble telling TM some things because of the shame involved, but I think the chances of her having heard the same thing before are higher than with Dr C… I dunno. I really miss Dr C though… and JF… and Dr GD… and De. They felt safe. TM feels safe when I’m not caught up in walls and transference… I miss TL, but more in a colleague sense than a therapist sense. She kept me in a more professional head-space during sessions. She was the first to be able to keep the more adult side of me present more times than not. I think it came from her expecting me to be more “professional” and aware. There was something about the transference with her that allowed me to be competent as an adult and a professional. I don’t really know how to explain it…

…I hate that the emotionally safest relationships are all paid ones. But I guess that contributes to the safety. If it wasn’t so one-sided and professional, I would be seeing the judgement and emotional reactions to my crazy, and I would be walking on eggshells with them to the same extent I do my friends and family. I still walk on eggshells with therapists, but it’s not as careful and distanced as it is with people who could really hurt me with their reactions…

Anyway, I digress again. Trying to avoid being the drama queen De saw me as. Trying to pull out of the crisis cycle that is threatening to come barreling in full force. Trying to put all this insight to use. Let’s hope it all works. o_O


violence breeds violence, regardless of the motivation…

I write this with full awareness that I may have my head bitten off by several people for posting the following opinion… I will also remind any commenters to please keep their comments civil and respectful. I’m ok with discussion, but not bashing.

I am in the minority of people appalled by a video of a mother beating her son for partaking in the Baltimore riots this past week. I will not hail her a hero or “mother of the year”. I do not care what her reasoning was, I think she was wrong. I also think her son was wrong for participating in the riots in the manner he did. It was stated that the woman was trying to prevent her 16-year-old son from being killed. Reportedly, he was about to throw (or continue to throw) things at the police, and join in the general havoc. This apparently justified the mother smacking her son repeatedly on his head and torso as she berated him.

I was told by many friends and family that they “would have done the same” or they understood her fear/anger reaction. My problem with the whole thing was that she used the same logic and behavior he did to try to dissuade him from further action:  I am more right, and have more power for X reason, so I will beat you into submission… That’s up there with cursing someone out while you tell them not to curse.

I’m pretty sure that’s a huge double standard right there (not to mention a mixed message). It’s suddenly ok to beat your child (and have it filmed, then applauded by millions) because you are trying to prevent them from getting hurt?! If I see my kid almost run into on-coming traffic because he didn’t look before he ran, is it suddenly ok for me to yank him back and start beating on him? Would the media and millions of Americans tell me I am “Mother of the Year”?? No. I would have the child taken from my custody (even if temporarily), and I would have CPS up my ass for the next year or more. “But I didn’t want to see him killed, and he wasn’t listening to me when I told him to stop.” would never fly as a valid excuse for beating my child…

There’s pages and pages of articles on the generational cycles of violence. It’s a safe bet to say that the 16-year-old kid witnessed (with some regularity) violence growing up. It didn’t have to be his mom, though her reaction to his poor choices leads me to believe she likely has done something similar before. It’s also safe to say that she was probably witness to violence in her childhood. People repeat what they learn. Even those with the best of intentions can succumb to early learning. Heck, I see in myself some of the very things I hate in my dad. I try to make a conscious effort to not behave as he did/does, but I’m certainly not perfect (super-far from it actually). I find myself angry and yelling more than I would like. I can feel rage bubble, and fists want to fly. I do my damnedest to not act on those urges though… Would my anger at my early life excuse abuse I perpetuate on others? Absolutely not. It would be understandable, but not excusable. I would still be expected to change my behaviors… I am expected to change my behaviors. I mainly turn my violence onto myself. Even that is not acceptable. I hear from person after person that I need to be kind to myself; that I need to stop treating myself so abusively…

So why is it ok to see this mother hit her son repeatedly? People come back with responses along the lines of “I would do anything to keep my kid safe.” or “What would you do if your kid was about to walk into his death?” I maintain that my response would be non-violent. I would step in his way to block his path, I would pull him away, I would do my best to hold him in place, or move him back if possible. I would not strike him. If for some reason, I lost my head and started beating my child, I would hope someone stepped in and pulled me away rather than film it and laud me with praise… But I guess I have a different perspective than most.

That same day, when I questioned the logic of rioting and looting within the community, it was defended by some as “displaced anger”. This also bothers me. Why is displaced anger from a mob more ok than displaced anger in say, a romantic relationship? If the mob were a man, and the destroyed property his beaten wife, he would have been arrested on domestic violence charges (in the very least, there would have been some outcry of injustice from women’s rights activists and a public push for charges). So why are we excusing it because it’s fueled by institutional racism? When my dad came home pissed because he got mugged on his lunch break, then proceeded to yell at, threaten, and hit my mom, it was not okay simply because it was “displaced anger.” When a parent beats a child because of financial stressors, it’s not excusable as “displaced anger”. Why are we so quick to step up and excuse other violence as such? Why is mass-perpetrated violence ok when individually-perpetrated violence would be scorned?

I do not believe racism should be tolerated. I do not believe young black men should be singled-out and harassed or harmed. I do not believe anyone should be harmed. I do agree we should be outraged by the state of our society. I believe we should stand up and “fight” for change, but I do not belive rioting, looting, and violence are the answer. They get us nowhere but deeper into the cycle of violence. I really wish more people understood that…

 


More art journal progress

I was all about avoiding stuff yesterday. To that end, I played a bunch with my art journal. It doesn’t look like much progress, but lots of time was spent organizing my supplies because, well, avoidance.

wpid-img_20150425_223137.jpgI finally got around to making use of the little buckle findings from the Tim Holtz line (had gotten an “as is” pack several months ago and meant to make a closure for my first art journal, but that didn’t materialize). Anyway while catching up on Arrow and a Sleepy Hollow, I did the buckles:

 

wpid-wp-1430025053079.jpgI also worked on the tiger wing page more. The writing is excerpts from lyrics to Faith Hill’s “if you’re gonna fly away“. I changed two lines where she spoke of prayer to more accurately reflect me. “Has the sun gone down on you?/Have you given up on truth, oh?/I wish I could say all the right things/To make your pain go away/I wish you knew how beautiful/You are in every way/…So you’ll take a thousand pills/Hoping to be numb/Lie awake in bed/Counting all that’s wrong//No one understands/No one ever will/Trust me when I tell you/I know just how you feel…”

 

wpid-wp-1430024972849.jpgAnd finally, I added lyrics to the rose page from the other night. There’s a Tori Amos song called Blood Roses that fit the page pretty well… “Back on the street now/Can’t forget the things you never said/On days like these starts me thinking/…Now you’ve cut out the flute/From the throat of the loon/At least when you cry now/He can’t even hear you…”

 

Like I said, it doesn’t look like much progress, but it took me all day (probably because I couldn’t concentrate to stay on task for the life of me).

The depression is definitely still here. I was going to try to go to the beach today, but it took all my energy just to shower (which was a first in 5 days). I could have left the house, but I’m finding it harder and harder to do. The overwhelm of what it would take to get out of the house, coupled with the huge lack of reward, is making it seem nearly impossible. What’s the point trying?

I also find myself once again doubting these recent memories. If they really are accurate, how come I didn’t remember them before? Sure, they explain my intense anxiety around going to bed, and some other behavioral or cognitive things, but… memory can be unreliable. It could all just be something I’m fabricating in order to make sense of those symptoms that make no sense. The visceral reactions to certain triggers may just be a learned response. If they are false, no restructuring needs to happen around my understanding of life. If they are false, then it was all just for attention… If they are true, the world changes. I’m not sure which I prefer: am I narcissistic and unable to survive without a sob story, or did yet more really crappy stuff happen in my life that will change my understanding of childhood? Can I pick neither?


Tweaking the piece for TL

image

I really hated the way the gel transfer looked on this piece, so I peeled it off (one of the nice things about working over embossing enamel is that very little permanently sticks to it. If I dislike something, I can simply peel it off). I had to let some of the gel dry more, but that came off later with some coaxing. A few of the tissue paper pieces came off also by accident, but it turned out ok because the mountains that I painted in cover the missing pieces.

The last thing I have to figure out is where and how to put the writing. I had originally wanted to do it inside the silhouette, but it’s too textured… I also want to balance out the white in the mountains so something white will have to go on the bottom left.

Anyway… I hope I like it enough to give to TL. And I hope she can accept it (I know the agency has a thing against gifts, but since it’s made and not purchased, maybe she will take it? I’m not even sure she will like it, but whatever). I guess if she doesn’t take it I can always frame it and keep it for myself. I don’t do it often with my own work, but this one will have meaning behind it (I’ve only ever framed and hung a small handful of other pieces, one of which was a photograph. The piece I did for De was the only one that was ever given away). I did manage to find a frame I like for both of the recent pieces, just not 100% sure they will fit the frame the way I want them to. I may go back to the store with the bigger one tomorrow and see if they work. I have a 50% off coupon, but the frames might be on sale anyway which means no coupon, though I could use the employee discount…

Oh, here’s the other pieces I’ve framed and hung:


a safe space for shame

I really miss De sometimes. I miss having someone I trust to talk to (even if it was frustrating at times).  I miss feeling safe with her, knowing that even the really shameful stuff hadn’t changed her opinion of me (she said it hadn’t and I believed her despite what my head was saying at the time).  I miss having a safe space to let out the shameful stuff, because so much is surrounded in shame… I miss being able to write about what was bothering me, and know that she would read it.  We would address stuff as needed, but I was able to communicate in ways other than simply speaking (where I often get tripped-up).  I think I can bring myself to ask for that with TL, but not sure she can accommodate it…

De & I had gotten past the awkward “getting to know you” stage.  We actually did some work.  She heard, read, and held stuff that I had not ever told anyone else.  I felt safe enough with her to take an honest look at what I was getting out of the crisis cycle I tend to fall into. I felt safe enough not only to write it out, but to share it with her.  I learned something from all that shameful sharing… and I got some measure of relief from it.  There’s some weakness with secrets that saps their power when they are shared.

Stuff definitely came up that we didn’t get a chance to cover, or that I didn’t feel finished with, but at least it was safe enough to start on it.  I’m not sure how long it will take to get to a similar point with TL.  I wish I could say that all that shameful and difficult stuff could be set aside until after the move, but it still haunts me.  It’s itching to be addressed. It floats through my head, and comes back as incredibly strong tidal waves of emotion. I don’t know what to do with it at first. It catches me off-guard, and I don’t know what it is while it’s happening.  I’m getting better at identifying it in hindsight though.  Sadly, that doesn’t help in the moment. I still get bowled over and sent flailing when it happens (case in point, last night with TL).

So yeah, I miss De a lot. I wonder how she is doing, and if she likes her new job, or if she regrets her change in focus. I wonder if I’ll ever bump into her before I leave the state (doubtful, since I don’t often go downtown). I wonder if she’s happy to not have to deal with me anymore.  I feel like such a bother so much of the time.  I’m sure there’s a measure of relief for her.

It’s weird, because I have never really missed a therapist this much.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this type of transference, and to this degree… well, scrap that, maybe with JJ & JF way back in the day… but that was easily 15 years ago.  I haven’t felt this way about a therapist in a long, long time.  J (couple’s therapist) was different. There was a very definite sexual attraction (on both L & I’s ends) because she’s a really attractive, confident, and personable woman.  I know that even L’s therapist had said that most people were attracted to J not only for her looks but her personality.  She has this air about her that draws people in, and they want to spend time with her.  So yeah, the transference with J was very different.  The stuff with De was more parental, then changed to younger sibling.  I went from her feeling like a safe care-taker, to feeling like a safe person I wanted to take care of. And it has not faded yet. I’m desperately searching for that safe base again. I wish it was easier to find.  I wish the places I looked for it didn’t trigger me so heavily… ugh! it’s all so frustrating.

I really want to be ok trusting TL.  I want her to turn out to be someone I can work with while I’m still here. I’m tired of simply biding my time.  I hate the flashbacks and the anxiety and the depression. I hate the struggles with the urges to self-destruct.  I need to get over them.  I’m sure it won’t happen completely in the time I have with her (it hadn’t happened in all these years of therapy, why would now be different?), but I need to try.  I think opening the door on some of that stuff with De increased the urgency I feel in needing to address it.  I was looking through my entries to De, and I think there’s a more recent one that I really want to share with TL because it explains so much of what’s going on right now for me (or at least the motivations behind all of this).  I just hope I can gather the courage to not only go back, but to also read it to her.  It’s a giant package of embarrassment wrapped in shame and padded with guilt.  If I can get past all the defenses around it, I think it would be really good to attend to it.  I just need to find the courage to face it with TL (again, that urgency to talk about all this stuff.  I don’t know if it comes from the deadline to our work together, or from knowing that I have carried it for so long). I really need to share it and look at it for a change.  I had shared it with De, but we didn’t exactly do anything with it other than me answer a few of the questions she had… and then we got into some details about where the roots of those feelings might lay, and it morphed into dealing with the memories and feelings admitting all that stuff brought up, instead of addressing what was written).

I feel like if I could find the courage to tell TL that stuff also, we could look at it, and maybe help me break out of this really self-defeating spiral I tend to get caught in.  I’m a believer in the idea that stuff comes up when you are finally ready to deal with it (well, at least when it comes to insight into behaviors).  I think I’m ready to deal with this, but I need to do it now, immediately, or I will lose the motivation.  At least, that’s the way it feels.  And I really need to know I can share it with another human being, talk about it openly, and not be overtly judged for it.  I know even the best clinicians have initial judgements, but it’s what they do with them, and how they deal with them that allows for a feeling of safety.  I know I jump to conclusions and judgements about others, but I am able to talk myself into a point of greater understanding and empathy after that impulse thought… would be great if I could put that to work for myself also.  Someone recently reminded me that we can be our worst enemies much of the time.  I know I certainly am one of my biggest critics at this point, and I judge myself infinitely harder that I would any other person on this planet.  It’s not because I have to be held to higher standers out of any inkling of “betterness”, but because I am so far below every other being on the planet that I must have higher standards if I am ever to even remotely get close to “normal, deserving human being” status… it’s something I hope to one day be able to work on successfully in therapy.  I know there have been times in the past that I was not this hard on myself, but those are hard to come by.  My default always seems to be self-deprecation and worthlessness to an intense degree.  De had pointed it out to me one session. She reminded me that I tend to get to a point of such all-encompassing worthlessness when I hit bumps in the road, it will take a lot of work to leave it behind.  She’s right.  I get there hard and fast at the slightest sign of stress.  I’m sure it hinders therapy often…

Anyway, I totally got side-tracked here.  My brain is slowly turning to mush at the moment, so I need to sign off.  I’m wholly impressed if you made it through all that.  I may have to come up with an award for that accomplishment. Maybe the “I can follow SJ’s rambling and tiresome posts” award… hmm…


Therapy today

I saw De this afternoon,  and it was a good session. I was able to talk about some stuff (well, acknowledge some stuff, we didn’t talk in-depth about too much). I was able to tell her that I was having trouble with writing my story as hers, and that I thought I needed to talk more about my story. She confirmed that it wasn’t the same story. She was really gentle about it, and I’m really glad she didn’t make me feel like an ass for admitting that I felt like I burnt her out. She talked about the turn-over rate at the agency, and how long she had been there. She reassured me I was not the reason she was leaving, but that the cumulative effect of working there for the last handful of years has taken its toll. We compared notes on burn-out rates for various concentrations in the field. I noticed again the weight was gone from her. I told her I thought it would be a good idea for me to find another therapist for the gap between our termination and my move. She agreed. We brainstormed a few ideas, and she asked how likely I was to be able to make some calls between today and Friday. We agreed that proactive is good, and that what I’m looking for is pretty restrictive in terms of choices (someone who either can take my useless state insurance, or someone who has a sliding scale; someone without a huge waiting list; someone who can be consistent through the time I move; someone with more availability than once a week). She brought up the idea of a php again, which I would totally be open to,  but I don’t qualify for either of the two that take my insurance. We even contemplated me lying about taking meds just so I could get the support I need.  She said she will think more about it, but that maybe we can create a “php-type” structure that involved frequent contact with a professional, but also gave me some structure. I hope we can come up with something. I know that type of stuff helps me a lot.
The session was over before I knew it. There’s still a lot weighing on me, but at least this one felt productive on more than one front. I see her again on Friday.  On the way home,  I placed the two requests for information she had asked me to make. Now it’s just a matter of hearing back from them… I would feel better knowing I’m not totally on my own when we are done.
Changes are hard.  Goodbyes are really hard, and loss feels like an enormous black hole in my heart…  I wish I knew how to work through it.  I guess that’ll be a topic for another therapist…