Tag Archives: emotion

Needs and neediness

Feeling quite needy today. Last night was another rough night with flashbacks. Another “new” one popped up.

I had been fighting them all day. We were at a local orchid show when they started, so it was both a bit easier to distract and easier to get lost. There was a whole ton of sensory information. It was crowded, but it was also novel things to engage in/with. On the one hand I was dizzy and disoriented from everything there, but on the other hand there was plenty to bounce between when one distraction stopped working. I concentrated on taking pictures and trying to see all the different plants. I had given myself permission to purchase something inexpensive, so a lot of time was spent cruising around trying to decide on what to get. While there were 100’s of thousands of plants to pick from, most of it was the same basic stuff. After the third go-around, I finally settled on a few small plants. I didn’t want to spend much because I have a really bad habit of not paying attention to the conditions in which the plant thrives. That usually ends badly for said plant…
Anyway, I plugged my music in my ears when things started to get too intense. I even kinda opened up to mom about it. I managed to keep the flashbacks to a 5 (on a scale of 1-10). I knew they were there, but they didn’t completely take over. They kept creeping up a bit the rest of the day, but not by much. Then I tried to do some more “happy” art for TM.

I didn’t feel like working on the original piece, so I started in my journal. The darkness kept wanting to poke through. I noticed the more I tried to keep it out, the worse I felt. Suddenly, I wanted to shred my arms and cry hysterically. It was an intense and violent urge that hit and stayed there. I haven’t cut my arms in about 10 or more years (I had moved from my arms in college, but would occasionally try there again once or twice. Anyway, it’s been a really long time). Then my anger intensified. I resented being asked to be fake in both my art and in therapy (yes, I’m aware she didn’t actually ask me to be fake in therapy, and this is my generalization). I was hurt that I’d have to hide again. My inner kid was crying and sobbing and begging not to be forced to hide it all again. This all happened in about a minute. Then it switched to the flashback…

I was really small in this one, no more than 3… and it was incredibly intense (closer to an 8 or 9 on that 1-10 scale). And it was the full sensory experience (another rarity. I generally only get sensations and emotions followed by cognitive memories. Sometimes I’ll get auditory stuff, but that generally only happens with the ones of my parents fighting)… this one was physical sensation, emotion, auditory, visual, olfactory, taste… it was the total virtual reality experience. And it exhausted me, though I couldn’t fall asleep without help.

Echos of it were there again this morning. The sensation piece lasts the longest,  closely followed by the emotional fallout. The monsters are breaking out of their closet. It’s not fun… they get me desperate to put them away in any way possible. The instinct to self harm is huge when they get bad, but I promised TM I would try everything else first… so today’s plan is to try to be productive. I need to do laundry (and shower, though that can be triggering, so it’s up in the air at the moment), take care of the zoo, kinda clean the house… I can head back out to the orchid show I think (unsure if my tickets are good for the whole weekend, or just one day and we used them already). I can also head out to the craft store to wander (there’s actually nothing I want to buy. This is a first). I may just end up outdoors though. The weather is windy and overcast with storms threatening. I love it. I love being outside in storms. I love the rain and the wind. I love watching the clouds. The rain feels refreshing and cleansing and comfortable… yeah, maybe that’s what I’ll end up doing (and will mother nature to get on with the raining piece)…

Hopefully the icky stuff stays at bay today. I’m not sure how much energy I have to devote to fighting it. I did remember though that TM works today, so if all else fails, I can leave her a message or talk to someone at their crisis line. Still feeling very needy and small, but trying to suppress that.

Oh, here are a few of the pictures from the show.

Memory is a shifty thing

I have a slight obsession with skulls and human anatomy… I keep trying to draw it, but my memory of what it should look like is seldom accurate. I tend to be a bit stubborn about reference pics (more so lazy as sin about having to look for an adequate pic from which I can draw), so my sketches are off until I get frustrated with the result. Then I look up a reference pic and do better…


It got me thinking about memory. There’s an interesting TEDtalk by Elizabeth Loftus on the inherent errors in memory. She demonstrates how malleable and suggestive we can be around reporting events… So what makes me think that my memory is all that reliable about the past? I mean, yeah, there’s the flashbacks which may or may not be altered by perception and time, but what about the rest of it? We get so riled-up in emotion around things we remember, but how accurate are they really?

Just something to think about…

More art

Therapy on Saturday did not accomplish what I had hoped, though it was an ok session. I was in a good space, and TL went with it. I had wanted to tell her something, an explanation, but it felt like I would get shot down or ridiculed if I mentioned it (not necessarily her style, but she was pushing a topic that is connected to the dissociation. The way she spoke about it made me feel like it was not the right moment to bring up SJ and the other sides of me). Finally, at the end of session, I was able to tell her there was something I had hoped to talk about, but we didn’t have enough time to get into it. I told her I had it written down, but she wants me to say it. Good luck chicky. She will have to read it, then we can talk afterwards about it all…

wpid-img_20140825_024222.jpgAnyway, on to the art. I was messing around tonight trying to put that hesitation on paper in a way that was easier to explain then having to stumble over words. I started with the concept of the woman on the right with the thoughts floating in her head, but unable to make it out of her mouth. It felt unfinished, so I added the left side (the words are what I had wanted to tell TL in session). The overlay represents all that I end up talking about that masks what I really want to say; it’s the darkness and the light that takes over and hides the real things I need to address. Let’s hope I can show it to her next Saturday. I had mentioned that I also really want to show her my art journal but that I have trouble bringing it up. She said she would try to remember that I had stuff I wanted to get to in session. She agreed to try to remind me. I have gone in with lists for my reference to no avail, so I hope she can help me get around to this stuff finally.


The power of goodbye

The funny thing about logic is that it is not very convincing to our emotions when we feel so fearful of losing someone or something.

I keep trying to remind myself that sometimes emotions can drown out the logic… I think I’m driving De nuts with my incessant neediness and desperate bid to be reassured that she will not drop me before the move. I know I’m driving myself nuts (come to think of it, I don’t think she knows the half of the battles in my head about the fear of losing her too.  I think I’ve only actually mentioned it to her once, but torture myself regularly with it)… it’s funny how my head can blow things way out of proportion.

I’m also trying to convince myself to let J in on what she had meant to L and I over the past year. I never want to let people in for fear of rejection and more hurt, but I regret it every time. I know L wants to tell J how much she had meant to us, but I don’t know if I can articulate it well enough. It would make me want to cry, and I desperately hate crying. I hate being vulnerable. Like I wrote to De the other day, I either know how to be totally together, or totally needy and helpless. I have not found a middle-ground yet. Maybe opening up to J about what this loss feels like will be a good step? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that not saying a proper goodbye hurts more and longer than having closure. I think I will write that stuff down, and have L do the same, because we have a great way of avoiding things with J, and she tends to go along for the ride. Since next week will be our last session, I want to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity to say goodbye. It will suck, but I know it needs to happen. I wish I still had that article written by an old mentor’s husband on the importance of proper termination in therapy, and proper closure in relationships in general. He stressed the importance of saying “goodbye” even if you would see the person or place again, because it would not be under the same circumstances. Dr J made a huge thing about saying goodbye to people and places upon graduation. She stressed to her interns the importance of termination in therapy. I think that needs to be stressed everywhere. Too many people avoid goodbyes because they are painful in the moment. They forget that the pain then intensifies as time goes on because closure was denied… if I could go back and get closure to every significant relationship that was denied it, today’s pain would be less. It doesn’t negate the loss, but it cushions it. To this day I regret not having a proper goodbye with both my aunt and uncle. I regret not having a goodbye with my high school best friend. I regret not having it with my college roommates and friends. I regret pushing people away because it hurt too much in the moment.  Maybe what I need to ask for from De is not a promise not to leave before my move, but the promise to get a proper goodbye whenever that may be… I asked for it once when I worried that I would be too unstable to continue with her and she had said yes. I think I just need reassurance that I’ll get one before we end no matter when that is.

damn therapy…

Our session with J was rough, as expected, but in a different way.  I came away feeling angry and invalidated.  I think I need to tell her to let up on the grilling about whether or not I feel like I am getting anywhere in individual therapy.  It’s a process… Trust is a process.  It takes time.  We’ve been seeing J for several months, but I have only been with De since mid-August.  She also said to call the IOP back and ask them for their reasoning behind not letting me back (after all, I did not act on my thoughts/urges, but I sought out help).  She thinks that the rule is stupid.  IOP is supposed to be for the added support, and supposed to be there as a step-down from an inpatient stay.  I was up-front with them about the suicidal thinking when I did my intake.  They knew that was an issue.  I did not make a move to act on the feelings, but I’m suddenly too much of a risk for having to have gone inpatient… J says she would go to bat for me about it with them, but she’s guessing it would be better coming from my individual T instead.  I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother… I don’t like having to beg for help and having to convince someone to provide services.  Yeah, they are the only local place that takes my insurance, but… I dunno.  I’ll see what De thinks. I Just don’t get why I should have to fight for something 1)when I feel like crap and have no motivation, and 2)that I don’t feel worthy of.

J also said that L & I needed to be more direct and say things in the moment more often.  I disagree.  I think that leads to misunderstandings, needless fights, and a lot of hurt feelings.  So F-you J!  Grrr!!!  I’m kinda glad we don’t have her next week…

I see De tomorrow.  Hope it goes well.  I know my walls are up out of fear.  I don’t want to be referred out, but I have a feeling I will be (though that just may be the fear talking).  I’m trying not to get my hopes up, or to want to be too open.  I had mentioned that to J earlier, and that’s when she launched into her lecture on therapy being what you make of it.  

Anyway, came home today and tried my hand at sculpture again.  I haven’t done it in YEARS, so it came out pretty crappy.  Also, the Original Sculpey is super-soft and sticky, which makes it harder to work with (at least at this temp).  My piece ended up flopping over a bit, and it took forever to cure (tho I’m pretty sure somewhere the directions say not to do it in the toaster over, but I didn’t want to have to unpack the big oven for a few small pieces).  I left the sculpture really rough in hopes of being able to add more detail with the Dremel tomorrow.  I have never carved anything.  It will definitely be an adventure.  I took some pics of it tonight just in case I screw it up badly tomorrow.  I’ll only post it when it’s done though (or if I mess it up really badly).  There’s just something about some works that you can’t them show off before they are completed…

reflections on the state of the world (or at least my head)

I was re-reading my post from yesterday (the one on si just being “right”) and I realized that my take on why T’s have always been taken aback by the statement “it just feels .right.” may have missed an important piece.  In my training, and in my work with kids in the state system, I vowed to myself to never let their stories become common-place to me.  I vowed to hold abuse as horrific.  I told myself I would never become desensitized to suffering… While I can maintain that with my clients, I have found I have become desensitized to my own struggles.  Things that should cause revulsion, fear, or (in the least) alarm now barely serve as a blip on my internal radar.  It has long-ago become common-place and “old news.”  Things that should make me cry out against injustice have become reflex reactions I myself have adopted.  Things that turn my stomach when a client reveals it barely register in my conscious mind half the time.  I have taken over the role of my own abuser.  In the same breath that I express torment from having experienced it from someone else, I do it to myself.

When does that switch happen?  When does someone go from fear and revulsion to acceptance and self-infliction? How does that happen?  Even when away from the abuse or trauma, how does it suddenly translate to being ok when done by your own hand (or voice)?  Why is it that I can look at a client and feel sad for the things they must have had to endure to get to this same space, but hold none of that compassion for myself?  There is no awe at the thought of slicing my own flesh to relieve emotional pain.  There is no sorrow felt for the child in me who learned that physical pain can cease to register.  There is no gut-reaction to my own story, it’s simply a story.

I feel more for characters in fiction than I do for myself.  While I may be swept up by emotion elicited by the unbidden memories, I have learned to steel myself against the re-telling.   I have learned to separate myself from that same emotion to make it through the days and nights.  When I no longer separate myself is when it gets scary again.  The only thing is, it’s not scary because of anything I may do to myself, it’s scary because I may be lost in that emotion forever (and even though I know better, it always feels like it will go on forever whenever it hits).

See, I know the emotion is there.  I know the disgust and anger is there, but I can’t ever access it from this “outside” vantage point.  The professional part of me never has direct connection to the emotional part.  When I think hard about it, I know I feel something otherwise the depression and the self-injury and the self-medication would not come.  If I didn’t feel anything about it, I would not be haunted by the PTSD.   I would not need therapy.  So I know I feel something, sometimes, but I can’t empathize with my own emotional self when I’m not in the midst of it all.

Ugh! Clinical detachment can come in very handy when working with clients, but it just messes things up when I’m trying to work with myself.  Some days I wish the walls were not so big and thick and ever-present.  I wish I could be aware of the good amidst the bad and vise versa.  I write this blog to be able to remember what it all feels like, but if I’m not in that space, it’s like reading a poorly-written story.  I can’t access the emotions of the characters.   I’m let in to their surface thoughts, but the feelings behind it elude me.  And if I’m reading the more “professional” side while emotional, it all feels foreign.  It rings about as familiar as something a stranger may say to me.  I know I wrote it.  I know at the time I felt connected to it, but that connection is lost when I’m on the other side.  It’s frustrating!

Right now, if someone were to tell me my story as their own, I would feel saddened and angered and motivated to help them out.  When I realize it’s my own story however, it all melts away and the little voice in my head whispers “all is as it should be” …more defenses to help me make it through the days.  It opens the door to the feelings.  As soon as I’m to that side, the door slams shut behind me and I’m trapped until my brain makes the switch once again.

Some days I wonder if any of it really happened at all.  Some days I fear I’m just really really pathetic and made it all up to give myself something to pass the time… After all, people have different accounts of some of it, everyone’s memory is different…

I wish I had made it all up.  I wish I was just a really good liar… I wish this was all a nightmare that I mistakened for reality, and in actuality I am living a happy life.  I will wake up any moment and this will all fade quickly.  I’ll realize that my life with my wife is the truth, and the “memories” of the past are all just bad dreams… a girl can dream can’t she?