Tag Archives: judgements

Sunday’s wrap-up

Had session today instead of yesterday.

The first part of it involved a clarification around the frequency. She said it’s more because the stuff we are working on (foo stuff, sa/csa) brings up a lot of anxiety and distress. She wants to be supportive around that and help mediate the impact. Check… she also said (yet again, because I’m still a bit on the anxious side about it) that she doesn’t forsee getting sick of me or burnt out on me anytime soon. She reassured me that she plans on continuing to practice, and continuing to see me if I also want to continue the work. Also check. (Writing it here more as a reminder than anything else).

The rest of the session addressed some more of my fears around the work, some of the origins of my low self-worth, and a tad bit of the sa… a heavy session, but not as heavy as Friday.

I see her again tomorrow for our “regularly scheduled programming”, and I think I want to take some “lighter” options with me.  Saturday I had worked on some art to process some of what we’ve been taking about. I think I want to take that in to be able to show her, but also take other supplies and maybe spend the session messing around with art. I’m not sure I want to talk much about the mini-journal I’ll take in, but I do want to show her. The rest of the time can be spent playing around with gelatos and textures.

The work we are doing is exhausting. Sometimes I need to work in a different way. Though I must admit, I’m impressed with myself that I was able to verbalize as much as I did today. I was quite a bit more verbal and present today compared to Friday… she commented that we covered a lot lately, and how I was doing good work. The funny thing is, I’ve barely talked about anything at all. This just felt like “safe” stuff to talk about. There’s a bunch of stuff still not communicated. She said that was ok, that there are more layers to things than we had originally thought, but it’s ok and we’ll get there whenever we get there.

Still super-grateful daily that I ended up with Dr C. Experienced, competent, and consistent trauma therapists that are not limited by clinic guidelines and funding-source mandates are few and far between. I swear this woman is totally unruffled by whatever clients bring with them into the room (at least while she is in the room with them). She’s apparently found her center and knows how to take care of herself. She truly leaves judgement at the door. She looks at everything her clients bring into the room as a key to tackling the therapeutic process. I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen written and discussed about therapists who can’t take an outside view of what happens in the room or with their clients, and the relationship goes south fast. Ok, I have limited perspective on Dr C, but she seems genuine. She sets personal judgements and emotional acting-out aside with her clients. Not many therapists can manage that day in and day out. So so grateful to have her as my therapist.

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a love/hate relationship with therapy

(sorry this is not a very cohesive post. I’m rambling a lot…)

I hate the therapeutic relationship… I love the benefits of therapy, but the nature of the relationship makes it hell and like a bad break-up when it’s over. I mean, when else do we risk/tolerate getting incredibly emotionally intimate with someone who doesn’t open up in the same way? All the while knowing full well that they never will, and that the relationship will end with a near-complete severance? While many people are able to find one good therapist and work through their issues with that one person and feel natural with the break in the relationship, many people will bounce from clinician to clinician. Trust will need to be built with each new person, and will likely break before things are resolved in the person’s life. For me, it comes as a bi-product of having limited finances which necessitates seeing students or seeking community resources. This pretty much guarantees me a break in the relationship within several weeks at worst, and several months at best. Having been on both sides of the therapeutic relationship, I am acutely aware that a change in the relationship after termination is unlikely to go well. It’s not to say that becoming friends is impossible after (I am still friends with my h.s. guidance counselor), but chances are it will not work out nicely (it took us quite a while to settle into our routine, and even now it’s more of a mentor/mentee relationship than a truly reciprocal friendship). In therapy, we (as clients) are somewhat lulled into the one-sidedness of the whole thing. We “take” and “take” without ever having to “give”. We have a relatively neutral picture of the clinician, and we are expecting a lack of moral judgement around anything we bring up in therapy. We expect (and pay for) an ally who will at least “have our backs”, if not be totally in agreement with us. We pay them to have our best interests in mind when interacting with and reacting to us. We pay for “professionalism” in situations they may otherwise be wholly opposed to when outside of the office environment…

“Unconditional positive regard” is something we will likely only ever find in therapy. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s warm & fuzzy. It’s nurturing… and it’s contrived. Not to say it’s not genuine, because in that environment it is. When training and working with clients, I was acutely aware of the factors motivating behavior, even if it would be considered “deviant” or “immoral”. I would not judge my clients, but try to help them resolve the turmoil in their lives. Every demon has it’s reasons… This has somewhat spilled over into my personal life, but I still have a very visceral response to things in my personal life where I would genuinely not react in the same way in a professional role… It’s not hypocrisy as much as it is a different mind-set. When working with a client, I try to look at their past experiences and how those have shaped everything they do or experience in the moment. I can work with a sexual offender without judgement. I can work with a domestic violence offender without judgement. I can hold their truths without harshness or anger. In my personal life, I can look at the past, understand it and how it shapes the person, and still hold anger and judgement around their behaviors (though, I generally dislike the concept of judging anyone except myself and a very few select people. Judgement about actions and behaviors comes easier). In my personal life, my own emotions and thoughts on things get in the way. I react out of anger or hurt or sadness or judgement when I would not do so in my professional life… I mean, where outside of therapy can you be guaranteed (I use that word loosely as there are some very judgemental and/or unprofessional therapists out there) a genuine acceptance of all the “crud”?

But I digress. I hate the emotional experience of therapy. It’s like asking you to strip naked (while the other remains totally clothed), jump around in thorn bushes for a while, then leave (often times, still naked and now sore and raw). It’s totally shitty for someone who feels emotions so strongly on top of everything. I admire (and am envious of) those people who can walk into therapy and walk out relatively unscathed. It takes me ages to trust anyone, let alone feel any attachment. It’s risky and scary and I dislike doing it. I prefer to keep everyone at arm’s length because it lessens the inevitable roller-coaster. Once I get attached though, I cling for dear life. You could run me over, smiling and laughing maniacally as you do it, and I would come back giving you chance after chance to apologize or change the behavior. It’s not so much a sense of masochism as it is a disbelief that I could have misjudged someone so badly that I finally grew to trust them… I know this is counter-productive to healthy relationships, but it enables me to return to therapy despite the emotional toll it takes. I focus on the positives (one of the few times I am able to tenaciously hold onto something positive despite all the negatives; it’s usually quite the opposite to when I focus on the negative despite mountains of positives). I convince myself that all the struggle and pain is worth it. Yes, my emotional experiencing seems very much out-of-proportion to the relationship, however if I go with the theory that I generally experience emotions either out-of-proportion to the situation or not at all, then it makes sense. Considering the amount of effort it takes to open up and trust a therapist, it makes sense that there would be a tidal wave of emotion surrounding the relationship… So yeah, I hate it. Yet I continue to subject myself to it time and again…

:sigh:

Tears have snuck out of my eyes more times than I’d like to admit today… It sucks. Also because I hate crying. I mean really, truly, emphatically HATE it. It’s messy and uncomfortable and slimy… I get the benefits, but I still hate it. And I hate admitting to crying…

:sigh:

I’m told it gets better. The professional me is trying desperately to convince me of this. I’m told there’s hope… The emotional me is saying a big “fuck you” to the professional side right now. The teenager is throwing a hissy fit in her own sulking and brooding way. She’s reminding the rest of me about all the times it’s gotten worse. She’s throwing out all the negatives and the hopelessness because that’s what she does the best. I can’t have lied to TL though, so she’s just going to have to deal… One day the teenager will admit some of the tears are her’s also…

Oh, and just so I can keep track of it somewhere: distraction need is set to super-high today. I was playing on the computer, listening to music, watching tv, and messing around on the phone all at the same time earlier. At the moment, I’ve got music pumping into my ear, typing here, on a forum, and playing on the phone… need to find some way to ride this wave of emotions without a self-destruct creeping in.


the concept of neediness

I’m feeling very “needy” today. I crave interaction and talking about some of this stuff. I desperately want to talk to TL and address the transference piece because it’s making such a huge impact on things. And I want to talk to her about it today; right now

The flip side of all this is the judgement that goes along with my neediness. I see it in all the negative light that’s been cast on the concept by everyone ever. I’ve got the dialogue in my head repeating every negative judgement I have ever heard about it playing loud and clear in my brain: immature, too much trouble, you should know how to get through all this on your own, never grew up, never learned to do things on her own, bothersome, troublesome, frustrating, pain in the ass… It plays in the voices of people I have known, and the random voices of people I have heard speak of neediness in negative terms. It plays in TL’s voice (though she has never said anything even hinting at it being negative)…

So what’s the balance? When is neediness ok? and when is it too much? (and no, I don’t have any proposed answers to this right now, just raising the questions) As I’m told (and as I can intellectually gather), everyone has needs. They range from physical to emotional, but everyone has them. So how do we determine that a need is invalid or inappropriate? The clinician side of me would offer up support around anything a client found pressing (within the limitations of my expertise). I would be ok with calls about fears or worries or symptoms until we worked out an appropriately healthy way to deal with them. But the kid side of me worries about becoming annoying. I worry that my very “kid” needs would be inappropriate and unwelcome. Despite TL having reiterated that I can call simply to “vent” on her voicemail, I can’t bring myself to do it around this. I feel like it would be pushing the limits of her tolerance, and she would revoke the privilege… Of course, I can’t know this for certain if I don’t ask about it, but I figure I can ask next session. In the mean time, I am left struggling with it…

Now that I have recognized these needs as “kid” needs, what do I do with them? How do I handle them? The judgement of them being “inappropriate” is still very loud in my head, which makes me feel bad about even having them (I’m not a kid after all). But I don’t know how to suppress them or quiet them or deal with them.  I don’t know how to make them go away so they don’t interfere with life. Not only do the needs now feel “wrong” to have, but I feel wrong for having them. It feels like I’m intrinsically flawed, and that it can never be “fixed”. I’m back to feeling defective and unworthy at the core. I should know how to deal with this stuff myself, I should know how to handle my own needs, I shouldn’t have needs in the first place

On an intellectual level, I can see the flaw in that line of thinking. It doesn’t penetrate to the emotional level though. I can’t seem to talk myself out of feeling so wrong at my core. I should be able to, but it’s too deep and I can’t do it on my own… which comes back to being needy and having needs that I can’t fulfill myself at the moment, but I also don’t feel right asking for help in handling. It’s a nice little Catch 22…


The trouble with reaching out…

… to someone you don’t know too well is that they make judgements… I feel like such a tool. Really want to cancel with this new t and never return…
I know she has no idea how difficult it was for me to reach out and call, but… ugh. Back to not feeling safe in interacting with her… I’m feeling very judged. I don’t like that feeling. It’s very uncomfortable. :/


There’s freedom in telling

This is something I have been thinking about on and off for years. I have been of the belief that, for myself, I need to be able to tell my trauma in a safe environment. I need to be able to speak about it, to share it, to not carry it alone anymore.
Recovery from traumatic events is a very individual and personal experience. I understand the drive to have empirically based evidence that suggests a particular treatment works (especially if it’s expensive), but I also understand that recovery is not the same for everyone. Some people need to talk about it, some people benefit from the behavioral interventions, some people need to focus simply on the future.  I think when we limit the options for treatment, we limit the chance of recovery. There was a recent article on cbs.com about the VA system and how it continues to fail soldiers. They cited a lack of empirical evidence on best practices as one of the major problems. I think a greater issue is the lack of client-centered treatment.
When we try to fit all consumers into one tidy little recovery box, we miss a lot. I have tried dbt seven times.  I have failed it with catastrophic results all seven times. No matter how I protest the concept of that particular treatment for myself, clinicians and treatment providers always fall back to it saying that I “just wasn’t in the right mind-set for it”. If I were to approach them with a similar history of failed treatment that was not the “popular” one, I would be reprimanded for stubbornly trying something that has clearly not worked. Not only had it clearly not worked, but it has threatened my life every time. So why is it ok for clinicians to keep suggesting it to me? Because this is the accepted treatment modality for many of my symptoms. They no longer think outside the box of what is dictated by insurance. We are losing the creative approaches to meeting the client where they are at, and that is ending very badly for a lot of people.
My ideal situation would be trauma treatment (or any treatment) that is catered to the individual.  If things work for the person, great, let’s keep doing it.  If things don’t work, let’s wreak our brains trying to find something that does. There is no reason so many people should be failed by the system. We have research, we have experience, and we have smart people out there who can figure out how to make things work. Sadly, money talks, and it’s rarely open to backing “unproven” or unconventional methods. I’d be screwed if I had an addictions problem because so much of it is based on AA. That would be incredibly triggering and unwelcoming to me and I would fail. They would blame it on resistance, and label me impossible… they’d never once look at the fact that I react strongly and negatively to any talk of a god or higher power. They would simply say I don’t care enough about my recovery. We need to change the way we look at recovery on all fronts if we are going to be able to be successful in healing the hurt in so many people.


Grief

No bombs were dropped by De in session today, though I did have a few panicked seconds when she started out a sentence with “my supervisor is all over me about…” (heart stalled and breath caught mid-exhale) “…asking you if we can keep your piece for further use” (resume breathing and pumping blood). I didn’t know what to say. I guess they really liked it. I asked if I could get back to her about it. De said that it will be displayed for the month of April, but that they would like to keep it to put up in the building. I’m not opposed to that, but I’m also really attached to the piece. I think if I leave it there, I will ask that my real name be used. Might as well get credit for it.  I also told De that I had been toying with asking for it back so I could tweak it because I had a million other ideas since I handed it in. She laughed and reminded me that was why I had given it to her when I did, so I wouldn’t mess with it and end up getting frustrated when it didn’t turn out how I pictured. She’s right, because I would over-work it and feel that I need to start all over again.  I don’t think I would have a fourth rendition in me before the beginning of April. It’s good I don’t have my hands on it anymore.
We spent the rest of the session talking about the pending move and how I will need to grieve the loss of the house and such, but that the overall result will be positive (the house does hold many negatives, as does this state. But it also was a “home base” for so long, a safety net if I need it. Hope I can get some sort of other safety net from it. I’m not going to hold my breath for that though).
I’m still adamant about not crying in front of others. She was trying to convince me that it would be ok, but all the judgements and fears around crying screamed in my head. I did tear up a few times with her today but refused to cry. I really don’t think I would have been able to stop if I had actually started. So I moved the conversation along (much like I keep my head moving all day and night so I don’t crack with tears). I had wanted to ask her to focus our work on the assaults and history with DuckBoy. I just didn’t find an appropriate way to slip it in to the flow. I needed more time to explain the rest of the week. I don’t think I expressed my distaste for loss in any meaningful way. I don’t think she gets how hard that is for me. I tend to stuff it all down, so it’s easy for people to miss the little hints. I just don’t do well with loss. A whole lot of loss is coming up real soon. It’s panicking me a bit, but I’m sure it will all be ok in the end (isn’t it always?). There’s always loss. There’s always change. Just gotta learn to go with it… don’t open your heart too much to prevent excessive pain with the withdrawal of whatever it was that you let worm its way inside.
The session flew by before I knew it. On the way out I asked if they had a shredder so I could get rid of the last pictures I found of DuckBoy yesterday. She suggested “making a moment of it” and that we could do it next week. I gave her the pictures to hold on to till then (I certainly don’t want them)…
(Strangely appropriate song just came on my playlist: Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt… covers the feel of all this.  It works for the house, the history, and everything else).
Is it weird that I miss my best friend from high school so much lately? I found some pics of her and of us the same time I found the DuckBoy pictures… one relationship I’d rather forget, and one I wish was still going. But I guess loss and grief are the themes of the moment (sadly there’s only the loss of DuckBoy for which I’m relieved, the other losses just hurt). I wish I had the gumption to track her down and show up at her door. I wish I had been a better friend. I wish I had fought harder when she ran away. But what do you do when a friend ceases wanting to be your friend? …I still have the mug she gave me for Christmas one year. It’s my favorite one. I really miss her.
The loss of this house means the loss of that last connection to a bunch of positive stuff. There will no longer be a safety net here… it sucks…


Can’t sleep

Can’t sleep with the music on. Can’t sleep with the music off. Trying my wife’s pillow because mine’s gotten sadly flat in the weeks since I bought it. Can’t sleep on this pillow either… my head is humming with everything and nothing all at once.
I had toyed with the idea of reaching out to De yesterday for support but landed on the “there’s nothing she can do so don’t bother her” side of the argument. I’m stuck again at not feeling like I can reach out to her for anything other than support around the sexual assault stuff (I couldn’t specify the sa for a good minute. I don’t like labeling that. I don’t like admitting it. If I don’t voice it, it goes away right? It was never real if no one knows about it…). The way she said some stuff 2 weeks ago has me translating what she said to “pathetic drama queen” in more ways than one. It has me thinking that I blow everything way out of proportion, that nothing was ever really that bad. It has me feeling like I just never learned how to deal with little upsets like my pen running out of ink, so I dramatized it to mean the world is ending.
I feel like I shouldn’t be upset about anything. I feel like I should know better. I never do anything to help myself, so I should shut up and stop complaining. There’s starving children in other parts of the world. I should be grateful for what I have. Not everyone’s parents buy them cars (not everyone’s father’s attach the same strings for the gift). Not everyone gets included in the will (not everyone’s father tries to exert immense control long after he hits the grave. I don’t want your stipulations, so do us all a favor and write me out). Not everyone has a roof over their head (that screams with memories and nightmares). It’s not lady-like to be selfish. It’s not appropriate to talk back (or explain). Nothing is good enough, but only because I’m a spoiled little child who let praise go to her head. I only experience all this for attention. I only ever want attention (to hide in the fibers of the carpet so I don’t catch anyone’s attention). Nothing is real.  There’s no black-hole in my chest. There’s no insomnia. There’s no hopelessness, it’s all something I say because I’m lazy and entitled…

Do you ever get hit with something that crumbles the carefully-crafted image you have of someone (because you desperately hoped they were better than they presented, so you choose to interpret their biting criticism as character-building)? Do you ever mourn the loss of the people you thought you grew up with when faced with their reality? Suddenly you have an almost empty corner where you originally had one filled with support and love? Nothing has changed except your understanding of the past, and even that’s sketchy at best.

While I appreciate De’s intention when telling me not to get so lost in trains of thought, it’s easier said than done. I’ve spent so long trying to ignore or run away from everything, then learning to face it, that I have a hard time deliberately trying to pay no mind to it all again. I’d like to understand things better, not just distract. I’d like to know what my arguments need to be when I’m fighting with the negatives, not just blindly deny them… in a way she’s supporting mom’s theory of “just ignore it, it will go away” but with different words.  She’s saying to just not go there. I don’t know how to do that. It never works in the long run anyway.

It’s almost 6:30am, and all I want to do is take something to sleep. I know it would knock me out for way too long though, and it would frustrate me. So I’m going to stop worrying and hope I can get at least 30 minutes in before the dogs start to shift and stir.

(I used to be good at this writing thing back before my brain walked out on me…)