Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ripping Off The Bandaid

Still slogging through this issue with Dr. (my therapist).
Last session we just sat and stared at each other - not literally, but we focused on me not wanting to focus on what I want to avoid.
I felt like when I was a child and my parents said I had to either choke down 3 bites of lima beans or sit at the table all night.  Either choice is desperately painful but you are a kid and power less and at the mercy of someone else's power.
Dr. asked if I felt like HE was the mean parent forcing that.
I didn't THINK so... I was aware that I was choosing to stay focused on the discomfort.  But I still felt caught between a rock and a hard place and either choice felt dooming.
He said we could come "around the corner" and look at whatever it was together. That word "together" seemed so foreign and out of plan to me... together???  No... I would come around the corner alone and uncover it alone and show him alone.  So he said "So you think I will not be there with you."
But this wasn't true either.  I thought I would be showing him, so he would BE there... but he would not come to it WITH me and it was not a "together" thing... I would be alone showing him.
At the end of the session, he asked if I just wanted to rip the bandaid off and tell him.
I said No Way.  My session was over and I couldn't open that can of worms and then LEAVE.  He said "Oh, so there is a tipping point in the session where if it doesn't come out by then, it isn't coming out."  And I acknowledged that yes, if it is not out by the half way point, it is not coming out.  (So many rules I make up in my own mind! :)
But so interesting that this makes sense as an 'absolute' in my brain... just realizing that this means (and says it very boldly) that I don't want to tell him and then dash out... I NEED him to process it with me before I leave... more "I need him"... AWKWARD!

Anyhow, so I got him and wrote up the issue and sent it to him.
(Now mind you you YOU know about it... I have written it.  Several in-person friends know about it... but because it is about HIM, I cannot talk to HIM about it.)  Here is what I wrote:

This is a bit of a “stream of consciousness” because I tried not to censor and just let it flow, so it is a bit rambling:

It wall started when as I was leaving your office and Mr M's surgery was the next day you asked "Are you asking me for something?” in response to something I said.
I came home and journaled about WHY that triggered such embarrassment and shame.
While journaling, I had to stop and cry because of the feelings it brought up. 
Then later, when walking with my friend and telling her about it, she suggested that if it were her, she would’ve felt like YES!, she DID want something.  She would’ve wanted you to go with her to the surgery and hold her hand and “be with” her. 
I wouldn’t even THINK to ask, expect, or hope for that, but when she said it, I had a wave of wanting to cry… so it resonated with me. 

{SIDE NOTE –but in the same vein: When I brought it up to you, you said that when you asked me if I was asking you for something, you felt like I needed a hug.  That is the second time you have said that to me… once was a long time ago, near the beginning of me seeing you.
That is one of those things I was talking about in session where I hear something and nod “uh huh” but don’t ask the question(s) that might seem obvious to others to ask.
“What are you seeing that makes it seem like I need a hug?”
“What if that was accurate and I DID need a hug?”}

What all this has tapped into for me is NEED and dependence.
I think I AM asking for something.
I am not even sure what, but I know this oversteps bounds – bounds that I have intrinsically “known” my whole life – by needing or wanting too much; what is not available or appropriate to ask for.
I think I started to tap into it a little even before all this when I told you that when I drove up near your office at other times than therapy I had started to feel attachment to you… I experienced it as “missing” you (because it felt like it had a little grief element to it because I wasn’t seeing you until next Tuesday).

So if I AM asking you for something, that is embarrassing because I am already getting all that I can reasonably expect.  Plus, it is not polite to ask for something that is not available and might make someone else (you) uncomfortable.
If I DO need you or AM dependent on you, that is a tiny bit more fine with me, internally (NOT if I express it to you!!!) but I understand the ‘rules’ that I will keep it to myself, because again, that is embarrassing because I am already getting all that I should reasonably ask or expect.
And if I DID actually need a hug – I can’t even GET that far to know if I did/do or not… but to even think, “what IF I did?” – that is embarrassing because that is not available or appropriate.

Another side note: A friend asked if this is because I am actually experiencing need/dependence/attachment as “attraction” and that is why I am embarrassed or feel like it is inappropriate.  I don’t think that is how I am experiencing it because I don’t think I feel attracted to you in that way.   It feels pretty clear to me that I could equally be experiencing this need/dependence/attachment with a man or woman and I would feel equally uncomfortable and inappropriate.  (I mean I guess there is an added element of perceived inappropriateness I would want to protect myself from because you are a man and someone else could easily misunderstand what I mean.)  But on my end it is about need and attachment and dependence and my embarrassment over my need and that I am asking/wanting/needing too much.  That I am breaking rules.  So many things.

I am even embarrassed reading back over this because it seems trivial and it seems like a lot of naval gazing (more shame and embarrassment), BUT it obviously ISN’T trivial and is deep for me.

And in thinking about it, I really DON’T think I felt “forced” by you into leaning into this.  I agreed to because I wanted to (as much as, or more than, I didn’t want to).  I don’t think I was protecting myself from being angry with you.  I could be wrong and I know I would definitely DO that, but I don’t think I am in this particular case.

So there it is and I am glad I am not seeing you for 2 weeks :/

He replied back:

"You are a brave one and I agree that you wanted this for yourself.  I'm glad you have opened the door to such honesty within yourself and I'm looking forward to getting in there with you."  

Today is my first session since I sent this (and received his response).
I go in an hour.
 I am SICK with anxiety.
I want to just go in and talk about a few parenting struggles and marriage issues I am having.
I want to call in sick.
I want to pretend I forgot it was Tuesday because of the holiday and just not go.
I want to quit permanently.
I am sick.
I have a stomach ache.  My heart is racing.  I want a xanax or a drink or something to calm these feelings.  (Interesting side note for me to pay attention to:  I do not want to EAT to soothe myself like I normally do... I will want to eat a LOT after the session... that will be my comfort and/or reward after, but right now, I have a stomach ache and I want to anesthetize with "MEDICINE".)

I am going.
I will have to talk about it.
I am sick about it.
I will live.
... at least that is what I am telling myself... but the way I am feeling, it doesn't seem like I actually believe that...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Letter to My Therapist

So, in therapy, I am touching on some deep issues that to anyone else would seem small, but to me, emotionally feel huge.
It feels so hard sometimes, slogging through all of this emotional baggage...
I get tired.
This makes me feel emotionally naked.

This is the email I sent to my therapist about it.  I DID send it.



I was sitting here thinking that next session I should address something I have been pushing away, but then when I started to picture it, I don't feel like I can do it.
But it is there and it is not going anywhere.  
So I feel stuck.
Which is why I am emailing... to get it out there and to be "accountable" that it exists and is hanging there even though I don't feel ready to go there.
This causes me embarrassment because I have to come in next week and you will have received this and now THAT will be hanging there and we will have to address it!  
Yet, if I avoid it, I am doing myself a disservice, so I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.  I don't want to address it at all and I seemingly can't avoid it either.
But - like you have alway said - the stuff I deal with in 'real life' will come up with you (ugh... I was going to say "in therapy" - haha!).  And this is EXACTLY what I do in my relationships, so I need to push through my discomfort in the only way I feel I can right now, and apparently that is writing.

After Mr. M's surgery I emailed you (below) about the feelings that were coming up when you asked me "Are you asking me for something?".
Then I had a conversation with my therapist friend about WHAT I was asking for and THAT brought up feelings (that I didn't not allow myself to express).
Even typing this, I am kind of getting teary.
It is a BIG deal and yet I want to get AWAY from it.
And I can feel myself wanting to create distance from you and to just "chit chat".
I feel stuck.
I don't know if I can do justice with my explanation, but if I don't "go there" with this, I feel like it is an anchor holding me back from going ANYWHERE else deep... like I have halted everything.  It is just a huge "elephant" in my emotional living room.  Am I just going to stay superficial and "chat" with you for 3 more years?!?
But I don't want to 'go there' either...
I don't want to talk to you about it, but I can't not.
So I don't know what to do.  I am in a quandary.

I feel so awkward I want to delete this.
I am embarrassed I have to email and can't just bring it up in person ("be a grown up").
I feel terribly uncomfortable about coming in next week and walking in and you have read it... I can PICTURE it and it makes me nauseated...  and now that I have typed this whole thing, all I want to do is delete it!!!!!!  (At this moment, I am pretty sure I will.)
But then I am mean to myself and think "Don't be a baby, what's the big deal?  Just talk to him in person about it."  (Shaming myself because when I read over what I have written, it doesn't seem like a big deal... but emotionally, it IS... and the above "baby" message is a defense mechanism, because if I don't write this - out of shame - I KNOW I will not be able to address it in person and I can just bury it and "stay safe".)

So there...
It is out there and I am just going to have to be uncomfortable.

Awkward closure (because I feel JUST like I do leaving therapy; exposed),

Previous email I mentioned above)

I was journaling about our last visit and had an interesting response.  I wanted to email you because I didn't want to 'forget' to bring it up after a whole week had gone by.

"I have NO IDEA what THIS tapped into, but as I was getting ready to leave, I said "OK, well... the surgery is tomorrow at 1:00."
And Dr. said "Are you asking me for something?" (Or something like that.)
I was taken aback, flustered.
"Um... No... I just... um... yeah... I guess if you think of me, pray for me."
I don't even know what I meant.
I don't think I wanted prayer either exactly.
I DO know that when I started to type this I started getting teary.
And I know I felt (and feel while typing) embarrassed or ashamed (or both).
I am not - I was trained, growing up - supposed to inconvenience anyone or ask for things people can't deliver on.
I don't even KNOW what it was I wanted or hoped for... I didn't let myself get that far... I shut down instantly with shame and kinda started crying.
I asked for prayer - and that was better than nothing... but it wasn't what made me ashamed... I wanted something or needed something that -
Wow! Whatever I was writing there REALLY touched something in me and I had to stop typing to cry for a couple minutes.
THAT'S gonna be something to explore in therapy next week!!!!!!
It really touched a nerve."

So yeah... just writing that totally triggered something and I had to stop writing to cry a while.
Reading it NOW it doesn't touch the same raw nerve, but reading it and remembering stopping and crying makes me a little teary.
So now it's out there and I CAN'T bury it even if I want to  :/

See you Tuesday.