Making My Life Complicated

I think since I have left my home I am trying to not be alone. I’ve always liked to be alone, but for some reason now I don’t want to be alone, and filling up all of my time with so much social activity is complicating things for me.

Remember I wrote about Mr. Z? I wrote about him in April, when we were out at a group dinner with a bunch of people including Ms. Cleavage. A few weeks later, we had another group dinner, and Ms. Cleavage was there too, and that she night she drove him home. I was massively jealous, and my imagination created all kinds of scenarios in which they started dating and were falling in love with each other.

Mr. Z and I were having a “facebook relationship”, which I never knew existed, but we would have long conversations on facebook chat, some over 2 hours. I enjoyed our discussions very much, he is very intelligent and likes to talk about deep stuff, he reminds me of the friends I had in college. We would talk about books and philosophy and the world, etc. But I wanted more than a facebook relationship, I wanted to get together with him in person. Sometimes we would plan something and he would change his mind at the last minute, or I would suggest doing something and he wouldn’t commit. A couple of times he did ask me to go out, but I was going out of town.

So it worked out twice that we met up for drinks, and both times we drank a lot and had a very good time, but got very drunk, and ended up making out outside. I am very attracted to him. But the times that we would get together would be about every 4 weeks or so, and I wanted to see him more.

With the help of Art T, I decided to tell him that I didn’t want to do the deep conversations on facebook anymore, thinking that would lead to us getting together more. We did have a long conversation on facebook about not having long conversations on facebook, and I told him the reason is because I feel more connected to people when I can see them, and make eye contact and see body language, and hear the intonations in their voice. Just having a relationship in writing isn’t enough for me. It is enough for him however, so I had to decide what to do. It was getting painful for me to get closer to him via facebook, but not get closer to him in real life.

Stopping the long deep facebook conversations didn’t lead to us getting together any more often however.

I wasn’t sure if he was dating a few women, or if there was something about me that he didn’t like, but I couldn’t understand why he was so interested in maintaining this facebook relationship with me, but never seeing me. And sometimes he would disappear from facebook for a few days, and when I would ask him if he was taking a facebook vacation he would say he has been busy. I asked if he was working a lot, and he said work was slow, but he didn’t elaborate on what was keeping him so busy.

In my mind he was spending all of his time with Ms. Cleavage. Art T was encouraging me not to create a life for him that he didn’t really have, but I have a vivid imagination.

A couple of weeks ago a bunch of people went out for dinner and Ms. Cleavage was there, so I asked if she wanted to go out for a drink after dinner. We went to a bar and had a couple of drinks and I tried to figure out a way to get her to admit whether she was dating Mr. Z. I brought up his name, and said “You know him, right?” and she said she did, but didn’t elaborate. I didn’t really get any information.

Last week Mr. Z facebooked me in the middle of the day and said he was going out for a couple of drinks and dinner, and I asked if he was going alone. He said he was and I asked if he wanted company, and he said sure. So we met at a bar and had some drinks and we had a very good talk. I told him that I imagined him having a glamorous life, with an apartment in the city, and his own business, and he goes out with people all the time. He told me that he does not have a glamorous life, he lives in a tiny studio apartment, his business is bad, he has no money (did I mention he has no car and no cell phone?) and he claimed he doesn’t see anyone. He was very honest about his financial situation, I knew he had no money, and whenever we are together I pay for my part and he pays for his which is why I never considered our time together as “dates”, and I have wondered if the reason he doesn’t ask me out is because he can’t afford it. Of course, it could also be because I am married.

In one of our deep facebook chats a while back he stated that “our relationship will continue to disappoint you.” I suppose that means he thinks I want more than he wants.

So anyway, back to last week, we had a nice time, and somehow I ended up at his apartment. He claims I said I was drunk, which I know I did not say because that is not something I would say. He said he didn’t think I should drive and that I could stay at his place, but he only has one bed, but it’s ok for me to sleep with him. I had to think about that for a while, because as much as that really appealed to me, I knew it could be a mistake in the long run. So I told him I would do it as long as there was no sex and he agreed, and we actually had a talk about sex, and the pressures and what it does to a relationship and some other stuff that isn’t important to this story, but he was very open and honest and I tried to be too. I wasn’t sure that he would stick to the agreement once we were actually in the bed together, but he did. There was a lot of other physical stuff going on (use your imagination), and once we did kind of cross the line into something that could have progressed to sex, and he asked me if we should stop. I told him that I thought we should stop, and I apologized and he said there was no need to apologize.

I have to say, it was a nice night, despite the fact that I really couldn’t sleep and was up a lot in the night. I think not having sex made it even more special for me. He is very affectionate, and the next morning we walked out together and I left. He said he was glad that we didn’t have sex, that it complicates things.

Then I didn’t hear from him. Two days later I sent him an email saying it was a nice night and I had fun. He replied saying he enjoyed my company. Then I didn’t hear from him. I didn’t hear from him, except for a couple of random facebook comments, until he commented on a facebook post of mine 6 days later that led to a discussion on my wall, and an invitation to join a philosophy meetup group that he attends.

I checked out the meetup group and the things they discuss, and I facebooked him to say that it seems way out of my league but I am flattered that he would think I would fit in. He replied that I underestimate myself.

Fast forward three days later to last night. Ms. Cleavage had suggested we go out for dinner and drinks and I thought that would be fun because she is nice and she is single and I don’t know many single women to go out with. So we met at a quiet place for dinner which was great and we had a nice talk about dating and she said she had been dating someone for six months until recently, and now is dating someone else. I told her I was interested in someone, but I didn’t mention his name, although she was asking how I knew him, and did she know him, and I lied and said she didn’t.

After dinner we went to a nightclub, which started out fine. Ms. Cleavage and I started to talk about Mr. Z because I posted on my facebook page that she and I were at the club, and he responded that he wished he could be there too. Then she told me that she and Mr. Z did go out once for drinks, and she ended up back at his apartment because they both like to smoke weed, and she said he is really fun and she really liked him, but she would never date him because he doesn’t have a cell phone. She said she knows that is materialistic, but she can’t imagine not being able to get in touch with someone that she is dating. Then she asked me if I would be interested in dating him, and I said I would, that he is really appealing to me. I also told her that I am not looking for a long term “serious” relationship, or falling in love with anyone, I just want someone to go out with once a week or so, for dinner or a movie or just talking, and kissing too.

As the night went on the place got crazy. It was full of young people, and a dj started to play really loud music, and it got incredibly crowded. The waiters took all of the bar stools away so that people could dance in the aisles, and they even put platforms over the booth tables so that people could dance on them. Ms. Cleavage seemed to be on the prowl, and met a man that she began dancing with. I was quickly running out of oxygen and I told her I had to go outside.

I facebooked Mr. Z to tell him he was smart not to come, that it was getting out of control and overwhelming and crazy, and that once again, like in the old days, I was playing second fiddle to the little, pretty, blond woman, blah blah….I had a few drinks and that is when I tend to go overboard in my facebook chats. He said he was sorry that it was tough for me, then I felt bad about complaining and I said that Ms. Cleavage is really fun, and he said we are both fun, and I said he is fun, and then the Trayvon Martin verdict came in so we chatted a bit about that. He said he hoped we were both going to get out of the city because protests were starting.

And also while I was outside a man started talking to me. He was very good looking and smelled really nice. We chatted, and he said he was 35 years old (remember, I am 53). We talked for a while, then went back in, and we tried to continue talking but it was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other even though we were right next to each other. So we decided to communicate by text. And he bought me a drink, although there was no way I could drink another one. Finally Ms. Cleavage decided it was time to go and we left. It turns out she didn’t like the guy that she was hitting on.

Then we went home and I arrived home at about 2:00am, which is about 4 hours later than I ever stay up. I woke up this morning feeling awful, partially from drinking, but mostly just a feeling of being totally overwhelmed. That whole bar scene was horrible for me, and I don’t know why I could have forgotten that I hate places like that. I didn’t like it in my 20′s, so why would I like it now? And I felt bad about the fact that Ms. Cleavage and Mr. Z had a date and went back to his apartment, although I know the reason they went back there was to get high, you can’t just do that anywhere. Not where we live anyway. And I feel stupid for facebooking him, especially the comment about being second fiddle to the little pretty blond woman.

So last night was like the culmination of this social/party/dinner/meetup roller coaster ride that I have been on, and I need to get off of it. I need to start taking better care of myself, relax, not worry about being alone, not try to fill up empty space with meaningless activity, and just get myself together.

Although tonight I have plans to go out to dinner with some friends.

Tomorrow, however, I am going to the beach with two of my oldest closest friends and we go every summer and it will be relaxing and rejuvenating. Maybe it will help me get back in tune with who I really am.

And what to do about Mr. Z? I have no idea.


Update

Thank you to everyone who has left comments and emailed me to find out how things are going with me. I really appreciate that, and I’m reading blogs, but not really commenting. I do like to find out how you are all doing as well.

At the beginning of May I moved out of my house into a house owned by a friend, and there are two other women who live here also. Things are going well here, I feel comfortable here, but it’s not a long term solution.

We did sell our house at the end of May and my husband and kids and dog moved into a very nice condo. My husband and I rarely speak to each other, but we have gotten together for a family wedding and father’s day, and we act normally. I see my kids now and then, last week I went out with my son and we had a good talk about why I am not living there. I haven’t had that talk with my daughter yet, she is so busy and we have a hard time coordinating our schedules.

I am trying to work as many hours as possible to make extra money. I’m basically supporting myself, except for my car payment, car insurance, health insurance and cell phone.

We are still in a massive amount of debt that I don’t see how we will ever get out of. I’ve been seeing a financial adviser, but I won’t be seeing him often because it is expensive. I also had a meeting with an attorney and she was able to answer my questions about this process. At this point I have no desire to get back together with my husband.

I’ve been spending time with friends, some of them are men, and I actually have a date tonight with someone from a dating site. I’m not looking for another long term relationship, just someone to go out with for dinners and movies, and to have conversations with, and perhaps a little making out wouldn’t hurt. I have had a few guys hit on me, which surprised me, but I guess that is what happens when a woman is newly separated and guys think she will take anyone who comes along.

I have been drinking a little too much, taking a low dose of klonopin throughout the day, and not eating or sleeping well. I’ve lost about 8 or 9 pounds. But I’m still running, although sometimes it is hard.

I still see Art T, she is being great. This whole therapy thing is so ironic. I never wanted to talk about my life with J, and he just wanted me to talk about my week every week. Now with Art T, what do I talk about? My week. When we started, it was different, but now that all of this stuff is going on in my life, that is what we talk about. It’s a lot easier to talk to her than J, and we talk about everything, including sex, and a couple of weeks ago I told her about the cutting that I used to do. She is 34 and I am 53, and she is instructing me in things like how to deal with a man who doesn’t want to use condoms. Kind of surreal. But I don’t see sex in my future anytime soon, although it’s good to know how to deal with these issues.

I do feel a lot of guilt about breaking up the family, and I think that maybe if I was a better wife my husband wouldn’t have gambled. I’m thinking of going to the Gambler’s Anonymous meeting that they have for the families of compulsive gamblers. There aren’t many meetings for that, not like AA or Al-Anon, which are all over the place at all times of the day.

My husband’s family is being very supportive of me, I think they are angry with him for what he has done. I know the bottom line is if they had to make a choice they would stick with him, but it’s nice that they are supporting me now. And the biggest surprise of all is that my mother is totally supportive of me. I put off telling her as long as I could, but she thinks I am doing the right thing. She never liked my husband much anyway.

So that is what is up with me. Thank you again for checking in on me.


An Epiphany?

Last week I had the talk with my husband – I told him that I found a place to live and that I would be moving out. I recorded the conversation with the voice recorder on my phone, because I wanted people to believe me when I say that he doesn’t talk, doesn’t show emotion, doesn’t respond to me, etc. Not that anyone would ever really ask to listen to it.

But in therapy yesterday I asked art t if she would like to hear the recording. It is only 6 minutes long, and I actually typed it all up because parts are hard to understand. She listened to the whole thing. Then she told me she is really glad that I brought it in for her to listen to, because she only hears what her clients have to say, and not that she doesn’t believe them (dubious maybe) but she frequently feels that they are perceiving things incorrectly.

After listening to my conversation with my husband, she doesn’t feel that I am perceiving things incorrectly. She asked if he was always like this, and was somewhat incredulous that I have been able to stay with him as long as I have.

Now, to back up to Sunday night, I went out to dinner with a meet up group that I have been in for the past year. And there is a man in the group (Let’s call him Mr. Z) that I have a huge crush on, but I only see him every couple of months at these meet up functions. He is very sweet and affectionate and insightful and smart, but also funny and crass, and I also think he is hot. We all had dinner, then some of us stayed around for drinks after dinner, and broke up into little groups. He and I were sitting together at the bar, with a new woman in the group, a beautiful blonde woman with big boobs. She seemed proud of those boobs, as there was a lot of cleavage showing. I don’t have any cleavage, there’s not much to work with there.

Anyway, we were all drinking and talking, and I was talking about my marriage situation among other things. And I said that I am bad at relationships. Mr. Z said that is ridiculous, I am obviously not bad at relationships because I am relating quite well to him and Ms. Cleavage, and being very open and honest. I blew that off by saying that I didn’t know them that well and maybe it is easier to be open with people who aren’t as close to me on a day to day basis.

After a few drinks (maybe a few drinks too many), Mr. Z asked if I would drive him to his ex-girlfriend’s house which is not far from where I live, so I said sure. During the drive we did a lot of talking, I was being very honest, and I again mentioned that I am not good at relationships, and he didn’t believe me. He opened up to me and told me that he broke up with his girlfriend last night. They had only been dating about 9 months, and he was acting like it was no big deal, but I didn’t believe him.

And apparently he stays at his ex-girlfriend’s place because they are still friends. (He wasn’t staying with the one he broke up with last night, but his long term ex-girlfriend.) Somewhere along the way to her apartment he started holding my hand. And we just kept talking and talking, and we got to her apartment and I pulled up in front, but we continued talking and talking and he was holding my hand and it was very sweet. Then we had a really close hug for a long time and he said he loved me and I said I loved him too. (Not that kind of love, just the kind of love you have for someone that you just spent a few hours with drinking and sharing your stories.) And I kissed him on the cheek and told him to call me, or facebook me, or email me and he got out and started to walk away, then turned around to look at me and waved.

It was very sweet.

I was telling art t all about it, and how nice it was to hear someone say they love me, even though it isn’t that kind of love. I told her that the only people who say they love me are my daughter and my cleaning lady.

But where I am going with this, is after art t listened to the recording and said something insightful like, “Where are his emotions?” I thought to myself, maybe I am not bad at relationships. Maybe I am bad at relationships with people like my husband. People who do not express emotions, and also don’t know what to do with the emotions I give them (for example he would laugh when I was crying and saying someone hurt me.)

So now I am wondering. All of this time that I thought I was bad at relationships, maybe I am not. This is very enlightening. It is something to think about.


Sand Table

I played with the sand table with art t yesterday for the first time. I’m not sure “playing” is the right term. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kind of grabbed stuff off of the shelves and put them in the sand. I was feeling emotional before I even started due to some things that happened during the day, and I tried to pretend that I was having fun.

Art T says she will take a picture of it, and I also took pictures with my phone. She wouldn’t let me take it apart and put the stuff away, she says I am supposed to leave with it all still in the tray.

sand table

sand table

sand table

You can click on these pictures to make them bigger.

Over there in the back left is my house, with my husband (the golfer), my daughter and her horse, and my son and my dog. The lady in the green shirt is my mother saying “Woe is me, my daughter is getting divorced, what will my friends think?” And my car with me driving away.

Then on the right is me, the wicked witch, in my new house, which is just an empty shell, with a bare tree. There is my conscience, the guy in the robe pointing his finger accusingly at me, and the cowardly lion, who I can relate to because I wish I had some courage. A little farther away is a tombstone, since I don’t think I’ll live very long.

In the other corner are palm trees, and a boat in the water, because I have a fantasy of running away to the beach forever.

Art T asked me if I wasn’t represented by a witch, who would I be. I tried to find an ugly lady in among the figurines, and I did find one, but she was crazy looking and art t said I should try again. Then I saw Alice in Wonderland and I picked her because I think she is a mindless silly girl who just chases rabbits and falls down holes and eats and drinks things without knowing what they will do to her.

Of course art t had different interpretations of all of this. To her the empty house was an archway to a new life. And she said I should think of the good parts of my beach fantasy and try to recreate them here in my current life. And she says she has a different opinion of Alice, that she is the only sane person in a crazy world and she is just trying to make sense of everything that is happening around her.

I’m not really sure of the purpose of this exercise, art t says it is very Jungian and as we do more with the sand table more of my subconscious will come out. Not sure if that is a good idea or not.

Another weird thing – at the end of the session she asked if anything was new with J (my old therapist) and for a second I didn’t know who she was talking about. I still miss him, but not as much and I don’t think about him as much. I did email him about 5 weeks ago and tried to tell him all of the positive things that were going on in my life. He responded by saying that I am amazing and I deserve all of these things. So now I don’t want to let him down by telling him what is really going on – that I am leaving my husband. I found another place to live and I will move in there on May 1st. I don’t know if he would be surprised. Art t knew everything that was going on with my marriage, and she was still surprised when I told her that I found a new place to live and gave a deposit.

I’ve been reading everyone’s blogs, but I haven’t been commenting – I apologize for that. I know some of you are having a hard time, and my thoughts have been with you. Not that it helps much. Maybe now that spring is here in the northern hemisphere things will look better.


New Office

On Monday Art T told me that she is moving to a new office. Apparently she has been sharing her current office with four other people and now she will have her own office. And the best thing? A sand table!!!

I have been wanting to play with a sand table. J didn’t have one, he didn’t even have any toys. He managed to find me a squishy little soccer ball in his office closet, then I ended up bringing my own toy (the tangle – it’s a great thing). Art T told me she has shelves full of little figures, but even if I don’t want to use the figures I can just play in the sand. It’s very tactile.

I can’t wait to see it.


Do You Cry When People Are Nice To You?

I cry when people are nice to me. I have come to the conclusion that I do not like people to be nice to me, because when they are, I cry. Makes sense?

Art T told me that it is not so. We have not yet figured out the emotion that goes along with the crying, but we decided that I immediately judge my tears, and give them a negative connotation. If I do not judge the tears, and just let them flow, maybe I can figure out why they are happening.

I don’t like when people are NOT nice to me, so it makes sense that I would like it when people ARE nice to me. But I cry when it happens.

We tried to figure out what I am feeling in that brief moment before the judging begins. Do I cry because I have an overwhelming sense of being comforted? Or feeling connected?

Do you cry when people are nice to you? Do you know why?


Having A Story

In session with Art T this week, there was more stuff about J. It seems like a lot of my therapy is about my therapy with J. I was telling Art T about the pattern J and I had in sessions:

10 minutes to say my stuff
20 minute Q&A interacting
J talks for 15 minutes, gives lots of examples

How the normalizing technique was one he was particularly fond of, but I often found it invalidating. Like “everyone feels that way, it’s no big deal”, which left me thinking “oh, well then, sorry I brought it up, I must just be a drama queen.”

Art T thought there might be a step missing in between saying whatever it is I am feeling, and J normalizing it. Like maybe validation, saying something like “that must be really hard.” I told her that J didn’t believe in validation, and I could kind of understand that, especially for me, since I get all of my self worth from outside of myself. I can’t really validate myself, and maybe he was trying to get me to do that, instead of him doing it. Art T said that understanding is important, and maybe I didn’t feel that part of the process from J.

Back to words and how they seem to have too much power for me (ie; the word “relationship”) this came up again with the words “dysfunctional” and “narcissistic”. I told Art T that years ago my sister mentioned growing up in our dysfunctional family, and I couldn’t believe she said that, our family wasn’t dysfunctional. Art T said maybe it was dysfunctional, and I said that if I say that my family was dysfunctional that is minimizing everyone who grew up with an actual real blatant dysfunctional family. Art T reminded me of the study done on people who grew up in actual real blatant dysfunctional families, and those who grew up in families that were overtly dysfunctional. She said it was found that the people from the overtly dysfunctional families had more severe problems than the ones from blatantly dysfunctional families, because when the problems are hidden it is harder to place blame on the people who are causing the dysfunction.

I asked Art T if she had ever read the book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” by Karyl McBride. It is a typical self help book, in that the first section describes the symptoms of a person suffering from “not good enough” syndrome. In this book it is daughters of narcissistic mothers. The second part of the book describes how to fix it, and this is where I have a problem. Step One is to understand the problem, diagnose it, and get the background information that defines it.

Step Two processes the feelings related to the problem.

Step Three is about reframing, meaning looking at the problem through another set of lenses, or in a new way.

I told Art T that I see myself in the first part of the book where the author describes these daughters of narcissistic mothers, that I can totally relate to how she describes them. But when I get to the solution, I am stuck at step one, because I am not the daughter of a narcissistic mother. Art T asked how I could relate so much to the first part of the book, which is about daughters of narcissistic mothers, if I am not one myself? Hmmm. She is tricky, that Art T.

Narcissistic is a strong word. According to the DSM my mother is not narcissistic. Close, but not enough for the diagnosis. Art T asked if we could say she is self centered. I said, sure, a little self centered is fine.

I think I am also hesitant to label her narcissistic because I am afraid I am like her in some ways, and that would make me narcissistic. I told Art T that J said if I am worried that I am narcissistic, that means I am probably not. She agreed. She asked me if my mother has ever recognized that she has a problem and gotten help for it, and she has not done either of those things. Art T said that means I am not like her, because I am getting help.

I told Art T that people think my mother is amazing. She said “Just like people think you are amazing!” That didn’t make me feel good.

I described ways that my mother is self centered, but I didn’t want it to be a “bash my mother session” because the last time that happened, with J, my mother called later in the day to say she was at a store and saw something I would like, but wanted to know if I wanted it in black or brown. A narcissistic mother wouldn’t do that.

So some things my mother does are to use things I do to make herself look good, change her viewpoint depending on what others think of her, needs a lot of attention so if something happens she will call 10 people are repeat the same story over and over. She does however come through when someone is in need, and she does great when there is a problem. I was telling Art T one particular story and as I told it I realized that my mom was totally manipulating me. I never realized that is what she was doing. I think my mother didn’t know that is what she was doing, at least not consciously.

I had mentioned to Art T before that I never went to my mother with any problems and I didn’t tell her about anything personal. For example, when I first got my period I didn’t tell my mother for about three days. I tried every day, but the words got stuck in my throat.

To this day, I would not go to my mother with a problem, unless it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes things “slip out”, and I wonder if that is just an unconscious way to try to connect with her. It doesn’t usually work however.

Art T talked about “stories” again, the stories we develop as children to explain our circumstances. We carry these stories through adulthood, when we should figure out that they aren’t true and we should discard them. If we don’t do that, we frequently hold the wrong ideas about ourselves and are unhappy.

During this last year I have been in school and we had a speaker named Debbie Ford, who wrote some books about this topic. Sadly, she died this week. I did read one of her books, and did not get much out of it, but I just downloaded another one to my kindle called “The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning Your Story” and here is the description:

The past is more than prologue, says bestselling author and Chopra Center for Well Being counselor Debbie Ford. The Secret of the Shadow urges readers to create a fresh meaning about their formative experiences, especially the painful ones, and use them to plan a more purposeful and authentic life. Ford believes that each person is born with unique gifts and a divine purpose, which are lost when we create a “story”–a collection of beliefs–that manufactures a false self and casts a shadow to hide our uniqueness and prevent us from success in work and love. As she explains, “the key is to stop chasing the feel-good moments and make peace with our stories so we can understand, accept and embrace everything in the past that has caused us pain.” Once we stop trying to change the painful parts of our story, we will discover the divine plan for our lives. Writing in the voice of the wounded healer, Ford tells her own story of embracing the wisdom and direction she found in facing family and addiction problems. She skillfully offers examples from participants in her workshops at the Chopra center who have leveraged the lessons of a painful past into a purposeful life. She invites readers to “own their whole story” by asking: What is the secret [about you] that your story conceals? What wisdom can you contribute to the world that you couldn’t if the events in your life hadn’t happened?”

While I was reading this, I had one of those moments of insight, you know those moments that unfortunately only last for an instant and when you try to grab onto it, it is gone. I am trying to get it back.

Because what if everything I believe about myself isn’t true? Then where am I? First of all I would have wasted decades believing a myth, and living as though this myth was true. That is a devastating feeling. Secondly, if this story is not true, what is my real story? And how do I know my real story is any better than my false one? If I abandon the false story I might uncover a story that is equally, or even worse, than the myth. I think that would be even more devastating.


The “Relationship”

Apparently my problem with therapy is that I don’t think the therapist and the client have a relationship. And the key to successful therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client (this pertains to the type of therapy I have been looking for, of course there are other types of therapy where the relationship is not the key). Because the therapist will respond in different ways than the client’s other relationship people have responded in the past, and that will produce a change in the client, so that even if the other relationship people in the client’s life continue to give those same responses as they have in the past, the client has developed something inside of her that enables those responses to not bother her anymore. And she has developed this thing inside of her because the therapist consistently gives more positive responses than the other people in the client’s life, or the client’s past life.

In my case, I don’t believe anything the therapist says about me, because it is her job (his or her, I will just use the feminine), and I pay her, and she has to respond positively and have unconditional positive regard because that is what a therapist does. Even if the therapist says it is not fake, that part of her job is “attunement” and she feels the feelings of the client. Which she claims is ok, and she would only need supervision if those feelings that she has interfere in the therapy with the client. And apparently feeling the feelings of the clients all day long is not overwhelming to her because she has good self care.

So it all boils down to the “relationship” which I do not think is what the situation is between a therapist and a client. I think it is more of a business arrangement, or a working alliance. Like an accountant, but instead of discussing numbers, we discuss emotions. That doesn’t make this a “relationship”.

So maybe that is why I never change, and maybe therapy just isn’t for me.


Rational

Quick update on my life:

1. House went on the market 1/18
2. Got an offer 1/21
3. Have been negotiating with the potential buyer for 10 days, they are very unreasonable
4. They have until Friday to get back to us, in the meantime the house is off the market
5. Told my husband that when we sell the house we should separate
6. Not much response from him
7. I talked to him a couple more times and said I need to be involved in our finances
8. He brought home a few bills
9. Told him he better continue to include me, that I wasn’t making an empty threat
10. Figured out we can’t afford two places to live, so separating isn’t an option

I saw Art T on Monday and I decided to totally shut down, I couldn’t deal with any emotions. I have been too stressed out with the house and the marriage and the finances. It was like having a session with J. I told her everything that is going on, she asked some questions, then she did a lot of talking. Just like J did.

She said, “You are speaking so rationally.” (You mean, without emotion?)

She said that it seems my husband doesn’t “engage” and she asked if there has been anyone else in my life that was important to me who didn’t “engage.” I said that there was not.

She then went on to try to convince me that my parents didn’t engage with me.

First of all, I am not sure that is totally true, and second of all, what does that have to do with my husband?

She said it would be a good idea to journal about this, or think about it. Sure, I’ll do that.


Therapy Recap Times Two

First I saw Art T this morning, and I had last seen her Wednesday, then left for a road trip with my daughter on Thursday to take her back to school, and didn’t get back until last night. So I talked about how nice the trip was and how great it was to be with my daughter, and we laughed and talked, and it was good. Art T asked me questions about my daughter, and asked if my daughter knows me well. That was a good discussion, but at one point she asked what do I think my daughter would think about me if she knew about my issues. I quickly changed the subject, I was getting emotional and didn’t want to go there.

Then I told her I was going to see J in the afternoon and we spent the rest of the time talking about that, and what I would like to have happen, and what I want to tell him, etc. It was a good discussion.

I was very anxious about seeing J. I was meeting with him for an hour and a half, since I asked for a double session, and I had been so confident about what I wanted to say, but when the time actually came, I wasn’t sure I could say it.

It was nice to see him, and nothing in his office was changed. I did forget to look at the bookshelf to see if my box and my rock were still there, and he didn’t say anything about it. It has been almost 6 months since I last saw him. I told him that I wrote him emails, but he didn’t get them because I didn’t send them. And that I had two directions that I wanted to go in during the session.

So I started out telling him what had been going on in my life, and the problems with my husband and our financial stuff, and selling our house, etc. That lasted an hour, and it was a really good discussion, because J is good at problem solving, and he didn’t defend my husband like he had in the past. He definitely thinks there is a gambling problem going on, and he knew my marriage wasn’t great before, but it wasn’t terrible so there was really no reason to leave, but now things have changed and I have to decide what to do. We talked about addictions, and I asked him if he had been to rehab, something I always wondered. He said he had been twice, once in college when he partied a lot, and rehab didn’t work because he thought it was a just a physical thing. But the second time he went he understood that he had to deal with all of that feelings stuff, and that made his rehab successful. I told him that I didn’t picture him partying in college, and he said that I knew about his drug problem. But I thought he was addicted to pain killers from an old football injury, and he said it started in college, since he was in pharmacy school he had easy access to the drugs.

Anyway….the conversation about my life lasted an hour and then I asked if we could go in the other direction. I started by saying that every time I would see him, for 4 years, I was anxious. And I thought about therapy all the time, and analyzed everything, and ruminated, etc. He said that he knew that. I said when the break first started I was feeling great about it, like a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I asked why did I keep coming back? I said that I rarely felt better after a session, even though he said his other clients did, and I always felt the need to explain more which is why I sent emails. And that I was totally shut off from emotion and felt like I was reporting.

I brought up the old thing about how he intimates me, and I know he doesn’t like to talk about it, but it is like this giant elephant in the room. And I explained how when I was young, people like him didn’t talk to people like me (by the way, he said he was captain of the football team, but not prom king). And I said that I have no idea if he was nice to girls like me in school, or mean to them, or if he even noticed them, but my experience tells me he wasn’t interested in talking to them at all.

Then I talked about what I wrote here the other day, how I wanted my son’s T to be my son’s father. And I repeated back to J all of the things he said over the years, about worrying about his wife and daughters, and playing games with his daughters, and getting up in the night to check on them when they were sick, etc. And how my husband didn’t do any of those things. I said that whenever he would say something like that, it would be all I could remember from the session. J said he was just saying those things incidentally, and I said that I knew that, but they made a big impact on me. And I said that I don’t want him to take this the wrong way, but he was like a substitute husband to me. And maybe that was why I kept showing up week after week. He said he didn’t take that the wrong way at all, but he wanted to know how the intimidation fit into that. Did I think I wasn’t worthy of a husband who did those things?

Now that I think about that, it could be right, but I said that the intimidation factor wasn’t related to that, it was more about the leftover feelings from when I was young. That after 40 years I still believe what I believed then. And I thought if I continued to see him it would get better, like exposure therapy, but that never happened. He asked me how I was feeling in session today, and I said that I felt a lot better than I normally do, and he said he noticed that as well. I said that when I was sitting in the waiting room I thought to myself how stupid I am to be intimidated by him, basically I am paying him and he is working for me. Not exactly, but kind of, and he agreed. I told him that I got my car washed before I came over because his car is always so clean. But today his car was filthy. And it was ridiculous that I felt that I had to have a freshly washed car to go to therapy. He obviously didn’t care if he had a dirty car if he was seeing me.

Then I talked about finding a new T. I didn’t like the way he looked when I was talking about this, and this part of the conversation didn’t last long. Art T told me that she was afraid I would tell J that I found a new T because I needed a participating provider and I wanted a woman, when actually what I wanted was a different kind of therapy. It would have been easy to go that route, but I did tell him that the therapy with her is very different, and not so much problem solving, which I think leads to dependence on one’s T. And how he is very good at problem solving. He told me that everything that a client comes in with is a problem. He asked me what Art T’s profile said on the website, and I explained that she said that she likes to work with people who have difficulty with emotions, and poor body image, and self harm, and existential issues. I did kind of lie and say I had only seen her for a couple of months and I didn’t know if I would keep seeing her.

This second discussion lasted about a half hour and it was time to wrap up, and J asked what I thought we would do next. I asked if he had any clients who came in periodically, rather than weekly, and he said he did, and that is fine. I said maybe in 3 months? He said, “no”. I said, “Six months?” He said, “No.” He said he didn’t want to put a time restraint on it, if I want to come in in 6 weeks that is fine, or in 6 months. Then he went on to describe 4 or 5 clients/couples who would come in periodically for various reasons.

I did ask him if he ever thought of telling me I should find a different therapist since it was so hard for me, and he said no, he never thought of that. He said that first, someone who has issues with self worth could have a strong feeling of rejection if their T referred them to someone else. And also he said he never gives up on anyone, that what someone first comes in with may not be what ends up being a problem. He gave an example of a woman who came in because she was having trouble with the death of her 80 year old father after three months. After a while in therapy it turned out that she was really having trouble getting over her divorce which happened 12 years prior, and once she figured that out she only had to come 2 or 3 more times and she felt better. He gave another example of a teenager who is sent to therapy by his parents and he doesn’t want to be there, but after a while he opens up and starts to like therapy and benefit from it. And he said he had a couple of people who didn’t talk at all for the entire 45 minutes, but he just waited and they eventually opened up too. So I guess after 4 years he still had confidence that it would get easier for me.

I said that I thought having 90 minutes was really good too, because it is hard for me to get started. He said he had never done a 90 minute session before and I was surprised by that. He said, “I know you, I respect you, and if that is what you wanted, it was fine with me.”

When I left I didn’t feel that there was anything left unsaid. I felt a good connection, and no defensiveness from either of us. He didn’t freak out when I said he was like a substitute husband. I thought our discussions about both of the topics went really well, and even though talking about Art T was a little weird, it wasn’t terrible.

I am happy that it doesn’t have to be goodbye forever.