I am wondering if you have been trying to make me angry during these last two sessions. I thought things were going well with us for the past couple of months, and I think that was due in part to the fact that I stopped writing in my blog, and also because I was focusing on day to day things.
But when I try to talk about larger issues, things fall apart. I feel misunderstood, minimized, and like we are on different wavelengths, despite feeling understood and like you are helping me when we talk about the smaller things. At our session two weeks ago I brought up that I was concerned that this time last year was very bad for me, and I want to avoid that happening this year. You asked if I can avoid or get past bad feelings by thinking about the future, thinking about how I will feel one hour from now, or one day, or one week. I told you that I don’t think about the future and I have no idea how I will feel in the future. You said that one day you woke up and felt very tired, but you thought to yourself that if you have some coffee you will feel better in a couple of hours. I commented that it’s not a very comparison to suicidal thoughts.
I have talked previously about how I don’t see anything for myself in the future. I can’t picture it, I don’t want to think about it, because it will just be more of the same, life as it is right now or worse, getting old and sick and more and more alone. So I don’t see how thinking about the future will ever make me feel anything but worse. I thought it would be better to talk about concrete ways to avoid a repeat of last year, some things I have come up with on my own, as we talked about last week. I stopped drinking so much, started running again, etc. I think real actions that I could take would work better for me than thinking about how I will feel in the future, and I felt misunderstood because I have told you before that I don’t see anything positive in my future.
This week I talked about how I don’t see any difference in myself or my life from a year ago at this time. You mentioned that you do see a change in me, that I am not so introspective anymore. I am confused about that, because I don’t see what is wrong with being introspective, and you have never mentioned before that it is a characteristic of myself that I should try to change. I would think that introspection would be a good quality, particularly when one is in therapy. Is the therapy just supposed to happen in one 45 minute block of time per week? I wish there was a more positive change, for example, being with and having fun with my friends again, feeling better about myself, having a better relationship with my husband and children.
Then we talked about what makes life worth living, and you told me that it is the little things that happen on a daily basis. That I need to be mindful and have gratitude and stop to smell the roses. Personally I think I do stop to smell the roses. There are lots of things in life that give me a good feeling – seeing the geese being born on the towpath, beautiful movies and music, or the change of seasons. I told you that I was looking at the bigger picture, and you said that is my problem, looking at the bigger picture and not seeing the details.
I feel that you are trying to convince me that I should think like you do. But this won’t work, because we think differently and because our lives are so different. It seems as though it would be easy to be happy with haircuts, and tulips and puzzle apps on the phone, when the rest of your life is fulfilling. You seem to have a gratifying career helping people, great relationships with your wife and friends, financial security, and you are healthy, young, fit, good looking. With a life like that a hair cut or a warm day is just icing on the cake.
As for mindfulness, sure I am mindful. When my husband comes home from work I am mindful of the fact that we haven’t done anything together for weeks. When I am at work doing menial chores like filing and picking up bananas at the grocery store I am mindful that I have never made anything of myself professionaly. When I see my son sitting in his messy room, unshowered, playing video games, I am mindful of the mistakes I made raising him.
I am grateful for many things in my life and I think about them every day. I live in a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood, I drive a safe and environmentally friendly car, my children are healthy, I have good friends who care about me, and lots of other things. But as I said, I guess my expectations are too high. I’m too idealistic I suppose.
When I compare my life with yours I know I can never measure up. I know this is my distorted thinking, but I imagine you laughing at me in your head. I told you that I started running and biking, and you are probably thinking “What kind of running and biking can an old, fat woman like her do?” And I feel like you are always trying to one up me, even when you don’t intend to. I started riding my bike this week, and I felt pretty good about it. But when I pulled into your office parking lot yesterday, what did I see on top of your car? A high performance road bike. Yeah, I peddle along on my dopey little bike on dirt trails, while you crank out 40 or 50 miles on the highway between clients.
I know you swim, and that you ran in a race not long ago, and had a great race time despite never having run before, and now you are biking. I guess you are training for a triathlon. Want to hear something crazy? A couple of years ago I had the idea of doing a triathlon, a sprint triathlon of course, because I thought it would be a good thing to do when I turned 50. But I never did it, because I thought I couldn’t. And now you are training for what is probably an Ironman Triathlon. If I even brought up the idea of doing a triathlon myself you would most likely laugh your head off.
Another thing I don’t understand at all, is that when I mentioned that I feel it is important to always be growing as a person you said, “That’s fine if you are 6 years old.” I felt so dismissed, as though what I had said was beyond ridiculous. But I do really believe that, for me at least, growing and learning is important. Learning new things, becoming a better person, whatever. And you reduced that to an old lady in a nursing home playing sudoku. I have no intention of getting a PhD, but what if I wanted to? Why couldn’t I? Why do I have to play sudoku?
I know I am being triggered by the same things my mother used to do to me. Even now, I am a grown adult, and she criticizes me for the way I am dealing with my children. I immediately get that feeling of being a failure. I’m wondering if you are doing this to me on purpose, if it is some kind of therapeutic technique, to get me to feel like I do when my mother does this to me. Or if you really feel that I will never be good enough, that I will never measure up to you, and my life will never be as satisfying as yours is.
I wonder if that is why you brought up the story about the hole in the plane. That you were purposely scaring me to prove that I am really not as fearless about flying as I thought I was.
Someone told me that I shouldn’t ruminate on this until the next time I see you. That is the purpose of writing all of this out, even though I have been avoiding writing so that I can actually talk. But hopefully by emptying my head on paper I won’t have to think about it until next Tuesday, and I can enjoy little things like seeing the baby geese.