Wow, what a day. I left home at 8:15am to see my orthopedist, and didn’t get home from work until 8:15pm. I have so much to do. I just finished making my finger food (it’s not really made out of fingers) for the reunion tomorrow night, but I don’t think I’m done with my story yet, I still have some revisions to do on it.
So therapy was ok I guess. I thanked J for the voice mail he left, and said it was nice of him to say such nice things about me. We talked about whether or not I believe what he said, and I told him that I believe that he believes it. I said, “Yep, I pulled the wool over another person’s eyes, aren’t I clever!” I told him that I do agree with some of the things he said, for example that the people I work for value me. There are things that they either cannot do, or don’t have time to do and I can do those things. But these are menial things – getting stamps at the post office, making up a chart in Excel. Anyone can do them if they had time or learned, and regardless, these have nothing to do with me as a person.
We got into one of the discussions we have had many times in the past – is a person valuable because of what they do, or who they are? I don’t think our abilities should determine our value. I asked him if there is a disabled person who can’t work – are they worthless? He was telling me about a war veteran he was reading about in the paper who had all of his limbs amputated. And this person has a lot of character and perseverance, and he has value. Well, that is what I am getting at, “Hello!!!!” He asked me what is the criteria for being a good person, and I thought about it for awhile and said that I don’t really know what the criteria is, and maybe that is why I don’t know if I’ve reached that level.
Then I told him that he was wrong about my family, they do not value me. And this is not my opinion, it is true. I talked about my father and how he valued me. He was proud of my accomplishments, but he would have thought so highly of me even if I wasn’t high achieving. I added, “Well, he was kind of clueless, but it was nice at the time.” I told him how my mother doesn’t think anything I do is good enough, but her second husband was “very impressed by me.” That is what she used to say all the time. She would call me and say, “Husband #2 is so impressed by you.” She would sound surprised. Since he died she hasn’t said it. Now his four kids are somewhat unimpressive, so maybe his standards were lower.
I told J about a sample of a book I downloaded onto my Kindle, called “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” It is about women whose mothers are narcissists. I told him that the description of these women really resonated with me, I can totally relate, but that my mother isn’t a narcissist, so I don’t know if I am going to buy the book.
I told J about what my mother thought about me working on the hotline – she didn’t approve. But when a friend of hers told her that her daughter is a rape counselor, suddenly my mother thought it was ok that I work on the hotline. J said that as long as what I do reflects well on her she is supportive. That is a form of narcissism. He said he doesn’t think she had a narcissistic personality disorder, or anything that severe, but it is a sign. Then he talked about the whole good enough mother thing again, and good enough for one person may be different than good enough for another.
He told me about people who let all of these neurotic things roll off their backs, like Buddhist nuns. I said, yeah, I’d probably be as happy as a Buddhist nun if I dissociated all day and didn’t pay attention to anything that is going on the world. That is just ignorance. How can anyone be happy considering the state of the world. We talked about whether these people really just let things roll off their backs, or if they process stuff. I told him I obviously think it is important to process things, otherwise I wouldn’t have been coming to therapy for over two years. He said he would check with the Buddhist nuns. I said, “The next time you visit the monastery?” He said he gets acupuncture from the Buddhist nuns. That’s just weird.
All of this time I have been trying to tell J that I am too sensitive, but he never agrees. Now he says I need to develop a Teflon lining, to let what my mother and husband say roll off of me. Then he said maybe I need to do battle with them. I asked him what that is. He said if my mother criticizes me or asks something like, “Why would you want to work on the hotline?” I can answer something like, “It makes me happy. I enjoy it. Blah blah blah….give reasons.” He said I don’t have to defend myself, but I can respond and let her know how I feel. I told him I didn’t think I could do that. Firstly, I don’t like conflict, and secondly, I don’t talk about feelings with my mother, because she doesn’t and she can’t.
Later on I was thinking “Why do I have to do battle with my mother and my husband in order to get them to value me? My mother chose to have me, I wasn’t an accident. My husband chose to marry me, no one forced him. And now I have to do battle with them to show I have worth? I don’t want that. I just want them to love me.”
J asked if my mother makes me feel like a child. I said, “She tries to.” He said, “I know. But do you?” I said, “I don’t really know what it feels like to be a child. I wasn’t even very childlike when I was a child.”
J started another sentence, but it was getting late, we only had about five minutes left. I asked if I could interrupt when he finished his thought, and he just shut right up. I told him about calling my flying therapist and how I thought I should have checked with him. He had no trouble with me calling her, he wanted to know all about why I called her and what my anxiety is about. But he didn’t get it. He somehow decided that I am anxious about my daughter flying, because she is traveling alone, and the body scanner stuff is bringing out my anxiety about that. I told him that is not true, she has been flying alone since she was 15, and I am not an anxious flyer anymore. I am strictly worried about the body scanner/pat down stuff and the thought of her going through that is very upsetting to me. I don’t think he believed me. He told me that this weekend his wife and little daughter had to go somewhere and they had a long drive home and weren’t going to get home until 1:00am and he was very worried about them traveling. He said that is normal with family. He told me that he looked at the clock at 8:00pm and he felt tired and he didn’t know how they would make it home so late, but his wife had another adult and another child in the car and they talked, and she called a couple of times on the way, and she made it home. Frankly he missed the point, and I didn’t appreciate the story much. I hate when he tells me stories about how much he cares for his wife and children, because my husband has never done the things that J does at home, and it makes me feel like I missed out on a lot.
He also said something about how the “body dysmorphic disorder” is definitely playing a part….I don’t think I heard anymore. Body dysmorphic disorder? Huh? Dr. “I Don’t Like Labels” throwing that out there in the middle of a discussion? I don’t have that. I have a very realistic view of my body. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I have a disorder!
We didn’t have much time to discuss this though. Then it was time to leave. As I was walking out the door I remembered the papers from my little box. I stopped and asked him if I could have the box. He said, “You want the papers from last week?” Good guess, I wonder what he was thinking and what he thought I was thinking. He gave me the papers and I left. Do you think he’ll ever ask why I wanted them back? Do you think he knows why I want them back?
This session made me miss my dad a lot. It will be 13 years in January since he died. I think he was kind of a buffer between my mother and me. Even though her personality was 1000% stronger than his, just that little bit of encouragement and feeling of value that he gave me was important. Now I have no one who does that. I told J that as much as I appreciate him telling me I am valued and I am a good person, it is nothing like having a parent or a husband say it.