December 28, 2010
I am feeling a lot of hate for myself right now. I hate that I wasted a therapy session today. I hate that I wasted $120 and I hate that my therapist might be angry with me because I wasted his time. I wouldn’t blame him. I entertained him with anxiety stories instead of using the time to discuss bigger issues. But on the other hand, I don’t think he wants to hear my abstract, nebulous, amorphous problems. He wants real issues, real situations, and sometimes it is hard to convert my ideas into day to day problems. I need to work on that so that I can feel more comfortable talking with him about it.
I had the impulse after the session to call him and ask for a do-over session, but after a couple of hours the impulse went away and I was left with the feeling that if I asked for another session I would have to go in there and talk about what I had intended to talk about, and it certainly wouldn’t be any easier, so maybe I will just wait until next week.
But in the meantime I am beating myself up over this, and J probably thinks we had a great session, talking about my anxiety! Wait, first I said he would be angry that I wasted his time, and now I am saying that he thinks we had a great session. Hmmmm…..
Last week I gave him a Christmas card with a lot of writing in it, telling him that instead of a gift I am writing my thanks for him helping me. He didn’t say anything about the card today. Did I hope that he would? I guess so. But it was a “thank you” card, and I guess it is not necessary to thank someone for their thank you.
It was a good session today in that I talked a lot, and it felt like meeting a friend for lunch or something. Except it was me doing all of the sharing, well at one point J told me he took the dog for a walk and there was some trash on the street and he left it there because it would have been too hard to pick it all up and bring it home because he was about a half mile away. That isn’t exactly something personal. So not like meeting a friend for lunch. And if I had told a friend these anxiety stories they would have thought I am a nut case. He, at least, is used to hearing this kind of thing, so if I had to tell someone this stuff he is a good choice. But I didn’t really need to tell anybody these stories. I already told a friend, and my daughter, and my husband the falling down desk story, and my boss was there when it happened, so that was enough sharing for that situation.
I’m never going to solve my problems if I can’t even talk about them.
December 9, 2010
A recent blog post got me thinking. The big void. A lifeless life. How did I get here?
Middle School – not such good years, I was weird, ugly, too tall, terrible social skills. But I was looking forward to high school, to being a teenager.
High School – was a total overachiever. Trying to make up for something, or impress someone (my mother?) Made friends, although still weird. At age 16 I discovered marijuana and liquor. I guess I wasn’t so happy if I was self medicating so much. I frequently had episodes of what is now called “binge drinking.” But I was looking forward to college, to being on my own.
College – not such good years, I didn’t fit in at all. I hated school. Continued to abuse myself with liquor mostly. Many of the people I hung out with later admitted that they were alcoholics. But I was looking forward to graduating, getting a job, making my own way.
20’s – pretty good now. Got a job with other weird people (journalists, writers, photographers), got to know a variety of people at various stages of their lives. Still drinking, those other weird people drank a lot too. And now using cocaine. But I was looking forward to meeting a great guy and getting married.
Marriage – I was happy. Quit smoking, quit cocaine, cut back on the drinking. Bought a house, loved my family and my husband’s family (well, kind of). Was looking forward to having children.
Children – I was mostly happy, but my anxiety was getting out of control. (I started having panic attacks at age 11.) Children put me over the edge as far as anxiety goes. Terrible intrusive thoughts, and I never mentioned it to anyone. But I was always setting goals for myself, short term, long term, a whole ten year plan. I thought it would take me forever to raise my kids. But time goes by quickly. I never thought about what I would look forward to after they were grown.
Now – What? I am married to a guy with whom I have no relationship and who I believe is a compulsive gambler. He is doing something funky with our money because financially we are in bad shape. My son is home, but mostly stays in his room. My daughter is a million miles away (seems like it, I think it’s only 1000 miles). I can’t stand most of my husband’s family, and my family has dwindled to not many. I am not speaking to my sister. I have isolated myself from my friends. I work practically full time now, but at work I am all alone all day. I am trying to hoard money in case I really decide to leave. I have nothing to look forward to when I wake up in the morning, or when I leave work in the evening. I buy wine by the case now instead of by the bottle. I have no goals, no short term plan, no long term plan, I don’t even want to live for the long term. I have nothing to look forward to except getting older, more alone, physically and mentally imcompetent.
How did I get here?
December 5, 2010
Which writing class should I take?
Boot Camp for Writers: So the Words Don’t Get in the Way
Workshop Leader: Beth Kanter
This course is for individuals who want to tone up their writing muscles so they can go the distance in the workplace or in the creative space. Each class will begin with a short warm up exercise. We will then focus on specifics like effective beginnings, creative prose, and strong conclusions. You will also learn how to avoid common grammatical and usage errors that can distract from your message. This class will focus on both craft and technique and is designed for students of all backgrounds who are looking to take their writing endurance and skills to the next level.
Date: April 27 – May 25
Day: 5 Wednesdays
Time: 7:00 – 9:30 P.M.
Level: All Levels
Hooray for the Essay
Workshop Leader: Anne Cassidy
We begin by reading a classic of the genre, talking about what makes it work, plumbing its mysteries. Then we move on to your essays. A week before class, you will send out your creation–whether it’s a few paragraphs or a few pages (five pages maximum)–so that we may all read it and discuss it in class. We will pay special attention to beginnings and endings, to the promise you make the reader in the beginning of your essay and whether you fulfill it by the end.
Date: February 26
Time: 1:00-4:00 P.M.
Days: 1 Saturday
Level: All Levels
Memoir and Story Construction
Workshop Leader: Lynn Stearns
In each session, we will read short published work and do brief exercises that focus on a specific aspect of writing: voice, point of view, setting, language, structure, plot, pacing, and resolution. The rest of our time will be spent critiquing manuscripts by participants. While sharing work is not a requirement, it is a valuable part of the workshop experience, and encouraged. Everyone will have an opportunity to bring in up to 15 pages for tactful but truthful feedback from others.
Date: January 18-March 8 or
Date: April 5-May 24
Day: 8 Tuesdays
Time: 10:30 A.M.-1:00 P.M.
The Writer’s Toolbox
Workshop Leader: Sara Mansfield Taber
This workshop is for students who want to hone their skills in the elements of writing that make for fine literary nonfiction. We will examine published work by essayists, diarists, travel writers, and journalists. Then students will practice aspects of the writer’s craft, focusing on important building blocks such as: concrete detail and use of the senses; figurative language; characterization, dialogue and plot; voice; scene, summary, and musing; and sense of time and place.
Date: January 18-March 8 or
Date: March 22-May 10
Day: 8 Tuesdays
Time: 7:30-10:00 P.M.
Level: All Levels
Workshop Leader: Mary Carpenter
Free up personal experiences, discover our voices, choose the best words. In each session, we write using an assigned topic and read the pieces aloud to hear what is strongest and most engaging. Participants may bring in work written or rewritten at home. The goal is to learn how to turn life into stories, to find out which aspects of our writing work the best, and to understand how to work together to create a writing group.
Date: February 1-March 8
Time: 10:30 A.M.-1:00 P.M.
Days: 6 Tuesdays
Genre(s): Mixed Genre
Level: All Levels
Strengthening Your Prose
Workshop Leader: Graham Dunstan
If you’re new to prose writing and have a story to tell, this writing class is meant for you. We will explore both short fiction and nonfiction and hone skills that can help you create more powerful prose. Students will write and critique short prose assignments and read contemporary examples of short fiction and nonfiction. Join us to create your own voice and to study key elements of writing including conflict, character development, and style.
Date: February 8-March 29
Time: 7:00-9:30 P.M.
Days: 8 Tuesdays
Genre(s): Mixed Genre
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
November 30, 2010
I just got off the phone with my aunt. She is very distraught over my sister’s behavior about not getting a thank you not from my cousin. She thought she could ignore it, but she couldn’t. So she sent my sister an email, and my sister replied, “This is between cousin and me.” My aunt then sent another email. My mother is also upset that my cousin did not send her a thank you note. She says she will not send a baby gift until cousin sends her a thank you note.
My sister and I once had a big blowout, and my mother knew about it. She told me that I need to overlook my sister’s behavior, to forgive her behavior, because blood is thicker than water. I didn’t want to upset my mother, so I have been doing that ever since. Until this September anyway, when I couldn’t handle it anymore. And yet, my mother and my sister can’t overlook my cousin’s poor etiquette in not sending them thank you notes (although she claims she did), they can’t forgive her poor behavior. They block her from facebook, they cause huge rifts in our very small family. And I am stuck in the middle.
My aunt and I talked tonight, and she was going on and on about how she can’t be good enough for my mother, she could never meet my mother’s expectations. I started crying during the phone call. Because my own feelings were being validated? Because she was criticizing my mother? Because a few months ago she was telling me that when she was little girl (she is about 15 years younger than my mother) she wanted my mother to be her mother – she thought she was so great? My aunt and my mother have had a difficult relationship for years. My aunt met my mother when my aunt was 4 years old, so she has known her basically her whole life.
All I want is a happy close family. I won’t have that, ever. Lots of people don’t have it, I know I am not alone. I know there is nothing to replace it. So that’s that.
November 27, 2010
I thought I would document some of the dysfunctional things my family does, in case I ever doubt whether they are dysfunctional, I can come back and read this.
My 26 year old cousin got married in March. In Atlanta (which is far away). My sister and my mother did not attend her wedding, but I did. It was a very nice weekend, we have a small family and don’t get to spend a lot of time together.
Last month my sister sent my now 27 year old cousin a facebook message saying, “I never received a thank you note for the wine glasses I sent you as a wedding gift. Maybe you don’t have my correct address?” My cousin claimed she sent all of the thank you notes. She asked her mom, my aunt, what to do. My aunt told her that she could either email my sister saying that she sent her a thank you note and she is sorry that she did not get it, or she could ignore my sister. She chose to ignore my sister.
I got my thank you note three or four weeks ago, end of October. Yesterday at my mother’s house my sister asked me, within five minutes of my arrival, if I got a thank you note from my cousin. I said that I did. She replied, “Really? She actually sent thank you notes?!? I can’t believe it.” I said that it didn’t seem like such a big deal, and did she get one? She said that she hadn’t.
Today my aunt called me and said that my sister facebooked my cousin again. She said she still hasn’t received her thank you note and she attached a link to the Emily Post Etiquette website. My cousin called my aunt to tell her, and she also said that she is going to unfriend my sister from her facebook. My aunt is really pissed off at my sister’s passive/aggressive behavior. My aunt feels that my sister is trying to drag her into this issue.
All of this over $40 wineglasses, and my sister didn’t even attend the wedding.
We received invitations to my cousin’s baby shower a couple of weeks ago. We are not sure if my sister RSVP’d yet. I just facebooked her to see if she is planning on going.
November 26, 2010
Another thing J and I talked about in t on Tuesday was the body scanners. He asked me how it went with my daughter going through security and I told him they just had the regular metal detectors at her concourse. As I mentioned, he apologized for saying I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, but he did say that this disorder is on a continuum, and many people have signs of it. I repeated myself and said that I do not have this disorder. Because I don’t want to be seen naked by someone in an airport making minimum wage who may not have a high school diploma, I have a disorder? He said that person is not seeing you naked, it is like a PET scan. I said, emphatically, it is NOT like a PET scan. A PET scan shows bones and organs, a body scanner in an airport shows what you look like under your clothes. Then he gave me the doctor comparison, but before I could rebut he did it for me, saying that when you go to a doctor it is someone with a lot of training, he doesn’t see your whole body naked for the most part, and you are assured of privacy (you don’t see too many doctors with their cell phones out waiting to take photos of you to put onto their facebook.) I already knew that whole argument, I don’t know why he was telling me this.
So what is left to talk about from my email:
More about the papers – why he didn’t read them after he said he would, why he said he would read them when I came in the next week and he didn’t even mention them
The voice mail and why it is about connection and not telling me things to change my beliefs about my myself.
Why I have to do battle with my husband and my mother in order to get them to value me.
J telling me via his stories about what a great husband and father he is and how this makes me feel.
And I also want to talk about the phenomenon of not feeling emotions in session, and what part he plays in this, or if it just projection or my perception.
November 24, 2010
As I said after Tuesday’s session I had an insight into why I don’t feel emotion when I am in J’s office. I don’t think there is one cause, it is a combination of things. Firstly, J is intimidating. We have talked about this before. Yes, therapy itself is intimidating, but I have had therapy with Parrot T and two different psychiatrists and I felt emotion. I met with the therapist who did that funky brain therapy that I was considering for my son, and I cried in front of her the first and only time I talked to her. J tried to convince me that it isn’t him, that it is therapy in general, but it’s not true. It is most definitely him.
But in session with J, when I get close to an emotion, or if I say something that could lead to an emotion, even if I say it in an obscure way because it is either too difficult to say outright, or I don’t know the words, anything that seems that it could start an emotional reaction, J will make a joke. (And I am guilty of this sometimes myself, but hey, I’m the patient so it’s ok.)
Here are some examples. The first time that I told him that he was intimidating (I explained that he is young, male, extremely good looking, well dressed) he replied, “I could loosen my tie.” This week when I mentioned the intimidation factor he replied by making a noise and hand motion like a scary creature in a movie would do.
One time I told him that I was tempted to cancel my appointment because I didn’t want to see him, and I didn’t want him to see me. He replied, “Would you like me to look the other way?”
He has told me that I am the only client he has ever had who told him he is intimidating, so obviously this is my issue, not his. But I can see how it would be upsetting to hear that he is intimidating, especially in his profession where he is supposed to be all about caring and empathy, and here I am telling him he scares the shit out of me. I don’t want him to be intimidating, and I don’t want to have to tell him that, but therapy is all about saying how I feel. I feel bad that he intimidates me, and even worse that it bothers him. And I know he has issues, and there is nothing more I would like to do than to talk about his issues all day rather than mine, but hello! Isn’t this my therapy? Isn’t he supposed to check his issues at the door and deal with mine? He so obviously does not want to delve into the intimidation issue. It seems like there would be a wealth of information there.
And the shame issue. I have read a lot about shame. I know it is the hardest human emotion to share, to feel, to discuss. And not only is it hard, but it is equally hard for other people to witness it. I know that. I know I feel awful when I feel shame and that he probably wants to run for the hills when I bring it up. But again, doesn’t he have training? If he is so freaked out by my shame that he must joke about it, shouldn’t he get his own help for that? This also seems like an area worth delving deeply into.
I can go back through my blog and find other examples (I said, “I don’t want to hear your perception.” And he said, “Well what do you want to talk about then?” Once he asked me what kinds of responses I want to get in therapy, and I told him I don’t know because I don’t know what the choices are. I told him it is like needing a new roof, and someone asks what my budget is. I don’t know because I don’t know what a roof costs. Then we talked about leaky roofs, and fixing roofs vs patching them, and putting on a fancy slate roof or a basic shingle roof. He made a joke, “Do you want me to give you an estimate?” Another time I said, “My problems don’t all happen on Tuesdays at 11:00am”, and he replied, “Do you want me to follow you around?”)
I wonder what is going on with J, or am I just projecting onto him my own feelings of numbness and detachment? What is it about the other people I meet with who I allow myself to feel sadness, shame, grief, while in the room with them? Whose tissues I don’t feel bad about using?
I want to do a test. I want to say to pdoc, “I almost didn’t come today. After our last session and all the feelings I told you about, I just didn’t want to see you today. I didn’t want you to see me.” I wonder how she would respond. I feel bad testing her though. I don’t think I can do it. But I do want to pay close attention to how she responds to me in an ordinary session, and what leads me to be able to show and feel emotion. How is it different? I wouldn’t think it would be, because she sits with my whole file on her lap, and when something comes up she riffles through the file looking for past instances or facts that she must have written down at some point, and occasionally the whole file will fall on the floor and the papers scatter everywhere. You’d think this would not be an environment where I would just open the flood gates. Could it be because she isn’t really doing therapy with me? We are just talking. I don’t know.