I spent the day yesterday reading through the 245 pages of my journal/blog, and what I read was so fascinating to me. I decided to tell J the discoveries I have made by reading a year’s worth of writing, and here is part of the email I sent him today.
I originally started my journal by hand, but in December of 2008 I began writing it in Microsoft Word. It is now 245 pages long (don’t worry, I’m not sending it to you). When I saw that I thought, wow maybe I should stop writing and start living, but I spent the day yesterday reading over it (a good thing to do on January 1st) and so many things became clear to me, and I learned a few things as well. So I’m sending you this email because there is no way I will remember it all on Tuesday. Maybe you can make some sense of it and figure out what to talk about next week.
Many of my journal entries are self indulgent, self pitying, hard to read. I feel like I am reading about someone else, although I know I wrote this, I remember writing most of it. My first reaction in reading these is to delete them, but I didn’t do that. I think I might want to read them every once in a while to remind myself that I am striving to NOT be that person anymore. I kind of feel sorry for the person who wrote these entries, she doesn’t seem like a bad person.
After reading about myself over the period of 13 months I see that in that time I didn’t do anything bad. I may have caused people to become impatient with me, I may have confused people, but I didn’t actually do anything bad. (Thoughts don’t count here). Seeing this in black and white is really eye opening. I do a lot of good things, and I have some good qualities, and some good talents. Maybe I’m not really bad after all (not counting old parenting issues, etc.)
There is an entry in February when I was considering dropping out of my flying group. I wrote about how I’m not a perfect flyer (there are certain airports I won’t fly into, certain airlines I won’t fly, and certain types of planes I won’t get on), but I’m a good enough flyer. I thought you’d like that.
I really can see how I have way too high expectations of myself sometimes. There was an entry in May where I write about how I painted the whole bathroom, including the ceiling, over the weekend. And then at the end I write, “I’m so unmotivated lately.” I think I’m much more aware of doing that now.
I also am trying to be nicer to myself. I was cooking something a few weeks ago and I got a little messy and spilled something on the stove. My thought was immediately, “I am such an idiot.” But then I thought that if it was my husband or one of my kids who did that I would never say they are an idiot. So I did a take back and told myself that I’m not an idiot. Reading the journal makes it so clear about how hard I am on myself. If I was reading this and it was written by someone else I wouldn’t understand why she is so mean to herself.
In May I wrote that you said progress would be if I could move from shame (mentioned 65 times in the 245 pages) to low self-esteem (60 times) to acceptance. I think I might be in the low self-esteem category now, so I’ve made progress. This is where I would normally make a sarcastic comment like “at a snail’s pace” or apologize for taking so long and so much of your time, or say what a loser I am for making such a tiny step in a whole year. But I won’t do that. I don’t do that anymore.
And guilt was only mentioned 27 times, so maybe soon it will be shame mentioned only 27 times and guilt 65 times. That would be progress too.
I didn’t realize how much you liked the cutting collage, or you seemed to anyway. I wrote that you looked at it a lot, and brought it up a lot. I guess it must appeal to your sensing function. I made another collage this week, I’ll bring it in Tuesday.
We talked many times about me being a bother to you, being boring, not having anything interesting to say, how this only costs me $19.40 a week so I should probably only get 1/7 of the attention you would give to a full paying client. The word bother appears 30 times in the 245 pages. I wrote a lot about feeling bad that you are so nice to me.
I wrote quite a bit about how I wasn’t able to communicate things very well to you and it led to me feeling misunderstood. Email worked when it worked, but it didn’t work very well sometimes. I would like to be able to communicate better, not just with you. I’ve been noticing I have this problem with other people, and maybe that is why everything is just on the surface.
Reading the journal I realize that food and weight issues are part of the reason I stopped seeing friends (the other part being I was just isolating and avoiding stress). At this time last year I was going out with friends all of the time. But then I became fixated on food issues, and it was too hard to keep doing that. The words food/eat/eating/weight appear 201 times. And I don’t think we’ve ever even talked about this.
I wrote a few times (12) about having my feelings validated and how you don’t do that. I think that was the cause of having hurt feelings and anger at the beginning. You do say that feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are, so in general you are validating feelings. But in specific instances you don’t do that, and I’m used to it now. I guess I missed out on feelings validation when I was a child or something, but I’m trying to be the kind of person who doesn’t need her feelings validated by a third party.
About the bell curve (mentioned only 11 times, although maybe the find command didn’t catch the times I called it the bell f***ing curve), I understand that for all of the aspects of me that cause me to feel different, or weird, that I am somewhere on the bell curve. Not necessarily in the middle, usually not in the middle. But isn’t everyone on the bell curve, even those with extreme differences? They are on there, just over at the ends.
It seems as though you had to walk a fine line between my desire to be like everyone else, and the fact that in some regards I am not like everybody else. There were times you called me or something I do strange, and times when you said something about all of your other clients doing or feeling something totally opposite of me. I would usually get offended by those things. But reading the journal has made some things clearer to me in this regard; although I still have some confusion as well.
I’m actually not sure what it is about me that makes me feel different. You’ve pointed out some things, for example how all of your other clients feel safe in your office and I don’t, how your other clients are impressed with the way you remember things they’ve said and I find fault when you don’t remember things I’ve said, how your other clients’ therapy is more linear because they have a specific problem and I don’t, how a lot of clients come to see you to learn how to have stronger boundaries but I’m in the minority, that I’m the only client who has ever told you that you are intimidating, that you frequently explain why you are doing something or your motivations for doing something to me and you don’t do that with most clients. I wrote that maybe you are trying to get me to accept all of my weirdnesses (differences would be a better way of saying it) instead of trying to change to become normal.
Which brings me to the cyclical nature of my feelings towards you. At first it went like this: I liked you one week, you made me mad or hurt my feelings the next week, I liked you the next week, etc….. Now it is more like: I like you one week, the next week you make me mad or hurt my feelings, the next week I realize it’s not you who did that but it’s me projecting, I like you the next week, etc…..
Some troubling things –
Naturally, I have forgotten some things we talked about, but when I read what I wrote about them it comes back. There are a couple of exceptions though. In December 2008 I wrote that I gave you a letter I had written. I have the letter in my journal as well as in the document folder on my computer. But I have no recollection of writing it, giving it to you, or you reading it. The same with an email I wrote in May that I have no recollection of writing, but it’s in my sent mail folder, so I guess I really did send it. Forgetting about things we talked about is no big deal, but forgetting about things I actually did is unsettling.
It appears that there are times when I am in total denial. For example in January I got angry at you because you asked me the same question two weeks in a row. A few weeks later you brought up the fact that it made me angry, and I said I didn’t know what you were talking about, I was never angry.
In December 2008 we were talking about the same issue as we talked about in December 2009 – intrusive thoughts. And the same things about the intrusive thoughts, like what’s the payoff. We never resolved anything and I guess that topic just got put on the back burner. It’s kind of discouraging that we are having the same conversation a year later.
And it seems I started to feel not so well in January, maybe because I went off the wellbutrin in middle of December 2008? I started it again at the very end of October. It dismays me to realize that I might really need the wellbutrin; I went off of it because of the side effects. I have a lot of trouble sleeping, and it makes my head buzz. And with everything that is already going in my head, the buzzing is not welcome. Now that I’m taking it again I’m getting the same side effects. So this is somewhat of a challenge.
So that is it for 2009. Thank you for everything you do for me, I really appreciate it even if it doesn’t seem so and even if you don’t have any toys in your office. See you Tuesday,