When I saw Art T today I showed her the mask and said I wasn’t sure if it was right, and of course she said there is no right or wrong. I told her it was creepy, the hair and the eyes. She said I could try to fix it and I said what if it gets worse. She said the cool thing about this is I could just cover it up with another layer. I said what if I keep trying to fix it and it stays bad or gets worse. At least if I don’t try to fix it I could have the hope that it can be fixed. She said that seems like a metaphor. I said yes it does. I said maybe that is why I stayed with J for so long. If I had left and found a therapist that was a better fit for me and I still didn’t get better then I would know I was broken. But staying with him always gave me hope that I could be fixed, just that he wasn’t right for me.
She asked what would make the hair better and I thought maybe brown straight ribbon or yarn, but I bought the curly ribbon because it was already curled and attached to little cardboard squares so I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to attach. She made a comment about how I picked the easy thing, and I said that saying I was looking for a shortcut was somewhat insulting because I spent a lot of time doing this thing, I had to find the materials and cut out all of the words and actually put it together. She said she didn’t mean to be insulting. I told her that J would sometimes say I was looking for a shortcut, and she said “Oh I hit a J sore spot”.
We decided I should take off the ribbons and make the mask bald, and it really did make it better. I also told her that there weren’t enough words for the front, and too many for the inside. We talked about the words on the outside and how that is how people see me.
So about being broken, she said people aren’t born that way. Then she was talking about trauma and I said that I didn’t experience any trauma, and she said she believes that I did. I said that she is watering down the meaning of the word trauma and she said there is Big T trauma and little t trauma, and told me about a study where people who had Big T trauma were compared with those with little t trauma later in life, and they seemed to have the same attachment pattern, which I am assuming is a bad attachment style. She said some of the little t trauma people were even worse because they couldn’t specifically put their finger on what caused their problems.
J was always trying to convince me that my mother is narcissistic, and now Art T is trying to convince me that I had trauma in my childhood, and I don’t think either is true. I know too many people who have experienced trauma, and what I had wasn’t trauma by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, maybe the family was a little messed up because of the illness of my dad and my sister, and maybe because I was different and ugly as a child I got made fun of, and no one ever really understood me, but that is not trauma.
Then we talked about being sensitive and I said how bad it is, but Art T said it is good, and told me that all of the things I’ve done to help people are because I am sensitive. I said being sensitive makes it easy to get hurt, and she said that is a downside. Then I said something about sensitive people getting hurt when they are bullied, and confident children wouldn’t let it bother them, and she said confident people don’t get bullied. Oh.
Art T spent some time reading the inside words and said some of them are things everyone would want – love, living life, connection. We talked about how I am always looking for something that seems missing, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe what I want is something I already have and that is why I can’t find it. I have a good life. She asked me if anyone sees the inside part of me and I said that sometimes people see parts, very few people. But I think maybe I should just accept things the way they are, and I think she said something about how she can see I am looking for something and I should try to find it. I think she said that.
Amazing was a word on the outside and she asked me if I do amazing things and I said I don’t, but people say I do. She asked what would be amazing and we had a talk about how what I consider amazing for other people isn’t amazing for me, like donating a kidney. She asked what would be amazing and I said it would be running in the street to save a child about to be hit by a car or something. J and I had this same discussion. I said that whenever anyone does anything amazing they never say they are amazing, they just say they are doing what anyone would do.
She said I have high expectations of myself, yes, I already know that. J and I had that discussion many times.
I said something about helping people and doing it because it makes me feel good and then I feel guilty. We talked about how doing things for other people intrinsically make us feel good and doesn’t take away from the good we are doing. She said that what would it be like if she felt guilty for everyone that she helped because it makes her feel good. Then something about doing things for others makes some people feel like they have power – doctors sometimes get that way.
Then we talked about happiness. It was getting confusing, I think sometimes an hour session is too long, it gets overwhelming. With J I only had 45 minutes, and it felt too short, but of course, he talked a lot. Art T talks too, but it is more back and forth talking, not me sitting there listening to her talk for minutes on end.
I said that no one can be happy with everything bad going on in the world, and if I have a moment of happiness I feel guilty. That only ignorant people can be happy. She got out the feelings paper to see other words that are like happy, and we talked about “being happy” vs a “feeling of happiness”. I said that when someone has a baby they would be very happy and they shouldn’t feel guilty about that. This whole part was too confusing. I can’t really remember it and I know I wasn’t thinking clearly.
I’m going to have to ask her to cut our sessions shorter, or talk about something less deep for the last 15 minutes, or maybe do art. As long as I don’t feel self conscious about the art it might be relaxing to draw or color for 15 minutes. I love to color in coloring books – that’s so stupid, isn’t it? I’m 52 years old.
It’s amazing to me how much we can talk about in an hour, without talking about my week at all. I never once mentioned anything I did this week, or anything about the stress I am under right now with my marriage and our finances falling apart. And that is fine with me, she is much more into talking about emotions, and deep things. Of course, I cried a little a couple of times. It wouldn’t be therapy with Art T without some tears.