I started right in by telling J that I was thinking about things we talked about last week (I didn’t tell him the session got me upset, and after reading my blog post about that session I can’t figure out why I did get upset). I sort of made a verbal bullet list for him:
• I went back and read my story about my medical situation, and I had written something about my husband, but I took it out
• I could never give my husband a formal thank you for his support during that time, and I can’t believe J even asked me to do that. I said that he may as well have told me to go out and get a million dollars and come back next week and let him know how it went.
• I saw my pdoc last week and I was in a bad mood and she doesn’t want me to go off of my wellbutrin and she told me I was better when I had cancer. She said if my relationship with my husband was better I would be happy and my life would be complete, and he says if I volunteer until I become a grandmother I would be happy and my life would be complete.
• I had a fight with my husband, but I think it worked out ok in the end
I thought that took about 10 minutes to go through, but it was probably more like 2 minutes.
Then I sat back and waited.
He asked me about my story for the writing class reunion, and did I take my husband out after we talked about it in the session last week. I told him that I had taken my husband out before last week’s session because I didn’t like that part of the story.
We talked about how I can’t thank my husband for his support, and he said does it make it a little easier for me maybe, because I know that my husband stepped slightly out of his comfort zone to offer his support. That maybe I could step a little out of my comfort zone. Then he gave a long analogy about two people flirting in a bar, and how it is like going up a ladder, one person says x and the other says y, and then they go to the next level, or perhaps they don’t say y they say q, and then it doesn’t go any farther…….
We moved on to my pdoc telling me I was better when I had cancer. I said that I don’t remember if she used the actual word “better”, but that was the impression I got. She might have said I was more engaged. We talked about how I had isolated myself and become disengaged from friends and family over the last couple of years, but it seemed to get better this year. I said that my cousin’s hospital stay from her overdose, and my medical situation were distractions from my life.
J told me something he had already told me, but I listened again. He said at one time in his practice he had 5 or 6 women who all had anxiety about things in their lives, but when a true disaster struck – illness, death of a spouse, etc – they were totally functional and in control. He told me that he was thinking about me before the session and how situations with me always come back to the same questions:
Am I good enough?
Do I have value?
Do people like me?
Do people love me?
Do I love myself?
Makes me sound pathetic.
He asked me if I had a “project” would I feel more engaged, valued, etc. I said that is what I have been trying to say for the last two years. When my children grew up and left home I lost my purpose in life. Maybe he finally understands this now?
He told me a story about someone who worked for six years on child safety seat laws. He asked me if some kind of activism would give me a purpose.
Then he asked if my relationship with my husband was better, would that satisfy my need for purpose? I said no, and he asked why not, and I said that I don’t want my sense of purpose to be dependent on other people. My husband could be gone in a second, just like my kids, and with them went my purpose. He said a purpose doesn’t have to be one thing, it can be multiple things….
We talked about the fight I had with my husband, and I told him the whole story. He never actually said that when I apologized, or when I told my husband what would be a good thing to say, was a good thing, so I don’t know what he really thought. He did ask if after all of that I felt more emotionally connected to my husband (was he really asking if we had sex?) I told him that, no, I did not feel more emotionally connected to my husband, we made up, and things went back to normal, like being roommates. Then I asked him what is an emotional connection anyway, and we talked about that for a while and he explained cognitive dissonance and I told him about when we were in New Orleans and I saw a guy with a hat from my hometown football team and we immediately bonded and talked about where we are from, and the teams we like, etc. I guess that is an emotional connection? Or it is cognitive dissonance.
I told him that I think my husband is clueless, but doesn’t mean to hurt me or be mean. J agreed. I told him that normally in a situation with my husband when it got to the part where he doesn’t say anything and walks out of the room, I stuff my feelings and stew about it, and after multiple times it builds up negative feelings. But this time I said something when he didn’t say anything and walked out of the room. As a matter of fact, the whole episode of the fight/make up was much different from how I usually behave. J asked me what I thought caused me to be different, and I said I don’t know. He suggested that perhaps it was because my husband has been more supportive to me lately, or perhaps it was because J told me last week to thank my husband for his support.
Then J asked me if I run with a gps watch so I can monitor the elevation, and how even though going up hill is difficult the fact that you know there will be a downhill soon makes it easier. And he compared that to a relationship, ups and downs, you know if you are in a difficult time, an easier time must be coming. Then he said something about “make up sex”, and I was surprised and I guess my face showed it, and he said he was using it as an example of ups and downs and there is even a term for the ups – make up sex.
I think that was about it. I left feeling ok, I didn’t feel as though I had left anything unsaid, I hate when that happens. Maybe J finally gets the “existential angst” I have been feeling and that he never wanted to talk about. He uses different wording – I need a “cause”. That’s not exactly right, but much closer than he was before.
One weird thing was that he brought up my cousin, and how I seemed engaged during the time I was taking care of her. The weird part is he called her by her name. I have never told J anyone’s name, I say “my husband”, “my aunt”, “my new boss”, “my old boss”, etc. But during the cousin in the hospital time I guess I let my guard down and called my cousin by her name. So when he talked about her he didn’t say “When your cousin was in the hospital”, he said “When Lori was in the hospital.” That kind of made me feel uncomfortable, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because he doesn’t even know her and he is calling her by her name. I know most people use names in therapy, I suppose as a way to be sure the therapist knows who is who. But how can a therapist remember everyone’s name? I’m surprised J even remembered that one name.