I went back to therapy last Friday. Hoping I can remember a bit about what we talked about.

First I gave Ron a little present of truffles from a near-by chocolate shop. He always accepts presents with a smile and a thank you, without further comment. I’ve never been through the agony some bloggers have described of odd therapist behaviour around gifts. For my part though, I don’t greatly agonize over a gift, just get a little thing, and so I’m not on alert for how it is received.

Ron commented on an email I’d sent him on the holiday, where I was kind of venting about how lonely I felt. I’d asked him not to respond, as his responses to the most recent emails I sent have been complete crap and made me feel worse. He double checked that I hadn’t wanted a response, which was fine. It had actually helped to tell him how i was feeling despite not having a response. He never did say anything useful by email anyway, though it can be helpful to get a sort of ‘I’m here’ type of response at times.

I asked him if we could figure out what we’re trying to work on, since it’s the new year. So of course he asked me what I wanted to work on! I knew he would. But I told him i was wondering what his thoughts were.

He outlined three things. I wonder if I can remember.

1. Trying to work with/integrate parts. Especially by finding old photos, bringing them in, and talking about my past.

Um…what were the others? Darn – I should take notes. I remember the various arguments we had, but not his points. I think another point was to work on my family relationships, though I can’t remember if he talked about this later in the session. He offered to have family sessions with any members of my family who would come.

I have totally forgotten the third thing. Anyway, I definitely did not want to do any of these suggested things. He doesn’t know how to work with or integrate parts, so why would we do that? The idea of crying over old photos – I don’t see how that would help. It would plunge me into a depressed daze, this I know, and to what purpose? I don’t believe there is any evidence that this is an approach to integrating parts whatsoever.

And no way in hell am I inviting any family members into a session. I have no hope of building relationships with them. Ron thinks it would help my depression to tell my family how it felt to grow up with them, how unhappy I was. I do not think this would help anything whatsoever. My family is this system that works in a certain way – they’re not about to hear anything against the family anytime soon. I can’t see having any of them for a session as anything but humiliating and hurtful. They don’t respond well to emotion at all.

OK, so I’m negative.

I told Ron what I want to work on is my current life. 1. Having better relationships and friendships. Maybe dating. And 2. Figuring out what is happening for me after sessions, that I become so depressed.

To 2, Ron said that we talk about upsetting things so it makes sense to be upset. I tell him I’ve discussed these issues with my friend R, and I’m not depressed after seeing her. In any case, nothing we discuss is new, and we don’t go to that dark of a place, mostly.

That did give Ron pause. He was so sure I was sad from what we talked about.

I said maybe it’s something about our relationship, and he said maybe something about a lack of attunement…

I just sat there, puzzled also. I don’t get it. We tried to figure it out.

And interestingly, I was not very depressed when I got home. Even the next day, my mood was average. I did feel a sense of connection though, which I hadn’t felt for a long time. A sense of being connected. That was such a nice and safe feeling. I can see why people like therapy if you get that connected feeling after seeing your therapist.

To me, it feels really important to figure this out. Not to end up back in that depressed place that I’ve been in so much of my life, which is what will happen if we start crying over old pictures and such.

I’m too tired to keep writing. Next time I’ll try to write on the weekend when I have more energy.

 

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Again I feel differently about friends.

All the friends I mentioned in my last post ended up contacting me and wishing me a happy new year. No one is abandoning me – that’s such a fear I have. R texted me back later and we met for coffee and a chat, which was a relief. She’s pretty much the only person I’ve actually spoken with on this holiday, except my son and my ex.

I actually spent new year’s eve, or a portion there of, with R. We ordered Indian take-out. It was OK. It was a bit odd, because she seemed on tenter-hooks somehow, as if she couldn’t wait for me to leave…But I didn’t care too much. I left after about two hours, which for me is normal for meeting someone for dinner. We had lots to talk about, even if R did seem to be forcing herself to converse. She is fixing up her house in order to sell it and is stressed about that, and other things. Holidays stir up a lot for everyone.

My friend E, whom I thought had dropped me altogether, texted me today to wish me a happy new year. Maybe we just need a break from each other – who knows what the future will be.

And my work friend, S, also texted to wish me a happy new year. We’ll get together soon for a movie or dinner I think.

Then I felt like people do like me after all. I’m not at all where I want to be with friends, but I’m making some progress. The fact is, people I work with often do like me, especially fellow writers, when we’re doing the same job. Even a fellow contractor whom I had mixed feelings about texted me at Christmas…

Today I went skating. I bought a pair of second hand skates a few days ago, so I Christened them today. I loved skating – the sun actually came out, and it was not crowded at the rink. I was scared at first, because I hadn’t been for a few years and I was worried about falling. But all was well – after a few minutes, my muscle memory kicked in and I was able to glide around the rink fairly easily.

I did notice some poor parenting and felt desperately sorry for the kid. One of the dads, ‘teaching’ his maybe ten year old son, who was clearly reluctant and uncertain. The dad was so invested in his son succeeding at being some kind of hockey super star, and the kid clearly hated the whole thing. I could see that father tearing down all the kid’s self-esteem, pushing, exhorting, advising…And for what? Why couldn’t he let the kid be who he is? Because some people cannot do that. The child is so much a reflection of themselves….

I did my best to ignore him though and notice other parents who were kind to their kids, or letting them thrive with benign neglect. There were also some white haired gentlemen skating very elegantly around and around. I remembered how fund Canada can be in the winter, if you engage with it.

Unfortunately once home I had my usual bad reaction to exercise. I had two naps, couldn’t concentrate on anything, felt like i was behind a glass wall…Ugh. This is so frustrating to me. Now finally at bedtime I feel a bit better.

I want to do a post about where I am in therapy, which I’ll hopefully get to on the weekend. Back to work tomorrow.

Happy New Year to anyone still reading! Hope your new year is good.

It’s lonely at Christmas when you’re single.

Christmas day was OK for me, just I was very stressed and having a hard time doing everything I needed to do. I had my son and ex over for a Christmas dinner. I hadn’t shopped for decorations or food until the day before, and then had my FOO Christmas dinner on the 24. That was OK in that there was no unpleasantness with anyone. My family was as usual pretty much silent. My mother didn’t say a word to me, though I think I had some kind of interaction with my father. I mostly talked with their guests, and I made an effort with everyone. I always initiated, and asked questions to draw people out a bit.

My brother has had an ongoing situation at work which he is upset about but it is ‘too hot to handle’, and I kind of waded into that a bit by mistake. He then left the kitchen, once I’d said something that he didn’t like, which is par for the course with my family. That was the only discord really.

It’s possible my family resented me for not coming early in the day and cooking. I did bring a dish. However, no one asked me to come early, and I had a lot to do at my own house, so I came just for dinner. No one says anything directly, so possibly that was a part of my siblings’ coldness, or possibly not. Who knows.

It always takes me a day or so to recover from a family event, even though nothing horrible happens. It’s just the dynamics are all still in place, and it all must remind me of my childhood. Unfortunately with Christmas, I don’t get that day, as I then needed to clean up my place and cook Christmas dinner the next day, so that was stressful.

It’s all over now. Now I am kind of split. I deeply needed a break from work, so this week and a half is great in that sense. I feel rested again and more like myself. Those weeks leading to Christmas I was getting more and more run down so it’s great to have some time to rest. However, I’m really lonely. I haven’t spoken to anyone for days now.

I texted my new friend R this morning and she hasn’t replied. I have discovered that the Buddhism is really triggering me. I think my persistence with the chanting was part of what was making me feel so overwhelmed the last few weeks. I’ve now cut right back to a very few minutes a day, and am doing much much better. So I suspect this friendship with R is not going to work out. It’s very painful to think about.

She did kind of aggressively pursue a friendship with me. Maybe that’s something she does, jumps in, but then backs out again. And it’s unclear how much she wants to convert rather than be the kind of friends who just enjoy each other’s company.

I feel stupid in that I really opened up to her, including all my trauma type problems. This stuff is hard for anyone to hear about, and in addition, it’s just hard for people to understand. I wish I hadn’t talked about it. I know she put a lot of effort into listening, as it’s part of her religion and beliefs to listen to others. But I suspect it was too much to put on someone so soon. Part of the reason I did so was that this stuff was being triggered by the chanting, and she was trying to help me with it. Still, it was too much for someone who is a new friend.

Then I’ve had another friend for years, but I felt I’d outgrown her in some ways. And she in turn had reservations about me – my mood swings, and difficulties with energy for one. Still, she was my one remaining friend to get together with and have coffee. She seems to have dropped me also.

I made a new friend through work, who is now off on a tropical vacation. She’s nice, and seems to want to get together with me, but she has a family and is quite busy. We’re more the ‘do an activity together’ type friends, which is fine.

So I feel pretty much completely alone. Therapy has not changed that. Therapy actually made me a lot more fussy about friends than I was before, without supplying any way of making new ones.

And lastly, therapy break. I cancelled my last session before the break, as it was the Friday of the start of the holiday. I do not miss it at all. I remember missing my T in past years, where this was an ache like a physical pain. I definitely don’t have that. Though I don’t mind seeing Ron, I know a session will trigger my stuff and then I’ll be in a new hole. So I’m ambivalent about going back.

 

 

Holidays are so hard for me. I’m trying not to sleep during the day and not to go to bed too early, so here I am writing.

What I wrote about last time still is basically true – I feel very alone. With the exception that several days after I sent her an email, this new religious friend, R, did reply to me. She did say she valued me as a new friend and hoped she hadn’t been pushing me too much to become a full member of her religious organization. I just left it at that – she was leaving to spend time with her family for the holiday. I don’t know if we’ll be close friends, but I can see some of my fears of total abandonment were not realistic either.

I believe the chanting was making my depression worse. Like exercise, it was triggering all kinds of overwhelming feelings, making me more and more depressed. I hadn’t realized that this was happening of course. I never do, until later. It’s like yoga, which will do the same thing.

So I’ve cut right back on the chanting, because I cannot slide lower than this. I feel like I’m barely functioning as is. I did not get a tree this year and so far have no decorations at all. I did manage to go out and get my son some gifts today. Tomorrow I have to shop for a Christmas dinner of some sort.

I just watched some youtubes of how to deal with narcissists, and how to deal with difficult families at Christmas. Actually the ones about narcissists were most helpful I think. My father is one, but of a particular kind. He often withdraws entirely, so you’re not really sure what’s happening. Withdrawal is my family’s go to behaviour actually. But he is always in control, he judges, he doesn’t really ever care to see anyone else’s point of view…a lot of the youtube stuff about how narcissists operate does apply to him. It’s kind of good to be prepared and not surprised.

One thing the video recommends is not trying to change a narcissist’s mind. He says your job is to stick to being yourself and expressing your own view, but not to try and get the narcissist to see you in a good light, because they will not do that.

So. I’ve also been listening to audio books. I find really straightforward stories are the only ones I can follow on audio, because I’m usually doing something while listening. Anything complicated, I miss out on a lot and lose the point of the story.

Aargh. I feel too down to really be able to think of much to say. I do find this kind of depression zaps my IQ and turns me stupid. Well, if you too are down, you are not alone!

 

I’ve been feeling exhausted. Sorry, I seem to write when things are most stressful, and they are now, in terms of being down once again. I feel a kind of deep exhaustion as well, and am spending too much time in bed.

It’s so intense I wonder if something is physically wrong with me. I have had cancer after all – maybe I should get this checked out.

I realized today that I have not been using my sad light, so I pulled it out and will use it tomorrow. It’s a blue light one, and I may purchase a full spectrum light as well.

I’ve tried to develop some friendships and this hasn’t worked out that well, so this has triggered my abandonment fears. An old friend, who has basically been my only friend for a long time, seems to be dropping me. She never calls or initiates contact anymore, and when we do get together, she does not act at all happy to be in my company. We have struggled for a while, it’s true, but I need friends. I’m actually surprised I am so very upset at her withdrawal.

There is a work friend I’ve made, which is kind of a lite friendship, where we go to movies together, and don’t talk that much. That one seems OK but this woman is busy now with Christmas.

Then the main friend I made, R, who is very religious. She also has withdrawn, apparently not liking me as much as she thought. This really hurts. I have continued with the Buddhism, but I question some of the philosophy. And she doesn’t like that much. The chanting happens in these small groups sometimes, which is nice, because you may get to know people informally.

I don’t know. Did she wish to know me just to convert me? This religion is supposed to quite magically solve your problems if you chant earnestly about them. For me, it hasn’t done that. However, something does draw me to it. But I continuously don’t understand when people share at the meetings about how their problems magically dissolve because of the chanting. I’m not a true believer in that way – I am looking to transform myself, and live better with others, but I don’t believe in magic forces fixing my life.

Anyway, this friend seems disappointed that I do not wholeheartedly believe. And maybe in other things about me. And I am responding with grief, that she doesn’t want me as a friend, she wants to convert me.

Tonight I sent her an email, after the chanting group, thanking her for hosting the chants and being a listening ear. I told her a bit about my take on the Buddhism, really emphasizing how I’m wanting to find meaning despite not really relating to what some people share at meetings. I was disappointed when she didn’t reply,  not even with a ‘you’re welcome’. I know she reads her email all the time.

I am having such a hard time, but I went to her chanting meeting today anyway. But I found it impossible to try and talk to people there through my depression. And my friend was busy with others. Maybe I seem unfriendly then. But I’m just feeling too down to socialize.

I get the feeling that my doubts about the religion are a real problem for her and are affecting our friendship. Sometimes I feel as if she is a fanatic, and that disturbs me. I don’t understand that. I thought she liked me for myself, not just as a convert.

So I’m feeling abandoned. Either this is causing the depression, or I’m seeing it like this because I’m depressed. One or the other.

 

I am depressed.

I know this is again the aftermath of therapy. It’s Saturday, and I manage to get up and have breakfast, and then I go back to bed. I am having such difficulty getting out to get groceries and get in a walk.

Therapy has become about trauma again, the last two weeks especially. Is it supposed to be this hard? I just have no way of knowing.

I’ve been going in and talking about how I feel in various situations – things that upset me. Which leads back to trauma, so that then triggers a whole wack of difficult feelings and sensations.

Although I can’t bear to discuss in much detail, this week I went in and spoke about how I’d struggled that day with our tech support person at work. And how i’d actually been able to realize that I was getting disproportionately upset. She was not being very helpful, though she did show up at my desk a few times. How I’d had these intense feelings of needing care and being rejected. Finally end of day I took a break and sat with my feelings without trying to do anything. It just seemed like feelings a young child might have, needing to be picked up or cared for, and being rejected.

My mother is not a nurturing person (presumably not having been nurtured much herself), and so it fits that when I was very young, she would not have been responsive to me and I would have been left to cope on my own.

I told Ron about this. And about how i’d again attempted to exercise, just ten minutes of aerobics, and how this led to my being unable to sleep. This deeply frustrates me, that a bit of exercise leads to dissociation, which leads to not sleeping.

Then he said something unhelpful about needing to push through discomfort to get the benefits of exercise. To which I said no kidding. That’s not what i’m talking about. My frustration with this boiled over to frustration with him.

At one point he asked whom I received care from in my current life. And I said from him. And he replied he wondered if I realized that….I do realize it. He definitely provides care. I had earlier said something about wishing he knew something about dissociation…to which he didn’t say anything. I’d say I was in a combative and frustrated state of mind, but also, I was prepared to dive into things, so I give myself credit for that.

At another point, I think we were talking about the feeling of wanting care, Ron asked where in my body I feel that. I focused in on my mid-section, which felt sore and hurt, emotionally speaking. And that led to the pain of it all worsening, to the point where i started to fragment into parts.

Part of all this was also trying to figure out what feelings are coming from parts, kind of stuck in the past, and what part from the present day.

The day after the session I’d arranged to work from home, and was almost entirely unable to concentrate. I spent a lot of hours trying though, and got a bit done in the end. I just hurt so much, working seemed impossible.

Today I am still depressed.

I’m also wondering about a new friendship that is proving a bit problematic. I’m telling myself though that it can still be a valid friendship, even if it has difficulties. I don’t know.

I’m disconcerted about how very religious this friend is. She practices a type of Buddhism, and I am interested in it, but not in the total way that she seems to be. She is a group leader, and hosts weekly chanting at her home. She seems to do some kind of organized Buddhist activity almost every day (she is retired). I have joined the chanting, and she is now pushing for me to take membership, which involves receiving a kind of altar and having it installed in my home.

I’m resistant to this. I don’t like being pushed, and I’m unsure about the religion. One issue is I find the theory of it quite culturally foreign. This group originates in Japan, and the magazine, which is the main way they study doctrine, just has a kind of sensibility that feels naive to me. There is little psychological perspective for instance, and a lot of what they talk about is the same as is talked about in all other religions I’ve attended services for – kind of general platitudes, which my friend is promoting as great insights to live by. It’s not that it’s bad, just not very helpful.

A lot of our interactions have devolved into these Buddhist chanting gatherings. Though we did go out to some literature events last weekend. But I’m not sure if she has an interest in being friends if I don’t convert and commit to her religion. Which is discouraging. We do have interests in common – writing, literature, music (she is a musician).

She can be very kind. She is one of the few people i’ve spoken to about my struggles with my past, my therapy, getting through childhood pain. She does get it to some extent and was always kind and never tried to change the subject because it was painful for her. She is a good person altogether.

Yesterday I attended a small informal chant followed by tea she hosts Fridays. Despite my having fallen into trauma land and the related depression, I though some friendly human interactions might help. I was pretty disappointed. We did the chant, which was OK, but then at tea, I thought we might chat and get to know each other (I don’t know the other two women well at all). Instead, over tea, she had us read aloud a hand-out on how to take care of the altar, once we received it. I read out my part in a loud voice, kind of angry. I was in so much pain, and now instead of interacting, I had to read aloud some damn sheet I’d already read anyway? It seemed impossibly like school and having to do things for a teacher. That took up the whole time we had for tea.

I didn’t have much time, as I needed to be working – I was billing the client after all, it was a work day. So I left as soon as I could. This experience didn’t help my mood at all.

In general I feel paranoid and suspicious. I can’t decide if Ron knows what he’s doing.

I’m also suspicious of him in other ways. I go in the evening, when there are few people around the building where he practices. When I came through the locked door to the place you leave your wet shoes, some man was sitting there, and it wasn’t clear what he was doing. On my way home, I wondered if he was waiting for Ron, if he was a friend, or if there was some odd story about this man. I was Ron’s last client.

Stupid to feel so suspicious, on practically no evidence. Just feeling that things were not OK.

As well, Ron has been severely ill. He’s now recovering, but what he had could have killed him. So that added to my general stress and anxiety as well.

Phew. A brain dump. I’m going to at least go for a walk now.

Life is chugging along. How’s that for a basically meaningless opening? What I mean is, I am participating in life, and it’s taking a lot of my energy. I’ve got a contract where I need to be onsite every day, with quite a long commute. So doing that, and then the daily stuff – food, clean, laundry – that’s about all I seem able to handle. To my chagrin, because I have interests I’d like to pursue.

I’ve been sick, some kind of coughing flu, and though now largely over it, I have a bit of a cough still and a lot of fatigue. Ron also has been sick, so between the two of us I missed about a month’s worth of sessions. Since I don’t get paid sick days and had to take almost a week off, it’s probably for the best that at least I saved that expense for a while.

We’ve been discussing relationships, and my lack thereof lately. Last week, we touched on the ‘K’ issue. I’d been very drawn in to this issue, and because I was at home when the two gave their testimony in front of the judiciary committee, I saw both testify live. At the time, I’d though that it would be impossible for this rapist to be confirmed. But, of course, I was wrong.

I wasn’t triggered by Prof Blasey Ford’s testimony in the sense that it brought up my own abuse memories. What did trigger me was how she was then treated, and the solid wall of denial that slammed down on her. Because, though I haven’t disclosed the SA to my family, I know that is how they would respond also. The fact that this man was then actually confirmed, and that this victim/hero was mocked by the so called leader of our neighbour to the south, that did trigger me. We discussed in therapy just towards the end, and then I asked Ron to stop talking about it because I needed to leave the session and was becoming more and more upset.

Anyhow.

I feel that I do better when I go to therapy, but it’s more a matter of being listened to and supported, rather than anything Ron says. Being supported week after week is actually worth an awful lot. I think that because of this, I am able to think about my past and my present in ways I was not able to before. There’s something about dysfunctional families that stops you from being able to think about them. I don’t hear this discussed much, but I’ve found it to be a very basic truth of trying to heal.

The other thing I have discovered and have been thinking about lately is a way to deal with my dissociation. For me, it seems to be very deeply true that I need to reach out to these younger parts of me internally, reassure them, and explain what’s going on in terms that make sense to a young child. When I do this, I start to feel a lot better and become more able to do tasks. Somehow, these young parts have been living in an abusive environment, and it’s up to me to fix that, to be a kind of parent who is gentle and available and patient.

This is not something Ron has talked about. If I bring it up, he’ll say that he is in agreement. It pains me sometimes, that he doesn’t really have knowledge of dissociation or how to help. However, with him supporting me in other ways, I can find this stuff out on my own. I do think I’m doing as well as others who have more specific help though. A  therapeutic relationship is not easy and it is so helpful to have it, and I am grateful for it.