Lightness

riverI’ve been feeling floaty and unreal and it’s disturbing me. I also feel kind of like I can’t communication with anyone. I’m reluctant to write but I find if I write it out I do sometimes feel better.

Nothing special today. I had some work to do. I was glad I could focus enough to work, but working made the floatiness worse. I had to add to a spreadsheet, documenting some document changes, and it was fiddly and uninteresting. After that I just wanted to sleep.

I went to the cafe and had my new favorite drink, a London Fog. This is earl grey tea made like a latte with steamed soy milk and a sweetener. Yum. The kid likes this also. I find being out with people helps the sense of unreality.

I went to therapy last Thursday evening, as I had to go in to work on Friday. I told Ron I needed to keep things kind of light, as I had to function at work the next day. He said OK. Later in the session, he pointed out how going into things more deeply destabilizes me, so I don’t want to do it, like on Thursday, but it’s the way I’d make progress.

I really have this fear that my issues will prevent me from working. Or that people will notice them. I hate to walk into work with flashbacks happening or in the aftermath of memories. Everything is so black for me at that point. I just do not want to jeopardize my livelihood if I can avoid it. It may not actually jeopardize it, but it feels like it could.

So we basically did stay away from deeper stuff, and I had quite a manageable day on Friday. However on the weekend I ended up half dissociated and unreal feeling, so that’s maybe the penalty for not going into feelings. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I was actually a bit dissociated going into the session. Just because I’d been on a walk and walked for over an hour, which can put me into that state. I forgot though while I was in the office.

I apologized for sending emails after the last session – I’d felt bad, because he was on vacation. He said I could send him an email any time I felt like it. Which was nice of him.

Altogether, we seemed to get along very well. I have so missed seeing Ron as sympathetic and on my side. We talked about how I often perceive him as critical of me. Especially in the group, and more diffusely, in my individual sessions.

In the group, it’s very stark. I would see Ron as being on the other person’s side, as uninterested in me, and as very critical. He can’t have changed into a completely different kind of a person just by stepping into a group.

I said how that last groups session still bothers me. Ron said we should work on it some more then. I said how I’d felt he’d been unsupportive, and how I’d felt attacked and traumatized. He said I believed I felt those feelings, but that they were coming from within me, and weren’t there in the outer situation. Did I know what he meant? Yes, I said. Welcome to therapy.

We talked about my visit to my family. I explained a bit of what went on, and that nothing overtly bad seemed to be happening. Why then was I so depressed after wards?

I explained how my father is extremely achievement oriented, and how he sees my ordinary job as not worth a whole lot. How he looked down on my mother’s relatives for their ‘ordinary’ jobs. He doesn’t say anything about this, but it’s in the air I breathe, that I don’t measure up.

Ron said something about how it would be better if I could sit down with my father and tell him how he treated me as a child affected me and still affects me. And I said how I didn’t think it would help – my family never works through things. Ron agreed. Probably it would make them put me even more on the outside and judge me more.

I think we left it there. Ron talked quite a bit about what he saw going wrong with group. That he’d never had a group where people were so careful about every single thing they said. And that the more they did that, the more that snowballed. Then every little thing someone said became like an earthquake.

I mentioned that because I’d talked to two of the group members in the meantime, I’d discovered that they had had plenty of negative reactions to people there, just they kept them to themselves. I would never have known this except I talked to them outside of group. I’d thought during group, I was completely alone. Nope.

I like both these people, and am hoping we are going to be long lasting friends. But that isn’t how you do effective group therapy.

Ron said how it’s a much better group if people let their reactions happen and get through to the other side. It works better like that. And that he’d had to do more and more work to keep the group going, whereas if a group is working, he’d have to do less and less.

I thought the group’s withdrawal bothered me especially because this is just what my family does. They withhold what they really think while silently judging, and they think this is good behaviour. Maybe if I’d been from a family that acts out and is dramatic, I wouldn’t have felt so much anxiety with this particular group.

Ron shook his head in vigorous denial. Nope.

I feel somewhat better about group. I know I haven’t really followed my emotional reactions to any kind of source. But I don’t feel any longer that I talked too much, or that I was inappropriately negative to people. I was trying as best I could to do what we were asked to do there, give my honest reactions.

Ron said people gave up too soon also. We’d get into an interaction with someone and let that difficult interaction stop us, instead of keeping going with how we really felt.

It’s kind of the opposite of communication skills. I think it’s hard to do this if you’re a peace loving person. My natural inclination is to express how I feel, even if it is negative, then listen to how the other person feels, then feel really bad and guilty if their feeling is negative, then stop if I can see no way to agree. I know though sometimes I did keep raising something difficult. It was hard to do, because then the group responded so negatively. I guess according to Ron I would have been better off persisting despite it all.

I told Ron it’s hard for anyone to be attacked by three people at once, let alone someone who has issues like myself.

Anyway. It’s impossible to do group therapy by yourself in a group who are determined not to do it this way. Only E really interacted much, and she disliked me from the start, something that didn’t change much. It was difficult, but I can respect her for putting herself out there.

At least right now, I feel Ron is not critical of how I was in group. Which is a relief after these weeks of fearing he was. I’m still somewhat critical of him. I think he could have supported people more if they were doing what we were supposed to be doing, and others in the group were negative. Maybe he would feel that would be influencing too much, but I think it would have been helpful.

With five minutes left, I let the kid come out to talk to Ron. She wanted to know about the animals at the place Ron was on vacation, and he told her about the different horses there were there. I’d been fairly unemotional, but the kid was on the edge of tears. I suppose she was relieved Ron was back for the next few weeks, and happy to see him.

I felt well when I left the session. No sobbing on the stairwell this time. I could function the next day. What ended up bothering me was remembering how my family treated me, looking down on me. It’s so ingrained in me, that I am lesser, not good enough. It’s a painful legacy.

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6 comments
  1. I also worry about not being able to work because of being overwhelmed by what comes up in therapy. My therapist is careful to go slowly with everything. Still, I sleep a lot when I am not working, and miss work more than I would like. It’s a balancing trick, to be able to function well in the present and also deal with what needs to come up in therapy.

    • Ellen said:

      It is a balancing trick. Thank you Persephone

  2. Bourbon said:

    I used to worry too about balancing work with therapy. Like you, if I tried to keep a session light the feelings would just bite me in the ass later, sometimes AT work. But it is hard to put trust in the fact that both you and the therapist could work together to make sure the hard feelings are dealt with, but also “left there” for you to pick up when you feel you can manage it again. A part of mindfulness I suppose but really hard to do xx

    • Ellen said:

      I’ve never been able to do that – leave the feelings for therapy. For me they get triggered off, then I have to go through them after. It would be truly great to be able to just deal with painful things in the therapy room, leaving the pain there for next time. It is so hard to know how much to get into at once.Thanks for understanding. xo

  3. Gel said:

    I like the photo.
    Right now I can’t imagine working at a regular job. I’m too raw and sensitive to work well with others. Plus I don’t have predictable stamina to work hard all day on someone else’s terms. I do have some occasional small jobs. It’s a good amount for where I’m at right now. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have so much support from my husband.

    I’m glad your therapy was not too disturbing this time.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks! It’s from the one trip I’ve made out of the city this summer. Hope I can make another one.

      My job isn’t a regular job, in a way, because I have so much time working from home. That part of it is really helpful because otherwise I get exhausted. It is difficult working but I don’t have a choice. Plus probably it’s good for me to be out there in the world. I’m really glad you have a hub who is a support – that must be wonderful.

      Thank you Gel.

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