Consider going to the church across the street this morning, decide against it at the last minute. First, I don’t like that no one speaks to me. Or almost no one. Second, I realize I am uncomfortable with the rigmarole and ritual around communion. It takes so long, and I just don’t want to stand there through it. I don’t get anything out of that. I do enjoy the sermons, and the music though. So, probably I should have forced myself to go. I’m like this shy horse, having to be very cautiously led to things that make me nervous, I suppose.

So I am home, and I will write about yesterday’s session. It was the first one in a while where there was no direct parts involvement.

I’ve been having really bad spells of anxiety at work, so I tell Ron about that. The problem is they’re so public. I don’t realize the anxiety is happening until later, and I keep talking, but very pressured and speeded up. Kind of like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, when his friend persuades him to have coffee to stay awake, and he starts talking non-stop at top speed. It was funny when I saw it, but also so painful, because that’s kind of what I get like.

I have one fellow worker there, also a contractor, and we are mostly doing the same projects. He’s an older man, and while I generally like him, I’m finding him quite condescending sometimes. He does have more knowledge about the business than  I do, but on the other hand, I know about communications and he doesn’t. Anyway, he keeps implying I’m there to make ‘things look pretty’, or to keep him organized….So a couple of times, this has really rattled me. At one point I actually said something about it to him. He was very concerned, because he’s basically a nice guy, but nothing changed really. Anyway. Maybe that’s one reason I get the anxiety, I’m not sure.

I tell Ron I went for a massage for my RSI, which was OK. First I was kind of high from it – I suppose the gentle touch. Then I plunged into severe anxiety so I couldn’t sleep. Ron asked what was the trigger for that, and I said I didn’t know. There didn’t seem to be a trigger. This is just what happens to me from anything physical. The next day at work I was super anxious again, and that was kind of humiliating.

Later in the week I went to the gym, spending just fourteen minutes on the treadmill, and the same thing happened. At first I felt a lift in mood, then I plunged into anxiety and couldn’t sleep, and had these problems at work.

Ron doesn’t say much about any of this. It’s a problem I’ve told him about from the start of therapy, and it really hasn’t shifted. I feel quite despairing about it. It makes no sense to Ron, I think, so he just leaves it alone.

I had this meeting with my boss and my co-worker. I’d set it up right after one of my anxiety incidents, which are very public, because there are no proper cubicle walls, so everyone hears / sees everything. He accepted right away, which he usually never does – he usually waits until right before a meeting, then decides if he has time to attend.

So we both get to the meeting room, and he carefully asks me how things are going, as if to settle in for a long discussion. He hasn’t looked at the subject of the meeting. My co-worker doesn’t come, because I didn’t remind him. So I realize, this boss is thinking this is some kind of HR meeting I’ve called to discuss some issue I’m having. Aack. It was to discuss a project plan for a project we’re working on.

I feel so humiliated by this. Why? asks Ron. And really, when I think about it, maybe it is nice of this boss to be willing to discuss my issues. I suppose. I never would. I don’t want to have issues that are visible to everyone, I tell Ron. That’s why it’s humiliating.

The nice thing about this is this boss seems to quite like me, and doesn’t go along with the idea that my co-worker is worth more than I am. It’s a very male environment, so it’s easy for men to stick together, but he seems to be making a point of not doing that.

I’m feeling parts in  the background of all this, but I am interested in discussing my life and feel talkative, so I just keep going.

The last part of the session was about my family. I’d gone to a family birthday party at my sister’s apartment. She was there, along with my parents.

This was the part of the session where I felt more emotional. I described the dynamics that were happening – how my mother and sister were virtually silent, and how my father was the only person who would engage. How much I preferred my father to my mother and sister that evening. My father will bat the ball back and forth, conversationally speaking. He even accepted when I said something negative about my ex, and about my son. If I did that with my mother, she would immediately reject me by turning away and pretending I wasn’t there. My father is able to accept that yes, sometimes we feel anger and irritation with other people.

I describe how I tried once or twice to draw my mother and sister out, but then gave up when they gave only one word answers to my questions. I complimented my mother on a leaf necklace she was wearing, and she said thanks, so I asked where she got it, and she said from her sister. Nothing else. Trying to talk to her was like pulling teeth.

I didn’t want to just keep asking her question after question, I tell Ron. He suggests making the situation more explicit, by for instance, saying something like it seems like you don’t feel like talking….

I consider what doing this would feel like. Hmm…..It would be tough. My mother has always been like this.

We talk some more about my mother – about how she does try to connect, by asking about activities I do. But because she never adds anything to the conversation, it just feels forced and uncomfortable. And I feel judged, because I don’t do a lot of activities.

Ron says it seems like she isn’t able to care about other people’s inner lives, or share her own inner life with others.

Yeah, that’s true, I say.

Ron says something about how we have little control about what happens in our inner lives, but it’s natural to share them with others.

I tried less hard with my sister. I think I simply said at one point, so you were out when I tried to phone? (she doesn’t work, but sometimes teaches a course). She just looked at me and said ‘yes’ in this remote voice, so I left it at that. Maybe it was something private she was doing, could be, but all I was doing was inviting her to say something, and she wouldn’t. OK. I gave up. She never asked me anything about myself, didn’t volunteer anything about herself, so I just mainly talked with my father.

I did talk about a few books I’d read, because a big preoccupation in my family is supposed to be literature, so I thought they would say something back. Nope. Just my father said something about a famous author he liked. They just won’t talk.

I didn’t think it was my fault this time. In the past, I’ve accepted responsibility for their not talking to me – I just don’t know the right topics that they want to talk about, or some such. This time, I just felt annoyed, but didn’t take it as personally.

I relate all this to Ron. He says something about being true to myself around my family, not in order to change them, but in order to not accept the way they want me to be.

I tell him how angry I feel with my mother at the moment, and not my father. How difficult this family is. Now I’m discussing it with him, I do feel upset and emotional about it all.

I mention how in group, two years ago, when people mostly wouldn’t participate, how triggering I’d found that, because that is exactly what my family does – they withhold, and judge in silence. Surprisingly, Ron agreed, that yes, that was a difficult situation. I’ve never felt he agreed with me about my experience with his group, so it was nice to get that bit of validation.

Silent withholding – the backdrop to my childhood. Neglect is hard to pin down, Ron says. That’s maybe why you struggle to articulate what was wrong.

So, I go home. At first I feel OK, as I didn’t go into parts with their extreme emotions. After an hour, I feel so blank I need to go lie down, and spend some hours in bed. I get up, read the paper. There’s a story about a woman who miscarried and got depressed. It’s such a well written article, and it’s basically about grief. I start sobbing away, reading it.

So I spent the rest of the day quite bummed. A self-destructive part also surfaces, and that’s always hard. But, I get through. So here I am.




  1. leb105 said:

    Hi E, great job describing what’s happening. It seems as if a great deal of this therapeutic process is becoming more aware of what’s going on outside and inside – which means tolerating or lessening the anxiety that gets in the way of that. When Howard doesn’t respond to an issue, I always think it’s because it’s a central, significant issue for me – that comes up time and again, and perhaps he’s waiting for me to come up with something new before he will stick his oar in, to lend some encouragement. He’s not going to hand me the answer. You tend to think that R doesn’t know the answer. It’s a matter of interpreting their silence.
    It’s too bad that you don’t perceive your family’s silence the way you see Ron’s… it’s because they don’t know, have nothing to say, can’t handle talking about a book or other topic that isn’t their own, they have no clue!

    • Ellen said:

      Well, it could be Ron is keeping quiet all during five years of my having this huge problem, despite having some insight. I’d like him a lot less than I do if that were the case. Maybe I’ll ask him.

      Um….I have a lot of experience with my family, so not so sure your interpretation is right. But silence is difficult of course. Anyway. I appreciate your interest and comment. Cheers

  2. Grieving is part of the process as we accept our family’s limitations in caring for us. I found grieving painful but it made room for me to accept what my parents are and how they behave towards me. I’m glad you didn’t feel responsible for the lack of conversation on their part. That is a great step forward. It was so mind shifting for me when I accepted I wasn’t the problem.

    • Ellen said:

      That is mind shifting. It helped that the dinner wasn’t at their house, so I felt more grown-up. Sometimes I feel as if I’ll never get it straight – how my family is. But, baby steps. Thanks Ruth

      • Your family doesn’t need to be. Your family is different than you hoped. Grieving for what might have been is important. Baby stepping your way through takes time but still gets you through. Hugs.

  3. I wish I could go with you to church! We could sing together. Maybe a cup of tea afterwards and I’d make you a flower crown. No one talks to me either. Well not the so called popular people and I am getting to be more and more okay with that and knowing I am a bit quirky.

    • Ellen said:

      :-). He. That would be great. I’d make you a flower crown also AG….This helps. Maybe next week I’ll go, and care less what other people do. Thanks

      • That sounds like a great plan. Pretty much what I did with yoga except it took me almost a year to be brave enough to go to classes. I did individual sessions and the group class thing was just too much. Now that I’ve done it I’ve adapted and really it has been life saving over the past couple weeks. I do like church and thought about going. Love the music and sermon. But really I enjoyed the social aspect as well. I really would go with you. And thanks for the flower crown!!

        • Ellen said:

          🙂 I sometimes think about individual yoga also, so I’m admiring your success with it. Maybe once my shoulder heals up more I’ll try it too. (BTW, it would be so much easier to try things with a buddy.) Thanks

          • Welcome, I think we’d make great friends in real life. And yes, yoga has been tremendously healing.

  4. Rachel said:

    I was struck by your insight here – nice work on the family stuff. In not getting trapped in shame over their behavior. It is hard to stretch out solo – do you consider yourself an introvert? (just curious). If that is the case, then I imagine it is especially hard. Besides all the other stuff you have going on and to contend with, with the concerns over parts revealing themselves.

    • Ellen said:

      No, I don’t think I’m a strong introvert. I’m shy, and I’ve had bad experiences with people, but naturally, I like people and like to be with them. It wasn’t hard for me to talk in the family situation actually, I just opened my mouth. It’s true I worry about parts, but that happens most when I’m very lonely and anxious, and I’m surprised. It’s not likely in a social situation if it’s going smoothly. Well, it would happen if I got angry perhaps….

      Thanks Rachel

  5. e.Nice said:

    Glad you are starting to be able to separate their stuff out, that its them not you, still sucks though. Hope you are able to figure out the anxiety and get a handle on it. That is tough.

  6. Ashana M said:

    I think this is the kind of thing you can work out once the raw edge of the pain is off. You can think clearly and see, oh, yeah, they are just like this. I hope this kind of thing keeps happening for you.

  7. No wonder you were crying, that last part of the session sounded intense. Its natural you felt very emotional afterwords. I hope you were able to do something nice or relaxing for yourselves. XX

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