Yikes. Another day where I get up only to go  back to bed. This time I think I wasn’t triggered so much by therapy as by my 12-step group.

I appreciate the group, and nothing bad happened. Some stories are hard to listen to, but I feel up for it. I guess it was my share, and then that some people seemed to have some reaction to what I shared, which, in the absence of much information, I maybe spun out in a way that scared me.

I shared about anger. My anger keeps simmering at work, and mostly out of my awareness unfortunately. Thursday I guess I was brusque and impatient in a meetings. I have little to do, so am trying to define some requirements for a project, and they were going around in circles. I don’t know. I didn’t mean to be impatient. But since then, I basically got the cold shoulder from my two team mates.

So I shared something about this, but didn’t explain, so it likely sounded as if I was maybe shouting at people, or being completely inappropriate, instead of basically inpatient.

Then therapy on Thursday was aggravating. A few times I had a strong impulse to get up and walk out. Again we had really a halting conversation, though at one point I said angrily that none of this was helping me. But I left calmly enough.

In the middle of the night, therapy felt unbearable, and I wrote Ron an angry email, saying I’m thinking of quitting. After five years, I don’t seem any better. I recommended a book to him, The Body Keeps the Score, to address his lack of knowledge of trauma. Not exactly kind or even handed. He had also hurt my feelings in that session. I had written to him that I was behaving badly at work, criticizing people. And he jumped on that, that I am critical, and I agreed, and said that I had criticized him also, and I know I have that quality. That’s a quality my father has, and I have it also. Just I don’t employ it to hurt vulnerable people, the way he did.

So I sent off this email at 3 am, and felt nothing very much after. I went back to sleep. At work the next day, I felt somewhat better – less aggressive. Though at that point, my team mates were giving me the cold shoulder, so I couldn’t demonstrate all my calmness and acceptance unfortunately.

In group, I said then that I’d sent my T this angry email criticizing his therapy. I didn’t explain much about it either. I was just trying to sort out what parts of my anger are from the past. Maybe all. Though some anger is needed in this life, as protection and warning.

After, this one guy gave me a worried look and asked me something about a task I do there. Another guy said I seem to be having a tough time. And a woman I met on the stairs said that ‘everything you said was very valid’….I don’t know. Usually no one comments about my share.

Today and last night I’ve felt afraid. I think it’s fear of abandonment. Expressions of anger or disagreement in my FOO resulted in shaming and complete ostracism. Ostracism is life threatening to a child, who depends on others for almost everything. So I can see why I would feel afraid.

Ron replied to my email Saturday morning, saying he was committed to working things through, if that is what I want. I hadn’t been thinking about him, but the email scared me. I wrote back that I no longer felt like I had, and that I’d had a better day on Friday and maybe therapy had helped with that. I apologized for the tone.

I’m also on tenterhooks wondering about my contract. It turned out E didn’t seem to have any information that my contract wasn’t being renewed. I keep fearing it won’t be….I haven’t found anything else, and am somewhat attached to this job, and the uncertainty is difficult.

Anyway. Today I’m wiped out and just want to sleep or read my light mystery novel. The world is too much. Must buy groceries. Must do laundry and cook.

  1. leb105 said:

    Hi E,
    this sounds pretty familiar. I’m seeing that I react with fear and paralysis to the slightest suggestion of irritation or disagreement, and that I’m sure that any open discussion will result in disaster, and the other person leaving, and that it will be my fault!

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah. The sad thing is, this can often be the result. There’s not a lot of room for disagreement in my culture, anyway. Thanks Laura

  2. Ashana M said:

    I don’t think that you are really critical. I think when you criticize, you are doing what everyone does in situations of stress. One, they become more aware of details and frequently there are details which are not how they should be. Then sometimes the best defense seems like it might be to make a good offense. It’s just what people do: Show myself how flawed and non-threatening the enemy is. I think you’re stressed.

    It sounds like you opened up and made yourself vulnerable at the 12-step group, and people responded to that. I mean, it seems like they felt they could relate to you better and wanted to be supportive. But there is this thing that happens in your family where if you make yourself vulnerable, people respond to you with pity. Not you in particular, but it sounds like this has happened with your son. It’s not real support. It’s a kind of veiled criticism. So I can understand how this would feel very scary.

    I think what happens to kids when they are shamed is they get totally overwhelmed by their emotions. It’s this experience of being totally dysregulated. So I wonder if that’s the real fear. First I show I have flaws (I didn’t behave nicely at work), then someone jumps all over me, and I get totally dysregulated inside. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I think it is a big deal. That feel of completely overwhelm inside is not a small deal.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I was really stressed. For one thing, I didn’t know the subject in any depth, so I was already scrambling to just understand it. There were so many details, and trying to explain everything already put me into anxiety mode. Then K has an attacking critical style, which is very much like my father’s style. I really think I fell into trauma feelings, and couldn’t react in a helpful way. I feel I’ve actually worked through some of this by writing/speaking about it so much, but too late for this contract. I want a do over….

      Wow, interesting what you say about the group. I think maybe people did feel supportive, and I was feeling ashamed. I hadn’t thought of that. I did feel after the group that I needed to run. It is absolutely true that in my family, vulnerability gets you pity at best. Vulnerability equals shame there. I certainly fell apart the next day, so that could be overwhelm.

      Thank you Ash!

  3. I’m so sorry that sunday was so hard. I think we all have days like that, where everything gets to us. Glad ron replied to your email and hopefully you’ll be able to work things out. Its good to share too sometimes and the fact that people commented shows they were listening and validating your experiences. XX

  4. e.Nice said:

    I agree with what Ashana said. People are going to respond when you open up more, but that would be worisome if it reminds you of those consequences for letting criticism or even just grumpiness show in your FOO (I like that acronym!).

    The uncertainty of the contract and how you feel about therapy and all of that would be really, really stressful.

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