Keeping on

So my weekend has passed in a haze of worry about my potential illness and demise. I think I need to tell myself, I’m a long way from having an incurable illness. Whatever it is, I can likely be treated for it. So be cool. Easier said than done though.

I just spent a few hours with my family as I was invited to dinner with my siblings. I couldn’t keep my health news to myself. My family is very brisk. They were interested, and the discussion was very task based. I can call back and ask to speak to the secretary or surgeon Monday. Or I can make an appointment to see my family doctor, as she will likely have access to my tests, and likely I can see her earlier. I don’t know. My mother said absolutely nothing. No one expressed any feelings or allowed room for my own. They didn’t dwell – as soon as the practical aspects had been discussed, it was on to the next topic – the garden, or some such. Very cheerful.

I was depressed. I refused to be very cheerful and make endless chat. It’s actually kind of interesting to see how the dynamics all play out. My mother saying nothing at all was a blow though – I’d have thought she’d say something. Express some concern.

I didn’t want to worry them and drag everyone down. I don’t know. My reality just sucks at this moment, and I guess I want someone to just acknowledge that. Which of course my family will not do. Not sure why I would expect they would, after half a century of knowing them! It does seem that for them, being sad or down is a weakness of character. Instead of an emotionally healthy response to bad circumstances.

On the other hand, it did normalize the experience a bit for me, to have other people know about it, and see that they don’t think it’s the end of the world. Overall, I’m glad I went.

I wanted to talk about therapy. I’ve been struggling with shutting down. I’ll find on the weekend, I collapse, going back to bed and staying there. I’ll feel as if I cannot, literally cannot function at all. It’s like losing my mind – I’m swamped with sadness.

This happened last weekend, starting after Saturday’s therapy. We discussed what could have caused this in what we talked about. We didn’t think it was anything specific that was discussed – it just wasn’t that wrenching a session. However, at the end, I had switched into B, and she was upset and crying a bit. I remember being upset about the work situation. This happened fairly close to the end of the fifty minutes, so with five minutes left, I had to switch out so I could leave and drive home. I had a hard time switching back. Every time I said something in response to Ron, B would be talking, and I’d be struggling to come back. After a few minute’s struggle though, I was able to leave.

I think that kind of hard switching is bad for me. I’m very conscious of session time, and wanting to be a good client and leave on schedule. And this whole parts situation developed in the first place so that I could cope and present a good front after all. So it’s a natural inclination for me to want to switch out to conform to expectations as soon as possible.

So we wondered how we could switch back more gently. Ron said it’s like I try to push down parts so much, I end up shutting down. He wondered if we can take more time to do that, and allow whatever part it is space again when I get home.

Another thought he had was that I open the door a bit by expressing something or being open, which leads to a flood of emotions, which leads me to shut down entirely. Which makes sense also.

This weekend I was determined that would not happen. For the most part it didn’t, though I had a rough Sunday afternoon where I did nap. But overall, nothing like as bad as last weekend. I did email Ron about how I was feeling several times. He replied to one of my emails, when I’d asked for a response. That one, I limited myself to checking my mail once every half hour, by the clock – otherwise I’d be checking every five minutes. He got back to me the next day around mid-day. A lot of checking.

I also went to my twelve step group, and this morning off to church. And a family dinner tonight. And a lunch with a friend Saturday. So I’ve been more social, and a bit more open, and just determinedly chugging along and being in the world, and it’s helped.

I need to tolerate the emotions, and find ways to soothe. And keep trying to connect a bit with others. That’s all. That’s a lot.

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12 comments
  1. leb105 said:

    What a great post, E!
    Seems like you’ve made a lot of gains – it’s like you touch bottom – at work, and last weekend, and then you make changes that really help!
    It seems good that you can share what’s really on your mind (not small talk), and still keep perspective on your family’s response, so it doesn’t crush you. It’s so poignant that you still hope for your mom to fold you in her arms. I wonder what would happen if you said, Mom, I would love it if you would say ‘x’. Give her some coaching. Maybe someday? Maybe she means well, she just never learned how.
    Do you really need to switch out in order to leave Ron, and be able to drive home? Could you sit on a bench until you’re feeling less upset? I’m just wondering if the rigidity of forcing the switch “must conform at session-end” might be hurtful.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Laura.

      I have been making some changes and it does feel good sometimes. I do think I’ve gotten better at keeping an even keel with my family. There’s not a whole lot of time for my mother to change – she’s in her late seventies. It’s true she never learned how to respond, but for her, it’s also emotional. She can’t tolerate anyone else’s emotions, or her own. ‘Coaching’ isn’t going to help with that, though I see what you mean, at times people just need to be told what to do.

      I am trying to be less rigid about end of session and it’s helping. hugs.

  2. Rachel said:

    Glad to hear you had some social time this weekend. I can hear your effort and hopefulness, in chugging along. Working towards soothing.

  3. Oh my goodness, you really are being more social. Yay, you! I’ve been thinking about you and keeping you in my prayers.

    • Ellen said:

      I really was being more social – thanks for getting that. Thanks for the kind thoughts/prayers AG.

  4. e.Nice said:

    “I need to tolerate the emotions, and find ways to soothe. And keep trying to connect a bit with others. That’s all. That’s a lot.” It is a lot indeed. Kudos to you for taking it on and doing something about it.

  5. That is a lot. I rally feel for you and understand the reaction of your family shows they abandon you emotionally in that they didn’t really show you any empathy. I have been lucky in a way as I get empathy from my family but not much support as they have their own problems.
    I have felt better after undergoing my surgery and radiation by keeping up contact with the outside world, but you also need someone who can be there for you through the fears that come and just let you have ALL of the emotions with no judgement.
    I had to hold my inner child’s hand a lot while going through my treatment as she found it scary at times. I hugged her and told her she is not alone.
    Thank you for commenting on my blog as I am so pleased to have now found yours.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, my family doesn’t do empathy. If they do feel for me they do not know how to show it. I’m glad you get a bit of that from your family.

      I’ve recently learned more to nurture inner kid parts, and ‘holding hands’ is a good way to put it. Hope you are continuing to heal well.

      Great to meet you emerging!

  6. its sounds like parts are overwhelmed and fighting for time and space. allowing them time out at home sounds like a plan. making time purposefully for them to express themselves might be good. even on this blog! I know b has written before. did that help her?

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