Friends

Therapy day. I rush out first thing in the morning to get to my session. Since being ‘between contracts’ I’m not used to getting up and out in the mornings anymore – if I’m working, I leave the house a whole lot earlier than 10 to nine, but it seems early at the moment.

I’m glad I wrote on here about my feelings about therapy, as I followed my own and others’ advice, and just talked. We did no somatic psychotherapy stuff at all. The T pointed out that she has the traditional psychodynamic training as well, and we can talk. I ‘vomited up’ my stress, listing out all my concerns. I didn’t really let her get much of a word in edgewise for the first ten minutes, I was so eager to get some of my stuff out there.

I felt more of a connection to the T this time. She says different kinds of things than Ron did. She wrote down the ‘agenda’ on a tablet, which she says she then saves and keeps in my file. The agenda seemed like my whole life, where I have major issues in a lot of categories.

  1. Work – It’s started to stress me out a lot how poorly this job hunt is going. Though I try to remember that it just takes one person to say yes, and bang, I’m no longer out of work. But I’m not getting a lot of calls at the moment, and it’s discouraging. I worry that at my age, I won’t find anything else, and my life will spiral down into poverty. Meantime, I’m spending money on therapy that a poor person cannot spend.
  2. My Family. They’ve pre-occupied my mind lately. Trying not to obsess though. They were hurtful, is basically what I tell the T.
  3. Lack of friends. As a single person, I feel I need more friends. I have two or three, but don’t see them that often so spend much time alone. The difficulties trying to be with people.
  4. Ex husband. An unpleasant interaction with him this week, concerning my son, by phone. I cut the conversation short and almost hung up on him, but did remain civil.
  5. My tendency to shut down. I went to a very gentle yoga class this week which somehow still caused me to shut down after, pulling me into a low mood.
  6. Being in parts. I’m not sure what this means for me really – everyone can have parts of some kind, so not sure if my parts are the traumatic kind. I know the way my mind works is influenced by this tendency to fragment though.

I remember what I said, but less of what she said. She discussed how she calls this an agenda, and how we can pick one or a few items to address in this session. Ron never took notes, so I’m interested in how much she seems to write down.

We went back and forth quite a bit on kind of superficial stuff- I was wondering about her note-taking for instance, so she told me about that. I can’t remember what else, though it was mostly driven by myself. We had a bit of a discussion on parts, that it’s not DID, how I experience them (like bits of dialogue that don’t feel like I’m thinking (ego dystonic)). I didn’t want to dive into parts though because that would be so hard and, um, disregulating.

After a half hour where we still hadn’t dived into a topic in any depth, I said I’d really like to address one thing, let’s take the friends issue.

I have trouble making friends, but I’ve been making some efforts to get out and about. I went to a knitting group this week, and then the yoga as well. She asked what about a social anxiety group. I had a lot of negative feelings about this, as I’ve tried one in the past. Honestly, I don’t want to judge, but the people in that group were not at all functional, and were mostly young men. Although I did get things out of the group, I feel like I want to be around people who can function. The people in that group really weren’t about to get over their issues anytime soon.

And, I forgot to add this, it’s a whole lot easier to socialize with people who are sociable rather than with those who have great difficulty forming social connections. Why go to a group where people by definition will not be that friendly?

The T said that it’s fine to have my own values, that form a kind of internal boundary as to whom I might be looking for as friends, and that one of those values is ability to function.

In general I think I felt quite angry, not at anyone in particular, but just thinking back to this stuck group of people in the social anxiety group. And with myself, for still struggling with the same issue so many years later. Though to be fair to myself, I think my social abilities have progressed. Yet still struggling with friends.

We talked a bit about connection, and she spoke a bit about sex. I’d mentioned that the young men in the group seemed to be motivated by an absence of sex/girlfriends, rather than wanting to have friends in their life.

Now what did she say?

I mentioned my ex-husband, how naive I’d been when young, really not noticing if I had a connection to a person or not, even though I did have friends. That I’d basically learned about connection from my last therapy.

She said something about how she’s had clients that are not aware that they have any say in sexual relationships, or something? Ugh, can’t remember. And that they called themselves naive, which is OK, it’s where they are at. Or something.

We talked about authenticity. I said I didn’t think authenticity was necessarily that helpful when trying to have friendships. I think you need to be social, to show the person you are happy to see them, to be interested, rather than showing how bad you feel. If you want to have friends. And that Ron had promoted authenticity as the basis of good mental health, that you need to show who you really are, but that I disagree with that.

The T spoke about how it’s important to know who we are, what our own values are, at least on the inside. But that it’s not always appropriate to show everyone all of who we are. She spent a lot more time talking about the importance of authenticity than the importance of being agreeably sociable, but she did agree that they’re not always compatible. I felt we were basically in agreement on that, which was a relief after clashing with Ron on that subject for so long. I’m again feeling angry with this topic for some reason. Maybe because my ex is extremely authentic, which results in him spewing his very large feeling over me, at least in the past, and sometimes still.

I think I remember that the T was speaking about oneself as a kind of container, with an inside boundary and an outside boundary. You want to know who you authentically are on the inside, what you feel, and your values. The outside is not the same as the inside – you get to show the parts you want to the outside world – you get to choose.

She said she’d like me to make a timeline of my life with important incidents marked along it, either at home or with her, as part of her intake. I might do that myself. Then, I’m to smile or at least nod and make eye contact with anyone I meet during the week who looks like they might be interesting or worth knowing. I can do that.

I am going to need to name T of course. I didn’t want to jump on a name, but am pondering it.

All in all, I feel positive about this therapist. I’m interested in what she has to say and I feel our discussions are worthwhile. I’m a bit apprehensive about plunging into really dark topics with her, but I’m interested in these topics that Ron and I never discussed.

 

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