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It’s surprising but choir is often kind of a political experience. You would think it’s all about the joy of song, but it isn’t. Members don’t like some members. Some are considered great, some useless.

The choir I joined in January is specifically supposed to avoid this kind of stuff. It’s a women’s choir. We don’t use written music, instead, we have lyrics and recordings of parts. We sing arrangements of pop songs from the sixties and seventies. Members are a range of ages, with more people in their fifties and sixties than in their twenties and thirties, as is usual for activities like this. Twenties and thirties are busy with careers and families and have nothing left over for hobbies.

I quickly decided this was easy. The songs were catchy and I kind of knew some of them already. So I switched sections, which you can do at will. There’s a very small ‘response’ section which is a middle voice with some harmony and echo type effects. This has turned out to be much more difficult than I was bargaining for. Without music, there’s a lot of stuff to remember, a lot of bebopalula type phrases which you have to remember to fit into the right places of the song.

In addition, we are to memorize everything, which it turns out is close to twenty songs for our upcoming June concerts. Yikes! I’ve never been strong at memorizing, making up for the deficit with a good ability to read music. Since there is no written music, that ability isn’t helping me.

For the last few rehearsals, the politics of this have also struck. One of the ladies of this very small response section (last night there were three of us) is extremely devoted to getting it right. In her enthusiasm, she only includes the ‘best’ singers in her comments, saying things like it’s up to the two of them, or if there are more, praising the two she considers good and completely ignoring myself and another new member who has ventured to sing in this section.

It makes me feel two inches tall to tell the truth. I suspect it also bothers the other ignored new person, though she is quite outgoing and so has others to talk to. Still. To be singing our hearts out and then completely ignored, in a small section of 3-5 people, is painful. We do get most of the notes. And I’m not sure that these longer time members are completely wonderful all the time.

I was surprised though how angry this made me, especially once I was back home. So this is obviously hitting at a weak point in me. I don’t need to be so upset when someone doesn’t include me. I know it says quite a bit more about how this woman looks at things than about me and any abilities I might have. I mean, this is not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or anything. We’re explicitly there to have fun in an informal choir.

The fact is, what the section needs is not one or two people getting every note perfectly, but a few more singers who will venture into out section. The choir has about forty to fifty members on average, so two or three for one section is not enough. My guess is this woman’s perfectionism is scaring women away from trying our section. Maybe not, but I suspect it is.

Anyway, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to let things roll off my back in low stakes circumstances. Last night, I’d thought both of quitting and of moving off to another section to avoid this whole scenario. But now I’m thinking, I was to be secure enough in myself not to let this crap bother me.

I’m thinking back to the way I felt I had to quit a full time job I had two years ago. I was genuinely falling apart under the mistreatment by a strange boss. But I think I didn’t need to let this upset me to the extent it did. I want to be able to bounce back, to not be thrown off every time someone doesn’t treat me nicely. The world is a mixed up place and I don’t want to retreat every time there’s a problem.

The choir practices in a neighbourhood church, and it is really quite lovely to stand at the head of this grand old building with the arched ceiling, stained glass and dark wood, and sing out, surrounded by other voices. It has it’s moments. It’s a nice thing to do. So I’m not going to quit the section, I’m going to go back even though I’m angry, I’m going to suck it up and sing out. I know I have worth. I don’t need to be validated.

At the end of practice last night, this woman kind of came after me. Maybe she sensed I was irritated and leaving abruptly. She came up to me and said, don’t worry, you’ll get it together eventally. Don’t worry.

So then I felt mightily condescended to. I was keeping up my part. I didn’t know what she was trying to say. So I retorted that I actually wanted to sing with the sopranos, which I do, because this part is too low for me, but that I’d felt sorry for the response section, as there were only two of them. Then I left.

Then I went home and stewed about it. And decided to go back and not be intimidated, condescended to, or made to feel less than. The stakes are low, and it’s good practice.

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The topic of today’s therapy session was My Mom. Yep, believe it or not, it was.

I didn’t have a great session. I do feel like quitting but will wait and see. I can’t go next week anyway, as I’m starting my new contract and will be tired, so it’ll be a while anyway. It felt like a wasted session to tell the truth.

I’d had a fight with my mother. Not a usual occurrence as we don’t speak of anything ever if we can help it. I happened to be over at my parents visiting my son, whom I took out for lunch. He was a great deal worse again, looking as if he had the flu basically, though he perked up during the outing. It was painful to see him looking so bad when he had seemed to be a lot healthier the last few weeks.

He complained that something my mother does in the kitchen is making his symptoms worse, and he thinks it’s the crappy old dishcloth she uses to wipe the counters. He’s highly sensitive to mold. We’d had the conversation a few weeks ago. I bought some J-cloths and mixed up some natural spray cleanser that would disinfect.

When we were back, I asked my mother if she could use the cloths and cleanser instead of the thirty year old dishcloth and the sponge she favours. Mom was offended. She retorted that my son would like them to tear down the whole kitchen. I said no, no one is asking you to do that. Just use the cloths. She sneered at my cleanser (no biggie – she could use any natural type cleanser, but she doesn’t want to). She said that wouldn’t be enough to solve ‘the problem’. By which she meant my son’t illness. No, of course it won’t. But it seems like such an easy thing for you to try, and he’s so sick.

So she walked off to another room and I went home. I assume she won’t bother with the change I asked for.

I know she is passionate about not creating garbage, so she doesn’t want to throw anything out, including thirty year old dishcloths. She doesn’t like using any kind of cleanser either. Fine. I couldn’t care less what she does, except that it’s affecting my son’s damaged health. It seems like such a small ask – as opposed to tearing down the kitchen, or drugging up my son. If something so small could help, why not try it?

So I related this tale of woe in my session. Also that it’s very unusual for my mother to fight with anybody. She gets her way through avoidance and denial. Except for my dad’s wishes, which are always hers to fulfill perfectly.

I was feeling all this anger towards her. It did feel kind of childish. I wasn’t measured or really understanding – I was just mad. At this, and at the way she’s treated me forever. This person who always demanded that no one display any emotion ever, who was unable to nurture in any but the most basic ways.  Who is always perfect, always quiet and never complains or has any difficulties ever.

So I was in this childish state in the session, and I don’t think I came across that well. And I felt Ron didn’t sympathize much. He did say some validating things I suppose, but I couldn’t feel them. He didn’t seem to get how my family works and that made me feel frantic.

Then he really got up my nose by diagnosing my son, saying didn’t I think his symptoms were psychosomatic. He’s said it before, it’s nothing new. The thing is, he doesn’t see him. There’s definitely something physical going on. I know my son also has issues. Ron starts harping on about this, and I tell him I don’t want to discuss it. I’ve been down such a long road with my son’s illness already. I know what I think. I’ve researched it and read books on what I think he has and discussed ad infinitum with my ex and friends. I started off also thinking it was psychological, but I changed my mind over the years. And my session is only fifty minutes once a week – I need it to try and tend to my own issues, not listen to his uninformed opinion about my son.

A challenge was that I was really not very adult in session and so it was difficult to engage Ron. I did tell him I felt I was wasting my session and that I didn’t want to discuss my son anymore. Ron said he is weighing on my mind and so we should discuss. But a whole lot of things are weighing on my mind and I do have to choose what to discuss and I don’t care to hear his opinions on my son to tell the truth. He can just butt right out.

So obviously I’m still pissed off.

Also, Ron was a bit pre-occupied. He was texting when I walked into his office and kept going for a minute or two, which he never does. Later, I saw he’d phoned me just before our session but hadn’t left a message, presumably to re-schedule. Then he looked at the clock while i was speaking which he really never does. I think he was on edge maybe with some personal situation that he needed to take care of.

Maybe that’s why he was so un-attuned.

I haven’t had this strong urge to quit for quite a few months now. I’d been having more adult sessions, which are useful as we can actually discuss things without being swamped by oceans of emotion. And as an added bonus, I then don’t seem to fixate much on what he does or doesn’t say – he’s just my therapist and I’m not that bothered with what he does.

Now getting back into more kid emotions, all that angst about him seems to be back. I want to get back to adult type sessions. Or quit. Or something.

I went back to therapy Thursday. I’d say the session was helpful.

We chatted a tiny bit about Ron’s vacation, and how it’d been four weeks since we’d met.

I spoke about the work situation I described in my last post. How furiously angry I’d become, and how it seemed out of proportion to what was happening. Ron had pointed out previously that with bosses, I almost always fear they don’t like me, or don’t like my work, or that they are somehow displeased with me, and he thinks this is the case now. I couldn’t really point out anything specific this boss had done that showed she was angry with me – I just assumed.

Well. I do think I was getting up her nose a bit, because she doesn’t like a lot of questions. Ron pointed out that my anxiety was likely affecting her also. And I did find, on Friday, that as I was less anxious, she reacted better to me.

I found after a while, I really wanted to leave this topic of my new boss and myself. I was feeling more and more anxious, and gaps occurred in our conversation, and then I was tempted to change the subject. I had other things to talk about, and parts also would have liked a say. However, I mostly do jump about a lot in therapy, and as a result, never tackle any subject in much depth.

At one point, Ron asked me to speak in both voices – the part that wants to continue with the topic, and the part that wants to change the subject. I found that really hard to do. Like a pros and cons list, he said. OK, I could do that. Pros of continuing on – we can go deeper with the topic, it’s good to stand up to and tolerate anxiety, instead of running away from it. Cons – it felt like this was a conversation I could have with a friend, and didn’t need Ron for, and there were other things I wanted to talk about – a massage I’d had, and some troubles after exercise. Ron said maybe we could discuss this in a way that I couldn’t with a friend, and that we could come back to the other topics next week.

So I stayed with this. The boss. The feelings of anger. How it tied back to being criticized as a child, how nothing had been enough for my father.

I can’t remember any grand conclusions actually. But the next day, I felt calmer at work, in a way.

That night though, I couldn’t sleep. Parts of me were furious with Ron for not getting a chance to speak about their concerns. I actually wrote him a furious email in the middle of the night, but luckily I didn’t send it. I felt differently in the morning.

At the end of the session, Ron asked how it felt to be back after the break. I didn’t really know – I didn’t feel anything in particular really.

This adult way of doing therapy is kind of new. I like it in that i don’t have a huge therapy hangover the next day. And spending time on a topic seems good. The downside is younger parts don’t get to speak. But, maybe that’s OK. Speaking in therapy wasn’t really getting us anywhere much except triggered.

Therapy has not been helpful lately. I believe that I do have to do my own work, my own healing. It’s not magic happening in the therapy room that will do the trick.

I have felt absolutely full of criticism, complaint and hurt feelings concerning Ron. His style of therapy seems unsuited to my situation. I’m not sure I want to write out all the mental criticism I have of him, because I’ve been working on letting it be. Not thinking about it any more. I considered quitting, but am not quite at that point I don’t think.

It doesn’t help much to bring it to him, because a lot of it is just how he practices. This is what he offers. If I don’t think that’s what I need, I should try something else, or be therapy free for a change.

I am somewhat better for going to therapy. But, the things that are better, Ron doesn’t even see. They’re not things we ‘worked on’. It’s just that because he is supportive, I’ve been able to feel things and think about things during the week that have helped somewhat.

I’m still in parts. One of the most hurtful things Ron did was last week, when it somehow came up that I’m not sure therapy is helping, was that he thought because I’m not speaking from the parts lately, or leaving session in such a dark place, that this means I’m better.

I’ve been going to session right after work, and am in this buttoned-down coping kind of a place. So I haven’t had parts speak, and haven’t accessed any difficult emotions. Sessions are boring, where I tell Ron I don’t know what to talk about, things are OK. Or I talk about some things that bother me, but this doesn’t really go anywhere and the conversation peters out.

Does this mean I’m better? Because I can’t relax enough in therapy to feel anything?

So, that hurt my feelings. Plus the idea he has that if parts just stop speaking, they have integrated magically. Does that happen by magic? I don’t actually know, but it hasn’t happened in my case.

Another big divide we have is that Ron has no vocabulary about therapy, on principle. I do believe that if you have no vocabulary, you can’t really work on anything in any systematic kind of a way. So I feel that I don’t know what I’m working on or what I’m trying to do. Everything is just one big ball of badness.

I wrote him some of this in an email last week, to which he didn’t really respond. We did agree to try a different time, later in the day, so I have a few hours to come down from work.

I’m intending to work on parts. That’s who needs Ron. I’m personally fed up with him. I know a lot of people go to therapy for a sympathetic ear. I’m wanting more.

The other thing is his super receptive attitude. To me, it reminds me of my very very withdrawn mother in particular. The whole session seems up to me – he doesn’t offer much direction, if any. I can see how it can be good, to simply be receptive. How it can be a practice for the therapist even. But for me, it feels like too much emptiness. Especially if I go there without much of a plan, if I’m reluctant to plunge into hard topics….It feels just like not much guidance.

I believe there is some transference/counter transference stuff going on, but this is not Ron’s area, so we don’t discuss it. I wish he did have knowledge in this area.

So I’ve complained about Ron afterall. Couldn’t resist. But since I’m not ready to quit, I want to stop resenting him, stop criticizing him in my mind. It reminds me of how I get when a relationship goes wrong – this is familiar territory. It feels bad to think so negatively. I want to be able to soak up the goodness Ron does provide, and stop thinking of how I wish he were different!

This is my fourth day of being mostly unable to function after a therapy session, if I count Thursday, when I had a session in the morning. Yesterday a friend phoned me, and I answered the phone, but when she asked me if I wanted to do an activity with her, I couldn’t answer, I was so down. I apologized and told her i shouldn’t have answered the phone, and she said she was going to hang up and if I decided I wanted to do something together I could call her back. OK.

It would have been nice if she’d asked me what was wrong or if I wanted to talk. But I know this friend doesn’t really do feelings. Still a bit hurtful that she didn’t say anything but that she was going to hang up.

I thought I’d be better by now. I thought at least I’d make it to church, and it seemed impossible to go when the time for it came. Since then I’ve been lying on the couch and in bed mostly. I did do the dishes, showered and dressed.

I am obsessed with this last session. Or my feelings about Ron. But it’s not like normal thought, it’s more like a crisis. It’s as if I’ve been shocked, and can’t calm down into a normal state. I’ve started doing a meditation tape I have in an effort to relax, to let this stuff move through and process instead of staying stuck.

I’ve been going over what happened. First of all, I’d wanted not just to give a recap of my life in the last week – I’d wanted to go with something meaningful. I told Ron a dream I remembered, as he’s really good with dreams. This was at the start of session – maybe that was too intense for me. The dream had to do with my childhood. It wasn’t obviously distressing, but my childhood is distressing, and talking about a dream seems to bring feelings rushing to the surface.

I think it’s a problem that when I’m discussing things with Ron from an adult perspective, it’s like speaking from a distance, because a lot of my feelings are stored in parts. So I don’t get the full force of them, and then I don’t communicate them to Ron, and he thinks apparently that what we’re discussing isn’t having much effect on me. I can be thinking that also actually. I feel vague uneasy feelings that things are going on in the background though, and then all of a sudden it’s too much, and so I try to stop the discussion because I’m truly overwhelmed. Ron then thinks I’m avoiding my feelings about whatever we’re discussing, because I’m afraid of the pain, and that it’s his job to push and persist at this point. Then we have an unpleasant mild type of conflict, where I never do get to express what’s come up for me, and I don’t get his support, as he thinks I’m avoiding the whole thing. Then I go home and cannot function. This time for days at a time.

I’ve really just figured this out. It’s been happening all along, but has been worse this past year. And then Ron feels I’m not making progress, and it’s because I’m avoiding, so he escalates his part in this.

I did try to explain a part of this to him. It is extremely hard to explain how things are working to a therapist in the middle of your own therapy. The transference is this black and sticky substance, and somehow, you have to try and ignore it and explain something, which goes against what your therapist believes, and it’s his profession, so he’s not likely to change his mind on anything he believes. Especially as you cannot put your emotions aside far enough to make any kind of convincing case.

At one point, I said that a problem I have is parts are involved in these emotions. So why not let parts speak here. Which Ron is agreeable to. The problem being, I don’t have control of parts. They do not wish to jump into a current discussion. They want to be themselves. If B comes forward, she starts speaking on a completely different track to what we’re talking about. Then Ron concludes that I’m distracting and avoiding. So B stops speaking, her feelings very hurt, and more frustration and conflict with Ron ensues.

At one point we were speaking about my mother. How difficult it is that she doesn’t respond. And Ron had a lot to say about my family, none of which I can remember now. I was feeling worse and worse, and the sense of him going on and paying no attention to how I was feeling was so strong. And I see now I expressed myself poorly. I knew I wanted him to stop talking, but wasn’t clear what the problem was. If I could have expressed my feelings of overwhelming sadness, or despair, or whatever they were, I bet he would have been supportive. It really was as if I was bleeding out at a traffic accident, and the person trying to help me started lecturing on blood clotting properties. I couldn’t pay attention to him or understand him either.

I can see now how he is not seeing how distressed I am, and it’s partly my fault, as I’m not expressing it. I’m so used to keeping my distress under wraps. It would be nice if he was looking for that problem, but he’s not, for some reason. One thing about Ron, he is definitely empathetic to emotions and distress once he sees they are there.

I did send him an email the day after the session in an attempt to repair this. The email was pretty much like my post describing the session. He replied that evening. His reply made things worse though. To me, it read so condescending. “I can see how hard this is for you.” Not addressing a single thing I said in the email. I am tempted to email back Fuck off and die. But – how would I feel then? He would not respond. I would feel like an abuser.

How to wrap this up. I’m hoping if I keep writing, somehow I’ll get my balance back.

 

I’m still suffering the effects of my last session. I wake up at night, my stomach clenched, as if I’d been kicked there. I can’t work out if it’s because I feel unconnected to Ron, or if it’s about my family and what we discussed in session. Likely a mix of both.

I’m still pondering leaving this therapy. There are many good reasons to leave, and if I list them, you will likely agree that I should. And yet….and yet. Is this still my process? Should I be learning to tolerate feelings, not trying to change them by leaving?

I’m not sure that it’s standard procedure to lose at least a day every week to feeling so bad I can’t function, after pretty much each therapy session. After six years, that works out to almost one whole year of not being able to function at all. I understand therapy is painful, but is it effective to be painful to this extent? The reason I’ve put up with this though, is one, hope that this will help, and two, the fact that without therapy I do lose days to black depression on my own. With therapy, I do have some decent days now, while before, I was mostly in a gray fog.

But maybe now, if I stop, I won’t descend into that fog. The thing is, I can’t seem to try and fix my life with so much of it devastated by these after therapy states. I can’t go out, I can’t try and make friends, I am just shut down. As one of my chief problems is lack of relationship, this is not good is it? I do think that any relationships I do have have improved. So I have one friendship, basically, and we’ve become somewhat closer. I am maybe closer to my son, a bit. However, if I see him too close to therapy, I end up not relating well to him at all. So the last two times I saw him this was the case, and I was not able to be supportive, being in too much pain myself.

My career is obviously in the toilet at the moment. I don’t think therapy caused that. It didn’t help a whole lot either.

I don’t have confidence Ron understands enough about parts and dissociation to be able to help me with them. He wants to do therapy on parts. I really don’t see how that would help. It’s not as if I have DID and parts take over and do dangerous things.

I truly don’t think Ron appreciates how far down I go after sessions and how much of my life is lost to coping with the aftermath of therapy. And when I try to limit what goes on in therapy, he pushes against that, as he thinks I’m avoiding. Yes, I am avoiding. Because I can’t handle the fall-out of addressing everything at once. This is actually recommended in dealing with trauma. Why does he not get that.

Anyway. There is an aspect of my frustration with him that has shown up in other relationships I have. I am sure there are unpleasant or unhelpful aspects of myself that are obvious to him, that i just can’t see, as is the case for everyone. It could be it would benefit me to stick around and figure it all out.

Meantime I feel so alone. There is just no one. I will feel better once I’ve recovered more from the session though so I’m hanging on to that.

 

 

Bad session yesterday. I’m back in the place where I want to give up and quit therapy. I may just take a break for next week anyhow. I actually started in a pretty good place too, and now I’m back in the black hole, and it sucks a lot.

I know this will pass in a day or two. I know the theory of psychodynamic therapy – you feel a lot worse before you feel better. But how do I know that I will feel better? How do I know that I’m not just injuring myself over and over here?

At some points, I’ve felt like yes, this is healing. Many times I don’t know. Sometimes, like now, I suspect this is just suckiness – I’ve been triggered to no good purpose.

I did write Ron an email yesterday evening about what I disagreed with. It wasn’t super long, but it had some substance. He did reply, which is something I suppose, as I didn’t specifically request a response. His reply was the generic ‘I can see this is hard for you.’ That was about it.

I’m not sure I want to go into details because trying to think about it brings it up more strongly again. We didn’t talk much about the bio session, I just said I’d found it helpful. Ron wanted to schedule another and I said OK but I’m going to cancel.

We spoke about my family. My mother’s kind of erasing of people. I’d seen them at a birthday dinner, and for some reason I’d started complaining to my mother about my health insurance, which is expensive and covers very little. She made no response whatsoever, just kind of blinked at me. I guess in her book you never complain.

Ron said that as a little girl, getting no response from my mother would have felt terrible. Yes it would. Then Ron started going on about my family, and after a bit, I couldn’t listen any more. So I said I didn’t want to talk about it any more. Ron came back to it a few times, and said something about how I shut him down, like my family does to me. But the thing is, I was so upset, struggling with so many feelings about this that I couldn’t articulate, that I couldn’t take in what he was saying to me. I just knew I needed him to stop talking.

It is odd, because in general Ron is not pushy and not talkative. But this time he would not stop talking and seemed offended when I asked him to do so.

And the second problem was with parts. I was trying not to just speak from my adult, but let parts have their say. And Ron kind of said OK, but also, he feels parts are a distraction. Or something. And he said something about how B never says what’s wrong, she just chats, which is like my mother. Which is totally not true. My mother never chats and never wishes to connect. If she does say anything, it’s about high culture and BS like that. B is a tiny child, but she’s also all about her real life, what’s happening that day and that week. Ron thinks she should be speaking about traumas, and I can’t do that. I can’t make her speak about traumas. It’s not that she knows some, as far as I know, and is withholding them. She’s just like she is. When B speaks with Ron, we feel all this connection happening and it’s nice. But for him, he wants traumas, and sees her as a diversion I’m using.

So that was hurtful. I know if I’d just stayed with the adult, and talked about my mother, and felt worse and worse, then it would have been fine by him. That’s facing your feelings. Even though a bunch of other feelings are locked away in boxes.

Oh and he also said parts want to be heard, but they don’t want to connect with him. I suppose he meant they have trouble listening to his interpretations. Plus he’ll ask therapy type questions of parts, who don’t know what to say to those, and then get kind of P’d off that they don’t respond with deep therapy type answers.

I’m really hurt and really angry. Plus all this stuff about my mother hurts so much. Yes it was bad as a child with a mother who didn’t respond to me. All those feelings are stirred up and it feels like I won’t survive. On top of that, I’m not doing therapy right. It’s not enough to have to touch on these really black sticky feelings, in addition, I have to keep the therapist happy that I’m trying or whatever it is he is looking for.

So, I may quit. I’ve been here before, obviously, so bear with me if I don’t. I’m not quitting right now because I know I may change my mind.

Sometimes Ron just gets in this mood where he thinks he has to figure it all out. Those sessions are so hurtful.