I was very glad to see Ron back from his break yesterday. Different parts of me were missing him a lot.
Other than sheer relief that he was back, the session was a little underwhelming. I have this feeling therapy is going nowhere. I have thought about it, and it does seem that whenever parts don’t have much of the session, I do end up feeling as if I’ve wasted my time.
At the same time, I don’t have the therapy hangover. I have been wanting to back off on the trauma and parts stuff, and wanting to stay more in the present. Ron always follows my lead. So, we talked about my present day concerns. Ron was in a kind of mood also where he talks a lot. I never feel this is a good thing – it’s different from when he says these deep insightful things. This is more stuff that seems obvious, and that I know. He just seems to want to talk, sometimes. It’s always about me though – he never veers off to talk about his own concerns. Yet somehow it does seem impersonal – more theory than anything that’s really responding to me.
Maybe I can’t get a feeling of making progress and connecting without going to deeply disturbing places.
As well, I was very tired. I’d done some more exercise the night before, push-ups and squats, basically, and so had slept very badly. My world feels thin and shaky after a night spent not sleeping properly.
I don’t know. I didn’t feel like this right after the session, but today, a day later, I feel kind of angry. As if I was missed altogether, in the one place where I look for understanding. I don’t know what it means that I didn’t feel this at the time, or after the session. Is the anger maybe about something other than the session? Right after, I felt as if I’d been talking with a good friend, and felt fine about it. I don’t have many friends where I can talk freely, so I thought, why not just enjoy that part, the support, the chance to talk?
I can remember two spots in the session where I felt annoyed and missed. True to form for me, I didn’t react much at the time, and brooded about it later. When will I learn it is safe to speak up at the time, when I disagree, or something is hurtful?
The first was when I was telling Ron about a self-help book I’ve been reading, about loneliness and attachment. The basic premise of the book is that if we’re lonely, it may be a problem with our attachment style, so that the relationships we have are not satisfying. Then he divides the problematic styles into two – anxious and avoidant attachment. Then there are various exercises to help you discover if you have one or the other problem, and exercises to help you tell the story of how that developed, in your relationship to your parents. To me, it seems like a reasonable and helpful approach.
So I’m trying to explain the book to Ron, maybe not doing the best job, as I’m tired. He gets this frowny expression on his face, like someone brooding and unhappy. After I’ve talked a bit, he doesn’t say anything, so I ask him what he thinks. He says he doesn’t think it’s helpful to just divide people into two attachment styles – people are more complex that that. I say something to the effect of probably a self- help book won’t really help, but I’m finding it interesting, and at least I feel I’m doing something to try and help myself. He looks like he disagrees but doesn’t say anything else.
Oh yeah. Then I say I seem to have aspect of both styles.
I forget how the conversation went exactly. I was just left without much of anything except the feeling that Ron thought the book was silly. But actually, it’s not. He could give me some credit. The book actually doesn’t divide all people into two attachment styles. It’s just saying if you have a problem with loneliness, here is a psychological problem that may be causing it.
I understand that Ron doesn’t believe in labels. However, then how do you talk about anything? Does he believe in vocabulary?
I feel really irritated that he was so dismissive of my reading and attempts to understand. And I feel irritated with myself that I didn’t attempt to stand up for myself in any way, when this is such a safe space to do so. It’s like I’m trying to make this relationship go smoothly, instead of trying to discover what’s real. It’s not my job to make the relationship go well is it.
I said that i can see now that the people I’ve tended to try and become friends with are the avoidant, distant type of people. My ex was like that, my one ex-boyfriend, a current friend. Because of my family, those dynamics feel familiar to me. I really want to change that.
I described a dinner where my parents had invited me and my son out to a restaurant. It was an odd event, because my parents didn’t feel the need to talk. To me, if it’s a social occasion, you make attempts to talk, but they didn’t. So I tried to make the evening go well. I chatted a lot with my son about various shows we’re both interested in, and some other things. I asked my parents a few questions. In the end, my mother joined in a bit, though my father remained withdrawn.
Ron commented that with your parents, you don’t really need to ‘chat’ – they’re your parents after all. He thinks if I can learn to be more real with them, voicing some real concerns and feelings I have, it will help me in my relationships to other people. Even if their reactions are not positive (I know they won’t be), it would still be helpful for how I feel. An example was I could have said, gee Dad, you’re being very quiet tonight, what’s up? Which I guess I could do. My family never comments or asks about anyone’s feelings, so this would be unusual behaviour in the family. The idea is to make some of those unspoken feelings spoken.
This is something I do want to try. I couldn’t sleep after the restaurant dinner, and I think it’s that sense of unreality that maybe is the cause.
That is the thing I did get out of this session – a thing to try.
The other thing that irritates me now that happened is tiny. I was pondering the age old question – what the h is wrong with my ex? Why did he act as uncaringly as he did?
Someone had suggested that he has a form of Aspergers, which is on the autism spectrum. This made so much sense to me. He is peculiar in a way that is difficult to explain to people who don’t know him – it always seemed to me as if something was different in his brain. Aspergers would explain his difficulties in seeing other people’s points of view, and in a way that doesn’t totally blame him.
I know Ron doesn’t like labels, so I ask him if he believes in this. He said yes, but he thinks it’s wildly over-diagnosed. He asked if my ex has trouble with eye contact. No, not really. That is one of the huge markers apparently.
I was talking to him recently, and mentioned a problem. Then my ex, J, starts to go into massive detail about a related problem he had thirty years ago. He doesn’t seem to have processed it at all – it’s just as vivid to him now as it was then. I tell him I’m not sure where this is going – but if he really needs to talk about it, I’ll listen. He cheerfully says no, not at all. He doesn’t get the idea of talking about problems in order to process them at all. Something that really bothers him, he’d likely never tell me about.
To me, this is so strange. Ron says it sounds like he’s narcissistic – everything is about him. I say I don’t think he’s narcissistic, and stop talking about it. It wasn’t so much that he started talking about a problem, it was more that he was about to spend thirty minutes going over all the details, which would be boring, without actually needing to talk about it. For something that took place thirty years ago – to do with a work issue he had.
It’s like Ron didn’t really hear much of what I was saying – just that J started talking about himself. Therefore he’s narcissistic. Which just seems trite and off the point.
Thinking this over now I’ve written it out – I may be incredibly nit-picky. I wish I’d give my honest response in person at the time, instead of being angry afterwards. Who knows what is right. I think the point is I withhold my response automatically, then get mad after.
In general I greatly appreciate Ron. Just not at this minute.