Consider going to the church across the street this morning, decide against it at the last minute. First, I don’t like that no one speaks to me. Or almost no one. Second, I realize I am uncomfortable with the rigmarole and ritual around communion. It takes so long, and I just don’t want to stand there through it. I don’t get anything out of that. I do enjoy the sermons, and the music though. So, probably I should have forced myself to go. I’m like this shy horse, having to be very cautiously led to things that make me nervous, I suppose.
So I am home, and I will write about yesterday’s session. It was the first one in a while where there was no direct parts involvement.
I’ve been having really bad spells of anxiety at work, so I tell Ron about that. The problem is they’re so public. I don’t realize the anxiety is happening until later, and I keep talking, but very pressured and speeded up. Kind of like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, when his friend persuades him to have coffee to stay awake, and he starts talking non-stop at top speed. It was funny when I saw it, but also so painful, because that’s kind of what I get like.
I have one fellow worker there, also a contractor, and we are mostly doing the same projects. He’s an older man, and while I generally like him, I’m finding him quite condescending sometimes. He does have more knowledge about the business than I do, but on the other hand, I know about communications and he doesn’t. Anyway, he keeps implying I’m there to make ‘things look pretty’, or to keep him organized….So a couple of times, this has really rattled me. At one point I actually said something about it to him. He was very concerned, because he’s basically a nice guy, but nothing changed really. Anyway. Maybe that’s one reason I get the anxiety, I’m not sure.
I tell Ron I went for a massage for my RSI, which was OK. First I was kind of high from it – I suppose the gentle touch. Then I plunged into severe anxiety so I couldn’t sleep. Ron asked what was the trigger for that, and I said I didn’t know. There didn’t seem to be a trigger. This is just what happens to me from anything physical. The next day at work I was super anxious again, and that was kind of humiliating.
Later in the week I went to the gym, spending just fourteen minutes on the treadmill, and the same thing happened. At first I felt a lift in mood, then I plunged into anxiety and couldn’t sleep, and had these problems at work.
Ron doesn’t say much about any of this. It’s a problem I’ve told him about from the start of therapy, and it really hasn’t shifted. I feel quite despairing about it. It makes no sense to Ron, I think, so he just leaves it alone.
I had this meeting with my boss and my co-worker. I’d set it up right after one of my anxiety incidents, which are very public, because there are no proper cubicle walls, so everyone hears / sees everything. He accepted right away, which he usually never does – he usually waits until right before a meeting, then decides if he has time to attend.
So we both get to the meeting room, and he carefully asks me how things are going, as if to settle in for a long discussion. He hasn’t looked at the subject of the meeting. My co-worker doesn’t come, because I didn’t remind him. So I realize, this boss is thinking this is some kind of HR meeting I’ve called to discuss some issue I’m having. Aack. It was to discuss a project plan for a project we’re working on.
I feel so humiliated by this. Why? asks Ron. And really, when I think about it, maybe it is nice of this boss to be willing to discuss my issues. I suppose. I never would. I don’t want to have issues that are visible to everyone, I tell Ron. That’s why it’s humiliating.
The nice thing about this is this boss seems to quite like me, and doesn’t go along with the idea that my co-worker is worth more than I am. It’s a very male environment, so it’s easy for men to stick together, but he seems to be making a point of not doing that.
I’m feeling parts in the background of all this, but I am interested in discussing my life and feel talkative, so I just keep going.
The last part of the session was about my family. I’d gone to a family birthday party at my sister’s apartment. She was there, along with my parents.
This was the part of the session where I felt more emotional. I described the dynamics that were happening – how my mother and sister were virtually silent, and how my father was the only person who would engage. How much I preferred my father to my mother and sister that evening. My father will bat the ball back and forth, conversationally speaking. He even accepted when I said something negative about my ex, and about my son. If I did that with my mother, she would immediately reject me by turning away and pretending I wasn’t there. My father is able to accept that yes, sometimes we feel anger and irritation with other people.
I describe how I tried once or twice to draw my mother and sister out, but then gave up when they gave only one word answers to my questions. I complimented my mother on a leaf necklace she was wearing, and she said thanks, so I asked where she got it, and she said from her sister. Nothing else. Trying to talk to her was like pulling teeth.
I didn’t want to just keep asking her question after question, I tell Ron. He suggests making the situation more explicit, by for instance, saying something like it seems like you don’t feel like talking….
I consider what doing this would feel like. Hmm…..It would be tough. My mother has always been like this.
We talk some more about my mother – about how she does try to connect, by asking about activities I do. But because she never adds anything to the conversation, it just feels forced and uncomfortable. And I feel judged, because I don’t do a lot of activities.
Ron says it seems like she isn’t able to care about other people’s inner lives, or share her own inner life with others.
Yeah, that’s true, I say.
Ron says something about how we have little control about what happens in our inner lives, but it’s natural to share them with others.
I tried less hard with my sister. I think I simply said at one point, so you were out when I tried to phone? (she doesn’t work, but sometimes teaches a course). She just looked at me and said ‘yes’ in this remote voice, so I left it at that. Maybe it was something private she was doing, could be, but all I was doing was inviting her to say something, and she wouldn’t. OK. I gave up. She never asked me anything about myself, didn’t volunteer anything about herself, so I just mainly talked with my father.
I did talk about a few books I’d read, because a big preoccupation in my family is supposed to be literature, so I thought they would say something back. Nope. Just my father said something about a famous author he liked. They just won’t talk.
I didn’t think it was my fault this time. In the past, I’ve accepted responsibility for their not talking to me – I just don’t know the right topics that they want to talk about, or some such. This time, I just felt annoyed, but didn’t take it as personally.
I relate all this to Ron. He says something about being true to myself around my family, not in order to change them, but in order to not accept the way they want me to be.
I tell him how angry I feel with my mother at the moment, and not my father. How difficult this family is. Now I’m discussing it with him, I do feel upset and emotional about it all.
I mention how in group, two years ago, when people mostly wouldn’t participate, how triggering I’d found that, because that is exactly what my family does – they withhold, and judge in silence. Surprisingly, Ron agreed, that yes, that was a difficult situation. I’ve never felt he agreed with me about my experience with his group, so it was nice to get that bit of validation.
Silent withholding – the backdrop to my childhood. Neglect is hard to pin down, Ron says. That’s maybe why you struggle to articulate what was wrong.
So, I go home. At first I feel OK, as I didn’t go into parts with their extreme emotions. After an hour, I feel so blank I need to go lie down, and spend some hours in bed. I get up, read the paper. There’s a story about a woman who miscarried and got depressed. It’s such a well written article, and it’s basically about grief. I start sobbing away, reading it.
So I spent the rest of the day quite bummed. A self-destructive part also surfaces, and that’s always hard. But, I get through. So here I am.