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shyness

I’m still going to therapy every other week. This week was a no session week. I’m trying to remember a week back to our last session. What did we discuss?

I remember Ron did bring up this time that I’m cancelling a lot and wondered why. I just said I wanted some time where I wasn’t triggered, and that sometimes, therapy seems to trigger all kinds of emotions but doesn’t really resolve anything, so that I’m not sure how helpful it is.

Ron didn’t say much. I got the impression he doesn’t agree that we should have fewer sessions, but he didn’t say so.

I didn’t say this, but I also think I can commit to approaching difficult topics every second week, but not every week. I’m willing to sacrifice some days to therapy recovery if it’s not every single week.

I’ve been thinking about how alone I’ve been in my life, and how that’s especially evident now. I suspect one reason I can’t seem to recover from therapy is I have no one in my regular life to help me ‘regulate’. It sometimes is very helpful to have people around, not even to discuss issues with, but just people doing ordinary living. It helps me calm down.

I’ve noticed this at work. I now have the option of working with some other writers at a big table, instead of in my cubicle. I actually prefer the big table. I thought I would hate it and feel horribly exposed, but having little interactions with other writers makes my day feel so much better. Just being able to speak sometimes, or listen to someone else go on about something.

I spent one day in my cubicle at work, and was pretty much suicidal by the end of the day. No one spoke to me. It’s a bit of a bad atmosphere there at the moment as the contract is ending, although we haven’t been told that in any kind of an upfront way. As well, there’s renewed pressure to produce lots of work very quickly. And the PM is no longer friendly to me, maybe because I’m not that fast. I like to think about what I’m doing, and produce quality, and all he cares about is quantity, because that makes his project look good.

When I moved to the table the next day, I had a much much better day. Other people are in ordinary moods, and they are catching. If I want to grumble about something, I can, in a low voice. My mood was so much improved.

So generally I’ve concluded, although I do need some time to myself, in general I do better with people around.

Somehow I’ve ended up pretty much alone. My one friend and I seem to have had a bit of a falling out, unless I’m imagining it, so she hasn’t called in a few weeks. I know I could call her. I have my ex I suppose. He’s very misanthropic and unsociable however.

I feel that I am fairly well liked at work. Chance threw myself and my star co-worker, whom I disliked, together, and it turns out we do OK together. He’s pretty outgoing, and it’s helping me to practice being more outgoing also.

Having people around at work is cushioning some of the blows of work – the contract is not being extended as promised, the PM is asking for impossible quantities of work, and other things. I just think in the same way, if I had people in my life outside of work who were more reliably present, it would help me come out of the bad places therapy puts me into.

I’m not sure Ron can really conceive of my difficulties in sociability. His view is that we need to be authentic with people and have real relationships. But I think we first need to have any kind of relationships. If I have no ability to attract anyone, I need to work on that. I don’t mean attract as in sexually attract, but attract in terms of someone wants me around. And I will not be attractive to people if I’m completely depressed and unable to be social.

I just came back from a birthday tea for my sister at my parents’ house. I can see how my social anxiety developed by watching them. My mother basically doesn’t speak. My father has very set topics that he wants to talk about – his garden, his work when he worked. So everyone dances about him speaking in horrible detail about his garden, as if we were all fascinated by this, to appease him.

Some other guests came, and so the conversation veered to different topics. At that point both my parents stopped speaking at all.

I think the dynamic is that speaking puts you at risk. In my family it’s not safe to have your own life, your own experience and opinions. So no one risks speaking about anything. I do, and I get rejected quite a bit. For example, this afternoon my brother wasn’t veering far afield, but started to talk about how he wanted to plant a miniature rose for his front walk. I suggested a tea rose. Well. My father is obsessed with old fashioned once flowering varieties. My suggestion was completely unacceptable to my sister and my father. Because intelligent people only love the old style roses. It doesn’t seem to be OK to have your own opinion on what you like.

Anyway, I can see where I developed a fear of saying anything that dogged me for my first forty years. I experienced this as not being able to think of what to say, but it’s more that all topics were potentially humiliating, so I kept quiet. Even when keeping quiet was peculiar in the situation.

So now, I can speak, thank goodness. Just I haven’t peopled my life with people who want to hear me and speak back. Wanting people in my life doesn’t have much of anything to do with ‘authenticity’ though, as recommended in therapy. I don’t really want to pour my heart out at this point. I just want some people around who like me.

 

 

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A difficult weekend, after several in a row that seemed better.

I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. It’s all I watch at the moment. Not sure what that’s about – I can see very well it’s a soap opera, the situations are so exaggerated as to be ridiculous, the characters, well, operatic. And yet. I believe a younger part of me loves this show. As well, it is about emotions, and I want to think about emotions, and about how people are relating to each other, and this show lets me do that.

Several situations and characters remind me of my own dilemmas. In one episode, a short man has had botched surgery in China to lengthen his legs, and winds up in the hospital in danger of losing his legs altogether to infection. He defends his decision to have the leg lengthening surgery – how he can’t get any dates, how his life is a misery, how he has no confidence and no success, all due to his short stature.

And you watch him, and it’s pretty obvious his height has little to do with his problems. It’s like seeing shame on display. He feels so unworthy, so defective, that he needs to blame the length of his legs. He needs a focus for his misery. Yes, he’s slightly homely – by American TV standards he is not handsome. He would be average in everyday life. Lots of average people find partners. It’s his shame that’s the issue.

I identified with that feeling of being tainted, just doomed because of who I am. I ran into some more criticism at work last week. One of the clients I’d worked with previously in this job had complained that I’d lost one of her projects, which was ridiculous, but the complaint went through several rounds of emails without anyone ever trying to figure out if it was true or not.

Then this same client didn’t want me to document a procedure for her. She spoke to her manager about it, with me standing right there, saying it was too complicated for me to comprehend. Apparently, I ‘didn’t get it’, and had done a terrible job with a previous document. I’d thought this client and I were on friendly terms, but we’re not.

Then on the same morning, QC ‘failed’ one of my documents, and this was copied to several people.

And so I felt ashamed. So ashamed of my work, my skills, my worthiness. I almost broke down crying that morning, despite having back to back client interviews. I actually insisted on a Starbucks break so I could get away for a few minutes and replenish, which I’m pretty sure is not really allowed.

I feel that shame a lot. Not good enough. Even if I don’t run into headwinds like i did that morning. My face is just wrong. My reactions are too much, not right. I say the wrong things. My questions are wrong. My voice is wrong. Just bad.

Ugh. Luckily I don’t think I can fix it by flying to China for life threatening surgery! It’s not that I’m ‘too short’. But that feeling of shame displayed by the character who had the gruesome leg surgery – I so get that. That feeling that you’d do anything to ‘fix’ what’s so very wrong about yourself.

I was thinking about my last post. First, wow, did I ever leave a lot out of my session. And second, about my distrust of my therapist currently. I’m so depressed. I think I distrust everyone at the moment. I’m seeing all the darkness, all the failures, all the disappointments. I’m not seeing the caring, the many responses I have received, the attention to me while I’m in his office. So I find some of the things he says off. It’s OK. I’m pretty sure I’d find that with anyone.

One thing I left out – I talked about how I used to be somewhat like the young silent people at work. In my twenties, I barely spoke. I’d make an exception for a very few ‘safe’ people. But I’d never speak in class, or elsewhere. I felt scared to speak to anyone. And kind of arrogant at the same time – I’d think how could people be talking about such stupid things. At the same time, I’d long to join in. I felt I didn’t know what to say to people. No one in my family ever chatted. I didn’t know how to make any kind of small talk. And my silence would build – as time went by, and I didn’t make any kind of remark, I’d become more and more self-conscious, and would feel as if my face were maybe frozen.

This was one reason I clung to a fellow misfit – my ex. He also rarely spoke to anyone and didn’t do small talk. I felt like I was the exception to his general scorn for other people – that I was the one person worth talking to. I didn’t realize his reticence was also from low self-esteem, because he was so critical of everyone. Anyway.

Now I’ve changed. I think it’s important to talk with people, and I’m no longer as afraid. I’ve figured out what some common topics are, and what it makes sense to discuss in different contexts. I’m still a bit anxious sometimes, but I can handle myself a lot better socially than I used to.

I’m also no longer drawn to people with low self-esteem. I would accept them, but wouldn’t seek them out.

I don’t know if the young people at work have the same shyness problems I did, or if they just prefer to very silently focus on their tasks. I can definitely understand either way. Just it makes me feel lonely I guess.

I wrote the last post right after my session. So later on, I feel a bit differently.

I ended up needing to lie down for a few hours to deal with some of the sadness that kept coming up as a result of the session. I think even though they didn’t get that much time, the time parts did get opened those feelings up, and I got to feel more of it later.

Today I’ve been down but functional. Which is a change. I feel unhappy, but I can still do the grocery shopping, iron, and tidy up. I even went to a service this morning. Which was OK. I chose a  United Church that’s in close driving distance. The sermon was nothing special, but on the other hand, it was very easy to remember the gist of it. If I go and there’s a complex, nuanced service, I often enjoy it at the time but then am unable to remember much about it after. The gist was that God pushes us into challenges, and that these are good for us. We may not like them at the time, they may seem like losses or struggles, but that is God’s push for us to grow. And that’s fine. Nothing to object to really, and maybe it’s a helpful thought.

I didn’t bother with coffee time. I just wanted to see if going to the service itself does anything for me, without activating all my social anxieties. And – I’m not sure. One of my sociable parts loves church – just seeing people, singing, being part of something.

A more cynical part of me dislikes it because it seems hypocritical. People are so enthusiastic with the ritual of giving the peace – smiling, shaking everyone’s hand – but they don’t actually greet you if you’re sitting next to them, or say hello or goodbye. I guess they’re waiting to be introduced, lol. So I say hi to one woman who sat in my pew, and leave.

Today and at the end of yesterday, I once again feel connected to Ron. And as if something took place that helped. I think it’s the fact that he talked to parts. They need him, and are very attached to him. And after, I felt less fragmented and more of a piece. Yes, the price is a lot of sadness coming up.

The other part that helped was having an adult in charge. It is pretty frightening to have an adult life to maintain, and to have the adult go offline leaving traumatized child parts to deal. So keeping the adult self present seems vital.

Last night I slept a bit better, though still waking up several times. The second time I woke up, I wrote to Ron describing how it felt. Because when I go in to see him, I forget what the middle of the night is like. I was full of fears of never being accepted by anyone, and thinking of a thing that happened at the group I sometimes attend. This may be me being paranoid of course. But it seems to me that people there avoid me – like they won’t sit in an empty chair that’s next to me, if there are any others to pick. Last time, one of the regulars seemed to be making a point of coming over to sit in an empty chair beside me after the break. I know he meant well, but it just underlined to me how I’m not really accepted there – that he felt he needed to do that. So in the middle of the night, I woke up just pumped full of adrenaline, afraid that there is something so repellent about me everyone avoids me and will avoid me forever. It’s a really awful and scary feeling.

So I wrote it all out and sent it to Ron, and was able to sleep again.

Next week, I have to go to a session after work again. I want to stick to the same plan, if possible, to have time for parts in the first half, then spend time just being adult again in the second. Sometimes it helps to have a plan.

Chilly winter has come back, even on the second day of spring. Well, my mood is down to match. I am so down. Yet there’s been no therapy to blame for this. So that’s interesting – that I can feel awful even without talking about the past.

I know this part, V., is still very prominent. This is a very very sad part, and maybe that’s the reason.

Or maybe I miss Ron? I could write to him, but at this point I don’t even know what to say – more like a scream of pain. I don’t know what’s wrong, just that I feel like crap.

Today I wonder if I need to quit my job. It’s a corporate job, and it’s not very meaningful. However. It’s not like meaningful work is out there, waiting for me. In fact, because of my issues, I almost need a job which is not too demanding, where no one notices if I’m not producing for a few days. I’m a cog in such a huge machine, once I’m there, it’s OK to not be doing anything very much, sometimes.

Yes, I’d like my work to mean something. And my cubicle is so dark, somehow. It’s several rows away from the windows that line the perimeter of the floor. Nothing ever happens, unless I make it happen. But….I do have this little micro relationship with the young cubicle mate. Last week, her manager was away for Spring Break, and she had no one to talk to either,  so we had a few little conversations. I appreciate that.

My job is to produce a fifty page policy document. It’s to be modeled closely on another document they’ve just published. This document is written in a very dry, difficult to understand way. So I’m trying to get them to let me modernize the language and make it easier to use. Luckily, the manager is somewhat open to the idea. However, the other manager involved is not. A lot of people in banks are very very conservative, and so to them, the only reason you need for doing something a certain way is that it was done that way in the past. Anything new is threatening.

As a consultant, I’m not there to engage in battle with the staff. However, I also want to do something that bears some relationship to my skill, which is writing clearly and simply and to a particular audience. So I go back and forth, and I worry. I want my work to be decent. However, am I pushing too hard? Am I pissing someone off?

Then there’s not enough to do really. But they’ve allotted the time, and I need the money, so I try and stretch the task to fill it. I take breaks, wander around.

So there’s a lot of futility, a lot of loneliness, a lot of powerlessness.

I do need to support myself. So I need to stick it out. No one is being mean to me. I actually like this boss, and he seems to like me.

Does that explain my depression? I have no idea. I think also, bits of sadness and trauma get joggled loose by exercise. So there’s that. Oh yeah, I forgot this. I had started building in bits of support, bits of human interaction, and with working, I’m too exhausted to do those things anymore. I’ve missed all ACA meetings since I started this contract. I just feel too out of it, Saturday afternoons, when I’ve either gone to therapy already, or had training at the gym. At the time, it makes sense to stay home – I feel sad, I feel fragmented, I need to rest and recuperate. Same with church. I have not gone – it always seems more important to get extra sleep.

But then, I end up being alone all the time I’m not at work. I don’t talk to anyone, mostly. I end up feeling really frustrated, that I seem to be too exhausted to make use of my off work hours. It seems as if just surviving is all I have energy for.

Maybe next week I’ll go eat out a few times, and not cook. What if I eat out on a night there is ACA, then go to it? I wouldn’t have to cook or clean up.

None of this feels exactly right – it doesn’t seem to explain the sadness. It’s kind of half there, perhaps. I can’t feel the whole thing, and I can’t place it or make sense of it.

Glum again. Work is hard. The ‘aunt’ thing didn’t kick in today. Instead I am reminded that I’m not one of them. I’m never the expert, always the learner. It’s in the nature of what I do, but it’s hard. Where I work, knowledge of our products is very highly valued. It’s a financial institution, yes a big bad corporation. Anyway, the products are very complicated and highly regulated. Add to that the systems needed for completing and recording transactions – it’s a lot of stuff. So I learn, I ask questions, but I’m never one of them. Combined, the two women I’m working with have over sixty years’ experience with this institution. And they’re fascinated by the products – the policies, procedures, the people, the ins and outs of it all. What they don’t know about this may not be worth knowing.

It’s not knowledge I can go and read a book about. I can read their documents, but they don’t make sense if you don’t already understand. So I have to ask questions. Which I do.

Can I just say in my defense, being on my own side here, that asking questions takes energy and some intelligence also. A lot of people don’t bother. However, then I’m always one down it seems. I don’t know, they know, I have to ask for help.

I have my own skills to offer. But often it seems that isn’t much noticed. People working in the department I work for are there for their knowledge. Some think – why is this woman here, who knows nothing?

I can make their documents better, but I can’t do it by myself. I have to meet with experts who can answer my questions. They don’t have the time to do this, since they’re busy putting out the daily fires of their jobs. So I’m this troublesome extra. I’m underfoot. It’s not great for my ego.

I’ve been trying to get my manager to give me things to do for the next weeks, when we will stop meeting. She is going away for two weeks also. She’s given me one small project, which isn’t yet ready for me, and that’s about it. So it’s looking like I will be at home again with little to do. I still get paid, but I want to work for my money.

Then today she wasn’t sure how long I’d be staying. I thought I had a contract until mid-summer. I went home and looked at my agency confirmation – it’s a little unclear. So then I panicked – will I be out of work in a week or two? They don’t seem to have anything for me to do.

It’s the nature of contracting that contracts end, but I need some notice so I can look for something else. It’s great in a way to have free time without money worries, if I could use it guilt free.

If I’m back to weeks with little to do, I’m going to have to start planning things so I have some human contact. Maybe I will take a yoga class, maybe some other thing too.

Anxiety is a bit of a bitch once she’s triggered off. Also haven’t heard from my son for a long time. He seems to have not charged his phone, it goes straight to a message. I worry.

So today I felt like a stranger in a foreign country. Even the chat, when I could have contributed, I held back, I was super shy once again.

But, I’m coping. I’m getting that bus at ten to eight every single morning dammit. I have work clothes for every day. I rock. At some things. I have a fear that I can’t cope with working every day, but I kind of can.

I have not been wanting to feel things, so I haven’t been writing, and I haven’t been writing to Ron either. Very self-contained these last weeks. It took me a long time to feel better after the last therapy session. I still don’t know what to do with that memory, how to make sense of it in my mind. Perhaps that is the essence of dissociation – memories and feelings seem to have happened to someone else. Even when they come back, they don’t seem like my own.

I’ve had a cold since Wednesday. Very miserable yesterday. Finally, after a day of nose dripping uncontrollably, I decided to try an anti-histamine, and what a relief. I’m getting these odd colds that combine a head cold with an allergy attack. For me, and allergy attack that is out of control is completely disabling – my eyes and nose stream constantly. Very odd, because my allergy season is essentially over. I suspect my body’s defenses are low because of the constant jarring of PTSD. So this falling apart happens.

Today was a better day. I did some work, so won’t book another day off sick. I don’t get paid for sick days, but it’s a grey area, because working from home is OK. I’ll take a one day hit for Thursday and let it go at that.

I’ve been considering how alone I am. This week it’s not bothering me, though I have barely spoken to anyone all week. I wonder if it’s something I put out – that people don’t want to talk to me or be around me? I’m not looking for reassurance BTW, to anyone who knows me. Just – how come I’m alone all the time at work, and most of the time at home?

I have friends, and I spend time with them. But essentially, I am always by myself.

I’ve been worrying / thinking about group, which begins next week again. I want to do a better job this time. I feel bad about how I behaved in the last group actually. I want to talk to Ron tomorrow about this.

For one thing, I want to try to hold on to the idea that Ron cares about me, even in the context of the group. I completely lose that sense in group for some reason, which makes me so anxious I can barely stand to stay in it.

I want to keep tabs on parts and not let them act out. That’s different from totally suppressing them. Having some scared child attack another group member just isn’t going to be helpful to anyone. It wasn’t helpful last year. Nothing really got worked out, I just stirred up a lot of pain as far as I can see.

I also want to be a supportive person. I do. Ron stresses honesty and ‘realness’, whatever that may be. But I think now, more than before, that there is a lot of value in showing kindness and support. All the people in a therapy group are suffering and fragile. We’re not supposed to be there to make friends – but what is wrong with showing concern?

I’m intending to talk to people before and after the group, not leave in silence. I can at least wish them a good week, and maybe hope that whatever the issue is gets better? What would be wrong with that? We are all fellow travelers after all. I don’t see how some expressed fellow feeling in the group is going to be untherapeutic. I’m not a therapist, I’m just a person in a group, I can act like a normal human being.

I do wish R. would not be in the group. I won’t be offering him a ride home, and if he asks, I will actually refuse. I’m not interested in working out any feelings about him in the group. If he does that, I think it will be a cowardly act actually. He had the option of talking to me directly – if he feels safer in the group and decides to air his feelings, whatever they are, there, I’ll think he is too chicken shit scared to talk to me directly.

Anyway, trying not to obsess on R. I think the last group helped me with social relationships. I’d never considered the option of ‘being real’ before, so it was practice with that. I want to feel and express more sympathy with people, (OK, except for R). That will make it more of a healing force for me.