Archive

socializing

Ugh. So now I’ve written Ron an email in an attempt to break through this depression. It helped a bit, that and writing it out here. But he hasn’t responded, so now that is bothering me. I feel so lonely. I said the part about how I feel he’s probably judging me, and of course I hoped to hear back that he wasn’t. Since he hasn’t replied, I figured he kind of is.

I got out to buy veg and meat for supper and lunches. I cooked supper. I sat in the cafe and read my book. I even felt some pleasure, sitting at a small table in the shade, half listening to others chatting, eating a salted brownie and sipping earl grey. It was OK. Better than yesterday, when absolutely nothing brought any pleasure.

Yesterday I was invited to a friend’s barbecue, and I did go. It’s really hard to be social when I’m so depressed, and I feel I didn’t do a great job. These are not really the kind of friends that understand about depression, so I don’t explain what’s going on, just try to cope. I figure being with people might be good. I’ve been trying to be more social after all.

Nothing bad happens. These are all pretty smart people, they’re discussing issues, and travel, and such. I like it best when drinking wine and eating. After the meal, we sit in a small humid sunroom, as it’s started to rain. No one there drinks, though there was wine with dinner. They just discuss. I guess this could be good – to me it’s like they’re very much in their heads though. The talk is not very personal at all. Perhaps I long too much for wine, but also, I long for relaxation, not this endless competitive type discussion that we seem to be having.

A former friend of mine is there. She’s a very intellectually smart person. In the sunroom, I start feeling more and more uncomfortable. I realize I’ve never liked these gatherings where she is. She always seems to need to be the centre of attention – directing conversation, picking topics, being the authority on things. And I’ve always felt uncomfortable that she insists that you agree with her opinions – you can’t have a different opinion and have that be OK.

The two men who are there, new friends of my friend the host, seem mesmerized by this former friend, whom they are meeting for the first time. They start looking at her, and directing all their conversation towards her. She is very  clever. She is a decade older than I am, and so quite a bit older also than these men. I guess she does charm.

I think about this afterwards – isn’t this what narcissists do? They charm at first, and draw you in….But you cannot disagree with them, or they turn nasty. I don’t know. She also has good points – it’s not black and white. She is kind to various people who need help.

I sit there in the sunroom, and grow more and more quiet and distant. I start to feel really uncomfortable. I start to long for my therapist, which is a strange feeling. What would I want him to do? Care about me I suppose. Be there in a human type of way.

Was I envious of this friend, or her broad knowledge and her incisive way with words? I really don’t think so. Could be it was my depression, and I lost my ability to handle social interactions. Or, it could be I no longer want to put up with one person controlling an evening, one person who must be the centre of attention? Where no one could be themselves…… I left early, not even making an excuse, just saying good night.

This theme of needing to be clever, and needing to agree with the dominant person, comes right out of my family background. In there world, everyone must have the same opinions on important matters – differences are seen as threatening.

So. Today I remain by myself. I cannot handle being with others. I just try and feel better. And tonight I am somewhat better. I’m going off to pack a lunch for tomorrow, pull out the laundry, wash up the dishes. The basics.

I guess I seem negative about people. Who do I like, after all? Well, I am getting along with my friend E at the moment. She was the host of this event. I likely disappointed her though with being so quiet yesterday. Still – we are getting along at least. She confides in me and invites me to things.

I think my relationship to my former friend was deeply problematic, and I’m just getting insight into why that was, from my point of view anyway. These are new thoughts for me after all. I’d never thought of her as narcissistic before. I’ve understood where some of her behaviour comes from – she had a deeply painful childhood as well, and so I feel sympathetic to her for that. I was thinking lately maybe I should try to re-connect with her. I miss her insights into books and films. But….I think a narcissist is too problematic for me to deal with. I think I’ll let things stay as they are.

Middle of a long weekend. Some things are better, some other things seem worse. Life goes on.

My last post was about loneliness. So about half of that turned out to be true. The friend with the mental health issues indeed has not contacted me for many weeks. Maybe she is dropping me as a friend. I could call her, and I likely will in a few more weeks. Usually she called me – she had to be in the mood to talk, so mostly, I’d wait for her to call. She is fragile, and I know the way she has handled other people who have said things she found hurtful has been to drop them. So we’ll see.

The other friend though, that I’d thought had found new friends so no longer needed me….OK, we’ve been out together twice since my post, and may see each other again tomorrow. So I was too pessimistic about her. When she phoned me, I brought up our last meeting, where she and her friend didn’t seem to want to hang out with me. She said that wasn’t true at all, however, they had waited for me for a while, and so were ready to go home sooner than I was. So I was half right, there was a problem, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. So I do jump to negative conclusions sometimes.

This friend of mine, E, is an extremely competent individual, with a very good job and an advanced degree. We actually get along best when she runs into some kind of emotionally painful issue. I can listen for a long time, and I don’t judge. I try not to give advice, though, OK, I do give some. Anyway, I feel closer to her when she has issues. Last night we spent time on a patio drinking wine and talking, and it was pretty nice. She thanked me for listening.

So I am feeling a bit more socially connected than I had been. I do miss Ron. He’s back next week, so I’ll see him Thursday. Since my panicky emails of two weeks ago, I haven’t contacted him. He’d offered a check in call if I wanted it for this week, but I didn’t set one up with him. I had the feeling that that might just stir up feelings, and it would be more comfortable to just have no contact.

I had a bad week work-wise. I had a problem at work two weeks ago, which I wrote about here, which a week later came back to haunt me. This terrible manager spoke to me in an angry way every single day last week about this same stupid problem, which I could do nothing about anyway, as I didn’t have the document back. I hated her so so much. This does sound juvenile, but I think she triggers the kid part of me.

On the day I finally got this document back, in order to make the changes she wanted, I had to deal with one of the directors there. She complained about me to him so loudly, the whole department heard about it. I was sitting at my cubicle furious, since this was entirely unjust.

So the next day, Friday, is her last day before a two week vacation. So she pulls me into a meeting room, says I haven’t been looking too happy lately (duh – because you are attacking me every day and I can’t take it), what’s wrong. I buy some time by saying I haven’t thought about how to put this. She launches into speech. She is concerned that my contract is ending and she wants to proceed to get me in there full time. What? Then why treat me like this??

I tell her I didn’t appreciate how she handled things about this documentation mistake this past week (which was mostly caused by her, though I don’t say that). That I don’t function well once she comes over and freaks out. When this problem first came to light, I’d been working all day trying to get a complicated document ready really fast, as it was behind schedule, and that once she came over yelling, my mind just blanked out.

The interesting thing about her is she is not perturbed when I tell her negative things about herself. She says yeah, she should try and be a calmer person, her boyfriend tells her the same. Well – good luck with changing your entire personality (I don’t say this). But I do say I need her to try and approach me in a calmer way.

So after our talk, where she has said things like she was the person who fought to hire me, over doubts of her boss and my predecessor….Who knows. Kind of bizarre. But she’s positioning herself as my big ally at work.

I felt better after our meeting. Which is confusing, because I had just been certain that I would not continue with this job. Then I felt better, after talking to her, though I know nothing will likely change. The thing is, I deeply do not want to start somewhere else again right now. It is so hard to learn a new job, a new body of knowledge, all new people. I’ve done it every six months now for a few years, and I feel I cannot do it anymore.

However. I’ve been deeply frustrated and angry at this job. I takes me so long to recover.

I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t officially offered it to me yet, so I haven’t had to commit. She’s just strongly indicated she wants me in it.

I can’t seem to figure out what i want to do.

Tonight I talked to my son. He’s been completely disabled by what we thought were allergies for a few years now. He’s feeling worse again he said. I got exasperated with him on the phone – he doesn’t seem willing to help himself at all, to look for any treatments at all. I don’t know.

I just now looked up multiple chemical sensitivities, which might be what’s wrong with him. There doesn’t seem to be much you can do for them.

He’s always been all about avoidance, and not about trying to get his body into better health. I always felt that he should look for something that would help his body not be so reactive. That does work with my allergies. However, for MCS, as this is called, that doesn’t seem to be done.

No one has officially diagnosed him with anything. He never was doing terribly well, to tell the truth, so the whole thing is mystifying. It’s not like he had a normal life and was stricken down.

I got angry on the phone, but the truth is, I feel so helpless. I don’t know how to help. He feels if we could set him up outside of the city somewhere, if he was away from polluted city air, he would feel better, and would be able to get a job. He has no training or experience in anything, so it would be some kind of service job I suppose. I have no confidence he would feel better, that he would take care of himself, or that he would be able to get a job. But that is his vision. Somehow, get someone to give him money so he can move out of the city, then his problems will be solved.

I do feel despair when I try to engage with this. I don’t know what’s psychological and what’s physical. It’s been years, without a diagnosis and with no progress at all.

He was always extremely difficult, he picked his father and not me, and has many of his father’s beliefs. His father’s beliefs are not very workable as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know. Maybe it is all physical. Maybe it’s all psychological. The fact is I don’t know how to help him. He doesn’t have so much as a diagnosis – the medical system has not been helpful in the least.

I’m going to try not to dwell on this sorrow. I should try and go to see him tomorrow. He won’t get on public transportation to come to me for dinner, so I must drive up to my parents’ and take him out for a meal. It’s difficult.

 

anxiety2

Art: Anxiety, Tom Atkins

I am a freaked out corporate drone. I feel so done in. We unexpectedly got half the afternoon off, so I’m home with a bit of energy to write. I find work so hard. The social aspect of course. Plus my actual task has a social component to it also, as I need to run and set up meetings, and try to herd people towards particular deadlines.

I have been coming home and having these frantic mental conversations with people at work, entirely in my mind. So ridiculous. Like my mind is trying to solve things for me, when it really can’t. I know it’s trying hard.

Part of the trouble is I’m switching a bit at work. It only happened once where it was really noticeable though, and I felt deeply ashamed the rest of the day. The person I was talking with must have thought I was super anxious I suppose. But this week, anytime I have an unexpected social interaction, I end up answering in this kid voice. I think I’m feeling uncertain there, and unanchored, and so perhaps am switched into kid space anyway, but I don’t notice until someone talks to me.

I am scared no one will talk to me. That’s what happened in my family. Mostly that’s what happens at work, though it’s not targeted at me – it’s more the situation. But I could develop little work friendships, but don’t, because I think, I answer people in this startled little girl voice, which may put people off. I’m trying not to hate myself for it. After all, it’s not something I do on purpose. But people don’t understand about parts, of course. How could they?

There’s this whole issue of ‘good writing’ too. Arggh. My boss has said several times, in my hearing, that I’m a “great writer” with better writing skills than anyone here. I guess he’s trying to be nice. He hasn’t actually read anything I’ve written yet. The problem with this is, his, and the other manager who’se working on my project, ideas about what is ‘good writing’ are the opposite of mine. In their minds, the document they’ve produced before I got there is great writing. It’s the kind of writing where no one dares correct or change anything, because they have no clear idea what it’s trying to say. It’s convoluted, it’s trying to get across ten different concepts in every sentence, it’s using all kinds of legal terminology. To people who work in management, this seems like great writing. No one will ever read that document voluntarily, because it’s so much work to try to understand what it’s trying to say.

I hate that kind of writing, and I don’t agree that it’s good. So I feel I’m a major disappointment, with my plain short sentences and two sentence paragraphs. This particular manager has simply re-written most of what I’ve written so far. It’s OK – the document is coming along, and she does a decent job. But I’m certainly not living up to any fantasy they may have had about great writing. I want to communicate, and to explain – I don’t want to show off how intelligent I am and what long sentences I can produce.

So I feel bad, as if I misrepresented myself as a writer. I’d like to have a bit of a talk about this with my boss, who might understand my point of view actually, even if he does not agree with it. But he’s become too busy to talk to lately, and I haven’t seen him for a week or two. The manager I see more often, but we just don’t get along very well.

And if I have no skill, I feel useless. I’m socially useless anyway. If I have no skill, why are they paying me?

The manager that re-writes everything condescends if we talk. She’s a lot younger. I guess she’s being a manager – managing me, instead of talking with me. Fine. She’s not my boss thank god. However, my boss is leaving end of month, and she’s staying, so she might take over as my boss, which I would hate.

Here’s a stupid social mistake I made. I was eating my lunch in the lunch room, a little early, to beat the rush. As I was half way through, the team I’m theoretically with came in and sat at the next table. They never say anything to me, so I ignored them and tried to read my tablet. Then my boss came in and sat down with them. When he saw me, he said hello, did I want to sit with them? He’s nice like that. He said he’d pull over another table so we’d have room.

So I looked up and was startled. Then I said, oh, I’m almost finished. I actually meant – you don’t have to pull over a table, don’t worry about me, and I’d thought I’d sit for a minute there before the rest of the team got there. But he took it to mean, no, I’ll eat by myself, I’m almost finished. So I stayed and ate by myself, and continued ignoring them.

I really want to integrate a bit more with these people. So what do I do? I’m semi rude to my boss’ friendliness, and I ignore everyone. Stupid. I left as soon as I could. I’m sure it looked like I couldn’t be bothered being friendly. This group is not particularly friendly to me, but I’m not taking advantage when someone is.

I just get startled by things. I’m tense, I don’t respond in friendly ways sometimes. Other times I respond like an excited kid.

Anyway, I’m having social anxieties that are making my life a misery. There’s no built in social connection with this job. The one person I’m working more closely with I don’t click with at all.

I did go out to my ACA meeting last Saturday. It was quite good. I’ve decided I don’t want to go there a rumpled mess of angst and depression. So I wore my newish jeans and good top, I did not look depressed, and I talked just a bit, on not too downbeat a topic. This also is a social occasion, and I want people to relate to me, and they won’t if I’m a mess of depression. I have these stronger aspects of myself that I want to show also. I felt good about the meeting – just sitting there with others who are working on themselves was good. I may not work the steps, but I still am getting something from the meetings. I felt a kind of peaceful energy there at times, just going around the circle of people.

friendsIt’s no secret that I struggle with relationships. Not just big R romantic relationships, but basically all of them. I feel like the term social anxiety was invented just for me. Except that I don’t think it’s some strange brain disease that requires Paxil to cure. It’s based on my habits of mind, related to what happened when I was a child. But, it’s basically my top issue where I struggle consistently.

I have been shedding relationships. Partly through ineptness, and partly because I have changed and friends have not liked that. I met up with a friend last weekend, and it really underlined for me how my perceptions have entirely changed.

I had stopped calling a particular friend, E, and she then called me over the holidays. She asked me what was up, that I hadn’t called lately. I didn’t say much, because it’s not that she’d done anything, it’s more that I don’t think we’re that compatible anymore, which isn’t something worth discussing IMO. She asked did I want to go for a walk, I said I wanted to meet for coffee instead, so we did that. I felt good about that, because a complaint I have about her is that she controls everything – what we do, where we go, and when. So although I would have been OK with a walk, I also wanted a coffee, so I expressed my wishes, and she went along with them. That already felt quite good to me. I think she does tend to seize control if anyone is not sure of what they want, but she is somewhat flexible if you have a firm plan.

So we had an OK chat for half an hour. The next weekend, I’d decided I’d like to see a movie, and I picked one I thought we might both like. My pick was more slanted towards her tastes, but it was still a movie that interested me. So I called her, and yes, she wanted to come. So far, great. I was asking for stuff I wanted, and she was happy I was making a plan.

So about the controlling part of this, I felt better. I was no longer at her beck and call, doing things that didn’t interest me much. I could see how I’d been buying into that, by not proposing my own agenda, and just going along with hers.

But when it came to actually talking, it was rough going. I felt uncomfortable, and instead of blaming myself as per usual, I paid more observant attention to what was actually happening.

First, she was extremely anxious after the movie to rush home, so we kind of jogged to the subway. I asked her if everything was OK – she said she wanted to get home fast and have an evening at home. So what else made me uncomfortable? Well, she doesn’t share much about herself. No problems or feelings. She started peppering me with questions, but didn’t actually want to discuss further anything I said – I’d say something, and then she’d throw out another unrelated question. It seemed like she wanted desperately to keep the conversations going, without saying anything about herself, and without taking in anything I said. So I couldn’t discuss anything I wanted to discuss, because she couldn’t listen and wasn’t actually interested. I’d ask her a few things, to which she only replied very briefly.

I concluded feelings and problems make this friend very uncomfortable. She needs to keep things very superficial. She doesn’t know how to discuss anything, so she tries to control interactions and people so she feels less anxious.

I used to be jealous of another friend, because she’s friends with E also, and I’d always imagined they had this great relationship, while I was not getting along well with E. I really felt it was my fault. For having issues, for mentioning my feelings, for being weird in general. This time, I didn’t think that. I felt sorry for this other friend instead, for having E as a friend who cannot really connect with people. This was a huge shift for me. I no longer blame myself for not having a good friendship with E.

It’s quite amazing when you suddenly see things so differently. It actually occurred to me that maybe E has changed towards me – maybe she’s decided I’m no longer a person she likes. But actually I don’t think so. I think I can suddenly see. Oh. This person does not connect with others. It’s not me. Wow.

Reminds me of someone important. Yep, my mom. The model of a woman who does not connect with people. That’s why E seemed familiar and safe to me.

This is not a venting bitchy post about a friend, though I realize it may come across that way. I’m trying to think about a relationship and how I’m changing in my view of what friendship might be. It might be better. It might be a good time. It might be a mutual give and take. It might not involve so much fear of judgement and so much withholding. I am not going to feel bad about this friendship not working out anymore. I don’t think there’s anything I can do. Except seek distance and look for others who are able to connect, and who want to be around me.

I’m not needing to end this friendship. Maybe I have it wrong. I don’t after all know the insides of E’s head. But if I can be around her once in a while, but not feel bad that we don’t connect well, that’s a big change. I’ll let it be her problem I think.

Art: 1892-94 panel painting by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924)

teapotI had a troubling interaction with a friend on the weekend. It is still bothering me and I don’t think we’ll be friends anymore. I wrote Ron about it, trying to work it through, as Friday seemed a long ways away. That made things a bit worse, so now I’m mad at both this (ex) friend and at Ron. This will be a bit whiny, so please skip if you don’t like to read complaints about people.

I met this friend in my group. Probably it’s a bad idea to try and make friends from a therapy group. There were so many simmering tensions, and I think they come back to bite you.

We met at small cafe for tea. It was a charming but difficult location, because it was very loud, so we had to almost shout to hear each other. It was small and full of young people talking.

The last time I’d met her, I had ended up dissociated, and I figured out it’s because she reminds me a lot of my mother. This time, the resemblance was even more strong. Her favorite author was the same as my mother’s, she listens all the time to our public broadcaster, she thinks clothes are unimportant. Many details are the same. She is my mother’s age.

However, the main thing, the point for me, is that she is super shy, super sensitive, and she shies away from things. Because we’d met in therapy, so to speak, I felt it was OK to talk about it. Maybe I talked too much about my problems. Very likely I did. The more I talked, the more reserved she became. She would only talk about food or weather.

This is exactly what my mother would do. So, I brought it up. I did it in therapese, which was maybe not the best choice. I said she was reminding me quite a bit of my mother, and I mentioned some of the similarities. She was very offended, and ‘defended’ herself, saying she was not like my mother. I just listened – I know it’s my problem, if someone reminds me of my mom.

Then she said that she had lots going in internally, but she didn’t think I’d be interested, so she saved those things for when she was with other people.

Which really hurt my feelings. Why waste time meeting with me then, why not hang with the others? I didn’t say that. I just remarked that this was similar to my mother, who does not talk to me, but does talk to my sister. My friend had talked only about the tea and the decor in the cafe. It was kind of weird, and it is just what my family would do – try to shift the talk to food.

We let it go, and chatted a bit about other things before parting. There were no raised voices or nasty things said.

At home, I became more and more upset with this situation. I don’t do well with people who with hold – I get more and more desperate for a response. I remembered this woman in the group – how she with held most of her thoughts and opinions, how irritating I found that sometimes.

When we met for the first time after group, I was so relieved that she also had been angry with the people who attacked me, and that she had felt bad for me. Now I think – OK, how come she didn’t say anything? I know her struggle is an inability to speak up. But not this irritates me again. It would have made such a difference to me to know that not everyone was against me. Her silence was pretty deafening.

I know some of the turbulence of my feelings is due to being triggered. Still. Someone who tells me she doesn’t think I’d be interested in her thoughts so she saves them for others is not my friend. I suspect actually she’s judging me – some of the things I talked about I believe she finds quite strange, so she didn’t feel much similarity between us. We are a different generation for sure.

I wrote some of this out and sent it to Ron, as I was so upset I couldn’t sleep. I asked for a response, so he responded to an obvious thing. I’d stressed that what I emailed was confidential. So I poured my heart out, and he responded by saying everything I write is confidential.

Yesterday I wrote again, again very distressed and emotional. I didn’t ask for a response, given how he’d responded last time. So today, he replied to this saying that he hadn’t found something I’d lost last session.

It is so hurtful to pour your heart out and be ignored like that.

I don’t care for either of them at the moment.

Do you work things out with friends or do you end the relationship?

Art: Ria Hills – Tetley Tea Time

whiteLabour Day weekend. Lonely, loveless and despairing….

No, not really. My efforts at socializing were not without problems this weekend, but I did have company.

I went out to see Blue Jasmine Friday with a friend, and we had a snack after. This friendship is a little rocky though. I find I have changed a lot through therapy, and I see people differently now. This friend is a very bright woman. She believes in doing things, and that we get our value from what we do. Which is OK for her. Though I don’t do that much besides survive, so we don’t have that in common.

And emotions are not welcome. OK. That’s what I was familiar with from my FOO, so I used to find this normal. Now, not so much. This is not her fault in the least – it’s I who have changed.

And a final problem, every time we meet she tells me how much she hates Ron. This time, I didn’t even bring up the subject of therapy or group. And she tells me over and over how ridiculous I am for going to group therapy, when it upsets me so much. I’ve tried to explain the concept of it many times to her, but it never takes. She feels that negative feelings should be suppressed, not shown to others.

That is a point of view, and I certainly did have issues with group as well. Just I’m fed up with hearing the same criticism from her about my choices pretty well every time I see her. I never asked her to pick up the pieces when I was upset with group – it doesn’t impact her.

OK, end of rant. We didn’t have the funnest time, but it was OK. The movie is great. Woody Allen has been terrible the last few years, IMO, and now he’s back.

Also less than a huge success was yesterday. I had my son over for dinner. I’m not a confident cook, so I don’t often have people to dinner. Now you’d think my son would be an exception, as he ate my food every day when he was growing up. And he is, but I still feel a little on the spot preparing a meal for him. I went to some trouble, going to buy food, looking up recipes, getting it all together.

Then his father called me in the afternoon, and we had a fight. He can upset me a lot. I think I time travel back to when we were together. Under stress, he becomes very domineering. He is sure he knows what is right and what everyone else should do. The fight concerned my son, who is not getting work and needs to. OK. I don’t think he needs to be pushed. Ex pushed him all through his childhood and my son pushed back and under achieved with a vengeance.

Somehow this got turned around into I don’t think he should be working. Which is far from my opinion.

I told ex I was through discussing this and essentially hung up on him. I don’t need him yelling at me and accusing me of things. I need that like I need¬† a hole in the head.

I was very upset. Anyhow.

My son came over, long after dinner was ready. We clashed almost right away. Turned out, he didn’t have the idea he should be paying rent while living with his dad. This was all news to him, that this was expected. Not market rent, but something.

If I hadn’t already been off balance from the phone call, I would have handled it better.

Anyhow. It wasn’t completely terrible. Though at dinner, my son wouldn’t talk to me. So that was sad. My day had been arranged around getting this dinner shopped for and cooked, so it was disappointing for me.

We talked about it a bit after. I said I was disappointed, he said I was condescending to him. At least there wasn’t a complete retreat into coldness that happens in my family. We talked about the problem.

I didn’t drive him home, I let him take the subway. He is in his twenties for goodness sake, he can do a few things for himself.

Children are difficult.

I plan on having him over again next week. If he’ll come. We were starting to warm up to each other again before last night, and I hope we can get that back.

This morning I went off to church. There is a nice little church just the next block over. I want to develop my spirituality, but can’t decide between Buddhism, Christianity, or Unitarianism. Sigh.

I can’t say I believe, but I’m willing to. I like the bits of singing, and the sermons there are interesting. Today a little snippet about Syria. I’d been trying to think about Syria. The horror of chemical weapons. Yet, the other horror of warplanes and bombing. The pastor’s view is violence is never a solution.

Would it be a deterrent if the US were to bomb Syria in protest of chemical weapons?

I can’t decide. If the alternatives are to drop US bombs, or to do nothing, which to choose? Is there another option?

I feel like Winnie the Pooh contemplating this – like a woman of very little brain. I don’t get very far, and I go and eat ice cream.

After the service I go for refreshments and the intern minister comes right over to talk to me. She’s a little too enthusiastic about our responsibility to love our neighbour, and I get uncomfortable. Am I being preached at? But she’s also interesting. I raise some questions about the service, and she has interesting things to say.

A huge sadness hits me at church. I think it was one of the hymns. Singing, even softly, seemed to put me into my emotions. Suddenly I feel like I want to cry. So at coffee time, it’s awkward because I feel like I want to cry. I try and ignore the feeling so I can talk, but I know this seeps through. I fear they are wondering what’s wrong with me.

Anyhow. It’s basically OK. Just I don’t want to be saved, and I don’t believe Jesus is the answer to my depression.

Basically I like the church, there’s a good range of people there, and I think I’ll go back. I need to keep going out to things.

Now I’m staying home. I had some plans to go shopping, but I couldn’t. I’m tired, I need to chill. And vacuum, if that could be arranged.

Cs2_sI’ve been wanting to write and especially to describe group this week but feel extremely lethargic and resistant. Eating a fairly large chocolate lave cake probably didn’t do my energy levels any favours either. Why did that seem such a good idea?

Socially my world feels more comfortable. I went to the dinner, which was OK. There were eight of us. My friend who talks however came early and was seated away from me, so I couldn’t talk to him. The man sitting across from me wouldn’t speak at all, to anyone, unless you asked him a direct question. I asked him what he did, he said nothing, and that was the end of it. I didn’t feel like extending myself in his direction at all.

Some of the other people there are what I think of as ‘spiky’. They are never relaxed enough for me to feel comfortable talking with them, so it’s always this jumpy, start and go process that never feels very good. It’s maybe a part of social anxiety. It’s like talking to someone who cannot attune to anyone else.

But then, I talked with V, the organizer, and she talks. She told me about her grandchildren. And there is an intriguing, very young man, J, who sat diagonally from me, and whom I kind of like. He does make an effort to respond and engage. He has this dreamy, off centre expression, almost an ironic expression, and seems bright. He is a physics student, going to university. I always think he has a lot of potential and am interested in drawing him out. I know he is probably looking for love, and is held back by extreme shyness, but he does have good looks going for him. I’ll bet he’ll find a girlfriend at uni. However, it was too loud in the restaurant to talk much with him this time.

Overall I’m glad I went. There’s not a lot of potential for friends there, since people tend to be in the mainstream mental health system and medicated….and I’m not in that place. But it’s still OK. I like that I can be effective and somewhat helpful by engaging people and chatting. I’m not usually a social butterfly, so it’s a good feeling.

Yesterday I’d called two friends to go for a walk with me, and today both wanted to see me. So I’ve gone for a walk with one, and had coffee with another, as well as the sinful lava cake. And I feel more connected again. We don’t have really deep discussions, but I follow their lives, and they follow mine, and I like that feeling.

Group last week was good. I’m thinking at the moment that group is helping me more than my individual sessions are. I’m learning to think about people’s emotions and motivations, and learning to tolerate my own feelings better so I don’t feel as compelled to react all the time. I feel like some of the time, I can let people have their emotions and see that it is about them.

As usual, I’ll mostly describe what concerned me specifically in the interests of privacy. Most of the evening was not about me.

Z talked for a long time about her feelings of shame and feeling not good enough. She’d been criticized in a class she was taking and that bad feeling spiralled into days of agony. Then she’d been yelled at by a bus driver. Then she brought it back to the group by getting into how disturbed she’d been by E’s frustration with people not talking in the group, which she’d expressed several weeks ago, because Z felt extremely implicated in that accusation.

It’s easy to empathize with feeling criticized and then feeling self-loathing. I said some things to show I sympathized. Then I immediately felt that Ron must think I’m saying something stupid or wrong, so I said that too. Why not. I actually felt that every time I said something in group, that Ron was feeling silently critical of me. I said that every time. I know it was repetitive, but I didn’t care, I felt I had to get a handle on that really disturbing feeling.

Ron never responded directly to what I said about feeling criticized. At one time R asked him directly if he felt critical of me, and Ron just said no, and left it at that.

Ron did say in response that he feels that groupies are feeling criticized or awkward and they then silence themselves, which leads to a lot of silences in the group.

Back to Z and E. E became extremely upset that Z was upset with what she had said. She then spiralled off into her own very serious concerns, cutting, conflict with her father who said hurtful things to her. It was difficult to see how that exactly related to what Z was talking about. I have this experience of E that when you say anything disapproving to her, she spins off immediately into how awful she feels, and the issue never gets a hearing. But it could be that’s what Ron wants to happen. I know he wants us to get at the deeper issues in our lives. To me though it’s odd, it seems like missing the other person altogether.

I couldn’t formulate this at the time, but I want to ask the question next time – is this what is therapeutic? I just said that it reminded me of my conflict with E last year, how she was using some of the exact same phrases as she did then, and how I was glad I wasn’t in the present conflict.

I don’t think that was a very helpful response. It was a complex situation.

Another thing I’m interested in is why Z has taken such offense at E saying some groupies aren’t talking, and not with me, when I think I said pretty much the same thing the following week. Another thing I want to ask next week.

The other main thing from my perspective was that conflict re-surfaced between myself and A, much to my chagrin. I’d thought we were burying the hatchet, but it seems not. It was brought on by something I said by accident, so perhaps my fault.

A was saying something in response to Z about feeling implicated when E has said people aren’t talking, that it seemed to be about him too. Then out of my mouth slipped the words ‘darn right’. A very odd sensation, because I hadn’t had any thought of saying anything upsetting to A at all. I hadn’t been thinking about him even.

A took offense, and I reflexively felt terrible – why would I say that, when no one was talking to me, just out of the blue? So I explained about parts, and that I didn’t mean to say this. A said he found my explanation very annoying, or me very annoying, and some other negative things about me. It all happened so fast, I didn’t get a hold of what it was at all. In fact, at the time, I couldn’t remember what it was that I’d said to A to cause this.

We had our little spat, then the conversation moved back to E. Then with only five minutes left, I felt I couldn’t leave things the way they were. Though E was very upset about her issues, I asked for two minutes and talked to A.

E. I have no idea what just happened. I’d thought things were getting better between us, we were becoming reconciled…so I’m upset about this. What on earth was that?

A. Yeah, what do you think is happening between us?

E. I can’t even remember what I said.

Then Ron wrapped up the group, bringing it back to the conflict between Z and E. I know he wants to be careful not to support taking attention away from E when she is in the middle of things. I was OK with that, I can see that it is fair.

I think next time, I want to go back to what happened with A. Instead of repudiating it, like I did at the time, partly because I couldn’t remember what I said, I want to stick by my guns more. I did include A when I complained about people not talking in the group. He hasn’t talked for months, though he’s started to again now. There’s nothing wrong with saying it IMO. He does get very angry with me and becomes quite personal, so it may be a tough slog. I’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to walk into a complete train wreck – my experience with E has taught me the futility of that.

The two things that were different this time were that one, I kept bringing up the feeling of being criticized silently by Ron, and saying the wrong things. That helped me feel less overwhelmed by those feelings.

Second I looked at Ron a lot. It was reassuring to me to do that. The kid part of me likes to look at him….and I can see that really he is the same, basically kind, low-key individual I know from therapy – he hasn’t turned into a harsh critical monster.

I wonder if the looking had anything to do with having had therapy the previous day, so I was still raw from the feelings stirred up then, and seeing Ron without having to do therapy directly with him was comforting.

I mentioned this in my email to him and asked whether it was intrusive or disturbing. He said no, it’s important for me to feel connected, and I should look as much as I liked.

Art: The Fractal Bargain Bin