An update. Work is not bad (for a change). The manager is nice, normal and positive. I’m working from home a lot, which really takes some pressure off of me, because going in to a corporate environment day after day takes such a toll on me. On the downside, it can be tough to motivate myself sometimes, as the work is often not engaging. And I’d like co-workers, but don’t have any on this contract. But – I’ll take it. So relieved to have paying work once again. It’s like a little bit of peace inside, just this knowledge that I have money coming in and don’t need to worry, at the moment anyway. So yay! Focus on the positives.

I continue to go to therapy. It’s so painful and confusing that I’m not sure how much I want to share about it. I haven’t felt like quitting since that session three weeks ago, so that’s positive.

I had been having sessions that focused on the adult, as if I didn’t have any parts. Which was OK. Just I’d feel, in parts of myself, that some essential things were missing. Which I suppose is the parts that didn’t get time or attention. Then I hope that I don’t actually have parts and am more normal. But it’s also painful.

Last session I went in and didn’t want to chat about my life. I’d had a massage, so talked about that. Then some exercise I did stopped me from sleeping. And I stayed with the parts of me that don’t function well. And that led back to different parts expressing themselves. And I don’t really know what to say about it. These child parts are definitely there and I think now are the source of a lot of the feelings I have – the shut-down feelings, anxiety, sadness…But also, a child part seems to hold a lot of playfulness and feelings of OKness.

It’s hard to switch back at the end of the session. I kind of manage though.

After, I felt that the adult had been missed. I had a sense that the session passed in about ten minutes, which is disorienting. I can remember it, but somehow still I have the sense that no time passed.

I’ve forgotten anything Ron said. Surely he had points to make, but I can’t remember. Mostly I’m left with the strangeness of being in all these parts. I really really don’t want to believe it.

I also re-read today a paper I had downloaded to my desktop previously –

The Treatment of Structural Dissociation in Chronically Traumatized Patients

Janina Fisher, Ph.D.

And the reason is, I desperately want some kind of roadmap as to what to do if you’re in parts. OK, I can see that I am, but I need some kind of plan. Something. Ron is kind of exploring what the situation is, but he’s hazy on what an approach might be to help this situation.

I love this paper by Fisher. Especially the last third of it, where she discusses how to treat dissociation. Her approach is all about strengthening the adult part, who then builds bridges and cares for younger traumatized parts. To me this makes a boatload of sense. I’ve always been weak on keeping the adult in charge, sometimes approaching life as if I were a child, which works badly.

Therapy sometimes seems to encourage child parts to take over. I then get stuck in a traumatized part and can’t function until that part recedes, which can take days. According to this article, this is not helpful. I also just think this is not helpful. The idea of the adult taking steps to try and soothe the parts makes a whole lot of sense.

It’s different from other therapies which encourage sitting with feelings. Fisher says that right out also. You are trying to refrain from shutting down feelings though, but you’re also trying to soothe and comfort so you feel better. Just switching into the part with the feeling doesn’t necessarily help by itself – you don’t move through it, the way you might for a feeling that’s not dissociated.

I’m considering sending Ron the article but also hesitating. He very much dislikes any kind of medicalization, so I’m worried he will reject this for that reason. She does have a kind of medical type style, with vocabulary for symptoms….My own view is that when you reject a whole category of work because you don’t like anything that seems at all ‘medical’, you throw out a lot of helpful information. No need to adopt the vocabulary of this to find it insightful.

I’ll see. I’d be so pleased if Ron read this and wanted to try the approach. Even if he just read the second half, where she discusses treatment approach, and skipped the first part, which is more theoretical, with ways of speaking that may be irritating.

Being in parts is a big problem. I really want to be working in some way that might help.

 

 

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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.

A bit of success. I seem to have found a contract. At least, it was offered to me verbally last week, though they are slow with the written contract.

I went for an interview for a short contract with an accounting firm Wednesday. I felt fairly good going in, despite it being early for my current habits, 10 am, and despite having to slog through heavy snow and whistling wind to get down to the subway.

I am trying to work out what made the interview better, and it’s not as easy as just saying I had better answers. I didn’t. I did establish a good dialogue with a very scared younger part first. Basically reassuring and adult every step of the way. For example, that part was distressed by the snow and wind, so I reassured that we’d be fine and could warm up in the subway. And other messages such as that I’d take care of the interview (the adult) and there was no danger.

So I felt a layer of peacefulness about the situation. I was still a bit nervous, but it wasn’t as desperate as before. The manager and I then had a conversation about what she wants to do, and it didn’t feel as if she was interrogating me. I was able to summon up some anecdotes showing how, um, fantastic I am at the very skills she is looking for.

Part of it is likely just a pretty good match of personalities….She seemed to like me, and it made me feel more relaxed. She is a young person, from an Asian background but likely born in this country. I felt the conversation was good, calm and positive.

The agency phoned me that afternoon to offer me the contract.

I am very relieved to have work, even just for a few months. I’m also relieved because I can see I was able to pull my interviewing together. It’s not like some contracts I was offered where there essentially wasn’t an interview. I can see I managed the situation well.

Of course, now I’m also mentally going over all the things that have gone wrong for me with bosses. I’m hoping they won’t go wrong this time. I will be doing my very best to see that they don’t, including talking about these issues in therapy. It’s just really really time I had a decent work experience.

Well. Life is continuing very difficult. Another job interview today, for a job that doesn’t pay very well and so I’m not sure I want. And yet, it doesn’t seem to have gone well, and I am dejected. I found the interviewing manager surprisingly likeable and soft spoken. However, he didn’t really ask me questions. He discussed his ideas about communication, and told me all about what he’s looking for. I jumped in a few times trying to show how I’d be a fit for the role. But, while at the start of the interview he seemed very eager to talk to me, by the end, he was not encouraging at all. And I look back trying to think what I did, or didn’t do. And I never know. I don’t get feedback on what went wrong – I just don’t get an offer.

I have now been unemployed for four entire months. With the last job ending on a very bad note. I do worry that I just won’t find anything. Well, I’m finding things, but seem unable to get through an interview for some reason.

I am worried.

In addition, I’ve been reviewed by the tax people for my last three years returns. They’ve now sent me a bill for over ten thousand dollars which supposedly I owe. This is a complete shock to me. I have diligently sent them taxes every month – the full amount their calculator tells me to send. I have never knowingly not paid what I should.

I’ve spoken to my tax preparer. He says the agency is in the wrong, but cannot explain what’s gone wrong. I’m wondering if he prepared my taxes improperly in some way. Anyway. I can object, but would likely need to hire either an accountant or a lawyer, I don’t know which. Lawyers are so expensive, it might be hard to justify one for what is in tax terms not a large amount. If my objection were not successful, I could end up paying more, the amount plus thousands in legal fees.

I feel like Job at the moment. Shit. I’m not sure what to do. I can pay, but those are my savings I’m depleting anyway by not having work. That’s my emergency fund, and then I’m into really using up savings that were for my future.

I didn’t start working until I was forty. Due to having messed up my early life. OK. So there’s not much time to save anything for any kind of retirement. There’s just not much wriggle room.

Um. The topic of the blog is therapy, and I went on Thursday. I think the session was helpful. I told Ron I needed to not be overwhelmed because I had an interview the next day, and I can see now he takes that to heart.

First I moaned about my taxes. Which is a waste of therapy time but I have no one to talk to so it is tempting. Then my difficulties with interviews. He tried reframing some of the negative thoughts I’ve had about past contracts. I found it heartening to hear him describe some of my experience in positive terms, so it sounds like I prevailed and succeeded. We talked about self-confidence, having a lot to offer, shit like that.

There is a topic too that’s been a bit of a theme in our sessions. I find a child part jumps in and takes over, or comes up, in various social situations when I get the least bit anxious. I want to separate from the child part so I can function and present as a competent adult. It’s very hard for me. I know a lot of therapy clients are looking for their inner child, and cannot find it. My problem is more that I can’t separate from it enough.

When I’m in the middle of an interaction, I do not realize that I’ve switched, or that a child part has taken over for portions of the interaction. That child is overwhelmed, unsure, fearful and anxious. No wonder. Children are not equipped to deal with adult life. Or maybe it’s that it’s a hurt child, hurt by my past, so for her, everything is frightening.

This then makes a bad impression on people I’m interacting with. They of course don’t understand what’s happening with me, why should they. Then I simply seem somewhat mentally slow and very anxious. However, there’s actually an intelligent adult in here that wants to be part of the world. So I end up not making a good impression, and people I would like to get to know judge me and do not give me a chance.

At the beginning of the session, Ron said he thought I was in a bit of a kid place, although I wasn’t aware of it. I was just speaking a bit about my past week. I did feel anxious while I was speaking though. So maybe that’s a bit of a sign that I’m in that state – that vague anxiety. He said one thing I do is that my sentences start to go up at the end, so that every sentence is a question. It might be a clue for me when this happens.

I can get out of it if I realize it’s happening. It’s kind of like stepping aside – protecting the child part internally, and taking over as an adult. I don’t tell Ron this, but one thing I do to try and get the adult back is try to mentally feel the outline of my body – it reminds me that I’m a grown adult, and seems to help.

I am relieved that Ron finally gets that this is a problem for me. For the longest time he seemed to be saying that it’s fine to express that child part and that the issue was that I was ashamed of it. But the actual problems I’m having involve being too merged with that part. A term I’ve read recently that describes this is unblending – trying to let an adult function and take care of child parts, instead of becoming them.

I believe this is key for me, and having Ron on the same page is so great. It’s not about locking away child parts or being mean to them, but about protecting them by not sending them out into the adult world, and having an adult function out there as needed.

This is obviously not an issue for people with different responses to trauma than I had and is difficult to explain. But figuring out that this is a problem for me is huge. Sometimes I think the hardest thing is figuring out what it is that is going wrong. Once that’s pinned down a bit, you can actually try and think of what might help. Without knowing what the problem is, it’s hard to address it.

Therapy hurts. It hurts and hurts and it hurts some more. Two and a half days since my session and still I’m in pain.

I worry that this is bad therapy. This is exacerbated by a book I’m reading, a memoir written by a psychologist about her placements during training. It’s not a bad book, but her type of treatment does not involve having the patients suffer. The author is empathetic and listens to her patients’ stories….but any good she does happens pretty much right away, it’s obvious, and it doesn’t involve anyone going off for a week to feel worse than ever.

My therapy is not like that. At all. Nothing is obvious, everything moves by inches, if at all. It’s like a mess of stew where you can’t really tell what all the ingredients are, as opposed to a nice steak and baked potato.

The psychologist/author provides insights, but those insights do not seem to cause pain to her patients. Most books seem to skip over this part. Insight causes pain. Or at least, emotional insight does. It’s why people generally don’t wish to change, despite the level of suffering that’s brought them to a therapist. The pain of feeling this stuff is just too great.

As usual, we cover a bunch of stuff. Ron waits silently for me to begin. I cast around, usually say something about the traffic or the weather. He responds minimally and continues to wait silently. Sometimes I wish he would launch into some therapeutic topic, but no, he just waits.

I’ve been struggling with my job search, so I talk about that a bit. I tend to shut down when I’m trying to force myself to apply to things, which makes looking for work tricky. I shut down, then can’t remain upright, so I lie down and actually sleep. Which makes me more depressed, so then I spend the rest of the day trying to feel better.

At the same time, I have been doing activities again after the Christmas break. I tell Ron about three activities I went to, which I rated good, OK, and pretty bad.

The good was a choir I think I’ll join. It’s an unauditioned choir. They sing without written music, instead they learn songs from recordings. I’ve struggled with a choir in the past, but was amazed at how I was able to sing with this one without the stress and anxiety I’d had previously. I think it’s partly that it’s a very low key choir where the emphasis is on fun and enthusiasm rather than skill. But also, I really seem to have changed. I could still hear some of my anxious thoughts, but they didn’t take me over, so I was also able to enjoy singing out without worrying too much. The women around me were super nice, ensuring I got copies of the lyrics and chatting a bit. A good experience.

I was trying to tell Ron how I really could see I’d made progress, with about a decade between today and the last time I’d tried to be part of a choir. That gap really let me see a difference. Not sure he really got it, but to me it was a great sign that I have changed.

The OK was a book club I’d been meaning to attend for ages. I didn’t love it – not everyone got a chance to talk, and you kind of had to seize the spotlight if you wanted to give your opinion on the book. I did speak for a minute or two – I hadn’t liked the book much actually. Tried to come up with the reasons. I had reasons, but a big one was that it just didn’t grab me, which isn’t a great reasoned argument. So I felt awkward, but at the same time, I felt it was OK for me to sit there and listen, even if I didn’t feel part of it in quite the way I’d have liked. I wasn’t overcome with anxiety about what everyone else thought of me, and this too is progress for me.

And the bad. The bad led to some discussion of what my family is like, which is what seems to have set me off into this depressed bad time. Or maybe it’s mourning. Whatever.

The bad was a games afternoon at the pub. It’s a meetup group that plays boardgames, which sounds like a nice, low key endeavour, but isn’t. I had been to it before though, but this time the triggery parts of it just took over. It’s a large group, maybe forty people. We break up into smaller groups to play various games. The majority of participants are young men, tending to the nerdy socially awkward side. There were maybe two or three other women there, and I think I was the oldest person overall.

The people there seemed to be experts. Most new a great number of games already, or could relate the games to others they’d played, unlike myself. They were nice enough about teaching me the rules though. However, the rules were complex, and also the games needed a fair bit of skill – logic, or probability, or strategy. I became very anxious that I couldn’t remember all the rules, and then, that I would play badly. Which I did. It’s hard to be learning complex sets of rules for two hours, plus play with any degree of skill. And my fellow players were looking to be challenged. They took the games pretty seriously – they certainly weren’t an excuse to drink beer and chat.

So I got anxiety. I think I was likely switching a bit to kid space, and I know my voice got quite childish at times. The leader of the meetup actually came by our table a couple of times with a worried look asking how it was going, and later, I suspected he was worried about me perhaps. Who knows.

Anyhow. Nothing much happened. I left after two hours (they mostly stay for many hours apparently), feeling anxious and depressed. I felt like I hadn’t kept any kind of dignity and had been hijacked by really hurting young parts.

I try to explain to Ron. It’s as if I feel overwhelmingly stupid and incompetent. I am so afraid, when I hear the instructions, that I won’t understand, that it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

This is an issue I also have had in my jobs, when I’ve been working. Young techie guys will explain what they do in their jobs, and I have to get it down as a procedure. It is massively stressful for me, because I’m afraid I won’t understand and they’ll look down on me. Which happens sometimes. I struggle to take in what they’re telling me.

We start talking about my family when I was growing up. I start to feel like I’m going to go to sleep, in my usual shut down mode. It’s as if I see them down at the end of a long tunnel. Ron wants me to describe specific things I remember related to feeling stupid. But I can’t remember specifics. There was a huge emphasis on academic achievement. Do I remember report cards? Not really – my parents never said much, neither praise nor blame really. I try to remember. I can’t. I remember it felt like a kind of a fog. There were no such things as feelings, and things felt a bit unreal to me I suppose.

Later, trying to think, I just have a sense that my family didn’t seem to care about me. Any problems I had were my own fault, so were therefore shameful, and so couldn’t be mentioned.

It was just a very strange atmosphere. I suppose I was a kind of scapegoat. I fought the hardest, and had to be made an example of. But it’s hard to grasp how I was made an example. I suppose never praised, while my sibling sometimes were. Generally considered inferior.

Anyhow. One of my difficulties is trying to pin down what went on. It’s very hard for me to get a grasp on what it was. Whatever it was, it made me feel ghostlike and inhuman. And confused.

So, since the session, I’ve felt bad. I just hope this is going to help me somehow, because to fall into a depression like this when I’m doing my best to climb out is discouraging.

 

It’s a polar vortex as I’m sure you’re aware. I’ve braved the bitter bitter shattering cold every day, waiting until mid-day to go for my outing. Getting out consistently lifts my mood. I layer – long johns, wool sweater with turtleneck, large scarf, very large furry Russian grandma type hat. Got the hat last year but never used it, so I thought it was a wasted purchase. Nope. It’s enabled me to leave my house these last days in fact.

But I’ve done little else. Today I’d planned on two activities and chickened out of both. Kind of due to the cold and dark, but also due to my difficulties going to social events. The cold adds the last overwhelming reason not to go out, and it’s the straw. So I’ve been home alone for days which sucks a bit. I get lonely and wishing a lot for some company.

Tomorrow it is to warm up some by afternoon. At least it won’t be dangerous to have skin exposed for more than ten minutes, if not exactly comfortable. Sigh.

I went to therapy last week. Ron looked a lot more rested than before the holiday, when he looked pretty much shattered. I’d actually wondered after the session if someone had died. Somehow it came up, and I commented that I didn’t think he’d tell me if someone died, but he said he would. He’d just been struggling to get over being ill.

We talked about my Christmas. Also I’d gotten very ill boxing day. I spoke about that for a longer time than I usually devote to topics. It felt very satisfying to just tell the story, and Ron seemed happy to listen. In my life, no one has the patience to listen to stories. I guess that’s who I’ve surrounded myself with – people who are uncomfortable with narrative for some reason. As if telling the story of something isn’t worth their time, they must get on to the next important task.

Anyway. I believe we have a deep almost biological need to speak our stories, to tell what’s happened to us. Not even just huge events, but things that are important to us. It’s not a waste of time to speak or to listen.

Boxing day I spent seven hours in the ER. I’d woken with a painful abdomen, which proceeded to get worse throughout the day. I realized mid-morning I had to call someone with pain this bad. First I called a friend, asking her to look my symptoms up on the internet. I thought at that time maybe it was severe gas and she looked up remedies for me.

A few hours later the pain was so bad I could barely walk, and because my back was also hurting, I couldn’t lie down. So perched on the edge of my bed, I reached out to my brother, who really came through for me. He went with me to the ER by taxi and stayed a while. They did various tests, and at the end of my stay, they’d diagnosed a bladder infection.

There was a moment in the ER. The pain became very bad, and I was sitting with everyone else, waiting, starting to groan aloud. So I asked for something for the pain. They gave me morphine! And I was allowed to lie down on a cot. The sweet relief when the morphine went into effect in indescribable. Like peace after great war. After that, my stay in the ER became fine, and I left at end of day with a prescription.

Next day, the pain came back. I phoned my ex. He came over and just stayed with me, and that helped in itself. Such a relief to have someone there as I couldn’t really move, it hurt too much.

And finally, next morning, the anti-biotic kicked in and the pain receded. Wow.

Now it’s come back a bit, very mild, but I think I’ll get it checked out with my doctor. I’ve had cancer, and they did a scan in the ER which came back negative, but still. I’d like some explanation of what is hurting.

Anyhow.

Interesting to me how the pain became more bearable as soon as a friend was there – maybe twenty percent easier to bear.

So I told Ron this story, and various other things about Christmas.

The sessions are quite adult. It’s good maybe to stay adult and discuss things. Take the space to take on board what Ron has to say about things.

I am having some parts issues which I brought up at the end. The trick for me is not switching completely, but still hearing what the part wants and taking care of it. Even talking about this, I start to slip into a more childish way of talking, but never quite go over that line and switch completely.

IMG_20171225_211817.jpgHave a good holiday everyone. So many thanks for reading along, commenting, or being a fellow blogger. All happiness and love to you.

I got my tree up yesterday as you can see. I’m pretty happy with it. I do love a Christmas tree, despite my struggles with the season. The lights in the branches do remind me of stars in the woods, as they are meant to, and that feels calming and good.

I’m feeling OK. I decided not to attend the big family Christmas which seems to be a good decision for me. I never enjoy them and going pulls me right down into a bunch of childhood stuff, added to some weird current interpersonal dynamics. Too much sorrow denied. Or something.

Yesterday I invited a friend over for a quick dinner and then the ‘midnight mass’ service held at 7 pm. There was basically a blizzard going on when it was time to leave for the church but we bravely persevered. For me, the service was lovely – mostly readings and a lot of carols. I like to sing out as much as I can, even though they’re pitched maybe a little high for my comfort. I don’t know if it was my singing, or what, but my friend did not enjoy the service, so I was a bit sad about that. However, overall, it was fine. I don’t get the lasting damage from friends that I do from family.

Today I went to my 12 step Christmas dinner. It was OK. I had offered to bring green beans, coffee and cream, which I duly delivered. There was a meeting in the afternoon, then dinner. The meeting had the holiday theme of gratefulness – we went around speaking about what we were grateful for. Not a bad practice at all. For some reason I did feel very awkward and out of place though – you know that feeling of regret – wait, I don’t know these people, not sure I like them much, what am I doing here in a church basement instead of with people I love. So at the meeting my mood took a nosedive, and I just had to sit and tolerate the anxiety of having made a wrong choice to attend.

After there was no one I felt drawn to talk to and vice versa. Awkward, as there was time to kill before dinner was served. I ended up mucking about a bit with helping in the kitchen, heating the dish I’d brought. At least I had something to do.

Once dinner got going, I started to feel better. I lucked into sitting with some women who were nice and chatty, so once I’d had a few conversations and some pretty decent food I started to feel better. The dinner wasn’t this wonderful experience for me, contrary to what others had been saying about it. And yet, it was fine. No strange dynamics, and some community spirit. A meal shared with others.

I think my difficulty comes from the social anxiety I go through that makes it hard for me to socialize. Then I act awkward, and don’t make a good impression. Not that these folks are judgemental, but everyone judges all the time at the level of – do I want to engage with this person or not? Are they worth my time? Then my small talk gets kind of forced, so conversation with me feels awkward, and the whole thing can get very awkward. I think on top of the usual stress of it being Christmas, this social anxiety made it difficult.

One funny thing happened. A young Chinese student came in halfway through the meeting. He shared at the very end. I’m pretty sure he had no idea this was a 12 step meeting. He said he’d just arrived in the country the previous week, and he’d been wondering about Christmas so had come to a church, and thanked us for being kind and showing him Christmas.

Everyone in the meeting assumes he’s an ACA, and of course are welcoming. He goes on to participate in the dinner after. I wonder if he ever realized that churches don’t really have discussion meetings and then turkey dinner for anyone who cares to drop by – that this was a particular group event. He spoke some English but not a whole lot so likely he never realized this.

I thought it was kind of funny. Here he is, brand new to the country and alone, wandering around, and suddenly boom, he’s in the middle of Christmas dinner with kind companions in this new country. Really, that’s what Christmas should be like. Dinners to be shared by all who need one in a spirit of acceptance.