My fear levels have been so high today. I keep trying to block them out and focus on work or chores or on positive things but it's not working. I hate that I constantly feel this way these days.
I got my guitar out yesterday and it needs new strings. The old strings had rusted through. I ordered new strings and they should be here tomorrow. Maybe I can play around with that and it'll help me to feel better.
I've been wishing a lot of things today. I wish my mother hadn't called on Thursday right after my therapy appointment. I wish I could have enjoyed that feeling of hopefulness for a little bit longer. I wish my brain didn't lump those two things together- I can't think about that therapy appointment without remembering the anger from my mother. It feels so different now looking back at it. In my memory, my T looks so bored and disgusted with me. I keep trying to cling to my commitment to doing this but it's really hard. I wish I could let go of my control over therapy and really tell my T what is going on instead of trying so hard to sound sane and rational. I wish I could believe more in myself and stop feeling so weak. I wish I could care enough about the outcome of all of this to actually believe.
I know I'm at a crossroads here with my mother. I could cut her off from my life and lose her and all of my remaining family. I'd still have my husband and his family. I generally like my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law. Maybe that's enough family for me. But I'd lose my brother and his family. I'd miss getting to see my nieces grow up. But then, I only see them once or twice a year anyway. They will never be a real part of my life, only occasional guest stars in my story. What price am I willing to pay to get away from my mother? That's been the real question all weekend. The truth is that I know I'd be happier without her. I don't even think she likes me and she's proven over the years that she doesn't love me. And when she dies, will I lose my brother anyways? Am I only delaying the inevitable and paying a high price for it? I honestly don't know.
I keep getting trapped in this cycle of anxiety, depression, fear, and hopelessness. I want it to end more than anything. I know there's only two ways out. I want to choose to go through and not give up. But what steps do I need to take to do that? I'm at a loss on how to move forward. I feel like I'm just standing in the never ending cyclone.
I don't know if this will help Sadie, but I call what you are experiencing 'picking my pain'. Yes, one pain would end immediately. But it leaves behind pain. The other pain is healing. And no, we didn't ask for the pile of crap that ended up being laid on us. But accepting it and doing the best we can to move forward, well, it does have another kind of end to it.
The freedom of healing gives us so many choices on how to live the life we missed out on. We get to chose adventures and self-care and appreciating hubby looking for doggos.
We learn the things we weren't taught. How to be resilient. How to bend with the waves. We learn to trust ourselves. And so many other wonderful things we get to see and do in our internal world.
I always feel bad for people who haven't committed to healing. Keeps them on the edge of life. And yes, healing hurts. But not forever. That is the point. To stay with it until it stops hurting.
And yes, if you stay with therapy, there will come a time when you can and will possibly go no contact with your mom. But it will be for the right reasons. And you will confident in that choice.
I do hope you keep giving yourself a chance. And maybe now and again make a gratitude list. I know, it's so simple. But it actually works. Doesn't fix all our problems, but it does give us a reason to keep going.
@ladee , In general, I'm really good at committing to things. I'm thinking about this now and I've never made any real commitment to myself that I've been able to keep. Shoot, I quit smoking years ago and never looked back, no last one, nothing. The problem is, when I quit smoking, I did it to save my money, not my health. I have trouble committing to things for myself. I've never stuck with anything for my own well-being once it got hard. This is probably the hardest thing I will ever do. This probably loops back to those messed up core beliefs. *sigh* Why does everything have to be so interconnected?
I have my IOP group tonight. Maybe I can bring this up and get some ideas.
I think I've had an epiphany this afternoon so I wanted to write it down so I can remember it. I was reading through Reddit, which is generally dangerous for me because there are so many stories about bad/unprofessional therapists and I'm not exactly rock solid with my own therapy (despite having what seems like an excellent therapist). One of the posts was about asking your therapist how they were doing. Seems like an innocent enough question but most avoid it. I realized my T never asks me how I'm doing but instead always asks what I'd like to talk about. It avoids that whole reciprocation thing that we've almost all had ingrained in us since we were young. I remember once when we were wrapping up a session that he was looking to schedule me for my next appointment. I had already scheduled myself and made a comment to him that I had noticed he had no appointments for one of the weeks. I asked him if he was going on vacation. He shifted a bit and said yes. I smiled and said that that was a good thing and I hoped he'd rest and enjoy his time off. He relaxed and smiled back then, probably because I didn't take the line of questioning further.
I know absolutely nothing beyond the unavoidable (approximate age, gender, appearance, some personality aspects, etc) about this man but he knows an awful lot about me at this point. He doesn't know some of the things that he should know and that I should be telling him. I go to my sessions remaining completely rational and very compliant. Despite all of the nonsense going on in my head, I still go to therapy and "behave". I may not be a perfect patient but I at least act like a good one most of the time. I have some massive control issues while in therapy. And after reading the Reddit post responses from people about how great it is to have a one sided relationship, I realized that I have never been on this end of that. As a teacher, I take care of and attend to the needs of others. I certainly don't expect students to take care of me in any way. I had a student break down the other day out of anxiety and stress and tell me he doesn't want to bother me with his problems. I insisted that he bother me and he can bother me all day long- it's why I'm here. And I get that therapists are probably the same and understand that their clients are even more needy at times than my students are (differences in the nature of the job).
When I think back to my childhood, neither of my parents were really able to deal with their own shit. My mother was my primary guardian and expected me to do a lot of things for her, for my brother, and for the household. I don't think that there's anything wrong with kids having chores but I was literally the person in that household that did 90% of the cleaning. She did cook dinner most nights but it was always prepackaged stuff that you just pull out of the freezer and put into the oven. She never cooked homemade meals. I did all of the dishes, took out the trash, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuumed, laundry, etc. My role as maid in that household was so defined that even attending skiing events (which I was huge into) in the evenings was a battle because I wouldn't be home to do my chores if I went. So, on a school night, when I'd get home at 11 pm, the dishes would be waiting for me. I'd have to spend the time doing the dishes instead of getting my shower and going to bed. She always argued that as an adult, I'd have to do those dishes if I was out for the evening so it was good practice. As a grown adult, I now realize that not only would there not be dishes if I wasn't home but that they could wait for the next day as they are not as important as sleep if it's a work night. If it was a day I was supposed to clean my bathroom (shared with brother), I would also have to clean that before going to bed as well. My mother would go out of her way to inspect the bathroom the next morning to ensure I had in fact done it. Sometimes I wouldn't even get to bed until 1 am or later over things that could wait because apparently no one else in that household could be bothered. My brother never had any chores as a child whatsoever because eventually he'd have a wife to clean up after him.
My dad was better but still had his reliance issues too. My dad was a severe hoarder. He could have easily been on the TV show Hoarders. After my mom ripped his kids away from him, he fell fully apart and started hoarding. He was also reliant on me and my brother for emotional support while he dealt with his shit. He was far better at supporting us with our needs than our mother was but he also needed us to make him happy. There was a lot of sadness in him. He struggled a lot with mom getting remarried both times. He never stopped loving her or wanting to reconcile. His character flaws definitely played a role in the divorce- he wasn't an innocent victim in all of it. But losing his wife and kids deeply impacted him and he just couldn't be the rock I stood on as a child.
So how do I go from being a person with self-commitment issues and control issues who doesn't know how to be taken care of to a person who can go to therapy, be truly open about what's going on, and allow someone else to worry about me without me giving them any benefit whatsoever? It's not even that I don't understand how someone could want to be on his side of the relationship as I am on that side as a teacher. But I don't know how to be in that position. If I knew more about my T, I guarantee that I would ask him more questions, not only as a way of deflecting but also because that's the role I know how to play. I also know that when he says those positive supportive things that it's all an act and part of the unconditional warm regard thing. None of it is real. I don't trust him that he cares, despite his actions indicating that he does, because I don't know what that really feels like. I have never been enough for anyone to care about without giving them things in return. When I first got married, I was constantly in belief that if my husband ever got a better job, he'd leave me because he wouldn't need my salary anymore to live on his own (when we met, he lived with friends for a very cheap rent). I didn't believe I deserved him in my life and had to earn it. I've gotten better with this and am much more secure with that relationship over time but I still bring value to the relationship. What do I bring to therapy? I don't benefit my therapist in any way. And this is where the real fear comes from, having to be in a relationship where someone cares for me without me having to earn it or reciprocate. This is the role I need to learn how to play but I haven't got a clue on how to do it- it's so alien to me.
I had a conversation with L after realizing one of my big obstacles with committing to therapy. She said that if I can't commit to therapy for my own sake (and she hopes I can get there one day), that I should commit for my husband's sake. She said he deserves a good wife as he is a very good husband and by giving up on therapy, I am denying him a functional, happy wife. If I was single that I could do with my life as a please but since I am married and made a commitment to my husband, I owed him at least the attempt at holding up my end of the relationship. If I really can't get there, that's one thing but to not even try for his sake is another. I know I'd be upset if he had a medical problem that he refused to make any effort at managing because of how much that would hurt me that he's so willing to throw our life together away. I can do this for him. I don't love myself enough to endure this without second thoughts but for him I would walk through Hell. So, I guess I'll be taking that stroll. It would be better if I could do this for myself but maybe for now, this is enough.
The IOP grad group was absolutely amazing tonight. I hijacked the group (again). I don't know what it is about that group that I get so incredibly real when I talk in there. Maybe it's the T (I'll call him X) or maybe it's knowing that other people in that group have similar problems and there's no judgment but I really say some things in there. We always have to open with naming something better in the last few days. I very openly talked about realizing that therapy is hard for me because I've never had a relationship before in my life where someone was there purely to take care of me. I talked about how I had realized that I had buried years of trauma and I've been a wreck the last month. I talked about how incredibly supportive my T has been and yet I'm terrified to go see him. X stopped everything and wanted to discuss therapy itself tonight after that. Lots of people had a lot to say about therapy and their struggles with it. He emphasized to everyone that if they thought that their T was a bad fit that we all need to seek out the best treatment for ourselves and move on to a new T. I (irrationally) felt like he was dropping hints at me so I spoke up at this point and emphasized that my T is a good fit and gave him all of the reasons I thought so. I went on to state that my issues would come back up with the next T if they were a good fit. I talked about how no T has remotely gotten this deep with me, despite being at the beginning of this road. I also stated that if I had a T that pushed too hard, I have a habit of lying (badly) to therapists in the past but that I've never felt trapped enough to lie to this one. I made it clear that I know it's my own baggage that is making things hard. X smiled and said that it's a good sign that I acknowledge that and that I'm probably more ready to face this journey than I realize right now. (Incidentally, X and my T are actually friends, which I've known for awhile).
The group went on to talk about their own Ts (everyone in that group has a personal T, not true in my other group) and why they think their Ts are good fits for them or why they might not be. I then asked, "But doesn't the therapist get a say in this? Is it possible that a client could think that it's a good fit but the therapist doesn't?" X smiled and said that that was a brilliant question and went on to talk about specialties and referring people out. Other people jumped in and talked about bad fits in the past with what specialty they were needing. Eventually I said, "Well, okay, but what if you just really hate the client? They're there because they need help with your specialty but you just can't stand them?" X smiled at me again and said, "I have never had a client I hated. Sure, I've had some that are so clingy and so dependent on therapy that they call me every day to where I sigh before I answer the phone. I don't dislike them though. We work on becoming more independent and setting goals for them to call less often. If, at some point I can't get them less reliant on me, I might refer them to someone else who can maybe help them work through that issue. But I honestly like all of my clients. Sure, I have favorites but that doesn't mean I don't treat all of my clients the same and give them all the same care and attention, much as you do in teaching." One of the other people attending tonight is also a teacher and we had a really in depth discussion about transference after that. I hadn't recognized my own countertransference with certain students. I don't like the students who remind me of myself when I was there age- so eager to please and gain my attention for their high achieving work. X said that I should really bring that up with my T. If nothing else, it provides more proof to myself that I really don't like who I was back then or now- the self loathing has been there for a very long time.
Today has been a day when I had to pull up my big girl pants and deal with some things. My new co-teacher went waaaaaay over time, again, in our class. We're supposed to be off ZOOM by 8:45 but he's been teaching much longer than that. At 9:17, I spoke up and said that we needed to end as the students and myself have another class to attend in 3 minutes. He paused and wanted to say something (I could feel it) but then sighed and said we'd skip doing the end of the lesson and call it a day. A couple of kids thanked me privately before logging off. He's got to find a way to dial it back some.
Today is group therapy day with my T. I have been agonizing over whether or not to go for days because he didn't schedule me. I made the decision that group is a weekly routine thing and I shouldn't allow myself to get out of that routine without a good reason. If I didn't go this week, would I magically get scheduled for next week? Probably not. Then I'd get to my next one-on-one session and there's no way T doesn't mention me skipping group for a whole month. So, what do I say to that? Tell the truth, that I was too scared to come without an official invite and too scared to shoot him an email about it? I haven't lied to this T, which is pretty miraculous. I don't want to feel inclined to start doing so. I need to let go of the control over that situation and let him decide and handle it if he doesn't want me there. So, I resolved to go, told my husband, and about ten minutes later got the invite by text message. But I'm glad I made the right choice without that text anyway. It helps me to reaffirm my commitment to this and to know the logic behind my choices and to choose rationality over fear.
I then had my post-observation conference with my administrator. I was a little nervous but knew it was going to be okay. It was- I got a really good score and a lot of compliments. This conversation went quickly and I broached the topic of S. I learned that the administration is already moving to take action on S for not doing his job. They want my help to build a case against him. A part of me feels bad about this but a part of me thinks he's been using me for a long time and none of the last six months of working with him have been remotely fair to me. I am stressed about this but it was nice that everything I talked about was stuff that they already knew.
Well, group starts in 50 minutes and I just got my new guitar strings so I want to go play around with that before group starts. Time to spend time on good things.
Well, last night's group was meh. Lots of new people. I don't like new people. So I said absolutely nothing. I felt incredibly out of place. They were joking and having a great time. I honestly couldn't wait to leave. I've seen new people in group before just disappear after one session. Fingers crossed that they will go away or at least maybe settle in and it will feel more like we're talking about substantial stuff. If it's going to be happy fun hour, I will stop going. I don't feel like group therapy is a place to have social hour and I don't feel like I'm getting anything out of it. We'll see what happens. I won't quit one-on-one therapy and I won't quit the IOP grad group but I'm not going to waste my time and spend time somewhere that I feel out of place.
My T reached out to me this morning. He has read the Urgent Care report and apologized for not scheduling me. He also made it clear that I am always welcome and it was a clerical error on his end. It was never really about the appointment. It's about my messed up mommy issues. I replied and told him that I was really upset on Friday night about a major incident with my mother that happened right after therapy. I told him my feelings are confused but that I'm working on it. I still don't trust email so I wasn't going to elaborate.
I bought a new weighted blanket that arrived yesterday. I tried it during group but it didn't have any effect. So my husband said I should sleep with it and see what happens. I slept pretty well last night, better than usual. I definitely think I like it. More testing is needed but maybe if I sleep better, I will be more equipped to be rational.
Got some real work for school done this evening. I find myself wanting to climb into bed and nest underneath my new weighted blanket. I do find it comforting.
My T responded to my email telling me to reach out to him if I need to. My initial reaction was to scowl and think that I won't be bothering him with my problems. I'm so damn distrustful without good cause. It was a nice gesture. He didn't have to email me to clarify the scheduling mix up and he definitely didn't have to reiterate that I can reach out to him for help. This is probably his reaction to me remaining silent at group- I usually do talk, probably too much. I hope I can get to the point where I can learn to trust him more- I have no reason not to. Stupid panicky feelings...
I heard from a former student tonight who is struggling with her anxiety. In truth, I think she likely also has C-PTSD. CPS was involved in her household non-stop both of the years she was my student. Some of the things she mentioned to me were not at all good. Poor kid is drowning now though between being trapped in her household with toxic family members and a horrible dead end job. I told her to be gentle with herself and to know that she is doing the best that she can. I helped her to re-focus her energy towards going back to school so that she can get an office position (her goal). I have no idea why I can be so kind and compassionate to others, see their struggles as legitimate, and not my own. Maybe it's because down deep I know my crap is nonsense. It's been a solid two decades since I lived in my abusive household. I have a good life. I feel like my issues are all tiny and miniscule and that there's something wrong with me that I can't function better. She has real problems and I do not. I wish I could cut open my brain and stick some good wiring in there so it would work better. I am really blessed to have the life I have. I wish I could function better so that I could enjoy it. I can only hope that in time I will.
I feel like I'm living two lives. In the one life, I am this happy, productive person who does tons of things for tons of people. I've gotten tons of accolades over my 8 years of teaching (technically on year 8 now) and even a job offer based on parents observing how great my teaching skills are and how passionate I am about my job. I just left the special education monthly meeting and was awarded sped teacher of the month. Students gush about how great I am and how I'm the best teacher ever.
And I feel like a fraud. I can see a million ways in which I could be better at my job. I always feel like the greatest gift I could give my students is to quit so that they can get a real teacher who is good at the job. I feel like no one sees me clearly. All of the love from people at work bothers me sometimes- it feels so fake.