Trying to focus on Calculus after just 20 minutes after a heavy therapy session where I’d been crying my eyes out hardcore was very difficult.
Despite that, for the first time this week, I feel much calmer. I told S that this past week had been extremely rough between the move that Hubster and I are about to make, the job that I had to quit because now it was going to be too far away for us to drive to my workplace, the assignments that I had to finish, the fact that I’m not doing well in Calculus, the programming that I can’t figure out, the stress of trying to measure up and live up to expectations, the insurmountable self doubt and self punishment, and every little thing has driven me to the edge of a nervous breakdown. I told him that I had been feeling unstable and things have been so hard. His question threw me off for a minute, when he asked, “I know it sounds like a silly question but what makes it hard?”
I told him that my mind feels unstable and that all the uncertainty and sudden changes are making me feel like I’m standing on ground that’s dissolving beneath my feet. I’m in the middle of an earthquake and I’m falling. The ground is sinking from under me and that’s how I’ve been feeling lately.
After all the crying and all that I’ve shared with S today, I finally see that despite the crumbling ground, that he is there for me. That he is the only thing around me that’s not crumbling. I see now, finally after so many times he’s told me so, that he really does care. To make sure I fully appreciate it, he also told me that verbally, “I do care for you. I do have a genuine connection. I definitely don’t want you to think that this is something I skillfully fabricate and that it isn’t really real because if it wasn’t really real, you’d sense it too” He was right. It made sense. If he was just putting on an act because it’s his job, then I would instinctively know it. The fact that I don’t and the fact that he would periodically verbalize his care for me does show that it’s genuine. If only I can convince my mind of that and stop questioning.
Those who have not experienced a good therapeutic relationship might wonder if I’m in love with my therapist or why I don’t have the same kind of feeling for my husband but it really feels like a different sort of affection and feeling altogether. I’m not in love with S but in some ways, I do have a lot of affection and love for him. I told him that this evening and said that it’s actually a really embarrassing thing for me to admit. It felt shameful for me to say to him that I feel like he protects me somehow and that I need that kind of a person in my life. I need someone to confide in and talk to.
“What is shameful about you having affection for me? Why is that so bad?” he asked. Another question that threw me off. I didn’t expect that. (At this point, I wonder how he felt when I told him I feel affection for him. I know I find it hard to say that I love someone. It makes me embarrassed to even say the words but he seemed to be able to say it so calmly. But I digress…)
“Well, in the back of my mind there’s a voice that says ‘You shouldn’t depend on someone so much. You’re a grown adult! I shouldn’t need to depend on somebody else.'”
“So you feel like you’re wrong to need this support. To need people around you…” S surmised.
“Yeah… And the thing is, I feel disappointed by the people around me who can’t offer the support I want. Which, I know, is so unfair to them because like I told you last week, I don’t even know what I need so how can they do something for me when I can’t even tell them what it is I want from them?”
It was through this that we both came to the realization that the support and need I have and desperately desire also feeds into my shame. I also need the support to cover up the shame and validate me because I can’t do it for myself. And that itself makes me feel ashamed. Last week, S told me that need and shame are two things the seem to be closely related together. This week, we found the ‘answer’ or at least part of the answer – that those two things do in fact exist together. They feed off each other and when my need arises, the shame comes with it.
“Yea, it’s like an endless loop…” I agreed as S pointed that out. “I guess, it’s like what J (the psychologist I saw during an on-call session last semester) said. I’ve completely found a fool proof way of punishing myself repeatedly…”
What an amazing thing our minds are. It’s not only capable of being really strong but it’s also capable of punishing itself endlessly. So my mind has managed to do the latter, even when things aren’t my fault, it turns on itself. It latches on the littlest negative thing and makes me think that it was my fault that negative thing happened. Then I feel a need to be validated, to be told that it wasn’t my fault and by having that need, I feel ashamed. Which then makes me feel even nerdier.
Despite that self punishment, I do have something I’m actually proud of today. It’s pretty rare for me to feel proud of myself, genuinely. I had shared with S two powerful and painful memories that have come up during this last week because we’ve been digging up on the issue of shame. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and allowed him to see me so broken and so needy. I realize today that if I don’t dive in and tell him these things that have been hidden in me for so long, that perhaps our sessions are just going to turn out to be my weekly rant session with no real progress (although that said, I know that S would never allow that to happen because he’s a good therapist who’s very motivated to keep pushing us both frowned even when I refuse to go…).
I anticipate that I’ll be opening up and telling him more things next week and in the future. It’s been a painful process to get to this point where I’m finally ready to tell him things that I’m so scared to reveal to him because I’m so afraid of his change in his opinion of me. Now that I know, for sure, that he really does care for my progress and recovery and for me as a person, that I can really allow myself to tell him more about the things that I feel make me broken.
It’s been an almost ground breaking session of sorts. I left still crying and a little shaken, but at the same time extremely comforted and protected by S. Being able to tell him exactly why I felt so afraid to share my real feelings for him and hearing him then tell me that he cares about me felt good. Finally, a little weight has lifted off my chest because I now realize that by preventing myself from telling him that I really like talking to him and that I need him has been like a constant pressure on my chest. Now that I have told him that, I feel so much better.
It’s sometimes ironic how the thing that you thought you wouldn’t do because you thought was just self defense is actually the very thing that is hurting you. In my case, not admitting my desperate need for S contributed to more pain.
Anyway, I think I made huge strides today. It’s been painful – it has been for weeks now. But today’s session had been important.
I was amused though (and I do get amused by inappropriate things) that at the end of the session after asking me if I’d hurt myself or try to end my life, because I couldn’t give him a clear answer, he’d made me verbally promise him to call the crisis number that he had given me or 911 if I feel like I am going to hurt myself. I don’t know why it’s so amusing to me but it is. I’m weird. Maybe it amuses me because it really shows how much he cares and that makes me feel glad. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’m just so thankful to have S.