I’m feeling pretty wiped out today because of my monthly blood loss so I’ll just plonk this one here until I have more time to expound on it:
**Note: This was supposed to be published last Thursday but I got too busy to finish this uber long post so now it’s out of place.**
S and I make a great team. I’ve known that for a while now because of how almost effortless it is for us to hash things out and to come to well founded conclusions about my psyche.
Today’s session though, completely confirms that notion that I’ve always had about us. We had a huge breakthrough – a huge win that I have been desperately needing since my world came crashing down a couple of weeks or so ago.
As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I haven’t stopped crying since Monday and yesterday’s session was just me fighting through my tears to speak. I was crying so hard and so much in S’ office yesterday that I was shaking and my voice was so cracked and shaky that it was hard for me to even say words.
Today’s session was accompanied by some tears but I was completely rational, heck intelligent even, in my analysis of things and my ideas about myself. I shed tears when we were at certain points that elicited some strong emotional response but overall, I’d say that I was pretty collected for the most part.
This, like all my other “Thoughts From Therapy” posts, will be a long one. But boy, what a win! I was so excited because I felt, for the first time in a very long time, light. Sure, I was still carrying all my burdens but somehow, I am able to carry it better this time. I don’t know how I’ll feel later in the day or even tomorrow but for now at least, I’m stable.
I felt so light that while I was waiting for my Starbucks order, I couldn’t stop the H in my ADHD from being out of control. I kept trying to talk to the barista who obviously didn’t want to talk. I was hyper. I bought 4 Green Tea Lattes – one for D, the receptionist, one for S to thank him for his efforts and support, one for me and one for my friend, CG, my coding buddy and the first friend I ever made in college who believed in me so much that he never stopped bugging me about joining him in Computer Science.
(I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can but this post is definitely going to be a doozy if you read it all in one sitting. It might take a while so I’ll break this into two parts. This is part 1.)
Note: This is going to be quite a raw post – one that I have some doubts about sharing just because of how raw it is and how personal it is in some ways. But I’m going to share it anyway because I want to process this out loud and see if I get any responses… I’m going to put the “Read More” tag just because I want people who reads on after this line to really read it because they want to know and because they actually care since it’ll be a long post.
It was a good thing that I had actually made the decision to go to CAPS on Wednesday. As I suspected, I started having a really bad transition into the weekend (I work Thursdays to Sunday so I often classify Thursday – Sunday as my weekend).
If I hadn’t seen the on-call therapist, J, when I did, I might have succumbed to my self-destructive desires. Like I’ve mentioned before, not only do I have art supplies like X-Acto knives (which are scalpel-like in their sharpness) and box cutters, I also have access to kitchen knives and steak knives at work. I am at a point in life where I can’t trust my own strength – I know I am stronger than I think I am but really, sometimes, my resolve can be a little weak especially when I feel like I’m overwhelmed.
Anyway, I have realized that I am quick to blame myself for everything and I perceive people’s reactions as more negative than they really are. And when I do, I quickly assume that I’ve done something wrong and that the other party now hates me.
Today, I had advised my husband to cook fish at a low temperature as the kitchen was starting to smoke and the inside of the fish was undercooked. I thought that the high heat must be causing the fish to sear on the outside and not cook thoroughly in the inside. Being the awesome husband he is, he took my advice and cooked the fish at a lower temperature. What ended up happening was the fish starting to fall apart and overcook as the low temperature didn’t help the fish come together as one single piece but to cook at an individual flake level. He ended up with a pretty disappointing piece of fish for lunch. I felt extremely bad because I knew that had he just worked with his own understanding of cooking, he’d have gotten the fish right. Instead, he had listened to me and now he had a lunch that he was forced to eat despite it not tasting right.
I felt guilty. I felt really bad – devastated would be a little too strong a word, but I felt close to that. Over a piece of fish.
If I were to tell this to someone that I am now withdrawing from my husband because I gave him advice that caused him to ruin a piece of fish, they would probably laugh. “You feel suicidal because of a piece of fish?” might be something they might say.
Sure, when you put it that way, it seems silly.
However, I realized just now that it wasn’t about the fish. It was about my advice – it was about how my husband had trusted me to give him good advice and he had trusted me to help him. Instead, I had let him down. It’s about how guilty I feel for letting him down. It’s about how quickly I judged myself and how much I blame myself for the tiniest thing. I realize that it isn’t the end of the world but at that moment, it seemed like it was.
Now I’ve projected all my own feelings of worthlessness on him and acted like I am the one who is mad at him when in reality, he should be the one mad at me. I realize now that I still can’t stop myself from feeling as my first reaction. I still can’t stop myself from reacting before I think.
If I had just stopped and thought about the matter, perhaps I wouldn’t be isolating myself now and acting like a puppy with its tail tucked between its legs. I know I need to acknowledge that yes, this feeling sucks; that yes, I made a mistake; that yes, I should’ve looked up more information online or something because I am no cook. I also know that I need to forgive myself for these things. I was trying to be helpful but I did so without first thinking. I know that I need to overcome that impulsivity that is inherent with my ADHD. And I know I need to stop beating myself up over things that others might not even really mind.
My husband is probably not mad at me but in my mind, I project that he is. That he must be in his office now being mad at me. I know these thoughts are probably lies my mind creates to keep me burdened and depressed. After all, J told me that I had created a fool-proof way to keep myself in a depressive loop. That I invalidate my own thoughts and thus destroy any semblance of self-confidence.
I told my husband a few days ago, “You know… I used to be more confident than this. I used to be able to stand up for a value or point that I believe in and not feel bad for believing what I do. Lately, I can’t even be confident that I’m good at trig when I know that I am. What happened?”
I think it’s starting to become clear to me that for the longest time, I’ve been blaming others for killing my confidence. “It’s their fault that I couldn’t do that…”, “It’s not my fault that the knowledge I got about that topic was flawed. The person who shared that knowledge with me was wrong… I just did as they did…”, “It’s my parents’ fault that I grew up not knowing how to deal with anger…” and so on and so forth. I am starting to realize that despite the anger turned inward that I experience in my self, I also experience blame-shifting.
Yes, I do blame myself for the tiniest things. But at the same time, I also blame others for a lot of things. I blame others for killing my confidence, for bringing me down, for not supporting me, for ignoring my pain etc. when really, I am the one who is killing my own confidence, I am bringing myself down, I am not self-caring, I am not self-empathetic, I am ignoring my own pain and I’m projecting all these thoughts and emotions towards others. It’s no wonder that I don’t have many friends. It’s no wonder that no one wants to interact with me anymore.
I find that it’s interesting that I sat down to write a little short post about how I find it ironic that even what is considered the “happiest” country in the world, Switzerland, has suicide rates. That despite being the happiest country in the world, they still have people who struggle with suicidal thoughts. Instead, this post turned into a self reflection on a deeper level – on a topic that I’ve not really allowed myself to contemplate because it’s too shameful and too painful to broach.
That I feel guilt, shame and self depreciation which I try to shift onto others through blame because to acknowledge that I’m doing these things to myself is far more difficult and painful than it is to blame others. Is this a breakthrough I need to move forward? Is this the breakthrough I need to stop the vicious cycle I’ve put myself in? Of finding answers, then invalidating the answers with self doubt and then slipping into depression again?
I don’t know these answers but I do know that this is probably the first step I need to take.
As for how I feel at the beginning of this post (how I felt extremely down because of my poor advice), I am actually feeling a lot better since I started writing this.
“So how are you doing?”, my therapist asked me as I settled in on his couch.
A million things ran through my mind although almost all of them were connected.
I started with something mundane, about how physically, my body’s been out of whack this week since I’ve been sleeping until noon a lot lately and I’ve been forgetting my medication a lot. So I told him how I don’t know what’s going on. Plus, my repetitive stress injury is back and I’ve started playing video games again. He said that he didn’t realize that I had even stopped. I told him I did because I felt like it did nothing for me anymore and I no longer found much pleasure from it. But the fact that I’m getting back into it somewhat worries me because whenever I play my video games, I switch off and stop feeling. So it would make sense now for me to get back into it because I probably am trying to prevent myself from feeling or thinking.
I then continued and told him how I felt emotionally and I hesitated before bringing up the guilt and shame I’ve been feeling. It was hard to put into words. It’s hard for me to verbalize things and having him in front of me, looking at me with his usual look of concern and care, is almost too difficult for me to handle. It’s weird because I seem to have a fear of real love and affection. I always feel like I’m not worthy.
Anyway, after some stumbling and stammering, I finally choked out how I have been feeling guilty and ashamed of going over time last week. I told him how it had triggered a bunch of thoughts and feelings that I haven’t thought about or felt in a long time. I also mentioned how the guilt had led to me feeling worthless and how I feel like I’m always responsible for anything bad. I also told him how my mind went so far as to thinking that he was mad me and that he was justified. I even thought about how he might terminate our therapy! I was terrified of rejection and abandonment.
It was then that I realized that I now understand why I can’t confront people or speak to them on an emotional level! I realized that my mind can’t distinguish between a simple argument or confrontation of an issue to fix it and a confrontation that ends relationships. So I’ve always just avoided confrontations because if there’s no confrontation, there’s no end of relationship or fear of it.
I realize that I can’t handle rejection and I have a major fear of embarrassment which stemmed from the way my teachers had treated me when I was a child (multiple teachers had pulled me up in front of the class to do problems and I couldn’t, thus causing me humiliation). I’ve always internalized the guilt and blamed myself for not being smart enough and not feeling like I can understand anything. I remember not being able to look my teachers in the eye anymore after such humiliating encounters and so I cannot speak to a person in a confrontational manner without fearing them.
I then wanted to steer the conversation into math and what happened last week when I had realized who my “pit guy” was but my therapist steered us back to the topic on hand. Perhaps he knew I didn’t want to deal with what came after.
“Now before we go into the math, I want us to talk about this a little more. How do you parents handle conflict? What did that look like in your family?”
A half laugh blurted out of my mouth. A response that I now realize is a defense mechanism. I get into almost hysterical kind of laughter or half laughs that betray my true feelings. I knew this was coming.
I sighed before explaining to him that my parents had many bouts of silent treatments. The times that they do get mad at each other, they’re usually loud and explosive. I also related to him about how my brother and my father don’t get along and when I was living with them, a simple argument would devolve into shouting matches all the time. I remember feeling extremely distressed all the time. Now I know it’s because of the anxiety.
“Maybe in some ways, you felt like your father was saying the things he said to your brother to you as well…”
Of course, I was bawling through all this. I can’t control my tears. I can’t stop myself from crying when I’m sitting in that couch.
It made sense. I’ve always felt like I could never measure up to my parents’ expectations and I’ve always tried. My brother didn’t so it probably didn’t hurt him so much. I’ve never known what they want from me or what they expect from me. I went to explain that in my family, we don’t communicate very much. We don’t say how we really feel. It was all just assumed meaning. And when we do communicate, it’s with anger – to shout at each other.
I realize now where all my rage comes from. I used to pride myself in being able to keep things under the lid really well. I now don’t think that had been (or is) a healthy response to anger. I now understand that because my parents modelled negative responses to anger that that is how I now relate to others – especially my husband. I don’t understand what it’s like to express anger well and I don’t understand that just expressing anger doesn’t automatically mean rejection and abandonment.
Anyway, at the end of the tearful session where I had also expressed verbally what it felt to find out who my “pit guy” really was and how it felt to confront my ex high school math teacher, I felt spent. In fact, I feel exhausted now. I think today I’ve just poured out a lot of pain and fear I’ve had contained for a long long time. I can’t express just how grateful I am for my therapist and for his wisdom and patience.
In the end, he also explained to me how keeping time is his responsibility and that because of how he felt that our progress is going strong that he thought he would let me add one more thing at the end of our last session. He thought that it would’ve helped me to get another emotion out but he said that he realized that he had done more harm than good as I had been fixating over the guilt for an entire week. He told me that he is taking the responsibility from me. That he is not mad at me and that I shouldn’t feel guilty or bad anymore. He did commend me for taking steps to acknowledge my feelings. As I’ve said before, I like hearing him say, “Good”. It felt good.
Today was definitely a good session – a satisfying one, and one where I had also come to many realizations about myself, my background and why I feel the way I do. I also learned that I needn’t blame myself for everything and that just because something seems like it’s my fault, doesn’t always mean that it is. I need to practice not jumping to conclusions and blaming myself for everything. It’ll be a work in progress, definitely but I always feel like identifying the problem is the first step to recovery. In that respect, I’ve definitely identified a lot of problems today.
On another note, 5 days ago today marks 6 months of therapy for me – 6 months since I first met my therapist. Looking back, a lot has changed for me and sure, while I have become more depressed since September, I have also learned a lot about myself – more in the space of 6 months than I have in the space of 29 years and 11 months! It has been a painful journey but it’s also been a journey filled with positive affirmations from not only my therapist but also my husband and friends (especially the ones who keep coming back here to read what I write!). I am amazed at how fast time has flown. A part of me hopes that I will be able to finish out the next 3-4 years of school with my therapist there to support me but we’ll see. I doubt the school will want to let me keep seeing him if I’m better. But that’s a worry that I don’t need to concern myself with yet.
PS: I have a feeling that if my parents read this post, they might be really mad to discover the thoughts that I have had for them for the longest time. Like I mentioned in the post… We don’t communicate at all… So I have no idea how they really feel about me or what they expect of me and vice versa…