If I had a million dollars I’d give half to my Mom and use the other half to pay for school for myself. Mom would get the neural stimulator she needs in order to be free from her migraines. Mom would be able to move out of the South and back into an environment in which she feels comfortable. She’d have a house on the Cape, by the beach, and be able to bitch about the tourists during the Summers and which roads get plowed and when in the Winter. She would not have to deal with ignorant, abrasive, and apathetic neighbors in staid republican backwaters. She would not feel the need to take on the responsibilities of an H.O.A. president without any help from her ignorant neighbors. She would not have to worry about whether business matters were straight forward or whether they were corrupt. She would not be exhausted by spending energy on these things. She would be healed, closer to being whole, and more like the vibrant woman I knew growing up. I would know her better as an adult rather than just as a being struggling from day to day to survive.
Does anyone remember those old self-esteem tapes that were frequently made fun of in the media? There would be a picture, usually of some corporate guy, listening to a recording of a disembodied voice saying things like, “You are powerful. You are the master of your destiny. You can handle anything that comes your way. No one will stop you…”
I have played with the idea of making my own tapes like that for quite a while and an acquaintance of mine from high school recently brought it to mind again. She said I should post affirmations around my apartment. My problem is affirmations coming from myself don’t really have an impact. Hearing others say nice things about me is much more effective because it comes from another source. I told my acquaintance that I can tell these things to myself all I want but I won’t believe them. It is like “Who the
fuck do you think you’re kidding?” But to hear it from someone else, especially someone I admire, is…indescribably…effective. I crave to hear those kinds of things.
And so one of my fantasies is to record people I admire, trainers at the gym, my therapist, my boss, etc. saying nice things about me so I can play them over and over until I can believe them on my own. But I wonder if this negatively plays into my need for outside validation. I wonder if this plays too far into caring about what other people think. At the same time I imagine Vygotsky’s (http://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html) Social Development theories about platforming. I need the support of outside self-esteem reinforcement
until I can do it on my own. So is it totally unreasonable to fantasize about this kind of recording? I mean I can probably find some kind of neutral self-esteem tapes like the one I described earlier but I know it would not be as effective as hearing it from people I know.
During my last visit with my therapist we talked a lot about fear and anxiety. I had brought in a picture I had drawn of a pair of hands that looked as though they had just let water or sand run through their fingers. We dialogued with this picture.
I operate with a lot of fear and anxiety a lot of the time. Many people do. The next day I realized that a lot of my fear of being rejected or of being judged is rooted in my feelings of not being good enough. My sense of self-worth is generally pretty low and I don’t reach out to people because I am afraid of not being good enough. I let other people choose restaurants, what we do, where we go, when we go, because I don’t, on some level, feel that my preferences are important enough to give priority. I used the following example in my journal: if I invite someone out to, let’s say Barnes and Noble, I would be afraid the whole time that the other person was bored or unhappy. If I wanted to sit and read or write awhile I would not be able to because I would be more concerned about entertaining the other person. If they were not enjoying the trip I would feel as if I had to offer them some kind of consolation prize. Like, “I’m sorry you did not find the book you want. I am sorry you are not happy. I am sorry you are bored but at least we can have coffee, is that okay?” I do not feel as if I am a good enough reason to spend time with me. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else.
I am remembering one birthday when I was still at college where my mother and grandmother took me out to a restaurant in the town where I was going to school. I chose to order a caprise salad. My Mom said I had to order something else because it was my birthday. Just a salad wasn’t good enough. I didn’t see anything else I was particularly drawn to but ended up ordering some pork tenderloin dish anyway. It may not seem like a big deal but I was crushed by having my food choice disapproved. These are subtle slights.
I remember another birthday when I wanted to try out a local fondue place but the earliest reservation my Mom and my sister could get was at 7 or 7:30 in the evening, long past when I usually feel comfortable having dinner. Once again I felt forced to go along because I’d be a stick in the mud and looked upon with scorn if I went along with my preferences. But again I was supposed to be happy because we had dinner where I wanted to have dinner. At least everyone else was happy.
It is like asking for a Barbie doll when you are 6 and getting a baby wetsy instead. Gee Mom, thanks. And then you are looked upon as being ungrateful or difficult because you are unhappy.
Here this is what you are supposed to want; this is supposed to be what you do; isn’t this close enough? What you want is not good enough or not right.
Bad, bad, bad, wrong, wrong, wrong, change, change, change…When am I enough?
A couple of people empathized with me in class last night. They’ve been reading my Facebook posts. All of this “stuff” in therapy is exhausting sometimes even though all I do is sit there and talk. Emotions and, in my case, trying to keep them under control, is exhausting. All of this extra thinking my sessions have sparked is also exhausting.
Our professor in Lifespan Development said that sometimes in therapy you will hear the most horrific, heartbreaking, stories and you have to learn to sit with that. Clients who bring that kind of stuff to you require a lot of energy and he said that, when possible, schedule extra time between sessions so that you can process.
It is hard work on both sides. And again I find myself impatient. Someone asked me last night if I felt that it was helping. I was asked this at the gym too, I think. It is hard to determine right now. Yes, it helps a great deal to get more clarity and direction than I ever got with my last therapist but it is painstaking. At least now I feel like I have a map to work from rather than just an address to reach eventually. The impatient part of me asks, like a kid on a road trip, “Are we there yet? How much longer?” And a part of me feels like I have left my favorite most reliable childhood toy behind somewhere so that I am feeling lost, lonely, and anxious all of the time. This constant sense of anxiety, tenseness, and fear is what I hope to dull. A greater sense of connection with people without constant paralyzing fear is what I hope to achieve. The little girl who cries out, “Love me, love me, hold me, hug me, tell me I am okay,” is who I hope to soothe.
You know that feeling you get after someone surprises you, scares you, that is how I feel a large part of the time. It ranges from the first initial feelings of, “Holy Hell! You scared the crap out of me!” where your adrenaline is through the roof, to the feelings a few seconds up to a minute later where your heart is still pounding but you initial “fight-or-flight” feelings have tapered off.
Perhaps this is why I don’t like horror movies very much. I don’t like the flood of adrenaline or feelings of tense anticipation that accompany those kinds of movies. I’ve never liked roller coasters or other scary rides either. I don’t like anything that removes a large part of my sense of control.
But where does this come from?
I am faced with fears and anxieties (again) this morning. I feel stupid for mentioning a couple of things to my therapist during this last session. One was completely irrelevant and the other was kind of about a diagnosis thing called Sensory Processing Disorder. I feel stupid for asking about this disorder. It is not something that she nor I know a lot about, it is just that I was reading about it and its connection to ADD/ADHD disorders and thought it could possibly really apply to me. Anyway, I feel stupid for seeking a diagnosis, as if I am just looking for things that might be wrong with me like a hypochondriac who obsessively searches webmd. I know now how easily clients can get obsessed with this kind of thing but it is not like I am looking to use it as an excuse. I just want to know what is wrong with me so I can fix it. I don’t want to agonize over this kind of thing, of how others see me. I don’t want to agonize over how I can make my internal environment so that the world is easier for me to live in.
Thinking about how “K” said during our first session that she wanted to work with me (after a fair amount of back and forth) was kind of like a validation and I don’t want to do anything to mess up that illusory…friendship? compatibility? And I think of how one of the descriptions of R.A.D. (Reactive Attachment Disorder), something I am somewhere on the continuum of, says there is a strong desire for expressions of commitment and affection in relationships and that a primary sense of security comes from relationships. I do want reassurances. And when “K” expressed surprise and a sense of…admiration? at how quickly I came to the conclusion last session that I do to myself exactly what my parents used to do to me (self-criticism), it was a kind of reassurance and validation but I still need the relationship. It is one I am coming to depend upon but I am still having trouble trusting in its…security? stability? Part of me is afraid in some sense that it will go away or that the goodwill involved will go away and that I’ll become an obligation, a burden. I suppose that is how I started off feeling too when I first started to see her, that “K” didn’t really want to work with me.
Kind of like how Dad used to say whenever we wanted something at a store or whatever, “Do you really want that? Do you really need that?” instead of just saying “No. No, you can’t have that right now.” It is a trust thing. A definitive “No” or “yes” is easier to accept than constantly questioning…everything. I am afraid to trust in relationships, any relationship. I don’t want to be hurt.