Pre-session Musings

Written pre-session a few days ago…and yes I did share this with my therapist.

Many times when I leave K’s I am anxious, sometimes happy, sometimes satisfied, sometimes, a few times, desolate.  Primarily, with a few exceptions, it’s all for the same reason.  I give “my power” away too easily.  If it’s not to Mom, or my Aunt, or to K then it’s to someone else.  I try to do or want what they want, or what they think I should do or want.

Last week K and I talked about my need to “write my own rules” and taking responsibility for making my own decisions.  She asked if part of the reason why I struggle with any kind of action towards anything is that I still have the need to put blame or responsibility onto my parents for my life choices.  While in part that may be true I don’t know if it’s true in the way she intended.  It is true that sometimes I take a perverse kind of pleasure in berating myself for not, in my perception, doing what others, again in my perception, want me to do.  So in leaving K’s with these perceptions of what I “should” be doing, what actions, any actions I “should” be taking, I get a kind of permission to metaphorically self-harm.  There is this belief that I “should” be doing more simply from the belief that I am not doing enough.  I am stagnant.  And K will ask “for what and for whom” and I struggle to answer.  Just the shear number of answers to that question overwhelms me.  And it is then that I realize “for what or for whom” usually means any person I assign parental authority to.  And it is then that I ask, “how do I learn to parent myself?”

Frequently there is this feeling at K’s that I have ti take action now.  Do things now. Make decisions now.  But I feel the need to be patient.  If an opportunity comes along I’ll give it attention.  In the meantime, I feel the need to be patient, be aware, learn what I can now. Let things come in their own time.  Is this apathy?  Maybe in part.  Could I be doing more.  Probably.  But in answering that question the anxiety begins to creep in.

Sometimes I feel and sometimes I know K pushes me and challenges me the way she does just to see how far she can go until I push back.  Except frequently I get so wrapped up in my self imposed anxiety that I withdraw and head down the well-worn path of self-abuse and the endless refrain of “not good enough.”  Which is where the desolation has come from in the past.

My anxiety has decreased quite a bit from what it was in the past.  I’ve learned to take pleasure in more things.  I do more for myself simply because they give me pleasure and they are my choices to make.  It is an immense relief to live by myself without being hyperaware of what another person is doing and feeling.  Having my own space to do whatever I please with and in has helped enormously.  But then I think of college where I shared a suite with suite mates and it wasn’t a big deal.

My anxiety comes now from doing more of those things that make me happy while balancing the burdens and obligations of paying bills.  I don’t feel like I can be too adventurous without jeopardizing what little balance I have.  That’s what I meant when I told K last week that “I’m just focused on maintaining right now.”  That is where the majority of my energy goes.  Any extra is spent on simple pleasures that make the burdens more bearable.  The question is, how do I lighten the burdens of maintaining, two jobs I tolerate with paychecks that barely cover my needs, without upsetting the balance?  What can I risk? Where?  How?  When?

I’ve asked these questions.  I’ve asked these questions repeatedly.  How do I become my own person fully and to not feel so connected to the ifs, buts, ands, ors, and maybe nots, that I try to navigate around?

What opened my eyes last week was a discussion we’ve had in some form or another in the past.  I was talking about Dad and how he just doesn’t seem to care.  I always end up feeling that I should be doing more, calling more, making more of an effort, visiting more even.  Where is his effort???  Anyway, K made a statement about it not being about me, that maybe it has nothing to do with me.  It could be and very likely is entirely Dad’s own problem to deal with.  For so long, forever it seems like, I’ve made things, like Mom’s emotions, Dad’s level of interest, whether or not someone likes me, my problem.  I have been the one not doing enough, not doing the right things, not right, not good enough.  What if it has nothing to do with me?  I haven’t spoken up about my thoughts and feelings many different times because I made them my problem.  I was the one who never fit and I struggled because I knew how I felt and it never seemed right.

There are so many stories I tell myself based on partial or skewed information that scenarios or themes are created that really have little foundation.  Of course other people  go around creating their own stories too based upon their own inaccurate conclusions.  The story I have told myself for so long is that I am bad, that I’m an inconvenience, and that it is my responsibility to make my life the least intrusive it could possibly be.  In my core I still struggle with believing in my value and worth.  That anyone would actually enjoy my existence is a foreign concept.  That anyone could value my existence, as I valued theirs, doesn’t seem possible in my heart and mind…

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In search of…

My eternal struggle seems to be how to make a close friend.  There are a number of people I consider friendly acquaintances and a few, one maybe, two maybe, with whom I am a little closer.  I don’t have a close personal friend to do stuff with, to confide in and generally depend upon.  The most enriching interactions I get on a regular basis are my appointments with my therapist.  In order to truly be ready for discharge (something we have discussed directly and indirectly) I feel like I need to develop or be on my way to developing a replacement relationship otherwise I will end up exactly where I started 6 plus years ago.  It’s terribly depressing not to have a socially and emotionally validating relationship other than the one with my therapist.  In many ways I believe this is what keeps me stuck when attempting to develop therapeutic relationships with my own clients.  I do not have outside validation in my personal life and so I struggle with having confidence in my “self” as an inherently valuable individual.  My sense of self is dependent on others I’d say about 50-60% of the time, sometimes more.  It is a long and complicated concept to explain but it makes sense to me in my own personal journal writing.  My therapist once said that she believes that if my cat could talk I would never leave my apartment, and sometimes I wonder if this is true.  Finding the right person to invest time in and interest in is difficult, especially as I have been by myself for so long.  I can hardly remember what it was like when I did have a close friend.  I don’t remember it being very difficult to make allowances for our individual differences.  I remember having fun and enjoying each others company.  So why now does it seem like developing close intimate friendships requires so much more energy and why now does it require so much more to make it feel worth it?

Most of my interactions with people are work related either with the mental health company I work for or for the grocery store chain I work for. (blah prepositions at the end of sentences)  Other than the occasional Meetup group for coffee or whatever, I am alone.  Sometimes I wonder if I am just one of those perpetually alone, aloof, people.  The ones that are invited to parties and who leave alone, quietly, unobtrusively, at the end of the night.  They make dry witty remarks and are quite amusing but no one could mistake them for the life of the party.  But then no, because I usually prefer to be in bed, alone, in the quiet, by 9 or 10pm.  The quiet away from other people is what I prefer and yet I long for supportive, mutually validating, reflective, enjoyable, worthwhile relationships.

In the past I’ve sought out, purposefully sometimes and without purpose at other times, friendships? mentorships? with older adult women.  Excuse my mommy issues please.  I’ve lost the ability to make friends with peers.  I’ve lost the patience and attention and focus, perhaps?  I don’t know.  Friendships, I know, take time to cultivate but first I feel as if I need to see that there is someone or something I want to get to know.  I’ve met many perfectly nice people but where is that quality that draws us together, that makes it feel worthwhile?  If it requires work without interest or validation then it is just not worth it to me.  It would be like eating broccoli if you hate it.  It is good for you but you hate it and  you don’t see the point.  Why pursue something, like a relationship, if you are miserable?  And so, it has to be worth it to me.  A relationship, any relationship, has to be worth it to both parties.  When it no longer matters to one or the other then it kind of just drifts away because one person cannot force it to continue.  It’s impossible.  I just have to find my “worth it” friendships.  Whatever that means…