The Standards of Others

Last night I talked on the phone with my Mom. A short exchange has really stuck with me since then and has triggered some anxiety in me. Because I am currently on break from school, though I am still working on my internship hours roughly 25 hours per week, Mom assumed I might be working extra hours at my paying job. Typically, because of internship, I work my paying job 16 hours per week. True, especially because I currently do not have classes to worry about, I now have a fair amount of time where I am not working my paying job. For example, instead of leaving my internship site, where I work an 8 hour day, and going directly to my paying job, I go home, usually. I could technically, especially on a Friday, go to my paying job and work a 7 hour shift but really the thought exhausts me and overwhelms me, at times. I have flashbacks to when I worked at a dry cleaners and worked frequently 7:30am-7pm, 5-6 days a week. I remember how angry and unhappy and sick I made myself at that time. (God, I was so angry.) I remember how much more frequent my migraines were at that time. But still part of me now feels badly because I am so unwilling, even though I am perfectly capable, to put myself through that grueling work pace. I call myself lazy. I tell myself I am too used to having the privileges that come with having middle class parents. Because I am unwilling to push myself that hard, to make myself sick, I constantly, especially in January/ February and in July/August when school loan money is used up, run short of money. And that is why Mom feels she enables me, because I am perfectly capable of working an insane amount of hours and yet I don’t because I know how unhappy it would make me. Lazy, self-indulgent…I know how lucky I am, believe me, I do. I see it every day I am at my internship site and see those poor kids so full of potential and yet so laid low by the cards life has dealt them. Some of them are so smart and they have the world ahead of them…if only they were given a chance. Because of my life circumstances I am lucky enough or spoiled enough to consider what feels best for me physically and mentally. I keep reminding myself that Mom pushed herself for so long, for so many years, and look where it has gotten her. She now suffers from migraines 99% of the time and is a chronic smoker. Perhaps I am enabled. Perhaps I am lazy and spoiled. Perhaps I should be working more and worrying about school less.

2014/2015

This post is inspired by another post by another blogger/ Art Therapist. Earlier today I read http://natashashapiroarttherapy.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/great-idea-for-art-therapy-new-year-activity/

Give Away/ Get Rid Of from 2014

~Fear of trying new things, going “out on a limb,” experimenting
~Resistance- to new possibilities, doing new things, new ways of seeing things
~Thinking about myself only in relation to other people and their approval or disapproval
~Going too fast- Not making conscious decisions
-making reactive choices, thoughts, and decisions based on instinct, fear, or feeling, rather than thought out choice that recognizes all sides of the situation
~Not always using realizations made
-realizations —>new ways of seeing things should translate into doing, saying, or acting in new ways

Hopes for 2015

~Doing more of what makes me happy just because it makes me happy.
~Be more generous
~Stand up for myself more with less fear, even if I am wrong.
~Do more of what feels rights and less of what feels wrong.
~Do things I know are good for me even if I don’t want to- like going out with people
~Be Brave
~Be Patient

*Just because things (people, feelings, wants, needs) are hard to find, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Sucker-Punched

Hello. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. Internship has taken up a lot of my time. I feel so much better at this internship site than I did at my first one. Still I feel like I am lacking in so many ways. I have so far to go in terms of skill building. I am still nervous to varying degrees with the students and I feel absolutely clueless sometimes when trying to process their art work in a group setting, especially since their imaginations and, in some cases, their cognitive development are limited. This is simply due to their normal course of development in some cases but in others their perceptions are skewed due to trauma and/or poorer socioeconomic status. My nerves get in the way a lot but I think I have developed a pretty good relationship with the students. It’s a strange balance trying to walk the line between therapist and teacher and it is one I am far from comfortable with, especially since in my art therapy program it is expected that we are more therapist than teacher. When it comes to case conceptualization and implementing art therapy I struggle, or at least I struggle in thinking things through. Sometimes I feel like I struggle putting it into words. I apply half-assed art directives with half-assed reasonings in a setting where “group” is just one of 8 classes our students have to attend everyday. Sometimes, many times, it is as if “group” is the least of the students’ worries where, in many cases, they only half care about their classes.

And so, I found it extremely frustrating and devastating to my sense of…confidence? security? and suitability for this profession, when this week my professor returned a paper to me with an ominous message calling into question, I felt, exactly that. I have been sick off and on since receiving this message even though, I think, it was sent with the best of intentions, enhancing/ furthering my learning. It has been extremely nerve wracking and exhausting to me since I put so much work into everything I do. To have my own doubts and fears virtually confirmed has been at the root of feeling as if I was punched in the gut and the throat simultaneously. I am afraid. And part of me feels as if I don’t know what she, my professor, wants. Part of me feels like I will never put this feeling of nervousness and anxiety behind and I will never be 100% comfortable in this profession.

A gaping black hole feels like it is in front of me sometimes. It is that feeling you get when you are 15 floors up in a building and look down. You know in your mind that you are secure and won’t fall but something in the pit of your stomach makes you want to cling desperately to the floors and walls. When I receive feedback like I got this week it forces me to look down at the street from the 15th floor of a building. It has left me scared, weak, and searching for something to hold onto.

Triggers

Yesterday at the school where I am interning a young student invited my supervisor and I to her birthday party. Ethically we can’t attend a student’s social event even if we wanted to. At the time I didn’t think much beyond those facts. We can’t go and what would we do at a 13 year old’s party anyway? End of story, right? Not so fast.

Last night I had a dream where my therapist was somehow at a house with me and a bunch of other people. Older, my age, younger, there were a lot of people. I had the impression she was there to watch or take care of some of the people. Then at some point it became clear the crowd was getting ready for a party and my therapist and I are there to take care of the older people while the party preparations were going on. She was enjoying herself. There was a vague impression that the party was, in part, for me but why, I don’t know. I don’t really know what the point of the party was. As soon as the party was underway, food served, people gathered around, me in front of the table, I knew my therapist had left. I was left with a sadness and disappointment, as if I had gotten so close to something only for it to go away. But at the same time I understood. My head understood but my heart didn’t. And so the sadness has lingered this morning. I have been left with a desire to call my therapist but for what reason, I don’t know.

Part of me thinks, “I can’t just call her. I can’t just call her because I want to talk. She’s not a friend!” Another part thinks it would be a kind of progress to reach out and to reach out for help. I am thinking too much about this, as I do with many many other things. My therapist is constantly telling me to “get out of my head.” I am not often impulsive when it comes to emotions. The closest I’ve come to calling her is to think about calling her answering machine just to hear her voice. Stalker much?

Which battle is worth fighting?

I don’t like not understanding. I don’t like not being able to do what people I like and admire want me to do. It hurts. Not understanding and not being able to do what others want me to do hurts.

I wrote the above a few days ago. I was about to delete it when I realized it is relevant to something a friend and I talked about this morning. We were talking about things we do to gain affection and appreciation from other people. He said that I wasn’t used to people being nice to me just to be nice. I said I wasn’t used to recognizing that there is anything to be nice to me for. I have a self-worth problem that goes beyond simply not recognizing my positive qualities. But our discussion caused me to reframe my thinking by asking myself, “Will I ever be able to change my people pleasing, ingratiating, justifying, ways and beliefs?” And then I asked myself a question that really hit home, “Why am I fighting such a hard battle to make everyone else’s life easier?”

I’ve been so other focused for so long that I’ve forgotten or disregarded the fact that I am the most important person in my life. Everything in my life has been about not making waves for anyone else, fitting my wants and needs and desires to fit what they want, need, and desire, putting myself second, trying to figure out how to be me in ways everyone or anyone else would find acceptable, and sacrificing myself in order to make things easier for others. Recognizing or re-recognizing this is important, but something so ingrained in my temperament and ways of coping with the world, is something I have a hard time seeing how to change.

Summer Perspective

Today is my next to last day on vacation. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the past few days, since my therapy session on Wednesday. I’ve learned a lot over the summer. I think I’ve become stronger as a person and I’ve started to distance myself from the anxiety I’ve been plagued with for many years. Some days, some hours, some seconds are easier than others. Some days I’m overwhelmed by it still. I’m more settled in myself and have learned that even if there are some things I could do better I am a good and worthy person.

My therapist and I have been working on dialoguing with my Inner Critic and Inner Child. She had been advising me to view my current self (reason) as a coach who decides when to put certain “players” (the Critic, the Inner Child) into the game. I am the coach who decides how to best use each player. But this metaphor wasn’t working for me or maybe I just wasn’t getting what she was trying to say. This past week a simple change in vocabulary brought new meaning into the metaphor. She suggested I use the Critic and the Inner Child as “input.” They can offer input into whatever I’m encountering but I am the one who makes the decision on what to do, how to react, and what needs are met. For some reason this was more clarifying and enlightening for me. I can listen to one side and the other and then judge what needs to be done. Now these emotional sides of me aren’t always nice and patient or reasonable but somehow this shift in perspective gave me a greater sense of control.

I am still nervous about restarting internship this Fall semester. Will I be able to maintain reason and clarity and not let anxiety and fear get in the way of what needs to be done? I waver between this confidence and fear. I know a lot. I know theory and compassion and the humanity of it all but will I be blinded by my uncertainty, by my fear? Will I be paralyzed like I was during my first internship? I don’t want to be. Part of me is also afraid of asking for what I want and need, which is close supervision, a guiding hand, someone I’m not afraid to go to to ask for help, someone who will be near until I feel strong enough to work on my own. Asking for help has always been a BIG problem for me. Asking for help has meant not being good enough, not smart enough, not worthy, an imposition, an inconvenience, an annoyance. I have been afraid to ask for help for the simple fact that I have been afraid I wouldn’t receive it.

And part of me is afraid that I haven’t made as much progress as I keep insisting I have, though I do feel differently than I did, I think. Have I done enough? Have I done anything? Have I just been pissing around and not really doing any work at all? Though I am still slipping and sliding I think I am making slow progress towards more solid ground.

The Inner Child is whining. She needs something. She’s lonely and wants to be loved.