My session with Lynn was productive because she took control more than usual and didn’t wait to see which way I wanted to go – either open with my issues or closed and not willing to share.
Last month, when I saw her, I was closed up and acted like there were no issues to work on. I recall staring her in the face and saying, “What do you think we should talk about?” Her response at the time was, “I don’t make the agenda.” I thought, with someone like me who is as self-protective and unwilling to share, you should make the agenda. Of course, I didn’t say anything because that would tell someone what I need.
Getting needs met by being forthright has never been a strong character trait of mine. My modus operandi is to expect my significant others to know what I need. When I’m disappointed, I feel unloved and underappreciated that I don’t get the support I need. But, of course, they don’t read minds and can’t know what I want! This particular method of mine has evolved to not even setting up expectations with other people. Instead I’ve learned to understand others by reading their body language and interpreting the meaning behind their language. In order to not get hurt, I don’t have high expectations that others will care about my needs and I’ve become very adept at responding to their needs.
That being said, if you cross the line and purposefully betray, berate or belittle me I will fight back. I’ve changed from being quiet and helpless to dismissive and self-assertive as a protective mechanism.
This did come up in therapy today when Lynn asked, for the tenth time since I began seeing her, “Do you always argue with your therapist?” Admittedly, Yes.
Here’s an example:
I told her my anxiety was high the other day and I tried very hard not to drink. I distracted myself by going to work in the evening but it was no use. I eventually bought a cheap bottle of Pinot Grigio. Lynn wanted to talk about what I was feeling that caused the need for a drink. She wanted me to explain the anxiety. Tell her what did the alcohol relieve? How quickly did I get relief? Can I drink socially without over-doing it?
All these questions came at me at once and I answered them like I was dodging bullets. My drinking is an emotional addiction. It relieves anxiety. Two sips and I feel a calmness come over me. Yes, I can drink socially and I can have just one and yes, I can pass on having a drink socially.
I became defensive and I asserted myself as a way to protect the onslaught of questions. I shot back, I know you are always trying to figure out how bad my drinking problem is.
Lynn stopped me mid-sentence with “Hold it right there. You are projecting something onto me that I do not feel. I’m not judging you. I’m just trying to understand and help you with your anxiety.”
She stated I have considerable anxiety and she wants to help find a good solution to dealing with it. Lynn, who’s always looking for a solution, asked, “Did I consider taking the Klonopin when I felt the desire to drink?”
There opened the door to a conversation about my feelings around benzodiazepines.
I’ve started anxiety meds for the first time and it has not been easy for me to accept that they may be necessary. I told Lynn how bad I felt when I tried to pick up the Klonopin early from the pharmacy and I was treated like a drug addict. The pharmacist said, “That prescription is on hold.” Given this was my first experience with benzodiazepines, I was surprised to be turned down when I had a prescription in hand.
I told Lynn, I do not like the Klonopin.
She asked “Why?”
I stated, I don’t like that it’s a controlled substance and the pharmacy is regulating how much I can have. I explained, I had just enough if I took one a day so I couldn’t take an extra one in the afternoon for anxiety. I feared I would run out before my prescription was up for renewal. I also told Lynn I didn’t like the idea of being on an addictive medication.
Lynn said, “But you were going to see me soon and I could help you with your anxiety by prescribing what you need.”
We had a brief argument about the addictiveness of medications. She claimed the low dose of Klonopin (.05) is not much. I told her I tried to get off of it and in 2 days I was in pain with stomach cramps.
She told me the stomach pain could be a side effect on the soft tissue of my stomach from the Wellbutrin and the Klonopin may be treating that side effect. This is when it pays to have a therapist, like Lynn, who has the knowledge and ability of a nurse.
Lynn threw out many options, like lowering the Wellbutrin or increasing the Klonopin.
I told her, I like the way you always have other ideas to treat my depression. But, I refused the idea of getting off Wellbutrin since that has diminished my appetite. I’ve lost over 10 lbs (which feels good after the weight I put on from Paxil).
Lynn suggested I try taking the Klonopin as needed during the day and continue with the same in the evening. She suggested giving me 45 pills a month instead of the 30. I cried at the idea of increasing the anxiety medication. I just do not want to be addicted to a controlled substance. I have a major issue with taking pills so I told her if anything, I want to get off of the Klonopin.
She heard what I said and suggested I cut my current dosage in half, taking half at 5 pm when I feel anxious and the other half at bedtime, which has been helping me sleep.
I teared up and wanted to cry at how vulnerable I felt exposing myself. I didn’t say this but I was thinking, “I don’t want to have a fucking mental problem that requires me to need you to help me with my anxiety!”
I also felt emotionally raw that she was recognizing my anxiety, my problem with drinking and my issues with asking for help – all of it. I looked her in the eyes and a tiny bit of me believed she really does want to help me. She’s not judging me for my faults or my mental health problems. It was a positive moment of establishing trust between me and my therapist.
This was a major breakthrough because so few people have gotten through my hard exterior to my inner fears. I still tread cautiously, as I do not like to get burned, although I want to believe she can help me.
Part 2 – Sex as a connection for the sexually abused.
When I wrote the words few people have gotten through my hard exterior I was reminded of my early adolescents and my 20’s. Back then, the only way to connect with others was to engage in sex or flirt like I wanted to have sex. This fed my need for closeness with other human beings and fooled me into thinking I was loved. I didn’t have female friends at that time because I didn’t know how to connect on any level except very intellectual/professional or sexual. I’m not a lesbian, although I fantasized that perhaps sex with a woman would be an emotional connection like I never had before. There was no in-between. I questioned many times why I hung out with men more than women but it was years before I realized the reason. I lacked self-esteem and a positive self-image. I couldn’t let anyone be a friend in my world because they would see I was defective. The only time I was competent was with men, sexually enticing or pleasing them.
Part 3 – Today
I broke away from the world of men where everything has some sexual connotation. This meant cutting off from one brother who sexually molested me and another brother who had me in his “guy humor” list of raunchy emails. Around 30 ish I realized that shit is not for me. The sexual degradation of women is harmful to a woman’s true sense of self and I made a decision to not please men, unless it was out of true love. This is what I have with my husband. The first year of sex with him I cried almost every time because our connection was not only sexual but emotional and full of intimacy and true love. We intrinsically trusted each other. I have grown to feel worthy of real love and not just sexual encounters.
Tonight I sit on my back deck and feel peaceful. I want to capture this for all of eternity. I’m listening to birds sing, watching the sun set, feeling the breeze across my face and looking out on my swimming pool and 100 acres of open field, with beautiful flowering trees all around (including a weeping cherry my husband and boys gave me a few years back for Mother’s Day). That would be enough but it’s not all. I have my dog of 6 years resting on her bed nearby after we took a 3 mile hike. While I did that, my husband and boys were out fishing together. I really didn’t want to cook on this Saturday night and, it is my lucky day, because my son called to say they are on their way home from fishing with a pizza for dinner.
I’ve come a long way on my journey in this life with depression. My life feels good right now. I will savor the moment. The little stuff will work its way out.♥