Path of self-destruction

My post before last described how my therapist reacted when I told her I mixed wine with Klonopin. She had a perfectly appropriate reaction of not reacting. Dead-pan face. No emotion that would lead me to feel disapproval from her. That’s the measure of a good therapist, right? Isn’t that what we are paying for? No matter what we say or how poorly we behave, we have the therapist’s non-judgmental reaction. We can walk into the therapist’s office riddled with self-blame and guilt and walk out purged of self-condemnation. Instead of a car wash it’s a “character wash.” I sauntered in to Lynn’s office with self-loathing dirt all over the interior and exterior of my body and I emerged with a clean body and soul.

Okay, I’m being sarcastic. It just seems like an odd treatment protocol for Lynn to not call out my deficiencies when they are put before her. Especially when—a few months back–the said patient (me) initially walked into the said therapist’s office (her) with said problem (emotional avoidance through wine).

AHHH, therapists are clever, though. Lynn used her initial lack of expression as a way to get me, the patient, to keep talking. It’s like the boyfriend that puts a lot of effort into foreplay knowing he will ultimately get more than just cuddling. Lynn’s foreplay involved telling me, “you are harder on yourself than anyone so you don’t need me to tell you not to drink with Klonopin.” She also reassured me, “You have made a good life for yourself.” Even going so far as to correct that comment and emphasize, “You have a very good life.”

Oh, do I?

Then why do I drink away my emotions and mix medications that I know I shouldn’t? Can a person with a “very good life” have horrible coping skills that they utilize regularly to manage their good life? Isn’t that an oxymoron? I have a good life but I drink too much, sleep too much and take an SSRI, SNRI, an NDRI and benzodiazepine to regulate the neurotransmitters and other chemicals in my brain such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Call me crazy, but I don’t see how living with an unbalanced brain could really offer me such a good life. Throughout my childhood and adult existence my moods, thoughts and feelings have gone up and down like a fucking horsey on the merry-go-round. It’s caused me to be a social recluse, emotionally numb and an expert at playing the role of what-a-person-with-a-good-life-might-be-like.  I recommend a blog that expertly captures this

But, I digress. I was ready to tell you what happened in our therapy session after Lynn stroked my ego by telling me what I needed to hear in order to feel emotionally safe. After foreplay, she talked about the medications and how I feel about each.  First the Wellbutrin, then onto the Celexa and finally, “Let’s talk about the Klonopin.” She had me openly sharing and I said, “I just don’t like being on an anti-anxiety med and now I don’t like it even more since it caused me to fall and get bruised”

Whoa Nelly! Hold your horses!

Lynn bluntly said, “The Klonopin didn’t cause you to fall down–the alcohol did.” I argued that I never felt dizzy enough to fall down on the amount of wine I consume. It’s a lot but not that much. Lynn explained, “The Klonopin is like having 2 extra glasses of wine.” She then scolded me (which I expected earlier in the game but she had to get me ready and willing to hear it). Lynn told me I cannot mix alcohol with Klonopin and if I drink I should not take the Klonopin that night.

Of course, I’m still thinking of her telling me alcohol made me fall down. Are you saying I have a problem? What about the good life I have?

Now I was listening and I feeling vulnerable so she continued with the discussion of my drinking. I always want to add “to cope” as if drinking and coping are all part of my Grand Life Management Plan.

Lynn asks, Do your kids notice you’re drunk? Does your husband get you a glass of wine? Do you get angry when you drink? My answer is “no” to all of her pointed questions. I tell her “my anxiety lowers down to a point where I get the laundry done, the dishes washed, the animals taken care of and I even play games with my 11 year old.”

She lets down her poker face and I see concern and worry in her eyes as she asks, “Have you ever read anything about alcohol abuse?”

Truthfully I have. Once I tried to scare myself straight by printing out hundreds of pages from the. I’ve read books about alcoholism myths, I’ve taken on-line tests and I’ve been active on a website called WFS
and I’ve even gone to a group meeting in my local area.

Lynn had me where she wanted me. Stroking my ego at the start was a form of treatment to get me to fully express myself. I’ve now admitted I feel my drinking is excessive, even if no one else complains.

Therapists are good at manipulating the situation to get a patient to open up and admit their faults, in a manner that doesn’t make the patient feel recrimination. I feel like she set the bait and I was caught, now it was only a matter of reeling me in.

“So, are you saying I should go to AA meetings?”

Lynn answers, “I wouldn’t tell you not to go if you made that decision.” Oh, man, she’s good.  She puts all the control and responsibility on me.

I ask, “How would I go about finding a group that would fit me?” She acts offended as if I’ve just put down the entire population of people who are alcoholics. Given that she sees me as one of them she can’t act like she understands what bias I have toward some AA meetings. She must not judge  or it will transfer to me.

“I don’t feel like I have a lot in common with the guy in the streets who drinks a gallon of vodka a day.”

Lynn tells me, “There are similarities between everyone at AA meetings and you go and just listen and see if anything rings true.” I have nothing to say, except I’m thinking, there’s no way I’m going to the closest big city to an AA meeting. I can only imagine the scene.

Lynn tries to normalize the search for an AA meeting. She tells me she had a family member who needed help and explains the process this person went through. Her suggestions are: Try a few different meetings. Don’t go to an evening one, go to a noon-time meeting. Shop around for a good fit just like you would for anything else.

I shut down at this point and can’t recall the order of things. I know I told her, “I think if I could get a handle on my emotions I wouldn’t drink as much.” My way of saying, I drink because I’m anxious and depressed. It’s my coping mechanism, my Life Management Plan.

Lynn retorted, “You’ve been trying that for a long time and it is not working.” I stare at her thinking, WTF, Are you telling me my problem is not depression or anxiety and that it is my drinking?

HOLY FUCK! That statement was an eye opener and it hurt to my core. I completely stopped talking and she said something about my medications not working to their full effect if I drink more than a glass or two a week and then she switched topics.

She reminded me she’s on vacation next week and she will have someone on-call for her. I was sullen and sad and didn’t react. Around this time, Lynn must have recognized my sense of failure and self-contempt and she reassuringly said, “It’s okay if you don’t call right away and find a meeting in your area.” Then our time was up.

Lynn asked when I wanted to see her again. I shrugged and she gave me 2 available dates and I replied, “I don’t know. I don’t care.” She offered one of the dates, I said, “Fine,” took the appointment card and got up to leave. I didn’t look back, and in my role of what-a-person-with-a-good-life-might-be-like, I said, “Have a great vacation” and left her home office.

So, there you have it. I am at a cross roads in life. Do I take the path with the sign that says, “Healing this way” or do I continue on the path called “self-destruction”?

10 responses to “Path of self-destruction

  1. I read this this morning before work and really wanted to comment, but didn’t have time and didn’t know what to say. Here we are after dinner and I still don’t know what to say. It can be hard to respond to a post like this without sounding judgmental, and I am counting on the fact that you have read and commented on my blog and I yours for some time to help you believe that I am not judging just observing. I think you may want to consider listening to what Lynn has to say about this. Using alcohol to cope with life’s hurdles is pretty much the definition of abusing the substance. Maybe it would be worth trying a few different meetings to see if anything you hear resonates. Choose Healing.
    Wishing you the best

    • I knew you would say what you just did. It’s like having a second therapist in the room. : = ) You shoot strait from the hip without the worry that women have to support one another but not to judge. I appreciate your bluntness and of course, I know what is right.

      My big life question right now is: How does one change a learned behavior that has been a part of their coping skills since they can remember? I still need time to process all of this. I stopped drinking for 27 months with my first child (pregnancy and breastfeeding) and 24 months with my second. Then there was a time when I didn’t drink (when I first got on Effexor) for at least a year. That is why I thought perhaps the right meds would lesson my anxiety and need to drink. But, whatever, my alcohol consumption feeds an emotional need and I do not know how I will fill the void when I stop partaking in a few glasses of wine. Right now, that is my cure-all for the daily life I have.

      Watch for a post where I begin to move toward the right path. I will choose healing — the time is right — I just need to get all my ducks in a row and prepare for the after affects. It’s not going to be easy! Thanks for riding along in my journey. –Daylily

  2. southafricanwhitegirl

    My new homeopath with his practically-psychic scanners told me I suffer from “adrenal exhaustion” and that happened to be precisely why I’d gone to him(but he didnt know that), to discover if there’s a physical reason why I struggle so to cope with everyday life and ESPECIALLY with PMS.
    well! you really have to read this
    it says that when we’ve lived under great stress for a long time, our adrenal glands can “shut down”
    it so explains why I felt I had to smoke so much dope for a decade
    Its changed my life.
    I’m viewing my problem as a handicap now and it feels soooo much better

  3. southafricanwhitegirl

    and I think your link needs a “www” in it?

    • I tried that and nothing works. It’s messed up and I spent a long time trying to figure it out! Highlight and right click will go to a menu where anyone can go to link.

  4. I was going to say, you know which path to choose, you just gotta choose it. It’s the hard work that comes with it that is scary. You just need to find something positive to fill the gap, I do feel good stuff like knitting for our neo-natal clinic (I actually want to do more like volunteer for the ambulance, or SPCA or something, but I’m time poor – so I knit while studying). It’s actually kind of amazing how good you feel after doing a few rows, thinking of those poor little things that are so small, and you’re helping them to keep warm and safe or something. Anyway, it’s doing something small for somebody else that gets you out of your head for that moment in time which can give some relief when all you want to do is reach for the glass and deaden the nerves. Sounds lame I guess, but it’s worth a try.
    Hang in there, take a breath, and when you’re ready, take the plunge!

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