Category Archives: mental health

Therapy feels wrong but who knows?

Admittedly, I am one of those people who doesn’t look any different from anyone else but my inability to stop abusing alcohol makes me a person that needs some kind of help.  I feel like it’s love, empathy and support that I need but my therapist is acting indifferent and tough.  It may be the right tactic but it feels wrong and hurts.  I want to push her away and isolate myself.

I know the therapeutic relationship mimics my personal relationships outside of therapy and I don’t know how to get help from someone who portrays themselves as indifferent.  To help understand, a total lack of affect and an abundance of intellect is my family of origin.  How can I heal within a relationship that feels so similar to my upbringing, where I hid my feelings from powerful, intelligent people.

As a survivor of CSA I battle the inner demons of self-hate and a sense of not deserving anything good.  I am dumbfounded as to find something inside me that believes I should recover just because I’m worth it.

This leads to my question: How can a person like me, who feels completely inadequate, trust her therapist and be able to get the help she needs?  This is a major road block to my success.  I want to enhance my sense of self which in turn will fuel the desire to stop drinking alcohol for my own good. Is this thinking backward?

My therapist says I must first stop drinking because it is the elephant in the room.  Sounds logical to a person with inner resources but sounds like jumping from a plane without a parachute for a person who lacks self-worthiness.

♥ Daylily

Freeing myself from shame

Wonder and astonishment are the best words to describe what I am discovering about myself. I always felt different from the rest of the world. My intellect told me it was because I suffered an incestuous experience that isolated me from others.  However, knowing the cause of an ailment does not make it better. Instead, I suffered more with the knowledge that I couldn’t get out from under my own self-loathing. As many survivors will tell you, we learn to fake wholeness in order to keep up the façade of normalcy. It is painful enough to hate yourself and it would be more painful to have others know those reasons because they would hate you, too. I know that thinking makes no sense unless you’ve learned to protect yourself through self-loathing; then you too would understand how real it feels – so real that others would admonish you if they knew. But, something is shifting and I no longer feel like that girl who is hiding her sense of inadequacy.

I am immersed in a book that so concisely describes my emotional pain that it blows me away. It’s truly extraordinary! How uplifting it is to read another person’s description of my life. If a book was written that matches my struggle there must be others out there who are buying and reading the same book. You have no idea how liberating this revelation is.

Sounds simple; pretty basic, really. Didn’t I say I always knew what my problem was? And don’t I know that 7 out of 10 women are sexually abused? So what is so special about this book and this moment in my life?

It is as if the stars have lined up perfectly and I am feeling what I’ve intellectually known all along. A new sense of freedom like no other. The emotional work I’m doing is paying off. Practicing mindfulness is putting me in touch with my negative thoughts and emotions in a way that’s allowing me to be aware of the hurt and pain, acknowledge it and then release it. My shame is diminishing and I am feeling stronger.

The following quote is from the book I’m reading.

“As the light increases, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing forth from the depths of our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. We never could have believed that we had harbored such things, and we stand aghast as we watch them gradually appear. But while our faults diminish, the light by which we see them waxes brighter, and we are filled with horror. Bear in mind, for your comfort, that we only perceive our malady when the cure begins.” Francois Fenelon (1651)

Daylily

How childhood sexual abuse affects my marriage

It’s not news to anyone that a child who was sexually abused suffers long-term effects that carry over to adulthood. The early trauma is not an event that can be isolated because abuse touches all parts of a person’s identity, their social-emotional lives as well as the perceptions of themselves and others.

I have written about my experience of incest. I was prepubertal and research shows that the onset of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) factors into measuring the extent of trauma. Some studies show that younger children are somewhat more vulnerable than older children to trauma. I don’t need research to tell me this; of course a brain that has not developed (especially in terms of maturation and puberty) would be more affected. Other research shows that if the survivor lacks a sense of being protected by their parents, which is especially true with incestual CSA, the trauma can be worse. When I say trauma, I broadly speak of all the ways a child could be hurt; the more trauma the more far-reaching the effects and the harder the road is to recovery.

I’d like to address how CSA has affected my marriage of 23 years. I struggle with the ability to trust and be intimate with my husband. I fear re-traumatization if I stay in any relationship with the potential for emotional harm. When my fears over-power my rational thought, I want to escape. Yesterday in my blog I shared that I felt my husband does not respect or value me. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had similar fears? More than I can count. Just about every time I don’t get my needs met.

My marital relationship is a concern but I am awakening to a realization that the bigger problem is that I continue to replay the same stories in my head. Recovery is hard because I keep my shame, guilt and sense of unworthiness hidden.

My thoughts regularly turn pessimistic and I fall into an all too common space in my mind that is self-protective. The proof is in every journal I ever wrote. I go between drastic states of believing that my husband is safe and loves me to an overriding sense that he hates me. Realistically, I am not in a relationship with a man who hates me. The relationship is unpredictable because I cause it to be so. A published piece of scientific literature about CSA says that dysfunctional family dynamics may occur in the families of survivors. These include “denial, unpredictability, lack of empathy, lack of clear boundaries, role reversal, a closed family system, incongruent messages (body language differs from speech) and extremes in conflict (too much conflict may result in abuse, too little may result in hiding problems and not dealing with them).” (Engel, 2000)

This is my reality — I do not think or react normally. CSA causes extremes in the quality of my intimate relationship with my husband.

My past shoves its way into the present and I re-live feelings of trauma and express myself in an extreme manner. I’ve never been diagnosed with a personality disorder of any kind, so this behavior is your standard post traumatic stress disorder. The reality is that my husband does not hate me nor does he think I’m stupid.

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I believed he hated me. I admit throughtout the day, I was recalling my childhood and I suspect it triggered my thoughts to go into protective-mode, hence the previous blog post threatening divorce. I have similar journal entries from the past 30 years, stating my husband doesn’t love me and I would be better off without him.

He proved me wrong yesterday by working in the kitchen all day, cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, from stuffing the turkey, to peeling potatoes to heating up rolls in the oven. I showed up just in time to set the table. He didn’t complain and in a sense proved he is good to me, to the kids and to my emotional health.

Dinner was followed by some television and then mutually satisfying sex that left me completely satiated. So much so, I forgot to take Klonopin at bed time and slept well regardless of missing my medication. This morning, my husband initiated more sex and I responded positively because he proved he could be trusted yesterday and so I felt safe.

This flip-flop in my thinking is the aftermath from CSA. It’s so paradoxical that half the time, I can’t trust myself. Is my husband loving or is he full of hate for me? My distorted thoughts aren’t reliable and so I’ve learned to go into isolation-mode when I feel unloved and low on self-esteem. I don’t want to do anything rash or sudden because I think it will hurt me more in the end to not be with this man I’ve loved for 30 years.

My instincts are good because it protects me from doing further harm to myself. Otherwise, I would still be living out my adolescence with sexual promiscuity, an eating disorder and drugs. I realize that when my thoughts turn to self-hate, I should isolate myself in order to stay safe. This defense mechanism has kept me in a good marriage, allowed me to raise well-adjusted children and kept me employed.

Things are beginning to change. I’m recognizing these stories and past patterns of thought are hurting me. No doubt they impact my relationships, and especially my marriage; but I count my blessings. I’ve never threatened divorce, I’ve only fantasized it would be best. I know it wouldn’t be the answer to my problems. My husband is aware of my past CSA and has stuck by me. He is a good man and I am ready to change my thoughts so that I can both give and accept love fully.

Daylily

Changing my thoughts for the better

Here I sit, at a round table within a historic stone library nestled in a small New England town. The library is having a book sale today so I had to climb an old wooden staircase in order to get away from the frenzy of people searching for bargain books. The librarian and I are the only people in this cozy children’s room. I’ve never been to this library; however my son’s soccer club has brought me here. I intended to write report cards but I don’t have the necessary form so I feel unhurried, with time available to focus on my blog.

I saw Lynn at 8:00 am this morning. She fits me into her private practice on Saturday’s. I’ve been descending the stairs to her home office for about a year and I cannot believe that it’s taken me so long to build a trusting relationship with my therapist.

I could go 2 ways with this post:

  1. What the fuck is my problem that it took me so damn long to have confidence in this particular therapy? The post would focus on my blatant and ridiculous flaws.
    Or
  2. Recognize my progress with therapy. Celebrate the giant steps I’ve taken and look forward in this journey of healing my spirit.

The precedent would be to choose #1, based on historical patterns that I can easily list negative thoughts about how fucked-up I am. I will not entertain this old pattern any longer. It is self-sabotaging and not productive.

Oh, what the hell? For old time’s sake I will give short due to these feelings, if nothing else but as a way of distinguishing them from my newfound “mindful awareness.”

Here goes:

  1. The self protective walls I’ve built around myself are impenetrable. I never learned to expose myself to others for fear of being hurt and rejected. If I let someone in, they would see my flaws, my shame and guilt and surely I’d be judged as harshly as I judge myself. These thoughts are so imbedded in my brain that even when I voluntarily seek therapy, and go each week without someone twisting my arm, my fucked-up self does not know how to get the help I need.

I have this crazy thought, I should just fix what’s broken. I know exactly what my problem is. I grew up hating myself. I should just let it go. It’s simple, right? Maybe for you and them but it’s not as easy for me.  I’m beyond help.

My thoughts and feelings are deeply entangled in my mental illness and I’ll probably never be cured.

I’m on a roll with this train of thought. It’s so comfortable for me to berate myself. I want to continue. I want to write about how long it took for me to construct my sense of self and how nearly impossible it is to untangle fact from fiction.

STOP! I must learn to see these thoughts for what they are and so, I move onto #2;

  1. (#2 really, but I can’t edit it!)I have fabricated my life with amorphous things called thoughts and feelings but what are they, really? There is no truth to my thoughts of guilt and shame and yet I have allowed them to shape my life. I have conditioned my mind to hold itself separate from others. This has affected the way I connect with others, including the relationship with my therapist.

Truthfully, it is okay that it’s taken a year to let down my guard and share vulnerable feelings.

I will go further and boldly venture to say, I am making progress. I am beginning to see what is before me and not believe my historical interpretations that are riddled with self-judgment and negativity.

The practice of mindfulness is helping me investigate how I look at things and how I view myself.

The book I’m reading teaches me that my thoughts lead to emotions and my pattern of self-blaming thoughts has caused an undeserving feeling of guilt. I must begin to recognize my thoughts don’t represent reality. I will learn to recognize they are only thoughts; that these learned thoughts are arbitrary, nothing more.  Not realistic.

Ultimately, awareness of these thoughts will cause them to lose power. I will no longer be swept into a miserable psychological state of mind.

Realistically speaking, I will also depend on antidepressants to help me on this journey. Every doctor, therapist, psychologist and psychiatrist has told me so. The chemicals in my brain do not properly fire the right neurotransmitters in my synapses. Whatever the fuck doctors mean when they say this shit, I really have no idea except it sounds so technically correct – who can argue?

I hate to end on a bad note but, here’s the million dollar question, Is it the right antidepressant cocktail or my wilfulness to change my thoughts in a way that will transform my emotional health?

Daylily 2012

Barely holding on to my resolve

When I don’t drink – how do I handle the stress of everyday life? What do I do instead of blocking my feelings with wine? That is the million dollar question.

My usual pattern is to suck it up/act intelligent/do the right thing/remain calm/play the part of a mentally balanced person by controlling all of my reactions through careful thought. I can only do this for so long and then… I need a drink.

There were weeks when I would drink every day. Lately I’ve shown progress by not drinking during my work week. But when the weekend comes all bets are off and I open a bottle of wine to decompress from the built up tension of the week.

I’m not saying its right; I’m just telling you the truth.

This week I told myself I would not even drink this weekend. I was going along fine, not a drop of alcohol since last Sunday, but Friday’s arrived. Now I don’t know how I can make it through without numbing my thoughts.

The meditations have been working great. I have more energy and I feel good because I’m sleeping well without alcohol in my system. But, last night Husband and I got into an argument at the dinner table and I was the one who reacted with anger and stormed out of the house. This is unheard of – it’s not characteristic of me at all. As I said, I remain calm and rational at all times. But, if I can’t drink to forget that I always suck-it-up and discount my feelings than the shit is going to hit-the-fan.

Thinking about this, my anger at Husband makes perfect sense. The triggers for my drinking are the husband, kids, chores and responsibilities at home. I don’t have any “me” time or at least it feels that way. (Of course, if I got off this computer I would probably find more time!) I have to look at these stressors for what they are, I feel pure rage. Rage that I keep locked inside.  What do I do when I’m staring down the triggers without my usual coping mechanism?

Anyway, when I stormed out of the house, I got in my car and sent a text to my teenager, “I know you don’t like when Mom or Dad get angry but no worries. I went to get gas and do a few things at work. I’ll be home by 9pm. Tell your brother, too.” He immediately replied to my message, “ok thx.” Then my son #2 called to ask me where his science test paper was. GRRRR! I can’t even get away when I storm out of the house. Of course, I put on my loving voice and gently explained that I did not know where HE put his test but suggested a few places he could look. He told me “Daddy wants to see my grades.” I’m thinking then why the fuck doesn’t Daddy get off his ass and find the test with you.

You get the idea. I was pissed off. I still am. I have no coping skills to deal with anger and conflict. All I know is to drink and blot it out.

A member at the AA meeting suggested I try to “think through the drink.” Which I guess is a way of facing the feelings head on and knowing the craving will pass. How can that work when the triggers will never pass? I will forever be stuck in this house with way too much to take care of. The desire for a drink may dissipate but I will be angry at the world. What good is that?

Well, I didn’t drink yet; I’ve just been contemplating it. It’s early in the afternoon and I am off to watch son #1’s varsity soccer game. Later on, husband has dinner plans with co-workers so maybe I can try to unwind by the mere fact that he’s not going to be around. I am taking a lot of this anger out on him (okay, all of it) because I don’t like to hurt my children and I know no other way to release it.

I am stuck in a bad place right now.

Daylily

Grieving the childhood I didn’t have (part 1)

This saying is about as far from the truth of my life as one could go.  In order to move past this ever-present sense of failure and self-disgust, I must grieve for the parents I never had.  Is that grieve for the parents or grieve for myself?  Not sure which is technically correct so, let’s just say I’m going to fucking grieve for my entire childhood.  (I could take the f-word out but then my readers would not know how pissed-off I am right now).

Okay, so you can see this post is not a happy one.  If you want flowers and smiles, goggle it.  This post is about how much I feel short-changed by my childhood.

The book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, insists I must accept and grieve  in order to move forward in life.  I am compelled to wonder aloud if that is not what I’ve been doing my entire life with all this self-pity, self-hate and depression?  Have I not been grieving for what I lack?  Perhaps I was, but not in the right way.

In order to heal I must grieve for the little me that didn’t get to exist.  I must acknowledge that I didn’t get the love I needed and, as a result, I’m left with a hole or void in my emotional development.  (I’m paraphrasing here from the book).  The author, Karyl McBride, says “Facing this sadness is crucial in developing your sense of self today.”   (The cynic in me asks, does that mean after I acknowledge my lacking childhood in this post right now, today I will have a sense of self that I didn’t have before I wrote this?)

I’ve looked long and hard at the relationship I had with my mother.  I believe she neglected my emotional needs because she is not an emotional person.  She just doesn’t get me, the intensity of my senses and emotions.  Because of this, I shut-down and believed I didn’t deserve my mother’s love.  The fact is, I did deserve it but my mother didn’t have the capacity to give me a sense of emotional security.

An early memory I have is before the age of 5 years when my parents were still married.  I often had nightmares and would climb into my parents bed, sleeping between them.  I have this foggy feeling in my memory that my mom didn’t help me when I was scared with nightmares.  She just didn’t react or care.  I stopped going down to her room because neither parent acknowledged me.  Instead, I had all-encompassing nightmares where my room was full of wild animals and I would awake in a panic, believing I had no one to help me.  This nightmare was so frequent that I couldn’t fall asleep at bedtime.  I would rock back and forth on all fours, self-soothing behavior, in an attempt to exhaust myself into sleep.

Even now, as an adult, I have woken with the same full body fear/dread/panic.  The last time was a couple of years ago but the sensation was unmistakable.

All of this occurred  before I was sexually abused in my bed at night by my brother.  Those experiences came a couple of years later.  I was in the same scary bedroom but my bed was in a different place in the room so I can distinctly separate the memories.

Fast forward to the present because that memory felt like a flashback. I am filled with dread.  My heart is heavy.  I’m scared and sad.  I’m also exhausted from this task.

I was going to write about all the ways my parents didn’t love me the way I needed.  But, recalling my childhood isolation and fear and the reality that I had nobody I could go to for help is enough for now.  Too much.  So I will begin grieving for the little me by saying this:

I would want a mom and dad who accepted me with open arms, wrapping them around me when I climbed into their bed at night, frightened from a nightmare.  My mom would rub my back, tell me “you are not alone, I’m right here and you can always come to me.”  My dad would hold me and whisper that I was safe and he would not let anything hurt me.  I would be reassured that my parents would protect and shield me and I would always be able to go to them if I was hurt or scared.

Shit, this recovery stuff is going to be hard.  ♥ Daylily

Progress is slow…

No major breakthroughs since I last wrote.  I see myself as slowly evolving and, regrettably, few forward steps took place in the last week.

I again went to visit my mother to help her post-operative and this time I brought my 11-year-old and I chose to stay in a nearby hotel.  Mom was disappointed and said, “I wanted you to make me breakfast in the morning.”

My reaction, which I did not express was, where’s I want to spend more time with you?  It was nowhere because that would require her to think beyond herself. (Daylily—check yourself on the negative thoughts!)

My son said to me, as we drove off to our hotel after dinner, “I want to get up early and go back to Grandma’s to make her breakfast.”

Didn’t I feel like an asshole?  Who is the selfish one now?  Me, who was only thinking of my needs when my mom is scarcely able to walk.  Sometimes it takes a person who is not enmeshed in the psycho-dynamics of a relationship to see the picture more clearly.

So, the next morning my son and I brought Grandma breakfast from the hotel’s buffet.  Mom enjoyed the donut while Grandpa ate the hard-boiled egg, sausage and bagel.

You may find this hard to believe but my brother, the perpetrator of incest upon my prepubescent body, went off with my son and Grandpa for a day of fun while I stayed back at the house with my mom.  My ability to accept my brother’s apology, the sincerity in which he confessed to me and went to counseling with his pastor, leaves me confident he will not harm my son.  Of course, my son is not an 11-year-old-girl and my boy was also with Grandpa.  But, I wasn’t in a panic so I feel good about moving-on and letting the past go.  I haven’t forgotten it but the traumatic events no longer have their hold on me.

Upon returning from my trip, house guests arrived from my husband’s side of the family and they stayed for the weekend.  Our nephew is 32-years-old and drinks beer like a freakin’ fish*.  The first night he drank a dozen beers and then, in the morning, he went to the local liquor store and bought more beer and began drinking before lunch.

I make it a habit to never drink before the acceptable “cocktail hour,” between 5 and 6 pm.  I – in no way – want to begin the day with the hair of the dog that bit me.*  (The only times I’ve had a drink early in the day is on deep-sea fishing excursions where it feels like time stops and it’s just you, the ocean and the sky.)  Our guests were lounging by my pool all day and possibly this nephew feels the same about pools as I do about the ocean…but I doubt it.  Husband and I discussed his excessive drinking and worried that he is following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.  There is alcoholism on my nephew’s side of the family (not on my husband’s side but the in-laws.)  We worry if he doesn’t get intervention it’s not going to end well for him.

Well, my point is, when I see someone overtly abuse alcohol, it concerns me.  I know I will never be that person because I have so many boundaries around my drinking.  When I over-indulge, it’s private and self-destructive.  I don’t socialize/drive or go out partying.   But, I still admit it feels like a problem because I use it as a poor coping mechanism.

My two books from Amazon arrived (plus a fiction for when I have time to kill*).  I have been reading the book about narcissistic mothers and I’m seeing a lot of my mother but it’s not completely ringing a bell* for how my mom and I relate to each other.

I never wrote my “vision of wellness” that I mentioned in my last post.  I’m standing in stagnant waters* and not making progress.  I really should write that.

I give myself credit that I’m thinking hard about my intentions to heal and I’m preparing for the day when I stop using wine as a crutch*.  I am the type that needs time to intellectually prepare for change, time to psych myself up for success.  If I fail, I will have trouble forgiving myself so it’s best to get all of my ducks in a row.*

I saw Lynn and she and I discussed triggers that cause me to block out painful emotions with wine.  She agreed that any feelings outside of the norm cause me to doubt myself and self-criticize.  I do not handle emotionally-packed situations without remaining completely calm and in-the-head.  I’m all intellect.  Then when I’m in private, and the emotionally-charged event/activity has ended, I don’t have the skills to manage the psychological aftermath.  I usually have no idea what I feel, except I dislike experiencing anything negative — it makes life feel out of my control.  I need to be in charge of my response to a situation and when a monkey wrench gets thrown into my plans* I suffer later.  As I said, I handle the moment with poised perfection but the shit hits the fan* when the dust settles*.  That’s when I wait until the acceptable hour and drink to continue to blot out the emotions of the day.  I just don’t think AA will fix this problem.  I need to recognize my emotions and express them appropriately.  That means learning self-acceptance.  When I put it like that, it’s fucked-up really.  I apologize for the harshness of my language but it is the best description for when I’m overwhelmed and not sure how I feel or how to proceed, such as now, as I write.

Okay this is spiraling downward* and we’ve had enough idioms for one post. ♥ –Daylily

*idiom

Setting the intention to heal


http://livinginprocess.com/about-living-in-process.php

Summer mode is here.  I work during the school year but I get a break for the summer months.  I’m drinking too much, staying up late and sleeping until 10 in the morning. My new antidepressants were working for a while and I was curbing my drinking and sleeping well.  But, with summer here all of that has flown out the window. It’s nice that no one really cares because my kids are older and my husband goes off to work in the morning. But, it’s also sad that no one notices my self-destructive ways. Except me, of course. And my therapist, Lynn, who recently told me my drinking causes me problems not the medications or depression, which I have always blamed first and foremost. I might argue that all of it causes me problems but that would be my negative attitude rearing its ugly head. And I don’t want to go negative in this post.

This is the post where I admit I need to make changes.

I am taking the first step by recognizing my habit of drinking wine is counter-productive. It serves an immediate need I have to make it through a typical day, acting normal and appearing in control when, deep within me there has always been a sense of self-hate and shame.

Children with histories of childhood abuse often develop negative thought patterns. They put the blame on themselves, rather than the perpetrator or their parents. It’s a fucked up way to cope with abuse and fears of abandonment (if we told on the abuser, we would be risking more abuse and if our parents knew about the abuse they would stop caring for us because we perceive ourselves as dirty and unlovable).

I’ve always known I hate myself but I have not tried to stop the onslaught of negativity in my head. Quite the opposite, I’ve just tried to hide my secret. My life from the outside looking in shows no signs of self-hate. I have painstakingly masked it with drugs, sex, addictions and needing to be perfect. These days, my numbing-medication of choice is white wine. I drink so that I stop hearing that inner critic. Respite comes when I drink in the form of a mental break from my own self-hatred.

I have low self-esteem, I lack a positive sense of self and my ego is shot all to hell. I believe if anyone really knew me they wouldn’t love me. I have been damaged since childhood. There, I’ve admitted it.

A Taoist philosopher named Lao-tzu once said,

“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

This form of admission is not easy. It goes against my need to show the outside I’m perfect. And I don’t mean perfect as in material goods because that I’m not. I wear jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. My car has a huge dent in it and I accept that kind of imperfection in my life.

My perfection comes from a need to act intelligent and always have a calm demeanor. I’m thoughtful and empathetic to a fault. I’ve always looked at other’s feeling and easily can mold myself to their needs. This trait that I’ve been burdened with somehow ties into a sense of shame and a need to please others so they will not see my needs. My needs are deeply rooted and complicated and I rarely get them met.

Anyway, I ordered 2 books on Amazon and I have begun re-reading a book I already own (but never delved into) called Healing from Depression by Douglas Bloch. It’s a workbook, of sorts that will make me really think about changing harmful patterns, beginning with writing a vision statement of what I would be like if I really was healthy and well. Not just a woman faking perfectionism.

Here is the inside cover of the book I am using as I begin my intention to heal.

Perfection is unattainable

Dahlia White Perfection (photo from Wikimedia Commons.org)

I saw Lynn today and admitted my feelings of shame, stupidity, embarrassment and sadness. I wasn’t sure how to tell her I mixed alcohol with the klonopin (and subsequently fell down and got seriously bruised) so I went about it the long way, weaving a story of what led me to drink more wine than is typical for me.  The usual stresses: kids, family, love, loss, etc. I really have a high expectation for myself and when I do something downright stupid I am my worst critic.

When I’m at the therapist’s office I always have this 3rd person approach. I watch what I say, what she says and what we both do. Lynn was trying to play it cool and not show shock or much of anything. I was explaining things dispassionately so I wouldn’t put all my raw emotions on her table. I saw her eyes go down to my arm and the bruises before I was ready to get to that part and I was aware that she already knew. She said, “It’s not quite as bad as how you judge it in your own mind.” Lynn told me I like control and perfection and when triggers occur and I react less than what I would like, I beat myself up.

I admitted I find it difficult to disclose my vulnerability, frailties and weaknesses to others. I showed her my bruise and she did not react.

Lynn asked, “What were you afraid would happen when you told me?”

You would immediately think of your own liability and whether it is a bad idea to be prescribing medications to me.

Lynn agreed that was important and said she has warned me not to mix the klonopin with alcohol. I assured her I knew the risks, as it is also written all over the prescription bottle and accompanying pamphlets.

I felt the need to tell her, I have never taken more than what you prescribe for me, one pill a day is all I’ve ever done.

See. Look. I’m still a good little patient.

She told me if I ever drink just don’t take the klonopin that night.

I think her approach was to try not to make it as big a deal as I feel it is. She was diffusing some of my anxiety and tension by trying to lessen my sense of transgression. It somewhat helped but I’m still walking around with a couple huge bruises on my arm that are embarrassing.

That conversation all occurred within the first 5-10 minutes and then my therapist and I got down to some heartfelt conversations. She asked what feelings or thoughts were occurring when I turned to wine as my escape. I will save the rest for another day because my sense of shame makes it difficult to go on. I’m still processing my mistake and trying to figure out how to forgive, forget and move on.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (taken from the book I’m reading, If Life is a Game, These are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott)

Taking control…

I took control of my situation and the wallowing mood miraculously lifted. I no longer feel wounded by my son’s rejection letter. First, I took the good advice of a fellow blogger who wrote “just leave it.” Such simple words but when I ruminate on something it is the hardest thing in the world to let go of the worry. I consciously and deliberately changed my perspective. I realized giving into the sadness was making things worse and I needed to distract myself. Funny how yesterday I felt that would be like betraying my true feelings. But, if I don’t like the feeling or mood I’m in, it makes sense to try to get out of it. Perhaps this is a move in the right direction with regard to dealing with the patterns I fall into when depressive symptoms rear their ugly head.

The first thing I did was make my son his favorite lunch and his “thank you” brightened my day. I decided to do nice things for him and look at all the great qualities he has and that I can support. We did not talk about his soccer club the entire day. Second, I planted sunflower seeds in between some lily plants that run along a stone wall in my yard. This simple act of working in the dirt, sowing those seeds, gave me renewed hope for the future. Those little seeds will grow into tall flowers, as long as I give them a little water and fertilizer. The rest of the day went well and I grew in my conviction that rather than feel bad for my son, why don’t I tell the club soccer team my thoughts.

So, last night, after everyone went to bed, I wrote and sent off a long letter to express the disappointment I had over my son’s removal from his premier soccer club. I won’t go into the boring details but I will say writing the letter was cathartic.  I went from feeling helpless to powerful. This team charges a lot of money for their expert coaching and facilities. My letter was balanced between praising the coaches and having questions about their decision to cut my son. I include a small portion of the letter so you get the idea…

My son’s [referred to as T.] reasonable assessment at try-outs was that the playing field is becoming more competitive and he must work hard to keep his spot with your club; however, as skilled as T. realized the other players were, he believed he was equal with the new players trying out.  It is with these questions in mind that my husband would like to follow-up with a phone call to clarify what the specific criteria was that excluded my son from continuing as a player in your club. Of course, we realize the field is competitive.  But, once you chose T. as a player, it was our understanding that you saw his potential as a promising player.  We won’t argue your decision to cut our son but we do respectfully ask for an honest assessment of your decision.  Whatever you can share with us will help make T. a better soccer player in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts.  Please let us know whom we may call and speak with personally to further discuss the club’s decision.

I wrote about 6 paragraphs similar to that, stating all T. did with the team, his recent injury, etc. I have not heard back and don’t expect to for a few days but I will follow-up if they ignore me. Today I mentioned the letter to T. and he asked why I did that. I explained the club charges a lot of money and they must be held accountable. I told him the letter was professional and friendly, not mean or critical.

T. and I had planned on taking a long walk together but after that conversation he said he would only do it if I didn’t talk soccer. I agreed and, in the end we went for a bike ride. Shorter than he would have liked but because I am so out of shape, every hill felt like a mountain! The time spent with T. was worth the pain I’ll feel in my quads tomorrow.

I am fortunate to have my summers off but tonight I have a meeting. It is a routine board meeting where I am the director. This means, most issues and questions ultimately rest with me, but I’m not supported or appreciated by this board so it will be a laborious hour or two of necessary business mixed with professional pleasantries. The board will also present me with my contract for next year and it’s already been hinted at that there in not enough money for an increase in my salary. They want quality but they don’t want to pay for it. I will recommend the board of directors consider closing down if they can’t afford to pay fair wages for quality personnel. That will not go over well!

But, I’m in a place in life right now where I will speak my mind so that I don’t turn frustration and anger inward where it will fester and become depression.