Tag Archives: therapy

Therapy session was tough…

This is from my newer blog that chronicles my problem with using alcohol. I drink to hide from my depressive feelings and trying to break the habit is not as easy as I thought.

My Healing Recovery

This is a follow up to my last post regarding being honest about relapsing to my therapist.

Yesterday I had a session with Lynn and, after getting the pleasantries about her vacation and my surgery out of the way, I squirmed uncomfortably on her couch and bluntly said, “I should start by telling you that I started drinking wine again.”

She asked a few questions, the first one, “What day did you have a drink?”

I answered, “May 18th, the last time I saw you before you went on vacation.”

She asked me to tell her about what happened and I dismissively replied, “Who, what, where, when and how don’t matter as much as the why.” She nodded and played along. I say played along because I feel like I was deflecting from the whole truth because I didn’t have the guts to be totally straight forward. I…

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My depression now that I’m sober

How’s my depression now that I stopped drinking wine, you ask. 

I feel numb.  Not especially happy or sad.  Emotionless, I suppose, would be a good word for how I feel.

I fake excitement and joy so my kids think I care about what happens in their lives.  I do care but if it were up to me I would respond the same way whether they got straight A’s or got kicked out of school.  It’s all cerebral without much affect.  Not bad or good feelings — basically no feelings. 

And it’s not like I’m that smart or intelligent either; I’m just playing the roles of wife, mother, daughter, teacher, patient, student, sister and aging woman as anyone would expect a person like me to be. 

Even without drinking I still take a nap almost everyday.  I’m not sure if it’s because I stay up too late or my body’s nervous system continues to adjust without alcohol or if my medications (celexa, wellbutrin and klonopin) are the culprits.  I know I’m tired, unproductive and letting chores go by the wayside.  It’s not a good feeling to feel so unmotivated.

I haven’t seen my therapist for 3 weeks so I suppose we will talk about all of these things.  She encouraged me to stop drinking on my antidepressants so I can at least feel good I haven’t had a drink in close to 2 months.  That’s progress in taking charge of my mental health.  Shouldn’t I feel more excited about it?

Alcoholics Anonymous has become a regular routine of mine.  Who knew there were so many women-only groups?  I certainly didn’t and I’m pleasantly surprised to find 3 different groups that I can go to for support.  My ability to connect on a personal level with other women is not a strong point of mine.  I’ve mostly been listening and sharing tiny bits of  myself.  However, the more comfortable I get the more I see that I don’t need to connect or be more intimate than I want to.  The anonymity piece of AA allows for people to come and go without anyone judging or holding them accountable.  This works for a person like me who dodges people who want more in a relationship than I’m willing to give.  Surprisingly, I do have a sponsor who is supporting my path to sobriety but she recognizes I’m like a deer caught in headlights so she’s not pushing too hard for me to get into the steps.  We’re keeping it simple.  “Just don’t drink,” is my mantra.  It’s going well and I’m discovering the cravings are psychological.  When I feel uncomfortable my mind whispers to me that if I just get through the event/issue/meeting (whatever) I can have a glass of wine later. 

Now that I’m not drinking I am focusing on being mindful by recognizing my thoughts and feelings, acknowledging them and trying to release them without judgment.  Perhaps this emotional work is exhausting and that is why I am emotionless.  It’s easier to not drink if I stay dead to the world and allow nothing or as few things as possible to upset me. 

Hmmm, just writing that last sentence makes me wonder if I’m shut down emotionally.  When you’ve been depressed as long as I have it is really hard to know what normal feelings are.  Maybe emotionless is really a sense of peace and calm???  If so, I’d like to have some peaks and valleys, too; but if I stay even keel I will accept it as a good sign.  Better than depressed and angry.

♥ Daylily ♥

Upcoming events – first AA meeting and back to my therapist

My therapist hurt my feelings last time I saw her. That sounds stupid even saying it, but such an admission shows just how sensitive I am. I began with Lynn so she could help me with depression and what I defined as my use of alcohol to self-medicate. Ignorantly, I believed that if I changed my depression medications then my drinking would stop, too.

That’s not how it went down.

I withdrew from all medications, under Lynn’s watch, and spiraled into major depression. Lynn wisely prescribed a cocktail of medications and my mood improved. Unfortunately, my drinking hasn’t improved. My therapist threatened to withdraw all medications if I don’t stop drinking. She said I am mixing medications and it’s dangerous.

Our relationship had only recently begun to feel safe. Over a long stretch without seeing Lynn, I told her I missed her. Instead of answering the same Lynn said, “That’s good it means you trust other people.”

It was the very next session when Lynn played tough love and gave what felt like an ultimatum. I don’t do well if I feel unsupported by people I trust.

I shut down and accused her of giving me a threat about my meds. It hurt my feelings that she doesn’t understand my emotional sensitivity. When I withdrew in our session she tried to reassure me it wasn’t a threat and she would give me time. But the damage was done.

It’s been 2 weeks and I am scheduled to see Lynn in 2 days. In all honesty, I’d like to bring in my medications and throw them at her. What pleasure I would get watching them spill all over her carefully organized chair, table and office. And with that I would say, “Take your fucking medications and your sense of superiority and stick it up your ass.” What would be the point? To show her I don’t need her pills or her kind of therapy.

Reality check! Indifference is this therapist’s mode of operation. She would shrug her shoulders and think to herself, “There’s nothing I can do. This patient wasn’t ready to hear the truth and do the hard work.” She’s just such a hard-ass, I hate it. I wonder if this is how all addiction counselors are?

So, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I know what the right thing is but it is difficult for me to trust this therapist. I have an urge to run instead of expose myself. But, I am going to try to do what she’s asking on blind faith. Tomorrow is Friday and instead of opening a bottle of wine I will go to my first AA meeting. It’s what my therapist thinks I need. Sounds scary but I will do it and go to therapy knowing I’m trying to do the work. I haven’t ruled out finding another therapist but for now I will see if our relationship can be restored.

Fern (formerly known as Daylily) 

Join me on my new blog.  Daylilies live for only one day and ferns can flourish in the right climate for a long time. 

http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com/ 

Binge drinking among females

This morning a news story about binge drinking among women jumped out at me on the MSN home page. I googled the topic of “binge drinking women” and found all the big news agencies are reporting a recent CDC study. Women are binge drinking more than ever.

I’m not proud of it but I fit the category. Here’s a direct quote from the article.

Recognize that most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics, but may need counseling.

Oh, is that ever me. I am working on finding new coping skills in therapy. I don’t want to use alcohol to cope with difficult emotions. Really. Truly.

Here’s the link: http://www.cdc.gov/features/vitalsigns/bingedrinkingfemale/index.html

Daylily

I miss my therapist

I never thought in my (almost) 50 years I would gain enough trust with a therapist that I could actually miss her. Hesitant, guarded, cautious and restrained are more like it. This is not because I didn’t want to trust a therapist; I have just been uncertain about whether I could trust anyone.

Childhood sexual abuse caused undeserved feelings of shame, self-blame and guilt that I didn’t want to show anyone. How fucked-up would I look if someone knew the depth of my sense of unworthiness? In my head I felt sure that I had to protect my vulnerable self from being exposed. Those feelings are my weakness and I am defenseless around them.

But recently the tide is changing and I can feel it. Facing those exact feelings with compassion and mindfulness are causing them to lose their potency. I am not that negative voice in my head.

I haven’t seen Lynn for one month and I eagerly look forward to our session tomorrow morning. Well, okay, maybe eager sounds a bit strong since I’m rarely able to admit positive feelings so let’s say I’m feeling more willing to go to therapy than usual. For once, I don’t have an agenda. I feel calm and okay with the idea of her asking me questions about how things are going. My answers won’t feel “wrong” or indicative of some serious emotional issues. I don’t have to be guarded. There is nothing to hide. I am ready to kick my inner critic to the curb. The way to do that is to talk about emotions that I often judge as wrong. I will share my feelings without judging myself.

This is not an easy post to write because I typically don’t feel or write with encouragement and positivity; but somewhere in this post is a person who feels hopeful about the progress she’s making and who is feeling supported by her therapist. (Apologies for the 3rd person point of view in the second clause of the previous sentence; it is the only way I could express optimism). 🙂

—–Daylily—–

Old patterns revisited

I like to be upfront in my blog and – as much as I wish I could say all this self-compassion and mindfulness is helping – right now – it’s not.

Things suck. I’m getting over a sinus infection and I’ve been experiencing a migraine for 2 days. These are physical and can wreak havoc on my emotional stability.

I fucking hate being unstable. I fight it or fake it until the feeling passes.

My home life is wrought with anger because I feel burdened with the household chores. I have two growing boys and a healthy husband yet if I go out for the evening, the kitchen remains as messy as when I left. I angrily make clear how I feel, “I’m not the only one in this house who knows how to clean a kitchen. So, why am I the only one doing it?” As you can probably imagine this reaction makes everyone clear the room and grow further in distance from my rage.

My family knows when I’m not feeling stable and they joke about my anger and interruptions. “Not funny,” I say. They really don’t understand this is my worst and I need them the most.

There’s a break down in communication because I never learned how to express uncomfortable feelings. Survivors of sexual abuse either take it out on themselves or get angry with the world. It’s seems there’s no normalcy or middle ground.

I can’t fix my emotional self until the physical self is better. I took charge of my health and called my doctor three times in the last week. Once to get on an antibiotic for my sinuses, the second time because the first antibiotic didn’t work and again because my migraine was not responding to a potent medication that I can only take every twenty-four hours. The medication (Imitrex) lasted 15 hours and I called my doctor. She said I was experiencing a cluster migraine and prescribed a tapered steroid.

So, I’m taking antibiotics, steroids and my usual cocktail of Wellbutrin, Celexa and Klonopin. This is positive because I’m healing the infection, knocking out the migraines and treating my depression.

I wish I could feel optimistic. But, the stress of not being on top of my game has made me lose focus on mindfulness and self-compassion. Somewhere along the way I heard the voices telling me, “You’re sleeping too much.” “You need your doctor too much.” “You haven’t put up one Christmas decoration.” My head has been  full of self-defeating thoughts that I can’t run from.

I fall back on my old way of numbing the pain – both emotional and physical. I self-sabotage with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. I know I binge drink. I hate myself more for the lack of self- control.

My appointment with Lynn this week was focused on my emotional health and how I’m striving for mindfulness. I told her I recognized moments where I beat myself up with an inner critic that no one would want as a friend. She asked about my drinking and even after I told her I am drinking as a way to disassociate, she told me I’m making progress with the work of being present with my feelings.

I cannot believe she praised me even though I feel defeated and weak. Lynn told me to keep working on my emotions and allow those feelings to come to the surface.

I wanted to hug and thank her for recognizing my effort. Never have I expressed all of my vulnerability and had someone say, “Good for you.”

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

Reaching out during a depressive episode

The bottom of despair is a shitty place to be; I know because I spent the morning there. Schools were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy so I took advantage of this day off from work to settle deep into depression. I didn’t consciously do it but the opportunity arose and I took full advantage.

Why am I talking like I did something helpful when I felt like such crap last night and this morning? Well, that’s where the silver lining comes in. There may even have been a rainbow.

I have never, ever climbed into bed and expressed my feelings of depression while there. My pattern is to wallow alone and then pull myself together, all the while hiding how awful I feel – to myself and those that love me. No bullshit. This is one of my learned behaviors leftover from childhood.

This morning I passed the hours curled up under my down comforter crying that I was so pitiful. I cried that I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed; I cried that I wasn’t hungry and that I had no desire to eat. I was alone in my misery for what felt like forever. I determined that I was really bad off because I could neither lift my head nor could I find the strength to eat so I should call my therapist. Isn’t depression the reason I was under her care? I contemplated this for a long time as I huddled under my covers with my cell phone. Eventually, I just did it.

Lynn answered on the second ring and I casually said who it was and then, “I see you’ve returned from your vacation.” She responded, “Yes, just in time for the hurricane.” Small talk out-of-the-way I said, “I called you because I’m really not doing well.”

I haven’t seen Lynn for close to a month due to her 3-week vacation. “Is it something that just came up or has it been building for a while?” asked Lynn.

“Well, I have to tell you, this is a first for me, to call my therapist and talk about how I’m feeling. I have never called for help before but I am really low right now.” I cried that I couldn’t get out of bed, that I wasn’t hungry and that I’m failing my family by not cooking for them, by being distant and isolated and I threw in something about my husband saying I didn’t know how to be intimate.

Then I stopped talking and asked, “Is this a good time for you? I don’t want to keep you from anything.” How stupid of me, as if she could hang up now. I’m just standing on the edge of this cliff but I can wait for you to call me later. In hindsight, that was a “duh” moment. After a brief pause from her, she said she certainly had time for me.

I quickly caught her up to speed about how I went to this “radical forgiveness” workshop to release feelings of self blame. She agreed that was quite a big step for me and when I told her I got overwhelmed with emotions and I couldn’t get away so I went into auto pilot, she asked about the facilitator. I told her I emailed the facilitator and I was reassured that I hadn’t done anything wrong although Lynn said usually a psychologist will tell you what to do in the event things become overpowering. I don’t know what to believe but it’s been 3 weeks since the workshop and I still feel like crap.

One major trigger to my sense of despair could be a book I’m reading because it hits so close to home. Living with your Heart Wide Open is exposing so many open wounds that every chapter is like getting re-traumatized. It’s all about self-criticism and a prevailing sense of unworthiness. I can’t get to the part about self-compassion because I’m busy beating myself up over negative patterns the book says I’ve developed and that I must learn to break.

Lynn asked if I could talk about the one thing that is upsetting me – is it feeling unloved. “Can you tell me how you’re feeling?” I was still buried under my covers and I said, “I don’t know,” while I audibly sobbed.

For me to be without a word is rare; I typically control the ebb and flow of our therapy sessions. Of course, she was trying to figure out what was going on with me and, I’m guessing this response was a red flag that I was depressed and not thinking straight.

Lynn said I must ask my husband to help me. Explain to him how I don’t like to feel a lack of intimacy. I cried that I couldn’t, that he and I were berating each other.

Lynn suggested that I stop reading the book but continue with the mindfulness cd, which has been helping me to fall asleep at night. She said that it sounds like I’m aggressively trying to fix my problem through forcing it. I can’t recall the exact word but she insinuated that I’m trying to direct my healing by micro-managing every piece of it.

She’s absolutely right. I felt as much and it’s backfiring; I’m worse and not better. Self-help groups, self-healing books, yoga and a sense of being broken have exasperated my depression.

Lynn thought I should increase the Celexa to 20 mg (I’m on 10 now). I agreed and I made an appointment for 2 weeks out because of my busy schedule on the weekends.

After hanging up, I whimpered quietly, under the safety of my blankets and soft pillows. In the back of mind I was thinking of the “radical forgiveness” workshop, how emotionally charged it was and I recognized that I never released all of the stuff that was brought to the surface. Intellectually I thought I should have cried but I couldn’t – until today. It was like opening the flood gates! I have not cried in years and, as much as I didn’t like how it took me over, the release was good for me.

Well, I still couldn’t lift my head or consider going down to the kitchen to eat something so I called my husband (who works in his home office). He said he was in the middle of an important presentation (everything is tele-com these days) and he would be done in 15 minutes.

My husband walked in the bedroom and there I was, in bed, crying with my elbow covering my face. I felt so ugly I had to hide but when he asked what was wrong, I spoke. I didn’t retreat inside my shell or tell myself he doesn’t really care (which is a well-worn pattern). Instead I told him I was depressed and I couldn’t get up. He told me just do it for the kids downstairs. I said, “They are enjoying their day off from school and don’t even care where I am.” Husband said, “They know you are not downstairs with them.”

I swore I would never get up and he looked flustered. He was rubbing my arm and telling me nice things that I don’t remember. He leaned down and hugged me and my arms felt limp like spaghetti. I accepted his hug but couldn’t give back. I said I need to eat something and he said he’ll cook and I should pull myself together and come down in 10 minutes. Again, I said I can’t get up and pleaded with him to bring me something. I told him I wanted toast and grits (I’m not southern but I love grits, anyway). He came back and demanded that I sit up but I just couldn’t do it. I made him put the plate and bowl on the bed 3 inches from my mouth and I fed myself as if I were a sick bird or a dying man. Husband went back to work and I sniffled in my bed. With every bite the food tasted better and I gained strength.

How could I have missed that my depression was back? The tell-tale signs are night-waking, lack of appetite and emotionally distant from the family. I misconstrued all of that for necessary paths to inner compassion and mindfulness. This experience highlights how directly my childhood thought patterns correlate to depression. With each day that I focused on my past “stories” my depression grew worse. It’s uncanny.

Next I did the bravest thing of all. I called my mother, from my bed, in a deep depression. I prayed she would pick up and not my step-dad and my prayers were answered. I said, “Hi Mom.” Her quick response, “What is going on, it sounds like you’ve been crying.” I snuffled that I have been crying and went into the whole I can’t get out of bed thing. She asked about my depression, my medications, my therapist and my husband helping me. To the last part I told her, “Husband doesn’t even believe in depression.” She’s known my husband for 3 decades and she said, “Well you should take him to your therapist so he can get educated.”

The reason I called my mom is I’m having extreme guilt that she wants me to host Thanksgiving and I don’t have the energy. I always try to do what is right and please her and I didn’t know how I would manage it this year. My mom recently moved to a retirement home and part of her down-sizing was dispersing things. To me, she handed down a large oriental rug for my dining room and her set of wedding silver. It is all beautiful and generous and I feel so obligated to use it for a family gathering. I told her I can’t host anything because I’m feeling like a failure in everything I do right now.

My mother’s response was better than I hoped because she was thoughtful and caring. She said she would stay at the retirement home for Thanksgiving. She offered to come and help me if I wanted her to. I told her I have so much going on with family, kids, sports, school, and work that if they came down it would be one more thing on my plate.

Then my mom asked me, “How did you get depression?”

I take the plunge and offer full disclosure, “It was caused by childhood trauma. I learned to tell myself things that weren’t true but that allowed me to grow up. I am still stuck in childhood thoughts that I’m not worthwhile or good enough.”

“Oh, honey,” she lovingly responds.

I reassure her, “It’s nobody’s fault, not my parents or my brothers; it’s just how things happened.” I stumble with words and say, “I learned to tell myself I wasn’t worth it.”

I tell her not to worry about me, that I will be okay. This is when she told me something that broke my heart in a good way.

My mom said, “I will worry about you every minute of every day. You know you are my favorite child.”

I quickly deflected her kind words by saying, “All of your children are your favorites.” But, I heard love and caring in her words. We said good-bye and I love you and when I hung up, I retreated back under my covers to cry some more. But, this time I was crying because my mom and I connected on a deep level. I was touched that she said I was her favorite child. Never in a million years did I ever think she would tell me that. I’ve got brothers who are successful, talented, intelligent and relate to my mom on an intellectual level where as, I fall short on all of those things that are important to my mom. Perhaps those thoughts could be part of the “stories” of my childhood that I made up and learned to believe. I just heard with my own ears that my mom thinks I’m special. I will try to hold on to that and use this silver lining to my advantage.

I slept after the phone call with my mother and awoke ready to get out of bed around 3 pm. The news stations cautioned that no one should be out on the roads so I was securely stuck in my home. We lost electricity around 4:30 pm and darkness set in. My husband set up our generator and so we have a few lights, heat, water and the refrigerator working, plus we have internet. I sit here typing and uploading to Word Press via backup generator. It’s nice to feel removed from outside forces after completely breaking down today. It looks like I have work tomorrow although many schools are closed for another day. I best listen to Lynn who said I must eat and get a good night’s sleep. The increase in my antidepressant will take a while to kick in. I’m hopeful because I do respond well to SSRI’s.

Daylily

Aside

A succinct post is in order due to my limiting sense of self-disclosure.  I’m struggling with inner-demons and can’t reach out to my followers. The basic issue I’m dealing with is self-forgiveness.  About 2 weeks ago I took a women’s … Continue reading

Survivor challenges her therapist

My stomach was turning and my chest was jittery on the drive to my therapist’s office. I thought this must be symptomatic of a physical ailment like migraine or menstruation. Except my earlier headache had disappeared with 2 ibuprofen and my period had not really begun. Then it hit me… This is pure adrenalin from fear and anxiety. I was scared to confront Lynn about our patient/therapist connection but I felt that I must. In order to move past my sense of defenselessness I needed to express myself; it was the only way to have a productive session.

I believed Lynn didn’t care about me as an individual. Our sessions lacked a supportive atmosphere. I felt judged for failing to not drink because she inevitably brought it up at every session. Her mission appeared to be cure quickly and be done with me. Inside myself, I believe there is a reason for my drinking and I have to work on that piece of me in order to live/cope in this world without alcohol.  It is not as simple as AA or willpower.

“How have you been doing with the drinking?” She would ask. “Are you taking Klonopin when you drink?”

I always answer truthfully, Yes, I’ve been drinking and Yes, I take one klonopin pill at bedtime.

Every session feels as if there is a mirror up to my face and I get a ten-fold feeling of disappointment in my resolve. As a bonus, I  experience the displeasure of my therapist.

I admit I’m disappointed in myself and I have psyched myself up to tell Lynn that I don’t need to feel her frustration, too.

————————

“How are you?” is how she always begins our sessions.

I have anxiety. I’m not feeling well.

Lynn asks, “Is it because you don’t want to be here?”

“Yes” I agree, “I wanted to cancel.”

She smiles because her guess was right. She asks if it was the way our last session ended, with me talking about my marital relationship. She presumes that is what triggered my anxiety.

“No, I feel like you are focusing solely on the alcohol. Like I should wave a magic wand and stop drinking. I feel judged that I’m not doing that.”

But, I consider her question about whether I am protective after a disclosure about my marriage. Could that be my issue? She is the therapist and maybe she knows more than me.

I tell her,”I don’t know what the issue is really. Maybe it’s my relationships.  Last time I talked about transference but maybe I meant projecting.” I explain to Lynn I don’t know what is real and what I’m projecting onto others.

Lynn openly tells me she is not sure what I want.  “The first day of therapy you came in saying no incest/past Courage to Heal stuff, you’ve already worked on that.”

She says, “You keep one foot out the door. I’m not sure where we are going. You orchestrate the conversation.”

“Did you have these issues of not being able to feel comfortable coming to therapy with other therapist?” Lynn asks.

I think to myself, I may not be giving off a clear signal and that does make it hard for others.

“No, I never felt this apprehensive for such a long time.”  I admit that I’m not feeling supported. I say, “I don’t know if the relationship is hard for you and you don’t want to work on it.”

Lynn says she has never felt she can’t work with a patient’s issues.

Then I disclose a private feeling that bridges the distance.

“I’ve never been to a therapist and talked specifically about drinking as my coping mechanism. I am in new territory and it is easier for me to blame you, my therapist, or my husband, than me, the person that must make the changes. I am cognizant that this is my “final frontier.”

[If I learn to live without alcohol, I will open a new chapter after 49 years, where I can accept myself without escaping with alcohol.]

I sit on Lynn’s couch and listen to her talk to me. Lynn admits that the greatest percentage of patients that leave her practice do so because of alcohol dependency. This disclosure interests me because I am about to be one of the statistics that run when the going gets rough. But, I admit, and tell her “One thing I do is stick to something I commit to.”  She shares something about herself that I already know, “I am straightforward and shoot from the hip.”

Somehow, and I don’t know what words I use, but I ask if she wants to work with me. Lynn re-words my thoughts, “Do you mean Am I invested in you?”

Lynn tells me, “You are unique because you sit before me trying to work this out. Many patients have left by now.” Her words relax me. I know what I’m doing is the hard shit. Working on changing my thoughts so that I don’t need to drink is an area where I need help. I drink because I hate myself. I feel shame and unworthiness. It is hard to reach out to another and talk about this stuff!   But — if I am to heal I must talk about it. My goal is to live in the present but in order to find enjoyment in the now I must see why I live on a daily basis with self-defeating thoughts.

Lynn asks if I read the Courage to Heal while in therapy. I say that I did. She replies, “I have used that book in group therapy situations.”   I tell her I think my issue is no longer the incest/sexual abuse or my brother but the thoughts that I develop that repeatedly tell me I’m not good enough. I need to let go of the past and learn to live in the moment. I mentioned the new book I’m reading about mindfulness and tell Lynn I’ve not had a drink for a week and between that and meditation at night, I have slept well and I feel good.

Lynn praises me and asks, “What is one good quality you see in yourself?”

My answer, “Right now I cannot think of any.”

She smiles and says,There are more than one but for next time I want you to come up with one thing you like about yourself.”

I was a blank slate. No ideas. Nothing. It was enough that I expressed my inadequacies to her. No way could I think of a positive.

The conversation flowed freely and ultimately, I trust that she could be the therapist that helps me along this most difficult journey to wholeness.

Trust is a tricky thing for a survivor of sexual abuse who was raised by a narcissistic mother.  ♥Daylily