Sometimes the most obvious gets missed.  I most definitely care about you and about what happens to you.”

These words were written by my former therapist, Sarah. To me. Just a few days ago. Um, yea. Wow. They’ve stuck with me, rolled around in my heart and opened the door to some self reflection that I’ve been avoiding for some time. Good times.

See, here’s how I deal with things; or don’t deal with them, take your pick. When the going gets tough, the tough get going…or the not so tough get running. Away. As in “fa, a long, long way to run, so, a needle pulling thread, la, a note to follow so…” You’re getting the picture I’m sure. I’m a runner. And I don’t mean in the get healthy, marathon kind of way either. I disappear. I dissociate. I ignore. I sleep. I eat. I read. I play. I avoid. I pretend. I stop. Talking. Doing. Sleeping. Functioning. Sometimes for a long time. It’s not that I want to do this. It’s that I don’t realize I’m doing it. It’s my coping mechanism. It’s been learned through my life experience. It’s getting unlearned through my life experience as well. Turns out the unlearning part is hard. Really. Hard.

I wonder sometimes if the unlearning is actually harder than the learning was. Now that’s saying something because, trust me, the learning part was no fun at all. Here I am, though, an adult woman with three almost grown children and I’m unlearning alot of things. Sometimes I’m unlearning the same things over and over again because well, I’m slow like that.

I’ve not had a therapist for 10 months now. For the first several weeks, I thought I needed to find another one fast. For the months that came after that, I was comfortable with the stillness; the quiet that went with not talking. I think I needed it. Since February, I’ve known it was time to find a therapist and have quite simply avoided it like the plague. Finally a few weeks ago, I made the choice and put myself on the waiting list of the woman I decided to go with. Whether I end up there or not remains to be seen. Today I am comfortable with waiting. Who knows what the future will bring.

I’ve been having some serious anxiety issues recently. Over the weekend, I had a particularly severe anxiety attack and it was real work to remember how to deal with it. I have breathing exercises and some other stuff that I’ve learned over the years and managed alright. I did end up writing a few emails however. One of them was to the above mentioned therapist. It felt grounding to touch base with her. Just writing the words and sending them helped me get to sleep.

I received a reply from Sarah after the weekend was over. It was sweet. She told me she had faith in my ability to get through whatever I was dealing with. I was instantly so pissed off I just wanted to scream. If I’d been anywhere but at work, I might have. I wrote some extremely angry things in reply. And deleted them. I decided not to reply at all and then thought “fuck it” and wrote: “Geez, Sarah, can you just once tell me you care about me and what happens to me”…Her reply, or part of it, is quoted above.

It is difficult to explain how seeing those words from her affected me. I wonder if I’d heard them before would my therapeutic journey have taken a different course? Would I have felt capable of opening myself up to her in a different, perhaps more honest, way? When she said “I just don’t understand what we’re working on here” would I have been capable of putting into words the thoughts and feelings that were pouring through me upon learning that my dad’s dad was a pedophile and had raped his youngest daughter?  I think probably not.

I’m learning with more certainty every day that I cannot always articulate what is going on inside my heart and head immediately. Often times when I feel the pressure of needing to do just that, I pull out that old standby coping mechanism and I run. I put as much distance between me and the pressure as possible. The distance can often be measured by the number of bridges I burn, doors I close, relationships I shut myself off from. I feel too vulnerable; too exposed; too scared and I run. I run from what I don’t want to see or hear or learn.

So, did I run from a therapeutic relationship that put me on the spot when I wasn’t quite ready or did I move on because it was time to find another path? I’d like to say it was time to move on however I know how I am when it comes to making big choices or decisions. I do it sometimes but my preferred m.o. is to have the choice or decision made for me. Once that first major hurdle is over, I usually get moving and do what needs to be done. Making that first move is a tough one for me. I am often paralyzed by the mere thought of it.

Just writing that sentence made me think of my mom. I’ve spent alot of my adulthood wondering just why my mom did or didn’t do certain things. I bet she felt that paralysis alot. I’m almost sure of it now that I’ve written the words. Ohgod. I do not want my life to end up like hers. I’ve spent my life purposely doing most things exactly the opposite of how my mother did them because I didn’t want to be like her and now look at me…running like she did. I’ve never put two and two together before now. I am sick to my stomach with the thought of it. OhwowOhgod…

Aha moments sometimes suck. I’ve spent several days with this piece of writing and only just now did it come together in my head. Some of what’s been working it’s way up has arrived. With clarity. Ok, perhaps not quite clarity but a foggy sense of rightness…


6 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. This seems big. I’m here with you, Twinnie.


  2. Me, too. I’m here. Please don’t judge my friend, Traci, for how she’s doing this. She’s doing fine. And she will be finer.

    Oh, honey. I wish I could give you a big hug, or a big whatever you’d like. And may I say, OH HELL YES, the unlearning is harder than the learning. The learning is done on autopilot, a reaction to stimulus. There is nothing automatic about the unlearning. It’s just hard work. But the paycheck is huge.


  3. Posted by scribbleandscribe on Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 9:08 am

    to learn this of yourself on your own should be honored. It’s harder than having help through it.
    You are fine my friend. You have worked this to the surface on your own. Stronger than you even realize. What strength you have shown all your life.
    The need to escape is there for many of us.
    A friend described that she imagines a blue light surrounding her when she wanted to run, she called the light to surround her. I don’t know about all that but I do think that whatever it takes to bring get you through is what you should do.
    I care, I’m not always good about visiting, but I consider you a lovely, loving, real friend.


  4. These Aha moments are often filled with such difficult thoughts and emotions.


  5. Caribbean says : I absolutely agree with this !


  6. Wow, I never realized that in it’s entirety before Traci. HugsHugsHugs That’s one of those clues for me. Duh!

    You are such a tenderheart & fragile spirit.


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