Archive for the ‘therapy’ Category

of graduates and emptier nests

I now have two…count ’em…one, TWO…daughters who have graduated high school. The remaining daughter (my baby) will be a sophomore in September and that means I am blessed to stave off a completely empty nest for three more years.

I count that as a blessing because my daughters are exceptional. I know this because I am not the only person who says that. My daughters are intelligent, well spoken, articulate – nodding to Susie ūüėČ – caring, compassionate, funny and loving young women. I told my two youngest daughters a few days ago that I could live with them. As adults. Really. I enjoy their company. I know they need to find their ways however, if it came down to it, I really could. In reply they told me the same with one slight difference. They could not live with their step-father. My first thought was how much I totally get that.

Enough about my daughters, this is about me. It’s ALL about me. Heh.

As I watched my second child perform on the theater stage and then walk across that same stage a bit later to receive her diploma, I was in awe of her. A friend who was there leaned over and said “OMG, it’s like looking at YOU up there!” Yes, my daughters do look like me. It is odd sometimes. I am in awe of this girl who was the answer to a prayer. She was the beautiful gift at the end of 13 months of fertility issues and treatment. Now as she enters what she refers to as “pretend adulthood”, I wonder what I will do. Yes, I have one more daughter in school. Yes, she was also the answer to a prayer. A gift at the end of months of fertility issues. I wasn’t completely sure I wanted her until I saw her being born. The minute our eyes met I knew it was meant to be. I thought “There you are!” and my heart was hers. It will be three more years before I write of her graduation and yet, I know it’s coming.

My introspection is ongoing. I wonder why alot. I am trying to focus on the what of it all right now. What do I want? What do I have to do to make whatever that turns out to be happen. A therapist I once had told me that I was all about mothering and he wondered what I would do when that mothering was no longer my main occupation. I told him I had plans for when my children were grown. I did. Have plans. Now, I’m not so sure what I want to do next. Plans change. Interests change. Life changes.

I am 42 years old and I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.

So, what do I do to figure that out? I want to go to school. I don’t what for. I don’t even know that I can afford to go. I just know I want to. There was a time when I wanted to deliver babies. I was going to finish nursing school and apply to midwifery school. We have a great school in this neck of the woods. Now, I’m older and I have no desire to have my life run by the likes of a newborn. Heehee… I do have an interest in nursing and all things medical but do I want to do that forever? I’d definitely have a good paying job when I was finished with school.

I have an affinity for children. I totally “get” them. My heart hurts for those children who have no one to care for them, or advocate for them, or listen to them. I have a friend who is building a center for hospice care and counseling of families that is a bit different than any other place in our area. The thought of working there fills me with something I can’t quite describe. There are so many things that interest me. I’m good at alot of them. Is it weird to say that? It feels weird to acknowledge that. I just feel like there is so much more to my life that I haven’t figured out yet.

I wrote awhile ago of not living like my mother. Those weren’t just words to me. I meant them. With every single fiber of my being. I do not want to sit in my chair in front of my big screen t.v. and wait for life to happen to me. Although…that chair is so comforting. While I sit there, I don’t have to think, or feel, or worry, or plan, or figure out anything. I can simply…be. I want to throw out my chair. I want to get rid of the furniture so I can no longer sit on my ass while the world goes by. I want to write and sing and travel and feel…and yet, feeling is so foreign to me.

I watch as people are angry, sad, happy, excited, funny, whatever and I think “What does that feel like? What is it like to feel something and not shut it down or off?” How do people figure out what fills them? How do they know when they are doing something they love? Or even like? I did figure out today that I hate my job. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t hate my job. I just hate that I am still doing it here. With this woman who has one of the most difficult reputations in the place I work. If I can work with her, I can work with anyone. I know this. The job fiasco that is occurring at my place of employment is unsettling and at the same time, freeing. I will have a job. The where is the question apparently. I’m scared. It’s unknown. But I’m ready to get on with it already. I just want to do it and move on. It’s time.

What to do. I haven’t a clue. I don’t even really know how to figure out the “What”. It seems odd to me that I don’t. No wonder my newly graduated from high school daughter said “I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what I want to do.” I keep telling her she’ll figure it out. I hope I’m right. For both our sakes.

run

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…

weirdness alert

I have been told at different points in my life that I have a penchant for the dramatic. Now there are times when it is a good and acceptable thing and there are times when it is not good or acceptable. I have been declared dramatic by those who appreciate it and those who, for lack of a better explanation, only want to belittle me and make me feel ‘less than’ whatever it is they need to¬†feel ‘more than’.

This will probably be one of those times for many who visit here. I am not writing this for counsel or sympathy or the dramatic value. I am writing this because I need to get it out of my head today, right now, this minute. Once I do, I will quite reasonably make an appointment with one of the two therapists I’ve decided to meet with before making a choice between them. I am ‘giving it to the universe’ and hoping that by doing so, I will feel a bit of much needed calm and give my tensed up shoulders a bit of relief as well.

I used to cut myself. I do not cut myself anymore and haven’t for oh, 12 years at least. Yes, I know it’s a symptom of some very serious issues. Yes, I understand it’s not a good thing. Yes, I did get therapy and treatment. Yes, I did stop the behavior and continue to heal my inside as well as my outside.

Now, and in the past week, I have felt a compelling urge to stab my arms. I know. It is not good. I won’t do it. It is however the first time in all these years that I have entertained the thought. For even a brief moment. That worries me. A lot.

Now that I’ve written this down, I’m off to make a phone call or two. Peace.

massage

I’d never gotten a massage in my life until my 33rd birthday. A friend gave it to me as a gift and it was alright I guess but I didn’t get another one until a few years later after I had medical insurance that paid for them. During that second massage I had the almost uncontrollable urge to jump up off the table and run screaming from the place. The lady was nice enough but I just didn’t like it. The sounds, the smells, the atmosphere…and, when I went home, I cried and cried for hours. I felt sick to my stomach and totally creeped out. I never went back.

Three years ago I received a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas. I was glad to get it but so nervous about going that I didn’t make the appointment for almost four months. When I did finally go, the young woman who provided the massage was very nice but again I was so creeped out by the sounds she made and the atmosphere in the place that I could barely stay. I stuck it out with the aid of some deep breathing techniques I know and when it was over, I practically ran from the place. It was all I could do not to throw up out in the street.

Fast forward to February of this year when my husband was involved in a three car accident. He wasn’t at fault but he certainly was on the bad end of some injuries to his back. Whiplash added to it all made it worse and he’s retained an attorney and been seeing a chiropractor, K, and an acupuncturist, B, and a deep tissue massage therapist, S, since early March. These women share an office and the improvement of his injuries is slow but phenomenal. After his second or third visit to S, he told her about the severe pain issues I have. She told him she thought she could help me and after talking about it, I decided I’d give it a shot. I was very nervous but went anyway.

S was very nice and for some reason I didn’t feel creeped out. I’d never had a deep tissue massage before and omg, it hurt. But she addressed the severe pain at the base of my skull and I was able to sleep that night without waking for the first time in a long time. The second time I saw S, I told her it was the first time I’d ever seen a massage therapist more than once and it wasn’t creepy and awful. We talked about my experiences with massage and I have been getting a massage almost weekly since.

Yesterday was my regular appointment with S. Prior to my appointment I saw K, the chiropractor. I have been dealing with extreme pain issues for quite some time and these two women are doing their best to help me with them. After a particularly difficult adjustment yesterday, K asked if I’d ever seen an acupuncturist. I said I hadn’t and she suggested that perhaps this kind of treatment would be beneficial to me. I said the thought of it made me nervous but if she thought it might help, I’d give it a try. We walked down the hall to see B. S was down there chatting with her and as K mentioned my issues and an appointment, S piped in with “It can’t hurt because I am certainly not helping her any.”

Her words surprised me because I’ve gone from not sleeping well, thanks to the horrific pain at the base of my skull, to being able to sleep most nights (save one or two a week) without the pain or at least with considerably less pain. That is huge to me so I didn’t understand her comment at all. When my massage appointment time arrived, I asked about her comment and she told me that by her criteria – range of motion etc – I was not improving and she didn’t understand why I continued to see her. She said that after I’d left earlier (after speaking with B) she and B had talked about why she thought I’d not improved. S mentioned the part about me not being able to stand being touched and B said “Well that’s improvement.” So S decided that perhaps she was being too hard on herself.

***TRIGGER ALERT*** (if you have trauma issues, stop reading now ok?)

Then she said she wanted to ask me a very personal question and began telling me a story from her childhood. She said “When I was 6 years old, my parents hired a babysitter for me and my younger brother. This boy was 16 and he was the son of a deacon in our church. When my parents left, this boy asked me if I knew how to make a sandwich (and she drew out the last sound of that word in a way that was quite creepy sounding). I said ‘no’ and he said ‘First we need two pieces of bread, then you will be the meat and I will make the mayonnaise’.” (here she asked me ‘do you understand what I mean?’) I said “Yes, I get it” and she continued “this boy made mayonnaise on me and to this day I cannot stand to be touched where he did that. My parents insisted he couldn’t possibly have done anything like what I said he did because he was the deacon’s son and it just couldn’t happen, so this boy hurt me and my brother for three years while our parents were out and about doing whatever it is they did.”

I said “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” and she asked “Did anything like that happen to you? I have a feeling this pain we’ve been working on is more than just physical…” I thought for a few moments and said “My grandfather began raping me with metal hangers when I was six months old and…” here S gasped and said “Ohmygod!” I continued “…that’s all I’m saying.” S stopped moving completely and said “Well, I didn’t expect that but it makes perfect sense now. No wonder you don’t like being touched, you’re a victim. I hope you aren’t ashamed of what happened to you because it’s not your fault and you should tell B about this when you see her…” there was more but I stopped her and said “First of all, I’m not a victim. Second of all, I’ve spent 14 years in therapy so I wouldn’t be ashamed of what my grandfather did and third, I’ll decide whether I want to talk to B about this or not when I get there.”

She literally let out a laugh and said “Good for you! I guess you told me didn’t you?” There was more however she ended with “I think you’ll be surprised at how much B’s treatment will help you. I’m honored that you trust me enough to do this and now I get why you think it’s helping you…”

Since arriving home yesterday from my appointment, I have felt very unsettled and it pisses me off. I don’t want to go back there now but the pain relief and management I get from my treatments there are so helpful, it would be more than stupid not to. Oy.

*gah*

can I just say

Looking for a new therapist completely and totally sucks big time?

First, there’s the referrals. I appreciate them a great deal and have gotten several.

Then there’s the phone calls.

And then checking with my insurance company to see if this person is covered under my plan.

On top of all that, there’s the grief. Real, honest-to-god grief over the loss of my relationship with my ‘old’ therapist.

Have I mentioned this sucks?

*sigh*

out of the ashes

I’ve written here recently about the¬†issues with my therapist.¬†

Last night I *rewrote* the ending to this particular relationship. It was hard to do. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. For me. And for her, I think.

Two weeks ago, I left her office after throwing up in her bathroom. I told her I couldn’t see how I had anything else to say to her that would be useful to me. I cried for days. (yea, again with the crying…it’s probably better than keeping it all in)¬† Later in the week, I sent her an email. It went something like this:

“I felt like a little girl when I left your office. I felt abandoned and lost and now I’m angry with you. REALLY angry with you. I feel like there is so much more I¬† need to say to you and I’m angry that I feel that way…”

You get the idea. She replied so kindly and told me she was available to help me process this mess in whatever way I needed to. I set an appointment with her for last night. I had to call two friends just to get out of the car when I got there. It was hard. It was important.

I’d written a list of the things I felt I needed to say. And put it in my back pocket. Just in case. I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to do anything the same way I ordinarily would while there. I sat in a different spot on the couch. I didn’t pick up the pillow I ordinarily would pick up. I was determined to leave that room feeling like an adult who’d made a good choice for myself. I did just that.

I told her the past two weeks had been very hard and that I’d left her office feeling very small the last time. I then said “I don’t know for sure what you know about a few things I need you to know about so I’m going to talk right now like you don’t know and just go from there. I’ve thought alot about this and I’ve decided I’m just going to tell you what I think, what I know and then what I’m going to do.

I think you feel as badly about this mess as I do. I think you really don’t know how to help me anymore and that’s ok. I know there are some issues that it’s time for me to address and I know the last two times I’ve attempted to open the door on those issues, you’ve told me you’re at a loss. That’s ok too. I won’t be coming back here after today however I want you to know that I believe you are good at what you do. I know I’ve learned alot from you and I know it’s time for me to find someone who can assist me in the next phase of this process.”

There was more but when I was finished I said “And that’s all I have to say so I think I’ll go home now.” I’d been there for half an hour. I didn’t cry. I was in my very adult place. Sarah said “I don’t think I could possibly add another thing to what you’ve said because you said it all so beautifully. Not many people would or could come back here and make something good out of something that was so bad. I feel like you’ve given us both a gift tonight and I appreciate that so much. I know you left last time feeling terrible and it didn’t feel to great on this end either because I really do want what’s best for you.”

She asked if I wanted her help finding a new therapist. I said “I don’t know, what does that look like?” She explained that she’d make some calls and ask some questions and get back to me with a few names and numbers. I told her I’d appreciate that and there were a couple other people I know in the field that were doing the same thing for me. I mentioned that it¬†couldn’t possibly be a bad thing to have more than one place to start.

When I got back in my car, I started¬†shaking and I spent alot of the evening with tears in my eyes. Not crying really. Just thinking. I didn’t sleep too great but it’s ok and it will be even more ok as I process all this. I called the two friends I’d called when trying to get out of the car and chatted a bit. Then I went and bought ice cream. Very. Chocolatey. Ice. Cream.

So…the journey continues…on we go…

Peace.