Self Study

I should probably call this “Studying My Self.” I’ve been in therapy for 32 years. Off and on. More on than off, but there were some short periods when it wasn’t possible. Therapy is basically the study of self.

I’ve learned a lot, and therapy has helped me put some demons to rest that were the result of a messy childhood and adolescence. It has been very valuable.

I tried to cope with all the crap in my head by drinking to excess. That did not work, and I eventually had to get help to quit drinking. AA taught me well, but it did nothing for the demons. Therapy helped me unmask those and take their power away. After 19 years of sobriety and 32 years of therapy, I can honestly say I never think about drinking. During the pain of the break up last summer, drinking never once crossed my mind. I’m grateful that’s over.

I saw my ex yesterday, and it brought up a lot of emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. I had therapy this morning and was able to talk about them.

Last week, my therapist recommended a book that I bought and devoured: Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin. I highly recommend it. It talks some about the biochemical processes that happen during dating, but the bulk of the book is about how we attach to people in our lives. I learned a lot about my way of attaching, and I was able to see my ex’s way, too.

In therapy this morning, I was able to see how I had triggered my ex, even though that was not my intention. I was also able to practice some ways of saying things that won’t be as triggering.

I was also able to see that I tend to get very hot in the early stages of the relationship, and that might scare a partner. Since my ex and I are talking again, I’ll get to practice moving slowly. We’ll see what happens. It might work out; it might not. I can’t predict.

I am really grateful to have my best friend who reminded me yesterday that emotions aren’t permanent. I’m grateful to have a good therapist who helped me work through how I can trigger other people. I’m grateful to have meditation that lets me release so much fear. I’m grateful for all my tools.

I’m grateful for you readers. I’ve had some comments in the past few weeks, and it really is nice to know that a few people really connect with some of the stuff that gets written here. Thank you.

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Reflecting

I had a number of really unpleasant days recently, and then yesterday morning, I woke up feeling good. The change was literally overnight. What happened? I wish I knew the answer so I could bottle it and sell it.

Here’s what I know.

While I was feeling down, I concentrated on the certainty that it was temporary. I was positive the negative feelings would pass, and they did.

In the middle of that malaise, I continued to use the tools I have to help myself feel better. I got extra help from my therapist. I used the medication I have been prescribed as directed. I continued my daily meditation routine. I ate well. I got as much good sleep as possible. I continued exercising. Basically, I continued doing the things that I know work for me.

I didn’t sugar coat anything. I was hurting, and I didn’t lie to myself pretending I felt good. I allowed the pain to have its space all the while knowing it would pass. The pain was not permanent. I was sure of that. I didn’t lie to my friends either. When asked, I told them the truth. To strangers who asked, I lied. I see no contradiction in that. It’s healthy to maintain boundaries with people. Strangers don’t need to know the details of my life.

It’s quite possible one of the reasons I woke up feeling good was that I did the work to process the memories that made me feel bad. I did that in therapy and by reaching out to a trusted person whom I could share the details with. I let it all come out in therapy, and I told the trusted person the reasons for the pain. I have learned after many decades in therapy that when I share the pain or fear, it loses its power.

That’s it. There’s no magic. I maintained my routine and kept walking through the stuff. I kept walking. One footstep at a time.

Grieving the Past

A lot happened in my life that was unpleasant. Some of it was traumatic and caused me lasting harm. I don’t know why it’s happening now, but the emotions surrounding some core issues are surfacing for me.

I was able to get an extra session with my therapist, and he helped enormously. He reminded me the pain is in the past. I’m OK right now. I repeat I’m OK right now. Writing that helped me just now, too.

I’m grieving the pain from the past. It hurts now, but the grief will end. I know it will end.

The immediate manifestation of all this emotion is a strong desire to call my ex. He’s my ex for a reason, and calling him would only lead to heartache, but that doesn’t change the desire. It’s really strong.

Meditation helps. Therapy helped. I’ve been using medication as prescribed. It was pouring rain this morning, so no walk. I didn’t sleep enough last night, and that’s a problem. My diet is normal. I’m doing the things I need to to stay well.

I’m OK right now. And that’s all I’ve got.

Still Dreaming

In my last post, I mentioned I like to dream. I’m still dreaming, and it’s delicious. I’m eating it up. When I meditate, I spend extra time doing a grounding technique, because my mind is flying. Must keep my feet on the ground.

I told my therapist I was angry at him, and he immediately replied that he wasn’t surprised. My previous session had been a difficult one. I said what I wanted to say, and then we moved on to other topics.

I told him I wanted him to grade me. I have no way of telling how I’m doing. He’s thinking about an answer. I told him I want to hear what I’m doing well at and what needs improvement.

He immediately told me something helpful. He said I could improve the way I talk to myself by not using language that induces anxiety, and we came up with a good mantra to use with myself. At times of stress, I say, “I handle this with equanimity.” It’s a way to tell myself that I’m capable of handling a difficult situation and not freaking out about it.

I had a difficult situation last week, and it made my anxiety skyrocket. Anxiety is my most debilitating symptom these days. I’ve talked to him about it at every session. Every suggestion helps, and I’m grateful to learn this new one.

So far today, my dreams are delightful. No reason – yet – to use my new mantra.

Staying Grounded

I like to dream. I like it a lot. I have dreams about what I want in my life, and sometimes I get carried away with it.

I’m dreaming about something right now, and I’m letting the dreams soar. It’s harmless fun, but I can feel the edge of the dream. It feels a bit much. It borders on mania, which is not where I want to be.

So, I’m concentrating on work. I had a good speed walk this morning. I’m thinking about what I’m going to say to my therapist tomorrow. I was dissatisfied with my last session, and I’m going to tell him. I’ve been in therapy for 30 years, so I have no anxiety about confronting a therapist. He’s very good. We’ll talk and get through it.

I’m using grounding techniques, too. I’m concentrating on exactly what’s going on around me. The sights and sounds keep me in the present and out of my head.

My head. It does me a lot of good. It works well except when it doesn’t. It’s been working pretty well for quite a few years now, but I have to keep it in check. It’s dangerous for me to let it get too low or too high. It’s no fun having to be diligent and on guard.

A Rough Week

I’ve had a rough week. I got some unexpected bad news at work that really threw me for a loop, and it caused my anxiety to skyrocket. I’m extremely lucky that I work at a place with generous understanding of mental health issues, so I took off a day and half to recuperate. I really needed it.

I used the tools I have to get through the difficulty. I took the medicine the doctors gave me to help exactly at times like this. It really worked. It didn’t solve the problem, but it helped.

I also called and got an extra appointment with my psychologist. He had an opening, so I was able to get in. He was not mild with me, and I plan to tell him that I think some of his responses were inappropriate when I see him next week. I feel like I should be allowed to grieve for the problem at work, and he’s not giving me space to do that. He wants an immediate shift into the solution, and I want to grieve first. I know that sounds like I want to wallow in the problem, but dammit, if I want to wallow, it’s my wallowing. I get to own that wallowing. I get to feel it the whole way through. No one gets to tell me to “get over it.” I get to decide that for myself.

I meditated, and that helped. Again, it didn’t solve the problem, but I felt better doing it.

Walking helped, too. It got me out of my house and into the fresh air.

Now, I need a dog. It’s a dream.

sigh

I feel awful today.

I’m grieving, and I’m not being kind to myself about it.

I have therapy tonight thankfully. I’ve got lots of notes to talk about. I take notes in my phone for my therapy sessions so I don’t have to try to remember everything. I’m going to talk about these feelings.

I meditated this morning, and I got some exercise.

Grief is not fun.