The world has changed, but I’m the same old mess I’ve always been

I’d like to be that woman who rises up in the midst of crises like, for example, a global pandemic or something, and in a calm, measured manner, organizes meaningful efforts to help others. Like my friend who pulled together a big circle of people (virtually, not physically) to write notes and cards to isolated seniors. Or the woman in my town who is sewing hundreds of face masks for the neighborhood she lives in.

But no, I’m not that woman. Instead, I’m the woman who eats tortilla chips for lunch. I’m the one who plays stupid games on her phone rather than reading a book. I’m the one who goes into her room and crawls in bed in the afternoon because she doesn’t have any more patience to listen to her autistic son read her COVID-19 memes off Facebook.

And I’m the woman who has the same old difficulties feeling connected to her therapist, whether in-person or via video conferencing.

This is such a recurring story between E and me. It’s tiring to repeat it, over and over. I mean, this time it’s not that heart-wrenching sense of life-and-death, thank goodness. I don’t think I have the emotional reserves for that right now. It’s a somewhat lower-level repetition of this basic pattern:

I want her to see me and care for me.

I tell her something. She responds.

Her response feels off. I feel unseen, uncared for.

I feel lousy, alone, awkward, or just wrong.

In my next session, I struggle to tell her what I really mean, or what I need.

She acknowledges and appreciates my efforts to communicate.

Things seem better, and I feel closer to her.

Then the next session or so, we start it all over again.

I mean really, why do I keep doing this? Am I testing her commitment to me? Am I not doing a good job communicating what I need the first time? Is she not paying attention?

Or more importantly, since it doesn’t feel like this pattern nourishes my growth, is there a way to break out of it?

20 comments

  1. First, Q, it’s a pandemic! All of you have to do is try to survive it – even if that looks like eating chips for lunch and crawling in to bed to avoid family. I’m with you, I hide from my kids in the bathroom, and I had crackers and celery for lunch. I read 10 pages of a book and felt like. Genius 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • But as for the other thing with E – how long a pattern has this been? My T and I got stuck there for a year. We were just on the other side when COVID struck. I spent literally all of last year shifting everything I could about the frame and the conversation and the nature of it all, racking up a long complaint list that grew and grew about how let down I was, how stuck…. until shit hit the fan in session and she just no longer knew what to do with me, or trust that I’d let her reach me. It was the catalyst, but it was so heartbreaking for me to really face the need to be cared for, and accept her care for what it is — and that the deficit in care is not her fault, or responsibility. I don’t know if any of that resonates – but I wish you a lot of peace in working through it!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey slantgirl, I’m really giving a lot of thought to this response. If I understand it right, it would mean something like this: I need to feel cared for. My need is probably pretty big, for reasons that go back decades. That’s okay, allowable, not shameful. And E cares for me, but in the way she can or is willing to, not necessarily in the way I want or even need. The gap between what I need and what she gives is hard on me but it’s not it’s not because she’s bad or mean or wrong.

        This is a lot like what I wrote about last summer (some post with a bear in it, I remember–the bear symbolizing my rage and frustration). At the time I felt like I really got it, that It was okay to want more, it was okay for her not to give it, and it was even okay for me to be unhappy about that. I guess I do still believe that.

        And yet… we continue to go in these same circles. Or I do, I guess. Maybe I’m just SAYING that I get it, but I’m not really okay with her limits. Or perhaps I’m not providing enough support or comfort to the young part that is still disappointed and grieving?

        Like

      • Hey Q — I went back and read those posts. I love that thing about the bear, and that anger. They feel so familiar to me, as does this gap you’re describing, between what you feel and need. And also, maybe, your anger around it, which is percolating as frustration and sadness and feeling let down. Or maybe distant? How do you feel now about the texting, more than a year later? Did it ever feel resolved for you, to have that taken away?

        Like

      • Nope, never fully resolved. That is, I am more used to it, but I still miss it, and I am still hurt that 1) she got worn out by it and 2) she let me know in such a thoughtless fashion. #2 especially–I actually deserved better. There are days when I feel I have come to terms with it, and then there are days when I think I never will.

        Like

    • Haha lost little fairy. I have asked this more than once too! slantgirl is so wise it’s such a shame there isn’t a blog to go to (no pressure slantgirl, just always glad when you do make an appearance 🤗)

      Like

    • You are all too lovely! I don’t have a blog, and am unlikely to start one — I have much too much going on on social media already! I am really glad that you ll blog, though — it has completely transformed my therapy to find other people who struggle as I do. I am just glad you let me hang out — i feel quite selfish, actually, not sharing more of my own story, given how much I enjoy reading yours. I have had an experience here where someone felt I overstepped in giving a comment — so much so that she shut down her entire blog afterwards. So I try to comment with care, and usually with a little trepidation — I would hate to say something hurtful. Actually, @lovingsummer, I have worked about that with you as a lot as your frank style of writing brings out some bluntness and playfulness in me and I’m always worried that I will offend! It’s s hard to read tone on the internet. Anyway, much love and courage to you all! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • I always value your comments and have never felt you overstepped. I appreciate people sharing their honest opinions (well, maybe not if the opinion is “you suck…” but otherwise, I’m up for new ideas).

        Like

    • Hi little fairy. I’m working on the not beating myself up part. I thought I was getting past that, but under stress it seems to have popped up again. More opportunity to practice, I guess!

      Like

  2. Another voice to say I think it all depends on how you view it. I see your decision to disappear off to bed as such a good way to stop yourself doing or saying anything you regret – that’s really good personal management isn’t it? I thought people are supposed to distance themselves for a while so they don’t blow like a volcano. Seems to me you’ve chosen the way that experts tell us to choose…

    Like

    • It’s interesting to me to read this comment, because this is one of the places that E and I aren’t working well together. Whenever I talk to her about the challenges of living with Andres, she urges, no, she PUSHES me to be firmer, fiercer, in defense of my boundaries. I almost feel like she’s disapproving of me for being such a wimp.

      The thing I feel she doesn’t get is that the world often reacts harshly to my son, and this makes me want to counterbalance it by being a safe person for him. This means that I squash some of my impatience with him. It doesn’t mean I don’t ask anything of him. I do close my study door when I need to work and ask him not to disturb me (he complies). I do ask him to limit how much he explodes in my face with the news (he sort of complies). But I don’t give him an ultimatum, I don’t snap at him, and if I’m very annoyed, I tuck it away. This is very hard on me sometimes. That’s is probably why E gets so pushy about it; she would really like me to be more direct with him when he’s infringing on my well-being. The thing is, that makes me feel she doesn’t understand about Andres (and judges him or doesn’t like him, without knowing him) and wants me to be something I’m not. Then I feel we’re far apart and disconnected.

      I have been thinking perhaps it would help to stop talking to her about Andres. But now, as I write this, I think it would be more useful to simply tell her what I just wrote in the last paragraph.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.