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?