It’s Enough

I’m done reaching out. There’s really no point, and I see that clearly now. I’m done being certain people’s emotional punching bag. I’m done putting myself out there. At the end of the day, I’m alone. And that’s okay.

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Longing For The Feeling Of Comfort

I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, and even though I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open, I feel unsettled and unable to drift off. Usually my night-time meds have me fast asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow, so this is quite unusual. I struggled with insomnia for as long as I can remember, but since being on this medication, it’s no longer been a problem.

“Experts” say that we shouldn’t expose ourselves to electronics before we go to sleep, and I did everything right prior to going to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so decided to rather get up and write. Maybe it will help.

Life feels off-kilter. A lot has changed and I’m struggling. It’s not just the therapy change, but things here at home as well. My uncle who used to live with us then moved out, moved back in again. Then my step-brother who had run away to go live with his girlfriend and her uncle, also came back. So for a while it was a full house. Then last month my uncle moved back out again just when I had gotten used to having him around.

I’m back at group again, but it’s all new faces. I don’t know why this affects me so much, but it does. It also doesn’t help knowing that I can only attend a few more before I’m done with the program again. So I don’t want to become used to it. Every time I go I question whether I really should be going. It’s confusing. So many things are confusing and unsettling me these days.

Even having Jasmine back in my life feels strange. Things are different. So is she. But I know that’s normal. People change. Relationships change.

I can’t get rid of this longing for the feeling of comfort. I’ve tried all my usual self-soothing and comforting tricks, but nothing is working. Instead it just seems to be getting worse. I don’t know what more to do. I just want things to feel “normal” again. I want to feel normal.

Anyway, I’m going to try going to sleep again. I’ve been having a lot of disturbing dreams the past while, and a recurring dream from my childhood has also popped up again. I’ll write about that one sometime. In the meantime I’m hoping tonight will just be 8-9 hours of blissful nothingness.

Goodnight.

A Good Therapy Session

I’m feeling a bit better today. Clearer. Less confused.

Last night I went to group and during the break I saw C on her way out. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed during group, and without even thinking about it, I ran to catch up to her. I had no plan. So when the first words out of my mouth were “I want A”, I was surprised. I can’t really remember much of what happened next. I vaguely remember C saying something and asking me questions, but it’s all a blur. I had sent her a message the day before telling her that I want to cancel our session for this week. I had bumped into her just before group as well, and told her that we could have a session next week instead. What I remember very clearly during these weird few minutes during group break, was asking whether we can still have our session today.

So that’s how I wound up in her office this afternoon. I spilled the beans, and told her everything I mentioned in my previous post. My doubts, self-doubt. Thoughts. Feelings. All of it. And C validated me every step of the way, which just made opening up easier.

She asked me what had happened the previous evening. What had changed between me seeing her an hour earlier and being adamant about not having our scheduled session, to my request to have the session after all? That one stumped me. After a little introspection, it hit me. Attachment pain (as one of my fellow bloggers puts it). The OT I had worked with last year was facilitating the group last night. The first time in months. During group I had been fighting that feeling of attachment, among other things going on in the group. Missing A and wanting to go back to her hadn’t left, and the two situations fed off one another, culminating in a big attachment mess in my mind.

The reason I had initially canceled our session was because I felt I needed more time to figure this shit out. I have also been wary of how things were going and didn’t want to deal with C this week. It came out during the session that another reason was that in my mind she was the “bad object” (she used this term) I wanted to get distance from.

Just as an aside: This is very hard for me, but instead of referring to her as “C” like I’ve been doing up to this point, I’m going to refer to her as “my therapist”. I’ve realized that’s one way I’ve been keeping her at an emotional distance, so I need to change this.

Anyway, we spoke about a lot of things in only 45 minutes (it was supposed to be a 30-minute session, but we went over) that have come up since we started working together, including the relationship. One of the things I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my therapist hugging another client, came up too. She actually brought it up, which I was grateful for, since that was one of the things I wanted to discuss with her. She said that A and I had established boundaries over the course of our relationship. It had been a process. Painful and frustrating at times. But I settled into it eventually, and it became the norm. I was used to those boundaries. To the way things worked. I knew what was acceptable, what wasn’t. And now some things work and look different. So it’s normal that I’m feeling confused, unsure, and insecure. She said that whenever there’s a threat to a structure I’m comfortable with, that’s when I become unsettled. She mentioned a few other instances of this (things I haven’t written about). One of them is the time she came into my room when I was still in the clinic, to see one of my roommates (who didn’t want to come down to her session). Things like this that threw me off. When she said this, it just all clicked into place. It cleared up the confusion I had around these times. About what was happening inside me.

As the session progressed, I found myself softening toward her. I told her that I feel like I abandoned A, and that I didn’t do things the right way. But I’ll send A an email about this when she gets back (I see she’s currently away on leave). The more I spoke about her, the sadder I felt. At some point I switched and felt anger toward her for being away on leave. “again“. My therapist pointed out that A had suddenly become the “bad object” and she, C, the good one. That’s when I started crying. She was right. And I hadn’t even been aware of it until she mentioned it. Her tone of voice changed to soft and gentle, which only made me cry harder. She told me that it’s okay and possible to have two “good objects” at the same time. I remember A had also pointed out how I tend to do that.

So much of what my therapist had said this session made so much sense. So many things seemed to fall into place.

Today was the first time I felt she was really in tune with me. The first time I actually felt some real connection to her. In the short time I’ve been seeing her, she’s taken a lot of crap from me, and always handled it amazingly well. No matter how much I’ve acted out, she remains calm, patient, and surprisingly, compassionate. She deserves a medal for that. As does A, although I was more “well behaved” with her.

This was truly the most valuable and insightful session I’ve had since starting with my new therapist. Which gives me hope for future sessions. So I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with it. With her. I hadn’t realized until today that I had actually subconsciously been fighting against her. And as she mentioned again, it will always remain my choice to be there. If I decide I want to go back to A, that will be okay. Even though I feel better now about working with her, it feels even better knowing the option, the choice, is still mine, and there.

Things still don’t feel quite “in place”. I’m hurting a lot, and it’s extremely hard right now. But at least after today, things seem to be moving forward in a positive way with this situation. All I can do is give it time, and truly try to give this my all.

I Don’t Want to Hug You, But They Can’t Either

Since the weekend I’ve started having stronger emotions coming to the forefront. Mostly sadness. I’ve contemplated getting into contact with Elizabeth again, thinking that maybe I’m ready to resume a friendship. I’ve been feeling the loss more. So maybe now isn’t such a great time. I’ve also been struggling with thoughts of “I made a mistake” ending therapy with A. I’ve been struggling with self-doubt these past few days. I’ve been missing A a lot. Not just missing her personally, but also missing our work together.

I had a therapy session with C yesterday. While I was sitting waiting for my appointment, she came out with another woman, who I assumed was a client. This woman hugged her goodbye, and in that instant I felt something. Jealousy and anger. They weren’t intense emotions, but not very subtle either. When I got into C’s office, I asked her whether that woman was a client, and it turns out it was. I had hoped that it was a friend instead.

Naturally, C asked me what I was experiencing. What had that situation triggered in me? I struggled for a while to communicate my thoughts, as I was also feeling confused. I wasn’t quite sure what I was experiencing, or why. I don’t feel this incredible connection with C, so why did it bother me that another client hugged her? I ended up leading her down a different road to what I only later realized wasn’t the whole truth. It wasn’t intentional. But it at least gave us some material to work with, so I don’t feel too bad. I’m going to bring up the subject again in our next session though. She was really on the money when she said that it seems to her that I just want to feel cared for today (yesterday). To know that I’m loved. When she said that, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I hadn’t even really consciously been aware of it until she said it, and I realized how right she was. And I still want that today.

On Monday I wanted to send A an email telling her that I’ve been thinking about returning to therapy with her, but that I’m not sure if I should. That I’m confused. But I didn’t send it. I could just imagine her saying “that would be inappropriate” with regards to sending her such an email, since C is my therapist and I should be talking to her about these things. So I just ended up sending A a quick text message to say hi. It helps so much just knowing that she’s still around, and we can still communicate. I just wish I could see her again.

I didn’t talk to C about this yesterday. It’s on my agenda for the next session. What happened yesterday, how I felt, just made me even more confused than I’ve already been lately. I also feel fear somewhere inside, but I’m not sure where it comes from and why it’s there.

With regards to whether she allows hugs, she told me that she doesn’t mind hugging her clients or her clients hugging her, as long as she doesn’t think it’s going to do them more harm that good. And as long as it’s with express consent. Then she asked me what I need then and there, and if I would ask if I want/need something. I told her that most of the time I’m too scared to explicitly ask for something, like a hug for example. But that I do sometimes ask… I’ve become better at it. In that moment, I didn’t want a hug from her. I didn’t want to hug her. Even after our session, I just thanked her for the session and left. It had been one of those days where I didn’t want to be touched by anyone, and even being close enough to touch felt overwhelming. So, I didn’t want a hug. But I didn’t want her other clients to get one either. Messed up, I know.

My roommates in the clinic haven’t been in contact with me. I sent them each a couple of messages, and they replied, but days later, and with messages that can’t even really be seen as a proper reply. The worst part is that I saw they went somewhere together last weekend. I know I said that I understood that this might happen, and that it would be okay. But that “no care” attitude is gone, and has been replaced with feelings of rejection. I’ve removed them from my contacts. I’m not going to run after people anymore.

I feel a little lost. Lost. Alone. Sad.

Where’s The Rain? The Cold?

It’s autumn this side of the world, yet most days it feels like the middle of summer. Like today. It irritates me.

For as long as I can remember, summer has been my worst, and winter has been my favourite season. There’s something magical about it for me. The shorter days. Waking up in the morning when it’s still dark, as opposed to the blaring sun on summer mornings, that even my blackout curtains can’t contain enough to my liking. The world just feels different during winter. I don’t think I’m fit for the South African climate. But this is where I am, where I always have been, so I deal with it as I can. It helps that I love the city I’m living in. We’re currently in the middle of a drought that seems to have no end in sight. But earth has a way of righting herself, so I know it will come to an end at some point. I just wish it would be sooner rather than later. I miss the rain.

My mom once joked that since I was born in summer, it might explain why I was such a fussy and unhappy baby and child. That idea doesn’t seem too implausible. Maybe if I explain a few of my little quirks, you’ll gain a better understanding of why I say this, and the reason for me preferring the colder months.

I have an extreme dislike of the sun in summer. It seems way too bright and makes me feel nauseous if I’m in it for longer than 20 minutes without a cap and sunglasses. When I’m in the sun for an extended period of time I become moody and irritable. Shade is my best friend. I can’t handle getting hot. I don’t like getting too cold either, but I prefer that to the heat. I’d rather be shivering and wishing for some extra warmth, than actually having the sun blaring down on my skin. I don’t do the whole tanning thing either. I don’t get how people can enjoy that. To each their own I guess.

I don’t like walking around in summer clothes. I don’t like having my arms and legs exposed to the elements. But of course, I have little choice in the matter. I can’t walk around in the blistering heat with winter clothes on. That would just be silly. In case you’re wondering… Yes, I wear bikini’s when I go to on a beach holiday, but I stay in the shade as much as possible. I love those little beach tents. So it’s not a body image thing. I don’t go into the ocean much. The whole “not being able to see what’s in the water” thing. I most certainly don’t want any sea weed touching me either. One of my friends once suggested I get or rent a wet-suit. That seems like a great idea. I’m definitely going to invest in one of those when I can afford it. I won’t ever rent one though… to me that’s the equivalent of sharing underwear.

Being bundled up in layers is glorious. Sipping hot chocolate, reading, watching a movie. It’s so cozy. And I like cozy. I can’t sleep without at least a sheet covering me, which makes it difficult to sleep on those exceptionally hot nights where I wish I could sleep naked and without anything covering me. But even sleeping under just a sheet isn’t comfortable… I like more weight… Which is why I love my weighted blanket. It’s Egyptian cotton and can be used in all seasons. But even that can be a little too warm in very hot weather. It’s worth it though. I love how I feel under that blanket. It’s so comfy. Definitely the best investment I’ve ever made.

Something one of my best friends finds particularly weird, is how I walk around in socks at any opportunity I get. Even during the summer months. I don’t like my feet exposed either. Unless I’m on a bed or a couch. Somewhere my feet aren’t touching the ground. The thought of something crawling on them freaks me out (yes, a lot of things do). My feet are also very sensitive to sensation, and I hate most sensations. The only exceptions are fresh green grass and the softest beach sand. If the sand isn’t a certain texture, my shoes stay on. I don’t like wearing shoes either, but I’d rather wear sneakers all the time than open-toed shoes. When I was in the clinic I was always walking around in just my socks. I went to meals, groups, and even sessions with my psych and therapist, that way. Can’t do that out in the real world unfortunately. Oh, but I don’t sleep with those things on. Winter makes my sock wearing more comfortable and provides a better excuse, “I need to keep my feet warm”.

Only those who know me well know some of the weirder quirks I’ve written about here. So that makes you part of the “inner circle”. I try to act “normal” out in the world. Which is probably why I like being alone and away from the outside world as often as possible. There’s more I could write about this, but it will be too long of a post, so I’ll end this here.

I don’t completely hate the sun though. The winter sun seems less harsh, so even though I still can’t spend too much time in it, I can handle more, and I don’t get as moody as during summer. The sun is glorious when it’s a cold day and I’m wrapped up in layers. On those days, the sun isn’t overpowering. It’s gentle. Warm. Not hot. Now that I can take pleasure in.

Winter… I can’t wait to see you again. Autumn… you must be confused. Bring on the cooler weather please.

A Sense Of Loss

Things have felt strange for a while now. I’ve been a bit detached, but not to the point of dissociation or complete isolation.

My days have been filled with work, both the work I do for the dad and stepmom, and my own design business. When I’m not working, I’m doing things for myself. Things I enjoy. Like losing myself in a book. I’m currently reading three books (it’s a regular thing for me). A memoir, self-help book, and a crime thriller. I never read more than one book of the same genre at a time. I haven’t read this much since I was a teenager and my days outside of school hours were spent reading. I’m relishing it.

I’m also doing Yoga a few times a week, and make sure to engage in at least one mindful activity a day (those adult colouring-in books are a gem). When I’m working, reading, or doing any activity that consumes my mind, I’m right there, in it. But as soon as I just sit and do nothing, drive somewhere, or do anything else that doesn’t occupy my mind, I feel detached. I don’t quite feel like me. The me I knew at least.

I had a session with my new therapist, C, yesterday and told her this. I also told her that I have no desire to go out with friends or see people, but it’s not that I feel I don’t want to spend time with them. I just don’t mind whether I see them or not, and aren’t making plans to see them. If they contact me though and ask to meet up, I’m up for it. I’m enjoying my me-time. I feel content alone.

At the same time, I have this sense of loss hanging over me, but not a feeling. I don’t know how this makes sense, yet it does.

A few weeks ago I told Elizabeth that even though we agreed to stay friends, I need some time without any contact. When I think about her, I don’t feel much at all. Just that sense of loss again. I’m not consciously pushing any feelings down. My emotions just seem to be very muted. They’re there, but not with the intensity I’m used to. Which is maybe part of why I don’t quite feel like myself.

I have gone out with friends since I left the clinic. The most recent being on Saturday. Jasmine and I are friends again, and we met up for a few hours. I had a lovely time. I had just as nice a time when I was alone again afterward though.

Therapy with C is going well. It all still feels new though. C said that even though I know it’s a safe space, it’s still an adjustment, and will take time. I’m still getting to know her and dealing with the fact that I’m not seeing A for therapy anymore, so it’s normal that I’m feeling a bit detached. I do find it easy to open up to her (even though it’s slow going), so that’s good at least.

Let’s see what happens. Right now I’m just taking things as they come.

A Heartbreaking, But (Relatively) Peaceful Decision

I’ve been wanting to write this post since my therapy session last Tuesday, but have been hard at work making a website for a client. Once I’m busy with a website or graphic design, I lose track of time and before I know it, hours have passed. I’m definitely made for this field of work. It feels good.

I spent the weekend locked up in my room, working on the website, doing lots of reading, and other activities that I enjoy. It was a nice, relaxing weekend, and I was enjoying my time alone.

As most of you already know, I was seeing another psychologist during my two weeks in the clinic. The medical aid wouldn’t cover Skype sessions with my usual therapist, and my psychiatrist suggested C.

For those who don’t know, I met my lovely therapist more than two years ago, when I was still in the city I lived in with my ex of four years. It was a toxic relationship, and I was at rock bottom. That led to me meeting my therapist. When I left my relationship and moved to this city, my therapist thought it would be in my best interest to continue seeing me via Skype, rather than referring me to someone here. I was very attached to her, and like she mentioned in our last session, I would have stayed in a bad relationship just to keep seeing her for therapy. It’s worked beautifully for two years.

When I was in the clinic last year, I refused to see a different therapist, so just didn’t see anyone. I was only there for about five days anyway. This time I agreed to see someone for the duration of my time there. When my psychiatrist told me about C, and that she’d be a good fit for me, I agreed to give it a try. I saw C about five times while I was there. From the get go I told her I have a therapist who I’m happy with, so this would just be for while I was in the clinic. She assured me that she’s not there to replace my current therapist. Once that was out of the way, I felt better about the situation.

But during these sessions I realized something. There’s something different about face-to-face sessions. When I went to visit my mom last year, and got to see my therapist in person again, I had felt that difference. I know a lot of body language gets lost over Skype video calls, which is one of the disadvantages of this form of communication. I find it difficult to read people’s facial expressions, so I think I rely more on the body language apart from the face. There’s a certain sense of “safety” being able to see all of a person, I guess.

Doing therapy over Skype, I’m still in my home environment. A place I don’t particularly feel safe in. Where I’m always aware that someone could come into my room at any moment. Where there are interruptions from a family member from time to time. Sitting in that room in the clinic where I had my sessions with C, I felt safe and contained.

For some reason, when I’m in a face to face session, I feel more emotionally expressive and open than I do over Skype. It’s as if the computer screen/web cam dulls or even cuts off my emotions somehow. It’s weird. I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s not about the “mode” of therapy, but the environment I’m engaging in therapy in? Anyway, whatever it is, the experience is very different.

With C, I didn’t feel that instant connection like I did with my usual therapist. But I still felt quite safe in her presence, which is saying a lot. Over the next few sessions though, I felt more of a connection, but I have a special bond with Therapist that I don’t have with C, and don’t think I ever will have.

At some point during my stay in the clinic I found myself wondering whether it wouldn’t be better for me to continue to see C as an outpatient, and stop therapy with A (my usual therapist). For some reason that thought didn’t send me into a blind panic the way it would have just a few months ago. A few months ago I wouldn’t have even considered this. But somehow, now, it just made more sense. Of course, I felt a great sadness as well during this decision-making progress. But I also felt a peace about it.

I had my last session with A last Tuesday. Near the end I started questioning myself, and when the session was over, I went into panic mode. What the hell had I just done? What if I just made the biggest mistake of my life? But the rational side had a voice as well, albeit a quieter one. I had thought this through for a while, and I did make the best decision for myself at this point in time.

A was amazing as always. She told me that her door will always be open to me. In my second session with her more than two years ago, she told me she wouldn’t abandon me. And she’s holding true to that. I have the option to come back to her any time. I’m also allowed to continue sending her messages. To stay in contact. My safe person is still there. She’s not abandoning me. If it had been any other way, I wouldn’t have been able to let go. I would have rather stayed with her.

This was a hard decision, and I think I’m still processing it. Or at least navigating my way through it. My mind has been occupied this weekend with work and making myself feel good. I haven’t really gone “there” completely.

I had a session with C today. I told her that I’m not sure how I’m feeling about all of this (other than knowing I did the right thing). For a week I’ve shut myself away and had no desire for human companionship. I just wanted to be alone. I still feel that way. I had put my phone on silent and away from me for 4 days. It was pure bliss.

Anyway, in today’s session, C said something that made complete sense to me. I may have been shutting myself away a bit, but I was also taking care of myself. I’ve gone through two major relationship changes recently (including Elizabeth) so it’s normal to want to be alone and not have to deal with my other relationships just now. She was glad that I went out with a friend for a couple of hours yesterday though. So I’m not pushing people away, I’m just taking much more time for myself.

I saw my psychiatrist when I left C’s office, and she gave me a big hug, which made me feel good and happy. So that was really nice.

I’m feeling a little empty tonight and life feels a bit strange right now.