Sun, Friends, and the “Silly Season”

I took the week off from work last week and it was glorious. I’ve realized that this time of year isn’t that bad when you’re an introvert, have sensory issues, but get to spend your time at home.

On Friday I was nursing a painful sunburn. I had arranged to meet up with my friend, M, the “old” lady I had met at group last year, on Thursday. We were going to go for a walk on the beach. I thought we’d grab a coffee (decaf for me) and just go for a short walk. I was wrong. We ended up walking a total of just over 3 hours that day, with an hour break for a drink and lunch. M might be in her late seventies, but she outdoes even me (in my mid-thirties) where exercise is concerned. She told me she had gone to the gym earlier that week. Damn, I need to get my ass in gear. I wasn’t expecting such a long walk, so hadn’t even thought of sunscreen. That stuff is expensive anyway, and I didn’t have any, neither does anyone else in the house.

I had such a lovely time with her. There were so many dogs along the way, and I got to play with a Golden Retriever on the beach for a little while, while M was talking to the owner. The highlight of my day! Something I really like about spending time with M is that we have stimulating, deep conversations, but can also just sit in silence watching the goings on around us. I never feel any pressure to be “social enough” or entertaining. I really value our relationship, and the acceptance, care, and peace I get from her.

It’s been so hot lately. Combine that with the sensory overload of the holiday season, and I’m not in the best, most peaceful mood. But I made sure to avoid entering that activity as much as possible this year by staying home. I had coffee with Jasmine on Saturday, and we both witnessed first hand how stupid people can act at this time of year. As M mentioned, “they don’t call it the silly season for nothing”. Jasmine and I really connected again on Saturday, and it felt like it used to before things went all haywire between us, which I’m so happy about. I truly value her friendship.

My biggest cringe factor when it comes to Christmas, is the gift giving and opening. I always find it so awkward. I actually hate it and can’t wait until it’s over. When someone hands me my gift, or they open theirs from me, I feel like disappearing into the ground. My idea of gift giving is when I’m out and I see something that reminds me of a person, or that I know they’ll like, and I get it for them. Spontaneous gifts. I don’t believe in getting people gifts just because it’s expected for that day or occasion. But that’s the way it goes, and most people like it, so I deal with it. I really liked and appreciated the gifts I got, and now it’s over.

I got to spend quite a bit of time with my uncle this week, which I enjoyed. It also felt like old times again with him too, and there were plenty of moments where I even forgot that he’s sick. Even though it’s scary, and at times I want to pull away from them, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue nurturing my relationships with my uncle and M. I told my therapist that I’m afraid of losing M, seen as though she’s not young anymore, but as I’ve seen, she’s in good health and anything can happen to me, so it’s not guaranteed that I’ll outlive her. But even if I do, that’s part of life. We get attached, we love, we lose people. That’s not a reason to avoid relationships.

I’m so glad that Christmas is now over. People are broke so the shops are quieter and I can do my shopping in relative peace.

And the best part? No more Christmas music!

I hope you all had a good festive season.

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Comparing Therapists

I know it’s something I shouldn’t do. It’s something I didn’t want to ever do. Yet, I find myself doing that very thing sometimes.

As my regular readers and those who have followed my blog for some time know, I changed therapists earlier this year. You can read this post if you want to know more. At the time I knew I had made the right decision. And even though there have been moments where I’ve questioned it, I still believe it was the right one.

Even now that I’m not seeing my previous therapist, A, for sessions anymore, it was agreed that I’d still check in with her from time to time and say hi (she has also sent me messages first). I also like sending her a funny video or cute picture. And she still consistently replies to me each and every time. This makes me feel secure in knowing that she’s still around and still cares about me.

From the beginning, C, my current therapist, told me that time management isn’t her strong suit. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We all have areas we don’t do great in. But this really bothered me in the beginning of my therapy with her. It doesn’t bother me as much anymore, and sometimes I actually even find it enduring. But then there are times like yesterday where it gets to me. I had been upset with her because she hadn’t replied to an email I had sent her earlier the week. I hadn’t asked for a reply, or even posed a question, but still wanted her to reply because I was ultimately reaching out for connection.

When the session started C could tell that I was upset and frustrated. I took out my play-dough and just sat playing with that. She had told me to get some a few months ago, and it’s awesome and so helpful! Anyway, I eventually told her why I was upset, and feeling hurt and wanting to push her away, told her that I want to go back to A, because she always replied between sessions. I also told her that just when I feel I can trust her, this happens and that trust is gone. But after the session yesterday I realized that’s not the truth. I do trust her. My black and white thinking just gets in the way. I get the idea of holding both the positives and “negatives” about others, but the application of it is another matter. I still struggle with either/or. I can do it, but it takes a lot of effort, and when strong emotions are involved it’s even harder. One thing I can say is that when I specifically ask C for a reply, she does, as she reminded me in our session yesterday. So she is consistent in that way.

This whole thing wasn’t actually about the email. There were other factors too, and they were the real issues.

When I went to sleep on Thursday evening, all of my dreams revolved around A, so waking up I missed her like crazy for the rest of the day. C had also told me about two weeks ago that my psychiatrist, who I also have an attachment to, is emigrating in February. Abandonment schema activated.

What I also hadn’t realized until C mentioned it, was that I know it’s almost time for a break in therapy. We have one more session next week, and then only on the 16th January again. That’s the longest I’d have gone without seeing her. And with the news that my psychiatrist is emigrating after having just come back from her honeymoon, I was worried that C will also decide to leave when she gets back in January. She told me that she’ll come back, she’s not planning on leaving. I know it sounds strange to some people that I have to hear those words of reassurance, but it really does help me. I gave her my journal from my Box of Hope yesterday to write something for me for while she’s away, which she agreed to do. I’m really grateful for that.

I know my therapist cares, because she’s done a lot for me, and still does. Things she didn’t and doesn’t have to do, but that mean a lot to me and really helps. It’s not fair to compare my therapists. I know that. They’re two different people, with their own ways of working, strengths and weaknesses, and both of them have helped and continue to help me in so many ways. But I also know that I’m human, have attachment issues, and that it’s part of my process. I don’t want to have moments like this again, but it’s okay if I do. I’ll work through them.

It’s something that we humans do in most other relationships as well. “So and so never did that”, “I never had this problem with so and so”, for example. So I know I’m not alone in making these sorts of judgments and comparisons. And I’m pretty sure that most therapists are guilty of this at least on one occasion with regards to their clients as well.

We’re all human after all.

Daydreaming: My Saving Grace

Growing up, daydreaming was my favourite escape. It was my way of coping. Of surviving.

In my daydreams I could enter a world where everything made sense. Where bad things didn’t happen, or even if they did, it was over quickly, I would be comforted, and everything turned out well.

I would sometimes daydream about a specific person. Most of the time it was a character on TV that would be my mother-figure or loving person in my life. It felt so safe. And you know why? Because in my fantasy world that person would never abandon me. They didn’t hurt me. If I saw a movie or read a book that involved a loving parental figure, I would play that story line out in my mind, inserting myself as the character that had that relationship with that person.

The downside of all of this was that sometimes when I would snap out of daydreaming mode, I would feel an incredible sadness because I knew it would/could never be real. But for me, the good side of daydreaming far outweighed the negative.

These days I don’t daydream nearly as much. Not because I’ve grown out of it (I don’t think we ever really do), but because I just don’t have the time anymore. Sometimes though the only way to calm myself down and stop feelings overwhelming me completely is to escape. Back into daydream mode. Where no one ever purposely hurts me. Where there’s plenty of love, genuine acceptance and affection. Where rejection and abandonment don’t exist. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been tuning into my own world a lot more often.

They say we need to be mindful. Be connected to reality. But sometimes, reality sucks, and the only way through it is to lose yourself in a world of your own making. Personally, I don’t think that being in a constant state of mindful awareness is even healthy. When I’m out in the world my nervous system is on high alert and I’m zoomed in on everything around me (unless I’m in a dissociative state) and it’s exhausting. So I see it as a form of self-care to allow myself to just drift a little bit when I’m at home and in need of some rest. Daydreaming helped me the most through my childhood and teen years, and it’s still a valuable coping tool today.

Finally Feeling It

I spent some time with my uncle yesterday. Since he was diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been feeling pretty numb about it. I have had fleeting moments of anger and disbelief though. Driving home after seeing him yesterday, a deep sadness came over me. The kind of sadness you feel everywhere inside your body and that just sits there. I couldn’t cry. Just feel it as it took my breath away. Such a deep pain with nowhere to go.

It scared me when I saw him yesterday. He’s lost so much weight, I don’t know how he has the strength to even stand. We went for a short walk on the beach and then sat there for a little while until he got too tired. When we got back to his place I only stayed for a few minutes so that he could get some rest. He told me that I’m the only person he looks forward to seeing and that he can really talk to. I’m glad that he feels like he can talk to me, and that he phoned me the day he was feeling at his worst. He doesn’t need people telling him at every turn what to do and what not to do. How to feel. Which is what the rest of the family does. He’s got doctors that do that. He needs family who will listen with no judgement. Who will be there for him. I don’t always know what to say. Most of the time I don’t say anything. I just listen. And apparently that’s exactly why he feels he can be open and honest with me.

We have a special bond. We always have had, even during those times where I felt far from him. The time it felt like I had lost him. I feel like I have him back again, and the thought of losing him forever, terrifies me. A part of me wants to push him away. To not feel the fear, the pain. But I also want to hold tightly onto him. I love him so damn much, and hate seeing how much he’s suffering. I wish I could just take it away from him. But I can’t. All I can do is be there for him. It’s so hard and painful though.

The one person I really want to talk to about this is my previous therapist, A. But I can’t. She knew the relationship I have with him, and was there when he moved out and I was having a hard time with that. I’m missing her even more than I usually do. I’m aching to hear her voice and see her face again. For a hug from her.

Tonight, the sadness is still there. But I can cry now. It’s got somewhere to go.