We Deserve, But Are Not Owed

“The world doesn’t owe you anything”.

That simple sentence (and variations of it) has always had a way of instilling a sense of profound guilt within me.

When I say those words to myself, it’s meant as a punishment of sorts. A way of saying “so just get over it” or that I don’t deserve this thing or anything else for that matter. This is what I did in a previous post.

One of my readers commented on that post saying that “we do have the right to expect the therapist to still be a therapist” in response to my thoughts regarding the place I find myself in with my therapist. Those words were what made me explore this topic deeper. Explore my feelings. Because when I read those words, I felt a mixture of confusion, curiosity, and relief.

I realized what the problem was.

The right to, deserved, owed. I had lumped all those words together as meaning the same thing, even though the knowledge that they meant different things was buried somewhere in the recesses of my mind.

Whenever I hear the word “deserve”, I hear “owed”. But that’s not what it actually means. I particularly liked this definition that I found of the word. “Be worthy of”.

Deserve love doesn’t mean owed love. Having a right to something doesn’t mean we’re owed that thing. It simply means that as a human being we have a right to these things for simply existing. Just like clean drinking water is a basic human right.

But on the other side of the coin, just because we have a right to something, doesn’t mean we’re going to get it, either. And that’s the part that feels awful sometimes.

I’m seeing my therapist at her practice tomorrow. I stopped counting a while ago, but it’s about three months since I’ve last seen her or heard her voice. For some reason, I’m terrified. A big part of me wants to cancel, or just not show up. But knowing myself, I probably won’t. I can feel so many emotions simmering beneath the surface, just out of reach. I guess a part of me is afraid of what will happen tomorrow. What I’ll say, feel, or do. Right now, I can’t bear the thought of even looking at her. Guess I won’t be sleeping much tonight. Must remember my anxiety meds!

One of the biggest issues during this time has been the feeling of not deserving her or her time. I don’t get to be a part of her life. She’s so far away from me. Now that she has her baby, those feelings have only intensified. I’m thankful though that the past week or two I didn’t have any feelings toward her. I just realized something as I wrote that last sentence… I think part of my fear about tomorrow is reconnecting with her. With those emotions.

I wish I could believe that I do deserve her support and time. And while I did for a brief few minutes before I started this post, I’ve fallen right back down to feeling unworthy. Emotions suck. Just when I think I’ve made progress with eliminating all those past messages of being stupid, unlovable, and a waste of space, it all comes rushing back. It’s so frustrating.

On another note, but still related to this post… I’ve started a Ko-Fi page. I had something similar a while ago which I linked to on my blog, but removed it because I felt guilty even having it there. Undeserving. So starting this one up has been very uncomfortable for me, but it’s also something that I wanted to do. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, as the saying goes. If you’d like to, are curious, or can support me, I’ll post the link below. I’m still getting started with it, so if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see, or have something that I can do for you, please let me know.

Anyway, I’m off to watch Wonder Woman and WW1984 (my obsession films) to try to stop myself from thinking about tomorrow.

I hope I come out of it in one piece.

My Ko-Fi page:

https://ko-fi.com/journeytowardhealing

Nightmares & The Dark

I’m having a hard time with my sleeping routine.

I’m naturally a night owl, so go to bed quite late. I try to go to bed before 2am though. Sometimes I manage that, other times not so much. I usually wake up sometime between 10 and 11am.

At least that’s how it used to be.

I’m craving the blissful state of non-existence for a while, but instead I’m bombarded with nightmare after nightmare. The really bad ones wake me up in a panic and it takes me a couple of hours to be able to turn the light off again and go back to sleep. The dark is deafening. Terrifying. I’m acutely aware how alone I am in those moments. At night the monsters are lurking in the closet, under my bed. Sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me. Waiting.

My longest continuous sleep time over the past two weeks has been 3 hours. This broken sleep is obviously making things worse. Sleeping until 3pm, because I was up for hours, too scared to go to sleep. Or having fallen asleep and woken up after yet another terrifying dream. So many people from my past in some of those dreams. Lies, betrayals, violence, death. So much blood and death.

Saturday and Sunday were two of the worst days I’ve had in years. I honestly don’t know how I got through it. Maybe I didn’t after all, and I’m not actually alive right now. I wanted to go into the clinic, but couldn’t get there. I didn’t know where to turn. Everyone seemed to have abandoned me. Unanswered messages. Cancelled visits and meetups.

New complications with regards to my uncle. I just want him to come out of this already. He has to. I can’t lose him, I just can’t. I had spoken to him a few days before he went into hospital, because he had sent me money for my birthday, which was so appreciated (more than he could ever know). I need to hear his voice again. We need him.

I need my mommy. There’s that. Even though everytime I’ve been with her, there’s never that mother-daughter bond and feeling, more like just a friendship. But she’s my mom, and I love and miss her. I’ve never been able to cry in front of her. But still, I long for that comfort of not being alone when I cry. When I’m not feeling good. The reality is never quite like the imagination, is it?

Remembered on Wednesday that my therapist had told me that I could email her while she’s gone if I need to. So I did just that. I wasn’t writing from a very present state of mind and it wasn’t a long email. I told her I was angry with her for reasons I can’t quiet think of. Told her I was thinking that maybe she wasn’t coming back. That she didn’t feel real anymore.

She replied that same evening. That didn’t feel real either. I wasn’t expecting a reply, since I wasn’t all there when I sent it anyway. There had been genuine moments during the day where I was so confused, believing that I had made her up the entire time. That nothing was real. That I wasn’t alive. Or human. The next morning I had to make sure that it hadn’t been a dream. She is real. She actually sent me an email. An email that let me know that she’s proud of how I’m managing, and encouragement to keep going even though it feels tough. Letting me know that she is coming back and we’ll have our video consultations soon. I don’t deserve her.

I don’t want to be alone anymore. Being bombarded with messages and photo’s of people finding new jobs, starting families, new relationships, it seems that nearly everyone I know is moving up in life. And I’m just here. Stuck. Trying to keep my head above water. Trying to build a business that’s just not going anywhere, no matter how hard I work, how many things I try. Seeing all these new businesses in my field that have sprung up with sub-par work, yet they’re the ones getting all the clients, using techniques that aren’t working for me. I’ve been trying for years now. Am so tired, and feel like a failure. A fraud. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

So far away from everyone I know. Longing for a hug. A warm hand to hold. If only for a day.

Under Again

I’m so angry, I want to break and destroy things and certain people. My rage has been so intense and I don’t know any other way to release it in a satisfactory way, other than hurting myself.

I haven’t seen my therapist in over two weeks, and won’t be seeing her tomorrow (and probably next week either). She needs a few weeks to acclimate to motherhood and recover from the operation. She couldn’t give me a set date or time. I don’t deal well with uncertainty, but this specific uncertainty was expected. Doesn’t mean it’s not driving me crazy anyway. The fear that I’ll never see or hear from her again doesn’t help matters.

Saw my psychiatrist last week as I needed a new script. So got to talk to him about stuff at least. But I hold back quite a bit from him for some reason. I don’t feel that comfortable being too vulnerable with him.

My uncle went into hospital after a heart problem. The nurse and doctor made a HUGE mistake that might destroy his future, and that I know he won’t want to live that way. If he even comes out of this alive. All because they didn’t listen. And there’s nothing I can do. I’m too far away, and even if I was there, with this Covid shit, they wouldn’t let me see him anyway. They will pay, even if the rest of the family don’t go ahead with the legal stuff. I’ll make sure of that.

There is so much uncertainty in my life right now, and losing my car has just made me feel even less in control over my life. I can’t just get in my car and go for a drive. Something I used to do when I felt upset. I feel trapped. Useless. Helpless. I’m frustrated with myself because I’m struggling with even the most basic things. Nothing is going right.

I want to see my mom and my sisters so badly too. I haven’t seen them in years. It’s just not fair.

I’m also frustrated and fed up with friends and certain other people in my life. I just want to scream! It feels like I’m losing my mind.

A Lifeline

Last week my therapist cancelled our session due to a personal loss.

My heart went out to her.

It was a strange experience. Usually a cancellation would trigger my abandonment issues. But this time all I could think and feel was an intense sadness for her. What this cancellation means to me didn’t even enter my mind (at least not consciously). For the rest of that week I carried on with life as normal.

Of course, I thought about my therapist often, and experienced those same feelings of sadness for her situation. Along with a deep sense of care, and hoping for comfort for her.

Something inside me shifted on Monday. Certain frustrations in my life intensified, and I received some bad news regarding my emigration (a new plan has since been made however). I was feeling extra intense pressure from my dad and everything starting going haywire inside my head. I felt overwhelmed. To the extent where I just wanted to end it all, just wanted to make it stop.

And then the panic set in. The desperation. I wanted my therapist. She would understand. She always does. She was the only one I feel safe with emotionally. Our session was a couple of days away, but what if she cancels again? What if she doesn’t come back? What if our relationship changes due to her loss? Yes, now the attachment demon had arrived. Now it was about me again.

I felt ashamed by these new thoughts and feelings. How could I be so selfish? That’s when the self-hatred kicked in.

On Tuesday came the message I feared. My therapist was cancelling our session this week too. This brought back the memory of another attachment figure, my OT, cancelling two of our sessions back to back, and then sending an email weeks later terminating our work. The reason for the new cancellation was also a trigger. The memorial service was on the day my session was supposed to be. My therapist had said that she would be back in the office this week. So the thought that she was going to be seeing some other clients this week, but not me, felt devastating.

In panic mode all I wanted to do was beg her for a time, any time this week, even just a 10 minute call, which we had done before. I wanted her to know how badly I was taking this. The effect it was having on me. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff since the previous day, and now I was slipping. But despite the frame of mind I was in, I resisted my urges. Because I didn’t want to make things harder for her than they already were. Because I care about her.

But I knew I needed to do something because at that moment I didn’t trust myself with myself. I knew I needed to talk to someone. A professional. I thought of the therapist who I had two sessions with when my therapist was on leave. While I had been comfortable with her, I wasn’t comfortable enough in this situation. I didn’t want anyone that was even remotely connected to my therapist. I wanted A. Other than my current therapist, A knows me best and knows how to work (and deal) with me. We worked together for more than two years after all.

I reached out to her and asked whether we could schedule an appointment for sometime this week. I was worried that she wouldn’t have time available. But thankfully, she did. So we scheduled a video session for the next day. And even though I was in a horrible place for the rest of that day and evening, there was that little sliver of hope peeking through. Keeping me going. Keeping me safe.

Still, leading up to our session, fears that she would cancel as well, kept showing up. But she didn’t cancel. She showed up. It was like coming up for air.

We’ve had contact since we stopped working together when I moved over to my current therapist in 2018, but they were just text messages here and there. She still reads my blog. This has all been enough to keep our connection strong.

I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time of not seeing her. I thought I’d be nervous. That it might be weird. But it wasn’t. It was as though no time had passed. It felt familiar. Comfortable.

For some reason, my distress of the past few days and hours fizzled out as soon as I saw her. We caught up a bit. Some nice moments.

It was easy to open up about everything going on. And it felt so good to be able to talk to someone about this situation with my therapist. Especially with someone who is a therapist herself, and at the same time, knows me well. She provided different perspectives. Possibilities. Got me to list the evidence for why I can trust my therapist and know she cares about me. This exercise was extremely helpful, and not something I had been able to do, or see, in my distressed state.

What was also helpful was when A told that I’ve grown since we worked together, and pointed some of it out. It helped because I’d been feeling like a failure. A therapy and personal failure. Like I had regressed completely. It also felt really good when she said that it was nice to see me again. A much-needed boost to my self-esteem.

Ever the ethical professional, she asked whether I would be okay with her contacting my therapist to let her know that we had a “emergency” session. I actually really appreciated this because like she said, she doesn’t want to interfere in my work with my current therapist. Feeling protective though, I asked her to rather send her that message next Monday. I want to give therapist some “space” this week. She doesn’t need to be thinking of me right now. I’m seeing her on Monday (still struggling with the fear of yet another cancellation), so then we can discuss it as well.

This session was exactly what I needed. It felt like a warm, comforting hug. It was as though I had been stuck in a pit of despair and negativity, but had been pulled out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. I’m still struggling. But I’m coping.

We do what we have to in order to survive.

On Accidents, Trauma, and Fighting for a Better Future

In over 15 years of driving, I’d never had an accident.

Sure, I’d been in a few with other people driving. But this time I was the one behind the wheel.

It was after threapy and I had just taken my car for a desperately needed wash, so was feeling pretty good. It happened so fast, and yet, in a single moment time seemed to slow down considerably. The traffic light was green, and while I always slow down somewhat before crossing an intersection, it wasn’t enough this time.

A car running a red light came speeding towards me. Within the space of a second, my brain had me realizing that if I braked too hard, or tried to swerve, I would either hit another car, or take an impact right on my side. And I suddenly felt myself relax into it, knowing it was inevitable that we were going to collide. It always amazes me how at times the brain seems to have superpowers, such as in this instance, while other times it feels as though it’s not doing it’s job.

The sound of metal hitting metal drills down deep inside your head and bones. And then, just like that, it was over. I pulled over to the side of the road, and turned off the ignition, an eery calm settling over me. Two guys had also pulled off and came to see whether I was okay. I was. They were surprised by both my calmness and the fact that my car withstood that much force with minimal damage. They gave me their names and phone number in case I needed witnesses.

I went over to the lady who had hit me, and tried to calm her down enough to have a sane conversation. Her car had the most damage, but thankfully only to the back door and side, nowhere near her. The police station was just a few minutes away, so she followed me there. We were there for almost two hours before I could finally go home.

Once I was back in the safety and comfort of my room, exhaustion set in. And the loneliness. While at the police station, the lady was almost constantly on her phone, telling family or friends what had happened. I didn’t call anyone. An old habit. Withdrawing within myself. When the loneliness set in though, I desperately wanted to call my therapist. It took every ounce of strength I had left to resist the urge. So I wrote her a letter the next day instead, one that went unsent. I’ll share part of that letter in my next post.

The days following the accident were miserable. I was exhausted, my body ached, and I just generally didn’t feel well. I had eventually told a few people what had happened, and was both grateful, and sad, that for a week my phone was silent. Grateful, because part of me didn’t have the energy to talk or explain. And sad, well, for obvious reasons.

It’s been about 3 weeks now, and I’m finally able to drive without going into panic mode when certain sounds and sights occur that remind me of that day.

On Trauma

Like so many of you, my past was traumatic. It has subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, affected my life in negative ways. It would be easy to just give up on having a good future. And there are times when I do. Days where I just give in to what I see as my fate of a crap life forever. But I know deep down, that the past, and our current circumstances, aren’t guarenteed to lead us down bad roads. There’s no such thing as fate. And I certainly don’t believe in “everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes bad shit just happens. Trying to find a reason for why something happend, the silver lining, while good in certain situations, can also cause more turmoil, and take us away from truly dealing with it. From choosing how to respond to it, and ultimately, move forward in a positive direction.

This minor accident brought up a lot of old trauma, and the days following it were a challenge to get through. That’s the thing with the long-lasting effects of trauma. It isn’t always logical. It can get tangled up in little things we do, in minor things that happen.

I’m still dealing with a lot of my demons. Depression and anxiety show up regularly. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t fight and strive for a better future.

And So, I Fight

I have to fight. Against the desire to die that is a regular foe. The pull of the darkness. It’s real. It’s not some mere concept. I’ve learned the hard way that just because a person has escaped that pull over and over again, doesn’t guarentees someone will always come out alive.

Of course, there have been beautiful patches of light throughout my years, and I try to hold onto those when the darkness is suffocating. And when I’m at my lowest and feel like I just can’t fight anymore, I made a list the other day to help guide me:

  • Stop pressuring yourself to “just get over it”. It’s okay not to be okay.
  • Allow the emotions, all the emotions, to be felt, heard, and understood.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Rest, take it easy.
  • You’ve been here before. You got through it then. And you’ll get through it again.

I’m slowly learning to love myself. At least the deep self-hatred is gone. I’m finding my voice. It’s the voice of a survivor. A warrior. And as long as I have breath, I will fight for a brighter future.

I hope you will too.