Now I’m Ready

I’m glad I went to group tonight.

It was lovely seeing so many familiar faces. Despite it all, I still feel at home at the clinic, which surprised me tonight. My favourite OT, D was leading the group tonight. I shut myself off from her in the beginning. I didn’t even look at her. In those moments I couldn’t even remember why I liked her, and attached to her in the first place. But as time went on, and with every word she said, I felt my heart start to thaw. And when I caught her eye and she smiled, all the negative feelings I had toward her just melted away. In that moment, she was perfect again. A classic case of devaluation and idealization. That’s one aspect of myself that I can’t stand.

After the break the OT brought up the ‘new plan’ for the group again. Especially for the three new people who were there… Explaining how the group works. I decided to speak up. Sometime during group I had realized that I’m okay with it coming to an end. That I was going to be okay. But I knew the other two regular ladies were still having a hard time with it, and didn’t agree with the decision. So when I spoke up, I shared how the news had affected me, and how I have been feeling about the team’s decision. I was at peace after that. I felt I had been assertive and spoken clearly. Trying to advocate not for myself anymore at one point, but for the other two ladies who are still struggling. I felt heard and respected by the OT. And I feel empowered.

She told us how hard the decision had been, and that they had taken into account those things we had mentioned and explained their decision a little better than the psychologist had. There’s nothing I can do to change their decision. All I can do is accept it, which I now have done. I also made a decision, and have spoken to the other two ladies about it, and also mentioned it to D. I’m going to start a new group for the three of us. My therapist had actually once suggested I start my own group. It will start off with only us three “regulars”, but that’s fine. They’re on board and happy with the idea, so the only thing that remains is to find a safe and confidential space to meet every week. Or maybe we’ll just start off with twice a month for now, starting middle February, once our time at current group is up.

D reminded me how during the first few months of group, I had barely said a word, and now I was talking and opening up confidently. This group has been really good for me. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. Now it’s time to enter the next stage of life.

I’m ready…

It’s Different

Last night’s group session was nice. I was in good spirits going in. Saw the OT I used to have sessions with, and it was so nice seeing her again. I went up to her and gave her a hug. I can’t believe I did that! But I’m glad I did. The attachment is still there. Dammit. I miss her. I didn’t know just how much until I saw her.

For the check-in’s, we did something a little different. We split up into two groups of five, and did the check-in with those in our group. That suited me well. There were two new girls in the group and they happened to be in mine. So when I shared, I was still terrified. But I managed to overcome it and actually shared something that I wouldn’t have mentioned if we had done the check-in’s as usual with the whole group. And I managed to say everything that was on my mind regarding that, and felt I communicated it pretty well. Go me! With only four other people I had to share with, it was the perfect balance between stepping out of my comfort zone, without it being too overwhelming. The therapist leading the group asked how we found it doing things this way. It seems I was the only one who preferred the split groups. I hope we can do it this way again though. Maybe after enough of those, and becoming more comfortable with it, I’ll slowly start being able to open up to more and more people at once.

Something else also came up last night. But first, a little back story. In a comment on one of my posts regarding my attachment to D, someone said I should try opening up to her and telling her how I feel. So, after about a week of giving it some thought, I decided that even though I’m scared to do it, I’m going to anyway. Life is short, right? So I reached out and opened up to her through an email. Then, at last’s week’s group I asked her whether she had received my email. She had, but said that she wanted to read it through completely before responding. Cool stuff.

It’s been more than a week now, and I haven’t heard anything back from her yet. Obviously, my paranoid and insecure self doesn’t like that very much. I found myself thinking “stupid, stupid girl, you shouldn’t have sent that fucking email”. But fuck that. I sent it, it’s done, and there’s nothing I can do about it now. So I allowed that thought to just float on by, and away it went. Sure, it crops up from time to time again, but I know how to better deal with it. After all, for all I know, she might just have been really busy, on leave, etc… There could be a lot of reasons for not having received a response.

Back to last night though. Sometime during the last part of group one of the other ladies was talking about some meditations that D had emailed to her. I had also asked her to send it to me. But she didn’t. So when that lady mentioned that she had gotten that email, I felt this stab of pain. I brushed it aside and tried to focus on what she was saying instead. There was no way in hell I was going to allow myself to think about that and feel that emotion right then. Hurt? Confusion? Embarrassment? Shame? All of the above. Dissociation, my friend… Welcome.

The rest of the evening I kept telling myself it’s okay. I kept trying to deny those feelings. Because they were from the young part. I’m an adult, I’m healing. I can’t still be struggling with this inner child thing. But I’m fed up with denying things that demand to be out in the open. So I let it out. You know that look on a young child’s face when they get hurt, and you can see they want to cry, but they’re trying to be brave? That’s the image that came into my mind… That little girl was me. And I just cried, from that very young place. The adult me understands (well, sort of), but that little one’s heart is hurting, wondering whether she was bad and that’s why she doesn’t want her. That little one will latch onto anyone. She’s so trusting. She keeps reaching out. D seems to satisfy some deep need and longing. The adult me is content and secure in my relationship with my therapist. But for some reason, my inner child is drawn to D. I wish I could figure out why. Because if I know the reason, then maybe I can deal with it somehow.

As an adult I know things aren’t always what they seem. There’s probably a good reason she hasn’t sent me those things, or replied (Of course I was hoping for a reply, but not expecting one). But the little one doesn’t understand. She can’t make sense of things the way the adult me can. She can’t rationalize. So when I’m in that young mode, the adult doesn’t exist. It literally feels like a completely separate part. And I can switch so quickly between the two sometimes that I don’t even realize the switch has happened.

I’ve been dealing with feelings of rejection and abandonment by two significant connections, so I’ve already been in a vulnerable place. So this one just compounds the issue.

Somehow though, I’ve been dealing with it pretty well. I say that because usually I’d be a complete mess. These situations cloud my perceptions of every other relationship in my life, intensifying the fear of abandonment, and making me want to push everyone away. It ramps up my paranoia. But for some reason, this time, these situations haven’t been able to spill over into my relationships with Elizabeth and my therapist. I feel very secure and content in these two relationships. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I had a moment where I felt disconnected from my therapist. After writing that post, I sent her a text letting her know how I feel. She sent me a lovely text back, and I felt secure again. All it took was one little text. My relationship with Elizabeth is progressing at a comfortable, steady pace. Which is so very different from my previous relationships. It’s wonderful.

In our session today, my therapist said that I don’t give myself enough credit for things. That I give other people and things the credit. Something to that effect. And that’s true. So, I’m not saying that it’s entirely because of these two relationships that I’m handling all of this so well this time. I have grown and changed. I have made progress. I am doing well. But having these two strong and stable connections is also contributing to my ability to deal better with this situation. Connection is powerful, and definitely helps us cope better with life.

So I was hurting last night, and still don’t feel good about it, but I’m not obsessing about it the way I would have in the past. It’s different this time.

Connection When Needed Most

Tuesday was group night again.

I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want anyone to see me. To even look in my direction. I’ve been feeling horribly depressed. I barely ate, barely slept. I was tired of people. Isolating, because I’ve been in that “don’t trust anyone” place.

There were reasons for not wanting anyone near me. For wanting to disconnect from everyone. I’m not going to go into detail, as I already spoke to my therapist about it in yesterday’s session, and don’t want to get into it again. In short, I’ve been feeling abandoned and rejected by my uncle (the one who used to live with us- a significant attachment for me) for a while now already. I also lost two friends over the course of the month, all because I practiced my “no” and they didn’t like it.

Therapist told me that it’s a pattern with me. I tend to surround myself with the wrong people. The problem is, I attach too quickly. I’m so hungry for connection and intimacy that I jump in prematurely, and end up getting hurt. She said that I take on the helper role, which is true… I like the protector role too. I’ll do anything to make someone happy, to help them however I can. But the minute I’m unable to deliver what they ask for, or I need them (it’s hard enough for me to ask as it is), they disappear out of my life. I don’t know how else to do it though. I want to help others. I want to be there for them. I want to be reliable. I want to protect and save everybody (as if I’m a superhero and can actually do that). But it often comes at the expense of myself. I haven’t quite figured out how to balance it. It’s easy for me to give. But not easy to receive. It’s easy to give someone a hug. It’s hard to accept one. The list goes on.

I told Therapist that I genuinely feel like there’s something wrong with me. That people leave because I’m doing something wrong. She asked whether I’ve ever thought that maybe it’s not me, but rather something to do with them? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last long and I revert back to blaming myself. I’ve been slacking in the self-compassion department lately as well. But I guess it’s bound to happen from time to time.

Back to Tuesday evening. I ended up dragging myself to group. I knew it would be good for me. But I determined to keep my walls up. Sure, greet everyone and throw in a few smiles here and there, but not allow any deeper interactions. Well, that was the plan anyway. I can’t remember anything from arriving at the clinic and leading up to the start of group. Next thing I know I’m sitting in the chair next to D’s (the OT leading the group that night). As I’ve mentioned before, sitting next to her gives me a sense of comfort. She’s my “safe person”. But that night I didn’t want to feel the attachment and connection. So why was I sitting there? Maybe subconsciously I really actually wanted to feel it.

From the beginning, D seemed tuned into me. While I was trying to withdraw, it was like she was having none of that. Instead, she drew me closer. And little by little, my defenses came down. I felt a very strong connection with her that evening. She broke through. She connected. And I couldn’t help getting drawn in. She made me feel comfortable and secure letting her into my personal space. That’s extremely rare for me. I don’t want to write the details here, it’s stored safely inside. In case you didn’t know, in my previous post where I said that there was only one other person I’d allow close to me in the state I had been in, I was talking about D. It seems she really can reach me where others may not be able to. That night, she picked me up off the cold concrete floor and wrapped me in a warm blanket. And I knew. She cares.

Yesterday’s therapy session was an emotional one, but I’m so glad that I had that session. It was very good timing. Therapist is amazing, and she was so good with me. Thankfully, during this bad time, I had been able to keep our connection open. When I didn’t want to let anyone in, she was the only one that I still held onto and didn’t want to close myself off to. Being allowed to send her texts and emails between sessions really helps. It’s basically just “checking in” sometime during the week, or when I see an image that I think she’d like. I don’t tell her about anything that’s going on, or my emotional state (most of the time at least). I keep that for our sessions. Now it’s 11 days (excluding weekends) until I get to see her again. Why do I still count down the days?

Therapist is the healthiest attachment I’ve ever had. She doesn’t give up on me. She has my best interests at heart. She helps me fight when I feel I just can’t fight anymore. But most of all… She believes in me, even when I don’t.

Connection. Terrifying. But worth it.

Start Of A New (Business) Journey

This has been an incredibly long week. I feel like it should be the Friday two weeks from today. Wednesday was a public holiday here, and while I love these days, it also messes with my head. Yesterday felt like a Monday. Long week, holiday… Confusion. I haven’t been sleeping well at all, so that just adds to the length of my days.

Group started up again on Tuesday, which I’m so happy about. The weeks without it just aren’t the same. As one of the other ladies said, the group is like a safety blanket. I couldn’t agree more. Before the start of this weeks group I had a final session with the OT I’ve been seeing. Even though it ended well, and the time was right to end our regular sessions, I still feel a little lost.

Since then, I’ve been in that clingy, young place again with regards to my therapist. I just want her all the time. I only get to see her on Thursday again. It’s so long. There’s only one other person who I’ll feel comfortable being close to (and connect to), while in this head space. She doesn’t know though, and I don’t plan on telling her. Sometimes it’s better to just keep quiet, and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

As those of you who regularly read my posts know, I’ve started a wedding photography business with another photographer. We received our business cards on Monday, and I finally completed the website on Tuesday morning. We couldn’t afford to get someone to design the cards and website, so I did it myself, even though that meant it took me a lot longer than if a professional had done it. But now it’s done and we’re officially “open for business”.

I enjoy our business meetings. We get together once a week. We spend more time laughing and messing around than actually getting things done. We always manage to do everything we had planned for that day’s meeting though. But instead of it taking us an hour, it takes us over two, and sometimes even three hours. But it’s worth it. I was disappointed that she didn’t wear her flashing shoes at our meeting yesterday. Apparently they were on charge.

The one part I don’t enjoy is the marketing. But at least I’m not doing it alone, which makes it seem more manageable. There’s a reason people study this stuff. Oh well, we’ll get there. It might take time, but the day we get our first wedding booking we’re going to go crazy!

And then I might just buy myself a pair of those flashing shoes.

It Was Okay

On Monday I phoned the OT who lead the group last week. I’m going to refer to her here as D from now on. I told her how hard I had been taking the events of last Tuesday’s group. That I’ve been holding onto this feeling of shame. Side note: I don’t really know how to let go of shame, other than to try to bury it. But that’s not helpful either, as it keeps coming back. I told her that I don’t want to go to group on Tuesday, but at the same time, I do. I asked her what I should do. She didn’t tell me what to do, but instead, gave me the tools I needed in that moment to make my own decision. She reminded me of a skill I “learnt” previously. Doing the opposite action to how I’m feeling. So if I don’t feel like coming to group because of the emotions I’m experiencing, then the opposite of that would be to go. Something like that. The moment she said that, it fell into place and I made the decision that I’m going to go in. For some reason, she has a strong influence on me (along with my therapist and the OT I’m working with individually). Their words hold more power than anyone else. I felt better after that call.

Walking up to the clinic last night and going inside, my heart was racing, and I felt nauseous. In our session on Thursday my therapist told me that she’s concerned about how often and how many of my Benzo’s I’ve been taking recently. So after that session, I decided to lay off them for a while. Last night was the first time I had it again, and just one, the lowest dose, just as prescribed (even though that dose barely takes the edge off). I had taken it before I left for group. Walking into the coffee shop (where we usually meet), I didn’t even look at anyone. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to stay, but I had already ordered my coffee. Which, by the way, is my weekly splurge. Who thought cappuccino was something to get excited about? I look forward to that cup of coffee every week… Don’t know what I look forward to the most. That or the group. I know, that’s sad. As I held the warm cup in my hand, and heard D’s voice in my head, I suddenly felt this calm come over me. Like a soft, comforting cloud.

It was then that I felt I could face everyone again. That it was okay. So I joined those outside, and that feeling of calm stayed. None of them seemed to look at me any differently… Like I had assumed they would. Assumption really is the mother of all fuck ups, isn’t it? Thinking that they were all judging me, when I was just projecting my own self judgement onto them. At some point I somehow (I have no idea how it happened), spilled coffee all over me. I’m one of those people who always falls over things, spill things, etc. I’m never without bruises (and never just one). My friends joke that when I get my own place I must child-proof it. Thanks guys. When these things happen when I’m around people (other than my friends), I get so embarrassed, turn bright red, and try to cover it up with a joke or two. But this time, I felt… Nothing. It didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even care that it had spilled on my phone as well, whereas other times I’m paranoid about anything happening to it. Even a drop of water. Yes, I’m that protective over my phone. With all my stuff actually. Even my books. I could have read them twice, but they still look brand new. I look after my things because I can’t afford to replace any of it, and I only keep things around me that serve a purpose in my life.

One of the clinic psychologists was leading the group last night. I’ve always been somewhat wary of him. But the past two times that he’s run the group, I’ve been slowly warming up to him. But I’ll never talk to him or open up to him outside of the group. It was a small group last night, which was actually nice. The psychologist asked who wanted to check in first. One of the guys shared his week. When the psychologist asked who wanted to go next, I actually raised my hand! What?! I hadn’t gone in with the intention of sharing anything. But now, here I was, ready to do just that. I didn’t hold anything back. I told them about my struggle regarding last week’s group, and the aftermath of it. The shame, embarrassment, and fear, I’ve been feeling since then. I didn’t talk down to the floor this time, but looked at everyone as I spoke.

They were all so supportive, kind and validating. I felt relieved, like I could breathe again.

In the second half, we were going through the Barriers to Interpersonal Effectiveness. One of the guys was explaining how he experiences one of those barriers. I had noticed that he used the word “should” a lot. For example, “this person should support me”. I kept hearing my therapist telling me that she doesn’t like the word “should”. So I somehow managed to find the perfect time to jump in and give my input. I told him (and the others) how my therapist catches me when I say the word “should” (and all those other “have to” words and phrases), and has me rephrase it. Such as “I would like this person to support me”, or “I would prefer to have their support”. So I feel as though I at least contributed a little bit. And I still felt so calm. It’s very rare that I feel proud of myself. I’m way too self-critical. But last night was one of those rare times. I did it! And it was okay!

At first I thought (and said) “it’s probably just the meds that’s making me feel so calm and able to talk about this now”, but the psychologist was quick to point out that I can’t attribute it all to medication. That it was me, and that I did well. Thinking about it, I know it’s not “just the benzo”. Because last week I took three of them before the group, and I was still anxious. So one couldn’t have made such a big difference yesterday. I wasn’t dissociated either. I was fully present. At least that’s how it felt.

I felt relatively good driving home afterward. But at the same time, I had this subtle feeling that all was still not okay on the inside.

I’ll write about that in another post. I’m all out of writing fuel for today.