I “Forget” People

I may have written about this before, but it’s really bothering me today. One of the most frustrating things about myself is that I seem incapable of holding onto an image of a person. I can miss that person intensely. I could have known that person my entire life and seen them nearly every day. Yet, when I try to recall what they look like, there’s nothing but a shadow. That shadow is blurred as well, so there’s no edges or silhouettes providing clues to their facial features, or even their body and the way they move.

When I walked into work on Friday there was a guy sitting talking to my dad. He left about 5 minutes later. I asked my dad who that was and he asked me how I couldn’t know, as that’s the guy that was sitting in the office talking to him for an hour the week before. The thing is, there were moments when that guy was talking the week before that I just stared at him (I enjoy watching people when they’re not aware of me), so you’d think I would have recognized him. Not so. I have to see the person a few times before I recognize them. According to certain people, this isn’t normal. I was once even told it might be ADHD related. That I’m just not paying attention. But that’s not always true. And I don’t have ADHD. Maybe something in my brain is broken. There have been a couple of times where I’ve seen a face in my mind during an extremely stressful moment, such as in a flashback or suicidal moment. I can count those on one hand though.

This has always been a part of my life. I remember a movie I watched as a kid. I can’t remember the name of it now. The boy in the story had just lost his mother, and told his father that he’s afraid he’ll forget his mothers face. The father told him that when you love someone you don’t just forget how they looked or the sound of their voice. This confused me. I thought that maybe it meant that I didn’t love my own mother or grandmother enough to remember what they look like when they weren’t around. Even if I had just seen them recently. I don’t think I ever asked anyone about this, but it haunted me back then.

There are a few people I wish I could “remember”, one of them being my grandmother, but I have to look at a photo if I want to see what she looked like, and I only have one of them. I can remember some exact sentences and things she said to me, but I can’t remember the sound of her voice. This really doesn’t help when you have attachment issues. It’s difficult to hold onto someone, to self-soothe with memories of that smile you got from an attachment figure or loved one for example.

I can’t even see an image of my dad’s face in my mind, and I just saw him an hour ago! Sometimes this thing is a blessing, but most of the time it’s just confusing and frustrating.

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It Didn’t Work: Attachment Styles

Over the past couple of years of learning about boundaries, I’ve learned that I can choose who and what I allow in my life. It’s been a liberating lesson, but also a difficult and sometimes heartbreaking one.

Since Elizabeth and I broke up a few months ago, I’ve often wondered whether a friendship would work between us. I tried to make it work. But two weeks ago, I realized that I just didn’t want to try anymore. It wasn’t working for me, and was only causing me frustration, anger, and pain. It’s been a learning curve, but I now know better what I just won’t stand for in any type of relationship anymore. I’m done letting people walk all over me, treat me like trash and a problem, and not respecting my boundaries. I unfortunately still have to put up with it in my home life until I can move out, but outside that environment I have more control.

I started reading a book a while ago “Attached: The Science of Adult Attachment“. I have an anxious attachment style (anxious/ambivalent more specifically), and almost instantly recognized Elizabeth in the Avoidant attachment style. Looking back, and armed with this new information, the signs had been there from the beginning, but they became far more obvious as our relationship progressed. When I realized all this, I felt a sense of relief. I’d been believing that the relationship not working out was almost entirely my fault, and due to my own issues. And Elizabeth seemed convinced that was the case as well. Being made out to be the “guilty” one was one of the reasons I decided I just can’t have her in my life anymore. I take responsibility for my part in the relationship not working, and I refuse put up with someone unable to see her own faults and constantly pointing fingers at others. The point is, our attachment styles aren’t compatible. It just doesn’t work out well. I’ve now let go of all the guilt and self-criticism regarding the relationship. It doesn’t serve me and just keeps me stuck in a negative loop.

I learned a lot from this relationship, and now it’s time to let it go. To let her go. I have to do what’s best for me. Even if it hurts initially. And it hurts.

A Nightmare, and Trust

In a previous post I mentioned a recurring childhood dream that had come back. I had this nightmare quite a few times over the past two months or so. I spoke about it with my therapist two weeks ago, and thankfully haven’t had it again since then.

The dream is always the same, sometimes just with different characters and settings. Even though the end scene always takes place in a kitchen, the house or area is different.

It starts off with me running through a dark forest. I’m hungry, cold, lost, and terrified. There are people chasing me. The closer they get, the more their features start to change. They’re suddenly not human anymore. They’ve become monsters, and they’re trying to kill me. I find places that look safe and run into them, only to be greeted by more of these monsters. Among them are people I know or used to know. Even people I like or love.

In the final house I run into, I find myself in the kitchen. There I see someone else I know (a family member, friend, teacher, etc), with their back toward me, chopping vegetables. I feel a sense of relief, and start telling this person about the monsters and asking them to help me. As I get closer to this person, they turn around slowly, smiling. Their familiar face starts to change and distort, the smile becoming threatening and evil. Eyes glowing. I see the knife they’re holding is dripping with blood. I try to scream, but no sound comes out. This person, my last hope, and it’s gone. As this person lunges at me with the knife, I wake up. Sometimes the dream goes on, and I’m fighting this person who is now on top of me, strong and heavy. I realize that I can’t escape, but carry on trying to fight this monster off. I always wake up before I get killed.

I don’t know when these dreams showed up in my childhood, as that time of my life is fragmented, blurry, and a lot of it, forgotten. But I can certainly understand the context of not knowing who to trust, where to go for safety.

Growing up, I rarely felt safe. My parents got divorced when I was still very young, and whether I was visiting my mother on her weekends and holidays, or at home with my dad, step-mom and step-sister, I didn’t feel safe or that I could really trust anyone. There was shit going on in both households. We moved around a lot as well, and I went to quite a few different schools in different cities, each time moving further away from my mom. Back then, my dad and step-mom would tell me that my mom didn’t want me, so it shouldn’t matter. They made me believe that she didn’t really love me. And when my eldest younger sister came along, I got even less of her attention, and those words they would constantly feed me, just embedded deeper within me. It was only in my late teens that I learned the truth of the situation. So is it any wonder I have trust issues?

When I told my therapist about this dream she said that it makes sense that I would have that dream now. I’ve had a difficult time this past while, with certain relationships changing and ending. Having to build up trust in a new relationship as well.

What I’m wondering is why I have dreams and nightmares that I had when I was younger? Shouldn’t they be a thing of the past? A child/teen’s mind that changes and grows? Do any of you have recurring childhood dreams show up later in your life from time to time?

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.

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.