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

Time Doesn’t Stop Flowing

I received an email this morning reminding me that my birthday is coming up soon. Well, thanks for that. But hey, they sent a voucher as well. For something that I have no interest in.

And once again I was sent down a rabbit hole of existential angst.

I’ve recently give my business a bit of a makeover, complete with a redesigned website. Since first starting my business I’ve learned a lot. Both from personal experience, and theoretical knowledge through courses, books, webinars, other entrepreneurs, etc. I’ve reworked my business model a bit and feel more confident with my direction.

Running a business reminds me of life. If we’re not growing, changing, or experimenting, we can’t expect anything to be different. Sure, we may fail more than we succeed, but that’s part of the deal I guess. Here’s hoping that my persistence will pay off eventually.

I don’t have much to show for my life. I don’t have anything to my name. I’m not financially independent. But to that voice that shows up way too often, and is often way too loud to ignore… I’m trying dammit! And I’m proud that I haven’t given up on my business or myself. I try to be a good person, treat others with respect and kindness, and give where and however I can. This all has to count for something.

On another note, I got to see my therapist this week. No cancellation. It was a good session and a lot got cleared up. I feel confident and secure in our relationship again. It was our last in-person session until after her maternity leave, so from next week it’s video sessions. There are going to be weeks when I don’t see her, or where she might have to cancel. But we’ve discussed it, so I feel at peace.

It’s been such a busy week, what with my laser-focus (forgetting to eat/sleep/etc) on my business. I’m officially running out of steam now, so have decided to step back and rest this weekend (well, from with what’s left of today).

I’m not that young anymore after all. Except in my own mind of course.

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.

Getting Through Challenging Times

This past week has been a difficult one for me. There was another episode with the dad, one that left me feeling terrified and paranoid for days. My body and senses on high alert.

The current state and chaos going on in the country and the world didn’t help with the paranoia. As the lockdown continues and so much uncertainty remains, each week that goes by seems to get more and more challenging. It seems harder to find and hold onto hope and positivity. To keep going strong.

I can’t control what’s happening in the world. In my country. But I can control my actions. And once again I’ve allowed myself to become absorbed in, and consumed by the negativity taking place on social media. I know the effect it has on me, and I also know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. When I’m already feeling angry and anxious, reading certain posts, the comments, and commenting myself, increases that ten-fold. I should know better, yet I allowed myself to ignore the warnings. That’s on me. And so, yet again, I’m making the decision to step back.

The breakthrough came in, and after, my therapy session. Leaving the house and driving to my appointment filled me with anxiety. The thoughts that I was being watched, followed, and would be pulled over and hurt, felt overwhelming. The thoughts and feelings followed me into my therapists office.

After a while I started feeling more contained. I’m so fortunate and extremely grateful that I get to see my therapist in person and have that safe space to go to each week. It’s been my saving grace so many times. So has she. Therapist has a calming effect on me, and I really needed that this week. She basically reiterated that I need to do what makes me feel contained, safe, and regulated, no matter how “weird” it may seem to myself and others.

So I’ve doubled down on my self-care and using my coping and emotion regulation tools. I’ve let go of all the expectations and pressure I’ve been putting on myself. There’s a time and place for that, and now is not that time. Thankfully the paranoia I’ve been experiencing has slowly faded.

What really helps through all of this is the connection I have (and feel) with my therapist. Physical distancing is hard on all of us, but knowing that there are people who care, even if it’s just one person, goes a long way. I had a lovely dream about my previous therapist, and sent her a message to tell her about it. And as usual, she replied. It’s so nice, and healing, to know that our connection is still there. That she’s still around, still cares, and hasn’t forgotten me.

This is such a challenging time. But we are resilient and can weather the storm. We’ve got this. ❤