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Therapy: Session #35

My therapist asked me what has been present for me these past few days and I had an answer ready for her immediately: “As I apparently was not important enough to be protected I constantly think that I am not enough as a partner, friend, employee, or whatever today.”
She asked me to elaborate and it just poured out of me. That I am often angry because I just can’t wrap my head aroung the fact that certain things were allowed to happen in the past. I can cope with people falling ill and with relationships ending and with school kids being assholes. It is okay. I am not angry that nobody tried to protect me from painful experiences; I am even grateful because most of these things have allowed me to grow.
But then there is this one thing, this one relative of whom everybody has always known that what he does is objectively not okay. All around him there were people who suffered from his crossing boundaries, his treating women like shit, his showing his body and regarding other’s bodies as his property. And it’s not even this behaviour that’s bugging me this much. People like him exist, that is sad but after all it’s true as well.
What I just really can’t grasp is that these exact people who have been suffering from this for decades enable his behaviour. Due to dependencies and fear of accusations this sick system is working and working and working. Of course it would have been great if the people who were responsible for me hadn’t exposed me to this, knowing that it would not be good for me. But I can understand that this is virtually impossible when you’re so trapped in such dynamics. Instead it would have helped if someone had taught me to set boundaries, to say no. What happened as an alternative was that I was being told why I had to accept his behaviour, that he would not change and that it is an inevitable fact that one has to put up with it. And what this does to my head is the following:
His needs were more important than mine.
His needs were even more important than questions of respect and decency that are much larger than just me.
So I was less important. Not important enough to be protected. Just not important.
And if I was so unimportant that nobody could surpass themselves for me in spite of old habits and fears and simply judge matters rationally there has to be something wrong with me.
There must be something about me that is fundamentally wrong and makes me so unimportant and worthless.

I won’t elaborate on this any further – don’t worry, I’m completely aware that these thoughts are super destructive. Not helpful, so full of self-pity and anger. I’m also not looking for guilt, neither do I like accusations, nor do they help, nor is it relevant. I have tons of understanding for the people this is about. I know their stories, I know exactly why they can’t see or can’t scream or can’t act. I understand every little detail, it is a crytsal-clear picture. But the problem is: This understanding is what’s destroyed me. For twenty-five years I have understood and understood and understood…and in the process I first joined the end of the queue and later lost myself.
I don’t know how to continue with this issue as I’m now torn between the old understanding I can’t keep up anymore and this new anger that sounds like an accusation all too quickly.

For now, I’m just glad I got rid of this poison in the old year; we’ll see what my therapist intends to make of it with me in the new year as we don’t have another session this year. This has been incredibly challenging for me and I had to fight the worst thoughts of self-harm in months after the session. Now I’ll turn off the phone and shut out the world. I wish you all a fluffy weekend.

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Finding from a desk drawer #4

He head, she heart.

She loud, he quiet.

He anthracite grey, she multi-coloured.

She dreamer, he realist.

He focused on success, she on enjoyment.

She impulsive, he controlled.

He discreet, she cheeky.

She idealistic, he steady.

And me – somewhere in between. A bit of both and also a little more. None of both and yet everything. He can hear her in my laughter, she can see him in my gestures. Both so good, just so different, both know me although I am a stranger. Always looking for points of commonality – because if I can find any I might finally know what I am made of.

Finding from a desk drawer #3

No idea how old this is…it’s not particularly sophisticated but I just wanted it to stay like that:

How can it be that some days are just grey, with muffled sounds and cold hands and stale tastes, if the sky was too blue and the blood to red and every breath too loud and every touch too much such a short time ago?

How can I miss something I used to hate?

How is it possible that I will not be able to get enough of life tomorrow when today it just seems to be empty and cruel and meaningless?

How will I be able to gasp for breath when I’m underwater all the time?

How is it possible that I can feel your hand in mine although my wounds never hurt?

How will I be able to enjoy life tomorrow if I answer the question of the meaning of life with “Dying” today?

How can anyone just assume that all this is real when nobody will know we’ve been here a hundred years from now?

And how can it be that I still want to get drunk on life with all these colours and sounds and the warmth and the feelings and maybe even the people in it?

 

Yes!

Just some breaking news I want to share because I’m incredibly happy:
My country’s constitutional court just decided that all couples can marry with equal rights from 2019 on! Although it’s a pity that this legal step was necessary due to the many right-winged politicians in my country who have prevented this from happening so far it is such a huge success for the LGBT+ community. And the fact that marriage for everyone will be legalized the year my city hosts the Europride is just amazing timing 🙂
Wish you all a very nice and rainbow-coloured day 🙂

Therapy: Session #34

We talked about last session’s after-effect – which has mostly been anger: On one side, anger with myself because I can’t manage everything and be there for everyone the way I’d like to (notorious) but also anger with others who haven’t been there for me the way I would have needed (very, very new and unfamiliar).
Then we went through some situations from my past – from little Nina’s view and the perspective of a healthy adult in order to find out what I would have needed back then. It is not important to describe these situations in detail, the only thing that’s important is that they were cases where various grown-ups haven’t performed their tasks as the healthy adult my therapist likes to address would. I was not protected, not being taken seriously or simply not being seen. What I liked about the exercise was that the goal was neither feeling self-pity nor blaming the adults from my past. It was just about allowing emotions I’ve had to exist: Frustration, powerlessness, anger, incomprehension and a “I have to endure this!” and then finding out what I can do as a healthy grown up when these emotions dock on in the future. In the situations I imagined this guardian as a big brother – because that was what I longed for back then: Somebody who is older and stronger and can look out for me without being as patronizing as a parent or a teacher. The fact that I felt really sorry for this guardian during the exercise says a lot about the quite huge things I would have needed support with. In so many situations I was unable to learn that the things that had been done to me were not okay so I assumed that there must be something wrong about me. But when I look back at the child or budding teen I used to be I know today that I was quite a cool kid. Really. And that’s exactly what I’ll write into a letter to my past self which will probably end up too personal for the blog. Over and out for today.

There are days…

…where this is all that keeps me going.
My treasure trove full of emergency skills, a string of beads I don’t want to shorten and a cuddly cat than can be warmed in the microwave like a cherry pit pillow (just without the weird smell). Sometimes the stress level can simply go through the roof and there is not even a little time to prepare. Everything is reduced to a craving that is impossible to talk about without having to explain way too much. What happens then is this mode of function where everything that has been learned in therapy is done automatically. And then one can only hope that it’s enough to get through another day without doing anything stupid. Let’s go!

Therapy: Session #33

The session was really interesting. We worked with schema therapy cards. They show pictures of people in all kinds of situations and moods and my task was to select all cards that trigger any emotion. With the dozen cards I chose we made little groups – situations and feelings that have (had) a connection, things I could use as goals etc.
It would be very difficult to explain how moving the cards, talking about past experiences and finding connections slowly made us realize things – in order to do that I would have to describe every single picture and many things from my past that would just go too far here.
Anyway, to cut a long story short we realized the purpose that self-harm originally had for me and the purpose it has now. My experience seems to be that I have needs and worries that were regarded as less serious than the challenges people around me had to face. As a child I patiently waited for my “peanuts” to get some attention if only I could help the grown-ups solve their problems first. Later, as a teenager, I started getting really angry as it seemed that it was never the right time or place for my stuff but as even little “mistakes” made me feel like I was burdening everyone further I started feeling guilty eventually. And in order to cope with that, self-harm started. My therapist thinks that my anger was justified in most cases and could have been useful – for instance in order to scream for once “You can all kiss my ass, now it’s MY turn and I don’t want to do this anymore!”. I don’t know how often she has already explained that I need anger in order to set boundaries but yesterday when I saw all these cards with situations I went through I realized that it’s true for the first time. Unfortunately my head seems to think that anger is not useful anyway because it’s either not taken seriously or viewed as a burden. Therefore the consequence of anger is a mixture of resignation and feelings of guilt and this mixture is something that strongly drives me towards self-harm in order to “endure” it.
We will keep working on this but I definitely found it extreeeeeeeeeeemely interesting how such connections can be discovered using the cards and how my opinion about getting angry has changed slightly 🙂

Evaluated

So…the assessment is over. The doctor I had to see was quite a…quirky person. Not unfriendly, just a little gruff I guess. The appointment was over after ten minutes – if our statutory health insurance thinks that this is a proper amount of time for a psychiatric evaluation they are even funnier than I thought ;). Anyway, the doctor fired away and asked lots of questions – nothing too detailed, nothing too uncomfortable. He seemed pleased to hear about my progress with skills and not as irritated by the fact that I’m not on meds as many other professionals. Also, he seemed to see a person who needs treatment, not a supplicant which was great.
In the end he decided that we would probably meet again in a year which I see as a sign that he will tell the insurance that I actually don’t just see my therapist for fun. I’m glad it’s over but still really tense – I guess it will take some time to relax but that’s okay.
Also I want to thank you all for your constant support in kind words in that matter – I really appreciate that nobody here ever tells me to toughen up 🙂

Got it!

It kept bugging me: What is it that upsets me this much about the evaluation on Thursday?
It is not the fear of the doctor.
It is not the fear of possibly not getting any refund for therapy anymore.
It is not the anger I feel because I actually would have a lot to do at work that day.
It is not even the sadness I feel because mental illnesses are still not treated the way they should be.

So what is it?
Once again, intense concentrated thinking was more effective than constant, week-long brooding – surprise, surprise. Whilst running (because growing numb is never good in situations like this) I imagined how my therapist would guide me towards the answer if she was there. And step by step I figured out what the answer I needed was: It upsets me that I need this. For all my life I wanted to need less than others. And above all I didn’t want to cause problems – not for my parents who had lots of other things to worry about, not for my relatives who were glad because I was so “well-behaved”, not at school where nothing but good marks counted, not in various jobs where I should have protested at the way I was being treated. It was important not to need anything. It was important not to cause problems. It was important not to burden anyone.
And that is the whole point: The letter the insurance sent is screaming at me that I’m a burden on the system, that I should be able to deal with this on my own and that, for this single time in my life I have brought myself to ask for help it has to be determined whether I deserve that help first. Making me feel like I’m impertinent is such a massive trigger for me – I can hear a thousand voices from my past that urged me to do things that were just too much and I hear the silence from my past that was there when I would have needed support…

The fact that I’m aware of this now helps me a great deal – because this is not at all about the appointment itself. I can go there. I can answer the doctor’s questions. I can deal with any possible outcome. And above all I can discuss the issue above with my therapist as I finally know what the problem is.