Update on counseling

After my last post, I felt I should follow up on it. Counseling went well on Saturday. I really didn't want to be there, the same way frequent hospital patients don't want to go back to the hospital. It's so nice to just pretend everything is okay, instead of subjecting oneself to possible additional pain, no matter how necessary the pain is for healing.

That said, as soon as the door opened and my therapist greeted me, I didn't feel as nervous anymore. That's how I know my therapist is a good match for me. (So far, anyway.)

We both complained about NATO, and the negative economic impact. We talked about the weather and my work. It may seem like just a chat session rather than therapy, but I do appreciate chatting for a few minutes before getting into the nitty gritty, you know?

She asked if Father's Day was one of those holidays that put me on edge. Sort of, it does. It used to be more anxiety-ridden that it does now, but a couple of years of celebrating the sane fathers I know has helped to start supplanting some of the negative connotations of fathers. I think about Grampy and Grammy's new husband, who is a fantastic grandfather for all of his new grandkids through marriage. I think about father in law. Other friends who have children--they're fantastic dads. My uncles.

I like it that Father's Day is low-key, now. Same for birthdays. She asked about how my birthdays were when I lived at home. Tense. It was a day where all the gifts I got can and would be used against me in future rages. I appreciated the gifts, but I'd rather have a sane dad and no gifts. And if I didn't show proper appreciation for every single gift, then I was a spoiled brat. It was hard to guess how appreciative I had to appear (despite the fear and knowledge that it will turn into weapons), and if I wasn't appreciative enough, well, by golly, that's trouble.

How do I celebrate it now? Low-key. Last year, Jeff got me shower curtains to replace the moldy shower door. My mother in law gave me a new apron, and a few other gifts. Simple things..but those are the things I appreciate the most. They're thoughtful, heartfelt, and most of all, I know they will never say, "Why did you do [minor transgression, like not taking out the recycling] after all I've done for you?? I bought you the expensive [gifts here] that I worked long hours to pay for just to be nice to you!" Same goes for Jeff's birthday. Low-key. He doesn't want or expect much. In fact, I had trouble trying to remember if I even got him anything for his birthday or for Christmas...I knew I had for at least one of the holidays, but I didn't remember what it was. We're a good match.

Do I want to be a mother, eventually? she also asked during the session. I definitely do. There's definitely more to this question, like probable infertility, qualms about in vitro, and a desire to adopt, that might be better suited for another blog post. I did say that I want to make sure I'm a good mother for my future children. I really do. That's why I'm going for therapy. I want to make sure that any depression or anxiety I may have does not affect my mothering ability.

That's when she said something that made me feel so much better...that I'm not personality-disordered. So simple a declaration...but man, that made me feel so much better! It's interesting, though, that she said that she considers my depression and anxiety to be subsets of PTSD, verses disorders in addition to PTSD. If I understood her right, that is.

It makes sense to me. It could be I had a genetic tendency to depression that the trauma and stress just exacerbated. It could be that I have seasonal affective...but it could also be the holidays that just happen to be in the same dreaded winter that stirs up PTSD memories, which makes me more depressed. It's hard to know for sure, but it did provide additional hope for me that things can and will get better.

She asked about the next oldest sibling--wondering if he might be the next to get disowned. My brother, who was the black sheep of the family, whom dad was hard on (he is hard on all the boys), but after I started being more independent and especially after I moved out, he became the golden child. (Black sheep and golden child are all descriptors of the role of children in a family. There's usually one of each.) I was definitely more of a golden child until I was painted black.

The next oldest? Betsy. 10 year gap between me and her, and my brother and I teased her...about how Hilary Duff isn't that good of a singer, about her crush on the Jonas Bros., things like that. Apparently that's "normal" sibling rivalry and teasing. I just still feel bad about it. And I feel bad about having to, well, manipulate situations in order to protect them.

Once I was babysitting my little siblings while my parents went out for a date lunch. I forget why, but Betsy was crying about something, just at the same time my parents were coming home. Maybe it was that Tommy was being unfair...something of the sort. So I bribed her with a quarter to stop crying, because otherwise she would have caught hell from dad for crying about "nothing," and I would have been raged at for being a bad babysitter, and so on.

My therapist's response to that? She wondered if Betsy would even remember that. It's something I can ask her about, when she's older and we get to meet again.

I started tearing up at the idea of being able to see Betsy again. I would love to reconcile. Redevelop our sisterly friendship. I would love that.

We ran out of time, but my therapist kind of gave me an overview of what we're doing in upcoming sessions. First, get me on a more stable emotional ground. I need to take care of myself, eat better, exercise, all of that. Then we can start on some of the memories. See how that correlates to my reactions (depression, anxiety, etc), and treat it at the source. I've done similar exercises before in the past, but somehow I feel like this time around will have more of an effect on me. At least, I hope so. I so want to just heal and be able to get to a good spot so I can really move on in life.

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  • Hi Holly,
    I have been "thinking about" going back to therapy for a while now. It is so hard to find the right fit, and the process can be demoralizing. I needed to comment on the gifts as weapons. When I was 13 I borrowed money from my dad to buy a Christmas gift for my mom. They were divorced. I did not get an allowance even thou I babysat my younger brother and sister 4 nights a week, but I wanted the money to buy a gift for my mom, that was inportant to me. I bought her a framed print of some mountains. A few months later I got into some trouble with a girlfriend and my mom returned the gift to me. My mom would give gifts and then take them away as punishment too. About a year later she kicked me out and gave away all of my possesions, but she held onto that picture to give back to me. It took me years to wonder why I didn't throw it away when she first returned to me. It never occurred to me to protect myself. Stay strong Holly.

  • In reply to Stacey67:

    Hi Stacey,
    I hope you can find the right therapist, eventually. It's almost like finding a partner--lots of duds, and a few good people.

    I am glad you realize now, how to protect yourself. How hurtful of your mother! Stay strong, too (hugs).

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