So I had an appointment with TM this morning. It went well. It was good, even. And I came home in a better/worse sort of shape than when I arrived at his office. Such is life in therapy and exploring uncomfortable stuff. Thing is, I know what was said and discussed are like grass seeds planted and tilled into the soil to take root and sprout later.
But I am having a tough, tough time today and this morning. Part of it may be the early rising – getting up at 4 rather than 4:15 should not make that much of a difference yet for some reason it does. Possibly it’s purely psychological. I got to the gym early, went through the new cable workout, then came home, cleaned up, went to meet with TM.
Therapy is never easy. Sometimes it hurts me all over again, to my roots of my soul, and makes me want to throw up (and sometimes actually racing for the ladies room to actually do so) and withdraw from the world. My base-level thinking is that if I am not part of this world I cannot be harmed or disappoint anyone else in it.
But my life does not work that way. I have a job, a business, a family, friends, and a life that must be lived out there with other people. There was a time when I did not think that far ahead, about what my life beyond and into older age-hood than I am right now. This time last year, there were sleeping pieces of me that was asleep to the idea of actually living more completely than I feared dying.
Things started to change when I began paying more attention to and caring about taking better care of myself, when I began to think there was more out there in the world for me to discover. Little changes led to slightly larger ambitions and objectives.
I admire those who say they do not care what other people think, because I have never been one of them. My mindset is more one of service than being served, yet I am acutely aware of those who take advantage of others and of me. Sometimes I allow it to happen to me. Plus I have this weird dichotomy of not desiring to be recognized for good deeds and yet almost throwing myself in front of the bus when things go wrong, whether I am remotely responsible or not. I have a habit of apologizing when doing nice things.
And what that has to do with anything is a mystery as well.
TM last week said I expect to disappoint people, and it has rankled and bothered me for most of the last 2 weeks. Because of course he is correct in his assessment – I do actually anticipate being a disappointment to others. I so want to shed that … 2 weeks from last Thursday, not days or weeks or months from now.
Today we talked about that a bit further. He used example of the kids’ weddings, apparently quite a flashpoint between many parents and their adult children. Not for me, though; I have always genuinely hoped and strived to raise my kids into independent adults and responsible community members. And I really, Really, REALLY want them to be happy. In truth that’s all I want for everyone I care for and about, for people to be happy and enjoy some measure of peace in their lives.
We discussed parenting a bit in general, and how I no longer qualify my statements about my parenting. I am a good mother; I raised a couple of terrific kids. There are some guilty moments in there, where I made mistakes or did things I truly regret to this day, but those are fewer and farther between. The memory is still there, of course, but it’s further into the background, behind newer memories we make now that we are all adults and relate to each other as such.
TM talked to me about affirmations and homework assignments. We talked about how I have fallen off the wagon again with the affirmations, fallen behind on my homework. When my focus is on building my self-esteem and self-confidence, I am less likely to feel the self-destruct buttons embedded in my mind and with trigger-happy negative girl manning the controls.
More than anything else said, being reminded that I am faltering at my practice sounds the alarms and focuses my attention. Nothing at all worse for me than someone in my village oh-so-gently pointing out that I am not doing my homework in the off time practice.
TM suggests I come up with some set number of affirmations to repeat in my head rather than counting reps when I’m at the gym. Or while brushing my teeth for the 2 minutes my Sonicare runs, and since I brush my teeth at least twice daily that’s not too bad.
There is always discussion about what I am thinking, or not thinking. A lot about feelings, events in my past, scars that still bleed, life skills I never fully developed. If I have learned nothing else in the years of working with TM and other skilled professionals like him, there are ways to cope and techniques to help me be a better, more emotionally healthy version of myself.
The affirmations are not so much affirmations so much as reminders and highlight reel of the good-person qualities and habits I possess. In not too much time (I hope) my brain will be redirected away from its instinctive first, fear/insecurity/anxiety-based responses to any and all situations. It’s kind of a temporary sling until we can work out the kinks of a more permanent solution and heal the break.
Asking for help, feeling deserving of help – so difficult to overcome. Then when I find the right fit coaches to work with me, learning to stuff down that instinctive feeling that they are dumbing down, desperate, or something even worse to deign to work with me.
TM and I have become friends after all these years. Outside his office, we socialize and have fun and laugh uproariously and I feel like his peer. Inside the boundaries of his office, I feel as if I am still some broken puzzle pieces that do not fit. Pieces are missing. Pieces are rotted and smelly and gross. Or the wrong pieces are present.
Or so goes the narrative built into the structural foundation of my brain.
I have been down this pathway before, almost too many trips to count anymore. Each time new chunks are fitted together and glued into place, and the patchwork of empty is made smaller. And every year, sometimes every other year, I grow another vertebrae to face the next rejiggering of my personal puzzle with TM.
It smarts something fierce. No matter how dreadful the dreadful core exercises or the present troubling troubles I am having with single legged everything, the work with TM is far more challenging. Eating more protein, avoiding sugar, making better choices about carbohydrates and food is hard, but the emotional stuff I am working at every other Tuesday makes me far more capable to stand up to those types of temptations.
I restarted in January, in the midst of a winter frost that had me frozen in place. The weeks and now months have passed and spring is in the air, new grass and new growth is starting to appear. This weekend was a barely a blip in the much bigger picture. My brain’s muscle memory needs more practice, because the new habits I am striving to adopt cannot be learned without consistent practice.
So back to work on my mental game. Improvement happens when I apply myself and work at it … and want it badly enough. And believe me, with all the other objectives I am chasing, I really want this one more than badly enough.
Belief in my sovereign good personhood? I guess digging deep to find the patience and focus to let it happen is printed in invisible ink on every List currently in my possession.
I can and will learn. For me, this is most definitely and ongoing process.