I saw my new therapist again yesterday.  I’m getting a little better about not comparing her with my rose-colored memories of C*, but I’m still not clear on why I’m remembering him in such soft focus.  I didn’t like him so well when I was seeing him every week!  In fact, I was extremely frustrated with my sessions with him and grumbled about him constantly, including on this blog.  Maybe it’s that the last time I spoke with him I was in a really, really good place.  Maybe I’m just o’n’ry** and am predisposed to gritch and moan about whatever therapist I’m currently seeing.

My sessions with S are really different from the sessions I had with C.  I cry a LOT more now and we talk about completely different things.  It’s kind of strange because I’m certainly not trying to behave any differently in my sessions, and I’m not consciously directing the conversation any differently, but we’re just going to totally different*** places than before.  I guess the Story of My Dysfunction runs a little deeper than I had suspected.

Yesterday S asked me if I ever get angry.  I had to think about that for a minute.  I think there are two kinds of anger:  there’s Righteous Political Anger on Behalf of the Downtrodden, which I have in spades, and there’s the actual emotion of anger that people feel when something happens in their lives.  That’s the one I think I’m missing.

S thinks I’m angry whether I know it or not.  She thinks I reflexively take any anger I might feel, legitimate or not, and direct it right back at myself.

She does have a point.

Yesterday she called my self-talk “abusive.”  More than once.  And she only knows about the parts I’m willing to say out loud.

That woke me up.  Abusive?  Really?  If anyone else was saying to me what I regularly say to myself, I would call it abuse without a second thought.  Am I my own abuser?  There are no shelters for that.  But I don’t want to trivialize real abuse, what so many people (most of them women and children) face at the hands of people who are supposed to love and care for them, by using that fraught and powerful word for something that’s going on inside my own head.

So what do I call it instead?  And even if the word is off-limits, is S right?  And more importantly, how do I stop?

*Who understood me perfectly and always knew exactly what to say.  All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.  Ah, there’s nothing like a little revisionist history to get the blood flowing!

**How do you spell that, anyway?  “Ornery,” with its three distinct syllables, doesn’t really convey the tone I want but I don’t think randomly sprinkling apostrophes through the word really does it either.

***Evidently my mental thesaurus is out to lunch.  That was a lot of “different.”  Sorry folks!


6 responses to “wordplay

  1. Wow, it sounds like your new therapist is really getting you to open up in a different way than your previous one. I definitely think negative thoughts, “beating yourself up” is something you can change – it’s a learned behavior and you can always learn a new way to talk to yourself. I know I had some really negative thoughts about the way my body was failing me every month, and I had to start thinking things like “my body has an amazing capacity to heal” and visualizing my uterus as a warm and inviting place for an embryo to hang out instead of a hostile, adeno-ridden environment.
    As soon as the negative thoughts start coming, you just have to nip them in the bud and replace them with something affirming. After a while, the negative thoughts come less and less and the positive ones are always on the surface, ready to leap to your defense if you need them.

  2. My therapist is also very big on self-forgiveness. She likes to say “you didn’t fail. You did the best you could with the tools you had available at the time”. Sometimes, of course, I just roll my eyes (internally, usually) at that. But sometimes it does hit home, and I am able to let something go.

  3. Aka, self-torture… I hate that you have to experience that kind of self flagellation. Why do we do it? I do it, too, and have had to work really hard to break the habit – I like Sarah’s method, “nip it in the bud”. It’s an act of conciousness that can also ground you in the present, if you spend too much time looking past/forward. I read a great mantra, from Yoga Journal , that takes you out of yourself (and your head space); it’s something like, “May I feel this anxiety/fear/whatever for all others who feel these emotions right now, so they don’t have to”. Give yourself a hug, and remind yourself of your strengths – like opening yourself up through blogging, working on managing your emotions through therapy, and your music. There’s more to us than what we aren’t.

  4. I also really resonate to what you and Sarah and Lucie say, as a recovering self-hater. I feel like it’s a relatively tractable, small thing we can do (re-training ourselves not to talk to ourselves that way) that has a large psychological impact. I mean, I still spend plenty of time feeling those waves of despair, but I think it’s easier for me to come out of it feeling like I can take action rather than like I am a useless, worthless person now that I resist the impulse to tell myself I am those things.

    I hear you on feeling ambivalent about using the term abuse, but I think it qualifies, and that you can take the behavior seriously without worrying about minimizing the experiences of others.

    (Also, Twangy posted this link recently, and I watched it and thought of you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0. I don’t necessarily buy her logic, but I found it interesting.)

  5. I like Sarah’s advice, too. And I imagine we all do this to some extent, when going through IF or facing other challenges that make us feel like failures. (See, there’s that word already)
    In my experience (from a different situation) it is easier to get upset about others being treated badly than for receiving the same treatment myself. Not sure why this is though — why can’t I take my own suffering as seriously as that of someone else?

  6. These are all good points… I struggle with justifying my own anger and grief about my infertility in light of the horrible things that are happening to other people. I also can’t totally make sense of why I feel so badly about my infertility when much worse things have happened to me. I constantly tell myself things like “well this is only the fourth worst thing that has ever happened to me,” which of course doesn’t make me feel better.

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