The (painful but necessary) Second Option

It takes me 15 minutes to walk to A’s office and I time it so I am on time, exactly, each time. There’s something about me that can’t do waiting rooms. I also panic, on cue, at approximately 3pm, and then by 4pm I’m pretty disassociated. 

Today I didn’t want to go. There was a knot and a ball forming in my gut. Something about being ‘seen’ is so uncomfortable for me. I actually told A “being seen isn’t safe, even by you. I’m waiting for the ‘catch’ here.” I think she was a bit taken aback by that – she was like “let’s look at the facts. I could poke holes in your argument, but I think it’s best if you come to that conclusion on your own.” Eventually I said “fine. It doesn’t feel safe to be seen. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t.” 

I also get frustrated because I feel so much of what I would discuss with her happens on the days I don’t have therapy and I’ve likely moved forward or forgotten it by the time I get there.

I also miss the increased frequency. I was seeing her twice a week, but I have to get past October and my wedding before I can go back (not that that stopped me today from booking two next week).

Six days between sessions is a long time.

I wrote her a note last weekend that I had with me, that I shared. I wasn’t sure I would. It disclosed that I find I don’t really know where the phone boundaries lie but I am so tired of bringing up boundaries with her – I feel like an annoyance. She was like – nope, any boundary talk is always welcome. And she went over them again – and made sure I knew I wasn’t annoying. 

Essentially, no outside contact if it’s something that should be addressed in therapy. I’m on board. I’m so on board after weak boundaries destroyed my other therapeutic alliances (note I firmly believe text and phone contact can be a beneficial thing and if you and your T have that working no judgment here. It just isn’t for me).

We have long sessions. The reason we have 90 minute sessions is because early on she realized that I wouldn’t ever settle into trusting her or allowing her in in time to get any work done. It’s Fort Knox over here. I would be activated and agitated until 45 minutes in, and then it would be time to go just as I was opening up. So she offered and now we see each other for 90 minutes.

We talked about a lot today and I’m feeling discombobulated as I train home. I think the most important things were about my Mom and impending trip home, and about my trials this week with my boss. I also didn’t get to bring up a couple things I wanted to. Next week. 

I described what happened this week with my boss and the resolution I came to in 24 hours. She was SO proud she was basically beaming and just like – that’s amazing. You were vulnerable with your boss. When I said I didn’t think I handled it well she said “I disagree. It may have taken you 24 hours but you DID deal with it and amazingly well.” She was emphatic that even though the coping is frustrating in that I don’t know where my emotions end and the automatic response begins it was overall something I should be proud of.

We then talked about me going back home. About how I feel like I severed a part of me when I left, and how when I go back the healthy part of me trades out. I had trouble talking through it.

And eventually she was like – there are two options here. We are at a crossroads. Either you decide you want to work to try to reshape your relationship with your Mom and have her understand. Or we work to decrease the importance of that relationship and ease off the codependency. I think this is where you are at, and I can help you with either option.  It’s up to you

And I want the first. My god, I want the first. I want a healthy relationship with my Mom in which all parties are equal and the roles we are meant to fulfil are fulfilled and rainbows and kittens and happy endings. And we hold hands going off into the sunset and I don’t have to mother myself or her anymore. 

But. That’s not possible. First, she would have to stop drinking long enough to talk seriously. Second, she has her own healing to do and now that I know how painful it is… I don’t expect her to. I don’t think it is fair to expect that. We are where we are and I can’t control her. 

But as A said today – my Mom loves me fiercely and I love her and her shortcomings are very much not her fault. But it doesn’t make it easy. In fact some days I think it makes it harder. 

I am starting to realize that my Mom simply doesn’t have the emotional capacity or the capability to be the person I needed her to be. And it sucks.

I know in my heart, that to heal, I have to let go of expectations and find a way to exist with her but not be affected by her. 

I started to cry. “The second option”

And she said “ok. The second option.” She paused, as if carefully considering her words. “PD, that option hurts. It’s unfair. You do all the work. She doesn’t learn how you really feel. There’s a lot of grief. I know I’m being harsh with my words – but I don’t think it’s fair to sugar coat it.”

In a rare moment of self disclosure for A, she said “I did that with my Mom. It sucked, but we are much more at peace now.”

I appreciated that she said that. I also appreciated that despite my tears she wasn’t going to let me shy away from the reality of what I’m facing. I again, said “the second option.”

We worked on coping mechanisms. How to protect myself through 11 days of being back home. Some I didn’t like (not drinking being one), but all within my control. 

At the end of it, I looked up at her and said “this is fucking unfair”.

She nodded. “This is fucking unfair.”

This is going to be hard work. And involve a lot of grief. 

I must admit though, I like A. I like her a lot. She doesn’t shy away from the L word. She gives me a hug each session and peanut mnms after. She listens to me and helps me not shy away from difficult conversations. She’s boundaried. Sometimes she will swear. And she’s honest. I don’t feel like I’m guessing.

We scheduled out through my vacation (ha! Vacation is what I will need when I get back).

The second option. It’s the right one, as much as I hate it. And as much as it’s going to bring up stuff that sucks. 

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12 thoughts on “The (painful but necessary) Second Option

  1. Pingback: MO Day 3: Positive Thinking | Paper Doll Therapy Blog

  2. I get this. My mom doesn’t have the emotional capacity to be there either. And I’ve had to go with “option 2” just like you. It isn’t easy. It hurts, and it’s unfair, and of course you want the first one. I wills say that as I’ve healed, and separated from my mom a bit, that second option has gotten easier and less painful in some ways, and I am less hurt or upset by things my mother says and does. It does suck, and it will bring stuff up. I’m only, well, not quite a year into the second option, and you know, it’s okay. You can do this. Get through this vacation, and then you can really work on separating more. Xx💟

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I second Rachel… I get anxious before sessions, too. Therapy is hard work.
    I’ve read most of your blog (I’ve been meaning to read it, but haven’t been able to be on WP much) and I just want to say, I love your writing and relate to so much of it. I look forward to reading more, and glad we’ve connected on the blog-o-sphere. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I get anxious before sessions too. It is like clockwork, a couple of hours before.
    The second option does sound really painful. That is more or less what I do with my parents. It would be nice for them to grow too, wouldn’t it? It is going to be hard work, but sounds like you are ready to try something different.
    I hope the visit goes well. I will look forward to reading about it.
    And 6 days between sessions? Yikes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knowwww its so long! haha. This time it’s 5. I find writing here has been really helpful, and reading about other people’s journeys has been helpful too. I don’t feel so alone.

      Figuring a way out of the enmeshment and codependency that is my relationship with my Mother doesn’t sound like fun. I’m actually a lot more anxious about it now than in session. But it just takes practice.

      And grief. It’s going to take a lot of grieving.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So much grieving. I’ve cried so much in this past year. It is really difficult to fully accept how they really are, and how the dynamics aren’t serving anymore. It is just really tough. So I respect your willingness to go there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A part of me thinks I won’t be able to fully accept how they really are until they pass and the option isn’t there anymore to ride into the sunset together.

        But I have to try. I tend to think in black and white. Either I am there and playing by their rules or I am estranged. It’s interesting to think there is a potential middle ground.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had never thought of it that way, as trying to find the middle ground, but that really is it – I have gone through my own phases of complete alienation, and then co-dependent-type of trying to get them to like me or want me. And there is a middle ground I think, where we get to be who we are, and they get to be who they are, and because we have the skills and capacity, we can still find peace even though it isn’t what we wanted then or now, and we grieve what we wanted/needed and never received and still won’t receive. And in a way, I think the more we change our lives, the less impact those relationships will have. Likely they will always hurt, at least a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I always thought that to recover I would have to completely separate myself from them – and it’s nice to think I won’t but I also have zero idea how that works, you know? This is where trusting that A DOES know the way (and this is why I like that she self disclosed — she’s been there and therefore will be able to identify with my struggle) and trusting her to lead me becomes what I have to do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I know, and I really believe she can help you get there. I do. She sounds so solid, and there really is something extra comforting when they disclose they get it, isn’t there? It makes every word so much more credible (especially to the ornery parts of me). It will take while, for sure, but you are going to get there. I really believe that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. I believe in her too and in our alliance – I think part of me has from day one when she took my “first session therapist interrogation” in stride. When I asked her if she had ever been through therapy and if she had a therapist she was like “yes, I don’t believe I couldn’t treat people if I hadn’t” – and I liked her immediately. She also used the word love that first day and I was like, alright, this is probably it. We may have found our person.

        And thank you, on the days I find it hard to believe I’ll make it, I’ll come back to this comment 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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