So I’ve learned a few things in this last week while A is away on her silent retreat.
1. I really want to lean in more to the hard part of therapy, where we talk about and investigate my feelings around what I’ve realized are really my triggers – which are…
2. Feeling ignored, dismissed, left behind, trapped, not included and to a lesser extent, spoken for. Aloneness with an inability to trust myself.
3. When #2 happens I withdraw, drink, and want to lie to get attention that soothes. And I get angry, I get REALLY angry, and that anger is still stuffed away inside. And it comes out against my friends, husband, and coworkers when it overflows. This whole process can take a week or two, and it drains me. I get very, very tired and deflated. Especially if I don’t catch it, and especially if it originates from my FOO (family of origin).
4. To mitigate this with the FOO, I am not sharing my feelings anymore and being really conscious about communications I have with them, how we speak to each other and what I share. There is grief there in giving up on that dream but when Shawn, Trey, Adam, and Dave all this week at work were like “why are you still giving them the chance to hurt you like this?” I was like, alright then. It is time.
5. Those feelings still get triggered in everyday life whether it’s purposeful or not. From small things, like not feeling heard by my husband, feeling like I’m being ‘put up with’ by men in the office – the equivalent of a verbal ‘pat on the head’ – to large things like actually being pushed aside, being spoken for, or thinking about death (which I’ve FINALLY connected the dots to this incredible fear of being alone and not trusting my own self).
6. All three parts of me react in very distinct ways. The adult drinks her face off, procrastinates (cause it’s “not like I’m good enough anyways”), spends irresponsibly, and if the rejection is related to body image starts being crazy about losing weight. The teenager, Sophie, gets mother fucking angry. Either at the adult for being dumb and doing something deemed ‘risky’ – by putting us at risk of rejection, or at the person who dismissed us. I have dreams where I’m smashing things, will spend the week having moments where, for example, I’m at my desk holding a coffee and get this sudden urge to throw it against a wall and watch the mug smash (for no reason), and get annoyed really easily. And the child wants the love she feels deprived of – the rejection has deprived her even more and reminds her of this wound that exists. So she will withdraw from close friends in the hope of drawing out their worry and if nobody seems to care, she will concoct stories and lies in order to get attention.
7. All of them ^ need coping mechanisms, because we are going to feel this way, and as we explore the shadow monster of feelings living inside us (Stranger Things reference that feels incredibly appropriate), these urges are going to come up, and for the rest of our life even when we are on the other side of these feelings – I am going to have to deal with this. Understanding is power, yes, but they still need their own thing. Which is what I am doing now – being the Oprah of coping mechanisms (healthy-ish ones).
You get a coping mechanism, you get a coping mechanism, you all get a coping mechanism!
This feels really important and while I have had some ideas the teen needed this for a while, the others were harder to figure out.
For the teen, I am going to join an MMA gym where I can kick and punch and smash and channel my anger to my heart’s desire which also provides a benefit of feeling stronger, safer, and more confident.
For the adult, I’m going to have Thursdays be girls night followed by no work at home. Doing what I want when I want. Also making sure all the time I am getting sleep, not overloading my schedule, and doing some stretching before bed to wind down. Knowing what feels safe. Baths, journaling, etc.
The kid is harder because she often wants things on a whim. But settling in to watch a Disney movie under my weighted blanket, buying juice boxes and popcorn so I can make it a movie night with stuffies, colouring and drawing and doing puzzles. Trying to mother her from within and asking for help when I need it.
The key is going to be figuring out who needs what, when, and who takes priority when they all have needs. I also think I need something else for the teen – and that may be realizing it’s safe to let that anger out in my sessions, with A. Letting her see the hurt and anger that part of me carries and working on being loved and letting that in. I am holding on to a lot of anger, and it comes out when I feel threatened, but it doesn’t come out constructively and I usually end up swallowing it. I think too, as DV pointed out, my reluctance may be a result of being afraid to echo my brother – of seeing how the anger he unleashed on my mother affected her, and me, and everything – and that translating into a fear of getting angry around A and having her leave me.
Because at the bottom of this all is the fear of being left alone and having nobody – and the irony of that doesn’t escape me as I’ve spent a lot of time alone with these emotions, refusing to share then with people around me, or if I am sharing them, not sharing them honestly because I don’t trust that I won’t be alone.
I’d be lying if I said the prospect of looking at these emotions (feeling them) didn’t scare me. It does. It especially does with a financial situation so precarious. But I am in this to heal as much as I can, and I trust it’s possible.