My Netflix Special

Tonight I have dinner with my Mom and husband, who hate each other.

I’m stressed and anxious. 

I want to control everything.

Instead I’ve decided to view it as a Netflix special – whatever happens may be shit for me but the viewers will LOVE IT 

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I Will Just Get Through It

This week I’m thinking about my tendency to endure. Not to persevere, and I’m not talking about resiliency either although both are applicable to my life. 

I’m talking about the “I am in pain, I need this to stop” feeling that gets ignored, pushed aside, as I grit my teeth and let shit happen instead of saying “wait, hold on, this isn’t okay.” 

I first thought about this at my massage appointment on Sunday. I’m having issues with my IT band, and my massage therapist was going after it, I had asked her to get into my left hip and down through my IT band (it worked, I’m much better today, but it was like an 8/10 on the pain scale during). Those of you who have ever injured your IT band will know how exactly zero fun it is to have someone deep tissue massaging it.

So before she starts she goes “I only want this to be what you can handle. So think of what you’re comfortable with, go a notch down, and tell me when that happens. Okay?” 

I said okay, but didn’t mean it. Soon she was digging her elbow into my muscle and I was sitting there thinking “just breathe through it, it will be over soon.” And I winced, and she stopped and went “That’s a pretty good indication you’re not listening to me. Don’t be a martyr. If I can’t trust you to tell me if it’s too much, I can’t work out your hip for you.” 

So I had been in pain for like a week, and I didn’t want her to stop, so I tried explaining that I have trouble vocalizing it. She said “would it be better if I asked?” And when I said yes, she started asking every few minutes and a few times I did tell her it was too much for me. 

So after all this, I’ve changed, she comes back and she’s like “I think it would be beneficial for you to think about the fact that you don’t say something when it hurts, even after I tell you it’s okay to say something. We’ve known each other for almost five years and you trust me, so what keeps you forcing yourself through something painful like that? You can get me to ease up, we will still get to the same end result, it may just take a bit longer. You’re allowed to need the break.” 

And I thanked her, knowing she was right, and left and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. This whole endurance thing. Sometimes I endure being touched, or listening to someone I don’t want to be around. I almost borderline look forward to being told by a medical professional “this is going to be uncomfortable/hurt” which is weird, but I think I’ve chocked it up to one simple fact. 

When I endured, as a child, the reward was being taken care of. And I was almost never being taken care of. 

The amount of times I have heard “just ride it out”, or “it’s almost done”, or “it will be over soon”. Thinking about that, it gave me chills, literal chills, earlier today. So while this tendency to force myself through things has served me well in some situations, I’m starting to see where I’ve lost out, big time. It also explains why, when people tell me “it will be over soon”, even at something as innocuous as a play, I react so poorly.

At what point when I was a little girl did I start believing it was better to be forced through situations that I didn’t want to be in because it came with hugs and snuggles afterwards instead of learn that I had a right to stop things from happening. And I still should have been given hugs and snuggles, even when I didn’t go through something hard. But I don’t believe that. I don’t believe I am worthy of them without work first. And although I want touch right now, and it has been made available, I am not asking for it, because I don’t feel like I deserve it. 

Why am I punishing myself?

I don’t know. But, it’s been a train of thought preoccupying me this week. And it’s an uncomfortable one that I want to address, but I’m afraid to start. I don’t even know where to start with this.

(Edit: Those things were said to me in the contact of my brothers plentiful meltdowns – those phrases and “he didn’t mean to” are my least favorite in the world. Just because he didn’t mean to doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt)

(Edit again: Agency. That’s the word. I feel like I have no agency.) 

From A Friend

You’re a fantastic human being, PD. You know that. [Husband] knows that. The
world knows that. Even THEY know that.

I find that a problem with family is that we end up having to cohabitate the
same bodies as the ghosts of who we used to be.

People that we were. That are dead. Gone. Only the smallest pieces of which
now make up our current being.

When we go to places we’ve been — nostalgia hits — and we are possessed by
these earlier incarnations of ourselves. They twist the personality just
enough that triggers long removed resurface and sparks of fury, passion, and
anger rise back through our infinite personalities to become more dominant
— whether we like it or not.

Parents, more than the children they raise — and siblings — more than the
friends that grow with us — see these manifestations as evidence that we
have not changed. That we are the same as before.

They ignore the growth.

The development.

The sacrifices and the accomplishments.

We are reduced to shadows of ourself.

It’s unfair that this happens… but it’s also emotionally unfair that
others fail to allow these new personas to fully come into view — favouring
the past and the control that they once had over us.

Might it be that your mother USED to control the family the way she’s
attempting to now? But she has recognized that you have moved beyond her
influence and persists because she doesn’t know what else to do? Possible.

But what matters most is emphasizing that they are seeing an abberation of
who you have become. They fail to see the progress. The evolution. The
change. Because they don’t understand that that sort of change is possible.
Because they refuse to change.

Your brother’s continued direct-influence on their life probably supports
their views — which sucks — because all the things you have told me about
yourself over the years does NOT paint the personality that seems to be
locked into their minds.

You are not their Paper Doll.

You are someone far better than that.

And yet you are Paper Doll, too, having experimented with and built
upon the opportunities and the experiences they offered you.

A scary thing, having access to that timeline and yet having the power to
move into a new, brighter, and better one.

Sad for them to have failed to follow you.

How lovely for me that I get to. 

Therapy Recap

I’m recapping this last week in an effort to not lose the memories of the sessions before it’s too late to remember.

Wednesday at therapy, I was a mess. She knew right away from my energy. I didn’t want to talk to her, I talked about quitting, etc. But she told me that she was going to ask me two things to think about and that I didn’t have to answer her or even talk.

I told her that I didn’t want to talk to her, I didn’t want to be there and she said she understands because what she does is ask me to feel things and I was totally overwhelmed.

But then on Thursday, I sat down and she was like “well, this feels different.” And it had, I had spent a lot of time crying and chatted with a co-worker who said some really really nice things. One thing A had told me Wednesday that really stuck was that I have to accept that this affects and hurts me and stop denying what happened in my childhood – and that she can’t do that for me.

I started by saying ‘im more willing to be here today, to engage with you.’ and she said ‘i noticed. Why?’

And I explained what I said above, that I’d thought about what she said and then I said “I am ready to talk about what I missed now. I’m ready to admit that I’ve missed things.” Which was huge, because for months she’s asked me that question and I’ve dodged and dragged my feet. And I told her that I never got to develop a sense of self – forget about losing one, I never had one. I spent so long trying to force myself into a specific mould, thinking that would fix everything or make it better, at least. And I told her I had written a letter to my mom, asking for that. Asking for my validation and asking for what I needed.

(I can’t find the letter but when I do I will add it here)

And I read it, and A said “we don’t know if your Mom will ever validate this for you. But can we do it? Can I validate it for you?”

And she looked at me and started talking, and honestly, I’ve never struggled so much in listening to her – and I don’t know why, but I did. She said something along these lines – “PD, you were overlooked because of your brother. And because of that, you ended up trying to force yourself to be something and to be perfect, when perfect wasn’t something that could be accomplished. And I’m sorry, because you deserved better.” At this point I looked away and she said “Nope, PD, stay with me. You need to hear this.” And so I looked back, and she continued, talking about all I’ve lost and what it cost and that it hurts and that I’m allowed to feel that way. And then said “did I miss anything?” And I’m crying and I said “that I never established my boundaries because how can you know where they are if you don’t even know they are supposed to exist.” And she said “yes, that, too.”

And then I said:

“I like myself. This self. I love [new home] me – the [career] me, the wife, the me that is ambitious and sassy and learning all these new things. I like me. And they don’t know that me. And I’m tired, I’m tired of the family dysfunction being all I think about, I am tired of it defining me.”

And she said “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say you like yourself before.” Which is true, I hadn’t, to her. I’ve kept it safe, close to my heart. Protected.

We talked about how much safer I feel there, being open and opening up and talking to her about these things. And I said that after last Thursday I don’t feel like I can do or say anything we can’t work through, but that I am still scared she will leave. And we talked about that and she outlined the only situation she might take (to move away for a few months, but she could come back biweekly to see clients) and that we would work out phone calls and that as long as I wanted her, she would make time for me.

It’s like a home to come back too.

Then she said:

“I’m proud of you”

And that meant everything to me.

Tired, Again 

I’m really tired.

I feel like I say that a lot, but it’s because I am. This week was a bit exhausting and I don’t have the energy to recap my sessions right now, but we ended well. 

I had a shot of crown on Wednesday after session, in a ginger ale, and today a glass of wine at work in the afternoon. But overall I’m doing better, I’m doing well. 

I wanted nothing to do with A in session on Wednesday – she knew it and I knew it and I even told her I didn’t want to be there. She was like “I can tell, but you still are.” I kept telling her I didn’t care anymore and couldn’t care anymore and that I gave up, but I was sobbing as I said those things and she was like “what you’re saying and your actions have two different meanings. Until you realize that you DO care, that you’ve been deeply hurt, and have that need validated, you’re going to keep running into this wall. And it hurts you.” 

She kept asking me what I had lost, and what I needed, and I was having none of it. But I did see her again Thursday. 

I am tired, it’s late, and I’m going to go to bed now. 

But I’m okay. 

I just can’t today

Today is hard. My mom and I chatted this morning.  A friend was in a car accident last night. 

I’m depleted, defeated, and drained. 

I feel like I’ve been put through a cheese grater, and I’m staring at the pieces on the floor, and I don’t have the energy to even begin to pick them up. 

One Week

Still sober. It’s been a week. 

I’m still having cravings, and I had a nice long meltdown of emotion Saturday, but I’m still sober. 

I did not self harm or smoke, either. So the rest of my life may not be all together right now, but I’m sober. 

My brother is in town this week. For all I know, he’s here right now. And I’m trying to breathe and do yoga but anxiety about that and my mom coming is overwhelming. 

(Edit: he is here right now, and now I’m panicky)

Fuck.

If I can stay sober through this, I can do anything.

I do get ice cream today, though, so that’s a plus!