Inconsolable

I had a very hard time sleeping on Monday night. I think I was nervous about my job interview Tuesday morning, but I was also just extremely agitated. I couldn’t get comfortable and I felt something that I struggled to identify. Loneliness? Grief? Sadness? Emptiness? Anger? All of the above?

I’m not sure.

When I mentioned it to my wife and we spoke about it, she said that she believed she briefly spoke with a part that she’s never talked to before. She guessed perhaps it was Scooter because this part seemed young, but also very angry, expressing intense anger at my therapist for leaving us (i.e. going on vacation). Interesting.

The interview went very well. I wasn’t particularly nervous for the actual process of being interviewed. My résumé is stellar and I have a charismatic, articulate, confident presence that tends to impress people. I also went into the interview knowing I’m a very good match for the company, so I was more or less scoping them out to see if it seemed like a good fit for my career trajectory. I ended up being quite impressed with the two interviewers. There was a moment when I could tell they switched from “interviewing” me to “selling the job” to me, which felt nice. I love the idea of being a prize candidate and I’ve worked damn hard for it!

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Birthday Grief

Last week was my birthday.

I told my therapist in the session leading up to it that I’d need her support. I wasn’t able to articulate exactly how or what she could do to help, but I knew it would be a difficult week. My birthday is always hard for me, for us, as a system. There are difficult memories and emotions that come up in a seemingly unavoidable way each year.

But things have also been very difficult for River lately. She’s been showing up in session more, talking in a really open and honest way that makes me, my wife, and my therapist very happy. It has made it kinda worse in terms of having an eating disorder, but my therapist is convinced this is all part of the recovery process.

So on Wednesday, River went to session. I’m not entirely sure what was discussed, but I know she ended the session by asking my therapist if we could call her the next day to check in. Apparently my therapist hesitated just long enough for River to feel something that was upsetting. My therapist told me she said, “Ugh, never mind” before more or less storming out of the office.

And then she didn’t call our therapist. No one did. Which sucks because I know I could have certainly used the added support.

Anyway.

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February

I hate February.

I was born in February. Late February.

I have many trauma anniversaries. Probably at least one for as many days as there are in a calendar year. It’s hard to imagine that nearly three decades of abuse wouldn’t have covered all 366 potential days.

But something about February is always harder than the other months.

Maybe it’s my birthday. The beginning of it all.

I know there are traumas around my birthday, as there are around all holidays and celebrations. I know I was always hurt on or around my birthday. Not only by my parents.

I was date raped on my birthday in senior year of college. And there was an earlier incident…

Yesterday in session, I was flipping through an old journal. I opened the page to February 5th, 2002.

The entry is one sentence long:

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Orphan

I want to write about Thanksgiving, but it’s hard to even remember much about it.

My wife’s grandmother passed away unexpectedly a few short days before the holiday, leaving her family scrambling to figure out funeral arrangements on top of holiday planning. Wife has been understandably emotional. Her family is predictably WASP-y, all but ignoring the death of their matriarch.

There was virtually no mention of her during the holiday spent together.

Not a single person asked about me. Or my wife. Or anyone, really. They talked about sports, television, Broadway, politics. There were some heated discussions, which is always confusing since we’re all vehemently liberal. We’re on the same damn side.

Somehow we found a way to argue about politics anyway. I suppose it’s not a holiday without that requisite?

The food was terrifying. I’d made a plan and I mostly stuck to it, but the tiny variation from that plan has me reeling even now. My intake has been dangerously low ever since in some futile attempt to even the balance and prevent imminent danger.

I wish I’d taken photos of what I ate. I always overestimate how much I eat in my head. Sometimes just visualizing what was actually on my plate at a later time helps me understand normal portions.

Whatever that means.

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Not Funny

I ended up calling my therapist on Tuesday. I kept ruminating about her failure to talk with me about her short break next week for Thanksgiving, so at about 11pm, I called and left her a voicemail that went something like this:

“Hi, it’s Andi. I’m calling super late because this is the first chance I’ve had to slow down and breathe all day. And I realized that I’ve spent most of today obsessing over you not telling me that you’d be out both Thursday and Friday next week. I mean, maybe it should be obvious that you’d be off Friday as well, but it wasn’t. So it’s just really concerning and distressing to me that you didn’t talk about that with me. Especially since next week is Thanksgiving, which is something I’m super stressed about, which you know because we’ve been talking about it! And I know we’ve been in a weird, difficult place lately, but I’m still pissed that I have to go through that without you. It pisses me off and I need a place to discharge all of that emotion, so…here it is. Okay, bye.”

I felt kinda better after I hung up. It served its purpose.

She called back the next day and acknowledged my voicemail. She reminded me that she’d offered sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday next week to make up for the missed hours and said we should definitely try and talk about this during our next session.

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Inconsistent

My therapist has always made a big deal out of scheduling and consistency. Each time we’ve transitioned to a higher number of sessions per week, she’s reinforced that we need to stay with that number, even if our schedules shift.

That is why we’ve done so much rescheduling throughout the last nine months. (NINE!)

And I loved it. I felt really cared about and taken care of by her. I knew it was all part of the way she conducts herself as a professional, but that’s not to be underestimated. Many of my previous therapists could not bring themselves to maintain even essential professional standards. So it always meant a lot to me that even when something came up during a normal session time, she’d push for us to find a time to reschedule.

And then I recently canceled a session to meet a new shrink during the same week some other part of me canceled our second session (which I then un-canceled). That event, as I’ve talked about extensively, prompted her to let me know that the shifting of session time was “less than ideal” and that she was not very impressed with my decision to cancel, even though it was to meet with a doctor. Which sent me reeling into a shame spiral that I’ve (clearly) yet to recover from.

And then it got worse.

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Broken

I haven’t written in a while. The truth is that everything feels broken in therapy right now.

Why?

I have no clue.

We’d been ebbing and flowing in a natural pattern of rupture and repair, coming out all the stronger for it with each pass. Our bond has always been sturdy, but it felt like something special was happening; I was letting go of something. Fear, perhaps?

Regardless, something has shifted.

I don’t know what it is. I can’t point to a specific moment or even series of moments. There was no gradual decline or pulling back. I remember her telling me last Monday that she was worried if we didn’t dig deeper into the patterns we were recreating in that space, we’d grow further and further apart.

I knew she was right. I agreed with her. And that is not what I wanted. So later that evening I broke my arbitrary rule that I could no longer call her after sessions and did just that. I called and left a simple voicemail asking her to return me call when she was available. When she called back, we spoke for about ten minutes and had a nice conversation.

The first thing she said was, “You called!” with joy in her voice. I said, “Yeah. I decided today would be the day I’d stop being punitive about this and just make the call. It was an experiment.”

“And how does it feel?”

I smiled, “It feels really nice.”

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Scary Movies

As I mentioned yesterday, I told my therapist how much I love that she allows me to put my feet on the furniture in her office. That interaction led to a slight rupture that we (luckily) recovered from, offering me the chance to explain more about this particular topic.

Growing up, I was this little monkey kid. I loved to climb and hang off of anything and everything, especially furniture. I loved to sit on the arms of chairs and sofas; I’d hang upside down or climb over the top of recliners and lay in a strange twisted position. My feet are rarely ever touching the ground if I can help it. I don’t like that feeling, for many reasons.

One reason is due to my parents: my father especially hated when I sat on the arm of a chair or sofa, or put my feet on the furniture. My parents could never understand why I flat out refused to just sit normally in a damn chair. I guess I just didn’t want to. It infuriated them and they’d scream at me for it constantly.

So I did it even more.

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Quick Recovery

During nearly every session with my therapist, I put my feet on the chair at one point or another. I either sit cross-legged, side sitting, or with one or both knees up to my chest. The first several times I did this, I’d put my feet down once I noticed I was doing it and apologize. Each time I did so, my therapist would respond by telling me it was okay.

I always loved that.

Today I came into session in a very light and jovial manner. I asked her if I could show her some photos. She said of course, so I pulled out my phone and knelt down in front of her (something I have never done before because I usually just hand her the phone) to show her some Halloween photos of my sister’s children and a funny picture of my classmate and I taken earlier in the week. We laughed together and I could tell she was excited to have this glimpse into my life outside of her office.

When I returned to my chair I set my phone down and reflexively picked up my right leg to place my foot on the chair. I was wearing heels though, so it felt awkward. I paused a second and then said, “Well this doesn’t work as well with heels on” as I put my foot back on the floor.

Doing that reminded me of my sentiment around such things, so I spontaneously said, “I love that you let me put my feet on the furniture!”

She said, “Well I might change my mind, come winter.”

I felt my heart sink. I quickly responded,

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I Called Her

I did call my therapist to follow up on the email fiasco. I told myself all day that I wouldn’t call; I would just suffer until Friday and deal with all of this during that session because that’s what I deserve.

But then I met with the lady psychiatrist and she was wonderful. She really listened to me and she had a great way of explaining how medications should and should not impact the body. She seemed unfazed, yet empathetic when I told her about my DID diagnosis. She asked for as much detail as I was comfortable giving. She wanted to know about my personal and psychiatric history and then agreed that we would start with what’s most pressing right now and address those symptoms. She was personable and her office has a cozy, welcoming vibe to it. I felt very comfortable talking to her and I left her office with a sense of hope and optimism that I never feel around psychiatry.

Plus she agreed I should go off the Lamictal (yay!), she renewed my other prescriptions and added Zoloft to try and help ease the overall anxiety I feel. She said if that doesn’t work, we can try another SSRI or possibly a stimulant to help fight dissociation and allow my traumatized brain to function better in a “top down” manner (which basically means firing up the frontal lobe, where we make all of our adult decisions).

Regardless, she listened. And that means everything.

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