An Alphabet of Gratitude

Today, I happened upon a post of Ashley’s about the A to Z challenge of gratitude. It’s easy enough, you just name something from each letter of the alphabet you’re grateful for. Well, I said it was easy, but it was actually kind of tough! Especially at the less common letters, I felt like I was playing scrabble.

Here’s my list!

  • A – Animals. Dogs. Cats. Bunnies. I want about 10 of each. No matter what, petting an animal or laughing at a funny animal video always raises my spirits.
  • B – Babysitting. H & S are the sunshine of my day, despite all the kid-size offenses that require me to play the disciplinarian. There’s nothing quite like one of their hugs, the sound of that laughter, or playing a silly game together.
  • C – Comfort. Whether from a friend or my fuzzy bed blankets.
  • D – DVR. A little silly, but catches all of my favorite television shows that I’d for sure miss otherwise. With a busy schedule like mine, I’m grateful to be able to watch at my own pace!
  • E – Education. I was lucky to be able to have any many years of school and training as I did. While school work is never fun, I always really enjoyed learning new concepts and connecting them to my experiences.
  • F – Football. For years I was not a sports fan. Now, my love of the Green Bay Packers gives me an outlet for my pent-up feelings as I yell and scream at the TV.
  • G – Grandpa. After a really difficult year following his heart attack, he turned 86 this week. How blessed I am for him and his silly and cranky ways.
  • H – Holidays. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, you name it. . The more I can decorate for it and the more excitement surrounding the holiday, the happier I am.
  • I – ImprovementThe little steps I’ve taken to better my life. It takes time. It takes patience with myself, but I’m getting there.
  • J – Jewelry. Specifically, a necklace given to me by my grandmother and some earrings that are my Nana’s. Accessorizing helps me feel more confident and wearing my grandmothers’ things connects me to them.
  • K – Karma. Specifically, good karma. I believe you get back what you put into this world.
  • L – Leaves. Fall is my favorite time of the year, and these gorgeous colors make every afternoon drive a sight to see.
  • M – Macaroni and cheese. My ultimate comfort food.
  • N – Naps. Enough said.
  • O – Organization. It keeps me on track to get everything done and as a result, relieve some stress!
  • P – Playlists. Music feeds my soul. I’m almost always listening to it. My carefully curated playlists, made for to satisfy whatever emotion my mind is currently housing, are always something I can rely on to calm me down or charge me up.
  • Q – Quiet time. I need my breaks as much as anyone else. Sometimes its nice to just sit without needing to meet anyone else’s expectations or needs.
  • R – Reading. I wish I had more time to settle down with a book, because I love getting engrossed in a good story.
  • S – Sunny days and sunsets. Little compares to the beauty of it, especially those colors in the sky as the day leaves us behind.
  • T – Therapy. Event though J and I are in the middle of a rough patch, I wouldn’t have made quite the growth I have without our work together.
  • U – Understanding. Those moments of support, encouragement, validation from others.
  • V – Vacation. The ones I’ve taken and the many many I plan to take. Or even just a four-day weekend from work.
  • W – WordPress. I stole this one from Ashley, but who wouldn’t be thankful for this community? I love each and every one of you.
  • X – Xenopus. It’s a clawed frog. The word is fun to say. Honestly, I was having trouble coming up with one for this, so I picked at random. But I’m happy this little guy is part of our world!
  • Y – Yearning. For love. For friendship. For independence. Sometimes, it’s what keeps me fighting.
  • Z – Zones of Regulation. A counseling program I’m working on with my students at school, but also learning a lot from. All about the strategies you use for different color-coded emotions.

If you’re reading this, I challenge you to try it too. The more creative your answers, the better.

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And….Break!

The other day, I came to a decision I never thought I’d make for myself. I’m currently taking a two week break from therapy. Or at least, a two week break from J.

Let’s back up for a second. Where did all of this come from?

I mentioned in my last post how I missed my first scheduled phone check-in with J on Monday. We were supposed to have a 15-minute conversation in the afternoon, but she never called. I was really upset by this, and felt forgotten and unimportant.

The next day, I texted J to follow up, which I consider to be a big step for a person who usually stuffs their feelings down and pretends they aren’t important.

Me: Hi. Maybe I understood wrong, but weren’t we scheduled for a phone check-in yesterday? I just wanted to follow up.

Her: Yes, I waited for your call. I assumed it was a day you felt you didn’t need to check in and skipped the call. 

Okay, so this response alone sent my emotions through the roof. She assumed? Based on what in our history would she ever think it would be a good idea to assume? Especially if it’s assuming I’m in need of less support, considering I’d just asked for more. That was frustrating, but I took a breath and typed out a response.

Me: Since I usually have to wait for your okay to call when I’ve needed a check-in before, I was waiting for you to text or call. It was actually a difficult afternoon and I really did need to talk. 

Her: I’m sorry to hear that. Our wires got crossed. My understanding from Thursday was that you knew the time was there if you wanted it, and would decide on Monday. Now we both know for next time. 

That was the end of the conversation, because the only other things I had to say were not very kind.

I quickly sent off a frenzy of angry texts to a friend complaining about her, because I had so much fire brewing within me and I needed it to go somewhere.

Maybe it was a miscommunication, fine. Those happen. I guess we weren’t clear. But since the incorrect assumption was made on her end, and I had been promised a time that I didn’t get, shouldn’t she have offered me a makeup time to talk or even just briefly checked in to make sure I was all right?

Playing devil’s advocate for myself, I know there was nothing requiring her to do either of those things. I know that she’s already very busy. I know that it’s important for me to take care of myself (which I did). However, I feel like the J of the past would have done those things. I feel like any good therapist would.

That text felt like nothing but “therapisty” bullshit. It felt like a simple dismissal, a casual “that sucks, but oh well, not my problem.” It felt like she didn’t want to do the damn check-ins in the first place, and jumped at the first opportunity not to.

I was really angry. My body was filled with that electricity that surges when I’m anxious, and I couldn’t focus on anything. All I could think was she doesn’t give a shit. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have sent that text during work.

Hours later, I wasn’t quite filled with white hot rage but I still felt fairly irritated whenever I thought about her. And I knew if I went to my session, all of that anger was going to come out. She wouldn’t get it, wouldn’t be willing to share any accountability, I’d get even angrier, and then I’d leave feeling completely invalidated and emotionally unstable. Not a definite, but probable. Probable enough that I was literally dreading going.

So I didn’t. I cancelled.

I’ve never done that before. Or, I’ve done it, but then uncancelled when J called me on my avoidance. This time I really did not go.

I had some uneasiness about doing it, because I knew texting to cancel created a catch-22. If I tried to cancel and she did anything to try to stop me, I knew I’d give in, which would just enable me to do this again the next time I was angry. If I tried to cancel and she didn’t try to stop me, I knew I’d feel like she didn’t give a damn about me.

If I was being honest, I knew just a small part of me was testing her to see if she’d try and stop me. Testing how much she “cares.” So I had to prepare myself for what it would feel like when she didn’t. And I needed to make sure that cancelling was what I really wanted. For that reason, I didn’t let myself text her until almost 24 hours after the text exchange.

She didn’t fight me on cancelling, and that was fine. Maybe she was happy I cancelled, maybe not. I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s not about her. It’s about me. And I am actually really happy with my decision This morning, I had a slight pang of regret over not going. I thought about how wonderful J could be, and how much I rely on my routine hour to vent, and I wondered if I made a mistake. But guess what? It was actually great. I was able to stay a few hours late after school and catch up on some work, which relieved a lot of my stress. Then I got to come home, eat dinner at a normal time, shower, and just watch TV. I rarely ever get this many hours to myself in an afternoon.

Usually when I have to miss a session because J is away, I agonize over it. Especially during my would-be hour, I struggle. Today? I hardly noticed when that hour where I would be with J came and went.

Looking back at my decision, I think cancelling my session was a really healthy thing to do. J and I have talked about how I can be very impulsive when emotions are high and that it’s important to take space. That’s what I did, I took space so that I had some time to think. So that I didn’t blow up at her.

In fact, I’ve already decided that I want another week off. Today, the mom of the girls I babysit asked if I’d babysit next Thursday at 6:30, which is my normal session time. She told me I could have another night off if I wanted. Usually, I’d take that so that I could hound J for a different time. But this time, I don’t really care enough to even try. Which says a lot about where J and I are right now.

So tomorrow I’m going to text her and cancel. I’m going to be honest about the fact that I need a break and schedule our next session for the 18th. In that time, it’ll have been 3 weeks since we’ve seen each other. Truthfully, the space may do both of us good. Not that I should have to think of her, but that might just be the reality. I may have burnt her out.

In the meantime, since I’m not seeing J next week, I’m trying to get an appointment with one of the therapists in the interim. I decided not to see the therapist that was also seeing my student, for obvious reasons, and I asked to be referred to someone else in the practice. The first therapist told me Friday that she’d reach out to the other one on Monday, but I’ve heard nothing, so I plan to check in tomorrow.

It is so important to me to get an outside perspective on my problems with J, because they just keep building and building. Off-the-mark comments and perceived slights feed the doubts that say J isn’t trained in the areas I need her to be, can’t adequately contain all my feelings, isn’t willing to address our relationship stuff and might even be fed up by it. Since I don’t really feel like I can discuss them with her, they linger and fester until a relatively minor thing like a missed check-in causes me to explode.

I want to resolve it. I feel like if I can get some strategies about how to address my therapy problems with J from another therapist, then maybe she and I can work through this. Maybe we can have a fresh start. Maybe things can be okay.

But I don’t know. I really don’t.

There’s the underlying issue, the “she doesn’t care” fears. I know she cares. Or that she did. But lately, all I have are these fears. Doubts. I don’t want to show her my crazy, don’t want to share those feelings of disappointment or sadness or anger, because I feel judgement from her. I feel like she’s surprised by the fact that I’m triggered by our relationship. I feel like she’s annoyed I keep bringing it up. I feel like she’s exasperated, like maybe she feels she can’t do anything right.

I don’t know if those things I sense are truly there or if I’m imagining them. But the problem is, it doesn’t matter if J would tell me she’s not judging, not exasperated. It doesn’t matter if she tells me it’s okay to talk to her. Ever since she so grossly missed the point on my post and invalidated it, right after a repaired rupture where it seemed like she really got my perspective, I haven’t trusted her. That moment, feeling like we were worlds apart, like she’d forgotten everything she’d sworn to understand just weeks before, shattered it.

I don’t believe her.

I don’t know how to come back from that. I want to. I do. I promised myself I’m not making any termination decisions just yet.

Still, things have been so up and down. Back and forth. We have okay weeks and good weeks with crappy moments and crappy weeks with good moment. That’s not a positive trajectory. It doesn’t bode well.

Although…don’t relationships go through rocky periods sometimes? Wouldn’t it be great progress for me to be able to repair a relationship with strain instead of just giving up?

The worst part is, I can’t control J’s part in this, I can only control mine. I have to figure out what I need from her, what kind of response I want from her, before I can find out if she can truly meet my needs. And as a good friend pointed out, even if we can fix the issues, we may not be able to fix her lack of training in this area.

So that’s where we are. That’s where I am. On a two week break from J. Okay, or at least stable, for the moment.

As a side note, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and commented on my last post. I know I’ve not been great at reading and commenting on everyone else, so I appreciate you guys still being there for me. I’m hoping to find some time this weekend to catch up on everyone’s lives!

Day by day. That’s all we can do.

 

My Therapist Forgot Me

Okay, so I don’t actually know that J forgot me. All I know is I’m feeling forgotten and unimportant. I’m feeling like my therapist doesn’t give a shit. And then on top of that, I’ve got some additional shame for feeling that way to begin with.

Here’s the backstory. Last week, things were going semi-okay during session. I at first hadn’t wanted to admit how much I’ve been struggling with work, but I eventually copped to it and J’s response was pretty okay. Like, maybe not exactly what I needed but empathetic enough to be comforting and honestly even didn’t know what I needed so I can’t blame J for that.

In some silence towards the end of session, J then said something that upset me. I’ll get to what that was, but it’s not important for this story. What’s important is that I felt immediately disconnected, like my needs were not important, and for some reason instead of withdrawing I had this impulse to try harder to get them met. So I danced around the topic for a little but then I finally got the courage to ask her if we could have weekly phone check-ins so that I didn’t have to hold it all for so long. Yes, a week isn’t that long, but I’ve been concealing a lot of feelings from the world.

J agreed to these check-ins really without any problem. I of course said I’d compensate her for them. So we set one up for today at 3:15.

Today was not an awful day overall, but I’ve dealt with some difficult feelings this weekend and was feeling really stressed about what was coming up on my plate for the rest of this week. Then, this afternoon, I made a mistake that I was extremely upset with myself for. That happened about an hour before my scheduled check-in, so I was actually really looking forward to talking to her. Just to be able to vent about it and maybe hear some kind words.

I was sitting in the carpool line, waiting to pick up the girls, during my allotted 15 minutes. The few times I’ve asked for a phone call, and the one time we had a phone sessions, I had to wait for her to give the okay to call. I assumed that it would probably be that way or she’d just call, because So I sat and waited for a text.

She never texted. Never called.

I suppose I could have called her myself or even texted her. For the first five minutes, I didn’t do that because I thought maybe she was running late. Then, after that, once eight or so minutes had passed, I didn’t call because I knew if I did and she picked up I wouldn’t have enough time to talk to her because the girls would be out of school.

Plus, I felt so pathetic for wanting to talk to her so much, for being so upset that she wasn’t calling. It was like I was trying to play it cool, like I didn’t want her to know that I had been counting down to my precious check-in time for the last hour and was noticing that time was elapsing.

And even if I was supposed to be the one to have called, even if she was waiting on me, shouldn’t she have texted or called at some point to check in and see if I was still interested in talking? If something came up, shouldn’t she have let me know?

Yeah, if something had come up, I might have been upset, but I would have rationally understood. That I would have been able to accept.

We literally made this plan four days ago. I’m so confused. Did I misunderstand her?

So I don’t know that J forgot me. It’s possible something else came up, but none of the other possibilities make me feel any better. I want to text her and ask about it, but like I said, I’m embarrassed about how much it bothered me. And truthfully, I can’t deal with any other potential response from her that isn’t validation of my disappointment and maybe even an apology. If she comes up with some excuse, it’s just going to make me angry.

The minions are minimizing the situation in my head. Telling me that I don’t matter. Of course she didn’t call. She was annoyed I asked in the first place. She thinks I’m too needy. 

Part of the reason this has really gotten to me even more is that it feels like another case of a need going ignored. That comment I mentioned by J that upset me? It was her telling me out of the blue (after not mentioning this it in nearly two months) that she suddenly felt like it would be better if we wrote the letter, the transitional object I asked for from her that could help me keep a connection to her in between sessions, together.

Her reasoning was that if we did it together, then I could better believe that her words were true when I read them. Or some other bullshit like that.

All I know is she previously agreed to doing it (which she only agreed to after I confronted her for saying she’d consider it and then not bringing it up for a month!), and now suddenly the parameters around what I was promised have changed. It’s frustrating.

It doesn’t help maintain that trust either. She spent all of last week telling me that I need to use therapy as my time to be vulnerable and open, to let the emotions I’ve been pinning down all week come to the surface. She told me this is the one place I don’t have to maintain a certain sense of composure and be anything for anyone else.

But she wasn’t there when she said she’d be. That makes me sad. Sad and disappointed. No matter what the reason, what the intention, I feel forgotten.

Can I take care of myself? I can. I did, sort of. I really tried to talk myself down. Which is great and all, but I shouldn’t have had to because I had set up a time to talk to her

So anyway, that’s the latest on the J Chronicles. I really just needed to vent. I’m sitting squarely in “cancel session” mode right now. It likely won’t happen, because despite my anger, she’s the only one that will listen to all of my struggles. Since, you know, I pay her and all.

What fun therapy is, eh?

 

The Minions

In my head live these tiny little beasts.
Like gremlins, or demons
Or whatever you call creatures that are small and mean and pick apart your soul
I call them minions.

I imagine them as these ugly beings that slink about my consciousness
Dreaming up horrible things to say
And pressing them into my thoughts
So slyly and so frequent
That I can’t separate the truth from the lies they tell me

The minions can take the smallest moment
And stretch it a smile
Build the most minor mistake
Into a mountain of shame and anxiety
Putting my fears and regrets on a loop
That plays at max volume in my head

They’re pesky little things
And they never go away
Occasionally I get a break
As if they are taking a lunch or maybe a short vacation
But just as soon as I’ve settled
Feeling like maybe I can conquer my dark thoughts
The storm of minions returns
Marching back into their positions, ready to take aim on my sanity
Like an infection
Stronger than before
Now resistant to all the tools that banished it the last time

I know that they’re there
I sense them by the darkness they spread
By the fiction they’ve convinced me is fact
Repeatedly
Yet I can’t seem to evict them
No matter how hard I try

They are impervious to reason. To facts. To evidence.
They take one look at my attempts to counteract their power
And they laugh in my face
Because they know, as sure as I do, that it’s not enough
That reframing and affirmations barely hold up
Against a sea of their created doubts and insecurities and critiques

Everyone has their own brand of minions
The little voices that work tirelessly to cut them down at the knees
I believe this
But not everyone’s are as strong, as persistent, as hope-shattering
As mine are
I think
That’s what they call mental illness

I honestly wish I knew
What it was like to have minions that were only a trivial bother
A minor inconvenience
In an otherwise comfortable world
What would it be like
To talk to someone, to make a decision, to commit an error
And not hear the tirade of negativity that follows

But all I know
Is the inevitable soundtrack of disparagement

I know that when I hurt, when I yearn to reach out to someone else
They tell me you are an attention-seeker, you should handle this yourself.
Are you really so pathetic that you need someone else to fix it for you?
Emotions are not allowed to seep into relationships
This is something I know at the core of me
Because if I do slip, if I do ask for reassurance or comfort
They are right there to induce that fear
They are going to leave you. You are too much for them. A burden. Annoying.
I believe them too
Because it’s happened before
Too many times to count

I know that when I fail to care for myself
When I slip back into patterns of razor blades and planning my end
Or even just fail to take the steps I’ve been taught
Like meditation or recording a mood
They come for me
They say You must really be a glutton for pain. You must not want to feel better
Because you are not trying so hard
Why won’t you work harder?
You know what to do. So do it. Do it, you piece of shit.

I know that little measures of comfort, of kindness to myself
Fall short of expectations
A candle or a shower. It’s not enough, I’m told.
The truth is, nothing meets their expectations. The bar is always raised.
If I manage some time at the gym, they berate me for not staying longer
If I find the energy to write, they convince me I haven’t said enough, haven’t said it right
Always pushing for more
Never satisfied

I know that I can look at a friend
And be reminded of every bad moment, every misstep in our friendship
They still think about it. They think poorly of you. They judge you.
I can be triggered by the smallest moment
A song, a setting, a string of words on a television show
Remembering a time my emotions went too far
A time I acted in ways that hurt someone or hurt myself
A mistake that I can’t take back
It doesn’t matter how old that memory is
From my childhood, or high school, or last month, or ten minutes ago
I remember it all with the same intensity of defeat and dread
The minions can speak my shame
They can reinvent that feeling
Without even needing to utter a word

I know that I can walk out of a room
And hear They’re laughing at you
You said something stupid, why didn’t you know better?
And then in the same breath
Turn around and blast me for thinking about myself
You self-centered idiot. The world does not revolve around you. 

The minions operate on a consistent schedule
They care little whether my day feels positive or like hell
Regardless, they drop in to breed ruin
A battery of intrusive thoughts
Appearing sometimes right out of the blue
You will never have a relationship.
You can not make up for the friendships you have lost.
You will always have to deal with these painful, intense emotions
There’s something about you that is unlikeable
Something about you that will stop you from ever achieving the things you want
You are an innately flawed person, and you can never be happy

Of course, they certainly take pleasure in adding to pain
They can twist my fears into a prescription of deserved death
Because of all the flaws
The inevitability of failure
That’s what they tell me, and I believe them

Sometimes I wonder
How long they’ve been there
Taking up residence in my head
For so long I didn’t know of their existence
As anything separate from myself
I thought they were me
And now that I know
I’m not sure what difference it even makes

For there are still minions present
Minions working
Minions thriving
Every damn day

And me
Fighting tricky battles fraught with double edged swords
In a war I’m afraid I cannot win

Another Week’s End

Another week of no writing is behind me. I tried a couple times this week to complete a post in the middle of the week, but my mind just refused to cooperate. The page sat blank and I couldn’t summon words. It’s ridiculous how tired I am at the end of each day. Hopefully within a few months I can get back to posting at the amount I was, because honestly I feel like not having the outlet has not been helpful.

So here’s an update on my week. The good, the bad, and the frustrating.

I survived my first week of social skills groups and individual sessions. The kids really are great, even as difficult as they can be sometimes. It’s going to be a challenge to keep coming up with good activities that meet each of their needs, but I’m working on that one week at a time. I tried to make a list of each of their goals and operationally define each goal so I know how I’m going to measure progress. It remains to be seen how well that works out.

The rest of the week was pretty standard. We had back to school night and I introduced myself to some of the families. I spoke to a few parents by phone. Outside of school, I had a fun time with H & S making calm down glitter bottles. What kid doesn’t like glitter? It was interesting to see how their different personalities came alive in their choice of color for the water, glitter color, etc.

I really love those sweet girls, even though they test my patience. On Friday, I was carrying S back into the house from the car, because she’d decided she was going to come with me to drop H at soccer but didn’t want to wear shoes. She hugged me tightly, told me that she loved me, and that she didn’t want another babysitter besides me. Ugh, my heart.

Over the weekend, I did have a nice time. Friday night I went to my local high school’s football game with my old colleague, whose son plays on the team. It was such a great experience to catch up with her, to see a couple old friends from high school, and to watch the marching band play. I was in the band in high school and seeing them makes me very nostalgic.

Then last night I went to an event that I’d been looking forward to for weeks. I don’t want to share what it was more specifically, because I fear that might give away my location, but I will say it was a festival that involves a breathtaking view. My friend and I met some kind people who made the night even more memorable for us. I can’t wait to do it again.

Tuesday was a difficult day. That seems to be a holding pattern for Tuesdays. I was overwhelmed and feeling completely adequate in my position. I felt that way again on Friday, but it got even worse towards the end of the day. I was sitting in my office, trying to get an idea of how I was going to work with my one student in counseling. His file was literally spread out all over my table. I was already feeling anxious about that, about handling any situations that would come up with him. The principal came in to talk to me. He asked me a question I didn’t know how to answer and then somehow got me to commit to doing social skills groups with the students in the after school program.

You know, since I can’t seem to say no. Especially to my principal, who I really want to like me.

I really need a whole post on the issues I’m having with work boundaries. Of course I didn’t want to say yes to extra responsibilities. But I’m new and I want to be rehired. So I said yes. Yes, twice a month I’ll do a social skills group on my only day off of the week.

The inner voice was screaming at me that I’ll be killing myself for a job that would just so easily replace me if I dropped dead or burned out. But another voice was screaming louder that maybe they’ll replace me if I say no. Be a team player. Do what your supervisor asks. I feel like I need to do whatever I can to keep the odds stacked in my favor of being rehired, since I’m not sure I’ll earn that purely off of skill.

So when he left, I immediately started to lose it. The feelings that I’m going to fail, to not be good enough. The frustration of losing some of my precious free time to this district.  I’m trying not to do any work outside of work hours, but I know I’m only going to sustain that for so long before I won’t have a choice. And even though I’m not working at home, I’m beating myself up over it because I feel like I should be working harder to know more and build my skill. I’m criticizing myself for not fighting through my exhaustion.

This job wants to eat all of my time. I have so little of it as it is. The fear is resurfacing about being able to maintain the babysitting, but I so badly do not want to give it up. I don’t want to break the girls’ hearts, I don’t want to disappoint the parents, and I selfishly don’t want to be replaced and miss out on the laughs and love I get from them.

And already, three weeks in, I’m questioning how quickly my new job is going to burn me out. It feels like it’s a matter of time before I break down. I don’t know if I can handle it. I don’t know if I’ll feel the “love” I wish I felt when doing it.

It’s frustrating. If I’m not rehired, I don’t know what I’ll do because I can’t imagine I’d be able to get another job somewhere else. But then I’m not sure if I even want to keep doing this long-term, although I don’t know what I’d do that would be able to match my current salary and benefits. So it seems like I’m stuck here.

I ended up texting J on my way to babysitting and asking for a phone call, because I was pretty much spiraling out in the car. She did answer me about twenty minutes later, but I never saw her text until it was too late, so I didn’t call. Which was probably for the better, because I was feeling ashamed for acting like an attention-seeking child at that point, and plus I don’t know if she could have said anything that would have helped me. I texted her a couple hours later and said that I was fine, would take care of myself, and apologized for texting impulsively. She said something kind back, which I appreciated.

Speaking of J, remember how I said I was going to go see another therapist to discuss my J issues?

Well, my friends, seems that the universe is out working against me making that plan come to fruition.

Earlier this week, I was chatting with my colleague. She told me that she’d been talking to one of my student’s parents during back to school night and she mentioned her son was seeing a new therapist. So I called to discuss sending home a release of records in case we ever need to communicate about the kid. I asked her for the therapists name and wouldn’t you know it? It was the same one I was planning on seeing.

Of course.

This was concerning to me for a couple reasons. First, it seemed like a potential dual relationship. It didn’t seem ethical to have a personal relationship with her to discuss my problems and a professional one to talk about the kid. Second, I feared greatly the potential of running into my student and his family at her office. I’ve got enough working against me in the position, being both young and new, without worrying that my families are gossiping about me.

I did reach out to the therapist to discuss my concerns. Obviously, I couldn’t share the student’s name, although I’m willing to bet she will figure it out soon if she hasn’t already. She had to call someone else for supervision on the issue, and ultimately called me back to say that she was still willing to see me since there was no conflict of interest at this time.

Which was annoying to me because just because there’s no conflict now, doesn’t mean there won’t be. It seemed like a risk. She did say I likely had a different perspective, since I actually know who the kid was, but that I also needed to make myself a priority.

She also tried to tell me that if I ran into someone I knew, it could be used as an opportunity to promote to my student that it’s not a negative thing to see a therapist or ask for help. And while she’s not wrong, I resented the comment because she made it sound like it was such an easy thing.

I ended up taking time to think about the decision, but I think I’ve landed squarely in the position that I’m not comfortable seeing her. If I’ve already got all these negative feelings surrounding this therapist, I don’t think it will be particularly helpful to work with her.

So I’m looking into other therapists. I thought I’d found one, but after a little bit of internet stalking, I found a couple things on her Facebook which make me question her professionalism. That’s judgmental, maybe, but I take great care to protect my page, so she should too. I’m thinking instead about asking to be referred to someone else within the practice, because they are all trained in personality disorders and that’s what I want. Although that still leaves me in a precarious situation of running into a student.

I’m frustrated as hell. With work. With therapy. With myself. I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with everything on my plate and defeated about my ability to meet expectations. It got to me today and I hurt myself for the first time in probably a month.

For the rest of my Sunday, I just plan to lay in bed. It’s all I can do, to rest and relax and hope I wake up feeling more prepared tomorrow morning.

Give me strength. I don’t feel like I have much of it.

 

Finally, A Post!

It’s been quite awhile now since I’ve posted anything on WordPress. Over two weeks in fact, which might be the longest break from writing I’ve taken since I began my account!

Understandably, the reason for my absence has been the start of my new job. September 4 was my first official in-service day, and the kids began school just a few days later. School has now been in session for just over a week. My day typically consists of waking up at 6, leaving at 6:50,  and working from 7:30 until about 3:00. I then leave the school and head over to babysit the girls, where I stay until 6 or 6:30. Sometimes I go to the gym after work, sometimes I have an errand to run, or sometimes I have a late night appointment. On Thursdays, I don’t work my second job, so I go to the gym right after work and then get a little time at home before therapy. Usually, I’m home and in bed before 10:00.

I haven’t been writing mostly because I have no energy left to expend after all that! I put all of my effort into making it through the day, so by the end I’m physically and emotionally spent. I have little ambition to exhaust myself more trying to get out all the thoughts and feelings swimming around within me, so instead I settle for lighting a candle, playing some phone games, and getting the sleep I crave all day long.

The transition back into these long days has been a shock to both my body and my mind, and I’m still trying to adjust.

In case you’re wondering, things at the job have been pretty okay so far. There are moments that I am so completely overwhelmed with everything I have on my plate and I can’t seem to accomplish anything. A lot of things are different here, because it’s a new district with different protocols, because it’s an elementary school instead of a middle school, and because I’m housed in the school instead of an outside location.

So it’s a lot to learn and it’s very challenging. My colleague knows so much more than I could have imagined about pharmacology, development, and intervening for many types of needs. Sometimes it’s a little dizzying and I worry I’ll never be as competent as her, but she reminds me that I’m not supposed to know everything yet and says I’m catching on quickly. I’m doing my best to write everything down and watch closely to learn from my environment.

It’s so strange being on my own without anyone watching over me. I have a director of course, but I’m used to having a supervisor to double check all my work. Now, I’m on my own. It’s scary and weird.

Despite how hard this job is, I’m doing everything I can to do a good job. I’m asking tons of questions, I’m trying to get to know the kids, and I’m getting right in there when they need me. I make lists and lists of every little task that has to get done because I don’t want to miss anything. So far, so good.

Plus, my old supervisor and I still talk all the time. I’m glad to have him in my corner.

While there’s still a lot for me to learn and I sense that I will need to continuously improve in how I manage my workload and how I handle differences in opinion with staff and parents, there are a few things I’ve done well so far that I’d like to document for my own benefit.

A couple times, I’ve been able to calm down a preschooler who was either upset or showing some difficult behaviors. The first time, I sat down with him and read him a book. The second, I went in with a calm-down glitter bottle that took the little boy right out of his place of opposition. I’ve successfully called and had conversations with at least 4 parents so far, which always gets my anxiety going. I managed to bribe the IT guys into letting me jump the line to fix two iPads for our multiple disabilities class, which is important because that’s what our kiddos use to communicate. I completed an adaptive assessment with a parent while the little boy was in the room. I also survived my first solo meeting!

These are little victories. To anyone else, they might seem small. And there’s tons more to come. But they are my victories all the same and none of that other stuff takes away from them.

This week is going to add a new challenge as my social skills groups start this week. I’ve been in to observe many of my students already, and I made sure that they all were familiar with my face. Most of them seemed pretty excited at the prospect of coming for lunch group, which in itself is different than I’m used to. I love the kids so far, so I’m excited to see how group goes but I’m also nervous about the timing.

That’s pretty much it with my job. As far as therapy goes, I continue to be in a place of very mixed feelings. It’s been just a few weeks since J’s off-beat reaction to a post I wrote sent me into a tailspin right after our resolution from a previous rupture had made things feel stronger than ever. Since the session where I brought up my concern about possibly switching therapists and then went to pieces, we’ve discussed it exactly the amount I suspected we would. Not at all.

Things have been a solid meh from my standpoint. I talk to her and generally feel comfortable. Mostly, our sessions consist of me venting about all the things I’m not sharing with everyone else. It’s helpful to get that out, I admit that. My biggest qualm though is that it doesn’t feel like therapy is offering any solutions. Venting is great and all, but I want a little more to help me deal with this.

Although, I wonder what else she can tell me that she hasn’t already.

I also continue to feel annoyed that there is no consistency. It feels to me like every session is it’s own individual island, with no link between them. Despite mentioning that she’d like to readdress my goals together, and then me bringing it up again, that was forgotten.

I know it’s on me to talk about what I need to talk about, and I have been really making greater strides to doing that, but sometimes it’s super frustrating that she never follows up about where we stand. It brings up all that BPD minion crap of she doesn’t even really care enough to remember. This is an age old issue of mine.  I don’t even feel like it’s worth bringing up again.

Initially, I planned to just keep going into each session with an open mind with the hope that things would just naturally return to a place of stability for me. I felt like I needed to quietly deal with my J issues outside the room since we don’t seem to be making any headway on that together.

Although things are fine while I’m there, there’s the feeling that we are out of sync, so that I can’t quite connect in the way I once did and I’m having trouble understanding what I even need. This isn’t all J’s fault, it’s a disruption in the process between the two of us, although I doubt she feels it or even recognizes it the way I do.

She doesn’t get it, that is very evident. She doesn’t understand how there could still be issues, or at the very least doesn’t know what to do about it. And she seems bewildered that it keeps coming back to our relationship. I really think that she doesn’t get that some of the work lies there, not just in the daily happenings of my life. So I don’t feel like I can bring it up right now, because I can tell I’m just asking to feel unheard.

For all of those reasons, I leave feeling dysregulated. My emotions are bubbling within me and I’m left to find a way to push through that. There’s no time to fall apart. I spent most of my drive home that night trying to come back from a place of desire to hurt myself.

I thought about just taking a break, but that won’t change anything and I don’t want to just run away from her. Instead, I decided yesterday that I need some help on this.

I remembered that a blogger friend of mine had reached out to another therapist when she’d been struggling with her own. It feels ironic, needing a second therapist to discuss your first one, but at the same time it makes sense to me. J’s natural bias (because the issues are with her) complicates my ability to discuss it with her. What I need are different insights and perhaps different strategies. What I need is to be able to say freely what I’m feeling right now without having to prepare for the defense that’s coming.

So yesterday I reached out to a new therapist that I had found online. Beginning the first week of October, we will be doing some short-term work (3-5 sessions ideally) so that I can perhaps finally get past all of my stuff with J. The ultimate goal is to make it work with her, because she’s given me so much and I’ve grown a lot in my time with her.

Alternatively, I am prepared that doing this might lead me to the ultimate realization that maybe I have outgrown her as a therapist. I am clinging to hope that this will not be the outcome.

The minions are going at it in my head, telling me that I’m making a big deal out of nothing and that I’m being an attention-seeker, who is ridiculous for seeking out a second therapist. I worry this new therapist will think so too.

All I know is that I can’t keep feeling this way. I miss when J was my safe person. I miss feeling like I could tell her absolutely anything. There’s been so much up and down between us in the last few months. The worst part is that she isn’t doing anything wrong, I just feel like she’s misattuned to me and I don’t know what to do to fix it.

I hope I’m making the right choice here.

Paying It Forward

There’s always so much to post about in the way of crappy, negative feelings. And lately, my posts about all the awful have been in excess. So today I want to briefly talk about something really nice that I’ve been engaged in during the last couple weeks: paying it forward.

Ever heard of this before? You do something nice for someone, often a stranger, with no expectation for reciprocity. Instead, that person responds by passing on a good deed to someone else, who will hopefully feel so happy that they pass it on to someone else, until hopefully a whole chain of kindness breaks out.

It’s a really nice idea. I’ve seen stories that started with one person buying coffee for the next customer in line, with the sentiment being paid forward for over 300 people. I like the message it sends: to do good, just because, and spread kindness as far and wide as you can.

A couple weeks ago, I was down at the beach with my friend and we spent some time in the arcade playing games. By the end of the hour, I’d racked up a moderate amount of points and wasn’t sure what to do with them. Nothing I could afford was appealing to a 25-year-old. So I decided to give them up to a kid who would clearly enjoy it more than me. I saw a little girl walk by and tapped her mom on the shoulder, offering it to her. Then I left.

Two days later, a friend and I went to a minor league baseball game. We got on line for tickets and were standing there talking when a man walked up to us, holding two tickets. He wanted to know if we wanted them. We took them, super grateful. It was such a kind thing of him to do and warmed my heart!

Now, granted, this doesn’t follow the standard chain of paying it forward. If that mother I gave the points to decided to pass on the kindness to someone else I won’t ever know. In the moment, it felt like good karma. But the guy I was with was inspired by the story, so the next day he went into a Starbucks and bought coffee for the next two people in line, and that is paying it forward.

I thought that was pretty cool. I shared it with anyone who would listen. I also thought it would be the end of the story.

But it wasn’t.

Before I continue my story, a little piece of background knowledge is required. Months ago now, I made a mistake when trying to park and swiped the front passenger side bumper of my car, pulling it away at the corner. The damage was noticeable, but minor, and I didn’t have the money to fix it. So it stayed like that for months, waiting until I could raise the funds needed to pay for the repair.

Yesterday morning, I went to pick up my jeep, which I had dropped off for an oil change. When I got there, the owner of the business led me over to my car, where he promptly showed me that he had fixed the damage for me! I didn’t ask him to do that, I never even mentioned it. He did it just to do a deed, asking for no money in return.

I was blown away by the kindness of this gesture, so much so that it started the pay it forward train rolling again. This morning, we went out for breakfast and I decided to leave what was probably a 60-70% tip on our meal.

I left the waitress a message: Pay it forward! I don’t know if she understood the meaning and I know even less of whether she will keep it going. But I know this, it had to have made her smile.

So now I’m on a mission, to find more ways to pass the kindness as far and fast as possible.

This world sucks sometimes. There’s a whole ton of terror and pain. But there are good people who do good things too. It’s a fun thing to witness, so look out for it!

Better yet, join in on it!