Checking In

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I apologize for vanishing off the face of WordPress. I have not been posting, commenting, or even really reading anything since right around Thanksgiving. The reasons for my absence are both that my schedule has really been that hectic with Christmas preparations and that some nights my depression knocks me so low that all I can do is crawl into bed.

There’s a lot that has been going on, things I’d ideally write my own posts about in a perfect world. But for right now, I’ll just stick to some basic updates.

My job has been taking up 90% of my time. We’re facing a big restructuring to part of our program, which will go into effect at the beginning of next year. My supervisor has had her mind on that, so she isn’t always around to answer questions I might have. As a newbie, that’s difficult because I’m making a lot of guesses and often I find that guessed wrong and then expend extra time to work to rectify my mistake.

My supervisor just keeps making changes that we can’t keep up with. There’s so much need and not enough staff, time, or energy to go around. Plus, she’s piling more on my colleague and I than we can handle.

I worry, because my colleague is pretty good at what she does, and she’s mentioned multiple times that she’s had job offers from other places. The more that’s asked of us, the more I worry that she’s going to take someone up on the offer. I’m just barely keeping my head above water there with her, I can’t imagine surviving if she leaves.

There’s just so much. So much to do. So much to know. So much to learn. I have a list a mile long of information that I’d like to read about more in-depth. I’d like to learn more about curriculum and the process of working with agencies and various disorders, but unfortunately there’s just not time for that. Not during the day at least, and then I get home too exhausted to do anything else.

So here I am getting thrown into situations that I don’t know how to handle and haven’t been properly trained in. I wonder if I’m picking up new skills fast enough.

Then there’s the fun part. Dealing with parents and teachers. It’s still anxiety-provoking for me and I’m working really hard right now on being comfortable in the discomfort of meetings, especially when I know we’re telling the parent something they don’t want to hear.

I’ve gotten through a number of different kinds of meetings and handled a few sticky situations with teachers, but it’s still a sensitive area for me. I have to actively remind myself a negative interaction isn’t indicative of negative self-worth on my part.

Imposter syndrome is a big issue. I’m still asking for reassurance that I’m doing an okay job (and then kicking myself for needing that validation). Mostly because I really feel like a little kid parading around in an adult’s job. I don’t know how these kids can ever look at me and expect that I know what I am doing.

News flash kids, I know about as much as you do.

My mental health has been all over the place. Right around, or maybe before, Thanksgiving, I was hurting myself at every opportunity I got. Then L and I decided I was only allowed to do that on Sundays (why did I agree to that?). So I’ve been trying to keep to this ritual, and I guess it’s worked pretty well because I am harm free for at least a couple weeks.

Still, the weeks can be difficult. I’ve had this recurrence of Tuesday and Wednesday being by far the most difficult days for a couple weeks now, where the shit seems to pile on until I’m just ready to give up. Usually by Thursday (therapy day), things begin to settle down. It’s a frustrating pattern honestly, one I don’t know how to break.

I still feel extremely empty and have periods of deep shame, but I’m mostly just pushing it all away when I can since talking about them with literally anybody just produces more shame. It’s to the point where I don’t want to share those vulnerable feelings with anyone, including J or L.

Speaking of therapy, , things have settled into a somewhat stable place. In what probably comes as no surprise,  at our first session back after Thanksgiving neither J nor I mentioned the ill-fated session that made me further question our relationship. I knew that she wouldn’t say a thing about it, because she never addresses any of our conflicts, and I certainly wasn’t going to propel myself back into perpetual misattunement and dysregulation. So…I guess we’re not returning to the letter at all. At least not right now.

The first week, I asked her to bring her DBT workbook.  I figured if we couldn’t solve our relationship stuff, maybe we could focus on solving some of the social issues I’m dealing with at work. There are sure enough of those to fill an hour.

It actually ended up going really well. I’d gone into session locked up tight, but as we dissected some of my interactions and I settled in, I let myself open up a bit more about what I’d been feeling during the week. We repeated this process again last week.

What I’ve noticed is that J seems more engaged with me and overall at ease than she’s been recently. I think that she’s relieved the focus is off of her for once.

It’s not a permanent solution, but right now I’m at least not dreading going to therapy. In fact, I’m actually feeling threads of a connection to her again. Maybe that’s because I’ve been us the space to let the relationship exist instead of harping on her? Like we can connect because she doesn’t feel under a microscope?

I don’t know, I’m not really questioning it too much.

However, while it’s nice that therapy has been helpful, it also makes me a little sad that for me to start feeling this way I had to essentially pack away the attachment stuff and all the feelings surrounding our last interaction before Thanksgiving (e.g. my anger about her breaking the eye-roll boundary again and my disappointment in how she handled the letter situation). To call that stuff into question would mean risking this sense of homeostasis.

Additionally, it makes me wonder what happens the next time all these issues float to the surface. Because they will. Right now, I’m able to compartmentalize because the feelings aren’t huge. But I don’t typically do middle of the road emotions for too long.

When that happens, will I be allowed to bring them up? Do I only get access to the kind, professional, and empathetic J when my problems don’t concern her?

I’ve considered that I may have to accept that the focus of therapy from here on out will have to strictly be skill-based and strength-based changes in my outside life, as J doesn’t appear comfortable or prepared to handle the relationship-centered work. I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels true, which isn’t necessarily fair to me.

I’m pretending not to care though.

I didn’t see L last week, but the week before my session with her wasn’t particularly great. I’m not sure it was anything specific that she did, but I know I felt myself retreating the more she talked.

She noticed it, and near the end of our time she asked me why I seemed to be withdrawn. I told her I felt disillusioned with therapy and questioned if anyone could help me. “I may not be able to help you, but I’m here for you,” she said.

She’s said stuff like that before. That we probably can’t make the cruel voices in my head go away, but we will try to turn the volume down dramatically. This statement felt differently though.

Perhaps her aim was to make me feel supported, but all I could think at the time was: J can’t help me and L doesn’t think she can help me either. She’s already admitted this, after only 5 weeks of knowing me. I’m hopeless. My disorder makes me hopeless. So really, what’s the point?

I’m supposed to let her know when she says something that hits me in a negative way, but it was the end of session, so I didn’t. I just kind of nodded and left. I guess we’ll see where that goes on Thursday.

I could keep writing, but I think I’ve rambled on enough for today. Plus, I’m ready for bed now. That’s my life, rearranging my schedule to maximize sleep.

I will try to get back into reading and writing, but for all of you who I normally comment on and have been neglecting, please know that I’m still rooting you on and celebrating your successes. WP is such an important place to me and I value all of you, especially those with whom I’ve interacted closely in my journey.

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Wedding Season

I don’t know
I really don’t know
Why they call it a season 
The change of seasons is special and exciting
Each transition carrying with it something that sets it apart from the one before
Something to look forward to

Wedding season has not of that
For it’s not like fall, with the leaves of striking colors
Or summer, with crackling fireworks and a persistent smell of burgers
Or spring, everything blossoming, feeling fresh and new

But then
Perhaps I’m wrong
I guess you could say wedding season could compare to winter
For they both are associated with white
And they both feel like they will never end

I sound cynical
Maybe I am
No, I definitely am

But you’d be cynical too
If your feeds on Instagram and Facebook
Were painted with pictures of couple attendees
Lines of bridesmaids
The happy bride and groom
All the time, every weekend
So picturesque

So excruciating

It’s a reminder
As I look at the smiling tribes of people
Basking in the celebratory moment
Enjoying the space they are existing in
Within in the social world
Being together and feeling together
Then I look to my left and remember
I’m alone.

I do not have these relationships.
I will never have these relationships.

There is no man in my life
No one to take to a wedding
No one to marry
It’s a relationship I want desperately
But can’t figure out how to achieve

There are friends in my life
But I exist on the backburner
I am not the friend who becomes a bridesmaid
I am the one with whom you have lunch
Every few months
Until we drift apart

Yet all I see are pictures
Of couples and friends

It’s a trigger.
It triggers feelings of loneliness, of emptiness.
Feelings of defeat
Of frustration.
Frustration that’s directed at me of course.
It triggers shame.

I am not deserving of these relationships

So I plunge into a space of pain
And self-punishment
Sweltering in the heat of realization
That my life has little of the meaning I yearn for
Sitting on the outside
Looking at pictures
Instead of being in the pictures

I hate wedding season.
It’s not a season.
It’s a reminder.

 

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!

It’s Happening

We’re a mere number of days away now from me officially beginning at my job. Tomorrow, literally tomorrow, I have the first of two days of orientation. Next week, I officially start in my new position.

I. Am. Terrified.

I had a similar post like this last year on the evening before I went to my first day of internship.

On one hand, the possibilities are endless. On the other hand, it feels very much like sink or swim. What if I’m not good at it? What if I fail? I just want to jump ahead to the point where I feel settled and comfortable. I’m never very good at sitting with the discomfort. 

There it is. The conflicting feelings of hope and dread, excitement and fear. The incessant doubts that I am not smart enough, not strong enough, not good enough. The desperate need to just reach the point in my career where I know what to expect each day and feel confident in myself. These words, pulled from that post, still ring very true to me.

As much as last year felt like a test, with pressure mounting each day, this year feels so much more like it fits the moniker of “sink or swim.” My externship was hard, but ultimately everything I did was overseen by my supervisor. I didn’t have to make any of the extremely difficult decisions. I didn’t have to have the confrontations with parents. I wasn’t the one responsible for student outcomes. If I made a mistake, my supervisor stepped in to fix it.

I remember sitting in a very tense meeting with two parents who wanted something very different for their son than we believed he needed. I didn’t say a word the entire meeting. I just watched my supervisor and the rest of the team handle it, grateful as well that there was no pressure on me.

Now? Now it’s just me. I am responsible for figuring out eligibility and placement, for handling parent relations and student outcomes. All of the decisions fall on me for the students I case manage. I can defer to my team for guidance, but ultimately I have to make the decision and stand by it.

J has promised me that I will make mistakes. Everyone does. But my fear isn’t the little mistakes, which will already feel stressful to a perfectionist like me. My fear is really screwing up in a way that impacts a child negatively. Putting them in the wrong program. Damaging a relationship with a parent.

I fear that I’m not smart enough to do this job. I fear that I don’t know enough. I fear that I don’t have the social skills.

And I know myself. I know that when I’m anxious, I freeze up and my words come out in a way different than I intended. So I am quite afraid I will say something to a parent, teacher, or even administrator that is perceived different from how I intended it and the consequences will be irreparable.

So much is riding on this job. My salary, which influences my ability to move out and start living independently. My health insurance, which by extension is my ability to continue seeing J. My reputation within my field if I ever decide to move elsewhere. My confidence in myself. My…happiness?

Everyone I’ve talked to, everyone, has told me I’m going to do a fabulous job. You’ll be great, they say, I have no doubt. They are lucky to have you. I’m glad they are confident in me. I’m glad they believe in me, and it really seems like they do, not that they are just saying things to be nice.

However, that just puts more pressure on me to live up to those expectations. If I fail, if my contract is not renewed at the end of the year, I don’t know if I could live with the shame. I don’t know how I’d come back with that. I doubt I could.

I may not fail. I hope I won’t. I know I have some skills and I will learn as I go. Regardless, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be an adjustment. I am responsible for a lot: testing, reports, case management, and meetings upon meetings. I’m doing this all in a brand new district where I don’t know the people or the environment.

Plus, there’s babysitting, helping out grandpa, going to the gym. I did all of this last year, and it really wasn’t so terrible, but that was as an intern who didn’t have all the responsibility.

Now, I’m afraid the demands of the job are going to break me. That it will be too stressful and send me to a place of using destructive habits instead of skills as a means of pure survival, just to get through the damn day. I’m afraid it will push me over the edge to impulsive decisions. I had a friend with mental health issues similar to mine and she hasn’t been able to hold a full-time teaching job, it was just too much for her.

I know I could have to give up babysitting. It might end up being too taxing, or it might end up being necessary if I need to go back to twice a week sessions (J thinks I’ll be fine with just one, but she always thinks crap like that). We’ve forewarned the kids. But I’d really like to try to avoid having to bail on them. It would break their hearts and it would break mine.

I’ve mentioned in numerous posts that nights have been hard for me in the last month. That’s when all my doubts come vividly alive, stirring up my emotions to the max. I foresee every possible terrible outcome of my job and I panic. Sometimes I have to take medication, which doesn’t even really help, or something I just burrow into my bed and wait for it to pass.

It’s coming. It’s coming so soon. I wished for this for so long, to have a real job, to be finished with my time as a student. Now it’s here and I’m filled with that panic all the time.

There’s nothing I can do about it! That’s the worst part. It’s a waiting game. And I’m someone who likes to do, to plan, to prepare! So this is hell. I’ve prepared as much as I can in advance for this job, but there’s only so prepared I can be. Some of it will just have to wait until it is right in front of me.

What I can do is sit with the discomfort, using coping thoughts and self-affirmations to fight the negative thinking and using my distraction or relaxation plan to try to move into a more manageable emotional state.

Of course I wonder, have I prepared enough? Should I devote more time? Is there more I can do? More I should read?

I want more than anything to be good at this job. I don’t mind doing the work, I just want to know that I can do it.I feel like an imposter, parading around in mom’s dress clothes and trying to project myself an adult. I think that they are all going to look at me and see a child who doesn’t belong.

But I have to believe in myself. Fake it until I make it. If I don’t, how will anyone else believe in me?

I got the job. My new director believes in me, that I’ll be a good addition to their team. My old supervisor believes that I’m ready. That’s evidence. There has to be truth to it.

I can do this…right?

Either way, it’s happening.