I hate crying. She said it’s because it makes us vulnerable. I think it’s because I assume that whoever is unfortunate enough to be around when I cry must be super uncomfortable. I feel sorry for them as I’m balling my eyes out, because I know how uncomfortable it is to be talking to someone who is crying. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know how to help, you feel like maybe you should do something, but don’t know what to do, and then feel bad as you just stand there like a slug watching them cry. My thoughts when the tears are running is usually about the other person(s) there, what they must be thinking, how they must be feeling.
I suppose a therapist is used to it. That it isn’t as hard for them, because they know what to do, which in this particular case was to just sit and wait quietly for me to get a hold of myself. I appreciated the silence.
So, how did it come about?
We started off talking about why I was there, which of course led to me not feeling like doing any of the things I love. Well why not? I had trouble answering that. I wanted her to tell me, but she can’t tell me, she can only try and get me to figure it out. It’s not something external. The answer isn’t going to be “try painting your room a lighter color” or “try scheduling your time better.” The answer is going to be why, on an emotional level, are you choosing to just plop in front of the computer and zone out.
During the conversation I mentioned offhandedly about wanting to be as good as the artists and authors I admire. She zoned in on that. Not right away, she let me ramble on a bit more, but would gently steer the conversation back. I didn’t notice her doing this at the time, but in retrospect I can see how her questions got me to make a similar offhand comment about not being good enough.
She latched onto that. Again not right away, she let the conversation flow, but she would steer it back. Eventually she just drove it in. “You said a couple times about not feeling good enough, why?”
I don’t think those were the exact words, but it was close. I stare off into the middle distance when I am thinking. I have trouble looking her in the eyes when I am talking, but can when she is talking. I’m attentive when she is talking, listening, nodding, saying “yeah” at appropriate moments. When I talk I look off to the side, thinking, trying to dig in and find the truth. Because I want to be honest here, what is the point otherwise?
We talked about how I used to be wiccan. How I had a friend in high school who was doing it for attention and I could tell that, and I told myself that I wasn’t that shallow, that it was real for me, that it was a belief. But then, after looking down at my friend for just being an attention whore, I realized that I was the exact same. That came about when I was reading something where they suggested not wearing a pentacle out where people can see it. I recoiled from that idea, I tried to tell myself that I didn’t need to prove anything, or that I only wore it so that other wiccans would see and interact with me. But that is what got me to start really thinking about it. Why was I really against the idea of not wearing a pentacle for all to see? The truth came out: I wasn’t wiccan, I didn’t really believe, I just wanted attention.
She told me that was actually excellent. That she knew I had what it would take to investigate my own emotions and to make changes to myself based on that story, because I’d already done it. I’d already accepted a dirty truth about myself, something that was negative about myself, and I’d fixed it. I could do it again.
So, as I said she honed in on the me not feeling good enough, and that turned on the waterworks. The first time I took off my glasses, pinched the bridge of my nose, and remained silent for a good five minutes while I worked to get myself under control. Not a lot of actual tears came, but my throat constricted and my eyes got watery and I took some time to regain control. She remained silent. That was good.
“There is a lot of bottled up emotion in that.” Yep.
Once under control things continued, she let the conversation drift away a bit, then after a little while steered it back. “Why don’t you feel good enough?” I cried again. Again I didn’t speak until I got myself under control, this time took a bit longer. Again when I say cry I wasn’t blubbering, tears weren’t streaming down my face, I wasn’t making a noise beyond some sniffles, and patting at my eyes with a tissue that I’d otherwise play with to distract myself. I told her I’d need a minute, that my throat gets tight and I can’t talk. I had trouble getting words out, because I didn’t want to stumble over them, I didn’t want to hear my own voice crack and tremble.
Eventually we got to the truth. The self loathing. Everything that I wrote in yesterday’s blog. Also my not feeling good enough as an artist, as an author, as a person in general. That maybe I stop doing the things I love when it becomes hard, when I get to a point where my feelings of doubt in myself are too strong.
I’m not entirely sure that is it, but only because I can’t sit here and think and remember a specific time when I was drawing, and it sucked, and I was like “I can’t do this, I’m done.” Is it possible for someone to think those things without actually thinking them? Is it possible for me to be telling myself that I don’t want to draw or write because I’m not good enough, without the words or thoughts actually being in my mind?
Also there is the fact that I’m not reading. I can’t feel I’m not a good enough reader, that’s silly. Reading isn’t a creative activity its a consumption activity. And I don’t think it’s that reading makes me think I’ll never be this good of a writer, I know that’s not it. So why haven’t I been?
Could not reading be a separate issue? I feel like that is unlikely. I do have strong emotions connected to how I feel not good enough, as an artist, author, person. But I also feel like me not doing anything but watching TV is something else too. Laziness, boredom, just not feeling like it.
My therapist also gave me homework. She wants me to make a schedule or a plan for myself. She gave me an example of one option, which was to devote Mondays to art, Tuesdays to tv, Fridays to D&D, etc. (I was a bit surprised that she remembered I played D&D on Fridays. I mentioned that once briefly in our first meeting). She also wanted me to try and notice when I mentally abuse myself.
I told her about my blog, about the post I wrote yesterday, about seeing my reflection in the monitor and hating myself. She said that was actually good, she said a lot of the time people don’t even really notice when they think negatively about themselves. It’s an abstract thought, something that comes and goes in an instant.
She said “if I told you to go home, and every day next week brush your teeth with your opposite hand, you’d be able to do it. It’d be challenging and awkward and uncomfortable, but you’d be able to do it. Most people don’t think about what hand they brush their teeth with, they just brush their teeth. It’s a habit, it’s automatic. They’re probably thinking of a dozen other things while brushing their teeth.” She compared what she wants me to do, to that. Saying that most people don’t even notice when they think negatively about themselves.
One comment I made, when she asked me “when do you think you’re not good enough” was “all day every day?” because I couldn’t come up with a specific time. It’s just a constant buzzing in the back of my mind. She nodded, she looked pitying. It made me kind of angry.
But that was also the first time that I did what she asked me to do. I realized it made me angry not because I was mad at her for pitying me, but because I was mad at myself for being pitiful. I thought for a brief flash that everyone must feel bad about themselves, why am I special? Why do I sit here in therapy and blubber about it? Why am I too weak to just fix what is bad about me and move on, that is what everyone else probably does.
I’ll write it down, make note of is like she asked me to, try and neutralize it. But part of me doesn’t think I’m wrong. That’s going to be the hardest part. When I think negative thoughts about myself she wants me to explore them, to neutralize them, to balance them with good. That’s going to be hard when I believe I deserve it, when I believe the negative things about myself are absolutely true. How do you neutralize a truth?
I’ll go to my next therapy, but I know I’ll be struggling with this. This new self-hatred centering around being weak and pathetic enough to feel I need therapy rather than just dealing with it myself like an adult.