I feel better.
It’s been a difficult day. I am leaving in 9 days from Y-Town and shit seriously needs to get done. So I did a lot of laundry—stuff at least needs to be clean. On days like this, stuff seems to absolutely take forever. I don’t know why. I did sit down and just kind of collapse for a while, but I worked steadily in spite of feeling like shit and nothing has actually gotten done aside from washing some sheets.
I cried a lot today. I cried and felt worthless and useless and like I would be forgotten about when I left here.
I felt ashamed about pretty much everything about myself.
And I kind of thought, well, okay the laundry is getting done. I made lunch (kind of). Things are moving along. I am feeling really, really shitty and I am able to keep moving, so that’s probably a good thing. There are tears streaming down my face, and I managed to cook something. Hurrah for carrying on.
I was really trying to resist the urge to articulate my feelings to anyone or try to reach out, because most of the time when I do that it upsets me. Or it upsets the other person. So it’s better when I am at my worse to just do laundry. Other people can reach out to get support in times of need, but I can’t. I don’t know why, but it really doesn’t work out well when I do it. Even the contact with my former therapist wasn’t that great—It did sort of help me stabilize enough to get my work done during a very stressful week, but I also ended up feeling very invalidated and out of synch with her.
I was thinking about how I can’t reach out to anyone. I feel very worthless, like no one even likes me, they just like what I do and then on top of that, I help them only because I want them to like me, because they don’t like me. I am not even supposed to complain or be sad that no one likes me, because that creates a burden on other people. Crazy shit was going around in my head like that, and it was like, okay, just eat lunch.
So I began to think why it was like that. And I thought I’m just hopelessly broken. I began to think how in popular psychology kind of stuff, people create these divisions of healthy and unhealthy people, toxic people and normal people. And I thought I’m just toxic. I am just a bad person, just toxic, and I can’t complain about how shitty it feels to be that way, because it is toxic to other people.
I started to think of therapists, how they viewed me, and I thought they saw me as basically hopeless. When I was younger, it wasn’t like that. No one expects that much from someone entering adulthood. But after 25, I was a hopeless case. You don’t expect that much of someone hopeless.
All of this was bouncing around in my head, and I was feeling really shitty, and that thought suddenly made me feel better. It’s weird. It just came into my head that’s how you would treat someone. If you thought someone was basically a hopeless case, very deeply damaged, you wouldn’t expect that much change out of them. You would see them week after week and not expect much. You would try to get them to see how their behaviour impacts other people. You would try to help them see that they need to change their behaviour in order to be more emotionally independent, because their attempts to be heard and seen and attended to impact other people in negative ways.
It just made things make sense. Not that every therapist has been like that with me, but there is a certain degree of that in my relationships with therapists. I can’t explain why I feel better or why I feel lighter about that. It’s a shitty thing to think about oneself. Maybe it’s that I have a coherent self, or more of one, so that when I see negative views of myself in the eyes of other people it doesn’t feel like their perception becomes who I am. It’s just an opinion, and I feel like I exist outside of other peoples’ opinions of me. I have a life of my own, an existence, and it’s not that I no longer care what other people think—I do care—but I know that things exist outside of our perceptions of those things.
It’s not that I think I am great and therefore it doesn’t matter if people think bad things about me. I don’t really know what I think of myself actually. Maybe I feel less that I need to be worth something or prove anything. I am here, for better or worse, and these are my struggles, and I have to deal with them. Whether I like them or not.
One thought I have had this year is how we are not considerate of other people when we are overwhelmed by our own needs or feelings or impulses. One boy in particular in my Class 3 is very playful and I think maybe also very loving, and he likes a lot of attention. When I have not had very tight boundaries in the class, he becomes very disruptive, because his need for attention and connection is just so great. And one thing I have tried to help him to see is that when he is out of control, it’s very hurtful to other people. He is a lovely, lovely boy, very bright and creative and funny and wonderful, but when he gets carried away, it becomes hurtful to his friends.
I have seen that in C. I have seen her struggle to control her impulses because she knows that it is hurtful. On Thursday, when she really wanted to go back to her grandparents, and I was trying to get her to slow down and reflect a little on what was happening, she was really extremely angry at me. All Punishing Parent, like a cat who wanted to spit. And she said in this very hateful way, “Go get the taxi.” Or something like that. I told her I would in a few minutes. She got up after that and began to make calls—it was intolerable to her to wait.
The thing is that it all felt completely intolerable to her. It felt intolerable to her to wait—and I know exactly what that feels like. I know it feels like the pull inside to be somewhere or go somewhere or do something is making you completely insane. It’s not that I lacked compassion for her state. But I could also see what she was doing: She couldn’t stand the feeling state, so she was acting to get out of the feeling state as quickly as possible as though feelings are death. And they are not death.
Then she sat down again, and it was at that point when I asked her why I was doing that, to get her to see something of my intention and of reality, of the here and now.
I was thinking about this later, how terrible she felt and how angry she was, and all she said was something like an order, which was totally inappropriate, but not anything terrible. She didn’t belittle me or criticize me or tell me how terrible my intentions were or in any way threaten our relationship. Our relationship is important to her, and so she contained that impulse. The feeling of alliance creates motivation to her to control her intense emotions.
And all morning long I was thinking I am too dysregulated to reach out to other people for help with this. They aren’t going to be able to help me with this. I wanted to reach out to C. I wanted to share my unhappiness with her, my sense of existentialism, and my anguish that I would be forgotten. I didn’t. I did send some random texts that might not have been comforting to her, but I didn’t voice my own experience of life, because it would frighten her and lead to more dysregulation.
It has worked for me also—that feeling of an alliance I don’t want to disturb. In my long-term relationship, I would enact this shit for sure. I would voice to my ex (when she wasn’t my ex), all of my anguish and expect her to help me with it. I couldn’t actually see the point of a relationship if they weren’t going to be there for me in times of need. I did not see that relationships can be mainly sources of joy and aliveness, rather than support. I know that people do need support, they do get support from their relationships, but there has to be some kind of middle ground. I have really thought about this a lot in group situations, where the group wants to do something I don’t want to do. I have thought I have to compromise sometimes. The other person likes this. I need to try to cope with it, even if actually it makes me feel that I am going to lose my fucking mind. It isn’t really fair to make them tiptoe around my insanity. It isn’t my fault I am like this, but it also isn’t their fault. So relationships and the feelings of alliance have made me try harder to regulate myself. Not that I typically unload this stuff on other people. Instead, I have withdrawn, so that the pain doesn’t get triggered in the first place. But then I don’t have relationships at all. It’s not actually better for me.
At the moment, all of this childhood pain is surfacing. I feel forgotten about and disregarded, I feel unimportant and unwanted. It’s all this stuff from when I was a child, and from a time when I needed a family to take care of me and value me, and I did not have that kind of family. But I have to be able to cope with it. No matter how hard it is, I have to do it. Things need to get done so that I can leave. C needs me to keep behaving like an emotionally competent adult and not a maniac or a needy baby. My friends need to not have to worry that I will throw myself in the river at any moment, even though I find the idea tempting. All of this is very, very hard, and it needs to be done no matter how hard it is.