I am going to step right in it.
It’s unavoidable. It’s inevitable. It’s mandatory. It’s practically the only way the process truly works.
Over and over people come to therapy hoping that this will be the one relationship where I won’t ever do the one, awful, terrible, hurtful, intolerable thing that everyone else has always done to them.
And then I do it. Or something kind of like it, or something only a very little like the terrible thing, but similar enough to bring it all back in a flash and make you feel the darkest déjà vu: “It’s happening AGAIN.”
I will be late, or forget your partner’s name, or double-book, or lose an e-mail, or push too hard, or seem preoccupied, or be masking a dip in my own personal energy, or be over-protective, or have a “tone” in my voice, or misunderstand, or misconstrue, or f-up.
And you will be absolutely sure that it’s proof that I don’t care, don’t value you, that I am crazy, or just like your ex-wife, or your father, or that I am too fragile, depressed, not keeping up, or that I left you – or am about to leave you – alone.
Sometimes it will happen right away, sometimes not for a few weeks, or even years.
But – inevitably – I will do it.
If I don’t, we probably aren’t connecting. We aren’t approaching the realm of intimacy. The terrible, messy, liberating sacred zone where your unconscious Self pulls on mine – and we slip, momentarily, into the black hole of our core conflicts.
Sounds like fun doesn’t it?
But that’s how it works. Really.
We all repeat patterns in our relationships, and the therapeutic relationship – although unique, with important parameters – is still a relationship. As we fall into our favorite tried-and-true dance steps, we all pull and lead our partners to fall in line. Even if we want to learn new steps – even if we want to quit dancing altogether – the old rhythms return.
So, whatever it is you want to break free from, we should expect it to happen, watch for it to happen. And when it does – that is our moment to strike! We can see it happening, live, in vivo, in our laboratory. If we can catch it, we can deconstruct it, we can explore what was at play, assign language to it for the first time, or rewrite the narrative, we can transform it, re-work it, create a new experience.
But, I will step in it. If you stay long enough, and want more from the process than some company while you wait out a disruptive brief crisis, I always do.
And so will everyone you ever love.
The road to all intimacy leads straight through the deepest hole of our worst fears and crashes smack into our darkest core conflict.
Lets not hope that it won’t happen. Lets hope that it does.
My therapist warned me about this, and suggested that we use it as a springing-off point for understanding what I was going through and sort of sequestering it in that room, but the sad part is that she’s one of the few people I’ve really successfully kept myself from being emotionally vulnerable to or emotionally invested in (why? who knows.)
I AM! That’s the great thing! Tonight was my second class. I haven’t practiced in five/seven years (ended my serious tap classes at the end of high school, but two years later I took a one-month course at MIT) but it’s pretty damn fun.
the advice goes.
Is it enough to not show your desperation, or do you legit have to not feel it?
Someday I will go to a glocals event and, after an evening of being my most charming self, I will stand up and say dramatically at the end of the night:
"MWAHAHA! I have fooled you ALL! You thought I was here because I like meeting people, but the truth is — I am just LONELY!"
I AM HAVING UNMENTIONABLE HEALTH ANNOYANCES
1. This is the second time I have dropped my bungalow key in the toilet. STOP THAT, SELF. IT IS NOT A GOOD THING TO DO.
2. I posted this thing about having panic attacks on Facebook. Usually I try to be as bland and innocuous on Facebook as humanly possible, because — quite frankly — I am scared of alienating the people I love. But I thought I communicated quite clearly what I wanted to say, and it seems to have been received well, if somewhat confusedly, by most people.
2., part B. I had a few people tell me helpfully, “There’s medication for that!” Yes, dears, I know. I overdosed on some of those handy-dandy meds, and that’s why I don’t have that prescription anymore. Some of us are not awesome at telling acute depressive spells apart from panic attacks. (The nuances between “I have caused something terrible to happen and therefore I am worthless” and “I am sure a terrible thing is imminent” are occasionally difficult to distinguish in the moment.)
3. I am afraid of change. I am afraid of change I can see happening. Even when it’s positive change! I am still afraid that if I don’t always struggle with the same things — if some things, like social situations, grow easier for me — then this means that my struggles before were a lie, or they only resulted from me being too stupid and lazy to fix my problems, and therefore I have no business being traumatized by those things. I’m afraid of not being able to recognize myself. I mean: If I go to an event with a bunch of strangers and I have a good time, does that mean I’m not really an introvert or that I’m not really shy? (This is a rhetorical question. I think I mix introverted and extroverted qualities, as many people do. But my feelings haven’t caught up with my reasoning.)
4. I worry that by identifying something as good, I make it not good. Example: I was ON tonight. I debated fiercely and delightedly at this Cafe Philo(sophy) event. That I can identify that as a good thing… does that make it bad because it is conceited to think so well of myself?
5. At some point in the last couple years, I seem to have learned how to be charming in certain types of social situations. This is totally unnerving, because I have been socially awkward for SO LONG that when I interact gracefully with people, I feel like I am being profoundly dishonest. I feel like I should pull them aside later and say, “Just so you know, sometimes I get so overwhelmed by other people that I lock myself in a bathroom stall and just sit there for twenty minutes. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m some kind of normal, okay person.”
I stopped taking my antidepressants on the day I found out I probably wasn’t going to get to do a PhD here. My thought process went: 1. Fuck probably can’t afford these anymore 2. Better get through withdrawal while I’m in an emotionally good place.
Now I’m feeling in — it’s been five days and it’s getting out of my system.
Probably this was the wrong choice, but I am unclear about the correct choice.