Therapy Tuesday

9:14 AM Edit This 15 Comments »
I got an assignment in therapy this morning. She doesn't usually give me anything to do inbetween time. An hour a week is enough torture, believe me. But this one involves other people. And in your case, audience participation! The game show that is my life is entertaining, no? There aren't prizes, though. Sorry. Just me making it through another day.

Today was a "review" day. When we go back and look at where I was and where I'm at now and all the crap that transpired inbetween. When I started therapy (with a different therapist) in November of 2001, I had two major issues with myself. First, I could no longer look at the future with any sort of hope. Today? I just don't look at it. That works. (Ha!) And second, that I was sick of being a different person in each venue of my life. Work Kate, friend Kate, daughter Kate, sister Kate, academic Kate? They were all different incarnations of myself and I couldn't live with it anymore. Being consistent in who I am is very important to me today. So, Carolyn asked me to name three ways that I know I'm living that way. I could only come up with two. I'm genuine and don't hide much anymore (in other words, I'm not ashamed to be me most of the time) and I'm considerate. Which she took me to task for, because I'm mostly too considerate (ie. pansy-assed and refuse to stand up for myself) and that means I let people walk all over me. Here's an example, which plays out on a daily basis at my job.

Me: "I was thinking that ....." (notice I don't even get to finish)
The good doctor: "What? You started thinking again? Who said you could do that?"

Hrmph. Then she proceeded to tell me that I'm stuck somewhere and she can't quite figure out where. Hands down, I'm stuck career-wise. I am very aware that I need to do something about that, but we'll get to it when I figure out what the intense fear of accepting greater responsibility at my work place is all about. I think it's mostly that I'll get overwhelmed and start drinking again, but that's kind of irrational - one of the thoughts that I beat with a stick every so often.

She asked me if I would ever consider relocating, if I really and truly want to be in a significant relationship, if I was bored with recovery meetings, why I won't take on debt to go back to school. And I couldn't answer any of those questions definitively. I looked at her with a blank stare and tears behind my eyes, and said simply, "It's fear. It's all fear. All the TIME it's fear."

So, rockstars. Here's the assignment. I am to ask five people who are close to me where they think I'm stuck. I already know who they are. They're all in my rock family. But I want to ask you, too. Because if there's a place that I'm the most genuine. It's here. So have at it. I'm curious. Because the hell if I know what my problem is.


Anonymous said...

I don't know you that well, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you have the same two primary fears that I had in my first years after recovery:

1) Fear of failure. You fell once, and it's hard to face the fear of falling again. Been there. There's no way around that fear. You just have to go through it. I wish there was an easier way.

2) Fear of accepting the new you. Or maybe more accurately, fear of others NOT accepting the new you. I know that was a tough one for me. As you probably know from reading my blog, I'm not the same person I was before. The "new" me emerged gradually, and very timidly at first. I knew who I WANTED to be, but I also knew that everyone around me knew who I was BEFORE, so it was really hard to make that change and get past the fear of being rejected by everyone who knew the "old" me.

Learning how to be yourself is a process, and it starts with being completely comfortable with who you are. Learning to LIKE yourself, learning to accept yourself, warts and all, is hard. Leaving behind all the doubts and insecurities in your head is even harder. But once you learn how to do that, you start to discover that other people have the exact same kinds of doubts and insecurities that you have. And that's when you start to learn that it's okay to be yourself - that maybe "they" have the same kinds of conversations going on in their heads as you do, and maybe you're not so different or weird after all.

You are Kate. You don't know how to be anyone else but Kate. I like Kate. Why shouldn't you like Kate too?

Or, in the words of my hero, Dr. Seuss: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter

melissalion said...

Aren't we all really afraid? But I don't know how to answer this. I like it when you get angry. Not angry all the time, but sometimes I wonder if you're not smooshing down some anger stuff.

G said...

Jeff D. has some wise words. Very good advice.
Fear is one of life's many roadblocks to happiness or peace. There are no easy answers, but I will share one approach to toxic mind waste that often works for me: helping others or focusing on another who could benefit from my kindness or time.
I spent just over a year volunteering at a Distress Center in my city. That year enriched me and helped me feel good about myself while at the same time giving a hand to others in stress/distress.

Anonymous said...

I think Jeff D probably has the best advice and best perspective from which to give said advice to you out of all the people who post. That is, unless someone else is also a recovering alcoholic and they post here too.
That being said, the only advice/comment I can give you is be who you are and as gentle and loving as you want to be with people you know won't take advantage of you and love you for what/who you are, no matter what.
With other people you have to be tough, even if it's an act, because more often than not they will take advantage of you and your good heart.

Sweetly Single said...

The fear of accepting the new is causing the fear of losing the old

hun just the act of moving on does no mean you are walkin away from the good parts of the past

u r just walkin away from the hurt...that is...when u do accept the beautiful girl u are

*Akilah Sakai* said...

I agree that Jeff probably hit the proverbial nail right on the head.

I have a gargantuan fear of failure so I've stayed in the same "position" for over a decade. Then the self-loathing rolls in and it's not a pretty cocktail at all for me.

JoLee said...

Wow, Kate, this is a hard one. It's hard to critique someone who I've come to know and adore.

Drawing observations from what you've shared with us, your humble loyal readers, I don't think you have fully released the past to make room for embracing the future. I think you want to but you've been kicked down HARD and had to dig your way up and it's scary to step away from what's comfortable and familiar. Your black hole was safe. It's easier to stay in the hole then to work so fucking hard to get out of it. Kate, you are an amazing woman. I admire your strength and courage and I think you're beautiful! xoxo

CatKrny said...

You didn't get the life you wanted. You have the skills to be a turbo stay-at-home mom, and that's all you ever wanted. You've probably idealized that vision more with each year that passed without you getting it. But it's a dependent life - you didn't want to drive the bus. Like it or not, you are driving the bus now, and it's good for you - you need to. Go ahead; want a life that is not dependent. Admit that you can drive the bus forever - not just until a relief driver comes along. Whatever relationship that possibly comes along will be better off if you don't melt into some blob of "what ever you want, Hon". You are afraid to have a life/career that is too valuable to concede for the sake of some man.

Captain Crab said...

I have known lots of people in my life.

Some who go through life being what other people expect them to be.

Others go through life being what they think they should be.

But the happiest people are the ones that go through life being who they are.

Cello Mama said...

I've known you a long time, darlin', and I've always seen you as one of the strongest people I know. My first day at a new school, you were the only one brave enough to walk right up to me, introduce yourself and say, "Do you want to hear my book report?" A friendship - full of ups and downs - was born.

Perhaps it's not about accepting yourself or your life or your past. Perhaps it's about accepting the fear. Often in my career I was thrust in impossibly tough situations - I was just so damn afraid it was like I was paralyzed. I didn't know how everyone else lived a life so confidently, so fearless. I would do nothing and the fear would get worse and worse, until I finally just said "screw it - failure can't feel as bad as this fear does" and took action. And it worked out. And the fear went away. Over the years the paralysis became less and less.

I don't know if everyone feels that fear, but a lot of us do. I sure as hell do. I'm afraid all the time - of screwing up my kids, of something horrible happening (illness, cancer, accidents), of failing everyone I love - and myself.

But I've learned to embrace the fear. I accept it now as just part of who I am. It sucks sometimes, sure, but if I didn't feel it then I wouldn't be alive. Fear means that you have things you love - things you don't want to lose. And that's not a bad place to be.

Anonymous said...

Me again. Just a few more thoughts that came to me overnight...

Maybe its the fear that there is only one "right" path? You were on the wrong road once, and now you've gotten off of that road and you're headed in the right general direction - and you're afraid that any detour might lead you back down that wrong road again. So you just keep going straight. Even if you don't know where this road leads, it beats the risk of making a left turn and driving off a cliff, right?

Shit, Kate. I've been there. You get that sort of tunnel vision where all you can see is what's directly in front of you, and you're afraid to even look down that road to the left or the right because you don't know where it might lead. It scares the shit out of you to think that if you take that turn it might lead you back to that dark place again.

But the good news is you've already been to that dark place, and you hated it there. And if you turn down a road that starts leading you in that direction, you now have the tools in place to recognize it this time and turn around before you get to the cliff.

But what if that next left doesn't lead off a cliff after all? Maybe that next left might lead you to a place you've never been before, a wonderful place where Kate can be Kate and things finally fall into place because she's learned what she wanted out of life and how to get there.

But you won't know until you take that left turn and see what's there.

Take care of yourself, Kate. If you ever want to talk, my email address is on my blog page. Don't be afraid to use it. I've been where you are.

BrianAlt said...

I just wrote something mildly humorous, but in your current frame of mind I erased it because I don't think you'd see the humor.

Anonymous said...

"...I was sick of being a different person in each venue of my life. Work Kate, friend Kate, daughter Kate, sister Kate, academic Kate? They were all different incarnations of myself."

My example: I am struggling with this same part of my life and trying to find a way to blend them all together. The more I think about where I am and where I am going, the more I struggle with myself and attitude.

Living for "today" is something thing always brings me joy when I actually do it...but it is always fear of failure and rejection that keeps me from getting out there.

Keeping things at your own pace...whatever you feel comfortable with...has to be the best plan.

Dont just assume you are "stuck"

buffalodick said...

I read a book by some motivational speaker once, and the pearl I found was a question that helps overcome fear of the unknown.. "If you did what you really wanted to do, what would be the worst thing that could happen?" I thought about this and the answer proved to me fear of failure that had been stopping me. Trying and failing is not failure. Not trying, always fails...Don't fight your battle on four fronts, concentrate on them one by one.

Meigan said...

I'm still giggling at the "do you want to hear my book report" thing...

Every time I hear you talk about the doctor I think that YOU should be the one running that damn practice. You'd be such a great doctor, man.

I think the career thing is a big one. You always seemed happiest when you were solving a problem or nailing a new solo. That side of you wasn't an incarnation - it was just you.

And as for relocating, it can be a little scary but it is also very refreshing. I've moved nine times since college & I just love the feeling of a new place; meeting new people, finding places to visit & things to do...maybe you'd enjoy it again, who knows?

Good luck with this. Your garden rocks. And I'm converting my family to be like yours & always use real popcorn for popping. So far, we're totally hooked.