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Lost soul

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  • #310521

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Some time has passed since I last posted here. I’ve been meaning to come back and post, but time got away from me. For a couple of weeks, I was pretty sick. (Lucky me, I had an intestinal parasite!) I’m over it now, AFAIK.

    After I started to feel better, I decided to bite the bullet, and I called a therapist and went for an initial appointment. It was a good first meeting. She was articulate and empathic and seemed to understand my issues with my childhood and family. She also showed some good traits as a therapist: she told me I didn’t have to hold anything back or worry about her reactions (this said when, at one point, I started to mention why I felt a certain type of therapy has not been helpful for me, and then kind of caught myself realizing it sounded critical).

    One thing the therapist said has been on my mind since the appointment. She said that so far she is not really hearing a presenting problem that indicates I need therapy at this point and questioned whether I should pursue therapy at this time. She basically said something along the lines of,  ‘of course you can choose to do it, but I’m not sure it’s a good choice for you at this time.” I’m not sure what I think about this comment… I guess I’d like her to elaborate. In any case, I am going back for a second appointment in a few days to discuss this with her further. And that’s where things stand with me at this moment.

    Lost Soul

    #307679

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    That’s a fantastic treatment plan/outline. [Applause]

    It’s a lot to process, and I’ve been very busy the past several days. If possible, I will write and post a longer reply tonight.

    Lost Soul

    #307085

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It’s funny reading your description because out of the different therapists I’ve seen, whether it was for two sessions or twenty, he sounds pretty bad, doesn’t he? But honestly, in terms of quality/effectiveness, I would put him in third place, lol.

    …Okay, if I made a list of therapists I’ve seen, I guess I could scratch out ones I only saw, say four times or less. So that would eliminate any I saw in school and a few others I went round to check out for an initial session or two, which leaves six therapists. And yes, he would probably be in third place.

    I don’t have any enmity for that therapist though I do for a couple of the others. And to be fair to him, I realized as I got older that I didn’t tell him everything about my childhood. I didn’t tell him as well as a few of the others some of the more egregious anecdotes of my childhood, so he didn’t get the full picture of my childhood. Honestly, I didn’t even think to tell him some of these stories, and if I had thought about them, I probably wouldn’t have told him or anyone at that time out of embarrassment.

    [Though I mentioned I had extras like music lessons/sports/activities, before I was in high school I thought my parents were just getting by money-wise. Many things we would ask for–even non-frill type things–were an automatic ‘no’, and then there were times that major appliances broke down or things would break down in the house–plumbing, electrical, heat–and we would go without for days or weeks. I won’t give graphic details of what this meant for our daily lives, but I can say it did prepare me well for camping when I was older. 

    As a child, I thought things not getting repaired for awhile was from lack of money… decades later, I found old bank statements and other documents that showed otherwise. While my father was by no means rich, there was plenty of money that could have been used for repairs and no financial reason for us to have gone without whatever it was at the time. We could even have afforded a few vacations. He had my mom believing this too; he was very controlling and she had no idea what their finances were… even when my dad died, she didn’t know for sure the true state of their finances. My mom was probably the only mom at our white-bread suburban elementary school who knew how to use a chainsaw or had to split firewood on a regular basis. She told me she felt like she was on a short leash moneywise, which is part of why she got mad when I would stood my ground that time and insisted on getting new underwear. I stood up for myself that time because I was getting razzed at school for the state of my holey, falling apart old underwear when I had to change for gym class.]

    I’ve been feeling awful the past couple days… frustrated, bitter, resentful. I had an unpleasant interaction with someone the other day that brought up old feelings because I wasn’t being heard, was talked over and was treated coldly. While I’m angered, I’m also feeling fed up with myself for being so easily affected by someone else’s crappy behavior. It makes me feel like I’m weak to let it get to me. The frustration, bitterness and resentment are feelings I recognize from childhood, from times when I either couldn’t get my parents to understand my needs and/or couldn’t get them to meet my needs. Although, now that I’ve written this message, I’m feeling a bit better… more relaxed. I was really irritable when I started it. I was so mixed up earlier today, I could barely think straight. When I get like this, the only thing I can do is simple tasks like cleaning, chores, etc.; I’m not much good for any to-do list item that’s complex or takes a lot of interaction with others. I’ve picked two therapists to interview, but I’ve been too mentally wiped out to think about what to ask them.

    I’d be happy to read the paper you mentioned whenever you have time to post it.

    Lost Soul

    #306889

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Before I forget… there’s another thing about that therapy that probably lead to it being a failure.

    One thing I’ve always longed for in life is to be deeply known. For someone to get how I feel, what my experience has been. I went into that therapy with that desire, although I didn’t articulate it. I didn’t even think to articulate it. But I somehow assumed it would be part of the process. And come before the therapist tried to get me to think differently or teach me skills or whatever. So I was always telling the therapist more… more anecdotes and stories about my family and how they treated me and I think he was really tired of hearing them and wanted me to move on and get over it already.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Lost soul.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Lost soul.
    #306877

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Shutting one’s eyes as an instinctive act makes sense. Yes, I agree that while abuse maybe be ‘normal’ it’s never okay.

    As for examples of the questions, it’s been too long to remember them or exact wording, but many things like:

    •  “I wonder why you think ________.”
    •  “I wonder why you feel _________.”
    •  “It seems you think _________. I wonder why you think that.”

    And I would often have no direct or immediate answer for these questions. I felt literally pelted with his questions, like I was being interrogated. It might have helped if he had drawn me out a bit and said something like:

    “It seems to me you think ______. In your daily life, when do you feel this way? What’s happening? Who else is present?” Or,

    “What’s the first time you can recall thinking/feeling _______? What was happening? Who was there? Is this something you felt often as a child/teen/with your parents/with your siblings/at school?”

    It’s a cliché that therapists always ask the question, “And how did that make you feel?” but he never did. I wish he had. Often, I would tell him about something that happened in my daily life and that I had felt, say, stupid/embarrassed/one-down, and he would scoff when I told him that. In the moment, it felt like a scoff of disgust or annoyance that I would be so weak as to think that–and that’s probably a projection on my part based on how my father and sister treated me. After the session, I came to think it may have been a scoff of disbelief that I felt that way. He sometimes gave off the impression that he saw me as a more together person than I ever felt myself to be.

    What this therapy felt like was that he was waiting for me to make some logical connections and come to some big, obvious conclusion but I just wasn’t getting there. Whatever logical connection he saw, I just wasn’t seeing. I needed more help. I needed a flashlight in the darkness, but he was saying, “No, no. There’s enough light to see. Figure it out already.” And that’s where I think the failure of therapy was. I didn’t know enough about how I should be treated, what is not just ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ behavior, but healthy behavior and attitudes. And you can’t know that if you haven’t experienced it. I think a therapist, dealing with a client from a dysfunctional background, needs to educate the client on what is healthy/productive/effective behavior and treat the client that way. You have to experience it first, and on a consistent basis, not just a one-off exposure, to know it and then make logical connections and conclusions, spot red flags and make better choices. I got some of this with the therapist I said would tell me over and over, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” One time, I came and told her about something that had happened in the previous session that had rubbed me the wrong way, and she thanked me for bringing it up with her. Sadly, my therapy with this therapist was short-lived because her husband needed to move across the country for a job change. I would have continued seeing her if that hadn’t happened because I felt like I was making some progress in therapy for the first time.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Lost soul.
    #306813

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I agree that as a person raised in a dysfunctional family I might not see red flags unless they top what someone in my family did, however, I wouldn’t say I ‘shut my eyes.’ That implies I took an active step, but I didn’t. In my opinion, the situation a child grows up in is their ‘normal’, especially if the child grows up geographically and socially isolated. They don’t question it. So of course, later on, they won’t detect as alarming something they experienced on a day-to-day basis.

    In my opinion, all of this is one of the biggest failures of the therapy I received and therapists I saw. So many therapists use a sort of detached, analytical Socratic method of questioning with their clients in order to draw out the client’s incorrect core beliefs. I experienced this with the first therapist I went to on a regular basis (before this I had a few sessions with counselors at a school counseling center). Somehow, he expected that through this questioning I would immediately come to see the error of my parents’ ways and the subsequent errors in my thinking. But this didn’t happen and both of us were frustrated by the process. Afterward, I could look back and see this [method of questioning and the goal of it] was the governing assumption on his part, but he never explained to me what the point of his process was. Because the things that happened to me in my family—even though I hated them–were my normal, they were my normal. I had no other experience to draw on to compare them with, and that was the problem. What, in my opinion, the therapist should have been doing was treating me—in the behavior, not medical sense—differently; that is in a healthy manner. Then, having the experience of being treated decently, kindly, compassionately, warmly, I would be able to compare and contrast the treatment I received from my family, from bad bosses, etc. and see that it was toxic, dysfunctional, what have you. (You may recall I asked if you felt the quality and strength of the relationship between the you and your therapist was an important factor in your healing. This experience is why I asked.) I’m sure this therapist had good intentions but being pounded with endless Socratic questions didn’t help me feel understood or treated well; it made me feel hounded and badgered, just as in my family.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Lost soul.
    #306577

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Hi K,

    hank you for  your kind words. I’d be glad to be your friend.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Lost soul.
    #306379

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Sheshe,

    I also have an anxious attachment style and have been in relationships with partners who have avoidant attachment styles. Here’s my thoughts…

    Read what you have written above as if it was written to you by a dear friend. What would you tell that dear friend? Would you tell her, “Keep waiting for this guy to turn around and figure out he loves you. Wait forever.”? Or would you tell her, “There’s lots of other men out there. Forget him, and find other people to date.”

    I highly recommend you learn more about attachment style theory. There’s a mass market book on the subject called “Attached: the New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep Love” by Amir Levine. It’s a fairly easy and quick read. You can also google ‘adult attachment styles’ and find a lot information as well.

    Take what you have learned so far and look at his behavior as a sort of gift from the universe. This is the universe’s way of letting you know this person is not for you.

    An attachment style can be difficult, although not impossible, to change. But your boyfriend has to be willing to try to change. You would also have work to do on your side, as well. That is, learn how a person with a secure attachment style thinks and behaves like and strive to think and behave that way. A secure person, wanting a relationship to become closer, to deepen, might gently probe the person they are dating… “You know, I’m really enjoying dating you, and I’d like to see you more often. I’d also like to meet your friends. How do you feel about that?” Then sit back and see what the other person’s response is.

    It’d be good if you can find a therapist to work with on these issues. (From personal experience, I know good therapists can be hard to find and expensive, depending on where you live and other factors.) If it’s not possible right now, keep reading and learning more about attachment styles.

    I wish you well.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Lost soul.
    #306221

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    “I used “we” and “us” above, but is it true to you what I wrote?”

    Yes, it’s true. May I ask why you ask? Do you ask to be certain you understand me correctly?

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Lost soul.
    #305761

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for replying. Your therapist sounds like a very honorable human being. You were fortunate to find him.

    When I went to therapy when I was young, I wasn’t a great judge of people, let alone therapists. Over time, I’ve gotten better, but even now, unless there are glaring red flags, it takes me at least a few sessions to figure out if a therapist will work for me. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially since I’m an introvert and like many introverts, my personality unfolds slowly over time. I guess I unconsciously assume other people are similar, although many people are very much “what you see is what you get” and no more. In hindsight, I can see some early warning signs that hinted at what these therapists would be like, especially the worst one. But I was depressed and sluggish, and just happy with myself that I had even made the call and started going.

    Lost Soul

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Lost soul.
    #305749

    Lost soul
    Participant

    This makes me so sad to read. I don’t know you Lida, but it hurts me to think someone feels this way about themselves. And if a complete stranger wishes better for you, perhaps that can help, at least a little bit? It’s funny because everything you said above, I feel about myself… and while I feel it about myself… I’ll say it again: it hurts me to learn someone I don’t know feels it about themselves.

    I wish good things for you, Lida.

     

    #305527

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your reply. So what I take away from your response is your healing was ignited by therapy of a higher quality than you had sought in the past, followed by your own efforts after that therapy ended. I would like to ask a few more questions.

    – Did that therapist employ a particular therapeutic approach or modality that helped you? Or would you say, he was simply of a higher caliber than the others that didn’t help?

    – Some people believe it is not so much the therapist’s therapeutic orientation that helps a client but the quality and strength of the relationship between the two. Was this an important factor in your healing?

    – Have you ever tried EMDR therapy, and if so, did  you find it helpful?

    Lost Soul

    #305241

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for replying to me. You are undoubtedly a real person behind the typed words; I would never think otherwise. To explain my comment: for the past couple days, I have been stuck inside alone, with my dog but no face-to-face contact with people, both because of the heat here as well my health issue…

    If you don’t mind sharing, I am curious about something you said above:

    “It is evident that you had therapy in the past, that you read plenty self help books…  I did too, before I started what I refer to as my healing process, or the healing path,  March 2011. I read plenty, I knew terms, I had a bit of therapy (months, put together). But I was not on the healing path yet.”

    May I ask what ‘moved the needle’ for you in terms of healing? What put you on the healing path? Please feel free to speak in general terms–please don’t feel obligated to reveal any personal information. I’m deeply curious what, in general, worked when the things you tried before either didn’t help or didn’t help completely. (Or help enough?) Feel free to respond when you have time; I realize you are very busy helping many people on this forum.

    Lost Soul

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Lost soul.
    #305203

    Lost soul
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    It’s true… I do still doubt my childhood experiences. The fear of harping however, is perhaps only a 35 – 45% wedge of the pie chart of my not doing much. There’s probably at least a few different wedges in there, but maybe the largest wedge is feeling all alone/ not belonging / having no one to turn to IRL /  feeling defective and unlikeable. What’s the point of finding a new place to live when I don’t really belong anywhere? And how do I figure where to go when I have no purpose in life or people who care about me?

    Lost Soul

    #304933

    Lost soul
    Participant

    I have pasted the entire blog post below and have put what I consider the most relevant parts in bold:

    Recently, a number of clients have communicated to me some version of “I hate myself” or “I’ve always hated myself”, while discussing symptoms such as depression, compulsive or addictive behaviors, or self-esteem issues. Often, this powerful self-hatred is accompanied by feelings of being toxic, evil, and inherently prone to “bad things happening”. This “hatred turned against the self” seems to have a much more angry, powerful energy than typical expressions of shame seem to have.

    When I try to explore what is “bad” about the person, I often discover that hating oneself is actually a response to feeling helpless in relationships, especially when it comes to preventing other people from hurting them (for example, not being able to get an abusive partner to show love, or feeling constantly rejected in relationships). So, essentially, when a person says “I hate myself” in such situations, they are actually saying something like “I hate not being able to feel effective about getting others to treat me nicely, to love me, or to stop hurting me”. It might also be a way of saying, “People are hurting me but I cannot be angry at them, so I will be angry at myself instead”. In such cases, self hatred seems to be a defense against other feelings, such as helplessness or anger towards others.

    A defense is an attempt to protect ourselves. Defenses help us prevent painful experiences from overwhelming us. Defenses help us avoid feelings that we don’t want to feel. For example, denial helps us avoid feelings of pain by pretending that the source of the pain isn’t there or that the feelings of pain don’t exist. Anger may be a defense against feelings of weakness or humiliation because anger is a feeling that fills one up with a sense of power. Other defense mechanisms seem to make sense in some way too. But how does self-hatred help? How does self-hatred protect a person from something even more painful or scary?

    I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this question; certainly there are different theories about this. But it does seem clear to me that self-hatred does often serve as a defense against feelings of powerlessness, or anger towards attachment figures- people who we feel dependent on for help. Self-hatred might be an example of Fairbairn’s “moral defense” (see the book “The Illusion of Love” for more on this), in which a person would rather believe that his own badness caused his caregivers/attachment figures to mistreat or neglect him, rather than believing that the caregivers he needs for protection are weak, uncaring, or hurtful. In this case, feeling bad about the self (“it’s because I am bad that they are treating me badly; they are good and only responding to my badness…if I were better, this abuse/neglect wouldn’t be happening”) is less painful than feeling good about oneself, but unprotected by failing caregivers. Anger turned against the self may also feel safer than acknowledging anger toward people who we need.

    This dynamic is often hard to treat because we focus on the wrong problem. For example, when someone comes in saying “I hate myself”, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to help them become more loving towards themselves; trying to build their self esteem by pointing out their strengths, teaching them to validate themselves, helping them develop more self-loving behaviors. However, this often doesn’t work, because the real issue is not the self-hatred, but the other emotions buried underneath it: feelings of helplessness, hopelessness about getting needs met, or anger toward attachment or authority figures. It then becomes important to help this person process those unconscious experiences, before we can help such a person let go of the need for self-hatred to defend against acknowledging those deeper feelings.

    Lost Soul

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)