Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My therapist can beat up your therapist!

Dr. T knows her shit.

At my last appointment I went in feeling like a loser because I have a hard time getting anything done. I said "I can see why I have low self esteem, it's because I can't get a damn thing done" She responded with something that sounded so cliche, that I have to be nice to myself basically, and she gave me an assignment. The principles she has taught me have served me amazingly well.

On my days off this week I made a promise to myself that I would be rediculously lazy with no guilt. Why? Because I stuck with the tour guide training and I deserve a nice break and pat on the back. How lazy was I? Well I cleaned my entire bathroom, sent out invitations for my graduation tour, transferred my e-mail addresses from my old to new account, repaired my broken tables, set up cell phone service, called an old girlfriend, stocked up on vitamins, attached CPR card to work ID, washed rugs, made 3 indian dishes almost completely from scratch, defragmented computer, repaired our broken T.P. holder, Made dentist's appointment, chatted with friends, installed our doorbell, cleaned windows, trimmed eyebrows, commented on blogs, repotted plants, and watched a favorite movie.

I accomplished all of this because instead of thinking the way I always have (which isn't working for me) I payed attention to the points Dr. T made:

*My brain was traumitized during the developmental stage where my self-worth develops, so I have low self-worth and sabotauge myself. (sounds SOOO cliche, but is really insightful and very true!)

*Treat myself as I would treat a traumitized child, and have expectations that you would for someone who survived trauma, not what you would expect from someone who's development was healthy.

*Don't "overthink" things before doing them, that will make them seem like a bigger deal then they are (going to the tailor should be like stopping for gas on the way home)

*Just do the activity and don't think about it while your doing it, think about pleasant things/distract yourself

*When you are done, give yourself a pat on the back! Reward yourself! Don't skip over the proud feelings and dwell on what else needs to be done...there is ALWAYS more to be done, so reward yourself when you accomplish something. (Say "good job, you went to the post office" not "geez it took two days just to do this? What a loser")

I gave myself permission to do NOTHING and instead I just followed what my heart WANTED to do, not what I bullied myself into. I didn't tell myself "You need to clean the bathroom, it has gone long enough! How humiliating! I can't believe the way you live!" Nope, instead I just started by wiping the sink, and did more from there. I am a bundle of anxious energy, which allowed me to bounce around the house doing 20 things at once. When I am forcing myself like a drill seargent to get stuff done I usually sit or lay down paralyzed, wanting to watch 10 more minutes of TV, or look at one more web page, and as I sit, DREADING the 1000 things I have to do, cortisol is pulsing through my body, eating my immune cells. When I just let myself do what I want to do, my anxiety becomes useful energy, a blessing, not a disorder.

This ineffective self-bullying method of getting stuff done has deep roots. Years ago, I decided to buck up and stop feeling sorry for myself and my life situation (this decison was a key to my success, but had some unintended consequences) I became all business no pleasure. I figured fun is a luxury, I have no time for luxuries, only neccesities, so the only "fun" I had was for social reasons, not to make myself happy. In a wierd way, it was like if something made me happy, there was something wrong with it! I was on cheerleading and danceline and I FORCED myself to be embarrased by it. I LOVED them! But I felt like I had to see them as stupid, even danceline, which was as intense as other sports. Even my beloved flight attendant job was "an embarrassment" for the first year, because it wasn't intellectual...And you wonder why I get depressed, if I actually allow myself to do something that is fun for me, I force myself to find it shameful!

I remembered this week that I wasn't always that cold, hard person. I got a memo at work that suggested a greed-based company policy, a policy so complicated and stupid that the FAA hates it, is unpopular not because it sucks, but because us flight attendants arent enforcing it properly. This is after I had been ABUSED by passengers FOR enforcing it, last week abused so bad I cried after it was over. In the self-love mindset I bought myself a book, (don't say I was self-medicating with shopping, because I was going to buy this book soon anyway.) It did cheer me up. It discussed fresh food markets and brought me to a place that I love to be. When I go to the farmer's market, and buy beautiful fresh herbs and vegetables, I feel truly alive. Suddenly I realized why. I used to go to the farmer's market with my mom.

Somewhere, buried in layers of pain is a girl who feels important, and that life is beautiful. Somewhere deep in my psyche, I know how it feels to not be depressed. My mother cared so much about my development she fed me only organic, whole grain foods, limited my TV intake, read to me and took me to cultural events. I once mattered to somebody. I once was important, not a burden. The real me, the person I would be if I had a normal development is in there, she is just buried.

I didn't recognize it at 14, but yes, joy is important. It is as important to health to have fun and feel joy as it is to pay bills and be serious. I have accepted that I need to really FEEL my feelings, but I need to accept that I need to feel ALL of them. I know I have to go back and recall the unpleasant memories, so I may release them, but it is just as important that I recall the wonderful ones, so I may recreate them.

Wow, at this moment I feel like I felt when I was just 7. It makes me feel authentic, genuine. You are witnessing a big deal right now. I hope I can hold on to this.

mood: happy (& crying)


Diana Crabtree said...

And I just realized why I don't think of the good memories. I repressed them, like people who were abused repress memories.

When I was 9 & 10 I just stopped thinking about the past, because it hurt too much to juxtapose the memories with the life I was living...and good thing, because my life got progressively worse.

Diana Crabtree said...

Ooh! Wow! One more thing! (facinating to you BTW) Sometimes when I start feeling happy I get stabbing pangs of anxiety. I bet a dollar that is because I have an association of happiness with happiness being taken away.

Idony said...

Dude, you sound just like me...

Or the other way around heh. I haven't ever been diagnosed, but I'd bet you a dollar that I've got ADD.

Normal everyday tasks are daunting - I can't hardly ever enjoy myself without being swallowed up by guilt and so on and so forth (list goes on and on and on and on).

Oh, and I don't have a therapist. Can I borrow yours?

Diana Crabtree said...

No way idony! You cant have her, shes mine!!!! But you SHOULD get one! Therapy seems so narccisitic while doing it, "wow, we just sit here and talk about me? Awesome!" but MUCH MORE takes place. Therapy is good for anyone...essential for anyone who gets sick. I promise if you get one I won't sick Dr. T on them.