Near the start of all this therapy crap, I tried to think of something that gave me pure joy to do, and came up with: concerts. At a good concert my forebrain shuts its judgemental trap and my hindbrain just does its animalistic thing. I decided that to reward myself for doing therapy, whenever I had the opportunity I would buy tickets to any band on my running mix.*
Well, there have turned out to be so many opportunities that for my own health I’ve had to pass up a few. I’ve now seen about half of the artists on my current mix—several of them twice—and a bunch whose songs have rotated off. I knocked off a few of them at a music festival where my forebrain switched off for three days straight, which was almost frighteningly divine. If it were possible I might just live there.
But I need to live “there” no matter what I’m doing, right? So I plod on.
It would seem that just about everything you all told me about therapy is true. It’s a rollercoaster, a slog through mud, frustrating, enlightening, frightening, boring, encouraging, too slow, too fast, all of that.
Right now it’s going well. I’ve divested myself of a massive amount of guilt. I’ve discovered how much I’d restricted my emotional range, and I’ve made (baby) steps toward opening that up, without turning into the crazy person I thought I might. I’ve discovered a lot of triggers and some things finally make sense. I’ve told secrets that I’d never told a soul and I didn’t burst into flames like a Spinal Tap drummer. And I’ve finally, finally started to address my habit of reflexively beating myself up about being upset over something I should “just get over.” But I have a long way to go still.
It’s a bit hard to open up when you are brought up to believe that mentioning anything bad is dangerous, that being upset about anything is feeling sorry for yourself, and that feeling sorry for yourself is by definition a bad thing. Add to that decades of insisting to myself and others that I was not a victim of anything at all, and, well, I suppose it makes sense that I move rather slowly through all of this. And: a major component of my abuse consisted of the abuser cajoling me into telling him shameful secrets and then, if I rejected him, using them against me. (A highlight of one of my therapy sessions was my usually measured, calm, and mild therapist bursting out with “he was a fucking sadist!”) (Okay, maybe that sounds weird, but it was apt at the time and to me it was tremendously reassuring.)
Through it all everyone has been beyond great, my husband most of all. He somehow manages to say the exact right thing to everything.
In other news, our exchange student has flown home, which was sad (and which I let myself be sad about!) but also freeing—turns out teenaged girls can be a lot of work, who knew? The job is insane still but I have terrific people to work with and have not had to have dealings with the icky guy, and I am shedding my guilt about not working a zillion hours a week. Also my boss said nice things about me in my annual review, which doesn’t hurt. What else … my on-the-spectrum brother is getting married, which no one EVER thought would happen, and to an awesome woman. (He’s usually had terrific girlfriends, but he always kept a very separate life. This one he moved in with a couple years ago. She even got him to quit smoking.)
And running, ah running. Summer running is the best. Well, up till about 95 degrees, maybe a little hotter if it isn’t too humid. Here’s the running tip I promised: before you head out in hot weather, run a cloth napkin or kitchen towel under water, wring it out slightly, and leave it curled on a plate in the freezer in the shape of a large croissant. When you get back it will be the perfect shape and temperature to wrap around your neck or forehead. (Try to do this in private unless you are a Brett Michaels fan.)
*Aside: my new favorite running song is Joseph Arthur’s “Saint of Impossible Causes.” “Harper Lee” by Little Green Cars kind of cracks me up because it reminds me so much of therapy. And the pomDeter mashup “Call Me A Hole” never fails to make me give up any grumpy thoughts.