Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let Others Carry the Hope For You

Foreword: I titled this photo "Grief and Shame", not because of how I was, or how I felt in my appointment today. I felt no grief and no shame because Dr. X was sincere and caring about the feedback he provided me, and how he provided it. In fact I felt intensely valued and cared for, in part because he told me the truth about how what I did affected him. No, I titled the picture "Grief and Shame" because it is how I so often felt as a child when my dad made tried to correct me by making fun of me: Grief because I wanted him to love me so much and he didn't, and shame that I was never what he expected me to be. I was never good enough.

My therapy lesson today:

"Let others carry the hope for you, let me carry it for you." Dr. X said this to me today, while I was crying and feeling like all my hope had disappeared. What an incredibly kind and loving thing to say to a patient.

Dr. X did a lot of trying to lift my spirits today. When I was complaining of not being able to remember my songs, he had me try, and when I got a few words he said..."You ARE remembering". When I was crying about my anxiety and ineptness in my choir practice last night he told me to be anxious, have performance anxiety and sing anyways, if you make a mistake be embarrassed and consider that [having sung and been embarrassed and lived through it] therapeutic. When I was stressing out about what is happening in my Art class, he told me I was talented and a good leader.

At first I brushed the kind words off with a, "you're just saying that because it's your job". He told me it annoyed him that I brushed his comments of like that, that I did not feel he was sincere. I immediately recognized what he meant.
I laughed, not because it was funny that he felt annoyed, but because I instantaneously felt that moment of "Touche", (he was right). I knew immediately what he meant by his feedback, I knew I had annoyed him, and exactly how I had done so. It was rude for me to dismiss his comments to me, as though he were lying to me.

I apologized, and he smiled and said, "that's okay I can take it"...and then asked that I please not ruminate on my mistake all day. Which I said I wouldn't, but of course, unfortunately (or fortunately) I will.

I say "fortunately" because rumination is sometimes good for me; especially if it helps me learn a lesson, and/or learn something about my reactions and interactions with others.

I recognize a couple things about my dismissive reaction to Dr. X's support and caring words. First, dismissiveness is a character trait I loathe. It reminds me immediately of my dad, or my husband when they are at there worst. I recognize I have that awful trait within me too. I often dismiss other people's kind words about me. Not good. I am going to work on that.

Second, I believe I dismissed Dr. X. because I could not actually believe someone really felt something good about me, or cared about me that much. I recognize now that is an automatic reaction I have to praise. The root of this reaction may be the hypervigilence I have felt, and continue to feel when I am in the company of my dad. I am never sure if what he is saying is true, or if it is meant to tease, bully and embarrass me; to draw me in and make me feel good, only to later find it was/is a backhanded compliment; one meant to humiliate me.

Due to my dad's unpredictable mood and reactions to me I was constantly on the lookout for a double meaning in what he was saying, or the "real" intent behind his praise. When he paid me a compliment I never knew if it was real or not. It rarely was real. It usually was another means to make me feel I was the bad person, or the loser he thought I was.

Third, because of my previous experiences with my dad, and very similar experiences with other men (I have never very good at picking men who are genuine, or who care much about me), my immediate response to a man's positive feedback is to either discount it, or to dismiss it outright.

It may be a case of 'you get what you expect' (I.E., if I always dismiss men's compliments, then I become annoying to them and they no longer care about me). It would be hard to care about someone who technically is calling you a liar all the time.

I wonder if I dismissed Dr. X because I find it hard to believe someone (especially a man), cares for me? Maybe the disbelief is about myself? Or maybe I dismiss his kindness to further isolate myself; maybe I push him away right now because I feel like I don't want to be here, and if I can only believe no one cares about me, I could go.

Whatever the reason, it was really rude and impolite of me to discount, dismiss and to think Dr. X's was being disingenuous when he complimented and reached out to me. I apologize for that, but I won't "ruminate" on my mistake. I will learn from it. I have learned from it.

5 comments:

Lola Snow said...

That's so weird, today I had this exact conversation with the guy who sits to my left at work. He paid me a compliment and I just wanted to die of embarrassment. I think mostly because it makes me worry that I have been fishing for the compliment rather than that he was countering my arguement because he saw how miserable I am.

What he said was correct and I agreed with him, but it was the direct way that he said it in response to something I said, made me feel that I'd asked to be flattered.

Plus sometimes think when I am putting myself down, that my motives are not specifically to put myself down, it's just interpretted incorrectly, or I express it unclearly. More I'm expressing frustration at my predictament, and when someone say "Oh no you're not you are XXXXX" ie the complete opposite, it makes me feel like they don't get what I am saying.

Lola x

Lisa Marie said...

It is wonderful that you were able to be open minded enough to take Dr. X's comment and really think about what he meant by it. He didn't say it to hurt you, but to help you and you allowed him to do so! Bravo!

Aqua said...

Hi Lola,
I have thought a lot about what you wrote here. I believe there is an aspect of my feeling not understood in my dismissiveness of Dr. X's compliments. I never thought about, or recognized that before.

It is as if I am telling him exactly how I feel and he is saying I have no reason to feel that way....because I am X, Y, and Z.

Let's say I agree I am X, Y and Z. Let's even agree that MOST people who are X, Y and Z are not hating themselves. Problem is despite being X, Y and Z, I still feel this way, so there is a problem.

Lisa Marie,
Thanks. I do really try to understand the feedback I get from Dr. X. It is easy to take a breath and not get defensive with him when he makes such a comment, because I know and trust he always is on my side.
...aqua

Anonymous said...

"No, I titled the picture "Grief and Shame" because it is how I so often felt as a child when my dad made tried to correct me by making fun of me: Grief because I wanted him to love me so much and he didn't, and shame that I was never what he expected me to be. I was never good enough."

Are you treating the symptoms or the source of your depression? (my vote is the symptom)

Our first relationship on this planet is with our parents. The way that they treated us is very often the way we will treat ourselves, then (subconsciously of course) searching out others to carry on this tradition as well (spouses, friends, siblings etc.). Many people (Drs., Loads of self-help books etc.) will tell us to just get through it or over it. (“BooHoo, so you had a bad child hood, Mommy & Daddy were mean to you” Get over it!!), that it is our responsibility to recognize that they [our parents] did the best they could and start from there. Perhaps they're right but I, like many of you I bet, are having such a hard time doing this. I've tried the psychiatry route (never drugs though-they scare me), also becoming addicted to it (the therapy and/or drugs, Woody Allen comes quickly to mind, 20 years (?) but who’s counting?) but found Hypnosis the best therapy for me (get to the source) However, that has become a bit of a challenge now also as I am living in Europe and trying to find a qualified hypnotherapist is proving difficult in my area.

My point I believe is that we learned at a very young age by the very people that was (were) supposed to protect & keep us safe from harm, to love us UNCONDITIONALY, to nurture us, providing council to us on any number of different matters, did not fulfill this function (duty). Instead we learned that we were/are unlovable, not worthy of respect, stupid, ugly, (you can fill in your own personal blanks) etc. The sad thing also is that we most often teach what we know, so our parents probably went through the same thing (or some form there of) and unfortunately we will probably continue this cycle by passing this kind of treatment on to our children, treating them and those around us the same way. I know both of my Parents went through their own personal hells. I love them so profoundly but truly hate them at the same time for making me into this horrible, unlovable (in my opinion), needy, cranky, always yelling, insecure, boring, nervous, broody, hell bitch, always trying to be what the other person wants me to be (my opinion of what that is of course). The list is long but I will stop there.

I very often have thoughts of suicide (my copy of "Final Exit" is like a security blanket,) However, I know that if I can get through those horrible black moments no matter how long lasting, but to get to the other side, then everything will be ok. Saying/writing this reads like a bumper sticker and you’ve all probably (most definitely) heard it a 1000x but I will say it anyway. It is my profound belief that we are all where we are supposed to be, that we choose our parents for the very challenges etc. that they will teach/give us + those that we will face down the road. We each and everyone have the tools & sources to discover and make better what our destiny and journey will be and become. Every single day is a day of renewal. When you wake up you can choose how to spend your moments. This sounds like such a load of *&^_ I know. (I just yelled at my cat for wanting a cuddle:() I think the key is first and foremost to learn how to love and respect ourselves. (So many clich├ęs in one paragraph-sorry)

Aqua, I’m so glad to have found you (your story of the Bees and coyote made me cry) but at the same time sad that there are so many of us hating our lives so much that we cannot focus on the Beauty that surrounds us, that we would instead choose death. I want to Live though. I think that’s why sometimes we get those moments of absolute clarity, absolute joy, to show us what it would be like to feel great and celebrate being alive. To trust and believe in ourselves just enough to get through that next moment is such a gift. One moment can become 2, can become 3 etc. etc. etc. What will it be like when I can appreciate every single moment? To be healthy in mind and spirit? The possibilities are endless.

Aqua said...

Anon,
I believe my anger and feelings towards my dad are actually symptoms of my depression, not causes. Maybe the treatment "feed" my predisposition (i.e. genetics, chemical imbalance etc.) for depression/mood cycling, but a tyrannical parent probably was not the best for me. I recognize there is nothing I can do to change my dad, I alsoKNOPW he is the product of parents who treated him even worse, and a career (policing) that hardened him and made him unable reject empathy...when I write about my difficulties and my dad, and husband and all that...I am venting. It is part of the purpose of my blog to get everything in my brain out of my brain. I want my blog to be uncensored and a reflection of things that come into my mind.

I also know it is the symptoms I am trying to treat in therapy, but discourse about past and present feelings and actions can show me the path to what is triggering my symptoms, or keeping them from going away. I believe history is important to change. For me it is a matter of "If you don't know where you were, you will never find where you are going."