I’ve been seeing my therapist now for 2 months. I’ve spent most of these sessions talking about how much I want to get more in touch with my feelings, but when any feelings arise, I find ways to distract or deflect attention away from them. I’ve been talking the talk but not walking the walk. I think last week’s session felt especially unproductive because some painful, deep stuff was coming to the surface so I worked doubly hard to avoid confronting it.. I spent almost the entire session talking about inconsequential things and cracking jokes.
On Saturday, I had one of my black mornings, which I wrote about in my last post. I emailed my therapist to ask him to remind me to talk about these black mornings when we met tonight. I knew that they were key to accessing some painful feelings that I’d been having trouble confronting. Feelings having to do with helplessness and abandonment.
He remembered. I was tempted to tell him I’d changed my mind. It’s not fun to talk about these painful things. But I knew I had to; otherwise I’m just wasting money and time. If I’m not going to confront the dark, sad and scary stuff, then there’s no reason for me to be in therapy at all.
So I talked. I talked about the black mornings. The overwhelming fear and sense of foreboding. When I have these black mornings I feel like I just can’t cope with life at all. I talked about how fragile and helpless I feel. How scared and small. How I feel like I don’t even deserve to live. How empty I feel. The way the world and everyone in it is hostile and cannot be trusted. The way everyone is out to get me. How if I died, that no one in the world would care. How if I was homeless, no one in the world would help. How tired I am of striving so hard, working so hard, being used and and taken advantage of. How dangerous everything is. I want someone to care about me. To take care of me. To love me. I don’t want to be responsible anymore. I don’t want to have to worry about anything. I want to depend on someone I can trust. I want to be a child. A loved child.
Nearly overcome with vulnerable emotion, my voice began to crack and my eyes got teary. That’s as close as I’ve ever come to actually crying in session, and that in itself was a big win. But something else happened that was strange. I heard myself talking in a very young child’s voice and using childlike words.
“How old do you feel at this moment?” he asked me.
“Six,” I said without hesitation.
I’m an emotional six year old who got stuck there. I never really grew up. I never was able to become an independent, self sufficient adult because of something that happened to me around that age. Maybe younger than that.
I remember my parents. I remember how they thought I was something special and superior. I remember feeling defective because I knew I was just a normal kid with normal limitations, but even worse than that. I wasn’t like other kids but not because I was better. I was different in a very bad way. I couldn’t live up to their unrealistic standards but I knew at the same time that they were full of shit, and that all I was to them was a source of supply, a trophy. I knew I could never please them so by adolescence I rebelled against being what they wanted and became the opposite. There was never anything conscious about it. I just knew I didn’t want what they wanted for me, but I didn’t know what I wanted either because emotionally I was still just six. I was never ready to be an adult. I’m still not. My parents projected their dreams of perfection onto me and when I couldn’t fulfill those dreams of perfection, they rejected and abandoned me.
This is what’s behind my lifelong identity as an underachiever and someone with a very small life. It’s what’s behind my codependency,my insecurity, and my dismally low self esteem. I don’t know exactly what it is but we’re getting closer. This is only the beginning. I feel like we really got somewhere tonight.