Why I’m in Therapy.

Alright, this is a test.  I had my weekly session with my Therapist, and as usual it was intense.  So the question is, can I remember all that we talked about and process it to be the most helpful?  The thoughts and emotions running through me at the moment are still pretty overwhelming.  This may be an important turning point though, so I don’t want to miss anything.

Needless to say, it was a night of “Why?”  Why did I so completely lose control when I was texting the other night?  How is that one minute I can be calm and controlled and the next completely irrational?  Do I act this way because I’m bipolar?  Or are my behaviors driven by other factors I haven’t even identified yet?  And the biggest question of all; can I ever learn to live without being taken over with these kinds of emotional outburst?

Of course, all of these questions weren’t posed at once.  First I had to explain what had happened, and what the end results were.  As we began to work through the events, the questions started.  I love the way my therapist guides our conversations.  She doesn’t stop me and ask questions as I relate things to her…she just lets me talk.  That doesn’t mean she’s completely passive throughout the process though.  She lets me take the lead and gently steers one direction or another, usually without me even knowing that is what she’s doing.  And often, as I try to explain what happened, I begin to realize the ‘why it happened’ on my own.  And as I have these realizations, then we discuss together the root causes and the best way to deal with them.

So we went through all the events leading up to the irrational moment.  In my mind, it really started two days before, when I went 24 hours straight without any sleep.  It wasn’t that I was having racing thoughts or excess energy, or feeling manic in any way.  I had woken up that morning about 2:00am with terrible acid reflux.  Then I went to my lady friends’ house after work and we ended up talking until a little after midnight.  It took a couple more hours before I could go to sleep.  So the stage was set.

The day I went so bonkers was a really bad day for her.  There was a fight with her ex, problems with her new job paperwork, issues with the house she’s selling, and on and on.  So she was grumpy all day.  We chatted off and on during the day and I tried to be as supportive as I could.  That night I had left her alone most of the evening, figuring she needed time alone to decompress.  That was fine, until she sent me a text asking why I had been ignoring her.  Apparently she had sent several texts to me and was upset that I hadn’t answered.  I never got them, and felt obligated to explain why I hadn’t responded.  But I never got a response.  I started texting more and more, getting more frantic with each one.  Then I started calling and leaving voice mails.  By then I was completely out of control.

So that was my explanation.  The sleep deprivation from earlier in the week along with her reaction after her bad day is what pushed me over the edge.

My therapist disagreed.

She asked me if I cried when I got the ‘Dear John’ email ending my relationship.  I hadn’t.  Then she wanted to know when was the last time I cried. The last time I really cried had been months and months earlier when I was still grieving over my failed marriage.  I hadn’t even cried during my week long stay in the hospital last fall.

That was her cue.

Like I said, normally my Therapist takes a passive approach during our sessions.  Not that she isn’t in control of them, but I set the pace and topics.  Last night was different.  She didn’t attack me or anything, but she definitely called me out.

She said that what she has been seeing over the last year of treatment was that I suppressed my emotions.  That totally confused me.  How could that be when I felt so emotional all the time?  But the emotions she felt I was pushing down were much more deep rooted than the day to day feelings I have.

She said I have abandonment issues.  Well, Duh!  I’ve known for years that the way I was raised left a huge void of attention and affection from the very beginning.

She said I have commitment issues.  Again, Surprise!  I’ve been married four times.  Hello!

She said I have attachment issues.  Yep.  That goes back to the abandonment issue.

There were no great revelations.  The years of Therapy has helped me realize and understand the root causes of so many of the issues I have.

Then she asked me, ‘How did I deal with all of that, and when did I let go?’  I told her, after all the Therapy I had gained the insight I needed to understand.  She asked me again…”How did I DEAL with it and when did I LET GO?’  Again I argued with her.  I MUST have dealt with it because I didn’t feel any loss or pain from everything that had happened.

Hmmmm.  I didn’t feel any pain.  But I don’t remember ever feeling that pain. I thought back to the very first time I was hospitalized some 25 years ago.  I remember telling my Doctor that I felt like I needed to cry, but I couldn’t.  And I said that I thought that if I could just cry and release whatever it was inside that was making me feel so bad, I’d be okay.

I never cried.

Over the years I’ve developed techniques to handle intense emotions. The first is the “Scarlet O’Hara’ method.  You know, from the movie “Gone with the Wind”?  She’s always saying ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow’.  When I’m overwhelmed by anything emotional, I force myself to relax and say ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow’.  There there’s the distraction method of dealing with it.  If the feelings are too intense, I’ll change focus to something else that keeps my mind occupied.  Rationalization is another way of keeping from becoming too emotional.  When I’m having a confrontational discussion with someone, or a fight with a significant other, my rational brain kicks in and I reason through whatever the issue is.  That’s why I rarely get into fights with anyone… by the time it gets to that point I have my emotions under control and can reason instead of fight.

I’m starting to see a pattern.

But still I couldn’t reconcile what I was thinking to how I’ve felt over the years.  Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I have felt intense anguish and pain.  I’ve written thousands of words detailing my emotions and the struggles I’ve had.  What she was saying about my suppressing my emotions just didn’t make sense.

But I’m in Therapy.  I’m paying my Therapist for her opinions, insight and wisdom.  And I’ve learned over the year or so I’ve been seeing her that I can trust her.

Maybe she’s on to something.

So I started to think… My head understands why I have all the issues I do.  I recognize and acknowledge all the anguish that I have felt over the years.  I have even been able to explain and understand the source of the pain.

But have I ever connected the two?

I know at least once I have.  When my last marriage ended I was completely devastated.  I was unemployed and living by myself in a small apartment.  I had no distractions and nothing but time.  It was horrible.  I cried for weeks on end.  I suffered such intense pain I physically hurt.  I had panic attacks with no way to deal with but to ride them out.   I had no choice but to feel.  But a funny thing happened.  After about 8 months the pain started to lessen.  I stopped crying all the time.  I could think about my marriage without the incredible torment.  I started to move on.

Huh.  I specifically dealt with it.  And it was gone.

Have I ever done that with all those feelings and damage that have occurred from the beginning?  Sure, I understand them, but have I ever felt that same pain over them that I felt over the end of my marriage?

Hm.  Maybe not.

It’s starting to make sense.  Understanding isn’t feeling.  And I’ve ignored those feelings for so long I’m not even aware of them anymore.  It could explain a lot.

Like for example what happened with my texting fit.  I have some pretty deep feelings for my lady friend.  The relationship has become important to me.  So maybe what really happened was her getting upset and then disappearing brought up some of the old feelings of abandonment.  To get that freaked out just because of some stupid texting isn’t rational or appropriate.  But just like a volcano erupting, once those deep seated feelings were tapped they just exploded out of me.  And once released they couldn’t be controlled.  That certainly makes more sense than, well, the senseless way I was so over the top.

So I think I have my work cut out for me.  I’ve got to somehow experience those deep feelings and connect the dots to my brain.  I know I won’t be able to do it the same way I did with my last marriage, but there has to be a way to finally deal effectively with all that’s been hidden away for most of my life.  And maybe once those are out of the way, the panic attacks, the inappropriate outbursts, and possible the depressions won’t be so bad.  It’s certainly something worth further consideration.

Have I mentioned that I love my Therapist?

We also talked a little bit about avoidance and sabotage.  But I’ll think about that tomorrow.

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4 Responses to Why I’m in Therapy.

  1. bluemerlegirl says:

    Me thinks you are finally getting it. 🙂


  2. You are so astonishingly insightful!! I just love love love reading your blog. You really are an extraordinary man, do you know that? I really appreciate you sharing the whole tomata, as they say 🙂


  3. “Understanding isn’t feeling”. wow. that hits me right where i live. i also tend to overreact and let emotions get the better of me. i am realizing that the overwhelm of emotions isn’t the same thing as experiencing a FEELING. And you just helped bridge the why of it. Thank you.


  4. bluemerlegirl says:

    The more I read back through this, the more I am proud of you. You have come a long way. Keep going, my dear!


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