[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 about a conversation with my therapist – continued from previous post]
Edward: Let’s start here . . . is it a sense that stays with you all the time, or does it become more prominent in certain circumstances?
Me: Well, it is always there to some degree, but sometimes I think about more than other time . . . and definitely it is stronger in social situations . . . around men . . .
Edward: Is it mostly concerning your body, or does it include other parts of who you are?
Me: It is mostly concerning my body . . .
For example, at our conscious business meeting this morning, we did an exercise designed to identify what feeling we are hoping to experience as a result of our day-to-day activities. I identified that I’m hoping to feel valuable . . . to feel that I am enough.
I think we were supposed to be focusing more on our professional activities, but I focused on my personal life because I already feel I’m “enough” in my professional life – I’ve always been kick-ass in my professional life. But, in my personal life, I don’t feel as valuable.
Well, that’s not really true, either. I feel valuable as a friend, I feel valuable as a teacher, I feel valuable in general as a person . . . but, not in dating circumstances . . . because I feel my body is too disgusting . . . no man would find me attractive . . .
Anyway . . . I got sidetracked . . . so, back to the meeting . . . we broke into small groups . . . there were just two of us in my group. We each identified three things we are doing, or things we would like to do, that would help us attain or sustain the feeling we desire. I easily identified my three things as: 1) therapy, 2) blogging and 3) taking steps to be physically healthier . . . things like going to the gym and eating better.
Our next step was to create a statement/affirmation that we could say to ourselves during those activities – and during other activities – that could help us call up that feeling anytime, regardless what we were doing. The statement was supposed to be one we could believe . . . it needed to be believable to us. Our affirmation was supposed to be something like, “I am a strong person” or “I am a healthy person” or “I am valuable” . . . we were to develop the affirmation based upon what feeling we experienced – and found rewarding – when we were doing the activities we had listed.
Well . . . I really dislike affirmations for the most part . . . they usually don’t do anything for me except to remind me how much I don’t believe what I’m saying to myself. As soon as I heard that is what we were supposed to do, I thought, “Nope, that’s not going to happen.” Then, I chided myself for having a closed mind and I decided to make a concerted effort to participate fully and enthusiastically.
It turns out that my partner was a lady who deals with trauma through physical healing modalities . . . things like energy work, essential oils, massage . . . things that allow you to release the trauma out of your body in that way rather than reliving it and processing it cognitively. That put us at odds a bit because my focus right now is on healing the trauma by processing it. I think the physical modalities she offers can be of value as supplemental healing methods, but not as the only method – she believes the physical modalities can serve as the primary and the sole method of healing and she believes that talk therapy is a waste of time and even dangerous.
What she believes is of no concern to me . . . she can believe whatever she wants to believe. But, it is inappropriate for her to try to push her beliefs into my belief system . . . which she did, to some degree. That discord made it more difficult for me to feel free to share openly. So, even though I know the trauma played a huge role in the formation of my feeling disgusting and not of value, I didn’t talk about it with her other than to say I was on a healing journey.
We decided to work on my affirmation first. When I listed my three activities, she got stuck on the fact she believed I could be doing different activities than what I’m doing to enhance my healing process. She couldn’t allow space for me to explore what I was gaining from those activities. I realized nothing helpful was going to come from our conversation and I was getting increasingly frustrated with the exercise. So, I finally said, “Look, in the amount of time we have, I’m not going to find my way through this. And, furthermore, I think my example doesn’t fit well into this exercise, so let’s skip mine and look at yours.”
She wasn’t very happy about my pulling back because it seems she really wanted to “help” me, but she let it go and we focused on her statement. I know her intention was to help me, but her approach was not helpful. I am confident the healing methods I’m utilizing form the best approach for me.
Edward: And we have proof that the approach she advocates doesn’t work well in the long run.
Me: Yes, true! That is the reason I stopped going to Dr. Barb – she didn’t think there was value in cognitively processing the trauma – she wanted to me just “let go” of the pain. It didn’t work because that is not what I needed.
So, anyway . . . I think I got totally off track from answering your original question . . . I don’t even remember what your original question was . . . I guess I mostly needed to vent about the exchange with this lady because it got my ire up . . .
Bottom line, she wasn’t the best partner for me for doing that exercise . . . and I’m not sure the exercise was the best fit for me, either . . . not that any of that really matters . . . it was simply a group activity that was being offered as something that might be helpful to the attendees . . . not every exercise is going to be helpful . . . and, if an exercise isn’t helpful, it is not big deal . . . it’s nothing to get upset about . . . I don’t know why it was upsetting for me . . .
Edward: I agree that she may not have been the best fit for you as a partner . . . I can easily see how that would be frustrating for you.
Me: Thank you for that validation!
So . . . do you want to go back to your original question . . . since I sidetracked us . . . can you remind me what your question was . . . ??
Edward: (With a grin) Sure!
By the way, you are welcome to take the conversation wherever you would like to take it . . . and it seems you needed to talk about your experience this morning. I’m glad you felt free to take the conversation in that direction.
Me: Thank you . . . and thank you for listening!
Edward: You are most welcome. It is my pleasure.
[Continued in the next post . . . ]