Posted by: Marie | August 16, 2011

(577) In search of hope – Part 3 of 6

Post #577
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: I was under the impression that things were getting better for you . . . that you were experiencing more joy in your day-to-day experience, that you had gotten to a better place with your feelings about what happened with your parents and with the abuse you experienced, that you are in the process of healing your relationship with God – taking the anger towards your dad out of that equation and putting it where it belongs so you can have a more natural relationship with God . . .

Me: Yes, that is correct . . .

Edward: And, if I remember correctly, you used to get drunk and have indiscriminate and unprotected sex with men . . . and that is no longer happening, correct?

Photo by Martin Chen

Me: Yes, that is true . . .

Edward: That, in and of itself, is a huge change . . .

You have already come a long way on this healing journey. You have already made tremendous progress in the very short amount of time we’ve been working together. Your progress is breathtaking.

Me: Thank you for the credit . . . and yes, I recognize I have made a lot of progress. But, I still don’t want to be here. I try to not make a big deal of it, but I really don’t want to be here. My outward behaviors may have shifted, but nothing has changed on the inside. I have done all this work and I still don’t feel less broken.

Edward: Help me understand . . . what do you want to have happen on the inside?

Me: I want to feel better inside. I want my day-to-day experience to not be such a struggle.

Edward: In what ways is your experience a struggle?

Me: Right now, when I lie down at night, I find myself wishing I would go to sleep and not wake up. I don’t want to have to face the daunting task of getting up, putting my clothes on, showing up to work, scrounging up food to eat . . . I don’t want to have to face the daunting task of finding the energy required to do all the little day-to-day tasks I have to do in order to exist. I’d rather just not exist.

It isn’t as difficult to fight to make something happen when you really want that thing to happen. But, it is really difficult to continue fighting, day after day, to make something happen when you really don’t want it to happen. I don’t want to keep waking up day after day. I don’t want to fight that fight. I’d rather not be here.

Edward: The joy you have started experiencing with your teaching doesn’t make it worthwhile?

Me: No . . . it requires so much effort to simply get out of bed that the little bit of joy I do experience during the day is not worth it. It’s true that I’m now experiencing hours of joy rather than minutes of joy, but the price I have to pay for that joy, even when it lasts for several hours in a day, is overwhelmingly more costly than the joy is worth. The pain is so much greater than the joy.

Edward: So, tell me about the price you are paying . . . what parts are difficult?

Me: Well, I hate the time between when I stop working and when I finally fall asleep. It is really difficult to make that transition because I have to stop being distracted so I can go to sleep. When I’m not distracted, I am very aware of the pain.

So, when I go home at the end of the day, I make those hours go faster by picking at my face, eating ice cream, watching TV . . and eventually I fall asleep, usually with the help of Benedryl.

And, most nights, I wake up in the middle of the night. Then I have to go through the same process to go back to sleep . . and then I don’t get as much sleep as I need. Then that means I am physically tired in the morning. I have to fight to wake up, to get out of bed, to put clothes on and to walk out the door. I have to fight to put on a “happy” and professional face while I’m working.

Edward: Let me ask you this . . . how many hours a night do you usually sleep?

Me: Maybe six to eight – sometimes 10 if I’ve not been sleeping well and I finally relax enough to sleep deeply.

Edward: And how many hours, on average, are spent on distracting yourself from the discomfort of transitioning from work to sleep?

Me: Maybe another two to four hours – I’m talking about the time I spend on compulsive coping behaviors or time that I might be doing productive stuff but I’m not doing it effectively because I’m just doing it to avoid feeling bad.

Edward: Would it be accurate to say about 10 to 12 hours of your day are spent on sleeping and coping behaviors on average?

Me: Yeah, that’s about right.

(As he was asking these questions, I could feel myself starting to tense up. It felt as if I were being interrogated – being called out for wasting so much time on stupid stuff. These are the type of questions my dad would ask when he felt I wasn’t being productive enough. Even though Edward’s tone was gentle and non-judgmental, the conversation was triggering for me. However, I tried to stay with the conversation anyway – I kept reminding myself I was interacting with Edward, not my dad.)

Edward: And how many hours a day, on average, do you teach?

Me: Well, I spend maybe six to eight hours a day teaching.

Edward: Okay, so that leaves another four to eight hours a day unaccounted for. Are the activities that occur in those unaccounted-for hours joyful or painful for you?

(I felt myself bristle at the words “unaccounted for” – I found myself getting angry. I wanted to lash out at him . . to stand up, to yell “leave me alone” . . . but I was too frozen. Instead, I reminded myself he was just trying to help.)

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. Wow, this is a fascinating interaction here. Wondering how he will handle it when and if you show your anger about this conversation….

    • Hey, Aaron –

      He seems to know when to push and when not to push . . . maybe it isn’t that tough to know with me. Mark (previous therapist) often told me I was very predicable, that he could get me riled up almost at will. (Though I’m not sure he always had a helpful motive for doing so.)

      It is true that I can go from 0 to 60 over something like this even when I know the other person is not doing anything on purpose. I guess that’s what’s known as a tender spot!

      – Marie

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