Posted by: Marie | July 3, 2012

(661) Not everything is my fault – Part 1 of 4

Post #661
[Private journal entry written on Friday, August 5, 2011]

Edward and I had a therapy session today . . .

In our last session, he told me that it is not necessary for me to prepare for and to control the direction of our sessions. I had been doing that because I felt I couldn’t trust Edward (or any therapist, for that matter) to do it.

I’ve held this belief that it is too much to ask of a therapist to maintain and follow a “big picture” plan around my treatment . . . or, maybe that it is reasonable to ask that of him, but I shouldn’t trust that he will actually do it. Therefore, the only way I can be sure we will make good use of the therapy time is for me to figure out what direction we need to head and then push us in that direction.

But, Edward has challenged that belief. He has assured me that it is his job to do that and he has assured me that he will do it.

Foot Print by Michelle (beau of Martin Chen)

I have struggled with believing him – trusting him – on the matter. I keep having flashbacks to my time in therapy with Mark. He told me the same thing . . . but he never followed through. And that is consistent with what I’ve known of men.

But, I have decided to take Edward at his word. I have decided to trust that my experience with him will be different . . . that my experience with him will be as I wish my experiences with men in general could be.

So, I did not do anything to prepare for today’s session . . .

As usual, Edward met me in the waiting room and walked up the stairs with me . . . he took his bio-break while I settled into my usual spot in his office. After he joined me . . . after he told me he was glad to see me . . . after I responded in kind . . . Edward brought up the “Heaven” book that was written by one of my college boyfriends . . .


Edward: I can’t tell you how many people have mentioned the “Heaven is for Real” book since you mentioned it to me a few months ago. I guess it has become a best seller . . . so many people are talking about it to me.

Me: Well good . . . I knew it was doing well, but it sounds like it is doing better than I knew . . .

I’m glad . . . it does my heart good to know Todd and his wife are going to reap those financial benefits. Based upon what I knew of them in college and what I have heard about them since, I believe they are really good people . . . they have worked hard, they are generous, they are all around good, quality people. They will make wise choices with the money and will use it for good purposes. If anyone deserves this windfall, it is them. I’m glad for them.

Edward: From what you’ve said, it does seem they are quality people who will do well with the money and the fame.

So, let’s talk about you . . . tell me how you are doing, overall . . .

Me: I’m feeling good, overall. My baseline mood has been moving upward, so I’ve been feeling happier more often, even when I’m not teaching.

The start of the school year is near, so I’m feeling the pressure to get things pulled together for that. Sometimes I get triggered by that pressure and then I feel overwhelmed and more depressed.

But, when that happens, I don’t get the “hopeless” feeling along with the triggering. Instead, I have the sense that the unpleasant feeling is temporary and that “this too shall pass”. More often than not, I have a sense that the happier baseline mood will return in the near future.

One thing I find triggering about impending deadlines is that I feel overwhelmed by the sense that there is so much to do and I’m never going to get it all done . . . more specifically, I can become anxious about the possibility I might forget to do something very important because I’m too focused on completing the multitude of somewhat important tasks.

To deal with that, I’ve been maintaining a detailed “to do” list. For every task that needs to be done, I have the steps defined and I know by what date each step needs to be completed in order to meet the overall deadline. Then, when the anxiety comes up, I can look at that list and focus only on what needs to be done today, and I can ignore what needs to be done next week or next month.

Also, if I see I’m not going to get done everything that should be done today or this week, I can prioritize. I can assure myself that nothing really bad is going to happen if I don’t get the bottom few items completed. I can also assure myself that I am aware of everything that needs to be done and I am not forgetting anything – rather, I am proactively and responsibly deciding to not complete less important items.

(Edward didn’t respond. Instead, he just looked at me thoughtfully. That caused me to think that maybe he doesn’t like the idea of my highly detailed “to do” list – maybe he doesn’t like how it is so focused on my being “perfectly productive” – that it never gives me a chance to relax and do nothing – that it doesn’t allow me to focus on what feels “good” to my soul in the moment . . . )

Me: I don’t know . . . maybe the “to do” list is not the best thing, but it works for me . . .

But, anyway . . . overall, I’m feeling good.

Edward: Good! I’m glad to hear your baseline mood has been improving!

Me: Oh . . . speaking of getting ready for the school year . . . it seems a little issue might be brewing with one of my clients – they have two girls who have been taking lessons from me. The girls never practice and they don’t seem to want to be taking lessons. And, the parents keep forgetting we have lessons, so I drive over to their house just to learn they aren’t home. Or, they cancel at the last minute.

I have nearly 90 minutes set aside for them on one of my most-requested evenings. I can’t justify holding that much time for them if they are not going to respect it. So, I may have to drop them as clients unless they are willing to make dramatic changes in their behavior.

One reason I hesitate to drop them is because I think there is significant verbal abuse in the home . . . maybe even physical abuse. But, I don’t have anything concrete that I could report. I’m concerned about the girls. If I stay on as their teacher, I could keep an eye on the situation. But, I’ll only do that with some strong boundaries in place.

Edward: Is there anything I can do to help you with that situation?

Me: No, I don’t think so. It’s just something that is weighing heavily on my mind. I guess I just needed to bring it up as a way to vent. I’ve sent an email to them about it, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

Edward: You are very welcome to vent in here . . . about anything.

Me: Thank you . . . I know I can.

Edward: (After a transitional pause) Before we get too far into the session, there is a bit of housekeeping I would like to address . . .

I have raised my rates to $90 per session. I know that we have been keeping your rates a bit lower than my usual rate. Would you be comfortable raising what you pay by five dollars to $80 a session, starting the next session?

Me: Oh, sure! I can swing that!

Edward: Great! Thank you!

(I didn’t say it out loud to him, but, on the spot, I decided to go ahead and pay the $90 because my business has been doing well. I knew I could afford the extra $15 every three weeks.)

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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