Day 10 With Dora

I called a family meeting last night for my parents and siblings. We’re all adults now, but we’re still fairly close, and I wanted to know that they had my back. Or if they had it, I suppose. I wanted to make them believe that my depression and anxiety are severe enough to count as a disability; that I need this dog for part of my treatment; and that… that it’s all real, I guess.

So we all get there and I start into everything, actually leading with my fear and telling them that I’m scared that they might not believe that I have a disability, and they’re like “yeah, we know.” It was profoundly odd.

First, because I was so scared I was nauseous for a lot of yesterday. Second, because I thought I had succeeded in hiding a lot of it. Third, because I perceive myself as being in a fairly high-functioning state right now (read: I get up every morning, get dressed every day, eat normal meals, tend to my hygiene, AND complete tasks that I set out to do).

They knew. They believed me from square one, which is actually why I led with the fear: if they didn’t believe me, I would need to follow up with evidence, and if they did, I would need to improvise. In my head, I could only imagine the bad outcome, so I didn’t prepare. 

I don’t want to run through all of it, but suffice it to say that I was able to be very honest about current responses that I want to eventually train Dora to monitor and respond to, about current struggles, and about the way that some of their interactions with me can really hurt, even if it’s unintentional. It was a very good conversation for me. I did really well.

We came home to the mess that I mentioned in my last post, and I took that well. Today, we bought parts to repair the damaged bits and it’s nearly resolved. Just like that. It’s really good.


Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, Unpacking Part 2

It’s time for me to come back to my last post and examine the contents. This one is kind of complicated, because it includes both an experience and recounting that experience to someone. I will try to account for both layers.

  1. Desire for Intimacy: I use this story consistently, and I can’t really imagine a romantic relationship that doesn’t involve a deep knowledge of one another. Someone who wants me needs to take all of me, including any pain or baggage that I’m carrying.
  2. Selective Vulnerability: Hawke has never shared this story with everyone in her party. Some of her companions would end up fighting with her over her father’s ideals. Some wouldn’t care. She only shares this part of her past with those who really seem to know her.
  3. Growing up Fast: Hawke’s father really asked a lot from a child. She didn’t get to relax and enjoy her childhood. I imagine that she smiled enough to avoid attention and laughed for time to time, but she probably also brooded when no one was watching.
  4. Responsibility Comes First: Obviously, Hawke didn’t want to kill her father, but she did it, because she had sworn she would. She didn’t want to lie to her family either, but she did it. In a single day, Hawke sacrificed most of her life for the sake of her family’s safety and her sworn duty.
  5. Pushing Past Exhaustion: The escape required a lot from her physically, but it didn’t matter. Realistically, someone probably couldn’t do that much running in a few hours without training for it beforehand, and the emotional burden and adrenaline rushes would take a toll as well, but it never matters. Hawke always gets her family away, finds her father, and escapes his captors because she needs to.

I think that’s about all that I can see in this story, and I don’t want to start grasping at straws here. Happily, two of these traits are positive, which is better than last time, at least. 

The desire for intimacy has brought me some really good friendships and a marriage that continues to surpass my expectations. It turns out that the type of people who text you again after you break down crying over coffee and childhood trauma are also the kind of people who are also willing to show emotions and discuss hard things. It’s a real blessing.

Selective vulnerability is also good, and a healthy development for me. I lost A LOT of friends when I left college unexpectedly. Like, all of them. Even the ones who tried to keep up contact with me weren’t able to break through my pain to reach me, which isn’t their fault; however, I watched many relationships atrophy and change after my diagnosis became public, which was their fault. Treating someone differently all of a sudden is a choice, not an accident.

So after that, I became… bitter. That words is insufficient. I was angry, hurt, scared, unwilling to trust, and more. I was vitriolic. NO ONE WAS GOING TO HURT ME EVER AGAIN. I WOULD LEAVE THEM FIRST.

False vulnerability became a club, and I slammed people with it as soon as possible. ‘I know we just met, but *insert major pain that someone else has already abandoned me over*, so yeah- go ahead and leave now.’ And many people did. It was great. I could rejoice in my correct understanding of selfish, mean humans. I could be safe.

One day, someone stayed. I hit her with my pain, and she stayed. I tried to scare her off, but she wouldn’t leave. Together, I learned how to build deeper friendships, and later, I learned that I don’t need to wear my pain for all to see. I can feel it without needing to tell anyone. Being vulnerable is a choice.

So yeah. The first two behaviors are actually healthy, and I’m partially pleased by it. I just can’t be fully happy because I read the other three as I typed them, and I need to talk about those as well. Eventually. This is enough for now.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, Unpacking Part 1

I keep trying to do something else with my day, but obnoxiously, I can’t move on from this entry. So I am back. I guess I’ll schedule this for a few days from now, just in case I change my mind about part of this later.

In case it isn’t clear, this is based upon an earlier post. It will make more sense if you read that post too.

The 1st issue that really bothers me is the sacrificial mindset. I know that I do this- that I am just used to ignoring my wants and needs for the sake of others. Sometimes, I have people explicitly telling me to do this. Currently, I think that I’ve tipped the scale too far towards supporting others at the expense of myself. It’s complicated though, because if the scale tips too far the other way, I will become selfish and entitled.

So as an example, I have a few relatives who aren’t invested in my life, who buy me things that they would like, who only invite me to do things that they would like, and who make assumptions about what I will do, like, and want. I am told that I need to allow this, to make concessions, to be gracious and understanding, and to do my part in the relationship. The problem is that I can’t figure out what their part of the relationship is, and it’s hard to connect to someone who doesn’t think I’m valuable enough to get to know. We don’t participate in a mix of their things and my things, we don’t talk about their interests and mine, we just do what they want. And it hurts me, but I keep getting told that I need to go along with it and stop being hurt, because I’m just selfish.

As another example, my husband is a very gentle man who wants to have a balanced, healthy relationship. Sometimes, I hurt both of us because I’m so accustomed to ignoring myself in favor of others that I will do it even when he actually wants my opinion. And then he finds out that I hate what we’re doing. And then he feels sad because he never wants to put me in situations that I hate. And finally, as I watch my love cry for me, I realize how horrid I’m being to myself, and I cry too. At least with him, I am trying  to monitor how I feel and to communicate it, and I am improving.

It turns out that if you spend decades pushing your emotions down, it’s really, really hard to connect to those emotions later, when you actually want them again.

I just want balanced relationships, where I don’t feel like I’m being smothered by people’s expectations or plans for me, but I honestly don’t know if I’m capable of it. With my husband? Yes, because he is willing to know me and be known. With the relatives I mentioned? Unlikely, because I don’t really see them as people. 

That sounds awful.

Let me explain. So, when I make a friend, it is always someone who will share their pain with me, because I need friends who will let me share my pain with them. We have supportive, coffeehouse friendship or no friendship at all. (Coffee isn’t necessary, but it seems to go well with pouring out one’s soul.) So these people are comprised of several parts: goals, fears, joy, old wounds, hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. They are fully formed people.

Relatives are… Or my relatives are, well, people at a distance. They don’t have fears, old wounds, or other vulnerable parts. I don’t hear them talk about their dreams, or watch them do their hobbies. I only see them for holidays, so we never get past small talk. They are like… photos of people? I know that they are fully formed, but because they don’t show me much past their likes and dislikes, I don’t know who they are.

So you know that Captain Crunch was my favorite cereal at age 12, and I know that you like chocolate pudding… What do we do now?! There’s just not enough substance to be filling. So I don’t want any at all.

But how much is my fault? How honest am I being with them? 

Well, I’m not being very open with them, but I don’t know how to ascribe blame. Most of these people are older than me, which puts them in positions of power in our relationship. Powerful people set the tone of a relationship, so might it not be my fault that they didn’t initiate a deep relationship with me? Or should I have done so? But when? At what age am I responsible for changing an established relationship? And why should I take that risk when there have been many years of shallowness already?

I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like it’s the child’s responsibility to determine what type of relationship she will have with her aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, etc. Once she grows up, she isn’t obligated to determine that relationship either, and in some families, she probably couldn’t even if she wanted to. How do you say “Stop being such a shallow jerk to me if you actually want me to care about you!” to someone?! You don’t. Well, maybe you do, I wouldn’t know, but I don’t. 😏

I just keep doing what I’m told, even though I’m an adult, because I’d rather humiliate myself than pick a fight. I guess. For now.