Hi there. So, I’m going to give you a quick update. Quick because I’m in physical pain, and my brain is having a hard time thinking logically.
Last time we chatted I was upset about an email response I’d received from my ex-therapist, and was `reading into’ the email quite a bit, and having some pretty extreme thoughts. It didn’t help that ex-therapist’s (ET’s) colleagues had not returned my emails from last week. So, I was wondering if there was some collective boycott of me. I knew it was extreme thinking, and really it was a bit comically arrogant of me to think they all really sat around spending their time talking about me. But, it could have been true. It really could have been.
After `licking my wounds’ for about half an hour and going full-hog (is that even English?) into self-pity (hey, I timed myself. 30 minutes under the covers), I got out my diary card and after skimming through it, started problem-solving.
What did I want? What I wanted short-term was access to some dbt material that ET has. I mean, I also want her to be my best friend forever;), but she’d already told me she was busy til spring, so I’m going to wait until spring to ask if she wants to chat. But, I’m working on a project now and access to the material she has is pretty crucial. That’s short term. What’s the best way for me to go about getting what I want? Verrry gently asking, making sure to let ET know that I’m only asking for this one thing, and I really appreciate/respect her time limitations.
Long-term? Honestly, thinking and acting in accordance with what I want in the `long-term’ is somewhat new to me. Thinking long-term really helps wise mind kick in with some really solid ideas, and usually tempers my need to `react’ immediately. Lawd knows, reacting immediately has felt good…and has also been the Least effective way for me to live. I still want to react – but thinking about what I want long-term gives me the 5 second gap I need to not go with my reactive, or emotional mind. What I want long-term is: to either foster a friendship with ET, or know that I need to drop that as a possibility, and just get on with radically accepting how excruciatingly disappointing that is.
First things first. I need to `check the facts’, and find out if indeed ET and her colleagues are avoiding me.? Did everyone indeed hate me? Was there a conspiracy against me? There was one person within the group whom I could actually call and just ask straight up whether my thoughts were accurately reflecting the situation. So, I left her a message. In the meantime, I wrote ET a very short email saying I had one very quick question: May I borrow the material?
ET wrote back saying she’d be happy to give me a copy of the material. Give me!?! I flew to the other side of the emotional spectrum. Yaay! She likes me! She wants to help me! She was telling the truth when she just said she was busy! There was no collective boycott of me. Yaayyy, the world is a great and perfect place!
Granted, the `everything is great’ side of the emotional spectrum is much more pleasant than the `my life is shit and I’m the world’s victim’. But neither of them is valid. So I had to check the facts Again! Is the world really a perfect place…just because ET is giving me something? That really seems like not only an extreme, but potentially dangerous thought. What if ET changes her mind? Do I really want her actions to determine whether my world is perfect or not? Even if I get the materials, is my world great? No. It’ll be mediocre at best. Certainly better than if I hadn’t got the materials, and much, much better than having found out that she really did dislike me. But I was really setting myself for another `fall’…by saying that `if I get something, I’ll be fine’. It’s still living in the future, and attaching myself to something outside myself….something material, to change my emotions. It’s similar to keeping up with the Jones’. It’s very American – and causes a lot of misery.
By the time ET’s colleague called – sounding friendly – I didn’t feel any need to quiz her. I just wanted to be grounded in a nice conversation, in the moment, feeling my feet firmly on the ground. Maybe feet firmly on the ground is a more healthy place for me than in the `giddy sphere of happiness’. I’m not sure that I know how to be happy without being off-balance, without waiting for `the other shoe to drop’, without giving someone or something the power to knock me over. These days somewhere in the admittedly unexciting `middle’ is the best place for me. I’ve heard Marsha’s term ‘quiet desperation’, and it’s a perfect description for this place I’m in right now. It’s not comfortable here. My thoughts tell me (well, scream at me) that I must, must pick an emotional pole. But I’m just gonna sit here and feel how uncomfortable this feels. Stomach in knots, jaw clenched, headache… That’ll be my homework for this week: Mindfulness of this desperation, this discomfort.
Did someone lie and promise you a rose garden? Mwahaha!
Yours in pain,