I’m trying to keep from panicking

My job ends next week. It isn’t a surprise. I knew it was possible for over a year, probable for months, and I got my formal lay off notice 11 weeks ago. So I’ve been looking for work slowly. I’ve applied for a few jobs. The first job I applied for in May, I felt really good about the interview and was turned down very positively by the manager because I lacked experience. Since then I haven’t had any responses to my application.

Before I spent years in therapy discussing my life and getting in touch with my emotions I appeared to be a fairly competent and confident person. I might have been racked with anxiety and fear or sadness or I might have battled nightmares and flashbacks all night but when I got to work I was fine. I could count on the fact that when I needed to I could get things done. When I was in graduate school I had to give regular talks and presentations. I hated it. I couldn’t sleep or eat for days before and it didn’t matter how well prepared I was or how many successful talks I had given each one seemed impossible before I started. I used to pace in halls outside of the room I had to speak in because I couldn’t stand still and watch people sit down without feeling like I had to run or hide or be sick. When I started talking I was completely different. I was calm, and spoke calmly and clearly, I answered questions and interacted with people like I was having a great time (I often did). People who saw me prepare and anxious would comment on how I seemed like a different person.

That calm, competent person used to show up when I needed to get things done, or be in a job interview, or be entertaining in a group of people. That person was almost always there. I thought I was that person. The person who couldn’t sleep, was anxious or sad, who stayed home and hid from everyone seemed like an interloper. I thought when I grew up, or got married, or lost weight, or started therapy, or whatever magical thing I thought would fix me, happened then I would only be the confident, functional, successful person.

The problem is that I can’t count on the competent person showing up anymore. Sometimes she does show up, like she did in my interview in May. Other times I just can’t do what I should be doing. I learned how to say no to requests and how to judge myself less harshly when I need a break or to take a step back. That was a good thing in my life generally but now I feel like I need the person who could be “on” when she had to and I can’t find her all the time. I’m afraid I’m losing access to the competent me and will end up becoming only the person who hides from the world.

Despair and hopelessness

i hate how I feel right now. There is nothing wrong but there is also nothing that feels okay. I went into my session with M today and thought about the last few days and didn’t want to tell M any of it.  I didn’t want to talk about my birthday and how I felt bad all day. I didn’t want to tell him about the huge fight with my eldest daughter where I completely lost my shit and swore at her.  I apologized but I don’t think it matters. I’ve already damaged my children in ways I can’t repair.

M asked me how I was feeling about therapy and I told him I hadn’t been thinking about it. He wondered if I still felt it was hopeless. I said sure but if I don’t think about it then I am not upset.  He asked if I wanted to talk about how to end therapy and I didn’t. I’ve lost any feeling about wanting to end in a good way or looking for a new T to try working with in a different way. I don’t think things can change. I don’t know when I’m going to quit therapy. It still feels terrible to stop seeing M but it also feels pretty bad to see him and actively not want to talk to him anymore. I keep hoping it will become clear to me it is time to quit but so far it just continues to be excruciating and hopeless.

M talked about how I felt he didn’t care because he didn’t act in a way that I expected him to when I was in pain. I said I realized that he cared and that is why I had made the distinction between caring and comforting.   He said we should talk about what I wish he would do to comfort and what he felt able to do. I think we already have talked about it. He said it would be difficult to recognize what else could be comforting if I was only thinking about what I thought would be comforting and couldn’t get. I agreed with him. I don’t know how he thinks I can change and be more open to being comforted in different ways.  I don’t like feeling hopeless. I am not choosing feeling like there is no to talking about anything. I wish I felt like talking to him even if I just wanted to tell him how hurt I am by him constantly suggesting that I’m refusing him comforting me like I’m doing it on purpose.

At the end of the session I was talking about feeling like therapy couldn’t change. M asked me if there wasn’t a part of me that felt like it was possible for things to change. He is always trying to help me see that I have conflicting feelings about things and that my feelings aren’t all or nothing like they feel to me. Usually he just tells me that in a statement like “part of you feels like therapy can’t change and another part of you does think change is possible.”  Today he asked me and I sat for a bit trying to listen to myself and then I told him I didn’t know but it felt like there was no part of me that thought things could change. If that part exists it is hiding pretty deep right now.

Pain

Tonight in therapy I started to cry over the things that I can’t have.  I can’t have parents who care about who I am and how I feel.  I live with an almost unrelenting fear of rejection and the less someone needs me the more I expect they will leave.  I wish I could blame M for how alone and broken I feel but the truth is I have felt that way for a lot longer than I have known M.  I kept hoping there would be some magic in therapy, that if M cared about me and was willing to show it that would change how I feel about myself.  Right now, in the dark, I have to admit getting angry that M doesn’t tell me he cares about me and how much pain I’m in is a distraction from the bigger pain, the feeling that there is something irrevocably broken in me.  The certainty that I have that there is something wrong with me which means even if someone says they care about me I can’t take it in.  I find ways to discount it because they don’t really know me or they are trying to be kind.  I try so hard to look for evidence that I matter but I don’t believe it anyway.