So I have been coping fairly well with being away from BN. Aside from one email that I sent to share some good news, there has been no contact. I think of BN often and occasionally miss him, but not in that angst-filled, it’s almost physically painful, kind of way I used to experience being away from him. Things have been good. I hasten to add also that my husband has retired and being the wonderful man he is, has taken over all the household chores, including cleaning, cooking and laundry. With him doing all that during the week, weekends have been devoted to long-term organizational tasks. You know that pile of papers you’ve been trying to go through for
six months two years? We’ve finally cleaned it up. 🙂 And I have been able to clean out my drawers and organize my jewelry and clean out the attic (OK, my husband did most of that!) and tackle some sewing projects. You get the picture. So the stress level has been helped both by the fact that my responsibilities have grown lighter and the house is more organized. Not feeling like your clothing is attacking you when opening a drawer causes a LOT less stress. 🙂 It’s really cool that when you need something, you remember where it is and it’s easily accessible. Hey, it only took us 30 years. But seriously, definitely helping the stress level. The only downside is finding time alone, including time to write (which is why I am still struggling to catch up with the comments!). Continue Reading
Greetings Gentle Readers,
Yes, I am still alive! This break stretched a bit longer than I expected. I was working very long hours right up until we left for vacation on October 23. We had a wonderful vacation, including a family reunion cruise that went incredibly well. So much so that everyone insisted on booking another one in March of 2017. This was a quite pleasant surprise, as we were not at all certain going in that everyone would enjoy it. And I had to laugh at myself because by the end of the trip, I realized that I was feeling much closer to everyone and much more up on what is going on in their lives, when it ruefully dawned on me, that IS the point of family reunions. Continue Reading
I was back-tracking an interesting search query that led someone to my blog and ran across a great web site that was one of the Google search results. From what I saw, this has links to a lot of great resources if you’re dealing with attachment problems, so I wanted to share it. (I didn’t go beyond the page to which I am linking, but it looked as if the whole thing would make for good reading.)
Veryhopeful posted a question on the Psych Cafe forums and the more I thought about answering her, the more I realized it was an excellent topic for a post. So with her kind permission, I am repeating the question here, then attempting to answer it.
Does anyone find it strange that the T is so important to us but yet he has so many clients. How is it possible for them to really care or separate each persons “stuff”. I’ve asked him this because it really bothers me that I have one of “him” in my life and he has dozens of “me” in his life. We all want to feel important to them but are we really? It’s so personal for us but not for them; like they are just an illusion or some emotionless guide…But what bothers me about him is that he takes no break in between clients and I find that really odd.
AG, if you don’t mind sharing, what exactly helped you recognize that BN was totally comfortable with your relationship with him?
Instead of answering in the comments, I thought I’d write a post about my last session instead. So my thanks to Ann for providing inspiration. 🙂
I know I have been speaking about my work with shame recently, but in some ways my work has always been about shame. BN and I have recognized a pattern, often discussed, since the beginning of my work with him. I was worried I had manipulated my way into working with him (which is actually pretty funny in retrospect as manipulating BN would take someone a lot smarter than me 🙂 ), that I had no right to be there, that I had been there too long, that I was too much and too demanding, that I was too dependent and too needy. I’m sure you’re catching a theme here. I found reason after reason why I shouldn’t be seeing BN. Continue Reading
My husband and I went on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg last Fall. For those of you who have never heard of it, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history center. Williamsburg was the first capital of Virginia and was still the capital during the American Revolutionary War. Many of the buildings, including the Governor’s Palace, House of Burgesses, Armory, homes, churches and coffee shops have been restored and there are re-enacters in colonial costume at all the various buildings to teach you what life was like at the time. There are also re-enactments of major events leading up to and during the revolutionary war (we got to storm the Governor’s Palace which was pretty cool, I’ve always wanted to storm a palace!) and talks are given by famous people, such as George Washington, who even took questions from the audience (which was impressive, the man had an incredible grasp of both Washington’s life and the events of the revolutionary war.) I love revolutionary history (my humble apologies to my British readers. 😀 )and found this fascinating.
One display I found especially striking was in one of the museums. An early mental hospital had been established by a Dr. John M Galt, who was one of the early adopters and strong promoters of more humane treatment of mentally ill people. Conditions up until that time were pretty horrific, with many patients chained up and left in their own filth, treated worse than livestock in many cases. He was an early proponent of treating the mentally insane with respect and compassion.
Among the displays was the following letter written by a resident of the hospital:
It would have rendered me most agreeable pleasure to have been with you all these Christmas times, but Dr. John M. Galt, the gentleman under whose care and protection I am here placed, does not think my mind sufficiently cured for me to leave here yet so I will not say in this epistle when you will see me, probably never.
The Doctor is a gentleman whom the whole world ought to love and respect. To speak more concisely and emphatically, I do not think that I ought to desire a better or more worthy friend in this world. …Be not disposed to think me exaggerating, for I am writing the real truth, and am bold too, in having the gratification of writing thus. I’ll now bring this epistle to a close not knowing what else beneficial or amusing to write you.
Yours until death,
The Galt Family Papers
Earl Gregg Swem Library
College of William and Mary
Reading this was so powerful. The man who wrote this letter lived in such different times. The culture, the technology, the rhythms of life were vastly different from what I experience, yet the feelings he spoke of echoed across the years with a piercing familiarity. Someone had come alongside him, and given him compassion and acceptance and understanding and at a time when those things were exceedingly rare for someone with mental problems. And he reacted in a way which resonated deeply with me: he saw Dr. Galt as an amazing human being, one deserving of love and respect. He was grateful to speak of his esteem of this man as he saw him as so deserving.
While human cultures, mores, beliefs and customs change, human beings do not. There is a reason we can look at, and be moved, by a piece of art conceived and executed thousands of years ago. Human beings have always, and probably always will, struggle to understand ourselves and our purpose, to make sense of our experiences and distill meaning out of our lives. And one of the most important ways that we do this is to connect with other human beings. We can only know ourselves in relationship, by being clearly reflected by another person. So it is these connections, these attachments, that evoke our most powerful feelings.
So across the years, I found a kindred spirit. He wrote letters home to speak of his love and esteem and I write letters to a world-wide community to speak of mine. But the deep feelings of gratitude and respect are the same and spring from the same source. The next time you are wondering why your therapist is evoking such strong feelings, I hope you remember this post and that these feelings come from deep within and are integral to our humanity. Perhaps one of the privileges of needing to heal is to be conscious of our deep attachments and how they have shaped us. Know you are not alone in how you react, in this or any other time where humans have reached out to each other for meaning.
Cat’s Meow (of Living while Healing. If you haven’t read her yet, do so. She writes with incredible honesty and insight.) asked how I was doing in a comment. I started to answer her but it got so long, I decided to turn it into a post. 🙂 Thanks for asking, Cat!
I’m hanging in. 🙂 It’s been a bit tough going lately, but I am essentially sound. The situation with my family has improved, but is ongoing, and some aspects are very triggering, feeding into the deep work on shame I have been doing with BN. It’s difficult to speak of, both because shame tends to make me want to isolate, and I do not feel free to speak about the situation because of other people’s privacy concerns. Continue Reading
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