Apparently, even if the stupid questionnaire thingy Therapist makes me fill out every session says I'm making significant progress, if I'm having more frequent panic attacks that means I'm not ready to go three months on my own.
But in my defense, the past three months were more than ordinarily stressful.
And really, the panic attacks became more frequent as the therapy appointment got closer.
So now I have to see Therapist next month. So much for my little "vacation."
And all my friends and family will be very glad because most of them have gently hinted (or said straight up) that I needed to see Therapist before the three month mark. I guess they don't like it when I wig out at them.
But I'm not glad.
me: I don't want to do this the rest of my life.
Therapist: You came into therapy with an idea that it was a means to an end--and you had a deadline, didn't you?
me: Three months. I'm now in my third year.
Therapist: Sam, do you understand how far you've come?
Therapist: The reason you've been able to get through so much "junk" is because you thought you'd eventually be finished. And you worked like crazy to get to that point.
me: It doesn't exist, does it? The "finished" thing.
Therapist: How about if we look at the things you've accomplished before we talk about that?
me: I was stupid.
Therapist: What makes you say that?
me: I thought I could change everything, somehow. I thought I'd get into therapy and find out that the things I thought I remembered really weren't that bad. I thought I'd remember the reality and find out that I'd exaggerated my memories--but I didn't. In truth the reality was worse.
Therapist: I know.
me: I thought I'd meet with my mom and she'd say she'd always been proud to have me as a daughter, that she'd always loved me. I thought she would want to try to build our relationship into a more appropriate mother/daughter one. I never thought she'd tell me she didn't want that.
Therapist: That was really hard for you.
me: You know what? It doesn't make sense. Because I'm amazing. Anyone should be thrilled to have me as a daughter!
Therapist: You're right.
me: I am?
Therapist: Yes. So where does the fault lie?
me: That doesn't help.
Therapist: I know. So at some point you'll recognize that your mother is the one who is missing out on a wonderful relationship with her daughter. You'll be able to accept that the things you crave, like non-sexual touch and mother/daughter intimacy are not going to happen. Truthfully, I'm not sure you'd be able to accept them from her if she offered.
me: No. Probably not. So--I just have to say, "Well, there's a vital part of emotional healthiness I never received and no matter how much I still need it, I'll just have to get along without it."
me: That sucks.
Therapist: I know.
me: Do you? Really? Personally, do you know how much it sucks?
me: I'm glad. I don't think anyone should ever feel how bad this feels.
Therapist: Sam, I'm sorry.
me: I can't make anything better, can I?
Therapist: You already have.
me: It doesn't feel better.
Therapist: But it's better. You've done so much work. You're being honest about reality, you're feeling things, you're looking for solutions--and you've confronted some pretty awful situations.
me: Because I thought it would solve...something...anything...
Therapist: It did.
me: It didn't.
Therapist: What do you want to do next.
Therapist: You can.
me: Actually, I can't. I don't know how.
Therapist: Well, I meant in the long run when I asked the question.
me: I can't quit.
Therapist: You can if you want.
me: No. Again--I don't know how.
Therapist: How about we go back to monthly visits for awhile. We can work on ways to deal with stress so you don't end up panicking. And if you feel all right when the appointment date comes around, you can cancel.
Therapist: What? no argument?
me: No. I'm too tired.
Therapist: Sam, this isn't like you.
me: Actually, Therapist, I'm not sure what is like me anymore.
Therapist: I think I can help you with that.
Therapist: Yes. You are a strong person who stopped a historical cycle of abuse when your children were born. You love deeply. You treat people kindly--even those who have misused you. You have the courage to try difficult things. You can keep trying, Sam.
me: For what? I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore.
Therapist: Think about it? For the next month think about what all this means? Try to think about living with a chronic condition (and I'm not saying you have to--I just want you to consider it), but not avoiding or trying to dodge it. Think about meeting it head-on, coping with it in healthy ways, and continuing to do the things that bring you joy. Just think about it, okay?
Therapist: And let me know if you're still not sleeping in a week? We can get you some medication if you need it.
me: I don't.
Therapist: You don't?
me: No. My sleep problem has a little to do with anxiety, but mostly it's because Darrin has started snoring really loudly. It wakes me up.
Therapist: Hmmm...I guess that's something you'll have to work out for yourself.
me: Yeah, that's what you say about pretty much everything.
Therapist: And it's true?