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Saturday, July 8, 2017

There have been a lot of days during the past couple of weeks when I have wanted to come here. But I'm working on something.

I am trying to teach myself to recognize temporary.

Hmm. That's not precise enough.

Okay. Long, long, long explanation:

Sometimes I come here simply to release stress. I say whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it's extreme. Also, extremely inaccurate. Not reality.

Well, it's my current reality when I say it, but it's not going to be reality in a day or two.

So I'm trying to see what the difference is when I ride out the storm without writing out the storm.

Also, a long time ago, I had this conversation with Therapist:

Th: What happens when the symptoms increase. Can you describe it? What parts of your life does it affect? How does it feel? How long does it last?
me: It feels miserable.
Th: Why?
me: Because I start to imagine stupid things about people who love me. And I end up convincing myself that they don't love me anymore. Or they won't very soon.
Th: Can you give me a specific example?
me: I don't know.
Th: Well, if you can think of an example, maybe we can decode exactly what's happening.
me: I know what's happening. And I know I'm being stupid. Which doesn't make it less real.
Th: I think it's very real. However, I also believe you can circumvent the process.

So I provided an example which basically goes like this: Person in my life is close to me. That makes me feel vulnerable. PTSD symptoms target that vulnerability and make it feel unsafe. Then I feel unsafe with Person. Then I feel guilty that I feel unsafe with Person because they have done nothing to make me feel unsafe. Then I decide that the only way to feel safe again is to stay away from Person. Then I feel guilty because I'm avoiding Person for no real reason. Then I decide Person probably needs a less complicated life and will go away shortly because that's logical. The end.

But then, when the symptoms subside, I feel compelled to go to the person and try to reconstruct the closeness so we can be "us" again. It's a little bit exhausting.

Continued conversation:
Th: What if you didn't wait? What if, when the symptoms began increasing, you went to the person right away, told them what was happening, and expressed what they might do to help you through the process?
me (sidestepping the question): There's really not a process.
Th (ignoring the sidestep): Well?
me: I don't know if I could do that. I don't think linearly when PTSD begins. I can't see logical steps. Everything just feels like a big pile.
Th: Okay. But what do you think would happen?
me: I don't know.
Th: What do you need from that person?
me: Reassurance, I suppose.
Th: Specifically, what type of reassurance:
me: Verbal.
Th: What do you want to hear?
me: That I'm not a freak. That I'm loved and needed. That we're okay even when I'm not okay.
Th: What if you asked them to say that?
me: I don't know. How would you react if someone asked you?
Th: I would be deeply honored that they would come to me when they felt weak and vulnerable and overwhelmed.
me: I don't believe you.
Th: No. It's true, though. And I would tell them that they're important to me, that I love them, and that I'm here because I want to help them through this.
me: How many times would you do that? Because this is a pretty common occurrence. I could ask every week for a year.
Th: That's only 52 times. Not really that many.
me: You'd get tired.
Th: Possibly. But tired doesn't mean you stop loving or wanting to help someone important to you.

So I walked out of that therapy session dead set on never, ever taking that suggestion. The thought of saying, in essence, "Hey! I can't handle life. And when I can't handle life, I decide you probably don't want me anymore, our relationship is stupid, and I'm a pain in the backside. But just in case I'm wrong about all that, will you tell me? Because I need to hear it. Probably 52 times a year," makes me want to vomit. And how will I know if they're saying it because I need to hear it, or if they're saying it so I'll shut up and go away?

But I tried it. Years later. I tried it this week. And I think it was helpful. What happened is the symptoms stagnated. They're still hanging out, but they're not overwhelming me.

So the jury's still out. I haven't decided if I can make a habit of reaching out for feedback before the symptoms become horrible. But I tried it. So I have a small inkling of what it's like.

And now I'm really, really tired. Going to sleep now.