two interesting light bulbs

i had 2 interesting light bulb moments this week.  both were in conjunction with therapy appointments.  the first appointment was with my regular therapist, elizabeth.  the second was with a friend of Katie’s that practices hypnotism (he has a degree from st ed’s in neurolinguistics), his name is jaime.

at elizabeth’s we talked about the things that have been making me sad recently.  i even brought my blogs with me.  the conclusion to the conversion (and hour and a half session, as i had requested more time) was a few of things.

1) different people are at different social levels. if you are at a different social level than someone you are in a relationship with (friendship or intimate partner), you may not be able to get your needs met at all.  everyone has different levels of everything.  i may be further along in growth on one topic but further back on another.  my growth area is abandonment/attachment.  i am a bit further than most people on a few other things.  how do you work through an inequality with a friend/partner?  one where you are further along in your growth?  you can’t really.  it is their growth.  this leaves me at a loss regarding a path forward for some of my relationships right now.

2) connections ARE made by showing up.  you get thought of, more enmeshed with a group, when you share more experiences.  the important part is the sharing, not so much the experience (though i am sure surviving a plane crash is one of those “it’s the experience” things).  elizabeth and i used the example of olive garden.  my nursing buddies like the olive garden.  i don’t.  i don’t like it because it is a soulless chain, it is expensive for what you get (food quality) and most of the food makes me sick (lots of preservatives and processing…i sure wish i could eat like a teenager, but i can’t anymore).  but my classmates like it.  which makes total sense.  i mean, preference is preference.  my disliking olive garden doesn’t mean there is something wrong with their liking it. anyhow…when i talked about feeling forgotten by the first group of women i have ever felt a connection with, felt pushed to the fringe by them, and used the lunch invitation as the example, it basically came down to this point…”you are doing something with your friends”, not, “you are doing something you don’t like”. me and the girls really have no interests in common.  we don’t listen to the same music.  we don’t feel the same way about god.  we don’t enjoy the same activities at the weekend.  most of them have kids.  all have a serious partner.  neither of which i have.  so it is highly unlikely that the group will do things “i like to do”.  no dancing at elysium.  no shopping.  no scooter rides.  etc.  so my chances to connect with them are going to have to be things they like to do.  like eating at olive garden.  whereas i have always thought of it as “doing something i don’t like to do”, what i am really doing is “spending time connecting with friends”.  after the lightbulb went off, i felt sort of stupid in its obviousness.  but i have always been one of those people that said what she thought and did what she wanted.  and people tell me they admire me for that.  i don’t follow the crowd, i lead.  a lot of the time though, no one is following.  and i am lonely.  and i miss having connections.  elizabeth said “you may go through every item on the menu and discover that the only thing you can stand is the antipasti platter, but then, you go with them and eat that.”  the concept of “it is the sharing, not the experience” is not totally foreign to me. i generally find scooter rallies boring.  same people, having the same conversations, same music, same activities, same people winning the awards (of course, rolf always deserves it!).  but i would go to them because patrick liked them.  he got something different from them (more on a technical level).  when i told him, just before i moved to austin, that i hated rallies, he was surprised.  he said, “then why do you go?”.  and i replied, “because you like them. to be with you.”  of course, i would really like a partner that likes to go dancing at elysium with me, but i understand if it isn’t their thing and they’d rather do something else.  we can meet up after.  sure, there are some events that i want them to attend anyway (like smiths night, for instance) but they are kinda rare.  which makes me different it seems.  so now i know how it is supposed to work, i need to practice it.  i need to change my frame of mind from “i don’t like this” to “i like being with you”.  cause if i do it anyway, but don’t change my perspective, then i will be there but unhappy, and that doesn’t help anyone.  i am still a bit perplexed by this, cause i don’t want my friends/partners to do things they don’t want to do, but i am going to see whether i can get this to fit.

3) the process of getting over the hurt i feel from andreas is not a process.  it is just talking about it and time.  for some people it might be not talking about it and time.  my point is, there is nothing i can DO to make it feel better sooner.  there is nothing i can DO to make it not hurt when i see him grinning at me like “ha ha, see how happy i am without you!”  memory studies have shown that we break the neuronal connections when we access a memory.  so the memory gets altered each time.  a friend i had dinner with last night said, ” perhaps when the therapist asks you about it again and again, you are breaking down old painful memories and rebuilding ones that aren’t as painful”. that made sense to me.  but it sucks to be in this position right now.  i feel my life is very restricted right now (which is my choice, not andreas’) because i have to protect myself as i rewire these painful memories.  that means i avoid a lot of places andreas is likely to me.  but i have a lot of homework, so it work out, really.

those were the lightbulbs i had with elizabeth.  we also established the direction of dealing with my abandonment/attachment issues.  i know exactly where it stems from, my mom, so hopefully that will mean i have a leg up on the normal process, cause i already know the source.  that is probably good for a 2-month head start, right?

i said to someone last night, though andreas and i were struggling when we were together, though it was tough and painful, at least i had hope. since he broke up with me, i just have the pain, and no hope.  seems like that is the “worse” part of leaving a painful relationship. maybe that is why people stay so long.  and sure, hope will come back.  i’ll eventually meet someone new and the pain will be gone.  but for now i have pain and hopelessness.  not better.

the discovery i made with the hypnosis guy, jaime, was about forgiveness.  i forgive in only very special circumstances.  that being said, i also have less events where i feel i need someone to ask forgiveness.  i understand/accept people’s trips why more than the average person, i think.  for instance, i asked a classmate this week if i could join her commute group.  she said she would have to think about it.  then called me back over and explained that she and her commute buddy use that time to talk about some serious things going on in their lives. i replied that i totally understood that.  cause i do.  it is a bummer to have to do the drive myself, but i can completely understand their desire to keep it just them.  i think most people would be annoyed.  maybe they wouldn’t expect the person to ask for forgiveness, but you know what i mean.  of course, when someone does something that really hurts me, i am very reluctant to give forgiveness.  this whole, “you have to let go and forgive them to feel better yourself. you can only control how you feel about something, not their actions.” is a load of crap, in my book.  if they are liable to do it to me again, forgiving them would be leaving myself vulnerable.  anyhow, the therapist asked me to think of an instance where i forgave someone.  i had a hard time thinking of anything.  then i came up with one, and she was in the room with us!  when katie started dating randy, she blew me off and i called her on it.  we use to spend most days together.  then she was gone.  our interaction, during the week, was mostly companionship because i had to focus on work.  but on sundays, we use to have breakfast at magnolia.  all the waiters even knew who we were.  they expected us.  i would go out saturday night, sleep until i woke up sunday morning, then call her and we would meet at magnolia.  and that was a pure hanging out and talking event.  but she started dating randy and announced that she now had D&D (which she didn’t even like playing) at some hour that meant we had to have breakfast at 9 or 10 each sunday.  and if i couldn’t do that, we couldn’t have breakfast.  this seriously pissed me off.  and i told her.  and then i didn’t see/hear from her for months.  then one day she called.  she said, “you were right.  i blew you off and that wasn’t fair.  i don’t need to spend every waking moment with my boyfriend.  i am sorry (the i won’t do it again version of i am sorry).  will you forgive me? i really want to be your friend.”  so i forgave her.  but i forgave her because she admitted that she was wrong, and i was right, and i believed that she would never do it again.  so it that the only way i can forgive people?  if they admit that i was right?  because only then am i going to trust them. in the absence of admitting i am right, what is the point of forgiving, since i am never going to trust that person again?  let’s them off the hook, but what do i get?  this concept of “letting go”?  what does that do?  if i have to leave them in the “must protect myself from them” category, what does the letting go do?  i find this issue fascinating and something i need to understand about myself.  i need to be able to explain to friends/partners what forgiveness means to me and how it might impact our relationship.  so that was the second lightbulb.

as far as the hypnosis part went, that was very interesting.  i filled jaime in on what i have been dealing with and feeling.  he picked an event and said he had an idea of something to do about it.  he had me think of the first time i felt a *physical* pain when someone said something that hurt me (most recent is every time i see andreas).  i went back to my boyfriend michael in san francisco.    when michael dumped me for a girl who only wanted FWB but insisted he be monogamous (seriously?). anyhow, jaime said, hold on to that image, feel that pain again.  then he asked me to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10.  it was a 7.  he then had me follow his finger while concentrating on the memory and feeling.  it was hard.  it was very hard to keep the image/feeling in my head and track his finger back and forth and up and down.  when we were done he asked me to focus on the memory/feeling again and rate the pain on a scale of 1-10.  now it was a 3.  it was pretty amazing.  the idea is that you use the limbic system (the primitive animal brain) to create new paths to a less painful place in the amygdala (the amygdala performs primary roles in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events, like fear or emotional pain for instance).  so now, instead of my memory of that pain going to the door “hurts at 7 on the scale” it goes to the door “hurts at 3 on the scale”.  i was impressed.  will the pain come back to 7 if i see andreas in public again?  maybe.  but my anxiety did go down.  and i appreciated that a lot.

so it was a weekend full of discovery.  i have some things i can work on to make my life better.  which i totally appreciate.  hopelessness is the worst for me.  this week’s experiences gave me hope and a plan.  i had a number of good chats with friends too.  i’ll try and find time to comment on those conversations soon.  suffice to say, they made me feel better about my connections than i have in a very long time.

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