A paraphrased/edited/shortened version of my therapy session.
Me: I read your email. Thank you for sending it.
D: About value? What did you think?
Me: I really liked it but I was left with the question: how do I get it to go from my head to my heart and my body?
D: Yes, that is the question. Any thoughts?
Me: Not really. I mean, I have some tiny ideas: do kind things for myself; act as if I already believe I have value.
D: [smiles and nods]
At this point I share with D what I wrote here a few days back about the QBPD. The version I share with him is even more personal and is accompanied by my tears. I tell him that the slightest things can make me panic. That his looking at his watch could, in theory, make me panic. I tell him that there is a constant maelstrom of rage and love and sadness and that it all gets rolled up into an overwhelming ball that devours me and exhausts me. I challenge him (though kindly) by telling him though it was helpful when he pointed out to me how much I strategize; that I don’t think he understood how a big part of the strategizing is about love and not just self-preservation. I tell him that it’s nuanced and complicated. I explain that, therefore, I lot of what I restrain is important to restrain but that I pay the price by also restraining the good parts of me: the open, loving and creative parts.
D: [looks at me lovingly and teary-eyed] Can you see what I’m feeling right now?
M: I don’t know. Moved?
D: Yes. Look at the tears in my eyes. I feel very close to you right now. You’re right, it is all about love–even the self-preservation part. There is a lot of noise in there and a lot of love. I’m touched by your courage in sharing that.
M: [teary eyed and silent]
D: Everyday can be a lot for you. The idea of openness is complicated. You’re afraid that the rage and pain will spill out but then the good things get trapped.
D: How do you feel right now in your body?
M: My heart feels calm for the first time in a while. My body is relaxed. My chest isn’t tight anymore.
D: Why do you think that is?
M: You responded lovingly to the parts of me I believe are the most scary. I summed up in a few paragraphs what it feels like for me to be alive and you showed love instead of revulsion.
D: Yes, but what did you do?
M: I don’t know. I shared. I was honest.
I explain to D. that my sense of my self is confusing to me. I tell him how friends and clients over time have given me the feedback that I have helped them to open up, expand, be more honest and intimate in their lives but that it is hard for me to let it in; to reconcile that version of me that they are talking about with my view of myself as a chaotic cluster of overwhelmed madness and pain.
D: [sweetly and calmly] I can see why people say this to you. You are quite a package with your sensitivity and sharp mind. I realize here today that you are even a good mirror for me. But you’re not so good of a mirror for yourself.
M: [nod in agreement]
I tell D. that about how exhausting it is to restrain all the thoughts and feelings and that I don’t like I hold back a lot of my love and warmth. I tell him that when I’m depressed and triggered it feels terrifying to tell my loved ones that I love them and that I miss them. I explain that this is not how I want to be. That I want to magnanimously express my love without expecting anything back; without feeling hurt if it’s brushed aside or ill-timed.
D: And what do you imagine it would feel like if you could share this love without fear?
M: Like I was alive. Like I was really living. My heart would feel full, the tightness in my chest would disappear and I would be more spontaneous. [I begin to cry].
D: [look at me silently and with kind eyes]
We schedule our next session and I thank him for today. He thanks me back. As I get into my car my mind gets busy, thinking about laundry, returning to work tomorrow, etc. I start to lose my calm and tell myself that maybe I can only be calm in his presence. I think immediately about the sorts of things he would say in response: “The calmness you feel is yours, not mine”. Or he would smile and say, “What a good starting point that you can at least feel your worth with others–we have a lot of good things to work with there”; etc. I feel confident that the conversation I have in my head is pretty close to accurate and I regain some of my calm.
My phone rings a little later. It’s N. She wants to spend time together and get a coffee. We firm up the plans right away and I tell myself that I’ll get around to my chores some other time. During our hangout I tell N how I feel about her. I tell her that my life is better with her in it and that I love her very much. She responds lovingly and I try to take in her response while at the same time reminding myself that what I said was worth saying regardless of her response.
We shoot the shit about alternate realities and multiple-dimensions. We consider the idea that we are in relationship to one another across different realities; that we might be siblings in one; lovers in another; enemies in yet another. One way or another, I conclude, there is probably something that draws us together in all of them. We sip our coconut waters. We talk about other things. I’m not sure if we’re getting anywhere deep or if we’re just talking shit. It doesn’t matter. The content is unimportant. What’s important is how simple it is: we’re together and we’re sharing and there is love in the room.
My last day of vacation is my best one.