Thursday, January 23, 2014

Expressing Myself

I've been on hiatus for a while as I work hard on making it through the holiday season successfully.  Mind you, during this time I had to redefine "successfully" several times before realizing that staying safe and finding moments to enjoy are really my goals for the holidays (and everyday!). I managed pretty well and now that the end of January is near I'm starting to (finally) see how well I really am doing. A small set-back in the middle of the month didn't even tear me down. If anything, it helped to build up my resolve to keep working diligently on my recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma, and self harm.

This morning I had one of those AHA! moments that makes life seem pretty chipper. I received an email from Dr. Judith Beck about Therapy Interfering Beliefs. Some of it I have already heard, but this morning one part really stood out to me:
"If I get better, my life will get worse."
It would make sense that these clients would be reluctant to acknowledge that problems could be solved.

Clients who hold a belief in this fourth category may display a number of difficulties in therapy. They may fear, for example,  that others will raise their expectations of the client and that the client  will then be unable to fulfill those expectations. They may be concerned that getting better will lead to a deleterious change in relationships with important people in their lives, for example, that a loved one will be unwilling to continue to offer help and support.  They may face a real-life challenge, such as having to find a job or losing their disability payments. Or they may be anxious about "losing" their therapist.

I added the bolded text and the strike throughs to highlight what really spoke to me. I've acknowledged some of this in therapy and some of it I have hidden from both my therapist and myself. The fear of losing my therapist, for example, is something I have feared saying and acknowledging. Part of me knows this is "normal" (whatever that really is) and part of me fears that it means a too-close relationship with my therapist. If I fear losing her is the relationship really therapeutic? Have I (we) grayed the boundaries too much? Am I co-dependent on her? 

The truth is how could I not have complex relationship with her?! I've been in therapy with her for 10 years, she's seen me through so many changes and life accomplishments, and even helped me out long distance when I decided to move to Oregon so many years ago. Any therapist and client would experience a deeper relationship even after just a few years together. 

Am I co-dependent on her? The answer is: not any more. There was a point where I was afraid to make decisions without her blessing. That time has passed and my part of the relationship has matured. I'm now able to make mindful decisions about when calling/email/texting (yes, she's ridiculously available) is appropriate and when it's not. I've even written this into the safety contract I made months ago with my therapist (my choice, not hers). 

The truth is I need to stop being so hard on myself and stop being afraid of showing myself to my therapist. She has seen me in the worst, and best, times and still is there. So what if I'm still afraid of "loosing" her? If I don't bring up the fears I have about recovery, I can't continue to grow and recover further. I'm not even sure I like the word "recover" because of the black/white connotation behind (you're either "in crisis" or "recovered"), but that's a post for another day.