I’m here. I’m alive.
I am, as of Sunday, 44 years old. I’m pretty sure that means I’m supposed to have been an adult for some time now.
I’d say I’m sorry for dropping out like that, but it would be a lie. I had to drop out. Shit was getting weird. I thought it was the meds. I no longer believe that.
I don’t know where to begin.
Deep breath. Focus.
A few weeks ago I started going to weekly group therapy sessions. Specifically, the sessions revolved around the concept of mindfulness.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of group therapy. I really wanted individual counseling, at least initially, but it was not available. I was required to do group first.
I told myself that it would still be worthwhile, and the opportunity for individual counseling would come soon. People I know and trust had good things to say about mindfulness. Besides, there was nothing to be done about it.
The first session was odd because I was the only attendee. The next time I went, two others showed up. The therapist is very good, and the sessions are pretty laid back, but the more I went, the more agitated I became. I would arrive ready to do some good work, but I continually ended feeling that nothing we’d discussed really applied to me. I became progressively more agitated.
Some very uncomfortable physical things were happening at the same time all of this was going on. I felt sick and strange, like I had taken a mild hallucinogen and was having a less-than-bad-but-decidedly-not-good trip. There were some very vivid mind movies and other interesting things happening behind my eyelids.
I made an appointment to follow up with the psychiatrist for a re-evaluation. Before I could go, however, I had what (for lack of a better description) I will call my “emotional hissy fit” at the end of a group session.
I was sitting in the waiting room at the mental health clinic waiting for group to begin. I was very early. A couple came in with their son. The boy immediately raced over to the toy area, grabbed a box of Legos, and proceeded to rummage through them and talk excitedly to his dad. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I couldn’t deal with his noise or constant movement. I went outside to wait. I tried to read, but I couldn’t stay focused. I began feeling terribly uncomfortable–as if I was hungover but without the benefit of drinking any alcohol beforehand. Everything was too TOO. The day was too bright. The people were too loud. The bench was too hard. The whole world was simply TOO INTENSE.
After a while I started to wonder what it would be like to let myself slip into madness. It seemed as if it would be easy, as if there was a door somewhere nearby. I would see it if I looked out of the corner of my eye, and all I would have to do was step through.
Finally, group started. It seemed like everything was ok for a bit, but… Someone told a story, and I thought it was high-LAR-ee-ous! I laughed so hard! But… it wasn’t THAT funny.
Group was talking about practicing mindfulness, and I started thinking that I’m the most mindful person I know, and that’s part of the problem; I notice EVERYTHING that’s happening: all at once, all of the time. I have to constantly deal with people who don’t seem to notice ANYTHING. How do you deal with that? With seeing what everyone else seems to miss? And why do they keep talking about how it’s necessary to stop and reflect on your feelings before you react? I do that ALL THE FUCKING TIME. When is it OK to just feel what you feel? At what point is it Ok to say, “I’ve thought about it, and NO I am NOT over-reacting. I have every right to feel angry! I have every right to SAY something about this situation!” That’s what’s wrong with this fucked up society! Keep it to yourself. The correct response is, “I’m well. How are you?” Never say what’s really going on. Nobody wants to hear it anyway. Play your fucking part. Smiles, everyone! Smiles! WELCOME TO FANTASY FUCKING ISLAND.
I may have expressed a watered down version of these sentiments out loud and come across as slightly crazed.
I stayed for a few minutes after to speak with the therapist one on one, and we decided to go forward with individual counseling at this time.
I went home that day feeling very shaken. It wasn’t the first time I’d flipped my shit recently, and it really isn’t like me to behave that way. I spent the rest of that day pacing around and pondering, and… well, after a while I began to notice that I no longer felt spacey or hung-over. As a matter of fact, I felt better physically than I have in a long time. Why?
I mean, I’ve always known that when I feel stressed, it tends to come out physically, in a breakout of pimples or stiff shoulders. I’ve always known that.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about what it was like growing up in an emotionally repressed home, but I dealt with all that long ago.
But then… why does my stress still come out physically?
I’ve been dancing a lot around the subject of the psychological abuse I experienced. And there were times when I did get beat pretty badly. And I still haven’t admitted to you all that I was molested by my step-father when I was teenager. I haven’t told you how I broke the unbreakable rule, how I told someone what he’d done. Nor have I talked about the fiasco that followed in the form of social services getting involved, of going to court against my mother on the day of my junior prom, of ending up in a foster home after months of being forced to endure family therapy sessions with my abuser, of later being forced by my mother to say that I lied so I could see my baby sister, of falling through every crack in the system, of having to skip college, of giving up on my lifelong dream of teaching, of giving up on every hope or dream I’d ever had just so I could work shit jobs for shit pay to maintain a shit life.
But hey: Nobody gets everything they want.
I really didn’t want to go to group therapy. I wanted individual therapy. But I had to go to group. I didn’t have a choice. So… so… so…