Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There's One Tiny Running Tip Near the End

Near the start of all this therapy crap, I tried to think of something that gave me pure joy to do, and came up with: concerts. At a good concert my forebrain shuts its judgemental trap and my hindbrain just does its animalistic thing. I decided that to reward myself for doing therapy, whenever I had the opportunity I would buy tickets to any band on my running mix.*

Well, there have turned out to be so many opportunities that for my own health I’ve had to pass up a few. I’ve now seen about half of the artists on my current mix­—several of them twice—and a bunch whose songs have rotated off. I knocked off a few of them at a music festival where my forebrain switched off for three days straight, which was almost frighteningly divine. If it were possible I might just live there.

But I need to live “there” no matter what I’m doing, right? So I plod on.

It would seem that just about everything you all told me about therapy is true. It’s a rollercoaster, a slog through mud, frustrating, enlightening, frightening, boring, encouraging, too slow, too fast, all of that.

Right now it’s going well. I’ve divested myself of a massive amount of guilt. I’ve discovered how much I’d restricted my emotional range, and I’ve made (baby) steps toward opening that up, without turning into the crazy person I thought I might. I’ve discovered a lot of triggers and some things finally make sense. I’ve told secrets that I’d never told a soul and I didn’t burst into flames like a Spinal Tap drummer. And I’ve finally, finally started to address my habit of reflexively beating myself up about being upset over something I should “just get over.” But I have a long way to go still.

It’s a bit hard to open up when you are brought up to believe that mentioning anything bad is dangerous, that being upset about anything is feeling sorry for yourself, and that feeling sorry for yourself is by definition a bad thing. Add to that decades of insisting to myself and others that I was not a victim of anything at all, and, well, I suppose it makes sense that I move rather slowly through all of this. And: a major component of my abuse consisted of the abuser cajoling me into telling him shameful secrets and then, if I rejected him, using them against me. (A highlight of one of my therapy sessions was my usually measured, calm, and mild therapist bursting out with “he was a fucking sadist!”) (Okay, maybe that sounds weird, but it was apt at the time and to me it was tremendously reassuring.)

Through it all everyone has been beyond great, my husband most of all. He somehow manages to say the exact right thing to everything.

In other news, our exchange student has flown home, which was sad (and which I let myself be sad about!) but also freeing­—turns out teenaged girls can be a lot of work, who knew? The job is insane still but I have terrific people to work with and have not had to have dealings with the icky guy, and I am shedding my guilt about not working a zillion hours a week. Also my boss said nice things about me in my annual review, which doesn’t hurt. What else … my on-the-spectrum brother is getting married, which no one EVER thought would happen, and to an awesome woman. (He’s usually had terrific girlfriends, but he always kept a very separate life. This one he moved in with a couple years ago. She even got him to quit smoking.)

And running, ah running. Summer running is the best. Well, up till about 95 degrees, maybe a little hotter if it isn’t too humid. Here’s the running tip I promised: before you head out in hot weather, run a cloth napkin or kitchen towel under water, wring it out slightly, and leave it curled on a plate in the freezer in the shape of a large croissant. When you get back it will be the perfect shape and temperature to wrap around your neck or forehead. (Try to do this in private unless you are a Brett Michaels fan.)

*Aside: my new favorite running song is Joseph Arthurs “Saint of Impossible Causes.” “Harper Lee” by Little Green Cars kind of cracks me up because it reminds me so much of therapy. And the pomDeter mashup “Call Me A Hole” never fails to make me give up any grumpy thoughts.


Becky said...

Yes, that would be quite reassuring! Yay, normally reserved and quiet therapist!

Twangypearl the Elastic Girl said...

I like it when therapists turn out to be human. Good on you, DoctorMama. Keep on. This guilt shedding of which you speak sounds WONDERFUL.

jill said...

I remember telling my therapist a story and he said, "What a sadistic prick." I'm so glad you have found someone who is affirming and honest with you.

Anonymous said...

Glad your back. I am lying on the floor outside the bathroom babysitting my 20 year old autistic son, back for a home visit. The running tips are great, your personal journey quite awesome. My therapies are fishing, hiking, jogging and whiskey, not perfect but they work for me.

Laurel said...

Really pleased for you, that things are going well even if they are hard too. And congratulations to your brother!

Alexicographer said...

What Laurel said. And why wait 'til you're done running: I've taken to freezing water inside a collapsible water bottle (e.g. a Vapur) and running with that in my hand, taking sips of icy cold water and dribbling the same on the back of my neck/chest/forehead as I run. Very feasible when running slowly! And the difference between a pleasant and nearly (or truly) intolerable run some days in this heat, for me (it's not the heat -- we've had few days over 95 and many under 90 -- it's the humidity!).

Anonymous said...

It is good to have you back after a nearly two-month hiatus. I've been wanting to let you know that I am back running after a two-year break. I keep repeating your mantra - "you can't run too slowly" and "if you have both feet off the ground at the same time, that's running". I will definitely try the croissant cloth trick. Thanks for sharing your struggles and triumphs.

Majerus said...

I love that your therapist burst out with that comment. I think it's important that the helping pros who support us with calm professionalism the vast majority of the time also be human, and that means calling a snake a snake sometimes. It also feels like a moment of your therapist sticking up for the child you agains the abuser, which I think can only be good.

I feel pretty certain that this is already a known song to you, but if you don't have Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out" on your running mix, put it on there right away. (Electric Guest's "This Head I Hold" is also a good one.)

Mud said...

I kinda needed this tonight. I'm dealing with some BUBBLING UP at the moment, who the hell knows why - I normally manage to keep everything nice and tamped via running and working, TOO. And lately my coping skillz have been failing me, and it's nice to know that maybe there's a way through. Though honestly I wish I could just run and work everything back into submission. WAH.

Anonymous said...

just checking in to see if all is okay - been a while since you have posted here or on FB.

Anonymous said...

Doctormama-hope you're doing well. Holidays loom in the media, mall and mind and it can be a tough time of year. I moved to a new country...still running. The open trail still saves me from my madness.

Val Jaffe said...

Way WAY behind on backtracking through my old favorite blogs... But this hit me like a slap in the face: "...a major component of my abuse consisted of the abuser cajoling me into telling him shameful secrets and then, if I rejected him, using them against me"
Also: telling friends & family such secrets to prove what a wacko I was!
Glad your therapy is going well.
(not so anonymous today since already signed into Google - ah well, it isn't as if I'm a superhero ;-)