Friday, August 01, 2008

Validation.

The first session with my therapist didn't entail much other than me trying to fill her in as quickly as possible about my issues. After the session was over and I was getting ready to leave, she mentioned she has some ideas about how to proceed and that I'm definitely wanting validation. Just that one word has led to a storm of epiphanies this week.

I went back through my archives to earlier this year when all of a sudden I was putting on stacks of weight. There it was; the Magic Mirror Letter. I had many fabulous responses from people I sent it to, but the ones I've really wanted to hear from, mainly my parents, I got no reply. Well, okay I got an acknowledgment that they received the letter and intended to write a reply, but they haven't gotten around to it yet. Logically I know they've been busy. Very busy. Working six days a week busy with health issues of their own and my Nan's to deal with. Logically I've understood that.

Emotionally I haven't. Emotionally I've wanted a response from two of the most important people in my life. Emotionally I've been like a hurt child. I haven't liked feeling that while I know the logical and sound reasons why they hadn't had time to reply yet. So, I ate. And. Ate. And ate some more. Once the therapist used the word validation, I knew I'd keep eating until I resolved this issue. So the next day I called my mum.

And we talked for four hours about a whole range of stuff. Including the fact of my being emotionally wounded from their lack of response, despite my adult knowledge of why they were late with it. And she understood what I was saying. She had assumed that because we were talking every week on the phone that they were doing enough to satisfy my emotional needs. It also came out that they knew they weren't good at expressing their emotions so as we were growing up they encouraged me and my brother to talk about our feelings. Only problem is, now that I'm needing to hear deep emotional stuff from them, they're in a bit of a bind. LOL They've always been good with hugs and kisses and I love yous...but this requires a bit more

Also, the reason I didn't go to a therapist for so long was because I was trying to deal with my emotions, by talking about the past incidences with the people involved. That wasn't working out too good. It was damaging my current relationships with those people instead of resolving the past issues. Those issues are mine and in order for me to deal with them, I needed to talk to a professional about them. Someone not emotionally invested in the past or my recovery. That statement right there was a huge kick in the head for me when it first entered my brain. I've been raised to talk things over with friends or family, but sometimes they can't help.

Friends, that's another issue too. Over the years Mum has told me that her and dad always "knew I'd have trouble with making friends. Because I used to say even the stray dogs I brought home were my friends." Everyone was my friend, instantly. I'd fall in love head over heels straight away...and be disappointed later on if the friendship ended or they didn't live up to my high expectations or love me as much as I loved them. My basic world view is that everyone is honest and everyone should be friends with everybody. So, on that one key point, I'm the emotional equivalent of a five year old.

This week, on the phone I got from mum the usual line about knowing I'd have trouble making friends...but then she added that her and Dad tried their best to help me through it and minimise my hurt. What an emotional world of difference those few extra words made. We knew you'd have trouble. To We knew you'd have trouble and tried to help. And hearing that extra bit on the end helped me to realise they're still trying to help me, because I still have the same problem.

They're also very frustrated that I'm still making the same mistakes. That I'm keeping myself alone in the house more often than not because I'm afraid to make bad friends again. The reason they've been telling me to get out and about and find hobbies and things is because they know I need the social contact. TRYING to explain to me the difference between social contacts, acquaintances and friends. It wasn't until this week that I understood the emotional difference. And understood why I've been having such a hard time.

Ever since moving here I've been leading with my heart, as per usual. Seeking Friends wherever I go somewhere new. Alaskaboy's workmate's wives; women at his work; writing groups; the Australian expats group; the water aerobics class. I've even avoided joining a crochet class because I was afraid I wouldn't make any friends there. Excuse me? I've been avoiding social chitchat and interaction because they might not be potential Best Friends Forever. WTF?! Even though I knew how much I enjoyed the light bantering with the older ladies at water aerobics, I was avoiding another chance for the same thing with a different group of people.

I work from home. Alaskaboy can't supply all my emotional needs. My other Friends and family are scattered far and wide. I know all that.
What's wrong with gathering some Acquaintances?
But I tried that! {waaaaaail}
No, you tried looking for BFF and when it didn't work out, perhaps because you pushed too hard or we just weren't suited as acquaintances, you fell into the Black Hole Of Calcutta! What you're needing is nothing more taxing than workmates. Someone you have a good time with when you see them, natter about stuff, and then go home to your own life.
Oh.
You have Friends. Some of those acquaintances may become friends in time...just like your other friends have stayed around as the other acquaintances dropped by the wayside. Everyone is an acquaintance at first and it takes time and shared experiences to learn if they'll stay that way or not. They have to earn your trust and vice versa.
Oh.

And when I look at it like that, it's such a simple thing. But like all my "simple" discoveries it's a hugely profound one. I already have people in my life who can give me the validation friends and family give you. I am working on self-validation too. Over and over I've been saying I miss going out for coffee with people. And I wasn't listening to what I was really saying. I'm missing social interaction. Validation that I'm an interesting person, I still have stuff to talk about, and that I'm not gonna go stir crazy alone in this job of mine.

I don't need to join a softball team or a Master's swim class. Those are things I did in my past. Currently I'm interested in crochet and home crafts and water aerobics and swimming laps on my own. Social interaction can be found doing those things. I work from home. I may always work from home. I may never earn money from my writing. (Again something I'm still struggling with and I've covered that before: both my mother and grandmother worked full time outside the home and earned money.) But as my Mum said to me today, so what? Stop comparing yourself to others.Comparing myself, and hanging on to comments/beliefs from the past I'll cover in another post.

Last thing I wanna say is WOW! I've had a huge week. I've eaten intuitively at every meal since Saturday. I mean completely intuitively. I'm eating every few hours and a whole lot less than I thought I needed over the course of a day. But I'm satisfied when I go to bed and hungry again within an hour of waking up. Two mornings in a row I even woken up a little earlier than usual because I was hungry. I had a nibble and was still tired, so I went back to bed. The next days I didn't over eat at dinner time to stop me from needing the early morning snack. I still ate til I was comfortably full and stopped. It was like my body was testing me or something because since then I haven't felt the urge to wake up and snack. In fact I'm sleeping deeper and better than I have in a long time.

Funny thing is, the shirt I tried on recently and was so upset that it no longer fit, is fitting better again.

All of that from stopping when I'm full plus feeling my emotions. It's still eerie how easy it is compared to dieting. I'm hoping that this time, because I'm working with a therapist on my core body confidence issues and leftover trauma from the sexual abuse, rather than the surface layers of those problems, that I can keep this up beyond the points that I've previously choked because of said issues.

3 Nibbles:

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I'm glad to hear your session sparked something really good for you.

Shauna said...

wow... another layer unravels. that sounds like really life changing stuff :) hope you're feeling okay about it all :)

cmae said...

GREAT stuff. You are already learning so much. This will be such an exciting time in your life as you peel back the layers of hurt and anxiety and the coping mechanisms that no longer work - oh! It will be difficult to be sure, but you will not regret it. (((HUGS)))