Gosh, I've missed being here. So update: I have a therapist, a shrink, and a masseuse. Does that mean I officially have an entourage?
I see the therapist, "Rachel," weekly. She's great. I'm not really doing any big work; I've been through this before and as both she and the shrink have said, I'm pretty self-aware. But I told her I'd like to examine how I form relationships with people, and why some tend to be so addictive and some do not. Again, nothing earth-shattering. I really think that for the most part my take on people (I make too many friends out of my tendency to accommodate, rather than other people's efforts to extend themselves) is dead-on. I don't think I'm pathological.
I did talk about Kevin, and why my friendship with him has been so problematic for me.
"I don't really understand why he wants to be friends with me," I said. "He's an Aspie, and I'm so emotional. It must be really tiresome for him."
And then Rachel did that magical therapist thing where she takes the perfectly obvious and, by articulating it, transforms it from invisible to visible.
"Well, he has certain deficits," she said. "He is very inconsistent; sometimes he lets himself be close and communicative, then he pulls away and becomes distant and unresponsive. You tend to have to initiate. And you do. And while his behavior makes you unhappy, because you need consistency from people, and it frustrates and angers you, you don't go away. I'm betting a lot of people in his life go away."
She's right. And when she put it that way, I could admit that I do a lot more of the work in that particular friendship. And that a lot of my recent anger was a growing awareness that he just is never going to appreciate the things about me that I think are worthwhile, because they hold no place in his hierarchy of values. And poof. I saw things for how they were.
A week before I'd been gallery-sitting at an art building with which I'm affiliated, and one of my friends, a painter, was working in his studio. I hung out with him and we talked about how we are each givers and nurturers, and how that leaves us vulnerable to people who could exploit that. (His last boyfriend had had an affair and then left him one day. He never saw it coming.)
I'd had this on my mind when Rachel made her observation. There is nothing wrong with being a nurturing person, but I have to learn how to spot Takers and not let them Take. Takers instinctively seek out people like me, and people like me misinterpret that as flattering. Like being pleased that the vampire chose ME of all the people upon whom to feast.
So the focus has been on having people in my life who appreciate me; that includes finding people who are capable of appreciating me, and that speaks to similar values. So I've focused on what I want to do, what I want to accomplish.
A friend recently commented that she never sees me anymore. She didn't sound happy.
"Look," I said, "I've been running, going to the gym, and reviewing plays. You made it very clear that you have no interest in any of those activities, so I haven't invited you." In other words, I'm playing my own game, and if you want to play with me, catch up. Otherwise, enjoy your reality TV.
I also found really cheap studio space in a neighborhood not too far away. The building is a magnificent stone church with lots of classroom/office space. The church decided to turn the extra space over to arts organizations, so there is a theater HQ there now, and great shared studio space. I share a very large room with two other women, and I'm moving my stuff in this weekend. I'm stoked. I want a community of people who appreciate the same things I do, and I'm going to be more deliberate about it.
As for meds: The shrink is also great, and she thinks I'm not bipolar but suffer from anxiety issues. She prescribed a drug, I went home, went online, looked it up, and called her the next day. My voicemail message went something like this:
"Um. Yeah. That drug? A lot of people report similar side effects if they forget one pill, and they sound really not good. The most common descriptor is 'hell,' which is a little, well, concerning. Also 'brain zaps.' So if you could call me, I'd appreciate it."
She called and assured me not everyone has the same side effects, everyone is different, and that the benefits are worth giving it a try. So I did. I was originally scheduled to take 37.5 mg per week, doubling every week. It's been over three weeks and I'm still on 37.5. It's enough, and the only real side effects have been some minor gastrointestinal stuff and minor sleep issues. I don't obsess. I don't rant. (Well, if I'm excited, I talk a lot, and I talk quickly, but that's just me.) It feels good to have the occasional homicidal fantasies when someone talks loudly on their phone on the train; it reminds me I'm still in here.
And I have a 6-month massage membership and see this amazing masseuse every two weeks. With the running and the gym workouts, it's great, and she knows her stuff. The woman zeros in on those tight muscles and takes them apart. Sound mind, sound body.
So all in all, I feel really good. I feel effective. I get more done, because I can focus. I don't feel angry all the time. I don't fret ceaselessly like a dog with a bone. I ran another 5K, and I made very good time. I'm thinking next October I'll run the Chicago marathon. Gotta do something once I turn 50.