Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back, and Better Than Ever!

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.


karen said...

This is perfection. I'm glad you are back. I am in the market for a good therapist too, though no meds. Aside from pain meds, did I mention I'm planning to be sick next week? I believe I did.

People laugh when I tell them I'm scheduled to be sick. Till they realise I'm serious.

But seriously, I have made some pokes toward finding a new paid friend to gain some new perspective and, ironically, my issues are so similar to yours. From my point of view, of course.

Remember that dating book, He's Just Not All That Into You, or was that just the main point of the book and not the title?

No, don't worry, Alec is totally into me, I'm so lucky there. But I seem to love making friends with people who need a lot, or take a lot, but have very little to give.

I know a part of that is a defense mechanism on my part -- I don't like to take from people or ask for anything. But seriously, I have some friends that I've had since I was tiny who continue to give nothing but take if I offer.

But I have other problems I need to work out more ... like why I can't stand / tolerate / manage my relationships with Alec's entire family, my father, two of my three sisters. From my vantage point it is their shortcomings but (a) I'm sure they see it differently and (b) surely I could do something differently to just get along with them with less stress for me?

Yes. I haz issues that I could really use some insight on.

Wait!!!!! How did this post / comment become all about me?! Gah!!!

I'm jealous about your massage time, I really need to book something (and am going to this weekend before I can't do anything at all) but twice per month?! Yay you!!! And I'm envious of your new studio space, and surrounding yourself with people who are creating ... and (well not really) your love of running.

So what I'm wondering now is what will happen with Kevin? Will you find value in what he does have to offer? Will he learn to give a little more or will you see his straightforwardness as being a "give"? Or will you need to take some space from him to be okay yourself? Any of these are acceptable solutions, of course. I like Kevin (or, how you represent him here) but I like you more.

I look forward to taking this wander with you. For now you will be the only one with the paid friend as this time next week I plan to be incapacitated, and immobile for much of the rest of the year (actually, realistically only totally incapable of much movement for the first few weeks ...)

But my fingers I expect will still work okay. So I plan to be here every step of the way. <3

JC said...

Hey! HI! Yes, therapy this time around is interesting in that I'm not a crisis-wallowing mess; I'm actually a pretty boring patient. Seriously, the meds have taken away about 95% of the problem. Still, I want to look at issues I know I do have, even if they aren't rising up and roaring right now.

LOVED "He's Just Not That Into You." Such a great book and so true!!!

I don't know what will happen with Kevin. Once I saw our relationship clearly, I just had no energy to keep throwing myself at it for such little return. I think he's sensed it. We might have brunch on Sunday. I used to so look forward to seeing him, but I don't know. He needs to make more of an effort. A lot more. He used to make more, and then he just stopped. I chalked it up to him dating Polish Chick, but he says they haven't seen each other in over 2 months, so... Whether it's the AS or just him, he's pretty much wrapped up in his own interests, and I usually made more effort to find commonality. (I mean really, asking about baseball? Who am I?) He's just not a reciprocator. I'm being more aware in general about people who take more than they give.

Get yourself a paid pro. Insight is good, and it's nice to come at it proactively rather than reactively. What's going on with you and the surgery? Feel free to email me.

JC said...

Oh, and karen? I hear you on the getting along -- most people just annoy me. They do. My therapist asked me how I kept myself stable, and when I thought about it really hard, I realized I do it by being alone a lot. Not dealing with other people and their opinions and their stupidity and the relentless feeling of being suffocated. Is this part of my pathology, or do I just have a healthy aversion to BS? And do you? Alec obviously gets along with you, and he adores you, and he seems pretty smart.