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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Stuff my therapist said: weather edition

I have a kickass counselor. Seriously, she's just incredible.

I can't recommend therapy enough. This is my second go-round with therapy, post-divorce. My first therapist, immediately after my divorce, was also lovely, but we didn't quite mesh. I still saw her for a year or so, and despite not meshing, I learned a lot from her, so this is not to speak ill of her, just to say that the treatment we were attempting didn't work out so well for me. However, I learned a ton about boundaries and how to speak up for myself, and I credit that to her.

New therapist, who I shall call C, is perfect for me at this time in my life. I sought her out to try and get some help with acceptance - that is to say, help adjusting to the fact that my life is the way it is and that is just how it will be. Also, for help with binge eating disorder (which I also have, did I mention?). And she has been so helpful, so supportive, so kind and encouraging and she is firmly on team me and I love her to pieces.

All that to say, sometimes she will utter a remark that just gobsmacks me and truly makes me look at things in a different light. It's like, I can't navigate through my own head to get to a place of acceptance and understanding, but she knows how to get there and guides me.

We had this conversation the other day:

Me: It's like I'm constantly having to do emotional cleanup for everyone. Me, the kids. It's exhausting.

C: It is. It's kind of like a hurricane. Hurricanes aren't our fault, right? We can't control a hurricane. But after it comes through, we do have to clean up our yard.

Me: *Gobsmacked silence*

This made so much sense to me, particularly living in hurricane country.

She's so right. The emotional storms are not my doing. And afterwards, I have to clean up my yard (process my feelings), because if I don't, the next time the hurricane comes through, the yard just gets worse and worse and then the idea of cleaning the yard is utterly overwhelming and then you end up taking two days of sick time to lie on the couch in the dark in your pajamas binging Parks and Rec and periodically sobbing (yes, that's based on personal experience) (also, if you haven't seen Parks and Rec go and watch it, because silly as it sounds, that optimistic little show was a bright spot for me during dark days).

I feel hope, these days. Hope that better days are ahead for me and my kids, hope that all of these feelings are manageable, hope that my future is not as bleak as it sometimes feels. There are bad moments, certainly, but I'm learning the key is that you can let them take you down, temporarily - maybe you wallow, maybe you vent, maybe you eat (hallooooo), or maybe you take the time to process things appropriately (ONE DAY!) - but don't let them take you out.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family
by Eleanor D. Payson
Kindle Edition: $9.99
Paperback (Amazon): $12.27

So much of my struggle, post divorce, has revolved around trying to understand what happened, what went wrong. Then why it went so very, very wrong. I've waffled between feeling all "IT WAS ALL MY FAULT, I'M A TERRIBLE PERSON" - during these periods, I bought books about improving myself - and then I shifted to "IT WAS ALL HIS FAULT, HE'S A TERRIBLE PERSON" - and so I bought books about relationships and dealing with difficult people. Now I've settled somewhere around "Well, that happened. I'm sure there's blame on both sides. Perhaps I should turn my focus to trying to ensure it doesn't happen again." This book is very well suited for that purpose.

I love this book. I want to sing about it from rooftops. I sent my therapist an email about it the day after I finished reading it. She ended up recommending it to another client, who later told her to thank me for the suggestion. I highlighted excessively while reading. My Kindle edition is so marked up it would have been easier to just select the passages I didn't want to highlight, which were few and far between. I devoured this book over the course of two evenings, often nodding as I read, and occasionally even calling out a fervent "YES!" to my empty living room.

It is written in clear, understandable language, but doesn't dumb down the subject matter or fluff it up with an excess of flowery prose. It isn't too clinical, and it's not trying to diagnose anyone (nor is it suggesting that you do). The author does not judge your choices - I was surprised at her suggestions for trying to save and maintain an intimate relationship with someone with narcissistic tendencies. My assumption was that the only advice would be "GET OUT NOW", but I suppose that would make for a short and rather unhelpful book.

There is a brief explanation of narcissists, their tendencies and types, and then suggestions for dealing with them in all areas of your life, whether they are your parents, your boss, or a partner or spouse. The author makes a connection between codependence and narcissism that is extremely helpful and utterly fascinating.

In the introduction, the author writes,
This book is meant to be a map for the person who wishes to return from the World of Oz, where all roads appear to be going one way - in the direction of the narcissist.
Word, Eleanor Payson. Word. And then in the chapter on recovery, there's this little gem,
Dorothy illustrates the journey of the codependent person who becomes enthralled with the grandeur of Oz, seeking to find her worth and power by gaining his approval and help. Although she is capable of intimacy (as we see in her friendships with her three companions) she in unable to recognize her true strengths and abilities. 
In the above excerpt, the words that stand out to me are worth, power, strengths and abilities. We have all those, we just have to figure out how to nurture them in and for ourselves.