Last week we spoke about triggers and awareness, this week focused on my personality in regards to sensitivity/hypersensitivity and coping strategies. Dr D. asked me if there were any issues that instantly caused me to become anxious, angered or want to disconnect myself from a situation. As we spoke through these issues I realised that I was hypersensitive about most things concerning my past as I viewed them as negative. There was my loveless,child-less decade-long relationship, a girl who made me feel bad about myself, a lack of genuine caring friends … the list went on and it all seemed to weigh heavily down on me until I could not talk about it without getting upset. Dr D. changed the subject by asking me what kind of personality I had, what I did for fun and what things I enjoyed doing – I was at a loss, I did not know! ‘Well’ he asks ‘what kinds of things did you do back then, how did you cope with stress?’ I suddenly realised that what we spoke about last week and what he wanted to extract form me this week were along the same lines.
Last week we identified how my reluctance to say no at work had lead to my ‘burn out’ as I took on more and more responsibility until I was unable to cope and my physical body became ‘sick’. This week was the same, my ‘everything is fine, go with the flow’ personality had led me to suppress my real thoughts and feelings. I smiled through it all. I did not leave the loveless child-less relationship, I did not stand up to the girl who was a passive aggressive bully, I accepted that my friends did not really care about me and just used me whenever it suited them; my personality was weak and I had been aware of this for years. I knew this was true as when anyone would bring it to my attention I would either sigh and nod in agreement, leave and cry into my pillow or get angry and shout that I was unable to change things.
I sat staring across the table thinking ‘What do I do for fun, what things do I like?’ and I realised for the first time in five years that I had been moving forward, albeit, in a sideways fashion. Since leaving Ireland I had concentrated less and less on work and industry, I no longer people pleased, I was very vocal in saying what I liked and did not and most importantly I was able to say no. Dr D. wanted examples and I had many. The first was university, I was away from my relationship, passive-agressive girl and so-called friends. I was free to choose modules and write essays on what I wanted to. I started to believe in myself again.
After a year I suppose I got comfortable. I returned to work and the old issues crept back in making me question if I had changed. I let the past issues get me down until I pressed a self-sabotage button with disastrous consequences.
But … here I was accepting CBT, analysing my feelings, having a clear goal to return to work for pleasure and having a loving relationship with Mr.K. I had a huge range of things that I liked to do from visiting the V&A on weekends to listening to loud house music to wasting time painting my hands and feet in bright summer colours … I could now see how in the last two years I had let go of my mental health by dwelling on past issues and now I was in a process of retrieving control and finding where my levels of tolerance were at and how I am to go forward with the correct coping mechanisms in place.
Just sitting with Dr. D. allowing myself to think through the last few years was in fact a massive step. I understood why I had been hypersensitive about the past issues but now I could allow them to remain in my past and view them as a learning curve instead of punishment for not knowing any better. At 18 I began the relationship and thought longevity was what mattered and that love came differently to different people when in fact it does not. Love is Love, you either have it or you do not. The same with friends, family and work – you are either accepted, understood and loved; or you are not.
Dr. D gave me some worksheets to take home ‘it is all about understanding yourself’ he told me and I left his office in a very happy positive frame of mind as I realised that I had just spent time discussing issues that in the past had been triggers and now were accepted and understood behaviours.