In Defense

For those who don’t know, I started therapy at the beginning of March. Prior to starting, like months and months prior, I’d been doing a lot of work and research by myself with fairly good results. But I finally reached a point where I realized I needed a professional’s input and direction. Even in the short amount of time since I met my therapist I’ve noticed our sessions are helping me. In the immediate I feel calmer, lighter and over all just more grounded. I’ve also been able to bring up things with her that I’ve experienced without having to worry about judgment or hurt feelings.

I’ve also internally. gone over and over the thought processes of “there’s nothing wrong with you”, “you don’t need therapy”, “nothing that bad ever happened to you”. Then I swing to the opposite end thinking, “ok you definitely need to talk to a professional”, “you need someone who understands this stuff to either validate what you’re thinking or help you figure it out”. By the time I’ve worked my way through all of those arguments it’s therapy day again.

The sessions themselves are taking some getting used to. I go in with the intention of it being more of a conversation than a vent, or me ranting on my soapbox. But anyone who’s met me knows when given any indication of interest, I’ll talk until I run out of things to say or someone stops me (hint it’s never the former). So I feel like I’ve lobbed a ton at this poor person in a very short span of time, some of it heavy personal stuff. There hasn’t really been much on her end. That got me thinking maybe I’m displaying a pattern similar to one I’ve had most of my life.

Growing up, especially with peers, I got into the habit of trying to anticipate how someone was going to react to me or treat me. Then I would aproximate that response first. This manifested in a lot of ways, bringing up flaws or shortcomings, being overly open about personal things, or totally closed off and being incredibly self-deprecating. That last one became a personality feature I’m still trying to turn off.

It was all a defense mechanism, one I still use to this day. But the way I use it has changed. In high school I used to make fun of myself to rob other people of the opportunity. It’s no fun to bully someone about things they’re already openly joking about. Now it more often manifests in giving people too much information or none. They either can’t parse out what they actually wanted so the conversation stops, or they don’t work up to what they were going to say. Whatever requests, opinions, judgments, never come up, if they existed at all.

This is what I think I’ve been doing in therapy and I’m afraid I’m sabotaging myself. Instead of working on specific problems I’m offloading my entire childhood, medical history and family tree. And maybe that’s ok, maybe that’s helpful in its own way. But I can’t help but feel like my therapist isn’t getting the best representation of who I am and I think that’s doing a disservice to us both. I said early on in therapy one of my biggest problems when I’m talking to basically anyone who’s not my husband is having to remind myself I don’t know what they’re thinking. It might be time to actually put that into practice and give people a fighting chance of actually communicating with me.

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