Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 280722

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Fear of Abandonment - DaisyM

Posted by fallsfall on November 17, 2003, at 22:53:56


Thanks for thinking about me.

The last week has been very difficult. Some events touched off some wicked fear of abandonment in me on Thursday. I thought I could handle it until today, but on Saturday I needed to call him. I either needed to see him, or I needed to bury what was going on. He was at a conference all weekend, so he couldn't see me - he was so nice about making sure that I didn't see his inability to see me as abandonment. I do understand that he has a life, and would only expect him to see me on the weekend if he happened to be free. So that was OK. We agreed that I would bury the issue and then try to resurrect it for today's session. It took a lot of conscious effort to keep it buried, but I was able to do that. And I did manage to get it back today.

He didn't give me the answer I was looking for today (I wanted to know what he would do with a patient under particular circumstances). He said there are too many variables to answer the question. But he did eventually say that he wouldn't throw me out, and he wouldn't make me feel like an idiot - I don't even know exactly what he said, but it did make me feel better - at least a little.

I know this is the important work to be doing. And I know that is why it is so hard.

I see him twice a week, and at the end of the session he said that he was really glad that he was seeing me twice rather than once a week, because he thought that this would be much harder if it was just once a week. I agreed. Then he said that he wished he could see me tomorrow, rather than waiting until Thursday. It wasn't really clear to me what was preventing that (my insurance would pay, did he not have an open slot? Did he think I wouldn't want to? Would it exacerbate my dependency?). I am so worn out tonight - not panicking anymore, but I sure could use a little warm and fuzzy (not that he DOES warm and fuzzy).

I'm hoping to feel better after a good night's sleep.


Re: Fear of Abandonment - DaisyM fallsfall

Posted by DaisyM on November 18, 2003, at 10:53:29

In reply to Fear of Abandonment - DaisyM, posted by fallsfall on November 17, 2003, at 22:53:56

Hope your dreams were untroubled. Wish mine were.

Sounds like a heavy but important area you have entered into. What is it that makes abandonment/trust so painful? Of all the things I've discovered about myself, realizing that I trust practically no one completely (ok, so not practically!) this is one of the most painful. It isn't the "what happened to me" part -- it is the continuing defense that was set up. Maybe I should be more upset about the "what happened to me" part, but I can't get to those feelings. Except the fear.

I'm sure you will work through this. I know I feel sad about what I've missed. The lost possibilities that require risk. Which is funny, because if you look at my life from the outside, it looks like I'm willing to be risky. It is around my feelings that I've never risked, so the very high price is loneliness. Even in a 20 year old marriage. Even very old friends. Even in the crowds of public service. I'm the "go to" person -- but now I realize that I have no one that I "go to". Except this therapist that I pay. Most of the time I'm OK with that but when we have the this must end at sometime conversation, I get pretty (privately, quietly) freaked out. So my goal is to develop at least one relationship that is really different than what I have now. At least by the time I'm 80! *smile*

Do you have a goal like this? Were you helped by going yesterday? And, if I can pry, how did you manage to bury it and make it stay buried? I am struggling with putting stuff away...and it is effecting how I productive I am.


Re: Bury it! DaisyM

Posted by fallsfall on November 18, 2003, at 13:08:59

In reply to Re: Fear of Abandonment - DaisyM fallsfall, posted by DaisyM on November 18, 2003, at 10:53:29

I can relate to the "go to" syndrome. I'm trying to go to others more because I know that it isn't that they can't/won't help me, but I don't ask (and often actively refuse) for help.

Burying. I'm not sure exactly how I learned to do this. I have a "relax to sleep" tape that has a section about imagining a heavy box next to your bed. It asks you to put your issues into the box and then "close the heavy lid". At first, I didn't know how to do this, but I kept trying - I would think the word for my issue (i.e. my husband) and then think about putting it into the box. Then I would do the next issue. Some nights I had endless lists, some nights just a few. Putting the lid on has a finality - you know those issues aren't strong enough to take the lid off. The tape says that you can take them out in the morning when you need them.

Eventually I got to the point where if things were really bad, everything wouldn't fit into the box. Or things would jump back out and I'd have to put them in again. Or my husband kept sprawling in the box and his arms and legs would hang out. I would have to be firm about getting everything in the box. Sometimes I had to get a bigger box (but in fantasy land there is an endless supply of boxes). Sometimes it was hard to put the lid on - the issues didn't want to be covered up.

I did this exercise probably every night for over a year (or two?). I have also heard it referred to as "putting it on the shelf". My shelf is very high up, so when I put things there they don't bother me.

On Saturday, I was laying in bed feeling much too comfortable with "bad" thoughts. I decided that I had to get up, and finally convinced myself to call my therapist (I was incredibly anxious). He said we would work on it on Monday (so, again, I didn't have to put it away forever - I don't know if that is an important part). I guess that I mentally took the anxiety in my stomach and shoved it way down in my body, so that it was covered by all the rest of the things that are in there. If I started to think about it, I wouldn't allow myself to actually think about the details - I just knew that I was trying to think about it. Then I would tell myself that it was buried, so leave it alone.

I guess that the distraction training that I have had is also useful here. Watch a movie, play a computer game that really requires you to think, read a book, do something you really like (it is easier to concentrate on something you like). After a while it is easier to point your thoughts where you want them to be. It is sort of like if you are in a crowded, noisy room, but you want to hear what someone is saying - you try to filter out the background to focus on their voice. I try to filter out my issue and focus on the movie.

It takes a lot of energy to do this (and I'm still exhausted today). I'm not sure that I could have buried it if I didn't know that I would have his help with it on Monday. I knew it was an important issue, and I wouldn't want to have lost it.

On Monday, I started to think about how I got to my understanding of the issue (I had done a little writing the night before), and was able to start thinking it again from there. So when I got to therapy it wasn't buried so much. I had to be careful on Saturday not to write about it, and I was worried that I would forget what I had figured out. But I knew that if I wrote about it that it would be too concrete, so it would be too hard to bury.

I'd be interested to know how other people do this. It is a useful skill to have.


Re: Bury it! fallsfall

Posted by DaisyM on November 18, 2003, at 14:04:03

In reply to Re: Bury it! DaisyM, posted by fallsfall on November 18, 2003, at 13:08:59

Interesting. I use to teach a childbirth ed class where I would have moms imagine a safe place in their brain, sort of an escape room. Sounds like the same sort of thing with your box. I love the image of the hubby-in-a-box - arms and legs sprawled out. Fits my needs right now!

I find I do best when I am in a group that is work-related. I usually have to lead, or at least contribute significantly to the discussions. This makes me be my "professional" self - no emotional leaking going on here. It is making myself attend these meetings that is getting harder and harder. I want to hide out in my office with my door closed.

I have the opposite reaction to writing. Once it is down on paper, I can let go of the anxiety a little. I have only just realized lately how anxious I am all the time. Is this an improvement from being depressed and "flat" all the time? It almost feels worse in some ways. I tried to describe this free-floating anxiety in session yesterday so we could figure out what is triggering it. I think I figured it out on the way home -- I still have another part of my "story" that I haven't told my Therapist, and I really want to but the words just won't come out. He just gently asks, "tell me about the part of you that wants to tell me" instead of directly asking me to tell him. It is difficult.

And, then the thoughts won't stay in the damn box!!

Thanks for sharing so much detail. I'll keep trying to force that lid on.

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