Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 325785

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A little better

Posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

I have been having an incredibly rough time in therapy for a long time. I think today's session was a little better.

He thought I was very angry at him. I don't feel anger at all. All I feel is terror. Terror that I'll do the wrong thing, terror that I'll feel worse when I leave his office than I did when I went in. He thinks I'm afraid of feeling angry. I AM afraid of feeling angry - but I'm not yet convinced that there is anger underneath my terror.

There were times when I WAS angry (like when he said things that were blatently untrue) - and he pointed out, that at that time I had much more clarity and "organization". This was true. He thinks that the anger is sitting just under the surface, and that at those times it "broke through". I still just feel terror, but I don't know that he's wrong.

He says that it is OK to be angry (he thinks it would even be theraputic for me to be angry at him). Anger was never OK when I was growing up. It just didn't exist. If there was a problem we all pretended that everything was fine.

Right up until the end of the session he would say "You just looked at me like you are angry. Do you feel that?", and I would say no.

He thinks that I get depressed and "weepy" and fall apart when I'm angry, because if I do that then people will feel sorry for me and take care of me, but if I get angry people will get angry back. I can agree that when I am falling apart that people do take care of me (and I want them to), and if I get angry that I am afraid that people will get angry back. I'm not sold yet that I fall apart in *response* to feeling angry - instead of acting angry.

He really was sweet and patient today. He was trying to get me to see the possibility that things could be different from how they appear to me. He went over it again and again. He tried to make a couple of jokes (usually a bad mistake...). He said he knew that I was trying because otherwise I wouldn't keep coming back for the torture - when I didn't laugh he told me it was a joke - I told him there was too much truth in it, and he had to agree. As the session went on, he seemed happier - his eyes were smiling. I know that he cares.

So, I accomplished my goal today. I didn't leave the session more unhappy than when I went in. I'll take small accomplishments.

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by crushedout on March 18, 2004, at 18:13:45

In reply to A little better, posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

hey fallsfall,

it's very odd to read your post because my therapist has been trying to convince me i'm angry at her also. and i really don't feel it, but am not sure that she's wrong. she thinks i get depressed because i turn my anger inward, and that makes some sense, but in my family we always expressed anger very openly and i never think of myself as someone who denies or holds back anger. but of course, it's possible i do it with my T because i feel so dependent on her and i don't want her to move away from me. if i do this, it's subconscious.

anyway, i wish i could say the same as you. i had an amazing week, i was really happy and energetic, and therapy kicked my butt today. now i'm a mess. :( i think i'm going to write about it in a different thread.

i'm glad you're doing better.

 

Re: A little better

Posted by deirdrehbrt on March 18, 2004, at 18:40:07

In reply to A little better, posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

Hey Falls,
I'm so very happy that things went just a bit better this time, you deserve it.
Perhaps your T is at least partly right about the anger. I totally despise being angry, and I'm terribly afraid of those times when I might become angry. When I get angry, I hurt myself even more than when I'm not.
I suppose that it's partly due to the way emotions either were or weren't dealt with when I was young. Being angry alone was cause enough to get in trouble. If there were loud disagreements between me and my brothers, that too was met with physical punishment.
Perhaps when a child is taught that expressed anger is bad, doesn't learn how that anger itself isn't bad at all. We don't need to punish ourselves for it. We just need to prevent ourselves from being controlled by that anger.
I don't know how to do that yet. I'm still frightened by my anger and try to avoid expressing it almost always. If I do get anger, it's usually well after the incident that provoked it, and I usually try to find someone's permission to become angry.
Maybe it's a part of our generation's programming, that anger itself is bad. I guess we need to change things in ourselves. I suppose that my kids are already learning better than me; perhaps there, I'm succeeding in something. It's nice to see someone who can be angry, but that the anger doesn't consume them.
I'm sure that things will get better for you. You're working so terribly hard, and it will begin to pay off for you.
Dee.

 

Re: A little better

Posted by whisper55 on March 18, 2004, at 19:14:09

In reply to A little better, posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

So, I accomplished my goal today. I didn't leave the session more unhappy than when I went in. I'll take small accomplishments.

Thank You I needed to see those words and keep them to my heart. You are doing mighty fine!
The attitude adjustment I needed how much is your fee? LOL LOL

 

Re: A little better

Posted by emmaley on March 18, 2004, at 19:33:00

In reply to A little better, posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

Great job, Fallsfall. :)

You don't have to necessarily answer my questions; a few popped into my head when I was reading your post and thought I'd share them with you. What happened when you did show anger when you were young? I know that you said that, in your family, you all pretended that it was not there and it was not okay for you to show.......I wonder what impression you got when you did show the emotion? The reason why I asked that is because I had a very unfortunately incident happened right after I raged as a teenager, and ever since then I'd carry a lot of other stuff once I feel anger, things such as guilt, shame or a sense of worthlessness.

Just food for thought.........hope you'll take therapy where you want it to go! :)

 

Re: A little better

Posted by DaisyM on March 18, 2004, at 23:12:02

In reply to A little better, posted by fallsfall on March 18, 2004, at 17:32:58

>>>So, I accomplished my goal today. I didn't leave the session more unhappy than when I went in. I'll take small accomplishments

<<<It is so nice to have our goals met! Especially right before the weekend. You deserve to have a good session, especially one that gives you so much to think about and work with.

Anger is a hard emotion to figure out. So many people say that anger is just a way of masking sorrow and hurt. Other people think we hid anger under our depression and hurt. How do we sort this out?

I don't like people angry with me, and I rarely get angry with people (husbands and children aside). I get angry with situations frequently. Still, I'm careful about showing my anger.

My Therapist asked me today if I felt upset with him would I tell him? I said I wasn't sure I would recognize it, I typically turn those feelings around to own them...I'm upset with myself for feeling upset with you...etc.

I will be interested to see what conclusions you reach about this. I don't, however, think you fall apart to get sympathy or get taken care of. You are in too much pain and are working too hard to keep this going "on purpose."

I'm glad he cares and you can feel it.

I care too. I hope you feel that as well.
Go, Go Fallsfall!
Daisy

 

Re: A little better crushedout

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:41:14

In reply to Re: A little better fallsfall, posted by crushedout on March 18, 2004, at 18:13:45

I still don't understand how we are supposed to figure out what we do that is motivated by our unconscious. By definition, we don't know about it! My therapist often asks me to "consider the possibility that..." So I don't have to agree with him when I can't see it yet, but it opens my mind to looking at whether his explanation might have merit. Over time, his ideas sometimes start to make a lot of sense. Does that mean that he is right, that my unconscious is doing that? Or am I reframing my world to fit his? I'm so confused!

We'll have to keep exchanging anger stories...

 

Re: A little better deirdrehbrt

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:53:31

In reply to Re: A little better, posted by deirdrehbrt on March 18, 2004, at 18:40:07

It does seem interesting that it is not so much that I am afraid of expressing anger - but I am afraid of FEELING anger. Maybe if I start feeling it, then I'll have to deal with the expressing it part. It almost seems like the fear is about *being* angry - that *being* angry is a "bad" thing.

But I think there is a component of being afraid of how I will act on the anger - usually I make very clear, pointed statements that don't invite discussion. For example, I complained that there was a session in which I wanted to discuss a particular thing, and he insisted on talking about something else. Clearly he remembers it differently because he said "I have never told you that you can't talk about a particular subject". My reply (showing my anger) "You certainly did. The session when I was so hysterical was because I wanted to talk about A, and you would only talk about B". But immediately following that angry response, I slipped back to my terror. The anger comes out when I am very confident of what I am saying, so maybe the terror is there when I'm less sure (I really hate being uncertain).

It is all very confusing to me. I expect that eventually he will help me sort it out.

 

Re: A little better whisper55

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:57:48

In reply to Re: A little better, posted by whisper55 on March 18, 2004, at 19:14:09

He cited my statement that "my goal for the day was to leave the session not more unhappy that I started it" as one of the statements that he saw showed my anger. I considered it a valid goal, and one that I wanted him to know about because it was likely that I would need his help to meet it. I still don't see why he says that it shows anger - for me it was a statement of fact.

But yes, small goals. Small, clear goals are very helpful.

I wish you luck with your new attitude!

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 13:59:23

In reply to Re: A little better crushedout, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:41:14


yeah, exactly. sometimes i feel a little like she could be brainwashing me. i mean, if she insists that i'm angry, i start to interpret things as anger, or maybe i get angry because she's insisting i'm angry! i start not knowing what's real and what she thinks is real and i almost want to get angry to please her, you know?

yes, we should keep up this dialogue. it could be helpful.


> I still don't understand how we are supposed to figure out what we do that is motivated by our unconscious. By definition, we don't know about it! My therapist often asks me to "consider the possibility that..." So I don't have to agree with him when I can't see it yet, but it opens my mind to looking at whether his explanation might have merit. Over time, his ideas sometimes start to make a lot of sense. Does that mean that he is right, that my unconscious is doing that? Or am I reframing my world to fit his? I'm so confused!
>
> We'll have to keep exchanging anger stories...

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 14:16:42

In reply to Re: A little better whisper55, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:57:48


Maybe he heard in your statement some blame towards him for your having left other sessions more unhappy than when you went in. I don't know, I'm just guessing. When I tell my T I get depressed after sessions with her, she feels like I'm blaming her and on some level, I usually am.


> He cited my statement that "my goal for the day was to leave the session not more unhappy that I started it" as one of the statements that he saw showed my anger. I considered it a valid goal, and one that I wanted him to know about because it was likely that I would need his help to meet it. I still don't see why he says that it shows anger - for me it was a statement of fact.
>
> But yes, small goals. Small, clear goals are very helpful.
>
> I wish you luck with your new attitude!

 

Re: A little better emmaley

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:17:27

In reply to Re: A little better, posted by emmaley on March 18, 2004, at 19:33:00

Good question. What happened if I did show anger as a child? I don't remember much anger as a child. I would assume that it would depend on who the anger was towards.

I'm sure it was never allowed to feel anger towards my dad. He had his woodworking tools (including table saw) in the basement - under my bedroom. I really hated the noise that it made - it really disturbed me. But I don't think that I ever saw that I was angry at him for making the noise, I think that I believed that I was sad or hurt - but those emotions come *towards* me, where anger would be going away from me - *towards* him. I get the feeling that I didn't consider it possible to push negative emotions towards him.

My mother would make me clean my room. I would sit for hours NOT cleaning. I think that my thoughts were "I don't want to clean my room, and I won't", I don't think I ever thought "She shouldn't be making me do this".

I have two older sisters. We were all within 3 years, so when we went on vacation to a place with bunches of kids who broke down into groups based on age, we would often all three end up falling in the same group. But they would make me go to the next younger group because they didn't want me around. I know I thought they were mean to me (and now, as adults, they agree that they were), and I'm sure I protested. But I always lost (there were two of them and they were both older than me). I don't know if I complained to my mother (I'm sure I didn't complain to my dad...) - it seems to me now that she wouldn't have done anything about it, so it wouldn't do much good.

What kinds of circumstances occur in kid's lives when they should be angry? It really is a very foreign emotion to me.

 

Re: A little better DaisyM

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:24:42

In reply to Re: A little better, posted by DaisyM on March 18, 2004, at 23:12:02

It is interesting to me that I also feel anger the most towards my (ex)husband and children. My youngest thinks that I'm angry much more often than I think that I'm angry at her (but I am open to the idea that she may have a more accurate read on this than I do). When I get angry at them I try to control them - to force them to stop doing whatever it is that is making me angry.

It will be interesting to see how my "falling apart" is eventually explained. To me, it feels like hopelessness. I don't believe I can control the situation, and I can't understand how to "be" when I'm out of control?

I do feel your caring, Daisy. And it really helps.

 

Re: A little better crushedout

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:37:38

In reply to Re: A little better fallsfall, posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 13:59:23

"brainwashing" - I like that term.

What is the difference between "brainwashing" and "teaching"? At some point in our early life we learned to name our emotions because other people would name them for us. So we have always recognized our emotions based on other people's observations.

It almost seems that it could be like false memories. If I'm told that I'm angry underneath, then I will search for (or create??) evidence of anger to please my therapist. I have to be trusting him enough so that when he tells me I'm angry and I don't feel angry that I don't simply feel invalidated. He did show me examples of when my anger "broke" through during the session. He said that if there wasn't a ton of anger simmering under the surface that responses of mine would have been more like "Well, I'm not sure that's true..." rather than "You Did NOT...". He said that the anger doesn't just "exist" and "stop existing" - that it is always existing, but only occasionally breaking through.

I want so badly to find something that I can change - because if nothing changes then I just stay in this misery forever. But how do I know if what he is suggesting is the TRUTH, or if I can just rearrange things so that it BECOMES the truth?

 

Re: A little better crushedout

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:45:47

In reply to Re: A little better fallsfall, posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 14:16:42

I certainly do think that he has been instrumental in my feeling worse after sessions than before. But I am hesitant to "blame" him - I am more likely to think that he has some wise plan that hinges on me feeling worse before I can feel better. That even though he is making me miserable, that there is a good and honorable reason why he should be doing that. Guess I idealize him a bit, huh?

I *was* asking for his help in not making me feel worse. But I saw it more like feedback to him that I was at the edge of what I could tolerate, so he shouldn't push more or I'd go over the edge. I guess that he could take it as a criticism if he *wasn't* intending in the past to make me feel worse. I just figured that he needed to know where I was so that he could make appropriate decisions about what I "needed".

 

little kid anger fallsfall

Posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 14:48:27

In reply to Re: A little better emmaley, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:17:27

> What kinds of circumstances occur in kid's lives when they should be angry? It really is a very foreign emotion to me.

what about with other kids at school? i remember getting really angry in first grade when my best friend got another friend and wouldn't talk to me anymore. so i attacked my other friend who couldn't understand why i was attacking her and she put me in a headlock (she had a little brother so she was good at that). i didn't even understand why i was attacking her, but looking back i know i was angry at my best friend for rejecting me and i took it out on her.

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by All Done on March 19, 2004, at 15:01:24

In reply to Re: A little better deirdrehbrt, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 13:53:31

Falls,

I'm sorry you had a string of tough sessions, but I'm glad you had this one that wasn't so bad. Sometimes it takes those few good or decent sessions to keep us motivated to keep coming back and trying, huh?

In one of your posts you said, "It does seem interesting that it is not so much that I am afraid of expressing anger - but I am afraid of FEELING anger. Maybe if I start feeling it, then I'll have to deal with the expressing it part. It almost seems like the fear is about *being* angry - that *being* angry is a "bad" thing." I am the exact same way. I very rarely express anger, but (at least as of right now) I think that is because I *feel* angry even less often. My T has told me there might be times I'm angry at him and he would like for us to talk about it. Well, the two times I have expressed anger towards him, it was only because logic told me that there was something I should be mad about. So, I called him on it. I truly don't think I *felt* angry, I just thought I should be angry. Is he trying to teach me to feel anger? How does one go about learning to feel an emotion?

And the two times I was "angry" with him, I was in the same situation as you. I only confronted him because I was very confident about what I was saying. But even then, we only talked briefly before I crawled back into my shell.

I'm not sure why I don't feel anger, but I think it has to do with the fact that my mom was the only one in the house allowed to be angry. My sisters (and occasionally my dad) would get mad at her and it would only result in an argument no one could win except for my mom. So, why bother, I guess?

Sorry. This probably didn't help you sort anything out, but, at least for me, it's kind of comforting knowing there are others in the same boat. So, thanks. I appreciated reading your thoughts and experiences :).

Take care,
All Done

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 16:05:34

In reply to Re: A little better crushedout, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:45:47

Falls, for what it's worth, I think Terror is as likely as Anger. Or both mixed in. If you are counting on him to be a wise sage who always knows what's best for you, then any "slip" on his part that makes you doubt that about him would inspire terror as well as rage. Like when we needed our parents to be such and such a way, and they weren't. We were too young to manage on our own. Our parents had to be competent and benevolent, or we were in deeeeep trouble.

So if they were cruel or incompetent we would both be angry with them, and feel scared of what would happen to us, until we were able to prop them back up into what we needed them to be.

My therapist always tells me that he's bound to disappoint me if my expectations of him are too high. And I think over time (nearly nine years) we've come closer to matching expectations and performance. And when I do have an unrealistic view of him, I kind of know and accept that. I let myself know that it's what *I* need, not who *he* is.

So maybe your therapist isn't all wrong, and neither are you. And maybe he isn't all knowing, and maybe you don't need him to be. Maybe he even screws up royally sometimes (don't we all?) and maybe that's ok.

 

Re: A little better Dinah

Posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 17:11:38

In reply to Re: A little better fallsfall, posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 16:05:34

I like your terror and anger theory. That makes sense to me.

>So maybe your therapist isn't all wrong, and neither are you. And maybe he isn't all knowing, and maybe you don't need him to be. Maybe he even screws up royally sometimes (don't we all?) and maybe that's ok.

I can believe that he isn't all wrong. I can believe that I'm not all wrong. I can believe that he isn't all knowing. Then I get into trouble. I DO need him to be all knowing. I can accept that he might screw up royally sometimes, but his screwing up ISN'T OK (It isn't OK for me to screw up, either - other people may be able to screw up, but not me and not him).

Sigh.

 

Re: A little better

Posted by Dinah on March 19, 2004, at 18:53:15

In reply to Re: A little better Dinah, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 17:11:38

> I DO need him to be all knowing. I can accept that he might screw up royally sometimes, but his screwing up ISN'T OK (It isn't OK for me to screw up, either - other people may be able to screw up, but not me and not him).
>

I'm sorry to hear that. Because if it were really true, you'd be doomed. Doomed to be angry and disappointed with him, and angry and disappointed with yourself. Because there isn't a soul in the universe who isn't capable of screwing up royally on a regular basis. Not him, not you, not Alan Greenspan, not Martha Stewart, not even me, believe it or not. lol. And he isn't all knowing. He can't even read your mind when you're sitting right there in front of him telegraphing your thoughts as hard as you can! Talk about being rotten at being omniscient!!! The nerve!

The good news is that you aren't really doomed of course. You're in therapy. And you can use that therapy to learn to accept royal screwups in yourself and in important others. You can even look forward to his substantial errors as a chance to learn to accept imperfections! If he's anything like my therapist, he'll give you *plenty* of opportunities to learn and grow in this area.

Wouldn't that be ironic? If your ultimate salvation from anger and pain and disappointment come not from the perfection you crave, but from his complete lack of perfection you grow to be able to accept.

 

Re: A little better fallsfall

Posted by crushedout on March 19, 2004, at 20:20:06

In reply to Re: A little better crushedout, posted by fallsfall on March 19, 2004, at 14:45:47


That makes sense to me. I don't think you thought this, but just in case, I want to clarify that I wasn't meaning to suggest that *I* thought this was evidence you were angry at him, just how he might have interpreted what you said to indicate that you had been. (Can I be any wordier?) I'm pretty sure you understood that, though.


> I certainly do think that he has been instrumental in my feeling worse after sessions than before. But I am hesitant to "blame" him - I am more likely to think that he has some wise plan that hinges on me feeling worse before I can feel better. That even though he is making me miserable, that there is a good and honorable reason why he should be doing that. Guess I idealize him a bit, huh?
>
> I *was* asking for his help in not making me feel worse. But I saw it more like feedback to him that I was at the edge of what I could tolerate, so he shouldn't push more or I'd go over the edge. I guess that he could take it as a criticism if he *wasn't* intending in the past to make me feel worse. I just figured that he needed to know where I was so that he could make appropriate decisions about what I "needed".


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