Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 781134

Shown: posts 1 to 14 of 14. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Is avoidance really so bad?

Posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 9:38:28

I know I'm avoiding talking about the issues that arise from living in New Orleans right now. Partly because my therapist is not only also affected, but he's far less than positive. He moved a long daily commute away, and I think he's even more negative in order to justify to himself why he's driving hours each day.

But partly because there's really nothing I can do, so surely it's better not to think about it. We've committed to stay here at least until my son graduates. There are no decisions to be made. My husband wouldn't be willing to do a long commute even if I was. So why not try, as much as possible, to tuck it out of my mind? To refuse to think about hurricanes in the Gulf, or declining home values, or rising crime rates, economic drain, or widespread areas of unrestored and possibly unrestorable homes and businesses. Our immediate area is not that bad. We have access to the necessities and even the small luxuries of life.

Then something comes along and knocks the air out of me for a bit. Like the comment in TV guide on the new series Kville, set in worse areas in New Orleans than I'm in. The reviewer asked if we really want to go to such a dark place each week. And even though I know that dark place isn't really where I am, and that I'm lucky, and that my neighbors really have the right to be depressed about it, and I don't, still it feels like a kick to the stomach. But I berate myself for feeling that way. I am really so lucky.

But if I talk to my therapist about it, I'm pretty sure he'll more than endorse feeling kicked in the stomach. I think he'll feel less guilty about it than I do. And somehow that won't feel helpful. There's nothing I can do about any of it anyway.

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah

Posted by Poet on September 6, 2007, at 11:21:27

In reply to Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 9:38:28

Hi Dinah,

I don't think its as much avoidance as acceptance. I think that you have accepted the changes after Katrina much better than your T has so you don't want to bring things up because you know it might bother him. Though if you need to talk about something you should be able to, but that is easier said than done. Why do we put our T's feelings first? Hmm, that might lead to the longest thread in babble history.

Maybe you could tell your T that you want to talk about things, but have avoided it because he was more effected by Katrina than you were? I know easier said than done.

Poet

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Poet

Posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 11:28:22

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah, posted by Poet on September 6, 2007, at 11:21:27

Years of practice maybe? Or training? Or just because we care about them. Or, in this case, because it's not really helpful if I don't. :) Pragmatism tends to rule my behavior.

Acceptance... I'll have to try that on for size. I think maybe it is acceptance, but not of the sort that comes from a deep place of calm and wisdom. More of the lying down and exposing my vulnerable neck to the brutal teeth of fate sort. Boy, I am definitely in dog psychology mode this week.

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah

Posted by Racer on September 6, 2007, at 12:45:36

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Poet, posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 11:28:22

Funny, I just read a short piece in New Scientist about this. I can't remember the context, although I think it was the Indonesian tsunami, but the results were that talk therapy, addressing the disaster directly, actually made it *more* difficult for the residents of the area to recover. How's that for turning the simple side of our belief system on its ear?

I, Racer the Really Groovy, give you special dispensation to avoid discussing this matter with your therapist.

Do you feel better now?

Seriously, though -- what you're talking about does sound more like realistic assessment of the situation and acceptance of the reality you live in. Poet is right. (She often is, except when discussing her own qualities -- she's a smart 'un.) And, even though it would be nice if we could consider our Ts as blank slates we could throw anything at, the reality is that they're not -- and we know they're not. I'm struggling with that, over my T's loss of my appointment last month, and will probably talk about exactly that issue today -- why do I hide my own feelings to protect hers? What you're talking about, though, is a bit different. You're talking about the reality you're both living in.

For me, I tend to think in terms of conditional trust, in all of life. Just as I don't trust my husband in certain areas -- like practical things, cleaning, cooking, etc -- I don't trust my T in certain areas. So, anything in those areas, either I do the SuperDoubleRigidControlFreak routine, and address those issues -- "This is important, I don't want you to interpret this, I want you to tell me what I've said and I'll correct you until you and I are really and truly talking about the same thing, as much as any two people really can" -- or I put it aside to wait for another period in my life. It sounds as though you've put some of this aside, because talking about it with your T won't do you much good, realistically. That just makes sense to me.

I hope that helps. You know me and incoherent rambling...

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Racer

Posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 13:18:21

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah, posted by Racer on September 6, 2007, at 12:45:36

Yeah, it does make sense. It kind of stinks though. Festering under the surface is a lot of anger, and it would help to let that anger out in bits during therapy.

This is one of those times an adjunct therapist would be useful, I think. An out of area, detached, adjunct therapist. Someone who I didn't have to feel guilty about. Where I didn't have to put all the fine print disclaimers.

Which is, I guess, the benefits of therapy and why it wouldn't work without all those barriers we hate.

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad?

Posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 13:20:17

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah, posted by Racer on September 6, 2007, at 12:45:36

If I wish to be ridiculously positive, I could assume that my therapist is modeling how to leave out the fine print disclaimers. :)

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah

Posted by DAisym on September 6, 2007, at 20:12:26

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 13:20:17

I'm reminded of a study where the therapist and the clients all went through the same trauma (9/11?) and often the therapists were in worse shape because they had to reprocess it over and over again with so many people. How many of his clients are talking about this, I wonder?

And while I do think why we take care of our therapist's feelings would make a good thread, I think you, of all people, would encourage anyone else to be honest about what they are thinking. The therapy space is yours to sort things out. And, given that your therapist can, and does, surprise you, he might on this. He has moved himself a safe distance so it shouldn't be triggering for him. And I think if you start out with "don't tell me to move" you might have a productive session.

I respect that you know him very well. I also think that you shouldn't take care of him so much.

Just my two cents.
Daisy

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah

Posted by Meri-Tuuli on September 7, 2007, at 2:23:40

In reply to Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 9:38:28

Wow, I didn't know you lived in New Orleans! Does the government help with cleaning it up and things like that?? I would have thought that it'd be sorted by now. But bear in mind I have no idea as I live in a very different country....

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? DAisym

Posted by Dinah on September 7, 2007, at 8:56:29

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah, posted by DAisym on September 6, 2007, at 20:12:26

I know he did a lot of trauma work with people in worse situations than I'm in. I'd actually have thought that would make him more cognizant of how lucky he really was. Some of the stuff he has said about it has sort of affected how I feel about him. Maybe that's not fair.

But you are right. He does often surprise me in a positive direction, especially if I'm clear on what responses I'd find helpful. I don't give him enough credit, or I generalize what he says once or twice to how he's likely to respond from hereon.

(By the way, he's taken to leaving vibrate on his phone, which is a bit distracting, but he very carefully does not glance at the phone when it rings or check who is calling. So I guess that's still ok.)

I suppose now I just have to figure out what responses I'd find helpful. I think it might just be empathetic silence and an acknowledgment that its' a difficult situation.

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Meri-Tuuli

Posted by Dinah on September 7, 2007, at 9:26:51

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Dinah, posted by Meri-Tuuli on September 7, 2007, at 2:23:40

The federal government has helped *a lot*. Volunteer organizations have also helped tremendously. And I'm very appreciative.

Sadly, a lot of people in the city were not covered by sufficient flood insurance, and the need is great. It was a poor city before the storm, and getting poorer by the day. I can't help seeing other cities rebuild and renew from dire situations with local leaders of vision and resolve. Perhaps one day that will happen.

The scope of the damaged area is difficult to fathom. Nearly the entire city between a very narrow strip by the lake, and the original foundations by the river was affected in one way or another. These might help a bit.

http://www.nola.com/katrina/graphics/flashflood.swf

http://www.nola.com/katrina/graphics/depths.swf

Then our city leaders made the decision not to try to rebuild in a smaller area, and buy out homeowners and relocate, so there are pockets of activity (or single rebuilt homes) in large areas of abandoned housing or commercial areas. Needless to say this, along with the poverty both before and after the storm, has led to an upsurge of crime in an already crime ridden city. Resources are stretched thin, even with help from the national guard. All these things don't exactly help the economy, and housing for employees is scarce, and it all becomes a vicious cycle.

It's very hard to be hopeful. And it's actually harder for me to be hopeful now than it was two years ago.

Dinah

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad?

Posted by Meri-Tuuli on September 7, 2007, at 11:58:26

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad? Meri-Tuuli, posted by Dinah on September 7, 2007, at 9:26:51

I didn't realise it was that bad - it is truly terrible what happened! Thing is, when it doesn't happen in your corner of the world, you don't pay much attention and there isn't that much coverage of it. 9/11 got more press.

Anyway, I think you have to be optimistic about these things. Of course there is hope - lots of cities were flattened after WWII and they were rebuilt....

I really hope things work out.


 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad?

Posted by Dinah on September 11, 2007, at 16:52:00

In reply to Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 6, 2007, at 9:38:28

I brought it up today. I had been thrown back to the past by a lovebug splatting on my windshield, so the timing was right.

I brought it up a bit tentatively, discussing my concerns in talking to him about it, and in a roundabout way trying to convey what I wouldn't find helpful.

I'm not sure yet how it went. It almost sounded as if he was going into some sort of "discussing Katrina" mode, although I'll confess that that may have just been my own fears rather than an actual reflection of what he was doing. But I did get some tears out. It is so hard for me to cry about this. About anything really. And I do have his encouragement to continue when I need to.

One thing he did say that resonated was that it made sense that my feelings were coming out now rather than the actual date of the hurricane, because the major trauma took place during the month after, during the evacuation. When no one knew what was going on, but when it certainly sounded like destruction beyond comprehension. While we were huddled over Google Earth and the local radio on the internet. Hearing rumors and counterrumors, and things that weren't true and things that were true. I liked that he really deep down understood that.

 

Re: Is avoidance really so bad?

Posted by Dinah on September 11, 2007, at 17:04:02

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 11, 2007, at 16:52:00

Of course, it also made me sad that he understood that.

 

((((((((((((((((Dinah))))))))))))))))) (nm)

Posted by muffled on September 11, 2007, at 18:14:57

In reply to Re: Is avoidance really so bad?, posted by Dinah on September 11, 2007, at 17:04:02


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