For the last 8 years I’ve struggled with an impulse that’s so embarrassing-on-a-personal-level that I’ve never told anyone. Due to the nature of it and the fact that I’ve done everything in my power to “cure” myself of something so ludicrous and shameful, I find that its persistence only makes me more ashamed of myself when it crops up… which is, incidentally, when I feel at my lowest. Not a healthy cycle. I know. I get that, too.
So yesterday, I waltzed into New Therapist #Whatever’s office (I haven’t been in therapy in a few years, although I’ve been maintaining my mental practices of reflection, self-inventory, etc.) and, when she asked Typical Initial Evaluation Question #1 (“Why are you here?”), I unleashed a 20-minute diatribe about how I’ve been dealing with this shit for what seems like forever and I’ve been through more “recovery” and therapy and group therapy and self-help and general “healing” than I could possibly begin to describe in the last 10-ish years and I’m just fucking EXHAUSTED with it because I find myself still stuck in the same stupid habits and mentalities as I was at the beginning and dammit, why aren’t I fucking fixed yet?! I’ve forgiven everysingleperson who’s ever so much at looked at me the wrong way; I’ve forgiven myself for everysinglemistake I ever thought about making; I’ve “let go” and “12-stepped” and “retuned my mental radio” and visualized and meditated and undergone hypnosis and dug up everysinglesecond of my childhood and “accepted” and “gotten the tools of serenity” and genuinely flung myself headfirst into every possible brain-sick antidote on the market (and, apparently, picking up aaaallllll the cliched recovery jargon along the way – seriously, try me) and I am ready for my subconscious to hop on board with me because I’ve been ready to move on and be done with all this noise now. For real. Seriously.
And I’m starting to become self-defeating in my frustration when my subconscious won’t cooperate.
And that’s become a battle in and of itself.
So, when asked to give an example of how my subconscious “isn’t jumping on board”, I described this aforementioned, embarrassing impulse of mine and how, when I try to fight it off (I am successful 98% of the time it appears), it haunts my dreams night-after-night and I hate it.
And she’s all, “Well, I’m not a dream expert or anything…”
Me: No, I know; I definitely am not looking for a dream analyst or something lame along those lines. Sorry…
Her: … but what does [the source of this impulse] represent to you?
Her: Or, rather, what part of you does [the source of impulse] represent? You mentioned that having dreams about a childhood antagonist you no longer know or communicate with is simply your mind creating a mascot for self-doubt, fear, and self-stifling, so what does this other impulse represent?
(Beat. I’m embarrassed I’ve never stopped to think about this. I have the feeling it’s going to be painfully obvious.)
Her: Well, every time you give in to this impulse, you feel like shit, right? And you feel like shit even by having the compulsion to [do this weird thing] in the first place and after all these years and all your efforts, right? Because you recognize how destructive it is and has always been to yourself and how you’ve worked to get away from it for years now…? even though you didn’t for the first few years it was a habit because – as you said – your “self-esteem was in the crapper.”
Her: So could this impulse represent the side of you that believes you deserve to be punished?
Me: Holy. Crap… You’re exactly right. And it seems so blatantly obvious now.
Her: Well, not if you’ve never considered it that way. (smiles) So there; now you’re getting your money’s worth.
At that point, I felt like she should’ve spread her arms out like she’d just done a magic trick. Conjuring a major breakthrough in the first half-hour of our first session that has already started to change the way I’m reacting to my brain and, thus, started a chain-reaction of revelations (i.e. “So, if I feel self-destructive when I’m at my lowest, and that’s not really curing anything, that means I need to work on loving and forgiving myself immediately and constantly, even when I can’t find any reason to love and forgive myself… because THAT’S ultimately what’s going to make me feel better ever again and get out of these destructive habits/impulse-patterns for good… Whhhooooaaaa…”)?! She’s a wizard!
…and/or I’m actually on the right track…
…either way, I’m totally going back next Monday.
And, no, I’m still not telling anybody else what the embarrassing impulse is.