Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Come On, Gimme A Hug

I read like a textbook case of mild depression lately: a little sad, a little anxious, a little irritable, but mostly nothing. Apathy in its most etymological terms: a [without] + pathy [feeling].

I was trying to describe the feeling, or lack thereof, to my therapist last week, but she wasn't buying it. The apathy, that is. The sadness, sure. She figures I'm mourning the shoulda-beens regarding N, though I think I'm actually mourning the shoulda-dones--as in, I shoulda given him more undivided attention, I shoulda made sure he had his own friends, I shoulda noticed this stuff earlier.

She wanted to know what I do with these sorts of feelings.

"Do?" I said. "I...ignore them."

"You can't do that forever," she said.

"Try me," I replied.

So she pushed. She started with that 'inner child' stuff that makes me so uncomfortable. "What do you do when your inner child is sad and needs comforting?" she asked. "How do you comfort her?"

"I don't. I don't talk to my inner child, remember?"

"Well, do you ever just let go, you know, express some of the feeling?" she asked.

"I guess once in a while, I do, but just inside."

"And what do you do?"

"I don't do anything. Just once in a while, I'll kind of scream, 'I don't want to be the mommy any more!' in my head."

She beamed, clearly figuring she'd hit paydirt. "Do that again, but louder."

I, not willing to be that dirt, ignored her and continued talking. "But that's nonsensical, so I basically end up telling myself to shut up."

She sized me up; I know she was trying to decide whether to repeat her request, so I just continued to prattle until I could see I'd outlasted her. Heh.

But she wasn't giving up so easily. A few minutes later, she had me back to talking about feeling "sad."

"You really don't do anything to comfort yourself when you feel sad?" she said, clearly disbelieving.

"Like what?"

"Well," she said, automatically folding her arms over her chest and rubbing her upper arms with her hands in a sort of self-hug/self-consoling gesture, "you know, kind of give yourself a hug?"

"Uh, no," I said, trying not to roll my eyes at her.

"Why not?" she said. "Come on, try it."

I stared at her. "I...I can't."

"You can't?"

"No. Especially not in front of someone."

"Why not? What's wrong with comforting yourself?"

I couldn't say. All I could think was that if she didn't stop rubbing her arms I was going to scream.

"It's too...embarrassing," I said finally.

"What's embarrassing about it?" she asked.

Again, I couldn't say. All I knew was that I had that feeling of exteme discomfort, that kind of squirm-inducing, embarrassed "I don't want to be here" feeling that you get when, for instance, you're a kid and you walk in on your parents kissing. (Not that I ever had that experience, mind you. But I've seen the look in Em's eyes when she walks in on Baroy and I on the few occasions when he's just grabbed me and given me a kiss when we think we're alone in the kitchen for a minute.)

"I...I...just dont know," I said.

"Hmm." She considered this, then looked over at the clock, and of course it was the end of the session. As she walked across the room to get her appointment book, she said, "You know, you have no trouble talking or writing about almost anything. I want you to think about why you're so uncomfortable with the mere idea of such a simple physical gesture."

And so, for the last week, I've...well, if you know me at all, you'll know that for the last week I've studiously avoided thinking about this at all. Because, well, damned if I know. And besides, isn't that her job, to figure it out and then tell me and then fix me? Sheesh, it's time she started working a little bit for the money I keep forgetting to pay her.

So now, of course, I'm trying to figure it out before my appointment tomorrow afternoon. But, really. Wouldn't that whole scene just embarrass the crap out of you, too? And if so, why? (Yes, I am asking you to do my psychotherapy homework for me. And your point is?)

In anticipation of your helpful responses, I send hugs to you all. Just not to myself.

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