a difficult session

I had a rough meeting with my therapist yesterday. I appreciated that rather than the inane “how are you doing?”, she started by asking “how have the last few weeks been for you?” I started saying the first words that came to mind: “Turbulent. Draining. Stressful.” I could have added “painful”, but I moved on instead.

I talked disjointedly about recent events, and how I didn’t want to talk about things because I’m tired of thinking about them; somehow this led to the idea that maybe I’m overstating all of my issues. Maybe life wasn’t as bad as I have imagined it to be, or maybe I’ve exaggerated and magnified everything to the point where I’ve created my own distorted thought patterns. I told her about my desire to interview and interrogate people from my past who might know the answers I seek: what did I do to hurt you, was I really a terrible person, was my home life as damaging as I think. I want the unvarnished truth from everyone to confirm the worst things I think about myself and everything I remember about my past.

She said there are several problems with that line of reasoning. First, everyone’s “truth” is different based on their perception, their biases, and their memory of what really happened. In addition, even if they had the information I seek, these people may not want to be 100% honest with me (who among us is completely honest, after all?). Finally, if they told me I wasn’t a bad person, or that they liked me and I was a positive presence in their life, I am so deeply programmed in my thought patterns that I wouldn’t believe what they say. I would throw away their evidence because it didn’t fit my narrative. The only conclusion I can make is that things must have been bad enough at an early age that my sense of self was badly damaged, which caused me to remember my entire experience through the filter of distorted thinking. I think the way I do because I was in a bad situation, and my memories of my life may not be entirely accurate.

We went on to discuss the difficulties with my daughter’s current situation and the negative effects on the entire family. I told her about how I went unfiltered for a few minutes and said things which I believe to be true, but were very hurtful for my daughter, which my wife sat by and didn’t say a word during or afterward. That pretty much sums up the family dynamic in our house for the past several years: Nicole is the victim, I’m the control-freak bad guy, and Annie won’t tell me what she thinks. Instead we paper over things with conversations about unimportant things, and distract ourselves with fish or Fakebook or videos of cats. We can discuss the most inane things, but meaningful things get ignored. Annie won’t tell me what she’s really thinking, whether she agrees with me or if she thinks I’m full of crap. Right now we can’t even sell an item on Fakebook because I think she disagrees with me and just can’t say so.

Sometimes I wonder if I have misled my therapist into thinking the current situation is worse than it really is. Her opinions about my family’s actions and words are filtered through what I choose to tell her, and this leads me to question some of her statements. She wants a more complete picture though, and she has asked a couple of times if I might bring Annie in for a session or two to talk about the situation. I scoffed a little, because I don’t think that would be successful at all.

Stay tuned, for I fear worse times are ahead.

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separate vacations

I’ve been preoccupied lately with Canada. I’m fascinated with the idea of making a long road trip next summer to the far eastern point of Newfoundland, which is about as far as you can go without falling off the North American continent. I’m so fixated on this that I have already planned out a 12- to 14-day, 4400-mile journey, with different options for routes and sightseeing. About a week would be spent exploring Newfoundland, with three days’ driving each way to the ferry port to get there. Due to the compressed schedule, I would miss out on most of the attractions between here and there, which means I would have to make a second road trip to see everything in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. I would also like to make a third trip to see Montreal and Ottawa.

The problem with this plan is that my wife doesn’t really like road trips. She gets queasy and uncomfortable with long rides in the car. She doesn’t have the same level of enjoyment that I get from just seeing new places and new roads while driving for a full day. I’ll admit it’s a lot of windshield time in between places that might be interesting to visit, but I enjoy the drive just as much as the places I visit along the way. It’s the journey, not the destination.

The thing is, I would really like to do this trip by myself. I love finding interesting and out of the way trails to hike or places to visit, but we don’t necessarily have the same interests when we travel. We enjoy things at a different pace sometimes; I might see a museum in two hours when she wants to take four hours to see the same things. I enjoy playing travel agent and planning things out, and she tends to just go along with what I propose. I spend too much time worrying if she is having a good time, and she is not someone who tells me in the moment if something isn’t interesting.

I don’t know how to tell her that I want to go alone. We have taken separate excursions before, but not for more than a few days. This would be for two weeks, and I don’t know if it is fair for me to explore and see new places and have interesting stories while she is left behind and keeps going to work. Nothing is stopping her from doing the same thing, but that’s not really her kind of vacation. She gets more enjoyment out of going to the beach for a week and doing nothing but sitting on the beach and taking naps. We just did that together, and she said it takes some of the enjoyment away from her when I’m not having fun. I feel the same way.

black box warning

Relationships should be a positive thing, but I feel like they cause pressure and bring a sense of obligation to be an equal partner in the relationship.

It’s not being selfish when I don’t fully participate in the give-and-take, but it is being protective of my own psyche. Sometimes I just don’t have enough spoons for anyone besides myself. I don’t always have the mental or emotional capability to give everything that is expected of me, and I feel guilty because I’m not contributing enough.

If I were single right now, there is no way I would try to develop a romantic relationship with someone. I wouldn’t want to spare enough mental energy to put the effort into being a good partner. In addition, the other person would find too many faults and would run away as fast as they could. I guess this says something about my wife’s love for me, as well as her loyalty and perseverance. This also is an indicator of my being unable to see myself as worthy of someone’s love.

I guess it has become a thing to give out personal business cards when meeting other people. People like me should have a black-box warning on the back of the card:

WARNING: This person is damaged, and will disappoint you in myriad ways.

shine sweet freedom

My wife is finally out of lockdown. She still feels a little fatigued and weak, but that may be from sitting or laying down for 10 days. Two of the cats seemed indifferent to her return to the living room, but the blind one crawled on her lap very soon after she sat down.

I made a rough mp3 file of different cuts from songs in my collection which have something to do with being free (although I missed a couple of songs, but oh well). I called it the “Freedom Medley”; tell me what you would think if you heard this after being in isolation for 10 days. When she came out of the bedroom this morning, I greeted her by playing it on my phone. She liked it.

have yourself a merry covid christmas

My wife still has symptoms, but is feeling a little better than earlier in the week. She has the bedroom, bathroom, and the craft room to herself, but the rest of the house is off limits. Today is Day 6 of her isolation, and she is going stir crazy. She has a hard time sitting still and not working on something (just like her dad). The strategy is working though; neither Nicole or I seem to be getting sick. I suppose I could be asymptomatic and not know it, but I don’t think so. Either way, we are both getting tested, but we couldn’t get tests until Tuesday the 28th (which would be day 10 of isolation for Annie).

Since Uncle Covid came for Christmas, we obviously had to cancel dinner with our son and Annie’s parents. I’m still going to make dinner for the three of us, with a turkey and only a couple of sides. We are planning a video call with Dan, and maybe the in-laws (if they can figure it out). I don’t know if we are doing presents tomorrow or waiting. Annie is going to sanitize and wrap presents, so maybe Nicole will get her presents on time. I don’t really care, I’ve kinda lost the spirit of the whole thing. I just want Annie to rejoin us.

We are very aware that our current situation is fortunate in comparison to those who are in the hospital either fighting the illness or dying from it. There are people losing loved ones today, and tomorrow, and every other day. There are exhausted and shell-shocked health care workers who keep coming to work because they’ve dedicated themselves to helping sick people. I admit that as inconvenient as this week has been, it could be so much worse.

I hope your Christmases are safe, warm, and well-medicated.

scrooged by covid

I had just written a post about how I used to love Christmas, then I hated it, then I loved it again, and now we have a mutual understanding, and how my wife loves Christmas much more than I do.

Then came an unfortunate plot twist.

Christmas is canceled due to Covid. My wife caught it from someone who came to her work while sick. We are all vaccinated btw. Now she is quarantined in our bedroom for another week at least, and I’m sleeping on the couch. Needless to say, this puts a damper on the holiday spirit. I’m sure she’ll be okay, but she has felt pretty poor yesterday and today. She’s pretty healthy, so I’m not too worried about her recovery, but I’m a little concerned if I or my daughter gets infected. We both have multiple risk factors. No symptoms yet, and we’re being careful, and I got a booster a month ago, but it could still happen.

Kind thoughts, please.

the most interesting mind in the world

Back in December, I was bored, and my mind was wandering. Nothing good comes from that.

I started thinking something interesting might happen, something that would shake up the social order, something that would wake up America and maybe change the path of our country for the better. Instead, we got the coronavirus.

A few weeks ago, once again my mind was wandering, and I was thinking again about something interesting happening just to our family. Maybe we could win some lottery money, or get a new car, or have something positive happen to break us out of the lockdown doldrums we have been in. Instead, we got this:

My wife was in a serious crash about 2 miles from our house. The car did its job and protected her; she wasn’t hurt too badly. She had no broken bones and no significant injuries, she just had a sprained knee, a few bruises, and pains all over. It was 100% the other driver’s fault, as they had rolled through a stop sign and left her zero reaction time before impact. Their insurance is paying for everything, so we’ll see how smoothly that goes.

The next time my mind wanders, I will think of nothing interesting. Normal. Boring. Ordinary. Safe.

In the meantime, we will have to get a new car, at significant expense. We can either replace our car with something similar (100,000 miles, unknown maintenance history), or spend a ton of money and get something newer. I’m leaning toward the latter, even though that will take a serious bite out of our savings account. It’s only money, right?