Tag Archives: therapy

Ripping off scabs

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Warning: Due to the use of an extended metaphor which include scabs, pus, blood and generally oozing bodily fluids, this post should probably not be read while eating.

A few months ago I found myself feeling like my life had no luster. My stability felt like stagnancy. I had no drive, no ambition.  And I was spending more and more time in what felt like a low grade depressive funk.  So, being no stranger to mental health professionals, I decided it might be time to get my ass back on the couch. A therapist’s couch, that is.

While I have nothing but gratitude and warm feelings towards my previous therapist, I wanted a different approach this time – a Buddhist approach.   Now, anyone who is familiar with Spirit Rock Meditation Center in west Marin county knows you can’t throw a stick there without hitting a psychologist (or a Prius, and chances are good you may even hit a psychologist driving a Prius). And since I didn’t want to see a total stranger, I called  H, one of the teachers who lead the week-long retreat I went to last year.  He struck me as exceedingly kind and nurturing, which was I felt I needed.

My intention was to simply get unstuck and maybe get some help in clarifying where I wanted to go and perhaps some direction in getting there.  The last thing I planned was to pick at old scabs.

Life can really do a number on a soul.  But, most of the time we bounce back from our emotional bumps and bruises and are as good as new. Other psychic injuries are a bit deeper and take more work to heal up properly and  to leave only a cool scar and a good story.

Some people, however, wear their psychic pain like open, oozing, pustulant  sores.  Many have developed some sort of secondary or even tertiary infections from keeping their wound so open, raw and unattended.   And while outsiders can clearly see these open sores, and think “damn, that’s nasty”, often times the person covered in sores can’t even see them anymore, or have become so identified with them that they wear them like a badge of honor.

In my 20’s I was covered in open, weeping psychic sores – some were from childhood, but many were acquired in my early 20’s when, over the course of three years, I was violently assaulted, and both my parents died (aka “the cluster of trauma”).  My 30’s were spent trying heal these sores with the help of a good therapist.  When I terminated therapy after nine years, I felt I had pretty well cleaned up most of the wounds and what I had left was simply some scar tissue and some quasi-tragic stories where I end up persevering against the odds.  I guess I was wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, my therapy took a turn from dealing with current life issues to rehashing the cluster of trauma.  From the tension in my body, I could tell that we weren’t picking at well-healed scar tissue, but rather at a scab – an old, crusty scab, that should have come off years ago if the wound had completely healed. Apparently it wasn’t. H suggested I do a little writing exercise to investigate some of the questions I still had around one particular issue.  “How bad could this be?” I thought. “I like to write.”  So, one evening I took pen to paper and let loose.

My intention was merely to pick around the edges of the scab and investigate it a bit.  Instead, with this little writing exercise, I ended up ripping off the whole damn scab.  Shit!

The good news is that I can see that this wound is not gangrenous nor does the pus looked green and infected. But, I can see it needs a bit more tending before it can be healed properly and become just scar tissue.  But,  the bad news is  that  I once again have an open, bloody, oozing emotional sore to deal with.

I’m hoping I’ll have the good sense to keep it covered up with a band-aid whilst at work and with friends.  God forbid I get any salt in those wounds. But, at home, or on the therapists couch, I’ll need to tend to it, clean out any infected bits, and let it, and myself, finish weeping.

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Other people’s problems

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It’s interesting, this blogging thing. When I first started in earnest about nine or ten months ago, I wrote just for the hell of it. There was no audience in mind because there was no audience. If I wanted to write a list of the reasons I felt like shit, I would write a list reasons of why I felt like shit. The ripples it made in the big ol’ pond of the blogosphere were barely, barely perceptible. I wrote to figure stuff out for myself. There was no Lazy Buddhist per se, it that was just the name I went by to remain anonymous.

It feels a bit different now. I have readers. And I have blog buddies that feel like real friends. But how close of friends? The kinds of friends who, before they come over, you clean the house up for and hide all the ugly stuff in the closet? Or the rare kind of friends who you let into the house even if it’s a total mess? For the most part, I think I have made some effort to put my best face forward – in others words, I clean the house before you come over. I try to come off as a pretty decent person – aspiring Buddhist, confirmed animal lover, and patient friend and girlfriend. And I am all these things. Most of the time. But, then other times I don’t feel so nice, and there is no big life lesson in the end. This is one of those times.

It’s been tough times with the boyfriend lately. He’s in therapy. Again. Over the course of the ten years we’ve been together he has tried various types of therapy with various therapists, which he insists have been helpful, but not helpful enough where I can see a change in his behavior. He has a lot of anger towards his parents that they never “got” him. So, as a kid he never really got what he needed to feel loved and validated. Which sucks, it really does. I get it. I really do. Yet, I don’t know how many times I have had to bite my tongue when he starts in on it to avoid saying “just get over it, dude. Seriously.”

I know what it is like to be in therapy. I have spent one quarter (the third quarter) of my life in therapy. It can be tough looking at all this shit that you’ve kept hidden for years and having to relive painful events from your childhood. The work you’re doing is important . . . to you. You can pretty much bet that you’ve lost most of your listeners anytime you start a sentence with “my therapist says . . . ” For most of the time when I was in therapy, I really didn’t have any people close enough to me that I would even confide in. So, I only shared the pain and suffering and the resultant whining and sniffling with my therapist – who was being paid to listen. No one else really knew what kinds of stuff I was working through, and that was OK with me.

When I emerged from therapy, most of my major issues were resolved, and I was free to live a life of ordinary suffering just like everyone else. So, having experienced the benefits of hard core, long term therapy, you would think that I would be really attentive and supportive when someone, especially my nearest and dearest, was going through the throes of therapy. But, I’m finding I’m not. When it comes to other people’s psychological problems, I’m just not all that interested. Really, just save it for your journal – or blog. Please don’t expect me to drop everything I’m doing because you’re reliving all the old feelings of being forced to go to camp when you really, really didn’t want to.

Part of the process of therapy is sticking your head really far up your ass with one of those miner’s lamps and taking a good close look at your shit. It’s icky, it’s stinky and there are little bits of psychic corn from eons ago in there. And it can be pretty fascinating . . . to you. Go ahead and own your shit. But, honestly, the rest of us don’t care. Because, here’s the kicker, everyone has shit. And I think that’s where the healing is. You drop the shame about your shit because you recognize everyone is full of shit – some healthy and well formed, some watery and egregiously stinky. But everyone has it. And we all think our shit is pretty special. Yes, you are special, just like everyone else.

I guess where I am taking offense is when the boyfriend comes over all mopey with his big pile of shit in tow. “See? Look what I found up my colon.” Gee, I was kinda hoping for flowers and maybe a nice dinner out. We don’t spend that much time together, so I would prefer he would leave the shit at home. No one needs a turd wheel on date night. (sorry, I’m so so sorry).

OK, that’s it. I hope y’all are having a wonderful long weekend.