I left a voicemail for K after my appointment with you was canceled. She called me back around 3:30. She talked to me…listened to me talk and cry…and in trying to calm me down by reminding me of my DBT skills, she told me to do what I always do. I didn’t know what she was talking about…what she meant. She told me to write. She must have called me willful and/or stubborn about 50 times during that 20 minute phone call. She was trying to suggest some opposite-action…something that brings me joy and/or makes me laugh. She reminded me that the goal was to cope effectively…not change or dismiss what I was feeling. I started to protest because I felt I needed to hurt and cry and grieve and to laugh and be “happy” seemed so wrong and disrespectful…like laughing at a funeral…it doesn’t fit the situation. But…I’m going to do what K told me to do…this time. I don’t know what will come of this…if it will get edited to go on the blog or get printed out and given to you…or if it will stay here…in my “collection.” Right now, my thought is to not give it to you because I don’t want to make you upset all over again…but I’m going to do what K told me to do…write…and I’m going to write as if I were talking to you and hopefully, our telepathy connection is working and you “get it.” I reacted to you/this event much more strongly than I thought I would…and I don’t know why. I “planned” for it, I thought about it and since I had been in a similar situation before, I figured I’d be okay/stronger when the time came…still grieving and sad for you, yes…but not as hard and intense as I am. I can’t tell you why I reacted more strongly than I thought I would…I don’t know if this was the “icing on the cake” for me…another upsetting thing to add to this month’s growing list of crappy things. I don’t know if I made a bigger deal out of it for myself because when it happened, I was already in such an emotionally vulnerable spot. I don’t know if it brought out some of my own unspoken feelings regarding my loss…the ones I never expressed. I don’t want you to feel bad for making me upset. I told you, when we last talked about the inevitable, that I was going to be upset/hurt and grieve right along with you whether you liked it or not…because that’s how I roll. I love hard and with all that I have…and I know you know that. And our hearts and minds seem to be so inexplicably connected that it’s gone beyond coincidence and voodoo…it’s fate…it’s love…and it’s real. I’ve never had this connection with anyone else and I don’t know what accounts for it. Because I’ve had to be so completely vulnerable with you? Because we get along so well? Because we think alike and have a lot in common? I’ve given up trying to find the answer because I’ve accepted that it’s awesome no matter the reason…I treasure it and I love it. It’s a special connection and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.
The last time I saw you, you led me into your office and broke down before you could even shut the door, apologizing to me for not being able to think straight and for not being able to be totally in the moment with me that day (don’t ever do that again…apologize for that). I didn’t even think about the boundary lines that normally separate us…I just walked up to you and hugged you as tight as I could. I thought about that later…1), hoping you didn’t mind and 2), that action/behavior was pure instinct…automatic. The fact that you play a specific role in my life and I should have asked first didn’t even cross my mind until later in the day. Of course you were heavy on my mind and heart for the rest of that day and week. I was hoping my good telepathy was reaching you somehow and I hoped you knew that I was here, thinking about you and loving you even if I wasn’t with you or able to tell you. I tried really hard to disturb the force…enough to try to let you know. I had already decided to make you a new mix CD before I saw you last week. So I finished that. And then…my lightbulb went off and I was in a warm fuzzy dispensing mood and part of how I keep you close to me when you’re not with me is the warm fuzzy note cards you’ve given me. So I did the same thing for you, only x100 and with quite a few more hours and thought and love poured into it. I was at that project from about 7 PM to 2 or 3 AM. I knew I didn’t have to finish it in one sitting…but I was being mindful and in a groove…just thinking about you, drawing, writing, listening to music…nothing else…so I kept going until I was done. Something was keeping you in my heart and on my mind…and knowing what I know NOW, I know why…telepathy between hearts, remember? I made your warm fuzzy package on Thursday or Friday night, not realizing how pertinent and appropriate it was going to be. And I was so excited to give it to you…I still am…I just think maybe you could have used it sooner because I don’t know when I’ll see you next. But there are no accidents…all things for a reason…so I just hope it gives you the intended smiles and warm fuzzies no matter when you get it and no matter where or when you look at it. While I was making that and even after, all through the weekend, my gut was telling me something/someone was not okay. Looking back now and analyzing it, I know now that that someone was you…and maybe I did know all along it was you, I just didn’t want to admit it or acknowledge it because I don’t wish this kind of heartache on anyone…and even though I knew this day was coming, I still didn’t want it to happen. I was going over our “To Do/Talk About” list on Monday…and I realized that for the first time in two years, it was empty. I had come up with nothing to say to you…because I think I knew I would not see you this week. When my phone rang at 9:09 AM Monday morning…I knew what was happening before I even answered. The front desk was calling to cancel my appointment with you on Wednesday. I asked if you were going to be out all week, already knowing the answer. I then asked for K’s voicemail. And then I thought about you all day. My coffee date canceled on me for the third time in as many days and I was initially upset, but as my day wore on, I was actually glad…because I’m not sure I could have handled much more emotion that day. I got my windshield fixed. Got something to eat. Came home. Noticed the time, which was about 3:30 PM. I took note that K hadn’t called me back yet and I figured she was out too or just really busy. As I tried to come up with all the reasons why she hadn’t called, the phone rang (I’m starting to wonder if K is starting to develop some sort of telepathy with me). I answered my phone to the sweetest sound I heard that day. It was then that I lost my marbles. I fought my tears and emotions all day, as I always do, but the minute I heard her voice, I lost it. K answered my questions, spoke softly and gently…and even told me that I “rocked her world”…to which I laughed and smiled…then I told her off for making me laugh as tears were streaming down my face (and then I noted that I now love her even more for having the ability to do that to me because not many people can). She said she had no openings this week to see me and that she would not be here next week. My heart dropped (because I don’t know when you will be back and because if you both were out and I was going to have to go two weeks or more without a therapy session, I was screwed)…but I appreciated the heads up regardless. She went through some skills with me…even tried to get me to tell her what I think I should/need to do and I wasn’t thinking straight…so she told me to do what I always do…I had no idea what she was talking about. Music? Self-soothe? Snuggling? Kitty? And then she told me to write. So this is the product of K’s brain and my “willingness” to do it instead of my “willfulness” to fight, deny and push away my emotions.
I don’t want you to get upset that I got/am upset. Consider it me trying to help you/care for you/love you/take some of the weight off of you. I’m hoping that, perhaps, my grief will make you not hurt so bad. Because I don’t want you to hurt. It kills me to know…to even imagine…what is happening. But I know you will hurt and you will for a while. If anyone knows what this is like, it’s me; you couldn’t be in better company. People say, “I understand. I know what you’re going through.” all the time. The reality is that most of the time, they have no idea. And I won’t even pretend to know exactly how you feel because even though I’ve been through what you’re going through, your experience is going to be different than mine. But I know what that loss and that hole feels like. I know the pain. And it will smack you upside the head often. I’m not going to offer you clichés because I hated it when people did that to me. When people ask me what they should do or say when something like this happens, I always tell them that the best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to say nothing…other than maybe an “I’m sorry for your loss.”…and give the person room, let them know that they’re loved and that you will be there when they are ready. Maybe it’s different for everyone…maybe some people want the words. I didn’t and still don’t…because there are no words…there is nothing anyone can say that will take the pain away. Even when I share my story now, my last two years especially, some people will say, “I don’t know what to say/how to respond.” And I say, “It’s okay. You don’t have to.” I feel better when someone is just in the same room with me…not saying a word…just letting me cry and letting that silence be the comfort. I know people’s condolences are said with the best of intentions…but I think I may have coped better with my own loss had people just backed the fuck up. Not only did everyone want to say something, they insisted on telling me that he was in a “better place”…and all I wanted to say was “fuck you and fuck you and you and you, too.” Because it was bullshit and it was only making me mad. Not that I thought he was in hell, but just the fact that no one knows what’s real and what isn’t. And having had my own near-death experiences, I still don’t think I believe in heaven or hell. I think I believe in a “presence”…an imprint on what once was…because there are times where I think he surprises the fuck out of me by leading me to something comforting about him or just something that only he would know…the right message at the right time. So I think there’s something…I just don’t know what it is…and surprisingly enough, I’m okay with not knowing. I’m okay not having an answer to this question. I am content knowing that there is at least SOMETHING, even if I can’t explain it or prove it or have it on demand…just knowing…hoping he’s here…somehow…someway.
So I’m not going to say anything more…other than that I love you…I heart your face…and I’m doing my best to send you hugs and love and comfort in the only way I can and in the only way our relationship will allow.
Today’s edition of “Voodoo Therapy” has been brought to you by the letter M…the first initial of my therapist’s name. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my therapist and I mesh like no other two people I have ever met. I still don’t know if it’s because we’ve just each invested so much time into each other and I have had to be completely vulnerable and honest with her in order to get the best treatment…or if she possesses some weird sort of voodoo magic because this chick is cray-cray, y’all. (And I realize how funny that statement must sound coming from the true crazy person calling her therapist crazy…but hear me out…) And I don’t mean crazy like me crazy, but crazy because she possesses voodoo magic and she “unleashes” it upon me when I am least expecting it (and yes, I do expect it now…but she uses voodoo magic to catch me when I’m least expecting it). Let me give you some examples so you can better understand.
I see M every week, usually twice (one-on-one and in group therapy). We usually don’t talk on the phone during our time away from each other unless I’m in a crisis or have a need to get something off my chest. Sometimes, I even hold off on calling her even when I really should because I am about to lose my marbles. M somehow gets this message telepathically and will call me on those days. And I’m like, “Really, M? Really?!” Of course I’m glad she called but there’s that voodoo magic. For the next example, I was texting my BFF on the east coast and I was in the middle of typing out a text message saying M hadn’t called me yet (because she had been out sick and I left her a voicemail asking her to call me once she was back in the office). I wasn’t even finished typing out the message and M called me AS I WAS TYPING THE TEXT SAYING SHE HADN’T CALLED ME.
(I used to refer to this as just really good ESP/telepathy and chalked it up to us just knowing each other so well but now I am totally convinced she’s into voodoo magic because I CANNOT make this shit up.) Last Friday, for another example, I was having a really hard day and I was talking about it with my across-the-country friend via text message. She “listened” to me as she always does but then she told me to call M because I was clearly in distress and I needed someone local. I didn’t call M for a few reasons. 1) The day before, during group, M said she wasn’t feeling well and so I didn’t even know if she was working on Friday. 2) M works in a different office on Fridays and I cannot call her. I have to send her an e-mail through the healthcare website that says, “Call me.” And she will when and if she can (and she always does, even if she only has a minute or two). 3) Because I didn’t know if M was working or not, I didn’t know if her e-mail inbox would be covered by another therapist and the coverage is for safety and such and I get that…but if you know anything about me AT ALL, you know it’s a huge step for me to call M voluntarily and talk, it’s another huge step for me to let K (M’s “partner in crime” and my backup therapist…they’re totally double-teaming me) into my world and allow her to be a suitable substitute for M when she is on vacation or out of the office. If M was gone, I didn’t want to talk to anyone else…safety was/is irrelevant…I wanted somebody who knew me and my shit without me having to explain everything and why I am the way that I am. (I can see some of the regular followers questioning why I didn’t e-mail or call K…and I have an answer: K doesn’t work on Friday’s…so if M is also out on a Friday, I’m pretty much SOL.) Back to the story…so my friend is telling me to call M and I didn’t even know if M would get my message that day so I didn’t even try (my bad)…BUT…cue voodoo magic. I recounted this day to M the following week and I shit you not, people…the woman told me that she picked up the phone TWICE on that Friday to call me. She hung up the first time because she “didn’t want to bug me” (and I chastised her for thinking that because she knows I won’t answer the damn phone if I don’t want to talk) and the second time she picked up the phone to call me, she hung up because someone walked into her office. I am 100% totally telling the truth. It’s voodoo magic. There have been other things too…just thinking about each other at the same time, having the same thought at the same time, saying the exact same thing at the exact same time, or just feeling that feeling you feel when someone is talking about you or thinking about you but you don’t know that someone is talking/thinking about you so you just file it away and never say anything about it. M can also accurately guess/speculate/predict how I will react to a situation/event/person. She also has a “knack” for knowing when I really need to hear something…a kind word or some form encouragement (when I haven’t even said anything that would communicate that that’s what I need). And sometimes she’ll give me a quote or a really pertinent metaphor or warm fuzzy without even realizing just how pertinent it is. I’m sure I could fill this entire blog with all her voodoo magic displays but let’s get back to my point and why I’m writing this…
M, at the beginning of group yesterday, told me we were going to play a game (just me and her)…but she didn’t tell me what the game was…until today, Friday…the day after group. M knows I am neurotically observant about the most stupid, irrelevant things (I can tell if a chair has been moved an inch or if K got a really subtle haircut…I also notice band-aids). M had a band-aid on during group and I didn’t know we were playing “Find The Band-aid” but we were. (Note here that I have previously found two of K’s band-aids which is why/how M knew I knew the game even if I didn’t know I was playing.) She called me this afternoon and gave me three chances to pinpoint something I noticed about her (M) yesterday. I said her nails – she got them done. True but not the answer M was looking for. I said her shoes – I hate it when she wears those shoes (even though they’re cute) because they leave red marks on her feet and it looks like they hurt even though she’s adamant they don’t hurt her feet. Nope. My last and final guess (I was holding back because I didn’t want to offend her or make her self-conscious because of what I observed) was her hair – it’s naturally curly like mine and it looked a little more frazzled yesterday than it normally does. While that was true, that wasn’t the answer M was looking for either. Three strikes, I’m out…or in this case, called out. M then told me that she had a band-aid on the inside of her right ankle and the game was to see if I would find it/notice it. And when she told me that, I said that she cheated because, during group, I always sit on her right, thus the inside of her right ankle is always facing away from me…I wouldn’t have ever gotten the “opportunity” to notice the band-aid. That was her whole point. I sit in the same seat, next to K, by the door every time I go to group. (Without fail, people! You could set your watch by me.) It wasn’t always this way as I had sat ACROSS from K for the first 10 months…in a position that, had I stayed in/revisited every now and then, I would have seen M’s band-aid yesterday. M knows I’m shutting down in group and I chastise myself for thinking she wouldn’t notice/see it. She mouthed the word “please” to me yesterday in group when I didn’t really want to add my two cents on whatever it was that we were talking about. I even sighed heavily (and audibly) at the beginning of our 2-minute mindfulness exercise and K nudged me…her way of telling me to “just shut up and do it” (in that sweet, nice K tone). I laugh at this now, but there are two types of chairs in the group room…one has arms on it, the other doesn’t. I prefer the one with arms (much easier to *facepalm* that way). “My” chair yesterday was one that didn’t have arms and I had time to exchange chairs. My “old seat” was a chair with arms…so I switched chairs…NOT position…chairs. (See? More voodoo magic. I was this |__| close to blowing M’s cover…sitting/moving somewhere else and winning a game I didn’t even know I was playing.)
Let me back up the truck just a tad and tell y’all that I am being “kicked out” of group therapy. I’m sure the therapists would like to say it’s more like “graduating” but it doesn’t feel so pomp and circumstance to me. At the beginning of the year, M and K (and this particular healthcare organization as a whole) started tightening the reigns on all the groups…more structure…less tangents…making sure we cover all we need to cover. One of these changes came when they announced that it takes 6 months to go through one round of DBT therapy and all its modules. (This, apparently, isn’t a new revelation/rule but is just one we’ve been letting slide.) At that 6-month point, you will have a conversation with your therapist/a therapist on the DBT team and then that therapist checks in with the team and it is then decided if you need another round/6 months of group or if you are ready to “graduate” and set loose to try all the skills on your own (while still following the DBT modules and being held accountable for using them in your own individual therapy appointments). The maximum time in group is 2 rounds/1 year. I’ve been doing this group thing since November 2011. More than a year. When I first heard of this new “change,” I point-blank asked M if her and K were going to kick me out of group and at the time, M said no…if I wanted to stay, she would support that and advocate for me. A couple weeks ago, M and I sat down to commence an individual therapy appointment and she asked me how I felt about group. I was caught off-guard because I’m like…we just had this conversation…and before I even lifted my eyes to meet M’s eyes…I said, “ohmygod, you’re kicking me out of group, aren’t you?” M said she wasn’t, but her boss was…my time is up…I need to be kicked out of the nest now. I didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of the situation until later…because I didn’t flip out until later. This group has been part of my therapy and routine for over a year…it’s comfortable…I don’t take it lightly…I still participate and learn (and I even talk now!)…and it’s scary as fuck to think I won’t be going to group anymore. What the hell am I going to do on Thursdays?! I already have a lot of time on my hands and now you want to give me MORE time? Y’all are nuts. And after I calmed down and made my pros and cons list…I saw the dialectic…both sides of the coin. I have been doing this for a long time and can regurgitate the DBT manual word for word…but it doesn’t mean I’m great with the execution. I understand why I need to be kicked out of the nest but that nest is so damn comfortable. And what about K?! She was so patient and kind and never gave up on me and now I’ve finally let her cross my moat, slay my fire-breathing dragon and enter my fortress…enough to even consider her a suitable backup to my M…and you want me to give her up cold turkey?! Ha…um…no. But I’m out-numbered. I told M earlier this week that I don’t like the idea of leaving group, but the decision has been made and communicated and I will comply…I may comply while kicking and screaming…but then I said that’s probably appropriate because I went INTO group kicking and screaming and it only seems fitting to go OUT kicking and screaming. Full circle. BUT…it still doesn’t mean I like it…hence all the kicking and screaming. I asked M when my “termination” date was and she said I could finish out the current emotion regulation module but that when we are done with that, my time is up. I said okay to this at first, then I started to get so irritated and upset in group that I was like, “What’s the fucking point of me continuing/finishing out this module?” I asked M if she wanted me to stay and finish out the module and she said yes…and please…and because she said please, I said, “Fine.” Over the last couple weeks, I have slowly started to distance myself from the group…not being so active and talkative…so that when my last day comes, it doesn’t hurt so bad. OMFG…LIIIIGHHTTTBUUULLBBBB…you try to tear a band-aid off slowly so it won’t hurt…but what you really need to do is just (wo)man up and rip the fucker off because you know it will hurt like a bitch…for a nanosecond…and then you’ll feel so much better once you get it “over and done with.” Holy shit. VOODOO MAGIC! I’m so totally not kidding…damn…mid blog post epiphany…I think that’s a first. I won’t edit that part and hopefully, whatever scene you envision will bring a smile to your face. M and K love the look on my face when my “lightbulb” goes off in the middle of group. Totally just happened…
ANYYYYWAAAYYY…M’s entire point/metaphor: If I never change…I miss out. If I don’t change my point of view…I miss out on other perspectives. I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this later but all I can say now is, “Touché.” And cry…but…”Touché.” Damn her and her voodoo magic for being so fucking right.
(And after recounting this week’s episode of “Voodoo Therapy” to my BFF across the country, this happened:
She has my phone #, my license and registration, my e-mail, my home address, my license plate #, my social security #, my library card, my iTunes password, my Blockbuster card, my birth certificate, my passport, my bank account #, my debit card pin #…)