Ah, shame. Something I'm finally learning about through all this therapy.
First a word about new therapist. I know I totally sound on the fence with her, and I've had some advice to find someone new. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a decent therapist? The thought of rehashing everything AGAIN makes my stomach turn, so here's what I know about our therapy relationship:
- Dr. D is completely different from my previous therapist. My previous therapist was a social worker, warm, intuitive, and highly attuned with me. I've had a handful of therapists in my life and it was a lightning strike that I got her when I needed a really great connection to keep me in therapy when it got hard. When previous therapist left, she told me patients like me don't come along very often. It was literally a match made in provider-patient heaven.
- When Therapist recommended Dr. D, she straight up told me they had completely different styles, but that she was recommending her because Dr. D's focus is on difficult family dynamics, which I obviously have.
- You guys, I am in the throes of shitsville when it comes to therapy. The part that is messy and really hard to verbalize. Especially for me, the stuffer-down of shitty things. The work I did with previous therapist, when she would probe the hard stuff, I'd get uncomfortable and have shitty sessions and hate it. I think the difference here is that I am past any of the easier parts I went through, and it's a slog from here on out.
That being said, Dr. D suggested I watch Brene Brown's TED talks. I had already read the Gifts of Imperfection at the suggestion of previous therapist and worked through a little bit of stuff using that. This past week, my therapy appointment was so fucking shitty because Dr. D pegged my difficulty with vulnerability. I continually try to reel in any hint of vulnerability on the outside, yet am raw/shame/fear-filled on the inside.
In watching Brene Brown's first TED talk I finally am recognizing what my issues are. The second talk pegged the shame dead on. I have that voice, "I'm not good enough, What's wrong with me?" That voice has been with me my entire life and I can't shake any of my past. A list if you will, starting at about middle-school from what I can recall:
- I didn't get straight A's - I'm not good enough
- I'm not flexible like her - I'm not good enough
- My feet don't point like they're supposed to - I'm not good enough
- I hate math - What's wrong with me
- I got in trouble for kicking a boy at school because he was a bully - What's wrong with me
- My parents yell at me about my grades - I'm not good enough
- I get in trouble for getting a C - I'm not good enough
- I get in trouble for writing "F-ck my mother, I hate her" like a million times in my diary - What's wrong with me (what the hell was she doing reading my diary anyway?)
- I'm not pretty like her and her and her - I'm not good enough
- Why doesn't that guy like me? - What's wrong with me
- I had to drop x, y, z class because I was failing - I'm not good enough
- I took 5 years to graduate college - I'm not good enough
- I'm not driven to work overtime to get ahead like so-and-so - What's wrong with me
- I got my masters degree while working full time: Yeah, but at an easy school - I'm not good enough
- Why don't I want to get a PhD? - I'm not good enough, what's wrong with me.
- My boyfriend cheated on me - What's wrong with me
- My best friend dumped me and I don't know why - What's wrong with me
- Another friend dumped me because I'm "too negative" - What's wrong with me
- I was kicked out of book club for "personality differences" - What's wrong with me
- I didn't get the promotion - I'm not good enough
- Why does my mom compare me to my cousin? I hate it. - I'm not good enough, what's wrong with me
- Why did that guy get chosen for the committee and not me? - I'm not good enough
- Why can't I catch all my mistakes? - I'm not good enough
- Why am I so bad at developing design drawings - What's wrong with me
- When will my new friendships fail? - I'm not good enough AND what's wrong with me
That's all I can get out in a 10 minute brainstorm, but you get the idea. One of the things Brene Brown says in the first talk is that everyone feels shame, and it's how you treat shame that's the telling factor. Shame drives my every move. Shame keeps me up at night when I express my opinion in a meeting. Shame gives me tension headaches for 3 days as I worry about how bitchy I sounded expressing said opinion in a meeting. Shame assumes that I wasn't chosen for a certain committee because I suck. Shame assumes that my co-worker is plotting against me and trying to get someone to apply for this job so that I don't get it.*
*This is purely based on the fact that I know said co-worker asked someone if the vacancy announcement for the position is open. She knows I'm applying. I immediately jumped to the very worst conclusion that she thinks I suck and shouldn't get it. In reality, I have no idea why she was asking.