Up and (somewhat) Awake

It’s not that I couldn’t sleep if I turned the light out and crawled into bed. I could most likely sleep like a baby, or at least deep enough to dream a bunch.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m afraid I will miss something. Maybe I’m afraid of what I’ll dream. Maybe there’s some subconscious thing that makes me afraid to be unconscious.

As exhausted as I am, the healthy thing would be to sleep. (And there it is. Lack of self-care.)

I had a therapy session today that was a bit difficult. I had some things to address with my therapist that had to do with her and some things that I was feeling toward her. It was difficult. When I have the need to do this, I am aware that my main worry is abandonment…although I know it’s not true abandonment. I guess the word I’m looking for is rejection.

When I confront someone with something like I did my therapist today, I expect the person to go into defense mode which essentially becomes rejection because the person ends up angry with me for being angry with them.

It’s ridiculous.

She wasn’t angry at me, but she did get a bit defensive.

I did learn something though. The lesson didn’t take hold until tonight when I was thinking about the interaction and how it didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel settled.

It’s not settled between us, but it became clear to me that I didn’t follow through with all that I needed to say because I was not aware of exactly where the feeling I had was coming from.

She was apologetic in her defensiveness, not condescending or nasty. But it wasn’t therapeutic. She wasn’t being a therapist. It was more like the response a friend would have.  So it was an opportunity really for me to explore some trust issues. But she didn’t utilize what I said that way.

It’s disappointing. But it’s also a relief to realize what was going on. That it was my issue, not hers.  The relief comes from figuring it out though, not so much from the fact that it wasn’t about her and that I don’t have to confront her anymore.

In fact it’s quite the opposite. I also realized that it was not truly resolved, hence the sense of incompleteness, even though she apologized and said that she “owns it” and that she’d “work on that.”

After she said that though, I was stuck. I knew there was more but was not clear on what it was.

It’s a matter of then what.

She can be sorry and own it and work on it. But then the ball was back in my court and as per usual I had this feeling of helplessness. The question was, where do I take it from here?

There’s nothing more to say because I have no control over her behavior.


I have control over mine.

If I feel that her behavior is unfair to me, I can express that.

“That’s all well and good and I appreciate the apology and owning and the promise to make an effort. But if the behavior persists that is unfair to me and I would need to request a new therapist.”

This isn’t a threat. I mean big deal. Who am I? If anyone loses, it’s me. After all she is a great DBT therapist. Which is why I’m there. She is great at helping me come up with coping skills in dealing with some of my problem behaviors.

But if a behavior of hers continues to be unfair, that is a matter of me needing to look out for my self-respect.

I think this might be a turning point and it helped me realize that a lot unresolved shit is a result of lack of self-respect on my part. And thinking I have no other choice than to put up with unacceptable behavior.

As I wrote this out, another person came to mind, someone who displayed this same behavior as my therapist has a few times now. And I always felt stuck in accepting it. Like there was nothing I could do.

And there is nothing I can do…about whether their behavior changes. But I can walk away and refuse to allow it.


Mind-Fuck By Therapist

I am on a roll of transferring my posts from my old blog, Safire Falcon.  Today, I decided on a post I originally called,  ‘Evaluating a Therapist,’ which I originally wrote and posted in November of 2013.

After reading through it and editing a little, I decided on a title that better described what happened.  Given the state I was in back then, I am giving myself some much needed compassion pertaining to sticking it out for as long as I did.  I still don’t even think that what this woman did was a deliberate act of sabotage. But deliberate or not, it had the same effect.

At the time I started to see her,  I was not even a year away from my mind-fuck of a family and I was still feeling affected by the break up of the affair that ended in January of 2012. I can remember now, so well the fog in my brain back then, when I had started seeing this therapist. The result of all the abuse I had survived.

I can still recall the cloud of depression that had taken over my brain and thought process. I can think back on it now and feel the difference in clarity of how my brain is functioning now in comparison to the lack of that function back then.  Given this present improvement, I would like to believe that I would handle the predicament I found myself in with this therapist, in a much different way.

As I re-read what I wrote here, I found myself shaking my head and thinking, “How appalling this therapists behavior really was!” I feel some anger, but I also feel the alleviation that I am not in that situation now. And then there’s the relief of now being able to see how much of a mind-fuck it all actually was and know without a doubt, it wasn’t  me.

There was an additional disappointment in relation to this, particularly after the first couple appointments with this therapist, which may have also added to my self-doubt during this period.

I had voiced a concern about the disorganized appearance of the therapist’s office to someone I saw as a major support for me as I was waking up to my role as family scapegoat.  This supporter of mine, minimized and even laughed a little at my apprehension about how that might reflect her capability as a therapist.

I stopped seeing the therapist shortly after writing this and then at some point in 2015 reviewed what I’d written and at that time, added an update.

So without further ado, here’s the story:

She told me in one session, when I went to her in a really dark depression, that I need to find a hobby, maybe join a gym.

I’ve been seeing a psychologist who seems pretty scattered. Her office is a cluttered mess and although I never have expectations of someone being a compulsive neat freak, which would probably be just as bad, I like to see a little bit of order from someone who is helping others get their lives straightened out.

This bothered me from the beginning and I almost didn’t go back for a second visit, but I figured I should really give her more of a chance. But I continue to do things like that…give people, especially therapists…another chance even after my intuition nudges me and says, “No, this isn’t a good idea.”

And that’s because one, I’m not so sure it’s my intuition or my perfectionist traits telling me this therapist (or whatever the situation) might not be a healthy one. And two, self-doubt.

Up until a few years ago I was pretty good at giving people the benefit of the doubt without much thought.

I’ve never really been too self confident though and easily gave the benefit of the doubt even when it didn’t feel right. My self doubt would take me to the conclusion that it ‘must be me’…’something is wrong with me.’

The end of the affair, triggered the trauma already laying somewhat dormant and trusting anyone or myself is now a shaky dilemma. I simply don’t. I’m suspicious of everyone.

It’s pretty mind fucking actually. Although I see that my original thoughts were at times correct, that something was off about someone or that the situation in general wasn’t healthy for me, the self doubt can still become magnified.

But still, the trust in and of others is pretty much non-existent. I factor in my hyper-sensitivity and it’s as clear as mud as to whether someone including myself is trustworthy. I don’t want to displace any feelings though. I’m hyper-conscious of the possibility of this, given the effects of the traumas.  And so the therapist gets chance after chance.  Maybe she’s pushing buttons, not on purpose, but pushing them nonetheless, which tells me there’s something to work on. Which is a good thing.

There’s the chance I’ve devalued her to the point I want to call it quits. I have felt recently that this is it. If things don’t work with her, I’m done with therapy and will need to find another way. I’m agitated in general I guess, which is coming with the depression right now. But it seems to be aggravated when in her presence. I think it seems as though she’s not understanding, when in reality she does, but I’m not reading her correctly.

Edit Saturday, 9/2/17: Maybe she was the bad therapist I thought she was all along and even enjoyed pushing buttons. Maybe not, but maybe didn’t even have the consideration to be careful. I do know and understand now that she was incapable of giving me the validation I needed at the time.

She suggested she give me a psych evaluation and the process was excruciating. It took longer than it should’ve because her schedule clashed with the times I could get a ride over there.

When we were finished, she gave me a copy to review and to my disappointing surprise, it seemed to be written by a third grader. In addition, it was clear she hadn’t really listened too well to my answers to her questions. The things she wrote had my words twisted in some instances. The stories were told flatly with no real emotion.  My experiences just didn’t translate well to her ear and mind apparently.

I made some corrections and found that I could do a much better job of describing it all, telling the stories accurately and really painting a vivid picture…the true picture.

When I went in for the appointment, fully prepared with corrections and better descriptions and depictions, she had rewritten the whole thing anyway. Before I had handed her my copy of corrections, she handed me something completely new.

This was frustrating for two reasons. First, I felt as though I put in all that work for no reason. And second, I hadn’t seen her in weeks, given our conflicting schedules, so I could have actually found some time to come pick up and her rewritten copy before the appointment, if she’d had a staff member call me.

I was visibly annoyed, so she allowed me to read off my corrections while she wrote them on her copy.

After we were finished and before I left, she told me she’d have a staff member call me when the corrections were finished, so I could pick it up and proof it again before our next appointment.  I agreed as I thought this would save us both time and the evaluation could finally be finished.

I wanted to get back to actual therapy sessions.

I never got a call.

Going over such lengthy evaluations is continuously taking up our appointments. It’s ridiculous and she seems scattered, unorganized and seems to be annoyed with my insistence that she actually be accurate with the information I’ve given her.

I think for efficiency purposes and to further help the process, her attention needs to be more focused and it just simply isn’t. I’m not expecting any special treatment, just follow through.

This does provoke anger for me. And it’s also tempting to take it personally. But at the same time, stopping myself, I realize this is probably a personality trait of her own and has nothing to do with whether she likes or dislikes me. Although, it’s gotten to the point that she probably doesn’t like me and to be honest I don’t like her. In fact it’s become obvious (I would think to both of us) that once we get through the evaluation process, I won’t be seeing her anymore.)

It’s frustrating to have gone this long feeling unheard and not listened to, and to end up in a similar situation once again, basically back at square one.

In the beginning, when I first went to see her, she diagnosed me with PTSD, I think after the second session. She told me this, and unfortunately I didn’t see it in writing.  But I remember specifically having a conversation with her after a session, when she said, I believe you have PTSD.

The day the evaluation was complete, she handed me the papers and let me open it without saying anything to me at all.

I read and along with her having written other diagnoses, she’d also included borderline personality disorder.

Although I was already suspecting this and had tried to convince other therapists in the the past that I had it, I still felt shocked and upset. The time period I had been seeing her, I was feeling raw and depressed much of the time. So a little consideration for her to say, “Let’s talk before you read” would’ve gone a long way.

Not to say she was responsible for my feelings or emotions, but it’s one of the jobs of a therapist to guide and help her client.

When I became upset she gave me a blank stare.

When I asked why PTSD wasn’t in the list of diagnoses she gave me another blank stare.

I said, “When I first started coming here, you made it pretty clear you thought I had PTSD.”

She shook her head to say no.

Update May 12, 2015

I let what I thought of her writing, comprehending and listening skills slide. I wanted to address it with her, but I didn’t think it would’ve made a difference. When I’d spoken to her about another issue (paragraph below) I ended up feeling guilty.

I understand there are times that therapists might draw from their own experience to help validate a client or help them to feel better about their own situation.  I’ve had therapists who’ve done it and have had no problem with it, when it’s done appropriately.  But the way this therapist did it, felt more like she was trying to turn the tables and utilize me as a therapist.

Don’t get me wrong there were times I could see and feel the validation and understanding, or at least it seemed that way. I questioned more than ever though after the evaluation experience. And being heard without question, is the most valuable thing for me in therapy.

Just as I had decided during the evaluation process, I stopped seeing this therapist. I decided the situation was not a healthy one. You could argue that it might have been a place for me to practice the things I needed to improve on, but I would disagree.

I don’t think in the middle of the most painful time of recovery, is the time to be trying to have a Buddhist mindset with your therapist. I felt it would be better for me to have a therapist who I would feel validated by, someone I felt heard by and someone I felt understood by. At least 90 percent of the time, as well as get the impression that she was present with me.

There were other problems as well, with both her and the staff:

There were times when I’d speak to a staff member there and leave a message with them. And the next time I would talk to the therapist, I would find my message mixed up when reiterated back to me by the therapist. Other times the same receptionist I had spoken to previously about a particular topic, would have no idea what I was talking about as I spoke to her a second time about the same thing.

Before I had taken the evaluation, I called the office to make my first appointment for the evaluation. It wasn’t a normal therapy appointment so I mentioned to the assistant that’s why I was coming in.

The assistant who answered put me on hold for a minute and when she came back to the phone she said, “There’s nothing here, you need to fill out the forms yourself.”


I explained to her, “No, a psych evaluation is administered by the therapist and will likely take a bunch of appointments to complete. I need to make an appointment to come in to get started.”

I was frustrated and got upset, impatient and agitated.

I was pretty annoyed that I would have to explain that to someone I would think would/should already know that. And this after having communication got fucked up a number of times previously.

There were other instances too when I’d left voice mail messages and when I’d call again because I wouldn’t receive call backs, I’d ask the person answering the phone if my message was received. And the reply would be yes and then tell me that I said something I never said.

Who wants to go to a therapist and deal with being mind fucked? Its exactly what I was trying to get help for. My childhood was one big mind-fuck. My family was one big mind-fuck  And where do I end up. Back in the lap of another web of mind-fuckery!

I don’t really know if she was fucking with me or if she is just genuinely scattered and disorganized as well as her staff being so too. But either way, it was not a healthy environment.

Currently, in September of 2017, I am in DBT, both individual and group. The individual therapist is validating and helpful. Group is giving me the opportunity to understand how to cope with my emotions in a way that makes me see how important these skills are for children to learn from parents and teachers.

I Started DBT

Last night was the first night with the group. Lucky for me, only four of us showed up plus the two therapists that run it. Meaning, I was relieved there wasn’t the full house of ten people + the 2 therapists.

I just met one of the therapists for the first time last night as well. And he seems really nice, but also dedicated to what he’s doing. He clearly enjoys it. Both therapists are young, which is to be expected I suppose. It’s been a while since therapists and psychiatrists were actually older than me.

The other therapist, the one I’d already known, is my individual therapist.

I’m not going to say anything else about the therapists right now because I don’t want to jinx anything. Last time I got excited about a therapist, she turned out to piss me off and frustrate me more than help me. She talked a good game on the phone, about knowing how to help those with complex trauma and that ended up to be bullshit.

But then she’s also the one who FINALLY picked up on my impulsive behaviors when I talked to her about some things that had been bothering me and she found this DBT program for me. So I’m thankful for that.

However, I do think there were plenty of other indications before that when I was in therapy with her and she could’ve caught it earlier.

I was also sitting there thinking last night while I sat at that table in that tiny conference room. “This should’ve happened a long time ago.”

In all the therapy I’ve been through, both psychiatrists (when they still had office hours and were also therapists), psychologists, social workers and two hospitalizations, DBT should have been offered to me repeatedly.

I even had a therapist once who saw the BPD traits. He’d suggested a book for me to read that mentioned some of the traits of BPD, even mentioned borderline personality disorder.

When I saw him again after finishing the book, I told him that I saw me in those traits. He nodded and quietly said, “Yeah.”  But instead of informing me of DBT and helping find a way to get it, he continued to not help me. In fact he was abusive. This I realized later though, in hindsight.

It’s hard to think about all the time wasted, the years behind me I’ll never get back. For one, my parents had no idea what they were doing, never helped me figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, didn’t help me deal with emotions, disappointments, heartbreak. Even my joy was dowsed.  It’s no secret they were causing what they should’ve been helping me cope with.

And two,  because the professionals that were supposed to be there to help, allowed me to slip through crack after crack after crack.

Emotional Flashback Before Therapy

I’ve started seeing a new therapist. Yesterday was my second appointment.

I got there early enough to hang out in my car for a bit, so when I went in I still had about five minutes to wait. My appointment was at noon.

After sitting there for what felt like longer than five minutes though, I started to feel anxious. But I’d turned off my phone so I didn’t know exactly what time it was. I decided to turn it back on.

It was 12:02. Tick tock. More anxiety. Why was the door still shut?

One therapist opened her door and I could hear the joyful voice of a client talking to her about some event in her family. Then the family shuffled out.

About a minute after that, another therapist’s door opened and another client came walking through, joyfully shouting back to her, some pleasantry.

Still my therapist’s door remained closed.

She was running five minutes late by this point and I’d started to cry. The other two therapists had already seen me, looked at me in passing and one gave me that smile that always makes me feel like a pathetic little waif.

The anxiety grew and the tears were coming. I looked to my left, toward the wall, in case anyone were to walk by again. I was embarrassed to be crying.

Then I got up and went into the bathroom where I could just let the tears flow.

When I was young, and depended on my mother to pick me up from some activity, I would sit and wait for her while I watched all the other kids get picked up. I would be the one remaining child..waiting. Wondering when she’d show up…if she’d show up.

Feeling completely forgotten.

This is what came up for me yesterday. This is exactly how I’d felt yesterday while waiting for a very short time for my therapist.

When I got myself into the bathroom and began to cry even harder, it triggered another memory.

When I was in 7th grade, I had forgotten a paper at home for my English class. And somehow I’d gotten the word out to my mother and asked her to bring it up to me. She hadn’t been working at the time, so she did.

When I saw her at the door, I shot up out of my seat and went to her. I sort of pushed her out the door (although not forcefully). It was more of a long nudge, leading her backwards back out into the hallway.

I shut the door to the classroom and as I was thanking her, uncontrollably the tears flowed.

It was a release of the relief that I didn’t have to be anxious about not having the paper anymore. It was a release of relief that my mom cared.

Back to present day and the bathroom I was in: I knew the therapist would probably be ready soon so I pulled myself together as much as I could and walked out of the bathroom.

Just as I opened the door, the therapist was walking by…probably from the other bathroom.

I’d left early to run a couple errands before therapy and had thought about a certain Christmas past when I was 13. I think it came up for me because I had used some scented chapstick. Smells are guaranteed time travel.

I remembered the school Christmas bazaar that year. I remember the Pepsi lip gloss my mother put in my stocking that year. And then I remembered how much fun the stocking stuffers always were. And I could feel the sadness as I crossed a large intersection yesterday.

So I was already primed even before arriving at therapy.

In Need of Some Input on Therapy: Please Help

sbtEach time I’ve been in therapy for a while with a particular therapist,  I feel like I reach a certain point where it’s actually making me feel worse rather than better.

I’ve had therapists who did absolutely nothing to help and just acted like they were friends I ranted to and cried on their shoulders.

One therapist I found out never went through her own therapy.

The therapist before her, waited until the week before she was about to leave ‘that job’ before telling me. And yes, she referred to it as a job.

Another therapist pushed my buttons and didn’t seem to listen and because I got impatient and reacted to that behavior she diagnosed me with BPD.  And still another kept telling me to come out from under the (figurative) table while I was in the midst of being abused by my family while my father was dying.

These women all caused additional damage than what I had when I walked in to their offices for the first time.

But I persevered. I must be a glutton for punishment…seriously.

The therapist I’ve now been seeing for a few months is a man old enough to be my father. He told me he had experience with trauma before I went to see him. I specifically ask that question when I make initial contact. And I had done that with the other aforementioned therapists as well.  But when I get on the couch and after a few months, it appears to me that they have no idea how to help.

I’m confused. I go in week after week after week and tell different portions of my story, I basically rehash all the same stuff I’ve talked about in therapy before.

This man is validating of my feelings.But I keep waiting for something more. There is only so much talking someone can do.

But then, he did make it clear in the beginning that he’s ‘not into techniques.’ He vaguely told me he’s done his own “work,” in fact his exact answer was, “Of course” with the tone of “how silly of you to ask.”  He didn’t say that directly but it was the impression I got.

He’s been pretty good about helping me interpret dreams and I appreciate that and it’s been helpful. But I think overall, therapy is making me worse, especially physically. I walk out many times after talking about specific events like a shocked deer who was just hit by a car.

I get so worked up talking about my shit and there is no direction to help me feel my feelings, take deep breaths or help me to ground again. But I guess that’s a “technique”, so…

I end up feeling exhausted from some appointments but not like I had just released anything really, which would be the effect I’m looking for,  but instead it’s more like adrenal fatigue and it takes me a few days to recover. It causes heart palpitations and additional anger.

Would you please comment and help me understand what is supposed to actually take place in therapy. I read and hear stories about people who love their therapist and in fact some are healing and walking out of their therapists office at some point, never to return because they can go live their lives.

But I’m not getting that. I’m just feeling worse. I’m feeling stuck and I’m feeling like all these therapists want to do is hear the stories. They seem to think it’s all about talk and all that can be done is management of the problem.

This therapist won’t even diagnose me and I think it’s pretty clear I have PTSD. I find myself wondering if he actually gets it and what is he reading to continue educating himself.  I feel like we’re not on the same page and I don’t even know what the goal is.

I am in it to heal, not manage.

I’m not looking for anyone to tell me the topics or what they talk about to their therapist, just to give me an idea of what goes on. Do you sit and talk about your past and things that bother you and that’s it?

Or is there more?


Trails of Crumbs

Backof Zack&Acec

Photo Credit: Sleeping Tiger

My therapist has been seeing Mr. B and me together once a week, in addition to my regular appointment.  He’s attempting to help us improve our relationship, devoid of much communication and lots of frustration on my part.

We haven’t been happy for a long time and there’s a lot of distance. He works constantly and my depression keeps me completely unmotivated to want to do much to improve anything either. But then I’ve been feeling like I’m not being met half way for a long time.

Anyway, this post isn’t about the rusty relationship of me and Mr. B. (Don’t worry I know that’s incorrect grammar.)

At the end of the last appointment Mr. B and me had together, I asked my therapist if he’d gotten a message I’d left him, asking him if he’d received my records from my past therapists yet. We’d filled out and I’d signed forms at least a month ago. On Monday, when I’d called and left that message,  I was thinking it would be a good idea to find out the status on my current therapist’s end and if he hadn’t received them yet, I would call them myself and find out what the hold up is.

My therapist’s reply to me last night was, “Yes, I got your message, but I’ve been really busy.” And then said, “I’ve only got one set of records from one therapist.”

Upon his initial response of being too busy, I was disappointed. I really didn’t know how to respond to that, at least not on the spot.  I mean, I can’t control whether he follows up or not. But I’m really frustrated with the way he’s dropped the ball here.

I know I’m not his only client, but this happened  before after we’d talked about his helping me with preparing for a disability case for me. He brought up filling out release forms and my signing them, but then it got dropped. In my depression and constant expectations of disappointment, I resisted bringing it up.

In addition, I also wanted to have therapy. Not just logistically figure out my disability case in every single session.

So I see where I’ve dropped the ball myself and the forms eventually got filled out after I expressed my disappointment, frustration and even anger. But it seems that to get something I want or a need met, I have to make a stink. What is this about me that attracts people (even therapists), who drop the ball and don’t follow up on shit they agree to?

Even my mom pushed agreements to the side when it wasn’t convenient for her to stick to them.

So back to my disappointment in my therapist who was too busy to make a five minute or less call back to me.

I know I looked disappointed. But once he answered me, I appeared to accept the answer and let it go. But this penetrated. And it felt all too familiar. I woke up thinking about it.

It feels like if I continue in therapy with this therapist, it will be more disappointment and my acceptance of crumbs.

In just about every single relationship I’ve ever had, even in friendships, I was the one to reach out, make phone calls, make plans, follow through in showing up. I don’t remember the last time my phone rang with a friend on the other end inviting me to do something.

Not that I want that from my therapist.  I understand the boundaries of therapists and their clients. But to eat crumbs, even from therapists,  has become unacceptable.

It was something I thought I had to do before. After all, I’m not the only client. Eh, their busy. Sure, it’s ok that you’re late and that my appointment gets cut short.

My attitude has been to accept someone’s busy life. Pretty much an-across-the-board attitude in any relationship.  I mean the world doesn’t revolve around me and everyone is busy needing to take care of their own lives.

And  if I leave, then what will I do instead?

Will I even find someone who is just as good or better?

Do I even deserve that?

Apparently the fact that I’ve stuck around (generally speaking about all relationships now) accepting this illustration of how unimportant I am and have been to many people I’ve chosen to spend my time with and invest my time in, indicates that I don’t think “better” is available to me.

I used to wait around for the man in my life, from the time I was 13. (That’s another story in itself) But yeah, I was that young. I hadn’t had sex with him, but I was emotionally involved and got stood up frequently. He was telling me with his actions how unimportant I was to him as a person.

That was a pattern and I tended to date guys who weren’t emotionally available in one way or another. My first age appropriate boyfriend was a gypsy, Tom. He wasn’t supposed to date American women. But he was a bit different from the rest of his family and not only dated American women, but he had a whole circle of friends who were American.

As you’ve probably guessed, I couldn’t meet his parents. So me calling him was pretty impossible. I used to have to wait for him to call me and that was usually from a pay phone. This was long before cell phones, in case you haven’t guessed. He also used to just show up at my door, which I was usually thoroughly excited about.

I remember sitting in my room on weekend nights from time to time playing solitaire, not going out with friends because I wanted to be home in case Tom  called.  So many nights I’d play solitaire for hours never getting a phone call.

When I saw him again, much of the time his reply to me asking where he’d been and why didn’t he call was, “I fell asleep.”

I believed this because the work he did was hard labor and it was quite likely. I accepted the answer without much of a fight and was just grateful to be hearing from him at that point.

He moved fairly early on in our relationship and I had such a hard time emotionally with this. I talked to him when I could, saw him when I could and couldn’t wait to get a car so I could drive to see him.

But I started dating other people not long after, although we were still supposedly an item. I would waver back on forth in feeling love and attachment toward him and irritated by him. He would get on my nerves and he would say stuff that would piss me off about other people. Usually putting people down, many of them he didn’t know, but would just see while we were out and about.

I remember specifically one morning we’d pulled up to a convenience store and watched from his truck, as a man and two boys walked into the store. They looked unkempt, like they’d just rolled out of bed really and Tom made some sort of crack calling them the dirt family.

I didn’t say anything but I thought, “How rude.” And then thought, “Look who’s talking.”

This guy would show up at my door sometimes straight after a job with tar all over his shoes, shirt and pants. Hair looking greasy and he’d be sweaty from a full day on a roof. He had no idea what this family had just come from but he felt he had the right to judge them anyway, despite how dirty he could get in a day.

Years later while Tom and I were at a festival, with a girlfriend of mine, in the town we were all from, my girlfriend and I slipped away from him. I was the one to suggest this and I don’t remember why or how we got the chance. No doubt he was getting on my nerves and I just needed to get away from him.

We succeeded and walked back to my girlfriend’s house. We had settled down to a game of “Spit”…a card game we were both addicted to and had been playing together for a few years, when the phone rang.

It was Tom, and he laid into me so hard for just taking off on him. He’d yelled so loud, my friend sitting across from me, heard every word. I had to hold the phone away from my ear.

All this time later, I don’t remember the words, but I remember the seething anger.  I felt shame and I felt selfish. I didn’t say anything in my own defense during his rage because I didn’t feel there was any. I didn’t feel I’d be able to get much in edgewise.  I just waited for him to stop screaming. I waited for him to hang up and when he did, I handed the phone back to my friend.

(Jesus, editing this on Friday 9/8/17 and seeing this pattern in me. This shit was the same way I behaved when it came to my sister berating me on the phone.)

When I think about this now, the first thing I think is, “Double standard.” I know there is way more to analyze about it than this, but this was a running theme for me in my relationships. Expected to be thoughtful, considerate, loyal, but when he didn’t show up I was supposed to just accept it and carry on as though everything was A-OK.

Consciously it was never about revenge for his neglect or distance or unavailability for me to take off that way that day. I believed he loved me. I think it was an act to take care of myself, in taking off that way.But also an act of self-centeredness and avoidance. To be healthy, it would’ve been better to say, “Look Tom. I need a bit of space and just want to spend some time with A.”

But I was afraid to tell him for fear he’d think I never wanted to see him again or that he’d give me a hard time or that it would give me too much time to feel guilty, perhaps he’d serve up a guilt trip. I didn’t want to deal with any of that. I just wanted to ditch him that day. And then while he was screaming through the phone, I just wanted it to be over so I could move along with my day without him.

(Edit 9/8/17: I was dissociating there on the phone with him. By letting him yell and anticipating its end, I numbed and disconnected myself from any of the emotions I was feeling.)

Maybe I was also sick of the crumbs and wanted to leave a trail of my own for once.