So I just had my second counseling session. Wow. I am going to use this post as a place to just dump as much of the conversation as possible. It went all over the place.
She let me control the conversation. I started off by reading to her the personality profile that I found at Good.co. As I read some of the character traits or values that I possess, we discussed some specific examples and rationales for my behavior. We discussed conflict avoidance, difficulty sharing my thoughts and feelings, introversion and recharging time, and my tough-to-crack exterior that prevents me from making deep connections with people. We also discussed how I overcome my introverted ways when I find a cause to champion. I also explained my issues with getting bored and jumping from one project to another, at home and at work.
Then I addressed some concerns. I shared that I want to get better at setting and achieving goals, but that before I do any of that I should probably get some progress made on finding meaning and purpose in life. I should have some idea of what I want to do before I set goals about how to achieve it! I also went more in-depth in how I want to develop meaningful relationships; I explained how I put up a “wall” to people and take a long time to process things before I consider being friends or even just acquaintances with someone, and that often gets in the way of developing a deep friendship where thoughts and feelings can be shared.
Next, I went over a list of things that make me anxious. They included:
- fear of rejection
- being a single dad
- conflict avoidance
- invasions of my privacy (which spurred on a really neat conversation of its own)
- how I don’t allow myself to be comfortable
- how the separation was easier when it was mutual
- being authentic, not putting on a “happy face”
- being alone versus being lonely and misunderstood
- seeing both sides of every argument and getting caught in the middle
- dating again
The privacy conversation led to some interesting revelations. I am super paranoid about having privacy; for example, I see bathrooms as places where people should expect privacy. I don’t talk to people while they’re in the bathroom and I get mad when people talk to me while I’m in the bathroom. The bathroom is where I can go and hide and think. Anyway, I recounted the times when the Ex would buy something (a couch or a TV, etc.) and then not pay for it, and the store would send out people to collect the merchandise. You’d never know when they were coming and they’d show up and pound on the door for five, ten, even twenty minutes and I never had money for them so I’d just pretend not be home, but I’d have to be super quiet and tell kiddo to be quiet so they would go away. I got used to it, it happened so often. There was even one time when I saw them in my driveway as I was coming home from work, and I just drove past my house and they must have known it was me because then they followed me in their truck. I lost them and pulled into a parking lot to wait until they were gone, and somehow they found me in the parking lot and I had to get away from them all over again. It was humiliating. And, as the counselor explained, it caused me to feel insecure. I couldn’t even be secure in my own house. So I have some really deeply-rooted privacy issues to get through.
We also went into detail about how I won’t allow myself to be comfortable. It seems like this started when I was a child. When my dad lost his job I was probably 8 or 9 years old and even though I didn’t realize it then, it was a traumatic event. Dad lost his job. Our old life was gone in an instant. Even though he has successfully run his own business since that time, things changed. We didn’t go on vacations like we had before. My parents became a lot more stingy with money and we lived like poor people for a while. My parents racked up a lot of debt so we never had the ability to afford summer camps or anything like that. Going through that conditioned me to feel uncomfortable being comfortable. I worry all the time and that causes me to be uncomfortable, I’m never able to settle. I play the “what if” game with myself too often. I really want a recliner, and I’ve got the money to buy a recliner, and I’d really enjoy having a recliner, but I won’t buy it because “what if”…what if my car breaks down, what if this, what if that. Then I end up hanging on to the money or spending it somewhere else because I was too afraid to buy something that I really wanted. That’s messed up. We are going to work on that too…I think she is going to push me to buy a recliner.
We talked about dating. I explained, generally, the events that have transpired with girl #1 and she would like me to keep asking her to go along on friendly outings, sometimes even just the two of us, just to take some baby steps toward facing my fear of asking her out on a real date. I told the counselor that I feel guilty for thinking about being romantic, or even taking steps toward something that could become a romance. Like, shouldn’t I have my divorce papers in before I do anything? She said I didn’t need permission, I didn’t need to have divorce papers filled out to hang out with girl #1 and my other friends on Sunday nights, why would I need them any other time? If the girl is okay with it, it’s okay. We are going to take some baby steps there as well.
I can’t remember specifics about much else…we spent a lot of time talking about my insecurity. We talked a lot about my fears, and about fighting the urge to ask “what if” because that is a traumatic question, it really screws you up to worry like that. She gave me some breathing exercises to fight my anxiety. We set up two more appointments in May, which I am very much looking forward to attending. Only two sessions in and I feel like this has been a life-changing decision to get help. I feel like I can be totally honest with the counselor, which is great.
The last thing I want to mention is that I told her about the Herman Hesse quote and she agreed completely. She feels that letting go is crucial to making progress. I will spend a lot of time in the next couple weeks thinking about that.