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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate: What do you mean by allowing myself to “sit with

Resolved Question:

What do you mean by allowing myself to “sit with this?” Do you mean allowing myself just to try to feel what I feel and let it run its course? Will that help? Will it be worth it?
My inclination is to share with D. I’m not sure why. But I’m afraid I will be sorry. And I’m concerned this might be classified in the “TMI” category. I mean, yes, she asked, but this is kind of a personal thing to be sharing. She might not really want to know. I think your advice about what to say is good. If I tell her even a summary of what happened, I don’t mind telling her I’m in therapy and working with you. In fact, I would imagine that’s one of the first things she would ask. I mean, I would.
I don’t know whether telling her could help me or not. How could it help me? There’s really not a whole lot she can do, except pray. I’m not sure why I feel inclined to tell her. And I’m not sure what words to use. I am pretty sure I won’t be able to say the word “r***” to her. Attacked? Maybe, but I’m not positive. Probably wouldn’t be helpful to say that “something happened with 2 guys in college,” would it? What if she asked if I was injured? I don’t even really know the answer to that.
Also, do I tell her she can’t tell her husband or do I say that’s okay? I know that he doesn’t share a lot with her – about parishioners, etc. He can’t and doesn’t want to, and she doesn’t want him to. She does not have a similar legal duty. There’s no need for her to tell him, I don’t think, but I’m not sure if there is some husband-wife code that will put undue pressure on her if she can’t tell him what we talked about at dinner or something. Although, I had told her about JV and the inappropriate sexual things he would say to me, because they were driving me crazy. I specifically told her not to tell her husband because I was going to handle it. I’m positive she didn’t, because her husband would have been upset and I’m positive her would have had a talk with JV and I don’t think JV would have been the head deacon or teaching our Bible study class anymore, and JV would have confronted me, and he didn’t. I guess I don’t really care one way or the offer. I love her husband, and I am positive he would not tell anyone. Who knows? Do pastors within a church share such things with each other? Maybe C already told all of them. Who knows? I’m sure it’s not of great interest to them, but I don’t know who knows. I specifically asked C after I had kind of told him what happened if he shared it with anyone else - that it was okay and I trusted his judgment and understand he is married, etc. - that I just felt I needed to know who knew this about me. But he pretty obviously dodged the question.
Speaking of which, C is coming by in about 15 minutes to talk. Should be interesting. We need to discuss business stuff, but he seemed all too anxious to come over here. I have a feeling I’m up for a lecture or a lot of questions. Ack. I just need to not start crying, or this could go badly.
Well, better get some things done before then. I’ll check back with you. Meanwhile, what you are saying is to just feel miserable and not worry about it?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.


By sitting with your feelings, I mean exactly as you described it. Let the feelings happen. Your inclination might be to analyze them or try to get rid of them. By letting yourself feel, you are saying it's ok and I accept that I feel this way. It will not hurt you, only feel bad. Or it might be ok. Either way, it will help you accept your own feelings.

If D is concerned about you and you are ok with sharing, then it is ok to tell her something. You don't have to share so much that you feel it's too much. Only enough so you feel comfortable sharing. I cannot see why she would not want to know. Any person who is compassionate and concerned wants to help. It's only your feeling that she might not want to know from childhood when your parents did not want to hear how you felt. If she didn't want to know, she would not have asked.

You could always say something happened with two guys in college. Said with the right body language (looking down or indicating in another way your feelings) she would catch it, unless she is not insightful. But that doesn't sound like the case with her, or her husband. So she would understand if you told her the minimum. Most women would because we all understand personal safety and the threat of being attacked.

If she asks you more questions and you are not comfortable with answering, just let her know that some of it still really bothers you and you are working on being able to talk about it. That will let her know to back off.

You can certainly ask her not to share it with her husband. There is no code between husband and wife. And even if she did share, he would keep it to himself. Only someone who is callas and hurtful would share something like that with others.

I do not think pastors are allowed to share with each other, unless they leave names and identifying information out and only for support on how to respond.

What do you feel about sharing your story? You have done it before with mixed results. And there is still a lot of feelings attached to what you went through and others knowing about it. What is most important here is that you feel cared for and protected. If you feel that telling anyone else is unsafe, it is ok to give an neutral answer to D and move on.

Let me know how it goes with C,


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hey Kate.

C totally spaced his appointment with me and called a half hour later, so that was good, although if he wants my help, he better get in to see me. I just told him we'd have to set up something later. I told him it was probably a good thing, because Jamie is still out of town, and it didn't dawn on me until this morning that we would be alone here, and I wasn't sure if he felt comfortable with that. It's not like I haven't been alone with the man dozens of times, but there seems to have been some kind of tightening of the hatches there, because he has seemed more concerned about making sure someone is around if we are together at the church, or going out to lunch. He said today "I'm not concerned - we're both trustworthy." I told him "yeah, I don't think we're going to accidentally make out or anything." It seemed to embarrass him, which was my goal. He said something about it being a matter of appearances. I'm guessing that somebody said something about he and I spending a lot of time together at some point. Oh well. It wasn't his wife. He always tells her when he's over here or something, and she has no issue with it at all. His wife is like the nicest person I know, other than P. But somebody apparently has an issue. Better safe than sorry. But I find it funny and odd.

But, bot***** *****ne, I was glad to avoid any private conversation with him for the time being.

I will try to, as you say, sit with my feelings. Are you sure? Is it okay to feel this sad and not try to fight it and just cry when I feel like it and stuff (assuming it is an appropriate time and place)? Is it normal to feel really bad? Even after all this time and even though I've been in therapy for 9 months? Is it normal to feel like dying sometimes? I mean, not in the "I want to die and might do something about it" sense - just in the "wow - wouldn't that be convenient and a relief and this is too hard - or, this would be (selfishly) good timing for the rapture" sense?

I don't know why I feel like it might be a good idea to tell D. Maybe because she asked, except it usually irritates me when people ask about my unspoken prayer requests or what is going on with me - because people just want to know things other people don't know. They don't care - they just want the "scoop." But I didn't feel that way with her.

I don't know exactly how I feel about the prospect of telling someone else. You're right - I have told other people before, with differing reactions. It would really hurt me if she got the impression that I just felt guilty about sleeping with 2 guys in college - like the first friend I told thought. I don't think that's likely - D isn't a 21 year old. But I still worry about that, because it made me think about it, and think "well, I guess that's true, in a way," and it made me feel even more like a whore. I feel like if people know what happened, it will change their opinion/view of me. And I feel like people will judge me because I am still not over it, and think that the fact that I am even talking about it or that I am still upset about it is a matter of me being dramatic.

I don't know what reaction I would even want, except if she said she was glad I told her. For some reason, it made me feel better (I guess validated?) sometimes when Linda and I would talk abut certain things that happened, or after she read my "story, " when she would say that it was bad and unusually violent or cruel, because then I felt like maybe that gave me some permission to not be over it now like I expect normal people would be. But on the other hand, it's hard to hear. I don't want D to blow it off, but I don't want her to say it's terrible. I don't know. I guess I would just like for her to understand, and for me to somehow know that.

I can handle it, I think, if she asks questions I do not feel comfortable answering - and she will be respectful. I think I need to try to say things as clearly as I can (not detail-wise, but just communicating what it was), because I don't want to have to worry about body language. As I think I told you, I have been told I have very little affect sometimes, and I don't want there to be a misunderstanding, because it would be harmful to me, I think, to try to clear that up.

I'm still not sure what I am going to gain by telling her. Trust? The knowledge that someone else is praying for me?

The only downside I can see, since I know she wouldn't tell anyone, is how she may react, which would make me feel worse. But I don't think there's a big chance of that. Is this a good sign that I'm thinking of telling her or is it misguided?

As for telling her husband - I just won't say. She will know not to tell anyone else. If she asks whether she can tell him, then I would think that would be an indication that she feels she wants or needs to, and that would be fine.

As far as sharing it with people being unsafe - of course I feel it is unsafe . This whole thing - even thinking about it, therapy, everything - is unsafe, wouldn't you say?

So ... I just started crying to a song on my ipod. (How's that for "sitting with" my feelings :)? ) It doesn't matter. I'm here alone. So I guess I'm just going to try to roll with it.

However, it is a beautiful song - Prayer of the Children, and if you haven't heard it, I must share it with you. Here's a link:


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

That is good about C, Shay. I imagine someone did have some kind of trouble if there is suddenly new rules about meeting together without someone there.

It is absolutely fine to sit with the feelings, cry as you need to (places where you feel safe), and just feel bad. And it is ok to feel like dying is an option. As long as you don't feel like you really do want to hurt yourself, then it is a normal part of your feelings. Most people feel that way at one time or another, especially after a trauma. I listen to K-Love (Christian station)and they had Steven Curtis Chapman on talking about when his daughter died. He said he wanted God to let him die so he could see her again. But since that isn't going to happen, he says he can't wait until it's his time so he can see her. He is still writing, singing and living his life, he just has that feeling because of his sadness.

Feeling that D or others would judge you because you are not "over" the trauma or you are acting too dramatic is your parents talking. I read what you wrote and I was aghast that anyone would consider you overreacting about what happened to you. There is no way you could even be accused of being too dramatic. So I highly doubt that D would have that reaction. Only someone who represses their feelings would feel that way, because your emotions would scare them.

Your trauma was very real and you are reacting in a very healthy way. If you were not traumatized by this, I would be worried about you. If you were not crying, upset, depressed and even angry that would be something to be concerned about.

It is a good sign that you are willing to tell D about what happened. It is also good in that you can see how you transfer your feelings about yourself onto others. You feel judged, dramatic, bad about yourself and some shame mixed in there. This is good because it shows you what you can work with to make yourself feel better about this. There is no "normal" when it comes to traumas. Everyone reacts differently. I was in therapy a very long time before I felt ok enough to help others. And even when I was done, I went back a few times to deal with other issues that popped up. I am still affected by what happened, but now I have the coping mechanisms to deal with it better. You are the same. Nine months in therapy is a great start. You will know when you are done.

I'm going to listen to your song and hope I don't cry too hard! :)


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Did you like the song?

I listen to K-LOVE, too (well, I switch between that and Family Life Radio in the car). I have heard Stephen Curtis Chapman talk about the death of his daughter and going on, as well, but I didn't remember that part. I remember when that first happened - I just felt so terrible for their son.

If you listen to K-LOVE, you should recognize most of those songs I listed for you the other day,

And no - I would never actually hurt myself. And I would certainly never kill myself. I've never really considered it - ever.

It's kind of funny how weird your advice sounds - to let myself be upset for as long as I need to be, to go ahead and cry, etc. I didn't really realize how counter that is to what I've always known. I always thought the way to stop being upset is to act like you're not upset. I thought that to allow yourself to be upset was to choose to make things worse and feel sorry for yourself. Those beliefs didn't work too well for me, did they?

Well, D just texted me and asked if we could do dinner tomorrow night. So I guess we'll see.

I am anxious to look at my file with Linda this evening. I'm very curious!

BTW - am I going to be in therapy for, like, years??


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Kate -- nother question (because, of course now I am all worried) --- if I tell D tomorrow at dinner, how do I even start? I mean, it's not like I have to explain why I'm telling her -- she asked and knows I am considering telling her something. But do I just blurt it out or is there a way to ease into it? I know -- dumb questions, but ....
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Yes, I have heard a lot of those songs. I just need to look them up because I often don't hear the name of them, I just know the tune.

It is strange to think about letting yourself feel emotions when you have been taught to keep them all in. Sometimes, it is a matter of giving yourself permission to let go and allow the feelings to be there. And changing those beliefs that say emotions are weak or you are feeling sorry for yourself. Thought sometimes comes before feeling.

You don't necessarily need to be in therapy for years. It is all a matter of when you feel you are done. When you have the coping mechanisms you need to manage on your own, you can stop then. You can really stop anytime you want. You can even stop now, but it's not the best option.The best choice is to wait until you feel you are ready to leave therapy. It all depends on how much is there and how fast you work through it as well.

At dinner with D, you can start by saying that you have been thinking about her question about how you are doing (or whatever she said to you) and that you decided to share with her. Then talk about it from there. You might want to write down what you want to say so you can read it through a few times before you go. That way, you won't be searching for words.

There are no dumb questions. You can ask me anything. But just you saying that brings up something I have been noticing for a while. I am curious about your inner self talk. There seems to be a lot self depreciating talk that goes on about your need for others, your feelings and even how long you are taking to work through your trauma. I know some of that comes from your childhood, but I'm also wondering what is fueling it now. What do you think about this?


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Did you listen to the "Prayer of the Children"?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
it was not easy!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

What do you mean? Because it evokes emotion? Isn't it so pretty, though? Did you like it?

I thought I posted something, but I think i lost it, so here it is again:

I'm not sure what I think about it. I always thought I was pretty honest and realistic with myself. Truth is (as I am sure you can tell), I feel terrible about myself surrounding this situation. I haven't thought about it a whole lot (purposely) since it happened and I physically healed, and so the realization of all this and what I did and how I handled it has not been on the surface until I started therapy with Linda. I know you don't believe me, but I usually do have really good self esteem. But I think that's part of it, too - since I ignored all this and it is all coming up at once, it has become very clear that my self-assessment was wrong. I thought I was really smart, I thought I knew best how to handle things, I thought I was brave, I thought I was "over" this and got through it with little consequence, considering, and I thought I was very emotionally and mentally healthy. But now that things are becoming more clear, the truth is hard to take: (1) I am so ashamed of the things I did during the incident; (2) I didn't make good decisions leading up to the incident (already knew that) and don't feel I made good decisions during the incident, and still wonder which was the right thing: to cooperate to avoid pain and maybe death, or to stand my ground, maintain my integrity, and face the consequences. The choices I made make me feel like a coward; (3) I thought I was handling things well because I was able to bury it so well. I thought that my only consequence of the whole thing was nightmares, which I thought was pretty good, considering some of the stuff I have seen and read about people who go through this kind of thing, and it makes me feel upset and dumb that I was so wrong. The fact is, I took the easy way out (again, I feel like a coward), and am paying for it. Things are hard anyway, but it makes it worse that it is my own fault; (4) I thought my lack of feelings meant that I didn't have any strong feelings about it, which I thought meant that I was over it, and that upsets me that I was wrong, too; (5) I feel like the fact that I didn't just get over it - if nothing else, just with the passage of time - means I am weak. I feel I must be some fragile person to be this upset about it all this time later; (6) I feel weak and pathetic that I can't do this myself - that I need therapists and medication and friends to help me. I feel dumb that I could not and still cannot figure out how to resolve this on my own.; (7) I also feel weak because I realize I have needs, which I have always felt are inappropriate and for the needy and dependent; (8) I feel so unaware, since I apparently have these other issues (trust, my childhood, etc.) of which I had no clue. I mean, seriously - if someone would have told me a years ago that there was something wrong with how I was treated by my parents, I would never have believed it. But see, too, I always thought there was something wrong with me in the family dynamic. So although I have thrived since I moved out, I always had that memory/feeling. Now I am realizing there are things wrong with me - just not what I thought; (9) One of the things that makes me feel confident is being in control - and I feel very out of control right now; (10) I kind of prided myself on not being scared of anything and doing things other people were too scared to do, etc. And the realization that I am actually scared of a lot sucks and makes me feel not so brave.

I just had a lot of perceptions about myself - good perceptions - which apparently were not true. And the bad attributes - they are being confirmed. I'm not who I thought I was or who I want to be. I did discover that wen this happened, but I ignored it and can't anymore.

I feel like for as smart as I thought I was, I have screwed up at every turn, and I feel I have been stripped down to what I really am, which is not even close to what I thought or where I want to be, and is far from what those who love me think I am.

I just am unhappy right now, and it's hard for me to see it as the fault of people I haven't even seen in almost 2 decades and the result of something that happened so long ago. It is more logical for me to see it as a result of my current weakness and bad judgment, and that of the past however many years.

I'm trying to be as honest as possible. I'm not used to feeling so bad about myself. Sometimes I seriously don't understand how anyone can stand to talk to or be around me, if they know any of this stuff. And if they don't, I feel like I have deceived them.

Sorry. That's how I feel right now.


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I do believe you, Shay. You feel you have good self esteem and that is what matters. But I wonder if there are not parts of yourself and your life that were damaged by your childhood, where you were taught to not believe in yourself (your feelings) and trust what you feel and what others tell you. That is what I was getting at.

When you were a child, you were rewarded for acting a certain way. That way involved not showing your feelings and being competent. You were left to fend for yourself as a teen so their was no guidance and therefore no good judgment advice from your parents (that is a critical time for guidance). This was not your fault. You have developed good judgment and emotional health since then because you are a healthy person. You stood out in your family because of your ability to see what was going on as not normal.

Right, wrong, pathetic, fragile and weak are all words you used to describe yourself as you talked about how you handled the attack. This is not about what is wrong with you. This is about what you learned as a child and how you have used that, your only learned coping mechanisms, to handle what happened to you. This is not a black and white (right and wrong) situation. This is not about judgment, which you got a lot of as a child. Your parents judged everything. But you do not have to accept that as normal. Because it is not.

The fact that this trauma helped you discover yourself is good. It may not feel like it but that is what is happening. You learned that the coping mechanisms you used that you learned from your parents are dysfunctional. Now you are learning new ones. But you keep going back to the old ones and berating yourself by using them to judge yourself with. You no longer need to follow what your parents taught you. It was dysfunctional. Logic and judgment do not work with emotions. Letting go of what your parents taught you will help you to see yourself for who you really are.

It is hard to see yourself how others see you, for now. Here is how I see you:

Good sense of humor






That does not match what you say about yourself but that is what I see. But I do not have to see you through the lens from your childhood. I can see you clearly now, as you are. That is where we are going with talking about this, to get you to the point that you can see yourself realistically.

Let me know how your appointment turns out tonight!

Good night, Shay. Sleep well.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Your first 2 sentences cracked me up. "I do believe you. I believe you think such-and-such...". You should be a diplomat :)
It dawned on me when you said that I had little guidance as a teen, that it would scare me to death of Kenzi or Allie had the lack of supervision I had at their ages or were doing the things I did. yikes.
I get what you are saying, but it's not as easy as just changing my thinking or rejecting what I learned. I accepts those things as my own. On fact, I judged others by them, too.
I appreciate what you think are my positive attributes. I do think I have some positive attributes. But what you are ignoring on your list are the other things that you know. What I did. How I handled things. What I was for those guys.
There is a difference between seeing myself realistically and only seeing the good. All of us have faults. Seeing only the good is not realistic, is it?
My appointment with Linda didn't go at all as I expected. It was overwhelming. We went through about half of her notes. She kept checking in with me to see if things were okay. There were no surprises at all, but it was interesting to see what she deemed important. and it was obvious he spent a lot of time out of session looking at things and pulling out resources, etc.
She didn't write a lot of the details of what happened down, but had a copy of when I wrote it down for her, which I didn't want to read. But the few times she did write stuff down from the experience, it was hard to read. Some of the words made me physically jerk/flinch. I just started not reading anything that looked like it might not be going there.
At some point, when she was asking how I felt about all of this, she asked if I was Gettin overwhelmed, and I told her yes and that I didn't want to look at anymore. She said that was just fine and if I wanted to ever look again, I was welcome. I couldn't believe how hard it was. Linda found it difficult, too. She was crying. She asked of I felt like crying, and I did. We just sat there for a while. I said little, but I think he was worried where my head would go if she let me sit on silence, so she kept talking. She said "if you are going to cry, cry for what they did to you, dammit. Don't you cry about something you think you did because you did nothing wrong. ". Dang. That surprised me. But I didn't actually cry. But I was about to burst and I started to feel lightheaded and sick. So I asked her ino could please go. She said of course, but I think she was a little caught off guard. But I had to get out of there. She walked me out and asked me of she could call me tomorrow and I said yes.
I feel okay now - just confused. I was so surprised at how I felt. I thought this session would be easy, just reading the notes and stuff. I wonder why I reacted that way. I wonder why she got upset too. It was surprising. It was powerful. Why do you think that was? Just because I was already down?
So no at all what I expected, and seeing her notes was unnecessary, as they didn't include anything bad or surprising. Except I was a little surprised at how much she had written down about my family.. But the effect was totally different than I would have guessed.
Now I'm wiped out! I did feel like it was a good thing for Linda and I to do together, and I felt like things are more in synj between is than they were Ben before we tried the EMDR. I don't know of she thinks that, because she seemed a little thrown that I needed to take off. But I'll explain it best I can to her later. I felt like she was "with" me this session, though.
I do want to say thank you for your nice words about how you see me. That was nice.
Well, I need to go to bed. It is only 8:30, but I am so tired.
Sleep tight, Kate.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.


It's interesting how you saw my list. You mentioned that I was pointing out only your positive attributes and not all the horrible things you did with those guys. You also said that all of us have faults. Yes we do. But you had already listed what you felt your faults were. So what was it about seeing your positive attributes from someone else that bothered you?

You also mentioned that you feel you accept what you have learned growing up as your own and that changing your thinking is not easy. And you use what you learned to judge others. I do agree that changing your thinking is not an overnight thing. It does take time. One of the first steps is seeing that your thinking is hurting you. That what you learned as a child is dysfunctional and skews your thoughts and how you see things, especially others. Judgment was a big thing in your family. Judging others would feel normal to you since you were judged so much. You learned that certain behavior was not allowed and if you showed any hint of this behavior (feelings) that you would be judged, harshly. Controlling your natural emotions was very important because expressing them meant that you were weak.These are the messages you were taught. And you still use this judgment on yourself all the time. For example, you should not have done what you did with those guys because it was wrong. You were not allowed to do what you felt you needed to do to survive. Linda is right, you did nothing wrong. You survived and that is all that matters. Using what you learned as a child to punish yourself (and to assume others judge you as well) is what your parents taught you to do. It's not what is healthy and what will let you heal.

I think reading your file made what you went through very real. Here in black and white was your experience. It was not something you could explain away or use defenses with. It is hard to see that. What do you feel blocked you from letting your feelings out once you read it? You mentioned that you were about to burst, which says that there was a lot of emotions there for you. And leaving early means that this was a strong experience for you.

It's good you felt more in sync with Linda. Reading the file seemed to have a good effect on you in that way. What do you feel it was that made you respond that way?


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.


The thing about the positive attributes is this: (1) You make a good point about the fact that they were only the positive - but that's not how I had read your post [you don't have to list the negative :)]; (2) it's kind of like with people at church or, like other attorneys, that want to be friends with me - as I said, some I don't click with, but others, they don't know me. I feel like if they only see the positive side, I am deceiving them. But I don't want to have to disclose all my bad stuff, so ...; (3) it doesn't bother me to see your list. I thought it was sweet.

I don't know what the truth is. There are two extremes - believing everything about yourself is positive and you do nothing wrong and everything is everyone else's fault, and you are great ----- and believing everything is your fault and you are bad and suck. The truth is somewhere in the middle. I understand, now, that may be assessing things in the context of what I was taught, which was dysfunctional. But the other extreme is not accurate and is not any more healthy, I don't think (it is my theory that when parents teach their kids that everything they do is great, that they are the best at everything, that nothing is their fault, that if they fail at something it is not that they didn't try, or maybe tried their best but just wasn't as good [or whatever the case may be], and that anything they do is fine and justifiable ..... that's how: (1) they turn into adults with a sense of entitlement and no sense of personal responsibility; and (2) they end up trying out for America's Got Talent and are devastated because they find out, for the first time, on national television, that they are in fact not the most talented person in America).

It's hard to tell what the good and healthy way to look at things is. I need to be honest with myself, I think, about both the positive and negative. But how do I know? I only know what I've always thought. I know what you tell me - but I don't know how to apply it - you say I have a dysfunctional and skewed perception - but what is the right perception? It seems like learning a whole new way of figuring out a physics problem, or of assessing a case. I know on certain specific things - what people tell me. But I guess that's where the trust thing comes in - I don't know whether to believe them or is they are just being nice or are saying it because that's what they are "supposed" to say.

I think what blocked my feelings from coming out is that they were really strong. It scared me, because I wasn't expecting it. I think I thought if I let them out, it would be too much. But if I didn't leave, they were going to come anyway. I felt like my choices were leave or burst. Plus - I didn't really leave early - I didn't notice until I got in my car, but I had already been there over an hour and a half. It's a good thing I didn't stay - Linda would have been stuck there for 3 hours! :)

I know I should have just let them come, and if nothing else, let them out when I got in the car later, but they seemed too big. Plus - I was feeling sick and lightheaded wen I was in there, and I was afraid the lightheadedness meant that I was either going to have a flashback or going to repeat the floating above my head thing. So when I got in my car, I cranked up the music and tried to think of other things, and was better by the time I got home.

I've got to say, though - Linda says therapists are not supposed to cry in session with their clients, and she apologized for it when she did it before. It's not like she's crying hard - just tearing. She said she just can't help it. But that really helped me, because I felt like even though I couldn't let go, she understood and was crying for me, almost. And I felt the same way when at the end of her notes, sometimes, she would write "therapist sad" or something like that. I don't care if technically she's not supposed to do it - it helped. It also helped me what she said when she was upset - about crying for what they did and not for what I think I did. Because it just kind of flew out of her mouth. It did not seem pre-planned or thought out, and seemed to come out of genuine emotion, and so I believed her.

It was interesting to me to see, through her notes, that some of the sessions that were really hard for me were really hard for her, too.

At the end of your post, when you asked what I feel made me respond that way, did you mean feeling more in synch with Linda? If so, I think it was: (1) there were no judgments or bad comments in the notes, and she didn't weed out any of the notes, at least in what we looked at. What she wrote was totally consistent with what she has told me; (2) we were able to look at some things and discuss where I was now with certain issues, compared to months ago; (3) going through them all seemed to impact her the same way it impacted me. I know she had already been through half of them before last week, so she had already re-reviewed them. So I don't feel like it was as much her seeing what she had written, but more seeing me see what she had written and how it affected me. She seemed to totally understand what I was feeling, even though I didn't say anything - and she knew right when I got overwhelmed, to ask, although I hadn't said anything and don't think I acted differently. So I felt like she understood me. And for her to cry validated that this was okay to have strong feelings and wasn't the easy thing I thought it would be. Does that make sense?

And it's the same thing sometimes, when you have told me that you have teared up reading a post. I feel like if it is impacting you, it's okay that it is impacting me. Like- in reading my story or if I tell someone - although I don't really want a heavy reaction, I think the worst thing for me would be for someone to blow it off and say it wasn't a big deal, because then I do feel overdramatic.


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I was not trying to say that you do nothing wrong, Shay. No one is perfect. But you were saying that you feel others see you in a certain way and that they will interpret what happened to you in a negative light. It is the judgment of yourself that I was addressing. Others do not see you as you see yourself because your own self assessment is done through the eyes of your parents, not what is real.

It is good that you realize that your perception is learned and not helpful to you. That is the first step in changing it. But being able to trust others like me and Linda when we tell you that it is ok to view yourself in a more balanced way (good and bad, but with a realistic bad) is something that takes time. You may want to look at it this way, why do you trust that what your parents taught you? What makes you keep that point of view rather than another more healthier view? Does their view allow you to believe certain things about yourself that you feel more comfortable believing rather than the truth?

It sounds like the session with Linda was very validating for you. You feel that it is easier to trust someone when they can show you rather than just tell you what they feel. The fact that Linda's notes and her reactions backed up what she has said to you in the past made what she said hold value for you. Also, her reactions let you know that she genuinely feels what she says she feels, especially when her responses seem spontaneous. And in those ways, you feel Linda understands you. It also offers you validation when someone is touched by what happened to you. It gives you a kind of permission to react emotionally to what you went through. How does that sound to you?


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.


I didn't think you were saying I didn't do anything wrong. I'm just saying that the opposite extreme is not health or realistic, either, and it is hard to know what the actual unbiased reality is.

I think that if I'm looking at a single thing, I could learn to think about how I'm viewing it and from where my perspective came (my parents, for example), but how would I get to the point where I look at everything realistically (or most things)? It's like altering a fundamental and very broad thing.

I think I trust what my parents taught me because that it what I have always known. Kind of like if your family always ate wheat bread - I think you grow up preferring it. Or like, if people grew up in a racist family and were told all their lives that minorities were inferior or something - if you don't have some other major influences saying that's wrong - then you would grow up thinking that it is true. Right? And it would take a lot to learn that isn't the truth. And that is just one thing ---- we are talking about the whole way I look at things and at myself. And I am supposed to be able to trust my parents. It is a big change not to. It was a big change just to go home and be with them with my altered attitude about a few things.

It is hard to adjust to the thought that what I had learned was wrong and weak and dramatic and babyish might actually be healthy. And that there was nothing wrong with people who grieved a death for more than a few days or expressed feelings - that it doesn't mean they are weak or trying to get attention. And that it might not be inappropriate or wrong or needy to get physical affection - especially as a child - that doesn't necessarily equate to being a baby or immature.

And, I guess, mostly, that sometimes things happen to me that are not necessarily my fault or that I maybe didn't perpetuate or make worse. And that sometimes I can only do what I can or what I think I can, with the resources I have, and the best I can do has to be good enough sometimes. And I don't have control over everything, and can't, and it's okay to be upset about things sometimes.

It is hard to integrate that thinking into my head.

And I didn't know my way of looking at things was unhealthy until you and Linda pointed it out. And it is hard to change. Plus - I fear that looking at things in a healthy way = looking at things in any way that will make you feel better about yourself = disregarding the truth or being blind to it.

I am afraid to become someone who takes no personal responsibility for things, and blames others for everything. I KNOW that is not a good way. Linda says that on a continuum where, on one end is taking responsibility for everything, and the other end is not taking responsibility for anything, I'm not even close to the middle, and that there is no risk that I will ever get close to the end representing not taking responsibility for anything.

As far as comfort in keeping my parents' perspective - well, on the one hand, it's not comfortable at all, because I am ALWAYS on the hook. But, on the other hand, it does give the illusion of control, doesn't it?

As for your assessment about what I feel/felt concerning my session last night, I think you were pretty dead-on. So is that okay? Is it unhealthy? What does it mean, exactly?


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Also -- I am meeting D tonight for dinner at 6, and I think I'm going to tell her.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It's understandable that you fear going too far over to the other side if you change the way you think of things. But it is not realistic that you would go from one extreme to another, though. Most people are somewhere in between. They see all sides of something and make a decision based on what they know. Sometimes it turns out wrong, other times it works out. But I think some of the fears you learned as a child prevents you from taking that risk. You want to be able to trust everything and everyone you deal with. You want to be sure of what you do and the decisions you make. You do not want to open yourself up to being hurt. That is understandable. But it becomes a detriment to your ability to see all sides of a situation or person. Linda is right, you are almost completely on one end of the spectrum. Finding the middle is a good goal. But to do that you have to learn to let go of the need to judge, your mistrust of others and some of your fear (a little fear is healthy and ok). It is ok to do the best you can with any situation. That is good enough.

Altering what your parents taught you is a matter of first seeing what they did as unhealthy. For example, when they told you that expressing your feelings meant you were weak, that was an unhealthy point of view. Expressing feelings is a normal part of life. Learning to recognize your own feelings and validating them might be a good next step. So when you need to cry, knowing that crying is normal and that letting those tears come is good for you is a healthy way to express yourself. You will not go to the completely other side and cry anytime anywhere, unable to stop yourself. You will find the middle.

What you did last night with Linda was normal. Your reaction did indicate that there still are some trust issues for you. But that is ok and not unexpected. Feeling closer to her and having your feelings validated is a good thing, too. It can help you see that sometimes what people tell you is what they truly feel. You don't always have to look for signs of deception or indications that they cannot be trusted.

Let me know how it goes with D. I'll be thinking of you!


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