I Just Want Closure
I like closure. I’m sure it’s a response to something from early on that became a way to find relief from painful feelings. Whatever the reason, there’s a problem, let’s problem-solve, let’s get it fixed. Done and DONE.
Yet, the world does not work that way no matter how much I exert my willpower. As a result, therapy is ruthless. It’s such a slow process. PAINFULLY. SLOW. I know enough people that are open with their own journeys to ask them about their experiences and it’s mixed feedback. For some, yes, they too have felt the heart-aching, gut-punching beats of the therapeutic process. For others, they were good to go in 6 or 7 easy breezy sessions. The conclusion is “it depends” on the what and why of therapy.
I think what I hate most about therapy is the “hangover” part. On the days where there’s been some excavating, searching, and slight shifts in session what will follow is anywhere from hours if not days of “LAUREN vs lauren”. My amygdala (LAUREN) means well but she is tenacious and a powerful force in my life. Because of the glacially slow therapeutic process, I find myself teetering on a ledge without a harness. That harness is an emotional toolbox. Right now I have a hammer and maybe, sometimes, actually probably not in there, a screwdriver as well. Therapy is working on creating more tools yet to do so means I have to live without these tools. Round and round we go.
So what does that look like? Ugh, it’s pretty ugly and painful. That tiny shift in therapy rattles in my brain. It jars loose fragments that require repair. I’ll feel the emotional tidal wave building and I really want to let it come and sweep me up. Truly, I do, because I like closure.
But it doesn’t because LAUREN wants no part of that. After all, we can’t swim and she’s not going to let us drown. That’s her entire reason to endure. So the feelings start to come and lauren starts giving LAUREN a pep talk. Compassion, empathy they all seem to make it worse. Now instead of just this fragment that needs attention, I can begin to feel the entire system begin to panic. If you are unlucky enough to know what this is, I’m sorry. It’s the uptick in your heart rate, it’s the tightening in your chest, the closure in your throat, the tears forming behind your eyes, the frown on your face, and maybe the biting of the inside of your cheek. Now there’s physical pain where there was once the “maybe”. I try to tell LAUREN yeah, pain is coming but hear me out, what if, it doesn’t kill us because that’s the primal fear, right? She typically then laughs at me and revs her engines more that I no longer can ignore the physical symptoms of the panic and I then I’m forced to switch over to “coping in the moment” mode. Deep breathing, meditation, something mindful to keep me grounded. It works to stave off the attack but guess what else it did? It pushed back what I know needs to be brought forward.
I let it be because it’s such a difficult cycle and I end up parking myself in the cave of rumination. Questions upon questions. I’ll write some of them down to bring with me to my next session. I know we won’t get to them because there’s never enough time and I’m not even sure they are worth bringing forward because perhaps what sessions do is build a way for me to answer them on my own. I know I need to exit from this cave so I do it by keeping myself distracted. I paint, draw, write, listen to music, drink a shit-ton of ginger tea, even put myself back into improv. It indeed does the job and it also festers. It’s hard to describe. On the outside, it seems I’m even putting my life back in order. Thing is barely under the surface lives the cliffs of impending doom and sea of despair. I hate it. I hate that I can’t flip a switch and be like, oh, yeah, cool, I get it now let’s wrap this up and put a bow on it. I have an abhorrence for how it manifests. Irritability. Shorter fuse. Recoiling from those closest to me.
Something that comes up in therapy quite a bit is working to a place where I allow myself to be more open to those closest to me. It would be helpful for sure. I’m aware that fostering that kind of closeness would help alleviate trips to distraction depot and hikes up misery mountain. Tell that to LAUREN. Even now she is kicking and screaming as I write this.
While the therapy hangover is indeed painful there is also a special (maybe the word is weird or unparalleled, it might even be coming from a place of privilege, I don’t know) opportunity to traversing therapy and the therapeutic relationship. It affords me some respite where I can slowly, [PAINFULLY.SLOWLY.], even gently, let someone devoid of any expectations enter into my mind and take a look at the dark spaces. I definitely brace myself every time for my therapist to turn to me and say, “this is how you live?” and because of that, we traverse with only a flashlight versus floodlights.
So often people think that my sharing is brave and part of the journey to healing. The irony is I can write these thoughts and share my experience because I know who won’t be reading all of this. The same goes for my writings that make it to publication. Unless I specifically hand them the link or even print out the words they don’t pry. Not because they are uncaring monsters but because part of how we make things work in life and in-between sessions is this unspoken understanding that I’m not ready. In fact, right now, LAUREN is on a rampage because there’s been a small shift. I’ve said it out loud that I’m not ready which for her implies I might want to get ready. So she’s kicking and screaming.
There isn’t a pretty bow for this blog entry. For now distraction it is and the hope that the in-betweens get smoother.