This week’s therapy session was extremely difficult. I was speaking to her about my feelings in regards to a recent argument with my GP doctor. I was very angry, and very hurt. The day it happened, I discussed it with my sister, and she reminded me that my doctor is a human being, and therefore can have bad days. I do most often attempt to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I have a more difficult time of doing that with my medical providers.
Looking at it from a more objective viewpoint, there were a number of subjects in that recent follow-up appointments that my doctor has very clearly stated a differing opinion than my own. Since most of them are more about subjects that aren’t a trigger point for me, I can for the most part agree to disagree with her – with no rancor. But, those subjects that I do have some past history about (and which have been part of my advocacy for myself and my own physical health), even though this doctor is still the best partner in my own health, I still react with far more anger and betrayal than necessarily the situation requires.
And, looking back on Monday’s therapy session (because I wanted to give myself some space about it, so I could look at it more objectively), I noticed that she used a tool that I had attempted to use with my ex-husband. While I do not have the level of rage in my psyche that he does, certain subjects almost automatically bring out a horrible level of what I consider to be “righteous rage.” After some discussion, in which my therapist tried to distill my communication down to just the feelings (regardless of the thinking behind them), I stated that when it comes to my interactions with medical practitioners I feel vulnerable, then betrayed and then enraged.
She asked me to stay in that state of vulnerability, fear and betrayal – before it moved on to rage. It’s not a place I ever want to be in, which is why it moves so quickly from those feelings to anger/rage. Those emotions make me feel helpless and hopeless. I’m not sure I was completely able to sit in that state of pain, because while I felt like I was going to cry (not something I normally allow other people to see) it never reached a point where crying was unavoidable.
She asked me how long I have had these issues with assorted medical and psychiatric professionals. I told her that as far as I could remember, I had always had difficulties trusting them. I was always defensive with members of those industries.
I leaned in and showed her this photo I’ve posted repeatedly on this blog. She thought it was difficult to believe that a medical professional would expect a child under the age of 10 to be on a strict diet with less caloric intake than needed for a healthy child. I don’t know about you, but being what was considered “hefty” in the ’70s, is pretty obvious with this photo.
I can’t tell you how many medical practitioners I have had to argue with about my health. Let alone how many times I have been accused of lying, told that I simply didn’t have the discipline or willpower needed to lose weight. Told that the issue with my weight was my mental issue, rather than something my genetics had somehow “gifted” to me.
Being punished for “stealing” food did indeed encourage me to do so. I figured if I was going to be punished, I might as well get the enjoyment of the food. But that kind of self-destructive eating ended approximately half-way through high school. It finally occurred to me that absolutely no one was “monitoring” my food intake (at least at the boarding school), that I should essentially only eat until I was no longer hungry. Given that one of my issues throughout my life has been struggles with actually feeling hungry, this would end up with me skipping as many meals as it did eating them. So, yes, in my teen years – the years I gained the most amount of weight – I was fairly often starving myself. I still hid that I was doing so, by taking food from the cafeteria so as to look like I was eating, but throwing it away as soon as I got to my dorm room.
So, yes, I have carried an awful lot of anger and rage about my physical health, my mental health and anything else that relates to that kind of issue – including my struggles with sexual health.
And, the base issue behind the activism that I do? I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. I want to empower others to stand up to those who think they know what is best for you, but don’t take your needs into account. I want people to be aware of their bodies, not hiding in their minds – like so many overweight people do. I want to remind others that their body is noting to be ashamed of or hidden away from other people.
Is that a matter of wanting to save others? Yeah, and it is probably why I was convinced for so long that I was somehow helping or saving my ex-husband.
My therapist wants me to try to put myself in that same mindset (the vulnerability, fear and pain) until it becomes overwhelming and then allow it to change into anger. Whether it is because she wants me to be able to let go of all of it, or because she’s trying to help me desensitize it, I’m just not sure I can do that. I’m trying on here, because this is one of the few outlets I do allow myself to be vulnerable to others. And, who knows, maybe someone will read this who has had similar struggles in their lives, and hopefully not feel alone.
It’s a daunting task.