On Being Single at Thirty-One. Hello 2014!

I am a Thirty-one year old single woman who  loves her life the way it is. I have so many creative pursuits.  I have my own cozy little apartment that’s a constant art project in progress. I have a fulfilling career. I cultivate deep and profound friendships, of which I have so many. I am grateful. I have short lived romances which make me learn so much more about myself as intense or painful as they are at times. I want so much for myself. I want to continue to become a better yoga teacher and live a spiritual life. I want to spend time in India, move back to Europe one day. When you’re this happy, and have been emotionally unavailable for so many years, the motivation for finding a relationship is, understandably, not that high.

My intention for 2014 though, is to pursue my first adult relationship! Here’s the caveat. I want it to be only 25% -50% of my life. Not all-consuming. I want someone to respect my space and privacy and take the relationship slow.  I want to meet someone who is equally fulfilled in their life and appreciates what being alone really means. I do acknowledge finally, that a relationship does not equal an end to my independence. I just need to meet someone who values their independence in similar ways.

I do need to say this though…What I’ve outlined above doesn’t mean that I’m emotionally unavailable, commitment-phobic or have intimacy  issues. I’m tired of pathologizing myself after feedback from men, society or interpreting the reasons why I got involved with the wild romantic encounters of late (Yes I’ve been a bit unorthodox in my choices this year! But I’ve been exploring). I never used to pathologize until I turned 30! I had so much more ownership over the lifestyle choices that I made until I turned 30. Like the film above, Female Freedom has an Expiration Date! 

So my intentions for 2014 in pursuit of my first adult relationship are as follows:

Continue to be open-hearted. Continue to know that I want love. Continue to know that I don’t want to “settle down,” or find “the one.” Continue to believe that there is no “one”, that there are  in fact, many and it’s just about timing and effort. Continue to be self-reflexive and challenge my own behaviour patterns and old habits in relationships. Continue to date. Continue to be open-minded without compromising my beliefs or values. Continue to give people a fair chance. Go back to taking ownership of my lifestyle choices. Make decisions that are in line with what I really want.  Continue to believe that I am capable of showing up and loving. See the beauty in all the people who walk my way. 

It’s going to be a good year 2014.

Love, me.

 

 

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On Daddy Issues.

According to attachment theory, our attachment styles in adult relationships were established when we were mere babes, based on our relationships with our primary caregivers, or parents.

I just realized that this year I’m working through my relationships with my parents through my relationships with men. The idea of daddy issues suddenly popped up for me this week. I googled “daddy issues” and urban dictionary gave me a bunch of definitions that shed somewhat twisted light on my recent sexual relationship with an older emotionally unavailable man.

2. Daddy issues
A girl wanting to be submissive and adored by a older guy, who will put her above all others. The sex is kinky, and the dominance irresistible to the male. A girl wanting to be naughty but sweet, just for her daddy :P”
“3. Daddy issues
Having an older man in your life that you see as the dad you never had that you have secretly always wanted to have sex with.
Ashley: Why are you always offering to help Mr. Martin when you know you’re not going to get extra credit
Danni: He’s just so charming and professional and sexy.
Ashley: Boy do you have some daddy issues.”

K, I’ve got to take urban dictionary with a grain of salt, of course.

But other internet hear-say has also been kind of interesting; there’s lots of conflicting information online about daddy issues. (Likely cause’ it’s a pop culture/ pop psychology term that’s being thrown conveniently to put down women??) Some websites say women who are serial monogamists have major daddy issues because they jump from relationship to relationship trying to fill that void. That’s definitely not me. I’ve kind of been anti-relationships. I identify as single! Others say women who are sexually aggressive and promiscuous have daddy issues because they’re using sex to fill that void. Yeah, that could be me as a I enter my thirties. Then the following is pretty common opinion: insecure women with low self-esteem who put up with unhealthy relationships have daddy issues. Not me either, until recently I suppose, where I’m sticking around in unhealthy situations attempting to objectively observe, analyze and draw conclusions until I reach some “aha” moment, like some kind of sexual armchair anthropologist.

What’s clear is that it seems like emotionally or physically unavailable fathers end up having some impact on women’s relationships with men. My father was an incredibly loving, affectionate, and goofy man. I was kind of his princess and loved his attention as a child. I’d get jealous if he gave his attention elsewhere. But my father worked long hours. He was the provider. My mother stayed at home. I think he liked it that way. My father was rarely home. In my teens, he wasn’t present emotionally or physically. My parents were on the brink of divorce every few months and my father was emotionally absent. It was a really difficult three years. Then I moved away from home. I haven’t lived with my father since I was 18. And my father has become increasingly more emotionally unavailable since then.

The thing is, in my teens to mid-twenties, I always dated really progressive, open-minded, loving, sensitive, good -hearted, “feminist” men. So what has changed? My friend said that these guys have been “safe” for me, and that it’s kind of boring for me. This is true considering I haven’t wanted a relationship in 5 years and I’m not ready to settle down in any way shape or form. Then recently in the last year or so I started dating men primarily for the sex. These guys tended to be rather “masculine”, unpredictable, emotionally unavailable and kind of “dangerous” or “exciting”. Anyone in the past 5 years who has wanted to be my boyfriend didn’t last very long.

Yet these emotionally unavailable, unpredictable men keep drawing my attention. There was some “un-feminist” things about the last guy I was (Lover #2) with that I kind of enjoyed. I liked that he was 10 years older. I liked that he wanted me to be his “girl”. I liked that he was dominant and “old school” in that way. I liked that he kept referring to me as sexy. I wanted to be sexy and girly for him. I really enjoyed our sexual dynamic. It really really turned me on. I also loved the idea of feeling safe and secure around him. I even liked the fantasy of going away with him on weekends, because he is wealthy and I liked him to be a provider. I knew from the onset that he was totally emotionally unavailable and had serious intimacy issues but I was trying to desperately create some sort of intimacy and something “real” with this man. I was trying to establish a progressive relationship based on respect, intimacy and communication….

…Which is what I’ve been trying to do with my dad in the last 10 years of my life.

And that “girly” girl in me? That’s still my dynamic with my father. We’ve never moved to an equal adult relationship. He doesn’t take me seriously. I’m still his “little girl” and not his equal and neither of us are trying very hard to change it around otherwise.

The question is, now that I know what I have “daddy issues” what am I supposed to do with it? Do I try and repair my relationship with my father? Do I continue to date emotionally unavailable men? Do I just talk with my therapist about this?Given all the things I liked about this last guy, does that mean that’s what I want in life or is this just a fantasy? Do I need to date more “daddies” to get this fantasy out of my system, or is this a part of who I am?

On giving yourself permission…to be bad.

When I reflect on the tumultuous romantic relationships I’ve had in 2013, I realize that there’s a huge theme here.

For the first time in my life, I’m allowing myself to get involved with the following (THIS IS SO NOT ME):

politically incorrect men; masculine men with high sex drives; “married men”; emotionally unavailable men; men with illegal professions; and men who get into physical fights with other men; not nice guys; players;

bad boys.

And because I’m with them,

I’m being bad, too.

Lover #1 whom consumed me in early 2013 was an ex-drug dealer with a short fuse and mental health issues so intense that the social worker in me diagnosed him as manic depressive. But really, he was hypo-manic. In retrospect I realized I met him when he was just coming out of a major depressive episode. He had no idea though that he had any issues. He just thought he was “extra chatty”, activity-focused and a “bad boy” as opposed to having major anger management issues.

Lover #2 whom I’m still wrapped up in is a bad boy. The night I met him I sensed that he and his friends were “players”, disrespectful towards women. On top of it, I heard he might be married. Then when he told me he was an “import-export” car dealer I was like can you get any shadier??

But part of me loved it. Part of me loved it because it was “bad.” Exciting, mysterious, unpredictable, and

bad.

And when I told my friends that I was sleeping with an asshole (Lover #2), one friend of mine said:

“love it, it’s kind of masochistic but if you’re into it, go for it.”

When I cried to my sister, “what the fuck am I doing with this guy?” she told me:

“you’re having casual sex with a huge power struggle. You guys have always had this power struggle from the onset and if you’ve reached your limit then that’s fine, but if you’re into it, that’s okay too.”

These two sentences have given me so much breathing room and space to digest and process what I’m doing with Lover #2. After the way he treated me, the old me would be totally done, no regrets, no questions, what an asshole, no looking back…but the new me has given myself permission to:

not perceive the situation as so black and white; to acknowledge that part of me likes this fucked up dynamic; to welcome the fact that he can still be an asshole but the sex can be hot; to take responsibility for my own role in this; to understand that people like him can be contradictions in that he can be so likeable and deplorable at the same time; to accept that I like someone like him; to accept that I like it cause’ it’s “bad”.

The new me has given myself permission to “be bad” and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that “I’m a bad person” and that’s the mature distinction that I’ve come away with. Breathe.

On Casual Sex.

It’s been over a week since I had that God-awful experience with “married guy” and my reflections have been plenty.

But today’s reflective question which keeps spiraling around my thoughts is, since when did casual sex = treating people shit???

The second time I hung out with “married guy” after meeting him at this club this summer we were having one of those really great nights, sitting on a patio at a bar shooting the shit, flirting. We were shamelessly unable to keep our hands off one another. Our guards were completely down, which in retrospect was probably the only time our guards have ever been down around each other in this three month saga.

We went back to my place, fooled around and then suddenly I got the spins. It was really embarrassing on many levels. First of all, I couldn’t remember the last time that I had had the spins. I’m Thirty-fucking-one for fuck’s sake. Secondly I had boasted being able to handle my liquor. And finally, who wants to get alcohol poisoning on a second date???  But I digress.

I told him “I have the spins” and went to the bathroom, and when I came out the guy had his clothes on so fast and was literally running out the door. No hug, no “are you going to be okay”? I was naked, vulnerable and sick and this guy was running out of my apartment. No text the next day saying “hope you felt better” or “hope it wasn’t a bad day at work” or whatever other polite decent thing any other decent human being would have done.

His true colours totally unveiled themselves that evening. I remember being so angry and disappointed in the situation. Something in me had hoped that in spite of my gut instinct, which screamed this guy is a shady shady ass-wipe, there was a “good” guy in him somewhere.

I called my friend ranting irately the next day. And she kept saying things like: “but you wanted something casual from him”; “you knew he was shady”;  “you’re acting like he’s your boyfriend”; “if it was casual you wouldn’t care.”

Same with the other night. She had a hard time understanding why I was so disappointed in his words and actions when it was just casual sex.

Yes I am having casual sex with him, but it doesn’t give either of us the right to treat each other like shit.

We don’t treat strangers who come to our house for the first time like shit do we? We don’t treat the server who brings us our food like shit. We don’t treat friends of friends like shit when we first meet them. We don’t make new acquaintances and then treat them like shit. We don’t treat coworkers like shit. So why is it okay to throw all common decency out the window when we’re fucking, hooking up, having one night stands and casually sleeping with people? What is it about the act of casual sex that makes us lose our manners, act overwhelmingly selfish, cold and mean?

I’m kind of baffled and enraged by this.

And I’m totally guilty of it.

On Shame.

I feel sad, disappointed and a bit shamed.

I slept with the “married guy” last night.

After coming clean about why sometimes I resist him. Told him I was looking for something more real. He’s not. I said that I needed to keep it really casual between us because I didn’t want to be emotionally invested. I told him I think I am still around because I like him. I asked him to be my friend and to be real with me. I spoke from a place of honesty and vulnerability.

He didn’t say too much. Just acknowledged what I was feeling. Also said that I was so on the defensive and that it hindered me from having something real. That sometimes these things happen naturally. He said that I seemed confused. That I was hot and cold at times. That I was fighting him and he wondered why.

He’s so sweet and charming leading up to sex. Sex is hot and I need it. During sex he doesn’t kiss me.  Then he comes. And says “well, that was satisfying.” Then he gets up and goes to the bathroom to clean up. Comes back to the bedroom and I am up and reaching for my sweatshirt. He puts his clothes on.

He says “you know what else I like? I like that you kick me out.”

I said “I’m not kicking you out.”

He said “Well, I like that you let me leave.”

To which I wanted to scream at him Fuck you. But I didn’t.

I have never seen a man put on his clothes so fast. I have never had sex with someone who tries so hard to put a wall up between you and them.

Today I feel a huge amount of shame as I consider what I know about men who don’t kiss. They save kissing for when they’re in intimate relationships. Or they have a wife or girlfriend and only kiss them.  I feel shame as I google “Men who don’t kiss” on the internet. Tons of forums come up with “he’s just using you for sex.” “DTMFA”. I know that’s what Dan Savage would say. What am I even getting out of it besides the sex that I needed last night? Yes our chemistry is undeniable.  Yet this is our third time sleeping together and he doesn’t kiss me, go down on me or try and make me cum. Dump the mother fucker already. He’s totally selfish. It’s about him, his own agenda, all on his terms.  I knew this though when I met him.

Today I feel hugely disappointed that I even could trust him to be somewhat affectionate given that I’d exposed myself to him earlier and made myself vulnerable. Speaking from a place of honesty is good and it felt empowering. But some people are not worth the honesty.

But then what did I expect from him? Why did I expect more given that he clearly said that he wasn’t looking for anything. And he hugged me goodbye, said “thank you”, “it was fun as always”. Which was also cold. But to be honest, that was exactly what I said to him the last time I saw him. Maybe he is trying to keep it casual because I said that I’m trying to keep it casual. Maybe he’s dropped the act finally. He’s just being real.

So why am I so disappointed? I’m not asking more from him. I also don’t want him to pretend. I’m not trying to change him. I’m not trying to make him my boyfriend. I’ve known what’s up. So why do I feel so much shame, disappointment and sadness today?

On sleeping with a married man. Part I.

I’m not sure it’s true.

Someone he knew mentioned a wife to my friend the night I met him. But the way he was on the hunt that night and the way he acts I mean…I just can’t believe he’s married. Divorced, separated, a girlfriend perhaps…but there’s no way he’s in a committed relationship with a wife right now in the City. There’s no pattern to his calls or texts. While we have spent the night at my apartment only, he’s invited me to his place before. But what do I know?  I must be in denial.

There are red flags though. He’s not transparent. He’s a charming, sweet-talker. He doesn’t always mean what he says and says what he means. It feels like he sets up this facade of a relationship without any actual intention of following through. What do I mean? He uses the words “we” and talks about the future, but I think it’s all just words. To pursue his own agenda. To keep the girl around without getting serious, without accountability or responsibility.

I’m in way over my head.

I met him in August. I knew he was just looking for a good time. We went out a few times. We didn’t talk much about anything. He mentioned that he spends his winters in Florida (!) So I slept with him and had no intention of sleeping with him again, but he kept on persisting and I couldn’t resist him. I’m so attracted to him. He’s mysterious. It’s exciting. He’s 39 years old. He’s so out of my comfort zone. Yet I’m still interested. We have a genuine chemistry and at times a sweet connection. We can’t keep our hands off each other. Our interaction is affectionate. There is a mutual humour. I want to believe so badly that there is something genuine between us and that he is good. Why do I care so much?

Our sex, on the other hand, is not intimate. It’s like two people with intimacy issues having sex. Neither can maintain eye contact for too long. We need alcohol. And, did I mention that he doesn’t particularly kiss?? Definitely something up with that. I’ll kiss him and he’ll kiss back, a little but he won’t instigate kissing. There was a time when our foreplay was hot. So hot. He did what I asked. He knew what to do, how to do it. He pulled my hair, held my neck, held me down. That was hot.

That didn’t happen the second time we slept together. He’s not a particular amazing lover but there’s still something hot in our dynamic that I’m not done exploring. I need to see him again.

He just went away on business for a few weeks. We haven’t seen each other in a month. I didn’t know if he would be in touch when he returned, but he was… We exchanged a few texts on the weekend.

I know though that the last time I saw him I had so much anxiety around the potential dishonesty, the not understanding what this was. He had changed the game on me the last time we hung out. I tried to meet him late at night (keeping him around for a booty call) but he invited me out for dinner, and then he wanted to sleep over…I didn’t let him. I was trying to keep it super casual to protect myself… and his actions that night confused me a little. All this to say we needed an honest conversation…

But what do I need right now and what do I want from him? I’m not looking for something serious…but something honest and genuine for sure. I know that I need to have a talk with him the next time I see him. I know that I need to just speak from a place of honesty and vulnerability and see if he at all is willing to meet me in the middle… Do I want to know if he’s married? I’m not sure. But I do want to know what his intentions with me are… and I want to let him know where I’m coming from…this year has been all about practising being vulnerable and authentic so my anxiety around this is coming from the fact that I haven’t been honest with him.  I have to bite the bullet, text him instead of waiting for him to text me, make a date to have an actual conversation. I feel so paralyzed but I need to do it.

After my stream of consciousness above, this is what I want to say:

W: This has gone on longer than I expected. Can we just be friends for a second and have an honest conversation? I just want to let you know where I’m coming from. I’ve been hesitant to get involved with you from the beginning because I believe that ultimately we’re looking for different things. I’m not actually looking for a short-term, “good time”. I’m looking for something more real, genuine, consistent that has a possibility of going somewhere. So, if at times I’m hesitant to be involved with you, that’s why. And that’s why I’ve tried to keep it really casual between us because I don’t particularly want to invest time and emotion into something that doesn’t meet my needs. But the thing is I’m still around, and I think it’s because I like you a little. So, it would be really nice if you could let me know what you’re looking for…what do you want from me? This would make me feel a lot more comfortable. 

Is that fair?

I wish this was an advice column and I would get responses from readers… As for the married part, I’m not even going there right now. I’m trying hard not to judge myself for this, so please don’t judge me. I’ll explore it further another time.

On a letter to a lover.

Dear S.

It’s been just under two months and we’ve had such an intense and bumpy beginning. I’ve spent the weekend intellectualizing and trying to analyze our dynamic and unresolvable tensions with my friends. Worrying where this is going. Why we can’t seem to give each other what we need. What gets lost in the communication when we’re apart. And why I’m overcompensating for your needs, questioning myself so much and putting up with shit I normally would not. I’m making up excuses and doing the very things that friends in “unhealthy relationships” do, the things I judge and abhor. How did this happen? It’s so not like me….the strong, independent, social worky feminist that I am.

The point of this note, is not to try and understand myself or us and where we’re falling short. I’m tired of it. I’ll save it for therapy. It’s about trying to understand how I feel about you in my body and my heart. Because obviously that’s what keeps me coming back to you.

When I’m with you I feel alive. I feel open hearted. I feel exposed. Yet I feel safe in that vulnerability. I feel like I’m connecting to something deep inside of me that’s been dormant, possibly repressed or just hasn’t quite been awakened yet. I feel like I want to surrender. Like I’m surrendering to something larger and bigger than myself. I feel like I want to trust with all my heart.

Every time we dialogue more, and you try and understand me more I feel closer and connected and happy. Every time I speak from my heart around you I feel closer, connected and happy.

A simple kiss and I’m aroused. I smell your shirt and involuntary tears fall, I gasp for air and need to sit down. Being around you I get dizzy. My orgasms feel like near death experiences and I want to pass out. In sex I finally understand where pleasure and pain become intertwined and to think that this is only the beginning…the things I want to explore with you intimately, oh my. I think about you inside of me a lot. I get lost in your eyes. I think you’re so beautiful. I want to lie in the comfort of your body for so long.  There’s this loving sweetness to you that I love, that I think is very private and I love that I get to see it.

I feel like there is love in my heart for you already.

Week to week it’s not clear what we are or where this is going, and there’s so much push and pull, but I’m tired of fighting it. I just know that I need you right now because it feels really good when I’m with you. And I never allow myself to feel this good.

Thirty is my year of reckless abandon. Of allowing my heart to make more decisions than my mind. Of identifying what feels good and going with it. Dropping thousands of dollars on spiritual growth when I don’t know where next month’s rent is coming from is way out of character for me. So is surrendering to intimacy and love. Here’s to savouring these moments.

I’ll see you tonight and I’m looking really forward to it.

Love, S.

On the first day of the rest of your life.

February 13th was my last day of work. Yes, I resigned.

Brave? Irresponsible? Weak? How would you describe it?

My burnout symptoms were manifesting themselves deeply in my body. My body has been aching, I have been sleeping and the smallest task was starting to feel like it needed a huge amount of energy. I’ve been to acupuncture twice this week to get it all in balance. They told me that basically my body had gone under significant stress and my adrenal glands were fatigued. The kidneys/adrenal glands are responsible for our sense of fight or flight.

My body is fighting to stay alive and keep going. That’s what it feels like. But it’s fighting so hard that everything is shutting down.

February 14th- my first day off work- I was on the couch for most of the day watching TV. Leaving work felt like a breakup. The thought of potentially changing my life path overwhelms my fragile body and mind. So I had to lay still, and make myself numb yesterday.

The one thing that keeps surprising me is that so many friends and colleagues have expressed excitement for me; excited for what my life has in store for me. But guess what? I don’t know what that is. But they’re excited.

My friend texted me yesterday saying “welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.”

February 15th- my second day off work- I went straight into Yoga teacher training. I’m not saying I’m in the best place to jump into this, but I really need it. And I struggled today but came out at the end feeling good.

So, here we go world, future. I hope my spirit regains strength. I hope I remain open to the world of possibilities. And somewhere on the inside, buried underneath all this stuff, I am excited for yoga teacher training. It’s a really positive first page of the next chapter of my life.

I’ll be ready for you world. Just give me some time.

On finding compassion for your mother.

I came to an interesting realization the other day, thanks to both therapy and processing my feelings of burnout. First of all, I’m actually totally burned out. I’m leaving my non profit job of two years this upcoming week. I feel my body slowly shutting down. Every hour at work feels like quick sand; it’s a struggle. I was off for three weeks over Christmas and then I came back, and one month of work felt like 3 months. Remember all my burnout symptoms that I noticed in December? Well they came back, particularly the anger and irritability towards people I supervise and my boss. This was a bad sign. I’m my worst person at work: angry, irritable, frustrated and constantly emotional.

In a moment of anger at work, when I felt totally trapped, suffocated and irritated by mundane requests from others, I suddenly realized that I was my mother. I was my mother’s anger. My mother, who spent every morning waking up angry and taking it out on her children. My mother, who was easily irritated, stressed out and frustrated. My mother, who when I was sick or in need turned frantic and angry. My mother, who when she totally lost her cool and control, hit me as a child, and hit my sisters.

I spent years being angry and resentful towards my mother. I’m only just coming out of it. But I gained new insight. Sure, I knew for years she must have had mental health issues, anger management issues, and had a controlling personality. But I never fully understood why or how someone could be so angry until I started experiencing anger through work in the last two years.  And I was angry because of burnout. Working too hard, not being valued, feeling resentful that I wasn’t given the recognition I needed, work becoming my life, my boundaries being crossed, lack of integrity and accountability by my boss, seeing abuse of power, witnessing unjust practices etc.

My mother was burned out. She felt trapped, under-appreciated, overworked, undervalued. Due to her family’s wishes, she didn’t pursue the degree she wanted, or marry the man she wanted, or have the career she wanted. She was an eternal caregiver. She was never able to fully achieve her dreams and goals. She was unfulfilled in her life, her marriage. An educated, stay at home mom in a difficult marriage, all she had were her children.

I don’t know if I’m ready to forgive my mother. But just as in finding compassion for myself when I was angry at work, I’m trying to find compassion for my mother, who was angry in her life. It’s probably going to sound incredibly naive, but my mother, as harsh as she was, was also incredibly loving. I know what it sounds like. If I just ascribed these dynamics to an interpersonal heterosexual relationship, it would sound totally naive and like I was in denial about the relationships (“when it’s good it’s really good”, “when he’s nice to be I love him”, “he isn’t always mean”). But it’s my mother we’re talking about. My mother who supported my education, my career, my self growth, the artist in me, the healer in me. My mother who has told me in tears that she’s sorry for the pain that she caused me as a child and teenager. My mother who lives for her children and loves her children more than anything.

Why aren’t we allowed to talk about difficult motherhood is? How being a mother can be tough, isolating and lonely? That women’s work is still not valued as work! That you might need a break from your kids.

I can’t even imagine. I’m so moody and so into my own space and own time, that if I had a family and children that I had to take care of at the end of a long day at work, well the thought freaks me the fuck out.  I know, I’m still young and if the situation presented itself I’m sure I would just jump straight into survival motherhood mode. But I wouldn’t be perfect.

Neither was my mother.

On learning how to navigate therapy.

I went out for dinner last night with three inspiring, awesome, well accomplished women that I know through the work that we all do. We’re all a bit intense so we get right to the point and go deep. We listen and ask questions and learn from one another. I wouldn’t say we’re close, but we have refreshingly honest conversations about aspirations, career, health, love and happiness. 

So I learned something new about therapy last night. I mentioned to my dinner party that I’ve now had three therapy sessions with this lady. I think she is good. But I don’t love the rapport. When I first came to her I said that I probably need to talk about my parents and my childhood, but it’s not easy for me. Last week I went in and she asked how I was doing and the truth was that I had experienced a really up and down week and some dark episodes and I really wanted to talk about that. So I began talking about just that. I thought it was clear.  

She didn’t engage me very long in my dark episodes or my up and down week. Instead, she kind of derailed the conversation and said “I know in our initial session you said that you probably should talk about your family in therapy.” She didn’t skillfully transition the conversation to this- she kind of cut me off and just presented this as a statement. I don’t think she even asked me a question about this. So as a result we spent the first 40 minutes talking in circles and jumping all over the place because my mind was so jumbled and I had come in not prepared to talk about my family and I couldn’t just jump into it because it’s quite overwhelming for me. In fact in the last therapy session I gained deeper insight into my mother’s anger and I cried the whole time. So, it’s pretty difficult. 

But my friends last night asked “Did you tell her you didn’t want to talk about your family?” “Did you tell her what you wanted to talk about?” And I responded “No. I thought it was clear by me talking about my week and then being quite silent when she asked me about my family.” … They looked at each other and then me. “I know, that’s being really passive aggressive,” I said sheepishly. My friends smiled knowingly and reminded me that the therapist is not a mind reader. They said, encouragingly, “You have to tell her.” 

“Well, I didn’t know that- I thought she knew what she was doing,” I thought to myself. And then with a smile and in lamenting tone I said: “Isn’t it ironic that I can’t even state my needs to my therapist?” The reactions around the table were mixed- apologetic laughter, smiles, and “At least you can find humour in that.” 

Isn’t it ironic though? I’m fucking 30 years old. I’m paying this woman over $100 an hour to work for me and I can’t even tell her what I want to and not want to do in a session that’s costing me so bloody much. 

Boy, do I have a lot of work to do.