So today I was that person. The person that cries in therapy. OH JESUS! I felt so bad about it.
This week, I decided to be honest about the conflict between my sexual and emotional needs, and how I think they are divided. Instead of shunning it, my therapist actually seemed to 'light up' – was more talkative than in any of the other sessions. I don't know if this is because he is getting to know me more or the topic of conversation.
"It seems like there is a lot of shame involved with sex for you and, at the same time, it also seems like you're only just beginning to develop your own sexual identity. You're punishing yourself for not having it figured out at 30 years old – like you should already know what you do and don't like, and what you're looking to pursue. You've experienced it, now you want to know whether you should close the door and what it means – what you give up – if the door is closed."
On my own high expectations:
"Allan always sets the bar at 110, 115 because Allan sees himself as a person who always gets what he wants. Unless you think you can be the very best at something, you'll often quit before you've given it a go. So even if you got the perfect score of 100, you'd still punish yourself for failing to go that little bit further. Instead of rewarding yourself or enjoying the result of your success, you write it off as a failure, abandon it and then you start another project where the bar is again set at 115. This also goes for your dating practices: you often meet people who meet 80-90% of your requirements, but because they don't score 115, you discard them and pursue someone who will fulfill your very high standards – which inevitably is self-sabotage."
"You often think the universe or the world is punishing you – that there is some task or trial that you have to complete to get what you want. The truth is the only thing punishing yourself is you, often when you fail to meet expectations that you have set yourself up to fail at in the first place."
On Vik... Round 2:
Him: "You used a word that stuck in my throat... Nice."
Me: "Did I? Well, I guess I knew that. I knew that if we stayed together we would have had that middle class life... The mortgage, the kids. Everything. If my head could have chosen a husband, I would have chosen Vik."
Him: "But part of you knew that Vik couldn't fill the hole inside you."
Me: (long pause)
"No. He couldn't."
On my patterns of behaviour:
"So the pattern begins when you set a goal for yourself, you aim for it and then if you don't get it or the answers you require immediately, you are disappointed. You want it now. And even if you do have it, you question how much time you can feasibly spend on it or whether it is good enough. Is there something better? You get frustrated with these questions and, instead of giving it time, you leave it. Like with Dan: you fell in love and he was a good match. But not good enough - you thought you could do better. You wondered about the future – how much time can I give to Dan? You decide that you haven't got the time to stick around and find out about these uncertainties. It's much easier to be alone and resolve the question by making a decision for both of you.
And you have to ask, how much time do you ever give people before you've decided they are not worth your time? How much time are you giving me? How much time are you giving yourself?"
On the real Allan:
When the session was closing, we had this exchange... Which was 'the moment'. I guess some might say it was a 'breakthrough', but it felt pretty shitty.
Me: "I'm just so fed up – exhausted... Of this energy, this drive, this constant need to do something. Achieve something."
Him: "But it's become a part of you."
Me: "I know. I just wish I could get rid of it. I just want to draw a line under the whole thing. Get rid of this emptiness inside."
Him: "Can you fill the emptiness?"
Me: "I don't know. I really don't know if I can. And that worries me. Am I always going to be unfulfilled? People think certain things of you and I'm just... So exhausted. I'm so tired."
Him: "Tired of not being the real Allan."
At this point, I am hit pretty hard by that for some reason. I start to waiver a little bit and then I begin to cry.
Me: "Nobody knows. Nobody... But where do you begin? How can you begin?"
Him: "Where do you want to begin?"
Me: (I am in full floods now)
"Since I was born... It seemed like my life was doomed. There was no love when I was growing up... Just shouting, screaming, arguing... A lot of anger. My mother left my father when she was 3 months pregnant with me and I lived with my grandparents for 2 years. But we could never behave well enough. We were smacked and punished for doing things normal kids do. Then when my mother moved in with my dad, I never felt like he loved me... Neither of my dads loved me. He used to hit me. And my stepbrother and stepsister used to take drugs. Do you know what it's like to come home as a young boy and see your brother passed out on drugs on the bed? And I was forced to endure this... Forced to live through this for 18 years. And hardly anyone in my London life knows this."
Him: "It sounds very painful, Allan"
After this, I had to compose myself - the session was over. I think I gave my therapist a shock. Up until that point, I bet he was thinking I was just a 'confused middle class white man with white people problems'. So where do we go next? Is it really as ingrained in me as all of this? How does one work it out?