Manipulative

Such a vile and nasty word in my book. Something I wouldn't ever think of myself, until this weekend.

I had a session with V on Saturday which I really enjoyed (yes I know that sounds strange). Over Thanksgiving break I was feeling very negative and "poor me" so I decided I needed to do something to remind myself just how blessed and lucky I am. Not to minimize anything I was feeling, but rather to keep myself from drowning in self-pity. I decided that I would make some digital scrapbooks to share with V of childhood, family, friends, college time and travel. It was so fun to go back and look at all the happy moments (because who takes a picture of something sad/not fun?) in my life. So often I tend to completely shrug off all the good things because I spend so much time in therapy trying to heal from the bad. We spent the whole hour going over important things, details, people, etc. I left feeling pretty good. I went home to take a nap because I hadn't been sleeping well at all and when I woke up I felt like crap. Like the bottom had been pulled out from underneath me. As the afternoon and evening wore on, my mood and thoughts got darker and darker. By 2 AM I decided that maybe I'd feel better if I e-mailed V just to let her know where I was at emotionally, sort of a release to just get it out.

I told her that I was having a very bad night, complete with some suicidal thoughts, wasn't able to sleep, etc. I made sure to tell her that I wasn't at a place where I was going to act on anything but just that I was having a hard time. I also mentioned that because I wasn't sleeping I decided to take a larger dose of my sleeping pills than I would normally. I finally was able to fall asleep, only to be woken up by my crazy aunt calling at 8AM asking for my mom's number. Geez. I checked my e-mail from my phone before I rolled back over to go to sleep and saw that V had e-mailed me back, wanting to know how I was and how I slept. At that point I wasn't done sleeping but the thought crossed my mind that if I didn't respond right away, maybe she'd think the worst. So I went back to sleep and woke up to a second e-mail at around 11AM. Basically saying the same thing, that she was thinking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. Feeling solace in the fact that she was thinking about me/worried about me, I decided to not respond again. By 5 she sent me an e-mail telling me she was getting worried that she hadn't heard from me and that if I didn't respond she was going to have to find another way to check in with me. Just being able to read that she was worried about me was enough to make me e-mail back at that point, but the next few exchanges of e-mails proceeded to scare me a bit. She said she was about an hour away from calling EMT's to come to my house and check on me. Good Lord. If she had done that I would have been absolutely HUMILIATED. Just thinking about it made me feel so shamed that my actions could have lead to that. Then I started feeling horrible that I intentionally manipulated her to get what I wanted out of the situation; knowing that someone cares/worries about me.

So when I went in to see her on Tuesday, I told her I didn't want to talk about this weekend, but figured I wouldn't get away with that. Overall she just wanted me to know how she perceived my e-mail Saturday night to explain why she chose to react the way she did/planned to react. Not having any history with me in this area, she said she didn't know if my e-mail was a way for me to deflect attention away from the fact that I was planning on killing myself or if I was sincere in what I said. Not being able to determine that, she had to do what she is sworn to do to protect me physically, which would have eventually involved "the authorities" if I had never responded back to her. Feeling so guilty I just tried to deflect the conversation away as much as I could. We moved onto talking about my "safe box" which I finally finished decorating and filling with the things that I wanted to put in it.

Inside were some statements about myself that I wrote 2 years ago for one of the first homework assignments I had with A. I didn't really read over them in depth, but just tossed them in there. So of course when V opened the box and started going through them, the first one she pulls out says "No one makes a big deal out of me. It makes me feel loved and important when people worry about me." God. Can we just light up the big flashing arrow and point it right on me? MANIPULATOR! *flash flash* I wanted to crawl in a hole. I felt like an absolute idiot, she probably saw right through me.

As we were wrapping up, she asked how I was feeling and I told her I still felt horrible about this weekend. I mentioned that I think I used this weekend as a way to test her, to see if she really would follow through on the fact that she says she cares. I also said I was worried that she was mad at me or that she thinks I'm ungrateful since I "snapped" at her about the EMT comment and told her how humiliating that would have been and how upset I was that she would even think about that. I told her I felt like all I did was waste her time this weekend and that made me feel awful. She looked at me and asked me "Did I say you wasted my time? Or that I thought you were ungrateful? Or that I was mad at you? Of course not, because that is your perception, but it is not true. I know I could tell you a million times it's not true and you still probably wouldn't believe me. I was just worried about you. No fine print attached."

*sigh* I left feeling like I had just run over a litter of puppies. I decided I would e-mail her and apologize (probably for the millionth time) and attempt to "come clean" so that I could try and put this behind me. Here's what I sent:

When I got home tonight, I re-read the communication from this weekend and can see even more so how my actions were a way to test the validity of your word, even though you have given me no indication to believe that you are anything but trustworthy and honest. The "ego" side of me is constantly whispering in my ear that you couldn't possibly care enough to do anything for me, outside of our interactions in your office or via e-mail. And it became clear to me that after you read that paper from my box (the one about not feeling important unless someone is worried about me) that our sequence of e-mails this weekend was a way for me to see if you'd follow through with what you have been saying. And boy did you surpass anything I ever could have imagined. My freakout was largely based on the "severity" (not the right word, but I can't think of anything else) of how you responded, but also the fact that you responded at all. I wasn't expecting anything aside from a "We'll talk about it Tuesday" or "Go the hospital if you can't stay safe" reply. I never really expected genuine concern.

It was never my intention to turn our communication into what it ended up being, I hope you know that. I honestly was just trying to get out these thoughts to hopefully ease my mind and also to let you know what was going on. It's much easier for me to start that conversation by writing out what I feel as opposed to speaking it out loud. I just can't imagine walking in your office and being like "So I thought about killing myself this weekend." Uh, no.

Any step back this weekend was as a result of my actions, not yours. If anything, I feel like you helped me trust you a little more, I just hope it wasn't at the expense of you being able to trust me less.

4 comments:

Lisa said...
December 2, 2010 at 6:44 PM

I'm sorry the weekend was rough. I think the email you sent was very good. I hope you feel better about it all soon. Also, Can I have your email- google login email -so that I can add you to my list of people that can read my blog? I made it private...

Thanks!
-Lisa

Harriet said...
December 3, 2010 at 12:10 PM

I also hate to be manipulative, or give the impression of being manipulative. I am so conscious of it all the time, but somehow it sometimes gets past me. It doesn't sound like you anything on purpose. I'm glad you were able to work it out with V and that she responded positively in the end. I can see my t saying, "We'll talk about it Tuesday" if I sent him a desperate email. But logically, he probably would do more.

Just Be Real said...
December 4, 2010 at 3:27 AM

Dear Lily as I read this post I could so relate. We who have felt rejected in our lives and then when we do get the attention from someone that we respect we tend to hold on to it any way we can. I have done what you did here, in different areas. I too then would feel the same way after being told "such and such" they would have done because they worried about me. Tremendous guilt would flood my soul as well. Finally in recovery understanding "why I do what I do" certainly helps. Lily we were hurt as children. We did not get the proper care. So we respond out of our pain. Thank you dear for sharing. Always here listening. ((((Lily))))