I started therapy again earlier this week. There wasn't anything bad per se that precipitated it, just the tacit agreement between myself and my husband that I've been double no good unfocused and generally procrastinating to the point of unproductiveness. And oh yeah, I've been in grad school for three years without a degree to show for it.
I've soured a bit on my program, honestly. Not in term of the people running it (if anything, they are way too permissive for me to thrive in that kind of unstructured environment), but in terms of it being a good fit. It seemed to be, it's not so much now. La di dah. I'm pretty calm about it. Resigned, even.
No, the problem is that sometimes I feel like Sysiphus, getting to the top of that hill and just feeling that no matter how much I do, or how much progress I make on anything (reading, housework, the kids, etc), it sometimes feels just... useless. Like, "Why bother picking up that sippy cup my son keeps dropping, he'll just drop it for the next hour?", when clearly that's not the point for him, and I am aware of it, but not necessarily enthused about it (cause and effect? yeeeeep).
Anyway, since my previous therapist now only does couples counseling (she'd take me back if I asked, probably, but eh... I'd be worried I'd just end up talking about my cats for an hour again, which is when we decided that therapy was done for the time being), I had to find a new one. It went well. She thinks she might or might not be able to help with the life coaching part of therapy I'm seeking, but at least she is willing to tackle the "gently kicking my ass when I get stuck on unhealthy thinking patterns", which for anxiety disorder is a must.
What was interesting is that because she does a mix of different therapies, including Gestalt, we talked about my family, past and present. She was genuinely amused when I mentioned that my husband has to exhort me to hug my parents. "Really? Wait, you said you guys are from Italy? It flies in the face of a lot of stereotypes". "I know, and that one is usually based in truth!". I postulated that it isn't that my parents aren't warm (though effusive in their affection would be exaggerating a bit), it's that I've always had a complicated thing about human closeness of the body touching variety. I remember resenting my mom hugging me sometimes, not in the, "but I didn't need a hug, I need for you to listen" way, but more in a "what? Huh? Why? Give me some space!" variety.
I mean, I like closeness with people enough that I got married and had kids, but for me human touch is kinda like conversation is for introverts: very draining in the long run. So of course motherhood finds me a little spent in that department. I love my children. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for them, which is why I'll hold them, hug them, kiss them and let one of them insist on sleeping next to me every single night, until we work out that crib business.
That said, after a day of holding my son in my lap half the time, nursing a quarter of that time, the night time separation anxiety that goes both ways (baby wants to be attached to mom, preschooler wants mom AND NOBODY ELSE to read bedtime stories), I'm just ready to check out. So when my son finally nurses to sleep (another thing I am supposedly working on, that I am not really being successful at), I just want to retreat into mindlessly mechanical activity, like playing solitaire, or listening to a podcast.
There's a double edged sword to that too. Since I like my space, and I crave it so much, I am always anxious about invading other people's personal space or zone of comfort. So if you know me and I've hugged you with a puzzled expression on my face, it's not that I don't like you per se, it's more like my brain goes "OMG, should I have done that? Maybe that was too presumptuous. Maybe X just wanted an 'I know' or a pat on the shoulder. Shit!".
It makes it pretty ironic that I went into teaching kids. Kids famously crave human contact. Yet, even with kids I must sometimes come off a little cold, a little less than fully empathetic. I'll do the kneel down and talk, and shoulder pats, but even after a number of years, I'm always surprised when little kids reach out to hug me. Unless they're my kids, that is, because man, both of these two are super very into human touch.
Or maybe it's not anything having to do with them. It's something with me.