Apparently we have 3 internal emotion regulation systems – our threat system which is the most primitive and so reacts to seemingly inconsequential events as if our death is imminent; our drive system which evolved next and is the one that makes us strive to do and achieve; and finally our soothing and contentment system which is the baby in evolutionary terms, but also the one which ideally will regulate the other two.
My systems are completely out of whack. Soothing is all but non-existent, threat is in the driving seat, and drive is a very willing passenger and frequent navigator. It’s horrible. This is stuff that I had learned about in the first few weeks with Therapist 2.0, but with the effort of keeping myself functioning the last couple of weeks I had managed to forget about it. We talked about it this morning – my fear that she’s judging me, that she thinks it’s ridiculous that I’m still banging on about Therapist 1.0, that she’s slim and impeccably turned out and I’m not…………that’s my threat system. It was swiftly followed by something along the lines of ‘this is all just self indulgent naval gazing, I need to get a grip, close the door on it and move on’ – that would be my drive system. It would seem Bitchface is in charge of my drive system, and she’s being really shouty at the moment.
Therapist 2.0 wasn’t letting me stop there. Why is Bitchface being so shouty? What is my drive system trying to do? It’s trying to protect me. What’s it trying to protect me from? Feeling. Why? Because I’m scared. I’m scared that if I let myself feel, if I let myself get caught up in all the baggage that I’ve managed to attached to Therapist 1.0 that I don’t yet understand, I’ll get overwhelmed. I’ll start crying and not be able to stop, and all that emotion will leave me utterly drained and exhausted for days. Problem is, I’ve tried the Bitchface strategy so many times in the past, and it never, ever works. How many times over the years have you heard me say I’m giving up on therapy? Did it ever work out? How about deleting the blog, or stopping meds? It. Doesn’t. Work. End of.
I was talking about all of this with Hubby on the way home. From an objective perspective he could see something I couldn’t – Bitchface is the part of me that really, really doesn’t like change, and that is exactly what I’m trying to bring about with therapy. His take on it is that he knows he’s succeeded in rattling someone and backing them into a corner when they get loud. Bitchface is rattled, and she’s using every trick in the book to try and persuade me to walk away from this process – it’s selfish. It’s self indulgent. It’s pointless. It’s ridiculous. What makes me so special? Why do I deserve to be happy? Stop wallowing.
I know why I got so attached to Therapist 1.0, or at least part of the why. She showed me the kind of compassion that I’ve never been able to give myself, and that I’ve rarely experienced in my life. But then confusion kicked in because Bitchface fought and fought and fought against that compassion, shouting all of the above and worse so loudly that I just could not accept anything Therapist 1.0 said to me. Bitchface really successfully sabotaged that relationship, but the sabotage backfired badly, because that experience of compassion left me with a yearning for more that cannot be supressed. Therapist 1.0 is no longer part of my life, so now there’s a vacuum. As yet, I won’t let Therapist 2.0 be compassionate with me, and I dismiss it from almost everyone who might try to show me kindness. But if I keep doing that, I’m going to stay caught in this cycle. It’s time to open the door and learn how to do this for myself. I just wish I knew how.