Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Psychosomatic

Another day when my lovely hot shower turns into nothing but a trickle, I really mean a trickle I hate this trickle I mean I hate whoever’s making this happen I hate the shower I hate this building and then I'm freezing. At least I already went outside to get earring backs, struggling to experience daylight but there wasn't really any left, too cloudy and it was already 5:15 p.m. although I felt kind of proud of walking 12 blocks.

The best part of my conversation with my sister is when she’s talking about her new therapist, he's an analyst like our father was except he's an LCSW like my sister and my mother instead of a psychiatrist, I guess you can become a psychoanalyst anyway if you go through the five-year program, after your graduate degree, that is. Lauren says he's interesting, because he says things like I feel sad.

Just hearing that and I have tears in my eyes, the headset angled away from my mouth so my sister doesn't hear but then I feel strange doing that so I say: just hearing that made me cry. She says I know, but I’m not sure if she heard me -- maybe she thought I said just hearing that would make me cry.

But I'm glad I called Lauren back, last night we were talking and she said a few things that sounded like my father, like she used the word psychosomatic which he always used to mean you were making things up or creating your own problems, and even though the Lauren clarified that she meant when your brain in your body are connected, like the word is supposed to mean, I still felt like she was saying all my problems were in my head. Later I said I felt manic, and Lauren asked if I meant clinically manic, which is something my father said once -- exactly that, he said maybe you should take lithium. And I use the word manic all the time, my sister has never had a problem understanding me before.

Anyway, that's all kinds of triggers me to think of the way my father used psychoanalytic language to control people in our family, like he was always calling my mother a psychotic if she got angry, which is actually the same thing he said to me when I confronted him about sexually abusing me. He was a psychiatrist, so he knew what he was saying, right? I mean, I’d created this whole document about what I remembered and how it had hurt me and how I was feeling, and I knew he wasn't going to let me speak, that he would get enraged so I just said I know you raped me you molested me you sexually abused me, and unless you can come to terms with it then our relationship is over. I said this all an even tone, and he said: you're psychotic.

You see, when anyone else was using a word that was within the psychoanalytic vocabulary, you had to be absolutely precise or my father would tear you to shreds, let's see could use any word in any way that he wanted. I know that when my sister uses the word psychosomatic, she doesn't mean it like my father, and when she asked the question about manic, well she probably doesn't even know that I had that conversation with my father because it was over the phone. But it still triggers me and makes me feel shut down and silenced, and that's what I called her back to tell her.

And I don't want to be psychoanalyzed unless I'm in psychoanalysis. Of course I grew up with the language and the method and it's part of the way that I see the world, part of my critical engagement even, but also there's so much that I had to unlearn, like the notion that tearing apart your closest friends just meant that you loved them, that you were giving them respect. That one goes all the way back to when our parents would argue, I mean they were constantly arguing and my sister and I would get upset because we wanted them to get along, but they said don't worry, we argue because we love each other. Which is another reason I call Lauren back, the second time, after Lauren asks me: is this what friends do?

I hope so. The second time, I'm responding to when Lauren said you don't have to worry that I’m going to yell at you. Because I’d left her a message after I was triggered, when she was asleep, and she wanted me to try and speak in the moment instead. But the problem with getting triggered is that when you're triggered you can't sleep. I mean speak -- that was what our parents would call a Freudian slip.

But at first I told Lauren that I didn't actually worry that people would yell at me, that was something I’ve dealt with and my fears were deeper and earlier on from before the rage started. Except, actually there wasn't a time before the rage started. And, I do worry that people will yell at me. And, more often, I worry the reverse -- that if I say something in the wrong way it will destroy someone, they won't be able to handle it. And then I'll obsess about the tiniest thing for six months before bringing it up, just so I can say it in a way that a person can immediately accept it and then everything was okay. Except that everything is not okay, because I've done so much work, I've been on edge for six months about some tiny thing and really I need to say things closer to the moment so that I don't get so drained.

Some of this comes from childhood and some of it comes from more recently, like when I first moved back to San Francisco and Chris was drinking so much and lying about everything and holding back emotionally and he would freak out about the tiniest critique and I got really scared, because he was my oldest friend, and the person I felt the safest with, and I didn't want to lose him. So I got hyper-cautious, and then I did the same thing when I went out with Jeremy, because he couldn't deal with processing, any processing at all.

So now I'm trying to unlearn those habits, and that's why I called my sister right back. I like what she says about her therapist, it makes me wonder if I want a therapist who would say: I feel sad. Or: I'm trying to relate to you, but you seem really distant.

I decide to take another shower, this one's hot and I'm relaxing but then all the lights go off, I guess it's because I had the space heater plugged on in the bathroom. I was a little worried about that, because in a horror movie someone would pick it up and throw it in the shower and then I'd be electrocuted. At least that doesn't happen. I stay in the shower in the dark, it's so different this way I mean suddenly the water sounds so loud I feel dizzy. But warm. Except now I can smell the mold. For a while, I thought the mold in my apartment was getting better, because I realized that sometimes when I thought I smelled mold it was actually fried eggs and fish from downstairs. That's kind of a disgusting smell, but not a drain on my health.

Anyway, I get lucky because the building manager is around and he fixes the fuse down in the basement, I guess I shouldn't have all my lights on at once or something, definitely not two space heaters going at the same time I forgot about the one in the kitchen. I don't turn the radiator on because it gives me sinus headache blowback, I prefer the slight irritation from gas leaking from the stove while they're worse than that is probably the windows closed and all this mold although at least my body feels warm again and soft.

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