Again with the intention of openness about miscarriage and the outfalls it can cause, I explore some of the events, feelings and reflections from my first counseling appointment with the ongoing hope that someone, someday might find it useful to know the convoluted workings and ways in which it can affect a person (bearing in mind that each person’s experiences are different).
Further to the events of last Monday and the wonderful news last Thursday, I powered in for my counseling appointment this morning feeling simultaneously apologetic, defiant, fraudulent, justified for being there and as though I might be taking valuable time away from people who really needed their help.
Fortunately my counselor was not of the same opinion. Despite the reprieve, it’s only six months and a review, at which point it may well be the case that the treatment will switch to the one we were desperate to avoid in the first place. And I did still have a miscarriage, which I increasingly think I haven’t dealt with properly.
Today we explored an hour’s worth of my family background (and a bit of Husby’s) so that she had some idea what she’s working with and how best I can be supported. It’s all very convoluted, so took pretty much the entire hour, but by about 3/4 of the way through she seemed to have me pegged. Her inferences from what I told her seemed right on the button (uncomfortably so at times) but she managed to maintain the right degree of questioning, acknowledging and empathising. She’s bloody good, in fact.
The one thing she ‘got’ surprisingly quickly was how little sympathy I have for Husby’s condition. I’d like to clarify that I feel bad that he’s ill, have made numerous allowances along the way, supported him to the best of my ability and the extent of my temper, but I guess I’ve never really ‘got’ it with him, which is possibly why he so often accuses me of being unsympathetic. The exchange was as follows
Counselor: So he’s suffered a debilitating condition, his work suffered, he lost his PhD, his health continued to deteriorate, he suffered mental health problems as a result and essentially had the rug pulled out completely from under him and you’re there saying “Ok, here’s the plan; here’s how we’ll manage it” and off you go?
Me: Er, yeah, pretty much *much fidgeting*
Counselor: And how does that make you feel?
Me: …well I think it’s probably quite accurate.
Counselor: *says nothing but gives a shrewd look which says “I asked you how it made you feel, not whether you thought I was accurate”*
Me: …it makes me feel quite uncomfortable, actually. I can see why he calls me unsympathetic. It’s interesting to see it from another viewpoint – I’m not very good at that.
To coin an internettism, PWND!
We ended with a homework task. I was to make a 30 minute break to write down on paper the following things in specific relation to the miscarriage:
Circumstances; Age, occupation, accommodation, family relationships, beliefs
Head; What I was thinking at the time
Heart; What I was feeling at the time
When the 30 minutes was up, wherever in the exercise I’d got up to, I was go and undertake a prearranged ‘nice activity’ so that even though the task had taken me back to that past time, I wouldn’t be ‘left’ there.
Even as she was describing the activity (particularly when she got to the ‘heart’ section), I experienced an influx of awful, dark feelings. The main one was that as well as grief and devastation, I had a feeling of undeserving. That stayed with me as I walked home.
I’ve heard people describe the way particular feelings clutch at their insides, but I’d never really experienced it in this way – it was as though my heart and lungs were being held in a hand which was squeezing them tighter and tighter. All the while the image of the word ‘Undeserving’ floated in my mind’s eye, superimposed over everything I saw. I plugged into my mp3 player and tried to ignore it.
I wonder how much of my personality has been permeated, co-opted and altered by my belief in that word. I’ve a feeling it hearkens back to a very difficult childhood, which I thought I’d dealt with in a different therapeutic situation over 10 years ago. How the ghosts of our past rear their heads.
It got me thinking slightly analytically about my responses to the situations life throws. It threw into stark relief the fact that I’ve probably been operating under this word for a long, long time. My attitudes seem diffused with its message.
Interestingly all those attitudes where I feel inadequate or undeserving are different from self-confidence. I am a confident person. I know I can work hard, I know I can look good, I know I can make people happy, I know that the world won’t fall apart if I am ill or don’t make enough money, I know I can make a strong, positive contribution to the world. Somehow this just doesn’t translate into much feeling of ‘worthwhileness’ or deserving.
I guess low self-worth is something I’ve experienced since (and likely because of) my childhood and the attitudes have become ingrained. At various points in life, many well-meaning friends-and-relations have tried to assuage my concerns and let me know that they genuinely care for me and think I’m worthwhile. It’s sweet of them to try, and I now believe that they believe this, which is nice of them. For whatever reason, I just don’t quite get it. We’ll have plenty to work with next week.