My search for solace

The following started as an email reply to a good friend who offered the sincere belief that time spent around friendly people I know at an activity I used to participate in would be a “cure” for depression. The more I wrote, the more I realized it should probably be shared with anyone I know who cares to read it. So, here goes…

Well, “cure” is probably a bit ambitious. Right now, pretty much every way I was accustomed to using to “define” myself (mainly my job as an engineer and my relationship with Amy) is turned inside out with its future completely in question. I feel like I’m just “treading water”, and I don’t even know where “land” is. So many people have been trying to help me any and every way they know how (People have been coming “out of the woodwork” from every part of my life, and I truly appreciate what they’ve done and what they’re continuing to do.). The overall goal is to help me find my footing, so I can carry myself forward. It’s an incredibly tricky thing for people (especially Amy) to find the right “balance” to provide the support I need to keep from “drowning” while simultaneously forcing me to learn and continue to become independent. I realize not even I can be trusted to know where that point is. If I got everything I’ve asked for, my development would be bypassed, with everything so easy I wouldn’t be forced to grow. On the other hand, without enough help, I would end up fighting so hard to keep my head above water and so depressed about how hard things are that I wouldn’t have the energy to grow. I realize that not even I can tell the difference, and that’s what’s so frustrating. It’s a very narrow space with no markings or ways (that we know of) to see or feel for it, and neither I nor Amy knows how to find it. At best, we’re guessing. On one hand, I feel very “melodramatic” as I write this. On the other hand, I realize my “calibration” is to keep too much to myself, and I suspect this is the first time I’ve felt vulnerable enough to share details that I should have shared a long time ago. I really don’t have a clue what I need, though (especially since what I want isn’t the same thing). The other thing that helps make this so complicated is that it’s all wrapped up in whatever in myself I was dealing with even before the wreck, so it has been next to impossible to find the dividing line. I realize that to some extent it doesn’t really matter, because I obviously would like to solve both the “before” and the “after” simultaneously. However, that may not be possible (and if it is, there’s no way of knowing that both can be fixed with a single “tactic”). As with many things I’ve written the last few days, I have no idea where this was going. I also don’t know what (if anything) will help. I just know I feel like I’m losing the battle and making no progress. I realize I’m probably going to get an outpouring of sympathy, and I’ll try to thank everyone that provides it. Better than sympathy, though, would be some way to find my way out of this mess.

5 thoughts on “My search for solace

  1. I think you’ve got some really important insight here. I certainly don’t see any melodrama. Maybe a third party with a different perspective could help you guys find some good balance?

  2. Rachel,

    Thanks for the reply. I would love to have some third-party help that actually works. We’re both seeing a therapist (the same one), but so far all of her suggestions for me have run head-on into problems I have with initiation and with not being sure when it’s “okay” to interrupt Amy. I’ve mentioned these problems to the therapist, and the response almost every time is that it’s the responsibility of the person who wants a change to initiate it. Well, like so many things right now, I understand that from an intellectual perspective, but I have trouble motivating myself from an emotional perspective. I find myself motivated to “act out” in progressively more public ways (see also this web log post). I realize that doing that is likely to cause her to “dig in her heels” instead of respond, Given that I can’t “abracadabra” myself to have more appropriate feelings, I’d like any friends who read this to write me an email and ask me about anything they’ve seen or heard from me tonight that they’re curious about.

    –Jeff

  3. By the way, I’ve come fairly close before to looking for another therapist who has some different ideas. Making that kind of change is not an easy thing to do. (Besides the obvious reasons, I would have to really look out in this part of the world to avoid a therapist who has conservative opinions that he/she allows to influence his/her recommendations. I have no problem challenging my opinions, but not when I’m unconvinced that it’s because of a valid professional opinion.)

  4. It sounds like that therapist is leaning more towards the challenging and less towards the supportive and it isn’t really working. Your description also makes me want to yell at her. I think it would be really helpful if you had your own therapist. I’m hoping that between web searches and friend recommendations you can find a great one.

    Also, just as a reference point, I see absolutely no melodrama or acting out going on here.

  5. I really don’t mean to keep carrying our conversation on “in public” like this, but I wanted to make one last public comment to make it clear to Amy what’s going on. Unfortunately, you are, by definition, only seeing one side of the story. Apparently, each of us is frustrated with the other for legitimate reasons. I think the big problem is that I’m not doing a good job of showing Amy how I feel, and simultaneously I’m not doing a very good job of “reading between the lines”;. Tonight’s shared therapy session brought a lot of details to light about what exactly Amy is particularly concerned with, and I’m making at least somewhat of an effort to address some of those concerns.

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