What Are You Afraid Of?

The therapist I’ve been seeing for the past five months today came out with this revelation:

Given the things you’ve said to me, it seems you find the world a threatening place.

My therapist often says things I’m not sure about, and I have to go away and think about them. He’s a Freudian, and I call him on his bullshit. He’s trying to sift through my past, looking for single traumatic incident that imprinted on me this need to defend myself. I could relive every day since I was about 18 months old, and my shrink can pick through  any of the dozens of sub-optimal events that have shaped my view of the world. He would say that I’ve subconsciously formulated defense mechanisms that color all my interactions with people, and that, as a result, my outlook isn’t what it should be.

But there’s one other possibility. I’ve said before that I’m an introvert. No, I’m not going to link to a blog post where I’ve said it, because I say it all the time. Here’s a thing that’s true about many introverts: their nervous systems are wired differently. They experience sensations like sound, light and touch as more stimulating than other people feel them, and therefore have a stronger reaction. When you’re wired up so that bright lights, people talking in excited voices and people, clothes or stray breezes touching your skin feel uncomfortable to you, of course the world is a threatening place.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that, not only am I generally defensive, but that I don’t see that as anything I want to change. What I would like to change, though, is how this particular therapist views me. Because I’m now realizing that while I do have a fair few real problems (like an obscure obsessive/compulsive disorder that is the reason I keep my hair short), viewing the world as generally challenging isn’t a neurosis for me. It’s a reality.

2 responses

  1. Lise, are you truly finding this particular therapist helpful? What you have said above sounds to me as if he/she is telling you that you are wrong to think or feel the way you do. I have been in therapy a couple of times and I have not found it to be particularly helpful either time. You are who you are, molded by every experience you have ever had, personally I think you should revel in your uniqueness. And I understand completely about being more sensitive there are certain sounds that I not only hear but feel; it is almost like an electrically current runs through me.

    • In a lot of ways, I do find this therapist helpful, but I’m realizing that a therapist is like a building contractor. With some contractors, we sit down and talk about the project and they immediately understand not just what I’m saying, but what I’m thinking. They can add to/improve on the ideas I have for the project, and the result is wonderful, even if it’s not what I had originally envisioned. With other contractors, I’ve had to stand over them every minute to make sure they’re doing what I’ve asked them to do. Given half a chance, they’ll go off on a tangent and do a bunch of work I didn’t ask for, leaving the work I did ask for undone.

      I need to remind this therapist that yes, I’m hypersensitive and I have coping mechanisms to deal with that and they’re working just fine for me, thank you. On the other hand, I have a neurotic inability to develop habits – from taking vitamins every day to remembering to take the trash out on Wednesday nights (after living in the same house for nearly 9 years). It causes me stress, and when I’m stressed about this little thing, if a big thing comes along, I lose my shit. I’d like that to stop.

      This therapist does have some very good insights, but I do need to manage him closely.

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