I Drove 330 Miles…and I’m So Glad I Did!

Like many of us, I see a psychiatrist.  I’ve seen the same doctor for 16 years, and when I first started with him, I really DID need him.  I was a mess!  With lots of support, encouragement, and good advice, I found myself healing from some serious childhood stuff.  I think my Doc is my medication now.  I was without him for almost two years after being transferred out of the area by corporate America.

I tried to find another doctor.  Folks, you can’t replace someone who has been there for you; who has been your ROCK for 16 years.  You just can’t.  It’s almost like a marriage, only with the professional boundaries in place.  So I decided, after trying yet ANOTHER shrink, that I was going to chuck it all where I am and go back to what I knew and trusted.

I drove 165 miles one way to get there today.  While sitting in his office, Doc _____ looks at my file and then looks at me and says:  “has it really been that long????  I could have sworn I’d seen you just a couple of months ago!”  I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so I asked him.  I said:  “hmmm – is that a good thing?”  Apparently, it was, because his reply was:  “Yes!  It means our rapport is so excellent that we can pick up where we left off, almost two years ago.”

My session with him was excellent and so worth the time, drive, traffic, and money.  I told him about the N, and described the situation to him.  I asked what he thought about it.  His reply:  “What do YOU think is wrong with this man?”   I replied that through research, I’d come to the conclusion the man was NPD.  Doc concurred.  He’d come to that conclusion simply from hearing me recite email conversations – and I surprised myself that I’d memorized them.  I was concerned about that because I thought maybe I was obsessing.  Doc told me no, I wasn’t obsessing, rather; I was doing what I do best:  analyzing and processing.

We discussed my primary relationship history.  Doc is a funny man.  He said:  “Okay, so far, with regard to primary relationships in your life, you’ve lived with a psycho domestic abuser, you married a dry drunk, you divorced the dry drunk and involved yourself in a long-distance relationship with a man who was very safe because neither of you had to invest anything in the relationship, then you married a man with Bipolar Disorder, you divorced him and it nearly killed you, then you moved in with a passive-aggressive Momma’s boy, and when that didn’t work you stayed away from men for awhile and started healing.  Now you tell me you found an NPD.  Are you done with men now?”

Yes, I’m done with men.  My judgment is obviously not at a level where I can trust it.  Unless the universe plants just the right man in my path, and gives me a sign that he IS the right man (and it would have to be something planetary, like Jupiter, aligning with Mars or something along those lines) I am done with men.

I don’t need a man.  I’d like one, but I’m fine without one.  I’m not emotionally needy now, although at one point in my life, as a young adult, I was extremely needy.

When I first started seeing the Doc he diagnosed me with borderline traits.  He told me this today.  I didn’t realize that.  He said he didn’t feel I warranted a formal diagnosis of BPD, because I was a high-functioning individual with a shitty childhood history to overcome.  He told me the that my official diagnosis was PTSD. I’d never thought to ask.

Without this man, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  He told me why his formal diagnosis was PTSD with borderline traits and looking back over my life (I’ll be 50 in a few days), I can see how right he was.   I still experience issues with PTSD, the most common issue being what Doc refers to as “ghosting.”

If I have a choice, I never sit with my back to a door.  There were things that would happen to me as a kid and with my first live-in if my back was turned.  To this day, I will sometimes feel as though someone is behind me and I’ll whip around, in fight or flight mode and no one will be there.  People have seen this “startle” response in me – I whip around and go into a slight crouch, my muscles tensed and I’m told I have a panic-stricken look on my face.  That’s “ghosting.”  I don’t think it’s really a medical term, but it clearly describes what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling the ghosts of my past; I’m feeling them so strongly that adrenaline kicks in and my brain sends me immediately into both an offensive and defensive mode.  My posture becomes defensive and my mind pulls forward into the offensive, bringing all the rage I had and still have toward the people who hurt me.  The rage is there, but I’ve learned to control it, as opposed to allowing it to control me.  Life wasn’t always like that.

Doc helped me work through all the garbage that caused that response; he helped me work through to my SELF, to bring the good and bad together and merge them into the person I really am.  He was there through two divorces, three downsizes, an immeasurable amount of heartbreaks; he got me through the teenage years with my son, and all the way through it, he was there to let me know I was okay and that I would be okay.

So, given all that, why on earth wouldn’t I drive 330 miles round trip to spend time with such a supportive and encouraging individual?  Why did I think I could ever replace him?  I’ll probably still be seeing him when I’m 85 and he’s 90, provided, as he said:  “I’m still alive, all the grey cells are working and I don’t need my Depends changed too often.”

I always marveled at how stable his marriage was (and is).  He got married at 21, has four grown children that he adores, and judging from the photos in his office, a wife he adores and loves as much as the day he married her.  Well, I know that, because he’s told me.  He would be lost without his wife.

That’s what I always thought I would have.  I told him that today.  I’ve been very conflicted about this turning 50 thing and mentioned that it’s really bothering me because I’m not where I thought would be at this point in my life.  He replied:  “Maybe you’re not seeing the forest.  Do you think it’s possible you’re exactly where you need to be?”

Yup.  Right again.  I thought about that on the drive home.  I AM exactly where I should be and where I need to be – for me.  I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s life.  I can’t judge myself based on someone else’s accomplishments or what society has decreed to us is defined as “success.”  I AM successful.  I’m here, writing this, still alive, and an emotionally healthy individual who has, at this point, minimal emotional baggage.

I’ve accomplished one hell of a lot in my life, but most would see me as largely unsuccessful because I don’t have the material acquisitions that our society values so greatly.  I don’t own a home, I’ve been laid off 3 times in three years, I have no retirement or savings because I ran though it all through various terms of unemployment, and right now I’m past due on my car payment because my (former) boss turned out to be a total asshole and at this writing, I have $25 to my name.

Know what, though?  It’s okay. I got an email today that is going to change that financial picture.  My entire life I’ve always had what I needed, when I needed it.  I may not have always had what I wanted, but I ALWAYS had what I needed.  That should really be enough for anyone.

I find, as I age, that the things I want are intangible.  They are things only I can provide myself.  Peace, happiness and contentment.  Value of myself FOR myself.  Self esteem without entitlement.  The knowledge that when I look back, 40 years from now (because I WILL live to be 90) I will know that for most of my adult life, I’ve worked to do the right thing, even when it didn’t feel good to do it.  I’ll know that I succeeded in becoming what I truly want to be:  A human being who works to help and heal others, because through that, I help and heal myself.   It’s an ongoing process…

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