My Happy Place, Therapy, Money and The Social Dilemma

I’m still working out how you headline a blog post with an image. Today I’ve chosen two members of my immediate family, a couple to whom I am “Auntie Ruth”. That makes me the ‘sister’ of my best buddy and this delightful pair his ‘children’. Recently I pointed out to him that his dogs get more love, and are better looked after than I was as a kid. He agreed, and said the same applied to him.

Every time I see pictures these fellas I smile, broadly, without intending to at all. They live with him in another part of Wales and next week I’m going to stay with them all for a few days, which will be a proper treat. I imagine that a few days with this bunch will be a happy place for me to inhabit for a few days. I’ll feel understood and appreciated and will laugh a lot; my buddy is certainly one of the funniest, if not the funniest person I have ever met. There is nothing quite like having a good laugh.

I’m also going back into therapy next week. I’ve seen a great many therapists, over the past thirty years: Jungians; Dr’s surgery counsellors; NHS psychotherapists; a Freudian, or ‘psychodynamic therapist’ and H, a ‘Transactional Analyst’. I’ve been seeing H, on and off, for the past three years.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to “work on”. H has this thing about suggesting that we “work on” a particular issue. At first this was OK because being in a relationship with T had driven me back to seeing her; I simply couldn’t cope. Sometimes I saw H twice a week during this period, such was the extent of my distress. Going out with T turned out to be pretty expensive.

I’ve never seen anyone who wanted me to “work on” stuff before. I still can’t get my head around it, and I’ve told her this more than once. She’s told me not to worry about it, which hasn’t worked. It stresses me out, and no matter how many times she re-frames the “working on something” business, I still obsess about it. So, since we agreed to start with the sessions again, I’ve been worrying about what it is I’m going to “work on”.

If there is anything to “work on” at the moment it’s probably saving money, as this is my main project at the moment. Because of this project I’ve been having second thoughts about therapy. Especially since my Care Co-Ordinator frowned when I told her I was going into therapy again, and the cost. The cost has gone up from £30 to £40, starting next year. S said: “That’s 33%!” Since then I’ve been wondering how much I actually need therapy, especially as I’m supposed to be “working on” saving money (for the first time in my life).

Naturally this will need to be the first issue I raise when I see her again. I might even cancel, were it not for the fact that she put me on her waiting list for four months before agreeing to see me again and I don’t want to mess her about.

She is a good shrink though. I often feel more upbeat and hopeful after one of our chats. I feel understood. Apart from my best buddy, I don’t know anyone who has had extensive psychotherapy any more. It’s an experience that has definelty altered me, and I never quite feel on a wave-length with people who haven’t also undergone therapy. I think it gives you a certain cast of mind.

People in AA always have opinions about psychotherapy, both pro and anti. Actually the only reason I went into therapy was because of my AA life. In London, it isn’t unusual. But here in Wales it is. I think most people here are of the view that it conflicts with AA principles, and I think there is a certain amount of truth in that. In most cases I feel it puts me in the position of being at odds with my fellow Wales AA’s. That is not an easy place to occupy, but I don’t let it influence me too much. I don’t particularly care what people in AA think about me anymore.

All of that said, I think I’ll just make an initial commitment to therapy until Christmas. Maybe my urgent need to save any spare penny I have will take precedence over my need for support.

Last night I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I must admit I found it pretty shocking to realise the extent to which I am being manipulated by Silicon Valley. In the past I’ve minimised my worries about this addiction. My best buddy is always talking about it, but it’s not something that has ever particularly worried me. I don’t have lots of followers on any of my accounts, I don’t chat to a lot of people, I don’t have lots of Facebook Friends. This doesn’t particularly bother me. In the past I did have a lot more contacts on my various apps, but I always found the whole thing a bit fake, and deleted accounts. Inevitably I have gotten drawn back in, starting from scratch.

I do get upset if I post something on Facebook and my friends (who are real friends) ignore me. I don’t really need this kind of upset; I usually have enough to contend with on any given day without adding to the load. But then, I also get a boost from these apps, when I’m not being ignored. A dopamine hit, I learned last night.

I do spend a lot of time on my screens. Often from morning to lunchtime and then checking them all intermittently after that. I read the Guardian, scroll Twitter until there is nothing new left to read. I’m not on Instagram any more — I find it boring. I thought about it and reflected that were I to delete all my apps I imagine that I would be at quite a serious loose end.

Twitter especially does influence my behaviour. I buy and borrow books based on what I read there. Last week I spent about two days watching Malcolm Gladwell talks, purely because it popped up in my YouTube suggestions. I wonder how much I was being manipulated into that activity now. I find that a bit scary — that I’m being programmed to behave in certain ways by the tech giants. I’ve become a product, my attention is being sold. According to all these people talking in the documentary, many of whom were really powerful computer engineers, that is exactly what is happening. The limbic part of my brain is being programmed. Ouch.

Needless to say The Social Dilemma is not trending on Twitter.

Published by unipolar2

I’m a writer living in Wales

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