I’ve got my first therapy session tomorrow. I’ve been racking my brains for days about topics to ‘work on’. My therapist prefers it if issue are delineated to address. Today I came up with something!
Walking is a good time for me to be mulling over current issues I’m preoccupied with. A big one for me at the moment is grieving my relationship with T. Yesterday I wrote about this issue. I’ve been writing about it for a while. In the past, I used to go to therapy for support in dealing with being in the relationship. Sometimes twice a week!
It no longer seems appropriate to deal with this as the major issue in therapy. It’s not the major issue in my life. But today I was reflecting that, as an AA member, a lot of what I describe as grieving, could be re-framed by an AA onlooker as self pity. I thought about this on my walk. That was when I came up with an issue: My AA program. I could use therapy to process my relationship with AA, which is a major issue in my life right now.
Process my relationship to the twelve steps and what that means to me. Process my grief about ways I feel I’ve messed up in my relationship with ‘the fellowship’ and past AA relationships which I think are still affecting me, at least unconsciously. I haven’t made many, or even any lasting relationships in AA. I think this is pretty unusual for someone who has attended AA as long as I have (29 years).
That isn’t to say I have no AA friends, I do here in Wales. But none from my London days. That makes me feel a bit sad (self pity?). A bit bewildered. A bit down-hearted.
Yesterday I had a natter with one of these AA’s that I am good friends with. We ended up on the subject of God. Or god, if you prefer. S believes in, has faith in, God. He sees it as an important relationship. I told him that I have no relationship with God. I’m probably an agnostic, or more on the atheist side of agnosticism.
Classically, in AA, if I felt that self pity was causing upset in my equilibrium, I would be required to pray to my (it can be anything) higher power to have it removed. But I tend to look on my upsets in a more psychological way. For example, I would tend not to consider feelings of sadness and regret as self pity. Rather, I would look to the source of my feelings and give them space to allow them to be experienced and processed. Tagging something as self-pity rather feels like giving myself a telling off, even though I know that a classic AA approach finds this tag more of a liberation than anything else.
One ‘defect of character’ I can certainly own however is jealousy. There isn’t any doubt in my mind that my jealousy negatively affected my relationship with T. This was something my therapist and I worked on in our previous therapy relationship. We were able to see that my mother had been, at times, a very jealous woman, and so I was in some way re-enacting a dynamic that was familiar to me from childhood. Not that this awareness freed me of it.
After our relationship ended I realised I never really felt T loved me and that was the reason I used to get so jealous. Something was missing between us. The jealousy was, I think, a symptom of the vacuum. Had I felt he wanted the relationship there would have been no reason for me to get jealous. This isn’t to excuse the negative way my jealousy impacted on T, but to understand why it happened. But now, I’m free of the jealousy, and have ‘self-pity’ in its place. Not simply over the loss of the relationship, but also over my feelings about the past.
Maybe I can ‘work through’ this self pity/grief in therapy. Because it’s draining me of enthusiasm for my life now. I could also work on the god-shaped ‘hole’ in my life. Ask myself what it could mean to me to have a relationship with a god I don’t believe in.