Without My Failures

I started seeing a therapist yesterday. This will be the first time in my life that I’ll be really seeing one on a regular basis. I’ve gone to the VA to see a therapist before but they really only have the resources to check in with me every couple of months. Besides, I don’t really need the kind of help they tend to specialize in and having a therapy session in a sterile white room with uncomfortable chairs is not ideal. So, I decided to find one that matched with my goals, personality, and such.

My first session was mostly in-processing stuff but we did get to discuss some methods to deal with my anxiety and she recommended “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”, which I finally bought.

Sidebar: Any therapist who has a half sleeve tattoo, cusses, and recommends books like that is definitely a good match for me. The last thing I would want is to feel judged or feel like I need to alter my language because of my therapist.

Anyway, we went over some methods that I was somewhat familiar with but hadn’t really used a lot of recently, namely CBT and mindfulness meditation. We are also going to use a DBT model, which is new to me.

I’m really off track here.

The whole point of that introduction is really to say that seeing a therapist has sparked a lot of introspection on my part. I’m trying to find the root of my anxiety instead of just the triggers.

Today, I had a possible revelation about why I might self-sabotage a bit and came up with possible roots. First off, I have very much identified with the role of rebel most my life. When I was on church trips and such I was often in a power struggle with my pastor, particularly when I didn’t understand or agree with his decisions. In essence, I was failing at being a good Christian and my reward for it was attention, friendship, and an identity.

Similarly, throughout school and the military, it is when I screwed up that I got attention. Very rarely was I rewarded or did I receive positive reinforcement when I did something right, it was all stick and no carrot.

I think there is a part of me that resists healing myself because fucking up is providing a service for me. I know the things I must do… meditate, CBT exercises, do my job, block off time for writing, eat healthily, turn off my computer an hour before bed, etc… but I often don’t do it. What reward is there for doing the right thing? In what way will that get me attention or affection?

And really, that is what it comes down to. I’m a bit lonely. I long for camaraderie, attention, friendships, the feeling of belonging and worth, but I have a hard time finding that. I have friends here, but between being fairly introverted, anxious about initiating contact, and everyone’s busy schedules I don’t really see them. Hell, if it wasn’t for volunteering and going to D&D I really wouldn’t see anyone outside of my house regularly (besides people I pay to spend time with me). There are a handful of people that I exchange emails with, which I love, but that is sporadic at best and really can’t replace the sense of joy I would feel if someone sent me a quick, “Hey, wanna grab a beer tonight?”

The whole point is that I think I would become a better employee, writer, partner, and person if I could feel a stronger sense of belonging. And to do that, I need to work on getting over my social hangups and try to make more friends (ugh, I feel like a fucking 1st grader). It is tough meeting people as an adult in a new city, particularly if you don’t have children. Most people have established their social networks and I often feel like an outsider, like I don’t belong.

Hopefully, now that I’ve come up with a hypothesis I can start to test it out and improve my situation. As busy as my life is, I need to make time for new experiences that are a bit social in nature and maybe I’ll make some friends along the way.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

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