Of course, I expected this to happen, but that does little to cushion the impact.
With white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, I just sat there. Stationary. Staring. Only moments earlier, as group was coming to an end, my agitation was simmering as we did the obligatory “check-out”
I proclaim in a rather snotty tone, “I’ve taken nothing from the group this week”.
As a matter of fact, this session was once again too much about the man who talks too much, Norris.
Earlier, one of the group Therapists made more of a statement than a question
“I’m just wondering if Cat has any thoughts on the things Norris has been saying”
I wonder if I should tell him what a bore he is, or how he seems to talk too much and the only time he converses is when it’s ALL about him.
I already know there are renditions of Mum; that self-obsessed- poor-me-martyrdom-style-attitude. Like a sponge they soak up every last ounce of energy.
It would be cruel to unleash my own issues, so I say the first thing that comes to mind.
“Every time I hear Norris talk, he reminds me of the exact same issues I battled with at his age”
It is so very true. He’s fragile. I hesitate to take it further. I feel responsible for his stability.
As I white-knuckle the steering wheel, it doesn’t dawn that I am actually agitated by something stirring inside from group. As Friday rolled into Saturday, everything and everyone was berated. And then today, a glimmer of light penetrates the darkness.
I recognise Norris’ circumstances only too well and fear any elaboration about my own destiny might destroy his hopes of recovering from depression and addictions, and becoming successful at something…
“… Before it’s too late” Norris keeps repeating…. He probably means something entirely different, but I assume “too late” refers to before he gets to my age, 51. I’m not insulted, but my awareness is being dragged back 10 plus years.
When I had my first mental breakdown, I was around 36. Five years later, I knew a large proportion of life had been ruined. This idea of wasted years hung around like a bad smell and the subsequent years only added to the aroma.
I would swing between this burning desire and self-belief to being completely overwhelmed by depression. Maybe I could still go to University and carve a new career. The reality was, there were days when I could barely raise my head from the pillow, let alone leave the house.
When I was Norris’ age, I too possessed a belief that it wasn’t too late. In many ways, that is the last thing I really remember until a couple of years ago.
I hide a deep regret for those wasted years. And, do you know what one of the worst things is? I still wouldn’t be mentally fit enough for holding down a college course, let alone a job. To say I feel disappointed in myself would be an understatement.
And that is why I’m agitated…
i definitely feel that ‘wasted years’ syndrome. i too thought i could ‘get my mh’ issues under control after a mid-30’s breakdown, but instead i’m totally and permanently disabled and can’t even get a job at the local dollar store, or even target. probably for the best, as i probably couldn’t keep it up after a month or so anyway.
it is a huge revelation to yourself that you were able to identify why Norris’ continued talking bothered you so much, and that you didn’t want to make him repeat what happened to you. not only did you see his real issue, but you saw your own real issue, and can work on it now that you have identified it.
Hiyas Kat… I think we tend to give ourselves a hard time over this… like we were responsible for the MH issues. We often hear well meaning people say, if it was a physical illness, those “wasted years” might be in some way excused… understandable…. so what’s so different about our ‘inabilities’ caused by mental illness? Despite being so free and easy to delve out that advice myself, I still harbour too much responsibility and these last few days have been extremely depressing. Never mind, they say, if therapy isn’t hurting then it’s not working!
Thank you for the support, Kat!
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It’s a sad and lovely post at the same time. Because this is your life and you’re so worthful in spite of what you have done or what have happened the last ten years. We all have a picture of who we wnat to become and what to achieve. Then life is there and put us in place. Don’t for a second look at your age. It’s ok to grief the stolen years. You should! And ypu shaould be angry and sad. But then..make up your own plans for your future.I tell you something that made me re evaluate my age. I’m 50 and when I went to my sons climbing center…I met three gentlemen at 70, fit and handsome ( one was about 75-80. And they were climbing with ropes 10 meters at the big climbing walls. And then I decided to keep on reaching out for a fun and exciting long life. And about love. As you’ve read in my post. You can also find love at our age. Keep on your good work!
You hit the nail on the head when you said it’s okay to grieve for those wasted years. I think that is exactly the process I’m allowing time for…. or TRYING to allow… I hold onto the hope that, through that grief, a new future can pave the way.
Thank you for taking the time to comment
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This post is one I think so many can relate to…that simmering hope that “things just might get better enough…might snap out of it by next week, next month” and the huge disappointment of unfulfilled aspirations.
It says so much about you that you recognised the annoyance with Norris`s “me,me,me” for what it was, and hopefully Norris can take it on board, too.
It does hurt to feel like life has been “wasted” (to be fair, the government fuelled propaganda in the UK doesn’t help with that, but wont go on a political rant, here), but you are eager to learn and to heal. For me, probably the most amazing thing anyone can achieve is a sense of fulfilment and recognition of their own self and one day, in hopefully not very long in the future, I have no doubt you will learn to see the Cat we can when we read your words. You are capable, you are strong, you are you and with the right people holding the ladders beneath you, you can get “there”, wherever that “there” is that you want to be.
Ugh have gone all soppy and metaphorical -sorry!
**hugs you, anyway**
If I had come against Norris when I was in group therapy 10 yrs ago, it’s doubtful I’d have been able to tolerate him or the emotions he dredges up. I’m lucky to have this insight.
Of course, we are too hard on ourselves about those “wasted years” and, you’re right, propaganda does little to help our self-esteem.
Your words are kind and extremely encouraging, thank you…
We are almost exactly the same age, and I know what you mean here. In my group, there was only one person older, so I felt, though they didn’t say it in so many words, that others might see me as a dire example of what could happen!
I really think though, that in a way, we have the same dilemma as always. We still need to do the best we can, every day. It’s not easier, and it’s not harder, than when we were younger. Possibilities for anyone narrow as they age, no matter how their life has gone.
Group does have a way of bringing crap to the surface, doesn’t it?
BTW, I still don’t believe that anything you could say in group to an individual would push him over the edge. The thing that happens, in my experience, is if you cut too close to the bone, that individual may turn on you. That is the actual risk IMO. Of course, you don’t want to be cruel. But saying a small piece of your mind, even just hint at it, would be a risk worth taking I think. We’re not doing others any favors by keeping our real feelings from them. Maybe this person could learn something from a more honest encounter with you.
Anyway, just hoping you can continue to try to be kind to yourself. We are all healing as fast as we can.
In my group, I am the oldest and Norris is next down the line at 40. The others are all late 20’s/early 30’s. Feeling like a dire example is exactly how I feel!
I probably should have said something before now, but I do tend to only speak my mind once I’ve understood it. In previous weeks, I might have slated him a bit for talking too much and, yes, it would have carried considerable agitation.
Now that I understand why the agitation has been brewing, I feel more able to share that ‘journey’ of discovery with the group and will throw in his persistent talking.
Because I was always feeling responsible for Mum’s moods, I tend to feel too guilty for how I might make other people feel. The fact is, apart from the stuff I can identify with in Norris, he does talk too much and if he is affected by whatever I say, well, that’s part of his journey. I’m not usually shy speaking my mind.
Thank you, Ellen, for your supportive comment.
Where did they go……!
Hi Frank… Do you mean, where did the years go?… That’s what I intend finding out!
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Cat, recognizing and admitting/accepting how you are feeling is a huge step. I just want to tell you it is never too late. The years may feel wasted but there is so much hidden in them. One day you will find it. You are getting there.
I knew a lady many years ago who after her life fell apart, she pulled it back together and went to school to become an RN, she was 50 when she registered for her courses. There is no such thing as too late, unless you’re dead. I know it’s not too late you can do it, whatever it is. Just keep working on making yourself well and I believe everything else will fall into place.
Hi Andrea… Yes, I agree, recognising and accepting where ‘I’m at’ is a huge step. The last few days have been tough facing up to that fact. It’s very nice to be encouraged and I hear what you’re saying about it not being too late.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. (((hugs))) back at ya!
Yes, I often wonder what my life would have been like if I would have found EMDR ten years ago, or if I would have met my current therapist when I was in my twenties…but it doesn’t matter. Back then just was not the right time for what I am doing now…and I am sure glad that I am doing it now!
I wholeheartedly agree!! Thank you…
I find it amazing you were able to recognize in Norris the real crux of your irritation with him, Cat. Imagine if we could do that with everyone that annoy the hell out of us. I guess there’s some truth to the adage about what we don’t like about someone else is oft’ times what we don’t like about ourselves (and don’t know it) or related to our own issues…
I began the “regret” game by the time I was 20, always regretting lost childhood, lost years, lost self. I’ve continued it my entire life. I know now (at 61) that it holds me back from finishing out my life in a positive way. I’ve asked myself WHY should I focus on me- i’m too old for it to matter anymore. But, I’m turning that around. Making a list of all the things I’d like to do to feel better about myself. It actually makes me feel younger!
You’re doing great stuff now, Cat. Keep at it. I see you moving through those bends in the tunnel!
I think it’s very true about seeing ourselves in others, usually the stuff we don’t like. I’m not so good at it in the ‘outside world’ but am very aware of that process during group therapy.
Mandy, what I’m slowly coming to realise in recent weeks is that the regret – the lost childhood, loss of relationship with parents, wasted years as a young teenager etc etc…. is all part of the forgiving process. We don’t only need to forgive other people, but we need to forgive ourselves and that seems to come through a process of grieving.
A wonderful post/article I read about forgiveness is one of the best yet. It came from Gel who comments on this blog. One of the quotes that sticks in my head is “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” Here’s the link that might make that clearer
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That is a pretty amazing post, Cat. I also feel more comfortable with Gina’s replacing the word “Acceptance” for the word Forgiveness in that quote. I like the concept of acceptance (forgiveness) but one dilemma is that I feel like I shouldn’t share my story, that I shouldn’t publish my memoir, and that even talking about my abusers becomes a oxymoron for true forgiveness. What do you think? I’ve never shared my story out of spite or retaliation–after all, I waited till they were dead. But I still feel forgiveness means “let it go.” It’s a very confusing place to be.
Can you believe we are talking about forgiveness, Cat? I’d say we are (in the words of Byron Katie) “doing the work.”
Ha Mandy, I took goose-bumps at the end of your comment. We sure are doing the work! It sounds like our ideas of forgiveness have evolved along similar paths. Let me explain my initial thoughts on reading your comment…
I feel you are talking about two or three different things here. If forgiveness is acceptance and this leads to “moving on”, then that doesn’t mean to say we don’t remember. It doesn’t wipe out that part of our lives, but I imagine we just think about it from a different perspective.
You are in a process of forgiveness and writing about it takes us one step closer, so sharing is not holding onto memories, it’s actually a process of letting the pain go.
As for the memoirs, well they’re an entirely different kettle of fish and in no way act as a tool to hold onto the past. Stories like ours need to be told. If everyone remained silent, there would be no awareness, no change in laws to protect the vulnerable, and more importantly, other victims would have nothing to draw strength and direction from.
I think forgiveness ultimately means finding peace within. I’m quite sure our memoirs would change over time, as we travel that process of forgiveness. Talking or writing about it doesn’t mean we’re holing on…. It means you’re still doing the work or/and trying to help other people!
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Thank you for this, Cat. I take comfort in your reminder that “Stories like ours need to be told. If everyone remained silent, there would be no awareness, no change in laws to protect the vulnerable, and more importantly, other victims would have nothing to draw strength and direction from.” That alone is enough for me to go on, do what I’m doing, still working towards acceptance of what happened, stop trying to make it be different than what it was, and move on. And for me, moving on in the journey is helping other still struggling. I love that we know we’ve got others to lift us back up when we question ourself! ♥
It’s good to bounce off others. We seem to recognise each others familiar hurdles
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Oh one other thing. I had to laugh at “I feel you are talking about two or three different things here.” Lol. Cat, I’m ALWAYS talking about half a dozen things at a time! My mind is a crazy rollercoaster. 🙂
I can identify with that rollercoaster
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Bonjour Cat! deeply impressive and emotional post, as usually…
* * *
@”I hide a deep regret for those wasted years.” – regrets and remorse are always useless, destructive and vain: we can’t change, modify or improve anything in our past… try to avoid looking back and returning into your past, if you wanna move on and forward… my very best, take care and good luck! P.S. you may know these famous and realistic lines from “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley:
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul…”
You are so right, Melanie, but I think it’s good to first acknowledge/accept the remorse and then try to move on. We are indeed captain of our soul. Thank you for taking the time to comment
How annoying it is when someone won’t shut up and be quiet. Yet, I can be a chatterbox at times. I’d hate to think that in my verbose moments someone was resisting the urge to gag me. But at the same time, there are many people I’d love to shout at and say, “Stop going on about yourself! Why do you talk so much?” 😀
Thank you again for sharing your heart. You have a great way of expressing your feelings that I am sure help others immensely.
I hope we can all stop for long enough to listen instead of feeling we have to give advice all the time. You don’t want tons of advice do you? Just a listening ear and support. I hope we will all be there for you when you need it the most and listen when you need to talk the most and support when you need encouragement.
May God help us to get it right.
Thank you, Sharon, for such a lovely supportive comment. I’m touched that you have taken the time to read through my blog