Sunday, 20 August 2017

Shrink Tales: Longing to be Understood

It was raining on Sunday. I was running late. When i WhatsApped my therapist saying so, i got a text message from her saying that she was running late as well. She managed to reach on time and i got cheated and late. The first auto driver started shouting at me and i got scared because he was very loud and seemed very angry. I got down from his auto and took another auto that promised to take me to my destination @ Rs. 25. I ended up paying Rs. 50. So when i entered her room, i was already feeling defeated.

When i read out relevant portions from the 'aftermath' (what she calls notes on how i felt before, during and after therapy) she told me that it was still not enough. She told me that it was not easy to figure out what one was feeling all the time. She asked me several question and answering them, i kind of got an idea of what she was trying to make me write.

In the previous session, when i had narrated in short many of the abusive relationships i had been in, she had put in a sentence what she had deduced. She had asked me if it was okay to say that 'You would stick to a person ignoring all forms of abuse for the little moments of happiness that you received. Like in a trance, you keep taking abuse till someone breaks you out of it by stating things you probably knew all the while.' It had sounded like the story of my life when she said it. She now asked me what i had felt then. I told her that it struck a chord somewhere because that was exactly what had been happening. She asked me how it made me feel. 'Did you feel anxious?' No, i told her. What i had felt was relief. Someone had understood what was going on.

She told me that that was what she was looking for. If i felt relief when she said that, it meant that i craved to be understood. When she said that, i again felt relieved because it seemed true. In fact, the little happiness that i got in exchange of all abuse was that i was being understood in some way or the other. Professor N was almost completely all about that.

She asked me to try and think where this started from. The need to be understood. I thought hard but couldn't locate it. But i told her that right from childhood, i thought i was different from others around me. I now remember that i was the only child who did not cry in my class on first day of school. I remember the child-me taking a note of that. I remember the child-me knowing the answer to a question the nun (class teacher) had asked. It was a picture of a spider. I knew that it was a spider.

Later on in school, i was always making people laugh. Silly pranks that i played in class made other students and sometimes teachers laugh. I remembered how i was a good student and always wanted to impress teachers. Maybe i thought i was different because people laughed looking at things i did. I don't know.

I also spoke about my family. Father's alcoholism. Mother beating me and my sister. How my parents married out of love and not in the 'arranged marriage' system. How my mother raised us girls alone and how she never even got the time to mourn my father. I spoke about my grandparents, especially my grandfather whom i loved the most in the world.

When i started speaking about my grandfather, i felt the feeling i always feel when i think about him. Eyes becoming moist and a rush of love. Tenderness. Tenderness is what i always feel when i think of my grandparents. I remember that i used to shed a few tears whenever i got my grandfather's smell from some place. I would inhale it so deeply. I feel the pain of loss. Not excruciating but just permeating. Slowly. I feel that if i think a bit more about him, the pain will grow.

For me, my grandparents and the love i have for my grandfather are very private. I protect those feelings and am very possessive about them. Like it is the only precious little that i have that is not sad or hurtful. In fact, i describe my grandfather as the only person in this whole wide world who never hurt me.

In front of my therapist i became aware that for the first time, i will be talking about these precious thoughts. Immediately, i thought of the time when i had shared it with one of my ex lovers. How i had taken him to my grandfather because i want everyone i love to love everyone i love. How it was a big mistake. My grandfather died, keeping a man who abused me in whatever memory he had when he died, as Tuttu's love. This, when what Tuttu shared with him was nothing close to love. There, another private bit. My family calls me Tuttu.

After i came out of the therapist's more thoughts about grandfather came. I thought of what and how to talk of him. It seemed so vast and so full of love that i was not even sure that i could speak about it. Strangely, i didn't fear betrayal. Whenever there was a memory that came to me of grandfather, i stifled it and not let it out to people around me. No lover, no friend. I always thought that they didn't deserve to know of him or our love. But with Ish, my therapist, i did not feel so. Maybe because she was doing her job and i was her client. Maybe because she seemed to be good at understanding. I always felt that nobody understood my kind of love or that mine was not love at all. With Ish, I felt i had stopped thinking of what she might or might not know. I felt that if i let her, she would be able to figure me out.

I had my first appointment with the psychiatrist that week. When i went there, i got to know that Ish and she were in touch with each other regarding patients. Ish had messaged her that i was doing well. I felt good hearing it. Felt reassured, as though i had two women who were in touch with each other regarding my mental health so nothing could go wrong. Also felt good about the science thing. (I get really excited when i see methods that medicine or science employs to make lives easier for human beings. Rolls eyes to self.)

Told her about the obsession with weight. She said that she'd talk to Ish about it. When she said that i was looking well, i thought that she'd meant that i had gained weight. I told her that. She then explained that that was not what she had meant and explained the science behind it and that made me feel even more awesome. Because science. Apparently, the first time i had gone to her, she had noted that my smiles weren't spontaneous. This happened either because of depression or because of unfamiliarity. This time, she saw that i was smiling more spontaneously. I was relieved (that i she had not meant that i'd gained weight) and amazed (at all that simple science).

Noticed that during the week, my eyes were welling up like before. [Before i went to Kolkata and attempted suicide.] When i thought of my grandfather (dead - his love that i consider precious etc.) and my mother who lived alone in Kerala. Earlier, i would cry for some time. Now eyes just welled up and i stopped thinking about it in some time so that i wouldn't cry more. 

Constant guilt during the week that i wasn't working enough. Not getting up early enough. When i work like dog and make both breakfast and lunch for my partner before i leave for work, then i feel i accomplished something. Otherwise i feel like a loser. I think of mother and countless women who do much more and feel that i am lesser than all of them. I compare myself to Inji Pennu who does maybe four times the amount of work i do in a day. Feel inadequate when i think of it.

This click from my living room was on a day that i got up early enough to cook and then leave for work. A Monday morning.

A Monday morning, 1bhk, Bombay

Oh by the way the psychiatrist increased the dose of one of my pills to stop my recurring thoughts. In the night i wake up with a start to add things to my 'to-do' list for the next day. Also i am always thinking about my weight. 

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