4.04.2006

"Say It, If It's Worth Saving Me"

I have not shared this with many people before, but I've actually been to a therapist. I started going, at first, to help a really good friend of mine, and from there, I fell in love with her doctor. If you picture Sharon Stone with a charming, sexy laugh and combine her with a side of a much younger Jane Fonda, you would have my doctor. I also fell in love with the fact she would say the word, "fuck," which many females, especially ones much older than myself, wouldn't say, and well if they did, they usually weren't the classy type.

Many years ago, back in 2001, on my birthday, May 5th, I was at a luau in Hawaii with practically every person on the planet that I love. I sat staring at the beach, watching the sunset against a backdrop of fluffy clouds, and started to cry. I had managed to separate myself from my family for a brief few minutes to take some pictures, and it was as though I finally recognized the weight of my accompanied misery. As I sat there staring at one of the most picturesque sunsets I had ever seen, I couldn't understand why on my 23rd birthday, surrounded by every person I loved, I could feel so utterly sad.

When I returned home, I scheduled my first session with my therapist. As I told her about Hawaii and my life, it was like something immediately clicked. I suddenly understood that I was comfortable in misery. She mentioned how many women will often stay in abusive relationships with their partners because that is what's familiar to them. While I never saw myself as being abused, I had certainly fallen into the middle of a very rocky relationship that never seemed to calm itself for long.

It was shortly after this session that I received a disturbing phone call at my job--a real job. My boyfriend's sister had called me at work to relay a "serious" message to her brother. Apparently, when my boyfriend was in town and staying with his sister, he had decided to rent some porn through her cable. As she started rattling off the names with great mockery and smugness in her voice, I felt horribly ashamed and embarrassed. I tried my best to sound nonchalant about the movies and told her that I would pass along the message. As soon as I hung up the phone, tears started streaming down my face. I felt so shamed by her discovery but not because it was porn. I was shamed because I had no idea about it; I was shamed because I had to hear it from her; I was shamed because I was supposed to be in this loving relationship with someone that carried my heart, and with all that weight, he was still hiding. "Me!" I thought to myself. "I'm the girl that loves going to strip clubs. I'm the girl that lusts after other girls, always questioning whether I want to be with them or just be them. How is this happening," I wondered.

When I finally talked to my boyfriend and told him the message, he immediately started saying that he rented some movie with Sandra Bullock in it. My anger shot through the roof. I walked into my closet, and I started to hit the wall with my hand. I asked him to stop lying, but he just continued. I continually smacked the wall as hard as I physically could and demanded the lying to stop. I can still remember how incredibly loud the sound was. Then there was complete silence. The next question out of his mouth was, "So, I guess this means it's over?" There seemed to be no sadness or regret in his voice, just anger. To this day, this situation has haunted me. I never understood lying in a relationship. I have never had empathy to think that if I knew I had done something terribly hurtful to another person I loved, that there would be an ounce of pride left in me. I would completely break down and beg for forgiveness, which is a lot for me because I don't show emotions well.

The funny thing about me is that I am horrible at asking for what I want. I would have never broken up with my boyfriend over porn, but our issues were so much deeper than that. I couldn't keep him from lying, and I grew weary of trying to fit together the pieces of his stories. I have to believe that without that therapy session, things would have taken an entirely different path. The porn was nothing to me, but the behavior became so crystal clear in that moment that I just couldn't accept it or him any longer. I wanted an end to the misery.

My second session in therapy came some time later. I was having a difficult time with my job and decided that maybe my therapist could help me with my career. We discussed taking a test called the Myers-Briggs test, which I had to pay for. This test was quite detailed, but she was confident that it would give us a better understanding of what fields I would truly excel. When the results came back, I was pegged as being an INTJ. (Introverted-Intuition-Thinking-Judging) While I sat on the couch listening to her read the results to me, I couldn't help but laugh. She kept looking at me saying, "Is that you?" and all I could do was grin from ear to ear. It was scary how accurate the test was, but what I liked more than anything, was the booklet that she did for me. She had interpreted the reading, and I was slightly embarrassed at one negative outcome. "Often individuals with your personality experience difficulty with authority, nevertheless, are willing to conform to regulations and standards if perceived as useful, logical and beneficial. You would experience conflict working with colleagues that you did not respect or perceived as intellectually inferior." I immediately recognized the true issues with my job in a different light.

When all was said and done, I was grateful to know that I had inadvertently landed in an excellent field that I was not only drawn to, but could also excel. It has now been almost six years since I started my career, and I am finally headed somewhere that upward mobility seems possible. I won't be someone's assistant, and that means so much to me. I will be working with equals who will be there to teach me things.

I emailed my therapist the other day to share my great news. She had this to say:

Thank you SO much for letting me know how your life is going, and giving me such exciting news! I remember - you are an INTJ - so a career where you are intellectually stimulated and working with similar people is what would drive you. Congratulations on finding that career and having the courage to pursue it. I am VERY proud of you...Work hard, watch your attitude, and do what you love.

I kind of winced at the attitude comment when I first read it. If only I could adequately explain how hard that is to suppress sometimes. I can remember being young and my father always telling me that I was so stubborn that I would never be able to hold down a job. I think that comment really had an effect on me because I have stayed with most of my jobs for five years or longer. The ironic part is that my sister seems to have a more difficult time relating to people, and she was always the "good kid."

While I hate admitting I needed therapy, even if it was just twice (three if you count the results session), I can't say that those sessions didn't have a profound effect on me. I feel like they shaped a portion of my life and maybe carved a different path for me. I vividly remember driving home from both sessions with 9,000 thoughts running through my head faster than the speed of light. I told my girlfriend, "I don't know how you go weekly. My brain goes 90-to-nothing when I leave there. She leaves me with too much to think about."

In closing, here are some of the things that my test said:
-Individuals with your personality are often described as logical, perfectionistic, independent and decisive.
-You set high standards for yourself, and are typically objective and determined when faced with challenges and competition.
-Your work strengths include your ability to analyze problems with advanced insight, work independently for extended periods of time, and develop complex models for improving efficiency and solving difficult problems.
-You show a willingness to embrace change and master new and original theories and solutions.

There is a quote on the opening page of the Myers-Briggs website. "Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart's desire."

I can agree one hundred percent.

7 Comments:

Blogger PB said...

You're brave, Jeni. Not because of what you've survived or the choices you've made, but because you have the courage to look things in the face and ACT.

I'm an INFP, BTW. I'm also a firm believer in therapy, formal or self-administered. I believe it was Socrates who said that the unexamined life isn't worth living. I've been told that I "think too much," a comment that has never made any sense to me. I'd rather think too much than too little.

I think. (-:

12:21 PM  
Anonymous STEPHANIE said...

DON'T YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO THAN TO TALK ABOUT ME?

MAYBE NEXT TIME YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT HOW YOU LUST AFTER MY HUSBAND!!!

2:18 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

Sister-

'Tis rude to type in all caps. It comes across as yelling.

I said only a mere sentence about you, and even that information was carefully chosen.

I do not lust after your husband. Perhaps, it is the other way around.... [Insert glare] I do often feel pity for him though.

But in other news, I'm only slightly happier that you now know how to post on here.

2:48 PM  
Blogger PB said...

Jesus! Let me just step back so you two can slug it out.

Hey everybody! Cat fight!

4:34 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

PB-

I just read your comment to my mother and she just busted out laughing. I busted out laughing, too. :) That was great!

My sister has rules. No one is allowed to talk about her, unless you are making very flattering, uplifting comments, and even that gives her pause. You should see my mother struggle with the annual Christmas letter. Lord.

My tone did not transfer well in the above, but I figured that didn't matter. The "[insert glare]" is most assuredly where my sister will insert a glare at me. She already knows that I feel sorry for her husband. On occasion, I feel sorry for her, too.

She's been reading my site for a while. I was totally shocked she was able to comment on it. She's not usually interested in anything to do on a computer, and it usually affords her some trouble.

So, no bets on the fight! She knows I would kick her ass and wouldn’t hesitate to tell you otherwise. I’m definitely the scrappy one in this family.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous leahpeah said...

wow, jeni. i enjoy reading all your posts but this one is one of my favorites. probably because i can identify, which really makes it about me but still - thanks.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Jeni said...

Thanks Leah. That wasn't an easy post to write, but it did feel good.

8:12 PM  

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