Tag Archives: growth

Countertransference vs Empathy vs Compassion

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Countertransference vs Empathy vs Compassion

I had the most interesting insight today. To be honest, I will probably be reconciling and revisiting it over the next little bit. As I sat listening to a client today, I made note of a realization I had to contemplate later. Lucky you, I am doing that now.

I’ve noticed over the years that I am able to connect with people because somehow I am able to find something in them, experientially or otherwise that I can empathize with. I used to joke that I was a good social worker because I could identify with every Lana Del Rey song. More sad than funny now, I suppose, but still true enough ha.

During grad school, I often allowed myself to feel badly about this, as it was labeled countertransference. And if I am honest with myself, sometimes it may have been negative countertransference, for sure. But we learn to check our biases, as much as we can, as continually attempting to be informed humans. And the dance between empathy and countertransference is certainly a tricky one to navigate.

But what got me today, was realizing how easily I could understand the reasons, internal and external, subconscious and conscious, that this client was making the decisions that they were making. And I realized that I understood them because I had made the exact same decisions once before, for the nearly identical reasons.

All the parts of my personality and situation were right in front of me…

All the parts I have hated, questioned, forgotten, burned, and buried…

All of them.

And I felt no hatred, no questioning, no judgment for the client. It all made perfect sense.

But it was a grace I have struggled to provide within. As if I didn’t deserve compassion at all, let alone from myself. I have always felt a certain level of shame about some decisions I made in my earlier adulthood; even shame regarding smaller decisions I have made, more recently than that.

I have rarely felt any animosity or disdain toward a client, as I feel like I can understand so much of the reasons people do the things they do. Regardless of whether it is experiential understanding or trauma informed book learning, I can still understand most situations that humans end up in. (Mind you, I said MOST not all).

Yet the amount of doubt, anger, loathing, disgust, and pity I have felt for the younger versions of myself?

Vast. Expansive. Shifting. Sinking. Consuming.

I have BEEN Artax.

And yet, looking at myself, tonight, as I would a client?

Never before seen footage of a grown ass woman heffalumping sobs of forgiveness and understanding. That was a long drive home. Good gracious.

Oof.

Who even the eff am I?

 

 

 

 

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Co-regulation

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Co-regulation

Growth is a painful process, this is definitely not a new concept. However, in the course of learning about oneself and how your own behaviors affect those around you, it gives you an opportunity to see the tangible and observable ways that all interactions are cyclical. Energy is an observable phenomenon that can power the light in the darkness, but it can also blow circuits; it just depends on the wattage and capacity.

Ideally in relationships, at least for me, the dyad is a constant give and take. If one person is needing more support, energy, love, whatever, the other person gives it to them with the faith that when the roles reverse, the current receiver will be the giver. When this does not happen repeatedly, resentment builds into all sorts of negative things. Eventually the strain causes a blow out, one you can’t always see, but you can definitely feel. It is at this point that you have to make a decision: increase the size of your breaker or reduce the load on your circuit.

Once you know that things are strained and communicate what the needs are, one would hope that the other half of the circuit would respond in kind to make the adjustments needed so that the cycle continues in a positive way. But often, the other person is simply not capable of giving the energy needed to complete the current cycle. It is what it is.

Love is energy. It is neither positive or negative. It IS an alternating current. When it becomes a direct current, the chance to be shocked increases. Being shocked isn’t always bad, hell, that’s how a defibrillator works on your heart, right?

My power strip is overloaded right now. My heart swells with love and explodes with confusion. It is a very difficult place to be in, this place of understanding and yet, this place of confusion. Process is fucking uncomfortable. Regrets are useless but still valuable tools. “Fear of missing out” is a truly a fear of regret… But if fear is what keeps you from accepting and returning the love that you are actually being given, you have created your own short.

Sometimes you just have to wait for someone to complete your circuit… but first you have to ground yourself.

Learning Curves

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Learning Curves

I turn 36 tomorrow. Strangely enough, in this later period of my life, I have been given the recent opportunity to experience many things that oddly enough, in all of my life, I have never experienced.

I have experienced the absolute joy of being heard and seen, validated by an outside source.

I have experienced the closest thing to unconditional love that I have known, outside of my children.

I have finally felt for the first time in 25 years that I was not broken or ruined or soiled or somehow less than.

I have known what it was like to be loved, to feel loved, and to be love. I have learned to trust, to feel safe trusting. The verb and the noun.

I have handled uncomfortable situations with maturity and I was proud of who I am, what I have done, what I have learned.

I have learned I am worthy of being looked at in intimate moments.

I have learned that being vulnerable, open, and honest is not a weakness.

I finally understood that my past was not a flaw, that my choices and my experiences were beautiful, they made me who I am today, a person worthy of love and compassion.

I have learned the simple grace of words, thoughtful and meaningful words.

But I have also been given the reflection of these things. The insight that learned habits are destructive. That even if I am experiencing the above things, I may not be giving the same experience to others.

I have learned that when I think that I am saying one thing, it may not be received in the context or purpose that was intended.

Sometimes, I fail at it.

Sometimes I trigger people and I cannot take back my words.

I hurt people.

I let my insecurities smother things or they cause me to not hear people.

I am capable of implying judgment, even when I think I am doing something else.

Misunderstandings and the resulting conversations of them can indeed be more damaging than the original misunderstanding.

Language is funny. It is so powerful and so important.

Words are important.

Even the most benign seeming words can be the most deadly, malevolent.

I know I am human.

I am fallible.

I am still learning.

I am not even close to perfect and that is acceptable.

I am a queen.

But if I am the queen of anything, it is finding silver linings in the saddest of things.

Growth is painful.

Learning is hard.

Self-reflection and acknowledgement of failure is overwhelmingly agonizing.

The payoff though, is that you have a choice then: you become better from it or you ignore it.

I am not ignoring it.

“The difference is this. Pain is a gift. Without the capacity for pain, we can’t feel the hurt we inflict.” -The Twelfth Doctor

Mercury Retrograde BE DAMNED I feel amazing.

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Mercury Retrograde BE DAMNED I feel amazing.

I have had quite the empowering and cathartic last couple of weeks chock full of epiphanies and cosmic 2x4s.

One, I shall not write into narrative for you voyeuristic vampires whom I love. It involves self growth and reflecting on past relationships.

But when it dawned on me, it went something like this:

Then, I read this on my FaceCrack wall:

A Wild Woman doesn’t want to be your Girly friend

Can you love me in the deep? In the dark? In the thick of it?

Can you love me when I drink from the wrong bottle and slip through the crack in the floorboard?

Can you love me when I’m bigger than you, when my presence blazes like the sun does, when it hurts to look directly at me?

Can you love me then too?

Can you love me under the starry sky, shaved and smooth, my skin like liquid moonlight?

Can you love me when I am howling and furry, standing on my haunches, my lower lip stained with the blood of my last kill?

When I call down the lightning, when the sidewalks are singed by the soles of my feet, can you still love me then?

What happens when I freeze the land, and cause the dirt to harden over all the pomegranate seeds we’ve planted?

Will you trust that Spring will return?

Will you still believe me when I tell you I will become a raging river, and spill myself upon your dreams and call them to the surface of your life?

Can you trust me, even though you cannot tame me?

Can you love me, even though I am all that you fear and admire?

Will you fear my shifting shape?

Does it frighten you, when my eyes flash like your camera does?

Do you fear they will capture your soul?

Are you afraid to step into me?

The meat-eating plants and flowers armed with poisonous darts are not in my jungle to stop you from coming. Not you.

So do not worry. They belong to me, and I have invited you here.

Stay to the path revealed in the moonlight and arrive safely to the hut of Baba Yaga: the wild old wise one… she will not lead you astray if you are pure of heart.

You cannot be with the wild one if you fear the rumbling of the ground, the roar of a cascading river, the startling clap of thunder in the sky.

If you want to be safe, go back to your tiny room — the night sky is not for you.

If you want to be torn apart, come in. Be broken open and devoured. Be set ablaze in my fire.

I will not leave you as you have come: well dressed, in finely-threaded sweaters that keep out the cold.

I will leave you naked and biting. Leave you clawing at the sheets. Leave you surrounded by owls and hawks and flowers that only bloom when no one is watching.

So, come to me, and be healed in the unbearable lightness and darkness of all that you are.

There is nothing in you that can scare me. Nothing in you I will not use to make you great.

A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature. She is the source of all your primal desires, and she is the wild whipping wind that uproots the poisonous corn stalks on your neatly tilled farm.

She will plant pear trees in the wake of your disaster.

She will see to it that you shall rise again.

She is the lover who restores you to your own wild nature.

(c) Alison Nappi 2015

The I saw this and wanted to go run. Dafuq, right?

This is all on top of a windfall at work, in my bank account, with my kids, with my love, with my friends, EVERYTHING. On top of the world and it is strange.