i had another session with Fern yesterday and it went really well.
On my way to my visit, Maximus called from His business trip in California so He could share with me where He was at in our healing process. His intention was to share that with me, but to let me know what to share with Fern about His progress. Maximus is healing and feeling like we are making some forward progress, like the train is starting to move forward on the tracks, taking on fuel, building up steam, and starting to accelerate. He now feels confident that i am working on my issues and doesn’t feel at risk for my raging at Him like He had even just a few days ago. He praised me for the work i’ve been doing and what i’ve been sharing with Him.
Fern and i started with me sharing with her the breakthrough that Maximus and i had when going over the couples intake form together for her. She was very, very pleased with this and glad that we have been communicating so well and coming to a better understanding, using what we have been sharing and truly listening to each other. i also shared that i was going up to Maximus’ in a week, something that was a big change from just a few days ago, and illustrated a big step for us.
She then shared with me the types of rage that i have been having:
Survival Rage. This is triggered by basic needs not being or feared not being met and leads to a fight or flight response. It is related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In my case, my basic fears are loss of self, loss of freedom/feeling trapped, being taken advantage of.
Impotence Rage. This is raging out of a feeling of helplessness, feeling powerless to effect changes.
Abandonment Rage. Triggers for abandonment are related to a fear of losing an important relationship.
Shame Rage. This includes the triggers of feeling disrespected, unheard, embarrassed, or ashamed.
It was interesting to have her share these with me as i had come to the same conclusion about my triggers and identified Abandonment and Shame Rage as types of rage i have been experiencing. i had not read about Survival or Impotence Rage, but i had sort of lumped those things into Abandonment and Shame. She acknowledged that i had done a great deal of work discovering these triggers in evaluating my raging and felt i have come a long, long way in my progress already because of that.
She asked me how i felt in my progress and what things i felt i needed help in. i shared with her that i felt very good about acknowledging the fact that i had unresolved issues from my second marriage and that those things triggered raging behavior in me now. i have done a really good job in not letting the communication break between Maximus and me trigger me into raging behavior, something that would have been an issue before. In fact, it was one of the things Maximus praised me for, as i’d not raged when He needed space and not raged the night before when He was having cell phone connectivity issues that prevented Him from calling me (in the past, i would have been infuriated about that and assumed that He was using that as an excuse not to talk). So in those areas, i feel very good. The one area that we haven’t encountered again since my last rage and now have to do with my reactions related to Ms. W and as that has been such a strong trigger, i was very nervous about it and really wanted to develop techniques for dealing with them to avoid undoing the progress i and we have made.
Fern asked me to define our relationship, whether it was poly or something else. i shared with her that we are not poly but emotionally-monogamous, only able to love one other person, but sexually-nonmonogamous. i explained what that meant and how we had worked very hard to define that early on in our relationship. We then talked about how Ms. W fit into that, any agreements we had about their relationship, and how i felt about it.
After this discussion, Fern asked me about boundaries, how i felt about my boundaries. i shared with her, as i had last session, my problem with keeping boundaries in relationships (see the excerpt from Eat Pray Love in this post about my boundary issues). my problem in past relationships is that i have always dissolved into the other person and lost my self, my soul. i gave up my friends, family, hobbies, and absorbed theirs, championed their interests by totally immersing myself in them. This caused a lot of damage to me, to my ego, and was illustrated by friends and family saying, “Yeah, gabriella’s back!” when i had split with those partners and rediscovered myself. This was a big part as to why i was so afraid of having another relationship again, but, being that Maximus lived hours away, was my fan and championed my interests, i felt i might be able to keep my boundaries and not lose my self in this relationship.
This was an important discussion for us to have, because i had realized this week that while a lot of the raging was about past hurt and irrational, there were some bits of truth in the rage, hidden in the irrationality, which had to do with my fear of losing control of my boundaries. Fern was glad to hear me say that, that it was important for me to understand that while there is a lot of past involved in my rage, there are things, albeit small things, in this relationship that triggered those past feelings; and it would be important to include Maximus in this discussion because it deals with how we relate and how we can best communicate these things. For this, Fern will be using Imago therapy that focuses on communicating needs, wants, fears, desires, etc without shaming, blaming, or criticizing. My homework for this week will be to write down things that i feel imbalanced about or concern me about my boundaries so Maximus and i can discuss these in our couples session with her. And we will be doing this session in a week via Skype with Fern when i am up with Maximus.
Another bit of homework this week will have to do with some writing to create new neural pathways for me. In this assignment, i will be writing a dialogue between History and Wisdom, the personifications of my sources of self-talk. The dialogue will start with History asking Wisdom for help. The most interesting part of this is that when i do this writing, i will be doing this with pen and paper and use my non-dominant hand when i write History’s dialogue and my dominant hand when i write Wisdom’s dialogue. i think this is fascinating! And it makes sense to me. When i was struggling to learn how to breathe bilaterally during swimming, someone suggested that while i was doing this i should brush my teeth, use eating utensils, etc with my non-dominant hand as to help train my brain to do things on my non-dominant side. It helped! In this case, this will empower Wisdom to become more dominant than History, reducing the high level of counsel History currently has. Interestingly, when i shared this with Maximus, He totally accepted this as well as He had used this technique in college water polo. i will work on this dialogue this week.
Maximus and i talked for hours about this session–it was great! i was a little concerned about sharing about this session as it dealt with boundaries and Ms. W and needing to have guided communication about concerns and imbalances i have felt about her and in our relationship. i didn’t want Him to feel defensive about this. And, i didn’t want to do too much communication about this without the guided technique as we have worked on communicating on these things throughout our relationship and not resolved them, so i didn’t want to continue an old pattern and perhaps upset each other. However, Maximus did want to talk about this, and i was honest and told Him about my fear of talking about it early. It was a great conversation, though. Maximus was sharing His confusion about why i had no issues with Z-Baby who was very clearly in love with Him and had no qualms about making it known but huge insecurity about Ms. W, who he felt had no love interest in Him whatsoever. My response was simple and is the same response i have always shared with Him, “Because Z-Baby was nice to me and i felt Ms. W has always treated me horribly. Ms. W’s behavior has always made me feel that she was trying very hard to make it known she didn’t like me and was trying to block me, physically from You.” i explained the examples, how Z-Baby and i were friends, did things together with and without Him, talked and texted, whereas Ms. W. was dishonest to me, woudn’t look at me or talk directly to me if He was present, put me down, clung to Him in my presence. This made me feel there was something to be fearful of. And this time, Maximus heard me. This will be very important for our discussion next week.
Later, Maximus and i were talking about the discussion that Dan and dawn had on their latest Erotic Awakening podcast about Slave Journals. i shared that Dan prefers written journals to electronic ones and we discussed our preference to having mine online. i shared with Maximus that i felt that we would not be as far as we are in this healing process if i’d not had this online journal, and He agreed completely. i went on and said i didn’t think we’d be together today without it, and He strongly disagreed with that, saying that He would not have abandoned me, that we would have still been communicating, but that we wouldn’t be nearly as far in the healing process without it. As we are in a distance relationship, an online forum works best for us, He can access my journal any time, any place–if my journal was on paper, He’d only get to see it when we were together, and we need to share about my journaling more frequently than that allows. He did go on to say that some times it is painful for Him to read some of my posts, not often, but occasionally, as in the instance of the post about my recent nightmare. This was the first time He’d mentioned anything about this, so i asked Him to explain. For Him, this nightmare was just so vivid, as my posts always paint pictures and tell our story, and it pained Him to read about Him leaving abruptly and permanently. Just as it was difficult for me to determine when i first awoke whether it was a nightmare or reality, reading about it gave Him pause as He struggled with the feelings those images evoked in Him.
So another great session, some more work to do, healing happening, toxins dissipating, communication flourishing.
To end, i thought i’d share a video i saw this week. What an illustration of Blue and 8, how Maximus and i describethe differences how men and women often differ in communication needs between problem-solving (logic) and empathy (feeling) (see more explanation in this post). Maximus and i both got a kick out of this!