Reminiscing vs. Ruminating

My current therapist told me today that I seem to be hung up on my past (I’m paraphrasing). It seems to me that this is an unfair accusation since, whenever I talk with her, she seems to ask about my past, or something comes up that causes me to trace things to my past for her to put it in perspective. Most of my days, however, my mind is occupied by other things, like hopes and plans and the activities that might lead to fulfilling my dreams. She’s getting a skewed perspective from our one-hour weekly sessions. This is partly her fault, because of the questions she asks and the topics she introduces. It is also my fault, because she doesn’t know me well enough yet – and who I am is born of my past so must be expressed in that context. Then, with her, I do bring up things I’m learning and doing in my present life that I realize have been subconsciously set because of my past, but which I’d like to change. Isn’t that what therapy’s for?

Today, for instance, I have been considering and researching different theories of the causes, and therefore the cures, of my various, medically diagnosed, physical maladies. I’m hoping that, if only I could heal better and quicker, I might finally be able to create a badly needed income. (The lack of income is causing stress, which is interfering with my healing, which is interfering yet more with my creating income. It is becoming a vicious cycle, so finding solutions is essential.) I am to the point of considering the spiritual/emotional/mental influence on our physical bodies, and have discovered that my long-term suppression of my voice – in a physical sense as well as spiritual – is apparently causing one of the life-threatening issues with which I’m dealing, and affecting several others. My hope was to brainstorm solutions to this issue.

As a job-seeker, it is absolutely necessary for me to present a “normal” appearance and to carefully self-censor my expressions on social media. Only in my blog am I somewhat free to express myself (though I’m avoiding politics) but, after my latest disappointment to get a job for which I was almost overly qualified and knew I could excel at doing, I’m rethinking whether this blog is even a good idea. If I give up this blog, however, then I have no self-expression anywhere in this world. According to my research this morning, this would be the worst possible situation in terms of healing my physical body. I apparently need more self-expression, not less. I also need to overcome my concern for what others (including potential employers?) think about me. I was hoping to brainstorm solutions with my therapist, but we never got that far.

My mistake, this time, was that I decided to put this particular level of exploration, which I suspect my therapist may find weird and dismiss as nonsense, into deeper context. I therefore began by establishing the mind/body/emotion/spiritual connections I perceive by expressing the origin of this thinking from my mother’s approach to dealing with apparent emotional issues in her children through changes in diets and supplements. (For a deeper explanation, see my next planned blog when it comes out and, also, “Now We’re Gummed Up”).

I was hoping to jump from this context to establishing that illness in the human body can arise not only from physical conditions but also from stress and other emotional and spiritual conditions. Basically, my mother went from physical to spiritual, but it stands to reason that, since this connection seemed true, it could also go the other way – from spiritual to physical. I meant to race through this to the particular issue I was researching today, (which, admittedly, because of what I was learning, would have required linking to the particular abuse I experienced growing up and in my marriage, so I would have been, hopefully briefly, regurgitating past events,) to the current time and things I could do now to combat the bad habits I formed, with good reason, in my past. She stopped me short by complaining that I was looking back instead of looking forward.

Since every moment of life is born from the past and leaning toward the future, as well as living in the present, I don’t see how the past and future are such strictly separate things. I also see a great benefit from drawing lessons from the past – especially when new information provides a new perspective for understanding, as it did for me this morning. I am a huge believer in learning from experience – especially bad experiences – because I believe it is a true saying that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I think, in our personal lives, we put ourselves through similar situations, over and over, until we finally learn what we need to from them. I hope one day to have a happy, mutually fulfilling marriage, so I am learning everything I can from my recent failure in marriage to avoid recreating this failure. Also, in terms of healing, if my thinking, emotions, and beliefs have caused this crippling situation, then I need to correct that by identifying what is the problem and then fixing it. I absolutely don’t want to have to keep repeating my worst experiences until I learn from them, so let me be sure I learn everything I need to from them now. My therapist, however, is worried that I’m not moving forward fast enough. She seems to think that if I just ignore everything that ever happened to me and focus on the future I want to create, alone, I’ll get there quicker.

We therefore got diverted into an entirely different discussion than the one I had hoped to have. I want healing ideas…but now I felt I had to defend the rumination required to understand what I had created in my life and why, so as to avoid creating such things in the future. It was her stated opinion that I had gotten nothing of value from any of my ruminations. I disagree. It seems to me I have learned a lot, so I started to point out recent insights into the nature of the world at large, as, for instance, that true evil does exist and that human nature is not inherently good (the image of God) but can be the opposite. I also have realized the fact that some people so self-identify with their victimization and/or self-imposed sufferings that they don’t want to let it go – to the point of feeling the need to destroy those who are trying to help them heal and be happy. It was an absolute shock to me that anyone could hate another person simply for trying to make them happy. I have also, recently, identified huge blind-spots in myself, which I doubt I will be able to fix. I must therefore find a way to work around them. I also am learning a lot about myself by reviewing who I have been, what I was trying (and failing) to achieve, and where I went wrong.

How can this be anything but helpful when it is my job, in this moment, to create a life for myself that I will love to live? How can I do that if I don’t fully understand who I am, what I need and why? I also need to know how I need to build this life, because not every way it might come into existence would be acceptable to me. It is not just that I want to live a certain way, but I want to prove to myself that I am worthy to live that way, and I need my way of life to benefit others as well. I need healthy connections with others, but at the same time, according to this morning’s revelations, I need to be less concerned with what others think about me. How do I build relationships without caring about what other’s think about me? I can understand happily rejecting those who aren’t going to accept me as I am – to a point – but I cannot reject everyone. I also can’t reject potential employers, who may demand me to conform to some image that truly isn’t me. I need the money! I could really use some help to find a way to navigate this situation.

Even as a writer who creates characters, I can’t just “POP” and have my new, hopefully improved, self fully formed and functional from nothing. I have to deal with where I’ve been, who I’ve been, what I’ve done and failed to do, and why I made the decisions I did, for better or for worse, that brought me to where I am today. This is necessary knowledge in order to build on today a future fit for me. Ignoring all of that is like an architect designing a house for a client without caring about what the client’s daily activities and needs are or what the client’s tastes might be. How can you possibly succeed in fitting a house to owners you haven’t begun to know? I’m building a future for me, so I need to know who I am.

I had barely begun broaching this topic when…oops, time is up.

Next week will, undoubtedly, bring up this issue again, however, since we didn’t properly address it this week. Neither of us had our minds changed because I didn’t express my point of view within the hour so she cannot possibly understand it, and she has already expressed her opinion, with which I disagree, but which she has not had a chance to defend in light of my objections. If either of us try to ignore this issue, we might succeed for next week, but it is guaranteed to intrude again because it is important. It is a core issue with therapy, in my opinion.

I wonder, if it would help if I begin next week’s session by pointing out the fact that, because we failed to ruminate fully in an exploration of this issue the week before, we are now doomed to repeat it.

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