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The Life and Times of a Self Saboteur.

Over the course of the last year or so I've started, finished, and re-started some self-help books.  (This is nothing new.  My tendency to over-think and over-analyze rivals Woody Allen's neurosis and self-examination.  I just don't make movies about it.)  Luckily, most of the time, I see the quirk and humor in life and that saves me from wading out into the deep end.

I've 'done' therapy and found it worked best as a place to acquire skills or tools, if you will.  Get me some new tools, go into the world, try 'em out...  If they worked I didn't return to therapy for a while.  If they didn't work - or if I wasn't working them - I'd head back to the therapist for another go.  Once I chewed away at the really big stuff therapy was all about tool-sharpening and skills acquisition.  You might call it "maintenance."

With my current schedule what it is office appointment therapy sessions are out of the question.  So, instead, I read.  Two of the more helpful books I've listed below.  (Both are quite good, well written.  I'm reading the second one again, and read the notes I highlighted in the first to remind me not to make knee-jerk choices when it comes to relationships - any - not just romantic.  This part is pretty easy as I'm not "invovled" at the moment.)

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship (Paperback)
by Mira Kirshenbaum (Author)

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself (Paperback)
by Melody Beattie

The reading helps.  I like the pace of reading and being able to go back and re-read.
Therapy helped, too.  Sometimes after a session I'd sit in my car and write like crazy (that's funny), reiterating the entire hour so I could remember the revelations, learn, and heal.  

A good therapist will challenge you to see and hopefully accept all the parts of yourself, even the ones you keep ignoring...  It took a while but I learned my ignored bits were expert troublemakers, and they purposely got in the way (or were put in the way <ahem>) to keep me in a familiar cycle of whatever-it-was I was ultimately trying to change.  The thing no one ever tells you is that a good therapist is a guide - they don't do the work.  You do.  So if you're not experiencing "results" don't blame your therapist.  Blame yourself. 

Therapy is hard.  It has been said the more you are willing to dig and haul out the rotting, irritating, under-shit that is literally eating away at you, the better off you will be.  You know - like the eggplant you forgot in the crisper drawer...?  Yeah, that stuff. 

Deep, honest introspection can be ugly, humiliating, mind-numbing and darkly depressing.  It exposes you.  It can wreck you for days - weeks - especially when you slam into a nerve you didn't know existed... or were ignoring.  Especially when you're finally facing stuff you are afraid of or indignant to change in the first place.  Ideas, beliefs, behaviors, reasonings (or lack of any of those things).

Back in my 20's I had a lot of ignored bits.  There were a few biggies in my 30's that needed face-offs, too.
The funky thing is that when I shoved my head back under the sand to keep ignoring stuff, there they all were:  staring back at me from the dark.  Big, HUGE, white eyes like in a cartoon when the scene suddenly plunges into pitch black ,and only the character's eyeballs are lobbing about the screen.  Eventually I couldn't run, they couldn't hide, and I was literally sick of being in so much pain all the time, stuck in relationship after relationship that I could not save, be loved in or enjoy:  I finally, blessedly reached The End.  Something had to change - and, ultimately what happened is that I made the decision to let go of what no longer worked, what hurt me or tried to.  This included people - family, lovers, friends; ideas about myself and who I was.  The words "just" and "supposed" were examined closely.  

The letting go was terrifying because when we get rid of something - anything - it leaves a void.  We fear change and being or feeling different.  The unfamiliar is awfully scary territory.

But you learn.

... when you have spaces, other (better) things come in.  Things you can choose - and that feels pretty good.  New, yes, but good, too.  (When you clean out the garage and you can finally put your car in there... so change isn't always so complicated or daunting but it does require effort.)

You have to trust the process, trust yourself, find your intuition again (because it's still in there) and keep going.  You learn.

Trust and allow change and healing to happen, even if it's a few baby steps at a time.

 OX