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DBT Session 10: Learned Behaviours and 'shoulds'

My last private session before I go back to group stuff.

Where to start?


I learned a lot of things. Did anyone else know that abuse is addictive? Because this is literally the first time I've heard that. New Therapist and I were talking and I mentioned that sometimes when bad things happen I get really excited. Apparently, that's normal, people get addicted to the adrenaline rush and will find themselves doing things to get in trouble to cause it. That was really eye opening, because it explains a lot. So How do I get my brain chemical fix, and not get hurt? I'm trying to take up fighting, but I'm also not in control enough (so no real fighting in a martial arts class), so I maybe just need a pedestal punching bag... dunno

I didn't leave feeling ruined, I have a lot to think about. In three years of therapy, I have very successfully avoided talking about my family and now I have too. And it's uncomfortable. I've never felt unloved by my family, actually I feel loved, but we are terrible at all the non-happy emotions.

I've been always aware that the way I was raised is problematic. I know I don't function the same way other people do, but I've never really seen the problem with it, except in certain circumstances. For example, I am terrible at asking for help, expressing certain emotions, setting boundaries and easily manipulated into doing things that I 'should'.


When I watch TV shows or movies with emotionally available parents I often think it's bullshit or I get angry. Parents don't genuinely want to know how you are doing. They ask, but they change the subject because it's uncomfortable for them and they'll do anything to make the problem go away. And that's sort of my whole life. I bring up something, there's a quick answer (you think too much), and the subject is changed. I've always assumed my reaction was wrong, because if it wasn't wrong, then why couldn't we talk about it?

I understand it's because it makes them uncomfortable. But as a result I really have no system to deal with strong emotions because I haven't learned it. I don't know what a healthy emotional relationship looks like, because I've never seen one. My family, we hide it. We don't talk about it, pretend it's fine, smile and get through it. Or we complain all the time, then say you aren't complaining but stating a series of facts and everyone else is horribly irrational. So that's what I do.


I've been told, don't go to therapy you; can just talk to us. If you are in therapy everyone will think you are crazy. You don't need therapy. You are over reacting. You think too much. We don't talk about those things. You should take up drinking. Are you done yet? How much longer? Other treasures are "well you are broken" "you've always been too sensitive." And the more positive "I'm really looking forward to you being smarter than everyone again, you know when you get your brain fixed."

No wonder no doctor ever believed me, I've basically been trained my whole life to look perfectly fine all the time.


"Considering your family, I wonder how you managed to get the courage to go to therapy." - New Therapist.

"Well, I knew something was wrong. I knew I couldn't live like that. My choice was dying. And as much as I wanted to die, no one ever really wants to die." - me


I'm always a little surprised when people say it must have taken a lot of courage or it must have been hard. I don't really know what to do with that. Even in general. Although, I also don't always take praise very well. I kinda draw a blank or feel like everyone's gonna find out I'm big old faker. I don't feel brave, I feel like I am doing what's necessary to survive. Or sometimes I feel like I got sent back to childhood to learn all the shit I didn't. Or sometimes I feel cowardly because I can't handle all of it.

<-Or it feels a bit like this.


We talked a little about verbal abuse, and she gave the usual examples of "fat ass, stupid, etc."

"Well, it wasn't really like that. It's was more like "Should you really being eating that?" "Shouldn't you go to the gym?" "You should do this." "You should be this." "You should know this." "If you really loved me, you should X" "If you weren't so selfish you should X" "You should do this because it will make X happy." (Of course, that's not the only thing… it gets worse.)


E.g because I've seen a chain saw I should know how to operate one. Because I know how to google I should be able to cure cancer (this was actually a thing, I am not kidding.).


It's a lot of weight to be all these "shoulds" and you feel like a failure when you can't be any of them.

I often never try things in front of people because I am so afraid of failure, because I "should" know everything even though it's my first day. I also need to take private lessons because I'm afraid of the humiliation of not knowing something.


(oh I probably discussed this in an earlier post, but 'shoulds' are bad)

"What do you want?" - New Therapist

I have no idea what I want, because I've been trying so hard to be what I 'should' be.


So that's my home work. Trying to figure out what I want.

I think I want a chameleon.

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