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Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Have a Confession... (Part 1)

...I have been seeing a therapist for a few months now. Not because I'm crazy or depressed, but because ever since I moved to London I have generally been unhappy and confused. Mostly it's about my work, but it's also about my environment: the people around me and the city in general.

My last session with my therapist we started to talk about my work. I hate talking about my work. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm embarrassed that I don't L-O-V-E it, or even really like it, mostly because of all the time I've put into it.

Therapist: Why don't you like it?
Me: Because I'm not doing what I thought I would for my PhD project.
Therapist: Why?
Me: Because I didn't have the guts or the knowledge to tell my supervisor I wanted to do something else when I started. And when I finally did have both the guts and the knowledge, I was 3 years into my project and didn't want to start all over again.

After further discussion, she tells me I fall into the subjugation life trap. It's true. She gave me a book about common life traps, one chapter being on subjugation, and it fits me perfectly. I basically do what others want so that I "please" them - so they'll like me. If I do something that I want to do, I feel guilty and I think everyone thinks I'm being a bitch.

Now that I know how to recognize it, I see myself doing it everywhere in my life: I do more outreach stuff than I should, I let other people choose the restaurant we go to, I do favors for people that are just using me, I let my DH choose the excursion in Alaska even though I really wanted to do something else. Was I always like this?

Since that session I've been aware of what decisions I'm making and trying my best to do what I want. After all, I'm the one that has to live with my decisions, right? This is how I decided to change my name to DH's - because that's what I wanted, and the opinion of others (or what I thought their opinions were) just didn't matter anymore.

So, I had another session with my therapist yesterday, and we start talking about my subjugation and in what situations it comes up. I immediately think of work. She starts talking about careers and what I can do to figure out what directions I should take, and I'm just sitting there thinking "I don't care about any of this". She's quite intuitive:

Therapist: Why do you look so sad when we start talking about careers?
Me: Because I don't care!

And then I continue to blubber on for about 5 minutes about how I don't want to think about careers, how none of it matters to me right now, and how I feel like I should do this or that. After some silence:

Therapist: What do you see your life like after you finish your PhD?
Me: (after some thought) You know, when I'm driving to work or something and I see women walking with their babies in a stroller and the family dog, I think to myself "that's what I want the next stage in my life to be".
Therapist: That's the first time today you used the words "I want" instead of "I should".

Bingo.