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  • Writer's pictureKatie

It's a process

In an effort to get myself fit for public consumption, I've been seeing a therapist. I had my third session last night. And even though it hasn't been that long since I started going, I do feel like they've been productive sessions. I've had a few realizations about myself, which I want to write out so that I make sure to "be gentle with myself," as the therapist would say.

For starters, I have a few really unhealthy thought patterns that I engage in. A really common example is that I won't remember if I left my straightening iron/the stove/the coffee pot on in the morning, and as a result I will obsess and obsess and obsess about it, thinking the house is going to burn down and kill the dogs. Or Ryan will be out with his friends and won't be answering his phone, and I'll think he's dead because he's been hit by a drunk driver. My therapist called these types of thoughts "cognitive distortions," specifically catastrophic cognitive distortions.

When you say them out loud, it sounds silly/obvious that it's crazy talk, but when they're just rattling around in your head it's a lot harder to wade through them. Just this past weekend, with everything that's happened with the clear aligners and my teeth, my cognitive distortion was, "Oh my god, my teeth are going to chip and break and fall out!" I sat around in misery all Sunday before I eventually called my mom and burst into tears. She was bewildered by my sobbing; she kept asking me what else was wrong. Nothing else is wrong, I said, It's just my teeth! It only hit me much later that going to that place with my teeth was another classic cognitive distortion.

The goal for me when I have these types of thoughts is to try to combat them with rationality -- like, with the fear the house is going to burn down, I say to myself, "1. you've never left those items on before, 2. even if you did leave them on, unless something is touching them that could ignite, the house is not going to be set on fire, 3. even if something were touching them and it ignited, the house alarm would report a fire or the neighbors would call it in before it got bad enough to kill the dogs."

So, that's a work in progress right there.

The other thing is that I am doing a lot of self-flagellation over my various feelings. I hear about friends getting pregnant, and I feel jealousy/resentment, then I immediately tell myself I'm an asshole for acting like that (They're your friends! You should be happy for them no matter what! Only shitty ass people act this way!). Or when I'm so sad it feels like my chest is collapsing in on itself, I beat myself up over it, telling myself "no one wants to hear how sad you are" or that I shouldn't be feeling this way since I was only pregnant for six weeks.

But my therapist reminded me it's not that I lost a pregnancy at six weeks; it's the loss of a future I planned, it's the uncertainty of the situation and it's the toll of what we've already gone through to get to this point. And it's OK to be torn up over it! It's OK to ask for people to sit with me through my sadness.

In that same vein, I think I need to take a step back from volunteering as a case manager for the D.C. Abortion Fund. It brings up too many resentful feelings in me

Finally, one of the things I tried to get my therapist to talk to me about, and which she put an immediate stop to, was that I keep trying to mentally prepare myself for IVF to not work. I think my exact words were something like "I need to figure out how to be OK with that outcome." But she reminded me we're not there yet, and what "being OK with that outcome" looks like now is likely to look very different if/when we do get there, and that when/if I get that news whatever preparation I do for it is unlikely to take away the sting. It's natural for me to want/try to protect myself from pain, but that pain is not as of yet inevitable, so I don't need to "live in that space." So, as much as it sucks to deal with all this uncertainty, the reality is I don't know what is going to happen, and assuming the worst isn't helpful.

Typing all this out is helpful, especially because as I'm writing this, a friend has emailed her 12-week sonogram out to our entire group, along with a flippant remark about being sad she won't get to drink wine with us tonight. Getting stuff like that is a fucking punch in the gut on multiple levels -- the baby at a point mine never got to, and being sad you can't drink (side note: NEVER TALK ABOUT HOW SAD YOU ARE YOU CAN'T HAVE ALCOHOL/SUSHI/LUNCHMEAT/ETC. WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT IF YOU HAVE A FRIEND WHO STRUGGLES WITH INFERTILITY). But I'm allowed to be upset about it -- the email could have been handled with more tact! It was a really thoughtless remark! And the sonogram triggers my grief from my own sonograms, especially when the doctor asked me if I wanted to keep the sonogram of my miscarried baby and I said no but he put it in my take-home files anyway!

The point is, I beat myself up over these feelings and say to myself "you're an asshole for this behavior," but if you peel back the layers these feelings are totally valid.

Again, this is all a process, and I am figuring out how to work through it.

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