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Old 12-28-2018, 02:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Always feel stuck in therapy


I had something come up in therapy which triggered a memory. It was from many years ago when I was first married, and it was something very cruel my parents did when I reached out to them for help. I never talked about it before, but it made me feel very alone, abandoned, and depressed. I felt the feelings come back up again as I was discussing it in therapy. But I never actually talk about how it all made me feel. Is that what I'm doing wrong?

I talked about what happened, and that was that. The therapist didn't really say anything. And we ran out of time, so she just ended with something quick like "Remember how far you've gotten."

She did also say something like, "You seek validation, and you got that validation from previous therapists, what more do you want?" but not in that strong of a way. I don't know what it is I am looking for.

I am absolutely emotionally drained and my session was earlier in the week. It sucked the life out of me. I feel like I am walking in molasses. I can't stop replaying the memory in my head. Today was the first day I finally stopped replaying it. But I haven't processed it. And I still feel extremely emotionally drained and lethargic.

This is what therapy has always been for me, and it is extremely frustrating. I feel like other people are able to feel their feelings, validate their experiences, process things, and move forward. For me, my entire life always gets stuck like a skipping record.

I was in such a bad headspace yesterday that I reached out to a friend. She gave me some good ideas like make a vision board, focus on my future and what I want it to look like, etc. She also asked me what coping skills do I have when I feel this way and honestly I can't think of any really. I pushed myself to go to yoga but I was absolutely dragging and couldn't shut off my mind. It's not racing or anything like that, but it's as if I'm reliving how that trigger made me feel all over again.

I know I will never ever receive an apology from my parents. I know they will never admit that I was a really good kid after all, and they're sorry to have misperceived me. I know they'll never own up to all the horrible cruel things they did to me. But what I don't understand, is why I have lived my life in this hole of the feelings of how they treated me caused me to feel? Why can't I get passed it already? And why is it so important to me to have a therapist say something like "That is awful what your parents did. This is how a healthy parent would've handled it. You did not deserve that. Your parents are cruel and abusive." That's not their job. I need to know in my heart it was awful, but I can't seem to allow myself to do that.
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi pathwaytofree

This may be completely irrelevant to your situation but...

I haven't had very much therapy but I struggled for a long time with childhood things and the results of that.

We all have our journeys. For a long time I was obsessed with justice - I wanted that apology, I wanted to be understood, I wanted to be loved.....

When I accepted that would not happen, I went into cut off mode and became a self declared orphan for a few years.,

It was only when my mum fell ill I really got back in touch with the family, and I realised that I could forgive them. That doesn't mean I think they were right, and it doesn't even mean I hold them close...but I love them and I have forgiven them.

There's a book called The Shack with a great line in it: 'it's hard to move on when your hands are around someone elses neck...'

D
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Why don't you take this post to your therapist and read it to her?
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Old 12-29-2018, 05:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Or maybe if you need to explain it to your therapist it's time to seek a new therapist?

Therapists and counsellors are there to listen, yes, but their real role is to give you tools and ways to help you deal with the emotions that arise from these discussions.

That doesn't seem to be happening?
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Old 12-31-2018, 12:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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bimini and trailmix have it it on the head friend.

Take the post and let the therapist read it. If it's still not sinking in, find a new therapist!!!

The #1 component in therapy is honesty. So go, be honest about how you are feeling, or not feeling. This is the way you will make progress.

Many, many hugs!
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi pathwaytofree

This may be completely irrelevant to your situation but...

I haven't had very much therapy but I struggled for a long time with childhood things and the results of that.

We all have our journeys. For a long time I was obsessed with justice - I wanted that apology, I wanted to be understood, I wanted to be loved.....

When I accepted that would not happen, I went into cut off mode and became a self declared orphan for a few years.,

It was only when my mum fell ill I really got back in touch with the family, and I realised that I could forgive them. That doesn't mean I think they were right, and it doesn't even mean I hold them close...but I love them and I have forgiven them.

There's a book called The Shack with a great line in it: 'it's hard to move on when your hands are around someone elses neck...'

D
Thank you, Dee. These words rang true for me. I thought I "forgave", but I don't think I've let go of the past yet. I have to figure out how to let go of the apology and acknowledgement that I'll never receive.

I loved The Shack (the movie). When the father blurted out to the son before he could even speak that he was sorry for what he did as a dad--that scene was one of my all time favorite movie scenes.

I have to try to figure out how to move on and stop letting the past effect my present.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you Bimini, Trailmix, and Hopeful.

My current therapist has been fantastic in many ways. We spend our sessions mostly talking about accomplishments and challenges of day to day things, and I find that super helpful. But I think when it comes to talking about my parents, I sense discomfort. Perhaps it's her way of keeping me out of the past and focusing on my behavior and not theirs. I'm not sure.

I had a helpful discussion with my husband about this. He and I usually don't talk about this sort of thing. But he said that he thinks I've improved a lot with this therapist. He thinks my last session I may have said too much at one time, and my therapist just sort of let me go. There wasn't a healthy back and forth, and that is my fault. Something had triggered a memory, and it was a different session than usual. I felt the need to discuss the memory, but that's all I did.

This is exactly what happens sometimes when I'm discussing something painful. Either I disconnect from all emotions and discuss it with a flat affect factually, or I describe a situation with a lot of words because of my emotions about it. I hope that makes sense.

I will definitely bring my post in next session and discuss this. I think I need to ask my therapist maybe if it happens again to interrupt my flow when I get lost in a bad memory or something. The session ended with me still talking about it, and because it ended with no perspective, coping skill, etc., I was left ruminating for a couple of days and that brought me to a really bad head space. I've since stopped ruminating, but the pain of this particular memory is still unresolved.

I look forward to speaking to her about this. Perhaps she can give me some pointers of what to do if this happens again, or we can come up with a strategy together.

I think my previous therapist would've been a better person to discuss this particular thing because he and I spoke a lot about my family when I was doing Step 8/9 in AA. I think my primary issue is that I still am in a lot of pain and need to communicate my feelings behind the pain. Or at least that is what he would've said.

But maybe this is all a sign that I need to move past my past already. He used to say that I need to "feel my feelings". I retold something from the past that I was reminded of, but I've never been able to process it because I don't allow myself to feel the feelings. And my step work in AA didn't help with this particular point, because I was taught that feelings are "ego" and "self-pity". That's not what this was about.

I'm not sure if this made sense. It's hard for me to put it all into words.
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Old 01-04-2019, 08:22 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have an interesting comparison of therapists.

One therapist had (who was not helpful to me, although a lovely person) is more of a "feel sorry for you" type. She was the one who said poor me, and would definitely have given me those words I needed if that is what I needed. I was way past that and needed a therapist with more of a cut and dry personality to help me see when I was holding myself back and push me more to get outside of my own box and apply the tools I already knew to myself.

Yes, there comes a time that you have to get over things. Depending on those things depends on how you can get over the. If it's true trauma, it may take something like EMDR therapy to help you. Most therapists don't practice this, so you may need your therapist to work in collaboration with someone who does.

I completely get what you are saying in that just talking about it can be necessary, but it sounds like you need coping skills while you work on getting over it. Sometimes you have to be very specific in what you want and need from the therapist. It's a long and sometimes frustrating process, which is why you need to make sure the one you have is the right one for you and that they are willing to help you achieve what you need from them.

Big hugs!
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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After 3y of doing CBT stuff to deal with NOW, a little gear clicked into place in my little, very damaged mind. Aside the depression and other stuff- I have c-PTSD, from child stuff and made a kajillion times worse from the burns stuff that happened to me 3+ years ago. I saw the clinical psychologist attached to the burns unit recently to ask- 'why is it that I feel more and more crap- the better I seem to do?'. Part of this is the feelings of crap that well up- and up till now being numb/disconnected.

Now I am sober- the emotions are creeping in. I could not process stuff until I was feeling safe enough to do so- it is a survival mechanism.

Do not be too hard on yourself. Give you a little kindness.

Support to you.
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Old 01-04-2019, 11:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes Phoenix! I completely agree with everything you just said!

Therapy is painful. You dredge up stuff that is hard to deal with, and you are learning new coping mechanisms.

Good thoughts!
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Old 01-04-2019, 02:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I have an interesting comparison of therapists.

One therapist had (who was not helpful to me, although a lovely person) is more of a "feel sorry for you" type. She was the one who said poor me, and would definitely have given me those words I needed if that is what I needed. I was way past that and needed a therapist with more of a cut and dry personality to help me see when I was holding myself back and push me more to get outside of my own box and apply the tools I already knew to myself.
This is so interesting. I remember my sponsor sharing something like this with me about her former sponsors. She drank again while she had the "poor you" sponsor.

I did finally start to get better in therapy when I had a soft spoken, kind hearted therapist. He wasn't an "I feel sorry for you", but he did sort of show reaction/emotion when I spoke about certain things, and that's what I needed at the time for validation. But then he pushed me to self-validate. It was interesting. And from the work we did in there, I was then ready to go for a more cut and dry, push me to do hard work, sort of therapist. I even told him I was ready to be pushed, and I was.

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Yes, there comes a time that you have to get over things. Depending on those things depends on how you can get over the. If it's true trauma, it may take something like EMDR therapy to help you. Most therapists don't practice this, so you may need your therapist to work in collaboration with someone who does.
I saw my therapist again and reread my post here beforehand. I brought up some things I wrote. It was very helpful. I admitted my part in the session, and I didn't blame her for anything because I was able to see what happened. She explained to me in a way I could easily understand what happened. When a traumatic memory or a memory dealing with abuse is not yet fully dealt with, it's normal for emotions to run high while discussing it. But in time, I'll be able to discuss those sort of things matter of factly, like I'm able to do with other stuff.

She also pointed out that I might have used to think I'd feel better just getting a memory out in the open, but that that doesn't help. It was interesting. She also said if I wanted, if I ever have a session like that again, she can tell me when there's 10 minutes left so we can try to end without it just hanging out there.

I've heard of EMDR and I've often thought about trying it. I think I'll bring it up to her and ask her what she thinks.

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I completely get what you are saying in that just talking about it can be necessary, but it sounds like you need coping skills while you work on getting over it. Sometimes you have to be very specific in what you want and need from the therapist. It's a long and sometimes frustrating process, which is why you need to make sure the one you have is the right one for you and that they are willing to help you achieve what you need from them.
You bring up an excellent point. I will ask her next time for specific coping skills to use while working on getting over something. She did point out in a helpful way that feeling my feelings means I just sit with them and remind myself that it's okay to feel the way I do, and that it will eventually pass. I found that helpful. Therapy is so long and frustrating and I need to be okay with that. I think also after reading your post, that I need to be more specific with my needs and goals.

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Old 01-04-2019, 02:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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After 3y of doing CBT stuff to deal with NOW, a little gear clicked into place in my little, very damaged mind.
That's so cool to hear, Phoenix. I'm not there yet but I know my mind takes in the CBT stuff. It's still kinda foreign though and definitely not second nature yet.

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Aside the depression and other stuff- I have c-PTSD, from child stuff and made a kajillion times worse from the burns stuff that happened to me 3+ years ago. I saw the clinical psychologist attached to the burns unit recently to ask- 'why is it that I feel more and more crap- the better I seem to do?'. Part of this is the feelings of crap that well up- and up till now being numb/disconnected.
I am sorry to hear this. I hope you are continuing to heal well. I was also disconnected from some stuff. I guess the silver lining is that the feelings are finally coming up and out and we'll feel better in the long run.

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Now I am sober- the emotions are creeping in. I could not process stuff until I was feeling safe enough to do so- it is a survival mechanism.
I remember my previous therapist saying something about how all addictions cover up our feelings and emotions. In my experience, therapy became more real when I had my emotions creep in, but then the true work began. As I always tell my sponsees, there's no growth without some pain/discomfort. But if nothing changes, nothing changes.

I also feel that I couldn't process stuff until I was feeling safe enough to do so. My kind soft-spoken therapist made me feel very safe and it was exactly what I needed at the time to springboard me into true recovery and true therapy. I miss him. :-(

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Do not be too hard on yourself. Give you a little kindness.
Thank you so much for saying that. I am getting better at not being so hard on myself. It helped greatly when my therapist understood that I wasn't doing any of that on purpose. I was so much on a role that she may have even coughed or cleared her throat a few times and I didn't hear it. When I heard her cough this time, I practically shot up and shut my mouth! lol (I was much calmer this time).

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Support to you.
Thank you. And support and best in health to you as well, Phoenix.
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Old 01-04-2019, 04:12 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A good thread, PTF- am learning as I read, thanks.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:09 AM   #14 (permalink)
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A good thread, PTF- am learning as I read, thanks.
I'm so happy to hear this!!

I wanted to add something that a previous therapist said to me. He was a clinical social worker, now retired. He said "Pathway, you could be in psychoanalysis for 30 years and have made absolutely no progress from it." My current therapist tries to keep me focused on "today", while reminding me to let feelings come up, and pass.

I used to think if I talked about what happened, that the therapist would tell me what to do about it or how to change it. I guess I'm realizing now that I not only have to validate for myself that how someone treated me was about them and not me, and that it was unfortunate, etc., but that the point of therapy isn't to just keep talking about that sort of thing. It got me nowhere. I can't change the past. But I can learn how to react differently to the same people in the present. That she does help me with.

I read an article yesterday online written by a therapist who thinks Freudian theory was total b.s. I tend to agree. I've gotten caught up in overanalyzing things, and it does nothing but keep me stuck.

The more I focus on myself, the less I focus on other people. Other people's toxic behavior bothers me less now. I'm not responsible for other people's feelings. I don't have to take on other people's toxicity or negative energy. Therapy becomes more about improving myself and connecting with my own inner truth. It's really cool.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:49 AM   #15 (permalink)
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My current therapist is a very in the moment person. Working on what we need right now. It's true. Just processing does not change the past. I also agree that the more you process those things in your own time, the more matter of fact it becomes. I usto literally feel my heart rate rise, cry, get very frustrated in talking about trauma from the past. Now, I recognize it, and am able to stay calm and not go into that fight or flight mode.

Guided meditation apps, exercise, journaling, and staying busy all helped me get through some of the most difficult times. And it was very important to have face to face support that knew all I was going through and was able to reach out to. Sometimes just to sit with me. Sometimes to listen to me. Whatever.

Anytime you want to PM me I will be happy to chat friend! We are here for you!
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:59 AM   #16 (permalink)
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My current therapist is a very in the moment person. Working on what we need right now. It's true. Just processing does not change the past. I also agree that the more you process those things in your own time, the more matter of fact it becomes. I usto literally feel my heart rate rise, cry, get very frustrated in talking about trauma from the past. Now, I recognize it, and am able to stay calm and not go into that fight or flight mode.
Thank you for sharing this, Hopeful4! :-) It helps me to hear other people's experiences. I'm not sure why I struggle so much for processing things from a long time ago, but I guess it's because they were traumatic overall. I have noticed that for the most part I was able to stay calm and not go into fight or flight. Maybe I should look at this as progress. It was lack of self-validation that I think kept me stuck for so long, because of what society says about "family".

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Guided meditation apps, exercise, journaling, and staying busy all helped me get through some of the most difficult times. And it was very important to have face to face support that knew all I was going through and was able to reach out to. Sometimes just to sit with me. Sometimes to listen to me. Whatever.
I'm glad you've found things that have worked for you! :-) I find some of those things helpful, too. I shy away from journaling because when I was a teenager I found it just fueled my anger/hurt. My sponsee journals and finds it helpful. I will ask her about that. Staying busy for me is sometimes a distraction, yet it does keep me out of my head. I recently found that yoga is very helpful. Now that I understand it's not about being flexible and stretching but it's more like a moving meditation, I'm getting more out of it. I wish I had more face to face support but I'm thankful for SR and for my therapist.

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Anytime you want to PM me I will be happy to chat friend! We are here for you!
Thank you so much!!! This made my day. Please feel free to PM me, too!
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Old 01-08-2019, 07:17 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I have learned over time that what you see and think about other "families" may not be correct at all. It's amazing when you start sharing with others you learn that they don't have such a perfect little life either.

I really struggled b/c I wanted so badly to be the person I want to be, to have children and them be happy and healthy and to have a happy marriage. The dream. I finally realized that I had to stop looking at what I considered ideal and move on to my own reality. Control my own reactions and realize I cannot control anyone else's actions. To get through one day at a time and that be ok. To realize my family was not perfect, I am not perfect, and that I deserve a happy today, but only I can make it that way. Living in the past will not ever get me there.

I do certainly think that your not going into fight or flight mode in talking about past trauma is huge progress, and something to recognize. I love that your doing yoga and it's helping. I have heard it does. I do other exercise and relaxation but have not done yoga b/c I am weak physically LOL! I need to give it a go!

Just a few thoughts as I read your post. I hope today is a great one! I have therapy later today....not necessarily looking forward to it, but I do know I will be glad I went after the fact!
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:09 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Pathwaytofree - thanks to you for this thread, and to all for their posts and insights.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by hopeful4 View Post
I have learned over time that what you see and think about other "families" may not be correct at all. It's amazing when you start sharing with others you learn that they don't have such a perfect little life either.
Thanks for sharing this insight, hopeful. My former therapist used to say to me that no one has their sh*t together, everyone is just sort of figuring it out as they go. This was helpful to hear. So many people look like they have their sh*t together, but no one really does. That was helpful to hear, because I kept feeling like everyone else had the life manual except me.....

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I really struggled b/c I wanted so badly to be the person I want to be, to have children and them be happy and healthy and to have a happy marriage. The dream. I finally realized that I had to stop looking at what I considered ideal and move on to my own reality. Control my own reactions and realize I cannot control anyone else's actions. To get through one day at a time and that be ok. To realize my family was not perfect, I am not perfect.
I know what you mean. I think we all want some ideal, but then we wake up and see it's not realistic. I appreciate your sharing your realizations.

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and that I deserve a happy today, but only I can make it that way.
That's a great statement, too. It's taken me a long time to realize that I am in charge of my own happiness. No thing and No one will make me happy. It's up to me to find it within, and ignore all the chatter in my mind that tells me what will make me happy.

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Living in the past will not ever get me there.
That is a helpful statement and something I need to focus on. My mind just loves to make any seed of reminder of the past grow.

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I do certainly think that your not going into fight or flight mode in talking about past trauma is huge progress, and something to recognize.
I hadn't realized that. Thank you!

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I love that your doing yoga and it's helping. I have heard it does. I do other exercise and relaxation but have not done yoga b/c I am weak physically LOL! I need to give it a go!
What other exercise and relaxation do you do? I'm always curious to hear what works for other people.

There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga. You don't have to be flexible or physically strong to do it. You start out by just doing what you can, and skipping a lot of poses that you can't. Hot yoga, power yoga, Ashtanga yoga--those are for people looking for "exercise". True yoga is more gentle. If you did want to try it, see if you could find a place that offers "gentle" or "restorative" yoga, and one that has "beginner's" or "basics" classes. Avoid flow or vinyasa, too, until you're much more advanced. The goal of yoga is to go within. To connect to your breath, and quiet the mind. Only in the west did we turn it into some type of exercise. That's not true yoga. It should be called something else in my opinion.

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Just a few thoughts as I read your post. I hope today is a great one! I have therapy later today....not necessarily looking forward to it, but I do know I will be glad I went after the fact!
Thank you so much for all that you've added to make this such a helpful thread! I've gotten a lot out of your posts. I hope you have a good therapy appointment.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:26 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Hi friend! How are you doing??

For relaxing I do some meditation apps, long baths, play with my dogs, do crosswords, read, the list goes on. I find any of these things helpful as long as I am doing them mindfully. If my mind is racing then I am not in that moment.

There is a place here that has Ax throwing, I am thinking about giving that a try as I heard it's really fun and a big stress reliever!
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