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Cursing, Therapy and the D word. Wednesday May 11, 2016

It was the first time I cried (and cursed) with my therapist.

I was railing about my former husband and the stress of rearing my children alone and not having family support and not being able to buy a house and getting stuck on the career ladder and wondering why my life isn't the way it's meant to be and... then she said... she said that word... she said; 'You sound disappointed'.

Now this was an understatement. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was sad. I was lost. I was overwhelmed. I was depressed. I was self-pitying. I was jealous. I was (I will admit) cursing.

But she didn't say any of those.

She said I was disappointed.

And believe me, I fought those tears.

But they came. One by one.

Trickling down my face.

I couldn't speak.

She didn't ask me to.

I let them fall and plucked a tissue.

And I said 'Yes, I am disappointed. I feel so (insert curse of choice!) disappointed. I feel bereft with disappointment. The way my life has not gone according to the plan.'

The plan I carefully constructed. The way my life is not like my sister's/friend's/cousins's (insert name of the person you love but also envy).

I am disappointed that the person I loved and married turned out to be incapable of loving and being married.

I am disappointed with family, with friends, with loved ones for caring but not understanding.

But most of all I am disappointed with myself. I have not forgiven myself yet. For what? For failing. I look around at others and I ask 'How do they manage to get it so right?' How did I manage to get it so wrong?

Then my therapist asked if I could think of three things to be grateful for.

That's when my gratitude diary started.

I do not allow myself write my children's names down every time now - it's a cop out.

Plus I have to think of three things to be grateful for from that very day.

Some days are hard. But there is always some bright moment. Some funny or cute phrase. A random compliment. A kind gesture. A chocolate treat. A laugh-out-loud moment. A paddle in the sea. An affectionate hug. There is always something or someone to ease the burden, to quell the sadness, to lighten the load of disappointment. Even momentarily.

My most recent entry -

"You look pretty mum. Your hair is actually quite nice today." (high praise from my pre-teen!)

"I want one hundred and forty two hugs right now please." (from my affectionate ten year old!)

I have a found a therapist who is not a magician but who is teaching me how to move from disappointment (slowly!) to gratitude.

And, for now, that will do nicely thank you very much...

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Lexi Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 1:58am

Dear SWM. I so relate to you. I read your words and I think "that's me." That is me. I too have a wonderful therapist and she has heard me use many words that I dare not repeat. But she never blinks an eye. She gets me to calm down and listen, really listen to her words. She pulls me out of myself, makes me as in Mary's words bend my thoughts around so that I can really look at the emotions behind the words. I don't want to be angry or sad or bitter; I want to be at peace. I have a meditation that I do every morning where I also list the things I am grateful for. That brings me peace. My life too isn't what I thought it would be. But I think there is something better waiting for us. We just have to learn our lessons and let go and be ready...and grateful... for what is in store. xo Lexi

Anonymous Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 7:51am

If I could post a photo of all the wisteria in bloom close by, I would. Suffice it to say, they are magnificent. If gardening is your bag, Spring can be a magical time. For some it may not be but It just depends on your perspective.

Sally Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 8:16am

Salt Water Mum, you are doing well, very well! After such a body blow as you have had, you've had the courage to tell us here on Moodscope just how it felt/ feels. I think that's amazing.

At your time of life, I had concerns too, but would not have had your courage to write about it so eloquently.

I am grateful you did though, because at 43, I went to a therapist to help me unscramble all the misery and helplessness I felt. It was one of the best things I ever did, and of enormous value. My life improved from then on and the help I received, the listening and gentle mirroring back of what I was feeling, in language that at last made sense to me, has stayed with me, and I have huge gratitude to the therapist and thank God I took the therapy path .

Go well, life will get easier, you sound as if it already is a little bit...and remember to share and not to suffer in silence. No point and you are worth the good things/ people in life. It/ they will come...

Hopeful One Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 8:18am

Hi SWM- Thank you for letting us see the difference it made to your outlook recording your 'three thing to be grateful' . I write down those but also I write down 'three things that made me happy'. They sometimes may overlap with the grateful things but more often not. Psychologists have shown that this 'attitude of gratitude' and reminding oneself of the happy things in one's life help ward off low moods.The things one is grateful for and the things that made one happy are always one's own and need not be big- in fact the smaller the better.

The Joke Squadron, apart from finding that laugh for the day(not always for everyone as I have discovered), also comes across genuine stories which make him laugh. Here is one example.

After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies.. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.

g Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 3:41pm

I love all the jokes you post HO , even this one , although it does bring memories when I was taken to a mental hospital by force by police ( rightly so too ) and it took much longer than three days to be able to walk free again. Somehow nobody is objecting today and there may be reasons as the joke points towards black patients and doctors etc. I have been pondering the uproar about the married couple and the horse joke and I do not agree with all the complaints. As it has been pointed out the reaction to the joke says more about the receiver than the teller - so true. A broadminded person may find a plausible explanation that does not set up the bride as a victim ( the couple may have been in a sado - masochistic relationship eg. and it may be the extreme one but one of many scenarios ). I enjoyed the joke as usual and the politically correct responses baffled me but I could not word it at the time . Next day I read more responses and loved Caroline's - of course one would worry about the horse more than the bride and it is scientifically proven - given a choice many more responded to a plight of an animal in need than a sick child in an experiment while asking for charitable donations. I may have let go - which I have been practising recently hence no comments for a long time - but it bugged me even more after watching Nymphomaniac movies.

Mary Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 4:12pm

g - Now I am totally intrigued by the nymphomaniac movies!

Hopeful One Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 4:38pm

Hi g- thank you for your very balanced comment. The difference between reacting and responding? I will have a nymphomanic joke for you tomorrow but I will have to warn fellow Moodscopers it's a bit saucy but then so is the subject!

g Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 8:31pm

Very heavy movies - even for me - Mary and if you are able to resist temptation do not watch any movies by this particular director as all of them are quite disturbing ; but not just for the sake of it and I personally love him but I do love all Malick's movies too and this new Irish guy that made The Survivalist .... I do not know why I have been drawn recently to dystopian movies , good ones of course , so would recommend The Lobster - a little bit lighter.... and I am looking forward to more daring jokes HO so do not let me down tomorrow please - Anthony Jeselnik is my current favourite comedian and if you are looking for not politically correct he is the one to watch.

Debs Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 9:01am

Morning SWM, I'm totally with you - my therapy journey has been one of the best things I've ever done. The gentle listening of a wonderful human being has been such an important part of my recovery. I'm in a bit of a low these past few days and I'm thinking of booking a 'top up' session to explore the dip... just knowing my therapist is there and won't judge me is a godsend. Thank you for sharing so beautifully, I'm glad you've found someone to help you get back to you xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 9:56am

Bear paw held out to hold you, Debs. x x x

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 9:56am

Dearest SWM,
I am sending a big Bear hug over and giving a liddle shake whilst doing it - so you'll feel the vibrations all day, whenever you need it.
You must try to remember there is nothing to forgive yourself throws so many different choices at us and whether choosing one path against another is right or wrong for long as we learn from the choice we have made, that must be right for us at that time.

And how lucky to have the chance of 142 hugs at one time! You must have been squished to death! And your teen is correct, you do look purdy and your hair looks great today :)
Bear x x x x

Skyblue Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 10:20am

My first response after reading your blog was to say 'I love you SWM!!' If only we could have no expectations and therefore no disappointments and therefore much less depression! If only we could see ourselves as others see us! I can imagine that there are many people who admire your strength, endurance, intelligence and loving ways (not to mention your artistry with words). There may also be those who envy you for your chance to be truly independent even though it has been a tough road. A good therapist is a blessing and you have arrived at a very good place with it all. Without gratitude, I don't believe we can even begin to be peaceful or happy. Thanks for expressing how many of us feel or have felt, myself included. The 'd' word is a bit deceptive, I think. It sounds as if it should be relatively innocuous, but in reality it is a powerful feeling that exists deep down and triggers others. Your blog makes that point so well. xx

Salt Water Mum Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 11:47am

What lovely comments to read.
Thank you moodscopers,

Otir Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 1:06pm

Salt Water Mum, the feelings you described in your post are always mine. Sometimes, I feel like because I never let the anger out nor the curses, I am going to drown myself in their acidity. Disappointment feels so much more acceptable than the frustrations and the rage. I had started a series of gratitude on my blog back in 2007 and keep the discipline of thinking of those even tiny moments when our hearts can refill with the good energy of thankfulness.

My hope is that I reach that point when the bitterness is actually overflown by the sweetness so that it becomes traces that count no more. Because life is such a bitch, we should teach gratitude exactly the same way we teach our young kids to brush their teeth before they get cavities.

Thank you for your blog post today. A nice mirror to reflect on daily discipline.

Vanda Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 1:20pm

Well done to you and your therapist! That is an amazing transition (and one I have not previously thought of) from all your very heavy emotions (sad, lost, overwhelmed, depressed, self-pitying and jealous)to look at what is under them 'disappointed' is something I feel can be handled, and to start to concentrate on looking for the gratitude moments, really helps to turn the tables - brilliant and all joys to you BOTH!

g Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 3:47pm

Kudos to you Salt Water Mum for sharing what we often do not admit to ourselves and what is necessary to be able to move on ..

Mary Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 4:16pm

Totally adore the ten year old's "I want one hundred and forty four hugs right now!" The answer to that, of course is, "Ew - that's gross!" ;)

Anonymous Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 4:45pm

I love this blog Salt Water Mum. Disappointment is such a powerful word. I do hope you are not feeling so disappointed now with your life. You've no need to. We all make mistakes or make choices which seem right at the time and circumstances (not us) present a different scenario to the one we imagined or hoped for. One thing you are not is a failure. You sound to me to be exactly the opposite, a success! I am pleased therapy is helping you. Your children sound divine! Hugs and hair compliments..what else do you need?!! Thanks for your blog today. It was a very brave one I thought. Julxx

The Gardener Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 5:27pm

SWM - you've made me feel a heel! Life is very tough, and I am no longer a 'free' agent. But I can get out into fresh air, into my gardens, however briefly. And suddenly, I was incredibly grateful for a life where I was never contained within 4 walls (except for brief visits to hospital). My children grew up to gardens, tree houses, dens, always able to have pets - big enough houses for 'sleep-overs'.And purring from compliements this morning on my interior design.

Suzy Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 8:44pm

Brilliant! Loved this. x

the room above the garage Wed, May 11th 2016 @ 9:33pm

Loved this SWM, much similarities here...I can tell you're raising great kids, if they can find compliments and are happy to be hugged, your job has been grand. Thank for this, love ratg X.

Salt Water Mum Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 12:03am

I am so pleased that I wrote the blog and that it resonated with some of you.

Thank you so very much for the positive, sweet and inspiring comments.

I will re-read them I know.


David Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 12:26am

Great piece, SWM.

I agree with Vanda about the healing change of focus from all the "very heavy emotions" to "what is under them": disappointment, something that "can be handled". "Disappointment" seems to be an understatement, yet it quietly distils the essence of the feelings, or what's under them. There's an Irish saying "To name a devil is to exorcise the devil"; it helps when we can put the right name on a feeling, or can boil down a welter of feelings to something essential.

The gratitude thing is an old technique, and one might be tempted to dismiss it quickly as a bit of that positive-thinking stuff. But maybe if we do it seriously, it works. Leaving aside what happens to us from outside, we do to a great extent create our world with our thoughts, so, yes, why not slowly change our habitual thoughts from negative and destructive to good ones? And I like HO's notion of adding 'things that made me happy'. We might see something that made us happy, but that wouldn't come to mind if we were focusing on gratitude. But it's worth reminding ourselves of both.

Instead of a joke, here are two quotes:

Cicero: Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

Nietzsche: The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

David Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 1:05am

A little addition. Sally refers to "the listening and gentle mirroring back of what I was feeling, in language that at last made sense to me", and this blog illustrates that so well. I suppose that's the beauty of a good therapist, someone who's detached as no-one close to us can be, but who also wishes us well, and to whom we can say anything without feeling that we'll either hurt or be judged.

The thing that some of us suffer from is a savage superego, the internalised, accumulated, judging voices of all those harshly critical voices of our past. As SWM says: "I have not forgiven myself yet." But the therapist can help transform that harsh superego into a benign one that can help us come to recognise what we do or think that is not good, and yet at the same time be forgiving, understanding, kindly. But attacking something head-on isn't always the best way, so perhaps the gratitude habit is exactly what's needed, because if we get into a habit of gratitude we then become more benign and tolerant, both of others and ourselves. Maybe that's partly what Cicero meant in saying that gratitude is the parent of all the other virtues?

Kristen Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 4:54am

This was a brilliant, touching, brave, authentic blog. It resonated more than I can say. Getting real, being honest and vulnerable and courageous AND standing in your truth- that's where the healing begins. At least for me. I hardly ever comment but to be honest, I don't like the preachy, "I'm the expert", rather ego-driven, condescending blogs that appear from time to time. I like the really real. Thank you and keep writing.

Sal Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 9:08am

totally agree with all the lovely comments above. Your blog touched me SWM, thank you.

David Thu, May 12th 2016 @ 8:59pm

Lots of great comments. The one I like best is Kristen's: "This was a brilliant, touching, brave, authentic blog. It resonated more than I can say. Getting real, being honest and vulnerable and courageous AND standing in your truth- that's where the healing begins."

Looking back, I see that, while I was trying to think things through a little, my comments above were rather detached and academic, and that perhaps the most helpful thing is to tell a story, as this blog does, conveying real lived experience, in the way that Kristen describes so well. That is so much more resonant and powerful than giving advice, playing with abstractions, preaching, etc. In brief, show, don't tell. Anyway, I've learnt something here!

Kristen Mon, May 16th 2016 @ 7:36pm

Thank you, David. I just happened to open and read this blog again because I liked it so much and saw your comment. It made my day. I was a writer and public speaker of sorts in academia for quite a while but I have also told my story from the podiums of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and while it takes such courage and humility to do the latter, it provides a gift of true connection and of healing and for me, true grace. You sound like an especially cool guy!

Salt Water Mum Fri, May 13th 2016 @ 12:01am

Comments, even the next day ... I am so chuffed. Thank you all.

Sweet dreams,


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