Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I repeat: Not a junkie

Tonight's cognitive therapy class was very painful for me. It was all about depression and the negative cognitions depressed people are prone to experience. Almost every description of how depressed people think and behave aligned with something I did while in a depressive episode. I could have illustrated every concept in tonight's lesson with a personal anecdote.

It was unbelievably painful. I wanted to cry, and I couldn't. I felt naked, raw. All I could do was stare at my desk, and try to focus on writing down everything the professor said so that I could lose the forest in the trees.

At one point, the class discussed, disparagingly, the direct marketing to consumers conducted by the manufacturer of one of my favorite antidepressants, Cymbalta. "Where does depression hurt? Everywhere. Who does depression hurt? Everyone." Yes, it's cornball, and I usually don't approve of direct pharmacological marketing to consumers -- but that's how I learned about Cymbalta, that's why I told my psychiatrist I wanted to try Cymbalta, and I LOVE Cymbalta. It has improved the quality of my life 1000%. It really helped with my lower back pain, and it's probably a major reason why my knee pain is bearable. And I wanted to say that -- and they needed to hear it -- and I couldn't.

But: I did not take a tranquilizer to deal with my negative emotions. I could have. I felt miserable and stressed, and it was agony to keep myself together. (I'm not counting the painkiller I took this damp morning when my knees were aching. The narcotic tramadol is so mild, there's virtually no mood elevation.)

But I sat through the class on depression drug-free -- even after Dr. CT told me she still hasn't heard from my advisor, Dr. Freud, who had promised to contact her and see if her impression of my classroom comportment jived with Dr. Jerk's. Obviously Dr. Freud isn't interested in the adjuncts' opinion of me; Dr. Jerk's is the only opinion that matters. But I didn't run to a chemical pacifier. I stuck it out, uncomfortable and uncomforted.

Today I also found myself thinking more and more about Little Marty. He's excited a bit of comment on this blog, including an email I got from a high-school friend who's become a faithful reader. First she wrote about my former high-school crush, who tracked me down:

I am dying to know if Matt Stein is his real name. For the life of me, I can't remember a Matt Stein, and I don't have a yearbook in town. Drop me a line directly and let me know!

I wrote back to disabuse her of that notion -- every name on here, mine included, is a pseudonym. [If you know Hebrew, you'll understand why I chose specific names for certain people.] She responded:

Thanks for satisfying my curiosity! I bet you intimidated a lot of our classmates in high school. You were/are a lot brighter than the average bear, even in a smart environment like [our award-winning public high school].

As for "Little Marty" -- not all recently divorced people are SOBs! Some of us are at our best right after a divorce, because we have just figured out who we are and what we want out of life. Pay attention to the reasons for the divorce -- does he understand it, or is he still angry? If he is comfortable with himself and where he is in life, let yourself relax and see where things go naturally.

Hm. I'm afraid of letting things go where they will go naturally. That happened with RD-SOB, the man who used and manipulated me in the wake of his divorce. At first he treated me like a queen, then like used bathroom tissue. I don't want to go through that again. I wrote back:

The problem is not that divorced guys are jerks, per se, but that they might not be ready to get back into a serious relationship. Marty got married young and was married for almost 10 years -- I think he has a lot of wild oats to sow. I think he and I are at different stages in life.

So I have to be careful -- because the last thing I need to do at this age is lose my heart to a guy who can't treasure it. He's not angry about the divorce; he's actually pretty happy about it (although he's frustrated with the slow pace of working out the financial arrangements). But I don't think he's ready to settle down again yet.

And yet....

Two things happened today that made me very happy and very scared.

[Mom, Dad, and Ruchama: You might want to stop reading NOW.]

First was that I got some very cute, very naughty text messages from Marty. I'm not a big texter -- I'm a really fast typist, so I find texting awkward and slow -- but I love getting text messages. Especially when they say how hot he is for me. I guess I find that flattering.

So I called him back after class, and he was at the supermarket. "Ben & Jerry's ice cream is on sale," he said. "What flavor do you want me to get?"

"Chubby Hubby," I responded automatically. Then it hit me: I'm supposed to see him this weekend -- he's coming to my apartment so I can give him an IQ test.

"Are you going to bring it with you when you come over to take the test?" I asked.

"Of course not. You're going to have to come here to get it. A little incentive."

So we're presuming that I'm going to be spending time with him in his apartment. I have no reason to go to his neck of the woods except to see him, whereas he works in Manhattan and comes to the Upper West Side for Shabbat.

This hanging out is starting to look suspiciously like a relationship. And I'm afraid to start a relationship with him. I really, really, really do NOT want to be used, manipulated, hurt, and discarded again.

But -- what if he is ready for a real relationship? Is he even someone I could see myself with, long-term? Am I dismissing someone with real potential to love and honor me?

Oy. I think that after I give him the IQ test, we might need to have a little talk. Because up until now, I've been saying to him that we're not really dating, he's not in a place in his life where he can date, he just needs a very good friend to hang out with. And he's agreed.

But if that is true, I don't think I can be that friend while I wait for Mr. Right to come along. I'm too prone to get attached to someone who is this affectionate and demonstrative, and I won't be able to keep enough distance to keep things light and fun, not serious.

I'm supposed to go out with another guy next week -- a 25yo who found me on a dating website. But I think he's kind of immature, and maybe not bright and interesting enough for me. So obviously I have to keep looking. Will I keep on zealously looking for a husband if a lot of my needs for companionship, intimacy, and pleasure are being met by a guy who can't offer me much else?

I don't know. But I'm not going to talk about it with Marty until I've given him the IQ test. I've suffered enough for this damn course; I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot now.
Copyright (c) 2006 "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. You're right that in some cases given your condition it's appropriate for you to take the tranquilizers, but good for you for exercising some control!
    Good luck with the testing and with Little Marty. You are wise to be cautious; maybe when you have your 'heart to heart' he will surprise you.

  2. Ayelet, it sounds to me like you're overly concerned with other people's opinions. Granted, Dr. Jerk and Freud currently have some power over you, but the people who think you're popping too many tranks aren't in your head. They're not feeling your pain. I'm not trying to enable and encourage your use of meds, but there's no reason to tough it out just because you feel like you have to prove to someone that you can. Take care of yourself. Always.

    As for Marty - don't stop having fun. And don't get attached, either. After you administer the test, tell him what happened with RD-SOB and ask him to clarify what he wants.

    Love ya - Carmen