Chapter 20 : Shared Connections

I recently watched Arrival, a movie labelled as science fiction but at it’s core it is really a movie about language. Specifically how we communicate when there is no shared connection, and how we learn to overcome that problem. Getting to that shared connection is key, and I think it’s at the heart of an implicit social contract we form with our family, our friends, our co-workers, and our lovers. For all the differences we might have with our loved ones, we have have a contract that allows us to speak openly and without fear.

Somewhere along the way growing up the social contract I had with the rest of the world was torn up. I can’t say where or when because I don’t know the answer, but acknowledging that it occurred is almost as important as finding out why.

In therapy I unconsciously formed a set of rules that I willingly followed each week despite the fact that some of these so called rules might actually not be in my best interest. One of the main rules I held myself to was that I needed to protect the people closest to me, especially my family, and I didn’t want to say anything negative or misleading about any individual. Part of this reasoning is because you can’t just drop bombs (explosive events in your life) on your therapist without providing proper context. In order to truly understand how an event impacts someone’s life, we need to understand each role the main characters played in shaping the outcome.

As I often tend to do when bored I’ll go on various sites that I know have good authors and content whereby I can go down a rabbit hole. I was on NY Mag the other day and read a really illuminating piece that posited scientists had uncovered the reasoning for why people go through depression. The crux of the argument is as follows :

“There is something very powerful, and even actionable, in reconceptualizing (some) depressive episodes as having a function, as presenting a quest toward understanding for the sufferer to undertake…that the meaning people derive from difficult experiences depends not on the amount that they’re suffered, but the extent of reflection — or meaning-making — they’ve done on what prompted a given nadir.”

After reading the above paragraph I had an epiphany. I was going into therapy with rules to protect me, but they were just a defense mechanism preventing me from really untangling the issues at hand. I also found catharsis in the fact that depression can serve a function within our lives, that it is not some curse bestowed upon a certain percent of the population.

Taking all this to heart, yesterday I would argue I had the best therapy session I’ve had in months. I start talking about characters in my life that I believe shaped my world view and I simply talked without a filter, refusing to hide behind my silly veneer of rules. A real positive of this strategy, throwing things at the wall to see what sticks so to speak, is that it provides a wealth of information and context for the therapist. As my therapist starts to understand the forces and people that shaped my adolescence we began to form a shared connection. We began to use names, we talked about specific events as if we were both present.

This is monumental for someone who feels as if the social contract is broken, but doesn’t believe it will be broken forever. That by sharing personal insights and feelings with ease we slowly began to form trust in the confidante, and I will fully admit, and it will come as no surprise that I do not trust anybody.

By allowing myself to find trust in others, I can have more intimate and meaningful relationships and experiences in my life. That is a goal worth driving toward.

More to come,

Mike

Freedom — Zac Brown Band

Thats What I Like — Bruno Mars

For Forever — Dear Evan Hansen

P.S. Here is the link to the article I referenced : http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/02/a-new-way-to-understand-and-treat-depression.html

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