Today sucked. If fact, the suckiness of the day cascaded, ending with the dog pooping and the cat peeing, but I’ll get to that later.
Yesterday a couple people said, “Just find a new doctor. You don’t have to waste time or energy giving your doctor any explanations.” I thought that, of course, they were right and that it was stupid of me to be so agitated about the doctor, and yet, on the other hand, I think that people, emotions, and situations are always more complicated than they may first appear. Maybe for some people things might be simpler, but not me.
For me, it has to do with being an INFJ personality type and also having experienced emotional abuse. The two are intertwined. Whenever I mention the traits of an INFJ, JJ says that he thinks it’s all baloney. Maybe I would think so too except the traits of an INFJ describe me with eerie accuracy so I don’t think it’s as much baloney as JJ does. Often when I want to explain something about myself, I find it easier to describe me in the context of the characteristics of an INFJ.
INFJs hold within themselves paradoxes. Every trait is accompanied by its opposite. These opposite traits can tug at us so we can feel pulled in two–or more–different directions at the same time. There are so many complex contradictions within us that I find it difficult to describe them all–and yet we live our lives within the contradictions and it’s these contradictions that often cause us to be misunderstood. For example, on the one hand we are empaths who actually feel the sufferings of others so negativity and conflict causes us pain. Because of this, we seek peaceful resolutions to avoid conflict. We are very loving, understanding, and forgiving. We forgive longer than most other personality types even when we are being hurt–but only until we know the relationship isn’t savable.
Qualities like these can make people think we are wimpy, weak pleasers who never stand up for ourselves. But they are wrong. There is another part of us that is very independent. We care deeply about others and will fiercely defend them if they are being hurt. We will do what is right no matter what it costs us. We might look a bit ragged and messy on the outside, but underneath we have a very fierce toughness.
INFJ’s care very much about truth and genuineness. We are very intuitive and can often “know” things about people without knowing how we know. Because we can’t point to logic for why we know what we know, people often don’t believe us and we also second-guess ourselves and ignore our intuition–often to our regret. From the beginning, I sensed that my problems with my Mom wasn’t a mere tiff, but was an intense power struggle for control, but others told me that she was just wounded and I needed to love and forgive her, which filled me with doubt about my intuition. Although I resisted the abuse, I also kept second-guessing myself and stayed in the abuse for far too long.
I have had many cases in which I have described to EJ situations that I couldn’t possibly have known about, but they turned out to be so true that is as if I had written a script that people acted out. One was a time in which an elderly acquaintance who was beginning to suffer from dementia wanted us to buy him books from Amazon. He said he’d pay us back. I was upset but didn’t know why. EJ said, “He’s just a lonely old man and I’d like to be nice to him.” I felt guilty and second-guessed myself, wondering if I was being selfish and uncaring. I sorted through my feelings and thoughts and then told EJ that something wasn’t right. “I think the man’s wife has taken over the finances because his dementia is making him unable to handle the money. He resents this and is using us to get back at his wife. Buying books could get us caught in a struggle between them.” When EJ graciously told the old man that we would give him the books as a gift this time but couldn’t buy him any more, he grumbled that his wife didn’t let him buy anything and “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” I was exactly right. EJ asked, “How did you know?” I said, “I have no idea.”
I sometimes wonder if the gifts of INFJ–empathy, understanding, ability to see many perspectives, love of truth, intuition–have been heightened by abuse. Abuse victims often care about truth. They learn to be good observers who can read a person or situation–for their own safety. They also tend to second-guess themselves. Of course, not every abuse victim is an INFJ so I don’t think that abuse causes a person to be an INFJ, but it’s possible that abuse heightens their natural traits. I once asked an INFJ group at Facebook how many of them had been abused and many said they had.
Anyway, this all applies to my struggle with the doctor. This morning I told EJ that I needed to discuss this with him but I didn’t think I needed his advice as much as I needed him to just listen while I sorted it out. INFJs are really strange in the way they process information. They ponder a situation, and explore different aspects, and they have to discuss the thoughts as they float to the surface of their mind–so they keep talking until they understand a problem. EJ has learned to understand most of my INFJness and he has legendary endurance when it comes to listening. He really is awesome.
To me, it’s not just a simple matter of deciding to switch doctors. It affects my INFJness and abuse. My compassion, understanding, and forgiveness recognizes that the doctor might really be a compassionate doctor–but perhaps clueless or overzealous in thinking she had me all figured out even before my appointment with her. On the other hand, her wrongly labeling me, not listening, jumping to conclusions, and pressuring me triggered memories of abuse. EJ said that he thought she was compassionate and just trying to help me and wasn’t abusive because abuse is intentional, but I think unintentional acts can still cause damage. Besides, it’s not easy to see beneath the mask of an emotional abuser. Narcissists can appear to be the most loving, sweet people who “only want to help.” They turn meanly abusive when they are opposed. Because we really can’t discern hidden motives, it’s only possible to judge behaviors, and this doctor made me feel so emotionally battered that I know I don’t trust her to be my doctor. I felt rising panic about “giving her another chance” and continuing as her patient. I decided that I would find a new doctor.
However, the question for me is whether I just quietly fade away or confront the doctor before I go. On the one hand, people told me I don’t owe the doctor an explanation. This is true. However, part of me feels that slinking away is sort of a…victim type of thing to do. I want to stand up to her and say, “This is what you did and how you made me feel!” Yet, I hate conflict. If EJ and JJ continue going to her, I will still see her when I accompany them to their appointments. EJ said, “You don’t need to go with me…” but I would still go with him and JJ because I refuse to let anyone cause me to not be there for my family. If I go with them, a confrontation may be inevitable? I mean, if she mentions me making an appointment with her, I would honestly tell her why I won’t. Part of me wants to tell her that even if a victim seems to fit a profile exactly, a victim still needs to be treated as an individual, and to be heard, and to have her choices respected.
JJ came out of his room and said that he thought I was overreacting and that since the doctor is the expert, I should just do whatever she tells me to. This triggered my memories of abuse and caused my panic to rise higher. In emotionally abusive families, members are pressured to think and act as a group rather than individuals. I need the freedom to think, believe, act, choose. Later I was able to explain to JJ why I was struggling with this doctor and he understood. He told me that I might as well find him a new doctor too. I told him that he could stay with the current doctor if he preferred, but he wants me to accompany him to appointments and doesn’t want to risk there being any tension.
After EJ went to work, I researched a new doctor in a closer town. I found one that had really good reviews and called the number listed on the site. Before I could say that I wanted to see this particular doctor, the receptionist asked for a bunch of information. Later, she said that the doctor I asked for doesn’t work there anymore. I was so stressed that I went ahead and made an appointment anyway, even though I have no idea who I will be seeing or if she is a good doctor. Then I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was doing the right thing in looking for a new doctor. Sigh.
Meanwhile, JJ wanted me to help him get information about college. I helped him, and when he saw how much college would cost, his PTSD was triggered. He didn’t see how he can ever get to college or on with his life. I had a book waiting for me at the library, so I dragged JJ with me just to get us a change in scenery. However, it didn’t help. We were both stressed and panicky.
When we got home, JJ went into the house and I sat in the car and cried a bit. I felt I was having a panic attack. Waves of stress hit me. When I was struggling with emotional abuse, everyone told me that my Mom/family was just wounded, and no doubt really loved me, and was doing the best they could, and I just needed to love and forgive her/them more. They didn’t understand the abuse and didn’t hear me. Being unheard makes me feel as if I have been buried alive in a coffin and no one hears me screaming for help.
I only cried a little, and then JJ came back outside and said, “Mom: I don’t have cancer. I am happier up here. I have a job. Dad got rid of his awful factory and has a good job. We got rid of your awful family….” and he listed all the good things in our lives that he could think of. I told him that he said exactly what we needed to hear.
JJ and I were able to calm ourselves down, but the rest of the day still had it’s challenges and rather sucked. JJ’s Internet friends made insensitive and hurtful jokes about his type of cancer that hit him in his fears. He confronted them about how their jokes made him feel and explained the effects of cancer, but he was dispirited that they don’t understand. Then he saw that some of his peers have graduated from college, and he feels he is being left in the dust. Reassuring him that he doesn’t have to compare himself and that he is doing remarkably well after battling cancer doesn’t help on days like this.
Meanwhile, I dragged Danny into the shower when I saw his poopy butt. When he was younger, he got out of his dog pen and ran in front of a van. He wasn’t directly hit, but the van ran over his beautifully feathered tail and broke it and also stretched his spine a bit. He had to have his tail removed and now poop occasionally accumulates back there and I have to pull and/or wash it off. A dirty job that both Danny and I hate, but it has to be done. Our new bathroom has a very deep tub and also a separate shower. It’s easier to drag him into the shower than try to lift him into the tub. Poor Danny.
A little later I saw that the cat dish was empty and as I dump in a scoop of food, I saw–too late–that Luke had peed in it. Sigh. So I dumped the urine-soaked food into the trash, washed the dish, and refilled it with clean food.
It has really been a dog poop and cat pee type of day. Fortunately, most of our days aren’t so difficult.