Am I Worth It?

It turns out that staining a rough deck with worn and uneven wood is a lot of work. Using a paint roller, even one graded for decks, is ineffective because the fibers of wood along the surface are all at different heights. Even along a single plank, the splintered board means that some parts stick up higher than others, some are tilted at a sloping angle, and some are recessed or have deep divots, which fail to take paint unless you jam the bristles a sopping wet, stain-saturated brush into the crevasse. When trying to smooth a roller over such a topographically-diverse surface, the peaked areas swallow all the paint and leave those areas of the roller dry, while the depressions stay stain-free, screaming out for cover. The roller and the deck become inversely painted.

To work around this major flaw of our aged and weathered wood, I had to hand paint the boards with a regular brush. This is a much more laborious and unpleasant process than using a telescoping roller to coat large swaths of stain atop the deck from a standing, ergonomically-ideal position. That said, investing my hours and physical effort into this project will likely yield a great deal of pride in the outcome, which is always a gift that keeps giving. For example, every day I see the nice walls I painted in our family room instead of the awful baby-got-sick-looking smeared ones instills a sense of satisfaction, esteem, ownership, and self-efficacy. It feels good to take responsibility to mending or bettering part of your home and carrying the project through to successful completion.

Between staining the deck, work, my self-directed therapy session, and reading a book I really enjoyed, yesterday went by so quickly. I anticipate a similar situation today, as I embark on applying the second coat of stain and starting to stain all of the trim. It’s remarkable how many railing posts and supports there are. It’s evident that that step of the job will be tedious and very time consuming, and by that I mean, not too fun. Plus, I’m far too short to stand off the deck and stain them from the outside, so I need to instead kneel on the deck and wrap my brush around all four sides of each railing support and paint them that way. I haven’t counted them yet, but there are probably 100-120 pieces of trim to coat two times each, since I’m doing a double layer of stain.

It’s already been a month since my last in-person therapy I guess because tomorrow I have my appointment. It feels like less time has elapsed because I had to see the psychiatrist at the same place about halfway through that period of time. I’m not dreading the session like I normally do, as I have a lot of things on my mind to discuss. In fact, depending on how the appointment goes and if I feel like I get something out of it, I’m planning on asking if I can switch from monthly appointments to every other week, though that may be cost-prohibitive at this time as my copay is so high. My hunch is that I’d actually feel much more positive about the whole in-person therapy situation if I didn’t have a copay or if it was a lot less. It’s truly a case of adding insult to injury when you’re so poor and have to shell out a significant amount of your limited money to do something so unpleasant and that you “don’t want to do.” Moreover, because the cost is so high, I think about every last second I should be getting in my allotted 45-minute session. My therapist is habitually 6-9 minutes late, which drives the part of my brain that fixates on rules, routine, and “fairness” bananas. It’s not like she ever tacks on compensatory time for the late start at the end of the appointment; thus, I’m regularly short-changed by up to 20% of my time. That’s not fair and even though I don’t “like” therapy, if I’m going to take the time and emotional effort to go there and do my best, I want it to be an efficient and useful expenditure of my resources. When so much of an already short session is omitted, it’s difficult to get much accomplished and discussed in the remaining 30 minutes or so, especially since the last five are considered a “wrap up” and time to schedule the next appointment.

I’ve bargained with my non-confrontational self before that “if she’s at least 8 minutes late next time” I’ll say something, but even when she is, I usually don my cowardice and back down, smiling politely when she finally calls me into the office as if the tardiness hasn’t fazed me. If anything, I’m overly pleasant, as if apologetic that I’m aware that I’m burdening her and pardoning my strain. Where is my confidence and my sense of value and worth? I carry this idea that somehow I’m undeserving of the rights and respects of normal humans, though even in my own mind, I believe all humans should be treated equally. Somehow, my brain seems to group all humans in a circle and I’m an outlier, not quite human. In a Venn diagram, I’d be in the “living things” circle, but fail to fall within the set of humans for some reason.  Although I do know I’m human, of course, for some unfortunate reason, I don’t extend the respect, dignity, and rights I believe all people should get to myself. That, in a nutshell, epitomizes low self-esteem. My brain considers my value as less than others. As such, I often feel I don’t deserve favors, helpful services, and common courtesies. Even if I feel it’s unfair when I’m treated poorly or disrespectfully, I ultimately feel it’s deserved. This is a sad truth.

You’d think I could start attacking my pitiful self-esteem in therapy appointments, which should absolutely be a place where one’s value and self-concept is fostered. Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced this benefit yet, but I’ll continue to try pushing myself to stand up for my needs and rights. I hope my therapist is punctual tomorrow, both for me sake and hers, because it might just be the day I put an end to habitually short-changing my session length with an articulate and unwavering refusal to accept the continuation of this practice.

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