Writing Through It

I can’t let go of this anger
towards you
the hurt
the disappointment
the betrayal
Maybe you are the last thing
standing between
myself
and the painful reality
of being deprived of
mothering
.
Being with you
is like learning a new
language
The one I already know
is conflict
and fighting
I know how to act out my emotions
You speak with words
and honesty
and vulnerability
Each time I reach the edge
of my knowledge in your language
I switch back to my native tongue
picking a fight
acting out
until I can translate
a new experience
into words
and find the courage
to speak them
.
I feel so grateful
for your boundaries
and your willingness to hold the line
even when I rage against it
I want compassion
reassurance
nurturing
belonging
I think you want that for me too
You see the long game
that giving me those things
may calm and validate me
for a few minutes
hours
days
but if you push me
to look
and find them for myself
within myself
I can have them forever

Disorganized

I swear, it’s a true fucking wonder that I haven’t killed myself yet. 

This past week (month? Year?) of therapy has just been impossible. I’m trying so hard to make sense out of what feels so complicated and confusing and hurtful, yet I seem to make no progress. 

I tried yet again today to talk to my therapist about my belief that she can be cruel and sadistic in her withholding of reassurance and compassion. She seemed genuinely surprised, and then frustrated. 

She reiterated that sometimes she can’t be the thing that reassures me. She said she “can’t re-parent me” and that I need to provide that for myself. 

I asked her what, exactly, the reference point on that is supposed to be. If I need re-parenting because my parents failed so spectacularly, how exactly am I supposed to know how to parent myself? 

She said I need to use my imagination. 

I then asked where in my life I would have ever got any messaging that would even allow my imagination to come up with things like self-love or self-compassion? She said I’d need to create that; I’d need to find a way to see that I’m valid and worthy. 

I told her I felt unwanted and as though I don’t belong anywhere. She said that seems painful and told me I need to believe that I am wanted and I belong. 

Whatever. 

She kept telling me I was speaking in the abstract, which made it hard for her to address my specific concerns. She wanted me to go back and find an example of a time when she was withholding. I told her it was cruel to ask me to revisit a time when I was vulnerable and did not receive reassurance from her just so she could NOT reassure me yet again. 

So I said I didn’t want to go there and she responded that there was nothing for us to do then. 

Okay. 

So instead, I talked about disorganized attachment; how the intense pull towards her matches the intense need to push her away. It’s confusing and terrifying. She validated that experience and said we may just need to exist in that very uncomfortable and difficult space for a while, until we can move through it enough to lessen the intensity. 

Maybe. 

She asked me outright what she could do to eliminate my suffering, which felt more like a challenge then a genuine inquiry. I explained that I didn’t think anything she did could eliminate my suffering, but I do think there are ways she could help to ease it. 

But the problem is that she seems very invested in the idea that I need to experience my suffering in order to heal.

Very Jungian. And very true. 

But I don’t see why both things can’t exist together? I think I can experience suffering alongside the experience of getting reassurance and comfort from her. A sort of emotional scaffolding, if you will. 

At the end of session, I asked if she was around this weekend to talk. I explicitly told her I wanted to be able to talk to her this weekend. She said she’s around, but may not be able to return my call as quickly as usual (which is fine). 

Then I spoke of how awful it feels to essentially hate her/feel rejected by her at the exact same time I am feeling like I desperately need to be able to talk to her. 

So there’s less than a minute left in session and for whatever reason, she responds to that by saying,

And I wonder what’s with the feeling that you need to talk to me?

I am fairly certain she asked that to be curious about my experience around this, but holy shit did that ever feel like a rejection! 

I felt like she was telling me to not call her, or to not need to talk to her. The implication that I need to be curious about my desire to talk to her over the weekend (as if I’m not always curious about every little thing I think and feel, especially around her) really seemed like it was motivated by some negative reaction she was having to me. And the fact that she posed this question when we had zero time to discuss it’s impact felt really unfair. 

As I stood up to put on my coat I just started sobbing. I felt so alone and worthless and confused and angry and helpless. 

I struggle to describe how utterly horrible it feels to be in the presence of my therapist lately. I just feel myself spinning out of control and I feel so desperate to regain any sense of power. 

I don’t even know what to do anymore. 

On Re-parenting 

I don’t believe my therapist can, or should try to, re-parent me. 

I know deep down that the window for parenting has closed and it’s now up to me, and only me, to give myself the love and nurturing and attunement I didn’t get. 

I  should have gotten it, though. 

From my actual parents. The ones who conceived, birthed, and raised me. Two people who chose to have a child and then be unbelievably cruel to her. 

That’s on them. Yet it destroys me. 

And I think I rage against my therapist because her boundary with me on this reminds me, on a visceral level, of the unbearable neglect I was subjected to as a child. 

I will never ever get back the love, compassion, reassurance, kindness, or attunement that I so desperately needed. 

The anger is overwhelming. 

The grief is overwhelming. 

The pain is overwhelming. 

A Hard No

So my therapist thought more about letting me record sessions and came back with a hard no. 

She, of course, gave a perfectly logical explanation for this decision. Something about not wanting to make a copy of the work, but to keep it in real time; making me work towards staying present in sessions and being better able to hear her authentic words and tone in the actual moment. And forcing me to work towards getting the comfort and reassurance I need from the time I’m with her, instead of pulling it from recordings that I listen to later on, without her. 

Whatever. She makes a decent argument, but I still hate it. 

I told her today that I feel like she puts a hard line around the compassion and reassurance she offers me. I get to be with her in person (where I honestly feel like she also greatly limits the amount of reassurance she gives me), but once I walk out that door, she’s completely unavailable, even as a voice on a recording taken during a live session with her. 

She let me keep the Gray Mouse doll from her office. Not forever, but indefinitely. I’ve had it at my house for a couple weeks now. I’m grateful for this, and it’s better than nothing, but it still feels limited. This is not a doll she’s ever interacted with; she’s never held or hugged it or used it in sessions. It’s just this object that sat in her office. My little parts were drawn to it and became attached to it, so it developed meaning. But when I really think about it, even this doll from her office that has taken up residence in my own home feels like yet another example of her restraint. 

This is hard. It’s super painful to feel such deep and agonizing attachment pain. It’s as if there’s a black hole in my sternum that’s slowly drawing me in. It also feels like my therapist exists inside this neat, fortified box that completely protects her from the chaos that’s constantly surrounding me. 

I mean, I guess I don’t blame her, but it sucks. 

So I tell her all of this at the end of session today and her response was to tell me that she sees how incredibly hard I’m working around all of this very difficult stuff. 

Um, what?!

I said, “Is that really the last thing you’re going to say??”

Yes, it was. 

She said that this is an example of how I want reassurance from her, but she’s not going to give it and that upsets me. 

So I told her that the next time I see her, I really need her to explain to me why she won’t give me the reassurance I not only need, but specifically outlined and asked for. 

Then I left. 

And now I’m wondering if I should consider seeing another therapist to try and work out what the fuck is happening with this one, because I just don’t understand this approach she’s taking and it feels hurtful. 

I understand boundaries and parameters, but her blatant refusal to be a source of comfort to me is excruciating and confusing. 

I think if I even mentioned wanting to consult with someone else, she’d see that as manipulation, as if I’m pushing her to alter her boundaries as some ultimatum. 

Maybe I am. 

Recording Sessions

Per some suggestions, I asked my therapist if I could audio record sessions. I thought it might help me gain some much needed clarity to hear her actual words and tone when I’m not scared, angry, or dissociated. 

And let’s be honest, I want to be able to hear her voice, to hear our conversations, in the time between sessions that feels eternal and so painful. I want to be able to connect to her and to our work together. 
She said she’s been thinking about it a little, but still hasn’t made a final decision. She typically does not allow recording of sessions, per her own parameters, but she’s willing to think about it. 

Whatever. I’m sure she’ll say no. 

She probably doesn’t want to give anymore of herself to me than she already gives. And it likely feels gross to her to imagine me listening to our conversations after the fact. I can see and understand why she’d want to distance herself from me. 

But I want her to say yes. I really want this and I think it would be good for me. And I think it will be very very hard for me to be told no about this. 

I wish I had more control over this but I just don’t. It’s up to her. That sucks. 

The Beginnings of Repair

So I went to session today and it was…okay. We certainly didn’t completely repair this massive rupture, but we did take the very beginning steps back towards each other.

I spent a LOT of time trying to decide how I would even approach the session. In the end (and after reading ideas from you all, especially Clara and Pink*) I decided to abandon my need to control the situation. My fear instinct was to go in, walls up and guns-blazing, prepared for the worst. I debated even writing her a check for the full week of sessions, fearing she would terminate and I’d have to re-write a check for that single session only.

But I didn’t do that. I just let go.

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Thoughts?

Here’s what I’m thinking of saying at the beginning of session today:

“Last week was rough. And although I have about a million thoughts and feelings, which I definitely want to talk about at some point, what ultimately matters the most is that we fell into a dynamic and repeated a pattern that is not helpful to anyone and certainly does not feel good to me. So my main concern, despite how enraged, scared, and hurt I feel, is on addressing that pattern and figuring out how to get my needs met in a more effective way.”

Thoughts?

At A Loss

I’ve done so much writing and talking and thinking about this therapeutic rupture since last week. I’ve written ten pages in my hard copy journal, several blog posts, tweets, and personal conversations. I’ve talked my wife’s ear off about virtually every thought and feeling that’s come to my mind.

But I still feel at a complete loss about what to do come tomorrow afternoon when I see my therapist again.

Wife and I tried doing a little role play to practice for the opening of session, but I couldn’t get into it. I’m so paralyzed by the fear that my therapist is going to terminate me or somehow radically change the rules that it’s hard to envision any conversation until I know what’s happening in that aspect. Could be nothing, could be everything.

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No More Email

I had session yesterday. My therapist was not thrilled with my email. She told me she is now moving the boundary so that I am no longer allowed to email her at all, and if I email her again, she’ll block my email address.

I mean, whatever. I honestly felt a sense of relief when she said that; now it’s abundantly clear: my email privileges have been revoked. I can’t even email for a schedule change.

She thinks she was crystal clear on email boundaries. She’d told me she doesn’t engage via email around anything but logistics. To me, that meant she wouldn’t write back unless it was an administrative thing like scheduling or payment.

But I emailed her on Tuesday.

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Grieving

I feel like I’m drowning in grief. It took me a while to figure out that’s what I was feeling. I realized sometime last evening that my emotions are frighteningly similar to when Zooey terminated my treatment. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that’s because I am feeling a tremendous sense of loss.

No, my therapist hasn’t terminated. Yet. But I’m very concerned that she will end my therapy. If she doesn’t outright end it, she may pull any and all out of session contact, which would be very hard for me. And even if nothing else changes, she’s already taken email contact away.

And although I think things will ultimately be better with email off the table, there’s no denying that this is a loss. I do have to grieve the loss of that interaction. I have to grieve the fact that I will never, ever see her name pop up in my inbox again. And I have to deal with the fact that sudden rescheduling changes are now going to be much more complicated and difficult to navigate since we’ll be playing phone tag. Regardless of what happens next, our relationship will never be the same as it was two days ago.

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