Reverse Transference?

Seventh session today with the therapist. I felt pretty blah and uninvested going into it, but I still talked for the whole session. I brought up how disconnected and lethargic I’ve been feeling this past week and how that seemingly has led me to isolate a bit more than usual and avoid responsibilities I would normally take head on. She asked me what I thought that was about and I told her it was both a lack of energy and a lack of transference.

She laughed.

But then we seriously discussed it. She asked what I mean when I say that. I explained that when I originally sought therapy last February, it was mostly motivated by the desire to preserve the relationships in my life. Since I’d cut off my toxic family-of-origin nearly a year prior, I’d begun developing and re-building relationships with some wonderful, kind, supportive people. I didn’t want to fuck that up.

So about 8-10 weeks into therapy with Zooey, I really felt a shift in how I felt and thought about said relationships. A lot of which related to transference: I had built trust with Zooey and I was thus able to transfer many of the insecurities and shame and fear I have around relationships into the therapeutic alliance and then work on it within the therapy hour (we actually did very well with that part of treatment. It was when the heavy shit came to the surface that Zooey started to disintegrate).

Now that Zooey has abandoned me and I’m left trying to make sense out of the wreckage of that relationship, the transference I had with her is gone. She is no longer a vessel to hold all of that emotion. Furthermore, because I can’t won’t confront her about what she did and its honest effects on my treatment, I am projecting all that yucky emotion onto the other people in my life. Not in the same way, but by avoiding people and convincing myself everyone will hurt me or leave me, I am transferring my emotions about Zooey BACK ONTO the non-therapeutic relationships in my life.

What would that even be called? Reverse transference?

Regardless, this is essentially the exact opposite of what I want to be doing right now. I need my tribe. I love them. I adore them. They’re my people. But to be honest, Zooey broke my heart. She really did. And right now, the world feels like a scary and unpredictable place again. I am so terrified of all these emotions being unleashed again before I am able to finish processing them.

The therapist says that this is certainly something we can work on in session, but I struggle to believe I can do that. I go to each session with a virtual armor of steel around me. I don’t even want to want to connect with this women. I hope I eventually do, but right now – that is some next level terrifying. I just can’t even imagine truly opening up to a therapist again and working within a trusting alliance. The risk is too high to get hurt again.

I need to protect my heart right now.


11 thoughts on “Reverse Transference?

  1. Zoe says:

    I had a long talk with my psych ARNP today — it was our last appointment, after all. I told her that I dreaded losing them, that I hated the idea of someone new… and she told me something no one had ever told me before.

    “Fear of having to lose something or someone is human nature, it’s not your psychiatric condition. Yes, some conditions make the feelings of abandonment or betrayal or what have you feel huge, but your feelings are normal. Having to open up again, trust again, go through the same motions — it would be hard on anyone.”

    I don’t know if this can give you the courage it did me, but I definitely felt a little better about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cat says:

    Your fears sound very justified and if Zooey broke that trust, it is understandable you will be afraid of entering into another therapeutic relationship. You said that you managed to deal with insecurities with other people by working on the therapeutic alliance and this is probably the best way forward with the new Therapist, but I do appreciate your fear of being hurt again. It’s gonna be tough, but… I do hope you manage to find a way around this

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Parik says:

    Therapy can only do so much. Having been in one for 7 years made me realize that having the best psychologist to work with only goes that much far, particularly if he/she comes from the cognitive-behavioral school as much depends on the subject since the psychologist doesn’t provide ‘answers’.

    Seek a real mystic/guru, who will lead you to your answers and help you discover your calling. Once you find one, you will no longer have to get around therapy phrases such as ‘oops, time, she’s up’ and ‘well, what do you think’. Most importantly, you will never be abandoned or left heart-broken.

    May you find peace in your journey.


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