Clarification

After reading Zooey’s email response, it seemed like she was trying to set a boundary, but was simultaneously refusing to be explicitly clear with me about it. I felt like her email was a cop-out and that she was STILL not taking responsibility for her own actions and decisions. I also knew that if I didn’t ask for clarification, I’d agonize over what, exactly, she meant.

So, true to form, I wrote her back and simply asked for clarification:

Thank you for responding, Zooey.

This may be redundant for you, but I do want to be perfectly clear on this: are you telling me to not ever communicate with you again in any way?

I understand the restrictions on personal relationships post-termination. In person and in a previous email, you said that you welcomed updates about my life. It would seem you are perhaps backtracking on that, so now I am admittedly confused.
I think it would be best if we were both explicitly clear on the boundary you are setting. Otherwise, it will probably drive me crazy to try and guess what is or is not okay.
Thank you,
Andi
This was her response, which made me both laugh very loudly and cry a bit:

Andi,
In the past, when I said I would welcome hearing from you, I had in mind an occasional email or perhaps a holiday card. You said that you did not intend to contact me regularly, yet you have been contacting me regularly. I am not comfortable with this. (Leaving me a voicemail in which you ask that I call you back so you can hear my voice is absolutely inappropriate given that I am no longer your therapist.)
Given the above, yes, I am asking that you no longer contact me.
I think there are a couple of very interesting things about her response:
  1. She never ever stated any specific parameters to contacting her after termination.
  2. I did say I did not intend to contact her regularly (which was true). And I didn’t. I emailed her once (which, btw, she responded to) and left one voicemail. I don’t believe that qualifies as “regularly”.
  3. The way that she uses my exact spoken words: “so you can hear my voice” was most definitely meant to be used as a weapon to shame me and point out how wildly inappropriate I was. No I wasn’t. And I don’t accept your shame, Zooey.
  4. SHE is the therapist. How the fuck was I supposed to know I shouldn’t call her again? How was I supposed to know that would be inappropriate? Especially since, you know, she never TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT.
  5. She then turns ALL of the shame and error and responsibility onto me and ends her email by essentially saying that since I did not respect her boundary (which she did not actually set) she has now changed her mind (about a decision she never made clear to me) and because of my inappropriate behavior (which I had no way of knowing was wrong) she no longer wants me to contact her.
  6. I HAD TO ASK HER TO CLARIFY THIS AT ALL.

She had endless opportunities to have a dialogue with me about this. I presented her with so many opportunities in both the session in which she announced she was terminating therapy and the actual termination session (reminder: I had to ASK for that because she was too much of a hot mess to figure out how to properly end therapy with someone). I also ended my previous email to her with an entire paragraph outlining my thought process around sending the email. The last line was:

It’s important to me to be appropriate and respectful of both of our space and feelings, so please feel free, at any time, to clarify what you’re comfortable with.”

Which, to me, seems like an absolutely PERFECT time to be really fucking clear about what you are or are not comfortable with. Yet still – nothing!! She responded to that email and just said how happy she was that I had a new treatment team and that she appreciated how much thought I put into contacting her. What the actual fuck? HOW was I supposed to know that that actually meant “Please don’t contact me again for an arbitrary and unknown number of days that is certainly less than one million, but definitely more than 31. Also, do not say that you want to ‘hear my voice’.”

Which, just to reiterate: I am NOT ACCEPTING HER SHAME ABOUT THAT. I do not regret making the call or anything I said in my voicemail. It was clear, authentic, courageous, and communicated a need. I have had many, many people shame me for asserting needs that revolved around wanting to feel connected or attached to them and there is no way in hell I am letting Zooey do that to me. So…thanks but no thanks. You can keep that shame.

So now I have the absolute clarity that I wanted and needed from her. I desperately needed her to set a clear and unwavering boundary for me. I felt so adrift and confused without it – one foot tentatively placed in a therapeutic relationship with a new therapist, but the other firmly planted in my dynamic with Zooey. She finally set the line I’ve been needing, but I’m also left here sorta wondering:

Why the hell did I have to literally drag it out of her?! WHO WAS THE THERAPIST, HERE?!

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22 thoughts on “Clarification

  1. Zoe says:

    I almost feel like you were her therapist! I’ve been following you for some time now and looking back at the posts about your experience with her, it’s obvious that you made all these efforts to make HER feel comfortable and at ease, when that was her job toward you. This is her job. To listen to you, to treat you, to tackle your problems with you and make this easy for you so that you can recover. You paid her for these services; this was her damn job. She owed you the professionalism. And if she could not handle it (which is evident) then she should have been explicitly clear. Come on! She got to know you. She couldn’t have been oblivious to the fact that you’d be bothered by all this, that your feelings and trust meant the world to you to give. That she didn’t make an effort to care for you even in that last stretch…

    It just angers me so much, Andi. Seriously. WTF. Please, please, please don’t feel shamed into guilt or any of this bullshit. You — all of you — is wonderful. From your very words I can sense how deeply considerate and caring you are. None of this is you. What we’re seeing here is a woman who couldn’t handle her job and whose ego doesn’t allow her to admit it, even at the cost of her former patient’s well being. What we’re seeing here is the typical “let’s blame it all on the one with the problems” rather than being responsible for her the repercussions of her (poor) actions. You know what? She didn’t deserve a patient like you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Andi says:

      RIght?! Thank you! This was such a ridiculous relationship. And you are absolutely correct – she most certainly would have known exactly how this would impact me. And the fact that she couldn’t make it about me, even in the final moments, tells me everything I need to know about her. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I share the final email I just sent her. So glad this is finally OVER…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Boost Connection says:

    Point for point, your analysis of her response is spot on. Your email was perfectly cordial in its request for specificity, which she has consistently and repeatedly evaded. I would add that the language she uses shows a clear focus on HER needs- “I said I would,” “I had in mind,” “I am not comfortable,” “I am no longer,” “I am asking.” The whole fucking point of therapy is that it is NOT about what the therapist needs, it is about the client.

    Here is a possible response that would have been appropriate-ish:

    “Hi Andi,

    Your request for clarity shows me I am not being as clear as I thought. I apologize for that.

    I completely understand your confusion over the difference between what I have said before and what I am saying now. I originally thought I would be able to receive updates from you, but after careful consideration and supervision, it is my sincere belief that it would cause additional harm to you even if it doesn’t seem like it would. My personal and professional interest in your current and future well-being cannot eclipse your needs, now or in the future

    I understand that this may be a difficult transition for you, but yes, I do believe we should cease all communications so that you can bond therapeutically with your new therapist and treatment team. I know how hard you work in therapy. I feel that the transference of our previous therapeutic alliance is a barrier to that process, and it is incredibly important that you have the opportunity to fully engage in your current treatment.

    So this will be my final communication. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and I truly wish you all the best in your healing journey.

    Goodbye,
    Zooey”

    WAS THAT SO FUCKING HARD?!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. kat says:

    you are spot on! none of it was YOUR responsibility. It was all HER stuff. She should have made clear all these things on the final appointment, so that the termination was actually terminated right then. just chalk her and this experience as a learning one. you learned to communicate more clearly and with less fear. you learned what you didn’t want in a therapist and what you did. and you have been able to move forward. so, other than it being more painful than necessary, you learned a lot from it and moved on. YaY you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Anxious Mom says:

    This pisses me off. I’m glad you aren’t accepting her shame.

    I agree, it is time to consider a complaint. The way she went from “I want to hear from you” to “Don’t contact me” makes me wonder if it finally dawned on her that she did COMPLETELY the wrong thing with you and is scared because she knows you do have the power of a complaint. Maybe that rude response of hers was her way of trying to reduce you in some way so you wouldn’t act on that power.

    She needs to learn a lesson in respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Katy Sauer says:

    I’m so glad you are able to really think through all of this because I know I’d be completely lost. I’m also glad you are reconsidering that complaint. I can’t help but wonder how many clients she’s set back months if not longer ( years maybe? ) due to her own issues. I’m just floored by her response… and I do admit I would not be taking it anywhere near as well as you are.
    Honestly, therapists like this, they make it that much harder for the rest of them to be able to help at all. I am extremely angry for you – there are no words. Just.. ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you, Katy, that means a lot to me. And lately I’ve been sorta wondering the same thing. I think at first I thought it was just me, but now I don’t think this was my fault. And I think Zooey’s behavior could potentially be very dangerous for someone who had less of a support system in place. “Ugh” is right! She makes the whole profession look bad.

      Like

  6. Cat says:

    I read your last three posts and thought I’d comment on this one. WTF What a nerve Zooey has. I think her emails are cold and cruel, not to mention inconsiderate and unprofessional.
    How were you supposed to know she only wanted holiday postcards or an odd email, unless you’re actually a world famous mind reader, stupid woman…lol…not you, Zooey.

    It was outrageous how she ended your therapy, but then, she’s not really a professional therapist and she only relies on those ethics when it suits. I know it hurts like hell and your head is probably roasting by now, but in my personal opinion, I reckon you’re better off without her. This would never provide the stable and honest environment your therapeutic journey needs,

    These sort of “therapeutic experiences” throw up all sorts of shit from the past and, in many ways, it forces us to confront them. I have every confidence you will turn this around and allow it work for your progress…. We’re all rooting for you 

    Like

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