Why Won’t You Just Let Me Take Care Of You?!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much the therapist redirects our conversations back onto me. I (mostly) think it’s great because I am, in fact, the client here. I’m the one paying her the big bucks to help me. So it should be about me, right?

But what that also means is that she almost never allows me to spend very much (or any) time taking care of her and assessing what her needs are and how I can meet them. This is (I think) what makes me feel so wildly uncomfortable and out of control when I’m in session with her. I need to feel like I can take care of her.

Lest you think this is a selfless act, let me reassure you that it is 100% not. It is absolutely motivated by my own needs.

I grew up in an environment where it was expected that I would be able to determine what everyone around me wanted. Furthermore, I was expected to then MEET that need. Whether it was emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, financial, whatever – I was supposed to be exactly what people needed me to be. Especially my parents and siblings. And if I was wrong or couldn’t figure out how to make them happy? Not good.

So since this therapist really keeps our conversations about me and my needs, I think it makes me feel very unsafe because I fear I will miss something and I won’t be able to predict what she needs from me. Then, if I can’t do that, it means she will hurt me somehow.

I told her during our last session that I could never be what she wanted me to be – that I would most definitely fall short and disappoint her. She followed that up by asking me what, exactly, I felt she needed me to be. I just yelled out, “I don’t know! That’s the problem!!” 

And as dumb as it all sounds, it really is a problem. Not only because of the fear of what may happen if I don’t meet her needs but because I am entirely unaccustomed to having so much attention shifted onto my needs. I guess it feels frightening to me – as if she’s distracting me and lulling me into a false sense of security.

I suppose what I’m saying is that what helps me create a sense of safety is being able to attune to, predict, assess, and meet the needs of my therapist. This is what helps me feel like things will be okay. So the fact that she won’t let me do this is creating a lot of chaos and fear and otherwise pissing me off.

C’mon lady! Why won’t you just let me take care of you?!


28 thoughts on “Why Won’t You Just Let Me Take Care Of You?!

  1. Grainne says:

    To me, it sounds like you are trying to recreate the same situation you were in when you were young. Just because it’s familiar does not necessarily mean it’s a good place to put yourself. Now that you are becoming free of them and the past they left you with (everyone including Zooey, I mean) maybe you could try to develop a more relaxed, less analyzed relationships than the ones you’re accustomed to, with your new therapist?

    Just a thought. I’m guilty of seeking out the wrong thing too and five years of therapy helped me see it, but not entirely stop it. Lol … Ahh life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      No, you’re 100% right, Grainne. I know this is not necessarily healthy, which is why I am writing about it. I don’t want to need to feel like I have to take care of people in order to prevent them from hurting me. And when I bring this up with the therapist, my hope is that she will be able to help me process it and work towards a new pattern.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cat says:

    My Therapist reflects everything back at me too and sometimes it gets a little tedious, often powerful. You wrote the other day about asking the T “How are you?” I’m not sure if I said that I do the same because I feel so guilty and selfish that the session is “all about me.” I am convinced the T is sitting there thinking, “God almighty, he sure does drone on… I wish he would talk about something more interesting.”

    By having this conversation with the T, you have planted the seed of change. Keep on it and the outside world will change with it…. But, you know that already. Can I ask, by wanting to meet the needs of the Therapist, are you trying to create her dependence on you?… so she is more likely to stick by you?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      I definitely feel a similar sense of guilt and selfishness during session from time to time. I’m sure part of this is about wanting to be who she wants me to be so that she’ll “like” me and be invested in me. But now that you mention it, I think part of Zooey’s problem is that she was TOO invested in me, thus she couldn’t let go when she needed to (in order to properly serve my needs). Hmm, perhaps that’s something else I should mention in session? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. sensuousamberville says:

    Is this your fear of abandonment that is forcing you to shape yourself to something you feel would be more likable to her?

    She wants you to be you, redirecting questions back to you is how she will sense how you feel about things. How they affect you, When you ask a question, it is obviously something that is of concern, so by redirecting she is attempting to see why on a deeper basis. I know it is annoying, probing even. When you ask a question though, this is something that is forefront in your mind, it may have a bearing on how you are at that time. How the last session impacted you or your parts or how the progress may be doing that.

    Her needs? Her needs are to help you, not to shape you or to have you shape yourself, just be yourselves. That will be what makes her happy. The fastest way she will sort though issues is this way, not when you are trying to anticipate what she wants. Try to see the grey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Ha. The grey. Easier said than done. But thank you for your lovely (and very insightful) comment. I know you’re right, it’s just hard to stop a pattern that feels so engrained, you know?


      • sensuousamberville says:

        It is a part of who you are, you are caring. Don’t stop being so, but also remember you are there to help yourself, like eating at a nice restaurant and being waited on. Let her help you with out feeling guilt that it is all about you. The grey is hard, always try to peek for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. S.G says:

    I feel the same way, so I totally get this. For me, it felt like if I didn’t look after my therapist then she wouldn’t keep me around because I’d be useless to her. So if she needed me, I’d be less likely to be abandoned.
    I suppose you could say you are meeting her needs by turning up and by paying. That’s the only needs a therapist should have in the therapeutic alliance.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. borderlinefunctional says:

    I completely identify with what you’ve written here – the family history, spending my whole life as the need filler, being expected to fill the gaps in people’s lives to make sure they are satisfied. I often find it so hard to ever think about or focus on myself, especially in front of others.
    I also always start sessions asking how the psychiatrist or therapist is, like I’m waiting to see if they need to talk or need something from me so that I can tend to their needs before bothering them with my own. It’s so hard to try and modify this behaviour, I want to be liked not viewed as crazy by these people, yet I know I need to adopt the ‘patient’ role in order to get somewhere for myself!
    I’m glad that your new therapist is at least aware of and respectful of the right boundaries. It can create some confusing emotions I know, but in the long run I suppose it’s pretty important!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Drea says:

    Hi Andi,
    Thank you for your articulate description of your feelings. Your thoughts resonate with my experience in therapy. I have talked with my therapist about desires I feel to take care of her and ‘give more’ in the relationship. She has told me that my honesty and willingness to do the emotional work at the heart of transference in our therapeutic relationship is a gift to her, and she feels honored to be my therapist. I imagine your therapist also appreciates your presence and the insights you share. I imagine by not taking care of her, the opportunity to help you heal meets needs she has.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Hi Drea, thanks for commenting. I absolutely LOVE what your therapist said and I think that a good therapist would 100% consider honesty and willingness to be true gifts in the therapeutic relationship. And that’s a great way to look at it – that healing myself IS a way to meet her needs. Gives me much to think about. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Boost Connection says:

    This is so understandable and relatable. Those are excellent reflections on your dynamic in therapy. You have a tremendous amount of insight into your transference. I hope you can safely explore this with her in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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