I recently read a wonderful post from S.G. over at Girl In Therapy, in which she says this about therapy:
…also I think my reticence comes from liking the lightness of topics in therapy, I like going out that office, ready to leave, grounded in the present, and okay to take on the week ahead instead of anxiously counting down the days until I see my therapist again. Talking about the trauma stuff bonds me to my therapist, it creates an attachment and a need and a gratefulness and an excitement to see my therapist as soon as I can. I don’t want to experience that again.
When I read this, I thought perhaps someone else had climbed into my brain and handpicked the words to put on my computer screen. I can relate so much to her words. The experience of existing when therapy suddenly feels so important and urgent is agonizing. Attachment and bonding are supposed to be healthy experiences that heal us, but for me it is always riddled with pain and fear and doubt. As much as I yearn to get better and continue shedding the remnants of my trauma, it feels very much like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It seems much easier to keep the conversation light and airy so that I can just walk out of the room at the end of session feeling whole and together and safe.
In her next post, S.G. writes:
Attachment work is hard-core. Labour-intensive and NOT for the faint-hearted. Problems that stem from attachment trauma are complex and pervasive. It’s a big messy mess which requires a therapist to give an awful lot of themselves without burning out. It requires the therapist to get into the mess with the client whilst at all times having one arm anchored to the shore. The therapist must get on the rollercoaster and weather the ups and downs, to re-orientate themselves after the big loops. It requires the therapist to enter the maze and not panic at being a bit lost, to master the dead ends, to find the centre and remember their way back out.
She is absolutely right. To do this work, you really need to have that attachment. You need to bond. The therapist needs to get in there with you, be authentic, but also stay strong and healthy enough to keep themselves afloat. Together, you need to build trust and create a reparative experience that can teach you that not everyone is scary and harmful.
Except, I’m not sure if that’s even true. Aren’t all people (mostly) scary and harmful?? And is it really worth doing the work in therapy if the process itself is often times excruciating?
I don’t know. I want so much to do right by myself and by this system. River’s plea to us all was nothing short of heartbreaking. But I don’t always know what “doing right” means. It seems like I’m doing all the right things by using willingness and honesty and hard work to propel myself forward in this journey, but am I really just setting us up to fail and be hurt yet again?! Is my burgeoning trust in this therapist really just an act of utter recklessness??
Yet…this last trip “home” and the experience of seeing both Mom and my first therapist and bonding with these kind and loving nieces/nephew that adore me made me start thinking:
What if it didn’t matter if I could trust this therapist or not? What if I could stop worrying whether or not I’ll end up being a patient that’s “out of her depth” and thus she’ll end up getting in too deep and suddenly abandoning me? What if I just took each session and made the most of it? What if I just assumed that for those 55 minutes, she was not going to hurt me and I would not overwhelm her? And what if we could somehow create a space that doesn’t feel like I walk out of each session ungrounded and grasping to tuck in the loose ends or whatever strand I’ve just unraveled?
Who could I be? Who could WE be? What kind of life could we have?
I just wonder…what could I accomplish if I could find a way to let go of needing this process to be absolutely perfect?
I don’t know. But I sure would like to find out.