I did not share my last post with my therapist in today’s session.
Well, that’s not totally true. I told her about it…in the last three minutes of session. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to talk about it at all, but I figured I should be prepared just in case. I actually took the post itself and turned it into a letter directly to her and added this at the beginning:
This is a letter based off a post I published to my blog. I thought about just reading the post, but I want to address you directly, rather than through writing about you (anonymously) to strangers. I think I’ve done a lot of communicating to you about you and about us in this strange third person way that somehow feels safer to me. But this is important and it is about us and about this process, so I’m going to try to be more present with this particular moment.
I actually used to write letters like this to Zooey all the time. Practically every day, I think. The Word document I have of them all together is 58 pages long, single-spaced in 12 point font. I only shared a handful of the letters with her. The point wasn’t really to share them as much as to work through my emotions and also to somehow feel connected to her.
This is the first letter I’ve written to you, either with or without the intention to share it. I think most of that is because I have a blog that is literally about my therapeutic process, so I’m able to work out a lot of the emotion through that medium. But, also, it’s about distance. Keeping distance. Creating distance. Not getting invested.
[blog post changed to address her directly]
I had the intention of (probably) reading the letter to her. I know it’s important stuff. But then we got talking about psychiatrists and parents and nightmares. All of which felt really important as well. It was actually a great session. We connected. She picked up on so much of what I was trying to convey. It was intense, but in a very safe and contained way. It was one of those sessions where you just find your flow together.
And then, suddenly, once I realized time was almost up – I wished I’d shared the damn letter. I had just talked about some really big, very traumatic stuff and she handled it like the true professional she is.
Therapists have this way of “steeling” themselves in preparation to hear something particularly awful. She doesn’t do that. She paused in just the right place to give me the space to share a memory in all it’s horrible, graphic detail if I wanted to. And in that moment – I did. So I shared. And she stayed totally focused on me and what I was doing/saying/feeling. I felt her presence through the entire conversation. She asked questions to get a better sense of the time frame and to get my feedback on certain things, but it never felt intrusive or like part of a larger plan to push the memory itself away from our space.
That is a big fucking deal.
So then I got to thinking…maybe if I did share all my “ideals” about treatment – she could handle it? Maybe she could even rise up and meet some of those needs?
I said, “Actually…I wrote you a letter”.
She asked about it a bit and I said that I was bringing it up at the tail end of session because our conversation helped me realize that I should have shared it with her (although, maybe that was part of the necessary process for me to feel ready to share it. Which is honestly probably what she would say, haha). I explained a little bit of what I wrote, knowing I couldn’t read it with two minutes left.
“It was actually a blog post. And I talk about this in the letter itself, but I adapted the post and wrote it to you because I want to try to start addressing you directly when I talk about this (making a circle gesture indicated the therapeutic space) instead of in the strange abstract way I tend to do so in order to distance myself from it.”
“That seems really important.”
“I guess. I mean, it’s just about this whole thing with time and “space” and what we COULD do with that space and my expectations about it.”
“It sounds like you wrote about your hopes.”
“Well that is definitely important. And I can understand why you were hesitant to share that with me. Would we be able to talk about this more next session?”
“No. Unfortunately it will vanish from existence over the weekend..”
“Well that’s too bad. I’d really like to hear that letter.”
“Hmm…Next time then?”
“Next time. And you must have known I’d ask you to bring it back into session…?”
“Oh yes. You’re quite predictable. Why do you think I brought it up even though session was nearly over?”