She Is Not Zooey

When the therapist called to check in on Friday night, I was a total mess. Not only because of all the internal chaos, switching, and overwhelming emotions that had brought me into (mild) crisis, but also due to the triggering nature of being in such a situation, needing a therapist to call me. Again.

I felt this so intensely that it was hard to even talk to her. She kept asking me what I was feeling, what I was thinking, what was going on with me? I gave these deliberately vague answers. Eventually, she said “I really want you to be honest with me.”

“I want that, too. I want to be really authentic and open about what is going on. But I also want to say what you want me to say. So I’m trying to figure out how to share honestly, but at the same time – I also want to answer you in the way I think you want me to answer. But, also, it feels really important that I tell you the truth…”

“Yes, I want you to feel like you can tell me what’s really going on with you. I think we’ll be able to figure this out together if I have a better sense of what is going on right now.”

After that I was able to talk a little more openly, but that same feeling kept creeping back in. Especially when she would say something particularly validating or to indicate that she was committed to working with me. You’d think that’s exactly what I would want to hear (and I do) but it is SO TRIGGERING because I immediately snap back to similar moments of being on the phone with Zooey. She said almost identical things to me in moments of distress.

Eventually I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be like this. I hate being like this. And I know it’s frustrating and makes people feel really helpless – I feel really helpless! But obviously my fear of what this moment feels like and being alone in it is greater than my fear of losing you.”

(I literally cannot believe I actually said that. OMG.)

What do you mean by ‘like this’? How do you imagine you are being right now? Because I’m not perceiving you in any specific way. I just see you as someone who’s working very hard to figure this out, but is also in a really difficult place right now.”

“Like this! Annoying. Whiny. Challenging. Willful. In this place where nothing will help me.”

“I don’t think that. I think you’re in crisis and I’m here to help you.”

“Oh Jesus Christ!”

“Okay…What was that reaction about?”

“Nothing. I just…”crisis”?!”

“Do you not think this is a crisis moment right now?”

“No, I do. It’s not that. I…Zooey used to say that a lot. She used “crisis” against us. She said she was there to help but then she wasn’t. She left. This is what happens – people just can’t tolerate being in this space with me.”

“Does it seem to you that I don’t want to be in this space with you right now?”

“No, actually, now that you mention it – it doesn’t seem that way at all…”

“So maybe there are some scripts playing? Maybe you’re remembering other times you felt like this and Zooey is coming to your mind, which is scaring you and bringing up a lot of other emotions. And I know that Zooey was with you through some crises and she said she wanted to help you, which is similar to where we are right now…”

“Yes. Exactly.”

But (as far as similarities) that’s about it.”

I don’t know for sure that this woman will hang with me long term, but I really like how far she distanced herself from Zooey in this conversation. She was not going to allow me to parallel them any further than I already was. She obviously doesn’t see herself as comparable to Zooey and although neither of us know what will happen in the future, I think this moment brought me a little bit closer to believing that she is really in this with me.

I need to keep remembering that she is not Zooey. And I need her to keep reminding me, too. Which seems like something she is more than happy to do.


13 thoughts on “She Is Not Zooey

  1. Rachel says:

    She is unequivocally NOT Zooey. This therapist has been consistently showing up with you for how long now? 6+ months? And it isn’t getting easier (which is right where it should be for the work you two are doing) and she hasn’t wavered. I am so pleased to read this post and how she supports you. I actually have tears in my eyes. You DESERVE what she gives you, and you deserved it in infancy. You should have received the support and care then, but I’m so glad you are getting it now. I told the new therapist yesterday, after she asked me ‘why do you still believe in therapy?’ ‘well I believe that people really do care. And just because I was screwed over in childhood doesn’t mean adulthood has to be entirely lost too.’ That is how I feel about you right now – you are giving yourself a chance through trusting her even though you’re scared. Bravo Andi. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes, just over 6 months (nicely done!). Now I’ve got the tears from reading your response. Guh! All the feels. Being told I deserve something GOOD is always hard to process. But I think it’s a necessary part of healing. So thank you for that. I think we both still believe in therapy because we believe in an inherent goodness that people can possess AND we believe (somehow, somewhere) in our own inherent strength and ability to forge ahead and past all of this. Thank you so very much ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rachel says:

        Well, once upon a time I was pretty good at math! Lol. I hear you, it is hard for me to hear that I am worth anything good in life or deserving of it, but I do appreciate hearing it on some level. I think the words sink into the subconscious, and do help with the healing process, little by little. You are very welcome. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        Haha that was less about your math skills and more that I thought it was cool you were paying attention enough to know how long it has been. It makes me feel special ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amb says:

    Your therapist seems like she’s really in it for the long run. Her concern seems really genuine. I’m glad that you’ve found that and I’m sorry you’re struggling so much right now. Sending you kind thoughts and gentle hugs, if okay?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I would agree – everything she is doing indicates she’s in this and committed for however long it may take. I just need to work on internalizing that so I can believe it and carry it with me. Thanks for the hugs ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amb says:

        I can understand how hard it is to form that trust. I think that it’s hard for most of us to find that after we’ve been traumatized. Be gentle with yourself. You’re making steps in the right direction every day 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Anxious Mom says:

    I’m sorry things have been more difficult, but glad to see how well this therapist is handling things, especially in reassuring you that she is nothing like Zooey. You deserve the best and it sounds like you’ve got one with this therapist. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      When all is said and done she really is nothing like Zooey. Just the sentiment and phrasing can be similar because they practice the same type of therapy. But the underlying presence this therapist has is much more solid, secure, and safe than Zooey EVER was. Hoping we can push through this rough phase and perhaps be better off for it?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jen says:

    It took years until my therapist stopped actively reminding me she wasn’t the previous therapist. We used to refer to her as the “anti—(insert old shrinks name here). I loved that she felt complimented by that! Now we’re down to maybe once or twice a year. It’ll come. It’ll be more trustworthy, valid, real, certain. Hang in there. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you for sharing that, Jen. It is most useful to hear stories from people who have truly *been there* and understand firsthand just how challenging it can be to recover from a traumatic therapeutic experience. And thank you for the reinforcement that I will eventually get to a place where I can believe in the trust. ❤


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