When I got home last night, Wife asked me how session had gone. I told her it was fine, but “strange.” She asked me what was “strange” about it. I wasn’t really sure, but once I thought about it, I realized it there seemed to be a pretty big disconnect between the therapist and I throughout the hour. Having just come off a couple of intense and important sessions, the relative blandness of the session felt hollow to me.
But then I realized that I had intentionally disconnected from her. I think that the vulnerability of asking (and receiving) even more time in therapy raised alarm bells in the System. As we were discussing physical touch yesterday, I had a visible physical reaction to her language. When she asked me what was happening, I told her I was getting a lot of shame messages from the Inside. I couldn’t elaborate much beyond that, but she asked me to keep her posted as information came in.
I don’t think it’s entirely related to the change in sessions, but that’s certainly a big part. When I finished reading her my post about panicking over receiving a voicemail from her, she told me my reactions made perfect sense. And she said that if she had had to change or cancel my session, that absolutely would have been a big deal and it would have totally made sense for me to feel afraid or upset by that. I appreciated the validation, but it felt so empty to me for some reason.
I also offered her some feedback. I told her I wanted to reflect something to her and I explained that I often feel as though she tries to lighten the mood when I am in a particularly dark space. I said I wasn’t sure if that was real or just my perception, but it makes it hard for me to move forward in the conversation when I feel like she is trying to flee the emotions of it. Then, if I think she is sending a cue that something is wrong or undesirable (hence the need to flee), I respond to that by feeling unsafe and then I step away from the feelings instead of leaning into them, which just creates a shame spiral and I end up regretting ever bringing up the “darker” stuff in the first place.
She responded by saying that she has noticed something similar. In those moments she is often torn between comforting me or pushing me to dig deeper. She explained that because she often gets uncertainty from me, she errs on the side of caution and offers comfort instead of pushing me to a place I may not be ready (or able) to go yet. I replied that yes, I am often uncertain, which is why it’s important that she reassure me it’s okay to keep talking (or feeling).
She said, “I hear you, but in the same way that you are responding to my cues, I am responding to yours. I am watching and listening to you, looking for information on how to help you through the conversation. So if you are unsure of how to proceed, I get that cue from you and your uncertainty makes it hard for me to know how to meet your needs, since I’m not sure what those needs are.”
She makes a really good point, but I felt so frustrated. I understand everything she’s saying and I can see how we’re both sorta stuck in this cycle of uncertainty, but it still feels so awful. I know neither of us are doing this on purpose. The result, however, still sucks since we end up “missing” each other time and time again.
A lot of the session just felt hollow. I got through some very important items – I read her the blog post, I brought up the desire to be held in a moment of distress, and I offered her some important feedback about our interactions in session. This is all really good stuff that was necessary to talk about, but I wish I hadn’t felt such a strong need to deliberately disconnect from her. I hate walking away from session with that empty, lonely feeling.