Blame it on the Transference

Today’s session was just impossible. We could not connect or find each other to save our lives. We were probably the most frustrated and passive-aggressive as we’ve ever been. What’s interesting is that I can tell we were both fighting like hell to understand each other, but it would not happen.

I’m just gonna blame it on the transference.

I think it’s probably safe to say that the therapist and I are in the midst of some pretty awful transferential displacement. I’m not doing it on purpose and I’m actually not sure I shouldn’t be doing it (au contraire, I think much of the point of psychotherapy is the work you do amid transferential feelings) but wow, it does not feel good. At all.

She knows how smart I am. She knows that I fundamentally understand how horrific my parents are and how spectacularly inept the mental health system has been for me, time and time again. I know it, too. But that doesn’t stop me from needing to do this specific work around the possibility that I made up all of this abuse and that all of these assholes were right to staple the “Borderline” label to my forehead and call it a day.

Do I truly believe that? No. Not at all. I am ultimately unwavering in my belief that my parents abused the shit out of me and that I have both severe PTSD as well as DID. But not ALL of me believes that. So the Parts that were told time and time again that they were liars and had this “physical evidence” used against them are still battling with those demons, who also happen to be part of the same damn System.

I told the therapist that I shared my medical records with my wife, friends, DID support group (which was held over this past weekend), and here on my blog. I also shared some of the absolutely beautiful responses that I received, offering support, encouragement, and empathy. I told her of one particular response I was sent privately:

Hey Andi! I read through your post about your psych evals. I wanted to offer some comfort. I was put into the psych hospital twice, after two suicide attempts, and received the same treatment. They would identify that I had signs of PTSD, talk to my parents, and everything would change. I would be called a liar and at some point in time they told me I was embellishing stories for attention. Also, I know this is embarrassing but I wanted to address the part about the hymen. I have spoken extensively to my GP and she tells me that doctors cannot usually tell if sexual abuse has occurred, or even if intercourse has occurred, with an examination. The hymen is just a membrane that stretches and can tear, but it actually can grow back/reform together. There is a wonderful article from a midwife who talks about how she has delivered multiple children for multiple women who all still had an intact hymen. Mind you, this woman is pregnant and obviously has had sex. So take that piece of info with a grain of salt.

She responded enthusiastically, saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s great! That is SO great! And so helpful! Because I had that same thought – like, why did they put so much emphasis on your pelvic exam? So strange!” She also reflected how horrible it is that someone else went through this and we spent a moment discussing how blatantly ignorant and irresponsible mental health practitioners can be.

I then told her that the validation and support is everything anyone could want after sharing such a thing. But that it also feels terrible. She countered by saying something additionally validating that just sent me spinning. I started to get more frustrated. She tried to light-heartedly joke with me and I kept it deadpan as I responded that I still think it’s possible that I am a total liar.

She said, “But we just discussed how your parents got over-involved and corroborated with ineffective hospital staff to create this entire trope about you as a liar. And, also, why would you have lied about this?”

“I don’t know, okay! I don’t know…but I hate that everyone just keeps saying that. It’s great that everyone believes me, but maybe they shouldn’t.”

“Is that why the responses are hard on you? Do you need someone to sorta be with you and entertain the idea that you’re a liar?”

“Yes, actually! I really do. And you keep looking at me like I’m frustrating you, which I probably am, but I think this is really important. I know, rationally, that those charts are shit. But it is still about an actual person: me. And Parts of me haven’t resolved this yet. I know how the body works. I know what my parents did. But I am not the Part that was forced to get a pelvic exam and then forced to sit in a room with her abusers as the hospital staff shared that they found no evidence of sexual assault.”

“I know. I think about that and I wonder how your parents must have reacted…”

“Elated would probably be a good word for it, I’d imagine.”

“Alright, well I will be that person, then. Let’s talk about the possibility that you lied about all of this…”

And we did. She asked me a lot of questions about how and why someone might lie about this. She asked me to essentially explain my DID, sans abuse. I told her that someone once told me that “Multiple personalities come form severe and chronic trauma…or from the work of a very clever Borderline.”

“And who said that to you?”

“A former therapist.”

She rolled her eyes as she said, “Yeah, I had a feeling…”

Then she explained that even a “very clever Borderline” would likely have become that way out of severe trauma and that such a statement is wildly ignorant to the mechanisms behind the coping skills developed in BPD.

I knew she was right and that she was saying all of the right things, but I just couldn’t figure out how to feel okay with us or with the conversation. I felt afraid of her, afraid that she was annoyed or regretting this entire relationship. I expressed to her that she seemed frustrated and asked that she please be patient with me even though I’m throwing up double binds and engaging and power struggles and otherwise being difficult.

She said, “Where are those words and phrases even coming from?”

“A thousand people!”

She just looked at me. I said, “Okay, maybe like ten. But…enough people have said those things to me to let me know when I’m being difficult. And I really don’t want you to get mad at me.”

“I’m not mad at you. But you’re also telling me that you need to be frustrating while asking me not to get frustrated. Do you think that’s fair?”

I don’t even remember how I responded. I’m sure the rest of the session was some variation on this bickering because I just could not pull it together to communicate in any effective manner at all.

Which sucks, but as I said before, I think this is really important. And as much as she doesn’t like it, I really do need her to walk me through what my life would mean if my parents and all of these staff members were right about me. I think I need to do some weird corrective transferential re-enactment that starts with me being labeled the liar once again and then allows someone else to bear witness to these Parts’ pain and suffering despite being difficult and frustrating. I know it’s weird, but it just feels like something I have to do.

Because I don’t think I will be able to let go of being called a liar until I do this work.


30 thoughts on “Blame it on the Transference

  1. Sirena says:

    I wonder if it’s easier on some level to believe you are a liar. It would be easier because then you wouldn’t have to acknowlege any abuse, it would be easier to fix a liar than severe abuse, it would be easier if you were the bad one in this whole thing because that’s something you can do something about, something you have control over. It’s easier if you’re the liar because then you can have the parents you deserve rather than the ones you got; the ones who failed you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mikki says:

    Wow ………………… you’ve descibed almost exactly some seesions I’ve had with my therapist about me being a liar & making it all up. I too went through the mental health system with the “professionals” telling my (abusing) mother that it was all just lies because I couldn’t cope with life.
    Fortunately my therapist managed to stick with me through many such sessions & we have eventually managed (akmost totally) to get back to accepting the reality of all those years os sadistic ritual abuse.
    I suppose what I’m saying is ………… it is possible to work through this phase of therapy & manage to move on to whatever the next, maybe difficult, phase.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. luverley says:

    Sirena made me fully burst into tears because these are the things i have to play out to because i feel like a liar but what sirena said is right that it is easier to think and feel its all a lie rather than facing the truth. Ugh sorry if i don’t make sense. Hugs to you andi. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. luverley says:

    Just thinking about transferance…. today in lecture she got to projection and i had to stop my selves laughing as i was thinking about how i project onto my t. Apparently it’s Normal. Thnk gd. X

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cat's Meow says:

    What just struck me is how traumatic it would have been to be forced to sit in the same room with your abusers while everyone with power gangs up on you and calls you a liar, while supposedly trying to “help” you. Perhaps, in the face of all of that, the only way to feel sane was for some parts to go along with them, while others kept ahold of your reality?

    My therapist and I have concluded that all of me doesn’t have to believe that it happened in order to heal. In fact, I’ve come to think that some of me will never really believe. What’s important with those parts is that I understand and accept why they can’t believe and have compassion for them.

    I think that you might be saying that this is what you need from your therapist right now. Maybe so you can start to move towards that yourself? Fighting with yourself over whether it happened or not is destabilizing and exhausting, but working through it all is an important part of the process.

    I hope that the two of you are better able to come together in your next session so you can feel the support that she obviously wants to provide.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes, I definitely think that some Parts just HAD to sorta go with it because the world around them was in such vehement denial, it must have been horrible to exist in that mind-warp. I like the idea of not all of me needing to believe all of everything. I think that’s actually a great idea and I am going to think about that a lot more. Because, no, I absolutely do not want to spend anymore time fighting with myself. Thanks xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel says:

    Ugh, I am so sorry you’re in the midst of transference. It sounds so frustrating. I also noted to myself as I was reading that you feel frustrated, but it sounds sound like the therapist is. I know it feels that you are both caught in something, but it sounds like she is right there with you, trying to make sense of all of these confusing and conflicting feelings you are having. I don’t think she is having that same locked-in experience; I think she is trying to be there with you and help contain your experience of being frustrated. I’m guessing part of why it feels frustrating to you is that you know what you need (to go through this experience of feeling like and being depicted as a liar) but are having a hard time validating for yourself that it is okay to do that. Or that she isn’t going to judge you. I could be totally off here, but I really understand that feeling of fighting yourself, and the person closest to you. Hang in there, I think you’re doing really hard work and I’m proud of you for sticking with it. None of this is easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I think you are probably right about this. Sometimes when I think she’s frustrated, I think she’s just trying to figure out where I am and what’s going on (which can often be a rather challenging task). She always sorta says, even when things get really uncomfortable or tense between us, that we’re exactly where we need to be *sigh*. Definitely not easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Tina says:

    One of the characteristics of children raised in dysfunctional families is difficulty trusting our perceptions. Am I remembering that painful event correctly. It’s worse when we are minimized or dismissed. When I journal (this blog), I often say … “If I heard him correctly”. I’m afraid my memory may be inconsistent with how others remember it:( Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  8. J says:

    I hate when those sessions happen. For me the lack of connection can be as hard as if not harder then the subject content.

    I was struck by what cat’s meow wrote – “My therapist and I have concluded that all of me doesn’t have to believe that it happened in order to heal. In fact, I’ve come to think that some of me will never really believe. What’s important with those parts is that I understand and accept why they can’t believe and have compassion for them. ”

    I think that might be true, albeit sort of impossible sounding.

    Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes. Exactly. The lack of connections is unbearable. And, yeah, I totally agree with Cat’s Meow and I really want to work towards that, to the best that it is even possible. Thanks xx


  9. Anxious Mom says:

    After being told that certain things either didn’t happen or weren’t as bad as you remember, it’s almost impossible not to question things. Even now, I have those extreme moments of self doubt, even though I should know better. So frustrating. I hope you’re able to keep working on it and get to a better place. ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Absolutely. Even in the face of evidence or corroboration, I still question the truth because that’s all I’ve ever known. I’m sorry that you experience similar moments of self-doubt because they can be truly awful. Thanks for the support xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. mm172001 says:

    My memory is shot because of ECT and trauma. While I know a sexual assault happened, when I bled a lot during a sexual experience after (probably about 5 years after). I thought maybe I made it all up. I haven’t specifically been called a liar but people think I exaggerate for attention. I struggled hard with this and my case manager said something similar about the hymen repairing itself or whatever. I still had my doubts, even with flashbacks. Now I’m looking into the possibility of child abuse and it’s so much harder. Part wants it to be true, part wants it not to be. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even work on it, because either truth will destroy me. I think it’s important to work through the what if I lied and have a competent mental health professional (like your therapist) work through it. Sometimes if it comes from a person I trust or find qualified it can convince me.


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