The Eternal Time Between Sessions

Even though I see the therapist three times a week, the time between sessions still feels eternal. Although sessions have been super challenging lately, I appreciate the way she responds to me. She never seems overwhelmed or intimidated by my story and she works so hard to hold and contain the awfulness of it all. And when she can’t do that, she tells me that and asks how she might be able to do it better (meaning I’m probably not letting her in enough to share in some of what needs to be contained).

I honestly vacillate between wanting to pull her closer to me (emotionally) and push her away as hard as I can. Sometimes, as session is closing and I’m walking out, I think, “Omg, I’m never ever coming back here. This sucks. I hate this and I hate her.” Until I get enough distance from the intensity of the emotion and then not only do I decide I should definitely stay in therapy, but then it becomes this very long, very painful process of waiting until the next session.

Then, of course, the session is only 60 minutes. Which, I know, is plenty, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem long enough. It has been so rare for me to be in the presence of someone who really listens to me and is working every second to attune to me and figure out what my needs are. She can’t always do that, of course, but I know she’s always trying and when she does meet my needs, it’s great. It feels like I am finally important and worth being taken care of and seen. Which is ultimately the same reason that I decide to terminate therapy at the end of every session. I can’t bear the thought of being seen. And the reality of it all makes it frightening to realize I can lose all of this in an instant. It’s all so damn confusing.

I have been so spacey and dissociative lately that I don’t really even feel present in sessions. Plus Julia went to the last session, so I missed out on that entirely. Which sucks. And now I feel super awkward about going to tomorrow’s session because it’s so weird to see her after I’ve lost time (especially if some of that time was when I should have been with her).

It’s just so hard, all of this. I want to get better and heal so much. I think I’ve found a really wonderful therapist who will (probably) be able to do this for the long haul. The work has been important and meaningful. But it’s all just so painful, especially the eternal time between sessions, when I wonder when she will realize she absolutely does NOT want to do this anymore and walks away.

I just wish I knew a way to hold onto her and that feeling of being take care of in the time in-between sessions when I am so scared and it’s hard to remember that she exists and will still be there when I walk into her office for the next session (which, let’s face it, is never more than 71 hours away).

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34 thoughts on “The Eternal Time Between Sessions

  1. Amb says:

    I struggle with this every single week. It truly does feel like an eternity. I wish that I had good advice for staying connected to the closeness between sessions but I haven’t figured it out. It’s harder to make it through the time between sessions than the sessions themselves, in my opinion. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sirena says:

    Can you tell her that you find it difficult to hold onto her presence outside of sessions? She probably knows this, but maybe you two could come up with something that will help. Do you record your sessions, that might help.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cat's Meow says:

    I can give you some ideas, which were things that helped me. 1) transitional objects. My therapist gave me a heart that is kind of like a huge glass bead. But it’s hard enough that it doesn’t break if dropped. I went around with that heart in my pocket or clutched in my hand for months. I still bring it out when things get bad. 2) I would do a super short email or text saying, “just reaching out my hand for a virtual hand clasp”. She would respond with something like, “I’m still here. Here’s my hand for you to hold.” 3) We did some imagery of the two of us sitting on either side of whichever child part was in crisis, both of us working together to help the traumatized me. 4) over time, I built an internalized her. There are times when a child part needs to have an interaction right then, not in a couple of days. I can pretty much predict how she will react to those types of interactions, since they are all fairly simple, comfort seeking needs of the part. I’m sure that there are more, but I’m too tired to think of them right now. I hope that one of these might spark an idea that could work for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Those all sounds really nice, actually. I always use therapists’ business cards as makeshift transitional objects, but it would admittedly be nice to have something specifically intended for this purpose. She doesn’t text or email with clients, which is fine. I can always call and ask her to call me back though, which I do every week or so. I like the idea of somehow internalizing her because that seems the most long-term. Thanks for the suggestions!

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      • Cat's Meow says:

        You’re welcome! Another one that could work well… See if she is willing to leave a voice mail with some connecting content in it. Then you can pull that up to listen to whenever you need it, without needing to disturb her.

        Internalizing her definitely works best, but it is a long term process. Finding a couple of things to help in the short term, as well, will probably work best.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        I asked Zooey to do the voicemail thing (which she did) so I admittedly feel resistant to trying that again. I wish she would write something on an index card for us to read and hold onto when we miss her or feel disconnected from therapy. Hmm.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. plf1990 says:

    Yep I agree with the above about transitional objects. Hugely helpful. But I have those and I still struggle with being apart from T. I start to struggle on the drive home if I’m being totally honest! Supporting you x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jean says:

    I too used transitional objects, usually something that was in the office. With one T it was a stone, with another a small plastic giraffe. Wore all the spots off of him! With the current T it was a stuffed rabbit, but I gave it back when I didn’t need it anymore.

    With so many pple using transitional objects, I guess you could consider yourself quite normal in having trouble separating and having faith you can return and she will be there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel says:

    I have no idea what this feels like.
    Kidding! The voice recording I have my therapist emailed me helps (I listen to it at least 15-20 times a week, not exaggerating), and on Monday I am going to ask her if we can start to do cards after my Wednesday session for the longer break. The index cards helped with my last therapist quite a bit. And I agree to one of your points in another comment – it helped that it was something from HER for ME for the purpose of connection. And I really get how excruciatingly vulnerable it feels to ASK for a transitional object or to admit feeling feelings about the separation – so hard. No denying or getting around it, part of this damn process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      LOL! I do have voicemails from her that she just left for various reasons, so I *could* listen to her voice if I absolutely needed. And I have, but for whatever reason I always feel very ashamed about it. I like the idea of index cards, but I just struggle to ever see myself asking for something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        The first thing that comes to mind is Zooey’s email where she said, “Leaving me a voicemail in which you ask that I call you back so you can hear my voice is absolutely inappropriate given that I am no longer your therapist.” That idea…of wanting to hear someone’s voice, just for the sake of comfort, is what evokes shame, I think.

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      • Rachel says:

        Wanting a connection for the sake of comfort.. I can understand why that evokes shame. Although it is a real and normal need, there has been much rejection associated in the past. It is hard to believe it is okay to have needs and want comfort and want someone to give comfort.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I think you already are, in starting the thoughts and questioning. Knowing you, you’ll be talking to her about it soon. :). You seem to have a quick internal processing like I do – awareness of behavior that is no longer working–> thought and belief examination –> behavior change. Of course I could be projecting here. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. alicewithptsd says:

    I see Bea twice a week, and i agree, the time between is so long sometimes. I will sometimes email her that i dont have anything to say but i needed to make sure she is still there. She always emails back, and that helps. It also means i don’t have to admit face to face that i miss her or time between sessions is hard. I think that the idea of a voicemail or a card is a good one. Maybe just tell her that sometimes you wish you had a way to double check between sessions that she is still there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thanks, Alice. Yeah it can be so difficult to feel as though she still exists, especially over the weekends. I know I probably need to bring this up with her, but that sounds impossible for some reason.

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  8. Jen says:

    Some things that have helped me: a voicemail deliberately left while I was at work emphasizing the things I worry about most (she’s not going to quit, she likes working with me, she believes I can and will get better, she is still there, etc) that I could go back to and relisten to. My therapist does do weekday texting so texting on a friday to ask those questions (are you going to quit, do you still like working with me, can i still call in an emergency — answers area lways nope and of course!) let me go back to them on weekends and those are often sufficient to hold on to. Before going on vacation, she wrote me a card, that says, in short, if I’m reading it and feeling broken, hopeless or scared or sad, to remember that those are fears and feelings and not truths. How muchI’ve healed and changed and special and incredible I am, enough to continue to hear and change. That i’m not alone, that I am safe, and that I’m going to be all right. I took a picture of it so I could have it on my phone and for years it helped to be able to refer to it whenever I wanted. Something about it being in her handwriting helped.

    She doesn’t use email and prefers to avoid texting but we have found faxing to be a really good tool. I use faxzero.com which is free and keep copies on my computer. I can fax as much and as often as I want, and I know that she reads them if she can (probably 90% of the time reads all before my session, but occasionally, and especially after she’s been away, she’ll read some while I’m there (to herself).) It’s works for me becaues I can write and tell her as much as I want, but the faxes go to her office, so I know I’m not interrupting her free time or stressing her out. I feel connected that way. We’ve also agreed that I can write whatever I want, how broken I feel with the understanding that if I’m imminently suicidal, fax won’t be the way I tell her – I will also call. I haven’t needed to do that – often the writing it out and sending to her is enough to wait until I next see her. It helps me feel connected between sessions, and gives her information that really helps her in sessions, but at the same time I don’t feel guilty for eating into her time or making her worry. We’ve been using faxes for about 4 years now….some weeks are tons and tons, others are none at all. It varies on my needs.

    Hope anything from that is helpful….I know it can be really hard to wait between sessions, even when they are so frequent!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Wow, those are all lovely things. I don’t think this therapist would go for anything that adds material out of session. She’s very adamant about me not “dissociating the therapy” by giving her things to read outside of our time either face-to-face or on the phone with each other. Which, to be honest, is something I appreciate about her, but it does make it very hard to have a sense of permanence around the relationship. Because sometimes I really do just need reassurance that she isn’t going to leave me or give up on believing I can get better. But then again, I don’t think she would ever promise those things to me anyway. Not because it’s not true, but because we both know it won’t necessarily *always* be true, if that makes sense. Anyway, thanks for this comment. Really good ideas!

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