It would seem that the therapist and I arrive at a similar therapeutic impasse time and time again. I find that incredibly frustrating, but I’m also trying to imagine how I can use this particular experience to learn more about myself and grow. That is basically the whole point of being in psychotherapy anyway, yeah?
During pretty much every session, I say something that is riddled with self-loathing, cognitive distortions, or blatant inaccuracies. I don’t mean to do this, it’s simply part of my thought patterns at this point in my life and it stems from many things, least of all the influence of my severely fucked up family-of-origin.
She generally responds to these comments by jumping in to challenge me. She usually does that by either correcting the distortion (i.e. “No, it is not obvious that you’re [insert self-berating adjective]”) or pushing me to expand on what I’m saying, probably to help me see for myself how skewed my thoughts are (i.e. “Tell me more about [distorted perspective on a situation]”).
For the most part, I know (rationally) that she is doing this for a good reason, which is likely because these thought patterns bring me great distress and feed into my pain and suffering. By challenging them, she’s forcing me to find a different way to look at a scenario or to find an alternate explanation, that doesn’t center around my (self-declared) inherent worthlessness.
Yet still, it irritates me. Actually, to be honest, it hurts me. I feel so rejected in those moments and I feel like she’s not really listening to me. Because even though I know (with my normal brain) that what I am saying is inaccurate or distorted, it is still a very real part of how I see the world with my trauma brain. Once she throws out a comment that contradicts my thought, I feel really fucking stupid. Which then makes it difficult, if not impossible, for me to keep talking.
And I need to keep talking. Because if I just brush it off as yet another distorted thought, that doesn’t really help me stop the pattern. It just creates feelings of shame and helplessness. In those moments, I feel as though she has brought the dialogue to a screeching halt because I can’t counter her with anything logical or rational. My only option is to keep moving forward with the thought I originally had. But once she has ultimately pointed out how skewed it is, I feel as though I can’t move forward because now it’s out in the open that I think
stupid distorted things and it would thus be redundant to keep carrying on about it.
Which further creates a sense of loneliness and abandonment that is unbearable. When she interrupts me or challenges me mid-thought, it’s like a wall suddenly appears between the two of us to keep us apart. I hate that fucking wall. And this all can happen in mere seconds. The trigger is so powerful and instantaneous that it feels violent to me. The reaction I have to such moments feels eerily similar to being physically struck by someone. And the response that follows psychologically mimics the shock and fear that I feel after having been struck.
I don’t think she’s necessarily doing anything wrong. Her willingness to challenge me (and Others) is a lot of what helps the relationship feel solid, safe, and productive. But this constant locking of horns sucks. And I would really like for us to move past it.
I’m just not sure how. (Yet).