I brought my concerns about our recent therapeutic impasse into session on Monday. I altered the post so that it read as a letter directly to the therapist. I felt that would be a better way to communicate than to give her this information in a strange third-person manner.
She was incredibly receptive to what I wrote. She felt I explained myself very well and she said that having such information really helps her better understand what is going on with me in those moments. She further explained that she had also spent the weekend thinking about this and brainstorming different ways to respond to me that might be less triggering for me, which I appreciated.
Then she explained that although the goal is certainly not to trigger me or cause me to feel as though I’m being abused again in any way, it’s also very important that we’re “bringing my family into session”. Meaning that part of the work is in having these triggers come up and identifying the historical components of them. She feels that it is crucial that we stay with the authentic emotions of the moment and work through them together.
So she wants to be supportive of me, but she also wants to encourage me to face the trigger and allow it to play out however it needs to within the therapeutic space. That gives us a chance to really explore what’s going on and to help me find different ways of reacting and responding to similar triggers. All of which would help me feel less distressed in the long run. But it also means that there will need to be times when sessions will be very uncomfortable or painful for me.
That made a lot of sense, but it also sounded out of my range of abilities at the current moment, which I explained to her. She said that she understood and asked if there was anything she could do to help me feel more supported. I told her that it would be helpful if she was more compassionate towards me and was able to see me for where I was at in those moments, even if that means I need to believe the distortions despite all logic and reason.
She responded by asking me if I felt she was not being compassionate towards me. I said, “No, I do think you offer compassion, but I don’t think you’re leading with compassion. I think that my need to be seen and heard is at battle with your need to provide a certain type of support. So although I appreciate being challenged and I can see the value in that work, I think, for now, that I need you to open with compassion and then pivot to the challenging part.”
She said she would definitely work on that, but then assured me she would most certainly fail from time to time. I know this. I don’t expect perfection from her, but I’m grateful that she’s always so mindful of keeping the expectations very clear.
Something about this conversation felt really good to me. I think it gave me a much stronger sense of why she pushes me the way she does. I have a clearer picture of what her goals may be when she says certain things, which makes them less threatening. I felt very listened to and understood. And I think her ability to stay firm with me and sorta hold her own despite me pushing her to back off was weirdly reassuring.
I can’t really explain it, but something about the way she responded signaled to me just how invested she is in the actual work. I can see how much she is thinking about this process and how careful she is with her words and questions. There’s a certain purpose to her language that I can grasp a little better now. She is not some passive layperson just listening to me talk for sixty minutes. She really is in this.