Threatened/Threatening

Therapy has been a strange experience recently.

A good kind of strange, I think, but still unsettling. This feeling mostly revolves around the burgeoning attachment I seem to have for the therapist…my therapist.

It has been a very slow burn for us. After all that happened with a previous therapist, I was beyond hesitant to build a new therapeutic relationship. I went into this one guarded, scared, and pessimistic as hell. I held my hopes at a fairly low level to (try to) decrease the repercussions from the abandonment/betrayal that I saw as inevitable.

But relationships are always shifting. And slowly, over a period of just over nine months, we have gotten to know each other. We’ve had our fair share of rupture and repair and, from those experiences, we have gained a certain amount of trust in each other. She has repeatedly proven herself committed, interested, and (most importantly) capable. I often find myself annoyed by her ability to meet my needs, either before I even know what they are, or directly after I express them.

I don’t know why that annoys me. Probably because it is so utterly unfamiliar. And, as a human being, I fear the unknown.

We had an incredibly powerful and productive three hours last week. As I previously mentioned, I’ve been working through a memory that I knew was somehow linked to River and my eating disorder. It started out as random pieces that seemed unrelated. But the more we talked about the pieces, the more they began to connect. I was able to match sensory memory with emotional memory and form a complete “visceral” memory. It is remarkably short and extremely painful, but I know it’s important. I haven’t quite figured out how yet. And neither of us have been able to connect it too strongly with the eating behaviors, but I think we’re getting there.

After the third session of working through this particular topic (among other things – always trying to create balance after all) I told her that I felt afraid and hesitant about moving forward in treatment. I explained that something about the recent shift in our relationship (likely brought on by our intense work around the nightmare) is causing me to feel both threatened BY the relationship and as though the relationship itself is threatened or in some type of jeopardy.

She told me that my feelings made a lot of sense and reiterated that any movement towards intimacy, regardless of the nature of the relationship, is bound to trigger immense fear and provoke a sense of danger.

To be honest, I feel a little frustrated with myself about this.

Someone recently commented on my post by writing, “I love your therapist!” I know they were likely expressing approval and excitement for how she’s been responding to me and I appreciated the sentiment. Beyond that, when I read this comment my immediate response was “I love her, too!”

That caught me off-guard.

When did this happen? When did I slip past the point of no return? And how the hell do I get out of here before I get my heart broken?

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19 thoughts on “Threatened/Threatening

  1. Rachel says:

    I relate to all of this. I don’t know how to handle the desire to move towards and the urge to flee. Both are happened and it does feel threatening. I want to tell her tomorrow “lets just do the work and not talk about the relationship,” so I don’t have to confront how uncomfortable this all is.
    How do you get out? I don’t think you do. I think you stay and in staying, prove to yourself that the past doesn’t define the rest of your life. And maybe someone won’t annihilate the shred of faith you still have in humanity. At least that is what I am hoping for you. Because your therapist is rock solid. She has her shit together. But I know none of these hopeful words change how you feel, and how you are feeling is so okay.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      I think you’re right. And honestly, she says the same thing. She always points out that a lot of what I need is reparative experiences. I need to make it through relationships and difficult situations and have it go differently, so that I can see other potential outcomes. And I know she really wants/hopes that our relationship can and *is* providing some of that work. Still, the feelings are there. My goal is to stay with it, stay in treatment, and allow the process to unfold however it will. Hard to do, but that’s the plan right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        Omg, yes. I went to my support group this weekend and most of the other members had been in therapy close to 20 years. They are pretty healthy and functional people, so I assume the therapy is working, but the message I got is that I may be in therapy for a long time/always. Or until my therapist retires (which is what happened for a lot of others and now they’re trying to find a new therapist, which was a whole other trigger). I think mine probably has another 15-20 years, but still. Very intimidating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        Oh wow, 20 years. I can’t fathom. Part of me likes my therapist enough to be fine seeing her that long. AND, damn. Good thing we are in school so we will have money to pay for it! LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        Haha, right?! At this point my treatment costs more than my rent! (which, let’s face it, is a lot in NYC). I won’t be able to sustain this forever. And I’m eternally grateful for my wife and for scholarships. But I do think about the financial factor a lot and sometimes it really worries me that something would happen to render me unable to pay for her anymore.

        Oh man, I’m going to stop catastrophizing now. One session at a time. And I know I can afford today’s hour and that she has no plans to retire anytime soon.

        But thank you for commenting. It’s always comforting to know someone can relate to all of this. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I can definitely relate! I also pay far more for therapy than rent; also don’t want to dwell or worry about it, but it is the reality of trying to get our feet on the ground. Therapy is a necessity so I pay what I have to for the best care possible (which I’ve found). I also just focus on the fact that I can pay now, and really believe it will work out. I think of what I pay for therapy as investment; if I wasn’t paying for therapy there is no way in hell I would be able to finish school and start a successful career, so really, I can’t afford NOT to pay for therapy. If that makes sense. Any time! I also appreciate having someone who can relate. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mm172001 says:

    I find the same patterns with my case manager though it’s been a much longer relationship (5 years) it’s hard to figure out when it changed and it’s impossible to change back. I’m just hoping it keeps working and I’d say the same thing to you. Try to stay with the moment and that it is working and she may even deserve those feelings of trust because she earned them and showed herself to be helpful and capable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cat says:

    Andi, this is amazing… to have watched/listened to you come from the z-times and all the shit that threw up about past abusers, to read your words in this post, is nothing short of a miracle. You have come so soooo far and it’s the “rupture & repair” that creates this kind of bond in therapy. Huh! Listen to me, as if I know about bonds with Therapists… I’m always a little jealous when I read of other people’s experiences because I just don’t have this with my T, despite our good relationship and fantastic work, any kind of attachment is non-existent. This, of course, is the foundation for all that brilliant work you’ll both be doing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I agree. I don’t think I ever really understood the benefit of rupture and repair until this therapist. I think we actually do most of our best work in that space. I wonder why you don’t have attachment (or this kind of attachement?) with your T. Is that the place where you feel safer, or more productive?

      Like

      • Cat says:

        Dr G wrote a fab post not long ago about this very subject. he likened it to weaving a silk carpet with your Therapist each week until out of the blue, the carpet is torn up the middle over a minor misunderstanding or assumption. Of course, it’s our role to return to the therapy room and start weaving the fabric all over again with the Therapist on the other end. Somewhere within that space is where good therapy takes place.

        I do wonder why I don’t have the same attachment as you do with your Therapist. It’s not just you, other people are the same. Partly I think he reflects the (distant) relationships I have on the outside, but I do also wonder if we have confused our roles in this therapy programme, but that’s a long story…

        Like

  4. Amb says:

    Try not to be so hard on yourself, love. I don’t think she’ll break your heart. As long as you both keep an open dialogue about what you’re feeling, she’ll help you through it. I think it’s okay to have love for her. She’s kind and genuinely cares about you. It’s just a different type of love…

    Anyways, I’m sorry that you’re struggling with this. I hope that you’ll remember to be gentle with yourself. It’s a learning process. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

      • Amb says:

        I hope we are, too. There will always be doubt, I think. There’s too much betrayal that’s happened for there not to be. Hopefully, one day it will be solely slight doubt and not fear. She sounds like a genuinely good person and an excellent clinician. I think you’re in good hands.

        Liked by 1 person

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