Returning My Call

My therapist called me back late this morning. I told her I had a few things I wanted to say.

First, I explained that I absolutely do not remember getting to her office on Friday or any of the time during session before being violently thrown back into my body at the last minute. I told her that it has been a while since I lost time like that, especially during session. I will lose a few minutes, or maybe half of a session, but even when that happens I generally have a sense of who was out and why.

She told me she had a feeling I wouldn’t know what happened or who was out. She said that the part she spoke with had “a very different opinion of therapy” than I do and that clued her into the fact that it wasn’t me. She doesn’t believe she’s ever met this part before.

I reiterated how terrifying that is for me, to lose time like that. I also shared that I have soreness and bruising that seems to have come from something that happened within session, which also makes me very nervous.

I said, “It is very important that the physical space, the therapeutic space, and the therapeutic relationship do not somehow become another source of trauma for me, which is a pattern I seem to enact over and over. And part of the problem, I think, is that when things like this happen, my clinicians won’t talk to me. They won’t communicate with me about what’s happening. They just start making decisions and setting parameters on everything from how I can sit in session to what I’m allowed to say. I don’t like that and it doesn’t help anyway. I want to be able to just talk to you about what is happening and how it is impacting both of us.”

She agreed and said, “I think part of your fear is due to the fact that therapy has so often become a source of trauma for you in the past. And I definitely don’t want that to happen now. I want us to work together to figure out a way to help you feel safer and more contained within the work. Not feeling safe and having chaos doesn’t feel good to you or to me. It doesn’t allow us to do what we need to do.”

Then I shared my concern that she has an expectation that it is on me to “fix” this and make it all better. I explained that I can’t do that.

She said I didn’t have to.

She also said it would be important for us to process the last couple of days. She gave me a rough outline as to how she understood things:

“I saw you Thursday. You called that night and I wasn’t able to call you back. Then you sent an email Friday morning and asked for extra session time, which I wasn’t able to offer, either. So it seemed like you really needed something that was important.”

I said, “I know! I know that something was important. I can’t remember what that was right now, but I can think about it later and tell you tomorrow. But that is what makes this feel so deliberate.”

“What do you mean by ‘deliberate’? Can you talk more about that?”

“I just…I needed you so much. I needed to connect with you and to talk with you. I was able to get so close to your office. And I was out until just minutes before session, but then right as I was preparing to walk there, I was pulled out. And that, to me, feels as though someone very deliberately kept you from me.”

“I think that might be true. But the impression I got is that this part came out to protect you.”

“This always happens. Whenever I get close to something, and I can’t tell you what that something is as much as that it exists, I start losing time in therapy sessions. I start to get pulled away from the relationship.”

She empathized with my frustration and reiterated that she sees the switch as a protector part doing what they believe is best for the system. I know she’s right, but that somehow doesn’t make me feel much better. It feels so far away from me and impossible to know how to regulate or shift in any way.

She tells me that the option of having a double session is still open for tomorrow if I want it and have the time for it. I tell her I don’t know what to do because I am afraid. She asks if I can name those fears.

“I’m nervous to come in…to even be in that physical space again. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know if I will even get to come to session. I don’t know who will be there. And I don’t want to destroy the relationship anymore than I already have.”

She pauses a moment and says, “You have not destroyed the relationship at all and I think maybe you need to hear that said out loud. I think it’s really important for us to be able to talk about what happened, you and I. So regardless of who shows up during session tomorrow, I will make sure to ask for you and call you out so that we can talk. Because I think we need to be able to connect and process what happened.”

I tell her I’m not sure I want to do that. I am terrified to have the blank spaces filled in. It’s generally never anything good.

She reassures me that the part she spoke with did nothing alarming or damaging, but that she is concerned that their method of protecting is, in fact, damaging to the system and that we need to formulate some sort of plan to prevent further internal chaos from unfolding.

Then she says, “And we don’t have to talk about what specifically happened in here on Friday that you don’t remember. I didn’t mean that. I meant that we could talk about what happened overall and re-connect on a relational level.”

That sounded much less scary.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I should probably take up her offer for a double session. I certainly want it. But I feel so shaken up and the idea of going back at all makes me want to throw up.

And I may be paranoid, but something sounded “off” about her today. I can’t quite explain it, but she just seemed more…hesitant? nervous? distant?

I’m not sure what it was. Possibly nothing. But I know it didn’t feel good.

I sincerely hope I am not ruining this.

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38 thoughts on “Returning My Call

  1. manyofus1980 says:

    I dont think your ruining it at all. it seems to me that she really wants to do the right thing by you and help. from what you’ve written here it seems that way. if i was you, i’d take up the offer of a double session. I’m sure it will be so worthwhile and you will gain a lot from it. XX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you. I also think she wants to do the right thing by me, I just worry that doing so is outside of her capabilities and I will end up paying for that. I will probably take the double session because I really do want to be able to spend more time with her to process all of this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I asked because I was hoping that she would have been transparent in anticipation and awareness that you would be predictably and understandably attuned, vigilant of, and frightened of difference in response time. I do think it is appropriate to ask. She can reassure without disclosing personal information. (e.g. I wasn’t available but not because you are too much, or because I didn’t want to talk to you)
        I’m not trying to provoke, simply validate what I think would have been a therapeutic response to this obvious crisis-type situation for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        No, this is good. It helps me sort through whatever is happening in my head. I’m trying to figure out how I can explain to her that I imagine she didn’t call back because of something I did wrong without being coy about it (if that makes sense). I want to be okay with being honest and just saying, “I think you didn’t call because you hate me.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • Rachel says:

        I’ve found that being direct about my fears (and what I need reassurance for) has produced the best results – so yes, saying ‘I would like reassurance that the reason why you didn’t call me back is because you hate me and don’t want to help me anymore but just don’t know it yet’ would be effective (not easy, of course).

        Liked by 2 people

      • Andi says:

        Thank you for sharing that. I really like how you phrased that and I think that is an approach that would be both helpful and authentic to how I generally address my concerns. Thanks for talking this out with me ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

      • Rachel says:

        Because that is the work, for her. Attaining to YOU and how terrified you are. Being able to hear your fear and needs and meet it. So you asking her that is your work, and her (what I hope to be) response of reassurance is her work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        True. And, historically, she had done this well. She will often say something along the lines of “I hear that this is scary for you, to experience me differently than you’re used to, and that makes a lot of sense based on what your experiences have been around unpredictability” (or something similar). I want to give her the chance to be the great therapist I know she is. I don’t want to set either of us up for failure.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I also feel compelled to point out (and then I will let this all rest 🙂 ) that your blog exemplifies your exceptional communication skills. How often have you submitted a post, and received affirming feedback or responses you needed? You totally communicate your feelings clearly, and know how to get your needs met. Trust yourself, you know what feels right, what you need to hear, etc. xx

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Cat's Meow says:

    I think that it is only natural for your therapist to be moving a bit more cautiously, given how difficult things have been lately. And of course you are going to pick up on that an fear that the difference means something bad. I would guess that it simply means that she is trying to assess what to say and do, so that she can be most helpful.

    At least, in my experience, that is what it has meant when my therapist has acted in such a way. It’s a bind that the times I am most overly sensitive to any change in her way of relating to me are often those times when she is treading through landmines and so acting more cautiously than normal.

    Something similar could be going on here. The changes in her demeanor might not mean anything bad at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      That’s a really good point and I hadn’t thought about the possibility that she is sort of stepping back to assess the situation and get a better sense of what is going on and how she can help. Thanks x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Zoe says:

    This is precisely how you know you’re making progress. Were you able to figure out who was out during that session? I’m sorry if my questions seem ignorant or perhaps prying. I feel like this is such a huge deal and in many ways I can understand why this part came out, considering your history and the growing closeness in therapy. I just hope you and the therapist can find a way to make you feel safe, and perhaps show the system that this time it can be different. I don’t know if I’m making sense or not. Lamictal is kicking my ass. Just know I’m thinking of you and sending you tons of strength vibes. Keep up the amazing work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      So good to hear from you, Z. It took me a while, but I did figure it out (and I’m not terribly surprised). Nah, you never seem prying. I know that you care and are just checking in. I think we’re working on making it safer. Might take a while, but at least we’re keeping it as a focus of how the work has to be. Lamictal is kicking my ass, too. What’s going on with it for you? I’m totally fuzzy-brained and struggling to concentrate and stay focused (as if I needed any more difficulty with that. ha.)

      Like

  4. luverley says:

    Seriously she is probably worried she’s going to ruin it. My t said to me the other day when i asked how does she feel when she has one saying one thing and another going against. Who’s side does she choose. She said “I’m fucked either way” and we cracked up laughing. I was like I’m sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jean says:

    I had to laugh at what Loverly wrote. Yeah, she knows she is being heard by two (at least) parts with divergent views so she has to watch what she says so it makes sense to both.

    You did nothing wrong. Probably feels like you lose time because you did something wrong but that is not the case. Is there anything you would like say to the part that came out? Maybe you could bargain — say let that part have 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning.

    I’msorry, I am at a different computer and having a lot of trouble typing.

    But I think you handled that very very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thanks, Jean. I don’t have the ability to talk to this part but I could try anyway and see if there’s any chance for negotiations. And yeah, it definitely feels like I did something wrong. I always make that assumption when this happens. Thanks for your input and support.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amb says:

    You are absolutely not ruining anything. I think she is really invested. In my experience, talking to a T on the phone always kind of sucks. They sound different.. Less like their normal selves. Try and be gentle with yourself. It sounds like your last session was really, really tough. It’s understandable that you’d be nervous to go back in there. Sending you lots of gentle hugs, friend. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

      • Amb says:

        Yeah, phone contact is really confusing. I don’t think they ever sound the same and it doesn’t help that you can’t see their faces to gauge their reactions which just leaves a lot of wondering.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      This comment actually inspired me to write a post about how session went last night instead of waiting until today (even though I had an exam to study for, haha!). I’m glad I did though, because I needed to get that out of my head. Thanks for checking in 😉

      Like

  7. luverley says:

    Hey that’s another idea that i Did i told t that they only allowed 5 or 10 mins each. That way you don’t lose a whole session. Especially to just one part i mean come on how selfish lol. Also my t and some others are putting together a DID support group for t’s because they seriously have a hard job and need resources and allies. Let me know if she wants my t email address for extra resources or just general support.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Haha right? Share the space! But, to be fair, I generally get the entire hour to myself, so I guess I can’t really complain. I want parts to feel like they can come to session, but I hate when I lose that time. I want to always be present, or at least nearby. I want to know what’s happening. Very cool about your T and the support group. What kind of resources are they gathering?

      Like

      • luverley says:

        For t. Because they have to deal with the very complex trauma and situation there in with us as clients. It’s very hard because it’s like family therapy. Support for them which in turn will end up being support for us. Clients.

        Like

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