I went to session yesterday with no plan except to show up.
When I got there I started thinking about our conversation last Friday. In particular, how she mentioned that perhaps the reason I’ve felt like my therapists were responding to something I wasn’t communicating is that a different part of me was communicating it instead. She believes this might help explain why both myself and my therapists were often confused and on seemingly very different pages throughout my treatment.
But what I heard her saying is that it’s my fault. I heard her excusing their behavior and blaming it on my multiplicity. I heard her changing her mind.
So I told her that at the beginning of session.
I said, “I was thinking about what you said and it sounds like you’re blaming me.”
“I don’t blame you at all. I brought that up because I thought it might help answer that question; that confusion over why you were getting a response that seemed to come from out of nowhere, leaving you feeling unheard and like your actual needs were not being met.”
“I know. I understand that part. But still…”
“But you still feel like I blame you?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know. I guess it’s more about what I imagine you’re thinking about all of this.”
“What do you imagine?”
“I guess I imagine that you’re changing your mind, especially about what happened with Zooey. I think I wonder now if you’re not looking at all that has happened with us and now looking back on the story I tell about her and maybe think to yourself, ‘Hmm, I would have done the same thing if I’d been in her situation.’…”
“I wouldn’t have. I would not have done that.”
“Well maybe not. But I guess it just feels like you’re identifying more with her; like you’re beginning to relate to her helplessness and frustration and even if you wouldn’t have done the exact same thing, maybe you are empathizing with her position as my therapist and shifting your ideas around things.”
“Well, okay. So let’s imagine that: let’s say that I am identifying with her; with those emotions. What would that mean to you?”
“It would mean that I’m doing it again. I feel like I’ve done something wrong. Maybe not ‘wrong’, but just…something that changed things.”
“How have they changed? What does that feel like?”
“Nothing. It feels like nothing. I keep trying to remember when I felt different. Before…when I…”
“When you what?”
“When I felt safe. And connected. And attuned….to you, to each other. But I can’t remember. I can read my blog or my journal and learn about our earlier sessions, but I can’t remember ever feeling anything but the way I feel right now and it’s even harder to imagine feeling any better in the future. I feel so frozen; so stuck in this place of apathy.”
“And you imagine that’s your fault? That you did something to create this?”
“What would happen if you stopped searching for ways to blame yourself?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’d have to face the reality that there’s nothing I can do or did do to change this; it just happened and I am powerless to make it better.”
“That sounds frustrating and it must be so hard for you to be holding onto all of that, especially when you feel so alone and disconnected. But I want to say that I do feel like it’s getting better.”
“Of course you do. You always do. You’re so optimistic.”
“I just think things feel different this week from last week. Do you feel that at all?”
“And that is a really good start.”
I know she’s right, but it still sucks. I know she believes this is all part of an important challenge that will prove beneficial to our relationship and my therapy in the long-term. But for right now I just feel tired, hungry, lonely, stressed out, and scared.
I need a therapist.
But I don’t trust mine right now and I don’t feel safe in the work. I question everything and I worry constantly. I want to push her away as forcefully as I want to pull her close. All of the good thoughts and good feelings seem to have been replaced by suspicion, contempt, and rage.
She thinks I need to let that speak; to let the angry, detached, scared parts talk. I need to (emotionally) integrate those parts of me and allow those emotions to be part of our space and our work.
I don’t “let” anyone do anything. They just do what they want. In fact, I think it’s fairly obvious that they tend to do the opposite of what I want.
But maybe she’s right. Maybe it is their time to speak.
I have a feeling neither one of us will like what they have to say.