My therapist has always made a big deal out of scheduling and consistency. Each time we’ve transitioned to a higher number of sessions per week, she’s reinforced that we need to stay with that number, even if our schedules shift.
That is why we’ve done so much rescheduling throughout the last nine months. (NINE!)
And I loved it. I felt really cared about and taken care of by her. I knew it was all part of the way she conducts herself as a professional, but that’s not to be underestimated. Many of my previous therapists could not bring themselves to maintain even essential professional standards. So it always meant a lot to me that even when something came up during a normal session time, she’d push for us to find a time to reschedule.
And then I recently canceled a session to meet a new shrink during the same week some other part of me canceled our second session (which I then un-canceled). That event, as I’ve talked about extensively, prompted her to let me know that the shifting of session time was “less than ideal” and that she was not very impressed with my decision to cancel, even though it was to meet with a doctor. Which sent me reeling into a shame spiral that I’ve (clearly) yet to recover from.
And then it got worse.
Two weeks back, my Clinical Instructor told me that she wanted me to work a full day at clinic on my last day, which is this Friday. I mentioned this to my therapist last week and said, “So that Friday – the 20th – I won’t be able to make my normal appointment time.”
We spent a few minutes trying to reschedule, but my week is insane and there was just no other time that worked for us. She once again reiterated how important it was that we see each other the three times, per are usual schedule, and that if something else opened up, we could try that.
I said, “Ah. So I can reschedule this appointment because it’s ‘acceptable’, right? Since it’s around school obligations?”
I know she responded to me, but her response was so triggering to me that I dissociated it. I have no idea what she said, but I know it upset me and sent us into a power struggle that has yet to be resolved.
So that’s two sessions this week.
At the beginning of yesterday’s session, I mostly sat quietly. One of the first things I asked was about next week:
“Are you working next Friday?”
“The day after Thanksgiving?”
“No, I won’t be here.”
There was silence for a bit.
“So we have two sessions this week and one next week?”
“Yes. I have openings, if you want to try and add another time.”
I just furrowed my brow and shrugged. I knew there was no way I could fit another session in my schedule next week and she seemed pretty neutral about the whole thing anyway. Her response sounded more automated than authentic.
It didn’t even seem worth it to fight for another session.
And then I felt a wave of panic. Why hadn’t she already told me she’d be out both Thursday and Friday of next week? Those are both days we have session, so that automatically cancels out two hours of therapy.
It seemed unlike her to not have brought this up with me. She didn’t care enough to do her usual meticulous planning around weekly sessions. Nor did she care enough to allow me plenty of time to process that she would be away, even if only for two sessions worth of time.
I pushed down those feelings and started talking about something else: Food. Fear around the impending holiday celebrations filled with scary food. I carried on for a few minutes and she didn’t respond, which is uncharacteristic of her. I paused and thought very carefully about my next question. I tried to control every muscle in my face and throat and entire body so that I could speak with respect and calmness. I asked,
“Do you care?”
And I meant it. I was asking it authentically.
She paused for a bit and then nonchalantly sent it back to me: “Do you think I don’t care because I’m not responding to you?”
I just looked down, feeling totally alone and ashamed. I asked her why she always challenges me. She asked if I felt challenged, which annoyed because WHY ELSE WOULD I ASK THAT. But I stayed calm and said,
“Yes. And I think there are these important moments where I really need kindness from you, but you choose to challenge me instead. And that is really difficult.”
I wish I could say the conversation evolved into something beautiful, but it didn’t. We just stayed locked in this horrible place of disconnection and frustration.
This just feels so…bad. Like, really really bad.
I’m hurt that she didn’t tell me about next week’s vacation, regardless of how short (or predictable) it may be. I’m hurt that she’s leaving me with 1/3rd of my normal therapy hours during a week that is literally centered around the consumption of food. I have been in a panic for weeks now, sharing that fear with her (something fairly new for me), and she won’t even be around to help me through it!
I don’t know how much difference it would make since I feel a million miles away from her anyway.
But, you know what, it would mean something to know she was still there; still herself – consistent and reliable in the way she conducts therapy overall.
Why all of the sudden is it not important for me to know when she’ll be away? Do I not deserve those three reliable sessions per week anymore? Do I not deserve her consistency? Has she just totally checked-out on me?
What a mess.