The End?

Wow. I seriously feel like the floor just fell out from underneath me. Not just for today, or with this therapist, but for therapy in general. Its the type of realization that I’m not sure has the potential to be reparable because my very understanding of the therapeutic process and relationship has shifted.

I wonder if it’s always been this way. Am I just now seeing this? Have I been hoping and reaching for something this entire time that never actually even existed??! Am I really that fucking naïve and stupid?

Probably. Let me try to explain.

I went into session today hoping to expand on yesterday’s session. Since I had written so much on the topic, I figured I could just pull from that material. But I didn’t want to get into vulnerable stuff if my therapist had somehow changed her mind about allowing me to call her to connect between sessions (something I do maybe a couple times a month). So I went about asking about the phone calls in an admittedly less-than-ideal manner. I playfully said,

So did you have a chance to think about our conversation yesterday? Are you going to take away phone calls or..?”

I get that there were better ways to ask this question, or address the issue, but that’s something I’m actively working on, and still really struggle with. She responded by being a bit snarky and saying that she felt like there was no way for her to really answer that question. Why? I cannot tell you. I know she explained it several times, but it all seems like nonsensical bullshit to me right now.

Once again she brought up how the way I ask something determines the response. At that point I was just so tired of hearing that same old answer. I said,

“Whatever! I get it. But I also feel like we’ve been doing this long enough and you know me well enough to know that I am needing something that I just can’t quite articulate yet.”

She said that she does often have a sense for what I’m trying to achieve or attain, but she can’t be sure. And also that it’s not her job to take away my difficult emotions. I responded,

“Okay, sure. But I don’t see why you have to be so snarky or distant in your response. It’s like I can only get something if I ask for it in the perfect way at the perfect time with a perfect tone.”

“No. I don’t expect perfection from you. But I do feel like it’s my job to call you out on destructive or ineffective patterns.”

“Of course. But it’s like…I get to be a brat! I get to ask things in ways that maybe have an attitude or a certain tone!”

“Sure. But am I supposed to be bulletproof? Or inauthentic?”

“No. But you don’t have to take it so personal! It feels like the way you respond to me in those moments – by being sarcastic or joking or mocking me – that feels like you’re responding from a personal place, rather than as a therapist.”

“Well I wouldn’t say that it’s personal, but I do think it’s an authentic reaction that can tell us something about the way you’re communicating.”

“Maybe. But also…sometimes I think you could just respond with kindness and compassion, even when I am being a brat.”

“I think that I am being kind and compassionate by staying authentic in those moments.”

I threw up my hands.

“Really though? I mean, you act as though it would literally kill you to just be nice to me in those moments. And why? What is so bad about just meeting those interactions with kindness and understanding?”

“It sounds like you’re needing reassurance…”

I scoffed and began to cry and yell,

“Of COURSE I need reassurance! I ALWAYS need reassurance! And why is that so horrible? I feel like it’s absolutely awful that I come in here feeling painfully vulnerable,and yeah- maybe acting like a brat, and I still want you to just tell me ‘It’s okay, I’ll love you anyway.’…or, well not those exact words, but I hope you get the idea.”

“Yes. And I do. But I can’t do that.”

OMFG whatever.

I don’t even know what any of this means, but it feels like everything has just broken apart. I can’t even explain it. It’s like…I guess I’ve felt like something was missing from our work and our relationship; some kind of added level of nurturance and compassion. But I also believed that if I could just figure out how to identify and ask for it, she’d be willing to offer it to me.

But now I see that I will never get it! All this time I’ve been searching, trying to find some way to get her to love me unconditionally and be there for me with compassion and kindness, even when I’m imperfect and bratty and willful, and especially when I’m unwilling or unable to give that to myself.

But now I see that isn’t a realistic expectation at all. And here’s the thing – it’s not even that there are conditions on her affections for me, it’s that THERE ARE NO AFFECTIONS. With her, everything is very clinical and rational and she responds to me the way she does based on what she thinks is “best for me”, which apparently does not include being nurturing and loving.

Fucking fuck. I HATE THIS!!!

I mean, is this just reality? Is this the way therapy is supposed to be and I’ve been so deluded about the ideal or preferred therapeutic relationship, that I couldn’t even see that?! My god I feel so stupid and pathetic and exposed. I’m so angry that I imagined if I could just stay vulnerable and open to her, she’d eventually open to me and give me that reassurance.

This is so confusing. I’m not really even mad at her about this because she has every right to practice therapy this way. What I AM upset about is that I definitely imagined this very differently and now, all at once, it has shifted into something that I think just will not work for me.

Is this the end for us?

30 thoughts on “The End?

  1. This.shaking says:

    Dear Andi: I don’t know, but it seems to me that dealing with patients with CPTSD – developmental and multiple trauma and dissociation – is NOT the same as doing other therapy. So, maybe what she says makes sense, but I know it would just about kill me. I’m sorry if I’m not being very clear, but I’m going through such a difficult spell myself …. I just want you to know I’m sending love. TS

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Life in a Bind - BPD and me says:

    Andy, massive hugs xx For what it’s worth (if anything!), I don’t think it’s over, I think it can be repaired, just take some time and let it go round in your head, and try and talk about it with her next time. I know I wasn’t there, and I can’t possibly know what was really meant, but to me it seems as though when she said ‘I can’t do that’ she was referring to the fact that she can’t _tell_ you she loves you or cares about you – not that she _doesn’t_ feel those things. From everything you have written about her so far, it sounds as though she _does_ have affection. And as for therapy in general, many therapists have written about their attachment to their clients, so I don’t think you’ve ‘got it wrong’ as far as the process goes. Many therapists will never tell their clients directly, how they feel about them, but that doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t real or don’t run deep. I’m convinced we are significant to our therapists -even if they cannot tell us straight. They don’t tell us, not because they are deficient, or being difficult or unkind (though it feels that way), but because they need to do everything they can to try and encourage us to be able to reassure ourselves and to believe in their caring without the sort of ‘proof’ that we feel we want (and which, almost inevitably, would never be ‘quite enough’). Do they feel _love_? I don’t know. But affection, caring, definitely. When I told my therapist I really wanted her to love me, the closest that she was able to get to the sort of answer I wanted, was to say that therapists become attached to their patients, and that her work with me was important. Try and hold onto to what your therapist said to you yesterday – that nothing had changed and that she still feels the same way about your work together and still thinks the same about you…..I really believe she is trying to do the best with and for you, not just because it is her job, but because she cares for you and about you. I know I can’t know that, and I can’t know what went on in that room, but I hope that it helps to hear what someone who has been ‘observing’ from the outside, sees……love xx

    Liked by 4 people

    • Andi says:

      You really hit the nail on the head here, and I thank you for that. Your comment helped me synthesize a lot of the conversations we’d been having and I think I’m getting a slightly better angle on what she’s trying to tell me. I feel a bit calmer today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. S says:

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily the end. And I don’t know that there’s no affection on her end. But I think you’ve been writing for a while now that something has shifted. From an outside perspective it seems like it’s been harder to make and keep the connection, harder to be as connected and understanding, maybe on both ends(?) but it’s sounded like alot more on hers. It seems like something has shifted for her. I think I’m probably projecting my own experience onto yours, where my therapist went from incredibly intuitive and understanding, supportive, more flexible with boundaries and deeply caring through some kind of change on her end where she was more distant, less flexible, more frustrated with me and I could not figure out why. I would call her on it and ask what had changed and most of the time she would say that it hadn’t. Eventually, she’d jsut retreat into theory, whereas she’d always been more of a “person” and less of a cookie-cutter therapist, something I loved possibly more than anything else about her. Ultimately, it turned out there had been changes in her personal life that made it impossible for her to work with patients who had suicidal thoughts or feelings (even when they were never acted upon, or threatened). The hardest part about it, though, was that we pushed on for another year or so and she ended up terminating the treatment (5 years) suddenly. It was exceedinly painful, but almost worse was when we met one more time several months later to try and end better, she said she had been feeling like that for over a year. I was heartbroken and devastated and guilty and ashamed and every other possible terrible emotion – and it sometimes still brings me to tears when I think about it – but in time, I discovered that the absolute worst thing about it was that she had continued a treatment she didn’t think was working for so long, even though I had kept questioning her on what was changing and she kept telling me nothing had, which made me feel so guilty and ashamed…but it was real. I was picking up on what she was feeling. I don’t know. I hope that your treatment resolves better. You and your therapist really had such an incredibly beautiful relationship and I hope that you two can work through it and strengthen things. But my sense, from purely a reader’s perspective, is that something has changed from her end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      My therapist will often allude to the fact that she will naturally shift and thus “feel” different to me, based on something as simple as the weather or time of day, etc. She asks me to be flexible to that and try and hold onto the consistency she has shown me. Easier said than done. I actually think things are changing a lot for her – for both of us – within this actual relationship, and that’s part of why it’s so painful. I certainly hope she’s not hoarding some personal stuff that will end up coming out in the wash and damaging our relationship. That would suck. Thanks for your reply x

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Jean says:

    MEGA The two of you get into stuck places of misunderstanding and it is really painful to read about them…I can imagine how much it must hurt to live them.

    I don’t know if this will help or not Andi, but I’m putting it out anyway.

    I was a therapist and am retired now. I thought of my relationship with clients this way…people came to me because they were having trouble with their relationship with themselves or other people and I offered an opportunity to look at what the patterns were and to try something different. I didn’t share everything I thought or felt because that wouldn’t be helpful — it might even freak them out so much that they left. Sometimes I lost control and shared more than I meant to, sometimes I said something forcefully to get their attention.

    I’ll give you a couple of examples. One woman was always joking and pple did not take her seriously, so she was lonely and disappointed. I didn’t react to her humor until once I just burst out laughing. She said she thought I didn’t have a sense of humor, and i gave her my reasoning for holding back. She “got it” and started experimenting with not joking in several relationships and watched what happened.

    Another time a man I was working with did something stupid and dangerous and I told him I was angry with him. It brought him up short and opened up issues about caring and actually having an effect on people.

    I tell you this because they are examples of how I used relationships to hopefully have you think of this for a moment. Is she offering the relationship as a way of learning about yourself, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with others? She comes through to me as caring about you and committed to you. I do think it would be a great help if you could figure out how you get in these binds. Then as soon as you could name it, you could start teasing out the puzzle pieces.

    Meanwhile, a ton more

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      That’s actually very helpful, thank you. I definitely think we need to keep working to name this and find language to connect to each other. It’s all just very murky and painful territory. My instinct right now is to retract and protect myself, but maybe I don’t need to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. stunnedandstunted says:

    I’m really feeling your frustration! I kind of have the expectation that if therapists believe that we can adapt and change how we deal with things in the world then maybe they can do the same with how they deal with us. If they sense we need to go a certain direction or respond positively to ways they treat us then wouldn’t they want to really focus on that?
    I haven’t been in therapy for a while now (a few months? I can’t remember) and that’s because I seem to hate every therapist I work with after a few sessions but if you like this therapist and you think she can help you, try to work out a way to make it work for you.
    Hrm, that advice probably means very little coming from a therapist’s nightmare, such as myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I agree! And for what it’s worth, I do think she’s been trying to adapt to me and my specific needs. But we still just miss each other. Maybe that’s okay, but my goodness it sure is painful.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Paper Doll says:

    I am, as you will or have realized, so wary of every therapeutic relationship, for good reasons.

    I am not you and I am not in your relationship with her so I struggle to offer my opinion because our relationships are so individual and so one on one and so personal that nobody else can really see into them.

    But when you wrote this,

    “It’s not even that there are conditions on her affections for me, it’s that THERE ARE NO AFFECTIONS”

    I was struck by the thought that you seem to be reaching out so often and so much and with so much vulnerability, and I’m not sure that she is returning or even meeting you halfway. I read it as though she’s trying the same thing over and over and expecting it to make a different impact.

    Once I asked Em, my one therapist, why she didn’t just shake me two years ago and tell me all about the changes I needed to make if she knew I needed them. And she said “because you weren’t ready to take those steps. And you wouldn’t have heard me the way I intended to be heard” and I wonder if that may be part of what is happening here.

    I don’t know, and if my opinion is unhelpful the please throw it out the window or tell me so but know it comes from a place of compassion for you and all you’ve written and respect for your relationship with your therapist — it is just that, yours. So trust your gut.

    This sounds so painful, Andi, and I honestly think you are being so authentic and genuine and doing all you can. And I hope you continue to do what you feel is best for you – knowing that we will be here no matter what that is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thank you so much. I agree with you. I think she’s trying to fit how she normally operates as a therapist into our work, where it just doesn’t fit. But I would also say that I think she’s trying. I think she’s being flexible as much as she can, but it’s a slow process and we’re still going to miss each other. I really appreciate your support and thoughtful comments.


      • Paper Doll says:

        Of course. I appreciate how authentic you are and how you reach out to her and thats why I think you two will find success.

        Therapeutic ruptures are often the most painful but they also can teach us so much – I’m rooting for you both to find each other soon 🙂

        But I stand firm in my point that I believe you are doing all you can in showing up and being authentic and that you should be really proud of that in this difficult time.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. e.Nice says:

    This is so painful and confusing. From what you’ve written before, I do think she cares and has affection for you, and not just a little. So I don’t understand what she is getting at. I do hope you can bring these questions into session to clear it up. If she doesn’t care then she shouldn’t be a therapist at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      When I really look back over our time together, I can also see that she has affection for me. I think it’s hard for me to hold onto that in moments like this, where I feel so helpless and hurt.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. ambivalencegirl says:

    Andi, I am not even sure where to start. Question for you…Do you ever leave therapy thinking to yourself that your T seemed really different? Like she seemed to care last week but then all of a sudden she seems cold and somewhat distant. Or as time goes by it seems as if this person you care about deeply is someone you don’t even know.. I related so much with this post and your follow up post. I guess I am wondering if it is the dissociative parts of us that do well in therapy one week because we are all grown up and insightful and behaving as a seemingly functional human being. Hopeful about the process and therapy relationship because we get it. Like this post. You have this ah ha moment of wtf are you doing in therapy and one day it’s going to be over and you’re just a client who has to schedule time for this person(aka Therapist) to even talk to you. Then the next week or day or hour you become someone you are not. All needy and clingy. Angry and frustrated. Sad and alone. Literally loving your T because she is all you have. Maybe that’s not how it happens for you but it’s kind of what happens for me. My T that I’ve known for two years seems like a stranger and doesn’t love me. My T cares but it depends on who I am. DID sucks.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. alicewithptsd says:

    Oh Andi. This is just a really painful topic. I read this and feel so hurt and confused for you, I can only imagine what you are feeling.

    I know I’m not there and that I don’t know all the tones being used and the nuances in your therapy relationship, so you know, just ignore this if it doesn’t seem to fit……I do believe your therapist cares about you. From the beginning of this therapy relationship, she has shown that she cares. I do think that the way she responds to you at times are confusing. I understand that in “regular” therapy, a therapist might respond in such a way so as to point out patterns of behavior or ways we relate to others, but, and forgive me if I’m over stepping, I feel as though working with dissociative– whether DID, or more fragments or parts, or whatever–traumatized clients, things are a little different. They have to be. Or, at least it seems that way to me. Like, with this issue of you asking things or behaving like a “brat” instead of taking a “regular” therapy approach, I think that being kind, empathetic, understanding is a more than acceptable approach when you are working with a traumatized client. But I’m not a therapist, so I can’t say for sure.

    No matter how bratty or snarky I am to Bea, she has always met me with kindness and understanding. I do know, there are multiple times I have taken things she says as being mean or cold, and she will try to ask me if I think this is a dynamic between me and my mom or me and a different present day relationship being re-enacted and anything she tries to explain to me, I can’t hear it. And at some point in the conversation she will realize that I’m not connecting with her or her words, and she will switch gears– maybe by speaking to the little girl or checking in with me or whatever. But she will usually say something like “we’ll see what comes up from this……you have to be ready to hear something. I shouldn’t be putting my theories or thoughts or ideas on your stuff, you need to come to conclusions on your own.” I think for me, I’m still learning to trust that it’s safe to believe Bea is there, that the teen part of me is learning she can be accepted — all of her, snark included– when she never was before, the little girl is learning to believe that if she is bratty or angry, Bea will still be there. I don’t know , but I always think that you are needing to learn the same things from your therapist, anytime I read about you being “bratty” or “snarky”.

    I don’t think this is the end. I think you guys just have to work through some things. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thank you, Alice. You make such a good point about parts in this work. As an adult, I can see why she’s hesitant to provide the things I really need to offer myself. But the little, very hurt and very scared, parts? They just need comfort and reassurance. Unconditionally. I hope those isn’t the end. But we definitely have some important stuff to finish working through.


  10. Rachel says:

    This is painful to read. I am going to be honest, and share that I don’t understand your therapist’s rationale in the way she approaches your therapy. You are so insightful, clear, articulate, and attuned to your needs. And her ongoing unwillingness to meet them in ways you outline confuses me. I have this image in my mind of a donkey being pulled, and digging its heels in the dirt and refusing to move forward. I get this sense that when you ask for something she isn’t offering, or in a different way, it triggers this inferiority in her, or something in her that makes her then clamp down. I don’t know Andi, I just don’t get it. Because my therapist is so tender to the younger, vulnerable parts of me, and I need that. It isn’t some arbitrary part of the therapy, it IS the therapy. I need affection and I need it overtly, and I never knew I needed it until I was with her and she gave it to me. I need all of the acts of affection – from the recordings to the structure (that has been pretty steady, but flexible, of course) to the verbal “you matter to me,” to sharing her feelings (infrequently, but when it comes up), to transitional objects (specific to the relationship, not me holding myself better). I don’t see your therapist “getting you” in a way I wish she would – I see you doing more of the accommodating to her style or her needs, which seems like a pattern for you in life with authority/attachment figures. I want her to see you a little more clearly and without her seemingly fixed ideas of therapy, so she can attend better to you.
    This is in no way criticizing her, I really hope it doesn’t come across that way. But what I hope it does, is validate that on your end, your requests and needs and insights and the ways you communicate them are, from my outsider’s perspective, 100% reasonable and within the scope of any therapist to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      Yep. Honestly, we’re both that donkey. I sometimes see softer, more tender responses from her but I feel like it comes either when I’m being very vulnerable (without “attitude”) or when we’re in such a heightened interaction that I’m beginning to outwardly panic and she’s trying to calm me back down before I leave (too little too late, in my opinion). I swear it really does feel like she’s being sadistic, stranding me and refusing to offer comfort when she knows I desperately need it. I used took think she would help if I asked, but now I think her whole point is that she’s NOT going to “rescue me” from my own painful emotions. Which honestly really pisses me off. I am trying to see the therapeutic value in all of this, but it mostly just feels cruel.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. La Quemada says:

    Oh, Andi, I’m so sorry. This sounds like a lot of what I went through with E in July, where I felt I was reaching and reaching but finding nothing. All I needed was some indication of caring and connection, but it seemed to be too much to ask. She was so distant.

    In retrospect, I see that some of it was my sensitivity and tendency to look for things that “proved” she didn’t care (which only grew as I was unable to get satisfying responses from her). But she also made some mistakes and missed opportunities to restore my faith in the connection. She has acknowledged this to some degree.

    Weeks later, we are doing better again. But something is not quite the same. My trust is not gone, but it’s also shakier. We are so incredibly vulnerable with our therapists. In our most vulnerable moments, all we really need is reassurance that we matter and that they care. I don’t care what therapeutic theory you work from; this just seems screamingly obvious to me. We are vulnerable, we are in pain, we feel intense shame, we wonder if we are the most disgusting thing on the planet (we are NOT, but we feel that way sometimes). It just makes sense that the person with whom we share these most personal secrets with needs to listen to them with obvious affection. We might ask in the wrong way. We might resist. We might be annoying. I am sure I was incredibly annoying in July especially. But therapy is not about their annoyance or their frustration or their impatience. It is about our emotional needs. When they fail to meet those needs in our most vulnerable moments and respond instead with cold abstraction or snark, it undermines trust. It just does. I don’t care what part of the damn elephant you are touching (yep, read your posts in reverse order).

    I am sure I am writing as much about me as about you. Clearly I am not really over my rupture with E. It hurts like crazy. But maybe I am learning to care for myself in a more reliable way. And I’m giving myself time to see if she can provide what I need. I hope your therapist can give you the care and tender attention you need. Otherwise, may the elephant sit on her. And fart.

    Liked by 1 person

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