As much as I was soothed by the phone call I had with my therapist on Friday evening, I continue to be very agitated regarding the issue of boundaries and affection. I’d say I was probably at about 8/10 on the panic scale when I left session, 6/10 after talking to her, and since then I’ve been hanging out around 4-5/10.

I really loved her metaphor about the elephant. And I appreciated that she made a point to let me know that she wants to support me and would never intentionally or deliberately deny me what I need. I also understand that her version of giving me what I need will likely always differ, sometimes vastly, from what I imagine.

But I also can’t shake the feeling that all of this is happening within the realm of where the therapist is most comfortable. I think she has a flexible way of conducting therapy that also exists within a very rigid framework. Which is to say that she is only flexible when it suits her particular needs, or her specific version of therapy.

And so here I am, twisting and bending and trying desperately not to break, in an effort to preserve the therapeutic relationship. I will admit that I do see her bending as well, but as I mentioned – I feel as though she only does so within a limited range, whereas I’m expected to move far outside my comfort soon.

Which, you know, may very well be the whole point of therapy.

But it also seems like I’m being pushed super hard, with the expectation that I will suffer through the anguish, while she is allowed to coast through this mess comfortably within her emotional range. I guess she’s probably more valuable to me within that range, but I admittedly wish she’d spend a little more time challenging her current beliefs and attitudes around therapy and how she approaches certain issues.

Then again, there’s also a part of me that is curious as to whether or not she could ever meet my standards. I think I (unintentionally) set them very high, and then also shift them if she begins to approach that standard. One thing I’ve noticed is that I become very anxious and irritated in moments when I begin to feel connected to her, or when I realize she’s really trying to connect with me. I resent it. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I want to hurt her and shut that shit down before she hurts me.

Which reminds me of my biological mother in some ways. That woman could never offer me reassurance. On the contrary, she often created more fear and terror. One example is when I was in elementary school:

My art teacher specifically asked us not to mix the paints. I knew she’d said that, but I got caught up in my creative inspiration and decided to mix two colors to create what I thought would be the perfect paint color. It was not really an “accident” as much as me being mindless, but it certainly wasn’t intentional. I didn’t do it to be deliberately insubordinate.

But my art teacher didn’t care. She walked by my table and saw the mixed paints. Then she grabbed my arm, twisted it, dragged me (by that arm) out into the hallway and literally threw me into a cubby. I sat there until the end of class. Then I was silent the rest of the day, before crying all the way home.

When I got home, I told my mother what happened. She said nothing except to tell me to get in the car. Then she drove me back to school, where she stormed into the administrative office, screaming and asking to see the principal and the art teacher. I really loved my principal at this school, so I was relieved that she was available to speak. But my Mom just reamed her out and demanded consequences for the art teacher. Everyone was upset, my mother was making a scene, and it terrified me.

No one ever asked me how I felt or offered me any comfort or reassurance. It was like this incident has absolutely nothing to do with me. Plus it was super confusing since my mother was violent towards me all the time. I guess it was only people from outside the family that could not hurt me?

Looking back now I can see that my mother was upset, not because I was hurt, but because someone had the audacity to put their hands on her child, her property, and thus an extension of herself. She was angry on behalf of a slight against herself, not me. I was invisible.

So maybe part of what I fear is being lost in the relational transaction. Or being punished for needing something. Or being screamed at for allowing myself to get hurt.

I still have much more thinking to do on this. I’m nervous to go to session tomorrow. My therapist will be on vacation the following week and things are generally more tense than usual at such a time. It also feels like I’m holding onto too many things and that tends to make it increasingly difficult for me to find ways to open up and start sharing my ideas and thoughts. I don’t want to just freeze up or spend the hour in some tense headlock with her.



25 thoughts on “Agitated

  1. La Quemada says:

    I hope your session goes well and leaves you with a sense of warmth and caring that will last over her vacation. And you can always ask us, all your blog friends, for reassurance. I personally think you are wonderful and am happy to offer reassurance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. S says:

    “I think she has a flexible way of conducting therapy that also exists within a very rigid framework.”

    This is so exactly perfect and sounds incredibly on the mark.

    And the bar is not too high.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bradley says:

    Coming from an abusive household I understand the fear you felt when your mom was so angry. Angry people scare the crap out of me and I think they always will, I’ve just learned to cope with that fear.

    Hope you have a good therapy session tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. e.Nice says:

    I think these are all valid questions/thoughts/feelings. I hope you are able to talk to her about some of these, if not today then soon. ugghh your art teacher, and even more so your mom. I’m sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SassaFrassTheFeisty says:

    I wonder…if the reason you keep moving boundaries with you therapist now is because of what happened between you and Zooey? What she did was abuse of power (also probably knowing of the maternal relationship) and therefore making you second and triple guess that you therapist now really does want to help. And also because of what she did and didn’t do, you have set the expectations to almost unreachable gains….
    It’s something I’ve been pondering for awhile. This therapist IS there for you, and it’s ok that you both have differing ideals on how to reach a goal, as long as you get there, I think, is what you really need to grasp on to.
    Therapy is like water. Ebbing and flowing, crashing into you and gentle washing over your feet. In the end, it helps cleanse you. You’ll get there Andi. 💖 {Hugs}

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ambivalencegirl says:

    I’m still stuck on the paint thing. That’s so exactly it but not related to my experience. It’s so gosh darned confusing. You were a kid. Kids mix up paint colors. It was creative and you could have learned that mixing those colors made puce. I made that color plenty of times and it’s somewhere between dark brown and purple and probably never the color a kid (or an adult) intends to create. So that’s how you learn and move on. But of course that wasn’t the lesson you got to learn. Instead it was one of punishment, cruelty and judgment. If it had been my mom she would have joined together with that art teacher. After all, I was wrong and didn’t follow the rules. I never listened and I fucked everything up and made a mess. A bull in a china shop. I wouldn’t have told. I was extremely quiet and fearful. Holding onto that fear messes with a child. Oh my gosh Andi, this post just brought up so much and I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. A younger part of me wants to say that at least your mom stood up for you but my adult self knows it was equally as bad as my version if not worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I hear you. And you’re right – my Mom stuck up for me. She always did. She was consistently a solid advocate and cheerleader for me throughout my childhood and adolescence. It sounds like maybe you didn’t have that and that stinks because you deserved to feel like someone was on your side! As much as it confused me to have a mother that was both my biggest supporter and most vile abuser, I think it helped me to feel that love and support from her. Until I was in my late 20s, I relied on my mother to be my main source of support and advice. Without that, even in how strange and abusive it was, I’m not sure I’d be as strong as I am now.

      Liked by 1 person

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