Grieving

I feel like I’m drowning in grief. It took me a while to figure out that’s what I was feeling. I realized sometime last evening that my emotions are frighteningly similar to when Zooey terminated my treatment. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that’s because I am feeling a tremendous sense of loss.

No, my therapist hasn’t terminated. Yet. But I’m very concerned that she will end my therapy. If she doesn’t outright end it, she may pull any and all out of session contact, which would be very hard for me. And even if nothing else changes, she’s already taken email contact away.

And although I think things will ultimately be better with email off the table, there’s no denying that this is a loss. I do have to grieve the loss of that interaction. I have to grieve the fact that I will never, ever see her name pop up in my inbox again. And I have to deal with the fact that sudden rescheduling changes are now going to be much more complicated and difficult to navigate since we’ll be playing phone tag. Regardless of what happens next, our relationship will never be the same as it was two days ago.

But even deeper than that is a loss that’s harder to name or articulate. It’s the loss of trust, I think. I’d always imagined my therapist was a particularly robust clinician. She is, no doubt. But something has happened here that shows me she’s only human after all, and that humanity is something that can hurt me. Even she is susceptible to the errors that so many therapists before her have made.

I keep thinking about how abrupt and frustrated she was with me last week; how similar her body language and tone was to Zooey’s in our final sessions together. I bet if you were to compare the two therapists in their experiences of me and being my therapist, they’d be remarkably parallel.

So there’s this sense of shame and self-hatred that I’ve somehow managed to recreate that dynamic yet again.

But, also, I mean of COURSE I recreated that dynamic. That’s literally what therapy is for. You bring all your shit into the space and watch what enactments and dynamics come into play. Then you look at them real hard and make some difficult changes to your life. This is a dynamic that my therapist was obviously 100% aware of since I came to be her client as a result of a massive rupture with Zooey over this very thing!

This is something we’ve talked about so many times, through the examination of what happened with Zooey. I re-read this post yesterday and was absolutely heartbroken at how similar a place I seemed to have arrived with this therapist in comparison to where I was with Zooey. This part in particular was very painful to read:

“What do you think made you do the internet searches (on Zooey)?”

“When I look at the timeline, it’s clear that I was just trying to hold onto her in any way I could. At that point, she was intentionally withholding connection from me. I could see her decompensating as the relationship itself was deteriorating. I think I was just reaching out for anything to connect me to her….anything that would allow me to remain connected to her once she was gone. I also think I was looking for information that might help me understand what was happening better and then maybe help me save the relationship. Like…if I could find a way to relate to her in a new or better way, maybe I could fix it.”

“That makes a lot of sense. And it’s also kind of sad that you went through so much to try and connect with her and to save the relationship.”

Indeed.

She talked a little more about boundaries and clients doing things like internet searching their therapists. She wasn’t ever weird or judgy about it, but I felt strangely insecure and defensive once I began talking more about all of this.

I thought it was shame around having “violated a boundary” so I brought it up. She said that I didn’t violate a boundary – I did creep along the edge of it, but I didn’t actually do anything inappropriate. She spoke a lot on this idea that how a client is testing and pressing the parameters of any therapeutic space usually says a lot about how the therapist is setting said parameters. She feels like Zooey, similar to the abusive hospital shrink, was unable to draw a line for me. I was ultimately asking both providers to set clear and safe boundaries around our relationships and both refused to do so. In fact, one totally violated me and Zooey just sort of left the boundaries deliberately vague. This therapist thinks part of what happened is that I leaned into the vagueness, grasping at whatever I could find to feel safe and secure.

She’s probably right.

I don’t really even know what to say about this. I look at it and it’s so clear that this therapist knows and understands boundaries. She gets her role. She has always stated that it was HER job to be clear on the boundaries and to hold them. She was so kind and supportive in our conversations around this issue, as it pertained to my relationship with Zooey.

Yet here we are, in an eerily similar space and I can’t help but feel like I’m about to relive that termination with Zooey all over again.

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12 thoughts on “Grieving

  1. Tina says:

    Is it possible that we try to recreate our history, hoping somehow our needs will be met this time, our flawed & broken self will finally receive the approval we so desperately want? Is it possible that we self sabotage our way right into a self fulfilling prophecy? I think we are SO convinced …. SO conditioned to believe that we’re unworthy & will be abandoned that we try to bend & blur the boundaries until others feel frustrated & leave us, thus proving what we’ve always believed … that we are unlovable & everyone will eventually hurt us & reject us when they get to know the real us.
    Perhaps that’s just me. I don’t mean to push the envelope. In the moment I feel a desperate NEED to express what’s in my head … to get it out …. to put it in writing while its fresh … to clue my psychologist in on my thought process. I email & I over share & I sent cute, funny, reassuring emails as if we have a personal relationship, knowing he won’t respond. Then I fear that the repercussions will be more than I can bear. I know the pain you’re feeling & the temptation to email to let her know how lost you feel. My heart goes out to you. The loss, grief & fear of rejection is intense!!! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes. Absolutely. I’m sure that’s probably exactly what’s happening here. I know that on some level I was very much trying to push her away to confirm my own worthlessness. Self-fulfilling prophecy indeed. Thanks for the support x

      Like

  2. dangerousvoyager says:

    I can really relate to what you’re describing – going into therapy with a new therapist and repeating the same dynamic that caused previous relationships to fail, even when you have been very explicit about what happened previously and the new therapist has assured you that they will keep control of the process so it doesn’t happen again and then … they’re not quite as up to the task as they thought they were. Aside from the pain of the immediate situation there is the feeling that you are doomed to endlessly replay the same story no matter what you do. Hope you can hold the thought that your current T is not Zooey and that you will be able to find a way through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel says:

    I read your last post too, Andi, and this situation around the emails and boundaries and her saying no emails – it makes me feel really sad. I feel sad, because I whole-heartedly believe that you sent those emails out of need. You needed something from her, and you needed it urgently and strongly. And instead of inquiring into your need and caring for the part of you so in need that you’d do something like pushing known boundaries (because you didn’t push them to hurt her, or agitate her, or because you were trying to ruin things. You did it because you were desperate and using the only skill you had in that moment), she punished you for your need. And I don’t like that. I don’t like that her response was punitive, because it didn’t help get your need met. So that need is still there, and now you are still alone with it, and feeling even worse because you were punished instead of met with compassion.
    I don’t think she needs to protect herself from you, I think she needs to spend some time inquiring into herself as to why her boundaries need to be so rigid. When working with complex PTSD-type disorders and attachment wounding in clients, a certain degree of flexibility is needed for this very reason. This shit is complex and clients can’t always “hold the boundaries,” so the therapist needs to be able to flex and see deeper into what is happening. Or the potential for healing gets missed, which I do believe happened here. She missed an opportunity to meet you, care for you, and help you feel safe and protected.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes. I absolutely needed something from her. I did not know, and still am not entirely sure, what that need is, but it was very clearly there. She believes I am attempting to sabotage the work, which may be true, but to me the more important question is why. WHY would I be wanting to sabotage the work? What is happening with us that I’m wanting to flee? And I do feel like it was punitive and I’m being punished, which is painful. And now I feel incredibly alone and conflicted about my own needs and whether or not they’re valid, or safe to be expressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Blooming Lily says:

    What Rachel said. Oh, what Rachel said.
    Also, she really didn’t make her boundaries clear – she said she wouldn’t engage around email. To me that means that she wouldn’t read it or reply – but not that if you sent one, all contact would be revoked. That is very harsh. I assume your email was sent from a young place? I don’t think your therapist is considering how she would interact with a young, hurting child (not that you’re a child but I think you get where I’m coming from).
    Of course this is a loss for you… not just of email, but of trust, in a way. Of course you are grieving.
    Sending hugs. Xoxoxo
    (Also the part about internet searching and then repeating the dynamics… I can so relate…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      So what’s super frustrating is her insistence that she was clear in her boundaries. Even in the face of me saying, “This wasn’t clear” and, looking back, it’s obvious that I was exploring this in session with her, talking about the boundaries and how I was reacting to the underlying shift in them. So I brought this shit in, wanting to engage. And yet she still slammed down on me when I pushed against them. Yes, the emails were sent from a young place – from a place that is terrified and attempting to protect itself. I definitely want to protect that part, and myself, from her punitive response. Thank you so much x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Blooming Lily says:

    One other thing: it seems that this is making you scared (and rightly so) to share deep and young feelings in the future, for fear of repercussion. That probably isn’t what your therapist intended but it is really real, and sort of defeats the point of therapy in my opinion. Maybe this is something you could bring up with her? (Mama Andi stands up for Little Andi, maybe?) – easier said than done, I know…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes. I feel like I need to stuff all of my feelings down into the abyss to avoid somehow triggering her and causing more of these reactionary responses. Which sucks.

      Like

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