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.”
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.