No More Email

I had session yesterday. My therapist was not thrilled with my email. She told me she is now moving the boundary so that I am no longer allowed to email her at all, and if I email her again, she’ll block my email address.

I mean, whatever. I honestly felt a sense of relief when she said that; now it’s abundantly clear: my email privileges have been revoked. I can’t even email for a schedule change.

She thinks she was crystal clear on email boundaries. She’d told me she doesn’t engage via email around anything but logistics. To me, that meant she wouldn’t write back unless it was an administrative thing like scheduling or payment.

But I emailed her on Tuesday.

I’d shared some writing (which I posted in “Stream of Consciousness“) during session. But then I sent an email later in the day with the subject line “Seems Important” and the following message:

There’s so much that I brought in today; so much much sitting in that space, threatening to overwhelm us, or maybe just me.

I want to send you what I wrote because although I’ve already read it to you in person, I want you to have access to it. I want you to really know what I said, on a practical level, even if we might not understand it that well on a deeper level yet. It just…feels important. 

And I don’t want to hold it by myself. 

See you soon.
We talked about it the following day. I expanded in why I’d sent the email and acknowledged that I know she doesn’t engage in email this way, so I knew she wouldn’t write back. She told me she also doesn’t read such emails, which was a bit of a shock and somewhat painful to hear.

That session was very rough, which left me in the space in which I sent the next email, which led her to change the rules.

I’m not as upset that she changed the rules as I am that she wasn’t clear about them in the first place. I wish she’d told me I’d lose all email contact if I sent another email outside the boundaries.

And although I don’t want to get into this in this post, I also feel like she failed me because, quite frankly, I don’t feel like she followed her own rules around email.

This feels like Zooey territory. My therapist said she wonders if she shouldn’t just pull ALL out of session contact because I seem too tempted to push the edges.

But that’s what I do. That’s what people like me do.

And she promised me early on that although it made sense that I’d push against boundaries in therapy, it was her job to hold them.

She didn’t, and now I’m paying the price.

Also, we had a massive rupture yesterday and I called her last night to try and repair some of that, which I explicitly stated in the voicemail. I asked her to call me back. She hasn’t yet and I don’t think she is going to, which means I have to hold all of this until Tuesday afternoon.

I am trying to be okay with this.

Part of me wonders if she isn’t punishing me for violating her boundary. Or maybe she just really needs a break from me. Or perhaps she thinks it would do me good to suffer through without having her return my call (which would be a first).

This feels like very dangerous territory and I guess I’m hoping it hasn’t been irrevocably damaged.

Or maybe I hope it has.

It certainly is easier to be angry with her than aroused.

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36 thoughts on “No More Email

  1. mandy says:

    My experience is that many therapists break their own rules. Not intentionally, but sometimes (in my opinion) they go too far in wanting to be there for the patient, get in over their heads, and then start backing away from breaking their own boundaries. It does leave the patient feeling confused, rejected, abandoned, guilty, angry…I don’t know if this makes sense. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Laura Black says:

    This is hard to read because I can imagine how I would feel in your situation. While I get that she has to enforce the boundaries, it sounds like she should have been clearer about them. And actually your email when you felt suicidal was reaching out at your lowest point. I know it wouldn’t work if that was a constant thing, but I know that I need the comfort of having that option when I am only considering one terrible option. You must feel scared and angry and destabilised by this. And the urge to withdraw will be a strong one. I really hope you can work it out with her. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      I agree, she should have been clearer and I wish she had been. That would have prevented a lot of this stuff from happening the way it did. I definitely feel scared and destabilized and I sincerely hope she and I are able to find our way back to each other. Thank you xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nocturnal says:

    Just, I’m reading along. My therapist changed the rules around emails a few months ago after having been unclear, and it has been a struggle to deal both with the feeling of abandonment/rejection and the feeling of not being sure any more about what is okay/safe to do with her. It sounds like she tried to offer something and changed her mind without being clear about it and realizing how the change would be for you.
    Also: “perhaps she thinks it would do me good to suffer through without having her return my call (which would be a first).” this resonates a lot with me and I can really identify with it (and maybe project my own stuff). I’ve noticed that, in the case of my therapist, it really does not seem to be the case. If she does not reply for some reason, it is because she could not, but I’ve never heard her say that suffering would do me good (even if it’s something I think/feel/fear a lot).
    Sorry for the useless babble. I hope she calls you back soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes, I’m definitely feeling some abandonment and rejection, plus some new fear about what is safe or okay. Which is terrible. Good point, I don’t think she actually wants me to suffer, but I feel very cynical right now. Thanks for your support x

      Like

  4. Paper Doll says:

    I can understand why you feel like she has failed you. It sounds like maybe she got scared when she read it and didn’t handle that the most efficiently. But that’s on her. The work we do in therapy is so tough, and we are going to push boundaries.

    Boundaries, changing boundaries, and boundaries not being held are the number one thing therapists need to be aware of. I sent an inappropriate email myself and the next session A was like “I’m changing the rule, but it’s not to punish you, it is to protect us both. I got that email and couldn’t help you, and that caused a lot of pain for me. And I know you were in pain too. And it isn’t fair for either of us. My job is to keep you safe, and instead of emails, we need to spend time today making a plan, where contacting me occurs only after you’ve asked either a crisis line or the hospital for help, and it’s only to ask for an additional session.”

    I found her being honest with her experience hard. I got mad at her. Instead of her being angry back, though, she was understanding, firm, and explained consequences. I think this is probably what you needed too (unless I’m wrong).

    It sounds like she got afraid.

    I only share this in case you want a way to say “I understand your upset, here is what I needed from you” because boundaries are so tricky. I know how much a change hurts, and I can’t imagine how much more it hurts when. your therapist is visibly upset a maybe not containing her own emotions around it. I genuinely hope you two can work this out. I’m thinking of you. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

      • Paper Doll says:

        Which is such a good question. It’s scary to realize that someone you have seen for a while, someone who knows their shit, can still mess up like this. Hopefully with some reflection she’ll come around and you guys can have a reparative discussion around all of this, because she has definitely failed you here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paper Doll says:

        Of course. I believe boundaries have a very important place in therapy, but that they are 100% the T’s responsibility to maintain. But they are human, and sometimes they make errors. But they need to own them. If you ever want to discuss further (via comments or emails or whatever) I’m here.

        Boundaries sometimes have to change to keep us safe – both parties in the relationship – but even if this is one of those times, it needs to be done from an even keeled place of compassion and come with a really solid explanation. Cutting off email completely seems excessive and defensive.

        I’m here if you need me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Andi says:

        Well said. I respect her need to change the boundaries, but she was such an asshole when she did it and it felt very much like, “now you’ve gone and made me do this thing!” ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paper Doll says:

        Which I imagine felt like she was almost parentifying the relationship. A consequences for your actions type of movement but one which doesn’t take into consideration your needs or current mental state. As an adult who pays for her service you have a right to be consulted in these situations and not have rules determined without your consent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        I’d agree, but I know she’d say that she has a right to protect herself from me. And she does. She didn’t need to consult with me before changing the boundaries, but she should have spoken with me about it more.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. dangerousvoyager says:

    I hate it when rules haven’t been made explicit and you run up against some new twist, because it is so reminiscent of the continual shifting ground in childhood where you could suddenly be punished for something you didn’t know you were supposed to do or not do and was ok yesterday. Plus that whole vibe of “look what you made me do”.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. kat says:

    i don’t like the idea that you only have the ability to deal with severe issues during a specified time period. like we don’t have crises at other times? like we don’t need just a little reassurance to get us to the next appt once in a while? she’s your therapist. she’s supposed to make sure you are safe, and if you email her saying you are not feeling safe, it is her LEGAL obligation to make sure you are, by either referring you to a crisis line or calling an ambulance or just being with you for a moment.

    my therapist is accessible to me at any time, for any reason, via email. i do not use this option often, but if i think of something i want to discuss or if i am in a bad place or if i need to work out logistics, she is there for me, no matter what.

    the last time i ended up going inpatient (1 yr ago) i knew i was in crisis, and i called my tdoc, and she talked to me for almost an hour until she could convince me to let her call crisis, and then she stayed on the line with me until they came to take me to the hospital. she let me call her from the hospital and has never denied me access any time i felt i needed it.

    i could not possibly work with a tdoc who threatens me with being blocked and refuses to be there for me when i need it, just because it is not during an appt. ridiculous. i hope you can regain your bearings, and, if you really want, to fix your rupture with your tdoc. but my advice would be to find a more accessible one.

    good luck on whatever you choose to do. i am so sorry for you having to go through this.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      True. I actually hadn’t even really considered the fact that she read and then ignored an email in which my very first statement was, “I want to kill myself”. She has the right to boundaries in whatever that means for her, but it’s poor work for her to move them AFTER the fact and because she had really never made them clear to begin with.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. La Quemada says:

    Ha, she could block you, and then you could sign up for a dozen, a hundred new email addresses, and you could send her so many emails… you could fill up her mailbox… mount a real denial of service campaign…

    Or not.

    I don’t think that barring you from emailing takes care of what you are needing, unless I’m not understanding something. Would it maybe make more sense for her to act as your ally in creating ways you can feel supported during difficult times, when therapy is scary and your stability is undermined? She could say, “here is why emailing me in desperation is not a workable strategy… and here are some alternatives that I think might be more useful, what do you think?”

    (Unless your actual underlying need is to push boundaries and have them reinforced? But then why weren’t they very clear to start with?)

    I don’t know, I suppose it’s easy for me to sit here in my chair and find fault with her, but I just can’t see how rigidly enforcing a rule that she didn’t even make clear before and doing so unsympathetically–how is this helping you? And isn’t that supposed to be her job?

    Besides ranting about whether your therapist is making a mistake or not, what I need to say is that I feel for you. This can be immensely painful, a rupture, a change in the rules. Please take good, gentle care of yourself, like you might take good care of a friend who was in pain.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      LOL I know, I actually had that thought…but I think if I did such a thing she would likely terminate my treatment in order to protect herself.
      I don’t think barring me from email ALONE will help me figure out what I’m needing, or how to get that need met. I respect her need to re-draw this boundary, but I wish she’d been more clear to begin with, and I wish she’d been kinder when she told me about it. But simply changing the rules without really addressing what happened or WHY it happens seems pretty short-sighted to me. I love the phrasing you suggest here. I know I would have been upset either way, but I would have had such a better understanding of what was happening if she’s said something more like that. Thanks so much for your support.

      Like

  8. Anxious Mom says:

    ((Hugs)) That’s disheartening to know that she wouldn’t even read the emails after determining they weren’t payment/appointment related. It’s scary to think of someone reaching out and her being the lifeline and just getting deleted. I hope you are able to work your way through this rupture and that she will be clearer on what her rules are in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thanks for the hugs, friend. I agree, it seems rather punitive to take away all emails rather than having a damn conversation with me about what’s happening in our dynamic. I hope we’re able to work through this, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sula says:

    Just found your blog–boy can I relate. 😉 If it helps, I got really, really badly messed up by a therapist who was entranced by my writing and I wrote thousands of pages to her. It was…a mess. Healing from it–and the original trauma that brought me in. It’s taken two years with a professional to heal the damage from the one who wasn’t. So though it might hurt to have her draw a line, trust me, you do not want to waste the time, money–not to mention the emotional pain and chaos like I did. Daylighting it all here: http://www.thesandbox.life

    Liked by 1 person

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