Skipped Session

In the two and a half years I’ve been seeing my therapist, I have never once skipped a session. We’ve had to do a LOT of rearranging and rescheduling appointments to fit my various school and work schedules, but I’ve always shown up. I was 30 minutes late once because I had the wrong appointment time. I was devastated.

But today, I skipped my appointment.

I called my therapist yesterday to talk to her about all the intense fear and anxiety I’m having right now around seeing her. She’s going on a two week vacation next week and I’ve been having a difficult time with that ever since she told me. But on top of that (or, perhaps, because of that), I’m really struggling to feel connected to her.

I saw her three times last week while on my own vacation with family in town. I wanted so much to share all of the joy, excitement, sadness, grief, anger, and myriad other emotions I was experiencing but I couldn’t. I tried, but there was this sense that I needed to hold back. There was a wall there, a wall I am sure I put up myself but I was having trouble figuring out why or how to navigate around or above it.

Which felt awful. The worst moments in therapy for me are when I am really needing or wanting to feel close and connected to my therapist, but can’t figure out how to get there. It feels completely chaotic within my internal landscape and the sense of sheer helplessness I feel is unbearable.

The phone conversation we had was similar. I felt that she was being abrupt with me. I think she felt I was being manipulative and self-destructive, which is probably true. But I needed to be seen and heard. I needed her to just SEE how much I’m hurting and struggling; how dangerous this all feels.

She made some comments that felt sarcastic and flippant, like

“I think you should come in, but it’s your decision so you can do what you want.”

(duh). Or

“If you think three weeks off is better than two, than go ahead and skip this week’s sessions.”

(Um, I don’t really know WHAT is better, which is why I called you!)

Since there’s no tone of voice in a blog post, it’s hard for me to convey how this sounded to me, but it hurt. It felt like she was trying to reassert control or authority over me. I felt unseen, as if she was reducing me down to a potential behavior instead of what I was actually doing, which was reaching out and saying, “PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS”

Which, I get it. She maybe can’t help. We’ve had enough ruptures over the kind of reassurance she can give me to know this is probably another one of those moments where I’m needing her to be kind and compassionate and she’s needing me to just hold my own.

I can’t. I won’t. So I made a choice to stay the fuck out of what feels like a very scary and volatile place right now. There’s obviously a chance I’ll regret skipping my session, and I’m sure she’s not thrilled with me right now, but I am just trying to get through a time that feels impossible.

Plus leaving session feeling completely drained and in a state of chaos is NOT how I wanted to go back to work after a vacation. I need my brain to actually function today.

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Not Too Much

My family was here. They're gone now, but my "sister" (cousin) and her husband and children were here for five glorious and exhausting days.

I skipped a session this week since I had company and we had plans all day today. I thought my therapist knew that, but when I went to leave session yesterday, she said "See you tomorrow".

I quickly explained that I would be out today and she seemed surprised and confused. I worried she was angry, but she said she wasn't.

I think I believe her.

Anyway, now they're gone and I really feel the loss. Of them, of the rest of my family that remains estranged, of the missing session,

(Of my mother).

I called my therapist and asked for a phone check-in.

She called me back, but I froze. I don't really understand why, but I just couldn't pick up the phone.

I sorta wonder if it wasn't enough just to know she'd gotten my call and was thinking of me.

She left a voicemail so I also got to hear her voice.

I needed connection, but not too much.
I needed closeness, but not too much.
I needed her, but not too much.

Deflecting

Whenever I’m faced with a particularly difficulty thought or feeling, I tend to deflect by shifting my focus to my eating disorder.

Today I was struggling with connecting to my therapist. I wanted it so badly, but it seems to happen with such ease lately that I get overwhelmed. It’s scary. So although I felt a tremendous pull towards her, I held myself at arm’s length. I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to talk about with her, but I found myself veering further and further off course.

I had been thinking a lot about her upcoming vacation.

I’d also been thinking about how much I will miss her and how I wish she would let me hug her before the break. But I know she will say no and I can’t bear that kind of rejection.

So I say nothing and I just sit and think of how much I physically yearn for her.

Which morphs into thoughts about how fat, worthless, and horrible I am.

So then I’m sitting there obsessing over food and body size, rather than dealing with the pain of longing and grief.

I guess I’m still feeling my feelings on some level, but I’m also kinda not. I want to beat this ED voice. I want to figure out how to regulate myself around food. I want to feel worthy for something other than the ability to deprive myself of basic needs.

But that feels far too close to the stuff that hurts so much it feels like dying.

So I talk about food and obsess about weight.

And the little girl who desperately needs a cuddle gets stuffed further and further into the darkness.

Feeling my Feelings

I’m working on something new: I’m trying to actually feel my feelings.

Which may seem strange since I am an individual who apparently has a lot of big feelings all the time.

True.

But am I actually feeling them, or just doing anything and everything I can to avoid them?

With my therapist’s impending vacation, we had the usual conversation where she reminds me that we’ve been through this before and I made it out the other side. In fact, I generally end up doing much better than I anticipated while she is away and then end up feeling proud of myself for whatever stunning personal revelation I had while she was away.

Whatever. I don’t want a revelation. I don’t want to make it out the other side. I just want to feel my damn feelings.

I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m scared. I’m so many other things that’ve yet to be named.

Which isn’t to say I plan on self-destructing or being utterly miserable for the duration of her time off.

I just don’t want to be a hero about it. I don’t want to be brave or strong or insightful. I don’t want to use other resources or fill up that space with whatever will keep me occupied or otherwise distracted.

This break is going to suck. It’s going to hurt a lot and I’m going to struggle very much with missing her and feeling all sorts of really intense and frightening feelings.

So, I’m curious: what if I just gave myself permission to feel my damn feelings for once?

Title Change

I started this blog two and a half years ago, at a time when the title “Therapy Sucks” made a lot of sense. I wrote regularly for a long time, then tapered off, then felt the need to find some privacy and boundaries within myself, so I pulled away even more.

But I find myself missing the community and the lack of blog posts simply for posterity. I love being able to go back and read what I was thinking and feeling so many months ago. It gives me a change to understand the progress I’ve made, or the places where the patterns just keep spiraling.

I recently had a patient complain about how she’s so busy. She said she doesn’t even know why she’s so busy or what she’s even doing to BE so busy. She asked what I thought about people who are busy “just to be busy”.

I thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, I think it’s helpful, or at least it’s been helpful for me, to be curious about what the ‘busy’ replaces. Is there some thought or feeling or experience I am unwilling or scared to face that I’m covering up with just doing stuff? For me, it’s usually an indication that I’m avoiding something…”

She smiled and said, “Wow, that’s good! Wherever did you learn something like that so young?”

I’m not sure why I answered like this, but I very bluntly said, “Oh, I learned that in therapy!”

She clapped her hands together and said, “That’s fantastic! We should have a group or something that’s just people talking about what they learned in therapy.”

I laughed and said, “You know, I would totally love something like that!”

Which is when I decided to start blogging more regularly again and to rename this blog, which will from henceforth be titled:

“Things I Learned In Therapy”

It’s an optimistic change and, quite frankly, it’s about damn time.

Shit Dreams

Last week my therapist told me she would be taking an unprecedented two week vacation next month. I was understandably upset about this and had a hard time articulating that in session. I just sorta fell silent as the battle inside my head began to unfold.

That night I had a dream in which I showed up to therapy very dirty. I’m not sure if I was sweaty or muddy or what, I just knew I needed to clean myself up. My therapist told me I could use a nearby bathroom. She showed me where it was and I went in, only to immediately spin around and walk back out. I said, “Hey! I can’t use that bathroom! It’s literally covered in shit! Not just IN the toilet, but ON the toilet and in little baggies all over the damn room!!” My therapist just shrugged.

I told her about this dream during the next session and when I finished speaking, she smiled and giggled a bit as she said, “This dream is about my vacation.”

“Oh? Care to elaborate?”

“Yeah…you’re worried that I’m going to leave and things will get backed up. And then when I get back, I won’t recognize that there’s shit everywhere and I’ll just expect you to carry on as if it’s not there.”

I burst out laughing and said, “Yep, that sounds about right!”