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.”
“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.
8 thoughts on “Skipped Session”
Oh how horrible for you. I guess this is about attachment styles isn’t it? Keeping distance and putting up boundaries because you know she is going away soon and so suddenly she doesn’t feel safe enough. I guess that is where the confusion comes in because of course deep down you want connection! you want that more than anything else – that is the whole point!!
As you say you can’t tell tone of voice on here, but from what you say she said, I would have probably felt and reacted like you did too. Perhaps you would rather have heard something like “I understand how terribly scared you are and that you want to protect yourself by staying away.. I hear how difficult it is when you aren’t getting what you need and that it feels safer not to bother and feel misattuned or unheard but…. etc etc”…. that’s what I would have needed in your situation anyway.. so I do understand your feelings (if I am reading them right? I hope I am).
You’ve done what you think is best for you – you can’t do much more than that right now can you. I guess all you can do is keep writing your feelings out and see what it brings up…. xx
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I’m considering not going to my therapy session at the moment either. I’m supposed to leave in 20 minutes and I’m not even dressed
Your therapist’s comments caught my eye here – how unhelpful! It sounds lazy to me. I think therapists really play with fire when they do this; we need them to be a reliable source of support/advice/comfort etc, but then it slips and it hurts twenty times more than it would coming from someone else.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously therapists are people too (!!) and we all have off days, but the stakes are higher here. I don’t think I could have attended a session in the same circumstances.
Hang on in there.
I think it’s a reasonable decision that you thought through ahead of time. Vacations are rough
I totally get way you skipped your session. You have to take care of you, and missing that session is what you needed, that’s okay. I didn’t end up skipping my session before Bea’s vacation, but at one point I wanted to. It felt safer somehow. Anyway, it’s understandable, and I hope you are having a good week this week. 💟
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I heard your tone of voice. Perhaps it is because I’ve gone through my own fears and difficulties with wanting my therapist to read my mind and solve my problems. I don’t presume that is what you’re thinking but it is the way my own mind works. I’ve talked this through actually, with my therapist, and discovered a few things.
As a therapist she is there to help me take responsibility for my own decisions as well as to learn to communicate my needs, and communicate effectively.
Can I challenge you to reframe your assumption that your therapist is not thrilled with you to perhaps that she cares but is also respectful of your process? My therapist suffers from migraines and sometimes her tone comes across in a negative way. I’ve since learned to immediately ask her if she meant it to be harsh or uncaring.
If I call and leave a voicemail, ending it with, “I don’t need a call back.” I typically desperately want a call back and hope she sees through my insecurities. In essence, I want her to read my mind. Sadly she can’t do that.
Therapy is hard, really hard. I never miss an appointment though, not because I don’t want to, but because I’m so locked into my schedule and routine that skipping would cause more anxiety and grief than not skipping and being confronted with myself. Ugh
She is on vacation this week and surprisingly I am glad. I’m being confronted enough by my situation. It also has given me a chance to work on the suggestions she gave me last week. I’m considering going to once a week while I’m in iOP.
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I know it really hurts when it feels like my therapist is not reading me correctly and doesn’t offer what is really needed in the moment. Especially if you have built up an alliance over almost three years. Not sure if you have the same, but this disconnect leaves me feeling alone and almost hopeless about the relationship or where things will end up. It personally often connects to deeper feelings from past attachments where I was not truly seen. Sorry to hear you are struggling with feeling connected. That can be a lonely place.
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Ugh, Andi, this sounds awful. I’m so sorry. AND, I want to point out, as they would in DBT (ugh DBT sorry) that just like you said, you’re doing your best. You did what you could with what you have. Feeling connected to therapists before, during, and after their vacations is so incredibly hard. Ugh.
I know this is belated, but I’m getting over my concussion (finally!) and slowly starting to catch up on others’ blogs. I also wanted to let you know that I noticed that while you’re a viewer (let into) my private blog, you’re not a follower. It doesn’t automatically make you a follower when I let you in. So if you’re wondering where my blog went… it’s still there! Of course, if there’s a reason you didn’t follow it (triggering, uninteresting, etc) then that’s fine. Just wanted to let you know in case you weren’t aware.
Sending lots of support. I hope that you’re getting through this vacation okay, and sending extra support and warmth for when your therapist comes back (which always feels both wonderful ‘she’s back!’ and awful ‘I don’t want to fucking talk to her because she left me!’). xoxoxo
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