I’m in a weird place with therapy right now. I feel fairly content with the choice of therapist I’ve made. She’s proven time and time again to be really damn good at her job. And I do feel like she’s helping us and attuning to us and overall being really great at meeting our needs – even as they are forever shifting.

But then there’s this time/“space” thing. And I know I should just take the extra damn time and be grateful I have a therapist who is able to recognize when more time is needed. Right?

Except, it’s just so complicated.

What, exactly, will we do with this extra time?

I think – in a dream world – she’d be able to work with each Part individually, which would help her (and me and other outside people) better meet their needs, which would then help the system function better overall. But I don’t know if she is either willing or (more importantly) capable of doing that. I know she is thinking that more space will allow us to do deeper work. I know she’s leaning into my treatment. I know she’s offering more support. I know I’m also paying for that support and she keeps the parameters clear and safe.

But. Still….Can she really do what needs to be done to help us heal? All of us?

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you-have-the-audacityI’ve mentioned a couple times on here that I’m a college student. I already have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, but I didn’t spend too much time using that. I can tell myself a lot of crap about why I didn’t use it, but it’s mostly because the type of people that are drawn to the field of human services are the exact type of people that remind me of my sociopathic parents and thus inspire homicidal urges in me. No, not every person that works in the field is a narcissistic douchebag with a savior complex and a strong impulsive need to constantly be involved in some form of crisis, but let’s be honest – isn’t one person like that plenty? Yes. Yes, it really really is.

So I decided to change careers entirely. Which meant going back to school. When I started looking for PTA programs I realized there was one literally a neighborhood away from me. I can actually walk there (which I would probably do more frequently if I hadn’t experienced an attempted mugging-by-bicyclist the last time I tried that). It’s a very good program that was super competitive to get into. I worked my booty off to get in and was beyond stoked when I got that acceptance letter. In fact, it’s been magnetized to my fridge since the day I got it, 10 months ago.

Except now that I’m actually in the clinical program and, you know, learning how to practice physical therapy, I’m freaking out.

Part of the freaking out comes from how difficult the program is. I have a 4.0 and consider myself to be pretty damn smart, but this is some next level shit. Then there’s the sheer volume of physical contact I have to have with my peers. I certainly assumed I’d have to do lots of hands-on stuff with patients. And I guess I assumed I’d eventually be one of the “patients” – since we don’t have licenses yet (or even basic clinical skills at this point) we need to practice on each other so we don’t each get sued 400 times for malpractice. What I legit did NOT expect, however, was for my very first lab class to start with my professor saying,

“Okay, guys, choose a partner – someone you haven’t worked with yet – and pair up. Your first task is to properly drape your “patient”, remove their pants and shirt, and then put them back on, all while protecting your “patient’s” modesty and remaining professional with your touch.”

Guys. Omg. I literally stopped breathing. Pretty sure my heart stopped working as well. I was in full “freeze” mode for a good 2-3 minutes. I was panicking. But then I remembered that I know how to completely detach from my bodily sensations so I just floated up out of my body and went through the motions of being the “patient” all while this man I barely know literally reached under a sheet and pulled off my clothing in a crowded room with 23 other people I barely know. SO MUCH FUN.

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Stay In This With Me

During my last session with the therapist, I was in a really weird emotional space. It’s strange because I think that as I’m letting go of Zooey, I feel very stuck about what else to talk about. The majority of my session time over the last three months has been spent dissecting and processing what happened with her. Now that it’s coming to a point where I don’t feel the same sense of devastation and urgency, I’m just completely unsure of how or where to move next. It’s not that I don’t have things to talk about. I always have at least 874 things I could bring up in session. It’s more that I’m afraid of talking about anything else.

Part of this, I think, directly relates to Zooey (of course). I’m hesitant to move onto any new issues because I’m terrified of overwhelming yet another therapist and ending up back at square one. Each time I start to inch my way onto a new topic, I do a LOT of talking “around” the issue. Which is super frustrating because that’s very unlike me. Usually I’m incredibly straightforward, even about very difficult stuff. One of my life motto’s is “say what you mean” because I believe we do a great disservice to ourselves and to others when we make them try to guess what we’re really saying. I don’t necessarily think people do this on purpose, but I don’t think we make much effort to NOT do it, either. You know?

Anyway. So I was having a hard time talking. I brought up this story about my biological mother (and I say “story” because at this point in my life, I’m not sure I believe anything my bio family ever told me):

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After reading Zooey’s email response, it seemed like she was trying to set a boundary, but was simultaneously refusing to be explicitly clear with me about it. I felt like her email was a cop-out and that she was STILL not taking responsibility for her own actions and decisions. I also knew that if I didn’t ask for clarification, I’d agonize over what, exactly, she meant.

So, true to form, I wrote her back and simply asked for clarification:

Thank you for responding, Zooey.

This may be redundant for you, but I do want to be perfectly clear on this: are you telling me to not ever communicate with you again in any way?

I understand the restrictions on personal relationships post-termination. In person and in a previous email, you said that you welcomed updates about my life. It would seem you are perhaps backtracking on that, so now I am admittedly confused.
I think it would be best if we were both explicitly clear on the boundary you are setting. Otherwise, it will probably drive me crazy to try and guess what is or is not okay.
Thank you,
This was her response, which made me both laugh very loudly and cry a bit:

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Change of Plans

Despite all of my insistence that I not go to my scheduled therapy session today, I ended up going after all. I was late, since I forgot to set an alarm, but I was there.

Ultimately, I realized that even though my sessions will end up close together, it’s still only one per week. So, financially, it’s not any extra expense. Additionally, the more I pondered it, the more I realized that considering the recent drama that has unfolded, now is probably a good a time as any to have sessions relatively close together. I certainly have a lot to talk about.

And talk I did.

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Brené Brown just linked to this great animated video on blame. It’s short and cute so give it a quick watch:

I’m posting it here now because I literally just did this today. Here’s the scenario:

My wife and I were on the subway train. We stop at a busy station and immediately step onto a crowded platform. She’s walking in front of me, but in the weird start-and-stop way that we tend to do when maneuvering through a hoard of New Yorkers. I was distracted by my own crowd-induced anxiety and was looking to the side. She stopped for a moment and bam! I slammed my toes right into her left heel. It wasn’t painful at all (for me anyway), but my immediate reaction? I barked out, “Jeez, babe!” as if she has done something wrong. Which she hadn’t. I was just anxious and embarrassed and I needed someone to blame. So I blamed her. She very calmly replied, “I was just walking.” And she’s right. She was just walking. I was just walking. It was crowded. Whatever. It was NO ONE’S fault. Yet in that moment, I had to discharge the blame somewhere. And then I was so ashamed that I had snapped at her that I didn’t even apologize.

I used to do this rather frequently in my daily life. In fact, a very similar crowd-anxiety incident happened very early in our relationship. That was over 8 years ago, but I still regret the way I snapped at her that day.

It’s admittedly difficult to stop this type of behavior. It’s almost like you’re a bolt of lightning. You strike and hit whatever is the closest that will conduct your energy. So often it is the people we love and care about the most, but it can be acquaintances or random passersby that end up the target of these short rage bursts. It’s very hard to feel that out of control and scared, even for a moment. It’s much easier to hand it off to someone else to hold onto. But at what price?

Definitely something to work on.


I miss Zooey. A lot. I don’t think about her quite as much as I used to, but when I do, it just hurts so much. The range of emotions I’ve felt over this termination have just been so extreme and exhausting. I think I initially tried so hard to be okay with what happened that I didn’t allow myself to be angry with her or to put the blame on her. Not emotionally anyway. Rationally, I’m able to recognize that she acted in a very unprofessional way. I know, logically, that her behavior was unacceptable. But emotionally, all I feel is shame and embarrassment.

I mentioned this a bit in session with the therapist I’ve been seeing recently. I told her that when I re-read the termination letter I wrote to Zooey, all I feel is shame. I actually went over the printed letter with a highlighter and marked all the parts that cause me to feel pathetic and stupid when I read it now. There was a lot of yellow. The therapist said that she can see absolutely nothing about my behavior or decisions or reactions that would qualify as “stupid” or “pathetic.” I admitted that it’s not exactly rational, it’s just what I do when I’m hurt – I turn it inward and blame myself. Because, really, when was it ever safe for me to be legitimately angry at the people who were hurting me?

At the time I wrote the letter, I was trying to be as authentic and honest as possible. And I was. But in hindsight, I’m so angry with myself for the way I went about it. I’m pissed that despite how badly she hurt me, I still put Zooey’s feelings above my own in that final session. I still tried to take care of her. I still wrote a letter to try and make her feel okay with what was going on. I was authentic, but only halfway. I left out the part where I think she’s a total shit for abandoning me out of nowhere after she committed to seeing me through this journey. I left out the anger. And I did it to protect her and to try and preserve what was left of the relationship.

At this point, I can’t even explain why I miss her. I’m so disenchanted with her. She hurt me and she didn’t seem particularly bothered by doing so, so honestly? She’s probably not even a very good person.

Yet still, I miss her. Every day. How pathetic am I?