Privacy vs. Secrecy

Over the last several months, I’ve begun to understand the difference between being private and keeping secrets. I think I imagined they were the same thing. As someone who grew up in a world filled with dark, terrible secrets, I have been hesitant in adulthood to hide my truth. I figured I’d spent enough time concealing my own reality, and doing a lot of damage in that process, to never need to hold back again.

And I still think that’s true. My story is mine to tell, in whatever way I please.

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I have session three times per week. Right now, my appointment times are the same on Mondays and Fridays and slightly earlier on Wednesdays. I have to haul ass to get there on time after clinic. This past Wednesday I took a little longer to finish up with a patient and thus I got to the office one minute late.

I know my therapist’s clock is a little slower than my watch, so I wasn’t too worried. I really had to pee though, so after sitting in the waiting room for a minute or so, I just said “screw it” and ran to the restroom, assuming her door would be open by the time I got back.

It wasn’t.

I watched as the minutes passed and I became increasingly more anxious. Other patients came in and then went to their respective therapist’s offices for session. I still just sat there. Eventually, after probably 8 minutes or so I grabbed the book I was almost done reading and tried to occupy my mind with something other than my growing panic.

Fifteen minutes after my session was supposed to start, my therapist opened her door. She looked her normal self and didn’t offer any explanation for the delay. I was scared to say something, but I knew I needed to.

“Don’t we start a little earlier on Wednesdays?”

I watched as she processed what was happening and then a slight look of horror crossed her face. “Oh my god. Yes, you’re right. I’m so sorry – I got confused about the days and times.”

I felt both my heart and lungs stop functioning. I froze in place.

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Round Two

I wish I could report that yesterday’s session went better than Monday’s session.

It didn’t.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it was worse, but it was very very similar.

I had session right after my internship. On the train ride to my therapist’s office, I was debating whether or not I should share about how the shift had gone. It was my second day, but I didn’t mention it at all on Monday because there were so many other things I wanted to touch on in that hour.

Also, it always seems like such a silly waste of time to share about these peripheral things when there’s so much else we’re in the middle of right now that is more important.

But I’d had a very successful shift and treated five patients on my own. My clinical instructor was very impressed with me and I felt proud of that. So, like a little kid who wants to run home and tell their parents about the awesome thing they did at school, I wanted to run and tell my therapist how awesome I was at my internship.

I did. And I could tell she was proud of me, too. She said, “I’m not surprised at all, but it’s very cool that they obviously like you so much at your clinic!”

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Working Through Some Attachment Fears

I eased into yesterday’s session before reading the “special” email to the therapist. I knew I wanted to read it to her. Well, I didn’t want to, but I had a sense it would be important to share and discuss.

Before bringing it up, I mentioned feeling as though I’d been triggered by a lot of different things lately. I said, “It just feels like I’m trying to work through this thing and right when I think I’m at a better place with it, something else triggers me and I start to spiral again…”

She let me carry on with being vague for a while before asking me what that thing might be. I told her it was somehow related to our relationship, but that I was struggling to verbalize my thoughts and emotions. She reminded me that I didn’t need to have it all figured out in order to talk about it.

I reiterated the feelings I’d first mentioned on Friday when I said that the relationship felt both threatening to me and as though it was somehow in danger itself. I told her it feels like I’m in a place I didn’t want to be and I’m both angry and ashamed that I’ve arrived here. I also feel guilt over having put myself into this place again and I feel both stupid and irresponsible for doing so.

Naturally, she asked what I meant by the “place” I’m in.

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Mixed Emotions

I’ve been thinking a lot about the emotions that came up at the end of my last session. It’s hard to really pull apart what happened because I experienced a mixture of different thoughts and feelings.

My initial thought is that I felt ashamed of my dream. It was extraordinarily difficult for me to share that with the therapist. She’s quite interested in dream interpretation and has much more knowledge about this topic than I do. I was worried she would see something in the dream that revealed more about me than I wanted her to know (or that I want to know about myself).

As far as I can tell, she interpreted the dream as a subconscious reaction to our increased intimacy. Yet I still worry that the dream is perhaps more literal and reveals something terrible about me.

So the sexual nature of the dream was particularly agonizing to reveal. I worry so much about how my trauma has affected me. I often wonder if it has irreversibly contaminated or perverted my worldview. I worry about being an abuser myself in some ways, or the implications of the link between abuse and pleasure that I sometimes experience.

I also felt ashamed of needing to ask her to not harm me in the way the dream version of her hurt me.

But this is so complex.

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Fact Checking

As I mentioned in my last post, the end of Tuesday’s session was very difficult for me.

Although I’d found the courage to tell the therapist about my dream and ask her specifically to never hurt me in that manner, I also felt rejected and ashamed. As I walked out of her office, I felt myself begin to panic. I felt heat rising to my face and my heart was racing. I couldn’t quite figure out what I was even panicking about. There was just this sense that I’d done something wrong; that I’d fucked this up somehow.

I walked to the train as composed as possible and grabbed a seat as soon as one was available. I closed my eyes and tried to just breathe. Once we were above ground and I had cell service again, I seriously considered calling the therapist to leave a message. And I probably would have called if I wasn’t in the middle of a crowded rush-hour train.

Instead, I waited until I walked in my front door and then called. I didn’t even pre-script what I would say (which is extremely rare for me), so my voicemail went something like this:

Hi, it’s Andi. I’m just calling to apologize: I’m sorry for being such a spaz. I’m sorry I was so dramatic. I’m sorry I wouldn’t speak and then when I did say something, it didn’t make any sense. I’m sorry I just sat there. I’m sorry I didn’t get up from the chair when I was supposed to. I’m sorry I thought such awful things about you. I’m sorry I’m such a fuck up. I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I never mean to be that way. This is just such a mess and that sucks. And now I’m panicking, so can you please call me back so we can talk about this?

Yeah. Not my best moment. But at least it was honest.

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The Second Half

As I mentioned yesterday, the first half of my session went pretty darn well. But then at the 30 minute mark I tried to shift the conversation and BAM – instant internal chaos.

I couldn’t speak. The therapist asked me what was going on and I explained that sometimes when Parts don’t want me to speak (or are afraid of what will happen if I say certain things), they will literally take the words from my head – it’s as if they never existed at all. I told her that this is so often why I write things down. If I lose the ability to verbalize my thoughts, I can turn to the written words to guide me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything pre-written for this session.

She told me that she gets the sense rather often that I suddenly lose my words.  She asked me to try to talk about what I was feeling. I told her that I was mostly scared and embarrassed. When she asked about the fear, I couldn’t really say what I was afraid of. I knew that I wanted to talk to her about a nightmare, but I wasn’t sure how to bring this up. The embarrassment comes from the complexities of having Dissociative Identity Disorder. I told her there was something I felt we should talk about (the dream, although I didn’t actually say that) and that although she already knows about it, I didn’t tell her.

Julia did. And I only know about that because she wrote about it in an earlier post. But I didn’t tell the therapist that either because this whole diagnosis is still hard for me to digest and seems completely silly at times. I have a feeling she sorta knew what I was alluding to, but I could be wrong.

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The First Half

Today was my first session back after a ten day therapy vacation. I was kinda nervous going into it because it’s always awkward for me. I never know what to talk about. There’s so much I could talk about and that overwhelms me.

I knew I wanted to be pretty clear about how the past week has been for me, so I was prepared to talk about that topic. I opened by asking about how her vacation was and she said it was fine. She asked how it had been for me and I said it was also fine, but that I also did not want to do it again anytime soon. She laughed a bit and said, “Okay.”

Then I told her that I surprised myself with my ability to be resourceful throughout the time away from therapy. After the last session prior to her vacation, I’d told myself that I could call her if I absolutely needed to and I trusted myself to know what, exactly, “needed to” would mean.

That point never came, but I noticed that I was much less punitive with myself about reaching out. Normally I convince myself that I’m a total loser if I can’t get through a break without reaching out. This time I allowed room to need that, but I also allowed room to handle those moments alone. So although I think it’s great that I didn’t need to call her, that’s mostly because it demonstrates my increased ability to cope, not because I would feel like a loser if I had called her.

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