I have had this title in mind for a while now and yet haven’t really known what to write because obviously my therapist ‘knows’ a lot about me already. It’s not as though I am new to therapy, sitting here with a locked box, holding onto secrets that I can’t share with her.
Indeed, after all these years I know that she knows ‘me’ better than anyone. She’s seen it all. She knows my patterns. She’s repeatedly come up against my defences. She understands my coping strategies. She sees the vulnerable parts. She is a step ahead of me a lot of the time…which is a little frustrating for someone who likes to be in control!
As I say, there’s not much she doesn’t know. So this post is not ‘I want my therapist to know about the time that x, y, z happened’ it’s more about what’s happening for me in the therapeutic relationship right now. It’s the things I sometimes find hard to articulate. Lately I’ve really struggled with feeling connected in sessions. I’ve struggled to say what I have felt and so it’s almost like I need to reiterate this stuff (to myself as well as her).
I was reading a letter that I wrote to her just before the summer and I cannot believe that I was so open with her. It’s almost like I was a brave tortoise for a while, stuck my neck out for a bit and then something spooked me. (The therapy break is the tortoise’s predator and I’ve been languishing in my shell ever since).
All the momentum we built up between Easter and the summer break seems to slowed and I feel like I have steadily been grinding to a halt. Well, not quite that, it’s just that my confidence has sort of dried up and with that my barriers have gone back up. Of course there have been some good sessions, lots actually. I have shared some of these blog posts with her so it’s not like there hasn’t been work done. It’s just I don’t feel the same as I did. After Easter I felt motivated and like things were moving in the right direction. I felt like I could absolutely trust my therapist, but now I feel like I am treading water a bit, ok hiding, and am reluctant to let her in. I’m nervous again… Ugh.
I shone a light on the issue about containment and not feeling held between sessions and yet, even now, four months down the line, it still remains a huge stumbling block and it impacts massively on me from week to week both in therapy and out of it.
In some ways there is so so much I want my therapist to know and in other ways what it boils down to is very very simple. So, I’m going to avoid the usual 3000 word splurge and keep this short-ish.
Yesterday’s session was fine. I talked about a lot of things that are going on in my life but nothing about the therapeutic relationship. These things needed to be aired and worked through because they are impacting me so much right now. But every time I don’t face the therapeutic relationship stuff I really pay for it afterwards. It remains to be seen how this coming week will pan out but I’ll guess there’ll be a few upsetting dreams and a sense of feeling generally uneasy and on high-alert.
Here are some of the things that are huge for me right now and I wish my therapist knew:
- You are incredibly important to me and even when I am resisting in session or being flat out obstructive and saying ”I hate this’ – it’s not about you. I just can’t show you how I really feel because I am still so scared of you rejecting me. It’s easier for me to shut you out than let you in because you can’t hurt me that way.
- When I say ‘I don’t want to be here’ actually, I can tell you there’s no place I would rather be than in the room with you, but I just can’t handle how my brain shuts down and leaves me floundering like a fish out of water when I am with you. I don’t like not being in control. I feel so stuck.
- You feel so far away at the moment and so I keep retreating further and further into myself. Sometimes I don’t want to be seen, and having discussed this with you I know that’s why you don’t look directly at me a lot of the time because it has been a trigger. But actually, right now, I need you to see me, the little ones especially need to be seen. I need you to look at me, I need the direct eye contact. I need to feel connected to you.
- When I say ‘I don’t know’ when you ask me a sensitive question, I do know – often I just feel embarrassed and exposed and so hide behind that stock response! Please push me a bit harder.
- I really struggle between sessions and feel like you are gone or dead. We need to work out a way to make this feel better/less scary because it’s awful. Perhaps it is time for the pebbles? I know I have been resisting this because I feel like you don’t really get what I want/need but I think we need to have that conversation now, anyway.
- Last week’s conversation about physical holding and containment has really shaken me in a way I wasn’t prepared for. I have felt the little ones retreat and shut down. I know that this boundary is there for a reason and it isn’t going to change, so can we please actively work on the emotional containment and holding because right now I feel like I am totally unanchored and the Inner Critic is having a field day .
- I am already dreading the Christmas break – have been since September. I don’t feel like I have fully found my feet since the summer break and so the thought of the upcoming disruption fills me with dread. Last Christmas was really tough and so I think partly I am frightened of ending up back in that place where self-harm seems like a sensible option. I don’t want to go there.
- Despite my really hating therapy breaks I am worried that you aren’t taking enough breaks for yourself. You haven’t taken any time off since the summer and you don’t plan to until Christmas. You look tired to me and I hope that you are looking after yourself properly.
- I hate that I have so much to say to you during the week (but can’t), and yet when I finally see you it disappears or gets frozen. There’s still part of me that isn’t convinced that I am safe with you and I worry that you are fed up with me. It’s a negative cycle because when I feel like this I retreat into myself more and it perpetuates the cycle.
And lastly 10: Deep breath in…this is hard…because I know you know it…or at least I hope you do! (although clearly part of me doesn’t want to have any feelings at all!)
hi, i really hope you can give this list to her. and work through these things. its hard but when you do you’ll feel much better. xxx
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I’m thinking about taking it in… but eeek…. exposing!!! X
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Yes I know, it is, scary thought xxx
I agree, this is a great list and I feel like I hear so many of my thoughts echoed in it. I hope you will face your fears and share it because I think (hope!) you’d find benefit in doing so. You already did the bravest part, which is putting the words out there and making them real. Cheers to you!
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Thanks! I’m going to and take this in on Monday (maybe!). It’s not really all that brave just writing it and sending it off into the internet but I do feel better for having written it all down. They’re small things individually but cumulatively create a big barrier to therapy! I think quite a few of struggle with these issues in and off. Ugh!
Great list. I hope you could maybe take some of it in to her. Especially about the eye contact and needing pushed to say more at times x
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Thanks my lovely, I’m going to give it a go on Monday. I’m just worried that in putting this out there I’ll get flooded because I’ll feel so exposed and then end up dissociating … but maybe it’s worth it as spend so much time shut down right now anyway. Might help shift things a bit. X