Rupture. The cold, hard truth: my therapist doesn’t care.

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I really didn’t expect to be blogging about a rupture in therapy here today. I thought I’d be saying something about almost surviving the therapy break and being nervous about my session on Monday, but also being amazingly glad I’d be seeing my therapist in person soon. That was the plan, anyway. But that isn’t going to happen because, as things stand right now, I will not be going to therapy on Monday, or possibly to my current therapist ever again.

I know. Spare the drama, right? I’m sure some people read that and think ‘put your toys back in the pram and get over it’ but I also know that there a few of you, especially those that have issues with attachment and feelings about abandonment and rejection, who will read this post and wince.

This isn’t going to be a neat, well-constructed post because right now my brain is scrambled and the various younger parts of me are in meltdown…actually, the adult part is devastated too.  I literally feel like I have been annihilated and that’s not an exaggeration. God I wish it was!

In fairness now is probably not a good time to write, I haven’t had chance to process what’s happened yet, I feel raw and activated, but actually right now my options are: sit here and type or do something horrible to myself – and so this surely has to be the better option.

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My last post talked a lot about how I had been feeling depressed and generally not quite right. I have been struggling really hard this week to keep my head above water. I’ve been plagued by therapy dreams where my therapist has rejected me in one way or another, or simply not cared about me and I have woken up feeling heartbroken.

Yes, I know. They are dreams not reality, but the dreams I’m having tap into the insecurities I feel in the therapeutic relationship and end up intensifying the worry and anxiety I feel when I am awake.

I can’t count how many times I have said this now, but I really struggle when I am away from my therapist. No matter how I try I can’t maintain a sense of connection with her when I can’t see her it seems almost impossible. It is bad managing from week to week but it is always really very challenging during breaks.

All the fears I have about being left or abandoned come up, but equally there is a real anxiety that something bad has happened to her. I can’t seem to get my head to a place that can accept that she is out there, safe, and that the connection is still there. It is weird because this isn’t a problem that I experience in other relationships.

I don’t freak out if I don’t see or hear from my friends for months at a time…but then I guess this might be because I don’t have this kind of complicated attachment to other people in my life and therefore the triggers that I have from being a child don’t play out anywhere else because the child parts of me aren’t active with friends. I don’t know.

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Those of you that follow this blog will know that we’ve talked about trying to create some kind of transitional object (pebbles/note) but not got anywhere with it…and now I understand why. I know, too, that I ought to trust my intuition. I see now that my reluctance to engage getting a message written on the pebbles because I was scared that she actually wouldn’t be willing to write anything that would soothe me is right. She isn’t willing to say anything to confirm that there is a connection in the relationship or that it is any way important.

These last few days my anxiety about the therapeutic relationship reached a whole new level of hell. I felt so ill that I couldn’t function. When I say it took me three hours to load and reload the dishwasher and that I didn’t shower or get dressed until two in the afternoon on Tuesday (and that was only because I had to run an errand) because I just couldn’t face doing anything it might give an impression of just how debilitated I felt. I felt utterly crippled with anxiety.

I felt sick to my core, at times was physically shaking, and felt like a little boat of a very choppy sea. No matter what I did to try and ground myself or channel myself into a place where things felt better I just couldn’t succeed. I knew on Tuesday when I was standing in the kitchen with a massive knife against my wrist that something had to give. I knew that not eating wasn’t doing me any good and that I needed to get out of this headspace. I needed to try and get the adult back online, settle the child parts, and power down the critic.

So after three days of debating with myself what I should do: reach out to my therapist or continue down the path of self-destruction, I thought the most sensible option was to simply tell her how it was, ask for reassurance and then hopefully just settle this sick feeling down and then go discuss it all on Monday and try and work out why it has felt so terrible this break.

I know that we don’t text or email generally unless there is something about scheduling. Most of the time that feels ok-ish but sometimes it feels really persecutory. When I feel like I have reached crisis point (which actually isn’t very often) the no between session contact thing is really difficult for me. Because there is this boundary in place, it means that I can’t just reach out when I need to and ask to get a need met, instead I spend a great deal of time beating myself up for having the need for reassurance which makes it all much worse. I’ve always struggled to ask for help when I need it and so this feels impossible.

I beat myself up for breaking her rules. I beat myself up for not being able to manage on my own. I beat myself up because I know that it’s annoying her. I basically drive myself mad and all the while the anxieties I have about making contact exacerbate the concerns and worries I already have: i.e she really doesn’t care or want to know when things are bad and that I am an inconvenience, and whist she can’t openly say it that frankly she wishes I would just go away.

So, if I do pluck up the courage to reach out I end up feeling sick and guilty that I have done it. It feels utterly impossible no matter what I do. I don’t know why it should feel so bad to express a need for someone but it does.

When I was writing my text yesterday, I had debated sending the link to my post Why do I always dream about my therapist when we are on a therapy break? in my message as this is where the spiralling into anxiety began, but in the end I decided against that in favour of taking it in and talking about it on Monday. I didn’t want to do a big mind dump on her, I simply wanted to check in and re-establish the sense of connection in order to settle myself down until Monday’s session.

Simple.

Or at least I thought it would be.

Only things don’t seem to work like that.

In the past if have reached out I haven’t always been clear about what my need is and so when she doesn’t respond part of me feels upset but part of me thinks that maybe I am expecting too much of her to read between the lines of something fairly innocuous. So I endeavoured to be straightforward this time. Tell it like it is but don’t drone on!

I didn’t want to go on about the self-harm, or the slip into anorexia, how much I missed her, or how very bad it has felt recently because I didn’t want to make the text about trying to do the therapy outside the room. I get why it’s important to do the work in the room. I just wanted a sticking plaster in order that the wound didn’t get any deeper or infected before our face-to-face session next week.

So at 11am I sent this:

‘I started having vivid dreams about therapy on Boxing Day. I wrote about it when it started happening because I thought it would help, but the dreams are happening every time I sleep and I just feel completely overwhelmed now. No amount of deep breathing, visualisation, distraction, or sitting with it is helping. It’s escalated to a crippling level of anxiety now and it’s making me not even want to come back on Monday. The critical part of me is delighting in how bad it feels. It’s taken three days of battling with myself to send this:

Please can you tell me that things are still ok.’

*

I forwarded the message to a friend,  because having sent the text I immediately felt sick and started shaking. I was worrying about whether it was too much and too needy, and she assured me that it was fine and that she’d sent similar messages in the past to her therapist and all that would probably happen would be that she’d reply to say, ‘she’s there and you’re both ok and it will feel better’, which is exactly what I had hoped for.

So after anxiously checking my phone for an hour I left it upstairs and went and tried to get on with the things I needed to do. In that time I was thinking about what it might feel like if she didn’t reply to me, which is what I expected, and how that feeling of rejection would probably make me rage. I went upstairs at 2pm and there was a message from my therapist:

‘From my understanding of what you are saying, I think that it is very common for people to have dreams about therapy and for people to have strong feelings about such dreams and I hope that you will be able to continue with the therapy and come to your session on Monday.’

*

I won’t lie. I was a bit taken aback by the message. Perhaps it’s just me but it felt so distant and cold. I sat with it for an hour because I thought maybe on rereading it later my feelings would change I’d be able to find some kind of sense of connection in there and sense that she actually cared…

I didn’t.

I messaged my friend this because I was still trying to look on the bright side:

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I wondered then whether what I had sent was too much about the dreams and not enough about stating that I needed a sense of her being there and things being ok. Perhaps it’d got lost in text? So after some thought I sent this at 3:15pm:

Yeah. I get therapy dreams are normal and can evoke strong feelings. What I’m trying to say is I feel like you are gone and that there is no connection, and now this is being reinforced every time I sleep which is just horrendous. What I wanted was for you to tell me that it is just anxiety, not based in reality, and that actually things are ok still and that you’re still there.

*

I felt a bit eeeeeeek sending it but thought, if  I don’t clearly communicate my needs then there’s no chance of getting them met. I thought she probably wouldn’t reply to the text but a message did come in:

Thanks for clarifying. See you on Monday.’

*

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And that’s where I felt like I had been annihilated. Even just typing that I feel a kind of shock in my body and utter confusion in my brain.

I mean what the hell am I meant to feel about that response?

Well. First was utter devastation and then that was quickly followed by:

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My gut reaction was to fire off something like ‘Seriously? Fuck it. I’m done’ but  I didn’t. Again I waited for a while to see if my initial feelings would settle down or whether I’d go back to the message and read it differently.

Nope.

At 5:15pm I sent this:

Honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry about that message. I’ll let you know about Monday but right now it just isn’t going to happen. I know you need 48 hours so I’ll let you know by Friday.’

*

And that’s where it’s been left.

I don’t even really know what to say to her now. I mean where do I go from here? I want to feel like I am overreacting or something because that in some way makes those messages seem less, err, what? Abandoning? I dunno. But I am not entirely sure that I can convince myself that I am making more of it than there is.

It’s not like my therapist isn’t acutely aware of my issues with disorganised attachment, being unable to maintain a sense connection, and the problems that therapy breaks cause especially for the most vulnerable child parts of me- and to not be willing to offer up the most basic amount of reassurance when I reach out feels pretty cruel actually.

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I don’t know if I can come back from this.

I’ve spoken to a couple of friends about what’s happened, both are staggered by the exchange, and one suggested that maybe now is the time to find another therapist because repeatedly not getting my needs met or even validated is hurting me A LOT.

The rigid nature of the therapeutic frame doesn’t seem to be helping and there appears to be no flexibility in it. I had just about come to terms with the fact that touch was out of bounds but actually not even getting the most basic level of reassurance when things are about as bad as they get…well, what do I do with that?

I don’t know.

I feel like I was trying to find a better way of coping with difficult feelings. I was trying to get help. It backfired and now I am back to square one. Maybe there’s a reason that blades and starving myself have been so long part of my existence. Maybe deep down what I have always felt to be true is true: I am not worthy of care and I do not matter. On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about the Christmas weight gain now. Stress of the last two days and 2kg has just dropped away. I shouldn’t be pleased about it, but fuck it. I am done.

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Author: rubberbandsandchewinggum

Mid-thirties. Mum of two. Procrastinator. Therapy and mental health blogger.

48 thoughts on “Rupture. The cold, hard truth: my therapist doesn’t care.”

  1. I’m so sorry, that is really really shitty. Is she often as misattuned as that? If you felt able, I would be tempted to let your angry teen part go in on Monday and tell her what she’s done to you. Can’t be any worse than not going at all? IM

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Right now I don’t think I can go back. I can’t even really muster the angry teen because every bit of me feels completely crushed. Even the usually hopeful little parts can’t see how she can make this better. I dunno about misattunement. I think she knows exactly what I need but just won’t entertain it through being wedded to a rigid theoretical model. 😩

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. I’m seriously at a loss for words. Her actions here remind me of the card lying out in the snow that you described in your dreams from another post. Just very distant and cold. I understand boundaries, but like you said, you were specific in asking for a basic need. And if she’d just validated that right from the start, that would have been enough. That makes me very sad for you because I think while there of course need to be boundaries therapists need to be aware that with attachment issues 100% of the work cannot be done in the room to maintain a healthy therapeutic relationship. It’s the nature of the beast and to expect anything more is not meeting you where you’re at. You didn’t ask for much. I’m honestly appalled that she couldn’t give that to you. I understand your devastation.

    It sounds like part of you has already made the decision to move on, for which I really do not blame you if you feel like you need more. There are other clinicians out there that will be more flexible. If that ends up being the case would you consider, at some point, doing a final termination session with your therapist? Just to process this experience (it may help to have her perspective) and have a chance to advocate for you again face-to-face. Either way, please hang in there. You are strong and resilient. We’re all here, still cheering you on. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know – the parallel with the dream is there isn’t it? 😩 tbh I am so at a loss that I don’t even know what to say. I am so devastated. In someways it’s helpful that people are equally as surprised or confused by this but actually there was a part of me that hoped someone would step up and say it’s not a big deal. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Right now I just want to disappear. I’m trying hard to think of why she would respond like that, to work out why that might be beneficial to me, but I am really wracking my brain and I’ll be honest, I’m getting nothing. I wonder if this is just an opportunity to get rid of me. Thanks for your support x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Perhaps it is my bias in my own issues that I have difficulty seeing her perspective, I’m not sure. I can see where she may have been trying to encourage you to continue on as you were, and sit with how you were feeling. It may not have been intended as it came off, the risk of e-mail/text. But I think, especially with her knowing you, that aim could have easily been accomplished by saying ‘I am still here,’ ‘you have the capacity to handle this’ etc. A few sentences. If the entire point was to keep a separation and not reinforce the out-of-office contact though, she could have refrained from answering at all. Although I don’t know which is worse.

        I know this, if it feels like a big deal to you than it is a big deal. You can’t just cease to feel the way you feel, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. No matter if it is with your current or another therapist, I think it is important that you explore this eventually. I do believe that your therapist likely didn’t mean to come off. Hard to know when your feelings are so raw. Take your time in making your decision. Maybe you can seek out another therapist in the interim as a sounding board, to give you a sounding board before (if) you return to therapy with your current therapist? Just to have the support you need without making a decision one way or another. Wherever this takes you, know that you are right in how you feel, because that’s all there can be.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad you chose to write rather than harm yourself.
    I would feel like I had been stabbed in the heart if I received this response. I get the boundaries but it doesn’t prevent her from being warm and empathetic. She can also still be professional at the same time. She might be using tough love, but you’re only asking for a bit of reassurance. It takes so much courage to reach out and most of us only do it when we absolutely need to. I would say that a session is an opportunity to discuss her response and she may be able to explain why she was so therapisty. Written words can come across as cold. I can understand why you don’t want to go back though. It feels like rejection, but doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy of love or care. x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. You’re really right about how hard it is to reach out in the first place. I’m just totally bereft right now. I think if I can drag myself there on Monday it might be ok (or I’ll just sit in silence!) but right now I just want to curl up and die in a hole somewhere and don’t want to go only to feel even more pushed away and like I don’t matter. The last thing I want/need is to turn up on Monday and get some talk about boundaries. I just feel like we are completely different pages where the attachment stuff is concerned. x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok, playing devil’s advocate here and talking to the adult here…

    You have an agreement that you don’t text/email between sessions. You texted her anyway… and it wasn’t even a between session thing, it was a therapy break… her holiday. She was never going to respond how you wanted/needed because to do so would encourage you to continually break that boundary and actually make it impossible for you to keep it. She was maintaining her boundary. That is all. Plus when she is not with you she has to hold and contain you differently. She feels powerless to truly help and give you what you need in a way that will truly resolve your pain… she can only do that with you near her. She has to keep her boundaries close in order to look after you both. That is her style and ability NOT an indication of her care. Boundaries are shit, I hate them too. However, they are an indication of a therapist working professionally, ethically and safely. A person without boundaries is GOING to do more harm than good because they will let you get hopelessly engulfed by them, let you need them and then they will burn out and in that firey mess will hurt you too. She is protecting you from that pain, which actually shows she DOES care.

    I feel for you though, honest to God I do. I know how it feels, I have been there. I have suffered through the whole ‘why don’t I feel cared for via email’ thing. I have hurt and wanted to end therapy when my therapist said she would not hug me. It hurts so so much. I wish I could hold you and tell you it does get better, that eventually you WILL feel her care and devotion…. because you will, in time. There’s no guarantee when, but you will. I wish i could tell you how amazing it is when you finally feel it and how much you’ll revel in it and be on cloud 9. I wish I could show you all that. But you won’t understand right now… you will, but not yet. And that’s OK. You’re OK, just as you are right now.

    I don’t want to encourage you to end therapy or you will simply repeat this pattern with your next therapist and the next and the next (trust me, been there, done that). I’m going to encourage you to do what I found the strength to do… re-interview her. Figure out what you want THEN figure out questions you need the answers to, your bottom lines. Send it in an email and ask her to look at it with you in session if you are afraid you’ll chicken out. See if her answers to those questions match what you need. If not then you can decide from there with wisdom and clarity if her bottom lines and your bottom lines are compatible. It is NEVER a good idea to make decisions while you are so emotional because more than likely you will regret it.

    Take some time, go and see her. Explain, ask, think. Don’t end it while you feel this bad.

    If you do decide to end it AFTER talking to her, remember that ALL therapists will have boundaries and hers are not uncommon. You might find yourself in a similar position this time next year. You might not find the therapist who hugs you, gives you transitional objects, allows contact between sessions AND (most importantly) who you actually like. They might not exist in a way, location or at a price you can tolerate.

    I had to get over my need for a hug and it still fucking hurts now. But I shopped around, I looked at other therapists and while one offered what my current therapist didn’t (extra sessions) nobody ticked all the boxes…. my therapist was the only one who came close. And actually when i asked her in mature, adult manner, she met all but one need. I decided I would rather have her without that need being met than not have her. It was HER I wanted to meet that need, nobody else would do, just her. So if nobody else would do then I had my answer, it was her without that need being met or someone else I didn’t really like who would meet that need. It does still hurt but not as much as it used to because most of the time I settled in her care of me.

    I urge you not to end therapy… to wait till you are calm and can think clearly. To talk to her clearly. Don’t do something you may regret… PLEASE.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for that 🙂 I think! ha! I totally get absolutely everything you are saying and agree with almost everything you have said. I really do.

      I understand why boundaries are important and why they need to be there… even if they hurt.

      I didn’t text her deliberately on her holiday – I think she’s back at work now which is why I waited until yesterday and suffered on for so long with how bad it’s been feeling. I know she needs her breaks. I often worry that she doesn’t take enough breaks!

      What I will say is this: if not responding to texts is her boundary then she really shouldn’t have text me back at all. At least that would’ve felt consistent. Sure it would have felt rejecting but it would have been following what she has said she’d do if I text, ie ‘know I have contacted her but not read the detail and discuss in session so that she knows I have something to say but we can attend to it in person’ – that’s ok…..but she did choose to reply, didn’t she?…and what she said was worse than had she left me hanging with it on my own and that’s really the issue here. She did respond but blimey what a reply at the end. I mean who says that?

      I honestly don’t know I am going to do. I am not sure the care is actually there in person either. She seems pretty evasive when it comes to talking about whether she cares. As for a transitional object it was agreed she’d write on the pebbles I took in or she’d write something on a piece of card but neither one of seems able to get down to it. She doesn’t want to write something that isn’t genuine and yet expects me to somehow help construct the words! I’d rather she just write what she does (or doesn’t feel) rather than labouring on like this. Frankly I can’t see how either item is going to help now anyway, it’s not quite your therapy blanket is it?!

      Ugh. I really fucking hate all this.

      But thanks for taking the time to send me all that. I hope I can come out the other side of this but right now I feel totally destroyed. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok… whenever I hear of an argument or situation involving a disagreement between 2 people, I always think of them each having a part to play in what happened. That’s undeniably true. You are not innocent of blame and neither is she. You are an adult, so is she. You have your role, so does she. However, you can only work on your part of the exchange and change how you feel, think, behave which is why I said what I did. You can’t change her part.

        So what in my opinion was your part? My thought is that she was doing what she thought best at the time. Letting you know she was there and alive without encouraging you to keep breaking the boundary. Come on hun, everyone knows if she hadn’t responded you’d feel just as badly as you do right now. Panicking about whether or not she was alive….Being ignored is as good as being stamped on in most people’s book. There was nothing she could have done to ease your pain except give you exactly what you wanted which would have only served to encourage you to break the boundary time and time again. I’m not saying it’s not painful for you… I know it is. It just set up a total lose lose situation. It’s really not your fault though, I have an enormous amount of compassion for you… boundaries are shitty horrible things when you grow up having yours violated. When the world is a confusing, awful place we don’t understand boundaries AT ALL. So when we come across them it feels like rejection. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that boundaries = care of self and care of others and not boundaries = rejection. And I’m sorry but boundaries DO need discussion even when you are feeling as bad as you are. Your boundaries were violated as a child, right? See how damaging that was for you? Do you really want this to keep happening? This pain and hurt and loss and grief? Therapy is not a cake walk. It’s not about just talking and having someone listen sympathetically and nodd along and be on our side. Therapy (good therapy) is about hard work, change, learning and growing. Yep, empathy, care, validation etc come into that but a good therapist and friend validates FEELINGS not behaviours. This is why I’m challenging you… yes people are unhelpful.

        Having said that though, it WAS cold of her. Therapists should (I think) be able to hold boundaries with compassion and say no without making the client feel rejected. I personally do not like the feeling I get from those messages and I totally understand where you’re coming from. Which is her part in this. Yikes, it would have shot me in the heart if mine did that to me. And what you said about the stones needs addressing.

        I think there’s a difference between not being able to feel cared for and not feeling like you are. The first implies you’d never feel cared for no matter what the circumstances and that the issue lies within you somewhere. The second implies you don’t believe the other person cares but if you did, you’d know.

        Out of interest, how long have you worked with your therapist? I can’t remember off the top of my head.

        Personally I believe that if we have suffered a lack of care and like then we need that from therapists. We need and deserve to feel liked and cared about by them. I think what you need to explore is whether she is not expressive of her care because she isn’t that way inclined therapeutically (the care and like IS there she’s just not saying it) OR if she really doesn’t. Unfortunately, that is a question only she can answer and it’s an extremely hard one to ask. If her answer leaves you feeling cold/rejected/confused then I think it would be fair to look for a new therapist. Even if she cannot answer directly (and she might not) she will be trained in the art of making you FEEL the truth. My therapist can make me feel cared about even when she’s not saying it. Either yours is inexperienced in that (which I personally think is unhelpful for you) or she doesn’t feel it.

        Hunny you deserve to feel cared for, honestly you do. I believe that we need that and I dislike therapists like yours MIGHT be, that are emotionally uninvolved. The reason I ask if you’ve worked together long is because it’s unrealistic to expect that care and bond to develop overnight. My therapist thinks a bond (or liking a client) can develop in 8 weeks but she didn’t express her care till about 5 months into the relationship.

        Oh and your comment about my therapy blanket… you do realise you are comparing situations right? That is natural and normal when in the blogging sphere but it DOES cause pain because there is ALWAYS someone who has more than you. That’s why I stopped following a lot of people’s blogs… the jealousy made it hard for me to see clearly what I had. Jealousy is a painful and shameful emotion to feel and a hard one to carry but it’s normal and natural… just not helpful. My best mate Jay has more than I do (therapeutically) but she thinks I have more than she does… see what I mean? I’m concerned that comparing yourself to others will only harm you. I’m not saying that what your therapist does is correct and you need to learn to deal… I’m saying I’m concerned if you keep comparing you’re always going to wind up feeling empty no matter what. That is the unhealthy aspect of blogging.

        I want to end by saying that if any of what I’ve said has hurt you, I’m sorry, that is not my intention. I really do care, but I’m deliberately challenging you because it is the only way we grow and I care enough to want that for you. I understand how you feel, it’s terrible and hard and what you’re going through… I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy… I just want you to think about your behaviour, your next steps, your next move and make healthy choices based on your needs. That’s all xxx

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh and I want to add one more thing. My therapist responds exactly the same way as yours does when I email in an overwhelmed mess like you were/are in. She comes across as very cold. When I email in a positive fashion, she responds likewise. I’ve yet to figure out exactly why this is to be honest. The reason why I’m not saying her texts were an indication of her lack of care is because mine responds like that and she cares very much… I feel it in session and obviously she’s told me in session. Why? Because to her therapy should be conducted in the room or over the phone where care can be communicated more easily. Gradually I’ve learnt to carry it with me between sessions and right now I’m being mindful of the fact that i know emails don’t really meet that need of her and actually hurt so naturally I have begun not emailing her so much. What bothers me most is that she apparently doesn’t make you feel cared for IN session. THAT’S where the issue lies I personally think. You don’t feel cared for at all, do you? In session or out… thats the problem in my eyes. Is this lack of care real? That’s what needs looking at… That’s what I’m trying (and maybe failing to get at… sorry). I agree with Amber’s comment that psychodynamic boundaries aren’t helpful for people with attachment issues… yuck, I hate them!! I’m not suggesting they are. I am simply stating where they might be for her and that those boundaries shouldn’t and don’t indicate a lack of care. Her texts don’t either really… judging by my therapist’s behaviour. What does her behaviour IN session suggest though? What does that tell you? FORGET the texts for the moment… think about in session.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you for all this. I’m on slight cognitive overload right now and had a quiet day listening to music. I feel more grounded now and feel a bit if a wally now but those feelings were very real on Weds and thurs and so it’s important we talk them through on Monday! Yes, I’m going back even though I feel like I want to do is disappear!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hiya bab! I’ve been off WP for a while completely (just seen your angelic comment on my last post actually, thanks!) but an unending winter virus and abject boredom lured me back in, and your post is top of my feed. So voila, here I am!

    There are things I want to say about this that really don’t fit the narrative that most people like to believe about therapy. But fuck it, life’s too short, I care about you, and I’mma just say it.

    Of course people want to make this all about boundaries, and sure in a sense, it is. ‘You broke the boundary!’ Well sure, but so did she actually. That clearly isn’t the issue here. Evidently, she wasn’t so set on the boundary that she couldn’t reply at all – because she DID reply. Twice! So thats a pretty redundant argument. ‘Yeah but you broke it first.’ Ok sure, but if that was her issue, couldn’t she have not responded? Lesson in respecting boundaries = learned.

    But, she did choose not to extend you any human compassion. To me that’s the important bit, and the concerning bit. Imagine taking the effort to reply, but being so cold? I’d love to hear the therapeutic explanation of what that’s meant to do for the work. I almost guarantee I would tear it apart as bullshit too.

    I personally don’t think that therapy for someone with severe attachment issues works with these boundaries. It’s not so much the boundary itself but the coldness around it. I’d be willing to revise my view if I had ever seen any evidence to the contrary, but I haven’t. If anyone wants to come out of the woodwork and tell me differently, sure, fine, but I haven’t seen any evidence so far and I can only work on what I know.

    I actually have really strict boundaries with my therapist when I think about it, but that’s because our agreed boundaries are ‘loose’ by other people’s standards. I think the reason that this therapy style is not possible for a lot of people is that a lot of people with these attachment issues, whether consciously or unconsciously, refuse to take any real responsibility for their recovery. These are the people who ‘burn out’ others with their emotional needs, and this is why people are so scared about and obsessed by boundaries. It goes with the territory, I get it and in a sense it is a symptom of the illness. I’m not passing judgment, actually I think I have been this person in the past. I totally get it. In this instance I fully understand why therapists would be reluctant to relax their traditional boundaries, and agree boundaries that are more suitable to this style of work, with clients like this.

    I don’t know you, but the impression I strongly get from your blog is that you are very much NOT one of these people. I think you would thrive under a different set of boundaries that have more compassion and don’t feel quite so punitive. They are still boundaries but there is actually Some space to heal and breathe in them, rather than being stuck in endless torture. Some people think that rubbing against all these boundaries is the work – but it isn’t. I’ve literally never ever seen any evidence of anyone growing through being continually damaged by these boundaries. Ever. Again, if anyone wants to leap in and tell me differently, fine. But from all that I can see, it’s an impediment to the work, and people get stuck in these agonies for years, hurting themselves and feeling worthless, but doing mental gymnastics to justify it to themselves that this is ‘the work’. There’s somehow a belief that any other style of therapy would block you and not allow you to grieve the early losses being brought up by all of this… errr. Not true. Just isn’t true. I could move in with my therapist (and would, if he’d invite me!) and there’s still the grief. No level of intimacy is a salve. But an increased level of attachment and trust creates a situation where you can actually grieve in a cathartic productive way, as opposed to getting stuck in repeating these painful patterns with no real progress.

    There’s a book called ‘The Bad Object’ by Jeffrey Seinfeld which is brilliant. Tom bought it and we both read it, we love it and it’s very much a template for what we are doing. I would love to lend it to you if there was any way of getting it to you. It is technically about ‘borderline personality’ but what it’s actually about is the negative therapeutic reaction – i.e. the therapy relationship causing this level of pain and essentially appearing to make things worse – aka, attachment issues. The solution though, as you would see from the book, is definitely not being treated with such a lack of humanity by your therapist.

    Ultimately it depends how you perceive therapy, and how you perceive that recovery will happen. I’m on the side of psychoanalytic thinkers like Seinfeld, probably because my therapist is a psychoanalyst. But also because – it works. And I guess the reason I’m ranting is because it just makes me mad to come back to the blog world and see crap like this. I don’t think your therapist is evil or cruel, but I just think the total lack of empathy is a bit disturbing, and is in no way beneficial for this sort of work. Like it’s just so redundant and futile to treat you that way, I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad for you, if people’s lives weren’t at stake you know?

    Wary that I don’t want to get dragged into any WP politics – I don’t really care if anyone criticises me about this cos even if you find it uncomfortable, it’s true, but I won’t be responding, too exhausting and I understand this stuff might be difficult to hear or accept for some. I do have more to say. You can email me: maybeithasntstartedyet at gmail dot com. Might take me a while to reply though, sleeping tons right now.

    Regardless of this essay, I just wanted to send you the warm love you deserve, even if it’s a little meaningless from me. Think I’m gonna click off WordPress now – stuff like this is too infuriating! But don’t hesitate to email if it will help. Otherwise I will hold you in mind. X

    Liked by 4 people

    1. OMG Amber I have missed your tell it like it is way of saying things!

      Thank you for all of that. I don’t really know what else to say right now but it means a lot that you took the time to say all that and validated what’s going on for me.

      I am delighted btw that things are going well for you…of course not the virus stuff, but life in general.

      Take care and I might drop you a line tomorrow. Right now my head is swimming x

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, I really do give no fucks anymore. Weirdly a side effect of my improved self esteem!

        No but seriously, I at least hope you are feeling somewhat supported and cared for by the fact that so many people are commenting here and trying to support you in their own way even though everyone has different opinions. It’s not necessarily about who’s right or wrong cos only you can decide. I just read Ellen’s comment below and I feel like I agree with her actually, she’s said what I mean in a less biased / more measured way – i.e. what does this really mean and will it help you? I guess I’ve come at those questions with the assumed answer of NO it won’t. But that’s your decision. And changing therapist is a big deal. But.. I still think I’m right 😉

        Either way, I really AM holding you in mind tonight. Ruptures w Tom used to make me utterly deranged. I remember that pain. We are all here with you in our own strange ways and hoping to help you hold it x

        Liked by 2 people

      2. No fucks to be given is really an admirable stance! I think I’ll aim fir it in 2018 as being bloody sensitive as hell is a right ball ache.

        Thank you for the support and yes ‘deranged’ is pretty close to how I’ve felt this last week! 😖

        I’m amazed at how much traffic this post has received today… clearly lots of people in a similar therapy boat clicking in!

        X

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha thanks. I thought my comments were gonna rile people up but I can’t bring myself to care, I guess cos I very strongly feel that I’m right! Glad that wasn’t the case with you 😉 hope you’re ok x

        Liked by 2 people

  6. The issue is that you broke your boundary- but you’re allowed to do that, in this relationship you are the child and the one working on healing through learning about boundaried relationships. It’s okay that you broke your boundary. But she broke hers – And she’s the adult. She’s meant to be safe and keep her boundaries. She didn’t and she hurt you because of it. I agree totally with the comment above that says she will have tried to be distant because otherwise it will encourage a recurrence of you contacting in between sessions – but actually she broke her boundary before that, when she decided to reply to you at all.

    I am very sore atm about ‘adults’ breaking their boundaries with my ‘child’ parts and then letting it feel like it was my fault… no. It is not and being hurt is not okay. It is not okay for her to have hurt you like this.

    Saying that, people make mistakes and the strongest relationships work through those ruptures. Only you can know if this is one to work through or not x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know you’re going through your own personal hell right now so thanks for writing.

      Yeah, get what you’re saying about boundaries. This one is becoming a bit of a deal breaker for me. I’ve said enough times (here) that some kind of scheduled contact in the week would really help with this spiralling that happens but because that isn’t on the table it becomes quite difficult when crisis situations come about. This would never have escalated in the way it did if on Monday I could’ve legitimately checked in and got back a generic ‘I hear you and it is all fine from this end’. Instead the shit hit the fan because I was so distraught by the time I text that it all just seemed utterly rejecting.

      The weird thing is, actually had she replied to me in a vaguely reassuring way it wouldn’t stimulate me texting more in the future….which I think is a concern. If I had some true sense of things being ok and there being genuine care it would do a great deal to settle the anxious parts down. I feel like I am always searching for proof of her care and therefore push to try and get evidence. When it’s not forthcoming it just heightens the sense of things being bad and false.

      Oh bloody hell. It’s a mess!

      Take care and you’re very much in my thoughts x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ve obviously touched a deep chord here with readers as we all wonder what we would do if that happened to us! Just for a different perspective then, and definitely not negating your feelings which are important. Your T’s responses seem odd for anyone really – if i got that kind of message from a friend for instance, even if I didn’t deeply care for them, I’d text back something supportive. So I really doubt that this T’s texts truly indicate whether she cares about you or not. Even though of course it feels desperately like that. I suspect this is something to do with how she sees therapy working, which you also allude to when you say something like her rigid way of seeing therapy. Some therapists see all client responses to them as transference – the responses are all about the client’s own past. So in that case, they want to let all these responses happen. To reassure might be to step out of that frame of reference, and stop necessary emotions from emerging. If I looked at therapy that way, then her neutral type responses make sense, in the service of letting you have your feelings.

    That’s a theory anyway. Have her responses to you changed? Did she use to provide reassurance and has now stopped? If not, she may care deeply and be deeply invested in your healing and still respond in this cool way due to here own theories.

    I’d say ask her. If you decide to return. Discuss your feelings, and ask why she responded as she did. Maybe it’s something totally different.

    Another question is if this is the type of therapy that is going to help you going forward? A question only you can answer.

    I hope you feel better. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that! : ‘your T’s responses seem odd for anyone really’ 😳 I don’t know if I’ve hit delirium now but I am almost wanting to laugh about all this because it seems utterly bonkers and unreal. Only it is real 😫

      Umm as for responses/messages they’ve always felt really formal and distant so I guess nothing’s changed in that respect but I suppose because I feel like therapy had changed (improved) that my sense of how things are has changed. I wasn’t ready to be hit with that yesterday. I honestly thought she’d either not reply at all or say something mildly reassuring. Obviously got that wrong!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, I’m new to your blog. I’m also in a strictly-boundaries therapy, currently struggling through the break, also going back on Monday. I’m sorry it happened like that. I don’t know if this helps and it may be off the mark but I just want to offer it as a perspective. I have sometimes (during more trusting moments) been able to ‘translate’ my therapist’s ‘inhuman’ responses into something more caring.

    So in this translated version your therapist’s thought process when she got your message would go something like: I’ve been wondering how she is but oh, so sorry she’s struggling! I really shouldn’t but I just don’t have the heart to not respond to this. I know she wouldn’t reach out if it wasn’t really bad… But what can I possibly say without breaking the container of therapy that we have spent so long building? I need to be careful. Whatever I say it won’t be the answer she wants. Will she be able to read the care in my reply regardless? Without seeing her how can I be really sure what she means and how she really feels and what’s going on?

    So the fact that she broke her boundaries and replied translates as: I feel so much compassion for you and yes, I am still here!

    Then her message translates something like this:
    From my understanding of what you are saying = I am sitting here, really trying to understand because I care about you so much
    I think that is very common… = you know I can’t talk and can’t give you what you want but at least, for now, I’d like to normalize your feelings and reassure you that it does happen and you can pull through this
    I hope that you will be able to continue with the therapy and come to your session on Monday = please keep going, I want to offer you hope by reminding you that we only have a few days to go, I can’t wait to see you again, Monday is YOUR session, that means I AM here for YOU, that place is absolutely yours no matter what and you are expected and will be welcome whatever you may bring, if you come in angry or silent or turn up half an hour late to punish me for the break, I will be there waiting patiently for you, hoping to see you, ready to accept all of you, give you all my attention and empathy

    Then the next message would go: Thanks for clarifying = there, now, we really mustn’t be doing this, we’re not in the privacy of our room
    See you on Monday = take heart! I ABSOLUTELY believe in you! you can do it, I trust that you can come to your session! please please do.

    And after your last message she would have been thinking: oh no, I shouldn’t have replied but compassion got the better of me, it’s so hard to not be misunderstood in writing, especially when she’s not well…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m glad it made you smile for a moment. Somewhat sadly, overanalyzing messages is my passion in life. You said what you wanted from her was to tell you that it’s just anxiety and that she is still there. And I do actually think that it’s possible to read her reply as saying exactly that, just not in so many words or not so warmly or explicitly. How about understanding the bit about people experiencing the dreams etc. as trying to reduce and soothe the overwhelming feelings you described to her and the bit about continuing therapy and coming on Monday (as well as the fact that she wrote back) as reassuring you that she is still there and everything is exactly as normal?

        Also I think it’s amazing how many people you have touched with this post. Thank you for writing it so openly. You have basically lived out my fantasy of contacting my therapist during a break. I think if she responded it would be in a very similar way to yours and I would be equally crushed by it. So far I have never dared.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Is she paying you to say this?! 😂

        Seriously though, I do get what you’re trying to say but really, when things get bad (and she knows how bad it can be) keeping it very simple but warm was essential. I didn’t need to have the adult talked to who is meant to unpick the content and make it feel ok. I literally just needed to be told it was all ok still.

        This particular post has had an unprecedented amount of traffic so i don’t know what’s happened. I do try and be open in my blog and not shy away from the hard stuff. TBH it’s a bit like a diary that other people can read.

        I may have lived out your fantasy in explaining what I did in this post but clearly the reality of it isn’t brilliant is it? What I would say is if you ever feel like contacting your therapist outside session don’t do it when you already feel suicidal! 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

  9. As someone currently in therapy and finishing up my last year in school to start working in this field, I tried to think through your therapists actions from both angles. The therapy client angle was easier: she was cold. Care didn’t come across. And, I don’t think that’s okay. You articulated your needs very clearly and it is her job to meet needs that are within reason, as yours were. At least, that’s my take on therapy (but, she and I probably have different approaches).

    Thinking about this from the training to be a therapist perspective, what I wonder is if her cold replies have more to do with her own discomfort with intimacy. I mean, perhaps there is some work she needs to be doing on herself in therapy of her own so that she might better understand and meet the needs of her clients (this seems likely if she isn’t able to really convey warmth in session either which is the only way I think having strict boundaries outside the therapy room will work). Or, if not that, does she ever seek supervision? I’m not inclined to believe that this is a boundary issue. I really think it is either her own stuff getting in the way or it is her modality not being a good fit for you. In either case, good supervision should have keyed her into that.

    Unfortunately, it’s fallen on you to figure this mess out, which sucks. Your feelings are totally valid. I commend you, actually, for responding so calmly. I probably would have been like “wtf?” I think your response speaks volumes about how much you can and should trust your feelings and your gut. Perhaps you can do as someone else suggested, interview her one last time and if that doesn’t produce the results you need then set up a termination session and start looking for therapists with approaches that might better fit your needs. The humanist approaches tend to be about warmth, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. Psychoanalysis aren’t typically scared by intensive work. Anyone with attachment based therapy as a modality is going to have compassion for your attachment needs (provided their stuff doesn’t hinder them). Family Systems therapists will also have a developmental understand that should help. Gestalt therapists, generally, don’t seem to why away from touch, in the way many other modalities do. And, interpersonal therapy relies a lot on the development on the therapeutic relationship in order to foster change. I don’t know… maybe that can help, if you do seek someone else. Psychology today has there therapist listing actually include theoretical approaches/modalities, it’s where my therapist is listed and she is pretty amazing.

    Hopefully my rambling was somewhat helpful. Whatever you decide, I really hope you’re able to get your needs met and make some progress in therapy. You deserve that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 😊. I have no idea what happened yesterday. I’ve tried really hard to see it from her side but I just can’t work out why she’d bother responding at all (second message) if that’s the best that was going to come out. I mean, in whose world does that feel ok?

      She is highly qualified and experienced so I don’t think it’s about not being in touch with herself or needing more supervision. I literally haven’t got a clue why this bomb dropped in the way it did. I’d like to think she was having a bad day but I don’t think so. I doubt she even realises how much it’s affected me.

      Thank you for all the modality info too. Def width bearing in mind if I do end up terminating – shudder!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the thing to remember is that even the highly qualified and experienced therapist is still first and foremost a human with human problems. Supervision isn’t necessarily an indication of lack of skill. It’s just a stepping back and saying, “hey, maybe I should get a different perspective on this case.” The best, most highly qualified therapists do this regularly. Same thing with missing our own “countertransference” or responses to clients. It’s so much easier, even for highly qualified professionals, to see in others rather than themselves. Not that I’m insisting this is the case with her but qualifications and experience are only one part of the equation. In the end, when deciding, ultimately it needs to come down to what feels right for you. What do you need in order to feel cared for by your current T?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah I know you’re right. What do I need to feel cared for by my T? Very little actually- just once a direct statement about how she feels (if indeed she does feel it) that’s not wrapped in some therapist way of saying things- i.e. Round the houses and not using ‘I’. Literally, ‘ I do care about you and this relationship matters to me as well’. She thinks I wouldn’t believe her if she said it, and that I’d think she’d only be appeasing me … but hey, I’d rather get used to hearing it a few times until it sunk in rather than doubting because nothing is forthcoming! Or equally if I piss her off and she finds me difficult then to let me know!

        Arghhhhh!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds awful! I would be both devastated and pissed off if my therapist sent a message like that. The therapist I had prior to my current therapist responded in similar ways (at times, it was inconsistent). It sounds like your therapist is unsure of her boundaries (i.e. no contact, but responded anyways and in a dismissive way to you and your needs).
    I could never heal from disorganized attachment and complex trauma with a therapist that didn’t offer outside of session reassurances (in pre-agreed upon ways, of course). Even though my therapist and I have always had set “boundaries” around out of session contact, I’ve railed against and broken them and pushed, and she has never not responded to me in a compassionate way. Even to say “I hear you, and I am honoring our agreement, but I am here and will see you soon.” Because she understands how traumatic and destabilizing it is to not get a reply, or not receive warmth when so triggered. And her willingness to flex completely changed my life and healed me in ways that I can’t believe.
    AND, she was not without boundaries or limits, it just has never been punitive, and when I have directly expressed need, even if pushing, she rewarded my skill with warmth and connection.
    You did a great job of expressing your need, and I am so very sorry that your therapist’s way of doing therapy and (what seems to be lack of understanding how to treat your needs) made you feel bad. You didn’t do anything wrong, regardless of the “boundary.” Boundaries are meant to serve the therapy, not deprive you of connection. If your therapist can’t navigate boundaries and people pushing them, then she is doing a disservice by offering to treat people with complex trauma.
    Just my opinion!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this and for the validation. I’ve hit a huge wall with it all today and just can’t function. I’m pleased your T works with you so positively and her methods have proven beneficial. I don’t know what’s going to happen here but I know that I can’t keep feeling this way for much longer. I literally refuse to do it to myself because it’s sending me into a really horrible spiral. Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are welcome. This trauma response you are in really isn’t tolerable. Moving on from your therapist won’t change your wounds or these types of feelings, but it could open up space for therapy that can meet your needs (if yours truly can’t, which is sounds like is TBD).
        Hope you start to calm soon, it is such a painful and disorienting place to be in.

        Liked by 1 person

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