‘I’m Just Your Therapist’

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It’s been an ‘interesting’ few weeks in therapy for sure. In some ways I feel like I’ve made some good leaps forward and in other ways I feel as though I am right back at square one again. I suppose that’s kind of the nature of the beast, though, or at least that seems to be what happens with me!

Right now it feels as though I’m practising a new and funny little bit of therapy dance with Em, and if I am honest it’s not much fun because, as I said, just as I seem to make progress it all goes to shit: two steps forward, one step back -three steps forward, four steps back – random bit of twirling in a circle – therapist treads on my toes, it hurts, and I let her know rather than pretending like it hasn’t happened – a few more steps forward- I accidentally tread on therapist’s toes-  stumble backwards- trip over- fall on my arse and have to sit things out until next week when we’ll give it another go…hopefully having learnt from the mistakes and maybe we’ll do a better run through next time. It’s basically a terrible version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – like when the celebs that can’t dance have a go in week one and you just want to die for them and their lack of rhythm and technique!

Anyway, enough with the shit metaphors for the moment – let’s get to it!

It’s funny really because there’s quite a lot of ‘news’ but right now, as I sit here, my mind is completely focused on one thing and one thing only, ‘Will Em even be there tomorrow?’

This isn’t the usual lack of object constancy stuff where I can’t keep her in mind and imagine that she’s going to terminate me because she’s come to her senses and realises there’s no helping idiots like me (!) but it’s actually that, right now, I do not know if my session is going ahead tomorrow because she won’t be able to tell me until tomorrow morning. She’s got an emergency dental appointment first thing and doesn’t know whether she’ll be ok to work…

Adult Me understands this just fine – when your teeth go wrong you need to get looked at and, to be fair, having to sit with pain over the weekend can’t be any fun for Em…but the child parts…well let’s just be completely honest and say it’s gone completely to shit inside this weekend and I feel like the ground has fallen away beneath my feet. Not even joking. I’m useless with ‘known about’ breaks and so this ‘not quite sure if there’s a break’ is just total crap. It’s attachment pain 101.

Shoot me now!

On Friday we started talking explicitly from the beginning of the session  (no faffing about gently dipping a toe in to test the waters!) about all the big stuff that’s come up again recently. This is partly because at the start of the session I (finally) handed over my therapy notebooks that have been sitting next to me on the couch pretty much every week since the end of January (we have looked at them a few times but not for several months now)… and asked her to read what I had written on Tuesday – which is basically about falling face first into the vulnerable attachment stuff again and not feeling secure in the relationship, referring to some of what had happened on Monday, and then asking for strategies to help with various areas, like: breaks, getting stuck/frozen in session, and making the parts that are in hiding feel safe enough to come out- groan.

I’ve done myself proud (NOT!) these last few weeks and ended up texting my therapist a couple of times. We don’t need to talk about the shame that doing that stirs up – here – we all get it – but crikey it’s been cringeworthy going to sessions afterwards and waiting for ‘the chat’ about outside session contact. I’ve feel like a naughty child that’s somehow let mum down or pissed her off and is about to get another telling off.

I was really flooded with sadness last Friday (1st November) after my session. I don’t know why. But basically by mid-afternoon I was just drowning in that horrible place where I just miss Em so much that it physically hurts. Ok, I know this is coming from the past and not now but when these feelings rear their heads they feel so unbelievably potent and powerful. I know this is about all the grief and loss around what I didn’t have as a child with my mum but when this stuff hits, I don’t seem to have that awareness… the part that is active in that moment doesn’t want anyone but Em and it’s her that’s missed and Adult seems AWOL. It doesn’t feel like it’s 2019 at all it feels like I am somehow stuck back in 1986 with zero resources to cope.

So what did I do?

Oh yeah, you guessed it!

I sent a wanky meme:

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And then immediately panicked. I text my friend and she was like, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and I told her how I felt and she said, ‘text that to her – that’s how you feel and what she needs to know.’

Only texting ‘that’ would be a great deal more exposing than the meme, wouldn’t it? I kept looking at my phone, knowing that I had just summed up exactly how I was feeling and also knowing that if I didn’t send it, those words would never make it into the room…far too embarrassing!

After falling some more into the pit of attachment hell something in me shifted a little and I thought, ‘fuck it, I’m going to send it, I am so over skirting round the edges…this is hurting me and I need to find a way of letting her know so we can work on it’…and so I sent this:

 

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I mean – wow – right. That’s a whole lot of need right there isn’t it? And I felt so much shame after I had sent the message but also a little bit of relief too. I know, for a fact, I am not the only one that experiences this stuff in therapy and whilst it’s bloody excruciating it’s got to be worked through or things will never get any better.

This is the trauma lingering on from childhood. This is CPTSD in action -and it’s just so bloody embarrassing to be an otherwise functioning member of society, a teacher no less, and to be dealing with this behind the scenes. It’s so completely exhausting and shame-inducing.

I mean, I suppose the only good thing is I didn’t send this one…! Ha!:

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Fortunately, Em didn’t say anything that felt rejecting the first session back when I sent the ‘I miss you’ texts. She just tried to open up the conversation with, ‘You text me a couple of times on Friday‘ and we talked about it a bit so that was a relief.

I hit that place bloody awful place again on Tuesday and was bothered by something I had said in session that I was worried might have been taken the wrong way and ended up sending another text on Tuesday (yes – I am a big moron – I completely accept this!) and yet she only alluded to it briefly in Friday’s when she came to the part where I had mentioned it in my notebook where I had said I was dreading the chat that I knew would be coming because I’ve reached out outside session again. All she said was, ‘You don’t like talking about not sending texts outside of sessions unless it’s for scheduling, do you?’ I shook my head and she left it at that for now, clearly sensing I did not want to talk again about why when things get bad I seek connection and how her ignoring me really hurts. It’s a conversation we have had a lot, will undoubtedly have again, but on Friday I just didn’t want to.

My friend and I were laughing about the fact that I haven’t shown Em my writing for months and months because it’s felt ‘too exposing’ and yet I was so desperate to avoid ‘the boundaries chat’ on Friday that I would sooner shove a full notebook of vulnerability and need in front of her than deal with those feelings of rejection that come about when we talk about texting and outside session contact. A great example of avoidance of one painful thing trumping the avoidance of another exposing thing! God help me! I am nothing if not avoidant! haha.

Anyway, the conversation we did end up having was hard, talking about the young parts’ needs for holding and containment. Em said how she can feel the need so much, for unconditional love and holding, and she can see how painful it is to not have those needs met, and understands how awful it is that we can’t make that repair in the here and now because she is ‘just my therapist’  …and something about how scary it must feel to feel in the dark when it’s like that and that it isn’t that she’s rejecting me at all…. blah blah blah…she said a lot of really understanding good stuff, but ugh, I dunno, it all just feels crap because my brain felt like she was putting a barrier between us with that one sentence: I’M JUST YOUR THERAPIST.

I understand that she can’t give me what I needed as a baby, as a toddler, as a four year old or at any point thereafter in my childhood when everything was a fucking disaster zone and I needed an adult to be there for me – but actually sometimes the words she chooses just bloody sting even though the intention behind them is good.

‘I’m just your therapist.’

I mean what does that even mean?

Because ‘just my therapist’ is actually quite (ok, massively) important to me from where I am sitting. She’s the person that knows me inside out. She’s the person who has touched on the most vulnerable and scared, needy parts of me and hasn’t abandoned me when she’s seen them. She’s the person that I try and trust with some of the darkest, most painful parts of my story. She’s someone whom I have tried to let in and build a relationship with on and off over the last eight years… and that relationship really matters to me. She’s not ‘just my therapist’ to me. She is Em (who ‘just’ happens to be my therapist!).

Of course, I’m not dumb, she is my therapist but that’s not just some fucking bland title, like my ‘dentist’ who I don’t care a bit about – like the fucking dentist she’s going to on Monday morning!- ‘Therapist’ is surely a bit different? – and if it’s not then I am labouring under some huge misapprehensions. Sure. It’s a professional relationship but there’s no ‘just’ in it. It’s not somehow ‘less than’. I get that she’s not my parent. She’s not my friend, either. It’s not easy to quantify what a therapeutic relationship is like to someone who hasn’t experienced one but it certainly isn’t ‘just’ anything – it’s still two human beings in a room trying to forge a way forward together in a real relationship. There is care, and hope, and dare I say it, love – at least from my end.

Ugh. Anyway, that’s clearly got under my skin. I mean basically Friday was a slightly kinder way of saying, ‘I’m not your mother’ and so it’s the sorest bit left hanging over from an otherwise really good session.

It seems that having the conversation (again) about how easily rejected the young parts of me feel and how easily they read her silences as annoyance or lack of care led Em to remember that she was going to the dentist on Monday and that whilst she thinks she should be ok to work she may have had an anaesthetic and so perhaps might not be quite as ‘with it’ as usual. She was basically warning my hypervigilant self that there’s not something wrong between us that I’ve caused if she seems a little off in session tomorrow but something down to her teeth…that is if she even makes it to the room tomorrow and tbh I can’t see it happening.

Sigh.

As I said at the start of this, I’ve felt my agitation building all weekend about the very real possibility that tomorrow’s session may not happen. I am angry with myself that something so run of the mill and understandable feels like such a big deal. I mean, even if tomorrow doesn’t happen I’ll see her on Friday and I’m still behaving like a big baby about it. Clearly the young traumatised parts don’t understand what’s going on and just feel like they’re stuck in the annihilation zone. Basically I’m plunging head first down into the black hole that is the mother wound again.

Fun times. Ugh.

I took myself off to bed earlier this afternoon in order to try and sleep it off. I couldn’t sleep, though, and just felt increasingly upset which is why I have come to write here to hopefully help get Adult back online and it seems to be working a bit but doesn’t stop the sick, shaky feeling inside.

There’s actually loads to say from the last few sessions but this is already long so I’ll save it for the next post and fill in the gaps then.

Right now I have to conjure up my teacher self and go out and tutor… easier said than done when you have a bunch of screaming, distraught young parts inside.

x

21 thoughts on “‘I’m Just Your Therapist’

  1. LovingSummer November 11, 2019 / 6:10 am

    I can so much understand your pain of desperately needing to send texts, I somehow manage to contain myself nowadays but I will say it’s taking every bone in my body to hold me back. So you have my sympathy and understanding, I just can’t offer any advice because I sometimes slip up too!
    And you know what, the most ironic thing is that now I’ve stopped sharing my thoughts like that, Guy seems to think I feel therapy isn’t working for me in some weird way.
    I’m like “what?! Of course it is working for me! I just can’t feel free to text you to let you know what’s happened that’s been so bloody brilliant between sessions anymore!”
    I hope the dental work is quick and painless less so it doesn’t affect your session 🤞🏼

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 6:29 am

      I’m so frustrated with myself! I can go ages without sending ‘those’ kind of messages and then sometimes when I feel really unsettled it goes to complete shit and I fire off that kind of thing full of need. I just want to crawl into a hole and die! The thing is, what’s contained in these messages is the work – embarrassing as it is!

      It’s funny that Guy has perceived you messaging less as meaning you don’t find therapy as effective! I don’t think they really understand what a bloody minefield it is for us navigating the therapeutic relationship from outside those four walls! X

      Liked by 2 people

      • LovingSummer November 11, 2019 / 6:41 am

        I’m not sure I want to crawl into a hole and die but I do feel a twang of guilt and like I’m forcing myself on someone who doesn’t want me – so of course the conflict is wanting to respect their freedom to be away from me. Then I feel rejected! Sigh.

        When you say ‘what’s contained in these messages is the work’ do you mean it’s stuff that should be talked about in therapy? Because if so, I’ve sometimes wondered if Guy thinks the same, only I know with me I wouldn’t say it face to face so it would never be told. And that’s where I am at, just not telling those out of session bits anymore.

        I was assuming Guy has connected the lack of such texts to me finding therapy isn’t so helpful anymore, but I haven’t told him that’s what I think (I might mention it today if I remember), so until I talk to him about it I am open to the fact I could be wrong about thinking there’s a connection.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 12:52 pm

        Yes – Exactly that- what I text is the work. Often when I send my ‘desperate’ texts it comes after months of not being able to bring whatever it is into my sessions. It kind of forces it into the room even though it ramps up the shame because I’ve gone down a different avenue to get it there. I mean to be fair it’s always attachment based with me so … ugh!

        Do you think you could talk to Guy about this? X

        Liked by 2 people

      • LovingSummer November 11, 2019 / 2:20 pm

        We touched on it a little bit today and he seemed to prefer sticking to double sessions and trying to use EMDR to give me positive places to keep me going on between times. I don’t know what to think really!

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 2:21 pm

        I guess just see how it goes and keep talking. I would love a double session – 50 minutes just doesn’t feel quite enough to get to the place I need to!

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 2:29 pm

        I have a session on a Monday and a Friday … because I used to struggle too much with a week between sessions. I would basically like two double sessions – or maybe just to live in the therapy room! Ha!😂

        Liked by 3 people

      • LovingSummer November 11, 2019 / 2:31 pm

        Haha – I had this exact same conversation with Lucy this morning! 😂
        We decided that double sessions every day would be too much, but we’d find a way to cope with anything a bit less than that! 😜

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Lucy King November 11, 2019 / 11:09 am

    Oh man it’s so hard. I’ve banned Anna from using the word ‘just’ and ‘still’. They can be so shaming. I guess they’re only human but sometimes their choice of words is hilariously thoughtless.

    I’ve been there (and I’m kinda there right now only I haven’t sent the text YET). I’ve sent those kinds of messages before, and worse. And had to face them boundary chat’ in the next session it’s excruciating. I think part of me unconsciously does it to create the circle of unease in the relationship. Do something that’s crossing a line, worry and stress about what I’ve done, distance myself and assume she’s mad at me, feel awful in session, await telling off… repair and repeat.

    I had to phone in today coz I’m in such a state and was also thinking how shameful and ridiculous it is that I am a fully functioning member of society, also a teacher, yet I’m crying in bed coz I miss my therapist… you’re not alone I guess is what I’m trying to say. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 11:27 am

      Oh L! Feeling your pain. Poor you. I hope a day of self care will help. Although I know that sometimes being alone with these overwhelming young feelings can be hell. It’s a double edged sword – work feels too much but being alone is too much too.

      I couldn’t go to my session – I’ve just finished a Skype call. Em was well enough to work but I went outside and had a puncture this morning and couldn’t get to session. I’m not a huge fan of Skype and could really have done with being there in person today. I feel exhausted from all these feelings.

      I get exactly what you mean about texting being part of a cycle that initiates a kind of rupture and repair situation.

      Tbh right now I just want a hug.

      Sending you lots of love xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King November 11, 2019 / 3:15 pm

        Right there with you in wanting a hug!!i wish Anna would do Skype sessions, then we could have one tomorrow instead of cancelling just coz the electricians gonna be in the building!

        I’m glad you got to speak to her, though definitely not the same as in person. Hope the rest of your day is okay. Take care 💜

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Q November 11, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    OMG. Not only do I know all those emotions and longing all too well, but that gif you are happy you didn’t send? With the little girl pounding and crying?

    I did send that to E. Seriously. Am I like the world’s most cringeworthy client? (Yes.)

    At least you know you are not alone in these feelings. This is ver real, very human pain and it’s okay that we have it. Not fun or pleasant, but okay. Maybe at least we don’t have to shame ourselves for having it.

    “I’m just your therapist” was not ideal wording, but perhaps you can tell your wounded parts, “U think she means she cares for me very much and would like to have the power to wave it all away. But for that she’s need to be a powerful, magical good witch… but she’s just my therapist.”

    💜 sending you much affection and compassion 💜

    Liked by 4 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 12:47 pm

      Oh Q- I sent one like that girl in a text not so long ago, actually. It was a little animated girl grabbing on tightly round an adult’s legs and the adult trying to shake it off! I’ll happily share the title of, ‘World’s most cringeworthy client’ with you and I reckon there’s a few others who might have dibs on the medal too! Our merry band of mother-wounded souls!!

      Part of me can see what Em meant – absolutely – I know she cares BUT there’s that niggly, hurt part that is always looking for rejection and will read it even if there is none. Ugh.

      I had to Skype today. Em was there but I got outside this morning to a flat tyre. I’m still in pieces. This week is going to be a struggle and especially as I have certainly used up my ‘desperate reaching out outside of session texts’ quota for a few months!

      Huge hugs to you and thanks for normalising this! X

      Liked by 2 people

  4. slantgirl November 11, 2019 / 2:29 pm

    Oh RBCG! I feel your pain. My T never and I never got into a texting thing… in fact she’s only ever texted me to do last minute session cancels, so I didn’t r Rn have her number till 20 months into seeing her. Email, tho…. I have pages and pages of emails & memes I drafted and never sent. I wish I felt free enough to own up to my deep attachment to her and the depth of that pain. I’ve always maintained that two things happen in session: the processing of what’s bejng discussed, and the soothing of deep attachment pain that happens just by being there. It’s the latter bit that I can’t square away and struggle with. Then a few months ago my therApist went and said “you don’t come to see me every week, you come to connect with yourself”, and while she is likely eight, a small part of me was like “nope, I’m here to see her, and that doesn’t feel like it’s ok anymore”. And she’s someone who I know also struggles with attachment. It’s so hard.

    Liked by 4 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 11, 2019 / 2:37 pm

      Oh god. I felt the pain in that statement. I know what your T is saying but actually they’re beyond dim if they think we only go to connect with ourselves… clearly that’ll happen in the end but whilst this attachment stuff is so live then it makes complete sense that we go to see ‘them’ and need to be in relationship to heal. I’m sorry it’s so hard to let your T see the extent of what you’re feeling around the attachment. It took a long time for me to tell Em how I felt about her and even though I’ve said it a lot at varying intervals every single time I feel like I’m telling her for the first time. I think I’m getting a bit better at it but not always. Like today I needed to say ‘I’m really sad I couldn’t see you in person today and I miss you’ – I could feel it bubbling in my chest – instead I just sat there silent hating the fact I was Skyping 😩. Take care xx

      Liked by 4 people

  5. CC November 15, 2019 / 1:46 am

    Is therapy mercury in retrograde or something? A couple of weeks ago, I had a medium-sized freak-out when my T didn’t text me re: the next session when she said she would (she did the next morning). The only reason I didn’t text her when I didn’t hear from her was because I was mad that she had seemingly forgotten about me and I wasn’t going to be the one to remind her I existed because I wanted her to feel bad when she finally did remember (hello petulant internal 3yo!).

    I did manage to talk about all this without imploding on myself from shame and embarrassment in the next two sessions (progress!), but then she said something like “the professional thing to do” would have been to contact me when she said she would to let me know she couldn’t give me a definitive answer yet.

    That almost sent me back to square 1 because the reasons why I was upset had nothing to do with professionalism, but everything with our personal relationship (or I wouldn’t have freaked out). The idea that in the end our relationship boils down to a professional one (though in some ways it of course is) and her concern is to treat me with professionalism rather than consideration and kindness based on a personal relationship was really hurtful. Ack!

    I know it’s all grist for the mill, but sometimes it feels like the mill is grinding me up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. easetheride November 16, 2019 / 2:38 pm

    It really is so funny (in the most un-funny way) how much a poor choice of words can make a big difference. Sometimes I wonder what it might be like to live in the mind of a person who doesn’t narrow in on specific words and attach such intense feeling to them, but I guess that’s just never going to be who we are, is it? How are you doing now, with some time that has passed? I’m hopeful things between you and Em are okay. And more importantly, I’m hopeful that you’re showing yourself from forgiveness for the texting this. Rest assured that we all do it sometimes because they are NOT just our therapists. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. skinnyhobbit December 9, 2019 / 7:47 am

    Hugs if wanted! This makes me glad I can text my therapist, though she won’t reply… at least I get to text all the cringey and needy attachment stuff and I know she reads…

    Hugs to all of you if wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

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