Dreaming Of My Therapist… Again

The last few weeks in therapy have been absolutely incredible/transformational (sorry if I sound like a broken record here!) and I absolutely plan to write about what’s going on in a few password protected posts soon – but before that happens I need some time to really process it all properly with A.

This, as you’ll see, is not a protected post. I’ve just woken up from the most winding, random, emotionally-charged therapy dream and whilst it’s fresh I think I’ll write about it here before I forget it – although I don’t think I’ll forget that all too familiar feeling of sadness and shame it’s left me with. I definitely need to take it to session tomorrow because I am still jangling inside even though I know it’s just my brain having a good sort out!

I seem to have a thing about dreaming about my therapist/s don’t I? I think over the years I have written about handful of them here. In fact, I am struggling to think of a title that isn’t the same as all the others! Why am I writing about dreams again? Well, I’ve noticed that the blog posts that seem to get the most traction here are the ones about ‘dreaming of my therapist’, ‘touch in therapy’ , ‘eye contact’ and ‘ruptures’ which just goes to show that these things concern a lot of us in therapy. It’s not really surprising that we process relational stuff in our dreams and that this crops up in the form of our therapists with whom we are processing our attachment issues.

I used to feel huge amounts of shame when I’d have these BIG dreams and keep quiet about them for weeks and months on end letting the feelings steadily eat away at me – but this was because Em never really knew how to handle what I was saying. I remember the time I finally told her that I dreamt she’d violently thrown my three-year-old son out the back of an ambulance that was parked on her drive so that he injured himself as he landed on the concrete. She’d stepped over him and gone back into her house and shut the door on us both. I was left holding him unconscious in my arms …fuck me why did I not listen to what my mind was trying to show me then – talk about a clear message about my inner child!!

She was so distant, so unmoved, so analytical ‘what does this episode remind you of?’ Being curious about dream content is fine and useful, but sometimes when my mind is serving me up trauma 101 I just really need to hear, ‘that sounds really upsetting and I am sorry that I hurt you in the dream.  Can we look at the feelings that have come up for you around this? I wonder what your dream is trying to tell us?’

It’s really not easy unpicking upsetting dreams ABOUT your therapist WITH your therapist – especially when you’re still reeling from feeling rejected or abandoned and so it’s really important that a sense of safety is established first. Anita is really good at this – thank god. But it’s so alien after years of feeling so much shame if Em even made it into a dream and often not saying anything because it would just pour salt in the wound.

It’s been a little while since Anita has made it into my dreams – in fact I think it’s got to be back in June or something, when we were in the thick of lockdown and online therapy sessions. I was feeling unsettled and was caught up in a panic, worrying about the various ways that she would abandon me and tell me she couldn’t work with me anymore. God the abandonment narrative never gets old does it?!

I’ve found that taking these hard dreams to A has been really helpful. We work through them and the underlying fear (being left/abandoned or being too much) and it really seems to help solidify the relationship and help build trust, because of course my brain is replaying long-standing fears and imagining the worst that could happen in the relationship in these dreams. Anita doesn’t have a problem with giving reassurance (remember how Em wouldn’t AT ALL?) and even though it takes a lot (A LOT!) of repetition what she is saying IS starting to go in a little bit. At least part of me is starting to believe that she’s not planning on running off into the sunset screaming ‘fucking leave me alone you freak!’.

They say that it takes the brain thousands of repetitions of an action in order to make a new neural pathway so it’s going to take a lot of ‘I care about you, I am not going anywhere, and I love you’ for it to really stick and start create its own track in my brain. Oh help!… imagine that also needing to happen for all the different parts of me – because it’s not always the same part present that hears the affirmations!

ARRRGHHHH!

For the longest time it has felt like I get told these lovely things and they almost bounce off me, or slip through my fingers and are suddenly gone. K said to me the other day that there’s a part that really struggles to take in love and care, like that part literally has no idea what to do with it, and she’s so right. I so desperately want to find a place inside myself to put this care and love because now that I am finally experiencing what has been lacking my whole frigging life I don’t want it to disappear. And yet I have nowhere to store it…which is hilarious because there feels like an endless black hole in my heart area that needs filling! Ugh.   

Anyway, back to dreams – recently, I had a dream about Em (yeah, that relationship and its ending is still giving me the occasional nightmare even 9 months down the line) that affected me so badly that I really couldn’t hold myself together at all. I forewarned A in a text before my session about what had happened and what I needed in the session from her – basically to stay close to me so I didn’t dissociate.  

No surprises that A was phenomenal that day – just completely saw what I needed – and that’s where the passworded posts will begin. To have that horrible sense of feeling rejected and abandoned when it’s completely live and unfiltered, witnessed by A felt hard, but allowing that pain and young stuff, to be truly seen by A was what triggered to move into this new therapeutic space we are now in. The level of emotional intimacy has ramped up and the most vulnerable parts are finally getting seen, held, and contained which is both great and fucking terrifying.

After several really wonderful holding sessions this month where the young parts have been seen and worked with, the untrusting, angry, self-loathing critical part who is pickled in shame turned up to therapy on Monday and it was utterly horrendous. I completely shut down. My body language was so closed, knees pulled up into my body, head down, completely rigid. I couldn’t look at A at all. The longer I was in the room the harder it got. A was so kind, consistent, and present and it just made things worse (for a bit!).

Every time she asked a question or said something kind, I wanted to scream at her to leave me alone. I did tell her to ‘shut up’ at one point! Eek. I couldn’t bear to be seen and if I could have curled up in a ball and hidden from her view I would have. Anita believes in letting the protective defensive parts have their say, and to be in the space, but also talks to them and understands the situation enough that she is able to disarm them a bit. In the end my defences shattered and that protector backed down and the vulnerable that feels so much shame came out but again was met with exactly what it needs.

Anyway, all that’s for the other posts but I’m not surprised that I had the dream I had this morning having had the voice that says, ‘You’re too needy. This isn’t real. This isn’t safe. She’ll realise she’s made a mistake and leave soon’ being so present on Monday.

The dream:

I was due to see Anita for a therapy session at the end of the day. She lived at the top of a very long, steep hill, and for some reason I had parked at the bottom of the hill. I walked up the tree lined street. It was heading towards sunset and the view back down the road was lovely. I thought I was going to be late and so started running up the remainder of the hill – I was exhausted by the time I reached the house!

The house was built into a hill (I used to live somewhere like this when I was a teen) – it was an upside-down house with the living room and kitchen upstairs and there were steps spiralling round the outside of the property to get to the front door at the top. There was a large veranda off the back and when I arrived there was a village gathering going on – like a ‘bring and share’ sort of thing with heaps of people milling around chatting. There was a long table laid out and I was invited to sit down but A wasn’t there. I was totally confused. I didn’t feel like I should be there but people insisted that I stay and it was fine that A had said I would be there. I felt awkward and embarrassed.

People kept talking to me and I got on fine, cue my chameleon skills, but inside I was wondering what the fuck was going on. I looked around and noticed that Anita was sitting at the far end of the table on the corner about two seats down from me. When I saw her, I got the absolute jealous rage! There was a friend of mine (not someone I actually know in real life) who was about 17 sitting perched on her lap and laughing her head off. She seemed really confident and happy and just one of those people that seem to have it all. A and this girl clearly had a deep relationship and I felt so unbelievably angry.

I had no idea that they knew each other and was furious that this person, my friend, seemed to be so connected to A, that it was so easy for them both to laugh and joke and be close. I got up quietly from the table, glanced again at A – we made eye contact and I could feel the tears coming. I quickly left the house and ran off down the hill. I felt so sad but also massively abandoned, too. I didn’t want to have some crap second rate pretend relationship with Anita when clearly my friend didn’t.

There was no reason I should know about my friend knowing A but I didn’t feel like I could trust Anita anymore because she’d let me walk into that situation. Surely, she must know that would hurt me. I ran out of energy and the rage dissipated. I sat down on someone’s front lawn at the bottom of the hill under a tree and just sobbed like my heart was breaking. I felt so sad that yet again things were going to shit with someone I care about – someone I love -there was no way I could continue to see A if this other girl was involved.

Anita came walking down the road and sat down beside me. She tried to comfort me but I just couldn’t hear what she was saying. I couldn’t feel it. I was so shutdown. I needed to protect myself from more hurt. She handed me some old pieces of paper and pictures and explained to me that she was still with me and that nothing had changed and to read these things she’d given me and I’d see that our relationship was important to her, that the relationship she had with the girl was different but not more important. I felt slightly better but I still hurt. I knew it wasn’t rational but I felt like I had lost everything.

A neighbour called to Anita from across the street and she went to over to see them. The 17-year-old friend came towards me and sat down. I said, ‘I didn’t know you knew Anita?’ and the girl told me she’d know A for years and that they were really close. She said that A was good at making clients feel special but it’s just a game, that’s her job, it’s not real, none of it is real. She pointed at the pieces of paper that A had given me and said ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen all those before’. I couldn’t contain my sadness and got up, leaving the papers behind me and ran off again. I had to get away.

Anita saw me go and shouted after me, but I didn’t look back and just kept running. I ended up in a school, in a changing room cubicle and sat with my feet up on the bench so that I couldn’t be seen by anyone walking by outside. I opened my eyes and there was a little girl in there with me, maybe four years old, in a grey pinafore dress. She was clearly lost and looked really sad. I asked her name and she couldn’t speak. I asked her if she was lost and she nodded. I sat her next to me and told her that it would be ok although I didn’t really believe it either for her or me.

At that moment I heard Anita and the 17-year-old enter the changing room. I put my finger to my lips and gestured for the little girl to be quiet. I could hear Anita talking about me, ‘She’s intelligent but she’s an emotional wreck and really so needy, I’ve never come across anyone like her. How do you know her and why on earth would you spend time with her?’ And the girl said that we went to college together and agreed that I was a bit strange but nice enough.

I felt really betrayed hearing Anita talking about me to this other person in this way and just sat there stunned. The little girl’s shoe poked out from under the door and Anita and the 17-year-old knocked and I had to open it. I looked up at Anita and burst into tears and the little girl ran into the arms of the 17-year-old – they were sisters.

I don’t remember how it ended but man…. I have woken up really exhausted. I feel like I have done an emotional workout before the day has even begun and whilst adult me knows that none of it is real there’s that horrible hangover that just niggles in the background ‘what if?’.

So, there we are. Hopefully I won’t go into shutdown tomorrow and can actually just see that this is ‘the fear’ doing its thing.

Honestly, my poor little brain needs a rest! Remind me why I do this to myself!! x

17 thoughts on “Dreaming Of My Therapist… Again

  1. healing1973 October 29, 2020 / 5:22 pm

    All of this!!!! I have two therapists, one of which I have had for almost 3 years and the dreams I have had over my relational trauma are sooooooo hard to talk about. I have had dreams of her cutting out my heart and standing over me saying “you should have know this was going to happen” and another one where she has gutted me like a deer and once again is saying it is my fault….or the one where she tells someone to “let me bleed out because I did this to myself”. Ironically, I have also had comforting dreams about her. The Mommy transference for my 4 inner kids (pre-verbal,5, 10, and 14) is epic. I used to keep them to myself but she has assured me that sharing them enables us to work through them but holy crap is it hard! You blog has been seriously helpful over the past year (I was hovering and only recently officially signed up.) You are inspiring me to get through my stuff too. Hang in there, you are a true warrior!

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 29, 2020 / 5:36 pm

      Ah thanks! That’s really kind of you to say. Yes. Those bloody dreams where you’re shamed and rejected are bloody horrendous. The comforting dreams are lovely but also open up a whole world of pain when the gap between reality and dream opens up. It’s great that you can bring this stuff to session now but totally agree it’s not easy AT ALL. I think I’d sooner talk about some kind of embarrassing sexual fantasy than the needy stuff where my therapist is involved 😂. I’m so glad you found the blog. If you’re interested in the password for the upcoming private posts then send an email over to rubberbandsandchewinggum@gmail.com and I’ll send it over when I have one! X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucy King October 29, 2020 / 6:09 pm

    Wow what an amazing dream!! I’m keen to hear your thoughts on it when you’ve processed it a bit. I’ve dreamt about Mark every day through this two week therapy break. Every damn day 😂🙈 I’ll need to send you an email for password protected posts if you’re okay with me having access 💕 btw I love hearing how Anita treats you (in real life). It warms my heart 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 29, 2020 / 6:41 pm

      I’ve got lots of thoughts about it- and I’m not at all surprised what’s coming up. yes! Absolutely ping an email and I’ll send a password when it’s relevant to! Sounds like your mind is trying to process a load right now too. 😅 Anita in real life is brill – so brill. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. catlover2021 October 29, 2020 / 6:35 pm

    Hi RCBG,

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past 8 months or so (since December) but have never commented because I always felt too awkward somehow. The reason I came across the blog was I was/am going thru a parallel situation with a former therapist (but in my case, one who initiated a post therapy friendship with me and then abandoned me when the friendship wasn’t what she had imagined). I’ve been totally crushed and following your blog has given me a little comfort. If you feel comfortable giving me the password for your upcoming post, I would love to read them, but I also understand if not!! I’m a total stranger lurker! But I feel like I know you because your experiences resonate so much with mine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 29, 2020 / 6:52 pm

      Oh wow. That sounds so difficult! I’m sorry you’ve had to experience this with your ex-therapist and I can completely see how devastating this would be. If you send an email over to rubberbandsandchewinggum@gmail.com I’ll send you a password when there is one. I’m glad you found my blog and that it’s helped you feel a bit less alone. Take good care. We’re a merry band of wounded souls here but it’s definitely a supportive place (most of the time!) x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Claire Louise October 29, 2020 / 11:42 pm

    I didn’t want to read and run, and I’ll come back with more thoughts, but wow, can I related to the abandonment narrative! So far my T has reassured me every time it comes up (both in session and in email between sessions) but I do worry one day she’ll have had enough and leave for an easier life!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Claire Louise October 30, 2020 / 6:31 pm

      OK, I’m back.

      Wow. Some of your earlier thoughts about having parts that struggle with accepting that love and care, and needing to build new pathways in your brain… It made so much sense to me. At the moment it doesn’t seem to matter how much my T reassures me I still need it in every session. It’s like needing things to completely rewire…

      In terms of dreams that sounded really powerful. I have had two dreams about my T, the first was about 8 weeks in to my therapy during a time I was struggling to express my emotions in fear of her leaving, and I was dwelling on asking her hug policy. I was in session and she was encouraging me to cry and not hold back, and she came and sat next to me. She kept saying it’s OK and I started to cry, tears started to run down my face. My T reached around me and put her arms around me and I thought she about to hold me but instead she shoved me forward and then out the door and slammed it on me. I woke up so upset! I tried to talk to her about it in session and she was receiptive but it was very weird.

      My second dream happened a few weeks ago and I want to tell her but I have not been brave enough yet. It was only really short, I’m in a house that was mine (but not in real life). I was poorly and crying and my T came over with a drink, covered me in a blanket and stroked my hair. I don’t remember anything after that. I know I should try and talk about it as its still so vivid weeks later but I am scared to incase she things I’m too attached (I read what Em said to you those times… Eek… Well done for finding your way to someone you deserve).

      Anyhoo sorry for the ramble.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 6, 2020 / 2:01 pm

        Sorry it’s taken til now for me to acknowledge this. I have been in a bunker of doom! Thanks for reaching out. I think of this work as like a renovation project. House is falling down! And yes, a rewire is definitely necessary! Dreams are so hard….sometimes so upsetting and other times serve up exactly what you need. Em and I were a terrible fit really. I just loved her so much that I tried to be something I just can’t be. Anita is so welcoming and receptive to my needs. I hope you can keep reaching out to your T and process these dreams as they really highlight the core wound don’t they? xx

        Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 6, 2020 / 2:05 pm

      I hope she stays put and that you can learn to trust that she is committed to you. It’s hard feeling too much isn’t it? X

      Liked by 1 person

  5. individualmedley17 October 30, 2020 / 11:53 am

    Read your post yesterday and had my own abandonment by therapist dream last night!! Am I really so suggestible?? Does anyone wonder if they have parts because of reading other people’s blogs about their parts? (I do). Back to your dream – I wonder if one part of you is now feeling jealous of some other younger parts if they are now being seen and cared for in your therapy? Hope you got it all sorted in today’s session.

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 6, 2020 / 2:04 pm

      Ha, it’s like passing the baton round isn’t it?! I think there’s definite messages in there from my parts. Anita and I spoke about it at length last Friday but obviously it’s been overshadowed by the shitstorm that developed this week! haha x

      Like

  6. easetheride October 30, 2020 / 1:17 pm

    What a distressing dream. Just shows how connected your mind is to everything that’s happened and how difficult it can be to let the past stay in the past. This dream sounded much more like Em than Anita and all the fears that came from working with her being cropped again. I’m interested to read what Anita’s take on this is. Looking forward to hearing more about the transformative work! x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum November 6, 2020 / 2:03 pm

      Ha….or maybe the dream was a premonition!! What a week it’s been. I am trying to catch up on reading blogs and responding to people. Sending you heaps of love and hope you’re hanging on in there xx

      Like

  7. skinnyhobbit October 31, 2020 / 5:52 am

    What an awful dream omg. I have my own nightmares about my therapist. And I relate to defensive parts coming up. I mean, oh my god, in a recent session I have yet to type up (because I’m cringing!), I actually did tell my T “Go away, leave me alone! Go away, leave me alone!: and thew soft things on the floor!

    Liked by 2 people

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