It was a hard session today – as last week’s was as well. S’ explanation for how bad I’ve been feeling is that we’ve discussed some very heavy stuff last week. We’ve been stirring the pot, so to speak, and my unconscious is starting to rise up and mingle with my conscious which is adding to my despair and pain. He assured me today that I am making a lot of progress, even if I can’t believe it or know it right now.
I gave him a half smile. It’s been hard to do that lately – just to smile. And that was the first smile that I had today. Yes, it’s hard to believe that. It’s hard to believe that I’m making progress in recovery – especially not when I feel suicidal almost daily and thoughts race through my head constantly. But I trust him. So I trust that he’s telling the truth and not just telling me things I want to hear and enabling me.
We talked about a great deal today and I can’t remember most of it because of how emotionally heavy it was – I realize now that I tend to blank out because things get so intense that I’m not exactly there sometimes. I sometimes dissociate. Therapy time is precious to me and so I try to remember as much as I can because after the sessions, I always have a great compulsion to write everything (with as much detail as I can remember) down. It’s a strange compulsion – my classmate said that I have such great discipline to do so after I disclosed to her today that I attend therapy every Wednesday morning right before class begins (it was hard to lie again about what I was furiously typing on my laptop – especially not since I’ve used every excuse I could every Wednesday).
Anyway, the gist of today’s session was again about shame but this time we discovered that my shame and need come hand-in-hand, which makes it even more complicated to deal with (in my own opinion that is). Any time I feel like I need something from someone, I feel ashamed. I feel like I’m a child again – a situation that I can’t allow myself to be in. I can’t allow myself to be child-like and so on Monday night, when I threw my tantrum and had my meltdown, I was ashamed of it afterwards. I was so terribly needy. I felt even needier when I wrote an email to S. I contemplated not hitting “Send” but I did anyway because I wanted to reach out to someone. My email was apologetic in tone and ended with telling S that it’s OK if he doesn’t get around to reading it.
His response was almost immediate in the sense that he responded at 10am the next day (that is, yesterday) and he almost never answers my emails that quickly. So I felt good to know that he cared enough to take the time to write me. He told me some things that I want to read over and over again because it assures me that he cares. It’s short but it was meaningful to me:
Sorry to hear that things are rough, Jules. I’m glad writing made you feel better. I know we talked about some heavy stuff last week, but I believe you can get through it. Feel feel to utilize on-call if you need to, in any case I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!
I was grateful to know that even if my support system (namely Hubster and my bestie, El) can’t be there (for whatever reason), that S is an email away. I know it’ll mean that I have to wait to hear back, but at least I know someone would’ve heard me. Sometimes, I think that’s all I really need. I think that’s probably why I write here. I don’t necessarily need a response (though that is very nice to get, thank you so much Q (La Quemada) for your kind words!) but to just shout out my problem to the world and hope someone hears it.
After reading of Q’s own experiences with therapy lately, I finally mustered up the courage to tell S today that I have not been entirely truthful with him – that there are still things that I’ve been hiding from him. Not because I don’t trust him but because of how much I fear abandonment and rejection that I didn’t want what I had to share with him to be something that would make him change his opinions of me. I knew, in the more rational part of my mind, that he doesn’t judge me, hasn’t judge me and will never judge me, but the irrational child-like part of me is so fearful that I couldn’t talk to him truthfully about some things. I reasoned with him today that maybe I am also just not ready to talk about them yet.
He seemed a little taken aback when I told him that I was still hiding things from him. Perhaps he thought that our discussions about transference had been dealt with. I have other transference-related issues that I’ve not spoken to him about – mostly because of that fear of rejection and abandonment again taking center stage in my mind. I will. In time.
So I finally brought it up – the topic that has been hurting me and bothering me for months now. He exclaimed, “Months?” – perhaps surprised that I was able to hide it from him so well and perhaps questioning himself as to why he didn’t pick it up earlier. Well, he had no reason to anyway. I finally told him how terrified I am of termination and how much anxiety it has caused me to think that our therapeutic relationship would be terminated. I told him – after much hesitation – that I’ve come to depend on him. And that not knowing whether or not he will accept that knowledge positively also made me not want to talk about it. I told him how scary it is to be so vulnerable and to need someone so much that you feel like you can’t express that because you don’t know what the person is going to do with that knowledge.
My voice hitched as I told him all that. He didn’t take it lightly. He did ask me if I thought that he would terminate our relationship and I told him that the thought has crossed my mind. He then calmly explained to me what termination is really like at CAPS and how it’s a process that when the psychologist believes that their client is ready, that it’s a gradual process of letting the client take on the world on their own – while at the same time, leaving the door open for any future need for more sessions. He told me in very clear terms that I’m in no way anywhere near termination stage – especially not now.
I told him that I felt bad because I felt like the CAPS policy was to get students/clients in and out as soon as possible. I had stumbled on the CAPS policy on their website and it had stated something like that – how they’re a short term care facility. It made me feel like I shouldn’t be there. S told me that yes, they do have that policy in effect but mostly because a lot of clients like to hang around even when they have no need to (a lot of students come in because of the stress of exams and such who don’t have a need to continue therapy once their stressors have been dealt with). “We’re very flexible. For clients, such as yourself, who require longer term care, we provide that.”
I smiled. Inside, I was overjoyed to hear that. I am wanted, was what I felt from that even though that probably wasn’t what he meant. But that was what I felt.
“The other reason we might terminate is when we think that we’re not a good fit or if we’re not making progress. And I know that I’ve mentioned this before to you that I think that we are a good fit and that we are making progress. I know it doesn’t feel like we are to you but we are. And that’s why in my email, I told you that we have talked about some hard things last week. We’ve been stirring the pot and things are bound to come up and you’ll feel worse.” S said.
When he said that we are a good fit, my heart leaped again. So desperate am I to hear that I am wanted that it made me feel relieved and comforted. A part of me scoffed at how pathetic that was.
Eventually, I told S that I needed him and that I don’t know if I could handle things if I were to find myself in a position where I couldn’t talk to him anymore. I also told him again that a part of me still wished that we had met under different circumstances because I feel a connection to him and I feel like we could’ve been good friends. It was painfully embarrassing to admit that. But now that I have, I feel a heavy weight lift off my chest.
I didn’t go in today with any plans of talking about this. I really didn’t. I thought that we would address my suicidal thoughts and desires. I thought that we would deal with my tantrum/meltdown. I thought that we would talk more about shame (we did, but in a different way than what I had anticipated). I don’t know how but every time I’m in therapy, my mouth just runs free and I sometimes find myself not being in control of what I’m saying – at least not consciously. Sometimes I wonder if my unconscious comes out during therapy to express herself because often, I don’t plan the things I say while in therapy. Maybe the part of me who’s been fighting for me and my recovery is the one who takes control and speaks during these sessions. That could also be part of the reason why it’s so hard to remember things during therapy because what I say are almost never planned.
At the end of the session, I asked S what he and other psychologists talk about and whether they talk about other clients. I asked him if they bounce ideas between them about their clients. I also asked if they talk about clients while at home when their spouse/partners ask them how their day was. I told him that in part, I was asking due to curiosity but also in part because I feel like I need to know.
“You mean in regards to you? Or just in general?”
To be honest, I want to know more about S, but I know I can’t and won’t be able to. Not if we are to remain in this therapeutic relationship.
“In regards to me,” I responded – wishing that I could ask him more.
“Wow, that’s a lot of questions… Well, if you ever need to know something, you can always ask me. I can’t guarantee that I will answer every question you have for me but if there is something I can answer, I will. I think that way you can stop wondering. I know that I’ve disclosed some things about myself to you before… What do you think of that?”
I noticed just how cleverly he had sidestepped my questions and deflected them. He does this a lot. I know and understand that therapy is about me but hey, I’m a curious one. I like to know how people’s days go. I’m the sort who likes to read “A Day In the Life of…” kind of stories. I am genuinely curious as to what psychologists talk about among each other. And since I know quite a number of the psychologists at CAPS (because I’ve done so many walk-ins and am now in group therapy), it’s hard not to wonder. But answers are not to be had today.
I will probably ask again in the future. And S will probably deflect it again. It’s a source of amusement and frustration to me that he does that. Psychologists are very good at answering questions with more questions. He did give me a green light to ask him questions but knowing that he may never answer all of them is kinda annoying. But oh well, I’ve dealt with this for 10 months now, I’m sure I’ll be ok with being a little curious.
So therapy ended well enough despite how difficult the things we talked about were. It helped me get things off my chest – things that had started to fester and really bother me. I was glad that I got to read Q’s accounts of her interactions with her therapist because it gave me the courage to say what I needed to say today.
I can’t say that the rest of the day went well (because I fell back into the negativity and self loathing wagon) but it did get better when I got to talk to my bestie for half an hour and then to see Q’s kind words on my blog. At about 6pm tonight, I was uncertain about how I was going to make it through this weekend and in fact, was uncertain of how I would get through the rest of this day, but now, I think I’ll be able to hang in there until my next session with S.
Btw, wow. 40 sessions already. My 1-year-anniversary of starting therapy is approaching. Wow. It’s been a hell of a year.