My second session

Yesterday I went for my second paid therapy session with Ron. The closer the appointment came, the more scared I became of going to see him. I was actually shaking as I tied on my boots before going out. It was a very mucky day – just above freezing, so snow was melting and at every curb there was a lake to try and jump over, get around or wade through. I need some rubber winter boots to keep feet at all dry.

I made it to his office a few minute early, feeling actually afraid the whole time I was driving the car and listening to the radio. I felt like I was pretty much a basket case and ready for the loony bin! What on earth did I think was going to happen to me? I was so irritated with my stupid self.

This time, Ron was dressed up a lot more than last. I guess on weekdays he dresses more for success. Last session was on a Saturday, and he was in jeans and a rumpled shirt. This time there is a white shirt and some kind of blazer, and no jeans.

He fixes me with his trademark quizical green-eyed look. There’s no small talk, no talk of the weather. He waits for me to speak, and I don’t know what to say. So he asks how things were for me after the last session.

I mention I was kind of weepy. I don’t know what about in particular. Then I go on to talk about the anxiety I feel about seeing him, how I woke up the night of the last session full of fear about seeing him. He looked rather astounded I have to say. He obviously doesn’t think of himself as inspiring fear in client’s hearts. I told him I’d felt that before, about other men also, which is why I came back and didn’t blame him for it.

I was still experiencing the fear right there in the session. It was the most uncomfortable feeling, especially since I wasn’t covering it up or talking about other things. Usually, I would hide this fear. Since I wasn’t, and he was asking me more about it, I felt it more and more strongly. I was fidgeting, couldn’t keep still, wringing my hands, twitching my feet, looking like a freak I’m sure.

Ron asked me about the thoughts I had when I was feeling the fear the night I woke up, and during the week. I talked about my feeling that he thought I was a freak, that I was really really strange, that I wasn’t a client that he would be wanting to work with. Because he’d asked about suicidal feelings a few times, I thought he thought I was a really majorly disturbed individual. And then I clarified that I didn’t necessarily believe these things, but emotionally, I did. I know very well that as a therapist he hears lots of sad stories and deals with people in all kinds of pain, and I’m probably not so different from anyone else. But at the same time, I fear.

He said we should work through the anxiety. I didn’t really know what that would mean, practically speaking. He said that I could keep feeling it and keep talking about any thoughts I was having alongside it…and that eventually it would subside? Hmm…I can’t remember what he said would happen. Just that the idea was to keep talking about it while it was happening.

Although it was very uncomfortable to be feeling that kind of fear while someone was looking at me, to be twitchy and uncomfortable and looking like an idiot, still, I’m proud I did it. I felt the feeling there in the office, instead of later by myself. We worked with it, as much as I was able to do so. I didn’t ignore it and pretend.

And also, Ron said that when I tell myself I’m crazy, or an idiot, or whatever else I tell myself, I’m invalidating how I feel. Like a bad parent when a child is not allowed to feel anything. We went back and forth for a bit, with me saying that I know perfectly well it’s his job to listen to people like me, and that I have no rational reason for being afraid, and him saying that it’s how I feel, and that’s valid. It was nice to hear him say that. I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me before. I hate my symptoms and beat myself up for them, but they’re me. So I am trying to beat myself up less.

I was afraid mainly of how I’d feel after leaving Ron’s office, back in my own apartment. But, I felt OK. The fear pretty well entirely dissipated, and it hasn’t returned. I did feel kind of tense, but I’m used to that. I’ll take that over massive fear any day.

Right at the end of the session, Ron said what he’d obviously been saving up to say – whatever the fear is, it’s already happened. So next time, we’ll start there. OK. Fifty minutes were up.

Then the scheduling was fine also. I’d carefully written down the days I couldn’t come because of meetings at work, and I’m seeing him next week on Friday afternoon. Ron seemed more pulled together this Monday then last time, and nothing was a problem. I hope eventually I’ll get a regular slot – it’s just a little disorganized because I don’t always have the same days available for working from home.

I’m looking forward to going back, especially now that I don’t seem to have the fear. I feel fine. Yahoo. I never wanted to see the other two therapists – I just thought I had to keep going in order to make progress. This guy is nice.

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4 comments
  1. gniz said:

    What an enormous breakthrough you've had. "I didn't ignore it and pretend." Notice–and I'm sure you have–that when you actually let yourself be present and work through these feelings in real time, you didn't appear to dissociate later on.An important discovery. One that you've made by working your ass off. I am incredibly happy for you. Lots more hard work to do, but you've done so much to be proud of.Seriously, give yourself a fricking pat on the back Ellen. :)Aaron

  2. Ellen said:

    Thanks Aaron – nice to be complimented. Staying with a feeling sure is uncomfortable, but there are payoffs for it. Cheers

  3. I think it's great that you were able to talk about your anxiety and fear in your session. I was always a basket case on the verge of not going when I first started therapy. I still have some anxiety when going but it has gotten a lot better with time. I just kept persisting through it and working with my t on it. Hard work indeed. I am proud of you as well. I think it's good that Ron wants to work with you on this.

  4. Ellen said:

    Hi Maze, Thanks. After so much fear, now I don't feel afraid of him at all. But maybe I will when I see him again next week, who knows. But staying with the feeling sure helped me – it's like magic. Good to know you felt similar.

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