Therapy is difficult for me.
Monday was therapy day for me. Ron had scheduled me for an evening appointment, as I don’t have a regular time yet and he only had an evening one available. I was anxious about going to see him the whole day – really severe anxiety to the point where I had to keep lying down. I hadn’t been that afraid of him since the second time I went to see him. I thought about canceling just so the fear would subside. However at the same time, I wanted to go and talk to him. So I did. I am not chicken.
I had sent Ron an email about a week after my last session with him. I’d had a bad session and wanted to tell him what had happened to me, similarly to the way I described it here a few posts ago. I just felt I couldn’t wait two weeks, and also I didn’t trust myself to raise this issue with him when I saw him next. In the email I just described how I’d fallen into this child space during the last session and had been re-experiencing a memory, and how this wasn’t something I felt safe doing at the moment, until he understands my situation more at any rate. I said something like this.
I kept the email overnight, so I could make sure I didn’t say anything attacking or strange, then sent it off Saturday. He replied Monday night, which is not bad. I hadn’t been sure he’d be checking his email on vacation so had been prepared if he didn’t respond. He replied kindly, saying it’s crucial for him to recognize when I get into a child space, he was sorry he missed it, and that I should feel free to tell him anything that comes up for me in a session. Nice, kind, not defensive.
So I set off to see him Monday evening. The light and traffic where all different, and in Ron’s office the light was on – everything looked different. Because I was so anxious, it seemed like one more problem for me – I have a need for everything to remain the same.
Ron was very serious and quiet. I told him I was afraid of him again. I would have liked to just work with that somehow, but Ron wanted to discuss my email and my last session. I had absolutely no desire to do that – I’d already emailed him about it. But what can you do. Perhaps it was good to discuss it, and it was interesting how right I’d been that I might not want to discuss what happened by the time I finally saw him again.
I was feeling so much fear that my voice was all hoarse and raspy, but tried to talk through the fear. It was a strange experience, though by the end of the session I was quite able to talk. However my voice remained raspy and tiny throughout. Weird. It was like talking through physical restraints on my mouth – as if my face was duct taped and there were just tiny holes through which I could talk.
I got the impression I had hurt his feelings with the email. I hate hurting people’s feelings. I asked him if he’d felt criticized, and he said not the way I meant. Sure sure. How did he know what I meant anyway. But I didn’t say that. He said it was important for him to get that kind of feedback. Rationalization. Didn’t say that though.
We talked a bit about the memory, how it had actually been happening in my mind as I’d described it, and I talked a bit about the abuse I remembered and the abuse that I get back in these confused bits and pieces. Then I spent a long time talking about how devastated I’d felt after the session, how I couldn’t really function for a week, how I tried calling a few people for support. I mentioned how I’d wanted to call him but had thought he’d be angry. Why would you think I’d be angry? I said it was an irrational feeling. My mother had been angry when this all happened, when I was a child. He didn’t say anything to that.
I also mentioned the peaceful warmth I’d felt in parts of my body the next week. He asked what did I attribute that to. I said I didn’t know. I got the impression he thought that was kind of strange.
If I’m going to be honest, I’d say I spent a good part of that session trying to get Ron to like me again. I’d thought we had rapport, but in this session, he was pretty distant and quiet. It’s a waste of time trying to get him to like me – he either will or won’t, and it’s not up to me.
About the fear. I said I’d felt it before, it’s a problem of mine that happens with various men. Ron thought it was traumatic, like a memory. Someone who I had trusted to take care of me hurt me in a horrible way, and somehow I now project that fear onto care taking figures. Ron didn’t put it like that, but that is how I understood it. That actually does make sense to me. I’d never thought of that before. I just seemed strange to myself.
The other thing about the session I want to remember is how I wasn’t very smart. I wasn’t particularly grown-up, and couldn’t explain anything very articulately. Sentences just weren’t forming themselves so I could explain what I meant. But Ron kind of continued to treat me as if I did understand and as if I was intelligent. As if he was talking to the more regular part of me that can have more complicated conversations. I really appreciated that. That he didn’t think I was a child. I wasn’t, I was just disabled by fear.
Oh yeah, and the thing about the session that bothered me. Ron said that I was ‘terrified’ of these feelings or memories. I didn’t like that. He seems to be pushing a fair amount, that I should allow these feelings and explore them. Why should I? I have a need to go slowly. Maybe I know how shattering they are to me and I have an interest in keeping this ship afloat. I’ve only just met him, he doesn’t really know a lot about me, and if I don’t want to plunge right into the worst thing that ever happened to me with him, I’m going to honour that feeling. It’s me who has to live with the results, not him. I just don’t like being called ‘terrified’. I’m cautious. So sue me.
Once I left his office, the fear I’d been feeling all day evaporated. I felt a little tense and out of it, but OK. I didn’t fall into any re-experiencing of trauma either, I’d managed to talk about it without falling very far into it.