Therapy Monday

Some days I am just proud of myself for lasting all day at work, and today was one of those days. I was real tired too, having just slept a few hours. But I went in, had two meetings where I managed things pretty well, people skills were working thank God, then I also did some work…and didn’t look too gloomy either. A decent day at work.

Therapy yesterday was good, and I once again feel that Ron likes me, so I can breathe easy and cope with life.

Here is what I wrote after therapy yesterday. This part of the session was about that fatal question, Does Ron Like Me?

I continued with the anxiety theme today, and was pretty anxious all day up to my therapy appointment. I kept having to lie down, stare out the window and breathe. I got there in record time, even though I’d left later than usual, so again I sat in my car for a few minutes and read while I waited.

Ron called me in almost at once. He was wearing his suit today, looking well rested. He always is shaved these days – when I first met him, he was unshaven several times. I wonder if something had happened in his personal life when I first went to see him that caused him to neglect that for a bit. Who knows. Maybe it was a phase.

Instead of asking him how he was doing, which I usually do just for the sake of a greeting, and to which he always responds with an ironic ‘fine’, I launched into a few comments about the weather. That went over without irony at least. We sat in silence for a bit, then Ron asked if I wanted to discuss the email I’d sent him after our last session. I’d been upset after our last session, and sent him an email saying I’d been afraid of him, and that that was what I wanted to discuss next time.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about it right away, so I started talking about my weekend. I do have the hardest time talking to Ron – it’s like something is stopping my mouth. I couldn’t even share as much as I did in my blog post about it. It’s the oddest feeling.

So I started talking about what an anxious week I’d had, and how I kept having to rush home to lie down, and was using quite a bit of medication.

Ron – So  was there a trigger for the anxiety?

E – Well, it started after my last session with you. I got the feeling you didn’t like me. One of my friends said it’s not necessary for the therapist to like you, they can give you advice anyway. Another said it’s my childhood issues coming up, making me feel anxious.

Ron – Hmmm……(some things I can’t remember)

E. – And I was afraid of you last session, and I felt you were forcing me to talk about things I didn’t want to talk about.

Ron – I kind of think…I kind of think your therapist does have to like you. Did I do anything that made you think I didn’t like you?

E. – Well, you used to be different, when I first met you. More friendly. I guess you draw new clients in like that….

Ron – (looks at me, says nothing) Friendly how?

E. – I don’t know.

For some reason, now I feel that he does once again like me, and my fear goes right down. At the end of the session, we also banter back and forth a bit, me amazed at the amount of vacation Ron takes.

E. You take 6 weeks? Wow, must be nice.

Ron just grins and says nothing.

R. – So how do you feel about my going away?

E. I don’t like it. I think you should stay here and take care of your clients.

Ron nods his head agreeably and doesn’t reply.

Middle of the session

Of course a session can’t go by without a bunch of dark stuff. As I can’t really talk to Ron, as I could when I first met him, I end up exploring an image that was coming up for me when I was having the anxiety last week.

E. I’m having a lot of anxiety, real fear, and I keep needing to rush home and lie down.

R. Well, anxiety can be the result of parts of ourselves we haven’t known about before surfacing. You’re coming here every week, and accessing some of the unconscious, and that can make you anxious.

Sure sure I think. It’s not that. It’s that I was afraid you didn’t like me and I was scared of you. But I don’t say this, I just nod thoughtfully.

E. So it was like I was trying to remember something, sometimes, lying there with the fear. But it wouldn’t come into focus. I’d feel the tingling feeling that I do for flashbacks, but then nothing concrete came. I’m feeling a bit of that now.

R. Let’s go into that a bit.

E. So I’m seeing a swimming pool, an indoor pool. I’m in the water. My boss is walking by on the side.

R. Uh huh…

Silence…I’m kind of in this strange experience where I feel half awake, and tingling in my legs and forehead, and this image is in my mind. I don’t know what to say.

R. What’s happening?

E. Well, the water is lapping at the tiles on the side. Oh and my father is in the pool.

R. Uh huh…and what’s he doing?

E. I don’t know….

R. Why don’t you ask him?

E. (Upset) No, I don’t want to.

I feel angry.

E. This is just stupid. It doesn’t make sense.

R. Maybe it’s complicated. Instead of saying it’s stupid, let’s explore it.

I’m irritated. Silently. I struggle to remain with this vision or whatever the heck it is.

Silence. This image, which was neutral when it first started, has now become threatening and upsetting to me. Ron asks me some more questions, and I snap at him irritably. Which is what I inevitably do when dealing with bad memories.

That’s as far as I get with this exercise. Nothing more occurs, beyond a feeling that this is a bad thing. Ron gets up to close the small window behind him, and I snap out of it and ask him about his upcoming vacation. He responds only to what I directly ask.

E. So do you go to a cottage?

R. My mother has a cottage. My wife and I have a farm. Not a real farm…um…

E. A hobby farm?

R. Yes.

E. So did you find someone to fill that spot when I canceled that Monday? (I’d canceled an appointment a while ago.)

R. I can’t remember. (Looks puzzled.) There’s no problem canceling an appointment as long as I have 24 hours notice. (I’d given him a few days’ notice.)

E. Oh. So did I do anything to annoy you or upset you?

R. (Shakes head vigorously, and looks puzzled.) No, you didn’t.

E. Well, I talk about depressing things. I’ve mentioned suicidal thoughts, that probably was disturbing. I’m bad at therapy?

R. (Shakes head.) No. You can’t be bad at therapy.

E. Sure I can. I’m bad at it.

R. (Laughs but is also exasperated.) Whatever the client brings is what we work with. You can’t be bad at it.

Then the session was over. I felt reassured that Ron once again liked me. Partly because he wasn’t ultra serious and didn’t stare at me darkly and solemnly. I like finding out a bit about his life, though he didn’t need to mention his wife on my account. I picked him partly because he is married with children, so that would be clear in my mind. It’s one of his assets as far as I’m concerned – no need to bring her up. And he laughed a couple of times, which makes me feel he likes me. And I felt less like an interesting specimen and more like a person.

  1. Ellen, glad you session was positive and that you feel Ron is on your side once again. Here listening as always. Blessings.

  2. Harriet said:

    That sounds like a really interesting session and you covered quite a few things. I'm glad he admitted that a therapist should like his clients, so obviously if you are his client, he likes you. My t has also said that a person can't do therapy badly, they could not show up or not pay, but in the session there is no bad. Do you feel he has expectations of you that you can't meet? I also find it interesting that Ron dresses in a variety of ways – my t is always dressed in the same way.

  3. I am glad you left your session feeling positive about Ron…but especially that you did not feel like 'an interesting specimen'. Try to ALWAYS remember you are 'person' and one with great value! Take care.

  4. Ellen said:

    @ JBR – Yeah it's a good feeling, thanks JBR.@ Harriet – I do feel he has those expectations, that is a good question Harriet. He always says I'm afraid of feeling…I tell him I'm afraid of him, he says it's fear of feelings and memories. NO, it's you, I want to insist, but don't. I do feel kind of criticized. And therapists are usually wanting clients to move in a certain direction, or be open, or emotional, or something…I think it's bafflegab when they say there is no 'wrong'. They just don't call it wrong. cheers@ Interruption – Thanks interruption. I'll think of that I hope when I need to.

  5. diver said:

    Hi Ellen. I enjoyed your introduction. Great to hear you have days like that at the office. I think days like that can be more therapeutic than therapy sometimes.Sounds like slow going with the actual therapy though … once again. It sounds like you're both stuck in a holding pattern while you try to work through those trust issues. Must be very frustrating for both of you 😦

  6. Ellen said:

    Yes, sometimes work is OK. It's always a bit of a struggle, but sometimes I do feel like I come out on top.Trust issues are huge, that's really true. It's a struggle. Thanks

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