Therapy Friday

Usually I’m desperate to write out my therapy session and give it form, but this time not. I think because it was difficult in a certain way perhaps.

Ron’s office is in a medical building, and in his tiny waiting room sat a man missing part of his legs, in his wheelchair, who immediately asked me if I knew who we were supposed to be seeing? Pretty funny really. I told him I knew who I was supposed to be seeing, but not whom he was to see. So he gave me a file folder, and I tried to figure out what office he was trying to get to.

Ron begins in silence as per usual. He is very pale but dressed up, everything pressed, suit and shirt. No tie, that would be too much. I tell him he is looking starched and pressed this morning, and he smiles. He’s got this no nonsense analytical look about him, so I suspect I’ll be in for some analyzing, God help me.

I’m going to have trouble remembering the session because the second half was emotional. I sat in silence for a while because I was feeling a lot of fear about being there. I got out the fake fur blanket and spread it over my legs, and arranged the cushions, and got the second blanket also.

I mentioned some emails I’d sent Ron during the week. I was a bit worried about them, was it OK to send them. One was from the parts, speaking from different points of view and complaining about the group.

E. That’s not my opinion, that the group is for losers (ten year old opinion). You know these are immature kids right? I don’t think that about group therapy. Anyway, group therapy isn’t for children, so it makes sense they’re not keen on it.

Ron nods his head.

E. Sorry for sending so many emails. So do you think I’m really weird?

I’m actually feeling that there is something really weird about me after the group last night, and this voices problem also.

R. No.    (The way he says this is nice, kind of like ‘never would I think that’ tone of voice. This is actually the one time in the session where I really experience Ron as sincere, for some reason. The rest of the hour, it’s like he does all the right things, but it’s professional, not ‘really real’. So I’m hanging on to that ‘no’ I don’t think you’re weird with all my might.)

E. I was better in your group last night I thought. I stayed put except for one time I left. I took half a xanax before hand though. I’ve been in these situations before, where I experience tremendous fear, and they don’t improve with just exposure.

R. So you’re fundamentally afraid of people. Of your family, of the group…you have to leave.

E. I’ve gone to other groups, and I do talk. I would have to talk in order to stay. But what would I say? Talking about body memories, fear, feeling like lashing out at people….

R. You could talk about any of those things. That would be fine. A talked about issues that were obviously from her past and that was fine.

Then he goes on for a while about groups, and what he said was intelligent, but of course totally escapes me now. I was already emotional and cannot take in analysis in that space.

E. And if anyone tries to psychoanalyze me I will snap at them. It’s too painful for me to deal with that.  (There is a fellow in the group who analyzes people’s stories. I personally find that rude, but I don’t tell Ron that. Ron believes in analyzes.)

R. So that would be a good thing to mention then.

E. I felt half dissociated after the group last night. I felt like I was made of metal.

R. Do you still feel like that now?

E. A little bit. I’ve been sick, and coughing, and that stirs up the body memories. I start to feel like I can’t breathe….And I had one after our session last week. Just my nose was tingling…I felt something in my mouth, I was choking and feeling really bad.

Ron says something, I can’t remember what.

The rest of the session, I go into a memory, which is too painful for me to describe at the moment. I cry a lot, which is good really, as I can have them without crying. I don’t have pictures, just emotions and sensations – body memories. It’s obvious though something is happening to me – I’m not just crying because I’m sad. Ron talks in a soothing voice, telling me it already happened, it was in the past, that I’m in two places at once – his office and back when this happened, and that I’m safe.

E. I feel like killing myself.

R. To stop remembering? Who is doing this….

E. I don’t know. My uncle I suppose. I don’t have pictures. Well there is this cover picture, of a cement staircase, and also, I feel like there’s a knife across my pelvis….but those aren’t memories. There wasn’t a staircase or a knife. My mind isn’t making sense.

I keep falling into the memory and coming out of it to talk to Ron, then crying again. I don’t really stop crying until I leave his office.

I don’t know why, but I don’t experience Ron as actually caring about me here. Though he is acting in a caring way. So that doesn’t make sense. I have this sense that nothing is quite real, so maybe that unrealness is carrying over to him. And this trauma type stuff is so overwhelming that my sense of what’s going on in real life basically goes out the window. It’s all I can do to keep breathing and do stuff I’m supposed to do.

I have such trouble with the analyzing part of Ron’s therapy, that it makes me suspicious of the rest of it. When he says that I’m ‘fundamentally afraid of people’…well, how does he know? The fact is, the anxiety of being in his group is bringing up body memories for me, which it’s not safe to experience in the group, as that’s not what it’s for, so I leave so they calm down. Maybe I am afraid of people too, but I have other problems going on. It’s not like I’m going to say – oh yeah, I’m afraid of people, now things will be better. I’m not getting how analysis helps.

I often have this experience, that sometimes men analyze, and then when I don’t join in, they think it’s because I can’t do it. I can analyze. I just don’t think it helps.That came right from my experience of the group last night. Bugs me.

The rest of the day I’ve been lying down staring out the window. I would let this memory process go on if I could, but it seems to be stuck. My head is still tingling, which means a memory usually. But that’s about it.

Ron gave me a time to phone him tomorrow. He offered me another session also, but I declined for budget reasons. I’m already paying a huge percentage of my income for therapy. If I really felt like death, I’d go and see him for an extra session. But so far, I’m OK. I can cope in any event. It’s nice of him to offer to talk on the phone on the weekend. Really it is nice.

  1. Ron to me seems to really care about you Ellen. He seems very genuine. I know it can be hard to figure out emotions between a t. and a client. Even though they go to school for this to try an tame their emotions, concerns in a session….. they are still human. Believe me I am sure they struggle with their feelings towards their clients as well. Safe hugs to you dear one.

  2. Ellen said:

    Thanks JBR. I'm really glad you said that. Today I think it's true also, Ron does care. He acts in a caring way. Yes, it must be a kind of juggling act being a therapist – managing your own feelings, the client's feelings, and still trying to be somewhat genuine. I get really confused when those intense emotions from the past hit me. Hugs to you

  3. gniz said:

    I agree. Therapists are human beings, so they struggle with their emotions and lives and jobs just like the rest of us. But Ron does seem to care, and he clearly wants to help you. And it seems like you're making progress together–albeit painful progress. Take care of yourself. Also, hello to little Ellen if you're reading this!Aaron

  4. Paula said:

    I am sure he cares. He might not care the way you would like to or a care you recognize, but he cares. being who he is, means at the same time you learn a different type of care. Learn to trust that even if a feeling isnt expressed the way you easily recognize or are accustomed to. You have made so much progress since you are with him. Big warm hug

  5. Ellen said:

    @ gniz – Yeah we are making progress. I think part of the puzzle for me is that I stop trusting, or I start distrusting, or I just can't figure out who is trustworthy…and that all gets projected onto Ron. BTW, anything I say about analyzing doesn't apply to you Aaron – you are always allowed to analyze if the mood hits you. Some people I am fine with it and interested. cheersHi gniz – I think you are nice. And your name is funny because it is like fizz and I like that. your friend, Ellen@ Paula – Thanks Paula. That's a good insight. Learning to trust people is difficult for me…but necessary. Ron is a good person. Glad you see progress. Hope you are well tonight.

  6. Harriet said:

    I agree with the others that Ron cares about you. But sometimes is he hard to read? I can't remember if you have told him that you aren't keen on the analyzing, if you have discussed it with him. What would be better for him to do?

  7. Ellen said:

    Thanks Harriet. No I haven't discussed the analyzing thing with him much, though I mentioned it months ago in passing. Actually I'm of two minds – I'm interested in what he analyzes. But also, some of the time, it seems beside the point. I mostly want to feel things, which I have trouble doing by myself. Analyzing doesn't help with that. Cheers

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