Anger by email

Thanks so much everyone for the comments and stories and encouragement you left on my last post. It meant a lot. I was too upset to be able to respond very fast also, but did certainly appreciate it a lot.

I kind of fell apart on the weekend. Just kind of. I can’t explain it – it was as if my world kind of crashed. Then I wrote Ron an email about my state of mind, my fears about being crazy, etc etc, as is my wont. He replied so briefly, and it seemed to me so uncaringly, that I almost quit therapy right there. I wrote two emails cancelling my next appointment, but didn’t send them.

I did send two really angry responses. I was so very angry that he didn’t care, and couldn’t be bothered to respond to anything I said.

Then I am also angry about discussing the group in therapy, as Ron knows everyone’s stories, and not only that, also what they tell him about the group in their sessions. So some of the things he says, and even a really intense look he gave me when I discussed one person in the group, these things just point to so much going on in his mind that he doesn’t say. It just made me furious all of a sudden. Because I don’t know what’s going on, and he does, and it just seems like a complete waste of time to even discuss it.

So I sent him these two furious emails, complete with swearing and childish angry language.

Then he replied to one. He said I’m in a painful conflict. He’s got that right anyway. A painful conflict between needing to hear back from him right away, and having him actually say something meaningful.

I didn’t reply to that. But….I no longer felt like quitting therapy. I was obsessed with the need to quit previously. Now I still feel pissed off, but I will go and see him again. Expressing anger is therapeutic it seems. Ron is good with anger, it’s one of his pluses.

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14 comments
  1. I`m sorry you fell apart on the weekend. I hope I didn`t make that worse or things harder for you. I`m glad Ron is good with anger and that you find expressing anger therapeutic. Therapy is such a ***** journey (fill in your own adjective).Di

  2. Laura said:

    I have nothing useful to say about this painful conflict.1)he knows more than he says, about the group members.2)he knows more than he says, about you.3)he responds to you (and doesn't) in ways that he knows will trigger you.4)this is all part of how he's helping you.5)it feels like withholding, and manipulation.good for you for sending the anger while it was pungent. Sorry for the pain of it…

  3. Dear one sorry for your pain. Glad you were able to express though….

  4. Ellen said:

    @ attached – Of course you didn't make things worse! Talking to you was a pleasure. Yeah, anger is key here somehow. I'm still really angry with him actually. I don't know how I'll manage the group while fuming. Expressing it is #$%@^# therapeutic! šŸ™‚ Thanks di.@ Laura – Yes, Ron totally knows so much more than he says. I know that ethically, he cannot reveal anyone else's stuff to me. But suddenly, trying to talk to him about this under these circumstances seems like a complete farce to me. And it just seems to highlight that he withholds in general, it seems like. I don't think he is deliberately triggering me. Beyond being a bit of a 'blank screen' for my projections anyway. It does feel like withholding and I hate it! For one thing, my whole family withholds most everything all the time, so it reminds me of that.I'm obviously still fuming. Thanks Laura.@ JBR – Thank you. Expressing is a good thing.

  5. gniz said:

    Hey Ellen,Well I think here is where we get into some of the weirder parts of therapy and that particular relationship.It IS on odd kind of relationship and I believe you are correct in sometimes feeling discomfort from that. it is not exactly like any other relationship. The therapists role is very different from a friend or relative or any other party we normally encounter in life.So it is strange and at times maybe it's not always such a great thing to have to deal with. But in a case where you need to process such intense stuff, and you need to make sure you are working on these things continually, therapy seems the best way to go.It's not perfect though. And every time you have a complaint isn't totally unreasonable. I believe your complaint about Ron withholding and how that makes you feel is totally valid. Keep trucking' Ellen

  6. about the emails, i think a conversation making explicit your expectations and his responsibilities would be useful. my therapist, for instance, will only take emails in an emergency. and then, she will only acknowledge receipt. she has said, explicitly, that she will not attempt therapy, or anything resembling a therapeutic response over email. that we have to save that for our face to face time. knowing this i am never disappointed by our email conversations, no matter how badly i am feeling.

  7. Ellen said:

    @ gniz – It is a very particular kind of relationship. And with psychodynamic therapy, you are apparently recreating other important relationships so a rational response isn't what you're looking for anyway. But sometimes, I do actually have a point, like you say. This thing about talking about the group – Ron is withholding. Ron must withhold info about his other clients, ethically. But it makes me feel really bad, so I think I'm going to stop discussing the group with him. It's like a set up, and I'm not going to play. I'm still really angry with him. Thanks, I'll keep truckin Aaron. :-)@ OBD – I would find your therapist's stance very difficult to manage. OK, you don't send emails at all, or only in emergencies. So even in an emergency, she does not respond beyond acknowledging receipt? To me this is harsh. Convenient for the therapist though. I think then what I'd have to do is cut off my need for contact between sessions and shut down whatever I'm going through. That's not the same thing as not having that need. Ron has never done therapy by email either, and his responses are usually one or two sentences. However, he usually was able to acknowledge my feelings (i.e., sounds painful) or reassure me (I do care, or, I wasn't thinking such and such). This time, when I was really bleeding all over the place (not literally), he said 'It's a lot to think about.' Just no acknowledgment either of how I felt or that he'd even read what I'd said. Well, I'm still mad obviously.I will discuss with him though. I want to know, if I can wait a day or two for a response, does that mean he will actually respond to what I'm saying. To me cutting off the emails entirely is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They are really really helpful to me when they work. Thanks for sharing your experience Catherine.

  8. Hey E, these are the times that I wish we could have therapy for therapy. But I guess after a while I would be chasing my own tail!And it still amazes me that sometimes just getting things off your chest actually helps, even though to the naked eye nothing actually changes.And I'm with you on the email stuff.

  9. upsi said:

    Hey Ellen,My apologies if you've already addressed my question elsewhere here, but my question is: is doing the group required to do therapy with Ron? Everything I read about your experience in group says: what's the point of this group thing? All his patients sit in a circle and have no duty to one another, and he holds all the cards. He has a duty to each of you, but none of his patients have duties to one another. Strikes me as a conflict of interest for both him and his patients!It seems to bring a lot of extra pain into your life. And then it seems like you're judged for it. I might be totally off here, but I don't think you should have to do group therapy with all his other patients unless you are benefiting from it on your own terms. Keep swimming :)xoupsi

  10. Ellen said:

    @ NWNMG – HE he. I need therapy for my therapy STAT! šŸ™‚ Yes, it amazes me also how that can work. Telling someone how you feel is powerful. I know you text and I email, but it's still great, until it's not. I tried a couple times to leave you comments NWNMG but blogger isn't allowing it for me on your blog. I'm following along though. Thanks for commenting. @ upsi – Oh, no trouble. I'm always happy someone is interested enough to ask a question. I'm sure it comes across as why on earth is this crazy lady doing group therapy when it is so painful? I don't think it's a conflict of interest really….Group therapy allows you to explore how you interact with other people. You kind of do it right there in the group. In a regular situation no one would comment, but in group therapy, the idea is to comment on how people strike you…and in that way you can learn a lot. Ron wants anyone in his group to also see him for individual therapy. He explains that group stirs up such powerful feelings, we need a place to process that. I'm not quite sure what you mean by the duties part of your comment. I'm actually getting benefit from being in the group, though I know I go on here about the pain of it. In fact, I'm a lot happier with the group therapy than the individual at this point. My problem with the individual is talking about how people in the group affect me, meanwhile, Ron knows so much about all of them, that I have started to feel really stupid for bothering to talk. And frustrated. The benefit of the group is I have started to be more real with people in my life, in small ways. Instead of covering up everything, I now try and explain or talk about some things I really feel. I know that's because I'm getting practice doing that in the group. Hope that answers some of your question at least. Thanks for the encouragement. @ gniz – I took a look at your e-publishing blog Aaron. Congrats on being able to earn a living by writing now, that is huge! I don't even have an e-reader, but I'm going to get one. I wanted to leave a comment but blogger didn't allow, so hopefully you will see this. I know what you mean about writing being a craft, and needing to 'surf' the waves to find out what is wanted out there. I used to freelance articles for a time, and it was definitely about providing what was needed, and crafting articles a certain way. E-publishing is certainly and interesting new world I want to know more about.

  11. upsi said:

    What I mean about duties is this: as your therapist, Ron has duties of confidentiality and care. He has the duty to do his best to help you. But as his patients, you do not have that same duty to each other. So in the context of the one-to-one relationship of therapy, you can work through empathic failures with the idea that you want to maintain the health-supporting function of the relationship. In group, if others fail you, if you fail others, there's really no duty to maintain the empathic bond – so it seems to open you up to more risk. Now that you've explained that the group is actually going better right now than one-on-one therapy, I feel sheepish to have raised this point. It came from a place of wanting you to never ever be further hurt by anyone in the world – and you've clarified that you're not experiencing what I thought you were. So thanks for explaining! I have yet to find a therapist that can provide the adequate "holding environment" for me to build trust, and I've been quite hurt by a number of therapists I worked with for some time. So I'm probably just seeing things that aren't there for you. Big hugs! I enjoy your blog a lot, thanks for all the sharing and explaining. I too struggle to give voice and recognition to my many parts, struggle to stop hiding – and blogging has been a very therapeutic way to work through it. upsi

  12. gniz said:

    Hey Ellen, Thanks for responding and also the kudos about epublishing!It is an interesting new world. If you read my blog from the very beginning (going back in the archives), I really chart out the whole process I went through up until now.This is something that a good writer can definitely do. Check out the book "Why Me?" I believe the writer is Sarah Burleton. She self-published it and it is a huge success…I do wonder if you could use some of your blog/therapy writings and parlay it into a book of some sort. And remember, pseudonyms are used all of the time. I write books under a ton of different names.Hope you continue to feel better!

  13. Quite a break through. Wonderful you express anger. First you were not able to express anger at all, now you can and over time you will express anger not so "childish" anymore. I am different Ellen, I am not sorry for your painful conflict, I am not sorry for what you call "break down". I am ever so glad it happened. Lately there is so much shifting and changing inside you. I am so very proud of you. Of all of you. each and every part. You are still angry, but through. You might be drained and exhausted and you have done well. Love and hugs up North.

  14. Ellen said:

    @ upsi – No, it's a valid point for sure. I guess I think the kind of bond I feel for the group members really is quite different from the bond I feel with Ron. I do have expectations for Ron I don't have of the group at all. So I'd trust Ron a lot more than the group. On the other hand, because I'm not involved in a transference relationship with the group members, I feel much freer to be myself and show other aspects of myself that don't come out in my one on one therapy. It's an interesting contrast. Thanks for not wanting me to be hurt. :-)I am sorry you have struggled with therapists. I too have been to a bunch of them, and Ron is the first I've felt a strong connection to. It can be a long search. Which I totally didn't know when I set out to find someone. I'm glad you like the blog. I'm enjoying yours also. hugs@ gniz – So I have started reading your archives. Your extreme honesty comes across – especially in posting your early not so great sales numbers. šŸ™‚ But also your enthusiasm and hope. This is all new to me and fascinating for sure. Maybe I will be able to try it some time. I'm going to get an e-reader so I can read some of these books, including yours of course. Thanks for introducing me to all this. @ Paula – Thanks Paula. Sometimes falling apart is a good thing. Hugs

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