Therapy Friday 1

Down down down. I am down in the dark blackness. Is it going to help to detail my therapy session? Yes it was depressing. More depressing than that was an email exchange I had with Ron that evening. As a result of which I told him I’m not going back to the group. I also wanted to quit therapy but decided, wisely, to hang on and see what I feel on later in the week.

Sometimes I think I would do better just going to the group and not going to an individual session.  I always end up feeling terrible about the group after my individual session, when I’m coping OK with it before.

I get to Ron’s office and again his door is open, so I go in and we start a minute or two early. This time I remember to look for the dead plant – gone at last. Ron was reading a book – something about the history of science. He looks a bit rumpled and a little down.

E. So was I too harsh last night?

R. Harsh? In what sense?

His favorite stalling phrase.

E. Well, with A. You know what harsh means.

R. (with a marked lack of enthusiasm) I think you were expressing how you felt…..

I don’t want to plunge into this right away after all, so I talk for a few minutes about my newly discovered allergy to my apartment. I go over the whole saga.

E. Sorry, I know there is nothing you can do about this, it’s not therapy stuff. I just wanted to vent.

Ron says a few things, not much. Quite right. This is not something he can affect.

E. So the first part of the group, I really really wanted to leave.

R. When Y was talking?

E. When anyone was talking. It wasn’t really about what they were saying. What it was was parts. It was parts coming up, saying stuff. As long as I could listen, and have the feelings they always bring with them, I no longer needed to leave.

Ron doesn’t say much to this.

E. So A was saying all these contradictory things. 1., he was too busy to call me back. 2. he had decided I was not a good relationship for him. 3. the more he saw me, the more he liked me. They don’t add up.

R. Why can’t all those things be true at once?

E. Because they’re contradicting.

R. I think it’s not that they are contradicting, it’s that you don’t believe him.

E. A goes on in circles. Being too busy – sure. It’s not like he has an 18 hour a day job. (As a matter of fact, he has no job.) That’s an excuse I’ve heard from every man I’ve ever known – it’s number one. Sure, he didn’t have ten minutes to call me.

R. I think it’s more complex than you say. A has complicated feelings, they’re not black and white as you’d like them to be.

This makes me angry. OK, fine, A is smart, I’m too dumb to pick up on the nuances. Thanks very much. I don’t say this. My sense of it is, overall, Ron is defending A the whole tie.

R. Why did you thank Y and Z when they gave feedback?

E. Because they saw my side. I was grateful for that.

R. You don’t expect anyone to see your side?

Well, you sure don’t. I don’t say that.

I’m seeing as I write it out, how this session went deeply wrong for me. I’m pretty angry with Ron for not empathizing with me. A is his favorite, that’s obvious in the group. I feel let down by him, but I don’t say it. I should’ve said it, maybe I’d feel less like quitting now if I had.

The next part of the session concerns A, so I’m going to gloss over it. The upshot is, I feel that A is modeling himself very closely on Ron, that he really really takes on all of Ron’s opinions, he wants to be a therapist – I don’t think it’s healthy. Ron is a bit offended by this. Anyhoo. Not really my business.

I also go on about how A pretends to be very in touch with his feelings, he acts somewhat therapist like, but my feeling is that this is a front for other things going on in the background. Again, armchair analyst, not my business. I’m angry and critical.

E. When you’re pursuing someone, you have less power than they do. It’s a crummy feeling, and bringing it up made me feel bad. As if it was true, what E said, that I was pursuing A, that then the person being pursued feels completely drained with nothing left to give to the person who wants someone to listen to her problems. Huh. As if I pursued A to tell him my problems. I didn’t.

R. The person pursing also has power. They can stop pursuing, pursue someone else….

E. Well, it’s not true I was pursuing. This was one phone call, that was the extent of it.

R. OK, let’s call it desire.

E. OK. The person with the desire for connection is one down compared to the person who doesn’t have it. They’re more vulnerable. That’s been the case for all my dealings with men. They all distance, they’re all too busy….A’s behaviour is not unique. Now I really dislike him. I actually wonder where the person I liked went. I’m sure it’s not great that I turn on people like that. I should probably be more balanced, I can see that.

Ron nods his head and doesn’t reply.

R. Was that the case with your husband?

E. For sure. You know what, I don’t want to get into my marriage now. We have what, six minutes left? It was this whole complex situation, and I can’t cover it in six minutes.

R. We actually have about 15 minutes. I’d like you to tell me about it.

So I launch into this story, which I really do not wish to get into. I wish I had followed my own feelings, maybe I’d be handling things better now.

Sometimes therapy just goes wrong. You miss each other somehow. With me, leaving out the parts in order to deal with adult business tends to make me feel disconnected. But I’m not sure how I could have brought them in, especially with Ron so keen to discuss the group.

to be continued….

  1. Yes, sometimes sessions do go wrong. And it is so frustrating and feels like a waste, doesn’t it? 😦 I hope that things can get straightened out…

    • Ellen said:

      It does feel like a waste. Thanks CM. Really nice to get your supportive comment so quickly, just when I was feeling very low.

  2. i think it would be great if you could speak up in therapy when you disagree with his analysis of the situation. i bet it would help you feel less frustrated and wanting to quit. i’ve noticed that when this has happened in the past you are initially really mad about it, blog it, then email R, who says lets talk about this at our next session, but by the time the session rolls around you have moved on. but all those pushed down feelings, of not being understood, not being heard or supported, are still lurking. don’t hang on to it… get ’em all out…

    what happened with the email?

    oh, and i do believe that feelings can be complicated and contradictory, and i’m sure you do too. it may be that this is just so raw and you are feeling so crappy right now. don’t get me wrong, he did not treat you with the respect you deserve. but i think you are still framing it in terms of how men treat *you* (as in you are the common denominator), when i think it’s more due to his fucked-up-edness…


    • Ellen said:

      Yes it would. I actually can do that to some extent if I am aware of what I feel at the time. Here I found it difficult because the individual comments where OKish, it was more the overall tone that upset me. Ron says he wants people to express themselves, but then when I do, he has negative reactions, which, being a T, he is not allowed to just say, so I get this whole roundabout type of session.

      And yes it’s complicated and I recognize that, thanks for giving me credit. However some people hide behind their complex analysis, which is what I deeply feel A does, and which Ron seems to approve of.

      Um, yes that is my pattern. 🙂 OMG you know me better than I know myself. Ron did offer me an extra session, which I refused very huffily. Why go back for more of the same BS.

      I’m sure my general feelings about men are influencing my current feelings. Yeah. Thank you though for pointing out his fucked-up-edness. 🙂 To our earlier conversation on this, no, he never did apologize, the way you felt you needed to in a similar situation.

      Thanks Catherine

      • i could be way off track here, but when you say A hides behind a complex analysis, and R supports him in this… all of a sudden i thought of your father, and how you’ve described his treatment of you in the past. how he is an aloof intellectual — using his intellect to dismiss your feelings and POV, both as a child and now. could there be a connection?

        • Ellen said:

          My father is actually not an intellectual, though he’d like to be. He is gifted in math, that’s all IMO. It’s true I hate intellectual type sparring that’s used to hurt and avoid, while saying look how smart I am. There’s probably some kind of connection.

          • i can relate, to a point. my dad is/was a university professor (he’s retired now). he won every single argument when i was a teenager, i think because he was a bully and used his age & smarts to belittle my opinions. he is very much a narcissist and he always wanted to be right, he also accepted no challenges to his authority. i hate people that use their intelligence, or gifts, in that way. i have lots of friends from grad school that went on to be university professors and they are the complete opposite, so i know it’s possible! i just wish i had seen that modeled for me growing up… going to respond to your other post now. so sad and angry for you.

            • Ellen said:

              I didn’t know that about you Catherine! We must be twins separated at birth. My father also used age / intellect to win arguments with me as a child, instead of being able to respond in a caring way, like a parent to a child. It was all about him. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Ruth said:

    Hugs. I often felt that the worse sessions were all wrong so it really confused me when my counselor seemed quite happy about how the session went. I wouldn’t want to talk about something then he would kind of push until I did. If I didn’t practice it would all come out in a jumbled mess. My counselor would approve and I would be mad at him. I was mad at my counselor frequently. My sister and I would joke after particularly hard session, “Rule number 1: Don’t hurt the counselor.” I suspect that what you think is going wrong is the frustration that you always try to keep hidden getting out. I’ll read the next post before I say anything else on this. You are doing great.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting. I think a jumbled mess is OK, but I can see it would feel a bit humiliating, a feeling I am very familiar with. Interesting you also felt angry with the counselor.

      Thanks for the support Ruth.

  4. aallegoric said:

    I hope you’ll feel better again soon.xx

  5. Harriet said:

    So many of your posts remind me of my sessions with my t. I often felt that he didn’t get it, or we were missing each other, and i couldn’t address things in the moment. My t was a lot more talkative than Ron though. I also would feel the need to email him after sessions because i felt that the session didn’t go right, or there was unfinished business. Don’t take this the wrong way, but none of this happens with my new t. At the end of each session i feel like someone just understood me and validated me, while also helping me to grow and move towards change. I never have felt the need to email her. And although i never felt that i had parts, she is telling me i do and she addresses this in her therapy. Either my parts are very hidden, or i am not in touch with myself as well as you are. I think you are very insightful and brave to recognize your parts and give them what they need, and letting them express themselves.

    • Ellen said:

      It’s OK, I’m so glad you found someone good like your new T Harriet. Lately I was feeling very positive about working with Ron, but the stress of the group has brought that crashing down for me. Maybe I should look for someone else. I also find in sessions that go well, even if they bring up a lot of pain, I will not feel the need to email, unless it’s just to share how I feel.

      As to parts, parts caused by trauma are a little different than other kinds of parts. Likely your T knows about this. I wonder what kind of parts you will discover – it sounds interesting.

      Thank you!

      • Harriet said:

        I’m sorry, i didn’t mean to minimize your parts or the origin of them. I guess i was just thinking about how sometimes you will talk about your parts in session and you say Ron doesn’t say anything. Or sometimes he’ll talk to your kid part and sometimes not. It really jumps out at me how many times you say Ron doesn’t reply when you bring up something. Or you say he doesn’t say much. How do you feel when he doesn’t reply or doesn’t say much?

        • Ellen said:

          No worries at all, I was just trying to clear up confusion, I didn’t feel at all minimized!

          Sometimes I feel hurt I guess, when he doesn’t reply. He does tend to have things he wants to focus on. He often doesn’t say much, but it’s not always negative. He may be mulling things over I think.


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