Gold edges

I’m seeing pain sitting like a see-through brick with gold edges, lodged over (through?) my lungs. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. That’s how my mind sees it. If I don’t breathe deep, don’t laugh or cry, keep very still, it won’t hurt as much.

I have told Ron by email I’m going to give therapy two more weeks, to see if it can be fixed enough for me to continue with it.

We have exchanged two different emails, and he has replied to both, if briefly, which I appreciate.

The first one was kind of like my post of yesterday – I feel he’s not hearing me, he is critical….I ended up saying the whole thing felt like a really bad break-up.

His reply was that these feelings I’m having are the stuff we need to work through in therapy. He ‘invited’ me to explore these feelings further. Fine. It’s all about me. I can see how he got that, from the very emotional email I sent him.

I wrote another email last night at four am when I couldn’t sleep. This one was a little more logical. About how hurtful and unhelpful the last two sessions with him have been for me. About how I am thinking either his feelings about me are interfering with our sessions, or he has some personal issue going on that’s interfering. About how I know he is a better therapist than he is currently being to me, when he resorts to lecturing and telling me how it is instead of allowing exploration to happen. Where I just feel beat up afterwards.

I said the thing about trying to stay for two more sessions, though it’s hard. My impulse is to leave at once.

He replied fast to that one also. He said he has responses to what I’m saying but the issues are ‘too intricate’ and need to be dealt with in person. Plus he said he can hear how hard I’m trying. Which is OK. It’s a lot more than he’s said in a session.

So I’m kind of left with the feeling that yes, likely his feelings about me, a difficult client for sure, are influencing these disastrous sessions. He works alone, so I don’t think he has anywhere to take and work through feelings of anger, irritation, etc that come up for him with clients.

My feeling at the moment is I go in to see him and he lectures me on how to improve for half an hour. This is not therapy. This is a baloney sandwich.

I know the situation is complicated by the fact that I function in parts. They often mix in with what I’m saying, so I can come across as childish and irrational, but I’m really not.

The idea of ending therapy fills me with grief. The thought of staying is intolerable. Anytime I think of Ron I feel a stabbing pain. Yet I am somewhat obsessed – as if I must solve this problem, which I can do nothing about whatsoever. Not in the short term. I need to let it go and think of other things.

I feel full of self-hatred. As if a part of me thinks it is my fault entirely, who could care about a woman like me, who is ugly looking, who splits into parts, who talks to herself in the street when the kid is uppermost, who argues with a therapist who is trying to help her, who doesn’t have good clothes, who is depressed most of the time, who can do nothing much, who slacks off at her job, who is alone almost always, whom no one likes, who cannot get it together to cook dinner and eats peanut butter banana sandwiches instead.

All the painful things Ron said about me yesterday add to this ball of messy crapola.

I wish I was someone else.

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23 comments
  1. Juliet said:

    Ellen,
    I’m so sorry that things are like this. I do hope you can sort everything out with Ron as I can really feel how much you’re struggling and hurting right now.
    It’s not your fault. Ron should be able to handle this situation better; after all that’s what he’s trained for.
    Your last paragraph … it’s not your fault that you are in parts. And none of the other things you’re mentioning in the last paragraph should interfere with how Ron is feeling about you or handling therapy.
    Try to be kind to yourself. You aren’t ugly or anything bad. You’re “just” hurting.
    Hugs xx

    • Ellen said:

      That’s very kind Juliet. thank you. I know you went through similar recently. xoxo

  2. attached said:

    Hugs Ellen. I know how hard it it to think of anything else besides my relationship with my T when I feel hurt and misunderstood. I also know that a lot of what you say about yourself is the pain and self-hatred talking. You aren’t bad or ugly or at fault and you do have friends although I know that you don’t have the relationships you want.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I can see you know pretty well where I’m coming from. And yes, it is self-hatred talking. I thought I’d let it speak. It’s not completely true. I do have friends, including you. Some people do like me. And how much of a crime is eating PB and banana for dinner anyway?? I like my relationships, just looking for a bit more at the moment. Thank you. Hugs

  3. Karen said:

    Maybe it’s unfair for me to eve comment on this – I don’t know you that well, and I certainly don’t know Ron – but I empathise with so much re: my ex-therapist that I wanted to say something.

    Firstly, you are not at fault. I don’t know how things function over there, but here Ron should be having regular supervision sessions to address any countertransference issues he’s experiencing. Even if that’s not what happens, brining them to you is really unprofessional.

    Secondly, it’s obvious from this post and several others that he’s been a bit of a prick to you lately. I applaud you for politely calling him out on that.

    I suppose what I’m wondering is, is it worth giving up the entire thing based in a few weeks of him being a shithead? Especially when he seemed to ‘work’ for you before. Not my business and entirely your decision; I just wanted to put that out there (even though I’m sure you’ve originally considered it(

    Whatever you decide, you’re a strong, intelligent person, and you’ll work out what is best for you.

    In the meantime, take care and best wishes.

    Karen xxx

    • Karen said:

      I’ve just noticed the awful multitude of spelling and syntax errors in the above. Please forgive me; I’ve been self-medicating on alcohol all evening!!! Sorry 😦

      • Ellen said:

        I actually didn’t notice anything. cheers

    • Ellen said:

      Please don’t worry – feel free to comment. I wish Ron had supervision. He went to a private institute to learn therapy, and he works for himself, so he doesn’t seem connected to any other system. Re counter-transference – that is up to him to deal with. He really hasn’t mentioned this to me at all, it’s me feeling it and bringing it up, to be fair. He is very ethical and has strong boundaries, I have to give him credit for that.

      OK, it could be he is being a prick. I’m not entirely sure. I do know I feel angry, unheard and misunderstood. I kind of feel he is losing the thread of what a therapist does.

      Exactly. I’ve invested – I don’t want to give it up just to feel better in the moment. He was helpful in the past. I believe he actually does care, in my calmer moments. Just things have gone wrong lately.

      Thanks very much for your forthright input. I hope you keep posting re your group therapy. xoxo

  4. weareonebyruth said:

    I happen to love peanut butter and banana sandwiches and yes I have had them for dinner. To me it is one of my top comfort foods. Something to think about and consider part of what a therapist does is push buttons to find the pain, kind of like the doctor poking your body to see where it hurts. I am proud of you for confronting his behavior directly. Setting your own boundary seems really healthy to me. Also I learned from both my therapist that there are therapist for therapist. Both my counselors recognize that they can’t shoulder things alone. I suspect your therapist may have one also but like you until things are brought out in the open he may not realize how his behavior is coming across. I remember on one occasion my counselor lecturing me on a subject that I knew had nothing to do with me. I tilted my head to one side with a look that finally got through to him. He stopped and admitted this wasn’t me. He even apologized for what he said. I realized in his apology that his words were not about me.
    Hugs, self hatred sucks. So hard to know all about yourself you can see all the flaws but the nasty thing about self hatred rhetoric it does not account for your good choices, your good qualities, your kind heart, your determination to become healthy. In order for self hatred to work, the focus can only be on what you perceive are your short comings. Who told you weren’t pretty? My daughter is a make up artist and she showed me how make up and computer touch up makes most models beautiful. Who told you your clothes weren’t good enough? Who told that you are friendless? Who told you that you are not working hard enough? When I started to ask these questions about how I set my standard for myself I was stunned to realize how many of these feelings came from comments when I was a child. You may want to explore these further to find out where this false image of you came from. As for being in parts, well, it is an amazing survival skill developed in childhood that giving them their voice frees you to learn where they came from. Talking to yourself to me is perfectly ok. I remember someone noticed that I was talking to myself. I replied, “Who else is going to tell me what to do?” I love the poster that I found that said, “Handle yourself with kindsite.” I read your blog and think this is an amazing woman that I wish we lived close enough together to be real time friends instead of cyber friends. My friend you are an amazing woman. I admire your courage, your willingness to be fair, your determination to get healthy. You are wonderful.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for telling me all this Ruth. You’re right actually especially on the self-hatred – almost all those things were told to me as a child come to think of it. Your take on talking to yourself is funny! I do this under stress and I hate people to see it, but it’s not that uncommon maybe. I wish we were neighbours also. Thank you for the kind words.

  5. Ellen, I concur with everyone else who has posted here. You are saying all of these negative things to yourself but none of us sees those things. What we see is a very bright, very strong person who is fighting for her health and happiness in a very courageous way.

    It’s a difficult time, but you are up to the challenge. You will get through this, you will learn, you will grow stronger and healthier.

    You are not some bad, ugly, weird person. You are a person whose thoughts and emotions are incredibly rich and subtle with a complex inner world. You are someone who has been through a great trauma as a child but has not given up.

    You won’t allow yourself to give up, Ellen. All of those negative thoughts are not you–those are just words you think.

    The real you is the part that refuses to give up, even as your mind spews self-hatred reflexively.

    These thoughts come and go. Here one day, gone the next. But the courage has stayed, and it’s not going anywhere because it’s integral to who you really are underneath the layers of defense mechanisms and thoughts that have been nurtured since childhood.

    Continue to stick with this process. It is NOT about Ron, although he is an important step in your journey. But it can’t be about anyone but you. You are in control and always will be. You aren’t a victim anymore, although you once were as a child.

    Do not let the seemingly bad overshadow the good. The good is that you are on a journey of self-discovery, and that’s the most important journey any of us can take. Please take care of yourself and allow yourself to see some of the good, and experience some of the strength beneath all this pain. It is there, for sure.

    Best wishes.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks so much Aaron. That is so touching. take care.

  6. Kashley said:

    I’m so sorry you’re in this tough place. I also wish he had supervision..my T has been practicing nearly 30 years and still consults with another T once a month. Do you think you could raise this concern with Ron? Or, do you think the two of you could have a consult with another T so they could offer a different perspective on the relationship? You are working so hard..I wish this was easier for you. xx

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I’ve raised the supervision question specifically by email, and I think we’ll discuss it next time. Interesting about your experience. Thanks for the support.

  7. I’m very sorry your going through this… but I’m glad you were able to speak your mind to Ron and give it one last shot. After all, you’ve indeed invested a lot there. As for your self-hatred thoughts, you shouldn’t let them get to you, but hey, you aren’t at all! You’re writing them down, and I think that takes away a lot of their power. Thinking of you… xx

    • Ellen said:

      Writing them down does take away some of their power – exactly. I can see how overblown they are in black and whtie. Thank you Chatte.

  8. couple of things. 1. big hug. 2. he might have supervision. S does and she went to a private school. i think most psychotherapists do, actually. did you ask him? 3. you have worked with him for years. i’m going against everybody else’s advice and say to you PLEASE stick with it. not saying he’s not distracted, that’s possible, but i *do* believe not only does he care, but you have made great progress with him. if you leave will you believe that negative stuff that you are telling yourself, that you are too difficult a client, too hard to work with, unloveable, etc? that would be the worst possible outcome. keep talking. keep telling him how you feel he isn’t listening, and if he argues then tell him again. the only way through this is communication, and it will be so worth it in the end. also, what has changed since december? could this be related to your surgery and feeling more vulnerable? to that annoying person coming back to group? did something else happen in group. i *so* understand the need to flee and i have done it myself many times (including moving from country to country) but i truly believe there is so much value in trying to talk this through.

    • Ellen said:

      Well, as S and Ron went to the same school, maybe he does have supervision. I will ask him in person. It’s a good question, what has changed since December. This question is why I held off on quitting right away, when it was all I could think about. I don’t know the answer. I was wondering if he is going through some kind of personal crisis. I know one of his clients is in hospital and he doesn’t think she should be there, so he has that going on. I am vulnerable, but I’ve been vulnerable before. In the past, if we’ve had these breaches of trust, Ron has reached out and tried to make a repair, but that didn’t happen this time. I know I have done two concrete things he disapproves of – skipped group, and also in group, left for a few minutes when I couldn’t stand being there. So shoot me.

      I will try and work this through. As the days pass, I’m still very hurt but less sure that I must leave. Sometimes things don’t work out, but sometimes they do. Thanks for caring Catherine. Take care.

  9. Gel said:

    So is it an opportunity to stick with this therapist and stand up for yourself to get what you need from this therapy situation?….. or is it a time to stand up for yourself and say I want something different than I’m getting with this therapist? It could be that you are on the cusp of a new level with this therapist or it could be that you’ve learned and grown as much as you can with this guy. It’s not for me to determine the answer.

    I don’t meant to counter what Catherine above wrote ~ I just think that you could go either way, stay or move on, either could be a stuckness or a deeper level of growth. I just hope you can find some deeply nourishing help/rest, not just slogging through the hard work all the time….’cause it seems like you work really hard.

    And you just went through a super huge surgery and that takes a lot of energy to heal from. And not just physical energy. Someone told me that it also takes a lot of stamina to heal emotionally.
    Love to you.

    • Ellen said:

      Those are good questions Gel. Could be I am on the cusp of something. Instead of just stuck in the muck of it all. Rest would be really good. And yes, I am still healing from the surgery, for sure. Love to you also.

  10. harrietmwelch said:

    Ellen, I am sorry you are hurting so badly. I also think Ron has been a bit of a jerk, but I don’t think he is a jerk in general. My old t was sometimes a jerk. Maybe something else is going on his life, which is not an excuse at all for him to act like this, but I don’t believe that it is anything that you are doing. I also want to second the comment above about your surgery. It wasn’t that long ago, and it does take time to heal your body and your soul. Ron should be extra gentle with you at this time, in my opinion.

    • Ellen said:

      Ron is definitely not a jerk. I know that with certainty. He is a good caring person. Just he is not being a good T for me at the moment. It’s a good point about the surgery – I am definitely still recovering. Thanks!

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