I go to the washroom always on my way to Ron’s office. Nerves. This time, I put my purse on the back of the toilet and it tips over, spilling some of the contents into the toilet bowl. Yuck. Not a good omen I think.
Ron seems quiet and calm. Don’t know what I was expecting really. We look at each other for a while, as I’m reluctant to speak.
E. You’ve got a new chair.
E. I like this one. It’s kind of funky.
R. I’m hoping to get my old one back. This one is just from my dining room.
Then what happened. Hmm…..
R. So you emailed you’re thinking of stopping therapy.
Then I must have talked about how I feel we’re not getting along. I feel he doesn’t like me, doesn’t care.
R. I care about you as much as about anyone else.
Not sure what that meant really. I took it to mean he feels benign towards most of the world, including me. Not exactly a personal endorsement.
R. I don’t feel that we ‘tangle’. You know, when you said to M in group that you could understand how she felt, that I’m not hearing her about medications – I just took that to mean you understand her feelings. Not as an attack on me.
Two weeks ago in group, M had started things off by telling Ron she was angry with him for not hearing her. She’s been put on a large amount of medications at the hospital, and Ron thinks they are harming her. She said that every time she has a medication issue, he starts telling her about the bad effects they can have. But she feels she must follow her psych’s orders and take them.
Ron then replied that he’d seen the bad effects a particular medication can have on people, and that he thought she was doing worse on it than she had been.
So then I said that I thought M had a point. Ron wasn’t hearing her, and kept going on about the evils of meds, when she felt she needed to be taking them, and needed his support.
I said some more on this also, which I can’t remember now. Anyway, this exchange added to my feeling that Ron and I were fighting. However, he said that he didn’t take that as a fight at all.
Truth to tell, I can remember little of the words we actually exchanged in this session. I wonder if it’s to do with being caught up in strong emotion. Basically I kept to my point that Ron no longer cared about me. He kept asking for evidence. I didn’t have it, but just knew how I felt.
I was whiny, like a cranky teenager. At several points Ron tried to say something, and I stopped him, saying it made me feel too bad to hear what he thought, that it all felt like criticism.
R. But that’s what therapy is, trying to get a perspective on how we contribute to our problems. They mostly aren’t caused by external things.
E. I understand that. Unless a rock falls on your head. Our problems are caused by ourselves.
At one point Ron was talking, and I kept telling him to stop, that he was making me feel bad, then he’d say a sentence, then I’d tell him I’m still feeling bad, worse, then he’d get out another sentence….
Real mature. At several points tears run down my face, I’m so upset that Ron doesn’t care.
I can’t stand to hear what he has to say, it feels too painful for me.
E. Anyway, I understand the theories. Your points aren’t big news. I understand them.
R. Like what do you understand?
E. Like the point about my leaving the group for a break. I understand it’s bad…no, I don’t mean bad. Let me think.
I’m trying to translate how I think into Ron’s therapy language, so he’ll accept it.
E. OK. I understand that acting out, by leaving the group, is not that helpful, and that it would be more helpful to put my feelings into words instead.
Ron looks a little surprised. I don’t think I’m mostly conveying that it’s not that I don’t understand his points, it’s just that I’m in these states where I can’t really deal with them.
E. And I agree with that. It’s not that I don’t agree.
We sit for a while, me still overcome by the feeling that he doesn’t like me and doesn’t hear me.
R. I thought the kid was here a few times today.
E. Yeah? Yeah, maybe.
The kid comes out right away.
E. So I haven’t talked to you for a long time….you got a new chair!
R. How are you feeling about me?
E. Well, you used to be my friend. Maybe you still are my friend. I used to write to you but now I don’t.
R. How come?
E. Because it’s stupid.
R. Why is it stupid?
E. Because it is.
E. There’s a critical part that tells her she’s stupid.
R. Who’s that part?
E. I don’t know.
E. So we were watching a movie, the Princess Bride. It’s OK. Well, it was boring so we stopped watching it. Because the princess, she just waits around for the prince to rescue her, she never does anything. No he’s not a prince, he’s a pirate. Anyway. But she has hair that’s really long and shining, and it’s nice. So she’s OK maybe.
R. So the princess is completely passive?
The kid doesn’t know how to respond to this so she shrugs.
E. The kid…the kid seems to come out a lot when I’m upset. I don’t know why. It should be me protecting the kid when she’s upset, not having her out. Like at the end of the group last night. I switched into the kid. She starts talking, not out loud. Like – now I’m getting into my coat, it’s big with big sleeves…
R. So the kid puts you into the moment?
E. I don’t know. I guess. I hate it.
E. Because it’s an illness….
I start to cry.
R. I don’t think that’s taking care of the kid, calling her an illness.
E. I try to take care of her. We’re reading a kid’s book…
I think Ron says some things about having the parts co-operate more, but I can’t remember any details.
I get up to leave. Ron says take care, I don’t say anything and just walk out.
At home I still feel Ron doesn’t like me, but I’m no longer so sure it’s true. Maybe my feelings are from the past. Wherever they’re from, they feel awful.
I get up in the middle of the night to write Ron an email. I ask him if even if there’s no evidence he doesn’t like me, shouldn’t that be the topic of our conversation, if I feel it? Then I talk about how I feel he doesn’t like me in the group.
He emails back the next morning. He doesn’t answer my question. He simply says he likes me, in and out of the group. And that I’m in a painful trap.
OK. I feel better after emailing him and can go to sleep again.
I’m trying to deal with this horrible feeling of being disliked by someone essential to me. Even though I can accept it’s not being caused by Ron.
Art: Lorraine Peltz