Therapy Thursday

People were cut at work last Wednesday, and I wasn’t one of them, however my cubicle mate was. The people cut have to work out their two weeks. Then the next day, I was briefly informed that our group is losing our cubicles, so I’d be moved to another location. That started Friday. I’m now in one of two very small meeting rooms, along with three other writers in the same room. I’m finding it difficult. We chat a lot (I wanted to say ‘they’ but I do it also) and I didn’t get a whole lot done. In addition, I’d gone for therapy the previous day, and was still very sad from that. I felt as if I was emanating sadness and depression. People around you do pick up on your emotional state. The only other woman there, who is sitting in the adjacent meeting room, actually asked me if I was OK when we met in the hall. We’ve never even spoken much, so I must have looked awful.

What can I do? I want to be in decent shape for work, but I just can’t always be.

I went back to therapy on Thursday evening. We didn’t talk about my taking a break the previous week. Ron didn’t mention it, so I didn’t either. I now have a session set up for next week. I told him I was thinking of moving to every other week, and he said just to let him know as soon as I could if I wanted to cancel.

I’m unsure what I think. Therapy allows parts of me that are kind of split off to come forward. I went into the session feeling basically OK, though tired. I came out very sad, and had trouble functioning the next day.

We spoke a bit about dating. I’ve been dipping my big toe into online dating. It’s very hard for me – I feel rejected a lot. So speaking in therapy brought up my issues with me. How betrayed I felt by my marriage. Ron wondered in what sense I was betrayed. That my ex does still seem to care about me, just that he’s very limited. I admitted it’s true he does care. But as a young person, I wanted love, sex, someone who wanted to spend time with me. Who could tolerate disagreement. I got none of that. I got drudgery, constant responsibility for an infant, someone with huge temper tantrums. It was really really bad. I think any hopes I did have for myself where just crushed by that situation.

Of course now, I’m no longer as vulnerable. I support myself. I am able to discuss my feelings and thoughts in a way I wasn’t able to when younger. I can better sort out my issues from what is going on in the present.

Anyway. I have huge fears of relationships and how they go.

One thing that strikes me is how my mind gets blocked in sessions. It’s as if I become really stupid and slow. Once I leave, I start remembering things I’d blocked out when discussing situations in therapy. It’s really odd.

I did ask Ron if he thought I should continue with the online dating. He said why not? I said, um, because it’s anxiety provoking and I dislike it. Ron said he thinks online dating is 99% rejection, trying to sift through people and find a connection. I was wondering whether it made sense to try and filter people through email, so avoiding the rejection of meeting in person, or that was just arbitrary really.

Ron said maybe some other way of meeting people would be easier. And I asked how – I’m not good at talking to new people in bars or restaurants. And he said who is.

One other thing about the session – I felt afraid through all of it. I mentioned that to Ron several times. He though it’s a fear of getting into territory that might be very painful. I thought it was more of a child part who is afraid.

Anyway. That was enough to plunge me into depression, which I’m trying to climb out of days later.

What I want to know is, is this helping me? I feel worse. Am I working through something, and so doing something helpful? Or am I just stirring up a bunch of pain to no purpose?

  1. Grainne said:

    From being a reader and friend of yours for a long time I know that Ron isn’t the sort of therapist who sets out clear treatment plans, goals and objectives. Maybe it’s time to ask him for that? I known how much your younger parts appreciate and need a trusted adult to talk to; to listen to and actually hear them, but sometimes your sessions seem scattered and Ron just goes with the flow without much guidance.

    Is it possible for you to set up a therapy session at the end of the work week entirely dedicated to your little ones inside? A place and time they know they will be safe and heard? I know this is when the present You struggles and suffers afterwards but surely that will lessen as the rest of your parts begin to feel safer. I know know, my friend. I hate to see you so full of stress and sadness and I can’t help but think some structure (directed for Ron so you aren’t left figuring that out too!) might help.

    Thinking of you
    Grainne. Xo

    • Ellen said:

      Nope, he sure isn’t. 🙂 . Last session he said something like – well, by facing this together, maybe we can make it a bit better….and I just started laughing. That’s so his attitude, kind of hippy dippy, kind and caring, with no theories.

      With parts, pretty much anytime they come up, they trail with them trails of trauma and difficult emotions, so that kind of work always leaves me in a dark place, unfortunately. End of week is tough because Ron finishes early on Fridays also. I think too some structure might help, but he is how he is. I may go to every two weeks and spread the pain out more.

      Thanks Grainne. Hope you’re well.

      • Grainne said:

        I hear you. Maybe spreading it out will help for now. You always do figure out what’s best when it comes to therapy in the end.

        By the way, I can’t help but congratulate you on making it so far into this project T work. Looks like you’re back in your zone. 🙂

        • Ellen said:

          Thanks 🙂 . I feel kind of proud also.

  2. Your workplace sounds more and more unpleasant every time you talk about it – “hey let’s make everyone as unsettled as possible by not giving them a work space and having them live in continual fear of being fired, it’ll keep them on their toes and make sure they’re giving 110%”. Um, no, that’s not actually how you get people to be productive.

    As far as dating, I’ve found the Captan Awkward site enormously helpful for getting different perspectives and also practical suggestions not just for dating but for improving social skills and level of social interaction generally. When I tried internet dating a couple of years ago – before rapidly bailing on the whole idea – I wrote in and asked about the issue of rejection (#789 if you want to read, it makes me cringe now but the reply was very helpful and the weird rejection/breakup stories in the comments are very funny).

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it is stressful. But go figure, I still greatly prefer this situation, unstable as it is, to my last one with the strange and crazy manager and silent colleagues. In this one, at least it’s clear what is happening. And the work itself is OK. None of these are good situations however.

      I read your letter on Captain Awkward, thanks. People’s comments were hilarious. I searched ‘online dating’ and found some stuff that was helpful. Today I ventured back online and had some very casual back and forth emails. they didn’t stress me out, but also didn’t really go anywhere much. Hoping I’ll get the hang out of making this work for me somehow.


  3. What you wrote about being blocked in sessions, that really resonated with me. Work does sound stressful, take time for yourself and be kind and gentle. ❤️

  4. Feeling less than stellar in sessions sounds very familiar and not at all unusual to me. My counselor encouraged me when I was home to sort out and ‘say’ (write) what I missed saying during the sessions. Sometimes I would bring what I wrote to the next session to speed up getting to the harder stuff. My counselor taught me I would feel worse before I felt better. He explained that the process is cleaning out old infected wounds that didn’t heal properly. My counselor gave me a book on counseling and they are taught to keep the sessions unstructured because every client reacts differently. Keeping it unstructured allows the client to decide where the conversation needs to go. Perhaps you may want to try something that I did. I would bring a written list of things I thought of during the week that I wondered about. Every session I went to started with the question, “What do you want to talk about?” I would get out a list and start there. Eventually I had a mental list instead of a written list. Perhaps the type of childhood you experienced leaves you feeling unsure of taking the lead in a situation. You were taught to follow not to lead. Why do I say this? Because I was taught to follow and punished for trying to lead. Cheering for you. I hope your job keeps you going with what you need.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Ruth. A list sounds like a good idea, because I am really blanking out in session.

  5. I think E is more structured than Ron (well, probably every therapist is), but she also asks me what I want to talk about and goes with the flow. The “structure” is that she has a big picture of what healing looks like and some “rules” about how to do it (For example: don’t re-tell traumatic stories in the first person, because you can potentially re-experience the trauma. Instead, tell it in third person). But she doesn’t have a set amount of time or sessions it should take, and it’s okay to go back and forth in time or revisit topics we’ve talked about before. For a long time, we didn’t talk explicitly about our own therapy relationship, but as everything else got deeper, that came up, too.

    Ruth’s idea of going in with a list is a good one, I think. I do that sometimes. And sometimes I re-read my journal and/or blog posts before I go in, to kind of remind myself of what we recently talked about and to think about what I think I need next. I have been frustrated sometimes that I am supposed to come up with the focus of the session, but I learned over time that the sessions that felt unproductive and unhelpful were those where I was putting responsibility on her to “lead” me to mental health. At some point, it finally sunk in that I had to figure it out myself, and the most she could do was advise and support me, maybe offer me some tools and skills. Ah, right, the tools and skills have been very important to me. If Ron doesn’t teach them, but you like other aspects of working with him, maybe it’s worth taking a mindfulness class or something like that?

    I can relate to struggling after therapy and having trouble working at full capacity. It’s just really hard sometimes.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, probably every therapist is! 🙂 . Made me smile.

      Ron also has all of the ‘allowing’ type traits you mention yours has, but none of the ‘rules’.

      I suppose I do have to figure things out for myself also, just sometimes, I wish he had some ideas. The list of topics and finding other places to learn skills are good ideas. I too sometimes read over blog posts before I go in, to try and remember how I felt some days ago, when I feel pretty differently by session time.

      Thank you Q.

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