I’ve had a hard time getting past Thursday’s pre-op appointment, which I experienced as intrusive and triggering. Thursday evening and well into Friday my “I’m so disgusting” voices were noisy, even though both I and my husband were trying to tell them they were wrong. I wasn’t even done with the emotions from sharing the Stephen story earlier in the week so Anxiety had a lot to react to. I looked online to see if E. had a last minute cancellation on Friday so I could see her, but no such luck.
And then as I wrote yesterday, I emailed her to see if I could have a longer session on Monday. I feel there’s a lot to talk about, and after Monday, I won’t see her for a month (because of travel and surgery). I’m not a person who calls or email my therapist for anything except possibly a scheduling change. I say it’s because I want to prove I can use my skills to handle things myself, and it’s partly true, but it’s also because I’m frightened to ask for something she might not want to give. But on Tuesday I did email E. to ask for support when I was having trouble managing my anxious feelings after sharing the full Stephen story. She kindly reminded me to listen to what Anxiety was trying to tell me, which led to the exchange of letters with Anxiety that I posted earlier in the week.
Having already violated my own “do not ask for anything” rule, it was hard to write and ask for something else. We’d never had an extended session or even talked about it. So with some trepidation, I sent this email:
Hi E., I’m sorry to keep bothering you! Any chance of a longer appointment on Monday, like 12-1:30? Do you ever even do that?
The times I have emailed about scheduling, she has tended to answer quickly, but this time she didn’t and I had to pull out my best positive self-talk skills last night and this morning. But late morning I found this message in my inbox:
How about scheduling the 11:15 time ahead of the noon appointment. That would work best for me. Would that work for you? I’m going to go ahead and schedule it so that it isn’t taken by someone else. If it doesn’t work let me know and we’ll find another way to make it work.
You are NOT a bother!
This brought tears to my eyes when I first read it. I have reread it many times today. It’s a powerful message that speaks to one of my biggest fears since I was a kid–that I was demanding too much, that I should be quiet, that I am bothering people. But E. doesn’t think I’m a bother. I can also file away, for future reference, the fact that my positive self-talk was more accurate about the delay in her response than Anxiety was.
I have more to write about the aftermath of Thursday’s doctor visit, but that will come later, Part 2.