After my therapy session with E on the 4th of July, I am irritated, then self-loathing, then furious, then despairing. I hate E. But part of me also loves her, longs for her. If I have to break it into the different “parts” of me that we work with in therapy, I would say my little girl selves just want everything to be fine with her, while my teen self wants to rage at her or refuse to ever see her again. You can imagine the internal dialogue.
It is hard to sit with that, so in the evening, I text E, saying that being ultimately alone was unbearable, because alone I couldn’t repair the wounds that overwhelmed me. She texts back that some people find comfort for existential anxiety in religion, and that not wanting to face existential realities can make people neurotic. And something about how I am not the only one who has concluded that the problem is my own lovability.
Clearly we aren’t getting closer to one another with this line of conversation. On the contrary, I am growing ever more agitated, turning Rage inward (afraid to let Rage direct itself at her, I think now). A few hours later, I decide to leave the question of existential angst aside and talk about the emotions I am grappling with.
The desire to hurt myself is very strong.
I pause and breathe and ask myself, why? What in me wants to do that?
It is Rage, I think.
Glad you are listening. What is rage wanting to convey?
“Why?!? Why can’t you get it right?”
“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.”
“I am so sick of you.”
Reflect back, “it seems like you wish I had this all figured out. It seems my pace is too slow, that my efforts aren’t soothing the deepest hurt you fell…” Stay present. That helps.
E is right, but I am not it any mood for it. I drag my husband away from whatever he is doing to go watch a crime series on Netflix, under the theory that when all else fails, I can escape into dark portrayals of fictional crimes.
I don’t text E the next day at all (I’ll show her!), but inside, I was raging. Raging about work, about my boss, about the news, about US politics, but above all about how my therapist doesn’t get me and about how I am clearly asking her for more than she wanted to give. I am texting her too much. (But she told me I could!) I am progressing too slowly. I am just one more piece of work for her, and a tedious piece at that.
By Wednesday, the youngest parts of myself are grieving at the loss of connection to E. They love her. They miss her. But my friend (?) Rage is standing in the way of connection. And she (Rage) just keeps growing because I am not doing anything to soothe her.
I really need help with Rage. We’ve put her off since late March.
I agree. Let’s keep focused on this.
I roll my eyes. My chest is exploding NOW, and E tells me, “oh yeah, good topic for us to talk about later in therapy.” Fine, then. I will just wait until next Monday. Or maybe I won’t tell her at all. I’ll just quit therapy. It obviously isn’t helping. She can’t even see when something is urgent.
But a few hours later the little ones are tugging on my skirt, asking me to try again to connect to her. Tell her how important it is, they insist.
I don’t know if you realize how big and intense and immediate this is. I’m afraid to even text you about it. It’s so poorly contained.
Do you know what you are needing/wanting from me? I’m not sure how to respond. I care deeply. I want to be present with you as you explore your anger and rage. I see your rage is activated and big. Help me know how I can best assist you right now.
I don’t know. It’s just hard to be alone with it.
I’m right here. You’re not completely alone. I’m sure it’s overwhelming energy. Continue to ask it to play fair with you. Tell it, “I’ll give you time and space. You don’t need to haunt or overwhelm me.” You have not allowed yourself to own and acknowledge much of the rage your body has experienced. It kind of makes sense it’s coming out big and bold. Give it forms–safe forms–to be expressed. Ripping up magazines comes to mind. You’ve done this before, I remember, and your dogs got all excited. Maybe ask [your husband] to take them out for you. Your anger is legitimate. Don’t let it dishonor you by causing harm to yourself or others.
Cause harm to others? When have I ever (intentionally) caused harm to others? Does she think I would do that?
I am lost within the rage and for whatever reason, nothing E says is helping. This frightens me and plunges me into despair.
Meanwhile, I am going in to the office late every day and not focusing very well while I’m there. I am behind on a grant proposal. I just can’t care. There is a lot of turmoil going on at work these days, some very toxic stuff from the CEO making everyone unhappy.
Two police shootings of black men in two days. How can this keep on happening?!? The world is simply fucked up; no polite way to say it.
I decide my goals for Thursday are: 1) go to the office; 2) do not let rage pour out at some random person; 3) hang on to the idea that I won’t always feel like this.