E doesn’t think I need to quit therapy. She is sure we can rebuild trust.
“It’s been a pretty easy relationship, up until now,” she says. “Easy for both of us. Then we had this rupture. But it’s not the end of anything. It’s just part of the journey.”
She tells me that she’s not going anywhere; she’s invested in this work with me. She wants to start by assuming that what has been happening “is right, tolerable and ultimately helpful.”
Tolerable??! I suppose it won’t kill me, but it does drive me crazy, interferes with my ability to concentrate, and has resulted in me taking time off from work that I really shouldn’t be taking.
E insists it is tolerable. I don’t have to think there’s something wrong with me for being so activated. I don’t have to apologize for it. I don’t have to worry about her commitment and willingness to walk through all of this with her.
“Trust that I have a glad heart in working with you, which I do,” she tells me.
“I want to believe that,” I say, “but I’m not there right now. I don’t really know what is happening to me.”
“Well, can you trust that I want to be with you through this? That would be a great place to start.”
It’s not that easy though. I can’t just let go of all the agitation and say, okay, yes, I trust you are on my side. It hasn’t felt that way recently. Instead I respond, “Hmm, do you though? I’m being a pain in the ass, I know it (and I’m sorry). But those doubtful, hurt, confused, angry, suspicious feelings are so strong.”
I think she got it then. She became softer and more tentative after that. She asked more questions.
We have a sort of truce now. Both of us are gentle with each other. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t want to brush this all under the rug (as I so often do with many people). I explain that to her, and she says I don’t need to worry about her feelings; she has a great professional network for support, if she needs that. It’s good, but I don’t know how straightforward I can be.
Realizing that I want to soften my message to her about how angry and misunderstood I’ve felt makes me see that I still minimize things in my communication with her. She sometimes thinks I am feeling better than I am, and then I feel she doesn’t see my pain. But there’s something holding me back from fully describing what I’m experiencing. I think I am embarrassed because a mature adult should not be pouting and hanging on to perceived slights the way I have been doing.
She’s trying to help me feel more connected again. She texted me a short hello this morning. I think we are backtracking to where we were a few months ago with our texting, where I ask, are you there? And she says, yes, for sure. It’s a funny little dance but a part of me finds it touching and comforting.
E is probably right–it will ultimately be helpful for us to go through this.
Side note: Isn’t it amazing that therapists have any clients, given that all the helpful stuff feels so bad?