So here I am on Wednesday, obsessing over the way E doesn’t like me anymore and is sick of working with me in therapy. It seems irrational, but I genuinely feel it with my entire body, and my thoughts are disorganized and consumed. I am also waiting for her to call me and feeling embarrassed that I had asked for a call.
She calls around noon. “How are you doing?”
“Um, not so good.” At least I didn’t say “okay” as I so often do.
“I’m sorry,” she says in a sympathetic voice. “Can you tell me about it?”
And I freeze up. What can I say? It doesn’t even make any sense. I’m too embarrassed to say, “you don’t like me anymore.” So there is a long pause.
“Hard to talk about it?” Her voice is still warm and patient.
I end up blathering a bit about how I’m sorry, I’m bothering her, and I don’t know what to say. And I’m cringing even as I hear myself. I’ve regressed suddenly to an inarticulate girl.
“Do you want me to call you again later, on my next break? That will probably be around 3:00.”
“Yes, thanks, that’s good.” I tell myself, by then I can think about what I want to say. We say goodbye, and I berate myself for being tongue tied. Then I try to distract myself by cleaning up the kitchen and reading responses to my post (thank you everyone who sent me encouragement).
She calls me back later, as promised. We started by talking about the nice weather, a break in the early rains we have been experiencing lately. I say I’m sitting on my back porch and watching several hummingbirds.
“So what’s going on for you?” she eventually asks.
I take a deep breath. “I’m feeling really insecure about our relationship,” I tell her. But I can’t get more specific.
“Oh,” she says, kindly. “That’s so hard.” She also gives me a bit of reassurance about how she’s not going anywhere.
Since I find I still can’t bring myself to describe what all I’m experiencing, but I don’t want to leave things as they are, I ask her if it would be all right to share a couple of recent blog posts with her. It’s actually been a few months since I’ve shared much of anything. She thinks that’s a good idea and wonders if she should call me again after she’s read them.
“Maybe,” I tell her. “I’ll let you know.” I email her No Major Decisions, Confused but Trying and Losing It, three recent posts about my uneasiness in our relationship. It feels really scary to share them with her without editing them to soften the intensity of my feelings or to make them sound less unhappy with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I don’t want her to hate me (if she doesn’t already). But I tell myself that if she can’t handle my feelings, even the unpleasant ones, then she really isn’t the right therapist for what I need right now, and I might as well find out. So I send them as they are, with the comments I had received up to then (but not with names attached to comments). I write her a message to go with the posts:
I have a LOT of hesitation and fear about sharing my thoughts with you. I’m so afraid of alienating you. I’m afraid of appearing unappreciative (though I am deeply, deeply grateful to you). I’m afraid you will be repulsed and turn away from me.
At the same time, all this horrible shit is in me, and by sharing it with you, I am trusting you, that you can hold it and bear it and not hate me for it. It’s a risk. i know I need to take risks or everything will keep on being the same.
Last night and this morning, I was on fire with these feelings. As I mention in the third post, those flames could certainly have been fueled by venlafaxine torture, though I know it’s not only that either. I’m a bit better this afternoon, but I worry it will get worse again late at night, and then I’ll be mad at myself for not sharing with you.
I am sorry for being difficult.
She wrote back, not much later.
Thanks for sending these posts. I hear your distress, distrust, and fear. I’m so sorry all these negative emotions are stirred up in you. Sounds tortuous. I loved your posts. I like how you sort out your feelings using this tool. I like the support you receive in return.
Let me tell you that I see you as brave, vulnerable, and genuinely interested in feeling good. I will stand by your side, or sit on the couch next to you, while you do this work of becoming whole. You may always struggle with depression, but let’s work to continue to build skills which help you respond wisely and intentionally to your depression. It doesn’t have to run you. And this work can take as long as it needs to take, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not tired of you. I care deeply for you. I don’t care if you stay in therapy with me until I retire – and no plans for that anytime soon. You are precious, really precious. You have been deeply hurt and wounded by the actions of others. I will stay invested in helping you heal.
I’m sorry that my requests activated some of your old pain and doubt. You can have the Monday evening time, as I told you, and I did hear your preference about this. As you know, I have needs and will continue to make requests for my needs to be heard. I want to help you practice speaking for your needs, as you did on Monday. I’m sorry about the confusion about the affirmations ovals. I very well may have told you you could keep the ones I gave you. It wasn’t until several weeks ago, when looking for them, I realized I had given you my original set. I wish I had been more careful in my offer. You have done nothing wrong about either the schedule or the affirmations. Your needs and my needs will sometimes clash. Our individual jobs are to do our best at speaking up about those needs in a way that doesn’t cause pain. I’m sorry for causing your some pain in the way I made my requests.
I would love for you to continue to work with me. I look forward to our sessions. I like you.
Thanks for risking, being vulnerable and inviting yourself to growth, especially when it’s hard. You are awesome! or as someone shared with me: