I’m still having two sessions a week with E, even though both she and I know that overall I’m doing better and it would make sense to go back to once a week. I’m afraid, though, to let go of the more intensive support, and E has said she’ll let it be my decision, rather than hers. I appreciate that.
Last week I didn’t see her at all because I was in southern California again for my annual sisters-cousins reunion. It’s always fun, but this year it was especially meaningful. I’d like to write about that later, because I felt like I discovered a new source of validation and love that I had underestimated previously. But that’s for another post.
On Monday, when E asks what I want us to talk about, I say, “Let’s go back to what triggered me earlier, the grief of that three- or four-year-old self.” At the same time, I don’t want to destabilize myself again, so we go at it delicately. As I talk, E repeatedly brings me back to my wise adult self whenever she hears me starting to take the perspective of the small girl.
“It’s good to recognize what the girl feels,” E says, “but you need to stay grounded in the wise inner guide.”
Easier said than done, especially when I’m trying to figure out where in her body the girl feels her pain. It’s very confusing, embodying and yet not embodying the feelings of the girl.
She had me talk out loud to the girl, which is a thousand times more awkward than writing. To express what the girl might be thinking, she’d have me say things to the girl like, “You probably are afraid I’ll disapprove of your story, is that right? Oh, no, you are afraid I’ll think it’s disgusting?” (see what I mean: awkward).
The main thing that came from it is my continued ambivalence and doubt. It feels like the girl experienced a sexual violation. But I can’t exactly remember and maybe I’m just making it into that, when in fact it was more of an abandonment anxiety. I don’t know exactly what it was. Maybe it doesn’t even matter, but it feels like it matters. I somehow feel a responsibility to get it right.
Anyway, in session on Monday, I was sneezing and blowing my nose and complaining about spring allergies. But evidently it was more than that, because by Monday night, I was full-on sick, with a burning hot throat and a fever and chills and achy bones, the whole nine yards. Yesterday I literally did not get out of bed all day except to go to the bathroom or go grab some tortilla chips from the kitchen because I was too exhausted to make any food.
My second therapy session of the week is on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00, and to be honest, I should have cancelled. I mean, it’s 11:30 Wednesday morning, and thought I did manage a shower, I went straight back to bed afterwards. I’m finding it hard to breathe and Tylenol isn’t doing much for the fever.
But I didn’t cancel, and here’s why. First, my head’s not in a good space. I imagine it’s the fever and feeling crummy, but all the negative self-talk has let loose with a vengeance, and I’m having a harder time managing it than usual. Second, I am yearning for some expression of care and compassion. I even considered calling my mom but talked myself out of it, figuring I didn’t need to add hurt and disappointment to all gross gunk already in my head. I’m hoping E is in a space where she can be sweet and encouraging and also help me with the repetitive negative thoughts.
I don’t have it in me though to get in the car and drive the three or four miles to her office, so we are going to do an online session for the first time. I’m very grateful this is an option but also oddly nervous about it. She will see part of my house! Yikes! I thought about doing the session in the kitchen, with my beautiful Ecuadorian painting in the background, but I don’t have the energy to get rid of the piles that have accumulated on the kitchen table. I think I’m just going to stay in bed (but with real clothes on, not pajamas, don’t worry) with just the window in the background. Isn’t this a strange thing to have to think about?
I hope I can still feel connected through my laptop screen. I spent a little time this morning catching up on some blogs I haven’t had time to read recently, and following along with someone’s account of a rupture with her therapist brought up all my old hurt over ruptures we’ve had in the past. Yes, we did some mending. But in my feverish state right now, I’m not sure that mending was sufficient. Or that I’m sufficiently worth her care, so she might be faking it. (That’s the negative voices at work again.)
I just took another round of Tylenol. Maybe I can get a nap before my first-ever technologically-facilitated therapy session. I’ll let you know how it goes.
CREDIT: Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash (modified)
Holding your hand, Q. TS
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You always say the sweetest things, TS. Why can’t you be in my real life?
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I’d love that, Q. firstname.lastname@example.org TS
I hope it went well and that you feel better soon ❤ My T and I did a few Skype sessions last year and what I really liked was being able to really look and see her face – I spend so much time looking at the floor and avoiding eye contact in session so being able to do this safely was very comforting x
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It went okay. It wasn’t one of our best-ever sessions, but it was still helpful to see her and talk to her. I’m glad it exists as a possibility, but I wouldn’t want that to be our typical form of communication.
Now (Friday evening) I am feeling somewhat better, but geez what a week!
Being sick and low on energy often brings up negativity for lots of people- you’re doing great- I hope the session went ok, cos you sound pretty sick! Take care, G
I coughed my way through the session but still managed to benefit from it. You are right, feeling sick definitely makes me more open to negative thoughts and/or less able to draw on my skills to stay strong in the face of them. That’s exactly the time I appreciate the reminders from E, both of the skills themselves and of her consistent support.
Thanks for your kindness. I can tell I’m definitely getting better today, hurray.
I often have lots of flashbacks and nightmares and negativity in general when i am sick. It is so hard to cancel a sessio. When i feel in need of that extra care, but know that i could pass my awful illness to my therapist, which then may cause her to cancel 1 or 3 sessions. That would also be bad. I love that you are able to do an online session. Honestly, i would wear my jammies. Be comfortable. Take comfort from E’s presence. Try not to think about your relationship with E too hard while you are unwell. Being unwell makes us way more sensitive in other areas. Sending you hugs and chicken soup and lemonade.
I read this comment when you posted two days ago, but this part didn’t register the first time: “Try not to think about your relationship with E too hard while you are unwell. Being unwell makes us way more sensitive in other areas.” That’s wise advice. I’m only now FINALLY making myself a self-care box (after talking about it for ages). I think I should put that piece of advice in there to remind myself. I’ll write that Patty told me that. 🙂
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I hope you are feeling a bit better today and that the session was helpful in connecting and feeling cared for by E. It’s so much harder to manage being physically unwell when you already have a lot to deal with mentally.
Hi DV, thank you. I’m now (Friday evening) back on the path to healthy, I’m relieved to say. It did help to connect to E. It also helped to keep reminding myself to just accept being sick and let myself rest, instead of fighting against it all the time (why do I keep getting sick? why can I never get shit done? etc.)
Hope your session went well and you are feeling better x