I keep thinking about what you told me in our therapy session yesterday, when I said I’m sorry if I hurt or frustrate you when I get triggered. I thought maybe I should stop telling you when I felt our connection was shaky. I worried texting you about it might feel like a repudiation or rejection of all the consistent support you have offered. I was concerned that telling you might actually undermine your ability to give me that support, because of the hurt or frustration.
Your response, “I’m not hurt, but I am frustrated…” And then you went on to tell me that this “experiment” we have run–allowing me unfettered access to you by text, something you never offered to another client before–has taught you that you can’t do this for other clients. You can see it’s been good for me (I agree). You have another client you think could benefit from the same thing, but you aren’t giving it to her; you are helping her think about where she might get it elsewhere. But it’s not good for a therapist, or at least not good for you, to offer that. It puts you in the position of working when you otherwise aren’t working.
You didn’t say you were sorry you have afforded me this access, I know. You said something like it was only for me, maybe because I’m “special” (you smiled, knowing how I look for words like that from you) or we have a long history or because you have made a commitment to me or whatever reason. You didn’t say you were ending the access; on the contrary, you assured me that you could care for yourself well and would set new boundaries if you needed to. You didn’t express any anger or resentment.
You did, however, open a window into what our texting relationship has become for you: an experiment you don’t want to repeat.
It wasn’t always like this for you. We’ve discussed this before, and in the past, you’ve said things like, “I enjoy it,” or “I’m happy to provide you this support.” There was a lightness and enthusiasm in your voice that isn’t there anymore. Something has changed.
Now, I could run straight to the assumption that it’s all me. I’m a drag. I’ve worn you down. I’m too much. I am too slow to heal, and you never thought it would last this damn long. It’s boring to have to reassure me for the 479th time. You are getting tired of me, after two sessions a week for the past two years and weekly sessions for years before that. It’s enough already.
Maybe that’s true.
Or maybe something in your life has changed. Or you want to focus on other things. Or something about my most recent round of feeling uncertain about our connection has triggered you.
Or perhaps it’s not personal at all. You simply want what we all want, to be fully present in the moments of our lives, and my texts can pull you out of that.
I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter why, exactly. The fact is that texting with me out of session has gone from pleasure to burden for you (though I am sure you would never use the word burden). And still you aren’t telling me not to text, because you want to support me. It’s so generous of you.
[Context for WP readers: I text E far, far less often than I used to. Sometimes I go as long as a week without texting, when it used to be daily. But we’ve been texting for nearly three years. And this past week, which has been hard for me, I’ve texted more often than usual of late.]
You have done a lot for me; now I want to do something for you. I feel that i want to free you from this burden. I want to say, “Thank you for what you have given. And now I won’t text you anymore. Let’s let that slide into the past, something we used to do.” I want to say that. This morning, I feel capable of saying it. But I’m also anxious. I don’t want to say it and then go back to it again (“No, wait, I am not ready, I didn’t mean, please, I just need…”). If I let it go, I want to let it go. Am I ready for that?
I’m not quite sure. And that’s why I am not hitting ‘send’ on this email this morning. Not yet.
Photo by John Schnobrich on unsplash.com
Hugs. I hope you can figure it out what is best to do, don’t jump into anything though. So glad you waited before hitting send on that. Im sure it was a tough email to write. xox
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Thanks, Carol Anne. I definitely am going to give myself some time to think it over. And breathe. And see how I feel in a few days.
The worst would be to say “I won’t text anymore,” and then to bang my head against the wall because I so urgently want that connection with her.
Wow, this is super heavy. There’s so much in this email and in y’alls session before this. That must have been so difficult to hear. I am so sorry. Your email is brave, mature, and expresses a lot of your real thoughts and emotions. I am thinking about you.
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Thanks for the kind thoughts. When my inner toddler is crying for the comfort of connection to E, I’m not so mature, but most of the time I am very aware of her how much she’s already given to me. I don’t want to make her suffer for her generosity!
I really feel for you on this, it is so difficult to navigate. K and I text a lot for the first couple of years, but we haven’t really for a long time now, over a year and a half (we do have a scheduled weekly email exchange which helps the gap between sessions). In some ways I miss those early, intense days where texting was so needed, and it definitely, definitely helped me and my younger parts feel safe and real enough to do the work in therapy, but it was actually my decision to stop texting – I realised it was stopping me self-soothing and it was also triggering waiting for a reply or getting one that didn’t provide what was needed. I got to the point where I was fed up with my wellbeing being dependent upon a text message. I think it helped that it was my decision to stop text communication.
What you say about letting it slide into the past, “something we used to do” makes a lot of sense. For me I’ve tried to see it like that, as something that was really beneficial and lovely for a time, so I can look back and feel grateful and supported rather than sad over what I’ve lost.
Wishing you well with however you decide to move forward with this xx
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My heart hurt for you after reading this post. I feel the sting of wondering if maybe it’s best to discontinue to texting, almost in an effort to protect E and your relationship with her. But then there’s that longing that will exist in you for the thing that has been a comfort for so long. Even if you do keep it in your life, will your feelings (and fears) around it change? I am so sorry that you are in this difficult position here, that must feel like a lose-lose of sorts.
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I was re-reading this post this morning, along with your comment. And you are right, it does feel like lose-lose. Since this post, we agreed to restrict texting. Then she lifted the restriction because I have been struggling so much, but for the most part, I still haven’t texted much. I long for the connection and support, but I carry with me the thoughts “she doesn’t want to do this anymore” and “I’m infringing on her life.” Also, even when I do text and get a kind reply from her, I wonder if she is resenting it. So there’s not really a way to deal with the longing for connection; whether I text or don’t text, what I’m thinking is that she doesn’t want to connect with me in that way anymore.
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