Just two days before schools shut down in our state in March, maybe ten days before businesses were ordered to shut down, I wrote in my journal about how upset I was with my therapist. E had asked me if I’d given more thought to when I might let go of my second weekly session and go back to one session a week.
I couldn’t understand why she would even ask me that. We had talked about it a number of times, going back at least to last summer, and I had told her to just trust me. I would let go when I was ready. She didn’t need to push me or prompt me or encourage me.
But it felt as though that message didn’t penetrate for her. Every few weeks, okay maybe months, she would say something about it again, and each time it would send me into spiraling pain.
Why?!? I would think. Why does she keep doing this? Why doesn’t she understand that she is poking a sharp stick into my heart?
I still worked, still ran errands, still cleaned, but under the surface, I was obsessed with the pain of her rejection. It didn’t matter that she said things like, “I’m not rushing you, just wanting to know what you are thinking.” I still felt as though she had said, “I am so worn out working with you. Would you please just move along so I can take on some other, better client? You are getting tiresome and asking for too much.”
What should I do? I would ask myself. I should harm myself, I deserve it. But no, no, I am trying to do things differently. I should just cancel my next session, because it’s only going to frustrate me all over again. No, no, I can’t do that! I have to go and somehow make her understand. Should I reach out by text or phone before my next session, to let her know how much this is bothering me? No, don’t be so clingy; that will only make everything harder.
Some anxious part of myself was not just distressed, but also furious at her.
So here is the strange thing. I have experienced NONE of that since the shut down. Seriously. I did go back and talk to her the day after that last journal entry. I told her that every time she asked me, she was actually delaying my ability to make any change, because I started to feel pushed. And that just triggered all my old wounds about being pushed, unsupported, unprotected, and unwelcome.
E heard me, though I don’t know that she really changed the way she thought about it. She’s very into the idea that she should be able to ask for what she wants (a potential time slot for a new client), and I should be developing my self-advocacy skills by saying “no,” if I don’t agree with a proposed change. I see her logic, but I think that her approach is not helpful in healing an attachment wound.
Don’t worry, she wasn’t mean or anything. She did say that I mattered to her, and she was fine with keeping the slot for me and making the new client wait. My needs mattered more, she said. Good words, but in my mind, it would have been better if she had just stuck to waiting for me to let her know when I was ready to reduce therapy sessions.
So it’s not really that we resolved things. I believe we still see the question differently. But something started to feel different to me around the time of the shut down. Maybe it was the sense that the world was in crisis and I had bigger things to think about. Maybe it was my old familiar sense of calm in the midst of chaos (I am actually a useful person to have around when everything is falling apart). Maybe I have learned to accept things I don’t really like. Maybe it was just something utterly random.
At any rate, I have been concerned, sad, and worried, of course, like everyone else. But I have been more emotionally centered and also less reliant on E. I have remained very consistent in my daily meditation practice and my daily walks, both of which help me stay in touch with the wisdom at my core. I have intentionally stayed connected to my sisters and friends, checking in on them but also making sure I have people I care about to talk to.
Recently I gave up my Monday sessions. Now I see E on Wednesday afternoons, and every other week for group. I miss her sometimes. I still, 15 months after she abruptly cut off our texting, miss that close connection. Every few days I will think of something I want to text her, but I don’t do it. I save it for our session, or I send the thought to one of my friends instead.
I’m surprised that it’s been (knock on wood) so easy. I haven’t been triggered at all. I haven’t had any of that painful, intense longing. I haven’t felt afraid that I can’t make it from Wednesday to Wednesday.
Is there another shoe that’s about to drop? Or has something really changed? Can it be better without ever having had a proper resolution?
CREDIT: Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash