Well, that was not what I had expected.
I went into my therapy session with E on Wednesday afternoon, prepared to explain to her that I was “stepping off the merry-go-round,” that is, I was going to take a break from our sessions because they left me triggered and longing for something that wasn’t there. It felt like I was making a positive decision, being realistic, and letting go of the delusion that someone else (namely my therapist) was going to rescue me.
I figured she might ask some questions, might suggest that I was running away from something difficult, but I felt I had answers and was solid about my reasons. And anyway, she had often suggested in the past that I could do fine with less therapy.
What I did not expect was that my announcement would prompt her to lean in, encourage me to relax into the relationship and essentially offer MORE than what she has been giving. In a way, she is now suddenly offering me what I was looking for earlier. And I’m left feeling confused.
You might think I would melt at the warmth I was met with. That I would soak up the concern and care she turned in my direction. But part of me is suspicious. I am wondering, did she take this as a criticism? Maybe she heard me saying she wasn’t offering what I needed, and now she’s determined to do it. After all, she did tell me once or twice, some years ago, that she has a “bad therapist” tape that can get going in her head when we have a rupture.
Not that this is a rupture. I don’t think I was accusatory or blaming at all. I did say that sometimes I think it’s her fault, she’s not giving me x, y, z, and sometimes I think it’s my fault, I am wanting something that doesn’t exist, that can’t exist. And often I think online therapy is making connection extra difficult. And finally that I decided it’s not about why there’s a problem; it’s simply about how I feel every week for days and days after therapy. Does that sound like something that should make her defensive?
Of course, let’s be realistic, all of us sometimes get defensive about things that “shouldn’t” necessarily provoke defensiveness–because we are human. And she is too.
Maybe it’s not her own defensiveness or other issues causing her to react this way. Maybe she is seeing this as an opportunity to stay and practice asking for what I need. Maybe she is being extra warm and gentle because she wants to make it a little easier for me to do that.
I’m honestly not sure what it going on.
Towards the end of the session, she was talking again about my ability to stay and ask for things to change, if I am not getting what I need. I said, “I hear you, and I’m nodding, but my arms are crossed, and I can feel that there’s a barrier I’ve erected between us that is keeping your words from really sinking in.”
“It’s good you recognize that,” she said. “Your habit of putting up barriers makes sense. It’s a protective device you have honed over many years and multiple painful relationships. But you are safe now. And you are loved. You husband loves you. I love you. Your children love you. Your friends love you. You aren’t alone. You can open up and receive that love.”
In the past, do you know how much I longed to hear her say she loves me? My heart would have danced to hear those words. But now, Distrust is the one who is standing at the front on my inner emotional house, looked at her with one eyebrow raised. Do you really mean that? Or are you trying to rope me back in, just when I was about to walk away?
How can I even tell the difference?
She talked a lot about the very young part(s) of me that didn’t believe anyone wanted to give care and concern in a consistent way. She said she could model how to do that, but ultimately I have to give that to myself. Yes, I know, I try, and I will keep trying even after I stop coming to therapy.
Then she offered to make me a recording, in which she would assure the youngest part that she was loved and worthy of attention. Even six weeks ago, I would have jumped at this. But in the session, I didn’t. So she offered again. So I said, yes, thank you. But I have mixed feelings about that even now. Is that going to be helpful to me? Is it just going to get me hang on harder to my horse on that merry-go-round?
I know I’m not supposed to beat a dead horse, but I also don’t think I should ride one in endless circles.