It Seemed Fine–and Yet…

Wednesday I had my first session with E after the month-long therapy break I had instigated. I felt a little nervous ahead of time, but also firm in my decision to tell her, “I’m ready to think about changing the way we work together. Can we use our time today to talk about options?”

And it some ways, it seemed to go just fine. It was nice to see her, after the break, and she seemed happier and more relaxed than the last time I’d seen her. She listened to me and responded to my words in ways that indicated she really heard me.

And yet.

And yet I wasn’t entirely honest with her—again. I didn’t tell her about all the anger I have felt, thinking about our relationship. I made it sound like I wanted to talk about seeing her less often, but we didn’t include stopping therapy altogether as one of the options to discuss. We didn’t say anything about that, even though it is an option I am seriously considering.

I did say, “I think there are two big issues that feel quite unfinished to me. One is about sexuality. In that area, I’ve decided that my immediate next step is not the emotional side of things but rather a visit to a pelvic floor physical therapist.” The scar tissue I have from my surgery five years ago seems to have hardened, or somehow changed in a way that has made intercourse incredibly painful.

“The second issue is about getting triggered around our relationship, around attachment, connection,” I went on. “That can still really throw me off balance, and while I’m better at recovering than I used to be, I can still be dysregulated for days.”

All that is true. What I didn’t add, that is also true, was that I no longer believe that she can help me with that.

She said something about our ability to work on that more. It has to do with my mother, of course, she said, and maybe we can talk more about what I wish I could have from my mother and how I can give it to myself.

Nope. I don’t want to do that. I mean, we’ve done that some, and yes, I know I have to give myself what I wish for now. But I just don’t want to have that conversation any more. I know it, I have taken what I can from it.

What I really probably need to talk about with her is the anger I feel towards her. I am sure it would help if she acknowledged and validated it. However, I am afraid to do it because 1) I of course have little experience telling people I love that I am angry with them; and 2) I am afraid she will react defensively or angrily and things will spiral out of control for me.

I guess I have two options. I can face my fears, have this conversation, and accept whatever consequences it may bring. Alternatively, I can end or reduce therapy without having this conversation. I know, however, that this will second option, even though it seems easier, will actually leave me unsatisfied. It will leave a distance between us, the way important things unspoken do.

I don’t like this, that I am afraid to speak more directly to her about my emotions. I don’t want to be the kind of woman who avoids hard things and pretends things are okay that aren’t. I have spent many years being that kind of woman, and what has it got me? Years and years of depression and loneliness.

So somehow, between now and Wednesday, I need to figure out how I am going to approach this frightening conversation. And I have to figure out how to steady myself enough that no matter how she reacts, I will be able to hold myself together and keep working. No falling apart and hiding from the world in my bed. I don’t have time for that anymore.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cherylyn Ang on Unsplash

Somehow I related to the rumpledness of this little bird.

15 comments

  1. Again, Q, with the pulling things out of my brain (re: needing to tell T about the anger, and about how threats to connection/attachment are triggering and dysregulating – I need to have the SAME convo with my T next fri!). Let’s say you laid it out: what would be the best reaction/response form her? What do you want her to say? What would you want her to change? what do you want her to ‘get’ about this, and what would it mean if she got it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I guess we are living parallel existences right now, hm? I have been thinking so much, what do I want from her, really? I just wrote a new post about this, and I’m thinking what I want is a do-over that is softer and kinder to the wounded child.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wishing you luck with a potentially very difficult conversation. I can imagine your anxiety going into it, but you have already made such strides in bringing to her the scary things. This is no different. I hope she can hear you in the way you deserve!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! I hope she can hear it that way too. I am going to try. I drafted a letter that I may read to her tomorrow (just put it up as a new post), and I hope it will make sense to her. If not, I suppose I’m in for a some more days of the same-old same-old agitation…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly, that is what I decided too. I could avoid it and not take a risk, but it would be so much more healing to get to process this with her. So I am going to try. It’s scary though!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a tough one Q. I think you’re doing great in going step by step and not having the huge discussion all at once.

    As a fellow member of the long-term therapy club, I have to agree that therapists, no matter how great they are in some respects, are not able to help with all issues. Therapists have limits the same way we all do. I never did work through or really address the attachment dysregulation issues I had after therapy with Ron. I did mention it, and we tried to deal with it, but it didn’t make sense to Ron and so we didn’t find a solution. However he in no way rejected me for bringing it up. And on some things he just couldn’t be moved – for instance, the way he thought I needed to confront my family when I know that would just lead to more harm than good.

    With E, is her track record good when being confronted? Has she reacted defensively in the past? Hopefully she is grounded enough to respond helpfully.

    IMO, it’s good to bring up difficult subjects but I’d stick my toes in first before leaping to full on disclosure on these difficulties and see how it goes. It’s such an important relationship and if you do leave you want it to be on a good note, grateful for all that E was able to give.

    My 2 cents.

    Take care

    Liked by 2 people

    • E has been both good and not good with being confronted. I decided I am going to try anyway. I drafted a letter I may read to her, if it seems to me that she is in the space to hear it, and if I am grounded enough to take the risk. Otherwise, I guess it can wait for another week.

      I think I can accept that she is not perfect, but I would love to do some healing around the disruption in trust that we experienced. I hope she will be up for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is indeed both an important and a scary (very scary) conversation. My guess is it won’t go as bad as you fear, and sadly probably not as good as hoped, but hopefully closer to the good resolution end of the spectrum.

    It takes a lot to recognize the pattern and fears around this conversation. Shows how much work and effort you’ve put into healing.

    Is there more pressure because you feel like you have to talk about it (all of it) on Wednesday? Can you tell yourself it is okay to take it as slow as you need it to be in order to feel safe? Sometimes it easier when cliff diving to just go for it! But perhaps you’d like to lay some ground work and “test the waters” so to speak.

    You could even tell her you would like to test the waters, to discuss ways to approach a frightening conversation with her and ease into it. Discuss what the many varied concerns, desires, and sometimes at odds the thoughts can be around such topics. Talking about the “why” this conversation is needed and difficult could be a helpful conversation even if you decide not to go further with it.

    Perhaps talking about what sort of response you’d like prior to bringing up specifics may be a way to start the conversation? I think its also okay to give yourself permission to not bring it up yet, to take the time to feel it (even if its a miserable feeling) if that is what is needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is wise. Ellen said something similar above, that maybe I can stick just my toes in the water and see how it goes before having the full conversation. I might do that tomorrow, or I might just jump in with the letter I drafted (my newest post).

      I kind of feel that I have tentatively broached this topic before, but it’s been so tentative that she hasn’t understood quite what I meant, and I have let her go with her misinterpretation. In that sense, it might be better to be direct.

      At any rate, I like the idea of giving myself permission to take it slow, at whatever pace seems to make sense. I have thought a lot about the response I would like, and I would like not so much an apology as an opportunity to do-it-over in a more thoughtful, considerate, and tender way. I think that would tell the wounded little one that her feelings matter, to me and to E both.

      Liked by 2 people

      • this is also so interesting. it’s in the moments when I contemplating taking risks like this that I have to remind myself that it’s *my* therapy – it should be centred around what *I* need and want. but mother wounds sure make that complicated! as does the intricacy of having such an intimate, yet equally professional, relationship. courage, Q!

        Like

      • my t also says things like ‘this is your time, bring anything here, anything goes’ and I’m like ‘oh really?? you’re going to show up open and non-defensive? I don’t believe you’.

        Like

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