I still have a cold. I feel exhausted. My in-laws relented and we had a short visit with them this weekend. I’m happy for my husband and we all had a reasonably good time considering how strained the situation was.
During therapy today I started telling M how painful therapy has been for me lately. How I feel like I am stuck and I spend most of my week feeling anxious and scared around my sessions. I don’t want to talk about things but I keep going because I think I should. It seems like I’m wasting time and money. I keep looking for a way to feel some safety and security around my relationship with M but it doesn’t last and I end feeling like I can’t talk about what is important to me. I want to crawl into a hole and not come out.
I have a cold, stuffy nose, mild fever, sore throat, the works. I’m not sleeping well but I haven’t for the last couple of weeks. M came back from his break and I had a couple of difficult sessions were I told him that I went to another therapist while he was away (why does that feel like cheating). I’m not sure what to focus on in therapy. I just feel like my life is getting more and more constrained. I’m avoiding so many things because I’m afraid of getting triggered. I have so little joy or fun in my life instead my life is all about the things I have to do.
This weekend things got worse with a fight with my in-laws. My in-laws haven’t visited the city I live in for three years and are planning to come here next weekend. During the planning of this trip one of my in-laws got angry that we weren’t doing enough to spend time with them during a 48 hour trip. That anger escalated to screaming, followed by a nasty email (about me), and then I called them to talk about it. I lost my temper and exploded with about 15 years of anger and hurt about how my husband’s family has treated me the entire time I’ve known them (basically like I don’t count unless I’m not doing what they want). I spent my entire session with M on monday processing the fights. Unfortunately for my husband his family is coming to our city and not going to see us at all now. I’m so tired of trying and failing at things. Generally I get along well with a variety of people in my life but I have never been good enough for my husband’s family and it doesn’t matter what I do it is wrong (in this case I was pretty mean).
I had two sessions this week even though M is away. The fallout from my session last weekend left me feeling in a terrible bind. I feel like I’m not doing therapy right and M is frustrated by me. The anguish I feel about how to do therapy right and not upset M or myself is exhausting and has become impossible so I feel like I have to quit therapy so I can stop torturing myself. The thought of not seeing M anymore is so painful that I can just quit either. My thoughts about this just circled around and around until all I felt was hopeless. So I emailed a T I consulted with about a year ago and asked if she would meet with me. She did and so this week I had two sessions with B (my consult) T.
B is a woman and older than I am but almost the same age as M. They are old enough to be parent figures to me but not actually old enough to be my parents. I’ve never been comfortable with older women and I wouldn’t have normally chosen to talk to a woman T but I found her by searching for therapists on the ISSTD site (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation) and all the therapists in my area were women. Last year I had one session with B at a time I was very frustrated with my inability to open up and discuss things with M. During that session while talking to her I told her that I didn’t think M liked me (I was surprised when that came out of my mouth). She told me she thought I needed to ask M if he liked me and discuss it with him. Eventually I did and that led to me be able to discuss lots of things.
This week when I went back I told B that I wanted her help getting out of therapy. She asked me why and I told her it was too painful for me. She asked me to tell her about it and I launched into what I thought would be a quick overview of my childhood. After twenty minutes B stopped me and said “I get that it was bad, you don’t have to convince me and I don’t need to know everything”. I didn’t tell her everything and I was pretty matter of fact in my delivery but I guess I was trying to explain why I was struggling with attachment. I told her I needed to talk to M too much, I was too needy, and wanting to talk to him and not being able to hurt too much. She dismissed that pretty quickly by asking if M had said I was too needy or too much and when I said no she told me to let him deal with his boundaries (if I knew how to do that I wouldn’t be struggling so much).
B spent a lot of time validating my experience as being to be expected in someone who had suffered abuse in their childhood and had parents who were neglectful and punishing. I have trouble admitting that was me even now I write it in the third person as someone not me. She suggested that wanting to talk to M constantly was pretty normal for someone who never had anyone to talk to before. She asked me if I thought M could help me and I hesitated. I told her that M had helped me so much in the last three plus years. I’m a better parent now. I have a better relationship with my husband in lots of ways (but not all ways). I also have managed to set some boundaries with my parents and sibling so life has been more peaceful. I’m less likely to feel stuck and ashamed (except for things related to therapy and what I’m discussing with M). But I felt stuck and I didn’t know if M could help me with the things I’m struggling with now, being so attached and dependent on him, things related to sex, memories that are coming up for me.
B is very different from M. She is willing to give an opinion on what I’m describing and make a judgement on it, usually validating me and my experiences. I found her supportive and after my second session with her I felt relaxed in a way that I haven’t felt for several weeks. I actually managed to go home and sleep several restful hours afterwards. She told me she enjoyed talking to me and at the time I even believed her which is unusual for me. She thinks that I should go back and talk about how I feel with M because we’ve made a lot of progress together and it sounds like we have a good working relationship. She offered to meet with me when he is on vacation in the future if M and I think it is helpful or to consult with me about specific trauma related issues because that isn’t M’s specialty.
I don’t have a session with M until Tuesday because it is a holiday here in Canada on Monday but M returned from his trip this afternoon. My anxiety about what to do about therapy came back almost at the same time as M did. By Tuesday I’m afraid I will be so worked up I won’t be able to talk at all.
The session I had with M on Saturday ended up not being about my disclosure and my shame at all. M decided to talk about how I felt about his week long absence. When I told him that I would miss him he wanted to talk about that. It turned out to be a long, exhausting and painful discussion about how I am in relationships. Most of the relationships in my life are with people I see several times a week. They are with my family and my husband and people I work with and friends that I see regularly because their children go to school or activities with my children. I think I’m always taking the emotional temperature of the relationship in order to know that it is okay and when I don’t see people regularly I have trouble maintaining a connection with them.
M told me that the longing I have to talk to him is a normal part of relationships and I make it more difficult because of my fear that the relationship between us isn’t secure. He discussed the way relationships are always a cycle of connection and disconnection and I feel powerless he controls the relationship by meeting for a specific hour and then it’s over and I can’t connect with him except in a limited and controlled manner. He thinks that I can’t count on reconnection because I doubt the relationship and sometimes I struggle to connect with him during a session and often don’t feel like I can connect and share my feelings until the session is almost over and then I end up writing emails and calling him after a session in order to share my feelings. He also talked about the fact that I worry about the end of therapy at this point when I feel so dependent on him in a way torturing myself because as therapy progresses ending will seem like a healthy and right thing to do. It is like trying to constantly tell a five-year old that they will grow up and move out and not live with their parents anymore because at that stage of life it seems so impossible that the idea of it just feels like your parents are rejecting you but between 15 and 20 years old moving out seems right.
At a couple of points I asked him why we were having this discussion now just before he went on break because I found it so upsetting and it seemed like it was designed to maximize distress before he left. I cried a lot and felt like there was not point to me continuing therapy because I am still doing so many things wrong. I constantly have doubts and fears about the relationship and he has told me in the past that they won’t go away because it is how my thoughts spin and then now he is telling me that they cause me more pain. Also I’ve worked hard to try to connect in sessions and not hold all my feelings in and then have them explode just after I leave and it doesn’t seem like he realizes that it has improved over time.
I think the problem is that I’ve been calling him more outside of session times. He thinks I’m calling because I’m afraid the relationship isn’t secure and I need to connect. That is partly true and it has been more true in the past. Recently I think I’ve been calling more because I trust him more. I’ve started to feel safe sharing myself with him and I want that feeling more often. Also because I trust him more I’ve been less afraid that he will get angry about the calls. I feel like I got a lot of mixed messages during the session. I think M is frustrated by me and my neediness and wants me to change but then he says he understands how I feel and he is not putting any conditions on me and there is no threat. I thought we were working well together but I know I’m not sure. Of course he is away for a week so I can’t have any follow up discussion about it with him.
I haven’t felt like writing anything this week because I’ve been struggling. I’ve been trying to keep busy and not think or feel too much. I spent most of the week just trying to get through until my session with M today. Ever since I disclosed to M the shameful disgusting things I do I’ve been anxious. M is going away next week which means a long break without any sessions at a time where I want to call him almost all the time. I think I’m constantly checking that he isn’t disgusted and giving up on me.
This morning about an hour before my session I got an email from M telling me he screwed up and asking if I could come in later today for a session. I instantly fell into a pit of despair. I snapped at my kids as we were late to school, yelled at my husband, and then burst into tears as soon as I was alone. M has been so consistent that this is only the second time in three and half years I’ve been seeing him that he’s had to cancel a session (the first time he was sick). I couldn’t make the new time without calling in sick to work and taking off the whole day and I didn’t feel like I could do that to my boss so I went to work without responding to M hoping that I’d get to work and some miracle would allow me to make the session. Of course no miracle occurred, at least not at work.
M called me to apologize for his mistake in booking the session at a time when he had another commitment (which he was careful not to disclose). I told him I couldn’t make a later time today and then I cried. M offered to come in tomorrow morning for our session. M doesn’t work on Saturdays and it is the first time he has offered me a session on a weekend. I felt grateful and needy and desperate all at the same time. So I cried some more on the phone and I told M I felt like I cared too much about therapy and him and I didn’t want him to work on a Saturday and I wouldn’t be able to say anything worth his time on a weekend. M told me it was his mistake and he thought we should meet.
So tomorrow I have a session with M that will be the last for about 10 days at a time when I’m feeling anxious and activated. I am looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time because I know how much pressure I feel to talk about my big disclosure and get in a better place emotionally.
I hate when my expectations are so unmanageable.