Since Christmas day I’ve done almost nothing but it has been a good nothing. I spent days building Playmobil and Lego for the kids. I watched all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended versions) in one day. I read a novel and started a second. I’ve hidden out and kept my phone conversations brief. I went out on Tuesday because last week during my major meltdown I made an appointment with B (the consult T that I have seen three times previously). If I keep doing this I’m going to have to update her from consult T to back up T. By the time the appointment came already I wished I hadn’t made it because I didn’t want to talk about therapy and my feelings. I went and talked to B about how I want to quit therapy because I think M doesn’t like me and is getting frustrated and fed up with me. I’ve actually started imagining him terminating therapy in odd and unlikely ways. She asked me why I feel that way and if M had said or done anything that showed me he was frustrated or angry. I had to admit that he hadn’t and my feelings weren’t rational but were overwhelming. She suggested that what might be missing between M and I was right brain to right brain interactions because understanding things logically or rationally isn’t really the goal of therapy. She thought the goal was to restructure the unconscious by experiencing a different relationship and reality. I left thinking maybe it just isn’t possible for me to have that experience.
Tomorrow M comes back from his holiday and we have a session booked for the morning. When I last talked to him a week ago I told him I didn’t know if I was going to continue therapy. I told him it was so painful and I just keep hitting the same wall of feeling so I feel stuck. He told me he hoped I would come to my session which felt good in a way. I think therapy has helped me in a lot of different ways but I can’t seem to move past this problem of worrying about what M thinks of me and that keeps me from discussing some of my problems. I’m not sure whether I should quit, keep talking about my fears of rejection and abandonment, or ignore them and try to talk about some of the more concrete problems that affect the rest of my life. Of course my fears of rejection and abandonment affect the rest of my life and relationships but less painfully and continually as they effect therapy with M.
I’ve had a terrible day. I hate the stress of Christmas. I hate the running around, the buying presents, the wrapping, the family togetherness, the therapy break. It is too much. M is going away for five days. I had my regular session on Wednesday night and my next one is scheduled for next friday. My session on Wednesday was light and we talked about parenting and some of the challenges of my teenage daughter. The problem is I had a much more difficult session on Monday and we exchanged emails on Tuesday. M said we would follow-up on his email on Wednesday and I spent most of the session waiting for him to do so. I didn’t realize he wasn’t going to. At the end I gave him my small present and left quite bereft at now having a chance at dealing with the email until next week.
Yesterday and today passed in a haze of things to do for christmas and intermittent emails to and from M and a couple of voice mails I left then I waited for the return phone call which never came. I’m too tired to write it out but essentially it was one of those horrible misunderstandings which feeds my belief that M is tired of me and wants me to disappear. I’m exhausted, my head hurts, I spent part of today trying to will myself away. I hope things get easier.
I mentioned in my last post that I had a dream last week on the morning of my first session with M. The dream bothered me so much I didn’t want to talk about it and was generally pretty closed down during that session. It was one of those dreams that seems like it could be real and even after I woke up I was confused about whether it was happening. In my dream I was having an argument with myself about whether or not M and I had sex in my last therapy session. I knew I didn’t remember having sex and I didn’t think I or M would have had sex. I also knew that after my last session I had felt physically like I had just had sex. I was having this discussion with myself in my head, “no there is no way you had sex”, “but you felt like you had sex”… “what did happen during my session” “why isn’t it clear” repeat. When I woke up I was thinking those kinds of thoughts and it took a couple of minutes for me to realize the dream part was in “remembering” that it had felt like I had sex physically because that never happened.
I hate this dream. I worry that I might be doing things that I don’t remember even though I have no reason at all to believe that might be true. I do struggle with some kinds of dissociation but I don’t have a DID diagnosis or alters or significant amounts of lost time. Recently M and I have been talking about comforting touch in therapy and I’ve told him about my desire for it and I feel like that wish is very child-like and simple. I don’t have any desire to have sex with M. I’m afraid when I told m about this dream that is how he is going to interpret it and start reacting to me differently because of it. I’m not sure if it is actually about the fact that after M didn’t contact me after cancelling my session that I felt like I couldn’t trust him. Maybe the fear that he isn’t trustworthy came out as a fear of him sexually. I don’t know.
What I did know as I struggled to process things last week was that the dream was definitely effecting me. I think it was part of the reason I wanted to quit therapy and I was so absolute about it. Eventually at the end of my last session I told M about the dream as embarrassing and confusing as it is. I think it is wrapped up in all the things we have been discussing lately. How can I know M cares about me? How much can I trust him? What does it mean if he lets me down? Can I experience safe comforting touch or would all touch lead to sexual contact? What does that mean about me? I knew that if I didn’t discuss it with M he would be missing a fairly big piece of the puzzle of what I’m dealing with right now. The problem for me is that I have to go back to see him tomorrow and try and talk more about it.
In my last post I talked about how I thought I was done with therapy, that the relationship between M and I was irrevocably broken. After writing that post I wrote a day by day description of everything that had happened and what I thought it meant for the previous 10 days. I emailed it to M even though it was long and asked if he could fit me in for an extra session before the end of the week and he replied the next morning and said he had time that afternoon but he hadn’t had time to read my email.
When I got to the session I started to read the email to M and after the first paragraph he asked me if he could comment and he told me that my assumption about what happened the day after he cancelled my session was incorrect. He told me he hadn’t been fully recovered and he had only come in for a couple of sessions. On his cancellation message he had talked about rescheduling our appointment for the next day and I left him a message asking him to let me know if he went back to work. When I found out he had gone to work that day I felt like he was avoiding me, abandoned, rejected, ignored. I felt like I had communicated so clearly asking him to call me and he hadn’t bothered. It is awful how important talking to him is to me and how angry I got that he didn’t call me. So I understand better now that he wasn’t working a regular schedule and him not calling me wasn’t an avoidance of me personally. The session continued with us talking about how the rest of the week was for me and some of the other triggers that happened as well as discussing the two sessions we had where he hadn’t told me this before.
I tried to explain how it felt like he was angry when I didn’t just get over my upset when he apologized the first time. For the first time since seeing him I felt like he was really frustrated with me and my feelings. He told me that wasn’t what occurred for him but he was struggling with feeling like he was missing something and needing to fix the relationship. I am glad that I went to talk to him and tell him how I felt about things and I understand the difference between him not being completely well and just not calling me. I also shared with him a dream I had about him at the beginning of the week that was so upsetting that I think my reaction to it made me want to quit therapy (but I’m going to save the dream for a later post).
I was exhausted after the session and that exhaustion lasted for almost two days. I felt like all my defenses were shattered and the thin veneer that holds me together had cracked. I went for a message later the same day and I told the masseuse all about my abusive childhood and my attempts to heal. Before this I had never said a word in the months that I have been going. I usually treat the massage like my private time to think. Oddly I don’t feel relieved now. I think it has shaken my trust in my relationship with M and my ability to talk about the really difficult things with him.
I had my second session with M this week. That makes two since he cancelled. It is too long a story to tell now but I think my trust in him has been broken, not by the cancellation, by his response to me on thursday when he returned to work. The first session this week I tried not to get into my feelings about his lack of response on thursday because I felt my reaction was unreasonable. I had created a story about what happened on thursday and what that meant about how M felt about me and I didn’t actually know what happened. I was trying not to confront him with what I thought. Instead he confronted me and then confirmed with me that what I thought happened did happen.
Tonight I went in prepared to talk about it and tell him how hurt I was by his non-response. He apologized but then seemed frustrated that I was still hurt. He tried to probe and expose the reason for my hurt. He thought he would be showing me that the reason for the hurt wasn’t because of what happened but because of what I thought it meant about him and his feelings about me. The problem is the discussion seemed to confirm that he didn’t care about me the way I thought he did. I think he was trying to tell me that my feelings weren’t unreasonable but the conclusions I drew from the situation were. Unfortunately I disagree. Something in the relationship feels irrevocably broken, just like I’m irrevocably broken. I’m sure this post is confusing and poorly written but I’m too upset to try to explain it better.
Sometimes I think that it is impossible for things to change. I try to do things differently and for a while I think I’m changing and then something goes wrong and I realize I haven’t changed I just didn’t feel so badly because things were better. When I was younger, in my early twenties single and childless, I used to describe myself as a happy person who had episodes of intense depression. When I was upset, even suicidal, I always thought things would work out and I would live happily ever after. I should have realized that was a view of life that was influenced more by Disney princess stories than any real life examples. Now about twenty years later my description of myself has changed. Now I think I’m a miserable person who occasionally as moments of false hope that confuses me.
The beginning part of this week was like that. I felt better. I wrote M an email before my session at the beginning of the week that was more honest than ever before. I admitted how much I wanted him to comfort me. I talked about my desire for touch even while admitting why that I knew the reasons that it might not be okay. Unusually I wanted to express my feelings even though they might make someone else uncomfortable or they might be wrong and without worrying about whether they were okay or whether my requests would be fulfilled. By the time I got to my session I was anxious, nervous, and overwhelmed. I spent a lot of time struggling to stay present and in the conversation but M was very good at normalizing my feelings. He was able to put into words for me both why I felt like I did about him and why the feelings that were so strong when I wrote the email had just disappeared by the time I was speaking to him. It was a hard session but a productive one. I was looking forward to my next session (with trepidation). Instead M called me to cancel because he was sick yesterday.
I was disappointed but realized that M was just sick. He didn’t cancel just to avoid me. It wasn’t my fault he got sick. It was just unfortunate. Then today everything went wrong. My teenager was argumentative and difficult all day. When I got home with my other two children, late and with no food, I walked into a cool house because the furnace had stopped working. I had spent the day hoping M would contact me offering me another appointment because he had gotten better. I finally received a short email saying he was better but he didn’t have any time until my regular appointment time next week. Now I’m sitting in my warm house with my children asleep feeling sad and wishing I was a better parent. Instead of having a parent who could manage a disappointing day and a broken furnace while still feeding them dinner my children got a parent who burst into tears and then curled up in her bed for a few minutes before buying fast food.
The more things change…the more they stay the same.
It has been a difficult week. I’m disappointed that things aren’t getting easier even though I’m doing things differently. I”ve been keeping much better boundaries with my family. There were a lot of people visiting in the last week and I kept my visiting to manageable. I just said no that isn’t going to work. I’m still feeling sad. I’m crying whenever I drive. I’m having trouble sleeping.
I had two sessions with M this week and I thought I could follow up the conversation about when I don’t feel connected during therapy. We did but fairly quickly into the conversation M pointed out that I don’t feel like he cares and is connecting with me because I feel so worthless. It is funny how even when you know something is true talking about it can result in a new understanding of it. I realized that for the last little while in therapy I’ve been trying to get M to change what he is doing because I think that his willingness to change means he does care. So we’ve played a game, worked on a puzzle, talked about whether he likes me or cares about me, and I’ve been talking about sitting closer and possible touching. I realized that my feeling that he doesn’t like or care for me is coming from me and my sense of being worthless and not from him or his actions. I’ve realized this before and it didn’t result in an epiphany. Instead I felt hopeless. I’ve been wasting my time trying to do things differently and asking M to be different when what he is doing isn’t what is creating the disconnect, I am. I know M is frustrated and he tried to remind me that there are times I feel differently, times when I’ve felt capable, times when I felt he cared. He talked about those feelings coming and going and the fact that they can change means that they aren’t entrenched but I still feel hopeless. I struggled to even go to my second session this week and when I was there I kept the conversation on fairly casual surface things. When he asked a question about how I felt I either sat in silence or told him I had nothing to talk about.
I was telling the truth when I feel this hopeless there is no reason to talk and nothing seems worth talking about. That’s why I’ve been crying so much.