Therapy review

I find it interesting that in my previous post I said that I had a dream about having sex with M but I didn’t describe the problem in my dream. We tried to have sex and M couldn’t (in that way men can’t have sex). I tried a few different things but they didn’t work. When I had the dream I was upset because I thought it was wrong to dream about having sex with M and it pointed to some desire I wasn’t acknowledging. Now I wonder if the dream isn’t really pointing out the way M and I can’t connect in therapy. Maybe it is just about my feelings that therapy isn’t working anymore. Of course I have that interpretation after my session today which went terribly.

First the computer in his office was making frequent but random beeps and chirps throughout the session. The things I put in brackets are things I thought but didn’t say to M. We started with some brief chit-chat about his vacation and my week. Then he asked me how it was not having any sessions last week and I said it was okay. I felt pretty good (which made me wonder why I am going to therapy anyway if I am pretty good without it). He asked if I thought of things I wanted to talk to him about or if I had just avoided thinking about him and therapy. I said “no I thought of telling you lots of things just like always… I just didn’t have any sessions where I failed at telling you things” He finished the sentence with me and chuckled and I started crying. He asked me why I was crying and I said because it isn’t funny to me that I imagine telling you things and then I come in here a fail over and over at actually telling you things. It is painful to me. (I wonder if I only trust the M in my head because I can tell him anything but when I am with real life M I feel stuck and scared and judged and alone. We’ve also talked in the past about how I can imagine telling him lots of things but I can’t imagine him responding to me so the communication is one way). After a few moments he said he understood that it was painful for me and he hoped I realized he wasn’t making fun of me or laughing at me for my feelings.

Then he asked me questions related to the update email I sent him this morning. He brought up my work because I told him it was going well. Then he asked about my conversation with my eldest daughter about sex and relationships and I said it went pretty well. He asked me how often my husband and I were seeing the marriage therapist. He didn’t mention the dream. In my email I just said I had an upsetting dream about him but I didn’t tell him what it was about. Then I started crying uncontrollably. I buried my face in Kleenex and sobs shook my body. He was quiet for a long time, 5 or 6 minutes, and I wondered why he wasn’t saying anything because usually he doesn’t leave me alone for so long. After I calmed down I looked at him and he was looking at me with interest, kind of how I think a collector looks at a butterfly in a jar. So I started crying again. When I am not looking at him I wonder if he is counting the minutes to the end of the session, frustrated or bored either way I feel terrible. After several more minutes of hiding my face he asked me if I could tell him anything about my internal dialogue. I didn’t because all I was thinking was “leave, just leave, you don’t have to stay until the end of the session” and “therapy is over, you have nothing to say or more accurately nothing that you can trust him enough to talk about anymore”. I did more crying.

Then M asked when I had the nightmare about him. I said Thursday morning but it wasn’t a nightmare just a dream that upset me because usually my dreams are so easy to interpret I joke that my subconscious should try to be less obvious. He asked if the dream was upsetting because I couldn’t interpret it. I said I didn’t like the obvious interpretation and so I wasn’t sure what it meant. He said can you tell me about it. I asked him if he thought people just dreamt random stuff that wasn’t very interpretable or meaningful. He said yes he thought some dreams were just random images or associations but that didn’t mean my dream was random. I started crying and hiding again. After several more minutes he asked me what I was most afraid of besides time passing. So I looked at the clock and realized that I started crying hard about 20 minutes into the session and it was now quarter to the hour so I had spent 25 minutes in a session with neither of us saying anything much.

I said I didn’t know what I was afraid of it just felt like there was nothing to talk about. He looked irritated by that and said “nothing to talk about even though we have started so many conversations lately”. I said it felt like it was impossible for us to talk about things. Then M said that I have so many different ways to make it difficult for me to talk: am I talking about the right things; is what I am saying okay to him or me; I’ve already said something so what more is there to say about it; or what good is it going to do to talk about something because I don’t see how it will help (in all fairness these are all things I have said to explain why I am not talking about something in the past). M said that sometimes I have to give myself permission to talk even though it will unleash all these difficult feelings. So we sat until I finally said “so I just have to talk, ignore how I am feeling and force myself to talk” (while I thought it is my fault again, I’m failing at therapy, why wait 50 minutes to tell me I just have to talk even thought I have lots of stupid reasons to doubt it helping, why not tell me at the beginning of the session, is it more fun this way?). M said I wish it was so simple. Sometimes you have to talk about whatever part of the doubt is the loudest, sometimes you have to talk about what is keeping you from talking, what got in the way, was it a feeling or a reaction to something that I said.

Finally I just said I don’t want to keep failing at talking. It depresses me and I feel more depressed about therapy than about the rest of my life. Of course the session was over so there wasn’t time to discuss it. M said he would think about that for a bit and it would be depressing to feel like you didn’t have permission to discuss what you are feeling or dealing with or have experienced. I said I think it is telling me that it is time to quit therapy as I stood up. M said that he didn’t have quite the same view but he heard how I felt. I left without giving him his stuffed animal back and when I sat in my car I realized I kept it because I thought it would make me go to my session on Wednesday. So after ten minutes I went back and left he stuffed animal in his waiting room. I don’t know if I think it is a good idea to go back. I know I am not done with therapy because everything in my life is better. I am still struggling with a lot of things but some things are better.

For a couple of weeks before M went on his vacation I had two types of therapy sessions. Sessions like today’s where I felt like I couldn’t talk to M about anything that really mattered to me and I felt like he didn’t want to hear it or he was frustrated or angry with my silence and crying and whining. Sessions where we talked about my children were relatively easy with little crying and no silences. Things with my children can be difficult and triggering but I am having more success telling M about them and in talking with my children. For example my eldest daughter recently told me she is dating a girl which was a surprise to me. My daughter and I have talked about her relationship and her sexuality in general. My daughter is amazingly honest and forthright in describing her feelings and talking about sex including asking me questions. These conversations aren’t easy for me and they often illustrate how very different my teenage years were from my daughter’s and how very confused about sex and love I was then and still am. I am still talking to her and I can talk to M about the conversations I have with her.

What I can’t do is talk to M about how I feel about sex and how confused I am about it. I also can’t talk to M about how much I hate how I look or how I can’t control my eating or at least I can’t talk about it anymore than I already have. There are so many things I want to say, so many stories I want to tell. I imagine the conversations but when I sit down I don’t speak. Maybe I am so sad right now because I think I should find a new T. Maybe no T can help me with these feelings and I am blaming M and thinking about changing T’s to avoid the fact that I can’t be helped or I have been helped as much as I can be and this is as good as it gets.

Dreaming about my therapist

M is on vacation this week so I haven’t seen him for a week. During our last session I talked about my children and how I am enjoying my relationships with them more. We didn’t try to talk about anything difficult or emotionally draining. I understand why but I still end up feeling like he is helping me avoid things that I need to talk about. M did give me a stuffed animal from his office to keep while he was away. This is the second time I’ve taken the stuffed animal.

This week has gone very well. I’ve been busy at work and at home but my mood has been good. I feel like I am doing better with my day-to-day life. The bigger issues are what still cause me so much pain. I hate how fat I am but I keep eating every night after my kids go to bed. I can feel quite good about things until something happens to remind me how screwed up I am. This morning I had a dream that triggered me badly into the “I am so screwed up nothing will ever help” state.

****Triggers*** for sexual content

This morning I woke up after having a very disturbing dream about M. He was coming back from his vacation and he came to visit me at home but it was my childhood home. I was an adult with two kids but I was living with my parents. M came in and hugged my daughter and then hugged me and kissed my head paternally. I was surprised in the dream because we don’t touch other than shaking hands at the end of sessions. Then we were walking my children to school and we stopped at a cafe to get coffee. At first it was a typical coffee shop and in the next moment we were the only people in the room and T was kissing my naked back erotically. I was very excited. After dropping my kids off at school we were in a bedroom and we started to have sex. I woke up feeling confused. I rarely have dreams about consensual sex. I use to have repetitive rape dreams but those have stopped in the last year.

I feel guilty even though I wasn’t in control of my dreams. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to have sex with M. I have felt a lot more connected to him in the last six months. I am afraid I am not going to be able to go to my session next week without telling M about the dream. I am also afraid of telling him the dream. I am wrong either way.

Impasse

I wasted my session with M tonight. There is so much I could talk about and I said nothing of substance. He asked what was going on and he kept looking at me. I hate it because it feels like he is looking at me like I am some exhibit. He is interested but detached like watching an ant colony. You can watch an ant struggle to move or carry food for a long time because it is interesting but you don’t feel sorry for the ant. I feel like an ant stuck behind glass and struggling to move something that isn’t even important. It is futile.

I spent a couple of sessions talking to M about what I was like as a teenager after my cousin told me he loved me. I described some of the stupid things I did and I told him about feeling like I was too attractive and that caused people to abuse me. I felt like he didn’t believe me. I think he believed the facts but not the story I told about the facts. He asked me questions like “did I know what or who I was protecting when I kept silent about the abuse?” or “how did you feel about something?”. I told him I was only thinking one thing. I wanted to be normal. I spent so much time watching other people and imitating normal behaviour. I wouldn’t do anything that would show I wasn’t normal. After that session I called him up and told him I was sorry that I wasn’t doing therapy right. I knew he was fed up with me and tired of me telling him my story. Since then I haven’t spoken much during my sessions. Tonight when I left I felt like I was never going back.

Attractiveness ***triggers about sexual abuse***

For the last couple of weeks M and I have been talking about my feelings about my appearance.  I finally talked to him about what I wrote in this post. It was very difficult to talk about, much harder than writing about it. I spent most of the time looking at the floor and crying. I don’t remember very much that M said. It seems to me that when I am very upset he is quiet and says very little. He acknowledged how painful it is to only see flaws when I look in the mirror. He also commented that I sounded like I was afraid to look at myself. It is true that I feel afraid but I am not sure what the fear is about.

During our next couples session my husband told H that I had not told him that I was abused by my cousin until several years into our relationship. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t told him because I know I told him I was abused and I assumed that I had told him who the perpetrators were. I felt so ashamed. It was our fourth couple session and H and heard that I placed an online ad looking for casual sex partners in our third session. I ended up explaining to H that I was abused by my older brother (11 years older) and by an older cousin (12.5 years older). I have always had a limited number of memories but I’m not clear how long or how often the abuse happened. I think I avoid telling people who I was abused by two family members because I think it proves that the abuse was my fault. After all I was the common denominator in both situations. So I didn’t realize I hadn’t told my husband about my cousin.

I am also much more confused about my cousin. He was kind to me when I was a child and spent time listening to me and teaching me to play games. I remember him as an oasis in the desert of my childhood because no one else was interested in what I thought or how I felt about anything. When I was a teenager, 14 or 15, my cousin moved into the town my family was living in. My parents let him move in with us until he got on his feet. Even after he moved out he spent a fair amount of time with me and my family and I tried to act like nothing unusual had ever happened. One night my cousin made it impossible for me to pretend anymore by telling me he wanted to apologize for abusing me. He then went on to explain that I had started the sexual relationship between us and he would never have done that to anyone else. He said that I was special and that he loved me and he had always loved me. He said he loved me so much he wasn’t able to maintain a relationship with someone his own age. At the time I took his apology at face value and I felt sorry for him because he seemed so messed up.

That was a very difficult time for me. Earlier that year I had my first boyfriend. I was confused about relationships. I liked boys but I was afraid of them. The marriage counselor asked me how I made sense of what my cousin told me at the time and my husband remembered something I had told him when I first told him about my cousin. I was afraid that there was something wrong with me, that I was so attractive that I caused my cousin to fall hopelessly in love with me, that there was something I was or did that caused both my brother and cousin to abuse me. It was a direct contradiction of how I felt five years later when I would look at strangers and try to figure out why I was the ugliest person in the world. Confused, scared, lost… I felt that way when I was a child, a teenager, an adult. I still feel that way.

Random bouts of anxiety

I have spent a fairly quiet long weekend.  My husband was away for five days for work and it was just me and my kids.  We didn’t have a marriage therapy session last week and I missed my session with M today because of the holiday here.  I feel better (at least in the short-term) when things aren’t being stirred up by therapy.  I did experience seemingly random bursts of intense anxiety. I would be doing laundry or reading a book or thinking of what I should cook for dinner and suddenly I would realize that I was feeling so anxious I wanted to do something. I didn’t know what to do, run away, journal, clean, eat, drink, but the desire to do something to feel less anxious was overwhelming. One day I went for a walk and spoke to a neighbour about nothing important but I felt better. Yesterday I noticed the anxiety when I worked around the house and eventually it passed. I didn’t spend a lot of time or energy trying to figure out what was causing the anxiety because I knew that there wasn’t any immediate trigger because things were so quiet this weekend. Usually I get caught up in the puzzle of why I feel the way I feel instead of just feeling it.