Therapy, meditation, and family dysfunction

I’ve had a busy week. I went to both my sessions with M and still struggled with talking to him about trust and what I felt when I quit therapy last week. I felt rejected by him. I thought he was avoiding contacting me the day after our session and while I understand rationally that he shouldn’t have to talk to me outside of our sessions my feelings aren’t rational. M surprised me by suggesting he meet the T I’ve been consulting. I asked him why he would do that because he’s been making the argument that I feel like I can’t talk because I don’t feel safe expressing myself and that feelings is always there to different degrees. I think he wants me just to talk in spite of it feeling unsafe so kind of act in opposition to my feelings. I’ve been trying to find ways to feel more safe talking to him and that has been a big part of the conversation I’ve been having with M and with the consult T over the last few months. M told me that he thought we had to find a way to deal with and work through my feeling unsafe together and it wasn’t just a matter of me dealing with my feelings and talking anyway.

My husband went away for work this week which left with too much to do by myself. Thursday night I had to get a babysitter (a close friend of the family) so I could go to my meditation class. The teacher spent a long time discussing posture for meditation and actually physically adjusted most members of the class. He never came near me to either adjust my posture or evaluate it. I felt like I stuck out and everyone noticed that he didn’t come near me but it was probably not that bad. Unfortunately I feel like I must be repulsive to the meditation teacher, either physically or in some other way, and the rest of the class knows it. I was so upset that during the second half of the meditation I was crying quietly and completely caught up in the feeling of being repulsive and rejected and wasn’t listening to the instructions at all. It was very hard to stay in the class and not leave early. When I came home I was so upset that I started talking to the babysitter and out poured a lot of stories about my childhood and the abuse. This friend has known my entire family for the last 30 years and was surprised by most of what I told her. She knew about my mother’s difficult personality and her refusal to acknowledge anything negative but she didn’t know about the sexual abuse rampant in my family generationally. I felt better while I was talking to her but I am now worried that I unloaded a lot of terrible things on someone who will still have to interact with my family and act like everything is good something I do all the time.

Lastly as a follow-up to this post my sister spent most of the week planning the weekend getaway and assuming I would be attending. She didn’t address any of the things I talked about. Then on Friday she called me to tell me that they had booked their flights so I guess she did hear what I said. Later she called to tell me that one of my family members is concerned I’m not going because of them in particular. The typical reaction in my family to feeling like someone is angry at you (or avoiding you and not going on a trip) is to avoid acknowledging that you think someone is upset and just act normal which is what my sister did to me or discuss it with everyone else in the family and not the person directly. In this indirect way I will find out the person is worried that they are the reason I’m upset and I will either change my plans to prove I am not upset or I will contact them to reassure them that I’m not upset. At that point they will tell they weren’t worried at all and everything is good between us. So my sister did her part by telling me the other family member was upset I wasn’t going on the trip and afraid they were the reason and then telling me that she hoped I changed my mind. When I didn’t she then suggested that I would feel differently once I talked to my mother. I also didn’t call the other family member to talk to them because I decided this time I’m not participating in the indirect passive communication style of my family. If someone wants to find out why I’m not going they are going to have to call me and ask.

Jump off or back away from the edge?

Last week after I wrote M cancelling therapy this week I attended an Introduction to Meditation class. About 18 months ago I spoke to the class teacher about meditation and he suggested that it might not be the best time for me to start meditating because of some of the memories that were coming up for me and because of my dissociative tendencies. The class was a very basic introduction but when the teacher was talking about trying to develop an attitude of non-judgemental awareness. He made a flippant remark about not trying to judge your meditation practice and leave that to your meditation teacher. Someone else asked what he meant and he said your meditation teacher was there to guide you in your self-exploration and prevent you from getting stuck. I asked him how you could know any teacher knew you well enough to guide you. He said “you know when someone really gets you, you know it not in your thinking mind but in your bigger mind (what I think some people would call a gut feeling), don’t you?” I didn’t answer because I don’t think I do know things like that. I know facts. I know things that I can figure out logically. I don’t know how other people feel or what they think. I don’t even know by analyzing their behaviour or comments because I always consider the possibility that their behaviour and comments aren’t aligned with their feelings.

Since the class the idea that I’m different from other people because they “know” things in their gut and I don’t has been on my mind. Of course when I’m wondering if this is why I can’t trust M. Even though I’ve worked with him for almost four years and he has shown me over and over that he cares about me (appropriately) and is trying to help me and is generally accepting and supportive but I’m still afraid he is judging me negatively. It was bothering me so much I met with the meditation teacher briefly this weekend and I asked him if he thought some people just lacked the ability to “know” things in their gut. He said “no”. I told him I thought I did. I said I didn’t trust anyone because I didn’t know anyone well enough to believe they were a certain type of person. The meditation teacher told me that I should hold onto my belief (about gut feelings) and to be clear I think other people have gut feelings but I don’t. He said I could consider the possibility that I was wrong but not just believe what someone else told me was true. Then he told me he thought I was being incongruent and that part of me did believe in my “gut” feelings. He told me thought I was at a point of change and that my belief that I couldn’t ‘know’ things was balancing on a knife-edge. I was more confused by this discussion not less.

Since then I’ve wondered if this is part of why I decided to quit therapy abruptly last week. M didn’t do or say anything unreasonable or unusual last week. During my monday session I was more open and authentic than usual and at the time I was relieved to be able to talk to him. My fear about him judging me became overwhelming the next morning. Some of my frustration on Thursday was related to the intense desire I had to talk to him about things and not being able to because it was days until my session and his email response was a weak alternative. Lately I’ve had times when I’ve known rationally I was misinterpreting how M felt but I was still upset by what M had said or done. I don’t mean I manufactured my upset or was acting instead it was like I was feeling upset but I didn’t really believe M meant what had upset me. I’m not doing a very good job explaining this but it has been different.

I wonder if saying I can’t trust M or that he and I aren’t a good therapeutic fit is now my standard response to the fear and anxiety I feel about therapy. I wonder if I don’t want to admit I trust M because then I’ll have no reason not to talk about the really difficult things that I’ve just hinted at or introduced so far. I’m still torn about going to therapy tomorrow. I’m waiting for my “gut” to let me know what to do.