What’s This Now? A Therapy Break?

It was one of those therapy sessions where it felt like I was talking to a best friend. It flowed, conversation was easy and seemed effortless.

Relationship with Therapist has been great. There was a little bit of a rupture a few weeks ago, but we got past that quickly. Thank god. But I learned and grew from it, so I’m glad it actually happened. Strange how it seems to work that way for me. While it’s happening, my world is in utter chaos and I feel like my heart is breaking into a million tiny pieces. Then I bounce back and quickly fall into that intimate, idealization state with her again. It also shows how good she actually is. In most of my relationships, whenever something went wrong, it felt like the end of the world. Like the relationship was broken and ruined. And that’s the way I feel when I feel a disconnect with Therapist. But she pulls me back in and helps me see that just because these things happen, and that relationships aren’t always easy, it doesn’t mean it’s going to end and that it can’t be fixed. I’ve already learned and grown so much from this special relationship we share. I’m so grateful for and to her.

We spoke about a few things, and near the end of the session, she wanted to discuss something with me. She reminded me of her upcoming vacation. That she’ll be away most of December and for a little bit of January. I’ve known about this for a while already, as we spoke about it very briefly before. But I didn’t allow myself to really think about it. When she brought it up again today, I can’t tell you what I felt. Because I still don’t know either. The emotions are somewhere there, but I just can’t see or feel them yet.

I was in such a hyper mood during the session and on cloud nine (thanks to my new very special relationship), and so happy to be talking to Therapist again, that I don’t think it registered. A part of me gets it, but another part of me seems to be shielding me from the absoluteness of it. It’s there. In the background of my mind. And I’m worried about what will happen once it hits me full force. I’ve never gone longer than 2 weeks without talking to her (and even that is painful), so I’m not sure how I’ll survive a month. Writing this, it still doesn’t feel quite real yet. I feel disconnected from this reality.

She wants us to prepare for this upcoming break, and we have a few weeks in which to do it. She wants my input and suggestions on how to make it easier for me. I’m not entirely sure, but I’ll definitely be thinking about it. I did come up with one thing though. I asked whether she’d do a voice recording for me, which she seemed on board with.

I’m busy deciding what I’d like her to include in this message, and one thing that kept coming up is that I want her to reassure me that she’s ‘real’. I didn’t really understand it. Actually I’ve never understood why I have this problem with things and especially people not feeling real to me, especially during absences. But tonight I think I have finally figured it out. And it’s something I’m planning on talking to her about. It’s an important part of the puzzle that is me. And a pattern I need to break free from.

I think other things that I’d like to hear is a reminder that she cares. That just because I can’t see her, it doesn’t mean that she’s gone. That she won’t think of me, or that she’ll forget about me. I want to be reassured that she’s not abandoning me, and will be coming back. That’s what I’m thinking… But I don’t know whether that’s too much?

I know a lot of you have had these extended therapy breaks. How did/do you cope? What has helped you through this time? I know we’re all different, and what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for someone else. But it will be interesting to hear about this from you.

I want to be as prepared as possible. Because I know this isn’t going to be easy.

With Her

With her… I feel safe. Like no one and nothing can harm me.
With her… The world around me doesn’t exist. She’s all I can see.
With her… I can be myself. My mask fades away.
With her… I feel seen.
With her… I feel beautiful.

A connection so rare. A connection so intense. So real. So beautiful.

This lost soul has finally found a place to belong.

The Healing Bond

In my post ‘The Therapeutic Relationship‘, I wrote about my connection with my therapist, and the fear that often accompanies it.

On Monday morning, in preparation for our session later that afternoon, I asked her to open up that post for our session (she has access to my blog). I wasn’t sure whether she had read it, but I thought it was important that she does.

Most of the session revolved around talking about our relationship, my fears and things I had left unsaid for so long. I didn’t run away from it this time. I fully embraced it. And I’m so glad I did.

I got to see a side of her that I’ve never seen before, a more vulnerable side, and it was absolutely beautiful. My heart just softened. I felt this overwhelming love for her, and warmth filled every part of me. That moment right there… That moment is one I’ll never forget. It’s etched in my memory forever.

One of the things I told her, is that I sometimes worry that I’ll be replaced by her other clients. That I won’t be important to her anymore. She put that fear to rest by saying that she’ll always make time for me. That she cares about me. It felt really good to hear that.

I also asked her whether she thought I was still making progress. Because I feel like I’m not. But I spent some time thinking about this since that session. And I reached the conclusion that I am making progress.

I’ll give two examples.

I never really had boundaries with people in my life. In my head yes, but I was unable to communicate and enforce them. Now, thanks to this healing relationship, I’m starting to become better at it. I wasn’t even aware of it at first, it came so gradually. I still have a way to go, but there’s definitely progress.

Since I started seeing her at the beginning of March this year, I had this obsessive attachment to her. I would bombard her with emails. When she went on vacation for about a week, late in April, that didn’t stop me. I even sent her an angry email. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed, and what did I do? More emails. I was in crisis mode.

She always had an open policy, where I could contact her anytime. But I took it too far. I misused it greatly. In the last email she sent me during her vacation, she wrote that she feels strongly that we should have no contact between sessions, or have two sessions a week. But I couldn’t afford two sessions a week, so that was out.

I was devastated. I felt that the connection we had, had just been shattered. She had broken my heart. She had taken something away from me. I felt rejected and abandoned. When we had our next session, she was open to discussing this, and we reached a compromise. I could contact her during working hours. No nights or weekends. I still wasn’t happy with that arrangement, but it was better than absolutely no contact between sessions.

In our session on Monday, we revisited this topic. I told her that I don’t want this boundary anymore. That it hurts. That I’m jealous of all her other clients who don’t have this boundary. As usual, she listened and took to heart what I was telling her. She said that April is long gone, and she’s willing to give it a try and drop the boundary. I asked her whether she thinks I won’t misuse it this time. I liked her answer. She said that we know one another well by now, and she believes I won’t.

And I don’t plan to. I don’t want to use it unless I have to reschedule a session. It’s not about a boundary. It’s about me respecting her time. I want her to have her evenings and weekends to unwind and enjoy. And you know what? I’m actually glad she had set that boundary, because I grew from it. I learned from it. I learned to hold myself between sessions. To sit with my emotions and thoughts. To self soothe. I don’t feel the need to contact her in the evenings and on weekends, even though for some reason those are the hardest times for me. That is progress.

After this session, I feel an even deeper bond, a closer connection.

I want to encourage all of you going through therapy to be open and honest with your therapist about your feelings regarding the relationship. It’s so important for the healing process.

The universe has handed me a lot of shit, but it seems to have made up for it by connecting me to this amazing therapist.

The Therapeutic Relationship

Most of last weeks session with my psychologist was spent discussing our relationship. I had started the session by telling her that I didn’t want to be there. She wanted to talk more about that. I got angry at her after a while, and felt a lot of agitation and impatience. I wanted to tell her to just stop. I felt there were other things I wanted to talk about instead. Things I thought were more important.

She told me that this relationship is important, so if I feel a disconnection with her, it’s really important for us to discuss it. That if I ever feel that something she did or said hurt me, I must tell her. She doesn’t want things to be left unsaid. I told her I would, but told her that I want her to do the same thing. Because one of my biggest fears is that she feels negatively about our relationship, but keeps it to herself.

I care about what she thinks of me and how the connection feels to her. I really do. Perhaps a little too much.

Since that session I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. I came to the conclusion that she’s right. It is important to discuss the relationship. A month ago, I would have loved to have spent an entire session talking about our connection. But I’ve become uncomfortable discussing it lately. Uncomfortable feeling this attachment. More and more I’m feeling this need to pull away from her. To keep her at a distance. To withdraw.

Because now it feels very real. Before, I loved the connection we shared. But lately, while I still love it, and need it, it’s become more solid. More real to me. And that scares me. I’ve never had this level of connection with anyone before. I’m terrified. The potential for getting hurt is huge. I know she’ll still unintentionally hurt me. She’s only human after all. But it’s not just that. It also comes down to my own shame. I feel embarrassed for wanting her, for needing her. At feeling this bond. There’s a lot of shame attached to it, and I don’t fully understand it yet. I long to reach out sometimes, but it also stirs up those feelings of shame. Reaching out feels wrong. A pattern from my childhood, where reaching out was met with negativity. Now it feels like a boundary violation, not just a boundary crossing. I feel like I don’t deserve the attention. That I’m not deserving of her time. That I’m not worthy.

I always thought I allowed certain people relatively close to me. But looking back this past week, I was sad to discover that that wasn’t the case. I kept everyone at some distance. Never allowing them too close. And now it’s coming out in my therapeutic relationship. Even the most important relationship in my life, that with my grandmother, reveals that pattern. I just wanted to spend time with her, be with her. But never talking about my deeper feelings or fears. Never connecting on a deeper level.

On Tuesday I sent my therapist an email with a one of the rare pictures I have of me when I was a little girl, the only one I have of me and my mom together. I also attached a ‘personality’ profile I have taken when I was 19 and in college. Feeling the need to push her away, I decided to use a DBT skill instead, that of opposite action. So I sent her that email to pull her close again. It was important for me to reach out.

I’m grateful now that she pushed me to talk about it. There are a few things I want to discuss with her in our session on Monday. And I don’t care if we spend the entire session working through these things. It has to be done. It is important.

But I’m scared.

Therapy, Connection, And Knowing She Cares

This past week was the worst I’ve ever had with regards to my feelings toward my therapist. I’ve had my moments in the past where I would feel the desire to push her away, and then try to pull her close again. But this past week and a half it seemed to happen nearly every day. I was more scared to lose her than ever before. The desire to push her away and just quit therapy was excruciatingly intense. And the desire to feel connected to her again was a whole different kind of pain and longing. During and after our session last week, and through no fault of hers, I had felt as though she had jumped from the “therapist” to the “best friend” box in my head. And maybe in a way that is what caused the insecurity. By her reiterating our therapeutic relationship, I had grown to trust in it as just that… A therapy relationship. But when the change in my head occurred, it might have upset the delicate tapestry. Maybe this is why a therapist needs such clear boundaries with regards to friendship and sexual relationships with clients. And even though I hate these boundaries, I’m grateful to my therapist for being so consistent in keeping them. It’s just one of the ways in which she shows that she truly cares. I found this post by Dr. Gerald Stein particularly interesting:

How Would a Friendship with Your Therapist Work?

Even though I know she’s only human, and that if we had a friendship outside of our therapy relationship, there might be things that annoy me or that I don’t like, in our current relationship it’s good that I see her as something of a superhero.

I’ve had a hard time trusting that she can care. Both because of past experiences and because I’m a client. A client, who I feel causes her to experience negative emotions at times, and because I care deeply about her, I believe it’s unacceptable for me to cause her any distress. And sure, it might be the work that she has chosen to do. But as she mentioned before, just because there’s a financial transaction, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care.

I received a note from her last Thursday. It was as if she had read my mind. I was missing her incredibly and feeling insecure and totally insignificant. I was fighting against the urge to contact her. So it was a beautiful surprise. I mentioned to her in our session yesterday that it was a particularly bad day for me and how timely her note was, and she said that it shows we do have that connection. I found those words from her very reassuring and special.

She told me that she thinks of me even in between sessions and tries to find ways to benefit me and our sessions together and make things easier and better. I loved hearing her say that. Somehow, it’s as if she knew all the right words. She seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear and she said it. She also said things that I didn’t even know I needed and wanted to hear. My favourite moments are those where she reassures me that she won’t abandon me. She won’t walk away. And once again, I experienced that moment yesterday. I’ve never felt this connected to her. This incredible bond. It feels like our relationship is deepening. Which I didn’t know was even possible. But it’s an amazing feeling. I feel more secure in her and in our relationship now than I ever had before. There may still be moments where I feel the opposite, but I’m going to try to hold onto this feeling and remember it when things feel dark again.

She makes me feel and experience things I’ve never had with anyone else. The sense of stability she provides is one which I had never known before. Her patience with me continues to take my breath away. The way she seems to believe in me. She doesn’t give up on me, even when I give up on myself and it seems everyone else has too. The way she seems to accept me just the way I am, but gently guides me in becoming the person I can be. The best version of myself. I feel such a deep respect for her. More than I’ve ever felt for anyone.

It’s the little things I appreciate the most. The little notes she wrote me, the way she helped me apply for extra sessions. The way she speaks to me. The way she often tells me she’s proud of the progress I’m making. I always just think I have nothing to be proud of. But I’m beginning to see it differently. To other people these may seem like small things, but to me, they’re huge, and mean the absolute world. It’s these things that show me that she really does care, even though she may never say “I care about you” in that direct way. She doesn’t need to. She shows me instead. And that’s beautiful and extremely powerful.

I heard this song again last night and it made me think of her. Of our relationship. Sure, it might be a love song, but for me it rather represents our therapeutic relationship. In her eyes… I am more than I believe. She sees me. She sees what I can become. She sees the good when I just can’t. This song, to me, represents having someone in your life who truly understands you, and those parts of yourself that you don’t allow others to see. Someone who reaches into your soul and doesn’t run away, or abandon you. She helps give me strength when I can’t find my own. More importantly, she helps me bring my own strength to the forefront. She helps me feel better about myself. She makes me feel like I deserve to be alive and part of this universe.

Even this line in the song has a somewhat different meaning for me:

I don’t count my possessions
But all I call mine
I will give her completely
‘Til the end of all time

I trust in her so completely that I allow her access to my thoughts, every dark corner of myself, the good and bad – Things that once given, can’t be taken or given back.

This perhaps sounds like something of a love letter. And in a way, it is. It’s just a different kind of “love letter”.

Because for the first time since I’ve started seeing her, the reality that this is a healing relationship isn’t just head knowledge, but heart knowledge as well.