Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

Now this is an awkward topic, right? Which is why I haven’t written about it yet. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to start. After the in-person session I had with my therapist last week Monday, I feel the time is right. There’s nothing strange with what I’m writing about, it’s just that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic as I am. I get it. I was there too. In fact, even though it’s so much easier for me to explore this these days, I still feel a little vulnerable. But that’s why I love my blog space. I can be as open and honest as I want without anyone seeing the different shades of red spreading across my face when I share certain things. “Red suits you”, one of my friends recently said after she kissed me on the cheek. In my defense, we’ve been friends for over 21 years, and she’s never done anything like that. She’s one of those “anti-touch” people.

So. I love my therapist. She knows this, as I’ve told her a couple of times in the past. I once asked her whether that was okay. Trust me when I tell you, it’s okay. I haven’t said those words to her since last year, but there have been a few times where I’ve almost blurted out again “I love you”, but didn’t. I wasn’t quite on the “knowing what I actually mean” path yet.

The love I felt for her has taken on different meanings throughout the first year of working with her. The “in what way?” question had been a source of confusion during much of that time. A few sessions into our first couple of months working together, I had a little bit of a crush on her. Okay, maybe a big one. There was also a time where I thought I might actually be in love with her, or getting there. I told you…Awkward. Plenty of times, I thought that loving her is wrong. That I’m not supposed to. Not allowed to. That it’s inappropriate. The natural consequence of those thoughts was shame. And a lot of it.

Sometime last year, I went through a stage where I had a few intimate dreams of her. They confused me. I told her about one or two of them, but never went into detail of course. It’s intimidating and so scary to bring these kinds of dreams and feelings to our therapists. Wondering what’s wrong with us, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. Those feelings can be so big sometimes, and it’s important to talk about it. I’m guilty of not always having spoken to her about some of those feelings. But I know I’ll be able to if something ever comes up again. After all, I need to practice what I preach, right?

I once told my therapist that I love her as a person. A fellow human being. But that’s very broad isn’t it? After all, I only get to see the professional Clinical Psychologist side of her (with little bits of self-disclosure thrown into the mix every now and then). But, it’s still her. Maybe I don’t get to see the other roles she plays outside the therapy room, such as that of wife, daughter, friend, etc. But I also get to see her in her role as therapist, which they don’t get to see.

“I love coffee.”
“I love my friends.”
“I love my parents.”
“I love my partner.”
“I love my children.”
“I love my pet/s.”

Love. One word to represent different forms of it. So I’m going to call this form “therapy love”.

I feel like I’ve grown in the love I feel for her. I’m finally in a comfortable, secure place, where it just makes perfect sense. It’s not the kind of love shared between partners, parents, children or friends. It’s a love of its own. But it’s not less than those other forms. The therapeutic relationship is unique and not the typical kind of relationship, but it’s still a relationship. And the same is true of the love that we feel inside that relationship. I know a lot of you love your therapists this way too.

Then there’s the love that the youngest parts feel. I think it comes out of how children might feel about their main attachment figure? I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I felt anything about my earliest attachment to my mom. The earliest memories I have of her is when I was about 3 or 4 I think. But I also don’t remember much from those years and those after. Just little (and big) things here and there. But the love for my therapist that comes from those little parts feels different. Attachment love maybe?

Seeing my therapist again last Monday was amazing. When she came to get me, the minute I saw her face, it felt as though my heart just lit up. It was so nice being back in her office. It was familiar, with that “home” feeling. I like the fact that she has couches, and not just chairs. Like with my psychiatrist and OT, it felt a little awkward sitting in those chairs. I also find it intimidating because you have someone sitting right in front of you, whereas the way my therapist’s couches are arranged, you don’t get that “she’s staring me down” vibes. It’s comfortable and makes the space feel less clinical, and more welcoming.

I brought a lot to her that session. Way too much. I was emotional and jumped from one topic to the next. I was extremely ungrounded. So I gave her too much to work with, or too little. But at least now I understand (after she explained it to me), how the way I want therapy to work won’t provide long-term benefits. I might feel better for a few hours afterward, but that’s not the goal. I’ve always felt that maybe I’m doing therapy wrong. But there isn’t a wrong. It’s a learning journey as well. And now I understand her view better, and it makes so much more sense. Now I know better how to approach our sessions. Strangely, I feel more in control, like there’s a clear structure to work with. I’ve always tried to squeeze as much into a session as possible, because it feels time pressured due to the fact that I don’t see her every week. I feel like our most productive sessions have been when we’ve stuck with one topic though, and I know she feels the same way about this. I prefer it that way, so will give up on the “time pressure”.

Sometime during the session, my therapist asked “what do you want?”. In that moment, every part of me wanted to say “can you please come sit next to me? Hug me?” Of course I didn’t ask that. I’m very aware of boundaries these days, and I especially don’t want to cross any of her personal boundaries.

Near the end of the session, I wanted to show my therapist some of the pictures that I had taken while visiting with my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. By that time I was feeling much more grounded. I like how she always seems so interested in seeing the pictures that I take. Last year, during one of the sessions we had when I was still living in the same city as her, I also showed her a picture (of me when I was a little girl- moody as hell), but I just handed her the phone where she was sitting. This time though, she actually moved to the furthest end of her couch, so she was close to mine. That surprised me (in a good way of course). One of the other reasons why I didn’t ask her whether she could come sit by me, was because I was also holding onto shame (so what else is new dammit), and therefore felt untouchable, unlovable and hideous. Why would she want to sit close to me? Why would anyone? Stupid inner voice. That one little action, of her moving closer, made a world of difference. It felt as though she broke through another one of my defenses. I have so many, I don’t even know all of them. Most are (probably) subconscious.

At some point I had the urge to draw, colour in, paint, etc. Why, I have no idea. My therapist let me borrow some paper and her pencil, and I got to it. It was so small, just took up a little space in the corner. I drew one thing on top of the other. No one would have been able to decipher that and know what the hell I had just drawn. But I know, so that’s what matters.

At the end of our session, I started to feel a little emotional again. I didn’t want to leave. But of course, I had to. Don’t you just hate that? As we were walking out, I wanted to ask my therapist whether I could hug her, but felt too shy to ask. But I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably regret it for a long, long time, and beat myself up over it. And then without thinking about it any further, I just came out and asked if I can give her a hug. She said “of course” and when she said it that way, I knew she was comfortable with it then, and I felt relieved. And my favourite part was when she said “I’ll give you one”. I loved that! It was the most special, meaningful hug I’ve ever had. A hug from the person that I never thought I’d ever get to be that close to.

It feels like my connection to her, that bond, has deepened. Which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt loved and valued. She really cares about me. And that’s such an amazing, warm, and soothing feeling.

So…

I love my therapist.

To The Man Who Raised Me

It feels like I’ll never get rid of you.
I constantly feel you inside me.
Like a second layer of skin.
I see you when I look in the mirror.
And I hate what I see.

You’re putting a roof over my head.
But you’re not doing it because you love me.
You don’t know how to love anyone but yourself.
You’re just doing it to keep control over me.
To show the world what a good man you are.

But you’re not a man.
You’re a monster.

I asked you to stop doing something.
You got mad, and still just keep doing it.
“That’s what family does. At least our family”.
But I don’t want to be part of that “family”.
I cringe and feel nauseous every time, but bite my tongue.

I was never your little girl.
I was just an object for you. Someone to control.
Just like you did with the rest of them.
You make me question my memories, my sanity.
My beliefs. Myself. Who am I?

I am who you say I am.
Isn’t that right?

You’re giving me so much right now.
Except that which I’ve always needed.
But you’ve taken away even more.
I wish I wasn’t yours.
But I can’t cut you out of my life.

I can’t stand the sight of you most days.
When I look at your face, I want to scream.
Memories flash on the screen of my mind.
Your voice sickens me.
Your touch destroys me little by little.

You broke what was shiny and new.
And have the audacity to say it was them that ruined me.
It’s never you, is it? It’s always everyone else.
You can do no wrong.
Your worldview is sick and twisted. Just like you.

I should have just let you die those times.
I shouldn’t have intervened.
Just go to my room and pretend I didn’t know.
Let others find you on the floor.
She says I did what I thought was right. But was it?

You think you’re a god, sitting on your throne.
Everyone must bow down and and worship you
Or face the consequences of your rage.
It works, because we’re so fucking scared of you.

I can’t escape. I’m trying so hard to find a way.
But I fail time and time again. I’m a failure.
I’m letting go of the hope that you’ll change.
That you’ll be the father I’ve always wanted.
I wish I could get you off me and out of me.

Will it ever end?

I can’t get away from you.
I’m helpless. Trapped.
“Get out” they say.
I’ve tried. I’m still trying.

And it hurts. It fucking hurts.
because even though I hate you,
I love you.

First Love

Lonely tonight.

I had her.
I lost her.
She let me go.
She broke my heart.
My first love.
A love I never experienced before or since.
There were others I thought I was in love with.
I wasn’t.
I was just infatuated for a short while.
I had been fooling myself.
But with her it was real.
Unexplainable.
Painful.
Beautiful.
What if she was the one?
My only shot at true love.
My last.
Now meant to be alone.
Forever.

Love heals? No, love destroys.

Heading For A Breakdown

I’m not in a good place.

I had an okay few hours yesterday, but that was unfortunately short-lived.

My immune system is down. My body is on high alert. My nervous system is shot. I can’t focus, I can’t concentrate. There’s this mental fog that I haven’t been able to shake.

At the same time, it feels as though my mind is about to explode. Been trying to self-sooth, but it doesn’t seem to be working either. All I want to do the whole time is cry. And some of the time I don’t even know why I’m crying. It just keeps coming.

All I want, all I long for right now is a long hug. A soft touch, a warm body. Someone to sit with me in silence and hold my hand. To hold me close and tell me that I’m going to be okay. I don’t want to hear “everything is going to be okay”, because no one can predict the future. But “you’re going to be okay” really works for me. It helps build me up, allows me to tap into my strength. Because during these intense moments, I feel I don’t have the strength to pull myself together, let alone to keep going. We all need love and closeness sometimes, right? “Please hold me for a while”, I want to say. But there’s a sense of shame in wanting to say those words. To ask for comfort. I don’t want to be saved, I just want to be held. Right now, I can’t be that person I need. I don’t know how to. And how can I, when I despise myself?

Am I so ugly and bad, and that’s the reason no one is ever around when I really need someone? You guys give me so much care and support here, which I appreciate immensely. But sometimes you just need that physical presence, you know?

I don’t usually ask for hugs, even when I desperately want one. On the way to work this morning, I decided that I’m going to ask my step mom for one (I don’t like being touched or hugged by my dad). But when I got into the office, she was passive aggressive with me over something that I can’t remember right now. It really hurt me, as if I wasn’t hurting enough already, and I could feel the tears coming. So I used that opportunity for a bathroom break. Even though I had just gotten in. And now I don’t want to even see her. I’m so damn sensitive.

I’ve always been sensitive and hyper-vigilant, but it seems worse these days. The smallest sound and sudden movement and my body goes into overdrive. Once it’s over, the effects still remain for quite a while. I don’t have energy for much. I don’t want to eat, my appetite is non existent. Besides what I mentioned above, the need for comfort, I don’t want anything to do with anyone. I want to crawl into a dark, warm space and just lie there. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live either.

Nearly every day I have to hear how bad my dad’s business is doing, and how they’re in deep debt. That we might not have a place to stay soon. Every week it’s the same story. I’ve asked him to please not speak about finances (especially the business’s finances) in front of me and the kids. But it seems he doesn’t get the message.

My dad will send me a message, or come home after work to change, and tell me that some friends invited them for dinner at their house. But I know when my dad is lying. Besides, my step sister is obsessed with checking in everywhere on Facebook. I see that she’s checked in somewhere, and tagged my dad, brother and step mom. That they’re having dinner, or watching a movie. Definitely not at some “friends” house. I don’t understand why they need to lie about what they’re doing and where they’re going. Only my brother will tell me the truth the next day, but also doesn’t know why they don’t ask me to come with. The only conclusion that I can come up with is that they don’t want me to go, either because they just don’t want me there, or they want to save money. But all that happens is that I’m left feeling like a burden. And like I’m not part of the family. I don’t belong.

That triggers thoughts and memories of times past where I also felt this way.
I left a good job in order to make sure that my dad was going to be okay (after his suicide attempts). In order to parent him (which I shouldn’t have done). So I followed him from one woman to the next. I’d find a job, and then their relationship wouldn’t work out and it was onto the next woman. I knew they would break up, and I was always afraid that he’d attempt suicide again. After every break up, my dad would tell me that the women didn’t want me around and that’s why they broke up. Even though they hardly ever saw me. I was doing my own thing most of the time. He’d never mention how he had fucked up in the relationship, it was always the other woman. And me. So how can I not feel like a burden?

I feel really alone and lost.

As well as so much shame. For being a burden. For being me. For being alive.

It’s like I’m heading for a breakdown, and I feel powerless to stop it.

Kindness & Gratitude #1

It’s so easy to get stuck in the darkness, and feel that we’ll never get out of that place. To feel like the whole world is against us. Which is why it’s so important to notice the kindness and compassion that exists, and focus on those things for which we are grateful. I’ve decided to start a series of posts to remind us that there is hope. I don’t know how often I’ll write a post for this series, but I’ll try to do one at least once a month.

A little while ago, Jasmine and I went for a walk through one of the many forests in the countryside. On our way back to the car, a guy came running after us. I froze, my heart pounding. Until I saw what was happening. My driver’s license had fallen off my key holder, and he had picked it up to give back to me. I was so relieved. And exceptionally grateful. I had my driver’s license stolen in a smash and grab last year, so I know how much of an inconvenience and hassle it is to get a new one. The kindness of a stranger.

After our walk, I drove Jasmine back to the clinic where she was staying. Sitting with her on the bench just before I left, so close. Not talking. Just feeling. I felt sad. She wasn’t feeling too great, and lay her head on my shoulder. It was a bittersweet moment. I realized that we might have lost some of the things we had being in an intimate relationship, but the connection and love is still there. It’s the simple things that are the most important. Not taking anything for granted.

I was sitting on the beach a few weeks ago, enjoying my alone time, and watching the sun set. These words came to me:

If you can look at a sunset and feel the beauty of it in your heart, there’s still life and hope inside you.

sunset-journeytowardhealingwordpress

Broken Hearts

If you’re reading these words…

I wish I could take your tears away. I wish I could take away your hurt.
I need you to know, that just because I wasn’t crying, didn’t mean I didn’t feel anything.

I felt so much inside. I felt it all. I still do. I just didn’t know how to release it without falling apart. You say that I don’t always have to be the strong one. But I wanted to be strong for you. I still do. But the truth is, I’m not all that strong. And I’m so sorry.

When I first met you, I didn’t know that you would become my deepest love. You crept into my heart and became my world. I won’t forget how it felt to have your hand in mine. How it felt to kiss you and lie in your arms. To hold you in mine.

When you held onto me this morning as we said goodbye, I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to beg you to stay with me, and for things to remain the same. I hoped that I would wake up and realize it had just been a nightmare. But it isn’t, is it? I didn’t ask you to stay and come back with me. Because I knew we are doing the best thing for us both. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Watching you walk away, broke through every defense I had.

No one is to blame. Time just wasn’t on our side. The connection we share will never fade away. Time can’t take that away from us. I’ll never give up on you. I’ll always be close.

You’re my best friend. My soulmate. I love you. Forever.