The Highs & Lows of the Therapeutic Relationship

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but have tried to put it off. It feels like I’ll be walking out into the street naked. But I have read similar posts by a couple of other people, which was a great help and comfort to me. And since this is part of my life, if someone can relate and not feel like they’re alone, that can only be a good thing.

Let me start with a quick background on my first meeting with my therapist.

Sitting in the waiting room, my heart was racing. And suddenly, there she was. Calling my name.

Following her, I felt strangely safe. I don’t remember ever feeling safe with someone right off the bat. Actually, there aren’t many people I feel safe around in general. But I digress.

When we sat down, that feeling remained. I was nervous and anxious, yes. But something else was also happening. Something I still can’t explain. She somehow managed to get me to open up and reveal certain things in record time. I felt an instant connection. And that was it. She had me.

Now, let’s rip this band aid off.

I love my therapist.

As in love love. I sometimes have to stop myself from just saying the words “I love you”. Sure, I might say “I have this crazy obsession or attachment to you”. Those are the words coming out of my mouth. But those aren’t the words I really want to say.

I’ve been reading Life In A Bind’s blog for a while now (have started from her first ever post and working my way to the latest – still a lot to go, but amazing stuff there), and there’s a post that I could really relate to, as with a lot of her other posts. I want to quote a paragraph that pretty much sums up how I feel about the therapeutic relationship:

Whether the feelings relate to a friend, a partner or a therapist, the intensity of an obsessive attachment has brought me, repeatedly, both the most intense highs and the most painful lows. It seems to me that therapy, in particular, is a cruel form of unrequited love in which attachment can be necessary for healing, but the boundaries of the relationship may serve to make the obsessional nature of the attachment even more painful.

You can find the rest of the post here (I also recommend the original post she links to as she describes the topic of obsessive attachments so perfectly and beautifully):
http://lifeinabind.com/2015/03/16/memory-monday-waiting-to-fall-bpd-and-obsessive- attachments/

We have a therapeutic relationship. My mind knows this. But in my heart she’s also a lot more. I don’t know what or who exactly. It seems to shift and change constantly. There was only one occasion where I knew exactly who she was for me in a specific life event, which I told her about during one of our sessions. The rest of the time I have no idea. How do I love her? Well, I suppose all the ways you can love someone.

I was also relieved to discover that I’m also not the first person who has to stop themselves from phoning, texting or emailing their therapist constantly. Most of the time I succeed in resisting that temptation. The rest of the time? I just can’t help it. Sometimes it’s as if someone else has taken control of my body, and I’m powerless to stop it. I feel like one of these children in this test:

How can they do that to the poor child? He/she desperately wants that marshmallow, but must fight a great internal battle to resist eating it. Sure, it’s cute and funny to watch. But to actually live it? Not so much.

Boundaries suck, and I don’t care how necessary they are. I hate them. Which is probably why I’m terrible at setting them… I feel there’s always certain situations where they should be broken. Boundaries shouldn’t be black and white. Where the hell is the grey in all this?

During one of our sessions we spoke about the motivation behind my actions. For example, what was my motivation in sending a specific email? What did I want or expect from her when sending it? I actually found that quite profound. It really made me think and question my motivations. Which is something I’m finding myself doing quite often now. I only recently realized another one of my intentions for the majority of my communications with her outside of our sessions. Over and above my other expectations of course. To make sure she’s okay. If I receive a reply, I know she’s fine. If I don’t… I worry about her until I next hear from her. Writing this right now, something else came to mind. Is it totally just for her? Yes, I care about her. I want her to be happy, healthy and safe. But I think there’s a selfish reason thrown in the mix too. If she’s not happy, healthy or safe… that will mean… Here’s that word again… Abandonment. And here I thought I was just a very caring person. Self image… Blown. Damn. This writing process just threw me my first revelation. Not one I like, but maybe necessary.

Moving on. I’ve always had this overwhelming urge to protect those I love and care about. I once chased down a guy, tackled him to the ground, put my hands around his neck and told him if he ever did anything like that again I would kill him. All because he threw a stone at my little sister. Well, I feel justified… it almost hit her in the face. My therapist is only the latest in this delusion. I call it a delusion because I can’t even protect myself, so how do I expect to protect others? Logically, I know she doesn’t need protecting, but that’s not the point. What do I need to protect her from? I can’t tell you, because I don’t even know myself. Maybe sometimes from the very person writing this? One day, she jokingly (I hope) said I seem to be a superhero… And now I fell into that trap again. Oh if she could hear me now. But seriously, if I think of anyone hurting her, whether physically or emotionally, I feel I would rip them apart. I’ve done Muay Thai, MMA and Krav Maga, so have a good set of skills I could use for this purpose. Yes, I secretly am a superhero. 😛

The past couple days, I find I’m trying to find someone to “replace” her with. Someone else who I can turn my obsession over to instead. Why can’t things just feel normal? Why must everything be so damn intense or agonizing? Why do I feel the need for an attachment? Why do I get these obsessions? I would love to be rid of that. Yet at the same time, I actually don’t. It’s like a drug. Along with a comment from the above mentioned blogger, one of my best friends told me that at least this is a ‘healthy’ attachment. That if it wasn’t her it might be someone who’s not good for me, as I’ve been in the habit of doing through the years, so I should just accept how I feel instead of trying to fight it. Maybe I must ask my therapist what she thinks about this. It does make sense I guess. It just doesn’t stop the guilt and shame.

While writing this post, I could hear the word all too well… Transference, transference, transference. But the question is… Who, what, where and why?

I was questioning my motivations regarding therapy as well recently, as I currently find myself in a very uncomfortable position. Unable to set a date for a next session due to financial constraints (we’re currently working on sorting this out at least, and I’m on a job hunt). It feels like a loose end not having a date for a session. Bad enough is the fact that even a week without seeing her feels like months. Now with this added complication, I feel horrible and hopeless thinking it might be weeks or months before we can resume our sessions. So I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel this way. The only conclusion I can come to is that yes, while I am slightly obsessed with my therapist, and love just being in her presence, I also know that healing can, and is, taking place. Even if I felt nothing for her, I would want to continue and have as many regular sessions as it takes. I arranged an appointment with a Clinical Psychologist because I was in a desperate place, and I just couldn’t go it alone anymore. So wanting to get help came first. Loving my therapist is a bonus (or a curse, depending on how you look at it). By the way, for those of you who see your therapist twice a week… I’m jealous.

In closing, despite the fact that I would love to know more about her (everything actually), and have her as more than a therapist (I’m pretty sure we’d be able to be friends – don’t get any other ideas – I’m talking to myself here too), I still think our relationship is pretty perfect. As she says, we work well together. Such true words. At the end of the day, I feel supported and cared for. And, for now at least, the joys of this relationship far exceed the frustrations.

Friends and Good Therapy

Today is a good day.

Had a therapy session yesterday, and the wonder that is my therapist, managed to help me shake off the depressive and weird head space I’ve been in lately.

This past week, I’ve been avoiding thinking about all I left behind. Occasionally something would remind me, especially while unpacking and packing. I would have a few minutes of agonizing sadness, without the ability to shed a tear, but would recover relatively quickly. After all, I’ve done this before. I should be used to it by now. Right? But no, each situation is different, and this one I had to do completely on my own. This time I had no one to ‘take care of’ but myself. And this time, it was far more intimate and personal.

I had really needed that session. I felt it had given me a sense of hope again. That things might be hard now, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I can do things to ensure it doesn’t stay that way. I just need to get some structure into my days and life.

Woke up this morning feeling quite positive and lighter than I have in a long time. Met up for coffee with an old friend who I haven’t seen in what feels like forever. You know who you are. 😉 I had forgotten just how good I feel around her. She’s definitely one of those people you need in your life. Someone who builds you up, is fun to be around, really listens, understands, and accepts you just as you are. In short, a truly spectacular person.

One thing I’ve realized in life is that it’s not the quantity of time we spend with people that matters, but rather the quality of that time. That hour yesterday, and the couple of hours today, meant more to me than words can express.

Now that’s the magic of friends and good therapy.

Art Of Feeling

I recently came across some powerful and beautiful digital artwork by an artist who calls herself DestinyBlue, and decided to share some of my favourites.

These images represent my own feelings so well. I’ll name the images as the artist has, and the images will link to the page you can find on her official website. There you can read what inspired her to draw it. Her stories. I’ll then add my own interpretation… What each image represents to me.

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Paint your Wings

Having negative feelings towards myself… Seeing myself as bad, dirty and evil, I sometimes feel the need to prove to others that I’m a pure and good person. An angel, if you will. Maybe I try to convince myself of that too. There’s also a longing to go back to a time before ‘the fall’, as I call it. To regain innocence. To start over. Or to have never existed at all.

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Mute

We’ve all had moments like these. Feeling terrible, but smiling and pretending the sun is shining. This image perfectly represents the story of my life. Wanting help, wanting someone to notice the real ‘me’ beyond the smile. Being ignored or yelled at when trying to express feelings. Eventually learning to keep it locked away instead. Unable to express the emotions I was drowning in.

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Last Piece

When I read DestinyBlue’s description of this piece I was pleasantly surprised by her words in the second paragraph. Years ago I had written something that said the same thing, just in a different way. Her intention for this was for it to be a positive representation. But, as we all know, everyone interprets things differently. To me, I see it as the puzzle that is me. Trying to fit pieces of myself together, without really knowing who ‘me’ is. Sometimes it feels as though a piece fits, only to find later on that it actually doesn’t, and ruins the rest of the image. A constant searching and re-building.

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Sew Closed my Soul

I’m pretty sure there’s never been anyone who’s never had their heart broken in some way. After each loss in my own life, I’ve felt the need to stitch up  my heart. Two motivations: 1) Close the wound, stop the bleeding 2) Don’t let love in anymore. But who can resist love? Connection? It seems to just happen. And when you least expect it. It’s like an obsession. It is an obsession. It’s perfect. Until it’s not. But in the end, every little bit of love is worth it.

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Imprint

The previous image and this one make up a set for me. Every person I’ve ever met has left an imprint on me, whether positive or negative. Whether a healing presence, or destructive force, they’re all still a part of my soul. Right now, this image represents someone specific… Someone who is currently a powerful presence in my life and heart. My therapist. She’s left a great imprint on me… A case of transference perhaps? I don’t know if that matters anyway. Along with this connection I feel towards her, comes a familiar overwhelming fear. Abandonment. Rejection. She’s reassured me before that she’s committed to this process with me, but I fear that now that she knows me better, that might change. That she’ll decide I’m just not worth the trouble after all.

This is my favourite image, and perfectly shows how a person may leave, but their mark on us never disappears.

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All Wrong

Disconnection. Between her feelings and her body. A sense of watching the emotions, the brokenness from a distance, yet it still being a part of her. This is something I have struggled to explain properly even during my therapy sessions. It seems words aren’t sufficient to convey the exact meaning, as I can’t describe it here either. A concept in my mind that I can’t quite express. It’s frustrating. This last image and even the title that the artist has given it, represents where I find myself at this very moment.


There are a few more of these that I connected with, but decided to only share these few.

You can find the rest of her exquisite work at: http://destinyblue.deviantart.com/