Ruminating

I saw E. again today, the first time I ever saw her two days in a row. She is trying, but she’s obviously shaken by my revelation. She still sat there with her arms tight across her chest for much of today’s session. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t keep looking at her like that. I moved to the floor, facing away from her.

I’m sad. I feel I’ve lost her care and respect. I feel alone. I feel unredeemable. If she can’t be open and hold my horribleness in a compassionate container, then it’s because there is no possibility of redemption.

And I’m mad! She made me think I could trust her. She told me she would feel the same about me no matter what. It wasn’t true though. That’s not what I saw her body saying.

I’m ashamed. I’m so repulsive that even a caring, competent therapist wants to retreat.

“What do you need from me?” she asked me today.

“Comfort. Reassurance.” I told her. It is very rare that I know what I need.

Maybe she thought she was offering comfort and reassurance, I don’t know. I just know that I don’t feel comforted or reassured. She tells me that doing something bad is not the same as being bad, but I think she talked too much about doing something bad, and each time it was another knife in my heart. I can feel how much she disapproves. I disapprove too, of course. But I wish she didn’t.

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54 thoughts on “Ruminating

      • I understand what you mean, hun. I’m so sorry if it came across as invalidating your pain now, I hope that was not the case and if so, I’m so incredibly sorry for that. Let the pain out, really, don’t bottle it up. It’s a bump in the road and I am more than sire that you will be able to sort it out with E. As always, wishing you the best ❀

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          • I may have shared this before…….Bea sometimes uses a weather analogy to help me keep perspective. She says just like the weather, our feelings and our states of mind, where we are at, change and shift. I always hate that analogy. It feels invalidating to me when I’m in a certain mindset, but I thought I would throw it out there in case it is helpful.

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  1. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Something else in her life may have also happened, and that might be coming across in her body language. I highly doubt she stopped caring or respecting you. She seems like too good of a therapist to do that. Give it some time, or ask her about your concerns.

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  2. I think you have every right to be mad. I am mad for you. You both made promises to secret. I agree that it would be good to talk to her about what you are picking up, and how its coming across for you. The fact that she is trying does say something -she might be redeemable…. You already were there, she just needs to catch up.

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      • I am on your side. I think she probably is too, but is screwing up a little in passing that info along. its ok, people screw up, I just hate that its causing you additional yuck. I can’t say for sure how I would react, but I deal with a lot of really, really yucky stuff everyday through my work. I get to see it all, the stuff people don’t want to see/know. And I do mean “get to” because it allows me an opportunity to find compassion and understanding and love for humanity, even when a natural response would be otherwise. I have to remind myself sometimes that the price is worth it. So, dear Q, I believe I would still be firmly on your side. You are welcome to try me if that would help.

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        • I know people screw up. I know that even therapists have topics they can’t handle well. But I have so much shame and I feel her judgment. I might be exaggerating it, that is certainly possible, but I’m not wrong that it exists.

          I don’t think I’m going to try telling anyone else, though it’s incredibly kind of you to offer.

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          • I am sorry she is judging you. That is not ok. You don’t need that on top of your own. I hope you are still able to find some compassion for yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone anything, its your secret. Even with her mishandling of it, I hope with secret out, depression has retreated some. I’m guessing Self Loathing is feeling justified. I don’t think she is, but I kind of suck at that myself.

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          • Self-Loathing was hoping that she was wrong, that E. would say it was okay. And to be fair, I think she did say I was okay. But she said the behavior was not okay too many times. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. I can’t currently separate the behavior and me. I fear the behavior epitomizes who I am.

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          • I don’t think it is who you are. But separating it is really difficult to do. Learning how to forgive ourselves too… I know its possible, but I haven’t figured it out. We are more then how we act, our worth is not determined by that. Easier said then believed. I don’t know if its ok to tally, but if you do, there are a lot more things in your “okay” column then your “not okay.”

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  3. I’m with E. Nice, I’m ready to kick some ass.
    You are so courageous to share your secret, and she should be nothing less than fucking honored and humbled you shared
    It. Which I actually believe she is. Very tough stuff,no doubt your mind wants to convince you she is disgusted. I’m not saying your concerns aren’t valid, just offering that perhaps this is grey. And I’ll still kick some ass. I’m on the west coast, just tell me when
    and where and I’m there.

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    • I sent her a text that said, “I can clearly see this is hard for you too, and that is scaring me.” But then an hour later I sent another one that said, “Never mind.”

      Thanks for wanting to kick ass. I feel so disappointed that the best she can do right now is express her confidence that I will keep trying to get better. Blech. That sounds so wimpy when I really need some emphatic reassurance.

      She is only human though, I shouldn’t blame her…

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      • Aww, that text was so brave. I’m glad you sent it. I am glad you are honoring your feelings. It is so scary to think they aren’t there for us or supportive when we really need them to be. Hmm, yes I want her to be stronger for you. Much stronger.
        I think you can blame her, it is okay to want more from her. You can see her humanness, and that part of you who needs strength, can absolutely be upset with her for whatever is going on. Both can exist, both are valid.

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        • She wrote back saying, “I can handle this–really. You take good care of yourself.” But that made me mad too, and I just texted back, “I don’t feel confident about that. All I can see is your closed up body language, yesterday and today, arms tight across your chest to protect yourself against my horribleness.” And then I hit send. And I can’t believe I am picking a fight with her via text. Maybe I just want connection, I want her to pay attention even if I am pissing her off. Exactly like the angry, confused, stupid 14/15 year old that did bad things in the first place.

          WAhhhhh…. Rachel, I have read your posts when you are suffering because of the nature of your connection to your therapist, and I so admire and envy your ability to cope and talk yourself down from the anxiety and hurt.

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          • You know what, Q, text or not, I am so glad you are getting your feelings out!! This is the therapeutic relational work; it sucks and it feels horrible but it is vital to share these feelings. I say go you for sending that text! She can handle it. She WILL handle it. Because, my offer still stands πŸ™‚
            And talking myself down is hellacious, but has gotten easier over time. Not easy yet, but does get easier.

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          • Ok, another update at 11pm. We texted back and forth for a while.

            Me: I don’t feel confident about that. All I can see is your closed up body language, yesterday and today, arms tight across your chest to protect yourself against my horribleness.

            E: Oh, dear Q [obviously she doesn’t really call me Q], I’m not going anywhere. I don’t need protection from your horribleness. I adore and respect you. I am not offended, disgusted or turned off by who you are – truly. I am in awe of your honesty, integrity and drive toward wholeness. If anything I am more drawn to you as a result of your vulnerability, than away from you. You can believe this or not, of course, your choice.

            Me: This is fucking scary.

            E: I see that. Sure wish I had the magic thing that would make it easier and less scary. They don’t call this the dark night of the soul for nothing!

            [etc etc, edited for brevity…]

            Me: I might need you to tell me repeatedly that you aren’t too disgusted to work with my anymore. It’s a very big fear… I’m sorry, don’t want to be a bother, but I can see that this won’t be resolved tonight.

            E: I’ll tell you as often as you ask. I DO NOT FIND YOU DISGUSTING. I like you very much. (I’m not yelling, just being playfully emphatic.)

            (etc., etc. until we said good night)

            I feel better, for tonight at least.

            No ass kicking for now, Rachel, but I do so appreciate the offer!! Thank you – and thanks everyone for the warm support. It’s incredible and feels like a big hug, which I really needed.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Not really picking a fight. Just an observation. So just be curious about her response and don’t attach a feeling (shame, hurt, etc). Just be curious and breathe. Remember to breathe and take yourself to yoga. You are not your past. πŸ’œ

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          • Theoretically, I agree with this. Practically, I’m not feeling it right now. The past feels alarmingly close to the present. I know it won’t always be this way though.

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          • Yes, actually. We’ve texted daily (also a completely new thing for our relationship). She invited me too, and I kind of wanted to resist but I also wanted the reassurance. So yesterday evening I wrote: “Hi, I’m jsut checking that you’re still there.” And she responded, “Right here. Still liking you!” and we sent a couple of follow up messages back and forth. This afternoon I wrote again: “I know you are probably working, so I’m not holding my breath for a response. but I like knowing you will still be there. So maybe later you can tell me that again. (I swear I won’t keep doing this for very long.)” She answered: “I’m here, not bothered. I care deeply for your recovery of trust. I’ll keep being here.” Then tonight she initiated with “Still here, in case you’re wondering.” This is very sweet. But of course I can’t read doubt or disapproval on her face when she sends a text (still fearing that it might be there).

            Thanks for asking!

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          • Look at what happened when you opened up – your relationship is at a new level of intimacy and connection and communication. I love her responses to you (the playful emphatic part is so cute), and I love even more that you are asking and sharing your fears. This is all just so touching to me. Well done, friend. Well done.

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  4. You can blame her. You can also be sure that she is only human. Both can be true. Of course, I am disappointed in her and how things are playing out. I agree with Rachel; you shared your most horrific and precious secret. She should feel honored that you trusted her that much. I’m so sorry that this is happening. You deserved better. No matter what the secret is, you deserved better. Xx

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  5. We have all done things we regret, even her. It is not her that needs persuading of your goodness, it is you. She cannot give you what you need, only you can. There is light in you. I see it, everyone here see it… : )

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    • I know you are right. I have to give the acceptance to myself. But since that is still far off, in the meantime, she models it for me. And I have to say, the last few days, she has been very good about it, more than good, extraordinarily patient and kind.

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      • Oh yes. After I wrote that I so remembered how imperative it was that past therapists be completely accepting of me without reservation, because I certainly wasn’t. To this day it is a job I work at.
        I so admire that you wrote her how you felt about the crossed arms. Once again my admiration of you shines. That you do such self advocacy! It gives me strength to try to do the same.

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  6. It’s so fucking hard when the one place you’re supposed to be safe suddenly (feels like it) isn’t. I saw your comments above where you texted back and forth with E., so it sounds like the processing is happening. It sucks that her reaction was so strong, especially since we become so very sensitive to all the nuances of the therapist’s reactions.

    I did a terrible thing a long time ago of which I am deeply ashamed and it is intimately connected to my trauma. Once, and only once, I got up the courage and determination to tell my then-therapist to try to start processing it. But when I started the story, my therapist saw how hard it was for me to tell, and told me “You don’t have to tell me this. This isn’t the kind of thing you have to tell me.” And I backed off so fast that I pretty much fell off a cliff. That doesn’t change the fact that I did a terrible and wrong thing. I still have to live with that. But I don’t know if I will ever have the courage to even approach it again. Q, I admire you so much for working so hard on your relationship with E., to trust her enough to tell her your secret, and to be fighting forward past her initial reaction to get back to an equilibrium with her. That trusting therapeutic relationship is absolutely vital to the work. I am in awe of your courage. And look: the secret is told. That massive hurdle has been jumped. Now you keep moving. Wow. ❀ ❀ ❀

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    • I read this comment this morning but couldn’t respond on my phone. But it blew me away. I was thinking of what it takes to get to that edge of almost telling. It’s very hard. I know for me, it was literally making me sick for several weeks. Thank god she didn’t then tell me not to tell it; instead she kept telling me that telling was going to open a door to getting through it. So that’s what I did.

      It is so sad that you got to that edge and then weren’t given the space and permission to safely share it. (Maybe Rachel will go kick that therapist’s ass for you?? She’s great at finding that balance between righteous indignation and deep compassion.)

      It is true that I didn’t/don’t feel better right away. It is true that I scrutinized her for signs that she was disgusted by me, that she couldn’t respect me anymore. And I felt I saw them, though who knows what I was projecting on her and what she was actually communicating.

      Through texts the last few days, she has been a steady and comforting presence. Tonight she send a text without me asking for one, “Still here, in case you’re wondering :)” She wants to make it okay for me. And even if it’s not all okay right away, I do believe it will be. Or at least I want to believe that.

      Who knows what comes next? God I hope it was worth the telling.

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      • Yes, I hope and believe it was worth the telling. And even if E was thrown by it at first, it sounds like she is being so good about regaining her own balance and being the “steady and comforting” presence you need. I am so glad.

        I have thought a lot about how therapists react to things. For me, personally, I like a therapist who takes most things in stride, but not one who is completely impassive. When I am telling a story and working so hard to minimise or justify or downplay what was done to me, sometimes I really need a therapist who can’t hide a reaction and says “No, that was awful, that should never have been done to you or any child!” Sometimes I need a therapist to feel and express outrage or hurt on my behalf. But someone who has the capacity to do that will then also be open to being outraged if I myself did an awful thing, right? And they maybe can’t always hide that reaction, like in E.’s case…. but then to trust that they will come back to the equilibrium again and carry on with the work… I don’t know. I think I am mixing up my story and yours a little bit here.

        Thanks for your reply. It was indeed awful to be stopped. I am so amazed and proud and inspired that you told, and also by how you are handling the aftermath.

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        • I agree, I also need a therapist who isn’t easily reactive, but will react when it is an obvious time to do so – not a “blank slate” so to speak. I think they can show outrage on our behalf, but not at our behavior – I do think that is possible. And yes, give me the address. I’m on it. I can’t believe a therapist encouraged you not to share something you wanted to. That disappoints me, and I am sorry that happened. I am sorry there are not more strict regulations and testing requirements for therapists. I’ve had my share of unethical and immoral misconduct by therapists. It is very damaging.

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          • “Show outrage on our behalf but not at our behaviour” — this times a gazillion. Exactly.

            Thanks for your kind words about my therapist. I quit seeing him cold turkey about 10 months ago because of another horrible thing he said to me, and I have been struggling in my mind ever since about the letter I want to write to him. I might take a page from Q’s book and run it through my blog first for feedback.

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        • I would support you writing a letter. It might be helpful to write it and get some validation here, whether or not you choose to send it. If you do send it, that could be really good for you, and maybe good for him, too, if he’s able to take it as feedback and use it to improve.

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  7. I’m so sorry that you’re going through such a hard time. All I can offer is my love and support. I hope that that is enough. *BIG HUG* You’re so brave for opening up and for wanting to recover. I see you as a source of determination and hope for myself.

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    • I love this, thank you. I’m so touched by the support people are offering, and I reread these comments when I feel shaky during the day. So yes, offering your love and support is very valuable, thank you. Hugs, Q.

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      • I’m glad that you’re able to look at these again when you’re down. Know that there are people who care for you (like me) even though we may not know each other very well. I was in therapy today and I thought about you too. I know what you’re going through is hard. But just knowing there are people who support you is a comfort. Glad I could help somehow. Sometimes I feel so powerless and I’m glad that my words were helpful.

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        • You know I am going throw these words back at you one of these days: “Know that there are people who care for you (like me).” Because I do feel that way about you, too. You aren’t powerless. Your kindness and understanding make you powerful, in fact.

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          • Thank you Q! πŸ™‚ You’re amazing and I think that reading your blog helps me be strong too because I know that there is someone else alongside me who is battling as furiously as I am. πŸ˜€ We both may have different circumstances but we certainly aren’t alone!

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  8. its so hard when you feel alone and scared and vulnerable. i am sorry it felt like that. i know you’ve worked it out now though. I’m happy you have. Its good you were able to say what you needed. Thats the first step. XX

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