My Therapist Isn’t Sick Of Me

So here I am on Wednesday, obsessing over the way E doesn’t like me anymore and is sick of working with me in therapy. It seems irrational, but I genuinely feel it with my entire body, and my thoughts are disorganized and consumed. I am also waiting for her to call me and feeling embarrassed that I had asked for a call.

She calls around noon. “How are you doing?”

“Um, not so good.” At least I didn’t say “okay” as I so often do.

“I’m sorry,” she says in a sympathetic voice. “Can you tell me about it?”

And I freeze up. What can I say? It doesn’t even make any sense. I’m too embarrassed to say, “you don’t like me anymore.” So there is a long pause.

“Hard to talk about it?” Her voice is still warm and patient.

I end up blathering a bit about how I’m sorry, I’m bothering her, and I don’t know what to say. And I’m cringing even as I hear myself. I’ve regressed suddenly to an inarticulate girl.

“Do you want me to call you again later, on my next break? That will probably be around 3:00.”

“Yes, thanks, that’s good.” I tell myself, by then I can think about what I want to say. We say goodbye, and I berate myself for being tongue tied. Then I try to distract myself by cleaning up the kitchen and reading responses to my post (thank you everyone who sent me encouragement).

She calls me back later, as promised. We started by talking about the nice weather, a break in the early rains we have been experiencing lately. I say I’m sitting on my back porch and watching several hummingbirds.

“So what’s going on for you?” she eventually asks.

I take a deep breath. “I’m feeling really insecure about our relationship,” I tell her. But I can’t get more specific.

“Oh,” she says, kindly. “That’s so hard.” She also gives me a bit of reassurance about how she’s not going anywhere.

Since I find I still can’t bring myself to describe what all I’m experiencing, but I don’t want to leave things as they are, I ask her if it would be all right to share a couple of recent blog posts with her. It’s actually been a few months since I’ve shared much of anything. She thinks that’s a good idea and wonders if she should call me again after she’s read them.

“Maybe,” I tell her. “I’ll let you know.” I email her No Major Decisions, Confused but Trying and Losing It, three recent posts about my uneasiness in our relationship. It feels really scary to share them with her without editing them to soften the intensity of my feelings or to make them sound less unhappy with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I don’t want her to hate me (if she doesn’t already). But I tell myself that if she can’t handle my feelings, even the unpleasant ones, then she really isn’t the right therapist for what I need right now, and I might as well find out. So I send them as they are, with the comments I had received up to then (but not with names attached to comments). I write her a message to go with the posts:

Hi E,

I have a LOT of hesitation and fear about sharing my thoughts with you. I’m so afraid of alienating you. I’m afraid of appearing unappreciative (though I am deeply, deeply grateful to you). I’m afraid you will be repulsed and turn away from me. 
At the same time, all this horrible shit is in me, and by sharing it with you, I am trusting you, that you can hold it and bear it and not hate me for it. It’s a risk. i know I need to take risks or everything will keep on being the same.
Last night and this morning, I was on fire with these feelings. As I mention in the third post, those flames could certainly have been fueled by venlafaxine torture, though I know it’s not only that either. I’m a bit better this afternoon, but I worry it will get worse again late at night, and then I’ll be mad at myself for not sharing with you.
I am sorry for being difficult. 
— Q.

 

She wrote back, not much later.

Hi Q,

Thanks for sending these posts. I hear your distress, distrust, and fear. I’m so sorry all these negative emotions are stirred up in you. Sounds tortuous. I loved your posts. I like how you sort out your feelings using this tool. I like the support you receive in return.
Let me tell you that I see you as brave, vulnerable, and genuinely interested in feeling good. I will stand by your side, or sit on the couch next to you, while you do this work of becoming whole. You may always struggle with depression, but let’s work to continue to build skills which help you respond wisely and intentionally to your depression. It doesn’t have to run you. And this work can take as long as it needs to take, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not tired of you. I care deeply for you. I don’t care if you stay in therapy with me until I retire – and no plans for that anytime soon. You are precious, really precious. You have been deeply hurt and wounded by the actions of others. I will stay invested in helping you heal.
I’m sorry that my requests activated some of your old pain and doubt. You can have the Monday evening time, as I told you, and I did hear your preference about this. As you know, I have needs and will continue to make requests for my needs to be heard. I want to help you practice speaking for your needs, as you did on Monday. I’m sorry about the confusion about the affirmations ovals. I very well may have told you you could keep the ones I gave you. It wasn’t until several weeks ago, when looking for them, I realized I had given you my original set. I wish I had been more careful in my offer. You have done nothing wrong about either the schedule or the affirmations. Your needs and my needs will sometimes clash. Our individual jobs are to do our best at speaking up about those needs in a way that doesn’t cause pain. I’m sorry for causing your some pain in the way I made my requests.
I would love for you to continue to work with me. I look forward to our sessions. I like you.
Thanks for risking, being vulnerable and inviting yourself to growth, especially when it’s hard. You are awesome! or as someone shared with me:
badass

28 thoughts on “My Therapist Isn’t Sick Of Me

  1. Your post made me tear up because you took such a big risk and her response sounds very genuine and supportive and reassuring. And then I smiled really widely at “you are a badass motherfucking sorcerer of divine light” because that is just absolutely fucking awesome. You are working so hard to be vulnerable and I really hope her response was reassuring for you. E sounds like she really cares about you and values you and wants to work with you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well, I can thank you. I was thinking about sending her the posts but thought it might be too much. But you encouraged me to consider it, and that helped me decide to take the risk.

      I do feel good about her response, at least now I do. The first time I read it, I thought, “I am such a sack of shit. I really am,” and I went to bed for several hours. Can I explain that reaction? No. But it’s how I felt. Later on, though, I read it again, I thought, “what a kind and understanding response,” which is more like the reaction one would anticipate. Because it really is a very compassionate response. Plus, I love the idea of being a badass motherfucking sorcerer of divine light.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow that took courage to send her your honest posts. I love that you did that. That is how a relationship should be and she in return sent a caring compassionate response. This was all really amazing to read this morning!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad she recognises how lucky she is to be working with you. And her response is very attentive – I like that she picked up on the point about sitting next to you on the couch. I hope that this has helped to quiet your fears, but I also know that emotions respond to vulnerability in unpredictable ways, so I will remind you that you are kind and lovely and we are all here if the voices start telling you otherwise.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Exactly, she definitely gets therapist brownie points for the part about being willing to sit on the couch with me. As I wrote to Sophia (above), my initial reaction was that the email was proof I was worthless, but with a little more time, I did find it calming. I am still nervous about our session on Monday but also a bit hopeful at the same time.

      Like

  3. I love that photo. I am going to make it the background of my phone — because we ARE badass motherfucking sorcerers.

    Q, it is so vulnerable and risky sharing when we aren’t sure what we will get in return and when sharing hasn’t been something that felt good in our lives. I applaud the risk you took and I am so so glad her response was what it was.

    I sometimes find the most growth happens when I disagree with or have trouble with A – for valid reasons – and we find the courage to share and work through it together.

    You have been wonderfully brave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you PD. Though to be honest, it didn’t feel so much “brave” as “desperate.” I just could not stand it; something had to give. I feel fortunate that she responded so well. And I love the picture, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Her response really touches me, it is so warm and open and humble and honest. I hope her sentiments went straight to the aching parts of your heart. I am so inspired by your courage, in sending her the posts. That took some serious gusto, Q.

    Like

    • It was a really kind, gentle response. I feel E heard me and honored my emotions (reasonable or not). No existentialist shit this time; just a non-defensive response that allows me and also her to have the needs we have. I have re-read it a number of times and each time, I focus on a different part of it and feel I can learn something additional. I’m grateful to her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I chuckled at “no existentialist shit this time.” Maybe that works for other clients she works with, likely it does. But I completely get where you are coming from, it would drive me bonkers too.

        Like

    • I am noticing that I want to take any comment about “courage” and turn it away: oh no, I’m not brave, are you kidding, I’m constantly crawling in my bed and hiding from the world as much as possible. It feels really uncomfortable to apply the concept of courage to myself. I guess maybe being honest with my therapist is about as brave as I can be these days, and it’s better than continuing to hide and pretend. But not anymore so than everyone else is doing in their own therapy work.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m happy she was the one to say it.
    About 6 years ago now, when my Lupus really got bad, I asked my therapist if he was going to hang in with me or if he’d like a get out now card. I knew things were about to really get ugly and the last thing I needed was someone who would quit on me. He said, I will hang in and do my job as your therapist. I thought, we’ll see.
    My therapist, and it sounds like yours, have a vested interest in the work they do. We aren’t toys that get old, we don’t have problems beyond their training. That combination makes for solid treatment.
    I’m really happy you took the step to tell her how you are feeling.
    I’ve asked Dr D at least once a year since then if he is still in this with me. The insecurities are fewer and not as strong as before.

    Faith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, it’s very helpful and reassuring to hear that a therapist is not tired of you or overwhelmed by your challenges. It gives you a solid base, which is very stabilizing when everything else is shaky. I am grateful that E is willing to give me that same reassurance (repeatedly). I’m sure I’ll need it again at some point, too (and don’t know if I’ll make it a full year before asking for it, like you do!). Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s helpful to be able to compare to what it’s like for others.

      Like

  6. Pingback: I Think I’ll Be Healthy For A While | la quemada

  7. Wow! This was an intense post to read. Thank you so much for sharing as I really got a lot out of it. As a therapist myself, I really appreciated your honesty and explaining how you felt about your relationship with yours. It seems like you two are doing great work together and I hope you continue to do so in the future. Thanks for sharing! I followed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind comment (and the follow). E and I are, indeed, doing great work together, though it can get pretty rocky at times. It means everything to me that she sticks with me in spite of the difficulties.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s