Or Then Again, Maybe Not…

I think I’ve got it figured out. I can hear my therapist say that she forgot that my father fucking sodomized me, and I can be okay with it. I can nod and say, “well, sure, you’ve had so many clients over the years…” and “it’s not the details that matter, but the emotional work I need to do.” I can empathize with her fear of being a bad therapist and reassure her that it doesn’t bother me.

Or then again, maybe not.

Having my father’s dick in my mouth when I was in third grade is not a goddamn detail. Having adults fingers in my vagina before I even started school, how can she forget that.

So what does it mean that we have such a long-term relationship? After all that time, what does she know about me? Nothing, really. She has only a vague sense of my experience.

What does she think when I’m walking up the stairs to her office? Oh, there’s Q. She another one of those who experienced some sort of sexual abuse as a kid, and she’s taking longer than most to get over it. But whatever, I can just pull out my stuff on the inner child and soothing and safety. You’ve seen one adult abused as a child, you’ve seen them all. 

Maybe it goes beyond that, says the frightened young girl inside of me: Maybe she doesn’t care about me. I take too long to improve. I am too fussy, too needy, too dirty, too repulsive, too much.

Okay, I know, I’m exaggerating. I’m being petulant and unreasonable. But I suddenly feel a loss of connection. I do wonder, again, if I’m a widget in the therapist machine that is her life. I feel small and meaningless.

It has taken me three and a half days from that therapy session to feel hurt, or to recognize the hurt that was there. A bit slow on the emotional awareness. Or in denial. Or trying to pretend everything is hunky-dory, as usual, pretend it’s all fine and maybe they won’t hate you, maybe they won’t reject you.

E is spending the weekend at the beach with her husband. I suppose it would be better not to text. It would set off her “bad therapist” shit. I don’t want to take away from her weekend. I can wait until Monday.

I think.

Shit.

20 thoughts on “Or Then Again, Maybe Not…

    • One of the things I appreciate about your comments, and your posts on your blog, is that you are very clear about your right to feel hurt or anger. You don’t try to avoid it or reject it. I know you don’t enjoy it (recently read about your wheelchair drives) but you allow it to be there, and you acknowledge that you feel it. That seems like a good thing to do. Thanks for your validation and support.

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      • Thank you for your validation to me as well. And for reading my blog. I struggled at first with anger because I had never been or allowed myself to be angry my entire life so it felt foreign and wrong and made me feel bad about myself. It was a huge turning point when I allowed myself without judgment to just be able to feel justifiable anger about what had been done to me. So when I read blog posts like this one the first thing I want to do is tell you that you have every right to be angry as that is so normal! Our rights were taken away as children. All of them. To be able to be angry now or sad or any emotion feels human.

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  1. It hurts. I was actually surprised you weren’t hurt at first, when I read that other post, because I’d be hurt as all hell.
    It’s allowed to hurt. And I think E knew that it hurt as soon as she said it, which is why she was so apologetic. But that doesn’t make up for it on its own, obviously.
    At the risk of sounding DBT-esque (ew), can you imagine a middle path? One where E does care about you, deeply (think about all the evidence you have of that!) and also made a mistake?
    Okay, it was a big mistake. Massive. I don’t really know how to reconcile it. As I said, if I were you, I’d be hurt as hell. I’d think she didn’t care, too.
    But I just want to be an outside perspective here – This is a risk because I obviously don’t know her in real life – but from what you’ve said over the past year, it seems that she really does care.
    But you’re right – it’s NOT a goddamn detail. I have no idea how she forgot that. It’s a big thing. And it would be good to bring up with her, whenever you see fit.
    Okay, this comment is starting to not make sense. So I’ll leave you with the important part: Hugs. ❤

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    • I think your comment makes sense in the same way my mixed emotions make sense. I’m very attached to her. I’m surprised and confused she didn’t remember. I think maybe all my waffling made it extra confusing. I’m afraid she forgot because it’s gross and I’m gross. I know that makes no sense. I am afraid it’s true anyway. I know she cares. I’m sad because she doesn’t care the same way. I’m lucky to work with a highly skilled therapist. She just kicked my bruise, actually a couple of them. She didn’t mean to. Why didn’t she remember? Of course she didn’t remember; she has loads of clients. All of these things at the same time. So yes, your comment captures it very well; thank you Lily.

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  2. I want to remind you of all the thoughtful things you said to me recently about being hurt by my therapist, and know that all of that applies to you too. I know it often easier to offer that compassion to someone else than to yourself. It is ok to feel deeply hurt, and for it to take as long as it takes, and repeated effort on E’s part, to heal from that.

    I also know that if you have repeatedly had the experience that there was retaliation or things really did turn to shit after you got angry with someone for a legitimate reason that it is very hard not to be afraid of it happening every single time in the future, no matter how supposedly trustworthy the other person is. I’m learning that being able to express anger is a process which takes a long time to learn and that it might come out in some unconstructive ways at first or on ‘safer’ targets than the one you’re really angry with. I say go with it. Express that hurt and anger and loss of connection to E. I don’t think I can say to you whether doing it now or in session is the better thing to do, but keep trying to get your message across again and again until she understands. E seems pretty sturdy – she is capable of dealing with her own anxieties and insecurities in her own time and being what you need in your time.

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    • Oh no! You are throwing my own words back at me! Waaah….

      Okay, I’m kidding. I guess it means that I do know that it’s okay to feel hurt and upset, even with a therapist I also love.

      And you are so right, I have a history of being punished for acknowledging or expressing that I’m upset. My ex-husband was extreme in the emotional abuse he would dish out for this. My stepfather, too. My stepfather is one of those who cuts you down, hard, so you don’t come back a second time. My mom is herself afraid of negative emotions, so she both never modeled healthy expressions of hurt or anger, and she disapproved of my attempts to show them. I know in my head it is okay to be upset with E, while also loving her. But I don’t know it in my heart.

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  3. I did think at the time ” how did she forget something like that? FFS!” However I want to offer another perspective. I know E cares a great deal for you and I wonder whether she’s actually sort of dissociated some of the details of your abuse. It can’t be easy to hear those things from someone you care deeply about or know how badly you’ve been hurt and a way of coping with it is to “forget” the detail. You have every right to be hurt and angry, I would be too. I say send her this post.

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    • Hm, I hadn’t thought of it this way. But just think how many painful stories she hears from different clients. I wonder if forgetting is in part self-protection? It’s hard to take in all that trauma.

      Maybe I’ll send her this or write to her, or bring it to therapy on Monday. I know we’ll need to process it more before I can do other things.

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  4. I want to gently remind you that you are not responsible for her shit. She is responsible for yours. It can be so hard, when we know what their triggers are, to not want to set them off. But in this case she failed to remember a crucial detail about you, and she should have remembered, and you have every right to point it out to her. You do.

    She does care about you, I know that, from all you have written about her. And I have every faith that you will make it through this. I care deeply for you (hopefully that’s okay!) and wish you all the best in sorting through this. I have every belief it will make your relationship stronger xx

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    • Make the relationship stronger… yes, trampling through painful shit together can do that (she says in a snide tone of voice), if you don’t just end up hating each other first.

      Deep breath.

      I know you are right. She cares. I can still be hurt. We will make it through this. All these are true. My sense that we could just go along, wading through deep and difficult things and never getting upset, is just wishful thinking.

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  5. I just lost a long comment, typed on my phone….But suffice it to say, i agree with everyone else and am sending massive hugs. I am sure she cares for you deeply, and you can help your younger self hold on to that. My therapist has done something similar and though it feels inconceivable, i think it’s one of those occasions where the ‘job’ aspect of her role (and everything she tries to hold, and sometimes doesn’t manage) feels at odds with what you mean to each other, and with her role in your life. But they’re not at odds- she makes mistakes but the difference, in my case, is that those mistakes can be repaired in a grown up way with no impact on the relationship and no grudge holding or retribution, which I’m not at all used to. Do talk to her about this, you can both survive it. But my suggestion would be to wait until Monday – you care about her too and though it’s not your responsibility to look after her, she may be in a better place for responding to you once she’s back…..Sending lots of hugs xxx

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    • Thank you, especially for the massive hugs. They are very comforting.

      Unlike when we were in the middle of last summer’s rupture, I do believe we will be all right (I guess I learned that last summer). But I’m not sure what it takes to get us to all right.

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  6. I would be very upset too. I could imagine her forgetting the exact sordid details of your abuse, but not that it was severe and real. When we are with out therapist one of the most important things is the shared reality of our past. I would wait till Monday to call her though. I hope you can work through this with her.

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  7. OMG! Reading this! I know FFS [I learnt that from you, Sirena :-)] that I just don’t get angry yet, still a fraidy-cat. So I would be having a helluva time with this, dear Q, if it was me and my T. But what a simply marvelous gang we have here … I can smell your courage, people, and I want to take it deep into my lungs and heart for when I need it …. So I’m just sending support and thanks to Q and everyone else here. You guys. TS

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    • Ha, you know, I liked the FFS from Sirena too! We may all have to start using it.

      I will breathe in everyone’s courage and bring it with me to therapy today (Monday). Seriously, I will carry your support with me and use it when I feel afraid to speak of my feelings. Thank you!

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  8. I am so glad you’ve gotten in touch with the anger and are no longer numb to it. Do you feel safe enough in your relationship with her to express that anger at her? My counselor told me recently that if I don’t tell him when I’m angry at him that its like telling him he’s weak and cant handle it. I am sooo sorry this happened to you. I agree with what someone else said above. Its not your job to take care of her or worry about her.

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    • Hm, that was a helpful comment from your therapist, wasn’t it? I can imagine that E would also say, “I can handle it.” It wasn’t that long ago that I said something to her about the emotional challenges of her job, and she told me, “I have very good self-care.” She’s not a wimp.

      (And yet, underneath everything, a part of me trembles: “She can take it, yes, and act professional, yes, but she will not like me anymore…”)

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  9. I knew that would eventually come out, I did wonder why you did not feel hurt initially! I’m sorry she forgot, I’d be upset too if Eileen forgot details like that. Best thing to do though is talk to her about it. Let her know your hurting and feeling invalidated and uncard for. and as pd said, your not responsible for her shit! xxx

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