Rejection and Doubt in Therapy

At what point do we look at the broken thing and acknowledge it cannot be unbroken?

Screenshot_20180203-104947
Just a drawing I’ve done and am feeling today.

I had therapy again yesterday; we were trying twice a week for a while, trying to repair the damage. I guess now we are going  back to once a week, that is, if I go Monday. As it stands, I’m just not really able to separate all the different voices in my head, to figure out what it is that I really want and need. At the end of this I’ll definitely ask if you all still think I need to move on (because that seems to be the case, overwhelmingly).

This last session, C and I colored together again. We had a laugh about her eye coloring page. I colored a turtle with palm trees. I managed to color precisely 3 trees. I was really moving along at turtle speed.

We talked a little bit about my having called the doctor and switching my medicine; they messed up prescribing Prazosin for someone with irregular sinus tachycardia (this isn’t a big deal usually; it just means my resting heart rate is almost never below 130 off meds and it’s usually between 150-200 when not medicated).  The Prazosin, as you might recall, caused my BP to plummet but my heart rate remained incredibly high. The fact that I usually take a beta blocker to slow my heart rate, meant that I couldn’t take both. Long story short, the doc changed the med. I told C about this yesterday.

She finally asked me what all my allusions to a “heart thing” were about. And I told her, it’s nothing really, just my heart beats too fast and sometimes skips beats or beats extra. They couldn’t find underlying secondary causes.

She said, “I don’t mean this to sound insensitive but have they considered it might be the anxiety?”

I told her, “I’ve been telling them it’s probably anxiety since they found it when I was 17; they don’t care about that. According to them, it doesn’t matter, what matters is the damage that could be done with my heart consistently overworking like that.” Regardless of a mental or medical cause, it isnt normal. And, yes, I found the comment dismissive and insensitive, but we moved on.

We talked about some feeling I’ve had recently that reminded me of the way my mom used to make me feel. And we talked about how it meant I didn’t get taken care of and how I felt unworthy of being treated like a human. I don’t really remember the specifics of that; I think I checked out for that part of the conversation. I do remember at some point during this exchange, however, me saying,

“I should have just kept it to myself” and her responding, “but you aren’t responsible for my emotional reactions to you.”

Except, yes, it does kind of feel that way; that the container needs to be big enough to accommodate both of our emotional reactions because she isn’t containing her own well enough.

At the end, I showed her the finished piece of art that I was working on last session. I told her she could have it if she wanted, but I was sure she would say no. Sure enough, she said,

“it isn’t that I’m saying ‘no’ indefinitely; it’s just that it would probably have to just go in your file. So maybe hold onto it until I have a place where it could go.”

That’s a diplomatic, “no.” I don’t want to think about my art, a part of me, something I poured some part of my heart into, being stuck in a raggedy file folder. Brought in and out of a filing cabinet/drawer. It deserves more respect than that. So, I said, “Yeah, no, that’d be a waste.”

We hugged and I left. On the drive home it set in just how rejected and dismissed I actually felt that session. I know that the ethical, boundaried gray areas aren’t easy to navigate but if one were to just be human and respond in a kind, human way, we would have so little issues.

This leaves me with the following voices playing war in my mind:

1) I’m just something, someone to be stuffed into a file.

2) I’m just a paycheck

3) If she really cared, she would have asked about the offering of the gift, the motivation, prior to turning it down (even if diplomatically)

4) Nothing either of us does at this point is going to be right for either of us. In fact, she said, “I don’t think it’s doing any good for me to answer all of your questions.” And she said, “it can feel like a lot of pressure to be analyzed so closely.” This was in response to a text that I sent that said, “I hope the honesty/openness applies to the hugs, too. I know the push-pull exists there, too. But, also, I don’t ever want obligatory hugs. It means a lot to me that I get to choose when and how I am touched and by whom. And that it is safe, even if we are in a rocky patch. But, even still. I need you to please just tell me if you’re ever not really feeling human contact. We’d probably have to deal with hurt, rejected parts but… truth is still preferable.” And her response was “truth it is :)” I know she was being kind but the English teacher in me couldn’t get past the fact that with or without a comma the meaning of that sentence changes. As a general rule, I never correct the grammar of friends and fellow adults but I brought my concern up to her anyway. This apparently made her feel a lot of pressure. Maybe I am too much for her.

5) Everything felt so right in the beginning: the validation, the teaching skills and mindfulness, the emails (I’m awful at auditory retention; I literally need visual supplement), the encouragement, the holding onto hope, etc. If that was possible then, surely it’s possible again.

6) I don’t want to lose the hugs. I know that one is small and silly but it is part of the narrative.

7) I finally felt like I found someone who, at first, was attuned enough to “get it” and get me. Now that’s gone. Or flipped, I’ve become more attuned to her.

8) She specializes in co-dependency, trauma/abuse, and shame; all of which I struggle with, so I thought she’d be a good fit. This makes me wonder if I’m the problem. Or, if she specializes in those things because she, herself, still struggles with them and is using her clients to heal herself.

9) Along with 8, my therapy isn’t a space for her to figure out her boundaries.

10) Maybe I’ve just found someone to reenact all my past hurts with and maybe that’s why I’m so reluctant to leave. I’m falling for the therapy because it’s familiar and comfortable.

11) We are probably both in over our heads. I don’t think she had any idea what she was getting into with me.

12) We are all human. Any therapist is going to make mistakes. Part of me wants to stay and see what this could grow into, even if it means risking it falling apart.

13) I’m tired of running. How do I know this is a time when it’s actually justified to run?

14) her presence, in person, despite a long period of coldness has finally started to feel warm, to feel good, to be something which some part of me craves.

15) I’m all alone with my needs when I leave the room (except, of course, I have my friends. I have the support network I built on my own, without her help… Except that, at that point, I did feel like she was a secure base, until she mucked that up).

16) I think, somehow, despite the hurt and confusion, I’m already attached in some kind of way. Even if it’s just parts of me which are attached. I’m scared of the hurt that’s going to happen walking away. But my life has literally started falling apart, not getting better.

17) She is very, very knowledgeable which I admire, appreciate, and need in a therapist. I’m difficult in that regard. I need my therapist to know as much as me or more than me, which is maybe pretentious and arrogant but I won’t feel like they’re able to properly challenge me otherwise; they’ll fall into my traps and we will end up playing the same ole games.

18) Maybe that means C wasn’t as resistant as I thought, because I think she has fallen into the traps, too. I don’t mean to set the traps. They’re just there to protect me, to get my needs met. I know they’re maladaptive. And I don’t know I’m doing it in the moment. I can only see it in the collateral damage afterward. But, regardless, I need someone perceptive enough, attuned enough, objective enough to not fall into the rabbit hole with me.

I think I already know the right decision…. I’m just scared to make it…

11 Thoughts

  1. I don’t know if I’m in a place to give you advice about the “best” decision for you or if my own biases are coloring my opinions in an unhelpful way. I certainly sense how torn you feel. You have very real concerns, especially regarding the boundaries, but it also sounds like there are some valid reasons keeping you there. I’m curious, have you spoken to her about wanting to leave? Do you feel like you would be able to accept any of her perspective on how to know for you when it is to terminate (or in your words, to run)? You don’t have to shoulder this decision alone.

    I would hate for you to stay in a situation that isn’t helping you, but I would also hate for you to end a relationship prematurely if you do feel she has the capacity in the skills to help you. I think that would only reinforce your difficulty with attachment and criticism of yourself as someone with traps people to fall into. But then again, I don’t know you like you know you. Only you know if you’ve reached your tolerance for all of this. Sorry if none of this was helpful. I know it can be so difficult to hold all of this alone between sessions, and she did handle communicating that change so poorly, but don’t forget that you do have a support system. You said so. Lean on them and yourself as much as you can. We’re all here on WP hoping for the best for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like she can’t contain her emotions right now. I think that’s the biggest issue. In last night’s session, her phone buzzed. She silenced it but gave a look. I gave her a look that said, “what was that about?” She said, “a person who just cancelled is calling.” I said, “well, maybe they changed their mind.” And she responded, “perhaps they knew I was annoyed.” That, to me, is an even bigger red flag than all my red flags. I get having feelings and being annoyed but… as she said, we, the clients shouldn’t have to feel responsible for her feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oof, yes, definitely a red flag. Definitely crossing a few boundaries by sharing her feelings with you and discussing another client. What trust issues that would create for me! I forget if I have asked this before, but is she fairly young? I wondered if this a case of inexperience in not knowing how to handle any of this competently.Either way, not on you to overcome.

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        1. She is older than me but I don’t know her specific age. She has been doing this 7 years or so. Long enough, I’d think, to be competent with these things.

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          1. Mm, yes. Mistakes are inevitable, as you said, but some of those are ethically inappropriate in ways I would think even the greatest of rookies would know to avoid.

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  2. Oh KD, my heart hurts for you. It sounds truly agonizing.

    My first thought in all of this is she’s feeling overwhelmed and annoyed (not with you in particular, but with all clients in general). Yes, we’re all human and there are certain times where we are going to be annoyed and frustrated, but the difference is that she is a therapist, and that means she needs to contain her annoyance and frustration to some degree when she is with clients and if she can’t do that then she needs to seek outside therapy for herself.

    I can’t help but suspect that she is having problems in her personal life that are flowing over into her therapy relationships. And that in my opinion, is not okay, especially if she is telling clients that’s she’s annoyed with other clients. How does she think you will take that? If T told me other clients annoyed and/or frustrated him, I would automatically feel that he feels the same way about me and I would head for the door ASAP.

    I was having issues with therapy and life in general this week and I cancelled on my T. He didn’t tell me he was annoyed or frustrated whatsoever. He sat me down and told me that it happens and if I ever need to take a break he understands completely and his door would always be open for me.

    As for analyzing her. Wouldn’t that be expected? I constantly analyze my T. What is he thinking? What is he implying in his message? Is he mad at me? Is he going to leave me all alone? Do I annoy the everliving shit out of him? I ask him and sometimes he laughs, but he never gets annoyed or tells me I’m trying to analyze him for it. I don’t know, but she seems to be very defensive for a T (at least that’s how I read it).

    I definitely think you need to have a serious conversation with your T about your feelings of leaving the relationship and I don’t think you should do it for her benefit, but more for you. You are not a problem, KD, not a problem whatsoever. It’s just that you have some problems that you need help with and I think you deserve to get the best help you can get. I’m just not sure if you’re getting what you need and a conversation about leaving may help you figure out if you want to keep working with her, or look for someone else.

    Did you ever think of printing your postings and bringing them with you to your sessions? When I’m having a really hard time and can’t bring myself to speak out loud, I’ll write out long letters and T and I will go through them together. Do you think that would be an option for you?

    You’ve done a lot of work and while it might not feel like it (I’m sure right now it feels like your entire world is imploding), maybe this recent rupture will end up being a good thing. In the end I think you will just know what the right decision should be. Whatever you choose to do, will be okay.

    I’m thinking of you KD. Take good care of yourself. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are incredibly perceptive. She most definitely has a lot going on in her own life and it’s definitely spilling over into her therapy relationships. That’s been the one thing she has not, as of yet, been willing to own or see.

      And you’re right about the analyzing. I guess being blamed is so natural to me that I just sort of accepted that, yeah, I must be doing something wrong. But, actually, I’m not. It’s maybe her inability to look at what her own response means that is the issue here. Because, generally speaking, I make it a point not to judge or criticize others. In therapy, however, I thought it was supposed to be safe to express all my concerns, even if they’re as small but apparently critical, as a missing comma. Because that changes the meaning and one version could mean rejection.

      I have tried to bring up leaving. She doesn’t ever have much to say about it, just if that’s my choice, then let her know. Maybe it is how I have been framing it. I did take your advice though. I typed up a letter for next session, that deals with all of these feelings and insists that we tackle the ones I feel are most pressing. I make it clear that next session could be my last because I don’t feel I’m getting the care I deserve.

      I really, really appreciate my WP friends. I can call y’all that, right? Your perspective and thorough responses have been so, so valuable. Thank you!

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      1. Good morning KD,

        I hope all goes well today and you can start moving past all of this–either with your current therapist or with someone else.

        Can you do something for me? Can you ask yourself the following questions? Maybe they will help you with your decision (I ask myself these all the time when I feel like running away).

        1. Do you trust her? If not, do you think you ever could? (this one could take a really long time and come and go throughout–I’m on year 3 and it still waivers).

        2. Do you feel safe with her? If not, do you think it’s possible?

        3. Do you feel like you could tell her anything and it would be okay? T tells me I can think and feel and say whatever I like and as long as I don’t punch him in the face we’re going to be okay.

        4. Do you feel judged by her? Do you think it’s legit judgement if you do? Or is some other factor playing into it?

        5. Do you feel that she is qualified to handle your issues? I don’t necessarily mean in an educational sense (sometimes the smartest, most educated people are morons) just in general. Do you think she gets you?

        Therapy is supposed to be a safe place to say anything and feel however you feel. If you don’t feel safe (or don’t think you can get there) and you can’t trust your T (or don’t think you ever will), then I don’t think it can work. It may take time to get there–lots and lots of time–but it has to be at your pace and comfort level.

        I think the whole push-pull scenario is inevitable due to your past. Maybe she doesn’t have a lot of experience with it and it feels foreign to her. But if that is the case then it’s up to her to say so and not leave you flapping in the wind trying to take care of her feelings. That won’t help either of you out of this situation and can cause more damage in the end.

        I sense your frustration when she tells you it’s up to you if you want to stay or not. My T says that I’m not a prisoner and I’m free to come and go as I like but as long as it’s within his control he’s not going anywhere. Sometimes though I just want him to say ‘no dammit, you’re not allowed to leave until I say so’ but I don’t think that would solve anything either. It’s so very hard when you have attachment issues and want to feel protected and have someone take care of things for you.

        Whatever you decide please go easy on yourself. We don’t have to like everyone we come across and that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with us. You’ve already done so well in staying with your current therapist up until this point so maybe a part of you just isn’t willing to give up quite yet.

        I hope you get some answers today that will make things feel a little bit easier for you.

        We’re here for you. ❤

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        1. I have been holding your great questions in my mind since I read them yesterday morning. I’m looking for a counselor to consult with on the matter but I think I might be staying with my current counselor. Your questions did really help. I do believe I trusted her at one point, so I am sure I can again (even though last night was tedious). I feel safe with her physically but not in the sense of stability. I’m not sure if that will come back but I’m willing to give it time and see. I do tell her pretty much everything and generally it is okay. I feel punished for my aggression at her changing her boundaries (she has been really, overtly rigid with boundaries lately). But, that sense of punishment might just come from me. I know what she is angling at… she is trying to get me to assert boundaries in a healthy way and it is just not comfortable or fun. I feel rejected about 99% of the time. As for qualifications, I thought she was… now I’m not so certain. I mean, as you said, the technical bit, yes. But, does she get me… I don’t know. That’s also still up for debate.

          Your support has been really, really helpful throughout all of this. It has been great to have outside perspective. I get so lost in my own head on this.

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