Emotional Blackmail

I had my session last night and obviously the main focus was this situation at work with T (see yesterday’s post).

I have spoken to my therapist about this same situation countless times over the last few years regarding my friend T, so I felt silly for going in there yet again with the same story.. how exhausting that must be for her! She assured me that I shouldn’t feel like that because apparently it is really important that I go over it as many times as I need to, to really make sense of it.

So my therapist has told me a few times before that she thinks T is narcissistic.  She has told me this each time a very similar situation to now has arisen.  She told me that the dynamic with T is just like the dynamic used to be with my mother in that T makes me responsible for her needs and then uses certain tactics to make me feel guilty (which I always do!).  She told me that it is emotional blackmail.

Last night, T told me that I really haven’t done anything wrong. Just because I made plans to see another friend, does not give T the right to sulk, ignore or get angry with me.  The fact that she is coincidentally (real or not) having a shitty time in her personal life, is not my responsibility.  The thing that makes me have less empathy is that it just so happens that EVERY single time I’ve ever made plans that don’t include her, she has a huge drama in her life. One that she hasn’t yet told me and one that I am somehow just meant to know about like I am a mind-reader.

My therapist told me that I have been programmed by my mother that I have to meet other people’s needs and that their needs are more important than my own, that when I go against the grain and make plans for myself, they get so angry and say things to me like I am selfish and statements such as “it isn’t all about you!” because they are projections.  “It isn’t all about you” is what T said to me, when really she wants it to all be about her.

My therapist said that she is extremely childish and immature and that I shouldn’t rise to her silliness. I told her that I know I shouldn’t, but it just really pressed my buttons on Monday and I couldn’t help myself. I told my therapist that I messaged her after she abruptly left the chat to ask if she had the ump – she told me she understands the temptation, but told me that I cannot change her – I can only change what I have control over, which is myself and my response.

I told my therapist that I knew this, but something in me just couldn’t ignore this time. I have spent years ignoring her “bad” behaviour and I just had enough on Monday.

My therapist told me that she understood this and told me that now I am “really seeing” the abusive cycles I have got myself caught up in, it is harder to ignore. I agreed. I have managed to put in firm boundaries to protect myself from my mother and I no longer speak to my old friend who was abusive – now I am left with T who I thought was entirely different to my mother, but is clearly just as narcissistic and clearly treats me in very similar ways – emotional blackmail and guilt-tripping constantly to get what she wants at the expense of what I might want or need. I guess that now I am changing and getting healthier in my recovery, I have better boundaries and perhaps am developing a stronger sense of self which I didn’t used to have. My sense of self used to depend on what other people told me about myself – and so it was imperative to please them. My mother, my ex-friend and T. It is no coincidence that all 3 of these women are so much older than me.  They are all in their 50’s.

My therapist said that she thinks I am getting in touch with rage that I feel about all of the people who I’ve been involved with and the rage I might be feeling in response to T’s latest thing is probably more about the whole thing or perhaps mainly about my mother. I agree with that.  The general feeling I have which probably is coming from more of a childish place, is “No! You can’t tell me what to do! You don’t own me!!!”.  The sensible reaction of ignore, ignore, ignore just wasn’t working on Monday. It hit a nerve.

It hit the same nerve a year or so ago when I told T I wasn’t joining her for lunch that day and she shouted at me in front of half of the office, I lost my temper that time and shouted at her “GET OVER IT!!!”.  That went down VERY badly and resulted in a huge rupture in our friendship for weeks.  Another time I went to yoga at lunch instead of having lunch with her and that resulted in me receiving an email later that day to tell me she had spent the hour on her own crying (guilt-tripping) because it had been the anniversary of a relative’s death a few years previous.  I have a lot more examples like this.

My therapist encouraged me to just not rise to T. To just continue making whatever plans I want to and to let T react however she wishes without reacting to it.  Basically maintaining my boundaries.

I did my usual Googling this morning and found some articles which have really helped me to digest this a bit more (I am clearly a slow learner!)

emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. No matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win our compliance.” 

“Sufferers are blamers and guilters who expect us to figure out what they want and ensure that they get it. Sufferers take the position that if they feel miserable, sick, unhappy, or are just plain unlucky, we are expected to help them – even if they haven’t told us how. They let us know, in no uncertain terms, that if we don’t help, they will suffer, and it will be our fault. Sufferers are pre-occupied with how awful they feel, and often they interpret our inability to read their minds as proof that we don’t care enough about them”.

It has helped me to understand why I get such a huge feeling of dread come over me when I know I have to tell her that I can’t have lunch with her because of something that might have come up – why I dread her response and when it comes, I feel angry, guilty and fed up!! It explains why she ignores me when I don’t see her. How dare I not put her needs first! How selfish of me. It also explains why she doesn’t react the same way to our other colleague at work who is much more outspoken than me – because she would get a mouthful back. She chose her weak pray all those years ago and I played the game! I let this happen.

Overwhelmed: You feel overwhelmed from the excessive responsibility a narcissist dumps on you. A narcissist expects you to drop everything to “cheer them up” when they are depressed, angry or anxious. You are frequently blamed for their problems or unhappiness as they bombard you with unnecessary and irrelevant information”.

“Guilt: As soon as you try to do something positive in your life, a narcissist stops you though the use of guilt. They claim that they should be the most important person in your life, you owe them your unwavering loyalty, or you are being selfish for taking care of yourself.”

“Shame: When manipulated right, shame is a powerful motivator. A narcissist shames you by constantly reminding you of your shortcomings, often in a passive-aggressive way. Or they complain about how badly you treat them compared to “great” they treat you“.

“Anger: A narcissist generates an angry response by acting immature and selfish but accusing you of behaving that way. Then, they divert the discussion thereby preventing any real resolution, especially anything involving action on their part. Finally, you are set up with only you lose-they win options. Your anger is a response to feeling like you are fighting a no-win battle all the time.”

Being emotionally blackmailed takes 2. I am not trying to play the victim here – I have let this dynamic happen for all these years, I just didn’t realise and now I’ve opened my eyes and become aware of it.  For emotional blackmail to work, you need to have the controller, and the controlled.  The only way someone can emotionally blackmail you – quite frankly, is if you let them.

So, for me to break this pattern I need to accept whatever punishment she might decide to throw my way and not change my response. That will be hard for me, it will be going against what I’ve done my entire life. I need to get the message over to her that guilt-tripping me, sulking etc will no longer work. My therapist has warned me that if I don’t give in to her direct or indirect threats, she will “up the anti” – so I best put my seatbelt on for this is sure to be a rocky ride! I need to make all these changes whilst trying to remain compassionate – I am not trying to end our friendship, just trying to make changes to enable the friendship to continue, if these changes aren’t made then unfortunately I don’t think our friendship will continue for much longer.

Blimey, I never predicated that so many changes would be made from me starting therapy!

Outgrowing your “role”?

I am (nearly) 29 years old. I have worked in the same company since I was about 18. For about the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve had a friend at work, we will call her T.  T is older than me, she’s about 53.

A bit of background for T. She is single and has been for about 25 years. She has two children, a boy and a girl, who are 30 and 28.  She is very much a “motherly” character, you know, she was a scout leader, she is the one who brings all the goodies to work, she is the one with the plasters and sewing kit – the one who tells you off if you play on your phone in the canteen at lunch (more on that later…).

Now, when I met T, I was very young – about 20. This was before I had ever thought about needing counselling. I was in a relationship of about 5 years which was very on-off and not very good.  I was dating a guy who liked a lot of independence and I was very insecure and clingy and “needy” and used to really need someone to talk to about every aspect of my dramatic life.  I needed someone to tell me what to do and what to say and T was only too happy to be that crutch.  She clearly liked feeling needed and so I offered her that.  She offered me that motherly thing that I’ve been missing my whole life and so it was a friendship made in heaven… right?

Fast-forward 8 years to now and I am currently feeling very frustrated with T.

Over these years, an ongoing issue in our friendship has been that sometimes I like to do things in my lunch hour other than sit in the canteen with her (shocking, I know). I used to go to the gym a couple of days a week, some days I like to go to the shops, sit in the sun or lunch with my boyfriend. Problem is, when I tell her this, she acts out like a spoilt child.  She sulks, she strops, she ignores me, she closes down our “chat” online, she will tell me I am selfish, she will say things like “oh fine, don’t worry about me!” – all various things but the same idea.

And I’ve just about had enough of it.

Sometimes at lunch, we sit in the canteen, we eat the crap food that they serve and we chat about our evenings/weekends, normal stuff. If my phone vibrates I might pick it up to see what the notification is and she will act out again – I get told how rude I am, how dare I – last week I told her that she isn’t my mother and that it really winds me up that she keeps going on about it. I told her in future I won’t come to lunch with her just in case I need to look at my phone. She says “playing on your phone at the dinner table is extremely rude” I told her, it isn’t a “dinner table” – it’s the canteen and told her that we aren’t eating, we are not having a special meal and that I am not her daughter!!! She disapproves of this immensely as you can imagine.

The thing is, I think I’ve let it build up and up and now it’s making me furious.

I spoke to T about this a few weeks ago and she told me that it is making me angry because I am starting to see how controlling and possessive it is. I’ve broken away from my mother who is controlling in all sorts of ways, I’ve ended an old friendship of 8 years with someone who used to bully me and mess with my head in all sorts of ways, and stopped that abuse and now I am really noticing that she is another person I’ve attracted in my life that constantly tells me what to do and makes me feel like a child.

Similarly to what i said yesterday, I am so fed up of being that child. I am an adult and I can do what I want. I can go where I like at lunch time and shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for that.  I should be able to come and go as I like, play on my phone as and when I like – and they are just very tiny examples.

The thing is, I can’t totally blame her. She hasn’t changed really.  She has been the same for this whole 8 years. It is me who has changed.  I think all this therapy has opened my eyes to so many things, it has helped me to change and develop and become healthier and with that, sadly, comes the end of some less healthy things ….. I’ve changed and that means I’ve now outgrown the role that she wants to keep me in…

Yesterday I told her on a group chat that I had plans for lunch and she left the chat instantly.  I messaged her separately and said have you got the ump with me and she replied to say that it wasn’t “all about me”.. we haven’t spoken since.  However, a friend of both of ours has just messaged me to say that she is really down and has lots going on and that she juts needed a friend yesterday that’s all – well how was I to know??

So now what?

How do I deal with this? What do I say to her? Will she even be able to understand what I am saying? Will it just come across as me being really nasty? ….

I have just had enough of worrying constantly about upsetting her at the expense of myself. That feels like a selfish thing to say, but I know deep down, it isn’t.

Any advice people? I’d appreciate it!

 

 

Being The Good Girl

I’ve had this brain wave thought this morning. I’m not quite sure where it has come from, but I feel like I might be onto something.

I was thinking about regression in therapy and the ways in which I’ve become and felt regressed there recently. I did my usual Google search, not really sure of what I was hoping to read but searching for the answers regardless. I often do this and actually sometimes the things I’m searching for give me a clue to what I’m thinking about, weird as that sounds.

I looked up things about the therapeutic relationship, regression, transference, maternal transference and a few other bits and bobs. It got me questioning what is my transference with my T?

I feel small and helpless when I am in that regressed state. I become weak and hopeless. A victim? Maybe, a child, for sure. I clearly regress with her a lot these days which I guess is natural in part and probably helps us to “do” the therapy but having read lots about transference, it has got me thinking… is it transference that I feel so young and helpless around T? Maybe it is. Maybe that is how I felt around my mum. Maybe I still do to an extent? Obviously I was actually a kid with my mother so some of this feeling could be memories, but that isn’t quite what I’m talking about.

I become a child with her. I am hopeless. If she is away, I am lost.  When I am with her and we are accessing trauma stuff, I want her to hug me and make me feel better. Maybe make us a cup of tea? Because tea makes everything better.  Perhaps she would offer me a blanket and I could kick off my shoes and curl up on her sofa with my tea and we could just chat about nice things, not therapy things.

When I leave her sometimes I cry, sometimes it hurts a lot. I panic she will leave, go away forever. It makes me feel like I could break and why?

Because I am a child and she is the mummy.

An actual child without mummy would naturally feel those things, but I am nearly 29 years old. I’m an adult. I’m a step-mother. I have a home, a job, a car, bills… so why do I become that lonely, lost little girl?

Why do I become “little”?

Is it because I’m secretly hoping she will become “mum” for real? Or is it a defence mechanism? Little to me is innocent, good, cute, harmless….if I stay “little” then maybe I will get mothered? If I stay little I won’t get told off or punished because I am little and innocent you see!  I feel like I am on the cusp of really realising something, but I’m not quite there yet…. Agh, what is it??

By doing this, I render myself incapable. I make myself overwhelmed on someone else “saving” me.

Maybe it is my mother’s internalised words. “Behave yourself” – the undertone to that obviously was “or else!”.  I didn’t want the or else. She could say it all with her eyes. That look, the one all mothers seem to possess. I got told off a lot when I was younger for whatever “bad” stuff I did. I once had a bar of soap shoved in my mouth because she caught me swearing. I got told off big time once because I brought her husband at the time a cd for his birthday and apparently that wasn’t good enough. She used to tell my nan every time we saw her that my room was a mess and that I was dirty. I was so far from messy or dirty it’s ridiculous, I had proper OCD when it came to my bedroom. She just said that to annoy me. She used to say that I thought the world revolved around me and that I was selfish. I guess that I learnt that to be loved, you had to be good all the time and so perhaps that’s why I am always trying to be the good girl. But that’s not real is it? When I cried as a child she would ignore me and would tell me she would “give me something to cry about” or “knock me from here into next week”.  Even crying wasn’t allowed but bad moods – oh no, you do not get bad moods. Bad moods were not allowed.

When I was very little, maybe like 4, I had a troll. It was a soft body with a hard face and I got a biro and scribbled all over its face in anger. I got VERY told off for that but looking back, I think I was wishing it was her face. The troll was my transitional object after all. It represented her. A troll! Harsh but true.

In reality I’m not just a nice girl who doesn’t have moods and doesn’t swear, is never selfish or rude. Sometimes I am snappy and sometimes I leave my house in a mess and sometimes I don’t want to do things that I should do. Some  days I am far from cute. Today is actually one of those days. Today I had a “strop” because my hair wouldn’t go right and looked a mess. I looked a mess. Another topic that me and T have recently been talking about. My inability to tolerate “mess”. Physical or emotional and I think I know where that comes from……

I feel like I’ve become stuck in being little. Being under 5 foot doesn’t help that. People often say I am cute. I’m not cute.  I want to grow up now and stop being so weak and little.  I want to come into myself authentically and stop pretending to be something just to be safe.

 

 

The Fantasy of the Therapist

fantasy

[fan-tuh-see, -zee] /ˈfæn tə si, -zi/

  1. imagination,especially when extravagant and unrestrained.
  2. the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.
  3. a mental image, especially when unreal or fantastic; vision:

a nightmare fantasy.

I questioned myself this morning, “should I have cancelled my session tonight to have spent the evening with my boyfriend?” and then I answered myself by thinking, “No, we will swap cards when I get home and will have dinner together”. But then I thought to myself, “Oooh, maybe my therapist might have wanted the night off to spend with her.. husband? boyfriend?”

Isn’t it weird how little we actually know about the person we confide in most in the world? The person who we spend hours pouring our heart and souls out to. You make up a fantasy of their life, whether they are married or not, whether they have children, a boy, a girl? What ages… you decide on what they might like to do in their spare time, what kind of mother they are, what their house is decorated like etc and where do you take it all from really? Not a lot!

My T gives very little away about her life. I know she has children because she has used the words “my children” to me before… it always brings on a strange feeling when she does. Jealousy? Clearly in my fantasy, she is the perfect mother. She is patient, encouraging, supportive and very maternal. She loves her children and she enjoys spending time with them. Likewise, they love their mother and seek comfort and familiarity in her. She can see her children for who they are and encourages them in all they do in life. They seek solace in her. Lucky kids. She is a strong, dependable, intelligent woman. A role model. She has hobbies and friends and a “normal” family.

I’ve searched her hands looking for a ring, she doesn’t wear one. I decide in my head once that she was probably divorced and happy on her own nowadays but recently I thought that someone so well-educated on healthy relationships and someone who has “worked through” any issues she might have once had, was probably able to have very happy, healthy, long-lasting relationships so I doubted she would be alone.

Once a few months ago, a man arrived when I was outside her house sitting in my car waiting for my appointment time. He got out of a large white van and was dressed as though he had a physical job like a builder or something. He knocked on her front door and when there was no answer, he went down the side of her house (this is where the therapy door is!). I totally freaked out because I thought he had gone into the room – my room! At my slot. I sat in the car 5 minutes past my session start time. It threw me into a bit of a panic as I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I went and knocked on the door, T opened the door as usual and it turned out that said man went around the back of the house to get in. My T told me that he wasn’t there to visit her… hmm, so who was he and who was he there to visit? I didn’t ask, because that isn’t the proper thing to do is it, not when you are always trying to be “good” anyway. I decided that he wasn’t her husband or boyfriend because he would have his own key and I decided that her husband wouldn’t do a job like that. I am far from judgmental or snobby so I have no idea why I thought this. I guess in my fantasy, if she had a husband, he was probably a therapist too or maybe a doctor or something. They would have high-powered, important, well-paid jobs.

I’ve seen her daughter park outside their house before and go inside, I guess that she is about 24 or around that age and I also know that T has animals. Definitely dogs and chickens.

Isn’t it weird how over 3 years, all I have put together is that she may or may not have a partner. She has one daughter and another child of which I don’t even know the sex – yet alone names or ages and that she has some animals.

Having said all of this, really we pay them to help us on our epic journey towards healing. As long as they are trained, empathetic, supportive, understanding, kind, attuned, consistent and all the other things that therapists need to be, does it really matter whether they are married, have kids, like the colour purple or watch Eastenders? I guess not. But I think that the fantasy of all those things actually tell us more about us and what we need and want in life, at least that is true of me.

It has only become clear to me since writing this blog entry that the “qualities” I’ve dreamt up about my therapist are probably actually what I wish I had in a mother.

They say you see what you want to see….

TT x

 

 

 

Peaceful mind

Hi guys, how are you all doing? 

It’s Sunday afternoon, about 1.30 as I write this. I am feeling pretty calm and content and have had a nice few days off work. 

As some of you will know, I took Friday off work because I wasn’t feeling great last week. I had a nice day on my own, I drove to the seafront and had a walk, went shopping and treated myself to a McDonalds (naughty!). Usually when I am on my own I just stay home sleeping and watching tv so I wanted to try something new. Just driving to the seafront was calming, just me and my music (and my horrendous singing!). 

Saturday morning I made myself, my boyfriend and my stepkids a yummy breakfast and then headed off for my favourite gym class – body balance. I love it. It’s a mixture of yoga, Pilates and tai chi. It’s so calming and the music is great too.  

After that we went to a local reservoir for a long walk in the fresh air and in the evening I went for dinner and to see beauty and the beast at the cinema with my bestest chick and I’m not ashamed to say that I ordered a large tango ice-blast and popcorn and was so excited about this I was like a kid! Brownie points for treating my inner child, right? 

This morning I got up early and headed to a gym class called legs, bums and tums which sounds fairly easy but is anything but! It was pretty much circuits and absolutely killed me! I came out red-faced and sweaty but feeling good. 

When I got home I had a nice shower, hair wash, cleaned and tidied my house and now I’m sitting on the sofa with a brew. 

I have had a few thoughts about T and therapy this weekend, but few and nothing of any real substance. I have certainly not been at all preoccupied by it or her this weekend which has been a welcomed break. I feel relaxed and calm which is a relief after some really hard work the last couple of weeks. It was becoming draining and painful and exhausting. 

Is there something in the whole “leave some of the sadness with me?” Did her saying that help? Or is it a coincidence? I’m not sure. 

I’ve got a busy week ahead with my two therapy sessions, my gym classes, going to the theatre with work friends, getting my eyebrows done and then Mother’s Day crap next Sunday (bleughhhhhh!!!! – for another blog) so i plan to enjoy this afternoon fully. 

I hope you are all doing well and are having a peaceful mind too. 

Love, TT x 

A Day To Myself 

Morning and happy Friday everyone! 

I am writing this from the comfort of my cosy little cocoon that is my bed. It’s 9am here in sunny England and I have a day off work. 

I feel better today than the past couple of days and I am trying to think of something nice to do with myself. It made me realise that I don’t ever do anything on my own, normally if I have a day off I’ll just stay home and binge-watch tele. 

So today, I’m thinking what can I do on my own that’s good for the soul? 

So far I’ve come up with driving to the seafront, going for a walk in the fresh air… maybe reading a little on the sea wall (or the car if it’s cold!). I could drive to a nature park, go and looking around the shops… bake a cake, go food shopping (not so fun!). 

So, any ideas ladies and gents? What would/do you do when you have a day to yourself other than chores? 

TT X 

Scared Therapist Will Leave Me

I went to my session this afternoon and told T I was feeling a bit rubbish. She asked me what I was feeling and I said I just felt down and sad but I wasn’t totally sure why. 

T said that it wasn’t really surprising because I am doing some really tough work and the feelings are very painful. I nodded. 

She asked me whether I had any thoughts accompanying the feelings and I said, well… I didn’t until… and then I started crying. I felt annoyed at myself for crying already and shook my head in annoyance. T told me not to do that to myself. 

I told her that I couldn’t believe I was crying already, I had only been in the room for about 3 minutes! She said that it was better this way because I could make the most of my session rather than getting upset at the end of the session like last week. I said that’s true. 

So I took the plunge and said well, I read something the other day about someone’s T leaving and it played on my mind a little…. and then I read in my book today about the end of therapy between a patient and a therapist and it made me panic… I was really embarrassed and pretty upset talking about this. 

T nodded and said ah, I see. You are very in touch with abandonment feelings. I was crying again. I said I was worried she would quit or leave or something. It went quiet which freaked me out! Why wasn’t she reassuring me?!! Ahhhhhh then finally (probably seconds) she said that she couldn’t predict the unpredictable but that she has no plan to leave or quit anytime soon. She said she enjoyed her job and that also she took it very seriously that this type of work is important and she would never abuse her power like that. I was relieved. 

We spoke a bit about how I feel silly having such regressed feelings lately and I also said that I felt that recently, I had so many upsetting and childlike feelings – I said it felt they were all coming at once and they were so tough. 

I said that I just thought if I had finally allowed myself to feel this much and open up and then she left…. (I didn’t finish that sentence). 

I was glad that was out the way. 

I said that also, it being Thursday I was worried there might be a repeat of last week and I would be upset leaving and spend the next two days feeling shit which I really didn’t want. I said I know just because it happened once doesn’t mean it will definitely happen again, but I was worried in case. 

She nodded and asked what happens to her at weekends? I said… err I don’t know really. She asked “do I forget about you at weekends?” I said yes. She said so I only think of you Monday to Friday? I smiled and laughed and said yes lol! 😂 we both laughed at this. 

I said I found the weekends easier because I was busy with the kids and I guess I associated therapy with week days and work etc so the weekends don’t feel so tough BUT the thought of the gap between Thursday and Tuesday feels like forever! 

We chatted about some other less important topics and then I told her some of my dreams the past couple of nights. I said they were horrible and obviously weren’t helping my mood. She said my unconscious was very busy and that I should write them down to get them out. I said I do anyway but I would. 

With 5 minutes to go T said “right we have 5 minutes left of our session, how are you feeling now?” She’s never said this before so I assume this is because of last week…. I said I felt okay but that “you just never know what surprises I have in store for myself later!” (Cringe). 

She said she felt it was probably better for me to leave more “adult”. 

She then said “why don’t you leave some of the sadness here with me?” I thought that was a weird thing to say. I kinda half heartedly said yeah that would be nice… but she seemed serious. 

She said I could acknowledge that I feel sad, but be able to still do nice and happy things for myself and not let it take over…. I was a bit confused about this really but I don’t want to sound like a petulant child… it’s just a bit annoying like I can’t just turn my feelings on and off like that for starters but also, she’s spent 2 and a half years trying to get me to be able to feel stuff…. to not live totally in my logic state and to be able to cry and now she’s basically saying “stop being sad”. 

That’s confusing to me although I guess the adult part of me does know she’s trying to help. I’m just being a bit childish perhaps. 

So… let’s see what the next 5 days bring. 

What am I feeling?

I am sitting with a soya milk hot chocolate in a quiet corner of my office looking out of the window with earphones in. This is not something I ever do. I just really felt the need to sit on my own. Very unlike me.

I felt sad and kinda stressed yesterday at work. When I get like that, I feel like I am going to burst into tears from the stress which is probably really extreme.

Last night I still felt a sense of sadness which seems to still be here today yet I don’t really know why or what it’s about. I leave work at midday today to go to my second therapy session and I am hoping that helps. I will tell her I feel sad but that I don’t know why… hopefully it helps me to figure it out somehow?

I’ve asked if I can take tomorrow as holiday from work which I know is a waste of a days leave, but I really am craving time away from people.

Why is that?

Session after “The Emails” Part 2

This is Part 2 (see Part 1 here)

I told her that I think it is best for me that we agree she will never contact me first because I think if she did sometimes and not others, I would struggle with that and it might cause me more pain.  She agreed to this very quickly and said she thought perhaps that was most sensible but we could review this and nothing was set in concrete. I surprised myself that I potentially could have stopped this from happening one day, but I guess I was doing the right thing for myself in the long-term… or, as T said, perhaps it being “my decision” meant I took back some control which made it less painful.  Maybe.

We discussed what I said about her responding clinically and my fear that if she did she would cement in the feeling of being “just a client”.  She said “Yes, and all the negative connotations that come with that of course”. I nodded. We spoke a little more about therapists responding via email and the problems it can cause. She said sometimes she/T’s are “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” and that sometimes they just have to take a “leap of faith and hope for the best”. 

She told me that sometimes she might misunderstand something and sometimes she might not respond in the way I want her to.  She told me this might absolutely enrage me and that if that happens, we will just have to work through it together.  She then told me a story about her own therapy where her therapist had responded in an email telling her it was “okay to let it go” and that she was absolutely furious at this because she interpreted it to mean “let it go” whereas her therapist had actually meant – let the tears out.  She said she laughed about it now but that it did actually cause a huge rupture. She said sometimes if there is anger being expressed via email, it is actually best to wait until the session rather than dealing with it via email because she said just her kind response could actually “dilute” a lot.  She said if it is close to a session, she might respond to say something along the lines of “bring it with you tomorrow” and that this might annoy me.  I said I think I would struggle but this conversation would help that a little.  She said that when you are right in the anger, this conversation won’t actually help at all!

I read out loud the paragraph about boundaries – I was particularly dreading reading that bit to her. (I still cringe a little at swearing in front of her, although I am getting better because she has started to swear too so makes me feel like it’s more allowed). I read the bit about only being allowed my feelings during scheduled hours wasn’t fair and she agreed. She said it absolutely wasn’t fair and it was very hard – I started to cry a bit, she carried on validating me and before I knew it the flood gates were open and I was really crying again. I actually couldn’t breathe properly at one stage and had mascara dripping off of my nose! (I bet I looked very sexy!) She said some really kind things – like “I am so sorry you are having to go through this” and things like that.  They seem to have made me cry even harder but they were really nice to hear.

I read the line about feeling like I was that kid again, bashing the door in with my hairbrush. She was nodding quite enthusiastically and said “Well yes! You do because what else could you do? You were furious and being ignored”. I told her that I can still visualise being locked in that room like it was yesterday. I was locked in there such a long time and according to my mother, I bashed on the door for hours and hours but I said I highly doubted it was that long.  She looked sad and said that those angry feelings were completely justified.

We spoke a little about her upcoming Easter holiday (2 weeks! Aghhh) and I said I was dreading it and what if this sort of thing happened just before she went away? I said the thought of it made me panic. She said that the psyche has a very clever knack of “winding down” before breaks and that I should be okay. She said that we would get through it.  I don’t want her to go again.

She said something about session times being only an hour and said that a lot of therapists offer 50 minute sessions with ten minute breaks between clients. She said she had no idea how these therapists managed to do that. I said I was glad it was a full hour because an hour feels so quick, so 50 minutes would be even quicker! She said that the reason sessions are an hour are because the psyche gets to “wind up” then “wind down” again, hopefully enough that we can leave feeling relatively grounded and then a lot of the processing is done between sessions.  I understood this anyway and said to her that I did a lot of my processing the following day.  I said that the evening of my sessions I am normally just tired and needing sleep, but the following day I tend to write it all out and that is when it starts to make proper sense to me.  She asked whether I was able to remember a lot of our conversations and I said yes, usually but joked that perhaps if she were to read my account of our sessions, perhaps she would disagree!

I mentioned to her that someone I followed on here (enter Sirena) was allowed to record her sessions and that I have wondered whether this would help me in that I could play our sessions back and wouldn’t forget anything… she said that this may bring its own problems but is something we could think about and talk about some more.  I liked that she didn’t just refuse which I thought she might.

That is about all I can remember for now…. I left feeling that warm feeling of attachment/connection which I love and wish lasted longer and will admit (despite its pathetic-ness) that I played a song very loudly on the way home called Home –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGvo62fX8V8 and thought of how it sometimes feels like “home” when we connect like that… I know, pass the sick bucket!!!

I got home and felt very tired and delicate.  I went to bed early and I’ve felt kind of sad today. I’m not really sure why considering the connection but perhaps it’s just a therapy hangover.

I then had a dream featuring my mum and her ex-boyfriend (who abused me) where my mum decided to take him back despite knowing what he had done to me.  She just stood there with a blank face and he smiled. UGH, not enough crap for one night clearly!

Session after “The Emails” Part 1

Hi everyone, this is a long post about what happened last night following my feelings last Thursday/Friday about T and the emails that followed that. I have split it into two parts so it is easier to read.  This is Part 1.

 

I was feeling really nervous about last night’s session and that feeling seemed to get worse the closer to the end of the day it got. I pulled up outside with only a couple of minutes to spare, normally I have 15-20 minutes but I think this was probably a good thing on this occasion. As I turned off the engine and prepared myself for what was to come, I exhaled very deeply as though I had been holding my breath and then my heart started thumping sooo fast! I could feel it without even putting my hand to my chest.  I then got jelly legs as I stepped out of the car!!

I knocked on the door and T opened the door with her usual smiley face and greeted me the same as every other time. Nothing had changed at all – thank god. I sat down and put my cardigan over my legs as I always do and hoped she didn’t comment about this tonight because I needed the comfort of it. She didn’t thankfully.

T asked how I was doing and I said “scared”. She didn’t seem surprised.  I told her about my nervousness and my heart beat in the car.  She asked me what it was specifically that I was feeling scared of. I said I was scared of it all. She asked if I was scared of the fact I had emailed her? I said no, more that we now have to talk about it all face to face and I find that hard.  I said I felt very vulnerable and I was scared of the feelings I might uncover and scared of how upset I might get in session.

T questioned whether I was scared of the imagined repercussions of reaching out to her. I said I didn’t think so, I knew she wouldn’t tell me off or anything. T said that the adult part of me might, but what about the child?

She said that she had noticed in my email I had tried to cover all grounds – i.e. I had said I know we can’t “do” therapy over email, that she had told me before that emails can be dangerous, that it put her in an impossible situation etc – she asked me what it would mean for me to let her worry about those things? …..

I thought about this for a moment and read that part of my email back to myself. I said I think that perhaps I said all of that so that she didn’t.  I said that this way it was like I was saying them before she did because it would hurt less.  She said something about boundaries and that she felt things that she has said before about boundaries have become stuck very rigidly in my head. I agreed. I said I would hate to overstep the boundaries. She asked me why, what would that mean to me and I said “well, I guess I worry about the… well, punishment is probably the wrong word but the….” She interrupted me and said “No, I think punishment IS exactly the right word”.  She said again that she thinks I am scared of being “punished”. I agreed, perhaps I was. She said she thought this would be because when I was little I would have been punished when upset or angry etc – this is true and something we have spoken about before.

We spoke about the actual event again. She said that she thought I had really got in touch with some painful stuff on Thursday just before I left and she could see how much pain I was in. I nodded and got a bit teary. I said that when I had got to the door, she had said something nice and that it had set me off. She said that sometimes people caring can be painful. I agreed. I said as soon as she said what she had said (something about keeping both of my feet firmly on the ground) I had to try so hard not to cry before I got to the car.

She then said that in future if I leave in that state I must not drive home straight away. She was quite strict about this. She said the last thing she wanted was for me to have a car crash. She said if I feel too vulnerable crying in the car outside then I could drive into another road or to a park close by, but that I needed to find a way to ground myself before driving. She suggested playing a game on my phone or writing it out.  I told her that I knew what she meant but that I had actually found the drive with the loud music and windows open quite helpful. I said I actually went a longer way home than I needed to in order to keep that feeling a little.

I told T that I felt rather disconnected emotionally from actually directing any anger or blame onto my mother and said I felt like I had taken a huge step backwards. She said that she completely disagreed and said I haven’t done that, but that I was transferring the feelings onto her which is exactly what I was meant to do.  She told me how I had to do a lot of the things I didn’t get to do as a child with her – because I can’t and couldn’t do them with my mother. I nodded.

She asked me if I would like to read out loud the email I had sent her. I jokingly said “oh yes, that would be lovely, I would love that!” because she knows how much I hate doing this. She makes me do this because it really gets me back in touch with the feelings – it works every time.  I knew it would last night because I was already able to access those feelings pretty easily.

I read the email out loud and we stopped at lots of bits of it for her to offer some comfort or explanation. She said that she really saw how I couldn’t possibly believe that she would have been thinking of me after I had left – that to me, she really couldn’t “care less” or “give a shit” and that I was just forgotten about in my head.  I said yes. That I knew that sounded horrible, but it is how I felt at the time.  She looked quite sad for me and said “I have been very pre-occupied with you since then and have thought about you a lot hoping you were okay”.  They were such lovely words to hear. I can’t ever look at her when she says things like this. It feels impossible, too good to be true maybe. But they have given me something lovely to hold on to today.  Actually writing that makes me feel a bit emotional again.

She told me that she understood my fantasy of her texting me to see if I were okay but that there are various reasons she doesn’t do this. One being that although I might be upset in session, I am an adult out in the world and she doesn’t want to disempower me. (At this stage I wanted to tell her that she could feel free to “disempower” me because I am never “powered” but I didn’t).  She said that sometimes she might get it wrong – she might text thinking I am dreadfully upset and in fact I am not.. all sorts of reasons.  She then said to me, “please don’t think I don’t have my own fantasies about contacting you, because I do”. That was lovely to hear. Although I do admit that I did automatically try to decide whether this was her just being nice (I know, I know…). I thought to myself I was surprised that she told me that, but that I loved that she had.  I liked that.

She said that she isn’t saying that she absolutely cannot and will not ever reach out to me first, but that it is important that I learn that just because I have to reach out first doesn’t mean that her response is any less real or valid.  I said I guessed so, but it didn’t quite feel the same. She told me she understood that. She said that I was hoping and wishing she could just know. That she would be completely attuned to me because that is what I’ve never had. She said my mother should have been completely attuned to me and been able to just know when I was in pain and soothe me – but that obviously she didn’t.  This made me teary again and I nodded.  I felt like saying “this isn’t fair!!!” but I didn’t.  She said she wasn’t trying to be cruel in saying that, she just wanted to demonstrate that she understood.

(Part 2 coming up)