Transference 

When I was 10 I went on a school trip to the Isle of White.  During the trip it was my 11th birthday.  The trip was in celebration of finishing primary school. 

On the evening of my birthday I was allowed to use my boss’s phone to call my mum. I remember phoning her outside with him that evening. He was standing with me.  She asked if I was having fun and asked me what I had done – I told her, various things like an assault course, a talent competition, fencing, quad bikes… she oooh’d and aww’d appropriately (but fake) and then I had to hang up. And then I cried.  

In my head, going home would be warm and welcoming and comforting. It would be safe. There would be affection and genuine conversation, attention, attunement and all the nice things. 

That obviously wasn’t the case, but I guess the hope was so strong and so I would cry from wishing I was home with her and not far away. 

The reality of being home was very different to the fantasy. Just like the reality of being at T’s is very different to the fantasy. 

Now that I understand things differently, perhaps I was crying for the closeness I knew I didn’t have. Perhaps it was grief. Or maybe I was just in denial. 
Taking that story and thinking about the here and now… here I am about to go away for a holiday – over my birthday…. and I am crying that I will miss being separated from my T. 

I wrote how I wish I could have warmth and comforting things like a blanket, like a cup of tea… that we would have (genuine) chats and closeness. Basically that she would love me. 

Sounds like a bit of a repeat doesn’t it? Transference. 

I guess that the emotions I felt on Thursday after our last session were a bit of a repeat of that memory: I even spoke about wishing I could see her on my birthday. It is me feeling the same things as I did when I was that 10 year old girl. Just 19 years later. 

19 years. 19 years and I am still drowning in the same pain. That’s quite incredible. 

As far as I understand transference, it’s the redirection of feelings for a significant person (mother) onto the therapist. It’s a repeat of a childhood experience. 

Apparently transference is helpful because it teaches us (me and T) the issues that need to be healed. I just don’t really understand HOW. I understand it will give T an insight into the things I’m thinking or feeling…. and I understand having a kind witness would be helpful but I don’t see how it can actually “heal” these wants and needs. 

I said to my boyfriend earlier “do you think T will text me on my birthday?” And he said no…. he asked has she ever before and I said no. It seemed like he wanted to say “obviously not, she’s just your therapist, not your friend/family”…. yet it feels so different to that for me.  

That’s the painful thing. I hate the fact that I’m so desperate for T’s love and to her and everyone else, that looks rather pathetic. It’s like being in love with someone who has put you in the friend zone and yet you stay there hoping one day things might be different. Maybe just for me, just this one, T will break the rules and will take me under her wing and invite me into her life. 

Of course I know this isn’t going to happen but I hope nevertheless. 

It’s hugely painful and shameful being an adult who is so desperate for a mother. 

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25 thoughts on “Transference 

  1. I totally understand, know how you feel. I go through these transference emotions everyday all the time. I am currently on an awfully long therapy break till August 22. I understand the shame. Just, please, try to remember that you are not alone in this. Many others suffer with this. I used to feel the transference emotions over my teachers in middle school and 6th form. It is not our shame. It is our rubbish moms!

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    1. I also felt this with teachers over the years. I was thinking that earlier today, explains why I cried when I was leaving my year 6 teacher and why I was so keen to be the good girl at school. You are right, it is their fault and not our’s but isn’t it horrible? I wish there was a magic fix xx

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  2. Yes! I was like you. I had a different “attachment figure” teacher. I even ended up in therapy because of this! I did really well in my A-levels just to please my teacher.
    It is horrible. I agree. You feel the pain in your chest.
    I wish that too. 😦

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  3. I promise you this doesn’t look pathetic to your T. I understand the transference. I’m going through it right now. My T of four years is moving to another state. I feel like I’m losing a parent. I know the transference I put on her was due to the relationship that I didn’t have with my mother. The relationship with T was what I wished I had with a mother. At times I was so sad that I had to pay to experience that relationship. Therapy is both healing and uneven. It is one of the most meaningful relationships in our lives, but it will never grow and change or be anything other than a therapeutic relationship.

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    1. Oh man even reading your last sentence makes my heart hurt.

      Oh god, I don’t even know how you are coping with your T moving. That’s so awful. You’ve spent all that time learning to trust her and now she’s leaving…. I feel for you I really do. Will you have some time to build up to this? Xx

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  4. I’ve had two months to get used to the idea and my last session with her was on Monday. I still have the option of a skype session if I ever really need her, but she wants me to use my new counselor and my psychiatrist as my support team.

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      1. I’m mostly stuffing the feelings. I see an online counselor, I’ve been seeing her for two months now, so I have a space to work through the feelings, but I’m not even sure where to begin. I feel like if I let myself properly grieve this situation that it’s going to bring up a lot of feelings about my adoptive mom and my biological mom and I’m just not sure if I can handle that right now.

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      2. I 10000000% understand that. Sometimes the idea is completely overwhelming. I’m thinking of you. Keep writing when the feelings come. I’m really glad you’ve got someone else to lean on as you try to heal from this and everything else it brings up xx

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  5. If she never has text on your birthday before, then she probably wont this time either. But please don’t think it’s from a lack of care. It’s more a fault of their training. If it’s important to you, maybe you could ask if you could have some text contact on your birthday?
    I understand very much the need to experience a “good mother” and to regain some of those childhood experiences that you missed out on. I think over time your T will be able to meet some of those needs, and for the ones she can’t meet, she will be by your side for the grieiving you’ll need to do.

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      1. Yep, you might have to. And that’s work that needs to be done when you’re ready. Sometimes getting our therapist’s to try and do what our mother’s didn’t, or trying to have those lost experiences with the good enough therapist/mother figure, is a denial of the loss, a way of staving off the overwhleming pain of realising we didn’t get it and we’re not going to get it in the same way now. That’s a bitter pill to swallow and sometimes so big that we can’t get near it. So instead we try to get our therapists to give us a replay of childhood.

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      2. You’ve summed that up perfectly. I am realising today that’s exactly what I’m doing. All the wishes I think about for T, it’s all about replacing my mother and it’s all pointless but the thought of that makes me feel sick x

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      3. I know. It’s the worst feeling. But you don’t accept it all in one go. That’s impossible. It will take years of tiny bites before you can truly grieve properly and feel the loss.

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  6. It’s not pathetic. There is a lot of grief and anger with memories especially when you now realise the meaning behind your tears.
    I totally feel this at the moment too. Although, it’s more a need for love but not specifically from my T. She is not a mother so I also don’t have the added pain of knowing that. The need for love is pushing me towards her. I like A wandress in life used to become attached to female teachers. It was when I reached high school. I never understood it until reading your post and that reply, that I was looking for a female role model. I was never attracted to them so I couldn’t understand it.
    It sucks because nothing anyone can say will ease the pain you are feeling right now. It wouldn’t benefit you in the long term for your T to become the mother figure. No amount of knowing the rationale behind this will really change your pain, but you’re not alone. Sending love xx

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    1. Realising the reason behind the tears has been difficult, sometimes I don’t know the reason and that’s incredibly frustrating and yet now I do, it’s incredibly painful.

      Wow that’s interesting. Seems common that people that have experienced things like us have looks to teachers and other people in “authority”:

      Wouldn’t it though? I feel it would because then she can be my mother figure and it’s all done haha… thank you xx

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  7. Hey my lovely, this is rough 😞. I think the therapeutic relationship does leave a gap doesn’t it, because of boundaries yadayadayada, rather than her not wanting to 😞.

    Did you ask her the ‘how does it help me heal’ question? Marge told me the idea is to securely attach to the therapist, rewire our thinking, then as we get stronger to detach again and effectively parent ourselves… But after your recent posts, and Sirenas, I’m wondering how that ever takes place if the therapist can never do that reaching out part outside of the session that would be a realistic relationship? It feels getting stuck in a loop and never completing the cycle? Would love to know her answer to that!

    X

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    1. Hi love!! Sorry I’ve not been on here for about 10 days as I was away for hols then it was my birthday so just seen this.

      This is a good question. I haven’t directly asked her that question but my understanding is like your’s – that I learn to depend on her in a way that I wasn’t able to with my caregivers.. then eventually I “grow up” enough to go solo. But if she can’t do stuff, if there are restrictions, then how does that help? I don’t know either. It’s given me much to think about.

      I go back tonight and I know she is going to ask me how I feel about all of this and she will ask how it felt on my birthday – the truth is that I really wanted a text from her and I didn’t get one. I knew I wouldn’t, but I hoped for one. I can’t quite work out why I would have liked this so much but equally I can’t work out WHY she isn’t allowed to/doesn’t see it appropriate to send it either. Like what harm could it possibly do? My boyfriend says it would be her being too involved but I don’t think so. It’s like how can you be expected to be so close and dependant on the same person that you can’t hug.. can’t see when you like, can’t drink tea with, don’t hear from on special occasions.. it just feels confusing to me.

      I’ve read before that if she gave me the things that I really want from a mother that I didn’t get, that I would just replace my mother with her and that wouldn’t help me to grieve etc… but some stuff feels different … it’s hard to understand isn’t it? xx

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      1. No worries I knew you were away for your birthday, belated happy birthday!

        I’ve read your latest blog and I get what she’s saying about consistency and what you’ve discussed before, her being careful, etc. But still, if she did text on birthdays as an example, would that not then become the norm and then your heart would start looking for a bit more? and eventually there will be a wall where she can’t maintain the therapeutic relationship AND attach to that level? I’m sure I read somebody else’s blog this week that sounded like that did start to get that deeper connection but then the therapist became too close almost (in a normal way if that makes sense, comfortable) and has then gone to a different therapist to continue the actual work. So I get the conflict, and I love love love what she said about her affection being free, because I can quite imagine she doesn’t automatically feel affectionate towards every client but does very genuinely hold that for you. There just still seems to be a gap that I don’t understand… If the first part of the journey is to attach and find security and the second part of the journey is to then detach, how do you actually complete the first part of the journey with the therapy boundaries in place? They seem like a hurdle just before the finish line?

        Am I making any sense? I’m very tired 😁

        Very glad to have you back! Going to wonder over to your latest post as had a few other things I wanted to comment on 😊

        Xxx

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