Heinz Kohut – Self-Psychology

Last night I was reading and came across some information about a psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut and his theory of “self-psychology”. I hadn’t heard of him/this theory before and I found it really interesting.

In very basic terms, Kohut believed that for a child d to develop healthily and therefore in order that a child gains a healthy sense of “self”, his or her parents need to meet 3 main needs:

  1. Mirroring
  2. Idealizing
  3. Twinship

Mirroring – This is where the parent (usually the mother) would reflect back at the child a sense that he or she is worthy, loved and special.

Idealiizing – Kohut believed that children need to idealize their caregiver and see them as powerful and knowledgeable. The child needs to feel as though they can turn to their caregiver to meet their needs and to help them make sense of their world. Their caregiver needed to be able to calm and reassure them.

Twinship – Kohut believed that children need to feel they fit in with others. They have a need to be similar to their parents – not too different that they felt “wrong”.  Children mimic behaviours or characteristics from their caregiver and gradually as the child matures, would be able to feel more comfortable with any differences.

I found this really interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, knowing that every single child needs to have these 3 basic needs met in order to gain a healthy sense of self reassures me a little more about my “neediness”.  What I mean by that is that my own neediness in life, and more relevantly, in therapy includes some of these needs. Mirroring is very clearly important to me and the idealizing is something that I am very aware of with my T. I do look at her as a special being in my life – as someone who is more powerful and more knowledgeable – more able to help me with my own anxieties than any other.  I guess the twinship plays out when clients wish they were the only client or the most liked client of their therapist.  Secondly I found this very interesting because it helps me to clearly see the areas my own mother didn’t successfully met my needs.  It helps me to understand what it was I needed, what I didn’t get and why I now feel insecure and crave certain things that perhaps others around me do not (making me feel “weird” or “different”) which obviously causes anxiety.

What happens if all goes well during this early stage is that the child’s needs are consistently and repeatedly met over a period of time and the child is able to internalise the caregiver (known as selfobjects) enough that on the odd occasion the caregiver fails to meet the child’s needs, the child has internalised this enough that it can actually step in and soothe itself. This can only happen if the misattunement is not often and not severe. This helps me to understand what my therapist really means when she says “you are only as needy as your unmet needs”. So, it really isn’t YOU! It really isn’t that you are doing something wrong, that you are fault or weak or whatever else you may think you are – it is very clearly that some of, or perhaps all of, these needs were unmet and so you haven’t been able to internalise that consistent caregiver that your friends have.  Bye bye now shame!!

In psychotherapy, transference is helpful because we relate to our therapist with all our unconscious thoughts, feelings and desires and we see and relate to the therapist through our own lense – not necessarily an accurate one. The therapist’s job is to provide us with an “corrective emotive experience” by providing us with enough empathy, understanding and attunement. The basic idea is that the therapist comes in as the good enough caregiver (selfobject) and provides us with a good enough experience of all those 3 major needs.  They mirror us adequately, we idealise them and our twinship needs are met also.  After this is done consistently enough, we internalise THE THERAPIST (as our caregiver failed) and therefore a healthy sense of self is borne – as it should have been all those years ago when for whatever reason, our caregiver failed us.

Mirroring transference – The therapist helps us by mirroring us – validating our feelings and empathising/understanding our feelings and helping us to understand and work through them to prevent them from being too scary for us to handle (as a child wouldn’t be able to handle their environment on their own). The therapist would praise our achievements and make us feel good enough – possibly for the first time.

Idealising transference – In therapy we often idealise our therapist as being strong and powerful and confident.  We NEED them to be this person because we need to know we are in safe hands.  Eventually in the therapy process, we come to develop a more realistic view of the therapist warts and all (like any human being). This causes ruptures in the therapeutic alliance which is then repaired repeatedly.  We learn we are safe.

Twinship transference – In therapy sometimes we will find similarities between us and our therapist and we will enjoy that feeling. I know for me personally, my T once told me that she also watched some of the same programmes as me and I really enjoyed that. I find myself wondering as I type this, if that is why I have such a keen interest in psychology and read so much into these theories? Am I trying to me like T? For others, perhaps you may enjoy a similar taste in clothes, politics, history etc. As our therapists disclose more of themselves, we find the similarities and feel more “normal” and accepted.  I assume this is why it can be so painful to find out things about our therapist that do NOT match us. It’s why our therapists don’t give too much away about themselves (although Kohut did not believe in the whole blank-screen thing as it wasn’t humane enough).

 

 

Anyway, there is more to say but this is about as far as I have read. I will continue to post my findings in the hope they help even one other person who is struggling in therapy right now with needs and vulnerability.

Any comments would be welcomed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Neediness, Lack of Warmth, Fear of Annihilation & Re-experiencing pain

I got to last night’s session not really sure of how it would go, feeling a bit nervous about the fact that the last communication T had from me was me saying I was crying and experiencing a really odd mixture of pain and pleasure at the connection I had felt with her.

I sat down and she smiled at me but didn’t say anything. I smiled back.. anxiously waiting for her to start talking but she didn’t, she just looked at me and I felt really uncomfortable. Why do they do that sometimes? I can’t help but feel its done on purpose to make us feel awkward as fuck!

I told T that I had done a lot of thinking, reading and writing over the weekend and that I felt like I had some realisations. I said that although they were not necessarily new realisations, I felt them differently. T said it was like peeling an onion and said that we have to revisit certain things over and over again, each time we understand or feel a little deeper and that this can only be done as and when we are ready.

I didn’t really know where to start so I started with asking her if she was familiar with Brene Brown’s theory of foreboding joy. She said she wasn’t and so I explained to her in very vague terms that I had learnt it was what happens to some of us when we feel a real sense of joy and vulnerability and explained Brene’s theory that we then dress-rehearse tragedy, waiting for it all to go wrong. T nodded and said she understood what I meant. I told T that I had sat down to write a blog on Sunday evening about this, and had found myself writing something that hit me as I typed the words out and kinda took my breath away. I told her what I had written on Sunday about the link I had made of the feelings of happiness/sadness leaving her office on Sunday and the feelings growing up of having those very random, short-lived moments of connection with my mother and how painful it was when those moments abruptly ended.  Saying those words made me cry again, I found myself suddenly gasping for breath. It felt very deep. I suppose it was the enormity of what I had just said? I don’t know.

T looked at me with empathy and seemed to understand what I had said. I told her that the feelings I had last week were horrible. I told her that I felt physical pain in my chest and said it hurt so much. This made me teary again.  T said it feels like life and death and that when you are in touch with that pain, it is absolutely excruciating. I agreed.  I told her that it is the same pain I felt a few years ago when I had planned to leave therapy and then found myself on the bathroom floor sobbing for hours with this god-awful pain of not being able to survive. Of loss and grief and all manner of other horrible things.

I told T that it confused me that getting what I have always wanted caused me such a lot of pain (and joy, admittedly) and T explained that having deep, childhood, unmet needs – met was VERY painful.  She said getting what you’ve always wanted can cause awful sadness and pain.  I didn’t understand that.  T said that this was one of the reasons that therapists had to be so careful not to “overdo it”.  She said that them overdoing it could cause us more pain! T said “this is why although I understand you want more reassurance and warmth in my emails, it is important that I am very careful”…

(I haven’t written about this yet so this is a good time – I told T last week that I sometimes find her email replies to be “lacking in warmth”. As I said it, she repeated it back to me and I agreed.  Yes. I told her that I knew that the content was fine and that if someone else read them, they wouldn’t see the issue, but for me, they sometimes felt “therapisty” (yeah, I know) and “cold”.  I’ve thought about this many times since saying it and I can very clearly see that the lacking in warmth thing is probably a bit of transference – it probably sums up how I feel about my communications/relationship with my mother – or more specifically, about my mother herself. Lacking in warmth.)

T said that the sadness when I left of not having had enough was completely understandable and expected. I told her, it isn’t quite that I haven’t “had enough” like I had written about once before, because that makes it sound like I didn’t get enough warmth or enough connection or attunement which I DID. She said, she thinks “not having had enough” was less about my session and more about my childhood. That I didn’t get enough.  That went in at a deep level and I agreed with her. I understand that therapy is starting to trigger some things in me which I perhaps didn’t understand or feel consciously before.

I told her that actually FEELING that pain when I left last week was just awful. I just closed my eyes as I typed that because honestly my words do not do that feeling justice. T once again reminded me that a lot of my pain was pre-verbal and may not have words.

I said that FEELING that pain really drove it home to me how very sad that was and I said that whilst I immediately think about my mother when I write these things, the same applied to my Dad of course because well, where the fuck was he? He didn’t try either and although my Dad is a “nicer person”, he hurt me too. T said that just because he is a “nice guy” doesn’t mean he didn’t cause me pain. I agreed.  I said that I had been thinking recently that I would see my Dad every now and again, we would have a nice time and then he would take me home and I wouldn’t know if I would see him again in a week, two weeks or months.  I told T that I still sometimes cry when I leave him as an adult now (only since my therapy got me in touch though!).  I told T that I also used to cry when my Nan and Grandad dropped me home on a Sunday night after having stayed at their house, which I did every weekend. I now understand this – I was crying because I knew that connection was over. I was crying because I knew I wouldn’t have that connection at home with my mother and crying because I never knew how long it would be until I felt that again.

T said that it is as if it felt better for me to feel nothing at all than to feel the mixture of the good against the bad. I agreed whole-heartedly.

I said to T that when I learnt about this foreboding joy thing, I had sat down and thought about how this played out in other aspects of my life. I told her what I had written about my relationships, with job interviews and many other things. T nodded and said how hard I had been working. I agreed that I had. I said I was worried that people seemed to think the amount I thought about these things was a bad thing but said that understanding why I am feeling a certain way actually helped me to have some compassion for myself. T said perhaps it took the guilt, shame and blame away from me.  She then said (not for the first time) “You were capable of feeling that loving connection the whole of your life. It really wasn’t you – it wasn’t any fault of yours that you didn’t get that. It was your mum and dad’s”.  She said how it was only natural that as a child experiencing that lack of connection (ha, of warmth) I would understandably blame myself. It is how I survived because I had to keep them good.  I said that I understood this now and that understanding that was bittersweet. I am glad it wasn’t me, of course. But understanding, truly, how incapable they both were of emotional connection and closeness, of that parental bond is so tragically sad to me.

I then spoke to T about my blog yesterday about neediness. I told her that I had wanted to send my blog from Sunday and told her what I wrote yesterday about the conversations that played out in my head. T said “did you think you would be too much?” and I said yes. I told her how I had these visions of smothering her, suffocating her and – killing her. T told me this was the “Fear of Annihilation”. I heard her say that but had no real idea what she was talking about. I’ve since Googled this and it is very interesting. I attach a link for anyone that is interested. Once I have digested this a bit more, I will write about this as I think it will be very helpful to me, and possibly others. https://healthysenseofself.com/meet-us/terminology-for-a-healthy-sense-of-self/fear-of-annihilation/

Following this “fear of annihilation” conversation I told T that it confuses me that when I am in those moments, I NEED to contact her and only her. I said nobody else would help and that felt uncomfortable for me. T said something along the lines of:

“Of course. Like a child only wants its mummy”.

And with those simple words, it suddenly made sense to me. T said that I am using T as I need to, which is as a mother figure and so when I need containing and attunement or whatever I need, of course it is only her that I want to turn to. She told me that is why I shouldn’t really go against myself when I feel that way, that I need to let myself be steadied by her and that it was okay to do that. T said this fear of annihilation meant that I was convinced either I was going to kill her off with my needs or that she would kill me off. She said that I can’t trust that she could handle her own feelings/needs.

I told T that sometimes just pressing send on an email to her was enough. I said I never understood that either. T said:

Yes, because sending the email into my inbox is like putting something (the feelings) into mum to deal with”.

She spoke about how as a baby or a child, the mum would try to figure out what it was the baby or child needed. She would speak softly to the baby and try and see was the baby hungry? Tired? Did the baby need a nappy change etc – she said that the child was steadied just by knowing the mother was there and trying her hardest to help.  She said that me sending the email to her had the same effect.  I said but I don’t know if you are even reading it for hours yet and she said no, but you know that it is no longer just you trying to deal with it all on your own. You know that I will, at least, try to help you with it and that knowledge helps you to settle.

Isn’t that interesting? I know I haven’t expressed that very well, but hopefully the general gist is there.

 

Paranoid-Schizoid and Depressive Positions And Recovery from BPD

Last week in my session with T, she said something about “paranoid-schizoid and the depressive position“. At the time, all I heard was the word “schizoid” and I momentarily freaked out that she was trying to tell me I had a personality disorder (which I probably do, but she has never actually told me that), then last night I was Googling Borderline Personality Disorder and it lead me to this page which I now realise was what she was referring to!

I found this VERY interesting and enlightening and what’s more, it has really helped me to understand the process of rupture and repair.  I am hoping it may also help some of you too.  I was planning to summarise these notes and make some comments on them but I think it is a bit too complex for me to do that accurately, so whilst I am tempted to sit here and make comments on everything, I will just attach a few links and if you have time/are interested, please do read them and let me know what you think, I would love to talk to someone about this!

A very brief summary is as follows:

The paranoid-schizoid position

Anxiety is experienced by the early infant’s ego both through the internal, innate conflict between the opposing life and death drives (manifested as destructive envy) and by interactions in external reality.

A child seeks to retain good feelings and introjects good objects, whilst expelling bad objects and projecting bad feelings onto an external object. The expulsion is motivated by a paranoid fear of annihilation by the bad object.

Klein describes this as splitting, in the way that it seeks to prevent the bad object from contaminating the good object by separating them via the inside-outside barrier.

The schizoid response to the paranoia is then to excessively project or introject those parts, seeking to keep the good and bad controlled and separated. Aggression is common in splitting as fear of the bad object causes a destructive stance.

The child’s ego does not yet have the ability to tolerate or integrate these two different aspects, and thus uses ‘magical’ omnipotent denial in order to remove the power and reality from the persecuting bad object.

This splitting, projection and introjection has a frighteningly disintegrative effect, pulling apart the fragile ego.

Projective identification is commonly used to separate bad objects whilst also keeping them close, which can lead to confused aggression.

 

The initial depressive position

The initial depressive position is a significant step in integrative development which occurs when the infant discovers that the hated bad breast and the loved good breast are one and the same.

The mother begins to be recognized as a whole object who can be good and bad, rather than two part-objects, one good and one bad. Love and hate, along with external reality and internal phantasy, can now also begin to co-exist.

As ambivalence is accepted, the mother can be seen as fallible and capable of both good and bad. The infant begins to acknowledge its own helplessness, dependency and jealousy towards the mother. It consequently becomes anxious that the aggressive impulses might have hurt or even destroyed the mother, who they now recognize as needed and loved. This results in ‘depressive anxiety’ replacing destructive urges with guilt.

The general depressive position

In the more general depressive position, projective identification is used to empathize with others, moving parts of the self into the other person in order to understand them.

To some extent, this is facilitated when the other person is receptive to this act. The experience that the projecting person through their identification is related to the actions and reactions of the other person.

When the thoughts and feelings are taken back inside the projecting person from the other person, they may be better able to handle them as they also bring back something of the other person and the way they appeared to cope. It can also be comforting just to know that another person has experienced a troublesome part of the self.

The depressive position is thus a gentler and more cooperative counterpoint to the paranoid-schizoid position and acts to heal its wounds.

 

My understanding of this is that children (or adults if they have been emotionally neglected and wounded and didn’t have a “good-enough” caregiver to help them develop through these phases successfully), tend to see people as all good or all bad due to using splitting as a defence mechanism.  In the therapy setting, this happens because a child is desperate for a good enough parent substitute (this is 100% true for me as I have written many times on here).

As therapy continues, the aim is that the therapist helps us to move through this phase as we should have done as children and in turn, we are more able to view the therapist as a whole person made up of good bits and bad bits and not one or the other.

I guess that when my T referred to me having “moved out of the paranoid-schizoid and into the depressive position” on Thursday she meant that I have moved out of the entirely “bad” projecting place and was then in a place where I was feeling guilt and worry about HER feelings and the damage that I may have caused to HER and our relationship. I think this is evident if you read my latest blog post.

Klein says “If the confluence of loved and hated figures can be borne, anxiety begins to centre on the welfare and survival of the other as a whole object, eventually giving rise to remorseful guilt and poignant sadness, linked to the deepening of love.”. I think I speak of this poignant sadness in my post “Drunk Thoughts“.

I guess when I went to my session Thursday and told T I couldn’t relax, was crying a lot and didn’t really know why and was feeling utterly helpless it was because I was feeling the guilt and grief of my projection onto T, the worry that I had damaged her/us.

 

AANNNDDDDD……

On top of this wonderful new information, I then came across the following blog:

https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/four-phases-of-bpd-treatment-and-recovery/

which explained the 4 phases of therapy when recovering from BDP – being

(1) The Out-of-Contact Phase

(2) Ambivalent Symbiosis

3)  Therapeutic Symbiosis

4)  Resolution of the Symbiosis (Individuation)

The blogger explains these amazingly well and so I won’t copy her blog but please read it if you are interested.  I wonder now if this is what my T meant when she told me last week that we were now entering into the phase of my therapy where rupture and repair was common.  (Phase 2 perhaps? The ambivalent phase?).

I then read this:

“…. the dominance of the all-negative images during ambivalent symbiosis result in the patient distrusting the therapist and using projective identification to reject them. The patient distorts the therapist, turning him “all bad” in their mind in order to block the development of a positive relationship. In other words, the patient sabotages himself by actively attacking his potential positive relationship to the therapist“.

Oh dear.. well that feels worryingly familiar doesn’t it? Our entire rupture was formed on me asking to go from 2 sessions to 1 and her reaction being that I was sabotaging my therapy……… GULP!!  What followed? a huge rupture where I turned her “all bad”………….

 

Drunk thoughts 

I’m drunk, not in a bad way but I’ve had enough wine that I’m feeling that typical I love everyone glow. 
And guess who I love right now? My T. 
I love her and I admit it, I need her. I want her in my life. 

But she did scare me. She really, really bloody scared me last week/weekend. I can see now with clearer more adult eyes that I projected a lot onto her and I can see that there was a hell of a lot of transference going on…. regardless of all that stuff, I was truly scared. 

Yesterday in my session I felt very weird. I felt uneasy and confused. I couldn’t find the words to sum up my experience. I cried so much. I told T I wanted to relax but couldn’t. I was being pulled between her being good and her being bad. 
I went for a long walk after and felt okay but when I got home I cried again, a lot. And then the guilt hit. 

Shit.. I haven’t apologised. I haven’t said sorry. She must think I’m awful. 
So I emailed her to say sorry and thank you and she replies a few hours later to say it was okay and that she understood. Her mail disappointed me again because it wasn’t as warm as I wanted it to be. As always though, it said enough that nobody else would agree with that. That feeling makes me wish I hadn’t emailed, it’s familiar. 

I realised last night that the feeling I was having was familiar. Someone says or does something which worries me, I shit myself and get protective of myself. I get strong and angry. I act out. Then I realise at some point I was wrong or I went too far or something and I am hit with such a sadness and such a guilt. It’s hard to find the words to convey the guilty feeling. It’s awful sadness and fear I guess. Fear that I’ve fucked everything up. 

T says “it’s okay”. She could be saying that in an honest, real “it’s okay!” (Calm down voice) or it could be a “it’s okay” (don’t do it again voice)… the one I think she’s using. 

I noticed when I arrived yesterday that T looked … something. She looked like she had been crying maybe? Sad? Her face looked different and she didn’t seem as ….. happy? as usual. I worried about her. Why? Why was she crying? Was she crying about the things I had said about her? About having to see me again when she didn’t want to? Something else? It’s played on my mind since then a few times. Is she okay? 

I’ve realised this week that the fact my trauma is about my mum and her emotional unavailability, her cruelty and everything else means that I need to see T as a replacement mother, a better mother, a “good enough mother” and yet I’m so clearly so scared that T will turn out like my mother did, that I’m unconsciously looking for evidence of her wrongdoing or bad traits… so it’s like half of me wants to find something and be like. “Ah hah! I knew it!” And yet the other half desperately can’t bare that to happen. To lose another Mum? To go through that loss twice? Oh no. I can’t. 

The stuff going on right now is deep as …. 

I don’t feel T is warm enough and I don’t feel she wants to help me enough and I don’t feel she (or anyone else) could possibly understand HOW BAD it hurts – and I also understand that perhaps all of those feelings are transference and understanding that makes me understand my “original trauma” more, or perhaps my unconscious trauma …. it helps me understand me more. And it’s painful. 

That’s all deep from wine thoughts huh?! 

Coping Strategies/Behaviours

Its 3.54pm as I start to type this.  I am sat on my cuddle chair with the back door open for some fresh air to come in whilst wearig a comfy pair of jogging bottoms, a hoodie and have my blanket over my legs.

I took another day off of work today although I am actually feeling a million times better than yesterday.  I just craved one more day at home alone, but not because I am crying or anything.  Today I have been to the gym, blasted my music through my headphones and spent about 40 minutes on the treadmill walking and running and then a bit on the exercise bike.  After the gym, I went to the supermarket and stocked up on loads of healthy foods, fruit, salad, veg etc.  I came home, made and ate a lovely salad and I am now cooking a roast chicken for me and my fiance to eat tonight after my therapy session.

I feel strangely good today.. happy.. positive.  I don’t mean to sound like Mrs Negative or anything, but I am considering whether this is some strange sort of fake happiness or the calm before the storm.  It could also, of course, be genuine because writing that letter yesterday to T helped me immensely.  I found so much clarity writing that letter, it helped me to figure out my main concerns, my main fears and where they came from – what the transference was and what is actually “now”.  Since doing that, the whole episode feels minimised into almost nothing…

I am open to the thought that this could be some clever trick my psyche is playing on me because I admit that it feels much easier to be angry with T at a distance and of course in a few hours I will be sat in front of her and the thought makes me squirm!!!

I guess it’s better than spending the day feeling unwell which has happened lots in the past if I am dreading a session, sometimes I get bad heartburn, a headache or an upset stomach. I guess there is still time.

I am really intrigued to see how tonight goes.  I feel quite open to all ideas and suggestions and I am not going in angry or closed so I think that is good… but I am dreading reading my letter to T and any of the other blogs that I have sent her. How cringe is that? It isn’t so much the actual complaints such as “her admitting her anger” or whatever, that is genuinely a concern and one I am happy to tell her, its more the bits where I was angry and writing things like “well you sound like my fucking mother!!” cringe, cringe, cringe…………………

I am predicting that if T is nice and soft and makes me feel at ease then I may end up very easily accepting any apology or suggestion that she makes.. and then potentially coming away afterwards or the next day and thinking “actually, no, I don’t like that”… I don’t know why the delay.. perhaps again it comes back to being more comfortable feeling my anger at a distance where she can’t get to me/see me or something.  Either way, I feel this is my first real rupture and I am sure whatever happens will lead to some valuable therapy.. who knows how useful it may end up being. I am still in shock that I found some random courage to confront her about my worries and doubts, that is very unlike me. Perhaps a new, more courageous and outspoken me is being born! Here’s hoping!

Changing the subject slightly, the last time I felt as down as I did yesterday was the beginning of June. That was the week I ended up being signed off work.  In that week, after the two days of non-stop crying and sleeping, I went to the gym nearly every day, shopped for healthy food, ate nothing but salad and rabbit food (not really) and made a real effort to lose weight………  so that is interesting that I’ve done that again today/yesterday after feeling so low…. coincidence or not? I am not sure.

Me and another blogger were talking a while ago about this very subject – we have both noticed our patterns with food when we feel insecure or upset.  We both reported episodes of either restricting food OR comfort eating, depending on the feeling. She rightly pointed out that it seems to be about feeling powerless and out of control. I guess this is the same for people who suffer from eating disorders – perhaps it is for the same reasons?  When I was a kid, I had a little bin in my room and I used to hide my dinners in it rather than getting told off for not eating enough – that would certainly explain that, although it wouldn’t have been a conscious decision at that age.

It made me think of other things I do/behaviours I have when I am experiencing certain feelings. So far I can think of the following: Eat less/eat too much, sleep too much, stay home from work with the curtains closed and a blanket on me all day – not showering until an hour before my fiance is due home, spend money/shop excessively, clean and tidy the house excessively and get agitated by any mess that is made (I note I had severe OCD as a child) and lastly, crave alcohol – go out and drink wine.  What do you do?

The other thing we spoke about was that I will fall back into severe body hating.  I will find myself repulsive and get horrible visions of things I want to do to my body.  I will feel ugly and fat and just generally disgusting – she suggested that perhaps when I do that, I am turning my anger inwards – I think that is highly likely. I really need to keep an eye on this as it is clearly very destructive.

Well, it is now 4.15pm….. in just over 3 hour I will be there with T.. think of me please and send me good luck vibes! AGGGHHHH……

A Letter to T (not actually sent)

Dear T,

I am writing this for my benefit more than your’s, but perhaps it will help us both. Who knows.

Right now things aren’t feeling good for me. About you. You aren’t feeling safe to me at the moment. In fact, you feel dangerous to me. That probably sounds a bit dramatic but its the truth.

Right now I feel that when I see you I will have to put on an act that I am very strong, very sure of myself and of my feelings, opinions and thoughts and not weak. The reason I feel like that is that I feel if you sense my weakness, you will sense a “way in” and you will use it to your advantage to “win” somehow. Perhaps by making me doubt myself and think that you are right and I am wrong, perhaps by persuading me that I have been stupid, perhaps by filling me with guilt…. perhaps by removing the sense I have at the moment that I am not weak or stupid or guilty, but I am listening to my own mind, my body and to my gut, to my self for once. I don’t want you to take that away from me.

When I started to have doubts that perhaps you aren’t actually who I thought you were, I tried to brush them off. I tried to ignore myself and then I tried to listen to myself… listening to myself is what has got me here. I have spent my life ignoring or dismissing my own beliefs or ignoring my internal danger radar – I decided that has to stop. And here I am.

You don’t feel safe because I feel like perhaps the whole time that I have looked at you as the some great protector, the fantasy mother or whatever else I’ve seen you as, has all been wrong.  When you apportioned  your own angry feelings to me you were wrong. You weren’t only wrong, you did what SHE does. Don’t project your negative shit onto me. I won’t take it. I am NOT a scapegoat anymore for anyone, least of all you who should know better.  Why do people see me as such an easy target? Do I do something to make that possible? Is it because people look at me and think “she won’t do anything about it”? Is it that easy?

You don’t feel safe anymore because you ruined my good news. SHE does that too. Why have you started doing the things that she does?

You’ve admitted that when you got my email telling you I had a new job and telling you I would be dropping back to one session a week you felt anger. I could tell you felt something negative because of your reply. I admitted to you that your reply left me feeling disheartened and dissapointed. It felt “therapisty” and cold to me, but as usual, I doubted myself because obviously you are right all the time.. or so I thought. I should have trusted my gut at the time. I could feel something wasn’t right then but I chose to ignore it. There seems to be a pattern emerging there.

You experienced a negative reaction to my good news. I don’t know the reason for that, but what I do know is that, that isn’t right. It isn’t normal for my therapist to have a negative reaction to my good news.  Guess who else would feel a negative response to my good news?? HER AGAIN. I expected more from you T.  At least with her I can put it down to her being jealous of me somehow, but clearly that doesn’t apply to you and so the only way I can make sense of that is that you want to keep me down, small, weak…. dependant on you and that makes me so angry. Why do you both want to keep me needy?

I feel like you will blame all of this on me. I feel like you are currently sitting at home feeling totally un-phased by all of this. Perhaps it crosses your mind every now and again and you think to yourself “Ooh Twink has turned me bad – at last, this will be interesting” or something similar which feels painfully condescending and disrespectful to the pain and anguish I am left with in the meantime. It makes me feel like a fucking science experiment. You won’t admit that to me of course, that wouldn’t be ethical. My feelings mean shit, right?

Being angry at you or not trusting you feels like a no-win situation. You are more intelligent, more important, more authoritative and more wise. I am none of those things and so, naturally, I am wrong.

Every now and then this wave of guilt washes over me when I think of the times you have been kind and soft and it makes me cry. Like now as I type that… but I am fighting against that because I can’t lose my anger. Losing my anger makes me feel weak again and as I have already said, me being weak means you get to be stronger and overpower me and I can’t let that happen. I can’t be crushed. Guilt is a bastard little shit face. Guess who else uses guilt to win?

If it turns out that you are just like my mother I don’t know what I will do. The thought terrifies me. It isn’t impossible though is it? Look how many people like my mother I’ve already attracted in my life! There’s Sarah, then Tina and God only knows how many other people, not to mention the fact my Nan and sister clearly treat me with similar traits to my mother and her narcissism. Do what we say, do what we do, don’t disagree and don’t say no… or else…… that’s how you made me feel too.

If I have bared my heart and soul to you for the last 3 years and all the while you were just like her, then I give up. I won’t ever be able to trust anyone again because if even a qualified therapist is able to control and manipulate me and make me feel weak and use me as a scapegoat for her shit feelings, then what hope is there?

I think I will stop there because I am drained and I have a headache from crying.

Despite my anger, my fear and everything else, I can clearly see that a lot of this letter is probably transference after all…… but that doesn’t give you permission to make light of it. The feelings are real, the pain is real and the fear is real too.

Don’t laugh at it, please.

 

 

 

 

 

Busy thoughts and doubts

This whole situation with T is really playing on my mind. It has played on my mind all weekend but its been hard to pay much attention to it with the kids here until half an hour ago.

I still feel the same about everything but now I am having these doubts that I am wrong and that I’ve totally got it wrong.  I can see how easily this all looks like transference and if its transference, that basically means that its all me and none of it belongs to T, right? That doesn’t seem right to me.

I Googled rupture and repair earlier whilst watching a film with the kids and what I read seemed to suggest that T’s don’t take too seriously anything we may say at them in our disagreement with them because they should view it as handy tool to what our biggest struggle is with the world.  That made me angry. So, does that mean that my T, any T, won’t really care about what we are saying they have done to annoy or upset us, but they will just instantly take it away from themselves and apply it to others?? If that is the case then that seems rather fucked up, doesn’t it?

I wrote this:

What are my underlying fears with the concerns I have with T right now? 

  • That I have trusted her when I shouldn’t have. That I have, yet again, fallen into a relationship with someone who doesn’t have my best interests at heart despite what I thought at the time.
  • That I have to agree with her and do what she says otherwise I get punished somehow.
  • That she is just like my mother – like Tina. I have been blind because I hadn’t yet “found my voice” to disagree with her on anything.
  • What would have happened if I had of agreed with everything she said that session? How many other things have I done wrong/missed out on/gone against my true wishes on just because I wanted to please her – to be the good girl?

Now even I can clearly see that many if not all of those things could easily be about my mother and not T. So that makes me doubt myself, perhaps it really isn’t about T after all?

Yet that doesn’t sit well with me because the facts still remain that a therapist shouldn’t have acted the way T did in that session “Disaster” and the fact still remains that the anger SHE felt when she read my email about dropping a session did not belong to me.

It is still the case that she projected her feeling onto me. I am not accepting that.

It is still the case that she has responded entirely differently about my second session since the new job offer, so what has changed? AND it is still the case that even she admitted her response to my email was cold (she has admitted she thought about sending one to apologise but decided not to. Why?).

I’m not actually getting anywhere with this writing so I apologise for repeating things I’ve already said in my previous blogs. It is just going round and round in my head and I can’t make any real sense of it.

I feel horrible but I just feel like T is feeling rather smug and arrogant and doesn’t have a care in the world about all of this because she cant accept that any of it could belong to her. Possibly transference again, but still, how I feel regardless.

God how irritating.

Doubts about T (Part 2)

One of my lovely readers has just commented to suggest the following:

“With that anger comment, the plot really seems to thicken! Random thought came to my mind about her possibly projecting. And it’s a completely random and out there thought without knowing either of you. Can you imagine if she has a daughter/son who is going/has gone through a similar big life change without consulting her? And she feels completely powerless in that relationship. Or hurt about not being consulted in some relationship. And this is seeping into your work in some way. So a reenactment from her side, not yours. Or you both reenacting and getting into a toxic spiral without being able to clearly define what is going on… As I said, just a fun theory… 🙂”

This has REALLY given me something to think about and I am currently in agreement.

The reasons being that whilst T was away, I was offered an interview, attended the interview and was offered a job, which I then accepted all without consulting her.  I then emailed her to tell her that these events had happened, hoping she would be proud of me and that it would demonstrate my growth.  She replied very bluntly (in my opinion) and with a total lack of congratulations which left me feeling disheartened.

She has since admitted that when she received my email, she felt “a real surge of anger” that she decided belonged to me and not her. I strongly disagree with this and feel that perhaps she DID feel a surge of anger, but that her anger actually belonged to her and that she was projecting it on to me because she knew somewhere that it wasn’t the right way to feel about the decisions I had made on my own.

She has also since admitted that she thought her response to my email was a bit cold and that she spent a few days afterwards debating whether to text me to say “Sorry, my response wasn’t very pleasant” but that she decided to “leave me with my anger“.

Moving on, I then had my doubts about that job and was invited for another interview somewhere else, which she DID know about. I then went to the interview and was offered (and accepted the job) all with her alongside.  Her reaction this time was completely different. She was even excited for me and subsequently she has not tried to talk me out of dropping my second session at all. She even said yesterday that we will see how things go and that if I need a second session again, the universe will align to make that possible. That we should trust in that. – A total 360 on last week.

She said to me that when I heard from the new employer as to whether or not I had the job, I could text her to tell her if I wanted to – I thought that was a nice offer and despite feeling I could have easily held it until I saw her the following day, I did drop her a text and she replied MUCH warmer. She congratulated me and told me to “enjoy the feeling”. Perhaps she wanted me to text her so she could right a wrong so to speak. To repair the first reaction with a much better, more appropriate one.

Those two reactions to two very similar situations are extremely different aren’t they? The only difference between the situations is that she wasn’t involved in the decision-making process of one and she was with the other.

She then said that yesterday she was happy for me and that “perhaps she picked up on my uncertainty” over the first job. I disagree, but nodded along that it was a possibility.

I genuinely think this could be what’s happening here and I am debating telling her this too.. BUT I am a bit concerned about the repercussion’s of it because in my recent experience of her, she has not accepted any of her own “stuff” in this. She has projected feelings onto me and said that I trapped HER in a re-enactment……  so if I do tell her, would she be able to take this to her supervisor and take a real, genuine look at it? or will she tell me I am wrong, become defensive and insulted and then I potentially ruin things between us?

Having said that, if I do speak to her and it does ruin things between us – perhaps it would be just as well I found out now?

IF one of her two daughters made an important decision without her input or advice and it did leave her feeling left out or powerless or something, that would explain the strong reaction I received and would also explain why I felt like she was talking to me like a child (I told her that).  It is possible (as Jay rightly says in the comment above), that the “re-enactment” she speaks of, was a two-way thing. Transference AND also countertransference because her reacting from a triggered (and countertransference) perspective triggered my anger because I felt like she was trying to 1) ruin my good news (like my mum does) and 2) control me and make me doubt my own strength.

 

 

Disaster 

Fucking therapy. Honestly, why do I sign myself up for this torture? What a joke. 

I’ve just this minute got home from my first session back in over 2 weeks and can honestly say, it was the worst session I’ve had in all the years of therapy I’ve had. 

I’ve never felt like leaving a session so much before. Like I genuinely considered leaving. I stared at the clock or the floor the whole time and I felt so angry and so frustrated with T I could have combusted. 

I went in there unwell, I have a stinking cold. Obviously that can’t just be a cold though, can it? Noooo it’s all about her and going back after a break. Yawn! 

Then we start talking about my new job. I told her how dissapointed I’ve been with everyone’s reaction. She said “maybe you wer dissapointed with mine?” Yes. Yes I was. I admitted it. I told her it was a HUGE deal for me and I would have liked some happiness and congratulations. I explained I wanted her to do what my mum doesn’t. She said something about how she had to play it safe because it was tied up in dropping a session etc.. 

Anyway, I’ll write more another time because now I am too pissed off but basically she just didn’t listen to a thing I said about dropping a session. She didn’t hear me at all. She kept on repeatedly telling me I was potentially ruining my therapy, she even said I DID NEED to be going twice a week, that I’m not “where you think you are” (fuck you). 

She went on and on and on and on about how I was sabotaging myself, how I was shut off and how I wasn’t in touch with my feelings or my child self… she kept on and on about how I should tell my new job I need therapy twice a week and how I should tell them I need Thursday afternoons off. I told her, clearly, I didn’t want to do that. I told her I wanted a fresh start, I wanted to throw myself into my new job and I didn’t want to do that. 

She wouldn’t have it. She wouldn’t listen. She didn’t hear me AT ALL!!!! 

I felt myself boiling with rage. I let her talk, I breathed through it – but my God she wouldn’t let up. 

At one point she even said that if I stop back to one session a week, I will shut down and not be able to access the stuff I was and so I snapped “so I’ll have to stop and it will all be pointless”. 

She said she could see I was angry with her. No shit! 

She kept on about how she was trying to put a middle ground in because I had gone off too far the other way. 

I’m genuinely sure she would never have spoken to or said the things she said to me had I been a 40 year old woman instead of someone her daughters’ age. I think there’s some counter-transference going on. 

I’m so angry at some of the jabs she made such as “why would you want to work for a firm that wouldn’t allow you to have Thursday afternoons off?” and things like how my therapy won’t work once a week.  She also said “are you getting a pay rise because there’s no point going sideways?”. 

The whole session was her talking AT me, not to me. It was her on her high horse telling me how wrong I am. 

I can’t even bring myself to write anymore right now. I have never felt like this about her before. I’ve never wanted to walk out so much. 

She even kept trying to make “jokes”, couldn’t she see how angry I was? 

Man. Wtf. Oh and then she said I might “fill in the gaps” meaning I would misinterpret what she was saying and that I would confuse her with my mother. 

Ha well if so, that’s because you sound like my fucking mother! 

Where does it go? 

As I was sat in the hairdressers this morning I reflected back on the events that unfolded since my session Thursday. I thought about the initial upset, then the anger, the missatunement, the confusion, more anger and then yesterday’s decision to tell T how I was feeling. 

LUCKILY for me, T responded quickly and said she heard I was angry with her (I bet she nearly fell off her chair!) and she asked me if I was able to come for another session that same day – only two hours later actually! 

Unfortunately I couldn’t go, as much as I would have loved to, because I was at work but I really love that she offered. 

I told her I couldn’t, but would have really loved to and she replied to say that as that wasn’t going to work she was “here” and thinking of me, that she understood the anger and confusion and acknowledged that her missatunement (is that an agreement?) had got me in touch with my anger and pain. 

She suggested that I kept writing and told me she would not retaliate and told me to “hang in there“. 

I felt instantly better. Like within moments and that hasn’t changed since. In fact today I feel happy and have been singing along to my tunes in the car. 

I dreamt of “her” last night. I say “her” like that because it was meant to be her but I’m not sure her face was right – I don’t actually recall a face but I knew it was T if that makes sense. [side question: does anyone struggle to call up an image of their T? I can’t picture her when I’m not in fromt of her at all. I would struggle to draw a picture of her or describe her to someone]

Anyway, the dream was that I was at her family home with her dream husband and daughter. Me and her daughter were playing together and I stayed over and had dinner the next day. We went outside to her garden which was absolutely beautiful and huge. It even had pink blossom trees and a stream! We sat and played games and it was heavenly. 

I remember in the dream that they had some suitcases out in a room on the floor and had started to pack for a skiing trip. I think I was sad about that but trying to push that out of my mind. 

My sister was with me too, she was very young in the dream and lost a tooth which I looked after for her. 

When we were leaving T gave me a melon, some yogurts and an open can of baked beans (how odd!!) I loved that she gave me those things and didn’t want to leave. I left and drove me and my little sister home. 

I woke up and shortly after I fell back to sleep, this time I dreamt of what I can only describe as a giant heart shape made of grass and hedges and I was pushing the centre of the heart desperately trying to get inside. 

To break through the heart. Symbolic much? 

Dreams aside, I’m just wondering, why I feel so much better just because T knows? I wonder psychologically speaking why that helps so much? How has it completely removed the anger? Why do I feel so adult and content today when I felt so desperate then? 

Not that I’m complaining of course, I just wonder why it’s made such a huge difference.