By the time Monday came around, I no longer felt like I wanted to make stars in my session. The weekend had felt hard as my anxieties rose about the upcoming break. I’d felt this emptiness that is familiar with the attachment problems I have.
I feel like my anxieties around breaks is becoming worse instead of better and I don’t know why. But it certainly hasn’t helped the way the breaks have been spaced out. Sienna was away mid April and then we’ve had 7 weeks before this upcoming break and then there will be only 4 weeks and she’s gone away again for a course for a week. And it all feels like too much. One exhausting wave after another.
The pain and worry of separation opened up this grieving and emptiness and anger too. I felt like in our second last session before the break, I really needed to find some connection to Sienna, something that would sustain me throughout the break. I wanted to talk to her about how I was feeling and get some reassurance. Even though really, nothing would help most likely.
I knew if we made the stars, we’d be distracted with that and it would be a light chatty session. And that wasn’t what I needed. The younger parts of me really needed some contact. And honestly, with some of the material that’s been surfacing in the past week, there was lots of other things that needed attention.
I took the stuff I’d bought to make the stars and sky anyway. Because my thinking was that I could leave it there and we’ll do it another time.
Sienna was excited see what I’d brought in. She asked why I didn’t want to do the stars anymore. I gave her a shrug and said “ I just don’t.”
As we settled down into the session, Sienna said “ I had a thought during the week, and I wondered; have we got caught in the trap of focussing on the downside too much?”
I instantly felt my hackles go up.
I said “ Why?”
She said breezily “ I don’t know, it was just a thought that came to me that… do we get caught in that thing of always looking on the bleak side and never checking in with you about what’s actually going okay and what parts are okay. And is there a narrative in your life… as I know there sometimes is… is there an opposite (more positive) narrative going on in your life than what you bring here? And I’m just curious I suppose because this is your time and your space, is that an important thing; to be able to concentrate on all that stuff and just get it out in here OR does it leave unbalanced? I don’t know, I’m just reflecting what came up for me and a thought popped into my head. I suppose I’m just checking in, making sure that I’m not driving the negative all the time….”
I sat there, taking in what I’d just heard. Feeling slightly stunned and confused. And suddenly very unsafe.
I felt like she was saying that my sessions are so negative and that we or me specifically are wallowing in that and not spending enough time talking about the positive.
I was perplexed. I don’t feel like we are negative. The stuff I bring is in my heart and soul. It’s dark, and murky and complex and heart-breaking and challenging. We are getting to a part of the work where the pressure is ramping up a bit as the younger more concealed parts begin showing themselves. But I don’t think we are concentrating on the “negative” stuff. I don’t even like that she labelled my life or my stuff that I bring as negative or bleak.
I mean it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, granted. But why is my hurt being labelled as negative or bleak?
I felt judged.
Sometimes I wish Sienna would keep her thoughts to herself.
I understand it’s her job to look at the overall picture of what’s going on in therapy. And maybe it’s a reasonable thing to ask herself? Is she as a therapist driving the attention onto the dark stuff all the time, would it be helpful to mention the positives? I get it. But honestly…. The way she delivered that to me there was shit.
Sometimes I don’t need to know everything that she thinks or wonders about.
I sat there feeling angry. And very defended. And bloody hurt. And I felt like I now had to hide myself from her.
I couldn’t speak and my mind just span off in a whirl-wind of confusion.
I finally spoke in a huffy tone “ Well, folk don’t normally come to counselling to talk about all the good things in their life.”
Sienna said “ it’s not a criticism, I’m just…
I interjected “ Well it sounded like one.”
Sienna said “ no, it’s just checking in on the process of therapy I suppose.”
I spat back “ Well you must think it (that we’re too much in the negative things) if that thought occurred to you.”
Sienna explained further “ I suppose, it’s just a bit of awareness for me as well… I’m just checking in on various things.” I assume what she was saying is that perhaps she was just doing a bit of “meta perspective work” and thought she should make sure that I was okay and not feeling like we are concentrating too much on the hard stuff.
I sat there, stony-faced, not looking at her.
Sienna changed tack “ You look tired tonight.”
I nodded. Thinking to myself, “ yeah, well traumatic based nightmares that include child abuse, dead bodies and blood every night will do that to you.”
The room fell silent. I was furious.
Sienna asked me questions, and I stonewalled them all. Fuck her. I wasn’t going to speak. Why should I? All my stuff is Bleak.”
My foot was jigging up and down, agitated.
Sienna said “ What is your foot saying?”
I said sarcastically “ I don’t know, what do you think it’s saying?”
She laughed “ I don’t know, but it looks pretty annoyed! It looks like it’s saying Piss Off Sienna, go away!”
I looked at her and made an expression that said “ YUP, Bingo!!”
Then I say with attitude “ Well, I don’t have anything joyful to say, so you speak and I’ll listen.”
Sienna said in a tone she uses when she’s being tolerant of my attitude and sort of deflecting my tone “ Welllll…. I don’t need have joyful stuff, it was just a reflection or a though that’s all.” She ended her sentence with a yawn and a slight stretch and if she was very relaxed. And it was on the tip of my tongue to ask her what her yawn said?
I fucking hate her tiredness. What even IS that?
Sienna got up and brought me paper and told me to get my pens out.
I said “ no.”
She said “I want you to draw me what you really want to say right now.”
Again I said “ nope.”
She exclaimed “ no??”
I knew she was being playful and sort of not taking me seriously in my huff. She gets like this when I’m being teenagery and she seems to enjoy the challenge and she seems to enjoy teasing the teenage part. Not in a cruel way, more in a trying to cajole me out my huff way.
She said “ I’m trying to work out who’s here tonight? Who’s usually belligerent.”
I smiled slightly despite my mood.
Sienna continued “ Sofia? Mia?”
She looked at me. I wasn’t giving her an answer. She said “ You’ve got your hair up differently tonight, does that mean someone else is here?”
I shrugged. I didn’t know. I didn’t feel different.
Sienna sat down and started drawing. I sat on the opposite sofa, staring at the office wall. Mired in rage and mistrust.
Sienna said “ I want you to draw what you’re feeling inside right now.”
I said sullenly “ I don’t want to.”
I really did want to. But I had totally shut down. My anger had gotten the better of me and I’d lost trust in Sienna… I felt ashamed to bring anything up anymore since it was deemed as “negative.”
Sienna asked if there’s anything I’d like to do.
She said “ Do you want to talk about doom and gloom?”
I said “ WHAT?” Did she just say do I want to talk about doo and gloom?????
She repeated “ Do you want to talk about doom and gloom or do you want to talk about…..”
I exploded “ Well I didn’t realise I was supposed to come here and talk about really positive things…”
What the actual fuck was going on here? What’s with the judgmental labels? OMG!
Sienna interrupted “ no that’s not what I’m saying either, that’s not what I’m suggesting you’ve twisted that…it’s not what I’m suggesting.”
So what the fuck is she saying then? How am I twisting it? When she’s the one labelling what I bring to session as “doom and gloom” “negative” and Bleak” and that’s in the first 12 minutes of the session.
I said to her “ Well, I’m sorry my life is doom and gloom and I bring it every single week.” I felt like adding if she wanted the happy stuff, maybe we should just meet at the pub.
Sorry, but what the fuck is therapy for? If I want to talk about the normal life stuff, the happy stuff… then I’ll talk to a friend who doesn’t charge me an hourly rate to do so.
Sienna said “ That’s fine. I’m not saying it isn’t fine. Actually it was about me, I was checking in with you that I wasn’t focussing on an area when actually there’s other things you might prefer to work on.”
I spat out “ And you don’t think I’d tell you if that was the case?”
She said “ You might not. We might both be caught in the same game or trap whatever you want to term it, that’s all.”
It felt so unfair to me that she was using all these judgemental labels for my emotions and what I brought each week. But I couldn’t work out if I was really over-reacting or not.
I didn’t really think that deep down she’s judging me, I couldn’t believe that she would. And yet I couldn’t understand why she was using words like “doom and gloom” and “bleak.” And I felt scared that maybe was sick of our sessions, sick of me or worse, thinking I wallow needlessly in painful things. Maybe that’s her real thoughts.
We sat in silence and she drew her picture and I stared into the distance.
Sienna finally spoke and said “ I get a real sense I’ve triggered something. But I don’t know what it is unless you tell me. Or draw it for me if you can’t find the words.”
How can she not know? I thought.
I wouldn’t speak to her. I was totally closed down. All I knew was that I came to this session needing connection from her, needing holding for the fears and anxieties about the break coming up and instead I feel like I’ve been judged. I felt panic because the minutes were dwindling away fast and this session wasn’t going to be saved and there was only one more session and then she was away.
Sienna said “ Do you want me to talk?”
I said quietly “ Go for it.”
She said “ Well I’m wondering if this is what other people experience from you if you’re annoyed – well you look annoyed, I can’t presume you’re annoyed – and you can’t find the words or you don’t want to say and you just close down to other people and it just feels like people may as well leave you because they can’t get a bit of communication? Is that a pattern.”
Um yes, maybe. But I’m not going to tell you that.
I say sarcastically “ I’m just waiting for you to pick a joyful subject.”
Let’s have some fucking joy, Sienna, you don’t want bleak or doom and gloom so gimmie something full of joy then!
Sienna entertains me and plays along and she starts talking shit about random stuff that I don’t care about.
I had my head turned away from her.
She said “ now you look sad.”
There was no way I was going to be vulnerable with her now. And it amazed me and made me laugh a bit inside that the eye that was furthest away from Sienna was crying but my other eye that Sienna would have been able to see, stayed dry!!!
I was actually so determined not to show her emotion that I was able to cry out of one eye! Hahahah WTF?
Sienna said “ Are you going to go out of here tonight and think that you had wanted to say things tonight and didn’t?”
I shrugged. But yep that’s exactly what would happen.
She said “can I draw a face on your foot?” ( I had sparkly ballet slippers on)
LOL, sorry what? Most random request ever. She was obviously trying to remain playful and hope to get a smile out of me. But fuck that.
I said no.
We fell into a big silence and I just watched the time speed by and I felt more and more resentful of how utterly shit this session was. I was desperate for Sienna to do something… to somehow save it.
It felt like she was avoiding the obvious, her fucking comments at the beginning. And she really missed the mark on the tone of this session. I acknowledge that she did try to get me to talk about it and I stonewalled her. But this talking crap and trying to playfully cajole me out my mood was a terrible strategy. It felt like she wasn’t taking anything seriously.
In the last few minutes of the session I told her that this had been pointless. And I was going to just start the holidays here, ie not come in for my Monday session. Because at this point why bother? There was only one more crappy hour and then she’d be away. And I’d be left my myself to deal with it all.
She said she didn’t think that was a good idea for the younger parts. She asked if that felt easier? To just dissociate all my feelings to cope with the break.
Sienna said it was up to me, but she’ll be there for my session.
Somehow even that pissed me off. I felt like she didn’t care. She felt like a stranger to me.
So I upped the ante and said “ Actually, I’m not coming back at all.”
I think I wanted some sort of reaction. I wanted her to realise the gravity of how shitty this session had been and how badly it was affecting me. And part of me wanted to punish her probably. And another part of me genuinely didn’t see the point. I felt like I’d lost trust in her in that session and the break was weighing heavily on my mind and it all felt too much and I genuinely wanted to get away.
She asked if it was because I was annoyed tonight or if it was because I wanted to switch off from my feelings?
I asked her to give me my book back. She asked what book? And I told her “ my book, my journal…”
She got up and gave me it and I collected my stuff and left the room. She followed me part way and said “ Check in on Friday?” and I said “No.”
I walked away. So angry. So determined to not go back.
And this week has been really crappy because of it. The anger hasn’t really calmed down much.
And you know, part of me hoped/wished she’d reach out to me. It would have gone a long way if she had. And that’s just making me angry, that it’s always me who has to make amends, always me that has to reach out first. Why is that???
I can see the point if I was a client who constantly sat on their arse and looked for rescue instead of asking for what they need. But I’m not. I work really hard in therapy. Really hard. And when I’m able to communicate better, I do so.
But I’m struggling with this and it would have been nice to know she cared enough to send me a text or something.
Part of me imagines her “knowing” I’ll calm down and turn up on Monday because my stupid attachment pattern will drag me there. So she doesn’t need to worry about me terminating. And it gives me rage to think of that. And it makes me even less likely to go on Monday. Just to prove a dumb point.
Part of me imagines that she is watching me squirm and fight with myself and get into a power-struggle like a dumb toddler who hasn’t worked out that mum knows all her manipulative tricks.
And that makes me want to be less predictable.
I know I’m being stupid and causing myself more pain by not just reaching out. And it IS causing me pain, yet I can’t end this stand-off. I am so hurt and angry.