When the therapist puts her own needs first…

I don’t know why I feel this level of mistrust and anger in Sienna. All I know is, it’s there.

And it’s making it so hard to go to therapy today. I keep challenging all the negative thoughts that enter my head because I know somewhere in my head that they aren’t based in reality. I know that this is part of my work; to stay in relationship even when I want to run.

But the impulse, the huge pull to disconnect is so convincing and demanding.

Maybe this is a pulling away and anger is a method of achieving disconnection. Maybe I subconsciously want to leave the relationship and it’s impossible to do that if I turn up for sessions because I (usually)  find connection and warmth there and that’s too hard to resist.

I find myself having angry conversations with Sienna in my head, accusing her of all the things she’s done wrong. Accusing her of not caring. The evidence for which I can’t even recall right now, which tells me it’s a dissociative feeling rising up rather than reality.

One thing I know I am angry about it that she left me this entire weekend after I expressly told her I wasn’t coping and also that I felt like not coming back until this next break is done. Her reply was pretty fucking flippant.

And you know, she wasn’t well, and when I take myself out of the equation I can understand why she really could not be arsed with me. When you’re unwell you just want to rest without interruption from people demanding things of you. And technically she did the right thing, if she wasn’t well and couldn’t give me what I needed it was better for her to disengage and not be available to me rather than do a botched job of helping.

But, I can’t take me out of the equation for long. As soon as I put me IN the equation it starts to feel so personal and so painful that she chose to disengage from me. She had the knowledge that I was struggling and she decided it could wait. I could wait. That she didn’t want to be there for me this weekend. She chose to ignore my last text, apparently it wasn’t even worthy of a reply.

And just as I start to feel hurt about that, the anger takes over. And the need to disconnect deepens. The need to send a giant “fuck you” to her gets bigger.

And I catch myself thinking “ Fuck you Sienna, if you can’t be bothered, neither can I.”

I really have huge, massive trouble with separating the professional from the personal. It’s so painful to bump against those boundaries that remind that ultimately, this relationship is a professional one, that the rules are different. That other than what I pay her for, she has no obligation to me. And it confuses me. I feel very confused about it.

And really when I think about it further, even if she was to take a real mother’s role, or a close friend’s role…. Even those people have boundaries. Most mothers if unwell and their grown up children need them for non-emergency matters will ask their kid to wait. Most mother’s would still retire to bed to rest and tell their adult kid that as soon as she is feeling up to it, she’ll be in touch. Right?

And even mother’s of young children will find themselves in situations through illness or otherwise where they can’t meet the demands of their crying child. So this isn’t much different is it? Maybe it isn’t so much about professional boundaries or the relationship not being a deep enough one for her to care about my distress.

Maybe it’s just that I have really huge difficulties with not being attended to immediately. And not just that, the difficulty in understanding how someone can know I’m hurting and choose to put distance in. Whenever someone, particularly Sienna chooses to put themselves and their needs first despite knowing I need them, I find it so hard to tolerate.

Which sounds completely obnoxious. Like I have some sort of princess complex. But it’s not about me thinking I should always come first and that people should neglect their own needs to meet mine.

It’s hard to explain what my difficulty about it is. It just feels really personal, like a discount of my worth, that I don’t matter. I don’t even know if that’s fully it. I really don’t know why it bothers me so much but it affects me deeply.

There’s something about that decision, the moment that Sienna looks at her phone and sees I’ve reached out and decides “ I am turning off me phone/availability to Sirena.” Like, how is she alright with that? How could she do it? If she really cares and know everything she does about me… how is she able to just say to herself “ No, I am not dealing with this. Sirena will need to work it out for herself.” ?

There’s something about that moment that really hurts me and I don’t know why. All I know is it hurts a lot and makes me very angry.

It feels deeply personal, rejecting and maybe abandoning, I don’t know.

Maybe the belief is that I’m not valued enough to deserve that attention that I’m asking for.

The thought that just came into my head is that there’s something very triggering about Sienna putting her own needs first.

I’m not sure what that’s about.

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “When the therapist puts her own needs first…

  1. manyofus1980 says:

    I can see why your triggered. I’d find that particularly triggering as well. Its likely I’d take it personally too. So dont feel alone in that. Your not being selfish or obnoxious your simply hurting. I hope you can go tonight and speak with sienna about all this and tell her how you feel. xxx

  2. Lauren says:

    This so good because its so open. You’re dead right about a mother pulling back even with young kids, mine are 2.5 and 10 months and I need frequent breaks to fill my own cup back up, so that I can fill theirs. Not because they’re awful, it’s not that I don’t care, the exact opposite in fact. They are so bloody wonderful and I want to give them the best, my best, and it’s results in heavy and quick use of the mental resources. I have to constantly contain myself, in order to contain them, but I can’t do it continuously because my cup runs out and I need a minute to lose my shit and be less than perfect and as much as possible I do that outside of my children’s view.

    She will need to put her needs before yours sometimes, so that she can put your needs first the rest of the time. I know that you get that logically, but I think maybe it’s hard to actually experience this right now because it should have been taught to you as a child, and that everything would still be OK even when mum took a break for herself. So I guess you’re learning it now, right? But its hard because you’re not learning it as a child, one thing at a time, in a healthy environment, when the slate is clean so to speak. You’re learning it after maturing, after trauma, so its understandably much harder.

    I appreciate that this comment has come from my own ‘mum’ mode, so Sofia may not take to it 😬. So I guess if that’s the case I would say, I know it looks shit and it’s confusing and it’s hard, but I see so many positives in everything you’ve realised, this feels like growth, the kind that makes a mother proud

    Xx

    • Sirena says:

      No, it’s actually really helpful to hear it from a mum’s perspective as it sort of puts it into perspective as a normal human need to take time away from caretaking to regroup. And if a parent needs to do that with their real actual children whom the adore, then it de-personalises the feeling for me that Sienna does because she want away from me or is sick of me.
      I do understand it logically. What I can’t get my head around it how to deal with it or feel better about it.

      • Lauren says:

        Oh good!

        It will take time (that old pain in the arse) to keep experiencing it and build trust. One positive thing I’d recommend trying, is when you find yourself imaging what Sienna is thinking about you in a negative way (e.g. No I am not dealing with this. Sirena will have to deal with this on her own), imagine what she might be thinking if she were thinking about you as that child she does so clearly love and adore. I can’t speak for Sienna of course, but Ive had some similar clashes with a dear loved one of mine recently, who is an adult but has a lot of trauma she’s never dealt with and so often responds with a child or teenage part… Ive seen that no matter what I say, I will make her worse, and even though I know it will hurt her if I don’t respond, I am 100% confident that thats better than me triggering her further because that’s all I’d be doing at that point, even just empathising is triggering for her in that moment, it sounds patronising. Its a strange conflict for me, because when I do stop responding she labels me the bad guy and Im getting a lot of blame right now, so I’d rather keep talking to avoid that blame to be honest, but I know she’s hurting and isn’t thinking from a calm and loved place in those moments, but I am, so I contain me, which looks to her like abandonment but it’s so honestly not. Again, the exact opposite. I have to give her time and space to return to a calmer mindset, where she can process. It’s a really really tough place to be, and I can tell you for sure I only do it because I love her, you couldn’t pay me money to do it x

      • Sirena says:

        Thank you so much for what you wrote. It really help to understand it hearing it from the other side. Your last sentence made me laugh about “you couldn’t pay me to do it. ”

  3. all the little parts says:

    If it helps – I decided to put my littlest (nearly 3) into nursery for a day a week and my eldest (6) into holiday club on the same day throughout the holiday. I am running on empty, I utterly adore my kids but jeez are they hard work; sibling squabbles, banged knees all the need and dependency… urgh. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. And that’s when I’m FINE! When I’m ill… ugh. All bets are off, they are shipped off to their grandparents!! Doesn’t stop me loving them and I will always come back.

    I think the way to deal with it is to accept that this is how you feel, it is completely OK and acceptable, don’t beat yourself up about whether it’s logical or not (because I sense frustration and annoyance with yourself that you cannot get your logical side to influence your emotional side?) just be OK with feeling this way. Exercise some self-compassion, take care of the little parts who need Sienna and wrap yourself in a blanket and let the feelings come and let them dissipate in their own time. What would Sienna say to you? Tell yourself that, re-read things that Sienna has sent where you felt held and supported over and over again. Be gentle with yourself and Sienna and when you see her, talk to her. Have you looked into DBT skills? They might help.

    OR

    Art… always art. Draw it out. You know how to do this and you’re good at it too.

    I have the same issue with staying in relationships. 14 therapists will tell you so! Part of my therapy is staying with Claire!! Something I find SOOO hard! But dig your claws in and don’t give up. It’ll be ok.

    *safe hugs*

    Me x

    • Sirena says:

      Yeah I am frustrated because if I can’t understand it or know what it is exactly that triggers me about it all then how can I fix it? So I’m just left feeling it over and over.
      Weirdly I haven’t been remotely interested in picking up art stuff and haven’t done anything in my journal for ages either. I feel like I’m retreating a lot.
      Session in 10 mins..

  4. twinkletoes2017 says:

    I’ve just read all the comments you’ve already had and agree with everything that’s been said already.

    I would feel exactly the same as you do, honestly. I know that you understand it all from an adult rationalising perspective, but that’s not who is hurt by this – I think it’s Sofia/ a younger part and it would be for me too. In fact, just reading your blog made me angry (not that I need much help there today LOL!!). So you’re not being obnoxious at all.

    I think it’s triggered you because it’s familiar perhaps. Perhaps as a little girl you felt that your needs came last and that you weren’t important and so it’s sent you back into the old feelings and boy do they hurt!!!

    I think it’s great you are acknowledging the feelings and that you’ve been able to write them out and consider them. I struggle to tolerate “messy” feelings so I know how frustrating it is to not be able to understand them straight away but hey, it is what it is.

    As for rules and boundaries in therapy, ha! Don’t even get me started. Boundaries should be called “no go zones” that’s what hurts, we’re up against them saying “that’s enough now” and we don’t like that, who can blame us? We want it so desperately because we never got it.

    I think a lot of the pain is that it’s triggered a repeat of old feelings perhaps but also because it ruins the image of “the perfect mother” or therapist – whatever, it’s when the child in us suddenly realises that even this person can hurt us and we don’t like that. Of course we don’t.

    Anyway you’re in session now. I wonder if you’re telling her about this? I hope whatever is being said that you’re okay. Praying you leave feeling better and well done for fighting the temptation to not go (protest behaviour!) haha xx

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