Emotional Whiplash

I woke up at 5:30am this morning. I had a scheduled check-in with Sienna at 8:30am. As I sat, I found myself feeling the whole weight of Thursday’s session. I thought over and over about what happened, it was one of the most difficult sessions I’ve ever had I think, because I was dis-engaging with Sienna through sheer anger and bloody-mindedness and she pushed hard to get me to talk and she wouldn’t leave me alone.

It was a really powerful and impactful session. I still can’t bring myself to listen to it again or write it up for the blog.

I cried so many times this morning. The sense of loss weighed on my heart. I honestly had nothing to say in this check-in and I thought twice about bothering with it, because nothing I could say would change her mind so what’s the point?

At my check-in, Sienna asked how I was and I said through tears “ Heart-broken.”

Sienna empathised.

And then in a startling 180 U-turn, she said that she wasn’t going to take texts away, that she’d been wrong to do that and she was so sorry.

I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t speak.

She said she saw how important they are to me and why and she felt it was right that I was able to text her, especially after the CSA dreams.

Sienna explained that during and after Thursday’s session she suddenly realised that all the intensity that she had been feeling lately wasn’t hers. She had felt it and felt a huge need for a break and for distance from those feelings of confusion and distress and attributed it to the texting and not getting a break.. or something like that. And at some point later on Thursday she started to realise through some of the things I told her in session that it was MY distress she’d been picking up on, she was sensing the sheer level of trauma I hold, and not realising it was mine, and thought it was a sign that she needed a break.

She said she couldn’t imagine how horrific it must have been for me to hold all that trauma in for all these years.

Sienna said “ So much of that confusion and intensity has cleared in me this morning, that I’m in such a better place to support you because now I know what we’re dealing with. And I just want to reassure that I’m not going to take the texting away at the moment, I see you really need that. It might need to be reviewed at a later date but for now they need to stay.”

  • I note the “at the moment” which tells me that I can’t guarantee that it won’t be taken away again during some other rupture, and that doesn’t sit well with me, so I need to think about whether I’m able to just relinquish texting. I am not having it hang over me like some threat.

She sounded so energised and relieved to have finally understood what had been going on for her and also to have shed this building intensity and exhaustion she’d been feeling lately.

She said she was so sorry that I’d to hold what I’ve had to hold for all these years and it was unbearable to that of me being on my own with it.

I was like “ WTF is she talking about? Hold what?”

She continued, “ I can hear and feel how hard it is for you this morning, and I just don’t even know where to start, to begin to… except just to say, I’m with you. If I’m not there physically – I’m with you. I’ve been with you all night.” She laughed, slightly. Obviously, this has been preying on her mind all night and really impacted her.

I knew the session was horrendous but I’ve never heard her speak with so much feeling and empathy and depth of emotion.

I felt like this was way over what she’d normally give me empathy for. She’s never shown such deep compassion and feeling over taking away texts or me being that upset in session, even when it’s been partly her fault before. So I was like “ what’s going on here?”

I cried.

She asked where I was with it all.

I said to her “ I don’t understand. I just don’t understand….” I couldn’t arrange my words. I was trying to say that I didn’t understand this sudden U-turn.

All I could get out was “ It’s just too much loss.”

And she said “ I know. It’s too much loss. It’s SO much loss.”

I finally told her that I didn’t understand why so much has changed from yesterday.

Sienna said “ Because… I didn’t understand the intensity of the feelings…”

I interrupted tearfully “ What were the feelings? That you wanted to leave?”

Sienna said “ No. No, no… it was never that. Not leave, but have space. Leaving was never on the cards, not ever. There was a feeling of needing space but I’m probably picking up on the intensity of what you’re living with on a daily basis. You’ve had to live with your history. And it’s an appreciation for me of how intense that gets and you can’t get the space from it). The only way you can get space is to dissociate and switch.”

She said that even if I don’t understand the transference stuff, as a therapist it is all making perfect sense to her. To be honest I really don’t understand.

I felt relieved that she finally felt some of what I feel all the time and that it made sense to her now why taking away her supportive texts was so devastating and traumatising.

She sighed and said “ Ohh… I’m just giving you a virtual hug. You’ve carried a lot for a long long time.

I said “ But I’ve carried all that forever, why are you just feeling it now? Why are you knowing it now? We’ve been working together for two years.”

Sienna said she didn’t know why she was feeling it only now. She spoke of perhaps feeling a sort of parental impatience and confusion as to why I’m feeling so intense about the breaks, why am I kicking off over it when we’ve done lots of preparation around breaks and yet the feelings for me were building and building and building. But she said now she really understood it.

She said she understood now why it was so scary to me and when I said in session that the space was too long and if texts being taken away, a week being too long without contact or a break being too long, she understood the fear and scare because of the trauma was massive.

Sienna asked me to explain it from my perspective.

I told her I felt like I was drowning in space, there was just too much space and that she’d chosen to move away from me and leave me drowning.

I told her that I couldn’t imagine waking up and having nobody to tell the dreams to anymore.

We talked about the nature of the CSA dreams and the body memories and their impact on me. And then she started talking about feeling relief for me and for her and that I’d taken a huge step last night.

I was lost.

I said “ What’s a huge step? I don’t know what you mean?”

She said that I’d been able to disclose and that we actually know that something did happen.

She was talking about disclosing last night about a dream I’d had about a family member. I’d used it angrily and sarcastically after she suggested I fine other supportive people in my life and I’d said “ Oh yeah, will I phone my mum and say Hi Mum, I just had a nightmare about  XXX fucking me, can you come over?”

I’ve never been so explicit about what happens in my nightmares and I never name names. But I was fucking upset and angry with Sienna that I just spat it out in no uncertain terms to show her the full horror of what I’m living with.

Sienna had came over to hug me and asked “ Is that what happened?” And I told her through tears, no, it didn’t happen, it was just a dream.”

I don’t know if she didn’t hear me because she’s taken it as a full disclosure of a memory!!

My heart sank. Is that what all this extra sympathy is about? Child abuse? I thought she’s finally realised how traumatic her taking away texts had been. I feel like I’d cheated her or tricked her into feeling sorry for me and now she’d be angry.

I exclaimed “ It DIDN’T happen! I don’t know what you mean? Are you talking about what I said about XXX last night?” I felt shocked.

Sienna said “ Yes.”

I felt sick. I said “ I didn’t say… I mean, I DID have that dream but I didn’t… that’s not…. I don’t have memories of that.”

Sienna said “ Right, okay, and we can deal with that but the dream is very real isn’t it?”

I said animatedly “ Yeah! The dreams are horrific, and detailed and they are that graphic, and sometimes it’s one family member, sometimes it’s another and sometimes no one I know is in the dream and it’s like watching a movie.”

Sienna said that’s your brain trying to put a face to the perpetrator I suppose. She told be that the brain will constantly try to get answers, to make sense of what happened and it might be cycling through familiar faces.

I said to her “ I’m sorry, I don’t want you to feel cheated. I didn’t mean when I said that at the time that that’s what happened, I just meant that those were the things I was dreaming and I couldn’t share them with other people.”

Sienna reassured me it was fine. She seemed okay but I feel like she might think I lied or manipulated her into feeling sorry for me. And I swear, I did make it clear I was talking about a nightmare and when she asked me if that’s what happened for real, I said “ No, it didn’t happen.” But I guess it got lost in the drama of the session.

But I feel like a fraud. Like I got hugged and cared for and I got texts back all because she thought I was disclosing abuse and all the time I thought I was getting all of that because she cared that I was SO bereft over the loss of text and the distancing that she’d been doing.

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck.

Our phone call ended not long after that.

I felt emotionally spent. Even though there was relief that texts were reinstated, I still wasn’t over the Thursday session and the trauma of it all.

I can have check-ins over the weekend. And I was supposed to send her an email of somethings I’ve written but I didn’t do it. Part of me feels like the things I want to say, I want to say in session because I’m not sure how she’ll react and I need to see her face and in person reaction.

But I have been thinking and I think I am going to ask for a boundary of my own, and that’s that she doesn’t change anything we are doing whilst in the middle of a rupture.

It isn’t good to just take things away if she’s basing her decision on some unresolved and unconscious transference. I want her to get to the bottom of her feelings and make sure that the rupture is resolved before any solid decisions are made. Because this isn’t fair, to have caused me all this pain for something that was temporary transference.

I will write up Thursday’s session when I feel robust enough to listen back to it.






15 thoughts on “Emotional Whiplash

  1. Kate says:

    I feel such a huge sense of relief for you. It must settle you a bit knowing that you can at least text her again. My therapist has very little contact in between sessions and only by phone call. No email or text. I have so much hope for you. This work is so hard for both of you but you have hung in there with each other and she clearly is not letting go of you.

    • Sirena says:

      Yeah it does settle me. I feel relief too. But still had a bit of a scare and sort of still shocked at such a fast turn around ,so it feels hard to trust.

  2. Lauren says:

    Crikey this is a mile a minute!

    I totally agree with you about your own boundary, if she can u turn this quickly, what’s to stop another one? Hopefully not, but it’s all still very fresh and she’s clearly still processing this herself.

    Check ins over the weekend sound good, I think waiting till Monday would be too long after all this. Will you talk to her about the boundary, and the concern over emailing? Would it be helpful to put a sub boundary in for the texts if theyre staying? Like just after CSA dreams as the emotions you have then, are different to days when you’re feeling anger and the space and want to connect with Sienna, would checkins be better for those times even if you have to wait? Because the texts sound a bit 50/50 as to whether they’re helpful or triggering.

    But overall it sounds positive. And that’s amazing that you disclosed about the dream, regardless of your motives at the time 😉, that’s another massive step. There’s no slowing down right now it seems! Like you’ve just reached the top of the roller-coaster and you’re making your way down the big drop, thick and fast but then you get the bottom and the rest of the ride is like a holiday in comparison 😬.

    Hats off to you my girl, you’ll be able to write a book when you’re done x

  3. twinkletoes2017 says:

    Wow mate no wonder you feel like you have whiplash, nothing’s stayed still for you since that awful session and now it’s changed!! I’m glad she’s not stopping the texts, I didn’t see any need for that -and it’s good that she’s accepting her blame/fault in this, although it’s such a shame you’ve had to suffer at her expense. Having said that, she’s only human and if she can apologise and you can talk it through, then that’s good. Meanwhile I think you just need time to process it all and calm down as your attachment system is activated unsurprisingly and obviously everything feels scary and unsafe. You’re doing really well. Keep hanging in xx

  4. VeraDouglas says:

    This sounds really hard to deal with. The back and forth and never being sure what it is that might happen next. I agree that you should ask for some boundaries yourself.

  5. alicewithptsd says:

    This is a lot. Whiplash is right! The idea that transference can effect the relationship and decisions made in such a giant way is scary, of course it is; it makes perfect sense that you would be on edge and unsure of trusting that texting– or something else– won’t be taken away next time this happens. That’s the uncertain scary side to this. But as I read, I saw a lot of good things too. Sienna admitted her transference, she was willing to see her part in this, admit to it, and talk it out with you. That’s huge. You disclosed a dream that feels real, regardless of why you told her, some part of you trusted her enough, felt safe enough with her, to disclose the dream. That’s huge. You held all of this, since that rough weekend and awful session. It might have hurt and it might have been really difficult, but you held it. You are thinking of setting your own boundary, meaning you value yourself enough to set boundaries with the outside world (vs just dissociating).

    This was painful, and I know all is not better, but I see a lot of growth here. You’ve got this. 🤗 💟

  6. Andi says:

    I think your idea for a boundary is a good one. No decisions like this should be made in haste. Ideally, she would have given herself more time to think through all of this BEFORE revoking texts (only to reinstate them). But now you both know and you can alter the course accordingly. What a whirlwind!

  7. Paper Doll says:

    Oh Sirena, whirlwind is right! I agree that your boundary idea is a very good one. You and your relationship with Sienna has been through so much lately, and I’m so proud of you for the way you’re working through this. Sending you so much support.

  8. manyofus1980 says:

    sirena, thats a good thing to ask for. I am glad you had the check in but it di sound intense. But do ask fr that boundary, because you deserve to have your own boundaries in place as well as sienna. The power cant always be hers! xx

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