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.”
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?”
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.