” We need to talk.”

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*********** Trigger Warning. This blog post talks about therapy ruptures and termination. If this is triggering for you, think about whether you should keep reading.********************************************************

My session last night was intensely awful.

When I walked in and said hello and I hear her tone as she greeted me, I knew immediately something was up. And that was followed with an immediate “ I think we need to have a big talk.”

Fuck.

My hypervigilance went into overdrive. Waiting for the death knell of a termination speech.

And what she said next had all the hallmarks and excuses therapists generally spout when they’re dumping you.

I am not in a position right now to write exactly what was said. I am still processing it all for myself and I’m feeling awful.

But the bottom line is that she is contacting my local mental health team to speak with a psychiatrist about the work we are doing and try to get me a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) that I can contact in times of distress.

I laughed and told her good luck. I’ve been there several times and I KNOW she’s going to be laughed off the phone by mental health when she calls and asks. But hey, it’s her time to waste, let her get on with it.

She said a lot about how she’s been feeling this week or lately, I can’t remember. But her feelings were flagging up that’s there’s a big problem needing addressed. Her reactions to my texts coming in this week were pretty severe and she didn’t even read the rest of them after she’d replied to the initial one. (Yeah, that didn’t hurt much…)

She said she felt like we weren’t progressing. She acknowledged there has been some progress but in other ways very little and it’s been 3 years.

I denied that and said that wasn’t a fair assessment. I’ve actually progressed tons! And I reminded her that she herself and her supervisor said last year that we’d done way more work and progress in 2 and a half years than most clients don’t get to until year 5-7. And that we needed to slow things right down, for both our sakes. I told Sienna, you always said this was very long-term work.

She seemed to retract a bit and agreed those things had been said.

I talked about the impact the rupture had on me last year, she disappeared on me for 6 weeks on a burnout. I mean she didn’t fully disappear, she gave me the odd update to let me know where she was at, what was happening re supervision etc. But essentially, to my child and teen parts… she fucked off with no notice.

She looked at me like I was mad. Said that is NOT how it happened. We agreed that I would take a break, which therapists need sometimes….. blah blah”

I corrected her.

“Sienna, you put the phone down on my mid session and then took 6 week off. I did not agree to anything. You took the time off.”

She seems to think I’ve twisted it all in my mind to fit my abandonment lens. But that is utter bullshit because I have ALL the texts, all the calls recorded, all the emails, and all the sessions recorded and also blogged. It is not my memory that is skewed on this. Although I can see why that might suit her to think that.

She fucked up hugely last year. She is embarrassed that she did what she did to me and she has re-written it in her mind.

The first half hour was horrific. I cried. I teetered on falling into that annihilation blackout place and tried so hard not to because it was important to talk and to find out what was happening, what was the bottom line here. Am I being terminated?

Sienna said no. We are still working together but we need to work differently, and I need help that isn’t her outside of sessions.

I said it was really unfair to say that I am not coping outside of sessions or that she can’t cope with my texts. That past two weeks have been a blip in over 7 months of me holding onto a lot by myself. That I have worked really hard and that there hasn’t been any texts. She nodded in agreeance.

But said that her capacity has vastly diminished outside of sessions. I asked her why? She said she didn’t know, perhaps just eventual wear and tear?

She said that we were not terminating, it wasn’t that. It’s just that things needed to be changed a bit. And she needed to have an honest conversation with me about what was going on.

The fact that it wasn’t a termination speech was enough to keep me out of the annihilation blackout.

The last half hour actually was positive in a lot of ways. I mean, hot, worried tears blinded me the whole way. But I spoke about what’s been going on for me, and I showed her my charts I’d drawn.

She LOVED them. I think Sienna really responds to flow charts and bullet points. I moved and went to sit beside her to read them out to her and to explain things. She said I’d worked SO hard on them and was so pleased I’d done them and that it really helped her understand a lot. She hugged me a lot and rubbed my shoulders in an affectionate proud way.

She asked if she could keep them because they were so helpful. I said “yes of course, I don’t need them I already know this stuff, it’s you that needs them.”

Having read the charts we both wondered whether her negative transference around our work and me let’s face it, I am the work, was in part her picking up my anger and hurt and continued detachment, because I’ve certainly felt like not going to sessions and not engaging and her feelings were mirroring mine. That’s a real possibility as we are quite attuned with one another usually.

Her reading those charts, it felt like a weight lifted off us both. Like, she suddenly understood that a lot had been going on for me, that the some of the reasons for the way she’s been feeling this week have been mirroring my unexpressed feelings and not necessarily her own true reactions. She suddenly felt a lot more empathic and open to me.

She gave me lots of hugs before I left. And reassured me as per my charts that we are not terminating and that she’ll be there on Monday, always.

When I got home I felt exhausted. Much calmer than I would have expected give the horrible things that were said at the beginning of the session. Just knowing it wasn’t leading to termination was enough to keep me regulated.

It was a weird feeling though, I felt shell-shocked and deeply hurt by some of the things said. Yet, there was safety, because I wasn’t getting terminated and that’s all that matters to me.

The session was truly horrific for me. All the things I’d written in my trigger chart were pretty much said in session. And she acknowledged when she saw it that I must be really near the annihilation blackout place then after what she’d said!

The fact that when I got home I was fairly calm and wasn’t chewing down on diazepam like they were smarties is a testament to my own growing resilience and growth. So fuck anyone including Sienna who says I haven’t progressed much in 3 years.

I know for a fact I have done amazingly well. My growth and progress is not going to be dictated to by anyone else’s timeline or opinion.

Today I’ve woken up and even though I feel psychologically okay, my body feels like something catastrophic has happened to it. There’s a sick, heavy ball of angst sitting right in my solar plexus.

It’s the body’s knowledge that something horrendous just happened, yet my mind is clear and fairly calm. It’s like I’ve been in a car crash but there’s no visual evidence of it. It’s a really horrible feeling. My body just feels wrung out. Battered and devastated.

Sienna is not terminating me.

But that doesn’t mean I am not terminating her.

I hate to write that. But I have huge concerns about her ability to a) do long term trauma work

  1. B) Hold me adequately and more importantly
  2. C) Hold herself through this work.

It seems there’s something about me that she reacts pretty strongly to me at times. And that doesn’t feel very nice for me.

It also seems to me that there’s been a major rupture every single year we’ve worked together, and it always comes from her. Her reactions to the work. Her lack of capacity, her burnout etc etc.

I mean there’s been lots of little ruptures along the way caused by me, but I’m the fucking client, I am supposed to be the chaotic one. I have to ask if this is normal, for my therapist to be the one causing the fucking big ruptures????

I am scared to ask her these questions, because once again I am terrified I push the issue and it results in termination.

I also have to take into account the impact this is having on my husband both financially and more especially, emotionally.

He hates seeing me in such a state. He gets protective anger about how upset I get at the things Sienna does. And he questions how any of this is good for me and if perhaps it’s time to start living without therapy?

I am asking myself the same thing. Can I manage without therapy? Have I come as far as I can? Should I be spending the money on things that make me happy and healthy? Massage, reiki, yoga, my own education and fledgling business?

Yet I am so hopelessly attached to Sienna that the idea of terminating is heart-breaking.

I know that isn’t healthy- hence the need for therapy. But that’s where I am at. Maybe that’s just me, maybe I’ll always form fierce attachments to those I love.

I am an artist, we love passionately and deeply, we are emotional.

But I’ve been wondering today what like would be like without therapy. What about taking a break for a year? See how things go? I like the idea of not feeling this horrific and terrified all the time about someone leaving.

I like the idea of just living and breathing in deep and not having these troubles.

I am aware my issues would still be with me. They would be on hold until such times I decided to return to therapy. But maybe they’re at a cope-able level where I could hold it for myself better?

The only thing in life that triggers me this severely is Sienna, therapy…. So, take that out the equation and maybe I’d do okay?

I don’t know.

But I’d miss Sienna so much. I don’t want to leave her. And I’m scared to leave her because what if I want to go back and she’s not there?

What if in the interim she decided she likes her life without me in it? What if she decides not to do trauma work?

I’m terrified of that. Yet I also can see that if that’s how she feels then it’s better not to work with a therapist like that anyway. I get it.

I’m scared to have this conversation with her.

You know, we work so amazingly together at times. She’s the best therapist I’ve ever had.

But there’s no doubt we rupture big. There’s some really shit elements to our relationship and I’m not sure how normal or healthy these dynamics are.

I find myself really wanting stability. I want to feel that she is robust enough to take what I throw at her and that just hasn’t been the case lately. And that isn’t good enough.

I can’t see how we can continue long-term with her rupturing and the question of her capacity to hold me through this regularly rears its head.

It makes me scared for our future.

I know she loves me and is deeply committed to me. But that isn’t enough. Is she continuing on because she really wants to, because her deep commitment to me makes her struggle through when really, it might be best I leave and that she doesn’t do trauma work?

Or is her negative reactions/countertransference to me, about herself and things she needs to work on in her own therapy and/or a re-enactment of something else rather than her not being the right therapist?

Those are very hard painful questions for both of us I’d imagine. And it’s a conversation I am avoiding because I’m scared of the answer.

I feel really sad and scared about what’s to come.

In part, I really want to take maybe a years break. But I wonder my need for that is about self-care or feeling like I need to protectively withdraw myself and my needs away in order to look after Sienna’s needs and to ensure she stays with me and doesn’t terminate?

Doesn’t this echo my past and my patterns of attachment?

A big part is my feeling that Sienna could do with a year long break from me. And I know that isn’t my job, to look after her needs. Yet I feel the impulse to do so. To create space and distance. To stop the pain for myself, to try and prevent eventual abandonment by detaching from my own needs.

It’s so sad. I am sad that child me had to do that and I am sad that even now, child me has that impulse.

So that’s where I’m at right now.

 

I’d really appreciate if this has been a triggering read that you don’t comment immediately. And that your comments stay constructive rather than emotional. That doesn’t mean you have to super positive and in agreeance with me. Honesty is good and accepted here. I get that this stuff is scary for a lot of people and that your own needs might compel you to think I should cut and run or that Sienna is a terrible therapist or I am a terrible client but those types of comments impact me when I’m already feeling vulnerable and scared.

Thank you.

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44 thoughts on “” We need to talk.”

  1. ::hugs:: lots of healing hugs. Definitely not an easy decision to make, no matter what you choose.

    I’m glad that the charts helped. Thinking of you…

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  2. I had many thoughts while reading but will keep most to myself. One thing to consider, as I can exactly relate, whereas therapy and your therapist are triggers for you that would not be present in an extended break from therapy, given that most triggers reflect other parts of your life, I wonder if your feelings might then still occur, just in response to technically different triggers. I don’t know the answer but thought it worth considering (meaning a long break may not be the panacea you are hoping for). I did take a 2 month break of my own at one point and found it quite empowering. It seemed to help me focus on my actual issues. It’s not a perfect science for sure. We all make mistakes, including your therapist. I love that you opened up to her. Focus on you and your needs. She can focus on hers (and yours). You are doing great difficult work and have definitely made progress! (Hope my reply was not too opinionated – it’s just an opinion. Not fact. Can easily be ignored if unhelpful)

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    1. I have thought that my triggers will be less intense but ever present in my own world without therapy. I know they will. An extended break won’t resolve anything. It will just give me a break from all of this. Thank you for reminding me to focus on my own needs. Adult me needs to take stock, perhaps take a break but I can feel my child parts already crying and just needing a cuddle from Sienna and reassurance that everything will be okay. It’s so painful.

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  3. I unfortunately think that your concerns are valid. When I read your post the other day, I thought that it was counter transference. Her interpretation of the rupture last year is outrageous really. However embarrassed she is, she has to own what actually happened. I feel like she was unintentionally gaslighting you. You have stuck by your agreement up until now by not contacting outside of sessions and it hasn’t taken for it to trigger her – possibly.
    You’re right that she should be like a sponge and have the ability to help you work through your feelings, but not take them on. I’m not saying that she can’t be human, but therapists must have some ways that they take time out and process the things they hear from clients. I do question whether she is retraumatising you which it sounds like your husband is thinking. She’s not great at being consistent.
    I don’t know what the answer is and I’m not saying that Sienna is a terrible therapist! I can see that this is coming from a rational adult place which is what is needed. I’m glad that she comforted you before you left. Take care 🦄🌈

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    1. I feel totally gaslighted by her re-writing all that happened last year. But it hasn’t affected me too much because I have proof of what happened in recordings and text messages saved. I might just print them all out and give her them. She’s not getting out of this one.
      She’s shit with consistency. I think she’s aware of that somewhat and aware her reactions aren’t good and that’s why she’s desperately scrabbling to make things right and why she’s withdrawing herself to being available only in sessions now. There’s a lot she’s not good at, but there’s lots she is good at so it’s hard to know what to do. And that’s before I even allow myself to imagine termination.
      Thank you for your thoughts.

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  4. In my own experience, the one surest sign that I needed a break (and eventually termination) was that I could not hear my therapist’s voice accurately anymore. I could no longer hear her questions, thoughts, interpretations, or responses in any way other than negative. It was like I was wearing a filter I could not remove.

    I realize now with a new therapist, with whom I can actively and openly disagree, what a bad state I had been in. With this new one, I can truly consider and try on her ideas, and decide whether I agree, disagree, or something else. But I can *hear* her. With the other, all I heard was condemnation, judgment, and detachment. I truly believe that it wasn’t actually like that, but I was incapable of taking her in otherwise.

    I say this because I hear in your writing something akin to what I experienced. I notice that you can and do disagree with your therapist–which is healthy and necessary. But, if it ever gets to the point where it’s *all* hearing her deny, excuse, cover up, re-write, punish, etc., it may be an important indicator for you. Not here to give you any advice. Only you know what would be best for you moving forward. Just here to say your post resonated with my experience, and wanted to share.

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  5. I tried to think about my own relationship with my T When I read your post and I can’t really relate. Our T is the stability himself. A real stable base and safe haven. Something we have never had before. I’m so thankful for him. He is always there and like never sick. He has never done anything to create big ruptures and he does never reacted in any extreme ways. He is just very safe calm and predictable.
    I don’t mean to put salt in your wounds here I just wonder if something with your T can be changed so that she can become more stable and predictable. The T is not suppose to create chaos. We are suppose to be able to lean on them at anytime time and trust that they wont move. I hope it works out for you. xx

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  6. For all her faults (which I am angry about for your sake), one thing Sienna has going for her is she does seem to be able to notice her screw ups and try and make up for that… eventually. Is it worth it? Is she good enough? You don’t have to decide now. You have made a TON of progress, including the fact that you were able to stand up for yourself to her, in clear and productive ways none the less!!! Honestly once a year rupture is pretty good given your needs and situation!

    Also I don’t think either of you have been able to work through last years rupture in a “real” way, so any hint of that immediately puts you both in trauma response. It was horrific, and you both have PTSD symptoms from it. With your awesome flow chart, if she follows it, I believe that increases the likelihood that you would be able to begin the steps on addressing that rupture trauma safely. I hope you do. But I definitely get the appeal of a break.

    Sending lots of love and support your way. You truly are handling all of this so well. Be kind to your upset and scared and hurt selves (not surprising your body is realing).

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    1. Thanks E. I’m glad u have faith in us both. She does catch herself eventually and she does take supervision. But it’s interesting what you said about her showing ptsd signs… I’ve never thought of that and will def. Consider it. Thanks E! 💗

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      1. I looked up the symptoms of vicarious trauma in professionals and ptsd, and she certainly has the symptoms.x

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      2. Well thats kinda sucky (just cause it can make things a bit more tricky) but does make some of the craziness make sense. Hopefully you can navigate this and realize that its NOT your fault, and she has to take ownership of her stuff.

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      3. Yes, it’s very tricky. I do know it’s not my fault. We had a huge talk last Monday and i think she sees things a bit more. I tried to write about it but gave up after 10 pages haha.

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  7. sirena, you’ve made tonsof progress! You know yourself though how much progress you have made! I like that your not gonna let any therapist or professional dictate that to you!
    Im sure you will do what is best for you in the coming months. I believe in you!

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  8. Ah this was sooo hard to read!!! The way I see it is that you and Sienna really fit with each other, but I see you more as “friends” than therapist-patient. I think maybe you can develop in some sort of other relationship perhaps more like friendly an not rely on her theraupetically. I love that you shared the charts with her, but then again that should be a thing that a therapist helps you with. Maybe you just need a little more specialized T like EMDR ?

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    1. I’m not sure how friends could work? It would be a tough transition. Not impossible but I need a therapist. I am looking into somatic experiencing to help with my body reactions.
      Sienna and I do fit very well in a lot ways. Which is why this feels so crap. 😢😣

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      1. I am so sorry!! sending you <3<3<3 I don't know if friendship is the correct word, but maybe you could transition to a non-therapist patient relationship. I feel like I see the two of you as hanging out and doing activities together. But like you said you also need a therapist and for some reason Sienna gets so triggered by your reactions, not sure why. I think after a year or two maybe she started caring too much for you and this got in the way of her doing "therapy" or maybe she just has other activities and other things in her life and cannot engage in the same way.

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      2. ps. and I do think you’ve made tons of progress!! I think you might be in a new phase of recovery now? Maybe now it’s time for the trauma work and maybe Sienna could only bring you this far in this aspect.

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  9. This is all really tough. 😩 I’m so sorry it’s so hard at the moment. I think the positive thing is she is trying to be honest with you about her capacity this time, to try and avoid any more huge ruptures I assume. That’s a good thing. And it also seems hopeful that the flowchart seemed to help so much. But I also understand all your concerns about continuing, I would feel exactly the same, and I think it’s really great you’re able to see the big picture and consider what is best for you and try to figure out exactly what that is. That’s so hard to do when attachment and DID is involved. Sending lots of love 💛💞🦄

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  10. Hey Sirena! For some reaosn, I find that too often your posts reflect my own life roller coaster. I too have been kinda wrestling leaving therapy because the intensity, high drama and pain of the attachment isnt worth the gains of what therapy can fix. I think the loss of the dream- that T can “fix me”/ “fill me up” is the hardest for me. And at the same time, I also know that some of the issues that got me into therapy in the first place can still use some working through… It’s a hard call. I had this conversation last week in session, and it was super painful. She was kinda clinical about the whole thing, and I felt very alienated, unwanted, etc. She suggested I see a new therapist, so I can do the work on a very behavioral level, without the attachment getting in the way. It made sense, and I appreciated that she was looking out for my own long term good, but it still stung. My therapist shared that she’d gotten to this stage in her own work, and after two short stints with different therapists, she concluded that therapy wasn’t worth it anymore. She did some asking around to other professionals, and the common consesus is that there’s no guaranteed way to heal attachment issues. So, she decided to just move on…
    For me, I’m starting a new job soon, and I think that that may be what I need to distract and help me leave therapy…
    (But who am I kidding? It won’t be that simple.. T changed her between-session-contact rules this week and I totally fell apart🙄 I was a new level Crappy Client. I don’t have DID but I thought of your teen/ child parts and totally related!)
    Anyways- my point on this whole ramble… I get you. It’s all so messy, so complicated. You and Sienna have done so much incredible work together and at this point she’s such an important part of your life… I wish you best of luck with your decision, and all the aftermath!! 😍😍 Sending lots of love and strength 💗💗💗🦄🦄🦄🦄

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    1. I have hope that attachment issues can absolutely be healed. However I am losing hope in finding the right person to do it. I think a huge problem is that there’s not a lot of understanding around for how attachment issues need to be worked with. So even very qualified therapist are fucking up all over the place.
      Sounds like you’re going through some horrendously painful stuff too. I’m sorry to hear that. ☹

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  11. Is there a part of you that feels some sense of excitement about the prospect of seeing what life has to offer without therapy? As you said, you may feel better about the intensity of the work, but you might not. Can you take a month off first as a trial run and try to fill your days with art and friends and quality time with your husband?

    If it feels really bad, you can always return to the level of support you are used to. I even wonder if you can get some kind of promise from Sienna that she can hold the space for you. I feel that this promise would be vital.

    This is darned difficult, Sirena. Hang in there.

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    1. There’s a part of me that feels relieved and not having to deal with all the hurt. I feel a sense of freedom when I imagine not having to feel all the heartbreak and terror of abandonment.
      My current plan is to possibly scale back the work and maybe check in with Sienna once a month or something. And if we can ever get to a place of understanding about the ruptures and what I need, then maybe I can return back more regularly. I am going to consult with a somatic experiencing practitioner tomorrow morning ( not a therapist) and I’m hopeful that I could work with her for a little while to get my body to stop holding onto the trauma stuff. I dunno… a few options to think about.

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      1. Acupuncture is supposed to stimulate those nerves wherein their is some kind of blockage in the flow of energy in your body. But I don’t really pay any attention to what is happening in that regard because I’m so focused on the warmth and touch. From checking your pulses while cradling your arms, or massaging in the needles with a great deal of gentleness, the whole process is just incredibly beautiful. They let you rest after the needles are in place and that’s when a real sense of peace can settle in. I’ve noticed a huge reduction in anxiety since I started.

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  12. My old T you to say that the measure of his success wasnt how well i did while i was seeing him but what i achieved when i left. You have made so much progress and if you feel like dipping you toe in the water and seeing how things are after therapy maybe its because of how much progress you have made as well as avoiding the hurt?

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