I wasn’t looking forward to therapy today. I knew the chances were J would want me to talk more about the events of last week. On Wednesday I had downed a load of Vodka and Lorazepam. Due to the amnesia overdosing on Lorazepam brings, I don’t really remember what I’d said to J on the phone when I was drunk, or even what we talked about in my session on Thursday.
It didn’t take long for J to steer the conversation around to what happened last Wednesday. She asked how I was feeling about it. I wanted to lie and say I feel appalled that I behaved that way and I’ll never do it again. The truth was harder to say. I told her I feel guilty for upsetting my wife. That much is true. But what’s also honest is that in many ways I don’t regret it. That’s because I feel like it was the only way I could’ve expressed what I was feeling.
J’s first reaction was to ask to whom I wanted to express myself. I couldn’t say exactly. She pointed out that as far as she was aware, only herself and my wife knew what had happened and asked what I was trying to say to them. I said my parents and a few close friends also know, because I didn’t want her to think it was an effort to get her attention. Yes, I called her to intervene when I was feeling dangerous, but I know I don’t need to act out for her to listen to me.
Then she refreshed my memory of our phone conversation. Apparently I either said or suggested that her job was to keep people safe. She didn’t seem happy about that. I felt like I’d pissed her off, and I guess I probably had. But feeling like she disapproves of me or judges me in someway instantly makes me withdraw and get defensive. I didn’t want to talk about it.
I know the timing was bad. I had gone straight off after my session with her that day and taken a potentially lethal concoction of drugs and alcohol. Of course that is uncomfortable for her. I tried to steer away from that issue by confessing I’d been planning it that whole day. I stupidly told her I had bought the vodka before our session. She asked about the Lorazepam. I said I’ve always got Lorazepam on me.
It became quickly apparent that I had made things worse. She seemed shocked that I had come to my session, in her words, ‘with the means to potentially end your life, here in the room’. I started feeling like I was being told off. I felt like sarcastically stating that I was never planning to do it there and then, during therapy. I know I’m feeling attacked when I feel sarcasm rising up. It’s a defence.
J made it very clear that she didn’t want me carrying drugs around with me. She said it makes me open to acting on my impulses. I tried to explain that it wasn’t an impulse, it was something I had wanted to do for the whole of the previous week and managed to avoid. That was again not a good answer, because then she wanted me to say why I hadn’t told her I was feeling suicidal.
I understand I put her in a difficult situation. She needs to be fairly confident I will keep myself safe, or let her know when I am having dangerous thoughts. But I felt guilty today. I felt like I had got everything wrong and she was resentful that I hadn’t been open about what was going on for me. I guess it was hard for me to realise that the trust goes both ways in our relationship and I had broken her trust in me.
Thinking about it now, I can also see that J’s questioning of me today and some of what she said echoed what I hate about my relationship with my mum. My mum has historically, whether she meant to or not, always made me feel guilty about the impact I have on her. And J did that today too, when she asked me how I thought she would feel if I killed myself after one of our sessions. It came from a place of genuinely wanting me to be safe, but it was cutting.
My instinct was to say I hoped she would feel that way whatever time of day I killed myself, if such a thing happened. I didn’t want to be forced to take responsibility for it. I didn’t need to think about that hypothetical guilt. It felt like the same kind of emotional blackmail my mum has used to control me all my life – which ironically is part of the reason I want to do self-destructive things in the first place. To assert control. To show that I am in charge of my body and my destiny.
Now I’ve unjumbled today’s session, I know it’s important I talk about all of this with J. Because she isn’t my mum; she is empathic and open-minded and will listen to how the session impacted me. At the same time, I get so scared of screwing up my relationship with her, because I need her so much. Especially at a time when I feel like I’ve been abandoned by my family. I couldn’t handle her rejecting me too.
Photo: Kelly Hunter, Creative Commons.