How do you know when you’ve reached the end of the line in therapy? I’m not referring to being ‘cured’, just to a sense that I am not making progress anymore. Maybe the progress has always been so incremental that I only notice it retrospectively, but lately there has been an air of futility about the whole thing.
It’s been over two years since I started doing therapy with J. In that time, a lot has changed about how I think and what I do. But crucially, the way I feel about myself hasn’t altered. My core sense of self-loathing and worthlessness remains stubbornly unchanged. Sometimes I think it’s actually getting worse.
I have no self-belief. I feel as though nobody wants to be around me – they just spend time with me because they pity me or feel that they should. I see myself as a burden on the people I love, a weight that drags everyone down. I don’t feel that I have anything unique or useful to offer, or that I can make any sort of impact in the world. I get swamped by guilt; for everything I’ve done and continue to do that hurts people I care about.
None of this will change because I don’t have the motivation to shift it. Hating myself means that by default I don’t want to do anything that is good for me. I’m not compassionate to myself, I don’t practice much self-care beyond having showers and wearing clean clothes. Intellectually, I am aware of all the things I could do to feel better about myself, but I can’t do them because I don’t feel I am worth it.
In therapy today, I felt like J has given up on me. She asked me whether I felt attending group therapy might be useful, rather than ‘traditional’ psychotherapy. She mentioned me getting in touch with other parts of myself. I interpreted this conversation as meaning I’m failing because I’m always stuck in the same young place with her, so maybe I should go elsewhere.
That small part of me that emerges in my sessions with J is really stuck, and I’m not sure what I can do about that. I feel as though that’s how I need to be, but I’m also impatient with sitting and repeating and not feeling like anything shifts. I worry that J feels that frustration too and maybe she’s running out of patience with me.
Both of us know that I will remain in this place until I can pull myself out of it somehow, but I can’t see how it will happen. I can’t magic up self love. J even said today that maybe I need to reach rock bottom (again) before something changes. I’m not going there. I can’t survive that again.
I’m left feeling directionless and a bit lost tonight. I feel as though my session with J today has delivered something of an ultimatum. To make progress, I need to care about myself. J can’t make me do that, and neither can I. So if I can’t force the self compassion, then what is the point of me being in therapy?
I’m struggling to pay my bills, but I am spending a quarter of my salary every month on sitting in therapy being stuck. I’m not sure I can justify going if I’m not doing anything while I’m there. Maybe I need to stop it for a while. Maybe I need to do different therapy. But the thought of not seeing J any more is heartbreaking. I mean really, really heartbreaking. But is that a reason to keep going to sessions? I just don’t know.
Photo: Bud, Creative Commons.