Anonymity is a beautiful thing. I never intended to disclose my identity on this site. That has given me enormous freedom to just purge what’s in my head onto the page. This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to do that.
What came up in therapy today, among a lot of other stuff, is the fact that I grew up afraid to say what was on my mind. My brother and sister were fiery and there were a lot of arguments around me. After a conflict was over, I would be present when my parents discussed how troublesome their other two children were. In my tiny mind, I interpreted that as them being less lovable. I decided that to be loved, I needed to comply. I had to be kind and affectionate and not cause any problems.
In blogging, I’ve been consistently amazed that people not only read what I write, but that so many of you connect with me through it by leaving comments or sending an email. It’s validating. And it blows me away how supported I can feel by the kindness and acceptance of these strangers. I value so much having this space to say exactly what I need to say.
A short while after I started writing this blog I gave the link to my therapist and to my wife. I can’t remember what the reasons for doing this were. It was probably about them being the two people I feel truly want to understand me. And I know that I can almost always explain myself better in writing than face to face. It was an attempt to feel closer to them I suppose.
I write a lot about my therapy here. I write about my relationship with J, something I can hardly ever find the courage to talk to her about. But in therapy, J and I don’t discuss this blog and what I’ve written here. I can probably count on one hand how many times it has come up over the years.
At the same time, I have this uneasy sense that J reads what I write about our sessions. It feels uneasy because she doesn’t tell me that. I wouldn’t have given her the link if I had a major problem with her seeing this. But I can’t help but feel that there is this strange parallel process going on between us; me explaining myself here without talking to her, and her reading and hearing it without telling me that.
It could just be paranoia. I have no idea whether J really does read my posts. But every now and again she comes out with something that seems too intuitive to be anything less than mind-reading if she hasn’t visited this site. Like our session yesterday.
I was talking about feeling suicidal last Thursday. We spoke about this for about a minute or so, and then she launched into asking me about what’s happening between us. That seemed totally unrelated to what I was saying. But it was exactly what I’d written about here on Friday.
Last night I couldn’t sleep because I was full of anxiety. There were several things on my mind, but the conversations in that session featured heavily. I wanted to just ask J outright whether she started that discussion because of what I’d written over the weekend. But that felt confrontational. It felt accusatory. I was scared of how I’d feel if she said she hadn’t read it and I thought she was lying to me. That thought really freaked me out, because while I am insecure, on the whole I do believe she is genuine with me.
This was on my mind so much today, that I did manage to overcome my nerves and bring it up in my session. J’s response was odd. It was almost like a politician’s answer. She said she asked me about our relationship because she was concerned about me after the session, and how what she’d said about her grandchildren had impacted me. I could see how that made sense.
This led to a long explanation about J’s preoccupation with the fact that her leave is coming up and she wants me to feel better about our relationship before she goes. I was grateful to understand that a bit better, but at the same time it stirred up my feelings of being a failure – a difficult client. And I just don’t want to be a problem.
As the session went on, I couldn’t really focus on much more she said or asked me. I just kept thinking about how she’d given this long-winded response to what I’d said about her reading my blog, without actually saying at any point that she had or hadn’t read it. I felt like she was avoiding being clear about it. This blog all of a sudden became an elephant in the room.
So I don’t know what to do next. I don’t feel good about any of this. I don’t feel any easier about J going on leave. I don’t feel more secure. It’s unsettling to feel as though there is a chance that J has been reading everything I’ve written, but doesn’t want to share that with me. It’s equally unsettling to think that this is all a problem I have totally imagined and in fact J just knows me incredibly well and is genuinely intuitive.
I know the solution is to just ask outright about it and explore what it means to me if she reads my posts. Part of me likes the idea that she would come here to check in on me in between sessions. But I want to know about it. I don’t want it to be this odd, second therapy process that goes on in silence. That feels awkward and unhealthy.
Knowing what I need to do doesn’t help. I am too fearful of damaging my relationship with J to be so direct about it. The tentative attempt I made today was terrifying and huge for me. It’s tough because while I don’t have the courage to address it, I also can’t bear sitting with the feeling that it is between us.
Photo: Surian Soosay, Creative Commons.