Therapy today: The unfamiliar familiar

The first therapy session after a break is always weird for me. It amazes me how quickly I can remove myself from the established routine of going to therapy; the conventions of the interaction, the familiarity of how the whole thing works. After just two weeks away from the process, it feels unusual and somewhat uncomfortable.

For me there is always discomfort in therapy. But that’s a discomfort I know intimately. It’s the squirmy sensation of not wanting to be seen. It’s fervently avoiding eye contact with J. It is sweaty palms and tense shoulders, a dry mouth and butterflies in my stomach. That’s just normal for me in therapy.

Today felt different. There was still plenty of that physiological anxiety around, but there was also this strange uncertainty. Maybe I was worried J would be different after her time off. There was probably a part of me that feared she would’ve changed in some way and I’d need to get to know her again. My relationship with her is so precious to me, any small event can trigger a lot of fear around that shifting away from what I know.

I guess I was also concerned about how I would be. I’ve done a good job of avoiding my feelings while she was gone. I’ve been either obsessively busy, or so exhausted I just slept and binged on crap TV. It’s been good to stay away from rumination for a while. But I know it’s also not sustainable. I did it for decades in the past and it made me sick. It made me dysfunctional. And I know that the toxic stuff is all still churning around somewhere in me.

After distancing myself as much as possible from the process of therapy and from my own inner experience, I am reluctant to bring myself back into it again. The same goes for my relationship with J. I retreat from that when she is away. We have some email contact, but I see that just as a way for me to know she is still there. It doesn’t make me feel close to her.

I was excited about seeing J today. I always miss her in these breaks. I miss her warmth and compassion. I miss the way in which she knows me and how comforting that feels. I miss her wanting to know what is happening for me. It was so uplifting to see her again today. We laughed about random trivial things and I enjoyed that.

What I forget when I’m not seeing her though, is how much I actually hate doing therapy. I forget that horrible, sticky anxiety I experience during every session. I forget how crap it is to be bursting with thoughts and emotions but unable to overcome my fear of saying any of it out loud. It’s easy for me to just think about missing J when she is gone and disregard the fact that therapy is actually gruelling.

We didn’t go into anything particularly deep or difficult today. I wasn’t open to that. I need some time to settle back into it and to get used to being with J again. That said, tonight I feel drained and I am sat here wondering why I get so wound up about having a break from something so tough. I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.

Photo: Rookuzz, Creative Commons.


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