Therapy on Tuesday and Wednesday was relatively easy. J and I even talked about how I feel about those ‘easy’ sessions. I said I feel like there are a waste of time. She said it depends how you think about therapy, but I stood by my view that I’m not doing therapy if it isn’t hard.
That said, it was a bit of a relief not to go into the deep and dark stuff for a few days. We talked about my job, my dog, medication, etc. Day to day things. I can see the value of speaking about the normal stuff with J. Those sessions helped me feel closer to her, because talking about that stuff is easy.
Almost as soon as I walked into the room today, I knew the session was going to go in a different direction. Not because I was feeling particularly low or preoccupied. But a few moments after I sat down, J asked about my weight. She asked if I had been buying new clothes, which I have. I said I’d got too small for my old ones. This led into an intense conversation about my problems with food.
J asked me whether I’ve weighed myself recently. I haven’t and I told her that. I immediately feel prickly when she brings up this subject. I know I am deliberately under-eating. And I am not willing to change that right now. I’ve had to give up a lot of my self-destructive behaviour and that has been really tough. Controlling food and harming myself with the lack of it feels like something I need at the moment.
I think J sensed my resistance to discussing this. But she chose to force the issue. She said it is obvious that I am underweight and asked me at what point I think I will stop. I said I don’t have a plan. She reiterated that ‘this can only go one way’ and told me I have probably already altered the chemistry in my system. I fell silent and shut down.
Feeling pushed made me retreat into myself. But J continued her efforts. She was determined to get her message through. When I wouldn’t agree to start eating more, she asked whether I expect her to ‘just sit here and watch you fade away’. I didn’t know how to respond, but somehow there were words trying to burst out of me. My throat closed up and hurt so much I actually couldn’t speak for a while.
After that, J told me I have to find a way to let go. She rarely tells me what to do, and it was hard to hear. She said I can’t change my past, and I can’t change my family, and that I have to ‘find a place’ for everything that’s happened. It was hard to hear because I could feel her care for me in what she was saying. That touched on something and I felt deeply sad.
I cried then, because I don’t want to let go. I don’t want to give up on having something different. Something other than my story, my history. I don’t want to give up on trying to change my family, because I want them to understand me, to really see me and what I have been through.
I know that I hurt myself in an effort to get through to them. And I also know that this effort is utterly pointless. They don’t want to see the truth of my experience and they never will. It’s too hard for them. But there is a part of me that still awaits this impossible transformation in them. That part thinks that I would be truly loved, believed, and validated if they could only open their eyes to my suffering. If they knew the pain my brother has put me though, and hated him like I do, everything would feel better.
This was hard to articulate to J, especially when physically it was hurting my throat to speak. Whatever this conversation had evoked in me caused such a powerful physiological response. Aside from being tearful, my chest was feeling crushed and my head was pounding.
I felt this intense and confusing mixture of love and anger towards J. It was so comforting to hear her tell me she was pushing me from a place of love. Sometimes I need to hear that from her, and today I did really believe and feel it. But at the same time, I felt furious with her for being so directive. I hated being told that I have to move on from what’s been consuming my entire life for years now.
I also resented her telling me that when I hurt myself I hurt her too, and my wife and the friends who love me. It felt like emotional blackmail, because she knows how much I struggle with the thought that anything I’ve done has harmed someone I care about. And all of this echoed the upsetting conversation I had with Dr L last week, albeit in a much gentler and more caring way.
Unusually for me, I didn’t finish up the session still feeling angry and distressed. Maybe because it was the last session of the week, and I’ve got a long weekend coming up, it felt more manageable. I knew when I left that I didn’t have to go into all of this again for 5 days.
And despite being angry, I felt secure about my relationship with J. Although I found it hard to communicate, I did feel close to her today. And she gave me a hug when I left, which always helps me feel connected and settled after a difficult session.
Tonight I feel exhausted, but my feelings are not unmanageable. I am going to take care of myself and have a cuddle with my wife and an early night.