Yesterday I had a session with J that left me feeling confusingly angry with her and unable to sleep last night. I didn’t feel angry at the time I was with her, and I can’t figure out what it was she said or did that has prompted this reaction. Maybe it’s just some anger displaced from elsewhere, or perhaps I want to ‘test’ her – that isn’t unheard of for me.
One thing that came up during the session really bothered me. J asked what it is that stops me from speaking freely. My inability or unwillingness to verbalise my thoughts has been a recurring obstacle throughout my years of therapy. It always comes down to the same thing; I am afraid of speaking without censorship. I have a deeply ingrained fear of humiliating myself, or damaging relationships by saying the wrong thing, something that makes the other person think less of me.
I guess my occupation as a writer probably exacerbates that, because I spend all my working hours being careful with words, overthinking and crafting my communications. So the idea of just blurting out a stream of consciousness feels really threatening to me. I know J wouldn’t have meant to make me feel inadequate, but a part of me took this on board as criticism. When things like this come up, I end up feeling as though she thinks I am not trying hard enough.
None of that felt particularly significant during the session, but throughout the evening afterwards I felt myself getting increasingly angry. I spent several hours mulling over the pros and cons of just quitting therapy, without even being sure why I wanted to. Then I thought I should just take a break for a few weeks. But again, I can’t put my finger on why I want that suddenly now.
Lying awake last night, I started to feel like J has let me down. I started asking myself whether J is the right therapist for me, because surely if I can’t talk openly with her after three years of multiple sessions per week, something isn’t right between us. Perhaps I am trying to avoid taking responsibility for the problem, but I can’t help but wonder whether J is as responsible as me. Despite all our work together, I still worry about her rejecting or abandoning me if I say the wrong thing, and although I want to blame myself entirely for that, I’m not sure whether she has a part in it too.
It’s scary for me to have what seems like a crisis of confidence in J. I haven’t worried before that she wasn’t up to the job, and this feels really unsettling. I’m aware of the idolising we can do when it comes to therapists, and I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But I suppose I need to feel as though I am in safe hands. I don’t see J as a perfect, infallible human being, but for the most part I have felt very sure of her competence. That’s been necessary, because I’ve been fragile as we have done this work.
The problem is, I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve been kidding myself all this time. I actually find a lot of things about my relationship with J distressing, and have pretty much since we began therapy. I hate my dependence on her. I constantly worry about her abandoning me. I get angry because she can’t be everything I want her to be. I can’t stand it when she takes time off, even sometimes at the weekends, because it feels like that undermines her frequent reassurances that we are ‘in this together’. It hurts that I need her so much and get so much comfort from being with her, yet when I am feeling utterly wretched and it isn’t during a therapy session it isn’t appropriate for me to reach out to her.
It doesn’t help that J recently mentioned that our Thursday sessions might become more difficult, as she is going to do more supervision. She told me she isn’t seeing any other clients on a Thursday anymore, and I felt as though she wanted me to know I am being an inconvenience.
Not all of me felt that, because at the same time I know she gives me a pro bono session every week that she wouldn’t offer if she hated working with me. But the conversation about Thursdays triggered my insecurities and also again left me feeling a bit let down. We’ve been doing these sessions at the same time every week for so long, it isn’t a minor thing when a change like this occurs. The fact that I’m not sure I will have Thursday sessions or what time they’ll take place is unsettling for me. It makes me feel like therapy is less stable and I am less held.
The money is also having an impact. Our finances are not in great shape and we need to move to a more affordable house. It’s hard not to resent paying out so much money for therapy when we are struggling to pay our bills, and I don’t feel as though I am getting any better. Yes, I know things are changing and I am changing, but I don’t know if I can keep justifying this expense.
I’m writing this out now, because I know the sensible thing to do is to talk to J about it during my session this afternoon. That frightens me, but in the past taking the risk has been worthwhile. And if it goes really badly, I suppose I can still take a break for a while.