After much deliberation, I decided not to cancel my session today, but instead to go and bring up the worries and frustrations I’m feeling about therapy at the moment. My instinct was to cut myself off from J and hibernate at home, but past experience has taught me that letting these things fester generally just delays and intensifies the inevitably difficult conversation.
As always, I was anxious about bringing up my negative feelings about J and therapy. I hate talking about these issues, because I feel I’m being unfair to her, overly critical or ungrateful for everything she’s done for me. The only way I can do it is to keep reminding myself that the feelings are real for me, whether they are rational or connected with the present reality or not. They are there for a reason.
So I brought up most of what I wrote in my post before the session today. I probably didn’t communicate it as clearly or directly as I did in writing, but I think I covered what feels important. I told J I feel angry with her, I feel insecure and I feel frustrated that I’ve been doing therapy for so long and I don’t feel better. I did say I can see how I’ve changed, but I also told her that the change doesn’t feel worth all the hard work when it doesn’t lead to me feeling more content.
Mainly she responded exactly how I thought she would. She reassured me that she’s here for me and that I can say what I need to say and it won’t change our relationship. But all those words feel so empty. It’s so easy to say them. She has said them over and again, but it hasn’t changed how I feel. There is still a part of me that is just not willing or too afraid to really trust her. And how can I overcome that when my childhood taught me that those promises are so easily made and broken?
I don’t think my inability to fully trust comes from any fault on J’s part. I just don’t believe that anything will allow the young part of me that was so repeatedly let down to ever trust an ‘authority figure’ like her. And that leads me to thinking that therapy is never going to be worthwhile, because I will never feel secure enough to be as open as I need to be.
I find all those insecure feelings and my fear of J abandoning me incrediby hard to manage. It’s almost like an addictive cycle; I go to my session, I feel J’s warmth and caring and a degree of comfort, and then I feel terrible when that ‘fix’ of it is over. It doesn’t stick. I don’t carry that sense of being connected and held away with me when I leave. So then I worry about it and obsess over it and crave getting it again, which makes me feel terrible in between the times I see her. That’s been going on for years now, and I am reaching a point at which I don’t want to keep putting myself through it.
Today, J briefly brought up the matter of dropping our Thursday sessions. She said she realises we haven’t talked about it and that it’s important, but she didn’t want to overwhelm me when I already had so much going on. Her saying that actually made me feel worse about the whole thing, because I’d thought maybe she hadn’t realised it would be such a big deal for me or she hadn’t thought about the impact it would have. Somehow that was easier than knowing she understands this but hasn’t made room for us to talk it through.
It feels like she’s been afraid of my reaction, and has therefore been OK with us skirting around how important it is for me to be losing a third of my therapy time. That seems a lot about her, rather than me. It feels like she hasn’t wanted to manage how I feel about it, or doesn’t think I have the capacity to cope with it. But the truth is, she brought it up a few weeks ago and cancelled or changed a lot of Thursdays, so it isn’t like I didn’t know already.
I feel like the way she’s handled the whole thing hasn’t been honest. She’s told me Thursdays will be a problem, and she’s moved sessions, but she didn’t outright say we won’t be doing them anymore and initiated a proper conversation about it. And sure, I wouldn’t have found that easy, but this avoidant, indirect way of her telling me the news is crappy. So it made me angrier today when she talked to me about how much she values being transparent and honest with me, because really I don’t feel she has been.
We talked about all these issues at the start of the year when a similar situation arose around her leave. She didn’t give me much warning or time to talk about her taking a month off, because she’d been concerned about how I would manage. It caused me a lot of distress and it took me a long time to feel OK with her again. I discussed it with her and I thought we had agreed that she would tell me the things I might not want to hear, so we could make space to work through them. I told her then that I would prefer to know in good time and that delaying stuff like that would never make it feel easier for me. Yet here we are again going through the same thing.
I don’t want it to be a big deal that we are dropping a session every week, but it is. And ignoring that fact doesn’t make it feel better. It makes me feel ignored too. J knows how much I value my time with her, and how I depend on my sessions to get me through the week. She knows that I desperately miss contact with her when things change for one reason or another. She also knows how I need routine and reliability to feel safe and secure, and that I am very easily destabilised by changes in what’s familiar.
All of that is why this hurts so much. It hurts because the way she’s handled this has left me feeling deeply disappointed in her. I accept that she isn’t obliged to work with me, and I do recognise that our third session was always an extra one – even though we’ve been doing it for years now. She is interested in doing different work, and of course that’s not a bad thing. We all need new challenges, and while I respect that, it doesn’t make feel feel any less rejected.
Today J said it was a difficult decision for her to cut out Thursdays, like somehow that should make me feel OK about it. But there is no getting away from the hard fact that she is choosing to spend less time with me. She is choosing something else; there is something she’d like to do more than work with me. Something more interesting, or rewarding, or satisfying, or easier, or fun – who knows. That isn’t one of my childish delusions or my self-hatred coming into play, that is the actual truth. And it really hurts.