I’m still feeling really churned up over what’s happened in therapy this week. There are so few things I’m confident I can rely on lately, and it feels very unsettling that my relationship with J is suddenly unreliable. It actually feels scary to think that she isn’t consistent in the way I thought she was. It somehow makes her less solid, and in turn I feel less safe.
It’s almost like my system has been shocked by it. It’s that ‘rug being pulled from under your feet’ feeling. Without any warning, I don’t know where I stand anymore. I’ve lost my balance. And the impact of that hard landing has knocked the breath from my lungs.
I remember having that feeling when I was made redundant. I didn’t even like the job very much, but I hated the feeling that in a brief moment the shape of my world had changed. It felt frightening, the way the familiarity and routine that had occupied years of my life could be whipped away so fast. The uncertainty was hard to stomach. But I think the worst part was that it wasn’t my choice. It was taken from me without warning.
Drawing this parallel might sound over the top, because J hasn’t ended my therapy. She’s just reduced it. Some people will probably think three sessions per week was excessive in the first place. Perhaps it was. But that contact with J has been one of the key things that’s kept me going through all the struggles of the past few years. So losing one of those sessions is undoubtedly going to have an impact. Just thinking about losing the session has had an impact.
But as I already ranted earlier in the week, it isn’t only about losing the session. It’s about how J communicated it in an opaque way – saying it without really saying it, which feels avoidant and kind of disrespectful. It’s about how there hasn’t been a proper discussion between us. It’s about the fact that I didn’t get to choose, and the change isn’t because I’m doing better and don’t need that time anymore.
Of course it is also about all my old wounds. It doesn’t take a genius to see that part of my reaction to this is driven by my attachment issues. The fear of abandonment and rejection. The sense of not being good enough to be worth the time of others. My ingrained reluctance to trust that people will consistently be there for me. Plus the fact that the adults I relied on when I was little repeatedly let me down in so many ways. That is all stuff I’ve talked to J about for endless hours, so it’s hard for me to understand how she didn’t anticipate how upsetting this would be for me.
The other triggers are the change element and the accompanying lack of control. The worst day of my life was the day my parents found out my brother had been abusing me. I was only 11. And in a matter of minutes, my whole world was shattered. My sense of my family and my place in it was obliterated. My sense of myself was obliterated. Change couldn’t have felt more seismic and uncontrollable than it did during that time. I really believe that shift was as traumatic as what my abuser put me through.
20 years later, that experience has left me with a huge, visceral fear of change. I can just about handle it if it’s planned and expected and it happens slowly. And it’s always easier if I feel as though I have chosen it; that means I can at least feel like I am a little in control of what’s happening.
I am not saying that J altering my therapy sessions is traumatic. It isn’t. But it touches on all that I’ve written above, and so it has brought up a ton of intolerable thoughts and feelings for me. It’s not just the childhood stuff either. It’s affected the way I perceive J and that’s really hard to deal with.
As a result, I feel like I’m in freefall. I don’t want to go and work this through with her, but I also feel frightened by the idea of our relationship coming to an end. The thought that I’ll lose that containment and comfort I get from our sessions. But I’m angry with her, and this stubbornness in me says I shouldn’t even entertain the possibility of finding a resolution.
Yet I also don’t want to be angry. The energy in it gnaws at me and drives me to smash things, punch walls, take a knife to my skin – anything to release some of that pressure, the claustrophobia of being in my own body. I have no healthy way to manage such intense emotions.
It doesn’t help that I’ve barely slept the past few nights. This has all been circling in my mind, making me tense and anxious. The few bits of sleep I’ve had were interrupted by fearful dreams that jolted me awake.
I know I’m obsessing. The CBT-ers would say I am catastrophising. At the same time I am trying hard to talk myself down from all this hyper-feeling. I’m really trying to force some rational thought. But those pesky emotions just keep ambushing me.
I’m aware this is disjointed and ranty. That’s not surprising given the state of my thinking. I don’t have the energy to fix it and make it logical. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t if I tried. It’s as messy as I am right now.
Photo: AngieD., Creative Commons.