Another Glorious Rupture… A Break From Therapy?

I am so exhausted and I have no idea how I feel about any of this… frustrated maybe? Confused? Angry? I don’t even know if I’m being completely unreasonable or not. Anyway… here’s today’s session.

I immediately felt very nervous and anxious at the start of the session and I had no idea why. I’ve had a great week, a lot of good things happened. Getting back to work went way better than I thought it would and my kids have started school again and seem really happy and confident… so all is good there! But this morning I felt some sadness deep inside me and wasn’t really sure what it was about. By the time I logged in to the session with Linda I was feeling very fuzzy and confused. I gave her a quick overview of my week and even showed her a photo of my kids skipping in to school happily on Friday. Then she asked what I wanted to focus on today and I told her my head was full of stuff and I didn’t really know what to focus on. I said, ‘this is where I start to panic because I really want this to be a perfect session and I’m already rambling and feel directionless.’ Linda said, ‘hmm perfect session – is that not an oxymoron!? Does that even exist?’ I said, ‘yeah well useful then, purposeful…’ Linda nodded.

I told her I was feeling weird and she said, ‘good weird or bad weird?’ and I told her I was feeling spacey and muddled and like there was too much going on in my head. On reflection, I wish she’d noticed how dissociated I was here and helped me ground myself or co-regulate. She wasn’t attuned to me and that led to a downward spiral… I said, ‘I feel very muddled and there is a lot of noise in my head,’ and she said, ‘is there something in the centre of all of that, something that we could focus on?’ I said, ‘I think there’s just been so much going on lately and I’m exhausted with it all.’ She then said, ‘I’m going to suggest something that’s maybe a bit out there but hear me out and if it doesn’t sound right then we can move on from it… do you need a break?’ I honestly didn’t even really know what she meant at first and I just stared at the screen for a bit then she said, ‘…from therapy.’ The white noise became louder in my head and then all I could hear was, ‘you’re too much for her, she is sick of you, she wants to stop working with you!’ I said, ‘NO! Nope… I don’t think that would help. Why did you ask that?’ Linda then said, ‘it is a lot, maybe you would like to go down to one session a week? You are the only one, I don’t have any other clients who do two sessions a week it is a huge amount of work for you, it IS exhausting, I couldn’t do it.’ I said, ‘I’m really aware of how defensive I’m feeling right now and the inner critic is screaming at me that I should be ashamed of myself, I’m too needy, you’re sick of me. God I’m so ashamed I can’t even look at you I just want to close the laptop and go away, this is horrible…’ Linda was wide eyed and said, ‘I’m not saying this to shame you, it’s just an observation that two sessions a week is a lot.’

After some awkward back and forth misunderstandings where we completely missed each other, eventually I said, ‘but therapy isn’t the thing that’s exhausting me!’ and she said, ‘oh… OH I totally misunderstood you because I thought you meant you were exhausted by the therapy.’ I said, ‘my life feels a lot… my life feels too much and I really struggle to process it all when I don’t have sessions,’ Linda said, ‘When we started working together, it was the start of the lockdown and you were on a break from Anna and you felt the need for two sessions a week. It is important to recognise where you are now though. You’re back to work, you have more going on, you’re out the other side of the crisis. Yes?’ I nodded. She continued, ‘and it’s important that when I feel something in the room, if I have a question, it’s important that I say it or ask it, it would be wrong for me to hold back for fear of how you might interpret it.’ This really annoyed me, in retrospect, because surely this space is for my therapeutic healing, Anna would think so carefully about what she said and it really helped. Surely Linda needs to be going slow and carefully thinking about what I need in the session not just saying the things that pop into her mind? But on the other hand maybe Anna was overprotective and maybe I need to toughen up, and not be so sensitive? Anyway, I said to Linda, ‘the thing is, I’ve had a lot of very adult sessions with you, more adult sessions than I probably ever had with Anna because she brought the younger stuff out in me… but there are a lot of younger feelings going on and so there are parts of me that still miss Anna so much every fucking day and it hurts so much, some weeks I feel fine and other weeks I feel like I could do with a session every day. Some weeks it feels like a lifetime between the sessions. When the attachment stuff is triggered it’s really hard to go even three days between sessions.’

Linda said, ‘Yeah you mentioned the attachment/transference stuff in your email last week. I was wondering if it feels different to you because I’m so much younger that Paul and Anna… well I know I’m not that young anymore… as you well know!’ she laughed and I smiled because she was referring to her profile picture that is of her holding a cake with a ‘50’ candle on it. She said something about the age thing being ‘her shit’ that she’s happy to own and I said to her that I’ve noticed she’s brought it up a few times. I don’t know what the big deal is with the age thing – Anna is 55 and Linda is 50, it’s really not that much of a difference to me… but she obviously feels way younger than Anna. And Paul was in his late 50’s when I started working with him. To me they’re all the generation above me and all about the same age but she talks about it as if she feels like she is in the same generation as me. Maybe her partner is in her early 40’s and so it makes Linda feel closer to my age than to Anna’s age. I said to her, ‘the age thing never really comes up for me but you’ve mentioned it a few times… I guess the dad stuff really kicked in big time with Paul.’ There was a long gap and I muttered something about it being very painful. I said, ‘With Anna I felt very young and a lot of maternal transference happened in that relationship but I’m not sure it’s to do with age… she’d have been very young to have been my mother. But I did tell her once that I felt really uncomfortable with the power imbalance in the relationship and I remember her saying to me, ‘what power imbalance? You are a professional too., you’re a teacher.’ And I said to her, ‘not in this room I’m not! Most of the time I feel like a child in this room with you.’ And Anna spent a lot of time connecting to that child and apologising for missing her… well with you I feel like there are some parts of me that are very young. So, you are really old compared to those parts… just like I am really old compared to those parts… well my body age is.’ She was sort of laughing but I get the feeling the age thing is a personal sore point for her. I might revisit this at some point.

This is where things start to feel really disheartening because it’s like she really doesn’t understand transference. I remember Paul saying that I was experiencing maternal transference with him… it doesn’t matter the gender, age or sexuality of the therapist – we project what we need to project… whatever is unhealed. Linda seems to be a very lateral thinker and doesn’t seem to understand that it wouldn’t matter if she was the same age as me. The transference is going to play out regardless. Linda said, ‘I guess I have mentioned it a few times and I was the first to mention the age thing in regards to the parts of you when I asked you how old you felt…’ (I was amazed she remembered this – it was way back in like the 3rd or 4th session when I was still working with Anna… this made me feel a bit reassured that she is paying attention). I said, ‘this attachment shit doesn’t get triggered in any other relationship, it’s just in therapy! In my other relationships, if anything I’m more stand off-ish. I interpret Adams attention and love as him being needy. If friends come on too strong I tend to question their motives. I don’t trust easily. I keep people at a distance. But with you and Paul and Anna I am totally preoccupied and want more and more.’ Linda asked if I had a sense of why there was a difference and I said, ‘because parts of me feel they NEED you to survive and I feel inadequate, it’s not equal. Whereas I tend to feel quite strong and capable in other relationships. Not all of the time but most of the time.’ We talked quite a bit about this and looked at specific relationships and friendships.

I was starting to get quite agitated and angry. I said, ‘it’s this fucking attachment shit! I just feel so fucked up. I wish I was the kind of person who can accept the love and care and kindness that is offered to me. But when people are nice and loving to me it pushes me away, I can’t take it in. I don’t trust it. Anna would be sitting right beside me with her hand on my arm asking me if I could feel the connection and I couldn’t fucking feel it. Because it was too terrifying… and because every tiny little crumb of a rupture or misstatement that you hand me will be turned into a huge boulder that I will add to this wall between us. When I was working with Anna it would take me weeks to come back to her with these issues… I’d write it in an email and because she wouldn’t let me email her I’d have to read it out in session and it was excruciating and she’d try to mend and repair the rupture. So, I guess there’s progress there because now I’m able to do it as it’s happening.’ Linda acknowledged the progress and I continued, ‘but I just hate the way my brain works, it believes that you will hurt me and can’t be trusted so any tiny little thing will be taken as strong evidence to support this fact and I will never be able to let it go. I will always remember the tiny little ways you hurt me and it will drive me mad. I hate it.’ Linda was quiet and just had a sympathetic expression which annoyed me because what I wanted was insights and in-depth curious exploration.

I started to feel emotional in an angry way and in a sort of sarcastic tone I said, ‘D’you know when I realised how connected I felt to Anna? When she fucking left me! It wasn’t until she’d left me that I could feel the love and care. How fucked up is that. It’s like a fucking kick in the teeth. She would hand it all to me on a plate, session after session and I could barely look at her. It wasn’t until she was gone that I was able to tell her in an email that I loved her. And I know that if I’d said it to her in a session she would have been so kind and caring and sweet about it and not shamed me or anything, in fact she’d have been so proud of me… but I couldn’t do it. When people are right there in front of me it’s too much, the minute I lose them I can’t bear to live without them.’ Linda had that smile on her face as if she’s thinking fondly of Anna and I just sat there thinking how much I miss her.

As I’m writing this I feel increasingly frustrated with how little I get back from Linda. Anna would have so much to say here and she’d help lead me deeper inside myself. I know in my heart that Linda can not help me like Anna could. I’m thinking either her style of therapy just isn’t made for that kind of introspection or perhaps she hasn’t gone that deep before so doesn’t see it is possible. I said to her, ‘I feel like you and I are so different. I imagine… and I’m making assumptions here… that you are not a procrastinator. I don’t get that vibe from you. Maybe you were at one point or maybe not but I feel like you come across as someone who lives for the moment and you don’t overthink or over analyse… whereas I do over analyse and I overthink things and I have tonnes of therapy books… you should see my bookshelves – my collection would rival most therapists.’ She interrupted and said, ‘I don’t doubt it, I can only imagine!’ she then said, ‘But why is all that important? We don’t need to be the same to be able to work together, in fact it’s probably better if we’re not. Why does it matter if I’m a different person to you? I mean, of course we’re different.’ I didn’t really know how to respond. I was felt completely depleted and couldn’t explain myself anymore.  I said, ‘I feel so ashamed.’

I couldn’t get over the feeling of disconnect and tried to explain that I still felt uneasy about her leaping to assumptions that I should take a therapy break or go down to one session a week. I said, ‘I feel it’s important to say here that I will let you know if I want to take a break or go down to one session a week. With Anna, before the lockdown, we were doing the Tuesdays fortnightly and then every Saturday we had our weekly sessions. But then stuff just felt so unmanageable in the lockdown that it made sense to go to twice a week. Anna and I would always have twice a week sessions in the holidays. I feel really defensive and like I need to justify… like… do you think it’s weird that I want to have two sessions a week?’ she said she didn’t think it was weird and that’s not why she’d asked and that it had been important to ask because she thought I meant I was exhausted by the sessions. I said, ‘God this is excruciating I don’t know why I’m finding this so hard, it’s just horrible I can hardly stand it… there are so many thoughts and feelings and parts of me wanting to close this conversation down, parts of me feeling really exposed, a part of me saying who gives a fuck what anyone thinks I’m paying for the sessions and it’s prearranged and I can have it if I want… but that’s a very quiet voice right now.’ Linda agreed with that quite voice and I said, ‘maybe it’s coz it’s actually really hard to advocate for myself and figure out what I need and then get that need met and I’ve tried to do that and you’re telling me I should have a break from therapy which is the very last thing I want.’ Linda said, ‘I hear you. I hear that’s how you feel. Do you hear me when I say that I was asking because the question popped up in my mind and I’m not trying to get you to stop working with me, can you hear that? Can you move past the critical, defensive filter and hear me?’ I said, ‘mmm’ and nodded once and she looked questioning and said, ‘that didn’t sound very convincing.’ I said, ‘well I feel like you have a defensive tone now.’ Linda said, ‘it’s just really so important. And I know this is uncomfortable but I’m really glad we’re talking about this because it’s helping me get to know you. And I want to know you. I want to understand you. I really want to get to know you Lucy so I’m glad we are looking at this.’ I said, ‘I just have a really sensitive radar for possible rejection and you suggesting I have a break from therapy when that’s not previously been on my mind at all, that’s something that will be hard for me to look past. My brain really easily builds these walls.’

At some point I said, ‘I feel panicky like don’t take these sessions away from me, please don’t take this away from me you know, this panic is really powerful.’ and she said in a firm voice, ‘no one is taking anything away from you Lucy.’ I got a frustrated, impatient tone from her. I can imagine how Anna would deal with this. She would have soothed me, she’d adjust her tone as if she was speaking to a child and it would have felt connecting and supportive. I feel like Linda just doesn’t get that she’s not talking to just adult Lucy.

We went on to talk about my husband and other relationships. At the end of the session Linda asked me how I was feeling and I said I felt a million different things and that there wasn’t enough time to go over it all. We ran over by a couple of minutes as we put in some date changes and then ended the session. And I fell apart.

I’ve typed up this email that I might send tomorrow… I don’t even know if I’m making sense any more!

Hi Linda,

I’m guessing you’ll be half expecting an email from me after yesterday’s session… I’ve been in two minds about sending this because I know we’ll talk about it on Tuesday but I’ve slept on it and it still feels very important to get this out there.

Yesterday’s session was really hard, I felt a big divide between us and that we were struggling to understand each other. Sometimes I feel like we’re a team and you are on my side but I didn’t feel that yesterday. As soon as I closed the laptop I burst into tears. (After years of not being able to cry, it still feels very strange to me that I’m able to cry at all, let alone have the emotions so close to the surface like they’ve been for the past 5 months.) I found it really hard to articulate what was going on for me yesterday and that led to a lot of misunderstandings which feels really frustrating and scary actually because it felt like you weren’t really seeing me. I wasn’t ready for the session to end. I could have done with another twenty minutes to resolve things. That’s a perfect example of when a longer session would be useful for me because it felt rushed and unfinished.

I was really struggling at the start of the session. I think I said I was muddled or spacey or didn’t know what I was feeling or that there was a lot going on. On reflection I can see that I was quite dissociative – not firmly in an adult head space. When I feel like that, I don’t have the words to describe how I’m feeling and I really need help with grounding, I just don’t have the ability to articulate it at the time. When the protective parts showed up by turning everything you said into a criticism, that’s when I need some co-regulation before I can feel safe enough to move past the filter and see and hear you again. I think it was our very first session when I told you that I sometimes struggle with dissociation and you asked me what I find useful/helpful and what you could do in those moments. When you experience me as struggling to articulate what’s going on in my head or explain how I’m feeling, when I say I feel numb or weird or spacey could you please check in with me. That might be a sign that I’m feeling disconnected or it might be that there are other parts of me around. It’s helpful if you ask if I am aware of any other parts being around or what age I feel. Those kinds of questions make me feel seen and less likely to feel ashamed or defensive. You have done all that before. I don’t know if I did or said something yesterday to make you not want to help me go deeper but on reflection I feel that you were different with me than you’ve been in other sessions. I think because we’ve had a run of very adult sessions, my behaviour yesterday came across as me being difficult or something. Remember the session when you said it felt like there were three people in my session; you, me and my inner critic and I said my child was there too. You said, ‘your child is always welcome here with me.’ But sometimes when I feel the presence of younger parts, I feel they are not actually welcome. Because they come out as sensitive to perceived rejection/criticism, hypervigilant, untrusting, reading into things, feeling confused and muddled, not having the words for how they’re feeling, needing a lot of reassurance. I really need you to be patient and gentle with me when this all comes up, otherwise the protective parts kick in and build a wall between us. I feel like I’m rambling, I hope this all makes sense Linda. Basically if you notice the presence of the inner critic you can be sure younger parts are around.

I want to try to further explain what came up for me when I said that I felt exhausted and you suggested I might want to have a break from therapy. I know I told you that it felt really rejecting but I think the underlying thing that triggered me is that it feels like you don’t really know me. When I clumsily tried to explain to you that I think we are very different people you misunderstood me and assumed I meant we would have to be the same in order for the therapy to work but that’s not what I meant at all. What I meant was, when you made the assumption that my exhaustion came from therapy it sounded to me like we view and experience therapy in a very different way and you were assuming it felt the same to me as it does to you. You said none of my other clients have two sessions a week and neither do I (which felt shaming). I’ve tried to think about why someone might find therapy exhausting and it makes me wonder if therapy is this isolated 50 minute slot in their/your week where you think deeply and look closely at things in a healthy, balanced way and for the rest of your week you are present in your life and not preoccupied or overthinking about stuff. However, for me, therapy is the one or two 50 minute slots in my week where for once someone else helps me carry the burden of all of the deep thoughts and worries that I’ve been struggling with every minute of every day of the week by myself. So for you and all your clients who don’t need as many sessions as me, perhaps therapy feels exhausting and hard work because it is that one concentrated time in the week when they confront these difficult things… but for me therapy is that one tiny moment in my week where I get to lighten this load I’m carrying by myself all day every day. The regular sessions I have with you feel restorative, supportive – like the water stops every few miles on the exhausting marathon of my life.

A similar thing happened with Anna once. I was freaking out imagining Anna wanted to stop working with me. She was trying to illustrate that I was the one with the power. She said, ‘you could decide to just not turn up one session and never come back, or you could fire me. It’s up to you how long or how frequently we work together.’ That caused a rupture that we had to work on in the next couple of sessions. I explained to her it felt like she didn’t know me. If she knew me she’d know that I was in it for the long haul, that I am committed to the therapy, that I am reliable and wouldn’t just not show up, that the ending was really important to me because I didn’t get an ending with Paul so I wouldn’t ‘fire’ her before having the ending sessions I so desperately wanted to be able to have. Plus I wouldn’t fire her anyway because she meant so much more to me than that. I could never have just left her. I was angry that she’d made assumptions about me that were so different to who I really am. This situation feels really similar to that.

Anyway, I could go on and on about this. I’ve read it over so many times and it’s not making any sense to me anymore. For some reason this is all very very important to me and I don’t really know why. I think it’s much deeper than all of this. I’m hoping we can explore it on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading this,  

Lucy

25 thoughts on “Another Glorious Rupture… A Break From Therapy?

  1. Lucy, I want you to know that I can relate to how you are feeling on a very deep level. Your feelings are very understandable. I wonder why therapists who want things to be easy even take on trauma patients. I am not saying this is Linda, but it certainly is a thought that I have about many therapists. It was certainly not a good thing for her to mention that none of her other clients have sessions twice a week. That in itself felt hurtful and shameful to me too.

    I just had a conversation with my therapist yesterday about therapy, therapists, and the amount of sessions and length of therapy, and why it seems when our needs are great they often are made to feel pathological by some therapists. You should not feel bad for needing her more than once a week. For the first time ever, I am seeing my therapist three times a week at her suggestion and encouragement. She doesn’t make me feel bad about it at all. Having her presence in my life consistently like this makes me feel so cared for and keeps me from spiraling into all the attachment wound stuff that you are struggling with and which I did have with my last therapist. With the last therapist, every time I left her office I felt like I no longer existed to her and it was excruciating. These are wounds from our childhood.

    My therapist is an analyst and she said that her approach is not to change my mind or my feelings, she just wants to know what they are, and that analysts stay curious. Because they are not trying to change you but get to know your thoughts and feelings this takes much longer. She is making sense out of all of my interactions with her. She also is playful with me and we laugh together. She said that this is important because I also need to be able to be playful in this space with her, that all of my feelings and emotions need to feel safe here with her. She is on vacation this week, but is going to do a check-in call with me on Wednesday morning. I am sure the attachment wounds will surface at some point, but she is trying to build a foundation of safety with her so that I can hopefully be able to process them with her. I asked her to reassure me that I was not going to disappear to her during her vacation. She smiled and held up a book that I gave her, and already pointed out that she has some of my poetry and writings. This past Monday she gave me a book of hers as a relational object for me to have during her vacation. It is your therapists job to not only find out what your needs are, but to meet them when she can in healthy ways that make you feel safe.

    I hear you and understand you. Our souls long to receive the care and attention that they have never received before… with a therapist who not just understands this, but welcomes it. If we feel as though a therapist can take us or leave us, that feels like indifference. And the book that I mentioned to you has a quote: “The trigger or specific source of disintegration anxiety is the loss of the essential self object environment that makes psychological survival possible. Kohut believed that disintegration anxiety arises from an exposure to an indifferent, nonhuman world. Even hatred confirms the hated person’s humanness. It is indifference, not hatred, that leads to the experience of a loss of self.” She doesn’t seem to understand the significance she holds in your life as preserving your sense of self as a much needed self object in this attachment bond with you. I hope you can repair this with her Lucy! I am thinking of you!

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    1. Blue, thank you so much for such a thoughtful and careful comment. I really appreciate how you’ve helped me feel like I make sense. I completely agree with you on the query on why a therapist would take on a trauma client if they don’t understand or don’t want to get into the attachment work… that IS the work right there and Anna was so ready and willing to get into it, deeply. I wonder if Linda hasn’t done deep work herself in therapy. I got the very clear impression that Anna had worked deeply on herself and her inner child parts and that’s why she understood my needs and my responses.

      I love how you explained what your therapist is like. Anna was an analyst. I really feel like I need another analysist! I need someone who is willing to go deeper. Also I keep forgetting to get my hands on that book and everything you refer to from it sounds deeply profound! This is the last time I’ll ask… please remind me what it’s called.

      Thank you again for being so supportive and for seeing me!

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      1. Lucy, I was really hesitant to share with you anything about my therapy or therapist, but I wanted to remind you of what therapy can be, and what it was for you with Anna; and that you can have this again. My therapist told me that only analysts are required to do this kind of deep work on themselves in order to become a therapist/analyst. Certainly you don’t need to make any quick decisions and you can take your time and even keep Linda while looking and until you find an analyst that you can connect with, if that is what you choose to do. In this post I saw so much of myself with my last therapist. I worked way too hard and I didn’t “read the signs” and trust my gut instincts. As hard as it has been to look for a new therapist, and I saw many who I eliminated fairly quickly because I knew more what I was looking for, I am so glad I did the work looking. Actually Lucy, you played a huge part in inspiring me to keep looking. Your work with Anna let me know what I could have. You have helped me so much. I hate seeing you struggle so now. We will all be here for you in whatever you decide to do.

        You don’t need to feel as though you are too sensitive. This sensitivity in itself IS a symptom of the trauma you have experienced. It is a normal reaction to what you have experienced in life. I hate my sensitivity too. But we shouldn’t have to feel shame for it or apologize for it.

        I learned from you that I needed an analyst! Thank you!

        The book is called “Resolving Impasses In Therapeutic Relationships” by Dr. Sue Nathanson Elkind. The following are two links to the book. I have bought many used copies for myself and several therapists, including the therapist I am currently seeing:

        https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/867690.Resolving_Impasses_in_Therapeutic_Relationships

        I am reading it for the 5th or 6th time and it is wonderful. It should be required reading for every therapist. As a client, it explains attachment theory, the anguish of losing a therapist (and it helps a future therapist understand this anguish and our needs), and gives us a means to ask for our needs through her words. I am sharing several important aspects of this book with my therapist, reading it out loud to her as she follows along in her copy. She has already contacted a colleague to be an auxiliary therapist for me when she goes on vacation in the future. Sue Elkind is so compassionate and intune with our needs as patients and gives us the words and means to express them to our therapists in psychological terms, and Sue Elkind offers the validation that both the patient and therapist need to work deeply. It is such a meaningful book to me. I think I will probably read it at least once a year for the length of time I am in therapy. This book has helped my therapist and I to get to know each other deeper and has awakened her to some needs I have that she hadn’t even thought of or knew that I needed, and she has responded beautifully. I think this book can be a huge asset to any therapeutic relationship. The further along in the book, the better the book gets. You can do this Lucy!

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      2. Lucy, I was really hesitant to share with you anything about my therapy or therapist, but I wanted to remind you of what therapy can be, and what it was for you with Anna; and that you can have this again. My therapist told me that only analysts are required to do this kind of deep work on themselves in order to become a therapist/analyst. Certainly you don’t need to make any quick decisions and you can take your time and even keep Linda while looking and until you find an analyst that you can connect with, if that is what you choose to do. In this post I saw so much of myself with my last therapist. I worked way too hard and I didn’t “read the signs” and trust my gut instincts. As hard as it has been to look for a new therapist, and I saw many who I eliminated fairly quickly because I knew more what I was looking for, I am so glad I did the work looking. Actually Lucy, you played a huge part in inspiring me to keep looking. Your work with Anna let me know what I could have. You have helped me so much. I hate seeing you struggle so now. We will all be here for you in whatever you decide to do.

        You don’t need to feel as though you are too sensitive. This sensitivity in itself IS a symptom of the trauma you have experienced. It is a normal reaction to what you have experienced in life. I hate my sensitivity too. But we shouldn’t have to feel shame for it or apologize for it.

        I learned from you that I needed an analyst! Thank you!

        The book is called “Resolving Impasses In Therapeutic Relationships” by Dr. Sue Nathanson Elkind. I have bought many used copies for myself and several therapists, including the therapist I am currently seeing.

        I am reading it for the 5th or 6th time and it is wonderful. It should be required reading for every therapist. As a client, it explains attachment theory, the anguish of losing a therapist (and it helps a future therapist understand this anguish and our needs), and gives us a means to ask for our needs through her words. I am sharing several important aspects of this book with my therapist, reading it out loud to her as she follows along in her copy. She has already contacted a colleague to be an auxiliary therapist for me when she goes on vacation in the future. Sue Elkind is so compassionate and intune with our needs as patients and gives us the words and means to express them to our therapists in psychological terms, and Sue Elkind offers the validation that both the patient and therapist need to work deeply. It is such a meaningful book to me. I think I will probably read it at least once a year for the length of time I am in therapy. This book has helped my therapist and I to get to know each other deeper and has awakened her to some needs I have that she hadn’t even thought of or knew that I needed, and she has responded beautifully. I think this book can be a huge asset to any therapeutic relationship. The further along in the book, the better the book gets. You can do this Lucy!

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      3. I will absolutely buy the book! Thank you so much again for the recommendation and from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for all of your words. I’m blown away that you say my work with Anna inspired you to look for the same and now you have this wonderful analyst. I’m over the moon, that an incredible ripple affect right there 💕 I really love that.

        I completely agree with you and definitely will take my time over finding someone who can meet my needs without me having to teach them how to do it. I want to work with Linda face to face for a bit and have some sort of overlap rather than a gap between her and someone new. It’s a long journey that has been massively delayed and interrupted by what happened with Anna. I miss her so much more in these times.

        Thank you again 💕💕💕

        Liked by 1 person

      1. That is awesome Lucy! I think this book will be very validating for all that you are suffering right now and your trauma wounds. And I think it will help you and little Lucy in getting your needs met in therapy with the right therapist. It is so hard fighting for our needs and this book allowed me to use her words to share with my therapist and ask in a much less stressful and validating way. Dr. Elkind has a heart of gold and any therapist who truly wants to do this hard work with us will welcome her insight as well. I hope it blesses you Lucy and your therapy going forward as much as you and Anna have blessed and helped me! 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, this is so tough. I can really imagine how this lack of attunement is such a painful reminder of what you’ve lost. This may not be helpful, but my sense is that Linda is perhaps not the right person to do this depth attachment work with, although I do wonder if things may change once you are able to be in the room with her. I remember becoming very triggered when an acupuncturist who I worked with since I was 21 and whom I had become very attached to suggested, when I was really struggling and deep in the work with K, that I should cut back on my sessions as it sounded like it was too much for me (I was doing 3 or 4 hours a week across two sessions a week at that point). It just made me so acutely aware that he didn’t understand the work I was doing or why, and that it wasn’t really ‘a choice’ to go so deeply into the work because without it I wasn’t sure I would survive, and it was painful to have my experience missed in that way. As you say, we are not like ‘normal’ clients who work hard in their hour a week session and then get on with their lives, therapy takes over for a considerable period of time and we struggle with the fall out of all it brings up, meaning we need at least twice a week really to contain it enough to be able to function in the rest of our lives. “Taking a break” isn’t really possible during the very depth work because we can’t take a break from ourselves and our responses.

    I also agree that what she says about the age and transference thing is confusing and perhaps indicates it’s not something she’s worked with in the way Anna and K have before, with young parts and so on. My experience is that the age of the person is pretty irrelevant because these are feelings from infancy and childhood. K is only 14 years older than me, but she is also way too old to be the mum of young parts, and yet all my system’s unmet needs from various developmental stages have been met and seen and held. It’s not like we actually get confused and think they are or can be our parents, but that we experience different emotions towards them and different needs get met depending on the age we are feeling at that time.

    I hope you can find a way forward with Linda but whilst it is important that you are able to share what you need, it is not your job to train or educate her on this stuff and from what you’ve written here, and before, I’m not sure she fully gets it. She does sound very willing to listen and hear you and try and meet you when you bring things up, which is obviously great and is helping you express your needs and learn what it’s like to get a good response when you do this, but the fact she doesn’t, and perhaps hasn’t, work/ed with clients twice a week suggests work with complex developmental trauma and dissociation isn’t something she’s done masses of before because it’s really a common if not necessary thing for those of us who can (just about! afford it. I always said if I couldn’t do twice a week I would have needed to stop completely because I wouldn’t have managed a week between sessions with the depth of what was coming up. I was able to move to a longer session once a week after 3 years (with an email check-in each week) but still needed the option of an extra session if needed.

    For what it’s worth, if I were you I would see how it feels once you are in the room because video therapy is a strange thing without all the non-verbal cues and energy in the space and so on, and if it feels then that little parts won’t get their needs met then I would consider moving on.

    Sorry for the essay, just found I had a lot to say on this! xx

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey CB.

      Thank you – yes I think you’re right about Linda maybe not being right for me. I just don’t know if she has ever gone as deeply in her own therapy or with other clients as I want to go. It’s very confusing because she talks about experience with trauma clients and she does a huge amount of work with a group that supports survivors of CSA so I do wonder how the hell these people have therapy with her without getting deeply into the attachment and transference stuff… I’m fairly certain she doesn’t understand what transference is all about because as you say, it isn’t actually about me REALLY waning her to be my mum, it’s about her meeting some of my needs and then my wounded, deprived child parts attaching to her. My need for attachment seems to trigger something in her and I’m annoyed that I’m even aware of that because Anna kept herself firmly OUT of the room.

      I agree with you massively that I need to see how she feels in the room. I might go back to the hunt online for another therapist but keep in mind that I’m aware I want to see how things feel when we’re working together in person. I’m not the type of person who makes rash decisions anyway so I’ll work this through with Linda and see how it pans out. It’s just so repetitive and exhausting to be going over this and feeling like I have to educate her on how to work this… not great!

      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, whilst I was reading I just kept thinking you shouldn’t have to educate her. I guess with CSA and other trauma, particularly where it’s not in the family or the child is older, there’s not always this depth of attachment wounding and trauma and so the attachment/transference doesn’t kick in in the same way in therapy. So she may have a lot of experience of trauma work but still not of this sort where the attachment IS the work. Good luck with it all and bloody brilliant work hasn’t been as bad as you expected so far – I’m so worried about our young people’s future’s – you and all the other school teachers are truly doing a heroic thing 🙏🏻

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Re. work – I’m just heavily focusing on the health and well-being of the kids. Everything else will fall into place.

        Yeah you’re right about the attachment stuff. I’m gonna need to take all this to her!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. slantgirl

    Omg Lucy!! This is so much. I’m blown away by this post. First off, because I feel so sad for all of the moments of disconnect and misunderstanding between you and Louise. my T and I were recently having a conversation about transference.. she was saying how rare it is for clients to really want to work with it, and the difficulties for therapist in holding it. You and Anna had such a rare thing.. you both rose to the challenge of using transference to process and heal your trauma. I would be so frustrated by the age comments vis a vis transference as well.. and you think you nailed it. Actually in this post and in your email to her you’ve completely nailed what it is to struggle with attachment as a therapy client. I read so much of this, as I always do, thinking ‘wow, that’s exactly how I feel as well’. Still, I think you can work through this. I am interested in what she’ll say back to you about both the session and the email. ♥️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It makes me sad to think that Anna might be a very rare type of therapys… how likely is it that I can find someone like her who is willing to and wants to work on the attachment/transference stuff? I mean, she actively encouraged it, she knew that was where the work was. She would constantly bring me back to how we were connecting, how I was experiencing her etc. Whereas Linda constantly brings things back to how she is experiencing me, how I am misinterpreting her… rather than adapting how she talks to me to suit MY needs… ughhhh I wish I could talk this through with ANNNAAA!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. there’s nothing i can add that your other readers haven’t mentioned (beautifully, btw). i just wanted to say i feel for you and there’s nothing strange about your reactions to all this. reading Linda’s comments left me feeling protective and angry on your behalf. i miss Anna for you as well.
    also, must say that you explained so much in here that i literally put in my notes app because it perfectly describes experiences i have, especially around why frequent therapy is like a water break, or the only time during the week we get support with the chaotic and scary inner world. so thank you for that.
    thinking of you and i wish i could send you a coffee and cuddly blanket. take care of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, that felt very validating! To hear that you feel there’s nothing strange about my reactions. It is in these moments that I miss Anna the most, she would know how to help me navigate this. I was really spoiled by her and now I just feel so profoundly aware of what I am missing out on. Thanks for your thoughts and for being here.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh this seems like a really hard session and I am not at all surprised that there was a strong reaction to it! I think you have done really well to express your feelings in the email to L. What’s her position on reading emails outside session etc? Because I know that if she doesn’t read it/respond then that, too, can feel like she doesn’t get it and doesn’t care….ok that’s my shit after years of Em ignoring me! ha.

    The comment about needing a break from therapy was a bit of a gaff but I guess it is a fair question and worth her checking out her understanding. I have more of an issue with the framing it around what other people do and how she herself participates in therapy rather than recognising your need. I don’t think she was trying to be deliberately shaming but I can totally see how it would feel that way. It also suggests to me that she might not really get CPTSD and attachment stuff enough. If anything, I would have thought that how hard things have been for you she might be advocating more support rather than less and clearly fails to see that the child parts need help not to be left. It is an unfortunate misattunement.

    I guess what I am trying to figure out here is, is this episode enough to say the therapy isn’t going to work? Probably not. BUT as I mentioned on a comment yesterday if your overall sense and feeling is telling you this isn’t quite the right fit then it is worth listening to that. I wouldn’t be making any big decisions right now because I think the online therapy has limitations and you might find in the room that the missing bits are there – because so much of what your young parts need is non-verbal and we simply don’t get it via Skype.

    I think so long as you can keep flagging up when things feel off you’re on the right track. BUT…. after A I do think you know what kind of therapy works for you and what doesn’t…. however, you aren’t going to know fully what L can do until you are in the room – i,e touch etc…and also is the 50 minute thing completely non-negotiable? I couldn’t go back to 50 minutes now. It just isn’t long enough.

    x I hope this hasn’t made things worse! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I agree with every single thing you’ve said.

      Weirdly I’ve woken up today wondering – maybe I do need a break from therapy!? 🙈

      Also… I think she doesn’t get attachment work. Anna really REALLY got it and it was what she wanted to do. I feel like Linda is the sort of therapist that gets you back on your feet and out the door, quick turnaround. You know?

      She will read my email but won’t respond. We’ll talk about it in session tomorrow.

      Thanks for what you’ve written. I appreciate it 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it definitely could be! The thing is, the attachment stuff doesn’t really get triggered by Linda as it did with Anna so I’m in some sort of limbo where I know I have stuff I need to work on but it’s not exactly readily available for me. This stuff just won’t come out if the deep trust isn’t there. Such a tricky thing to navigate!

        Like

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