The Dilemma

Tomorrow I will speak to Linda about my thoughts on our last session, the recent email and my therapy in general. I’ve been reflecting, journaling, reading comments and discussing the situation with my friends in this lovely community. Here are some of my thoughts…

I really like Linda. I like her ‘adult to adult’. I enjoy talking to her and I find her straight forward attitude refreshing and liberating. I think she’s helped me massively in holding space for my ever fluctuating pain as I processed the immediate shock and subsequent grief of the loss of Anna. However… I mustn’t forget that I’m not just ‘coping, capable, adult Lucy’. Repeatedly I’ve experienced a disconnect whenever my child parts are more present in a session and I’ve noticed the protective parts pushing forwards and then my intellectualising ramps up. I reckon I’ve bought about 8 psychotherapy related books in the past 5 months. I stopped intellectualising and ‘over-reading/researching’ when I was working with Anna because she encouraged me to dig deep in my body and not stay in my head. Why am I buying all these books? What am I hoping to find within these pages? Validation! To be seen in black and white, because I’m not fully seen in my sessions. My Instagram browsing has increased too. Scrolling on my therapist heavy news feed in an attempt to find something that helps me make sense of myself. Anna knew. She was the first person to ever see Little Lucy. I don’t know if Linda even believes in ‘all that inner child stuff’. I shouldn’t have to question whether my therapist sees all the parts of me. But I’m not angry about it I actually feel quite neutral. Like I’m looking at a situation with clear vision. At the end of the day it’s my job to meet the needs of my inner child parts… therefore it’s vitally important I don’t ignore this any longer. I need to have an honest conversation with Linda and then I need to plan my next step. Not every therapist will have an approach that meets the needs of every client. Therapists are as varied and different as the clients they work with. And I didn’t source Linda, I fell into working with her. Going by her website I wouldn’t choose her… on paper (and in real life) she’s nothing like Anna… she doesn’t meet my criteria.

Unsurprisingly I have an analogy for this dilemma I find myself in with Linda. Say I have been going to the gym for a couple of years with the main focus being to tone my abs. This trainer I’ve been seeing is great and she specialises in crunches that do exactly what I want and it’s been working, I couldn’t see it at first but now it’s glaringly obvious that I was getting exactly what I needed. Unfortunately this PT becomes ill and can’t work with me anymore. So her colleague takes over and she seems like a pretty good personal trainer but she repeatedly tells me she’s not the same as my last one. I tell her I want to focus on my abs and she says, ‘well I guess we could do a few sit ups… I tend to just focus on squats though. Your abs might get some work as a by product and I’m happy to work with you.’ I’ve built a relationship with this new one and already feel invested, I definitely see overall improvements and it’s hard to know if my abs are getting any work at all because the overall workout feels so intensive but on closer inspection I’m really not getting the specific work I was looking for. Somethings missing.

So… leave? Well, here’s the kicker and the reason why I am finding it so hard to cancel my gym membership and find a new personal trainer… Linda is my last thread of a connection to Anna. She knows Anna. She’s sat in her company. Linda has heard Anna laugh, she has quite probably seen her tear up as well (knowing Anna). Linda has walked the halls I’ve walked on my way to Anna’s office. And Linda still gets to talk to Anna. She is my last shred of hope that I may ever hear how Anna is getting on. I’m not sure I can turn my back on that yet.

In addition to this, I’ve never ended a relationship of this magnitude before. I’ve never broken up with someone, I’ve barely even ended friendships voluntarily… there’s something about endings that are so damn hard. And because I wasn’t able to have an ending with my first therapist Paul, Anna was determined to help me through one when the time came. That opportunity was sadly taken from us… now I’m left wondering – is Linda my chance at an ending? Will she be the one I get to work on a goodbye with?

Anna was a transactional analyst – she focused heavily on attachment and inner child work. She also had a very flexible way of working which meant she would willingly listen to my feedback and adapt and mould herself to my needs. She only had about 5 years experience in private practice and the up-side to that was that she hadn’t become fixed in her ways or jaded. She was excited by her work. She loved it. I could tell that she thought deeply about the work we we’re doing. I could also tell she was personally invested. She had a history and had done her own deep work. She knew how it felt to sit in the clients chair. I know Linda is in therapy too but she clearly finds it exhausting and a means to an end. Whereas Anna found it fascinating… a never ending quest towards self awareness and enlightenment. Where Linda might see unnecessary digging, Anna sees a gold mine.

Another analogy… imagine the client is a plot of land with plans to build a house. One developer sees the land, their evaluation dictates that the land is stable, solid and predictable up to 2 metres below the surface. That developer decided so stick steel rods 2 metres into the ground, build the foundations and build the house.

Another developer sees the land and notices tiny inconsistencies that only an expert with personal experience would notice. They decided to dig down further than 2 metres and find 5 metres of unstable, unprocessed land underneath. They decide to excavate the whole site. It takes five times as long and is far more expensive, labour intensive and messy. The ground is then steadied, foundations built and the house erected. Both houses from the outside (from a distance) look the same.

Providing there are no heavy storms, landslides or tremors, the first house stays standing. However tiny hairline cracks appear from time to time. Again, only an expert eye would notice this. The first developer thinks the second one made unnecessary work for themselves. Digging deeper than needed, ‘making work for themselves… looking for trouble.’ The second developer knows, ‘there’s gold deep down inside… you just need the patience, stamina and endurance to find it.’ And only when you reach that depth, can you be sure there are no hidden surprises. Nothing is going to unsteady the ground beneath you.

I may be doing Linda a disservice by comparing her to the first housing developer… but my gut is telling me that she is looking at my house and she’s not noticing the cracks. She thinks it looks strong enough and that there’s no need to do any extra digging around. Anna understood that the work down on the deeper level would have longer lasting, greater impacts far beyond any of our awareness.

My only problem with all of this is that it appears to be fairly impossible to find anyone willing to do the work of the second developer! Someone who has done their own work and is invested in their clients long term messy, involved work on a relational/attachment level. And you have to work for a considerable length of time before you discover what kind of therapist you’re working with!

So… as Anna advised me… one step at a time, take it slow… ‘how do you eat an elephant, Lucy?’ One bite at a time.

4 thoughts on “The Dilemma

  1. It seems there are multiple dilemmas you are facing Lucy! The endings and leaving and saying goodbye are so painful. Linda being your last connection to Anna is no small thing. Looking for another therapist can be exhausting. And you are still grieving Anna! 

    The reading and searching IS a thing… I have done this too for many reasons. When I first started therapy and was diagnosed with Major Depression and CPTSD and found out there was a name for and a reason for all the chaos and reactions and anxiety and panic attacks… I wanted to make sense out of all of it. I wanted to make sense of my past. And I wanted some control over my life that I didn’t have. While we can gain understanding from books, they won’t heal us. A few have helped me tremendously to understand what my needs are and how to begin to ask for them… once I had a therapist who also knew what they are and was safe enough and attuned enough to respond. Since we are fighting for our lives, this all makes sense. Not to mention we are often frightened to the point of being paralyzed because of the trauma. 

    Your analogies are great and everything you said sounds so thoughtful and reasonable. I think you are on such an amazing path. And as you keep communicating with Linda everything will become clearer. Whether you find what you need from her or you get an ending, either way I think things will work out for you. Your shear determination will see to that! 

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for all of this. It’s been a very long and stressful day at work and I have less than two hours til the session (plus I need to squeeze in some ‘quality time’ with my kids before then). I really appreciate what you’ve said here and I’m going to revisit it later 💕


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