Out of My Body

What a day! The session was at 9am which in hindsight might have been a bad idea. I got up at quarter to 8 and felt okay but basically by the time I’d showered and grabbed a coffee it was time to set up for the session to start so I didn’t see the kids all morning, which always makes me feel guilty. Then when the session finished I felt obliged to leap into doing stuff as a family (as it’s the first and possibly last sunny weekend for a long time).

I told Linda that I was reflecting on what she’d said about me critiquing the sessions. I said that I was curious about the link between her sense of me scrutinising our work together and the way I scrutinise myself and Adam especially when it comes to parenting… and then I noticed a connection with the way my mother has always been with me. The way I have always felt scrutinised and critiqued by her. I told Linda that I remembered reading that sometimes clients can unconsciously replay a cycle that has bothered them in their lives, in order to show the therapist in real time what it feels like to be them and also to get an example from the therapist of how to respond to the situation. I then sort of rolled my eyes and told her I was aware that I am intellectualising but the link was interesting to me. She asked me what it would be like for me to let go of the control, she said I am not the therapist, I’m the client and asked me how it would feel to stop analysing. I told her that brought up a lot of anxiety and then I lost connection with how I was feeling. Looking back I really feel like it’s unfair of her to press this in the way she was. She wasn’t looking to understand why I do what I do, just interested in getting me to stop.

We then talked about me reading therapy books. She said, ‘When you told me you had a book collection that would rival any therapist, that really stayed with me. When you told me initially I was impressed, but I was also sad… and I think the sadness has stayed. I felt sad that all the books and reading… it takes up so much of your time and energy and I’m not sure it’s giving you what you need. Could you imagine living your life without the reading and journaling?’ I said no immediately and told her that I was aware of a defensive part coming in between me and her. She explained that it’s about trusting the process and I told her I actually really don’t know what that means. She said it’s about just being, just letting it be. I have reflected on this tonight and ‘trust the process’ sounds way too much like ‘trust me’ for my comfort… and ‘trust me’ is not the sort of thing you should be saying as a trauma informed therapist to a person who could NOT trust her caregivers as a child… I don’t even know if I can trust myself. If she really understood defenses she would know that my intellectualising and cognitising is all there for a reason. She would not try to take it from me and force me to trust her… it feels really uncomfortable to me that she would assume she knows better than me with regard to what I need.

I tried to explore with her why I do what I do and struggled to explain it because I was feeling defensive. The reason for the reading and researching has only really become clear to me this evening which I’ll get into in a minute. Linda made a comment about the writing. She said it is clearly part of my process but the interesting part for her is that I hit send (when I email her my notes… which happened twice). I personally don’t think that’s the interesting part… I write my journal every day. I post once or twice a week. I have emailed her twice in three months of work… that’s not entirely significant in my opinion. The interesting part for me is that I get the sense that she is threatened or intimidated by my need to reflect and bring attention to the work we’re doing. She mentioned that I talk about the relationships I’ve had with my therapists a lot and she talked about not being able to work in the same way Anna did with regards to analysing how we are working together. I find that really strange because don’t we all, as professionals, constantly reflect and analyse how effective our practice is? Isn’t it important for her to constantly check in with me that what she is doing actually works? For her to assume she knows what I need and to tell me to drop my defense mechanisms and trust *her* process to me sounds like someone who is letting her ego get in the way of the work… MY therapy.

Later this evening I was thinking trying to remember when the reading and researching started. I imagined that would have been the direction Anna would have taken things… she’d have tuned me in to my inner child. It started when I was a young teenager. I would rent books from the library, buy magazines, later when the internet became accessible in school I would look things up online and print them off… all about inherited trauma, personality disorders, bi-polar, BPD, depression… all to help my mother. I would make her mood boards and write her letters. I gave her leaflets and print outs to take to the doctor… I tried everything I could to qualify myself practically to therapist standards so that I could help her… help her become the mother I needed. And that’s the part of me that’s activated now… I’ve bought about 8 new books in the past 3 months. Been consuming a crazy amount of information. In all honesty I may as well be studying for a degree in psychology. Why? Because I’m trying to make Linda what I need her to be… retraumatising. This dynamic is not helping those parts of me. She is great on certain levels but she can’t help the attachment trauma… Anna could, Linda can’t. I think on some unconscious level she knows that, that’s why she comes across as being reluctant to let me reflect on our work or explain what I need. Anna knew that her work was not in beating my intelligence, her work was helping me tune in to myself and to teach me how to mother myself by mothering me. Linda can’t do that… maybe she knows she can’t take me further than Anna took me.

I explained to Linda that one of the reasons I like to type the sessions up is because it’s the only way I can remember them. I spend so much of the sessions spacey or dissociated that I just struggle so much to hold on to them. But immediately after the session I can get into this very focused zone where I am able to type the session up start to finish. If I don’t do that then I forget. Linda was explaining that the details aren’t always the most important bits and that ‘without wanting to sound too hippy dippy, something magic happens in therapy when you trust the process and you just suddenly notice that you have responded in a different way or something just doesn’t bother you as much’… I told her I have experienced that magic but also there’s a reluctance to just turning my back on a session and not looking at it again until the next session. She said she wasn’t expecting me to turn my back and that in her experience none of her clients turn their backs on their sessions just because they don’t read and research. I don’t like it when she says things like that, it makes me feel like she and her group of clients are all in it together and I’m this weirdo newcomer who is trying to do things differently. I told her a few times that I felt out of my body. She said she understood… but it didn’t feel like it was worked on.

She tried to get me to tune in to my feelings a few times and I really struggled. I started to recall a memory from when I was five and had just moved schools for the first time, half way through primary 1. I was told off by the teacher for daydreaming and sent to the head teachers office. When I got there I sat in his office and I remember him gesturing to the enormous window and the rolling hills outside and he basically said along the lines of ‘why wouldn’t you daydream, it’s beautiful out there,’ Linda said it was nice to hear that and I continued telling her that although that was my first memory of me losing time and space (and it was a happy-ish memory), my childhood (and whole life) has been saturated by moments lost. Exams failed. Whole conversations forgotten. My tendency to zone out, coupled with my mother being a gaslighting narcissist, meant that I was constantly questioning my reality. And so writing things down feels safe. It feels less slippery, less easy to twist my memories and my reality if I have it written down… and anyway, if I hadn’t written all my sessions down I would have nothing left of Anna. I told Linda it feels like trying to hold water, it’s dripping through my fingers. Writing it down is like turning the water to ice.

There was a lot more that happened in the session but the main take home was that if only I could stop intellectualising, stop reading and researching, stop writing and overthinking… then I’d be healed. I told her that’s what I was hearing and Linda said that was very unkind… she told me that she’s dipped in and out of therapy for 20 years. I felt really conflicted over the messages she was giving me. I thought she said it was taking me so long because of me staying in my head…? She asked me how I felt at the end of the session and I struggled to answer. I said I felt sad and angry and a whole load of other things. I told her that when Anna suggested I stop reading all my therapy books it triggered a massive relapse. i self harmed, i texted her a lot saying I couldn’t cope and that she’d taken away my crutch. I told her we worked a lot on mending that when I came back. I said I wasn’t in that place anymore (because I didn’t feel like that in the session but I have been feeling it A LOT all evening)… she thanked me for telling her. I don’t remember if she said anything else. She then confirmed we were changing to the Monday and Friday sessions from next week.

I came off the call and went downstairs and we decided to go to the beach straight away. I slipped into a thick and sticky depression. I couldn’t connect to the kids, I felt separate from them for the whole day. They played and had fun while I sat there stuck in my head. I was remembering painful days of my childhood. I was feeling like a failure. I was wishing I wasn’t there. We stayed at the beach for one and a half hours then came home. I lost my patience with the kids in the car and made them cry. I wanted to just stop existing. When we got home I went to bed and slept for a couple of hours. I have felt so stuck and so confused.

I decided to type this up tonight after feeling like I shouldn’t all day. Typing is part of my process and it has soothed that panic inside me as I’ve written it out. I’m angry that I have lost the memory of so much of my session because I didn’t type it straight away. I’m angry that Linda made me doubt myself. I want her to understand me… maybe she does and it’s me who doesn’t understand. I am so exhausted. Why doesn’t she get that of course the relationships are important to me? Why doesn’t she understand that I can’t just switch off my defenses? She implied that I’ve been in therapy for 7 years because I know too much about therapy. I told her there was actually a two year gap between Paul and Anna. And I told her that I was making a lot of progress with Anna before it was interrupted by her leaving me.

I want to know how Linda sits in therapy with her therapist, as a client, when she knows stuff about therapy… does she never bring her knowledge to her sessions? I just don’t get it. Sometimes it feels like she can support me on my journey and then we touch on something deeper and I get this sense that she can’t help me with the attachment stuff or any of the deeper things.

The core issues this is touching on is my need to feel seen and understood. My protective parts. My intellectualising. My difficulties with staying present and my constant struggle with dissociation and numbing/spacing out. My trust issues. My desire to connect but my fear of connection. My need to please and my need to express myself. And now I have no idea where to go with this because if I take these reflections to Linda is she going to feel critiqued? Will she be disappointed that I’m still intellectualising? I’m fucking exhausted and confused and feel pretty hopeless actually. I am so sick of getting in the way of myself. I want change, I want to stop osculating between extreme hypervigilance and numb dissociation. I want to exist somewhere in the mid section where I can be present and mindful and aware and… content! I just don’t know how to get there!

17 thoughts on “Out of My Body

  1. LovingSummer

    I can’t believe you’re told this by Linda. Okay, let me rephrase that! I can believe it happened, but it seems awful that it did.
    Journaling and reflecting are recognised HELPFUL things to do when you’re in therapy. When I type out my sessions I learn so much more, all over again! Is like a special line of a magic. And Lucy, I gotta say, when I read your journal, o get so much from it. How can somebody try to talk you out of it?!
    You’re right to trust your instinct on this one.

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    1. Thank you LS. Today has been utterly fucking horrific I’ve got to be honest. I feel like I’ve been in a car accident or something. My whole body is suffering from the after affects of this session and my head feels in pieces. I’m a little more grounded than I was a few hours ago. I’ve done some crying and journaling definitely helped. I just feel quite lost and frustrated. And really fucking miss Anna more than ever! 💕

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  2. Lucy, I can relate to how you process information, your need for some sense of control, the reading and writing, and the devastation from Linda’s responses in your session today. All your feelings are normal. I have had a difficult week in therapy because of something my therapist said to me on Monday. I fully let out all of my anger at her on Wednesday… I am shocked at the things I said to her. But she handled it all beautifully. She even affirmed my fears and said, “I just pushed you off a cliff just like everyone else has been doing to you your whole life.” She wasn’t defensive at all and expressed what she was trying to do to help me, while completely affirming all my feelings. We talked more about this again yesterday and she said she learned from that experience that she will never bring up something new to me toward the end of a session, and that I need to experience having these moments with her to know that I am safe and can trust her and that will take as long as it takes. She never tried to change my mind, or tell me to do anything differently. So Lucy, Linda clearly isn’t responding in a therapeutic way with you. I think something my therapist said to me about me with my previous therapist is true for you… you have more awareness than most clients and Linda may very well be threatened (maybe even unconsciously) by you. You are probably challenging her beyond her capabilities. This doesn’t make you wrong in any way. But you do need a therapist who will not be threatened by you, but one who embraces all of you just as you are. She should be imparting understanding and reflection of how absolutely understandable all of your reactions are and offer acceptance and safety to you. This is not on you Lucy! You are perfect just the way you are! I am so sorry this happened! 

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    1. Yeah, I think you’re right… it’s just so hard because what choice do I have? I practically know all the profiles of every therapist in my area off by heart. None of them look like they’ll do the work I was doing with Anna. I feel completely stuck. I can’t make Linda different to how she is and I can’t get what I need with her being like this. I just want Anna back! 😢 thank you for your support 💕

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      1. Lucy, I feel like I just made you feel awful… which was not my intent. The exact same thing happened to me. I went outside of the area I know to a larger city and now travel one and a half hours to see my therapist. Well right now I see her in person every Monday and online Wed. and Fri. It IS excruciating to not have options. I am so terribly sorry. I have felt the lack of options too, I do understand that. I just kept thinking when I read your post and you were so down on yourself and doubting yourself, if you could just feel and know how Anna would have responded to you it might help you know that this is not you Lucy!

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      2. Oh please don’t worry Blue. you didn’t make me feel awful.. I already felt awful! haha… I’m actually feeling a bit more hopeful and I have found a really interesting therapist in my city that I’ve just emailed… so we’ll see where that goes. Thank you for caring xx

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  3. Crikey Lucy, not impressed with Linda, you poor thing. Part of therapy is doing the work between sessions isn’t it? I think you need to listen to your instincts. Also the reality is, you are paying for this therapy so have every right to comment, reflect and be honest. I think you’d be doing a disservice to yourself not to. Hope you are feeling a bit better today. sending you much love and light xxx

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  4. I think L has an idea of how she thinks therapy works, like a template or model and rigidly sticks to it. I understand how we can protect ourselves with our reading and writing but actually I also think it shows how invested we are in our healing. It’s complex what we’re dealing with, it’s not just one issue from the here and now to process. I wish L would invite more discussion around what you get from your outside session therapy related activities. Anita told me to write to her over our break because she knows how writing helps me a lot..so even though she’s dyslexic she’s inviting me to do what I need to do and work in a way that takes on board what’s valuable to me. She’s read a few of my blogs now. I don’t know what I’m trying to say really, but I hope you don’t end up trying to make sense of her misattunement by making yourself smaller in order keep going with her, I did this loads with Em… trying to make her enough when actually she just wasn’t the right fit even though I desperately needed that. I totally get going into theory can be an escape or a search from something but the question L should be asking is from what/what are you searching for??? Connection. To be seen. Etc etc and why does it feel like you’re not getting it in the therapy… just my early morning thoughts! Don’t beat yourself up about the aftermath. It’s hard being a good parent when your internal equilibrium is fucked xx you’re more than good enough xx

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    1. Yeah you’re spot on, L does have an idea of what therapy should be and she’s quite rigid and she doesn’t like feedback. Whereas Anna had a way but she was also flexible and totally welcomed feedback. I just want her back. I don’t know how to find another therapist that will do what she did. My next session with L is on Monday. Can I even bring all these feelings to her or will she say I’m critiquing her again!?? Thank you for your last couple of lines. That really is what I need to hear and believe 💕

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  5. I do agree that intellectualising is not conducive to healing, but it’s your way of avoiding difficult conversations. I think the hardest thing for you to break will be the perfectionism. A therapist can’t help a client who quotes from books because it’s not specifically about the client. I also wonder if you’re searching for Anna in these books.
    I don’t agree that writing and researching have kept you in therapy for 7 years. The majority of therapists are advocates of writing and it’s a good way to process the session. The idea of the session is that we go away and process things, and go back in a different place. I’m fairly certain that I am my therapists only client who writes and reads it out in session, but it has been key to my progress. Researching and knowing why you feel a certain way or how a narcissist works are helpful because it takes away the shame as well as equipping you will knowledge to deal with feelings or situations.
    I have no idea why critiquing the sessions is such an issue for Linda. It’s your session, as my therapist often tells me, and if something isn’t working you should be able to say so without worrying about Linda’s feelings. It’s not personal but I guess it’s not how she is used to working. I agree that you shouldn’t make yourself smaller to fit in with Linda because it won’t help. x

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    1. Yeah it’s just interesting because I know how Anna worked, I know how it can work. And it’s not as good a fit with Linda. I think a therapist absolutely can help a client who quotes from books, just like Anna did – by asking me to delve further into why that quote spoke to me, what I was looking for within those pages, what I found in those words. It’s a way in to figuring out how my brain works and that’s only ever lead to really deep work with Anna.

      I have another session with Linda tomorrow so I guess I’ll bring this up with her then.

      Thanks for your thoughts 💕

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  6. I absolutely relate. Super hard

    I read tons as a teen trying to fix my abusive family. I read parenting books because I was trying to stop the abuse.

    In therapy, I read extensively about therapy and have for several years. I’ve a ton if psychology books on complex tr6, both for clinicians and the layperson.

    I audio record my sessions bei have gaslighting parents, dissociative amnesia etc as well.

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