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Therapy and the Art of Topic Juggling

Posted by javableue on August 10, 2005, at 21:22:28

So, Monday was my first session back after six weeks of no therapy; my pdoc was away one week, then I went to a residential course for five weeks. Needless to say, it's been interesting.

The separation itself went much better than expected. I largely forgot who he was on an emotional level, and the fact that he was taking care of my fish (my parents are not animal people...) and keeping in touch by e-mail made up for the rest. I also received the news, before leaving, that termination has been bumped back by almost a year, which is very good news under the circumstances. But upon return... yikes.

I knew I was screwed when the only real plans I had had for the session fell through in my mind the instant I sat down. Wanting to do something to thank him for having looked after my fish for such a long time, I'd bought a card and written a short message, nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. I'd also wanted to try speaking in French for part of the session (the course I took was a French immersion) since it's his first language, I'm now fluent enough for most of the things I say in therapy, and I found using another language to be, as best as I can explain it, kind of a refuge. Nothing I couldn't justify quite well, but I felt ridiculously ashamed for even having considered those things.

Being away from "home" so long (I felt much more at home at the college there) brought up... well, at least three separate things to talk about. As best I remember, the session was passed with me whining about how I don't like being back. So that makes five.

Then, in the process of trying to figure out what times work out for appointments with my classes this semester, I learned that he has grandchildren. This really shouldn't surprise me, but considering I knew absolutely nothing about his family before, it threw me off. There's six, with the feelings brought up by the shock of it all.

Finally, the session came to a close and I thought that at least I had stopped accumulating topics to bring up next time (it's always next time...), but that wasn't going to happen. Before packing up my fish to take them home, we scheduled an appointment for next week. The anniversary of my cat's death, which was pretty upsetting for me, is Wednesday, so I asked if we could meet then. No dice, he doesn't work Wednesdays anymore, but then of course he had to ask why... I couldn't answer without crying, and didn't want to leave too late, so told him I would send a brief e-mail to let him know, took care of my fish, and left. Once home, I sent the shortest e-mail I could while still getting in all the essentials.

To the essentials, I should have added "Please do not reply to this." He did reply, and said that, in his mind, "the fish episode" was deeply linked to my cat's death, so: "nothing in your reaction is very foreign, no?" I have to say that I haven't the slightest clue what he was referring to by the episode or my reaction. Knowing not to trust my promises to myself of "I'll bring it up next session!", I decided to let him know I was confused. Thankfully, I told him he didn't have to reply, and his reply the next day was very short, but now I feel intrusive and very guilty for the e-mail having resulted in a small exchange of sorts. This brings me up to nine.

Any suggestions for managing to get all of this in, without writing up a list, handing it to him, and saying, "There! You handle it!"? This all seems very funny to me now, but it never is that way leaving a session with many things unsaid.




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