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Re: Stress, therapy and guilt annierose

Posted by Dinah on October 31, 2006, at 12:28:25

In reply to Stress, therapy and guilt, posted by annierose on October 30, 2006, at 17:22:06

I've been thinking a lot about your post, because it really resonates with where I am in therapy right now. And I'll probably be all over the place because I've thought a lot about it, and have a lot of thoughts about it. And I'll probably project a bit, so please forgive that and take anything that happens to be useful and leave the rest.

First of all, I understand the guilt and pressure to come in. When my therapist cancelled the Friday before last and wanted (almost pressured me) to reschedule I refused for a combination of two reasons. One is that I hadn't been finding therapy all that helpful, and the second was that I was *really* busy at work and thought it would be more therapuetic to spend the time getting work done. I didn't think much about it, but he seemed irritated about it the next time I saw him. We didn't really talk about why, but since his practice is pretty busy right now I'm assuming it's because I didn't mention the work reason and he thought I was angry with him and trying to punish him. I can see that with a therapist who has set time periods (which mine doesn't) the pressure would be greater, since she bases a steady income on the time slots. But that doesn't mean that you can't cancel if you need to without feeling pressure to reschedule at a time that may be less than ideal.

Also, I fully agree with the notion that when you start thinking "This is nice, but there are things I'd rather do with my time and money." it's probably time to cut back because you just don't need as much any more.

But... And I might be projecting here... I feel an undercurrent of something other than that in your post. An undercurrent of frustration or irritation that's not unlike what I've felt lately.

I thought about your sentence "Our therapy conversations remind me of having dinner with your spouse after a long day at work. Both are eating dinner at the same table, both are present, but the lack of conversation is uncomfortable, and the words spoken are forced, unnatural." And I thought that that is probably a couple with other problems than mere boredom. Because the same couple at another point in their marriage might be eating dinner together, comfortable and easy with each other and glad of a place to feel safe and companionable after a stressful day.

And I thought about what the difference might be.

I thought about one of my favorite sayings derived from Alan Alda's "The Four Seasons". Marriage is like a wave. There are crests and troughs. And right now we're in a trough (or crest as the case may be.

And I thought about my recent sessions. I was feeling supremely depressed to the point of strong suicidal ideation. It would seem to be the time when therapy would be helpful. And yet I was bored in an irritable way. Because I wasn't getting what I was needing from him. It wasn't anything overt enough that I could complain. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He just wasn't doing the right thing for me at the time. And finally last session I managed to grasp what was going on. I would whine about something, and he would try to say something to fix it. And he'd get a bit frustrated because I wasn't getting fixed, and he'd make small impatient fidgety gestures, and he'd offer less and less helpful suggestions as he stretched for answers. In bits and pieces, until he finally got it, I told him that I needed my therapy mom, that I needed support, and finally that I needed him to stop trying to fix things, d*mmit. He eventually got it, and let me feel rotten while just validating that I felt rotten. And that I might feel rotten, but that I wouldn't always. And he stopped fidgeting and started radiating acceptance. And bingo. That's what I needed, and it was helpful and I felt better. I needed to feel rotten and fully experience feeling rotten without having to cover it up, or search for answers, or apologize for boring him. And I felt like I was boring him, and I felt like I always talked about the same thing over and over for the eleven years I've seen him. He laughed at that, and told me that I was not boring him, and that I certainly didn't talk about the same thing for the eleven years I've seen him, whatever it felt like at this moment.

This session was fabulous. Nothing really had changed. But it felt like that good marriage with companionable silences and lazy comments that turned out to be surprisingly therapeutic. Instead of offering suggestions on how to make work better now, he asked what I was passionate about in college and what I would have liked to do. We talked about Babble posts and other people's issues that turned out to have a bearing on mine, and what I'd told other people, that was useful to me. The session actually went a bit long, because we were enjoying what could have been a boring and frustrating session.

We talked about this post. And if it is helpful to you, he thought in terms of the education model and growth and plateaus, and that clients tended to get frustrated and bored at plateaus. It didn't resonate with me, but if it does with you, there it is.

But for me, I think I'd wonder what has you in a trough. And what really subtle thing she's doing to annoy you, or she's not doing that you need. And why you're feeling that the elephants in the room shouldn't be discussed. Is it really that they're boring or you're bored hearing yourself talk about them? That sometimes happens to me and I dismiss them with a laugh, but get back to them indirectly. Or is it that somewhere in your mind, you don't want to bring them up because her response isn't helpful and it's annoying you and the idea of bringing them up has you feeling an aversive movement away from her.

Just some random thoughts that likely have more to do with me than you. But if it helps any, your post helped our session today quite a bit by helping me realize what's been wrong lately.




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