Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 819091

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No Hugs for me

Posted by DAisym on March 20, 2008, at 19:49:57

I've had a really complicated week but things kind of merged and shifted and I handled it all really well. I was feeling really proud of myself and strong - and I had a session yesterday that was all about feeling strong and good. We were connected and laughing together, he teased me about writing a book together, things were just good. When I got down to my car I sort of realized that this was one of those times when I really wished I could have hugged him when I was leaving. Not him hug me - me hug him. Because I felt good and grateful and connected. Nothing complicated about it - no layers - just a "thank you for helping me" hug. As I left I told him that we should probably skip the session tomorrow (Thursday) so we didn't wreck this good feeling. He said "nah - we'll just breeze through it."

I think he was trying to keep it light today but we ended up talking about yesterday. I told him that I was surprised to find myself thinking I would have liked to have given him a hug - because I don't hug and because he has a policy about it. So we talked about hugs and touch - he said yes, he does shake hands with some of his male patients, but that is "just" a form of greeting. I disagreed, saying that touching your therapist meant lots of different things, including that they are real, flesh and blood people. He asked if I thought it would be healing to get a hug and I said I believed it would - depending on the session and the circumstances. We talked about some of the wishes that went with that and a very old dream I had, where we sat on the floor together, backs to opposite walls but toes touching. I told him that it is hard not to believe that he never wants to touch me because I'm repulsive and because of what he knows about me. He said that was in no way true, and I needed to keep reminding myself that this was a global policy for all his patients.

I did say at the end that I wasn't criticizing, I knew he'd thought about this policy carefully, I just wished it was more flexible and allowed for spontaneity sometimes. And he replied, "I don't take it as a criticism. I did think about it very carefully and I just feel there are some things I have to do to kind of hold myself as a therapist - what I'm comfortable with." I understood that too. But for some reason this sentence hurt. Like he still needs to hold himself apart from me - or us - or this work we are doing together. And I guess it highlights a certain sort of separateness - and reminds me of the limitations and boundaries again. So I feel sad - not angry or destroyed or anything. Just really sad somehow. And I didn't want him to see how sad I felt about this separateness so I made a joke as I was leaving.

"What do you mean don't take it personal, it isn't about just you? Of course it is about me and is personal - because you don't have any other patients - right?" He laughed and said, "Right. Exactly - no other patients."

But tonight I feel a little wounded and some of the good stuff has moved away. I wish I hadn't opened this topic.

 

Re: No Hugs for me DAisym

Posted by Dinah on March 20, 2008, at 20:14:28

In reply to No Hugs for me, posted by DAisym on March 20, 2008, at 19:49:57

"I don't take it as a criticism. I did think about it very carefully and I just feel there are some things I have to do to kind of hold myself as a therapist - what I'm comfortable with."

I think there's more than one way to hear that sentence. I can't quite yet verbalize it. It's frustrating to me because it's just out of reach. Can you sort of turn the question around in your mind and shake it a bit? I have a feeling there may be more levels to it than appear on the surface.

 

Re: No Hugs for me

Posted by earthmama on March 20, 2008, at 20:40:32

In reply to No Hugs for me, posted by DAisym on March 20, 2008, at 19:49:57

Oh, I'm sorry that you had to end the week with that. I know you "get" that it's his policy, but I still can see why it hurts. You two have a special relationship, and bumping against those limits is painful.

He says he shakes hands with his male clients. So, obviously, touching is not totally out of the question. Would just a touch make you feel better?? My T and I have touched fingertip to fingertip, and it definitely made me feel his "realness". Or does he have a "no touching female clients" policy?

I guess maybe the tough thing is that you are subject to any kind of "policy" when you've been together for so long. Your T does other things for you that are so special, though. Didn't he leave you a voice mail to listen to if you had a nightmare in the middle of the night? Maybe those are his "hugs" for you.

I know my T DOES hug clients, and it's sort of torturous for me knowing that it *might* be available - like, in what circumstances? And do I really want that kind of contact? And a million other questions that probably distract me from the "real" things I "should" be thinking about in T. So, there's the other side of the coin, I guess.

*I* am sending you a big hug! I know it's not even close to the same thing :) But I hope talking about this will give you some clarity and help you feel better.

 

Re: No Hugs for me DAisym

Posted by rskontos on March 20, 2008, at 21:29:26

In reply to No Hugs for me, posted by DAisym on March 20, 2008, at 19:49:57

Daisym,

I am not sure I can voice with words the thoughts in my head but I will try. I guess his boundaries are to prevent transference of the erotic kind since he only allows touch with some of his male patients. I can't say how this would make me feel since I have not explored this with my Dr S as it isn't necessary at this point. I hardly hug my H much less my T. IT is rare he gets a smile these days so a hugs probably would give him a faint.

I don't think you and your T were on the same wavelength in what the hug represented. To you it was a benign sharing of affection for his it represented a breaking of rules. I guess there is no compromise for him. Too bad. It probably would mean a great deal to you, but on the same hand it would take him out of his comfort zone. It is personal to you just like if you suggested for him to go out of his comfort zone and somehow made him feel bad suggesting for him not too he is a bad therapist he would take that personally. He is asking you take his rules as such and move on and you are just trying to get him to see your point. I am not sure he did.

I guess he feels that somehow physical separateness prevents any rules from being broken. I can understand that, but it doesn't necessarily prevents rules from being broken (not a fool proof safe guard). And haven't you and your therapist been together as therapist and therapee a fairly long time, and that is intimacy. (And we all know there are hugs and there are HUGS.) There are perfectly acceptable innocent hugs in which no rules are broken and won't ever be.

I am sorry you lost your good stuff, I can see how you would. It is hard when the ones that build us can often take the wind out of our sails. Try to hang in there and regain it back.

Tell him that you did not breeze through it afterall.

And you are not repulsive, I will fight anyone that makes you think that. I am sorry you feel wounded. I wish I could make you feel better :)

rsk

 

Re: No Hugs for me

Posted by Daisym on March 20, 2008, at 23:11:48

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me DAisym, posted by Dinah on March 20, 2008, at 20:14:28

I'm not sure what you mean Dinah. More levels? I'm absolutely certain that he never makes decisions lightly or with out a great deal of thought about what it will mean or how it might come up and need to be dealt with. It isn't that he did anything wrong or harsh - it is the reminder about the very real constrictions and limitations of this relationship. And I guess in some ways it is about rules that I have no say over. And maybe it is even about the parts of him that I clearly don't know and never will - what are his fears or insecurities here?

 

Re: No Hugs for me DAisym

Posted by sunnydays on March 20, 2008, at 23:13:35

In reply to No Hugs for me, posted by DAisym on March 20, 2008, at 19:49:57

I for one am sooo proud of you for opening the topic with him. It's a scary thing to talk about, especially when it's such a loaded act and knowing he won't say yes. I haven't talked with my T about it because I'm afraid he would say no. I have brought it up round about that I would like I hug sometimes but I'm afraid he'd say no, but I did it in emails and he has never brought it up and I haven't brought it up yet, but he didn't respond and say he would give me a hug, so I think he wouldn't.

One time, though, I was really scared and sad about leaving and I was having a really hard time getting out the door. Without saying anything at all, my T came over and rubbed my upper arm, sort of reassuringly. I loved that, and I wish he would do it again, but our relationship has changed a little since then and I'm not sure if he would.

I also totally understand feeling hurt about him feeling the need to hold himself apart. My T said something to me as I was leaving once to let him know about how my group the next day went and to email him, and as I was walking out the door he added, "I suppose I could just look at the tape, but I don't think that I want to get that involved with you, I don't think that would be good for us." That really stung, and I haven't brought it up, but may have to. So I understand completely where you're coming from - it's like they say that they care and that we're important and that they are invested in us, but at the same time they keep at least some distance. I can understand rationally the need to keep that therapeutic objectiveness, but the little girl in me just wants love and comfort and doesn't understand why something she wants so much - for someone to be totally invested in her well-being and to totally care for her as a parent would - is something that would be 'bad'. Do you think any of your hurt might be a reaction from little Daisy? Your adult probably has feelings about it too, but some of the hurt sounds like a child feeling hurt and abandoned to me - but that could be total projection from my feelings.

Thanks for posting this Daisy. At least I'm not the only one.

sunnydays

 

Re: No Hugs for me earthmama

Posted by Daisym on March 20, 2008, at 23:36:14

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me, posted by earthmama on March 20, 2008, at 20:40:32

Oh, I'm sorry that you had to end the week with that. I know you "get" that it's his policy, but I still can see why it hurts. You two have a special relationship, and bumping against those limits is painful.

He says he shakes hands with his male clients. So, obviously, touching is not totally out of the question. Would just a touch make you feel better?? My T and I have touched fingertip to fingertip, and it definitely made me feel his "realness". Or does he have a "no touching female clients" policy?

********He has never differentiated between males or females in his discussions with me. I was the one who asked, "do you shake hands with some of your male patients?" Would a touch make me feel better? I don't know. I told him today and in the past that sometimes I really want to hold his hand when I'm feeling small or slipping away. But I can see how that might get scary too. I'm pretty stand-offish and in fact, sit with a kind of pillow barricade around me on the couch.

I guess maybe the tough thing is that you are subject to any kind of "policy" when you've been together for so long. Your T does other things for you that are so special, though. Didn't he leave you a voice mail to listen to if you had a nightmare in the middle of the night? Maybe those are his "hugs" for you.

**************We talked about this too. He speaks of emotional holding and he is really good at it. And I told him that there are lots of things he is flexible about and does for me that other therapists won't do - like phone calls. He asked if most of the people who talk about getting hugs in therapy have female therapists - and I said it seemed about 50/50. That was the only thing that he said that made me think it did have something to do with liability.

I know my T DOES hug clients, and it's sort of torturous for me knowing that it *might* be available - like, in what circumstances? And do I really want that kind of contact? And a million other questions that probably distract me from the "real" things I "should" be thinking about in T. So, there's the other side of the coin, I guess.

****************I can see how this would be torturous. And I talked about this today - about how a hug might be awkward or worse - triggering. Or get to be one of those things that you want more and more frequently.

*I* am sending you a big hug! I know it's not even close to the same thing :) But I hope talking about this will give you some clarity and help you feel better.

***********Thanks for the hug. cyber-hugs are great. And I'm not really lacking clarity on all of this - I have known this policy and accepted it for a long time. The occasional flare ups of wanting contact come from feeling very safe and connected or feeling very scared and dissociated. And I think I understand this sad feeling inside myself. It is the aloneness that reasserts itself - a familiar friend in the darkness. My therapist can't be in my life, nor I in his. But our closeness serves to highlight the emptiness, You know?

 

Re: No Hugs for me rskontos

Posted by Daisym on March 21, 2008, at 0:12:38

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me DAisym, posted by rskontos on March 20, 2008, at 21:29:26

I am not sure I can voice with words the thoughts in my head but I will try. I guess his boundaries are to prevent transference of the erotic kind since he only allows touch with some of his male patients. I can't say how this would make me feel since I have not explored this with my Dr S as it isn't necessary at this point. I hardly hug my H much less my T. IT is rare he gets a smile these days so a hugs probably would give him a faint.

*****************I don't think his boundaries are to prevent erotic transference - he's pretty open to talking about any sexual dreams or fantasies I have about him. I think it is partly a liability thing and partly the potential issues that touch brings up - including it being misconstrued. The funny thing is that I don't allow hugs much either.

I don't think you and your T were on the same wavelength in what the hug represented. To you it was a benign sharing of affection for his it represented a breaking of rules. I guess there is no compromise for him. Too bad. It probably would mean a great deal to you, but on the same hand it would take him out of his comfort zone. It is personal to you just like if you suggested for him to go out of his comfort zone and somehow made him feel bad suggesting for him not too he is a bad therapist he would take that personally. He is asking you take his rules as such and move on and you are just trying to get him to see your point. I am not sure he did.

************I guess I didn't write it out right. He totally understood what it was about yesterday's session that brought up the hugging impulse. But I think his experience and training leads him to believe that a hug is often much more than "just" a swift expression of thanks or affection. I don't think he was thinking about the "rules" because he really did want to talk about the feelings and he was surprised at my impulse - it is so not me. So we talked about feeling safe, etc. And it was clear that we could talk about all of it and that didn't mean he was changing his policy - so I wasn't trying to convince him . I just told him it made me sad.

I guess he feels that somehow physical separateness prevents any rules from being broken. I can understand that, but it doesn't necessarily prevents rules from being broken (not a fool proof safe guard). And haven't you and your therapist been together as therapist and therapee a fairly long time, and that is intimacy. (And we all know there are hugs and there are HUGS.) There are perfectly acceptable innocent hugs in which no rules are broken and won't ever be.

*************Yes, we have worked together for a long time. And like I said above, I don't think his policy is only about preventing something, it is a complicated issue. And he might even agree that there are innocent hugs but given his orientation, I suspect that he'd say hugs can have huge symbolic meaning, no matter how they start out or what they mean in the moment. Reflection can change things. And my sadness isn't about the no-hugs rule. It really isn't.

I am sorry you lost your good stuff, I can see how you would. It is hard when the ones that build us can often take the wind out of our sails. Try to hang in there and regain it back.

**************I guess I have to acknowledge that I knew this was going to be a touchy subject and I could have stayed away from it. I have in the past. And I left joking with him and things being OK. I just didn't expect this wash of sadness - the backlash of feeling safe and close and the reality of separateness.

Tell him that you did not breeze through it after all.

***************I probably will but right now this wound feels like it wants to hide. Is this pride? Or is it that this is one of those truths that hurt but you must accept it.

And you are not repulsive, I will fight anyone that makes you think that. I am sorry you feel wounded. I wish I could make you feel better :)

************You are very sweet. I know the repulsive feeling is old and has a lot to do with body image and being over-weight. One of the great things about the net - no one gets judged on whether we are cute or not, stylish or not, etc. I wish I didn't care about that at all - but I'm vain, I admit it. I have a busy weekend so I'll be fine.


 

Re: No Hugs for me sunnydays

Posted by Daisym on March 21, 2008, at 0:51:46

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me DAisym, posted by sunnydays on March 20, 2008, at 23:13:35

I for one am sooo proud of you for opening the topic with him. It's a scary thing to talk about, especially when it's such a loaded act and knowing he won't say yes. I haven't talked with my T about it because I'm afraid he would say no. I have brought it up round about that I would like I hug sometimes but I'm afraid he'd say no, but I did it in emails and he has never brought it up and I haven't brought it up yet, but he didn't respond and say he would give me a hug, so I think he wouldn't.

**********There has been courage this week and I think that is why I was feeling so good yesterday. I got angry (not in therapy) - out loud angry - and the person I yelled at (nicely of course) apologized and told me I was absolutely right. They shouldn't have treated me that way. So I was astonished - and I think my therapist was tickled pink that I did what I did in a non-business setting. At work I can be assertive - in other areas I avoid conflict. But the first time I brought up the whole hug issue, years ago, I wasn't in a strong place and it was much more painful. So it helped that I'd been through it before.

One time, though, I was really scared and sad about leaving and I was having a really hard time getting out the door. Without saying anything at all, my T came over and rubbed my upper arm, sort of reassuringly. I loved that, and I wish he would do it again, but our relationship has changed a little since then and I'm not sure if he would.

************These intimate, unplanned moments are so full of healing. This is exactly what I was trying to convey today. That hugging him spontaneously yesterday would have been the right closure to that session and it made me feel sad that this wasn't possible. Not mad - not frustrated, just sad.

I also totally understand feeling hurt about him feeling the need to hold himself apart. My T said something to me as I was leaving once to let him know about how my group the next day went and to email him, and as I was walking out the door he added, "I suppose I could just look at the tape, but I don't think that I want to get that involved with you, I don't think that would be good for us." That really stung, and I haven't brought it up, but may have to.

*************My guess is that your therapist meant that he didn't want to get that involved in your group therapy - because then he might try to be objective and show you when or how you misinterpreted things instead of listening to your subjective-experience and helping you understand how or why or what you are feeling. Does that make sense? I've had those experiences where a mom will tell me all about her stubborn child and yet I've observed the child and know that the child is being age-appropriate - but I'll make an enemy out of the mom unless I validate her experience.

So I understand completely where you're coming from - it's like they say that they care and that we're important and that they are invested in us, but at the same time they keep at least some distance. I can understand rationally the need to keep that therapeutic objectiveness, but the little girl in me just wants love and comfort and doesn't understand why something she wants so much - for someone to be totally invested in her well-being and to totally care for her as a parent would - is something that would be 'bad'.

*******************I understand it rationally too. And I don't think I'm feeling that the policy is unfair or unwise or harmful. It was his choice of words that reminded me of the inherent separateness - and I felt alone. Not dropped by him, but the truth of how much holding he could really do.

Do you think any of your hurt might be a reaction from little Daisy? Your adult probably has feelings about it too, but some of the hurt sounds like a child feeling hurt and abandoned to me - but that could be total projection from my feelings.

**********Could be although I didn't feel abandoned. At least I don't think I did, it is hard for me to sort out those fears. But I felt like I'd suddenly been forced to face a thousand high bulletin board reminding me that this relationship is pretend and limited. Perhaps this is the original separation anxiety we all encounter when we have to choose between growth and exploration in the world and the warmth and comfort and safety of mom's lap. Sometimes we long to get back in the lap. And yet have to learn to live with knowing we never can. Seems unbearable sometimes. And yet we all go on, don't we?

Thanks for posting this Daisy. At least I'm not the only one.

**************One of the best things about Babble. None of us are alone. :)

 

Re: No Hugs for me Daisym

Posted by Dinah on March 21, 2008, at 4:49:57

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me, posted by Daisym on March 20, 2008, at 23:11:48

I don't really quite know, Daisy. It was a flash, but now it's gone. Something about it showing how much he does get involved and how few barriers he puts up. And that sometimes touch can be more of a barrier than not.

But that may be coming from myself and my own issues more than it is from him.

 

Re: No Hugs for me

Posted by rskontos on March 21, 2008, at 14:57:01

In reply to Re: No Hugs for me rskontos, posted by Daisym on March 21, 2008, at 0:12:38

***************I probably will but right now this wound feels like it wants to hide. Is this pride? Or is it that this is one of those truths that hurt but you must accept it.

I don't think it is pride. I guess it is one of those truths of the therapy situation. Like I have an idea of what my T/p-doc thinks of me. I at this point would not dare ask because for right now I am not stable enough to deal with being seen in a different light than I think he thinks. If that makes sense. I don't think that is what you are doing just that the therapy relationship has boundaries and we all hit them at some point. Methinks you hit one of them. And that is where the sadness came from. Mainly because how good you were feeling prior and the hug is probably a remnant from the past that somehow would like to be blended but you need to find a different way as he can't allow a hug. Does that make any sense?
What I mean is the stronger you, could through a hug maybe resolve something deep inside but he can't allow the hug so you will have to find a different path to get the resolution.

I could entirely be wrong though. As I was in most of my other reply.

Exception to this is I do care how you feel and hope you have a great weekend!

rsk


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