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Re: Those icky topics in threapy

Posted by Daisym on September 15, 2007, at 12:00:24

In reply to Re: Those icky topics in threapy Sigismund, posted by Wittgenstein on September 14, 2007, at 1:46:41

*** I'm 22 so although I'm aging it's got a lot to do with problems I've had since puberty. I guess more to do with character, my relationship with my mother and how such issues were handled while I was growing up.

Can you talk about how your mom related to you on these issues as a start instead of how you are effected now?

*** I do need to approach the topic - it's affecting my relationship and my social phobia - on bad days it's a big factor in my not feeling able to go outside.

You sent your therapist a letter and you posted about it here. And you've identified that it is a "big factor" in your life. Sometimes we just have to make a leap of faith in therapy and push through the embarrassment because the topic is so important. I know it is really hard. I spent a whole session tied up in knots before I told my therapist something huge and embarrassing - I finally told him the last 10 minutes (this was a while ago) and at the time I was mortified but later it was easier because it was out there.

*** Yes, I do. I think the problem for me at the moment is trust - knowing he would understand, and not laugh at me (I'm always afraid he doesn't believe me or is secretly laughing at how pathetic I am). I was made to feel ashamed of myself and my body growing up - and now when I try to talk about this and certain other things it feels like I am trying to feed myself to the sharks. Why should he be any different?

I think if some part of you does trust him or the need to tell him this stuff wouldn't be surfacing. But it does test your trust and that voice inside that protects us, even to our own detriment, gets louder. Have you asked him if he is secretly laughing at you? Or if he believes you? I've been seeing my therapist for more than 4 years. And there are still times when I say, "do you believe me?" I expect at any minute for him to see that I've made a mistake in the details and rush in and say, "see?! You remember it wrong. You were the bad person, etc.." I think this is part of the introjection that kids carry around when they come from chaotic childhoods. Everyone lives in a silent agreement of not speaking the truth or the dominate force has the only truth that matters. This really messes with our ability to believe in our version of our life and feelings - and believe that our therapists will accept what we have to say as well.

*** I don't know what's normal and what's not. What to expect as a 'normal' reaction. I need him to give me some validation - I so desperately need that but then he sits there in silence or only mutters a few words - it leaves me hanging in the air, while a voice inside me cries out to be comforted. Maybe he assumes I just know what is right and what is not, what is normal and abnormal.

I think muffy is right -- speak up and tell your therapist not to abandon you to the silence. Sometimes they think they are giving you space to verbalize your feelings and instead you think they are judging you in the space. But he can't know that unless you tell him. And I think you can start right at this place -- "I don't really know what is normal or abnormal about..." I can't tell from what you've written if you are talking about normal and abnormal reactions to sex, or wearing a bathing suit or eating dinner with a date - but all these topics can be really hard to discuss. Your job is to put aside any "shoulds" that come up for you - "I should already know this, I'm 22" and say, "this is what I think most people think or feel but this is what I think or feel. How do I normalize my own experience?"

Once I said something like, "I have no idea if this is normal or not" when talking about a sex act that my husband (at the time) wanted to do. My therapist's answer was, "after 20 years of working with people I still don't know what normal sexual desires are. It comes down to what is comfortable for you individually and as a couple. I could tell you what I might find shocking (not much) and what crosses the line, but if we are talking about two consenting adults, normal has a wide range." And we talked about what if something is "usual" -- like most people do it and like it -- but I don't. Does that make me abnormal? And how do you find your own normal?

Therapy is ultimately about helping you get comfortable in your own skin, knowing that your skin sluffs off and changes everyday. But some things we will always react to and other things we can get use to. The only way to figure out yourself is to explore it with someone who listens and asks thoughtful questions. The questions aren't meant to embarrass or force you -- I think if done well, you ask yourself questions you wouldn't have otherwise. It is hard - but it is so worth it.

And this usually doesn't help me but I'll say it anyway. Therapist expect sex to enter the conversation eventually if you are doing some relationship work. They have training for it and I really do believe that they try not to judge. These aren't easy topics for anyone. And the majority of people have not done a lot of introspective work on themselves in this area. So I very much doubt that he thinks you should already know or not know about these things. He can only go on what you've shown him around your own confidence level.

Good luck with this. This was a really hard area for me so I guess that is why I wrote this much.




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