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Re: My story - long

Posted by Dinah on January 5, 2011, at 9:33:37

In reply to My story - long, posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 1:47:09

> At the next session, he tells me that he thought a lot about what I said - about protecting himself. And he launches into this huge explanation of his motives, both conscious and unconscious, trying to explain to me why he felt the need to call out that particular boundary. It was so awful for me. All I could hear was, "your needs are so big, they are scary and therefore I need to push you back." And I kept hearing the word "never" -- and it all imploded. He never actually said my needs were too big - but he talked about the intensity of our work together and how in the past I've expressed the belief that he might be able to "fix" me sexually, and some of the dreams I've had expressing sexual, ug, ug. I wanted to melt through the floor boards with shame and humiliation. He could see he was losing me and he tried to explain that he was "just" explaining some of his thinking about why he might have felt unconsciously, the need to remind me about the boundaries.

Ugh. Therapists take a big chance when they talk about their countertransference for us. I suppose it could be seen as a mark of the intimacy of your relationship that your therapist, who is generally not one to self disclose this way, made the decision to do this. Consciously or unconsciously he might have been expressing his trust in you and in the relationship being strong enough for his vulnerability and honesty. Did he say whether he had given his decision to share with you a lot of thought?

My therapist has, on occasion, blurted information about his countertransference in the heat of the moment. And promptly been horrified. For some reason it usually (but not always) makes me feel better because it makes me realize that my fears aren't all in my head. I'm picking up something in his responses, and responding to perceptions that are correct.

I recognize that my reaction to statements like "I can't stand dependent women!" or "I just can't handle you right now!" is odd to the point of being bizarre. But is it possible that you could take what was probably a serious error of judgment on his part, and use it to improve your relationship? You have been upset by his frequent use of the term "never", but then dismissing your perceptions. Thinking that intellectually you realize that he was just reassuring you. You were holding on to the picture of him as an all-loving and largely perfect therapist/parent/love and dismissing your own intuitive response.

He's not all loving and while he's good, he isn't close to perfect. It can be scary to truly accept that you are dealing with just another human being trying his best but burdened with his own feelings and habitual responses based on his own life experiences and temperament.

There could be all sorts of reasons that he responds the way he does to sexuality in therapy. None of those reasons means that you are bad or your needs are too big. Any more than it meant that I was an awful needy person because I awoke habitual responses towards dependent women from my therapist. In fact, he vastly improved as a therapist after he'd said those words because he'd recognized his own blindness. Now, should he or your therapist shared those thoughts? Perhaps not. Maybe now that your therapist has recognized is own countertransference, he'll recognize that he's confused your expression of feelings and wants and desires - none of which are wrong - with his own feelings - perhaps sexual feelings or perhaps a tendency to feel like he needs to fill the desires of others. Is he a people pleaser in general? He needs to recognize that your thoughts and fears and desires are yours, and he can hear them without feeling the need to act on them. That's one things therapists do.

> I felt frozen and he was so frustrated. Neither one of us knew what had happened, but it was clear something terrible had occurred for me. In the weeks that have followed, we are trying to make some sense of it, and he is bewildered and feels terrible for the pain I'm in. On my side, I feel empty inside - like I've lost him completely and don't dare look for him ever again. I'm not mad, just terribly sad. I think the core belief I carry is that my loving feelings will always eventually hurt that person because of the shadow of sexual feelings. I feel so tainted and ruined - and everything he said confirms that belief. He told me he is frustrated because what he says now does not seem to matter - I've stopped listening to him. I just believe the therapy is ruined.

This could be another sign that he is by nature a people pleaser. He's feeling frustration that you are feeling hurt. That's understandable. But a therapist ought to be able to sit with that frustration and not let it leak out overmuch in session.

And Daisy, good things aren't ruined because shame touches them. I have little pockets of shame in many of my relationships. I suppose it might be therapeutic to shed the shame, but I'm apparently incapable of that. It's possible to have the moments of shame, and yet not let it undermine the entire structure of the relationship you've painstakingly built over the years. You feel hurt and rejected perhaps, as well as ashamed? I can see that. I'd see it as a rejection of my sexuality at least. But it doesn't need to be. It could be an opportunity for him to *stop* rejecting your sexual feelings for him. To separate his reactions and understand them so that he can respond to your sexual feelings as *your* feelings, and not as something that affects him or holds any obligation for him. He can accept your sexual feelings with the loving detachment of a therapist.

> Which brings me back to my question. Doesn't it seem like talking about all of this is making it worse? Can't we just label this as a disruption #414 and try and end as well as possible if this is where we are? There is so much more but this is long enough. I just feel so alone right now.

You know more about therapy than I do, so I don't think I'm saying anything that you don't know. You are feeling ashamed and the relationship is disrupted. That's hardly the ideal time to stop therapy. He wants to work it out. There is a relationship that is very valuable here. There is an opportunity for growth here. There really is.

Therapy isn't just about providing a corrective emotional experience with a loving mother. It's also about recognizing and changing our responses to events. I think I recall that shame is something major in your life. You're confronted with feelings of shame in an important therapeutic relationship. This is an opportunity to experience that shame doesn't have to destroy. That shame is something we all feel from time to time, but it doesn't have to wreak the havoc that it has in the past in your life and relationships. This is a time for the other part of therapy. Where you learn that you don't have to respond the way you've always responded. That shame is painful, but that you can live through it and build something even stronger because of the flaws.

Your therapist screwed up, I think, and disclosed too much of his personal feelings. He's flawed and he struggles as much as you do at times. Are you going to end the relationship because he screwed up? Are you going to end a valuable relationship because you feel shame over one aspect of it?

This is not just disruption #414 that requires another rapprochement. This is a situation that touches core issues for you and (likely) core issues for him. This is a situation that calls for each of you to challenge yourself to grow and heal.

Not that it doesn't feel d*mn s*cky. It does, I know that. I'm so sorry you're having to feel this way.

((( Daisy )))




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