Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 613502

Shown: posts 1 to 25 of 25. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Would you be offended?

Posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

Ok. The place where I meet my therapist has a very long couch with a chair at each end. Next to one end is an end table, placed lengthwise that starts at the front end of the couch (not beside the couch) and continues to a couple of feet from one of the chairs where my therapist sits.

When I first entered this office I surveyed the situation and chose a spot halfway down the couch, perhaps a bit more, from the chair where my therapist sits. After several weeks where he really wasn't himself, he told me he was having trouble hearing me, that the acoustics in the room weren't too good, and I offered to move closer if that would help. He said it might. So I started sitting about a foot or so from the closer end of the couch and he said he could hear me from there.

Over time I sort of gravitated to the cozy corner, where I could burrow into two sides of the couch. Because I sort of like to do that with couches that have high sides. So I did move closer, really without thinking.

Last week he told me he was having trouble concentrating and that he needed to walk around a bit. He stretched and moved to the chair on the opposite side of the couch. I was hurt, felt rejected, and told him so - asking him if I was sitting too close. He told me that he "didn't think" it was a problem for me to sit where I was sitting but he would tell me if he decided that it was.

Not being a total idiot, I realized that probably meant that it was a problem. Ouch.

So this week I pointedly sat in the middle of the couch. He commented on it with a smile. At the end of the session I asked if he felt more comfortable with the additional distance. He said he thought it had felt more comfortable, yes.

Ouch.

So as I was blinking back tears, he asked if that was a problem, and when I nodded yes, he expressed disbelief that I would feel hurt by him wanting me to sit further away. I'm not talking about a little surprise. Total disbelief. He clearly thought this was very odd of me.

So I asked my husband, who is really hard to offend. And he said yes, he would be offended. So I figure if *he* would be offended, my therapist really shouldn't be surprised that I am.

Would you be offended?

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by jammerlich on February 26, 2006, at 15:26:00

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

OMG, Dinah.... I would be completely and utterly offended. I'm just shocked he did that. I am so sorry. It must have hurt deeply.

((((Dinah))))

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by annierose on February 26, 2006, at 15:37:47

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

Yes, I would be offended. Proud of you for bringing up your "rejection" as it happened, and even more proud for admitting how hurt you are now.

Every nuance in this theraputic relationship has potential to mean something to someone. He should know that. How close you sit to someone, how much personal space one demands or needs, is commonly understood.

Taking a step back, maybe he feels too close to you. He finds himself drawn into you more than he feels comfortable with (as a man would feel for a woman).

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by sleepygirl on February 26, 2006, at 15:40:21

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

Geez Dinah...I don't understand his reaction, and yes I'd be hurt too. Why didn't he "get" that?
I was trying to visualize the situation, and I thought of a question. Does the spot you were sitting in before put you at odd angles (or something) to one another?

 

Re: Would you be offended? annierose

Posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 16:02:17

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by annierose on February 26, 2006, at 15:37:47

That would be icky. Nose wrinkle.

But I'm relatively comfortable in saying that that isn't it.

It is a personal space boundary issue. When he was acting surprised that I was offended by it, he asked me if it would feel better if he sat in my lap, in a very sarcastic way. I didn't think that was fair. An end table and a couple of feet may be intimate, but not intimate enough to deserve that comparison. :(

I'll get over it sooner or later, and incorporate it into our relationship. But in the meantime, it really does hurt.

 

Re: Would you be offended? sleepygirl

Posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 16:03:55

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by sleepygirl on February 26, 2006, at 15:40:21

Not to me anyway, it was still at enough of an angle that I could easily look at his face.

In fact I've been looking at him with my eyes open a lot more recently. I think it's because I haven't felt as close to him.

 

Re: Would you be offended? jammerlich

Posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 16:04:50

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by jammerlich on February 26, 2006, at 15:26:00

It really did. It would hurt even more if I weren't relatively buffered by Risperdal.

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by gardenergirl on February 26, 2006, at 16:09:12

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? annierose, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 16:02:17

> ...he asked me if it would feel better if he sat in my lap, in a very sarcastic way. I didn't think that was fair. An end table and a couple of feet may be intimate, but not intimate enough to deserve that comparison. :(

I'm sorry, Dinah. I know I'm primed to interpret your T's behavior negatively. But I find nothing therapeutic in that exchange. And hell yes, I'd be offended!

I don't know what else to say.

gg

 

Re: Would you be offended?...PS

Posted by gardenergirl on February 26, 2006, at 16:15:48

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by gardenergirl on February 26, 2006, at 16:09:12

Feel free to share my reaction with him.

grrrrr

gg

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by fallsfall on February 26, 2006, at 16:36:49

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

Yes, I would be offended.

This whole exchange - starting the previous session sounds unprofessional to me. If he doesn't want to sit that close to a patient, then he should have the chairs arranged differently.

You can sit as close to me as you would like.

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by Deneb on February 26, 2006, at 16:51:27

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

I agree with fallsfall. It doesn't sound professional of him to do that.

 

Re: Would you be offended?

Posted by milly on February 26, 2006, at 16:55:31

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by Deneb on February 26, 2006, at 16:51:27

I'd be very hurt by that, sounds like he has a real problem to be so insensitive
(((((dinah)))))))

 

What he says now.

Posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 20:09:30

In reply to Re: Would you be offended?, posted by milly on February 26, 2006, at 16:55:31

I called when I knew he'd be in session and left a brief to the point message about his not understanding why it would hurt me, and how even my husband would have been offended.

He emailed me back to tell me that he had considered the matter and decided it was the similarity in the angle and line of sight to his other offices that made him more comfortable, not the distance. I'm having a little trouble believing him since his first reaction was the crack about sitting on my lap, which would be about distance not anything else. But it would be in my best interests to accept what he says at face value (while remembering to be careful of personal space). And I do appreciate that he made the effort to reframe it in a less hurtful way.

I sometimes worry that I present an unbalanced picture of him. I'm sure he'd tell different stories.

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by Tamar on February 26, 2006, at 20:36:51

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

I haven't read the whole thread... but yes, I'd be offended, hurt and tearful. I would feel rejected and ugly.

Now I'll go read what others have said...

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by 10derHeart on February 26, 2006, at 22:06:35

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

Oh wow, Dinah.

I would have been extrememly offended and angry and crying in a NY minute :-(

It's too symbolic, and that fact is not rocket science for a T., for goodness sakes! Moving away when all we ever really crave and fear to lose is closeness? Yeah, a big gg 'grrrrrr!'

Like Tamar said, I'd have felt rejected and ugly - like he just had to physically move away because the whole of what's *me* was a bad thing for him to be *near.* Yuk. Not that one bit of that is even remotely true, of course, but that wasn't your question.

I'm sorry. He really is stressed and off his game, it seems. From all you've written in the past, this sort of inappropriate, insensitive blurting has been a symptom for him before. Too bad he can't save it all up for home, as it should be. In a weird way, it seems you get the brunt from time to time *because* you know each other so well...he certainly feels comfortable to let go and step out of his T. role - somewhat understandable after the horrors both of you have been through with Katrina, but I worry for your emotional well-being.

It can become a double-edged sword, being a Jessica. You're handling it beautifully, even though I'm sure it s*cks more than any of us can know. Keep fighting and trusting your instincts...and posting.

 

OMG yes.....((((((((((Dinah))))))))))) (nm)

Posted by B2chica on February 27, 2006, at 9:43:59

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by Dinah on February 27, 2006, at 10:19:25

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

I must confess that my first thought was to review whether I brushed my teeth before leaving home, and took a bath, and used deoderant.

He can be so dense sometimes. He knows that I'm upset because I don't feel him present, that effectively I don't feel close to him. Maybe I did subconsciously move closer to try to approximate the feelings of emotional closeness I was actually wanting. So it shouldn't have been tough for him to anticipate, never mind understand in retrospect, why I was upset, aside from the general societal understandings that someone moving physically further away on purpose because you're too close is a negative statement about how intimate you wish to feel, or about insensitivity on their part about violating personal space boundaries. (And he even knows I'm especially sensitive about that because my mother is a huge personal space violator and I've seen people backing away from her all my life.)

I *do* think that while in some ways he monitors what he says with me, based on past experience, that he also feels comfortable enough to say things I can't imagine he says with new clients. So I do pay a bit of a price for being a Jessica to him.

 

Re: What he says now. Dinah

Posted by Poet on February 27, 2006, at 10:51:57

In reply to What he says now., posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 20:09:30

Hi Dinah,

I think it would be nearly impossible to present a completely balanced version of my T. I can only present what happens in a session from my viewpoint, which could be when I'm depressed, having an axiety attack or just plain mad at her. T would probably see it very differently.

I'd be mad at your therapist. Yes, he did try to explain his action, but that was only because you told him how hurt you were.

I know he has some major issues in his life, but so do you, and I hate that he doesn't seem to care about how his actions/gestures/statements are hurting you. I'm sending him a cyberslap in the head.

(((((Dinah))))))

Poet

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by LegWarmers on February 27, 2006, at 11:22:37

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by Dinah on February 27, 2006, at 10:19:25

>I *do* think that while in some ways he monitors what he says with me, based on past experience, that he also feels comfortable enough to say things I can't imagine he says with new clients. So I do pay a bit of a price for being a Jessica to him.

This is what I was wondering. How long have you seen him for? I got the sense he has a high comfort level with you. And maybe was he saying yes, because he thought you were more comfortable sitting farther away? And mayb ehe thought that if he said no, it would have made you feel unsure... I dunno... just a thought that came to me. Also maybe he feels so comfortable that he was just joking.

BUT all that said, YES, Id be insulted if I didn't know why he had said it!!

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by JenStar on February 27, 2006, at 18:36:57

In reply to Would you be offended?, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 15:07:37

hi dinah,
yes, I'd feel hurt. On one hand I'd completely understand, because sometimes I need space too, BUT I'd still feel hurt. I'd wonder what was wrong: Did I smell bad? Was I too intense? Was I too something else? It would bug me and bug me, even as I recognized that it should NOT bug me as much. And then I'd eventually get over it, I suppose.

But sometimes it's something simple. If one's eyes hurt, sometimes it's hard to focus on someone that's sitting close. Maybe he was feeling gassy or belchy, or his stomach was making noises, and he just needed to sit apart. Maybe he was feeling nervous about his own life situation and needed to mask it by sitting somewhere else. Maybe he felt that HE smelled bad (armpits? breath from lunch/dinner?) and didn't want you to be offended by it. Maybe he was fending off a bad headache and just wanted to feel more "alone." And none of these things are perhaps things he is willing to talk about. It may have had nothing to do with *you*, although I understand that it's hard to believe that or to really FEEL it.

How are you doing about it now? Have you talked about it with him more?

JenStar

 

Re: Would you be offended? Dinah

Posted by JenStar on February 28, 2006, at 22:18:35

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? annierose, posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 16:02:17

OK, don't hate me for saying this, but is it possible you're being too sensitive about this issue? (dodging rotton eggs and vegetables from everyone!)

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I know we all expect our T's to be superhuman; to anticipate our emotions, to bolster our courage, to heal our wounds, to be there, to always say just the right thing. And most of the time it's OK to expect that. But if you have been with him a long time, would it maybe be fair for him to admit to some kind of physical discomfort, to not be perfect, and to still be able to work well with you? Are you maybe angry that he's not been there 100% so this means more than it ordinarily might?

Again, I'm sorry, I'm not trying to poke my finger into a sore spot. I'm just trying to think about it from another angle...

JenStar

BUT...maybe it's not possible for a T to always be that perfect, esp. considering what he's been through himself?

 

Re: Would you be offended? JenStar

Posted by Dinah on February 28, 2006, at 22:57:20

In reply to Re: Would you be offended? Dinah, posted by JenStar on February 28, 2006, at 22:18:35

It wasn't the moving, or the being glad I moved. Yes, that hurt. But that's not why I posted. I'd have incorporated it into the framework of our relationship. I need less personal space with him than he does with me. And I know what that means. But it's not really new information.

It stung. But I'll get over it.

It stung again, because it made me feel like my mother. But I'd talk that over with him.

The reason I asked the question here was his lack of comprehension of why it might have hurt, and his responding with the crack about sitting on my lap instead of empathy for a boundary drawing hurting. *After* I told him two weeks in a row that I felt hurt. He didn't have to divine it.

So I was checking to see if my reaction was something that was really difficult to understand. And as I thought, it really wasn't.

It's not a major breach in our therapeutic relationship. It was just something I couldn't quite believe that he didn't grasp, that's all.

I'm not really that angry with him. A bit hurt at the implications, but not angry.

Believe me, I wouldn't even want a perfect therapist. I like his humanity. And boy, do I see a lot of it.

All I ask is that he show up emotionally. Not that he be perfect.

 

Re: What he says now. Dinah

Posted by pegasus on March 1, 2006, at 8:56:54

In reply to What he says now., posted by Dinah on February 26, 2006, at 20:09:30

Yes, well, I'm sure he can find his own bulletin board where he can tell his own stories if he wants to. This one is for you to tell what you experience. And you do it so wonderfully well. I don't want you to start second guessing that.

I'm glad he reframed his comments, too. I don't blame you for being a little suspicious, though. In a perfect world, he would have been fast enough on his toes to realize what was bugging him and communicate it correctly the first time, or at least frame it that way the first time.

But, as you say, if it were a perfect world then it wouldn't be a great place for humans. ;)

peg

 

Re: What he says now.

Posted by Tanzanite on March 3, 2006, at 0:35:19

In reply to Re: What he says now. Dinah, posted by pegasus on March 1, 2006, at 8:56:54

I know I am a bit late to this and I don't know much about your relationship with your therapist, but I would have been feeling very self conscious or hurt in some way. If it were early on in the therapeutic relationship, I don't know if I would even go back. Here is the oversensitive chicken for ya. But, that is how I am. I really hope things will move in a positive light for you ((((Dinah)))
Peace
Tanzanite

 

Re: What he says now. Tanzanite

Posted by Dinah on March 3, 2006, at 0:39:59

In reply to Re: What he says now., posted by Tanzanite on March 3, 2006, at 0:35:19

I've been seeing him eleven years come April 3, I think.

We'll get past it. It hurt, of course. I don't think you can have a boundary drawing that doesn't hurt.

Thanks, Tanzanite. (I really like your name, by the way.)


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