Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 782385

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Those icky topics in threapy

Posted by Wittgenstein on September 12, 2007, at 5:15:08

Sex, sexuality, intimacy, body image...

I've avoided them long enough but sooner or later I'm going to have to 'go there'. Eeks!

I sent my T a letter 2 weeks ago touching on some of my issues with body image, feminimity and my fear of being 'just like my mother' but now he wants me to talk about it. I'm so prudish and embarrassed and it feels plain weird to talk about it with him - or well anyone for that matter.

You all seem so much braver than me!

How did you make this step? Was it such a big deal for you? How did you push yourself to talk openly about these difficult topics? He says I have to try and step a little out of my comfort zone - push back my boundaries - but this is a lot out of my comfort zone :(

I'm getting anxious about going to therapy - before Friday's session I threw up and yesterday's session was useless, the whole day I felt highly anxious, shaky, dizzy, nauseous - detached. Could this all be a response to my fear of talking about these topics?

Witti

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein

Posted by muffled on September 12, 2007, at 13:23:45

In reply to Those icky topics in threapy, posted by Wittgenstein on September 12, 2007, at 5:15:08

> Sex, sexuality, intimacy, body image...
>
> I've avoided them long enough but sooner or later I'm going to have to 'go there'. Eeks!
>
> I sent my T a letter 2 weeks ago touching on some of my issues with body image, feminimity and my fear of being 'just like my mother' but now he wants me to talk about it. I'm so prudish and embarrassed and it feels plain weird to talk about it with him - or well anyone for that matter.
>
> You all seem so much braver than me!
>
> How did you make this step? Was it such a big deal for you? How did you push yourself to talk openly about these difficult topics? He says I have to try and step a little out of my comfort zone - push back my boundaries - but this is a lot out of my comfort zone :(
>
> I'm getting anxious about going to therapy - before Friday's session I threw up and yesterday's session was useless, the whole day I felt highly anxious, shaky, dizzy, nauseous - detached. Could this all be a response to my fear of talking about these topics?

**Witti, I'm with you all the way as far as those topics being so hard. I got lady T and I stii scared to go there.
But what I felt about your post, is that you are not ready to go there, your not feeling 'safe' enuf....your T needs to help you with some more coping stuff. IMHO, if your too freaked, then dissociation sets in, and the session doesn't accomplish much....
Can you negotiate w/T and say...."yes, I would eventually like to dig in, and may start, but can you be alert to my comfort zone, and if I am freaking, STOP, and work on grounding/relaxtion/connection type stuff". For me, I would want to know for sure that T understood to stop if it was getting too hard...
Therapy is so hard, but you seem to be having excessive anxiety round where you are going.
I am sort of in the same place in some ways, and what I have been telling myself is that I trust my T, and I feel that if I am getting in a bad way, that she will stop and help me come back. This is what I tell myself.......LOL! I dunno whether it working!!!I 'avoided' by talking bout irl kids today, which needs to be done, but it was easier for me, HA!
So I hope you can figger how to ease yourself somehow....good topic for a session.
Take good care,
M

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy

Posted by arora on September 12, 2007, at 15:09:10

In reply to Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein, posted by muffled on September 12, 2007, at 13:23:45

I think Muffled is right... if it is causing you so much anxiety that it's making you ill, then you could explain this to your T- that you're just not ready for this step quite yet.

If you detach and disassociate, I don't see how you could get much accomplished. These are difficult things to discuss, I'm sure your T understands this.

arora

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein

Posted by Sigismund on September 13, 2007, at 23:44:10

In reply to Those icky topics in threapy, posted by Wittgenstein on September 12, 2007, at 5:15:08

>my issues with body image, femininity and my fear of being 'just like my mother'

I'm assuming some of that is to do with ageing, and some of that is about character?

You wrote to your T, which means you wanted to approach the subject, for whatever reason.
But when he wanted you to talk about it you felt embarrassed and prudish, and now you feel embarrassed for feeling like that.

Perhaps you have very good reasons for feeling reluctant to discuss this?
It's important to find something in your intuition/experience that you can trust, don't you think?
(But finding it is the problem. Maybe it's a bit like finding your voice?)

Especially (I think) if you have had family relationships that have been invalidating.

I had a middle aged female T and that was nice in that there were none of those awful man-to-man exchanges that make for feelings of bad faith.
I didn't give her too much of the salacious stuff, and when I did she was pretty good at paraphrasing.

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Muffled

Posted by Wittgenstein on September 14, 2007, at 1:31:08

In reply to Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein, posted by muffled on September 12, 2007, at 13:23:45

Muffled, thanks for your reply.

I think you are right - I'm probably just not ready for this discussion yet. I push myself too fast I guess. I need to work more on trust - just I don't know how on earth to overcome my fear of trusting someone.

My T isn't pressuring me about the topic exactly - I pressure myself - but it feels now that I can't move forward with other things - maybe if I just accept now isn't the right time, then I can move on and come back to it later. I shouldn't feel so bad for avoiding something if I look at it that way.

It sounds like you have a good T Muffled.

It would be overwhelming to just talk about the most difficult things all the time - I bet it was nice to have a session dedicated to your lovely kids.

Witti

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Arora

Posted by Wittgenstein on September 14, 2007, at 1:34:16

In reply to Re: Those icky topics in threapy, posted by arora on September 12, 2007, at 15:09:10

Arora, Thank you for your reply. I guess I've got to be less hard on myself and not push these things.

Thanks for giving me some validation. I'm sure my T will understand - it's getting me to accept my limits/give myself a break, that's the problem.

Witti

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Sigismund

Posted by Wittgenstein on September 14, 2007, at 1:46:41

In reply to Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein, posted by Sigismund on September 13, 2007, at 23:44:10

Sigismund,

Thank you for your reply.

" I'm assuming some of that is to do with ageing, and some of that is about character? "

*** 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.

" You wrote to your T, which means you wanted to approach the subject, for whatever reason. But when he wanted you to talk about it you felt embarrassed and prudish, and now you feel embarrassed for feeling like that."

*** 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.

" Perhaps you have very good reasons for feeling reluctant to discuss this? "

*** 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 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 had a middle aged female T and that was nice in that there were none of those awful man-to-man exchanges that make for feelings of bad faith.
I didn't give her too much of the salacious stuff, and when I did she was pretty good at paraphrasing. "

*** Your T sounds so understanding. I can see the issues with talking about these things to a T of the same gender. I would find it harder to talk woman-to-woman as trust would be so hard to achieve.

Thanks for your comments.

Witti

 

Perfect :-) Wittgenstein

Posted by muffled on September 14, 2007, at 9:35:42

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

*** 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 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.

What you said here wittit is WONDERFULLY PUT IMHO.
Can you take this to T? Or makes notes and tell him just this? You put it SO well.
Some T's are more blank slate....mine is not, and I like her for that, but she does keep her cool..remind me I said this when I start doubting her again when I get all scared! Ya, so I just wanted to mention this good words you wrote, they SO bang on, I can't rephrase it any better.
Be good to yourself.
Your kinda got messed as a kid, but I can see much goodness shining thru in your writings. You gonna do OK.
Take care.
Muffled

 

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.

 

Re: Those icky topics in threapy Wittgenstein

Posted by RealMe on September 16, 2007, at 22:25:00

In reply to Those icky topics in threapy, posted by Wittgenstein on September 12, 2007, at 5:15:08

What I did was similar to what you did, and then I said at the next session, "You know that email I sent you, the letter," and he said something like yes, and then I said, well I think I should talk about this stuff, but I don't know where to start. He said, well lets start with XXXX becasue it was so different from the rest. I know I am not making sense, but it has to do with my issues and csa, etc.

Intimacy? I won't even touch that topic with him yet even though he said we would become very intimate before we ended therapy. He freaked me out, and I told him. I just said it. I told him I knew he didn't mean sexual, but nevertheless, intimacy. OH MY GOD!! And other stuff, I just spit it out most of the time while looking at the floor. When I don't just spit it out as planned, I get pissed at myself and send him an email, and then we talk about it the next time. But of course I regret sending the email as soon as I have hit send.

I think you threw up because they are such important topics for you, and you want your T to be sensitive to these topics. So, I hope it went well.

RealMe

 

Intimacy and mindful communication

Posted by Sigismund on September 19, 2007, at 16:32:21

In reply to Those icky topics in threapy, posted by Wittgenstein on September 12, 2007, at 5:15:08

When I think of intimacy mostly it doesn't involve sex at all, although there is no reason why it shouldn't.

The gaze of a mother and baby into each others' eyes, the elbow of a brother or sister unselfconsciously on a shoulder, friends who touch each other in a respectful, friendly and thoughtful way...these are all things that are intimate.

And of course there is bad sex, and also there are the popular requirements as to what we should be feeling in sex and how we should show it.

I don't know if this is the right thread for this, but intimacy is something that has been on the Board lately.


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