Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 975869

Shown: posts 1 to 25 of 29. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

My story - long

Posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 1:47:09

Is it really necessary to talk over and understand everything? Even stuff that happens in therapy? This is the short version of what has been going on the past few months for me: (short but still long...)

As I've mentioned above, a few weeks ago I had this terrible session. We've spent months talking about the implications of csa on budding sexuality and how confusing it all was. There were many dreams that indicated a struggle between feeling overly sexually powerful and terrified of sex altogether. There were many conversations about the need children have to be touched safely and how that need was corrupted for me. So it feels bad and shameful to have it. Just like the adolescent interest in sex felt bad and shameful.

My therapist has a "no touch" policy - which we've talked about in the past. He is pretty good at emotional holding so usually it isn't an issue. In fact, I tell him if he ventures out of his chair I'd flee the room. But there are little kid parts of me that want to snuggle up next to him and feel safe and firmly held. I told him this and I told him that I felt jealous of his male clients who probably shook his hand every time, without some God awful discussion about why they needed to do and how it felt, etc. etc. He was a little surprised by this and did admit that men routinely shake hands without a lot of thought to it.

A few sessions later, we were talking about sex and touch and for whatever reason, my therapist felt the need to remind me that "that will never happen here." I'm intellectually sure that he was reassuring me that his office was a safe place. But it felt like a slap - almost like a reprimand. So at the next session, I was upset and I finally told him that he didn't need to vehemently remind me that he will never touch me nor that we couldn't have sex. I knew that already. He was really taken aback - said he was unaware that he had been "vehement" -- and then he said I sounded angry. I told him it was just really humiliating to be reminded like that and that he does it more often than he probably realized. But I knew that his intention was to remind me again and again how safe it was to express anything. However, it often felt like he was protecting himself as much as me.

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 agression...ug, 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.

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.

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.

 

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 agression...ug, 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 )))

 

Re: My story - long Dinah

Posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 12:57:37

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Dinah on January 5, 2011, at 9:33:37

You make so much sense, Dinah. Annie Rose is saying the same things to me - and my therapist has always been very accepting of all the sexual feelings and conversations that have entered my therapy. So what you said about counter-transference makes sense - his unconscious fears and needs to protect himself were producing a behavior he wasn't aware of until I called it out. He said it felt a little like a challenge - why do you need to do that? Intellectually I get all of that.

And he is sitting pretty well with his own frustration, reminding me (and himself) that we aren't going to be able to understand or work this through in just one session. I think he is very shocked at my reaction - perhaps, as you said, thinking I was more capable of hearing what he was saying (d*mn that Phd!)but I also think he didn't see it as a big deal so he wasn't that careful.

I also think there are many strands to this, not the least of which is the death of the fantasy (largely unconscious for me) that he would eventually take up all the lonely space inside of me. I would have said I *knew* that - but perhaps well-hidden from myself was this belief that as long as I was connected to him, I wasn't alone in the real world. And thus, the connection must last forever. His using the word "NEVER" startled that into consciousness and then destroyed it. I think being single with grown children adds a layer to all of this that a lot of people don't have to grapple with.

He said yesterday that he feels like he was caught up in some reenactment and I agree. We just haven't figured it all out yet. Mother stuff is my best guess right now.

It is just so awful and painful. I want to pretend, for him and for me, that it never happened. He kidded me once, when I was wishing for a magic therapy wand, that he had one but it could only be used once, so we had to pick carefully. I told him yesterday that this was time - could he please undo all of this. He said it will eventually teach us both something.

But what if it is something terrible?
*sigh*
Thanks for the response. Now can you go talk to him too?

 

Re: My story - long Daisym

Posted by gardenergirl on January 5, 2011, at 15:28:37

In reply to Re: My story - long Dinah, posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 12:57:37

Daisy,
Dinah's response was so good, and I don't really have anything to add. But I just wanted to say I'm sorry you're in this right now. I know it feels really and truly awful and alone.

Hang in there. I believe in you.

gg

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by Solstice on January 5, 2011, at 15:49:12

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

What my gut reaction is, based on my own experiences mind you, is that both of you need time to just process it. Especially you. It sounds to me like his reaction called up a lot of stuff for you, including shame and rejection.

Some ruptures can be talked about as they happen, or soon thereafter, and resolved in a way that supports a stronger connection. Some, though, might take time to process. Maybe what he needs to do right now is help you move to something completely unrelated to the rupture and the csa that triggered it.. something really bland and safe... and let the relationship itself (rather than him trying to address it with words) be what you need it to be. If the relationship can 'hold' you, and he can remain emotionally available and non-defensive.. then when your insides have processed it better, it might be easier to get a better resolution.

I've had a few things like that take place in my therapy. One thing I'll always be grateful for is my therapist's ability to be responsive to whatever rises to the surface. So I can set someting aside for a while and come back to it later - and T can sense the significance of it and will give it the responsiveness it deserves, despite the passage of time.

Solstice

 

Re: My story - long gardenergirl

Posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 23:19:37

In reply to Re: My story - long Daisym, posted by gardenergirl on January 5, 2011, at 15:28:37

Thanks for believing in me. I think one of the things I both love/hate in therapy are the possibilities - hope coupled with the pain of longing. And yet we must still get through each day, alone or not.

It helps to have friends.

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 23:37:49

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Solstice on January 5, 2011, at 15:49:12

When I was a little girl, bad things usually happened at night. And then in the morning, we all ate breakfast together and went to school like nothing had happened.

When I was married, my ex and I would have these horried fights, and he would say terrible things, and then later he'd want (and get) sex and in the morning I'd just pretend like none of it had ever happened.

So I have this built in response to bad things which is "pretend like it doesn't matter. Pretend like you aren't hurt and everything will go back to "normal."" My therapist knows this, which is why I think he doesn't want it to go underground until I've talked about some of this and we understand it, at least a little. He wants me to express my hurt and learn that a relationship can survive me being truthful. It can even survive me being mad at him when he screws up. He is OK with me being mad. And even if we disagree about which one of us screwed up, he is OK with that too.

But it is very, very hard because I instantly tell myself that *I* am over-reacting and *I* have ruined everything. I feel so stupid - which just adds even more shame to it all. I know I should just move one but I'm pretty stuck right now.

Thanks for your reply.

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by Solstice on January 6, 2011, at 0:14:41

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 23:37:49

> When I was a little girl, bad things usually happened at night. And then in the morning, we all ate breakfast together and went to school like nothing had happened.
>
> When I was married, my ex and I would have these horried fights, and he would say terrible things, and then later he'd want (and get) sex and in the morning I'd just pretend like none of it had ever happened.

I know what you're talking about - that survival is about never speaking up.. never acknowledging what's happening to you.


> So I have this built in response to bad things which is "pretend like it doesn't matter. Pretend like you aren't hurt and everything will go back to "normal."

It teaches us denial of self, doesn't it?


> My therapist knows this, which is why I think he doesn't want it to go underground until I've talked about some of this and we understand it, at least a little. He wants me to express my hurt and learn that a relationship can survive me being truthful.

He sounds wonderful! And Daisy - trust me - he is right. I have learned through my therapeutic relationship that relationships really CAN survive mutual honesty about how we feel. I will testify to it being WELL worth the risk to experiment with it. I started out real, real small.. and it took a long, long time.. but for folks like us, there's something almost magical about being so terribly afraid to put a voice to the way you feel.. and then to experience the therapeutic effect of your feelings being heard, validated, and to see in your therapist's eyes the genuine value they place on how you are experiencing the relationship.


> But it is very, very hard because I instantly tell myself that *I* am over-reacting and *I* have ruined everything. I feel so stupid - which just adds even more shame to it all.

I did the same thing to myself. I know that shame and self-blame. It tortured me. I'll tell you what made it turn a corner for me. After spending several years in a therapeutic relationship that turned toxic and reinforced all of my previous trauma, the therapist I have now had an entirely different approach. Whereas my toxic T was more than happy to blame me for every misattunement or rupture, the therapist I see now was just the opposite. It was surreal for me to - any time there was a rupture of any kind (no matter how small) - my T Never looked at me. Didn't even try to get me to share the blame, even though the majority of the time I played a role. My T only looked at their contribution. I was all too ready to carry the blame for anything and everything - so it was almost as if my T addressed it by Never allowing me to pick up the bag of blame. T would hold it, and we would conversationally 'walk' with it together. It's not that T and I weren't both wholly aware of my contributions to the rupture - it's just that it was clear that I was not going to be allowed to carry the burden of fixing it. Even if I had misunderstood/misinterpreted something T said and got myself worked up over some erroneously perceived therapeutic injustice or failure - T's attitude about it was that there was a reason behind my misperception, something driving it that it was T's responsibility to figure out and address. For my particular situation, it was the perfect approach. I had carried a heavy load for so long, that my healing elixir was for T to take 100% responsibility for the well-being of the relationship, and then to let me hold onto my parts of it as I was able - but always holding it together. So Daisy, it's obvious that you've experienced the therapeutic effect of your therapist's acceptance of your feelings, and I would really encourage you to experiment with testing it on the really hard things - like the situation you described. It's hard - but the more experiences you have with it - the closer you will get to your more healed self.

Solstice

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by annierose on January 6, 2011, at 6:34:43

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

You are in the middle of the hurt but I do see light at the end of the tunnel. When both parties in the relationship want to work towards undertanding while being truthful and kind, I feel time will get you to that peaceful loving place you want restored in your therapy.

I think the world of you.

I wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you yesterday but our basement drain was backing up unpleasant nastiness and I couldn't deal with life.

 

Re: My story - long annierose

Posted by Daisym on January 6, 2011, at 10:39:50

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by annierose on January 6, 2011, at 6:34:43

Sounds like my life right now...

 

Re: My story - long Daisym

Posted by sassyfrancesca on January 6, 2011, at 12:21:59

In reply to Re: My story - long Dinah, posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 12:57:37

Oh, I so resonate with you, sweetie. I too, am alone with grown children, after 31 years of abusive "marriage". I have been in love with my t for 6 years...too long to go into here....We have a personal relationship....unfortunately he allowed me to 'see" him.....get to know him....it happens

He DOES fill that empty spot....we are alike in over 23 different ways...same age, background growing up; he even has the same (rare) eye problem I do....go figure........He fights his feelings for me.....there isnt anyting we can't (or haven't discussed), LOL, LOL

Hugs, Sassy

 

Re: My story - long Daisym

Posted by Dinah on January 6, 2011, at 19:49:27

In reply to Re: My story - long Dinah, posted by Daisym on January 5, 2011, at 12:57:37

I'd be happy to talk to him! Or you could read him some selected quotes from my post if you prefer.

Bringing in Babblers posts last time with my therapist got through to him in a way I never could have in a million years. Me he argued with. But when he heard Babblers, he was forced to see things from an outside point of view.

I think that fantasy isn't so uncommon. It might be deeply buried and of course rejected by our rational minds. Letting go of it seems to be a prospect that has more losses than gains. I think I still see more losses than gains in it.

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by pegasus on January 10, 2011, at 16:53:20

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

Daisy,

I'm so sorry to have missed this thread until now. I think I get how humiliating this whole thing can be. You need him to be able to trust you, as much as you need to trust him. His repeatedly reminding you of boundaries that you have no intention of crossing (except maybe in very unconscious fantasies) feels like a lack of trust. How hurtful to have a message that he has uneasiness about those boundaries! It's not clear to me whether his uneasiness is about him holding his side of the boundary, or you holding yours, or both. I see that you feel he is uneasy about your honoring your side. But of course it's torturous to discuss either way.

Your question about whether it's helpful to have unearthed and forced a close examination of this particular fantasy is interesting to me as well. Maybe it will be useful in the end, but oh how painful in the meantime! At the moment I lean toward thinking that perhaps it might have been better for you if he had kept his unnecessary reminders to himself.

Please let us know what comes of this for you.

- P

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by gardenergirl on January 10, 2011, at 17:22:33

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by pegasus on January 10, 2011, at 16:53:20

I'm reminded of an assignment when I was in grad school. A classmate and I had to role-play a "boundary crossing", and I had to play the therapist. I was embarrassed about how strong my reaction was to the boundary crossing enacted, which wasn't any kind of sexual or love toward the therapist. But still, I was really uncomfortable, and it showed in my response. What this taught me was that *I* have issues which could affect the client. They didn't seem like that big of a deal, really. But however small (or not), it was enough to "throw me off my game" for a moment. And I don't think therapists are overly comfortable acknowledging that and looking at how that might be perceived by the client.

Thinking of you, Daisy, and hoping you are finding some relief.

gg

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by Solstice on January 10, 2011, at 22:29:40

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by gardenergirl on January 10, 2011, at 17:22:33

> And I don't think therapists are overly comfortable acknowledging that and looking at how that might be perceived by the client.

ooohh boy. That one sure opens up a can of worms for me...

Solstice

 

Re: My story - long sassyfrancesca

Posted by Daisym on January 10, 2011, at 23:12:31

In reply to Re: My story - long Daisym, posted by sassyfrancesca on January 6, 2011, at 12:21:59

I think we are in different places - but I appreciate your thoughts and warmth.

 

Re: My story - long Dinah

Posted by Daisym on January 10, 2011, at 23:21:34

In reply to Re: My story - long Daisym, posted by Dinah on January 6, 2011, at 19:49:27

He keeps asking me if I'm writing about all of this. It is hard because instead of getting clearer, it gets more muddled as we talk about it. I don't know if it is just too painful to really stay with it or if it was a door blown open and now there are layers and layers to look at.

But he says what you said - it is an opportunity to look at stuff we haven't yet. AFTO - I hate them.

 

Re: My story - long pegasus

Posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 0:24:03

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by pegasus on January 10, 2011, at 16:53:20

I wrote another long reply and it is gone...how frustrating.

The trust issues are huge - and of course, most of this is not about actually having sex. It comes down to needs - I think my needs are too big - and I feel like I just had that confirmed. Beyond that, it is crushingly clear that he (meaning - no one) is going to be able to make me feel safe and secure forever. It is a huge fantasy to lose - coming from a very young place.

The icing on all of this is that I have a tendency to keep my mouth shut about most things that bother me. I let them go...I'm pretty accommodating in all my relationships. In this case, I spoke up and look what happened? So again - another confirmation that relationships get destroyed by my needs.

My therapist keeps finding these deep pockets that are attached to all of this. Poor guy has a cold and was losing his voice today. Kind of hard to keep pulling stuff out of me when he was struggling to talk.

We are doing this kind of waltz of easing into the session, eventually going back to all of this and then moving away from it with some kind of humor as the session ends. I have to admire his faith in the process.

 

Re: My story - long gardenergirl

Posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 0:39:20

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by gardenergirl on January 10, 2011, at 17:22:33

We've spent a fair amount of time talking about disclosures and how it feels to me to read him. Here is where my training really kicks in because I'm good at thinking about the possible reasons for boundary crossings or fantasies - I can write it up as a case study. But trying to figure out my feelings is so much tougher. And it is hard to admit that I really don't want to know about his thought processes - it feels selfish.

I think we all believe we are too self-aware to let our "stuff" get in the way of our work with clients - even though we also seem to be alert to our own transference and counter-transference feelings.


How would you feel about role playing a repeat of a conversation that didn't go well?

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by pegasus on January 11, 2011, at 10:24:04

In reply to Re: My story - long pegasus, posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 0:24:03

Daisy,

Yeah, I know it's not really about sex. But it refers to issues around sex. Don't worry, I totally get that.

Would you mind if I asked you to elaborate on why you think this shows that your needs are too big? I get the trust issue. But the jump to your needs being too big is eluding me at this point. Is it that you don't think your needs should be big enough to trigger any need in him to refer to those boundaries? What exactly is it that you think your needs are doing, that they shouldn't do?

And, of course, please feel free to ignore the question, if it's too painful, and/or if I'm being insensitive.

- P

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 20:06:25

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by pegasus on January 11, 2011, at 10:24:04

Needs are a tricky thing. On the one hand, for other people, I would say that everyone has needs and wants and there is a full range of intensity when it comes to needs and wants. And I would tell anyone else that needing someone to fill certain needs for you is perfectly OK. Humans need other humans.

But when I try to apply this to myself, I immediately get all twisted up with shoulds and shouldn'ts. I shouldn't need anyone else to make me feel OK, etc. etc. I should be able to take care of myself. Feeling needy for someone feels awful, shameful and just really wrong. I understand why I feel this way and I know where these strong reactions come from but understanding has not necessarily lessened the shame of having needs. I feel like I don't know how to titrate need - it gets worrisome that it feels like meeting any part of a need is going to trigger it to get bigger - it all feels insatiable. And because of the insatiableness of my needs, the object of my neediness must react negatively. Either they give in and I destroy them with my need (my dad) or they react to the need by pushing back, punishing me or otherwise abandoning the relationship (my mom).

My therapist has consistently let me need him - to borrow his "core self" as I've worked to strengthen my own. But this need, I think, grew big enough and demanding enough that his core-self felt threatened - and he needed to push me back and anchor himself. We happened to be talking about sex - but we could have been talking about longer sessions, phone calls - anything that clients do to "possess" their therapist. Intellectually I totally understand that every human being has moments like this - mothers withdraw physically and emotionally from their infants to regain their equilibrium - and then reengage. But in this case, I feel like the infant who experienced this withdrawal as life threatening and can't risk ever feeling that way again, so shuts down. If I don't need too much (or nothing) from her, she won't leave me.

So my best guess about my reaction sort of goes like this - I was in high need mode (unconsciously) and for whatever reason, not monitoring myself as well as I usually do. I didn't pull back before he pushed back. And while I can intellectually understand that one event does not define a relationship or undo everything that has gone before, it felt so awful that I can't get it back into perspective. I am having a really hard time knowing that he has to think about the boundaries (ie control my needs) because I didn't take care of them well enough for both of us. This is very narcissistic thinking - I'm well aware. How powerful do I think I am? But it is a life long pattern of not trusting myself that is very hard to break.

Sorry for the long reply but I keep struggling to articulate and understand the painful feelings and this was another opportunity to sort through it. It probably still doesn't make a ton of sense.

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by annierose on January 11, 2011, at 22:51:15

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 20:06:25

I think it makes a ton of senses and you do articulate the struggle perfectly ... as painful as the inner turmoil is. The more you're able to put words to all this angst, I think, in time, the more your brain can help sort it all out.

 

Re: My story - long Solstice

Posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 23:49:30

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Solstice on January 10, 2011, at 22:29:40

Me too.

I think most therapists are willing to look at themselves and what they bring to an interaction. But that willingness has to compete with the need to feel competent as well as training and experience with lots of different kinds of pathology - they see the world as full of unconscious motivations. What did Dinah say? - Therapists are human too - which is hard to know and see sometimes.

 

Re: My story - long

Posted by gardenergirl on January 12, 2011, at 12:23:07

In reply to Re: My story - long, posted by Solstice on January 10, 2011, at 22:29:40

> > And I don't think therapists are overly comfortable acknowledging that and looking at how that might be perceived by the client.
>
> ooohh boy. That one sure opens up a can of worms for me...
>
> Solstice
>

I should amend my statement. What I really meant is that therapists have differing comfort levels and capacities for that kind of self observation, because they are human. I didn't mean it to sound like a slam against all therapists.

gg

 

Re: My story - long Daisym

Posted by gardenergirl on January 12, 2011, at 12:33:49

In reply to Re: My story - long gardenergirl, posted by Daisym on January 11, 2011, at 0:39:20

> And it is hard to admit that I really don't want to know about his thought processes - it feels selfish.

I can understand that. You are a warm, empathetic, caring person, after all. I suppose it is selfish in a way, in a strict sense of the word. That word is loaded, though. I think that the therapy relationship is one in which it's okay, perhaps even useful for the client to be selfish, or perhaps self-focused. But since we are humans and relational beings, and therapy is intimate, we care about our therapists, too, and about their needs. It's complex.

>
> I think we all believe we are too self-aware to let our "stuff" get in the way of our work with clients - even though we also seem to be alert to our own transference and counter-transference feelings.

I agree. And I think we want to be totally self-aware, but I guess blind spots are called blind spots for a reason, eh? :)
>
>
> How would you feel about role playing a repeat of a conversation that didn't go well?

I think I'd feel incredibly self-conscious (ha! that's an ironic phrase!) and would probably hate it. I hate role-play in general. It seems to put too much focus for my comfort on the sense of being observed, sort of on display. I really, really hate becoming aware of that feeling. I'd rather be more in the moment.

gg


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