No More Hugs

My therapist told me she’d been thinking about me a lot this week and that she had come to a realisation after our last 2 sessions (1 & 2). She told me it had become clear to her that when she hugs me it actually gets in the way of our therapeutic work. As I sat there in tears, feeling about 4 years old, she proceeded to explain why. 

She said that every time she hugs me she is placating my need to be soothed, reassured and comforted by a mother figure. But that every time she does that, it blocks the reality of my situation that I try so hard to avoid. That reality is the strength and pain of my need as it manifests in the first place. That reality is the reality than needs to be faced.

Essentially what she was saying is that every time she hugs me, it is like she is putting a plaster over the core issue, making it better temporarily but actually hindering me in the long run. What she is referring to is the way I feel when I do not have access to the comfort I crave from her so deeply. It is those intense feelings of loneliness, neediness, sadness and pain, and the experience of not having that distress soothed as a young child, that are the core issues. Those feelings and experiences are ones that need to be sat with, processed and worked with. In her view, every time she hugs me, she is inadvertently getting me further from doing just that.

She thinks that if we stop hugging, it will expose me to all the painful feelings of emptiness and yearning that we need me to experience as a part of my process. I can then bring those experiences to therapy and that is what we can work with. Ultimately this might help me understand where these feelings stem from, develop more self-compassion and better equip me to heal certain parts of myself from the inside out. My stability won’t have to be so dependent on the way she interacts with me. And in time, she hopes, as I heal, my desperate need for her hugs and holding will lose their ‘life or death’ power. 

I understand what she is saying completely. I appreciate her acknowledging and apologising for how hard this must be for me. But, I am devastated nonetheless. I don’t know how to make peace with this change and the possibility that she may never hug me again. 

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18 thoughts on “No More Hugs

  1. Oh you poor thing – that would have been so hard to hear. I can truly feel your pain. I do admire you though for showing such wisdom in understanding where she is coming from. I think that shows huge steps forward on your part. From when I started reading your posts several months ago (which I get so much out of with your incredible honesty), to what I read now, you have made huge strides. However, right now, I guess you just need to sit with the hurt you are feeling – at least you know it is nothing personal AT ALL. In fact, your therapist is showing herself to be truly professional and very much with your best interests at heart – hey she had been thinking about you a lot this week after all! It also shows that she is in this for the long haul for you. If she weren’t, she would just be putting that metaphoric plaster/hug on, and placating you – but she’s not – she REALLY REALLY wants to see you through to a place of wellness. Gosh – lucky you! And please do understand I know exactly how you feel. I don’t have that same attachment to my therapist (even though I think the world of her) but I have been through the exact same thing as you with 2 others that cared for me….my entire emotional world revolved round them and my ups and downs were all about where our relationship was at any point in time – god, such a rollercoaster. And that roller coaster went from giddy heights to devastation and contemplation of not wanting to live…sometimes even just over a hug (that got the high) and a frown (which bought on the low)….Bloody BPD….keep working with this great therapist and I bet as she sees you grow, another hug (or 3) will come……….hope you have some nice gentle things planned for the coming days as you work through these feelings of devastation….it will get better….xxx

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    • Thank you, this means a lot, as do all your responses. It does really hurt but I’m glad she explained it in a way that makes sense to me, because now the hurt feels less about her and more about me, and somehow that’s easier to deal with. Especially because feeling this hurt and working through it and what it means is part of her point. Lots of love x

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  2. I can definitely understand that devastation and I hope you two spend a lot of time talking through all these emotions. My therapist takes the same stance on physical contact with a nearly identical explanation. Logically, I get it. But it still hurts and I still yearn to touch her.

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  3. Ugh, this is SO painful. I am so sorry. I see her point as well (and almost wonder if my therapist’s agreement to hug me is helping me or hurting me based on that logic… my ex therapist had a strict no physical contact policy and it was absolutely AGONIZING for me) but the logic doesn’t make it any less devastating. I don’t even have words to tell you right now; I can’t think of any. Just know that you’re in my heart right now.
    (Also I sent you another email – not pestering but I know some bloggers don’t check their blog email very often so wanted to make sure you knew) ❤️🤗

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    • She’s actually away at the moment. But it’s going as well as it could be, she is being direct with me about her intentions so I don’t get paranoid, and showing me care in other ways than hugs for example. We are communicating well and press the “pause” button every time something comes up between us that I need to clarify so that it doesn’t spiral. She’s being super compassionate and supportive and recognising how hard the work we are doing together is. She was practically in tears last session which meant a lot to me that she cared enough to be moved by my pain in that way. Thank you so much.

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      • aww – I’m so pleased you are at an understanding. It means there’s a whole lot of angst and heartache you don’t have to go through between sessions – and that can only bode well for forward steps. And she will know that. My therapist has been in tears a number of times and it really touches me. You know then, that as professional as the relationship must be, there is genuine care and concern for you – over and above being just another client. (and we love that don’t we!). The other thing my therapist said to me a few weeks ago, is that even after we are cured (as she is a very firm believer BPD can be cured, with lots of time, therapy and compassion), our relationship is for life – regardless of the fact that one day I probably will not need therapy any more. I thought that was lovely…though also scary that one day we won’t be having weekly sessions. I have a love/hate feeling about that day, and I’m sure you understand that! Though I guess if we are cured, we won’t be afraid without it…oh the joys of BPD and the blimming roller coaster ride eh. Hugs to you…

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      • Yes yes totally understand and relate! Mine has said similar – that we can still go for coffee, just because she may not always be my therapist, she’ll never stop being my “ex therapist” lol – and that really meant a lot to me. Xx

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