After reading a vulnerable post on my friend’s blog the other night, I decided that I wanted to share it with my therapist. It was all about intimacy and love in therapy, and the expression of that.
I texted my therapist saying, “Hi I came across a blog post online that I’d like to talk about. I was wondering if you have time to read it before Tues (it’d take 10mins or so, it’s long). I don’t want to ask too much of you, I just want to work out the best way to talk about it together. Please can you let me know what would work best for you/ if you have any suggestions, so that I can plan for our session. Thank you!”
She replied a short while later, “Tue is your EMDR session, anything else will be read in session if you feel it is part of therapy, I don’t need to know what is written by someone else, it’s for you to discuss whatever you feel is relevant.”
I started spiraling immediately. Emotion mind took over and I couldn’t clamber out. The awareness of my reaction did nothing to stop me from sinking. I tried to rationalise using all the cognitive skills, but I can’t deny the visceral reaction it brought up in me.
Regardless of reality, my interpretation of her message upset me massively. Even if she didn’t realise, I was asking for something that put me in a position of vulnerability (especially considering the content of the blog post I wanted to share with her!), and so her text felt like a huge rejection. I felt like my needs were ridiculous and unimportant (hurt, anger), and that I had no right to ask (shame, guilt) and spiraled into emotion mind.
This is what the interaction felt like to me:
Me: Hi, I have a need so I’m putting it out there even though I feel guilty and undeserving. I have something to discuss that feels vulnerable but I would like to be effective so I’m going to take the plunge and put myself out there! I think it would be valuable work for us and I love and trust you enough to ask how you can best meet this need of mine.
Her: Hah, what a ridiculous need! What you think is valuable work doesn’t sound very valuable to me. Let’s shape your request around my needs instead. After all you don’t really deserve to have your voice heard and that shame you felt for asking was definitely justified. You are not important to me and I do not love you enough to give you what you are asking for, but nice try.
I noticed jumping to thoughts like “fine I just won’t even bother telling her then” and “I’m never going to ask for anything ever again”. I know I was reading into the neutrality as her being angry or fed up with me but the traumatised parts of me couldn’t take in any other information. I really wanted reassurance from her and found it hard not to spiral. My mental state went down very fast and I found it very hard to get out. I know it’s probably related to Mum stuff but the traumatised parts of me can’t disentangle it all so it feels very much related to my therapist.
I went from anger and shame to overwhelming sadness quicker than usual. I’m currently in bed cuddling my teddy bear with a stinking headache from having cried so hard and in severe attachment pain. I’m trying to self-soothe because as much as I’d like her to make this pain go away, that’s not going to happen.
Instead of processing around my friend’s blog post tomorrow in session, it looks like we will have to process this entire interaction (and everything it brought up for me) instead.