I discovered I have been sabotaging my own therapy for a while now, perhaps even a few years. I’m not ashamed of this, and see it as inevitable really. I started to care about my therapist a long time ago, and jeopardized our client-therapist professional relationship. It is just impossible to remain completely objective.
Now I don’t mean I was attracted to her or anything like what I hear in stories from time to time. But I realized I started thinking of her as my surrogate mother (she is about 20 years older than me), someone to look up to, and trust, and ask all kinds of advice. I’ve never had a guiding light, someone looking out for my best interest. I so wanted her to fill that role. The problem here, is that I also wanted her to be proud of me, and so started hiding my thoughts and behaviors.
Healing from childhood sexual abuse is at best, tortuous and complicated. Having a professionally trained therapist to guide me on this journey has been a necessary and integral part of my healing and putting myself back together.
I’ve actually taken a break (about 2 months now) from my regular and frequent therapy sessions, for several reasons:
1. The last session was extremely painful, and took a lot out of me. I was so exhausted by it that I was unable to function at work or enjoy anything for several days. I’m in avoidance mode still.
2. My husband started seeing a therapist to support me, and to work on marriage issues together. We don’t have the budget for both of us to go.
3. I’ve connected with my husband and don’t feel so alone in the world.
4. I’m at a good place in my life. I still have down days, but overall I am content.
5. I have friends now!
6. I have many activities outside of the home now – many with kids, but also many just for me.
I realized therapy has become ineffective, for several reasons:
1. I care about my therapist as a person. I wanted her to feel successful, and would hide some of my problems so our session seemed like I was all better.
2. I care what my therapist thinks of me, and so would hide embarrassing details from her.
3. I didn’t want to freak her out, and so would not discuss some of the more disgusting memories in my life.
4. I don’t want to believe I still have PTSD, or depression, or any type of mental illness, and so I portray myself as “better”.
5. I bring her resources to use with her other patients, like useful websites and books, to show her I’m not like the other poor souls she counsels. I always have to be “not as bad as them”.
6. I started sharing only the positive parts of my life, and each session was more like old friends chatting. No work going on.
7. I make sure I am reading something interesting in the waiting room, so we can start the session with easy small talk and she can see I am doing well because I am reading such great books. (I really am demented, I see this as I write this)
8. I wanted her praise. I shared things for her to say “good job” to me.
So what do I do about these things?
Obviously I should discuss them with her, but I don’t see that happening, or going well. I should schedule another session, but I get this horrible feeling when I even think of it. She took me to a scary, scary memory last time, and actually said, “Oh my word, I knew your dad was a pedophile, a predator, but I didn’t know we were dealing with a psychopath too, oh, no, oh . . .” as she scribbled furiously in her notes. Turns out in nearly 10 years of therapy with her, we had never gotten to his animal abuse, and how he used my love for my pets to control and hurt me.
I actually can’t remember the few years of my life surrounding my suicide attempt, when my depression was so bad, and I was on so many meds. I have no idea what we discussed then. But I know I went to therapy several hours a week, sometimes 2 hour sessions, as we dove into the sexual abuse. She was the first person to know any details, what it was really like for me as a child. And here she thought she had the total picture, a father using me for sexual pleasure, keeping me from my mom, my mom adding her own narcissistic goals for me, never unconditional love. We also discussed my physical health and disability, which I rarely talk about on this blog, and it seemed like enough. So I think it was just too much for her to handle another level of trauma to me, this little girl that she now loves.
And so, I am avoiding her. (I have many avoidance behaviors, so not surprising here) To prevent causing her more pain and grief. To prevent having to relive even more traumatic memories. It is so much worse to tell to someone, while they look at you, then to write about it to my computer screen. My blog doesn’t cringe in disgust, doesn’t feel pity for me, so I can type and type and get it all out. I can’t see my readers faces or hear their gasp of shock.
I will go back to therapy eventually. I am sure of it. But I’m not ready yet.
- When Therapy Isn’t Working (sdtherapy.wordpress.com)
- Patients and Therapist (Tough Love (cognitivetherapyonline.wordpress.com)
- Seven Mistakes Therapy Clients Make (psychologytoday.com)
- Don’t Like Something Your Therapist Did or Said? Is it Time to Quit? Absolutely Not and Here’s Why! (familycouplescounselchino.wordpress.com)