I met with my therapist this week after taking several months off. In that time off, I have been working steadily on creating and enforcing healthy boundaries in all of my relationships, and on building in trust in my marriage, and more importantly, in myself. Here’s what happened when the newly enlightened me went back to therapy.
In the past, I had been sabotaging my own therapy, and I would have a list of “items to make my therapist proud” and would read from it to get all the praise I could. I even brought her drawings I had made, poems I had written – all to get the praise. I was so hungry for a mother-figure to give me value, and praise my efforts that I had put that onto my therapist. So this time, I did not bring my list, and instead planned to tell her about this issue and get real with her. Because the flip side of showing her so many positives, was that I was not revealing some of the dark thoughts and behaviors that she could possibly help me through. I didn’t want her to know I was still suffering so much or have her think less of me.
So my walls were up a bit at the beginning of the therapy hour. I had trouble looking her in the eye, and I barely accepted her typical greeting hug. I was so uncomfortable, but completely determined to have this discussion. I trusted her to handle it, and I trusted me to get through it. (Trust!)
Her: How are you?
Me: OK, mostly good. (squirm, shift, look away)
Her: (Scrunching her eyes as she watches my atypical uncomfortable behavior) I saw your dance troupe in the paper, did you perform this year?
Me: Yes, it was so much fun! (I showed her some photos on my phone and then felt a little sick, like I was showing off to her already, but she started it, and I’ll tell her soon, let’s let her guide this for a change)
Her: That’s great, so great. (Looks at me sideways) Did something go wrong with dancing? (You look edgy, I feel her thinking this)
Me: Umm, no dancing was great, well last week was, but the week before wasn’t, but that’s a whole big story, and I need to talk about so many things today, and mostly things are good and I’m still focused on my progress and so happy where I am, but some things are still not so good, but Hubby helps me now, so that is good too, but not perfect, we still fight and get nasty to each other, especially in certain situations, with stress, well more because of my middle boy who is so difficult, and sensitive, and every parent would struggle with him, and Hubby thinks I don’t trust him yet to watch the kids, and I don’t I guess, hard to let go, we weren’t clear about who was doing what, and he needs to be firm with that boy, and I didn’t want to have to watch kids and I couldn’t get in character with them next to me whining, and (I rambled for several minutes here, in a completely disorganized way, circling my thoughts like a plane preparing to land in a busy airport, but could not bring up the part about the sleeping pills.)
Her: (She said nothing at first when I finally stopped. Just looked at me, and smiled calmly.) Do you want to tell me what is bothering you now?
Me: (Relief – my window) Yes. I explained how I have been blogging, and getting closer to Hubby, and how it all made me realize that I was thinking of her in a supportive mother role, and not sharing the bad things, and that I thought that probably was not the most effective use of therapy to focus on the positives, not the whole time. Err, not that we only discuss the positives, I mean, I guess I’ve been hiding some things that seemed too bad to share. I didn’t want you to think of me like that, or like I was better or something. So I guess I need your help to dig deeper and get real and keep me on track. (then I held my breath and waited for her reaction. Did I just insult my therapist? Am I a terrible client?)
Her: (biggest, sweetest smile) Ohhh (my name). I understand, and what you said is completely natural for you to long for someone to give you support and praise to replace what you never had growing up. We do need to acknowledge the positives, and we should try to start each session with about 5 minutes there and leave the rest of the time to work. I’m so glad you told me and we’ll work together to make this happen for you. (pause-I look at my feet while she writes some notes, nothing to say now, I did what I wanted and wanted her to be in charge today) So what happened last week after dancing?
Me: I explained the night that went wrong, that I wanted to feel the joy, but couldn’t because I was still a Mom on duty. And that I could not recover from that disappointment, and started thinking terrible things, like I wish I had no kids, and then felt so guilty for those thoughts that I hated myself. I went to the deep dark place of utter self-hate, and wanted to remove that pain with my magic combination of whiskey and sleeping pills. (I had never told her of this dangerous habit of mine before, but it was somehow easy since I had already told Hubby and this blog. She had no visible reaction, other than nodding her head in understanding, no cringing or judgment) I told her how Hubby helped me through that night, without pills. So even though it was terrible, it was a positive for our marriage, and another huge step of me trusting him. But I think you should know, because I don’t want to do this any more.
The rest gets too emotional for me to remember the actual words, but she took me to the edge of the darkness, right to where I flip from “tonight will be fun” to “tonight is a disaster and I hate myself”. She wants to prevent me from going into the darkness at all. She wants to help me be proactive to recognize the signs, and stop that cycle of self loathing, squash the inner critic, and prevent the pain that makes me seek pills.
Ha, ya right I’m thinking. But I’ll try. I think I just watered another neglected yard, and so I just need some time to see what blossoms here.