Note: I will be writing still, but not with the same frequency. I was obsessing over what was happening in my life, and realized I wasn’t living outside of this blog. It was like eating, drinking, and being the problems with my family. However, some things I still want to share. Hence this post.
Last week A explained to me she is furthering her learning with a new certification (AEDP), and asked me if I would consider having her videotape our sessions for her supervision. She said that our work together is some of the best work she does, that our relationship is representative of her ideal relationship with clients and that she was hoping to use the tapes to further her growth. She explained who would see them, the confidentiality piece, and ended by telling me it was absolutely my choice and that she would be fine either way.
You’d think I’d just be calmly considering that very simple question, right? She framed it well, explained it, and told me to think about it and not answer there. She had already qualified nothing would change either way.
Well, it seems like she has tapped into this melting pot of attachment issues. And, as a result, I wasn’t able to sleep! So I penned her a letter, which is below, that explains my feelings around it, and we will discuss on Tuesday. But I’m wondering if any of you have been taped as a part of your therapists growth or learning, and your feelings around it.
And I’m also wondering if I am making a mountain out of a molehill here but it has tapped into some really big feelings for me!
I’ve been trying to sort out my thoughts around what you’ve asked with regards to videotaping our sessions – the question has really opened up this whole issue of saying yes or saying no to attachment figures, and my fear around doing either of those things. It’s tapped into my default of saying yes to please and then enduring through it as well… which I am trying to override by having this discussion.
So I really want to spend today talking about it with you. But that alone brings up a whole bunch of emotions – around discussing something that affects you, with you. I clearly have very little trust in my parents to stay impartial. The voice in my head is telling me you aren’t going to be able to talk to me about this without pushing an agenda of your own – even though I am pretty sure that isn’t true…. and I feel silly, like this isn’t a big ask and I should just shut up and do it and get through it – but with all the emotions and thoughts it’s bringing up, it is clearly something to talk about, or at least I believe so. I know the voice telling me I’m making a mountain out of a molehill is my mother’s.
I want to run down the laundry list of what I’ve been thinking – for both if I said yes, and if I said no, and then we can talk about them all.
I am afraid if I say yes that I’m going to fail you in some way – that our sessions won’t be what you need or want, or that I won’t “perform” as well as you need me to. I know this comes from being taught that I am only worth something to my parents if I’m perfect and performing like a circus monkey. I’m worried I won’t perform well, and that then I will no longer be that client that you value – the person you described when you told me why you asked me. I assume my value to you is tied to me not only saying yes, but doing things well afterwards.
Something else that has come up with me saying yes is my body shame, which was less expected but I have noticed I’ve found myself thinking about how I hate how I look on camera – how I rarely think about how large I feel and how much I weigh in your office – I just sit and move how is comfortable for me – whether that’s curled into a ball or us sitting together or me stretched out on the couch… but I keep thinking about a person or group of people watching a tape of us and just wondering why I am the shape I am and thinking about how unattractive I am, thinking things like “wow she’s messed up emotionally AND ugly – what a shitty combination of a person”.
I have also thought about what if I know one of the people who would see it? I’ve made my way through four or five therapists in this city – what if one of them is there? What if someone is there I am friends with? What if somebody I know sees all these parts of me I’ve worked hard to not let out? I don’t know that these people are as ethical or as boundaried as you are. My train of thought has even got to the point of what if my parents have planted someone in the room – which, I know sounds ridiculous but I am so clearly still afraid of them doing things like that, even now. Its one of the reasons I don’t trust new people.
And while logically I don’t believe you are conspiring with my mom, it doesn’t escape me that there would be something about me, an incredibly vulnerable something about me – that you would have, and that I have no control over once you have it, that could end up somehow in the hands of someone I don’t want to see it. And I think that boils down to trust, and with all the time I have spent thinking of this I think I’ve realized I don’t trust you with this. I don’t trust you to keep it private and not share. I don’t trust things to be the same once the camera is on. And while that upsets me, because I want to trust you, it just once again shows me how much I’ve lost.
I am also afraid that we will plan to record our sessions and I won’t speak up if we get to it and I change my mind, and then if I do that that will let you down. It taps into that “endure and get through and you will get a reward” and then it also brings up all my no fears.
It is no secret I grew up thriving off of approval and being given special tasks, and I don’t want you to think differently of me if I say no. It sounds dumb, and I realize that you likely don’t have a favorite – but I pride myself on being a good client that you like to work with and someone who you enjoy spending time with. It comes back to that winner mentality – how I feel like I have to win out over my brother – I have to win my parents love. I want to “win” over all your other clients, and I’m afraid saying no will change how you see our relationship, how much you care for me, and how things work here. I’m worried you won’t ask me again for something like this because I “made it such a big deal when it was nothing” this time.
I love our relationship, working with you has done so much for me. I feel like we have talked a lot about how unique it is, and how important it is to us both, and we have talked about similarities in our journeys. And when you said you did it for your counselor (note: in the context of telling me what it was like being taped, she asked if I wanted to know) – I thought maybe that means I should do it too, or if I don’t that it changes the quality of that relationship I have come to value so much.
At the end of the day, our container means so much to me. I’ve come to trust you in this space, even if I don’t trust you yet with something outside of it. I’ve explored parts of myself that have scared and shocked me and dealt with emotional pain stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced elsewhere. I see tidal waves coming now for things I maybe one day will talk about, and remember that I have an anchor in our relationship that isn’t going to let me get swept back out to sea. I’m starting to feel less lonely, and I notice myself internalizing things we do here and carrying them with me. Just months ago, I never would have been able to think about this all on my own, I would have said yes and not discussed all that this question has brought up for me. You’ve been there through all of it and you’ve never let me down. But it comes back to what [my husband] said when I asked him to come in here – that this space is sacred to me, and if he comes he breaks that container wall. I don’t want what we do in here to leave here, if a tape leaves then that bubble has been forever punctured. And it can’t be unpunctured.
So, I’m leaning towards no, for this reason, above all the others. I think I’ve weeded through the being afraid and not trusting to get to the heart of it which is that I don’t want the container to be cracked open. It means too much to me. It protects that sprout, that part of me growing.
But I also don’t want to dismiss this as a learning opportunity – for both of us – literally for you, but for me in trusting that an attachment figure can follow through, mean what they say, and not let me down. That shitty things don’t have to happen when a therapist turns on a video camera. When you first asked me my first thought was “I know what that really means, asking to tape me, and absolutely not.” And I don’t want to let that drive my decision making. The whole thing could be corrective in so many ways for me, done properly. So I see the opportunity there.
To cap off this very long letter: I want to spend time talking about this today, and I want to think about it again, and then come back with a solid choice. And I want to make that choice, so even though you may be feeling like it’s a good or not good idea, I really don’t want you to make the choice for me by taking it away as an option right now. That was a fear I got over today by reading this – I chose to trust that we can have a conversation about this and that you are someone I can trust to not minimize this or choose for me.
So let’s talk.