A’s office is on the 15th floor of an office building downtown. That elevator ride is by far the most anxiety inducing part of therapy.
The floor she is on is under construction so you come off that elevator into chaos and I honestly draw a nice parallel between that and me, how I’m feeling.
And then, once you’re in her office, it’s calm again. Which to me represents the space she holds for me. I never want to go, but I’m always there and I’m usually glad to have gone.
Today I am a mixed bag of feelings. We talked about my email and she was like “it strikes me that we need a crisis plan. Because I cannot be there in those moments and the urgency in your email, it scares me to think you were feeling so alone. I wanted to help and couldn’t. That brings pain to both of us and we need something else in those moments. I should have addressed this last week, and I didn’t. We need to limit emails to you telling me you need an extra session – and then I will do my absolute best to fit you in immediately.”
This just brought so much to the surface. My mind was racing with “I’m too much for her, I’m too needy, the rules are changing, I shouldn’t have emailed her, I’m wrong, I am bad I did something wrong and I scared her”
A saw me retreat. She asked what was going on for me and after a good 5 minutes of silence I told her that all I heard when she said we need a crisis plan for immediate help was that I had broken a rule and that I had hurt her and done something bad and for the first time I didn’t want to talk to her. It didn’t feel safe.
I didn’t know how she would react. In typical A fashion she said something along the lines of:
“You don’t have to talk right now but I am going to ask you to not only listen but try to hear me. This is not about me being mad at you or you being wrong for reaching out. You did exactly what I asked you to do.
This is about me making a mistake and not knowing my own limits. When I couldn’t help you in that moment I realized that we needed someone who could.
And it feels like a change in boundaries because it is but it isn’t about punishing you or taking something away. It’s about me needing this to be sustainable. My job is to care for you in the best way I can. Because I want to bring all of me to these sessions. Because I want to be on this journey with you.
I just need to know that when I can’t respond immediately that we have a plan, and then you can email me and tell me you need to connect.”
She then asked me to look at her if I could and I did, and she reiterated, “PD, I want to be on this journey with you.”
I told her I believed she believes in those words but I’ve heard them before and all that led to was me being dropped by a counsellor who told me I was “too much” and “too needy.”
I haven’t talked about the worst counsellor ever (WCE) before so I think A was surprised to learn about WCE. I still don’t really talk about it. She asked if I could try and I shook my head no. She told me it would help her understand what I was feeling. After a few minutes of silence she said “it seems like whatever it was, it hurt.”
We dropped it. One thing I love about her is if I say no, she will push once or twice but drop it and respect my no. Which for me is SO crucial.
She then went on to say how proud she was of me for staying with her and sharing feelings around a boundary shifting and I was like “I could yell at you for an hour and you’d still find a way to be proud of me”
I don’t really know how I feel. I’m frustrated with her and angry with her but also believe that she wants to be in this with me.
I also understand her explanation as to why, in a moment of crisis, she needs me to call the crisis line or one of the other safe people we decided on and not her – she wants and needs to know I’m safe immediately when I need it, and that she will be there as soon after when she can.
But I still can’t help but feel I did something wrong – even though she’s telling me explicitly that I didn’t, and that she is to blame for not thinking this through earlier. My best friend Lu – who knows me better than I know myself – thinks this was handled well. She said “honestly, I’m glad this happened so that you could hear all this”.
A had also said “I’m here to challenge your assumption that you are unlovable. We are in a relationship, and it’s my job in this relationship to keep you safe. And when the boundaries aren’t keeping you safe, then they need to shift, I need to take ownership for changing them. That is all this is, you did nothing wrong.”
And I said I still didn’t believe her – that it was my whole life on repeat – that I tried to follow the rules and rules change and I hurt her and did something wrong.
And she said “I need to challenge the assumption that you hurt me. I was worried you were not safe. I’m speaking to you, the person I love and care for, when I say you did nothing wrong and that it is okay to not trust this.”
She takes my awful mess and deals with it.
It’s frustrating cause I told her the rules needed to be solid and then two days later, they weren’t. But I would argue that this is a good thing. Because it’s a disruption we moved through together, and she is right, things change and she is responsible for keeping me safe. I’m still afraid that one day she is going to up and leave and tell me I’m too much but for now, I guess I’ll just see her Wednesday.
And keep trying to trust this.
For the first time in my therapy history, I have a crisis plan. And I have so many mixed feelings about that.