Before I started blogging, A and I had our first major rupture. I have alluded to it on this blog but never really written about it.
I started seeing A in late April/early May. I had been seeing her 2x a week at this point for 3 hours total each week, as our sessions are 90 minutes long.
She informed me when I started with her that she was going on vacation for 3 weeks in July. She would be back for 3 days, and then gone again for another week. At the time I was like “ya cool sounds good” all pretending to be chill. But after attaching myself to a new therapist, showing up, doing the work, and after quite a few highly emotional sessions where I would frequently disassociate, I was about to miss 9 therapy hours in a row.
Last time before this when my counsellor had gone on vacation, she STAYED and didn’t come back. So needless to say, I was anxious. The conversation we had about it was me saying “what if I freak out when you’re gone?” And she said “well, that could happen.” But that was literally the entire conversation. And that was frustrating and it was still too new for me to say anything in the moment.
All of a sudden, she was gone, and I thought I would be okay but I passed a triggering anniversary and had to miss work and I realized that she had not left me with a plan.
This excerpt from my journal gives you the best indication of how I was feeling right then: “Fuck A for leaving. I’m just going to ignore rational and be super fucking pissed right now with her.” So I emailed her. For the first time in my life I emailed something angry at a therapist. Since its a relatively private thing, I have redacted a lot and only put some of it below – but you’ll get the idea.
I find myself wondering if this is okay but also really not caring. I feel like concrete clarification about whether or not emailing you while you were on vacation would have been okay. Remember that two sentence conversation we had about you leaving? It has been incredibly unhelpful.
I am at a real loss of what to do. And to be honest (whether or not its entirely fair and I assume some of it is irrational but some of it IS legitimate), that has made me quite angry with you.
(I replaced the word frustrated with angry at the last moment. She ended up being proud of me for using the word angry – therapists, am I right? They are the only ones who are like yea! you found angry!)
Let’s be clear that I don’t expect to have access to you in any way. Let’s be super clear on that. But having a plan in place, or a crisis number, or another therapist to talk to would be pretty damn helpful right about now. And instead, I’m just left on my own, no plan, no answers. I’m really upset that it wasn’t something we addressed.
She emailed me back, told me she was glad I reached out. She said the two women she normally referred clients to had moved out of town and that it was an oversight of hers. That she had made a mistake. She offered a phone session while she was away and gave me the number to the crisis line. I emailed her back that I felt guilty. She said, “PD, All is well.” and scheduled that phone conversation with me.
I was really happy that she recognized that I needed her and took that time out of her vacation to be there. I remember parts of that conversation but mostly the feeling. Of being loved and valued. The most important verbal part went something like this:
A: What did it feel like to get mad at me. You were mad at me.
Me: Scary. Terrifying. And yes, I was mad at you. Partly for a good reason and partly because I felt really let down, and afraid you weren’t coming home.
A: You had every right to be mad at me. And I want to thank you for telling me. Because I can’t see when I’ve missed something, unless somebody has pointed it out. I am human. I am going to miss things.
Me: So you aren’t mad at me?
A: No, in fact, I think this is really important that we are having this conversation right now. Important relationships are going to have moments like this.
Me: I know you deserve the time off, and I wasn’t trying to take away from that. You come to every session with your whole being – and that must be exhausting. I just didn’t know what to do.
She reiterated how important I was to her, how important our relationship was to her, and how much she appreciated me reaching out.
The next day I wrote this:
I feel so safe this morning and secure. Like I’ve been held and cocooned with love and understanding – although nobody has touched me. I don’t want it to go away. To be angry, to have my feelings validated and heard. To have a conversation about them. To acknowledge the importance of this relationship to me and my healing and have it echoed in return. I feel safe. I’m refusing to feel beyond that right now & the greater implications. While she’s gone I’m just going to bask in the feeling I am held and secure and can go out in the world and last with someone there to catch me if I fall. Connection doesn’t end because of separation…. But she can come back now.
And that is the story of our first rupture. I went on to learn a lot in her absence, which I’ll share in my next post cause this one is getting a little long — but most importantly I think I learned I can trust her to take ownership of her part in this relationship, and that is something I’ve relied on immensely since her return.