I love A.
My inner critical voice may not, but even it was taken back by her acceptance.
I have to get to work, so this is short, but A basically affirmed that of course that critical voice is feeling threatened and that she honours it for all the work that it has done. That she knows when it comes up and takes over, but that my defiance or resistance is just as welcome with her as anything else I bring.
She acknowledged that our relationship moved to a new level last week as our connection changed, and I engaged in trusting her, and therefore ignored that voice for the first time ever.
So of course that voice isn’t going to back down from what it considers to be a threat! It has been working overtime for so long. She told me that no matter what – no matter how much I resist her or argue or how much this voice tries to get in between us that I am not and will never be a disappointment to her and that felt REALLY important to hear. She told me that it was okay and that if that voice comes up we need to acknowledge it and welcome it and the more that I can vocalize it and call out the behaviour – “hey voice, I acknowledge you and I care about you, I know you are trying to protect me right now, and that’s okay” – the more she can work with it, and with me, to establish that trust.
It’s painful, the idea of vocalizing it, and she told me it was going to be and that’s okay, but that the more I can vocalize it’s behaviour – putting me down or her down as a method of protection – the less scared it becomes as over time we prove her trustworthy.
She affirmed she isn’t going anywhere. I think she realized that I needed to feel that connection. She also told me that even though it may feel like I am making little progress, from her end of things I am making huge gains. I work and grapple with things outside of session and bring them back to her. And as much as it is painful for me I always come back with an insight to work from, and how in therapy terms I am actually moving relatively quickly. She was quick to say that if that ever changed that would be okay, but that she wanted to share her observation in case I felt like I have been stuck. Which I thought was nice.
I told her I was actually proud of myself. That yes, there was a lag, in me feeling disconnected and having the critical voice pop up, and me dealing with it, but that that lag was actually really quite short. It hasn’t even been a week since I let out all that emotion in session with her. And it was Friday to Tuesday in this most recent emotional rupture. So short. How normally that would be a six week thing of me quitting and then rescheduling and of her having to have a talk about respecting her time and then that being another rupture and me the whole time not saying what I need to say.
And instead it was four days.
We talked about how often I want to quit and she was like “yes, but you haven’t, you talk about wanting to a lot but you’ve never emailed me that you are or threatened to in any other medium.”
I told her that what helps (as much as I hate them in the moment) is her out of session boundaries. That when I am angry or externalizing or deciding THATS IT I QUIT, that I have to pause. I can’t text her that, because that’s not allowed. And I could phone her but all that will happen is a discussion will take place and a new session set up. And I could email it to her, but then the next session would start with a conversation about whether or not email is the appropriate medium for the delivery of that angry message. And once I stop and realize that, I usually just ask to talk to her or have more time. I figure I will tell her I’m quitting in person but instead have usually made insights by then.
“Exactly. Having those boundaries with somebody who has the coping mechanisms, like you, forces you to deal with the internal side of things and then have these conversations about our relationship from within the relationship. Often when you can see the other person the emotion is tempered and the words aren’t as strong, and then we can address it as a unit, instead of you addressing it alone and externalizing that emotion. You can always bring anything up with me, but it is how you do it that matters. Not to say that I would quit or be gone if you did text or email or phone me angrily, I of course would still be here, but it would be a discussion.”
I am feeling more connected, and capable of going on Thursday, which is good. And A knows what is going on if I clam up or can’t talk which is also good.
I love A, and for once I am not afraid of the fact that I have genuine love for my therapist. A love and appreciation for our relationship and connection, for the compassion and care she brings me. Not the kind of love that is inappropriate in any way, and I really credit A for normalizing that by using the L word first. She told me a long time ago that she couldn’t work with anybody she couldn’t find the ability to love and care about – and it has impacted our relationship.
To have love for someone and to care for someone in the therapeutic alliance is much different than the love of a family member or significant other, or even of a friend. It is hard to explain. But I have no doubt that she cares about me and that’s something that is really important to have right now as I battle that critical voice.