Before I even got there, to my additional session, there was added stress. I received an email from A at 8:30 in the morning saying she wasn’t feeling well and was likely going to have to cancel her afternoon sessions. Thankfully I didn’t get this email until 12:30 so I didn’t panic for too long. But it also suggested I come earlier.
My initial reaction to this was not motherfucking impressed. Have you never heard of a phone, A? I was now at 12:30, facing having to leave in 15 minutes because of the time change and not knowing what was going on. So I emailed her back with “I am leaving now, call me otherwise” basically feeling really shitty. Why offer me a session if you’re not feeling well?
So when I got there, I asked how she was feeling (she actually looked legitimately sick, super flu-esque and for a hot minute I wondered if I should just tell her to go home). I asked her if in the future she could call me the day of, if she has an emergency. I addressed it right away because the idea of showing up and her not being there on that day, the day I had that letter to read, that would have really hurt me and our relationship. She said she understood, and apologised for her lack of forethought.
I gave her the letter and freaked out. I told her it was a shitty day for her to not be well, because naturally she wouldn’t be as attuned (she looked really sick guys). I told her I felt like I needed to take care of her and NOT share what was in that letter and she told me that I absolutely should bring up what I came to talk about. So I told her I needed her to read the note and absolutely WOULD NOT read it, and didn’t have time to debate her on it (it was 50 minutes today).
She read it, and was like “so you’re asking me if I would be willing to come with you.” And I wasn’t looking at her, and I nodded and was like “but honestly I’m not attached to the idea at all, really.” And she said “so tell me what that would do for you, having someone there.” And I just looked down and away and whispered “I am so ashamed. Just forget I asked.” And I couldn’t talk and she said “PD, remember you’re safe here. Can you look at me? Do I look angry or upset or disgusted in any way?” And I said no. And she said “good, because I’m not. I have never been asked this before and there is a lot to consider. And I’m glad you realize that you can’t assume the results of this conversation unilaterally. I am glad you brought this up. And impressed you brought this up. We are getting practice having a compromised discussion around something that would affect us both. So I am going to ask you again what having someone there would be like for you, what it would help with, so I can figure out that need and find a way to meet it.”
I told her it was about comfort and stability, someone to help me through it, make sure I could safely leave. And she really carefully considered it, and then said to me “my biggest concern here is operating with another practitioner, in another practitioners space. That would be very new to me and I’m not sure that it is best for me to do that for the first time at such an important moment for you. The circumstances wouldn’t allow for the kind of work we do here – the very attached, very attuned, it’s just me and you in the universe type work. And this is what concerns me. We really need you to be properly supported. That being said, I think we can come up with some really creative ways to meet your need together without me physically being there at that moment. And I would like to work together to find something that works. I can meet you there or we can come back here, I can see you before and after or just one of those. We can figure out something that makes you feel supported and safe. How does that make you feel? What do you think about that?”
When she asked that I couldn’t find much. I was so activated and overwhelmed as is. I did know I wasn’t upset, so I told her that. I told her that what she was saying made sense and that I wasn’t particularly attached to having her there and that I wasn’t sure about logistics. I mean, I can’t even talk to her in the elevator. The office is the only place I’ve ever felt comfortable speaking with her. So I do think it’s the right call, and I’m glad she’s willing to find a plan with me.
The plan right now is to have Lu with me before and during, and she will walk me to A right after, so there is no point where I am alone. A said she would make sure she is available immediately and for a longer appointment, so I can get her assistance if I’m dysregulated or out of it. And she said “Dr R, Lu, and me – three women you trust. This sounds like the beginning of a plan, and we will figure out, together, step by step, what you need and what safe looks and feels like.”
We discussed the relative urgency of the situation, and that she is worried I am going to end up completely avoidant or develop a phobia of pap smears, which neither of us want. Which means that it is so important for us to keep dialled in to what’s going on, and as she said yesterday, “PD, I know that you are not going to like this or want this but I am going to be pushing a little here. I am going to do my best to keep this dialogue going and open, and I’m going to ask you to try to work with me on it. I know that this is hard and I know you don’t want to have these conversations, but part of my job is keeping you safe and right now I think the best way to do that is to be asking about this and planning and following up.” And I nodded. I know she’s right. I want to take care of my body I just find it really hard right now.
I am glad I told her.
And I did tell her everything about the dream and my parents and sex and sexuality and how hard sex has always been for me (shame shame shame).
I also emailed my parents threatening to never speak to them again if they couldn’t parent up and tell me what I deserve to know. That they spout all of this stuff about loving me, but they’re doing the opposite right now and making it worse. They have emailed me back, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet. There’s grief that I had to threaten to leave them and stop communicating if they didn’t.
So, I am overall okay with how she reacted. Considering how sick she was I’m really okay with it. I also don’t think she was fully even against coming, she tailored her response to my needs. She might have played it differently if I had answered differently, and I like that she asked for clarification before making a choice.
I did tell her that I hate discussing this stuff. That I feel so wrong and bad and dirty. And she said “I know. I can see it. It radiates through you. But it clearly has such a grip that we need to address it. I know it hurts. But I think we really have to dig in to this one.” Which I know means we aren’t done talking about it, by a long shot. I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that my body feels calmer and I’m more able to focus at work. I slept better last night. All of these, despite my intense desire to avoid her and talking about this, are good signs I’m on the right path.
I was her last session. She cancelled everyone after me. And considering how legitimately sick she was that made me feel special, like she cared, despite the rough handling of it. And I told her that and she said that I have never abused her extra session policy, that my visits have always been legitimate, and she didn’t want me to miss seeing her. There was no way I would have hung on to all that until Thursday.
So I am still unsettled, still anxious, still don’t want to address any of this, but better. I need her to be pushy about this, and I asked her to be, but I also know I am not going to enjoy this series of work on sex and assault and trauma and my dream and sexuality. These are things I don’t talk about, that were not brought up at home. She even asked why I had kept the dream and conversations with my Mom about it from her, and I told her it was because it was never okay.
My homework is to come up with a list of things I need to get through the pap smear. Lu has been super helpful, calling it The ‘great pap adventure!’ We have been joking about wearing tiaras and feather boas and toasting with champagne after and somehow that makes it really easy to think about.
I’m glad I told her, but my next few sessions are going to be really rough.