I haven’t been this anxious going to see A in a long, long time. It felt first-month esque. I sat down and right away she said “it feels like you’re really distant from me right now.” And I was like “wow, that was fast”. She nailed it right away. I told her that, too.
She patiently waited, and I was pretty silent. And then she asked what was behind my tears (I was crying, I rarely cry in front of her), and she guessed at shame and anxiety and then she said “but I can’t know unless you help me.” And in true A fashion she busted out some education about attachment (one of two ways I open up, the other is self disclosure). She talked about my difficult weekend, about how from an attachment standpoint how I’m feeling made perfect sense. That it’s a combination of “I want to see you, but get away from me because I’m angry but wait, no, stay.” And I told her she got it right. And then I said “just so you know, you used education to get to me right there. It’s one of two secret weapons you have. But they’re not really a secret.” And she smiled. That’s how she’ll talk to me about my defenses.
And eventually I said everything that I had been thinking about (including the part where her hugs withholding felt like a punishment even though I knew that was out of care, but I did not talk about the Google incident). And I (through some sobs and not eloquently at all) got out almost everything that I needed to say. And she was everything I needed her to be. And I told her I needed to hear her tell me she wasn’t going anywhere and that I wanted reassurance and she said “definitely, what do you need to hear” and I said “that – that you aren’t planning on leaving me” and she said “I am not planning on leaving you. And that is so easy for me to tell you.” And I told her “no plans to move” and she said “nope, this rainy city is home.” And I asked her if it ever gets easier and she said “first, I want to reiterate a few things. One – that I enjoy our time together. This is healthy and helpful for me, too. Second – that I welcome attachment. I encourage it. It’s the goal, you attaching and working with me in that attachment. And third – no, not really. I’m at the point where I’m afraid my therapist is about to retire.”
I told her at one point “I get so jealous of your children, for having your attention. Because I get that you aren’t perfect but you are a hell of a more attuned mother than I ever got. And then my critical voice jumps in and is like ‘thats ridiculous, being jealous of toddlers'” and she interrupted me and said “no, that’s awesome, this emotion, this raw “fuck this shit” you brought here today, this is what I want. This is you letting me in.”
And then I told her “you don’t think I’m dirty or wrong or bad or needy or too much?” (It took a long time for me to get out the word dirty) and she chuckled till she realized I was serious and then she was like “look at me” (in her commanding mom voice) and I did and she was like “I want you to look at me and hear me when I say this. There is nothing wrong with you.” And she paused, I looked away again, and then back, and she went “PD. There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.” And I cried and we talked from there, and went over the fire and how angry I am that my parents weren’t able to listen to me or be there and how sad I am that I can’t get that now and she was like “it really makes it so that my care and empathy is so intolerable for you, doesn’t it. But that’s okay, small doses, as long as it takes.” And then we kind of wrapped up and I told her I felt so ashamed and she said “no, PD, this is awesome. You were here with me, we were connected, and you let me in and felt some really real things today.” And she was like “I want to leave you with this, and you may not be able to hear it yet, but all this pain, it turned into something beautiful for me. I get to witness others stories, like yours. And your pain is a gift too, and you’re already impacting so many people. So when you get tired, think of me, and think of your gift.”