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Going Back to Go Forward (4)

by JustEliza on 10 December 2010



"Perhaps therapy isn't right for you."

I was stunned. Emptiness was bubbling over the edges of my bowl. My therapist stared at me, unsmiling. I didn't know. I don't know. I wouldn't just make something up. I don't know how it felt. I don't remember knowing.

It started when I told her she asked the wrong question. She should have asked "Who told you your feelings mattered?"  She disagreed with me. She asked the right question. My question wasn't right. I don't remember what she said after that. Which probably means I already split, five minutes into therapy and 30 seconds into sharing how I felt.

So we moved on to my past. How did I feel when that happened?

I don't know. I tried to remember. But I couldn't feel anything. Couldn't remember.

"Perhaps therapy isn't right for you."

Did she say that to provoke me? We've only just started. She's already acknowledged how far back the splitting goes. Surely she isn't giving up now? Is she giving up now? I knew it would be hard. It should be hard. But I didn't expect her to say this. I went silent, searching.

She asked it again, a different way. I wondered how she could judge based on one difficult session. Did I think it was possible to engage in therapy?  Yes. Couldn't look her in the eye.

"Why?"

I glared at her, slicing away the feeling. "Because I have." She assumed I meant with another therapist, before her. In truth, I meant last week. Maybe she didn't know, didn't realise? I was agitated, perpetually crying.

The rest blurs between fumbling examples of integration, childhood and triggers, as the anger continued to bubble. I couldn't concentrate. Too busy trying not to shut her out completely.

I can't write about how I felt. Not even inadequately. That's why I'm in therapy. I never had a mother or a father to explain what these feelings meant. What their names were. What to do with them. That they mattered. That I could trust them. That I could manage them. How to listen.

"Are you angry?"  She knew I was angry. I knew I was angry. Angry is a very basic and loud feeling. I can name (and avoid) anger very well. "It's okay to tell me you are angry with me. I'm a therapist, we know how to cope with that."

I was angry. But it was more than anger making my body shake, my eyes stream, and my lungs spasm. It should be so easy to say it. I was angry. The words had been ringing in my head during the whole session. I am angry.

"Are you angry with me?"

But, it wasn't the anger making me so upset. It was me. I was fighting against me to say that simple word, like I was being tortured for a singularly valuable piece of information. Tortured by decades of precise and overwhelming control and invalidation, more like. I was afraid and…

"Yes." (Was that me saying that?) I was angry.

In therapy, this is called a crisis point. The goal is to be challenged into reaching a cathartic moment without going too far, because, if you go too far, you can open up all sorts of vulnerability and pain. This in itself can be traumatic. The client may not have the ability to cope, muchless learn from the experience. My therapist took a gamble, provoking me. I'm still not entirely positive she did it on purpose.

I reached crisis point. Every part of me was screaming. Literally? Does it even matter whether it was literal or metaphorical? My head was a mess. My body had been attacked. I was gasping for air, shaking uncontrollably, mindful that I may have finally answered her question the way she intended, but I had betrayed myself in the process. And who mattered more here?

I was still angry. Maybe even more angry. But when I finally calmed down, I was a bit less afraid. I was angry at myself.

She still asked whether I wanted to continue with therapy.  I still felt insulted she asked. But maybe this was protocol. In any regard, I was already split again, and nothing she said stirred anything in me, though I give her credit for trying to offer me some positive comments and stability.

How do I feel now?

I really don't know. But I want to.

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