It’s been about 5 weeks since I last saw J. I have been browsing the internet for a new t, not necessarily to see one, but just to see what is out there. But during this research I actually found someone that I think could work. She is in my insurance, so I hardly have to pay anything, and she isn’t too far away. I emailed her, and explained my whole situation, and we met for the first time today. She is an art therapist, so I will call her art t.
I was a little anxious about meeting her, but she is very nice. Very young. A bit overweight, not fashionably dressed at all, no makeup, office a little shabby, but somewhat neat, not as neat as John’s office, and very beige. I felt immediately comfortable with her. She said she would take notes at the first meeting, but not after that. She wanted to know about me, so I told her my basics, kids, husband, dog, job, education, etc.
I talked about J a lot. She asked me what kind of therapy he did and I said he claimed to do psychodynamic, but that he is “solution focused” and I told her that he works a lot with substance abusers and not so much with people with amorphous problems like me. I brought up some of the problems he and I had, but I stressed that he is very nice and that he helped me a lot. I told her that I was nervous about the art and she said I didn’t have to do art. I said that J always said that I could talk about whatever I wanted and then after 9 months when I finally talked about what he thought was the right thing he said it was the first normal therapy session that we had. She asked me how I felt and I said I felt betrayed, and now I don’t necessarily believe her when she says I don’t have to do art, and I don’t have to talk about anything I don’t want to talk about. She said it’s not right to push people to talk about or do things they don’t want to do. I agree to a point, I think after a while and after getting to know one’s t that pushing can help, but I didn’t tell her that.
We talked some about my mother because she wanted to know an example of an insight that I had during my therapy. I mostly talked about J and my mother. She said that she has an eclectic manner of therapy, but uses Internal Family Systems which she explained to me. Not sure I’m too crazy about the “child” parts, but I am willing to try things.
She asked if I felt like I was grieving about my insights about my mother and I said that no, I actually felt relief. That my mother had high expectations and that I put myself in the position of being a very good girl as a child is the reason I now am a perfectionist and never feel good enough, and it is kind of a relief to know there is a reason behind my thoughts and feelings. Sure I would like to have an idealized mother, but I know that is not possible, a mother is always going to have shortcomings, she can’t be perfect in every way.
I felt on the verge of tears the whole time. I guess she doesn’t intimidate me like J does. I told her that I never cried with him (I did cry a little bit once), that I had to listen to sad music or watch sad videos before my sessions to get myself to be emotional. She said I must have had been very walled off from him. I told her that I frequently felt that his CBT techniques made me feel invalidated and she asked for examples and she said that she could understand why I would feel that way. I also said that I asked him a lot about therapy techniques and what he was doing and how many of his clients asked what I asked, and he said not many. I told her that he was trying to get me to be the kind of client he wanted me to be and I was trying to get him to be the kind of therapist I wanted him to be.
I said that I made collages and slide shows and I would show J and he wouldn’t really understand them, but he liked them in his own way and always paid a lot of attention to them. She said she would love to see collages and slide shows. She said I didn’t have to do art, or I could if I wanted to. I said that I read a lot about psychology and she asked me if I knew about attachment theory and we talked about that a bit. She said it is not necessary to figure out what kind of attachment style one has, but it is good to work with attachment issues. She mentioned the “therapeutic relationship”, and I think at that time in order to prevent myself from crying I started singing the ABC song in my head and when I got to Z I started counting. I don’t know if she noticed I was zoning out on purpose.
She asked me how my anxiety is in general now, and I told her that I am not an anxious person, but J and my pdoc say I am. She mentioned that my foot was shaking the entire time and the room was filled with anxiety and she could feel anxiety and then I felt very bad and apologized and she said I don’t need to apologize. I said that I didn’t want to make her feel bad. She talked about attunement and that she has to check in with her feelings during a session, as well as mine.
I couldn’t see the clock unless I turned my head a lot to the left and I asked her how long the sessions are. She said normally 45 – 50 minutes but she usually uses the whole hour because she likes to do therapy and doesn’t want to stop. I told her about family t and how he would go over time and that I like boundaries. She said she would never go over 1 hour, that is her boundary, and she could move the clock or I could wear a watch (I don’t even have a watch, except a sports watch!) She said she is glad I am telling her about my boundaries because she wants me to feel safe.
We talked about mindfulness and I told her that I cannot do anything that involves paying attention to my breathing. She asked about other methods of mindfulness which she thinks is very helpful and I told her about how when I fly I pay attention to everything that is going on in the moment with all of my senses, and that I like Jon Kabat Zinn when he does things like the raisin mindfulness exercise. I also told her about my flying therapist who made a cd with calming exercises and there is the little leaf exercise where you pretend to blow an imaginary leaf in your cupped hands. She told me about an exercise where you pretend to smell a flower and then blow a leaf or something, which are really breathing exercises without mentioning breathing. I told her that I cannot do mindfulness meditation that focuses on the “the breath”, and notice the thoughts in my head but then take my attention back to the “the breath”. I need to distract myself from the breath, or else I can’t breathe. She said she was glad that I told her about this.
Wow, we talked about a lot of things. I told her that I was really interested in the Myers Briggs personality type and she asked what I am, but then she quickly said, “Wait, I’ll tell you.” I-N-F hmmmm, and I said, “I am an executive assistant” and she said “J!” Yep, that is me, INFJ, she knew it. I said that I don’t give a lot of credibility to the MBTI because I don’t believe everyone in the world fits into 16 categories, but learning about my mother’s type gave me so much understanding about her, and helped me communicate better with her. The same with J, that he was an S and I was an N and knowing that helped me to communicate with him better.
She asked if J and I had a termination session and I was honest and told her that we are really just taking a break, but I am not certain if I will go back to him, and she seemed fine with that. She said I can decide later if I want to go back to him, or if I want a termination session with him, or just nothing.
She asked me about body image stuff and I was able to talk a lot about my diet and exercise and my compulsions, but I felt a bit uncomfortable because she is a little overweight, and I am not, so how could I say that I feel fat when I am obviously not fat, I just feel that way? Hard to explain. I gave her the history about gaining weight when I took Zoloft and then losing weight and starting to run, and now running races, etc. I told her that I always feel people are looking at me when I am in my running clothes and thinking I am fat and flabby and jiggly, but then I think that is so narcissistic because I am obviously not the center of the universe and no one is looking at me and no one cares, so I should just not worry about it. How I look at other women to see if they jiggle, or if they have pudgy areas, not to judge them, but to see that I am normal.
At the end she asked if I would like to work with her and I said I did and then I started to cry and I said that I am getting emotional and she asked me what I was feeling. I said that I think I am feeling relief that this could actually work. I asked if I could use one of her tissues. I can’t believe that I am so emotional with every other therapist I’ve seen, even just one time, and never with J. I don’t even want to think that I wasted 4 years and a lot of money staying with him when he wasn’t right for me. But I know he did help me, and art t said that just having the insights that he helped me have are helpful even if I didn’t actually change my feelings about myself. She explained about how and why I wouldn’t have changed even though logically I know things, that the parts of me that are still “protectors” and child parts (I still don’t really think I have child parts) need to be talked about and worked through in order to finally become whole and to believe what I know logically.
I’m still not sure that she really is being truthful when she says I don’t need to do the art, and in a way I want to do art, but I’m terrible at it and I don’t want it to be something else I can fail at. But she is an art therapist, so if I don’t do art she might not want to work with me, even though she said it is perfectly fine that I don’t do art. I have a problem with trust and she said she can totally understand that.
I guess we have a lot to talk about, she doesn’t know everything, and it took me a long time to tell J everything, but maybe she doesn’t need to know everything, and maybe it won’t take me as long this time. I sure don’t need to get into how I was suicidal and that I self injured, even though on her profile she said that she works with people who self injure.
I told her that I also feel guilty that I only have to pay her about $25, because she is participating in my insurance, but it was time to leave so I said we have to talk about that another time.
This whole thing is very weird to me, but I felt so understood, and emotional, and maybe that is good. She is very young and that worries me, and the art worries me, but I want to give this a try and see where it goes. At first I felt guilty about seeing someone else besides J, but then I thought, does he really even care? I doubt it.
On my way to art t’s office I passed J’s other office, which according to google maps is 1.2 miles from where I work and his car was parked in the driveway. I have been by there before and never saw his car, and I thought maybe he was in it and pulling out of the driveway, but then I saw it was just parked. How ironic.