I have so much to process from today’s session, I don’t even know where to start. I feel so uncomfortable with the way J and I left things at the end. I’m hoping by writing this blog entry I’ll have the backbone of an email to send him.
We started by talking about how I felt about what we talked about last week, and I expressed my anxiety about thinking he would “turn me in” due to my SI behavior. He assured me that he did not do that, he will not do that. Based on my history and pattern of SI he doesn’t feel that I am in danger of hurting myself (well, other than the type of hurting that SI causes, the non-lethal kind in my case) and he has no reason to think that I will in the future. And in our state he says that it takes more than a person to say “I’m going to kill someone” or “I’m going to kill myself” – the therapist has to believe the person will do it. He did mention a couple of times that if I said I was suicidal, or if he believed I was suicidal, things would be different, and I didn’t really confirm or deny feeling any of that.
Then we talked about what is going on with the crisis hotline training and I said I’m concerned about our last training night which is going to be Thursday. It’s a double whammy – a pizza party and a cutting video! We talked about my concern about the video. I mentioned how the trainer stated that cutting is a behavior associated with adolescent girls, and now, more frequently, with adolescent boys as well. No mention of middle aged women. We talked about what I thought would be in the video, and how I would respond if I got a cutter on the hotline. I think I would be understanding and empathetic if I did. I mean I wouldn’t say, “You’re a cutter, so am I!” But I think I bring a knowledge of the subject to the caller, more so than someone who isn’t a cutter. But I believe that anyone can be empathetic, one doesn’t need to have the exact experience in order to understand someone’s pain or emotions.
We talked some more about why I’m doing the hotline because I told J the story about my mother not being supportive of my decision to work on the hotline. I talked a little about my reasons for working on the hotline, but I didn’t want to delve too much into it for fear of discovering that the only reason I’m doing this is to make myself feel good, instead of because I really want to help people.
We talked about whether I feel competent on the hotline, and I said “Definitely not yet,” but J asked if I thought I was capable and I said that I do. I’m just concerned I might get too emotionally involved with the callers, but that is something that remains to be seen and I’m not going to obsess about it.
Then this led to a discussion about how people think it’s weird that I want to work on the crisis hotline, my mother included. J asked what I tell people when they ask why I’m doing it, and I replied that I say I want to help people. But there are very few people that I tell, so it’s not too much of an issue. J said, “Well how many people live in our county?” I didn’t know. He said, “Let’s assume there are 500,000 people living here (I looked it up, there are actually 950,000 people). What percentage of them work on the hotline? What percentage of them even know there is a hotline?” I said, “I think a very small percentage.” He said, “Perhaps that is why people think it’s weird.” He said that I feel very passionately about things – about the environment, about animal welfare, about human suffering, etc. He said based on my values it’s not surprising I would want to work in this type of job. I should just tell people that I think it’s a valuable service that the county is offering to people who are in distress and I want to keep that service available to these people.
At this point I kind of shut down. I was thinking during the week, that whenever I tell J about a situation where someone says something to me that hurts my feelings he comes up with excuses or reasons why they would say such a thing. This leaves me feeling like I’m being hurt because I’m too sensitive (something that’s been drilled into my head for 45 years) and that I’m wrong for feeling this way. Then today, when I say that people think I’m weird for wanting to work on the hotline, he comes up with another reason why people may think that. He doesn’t really validate my feeling that I’m hurt, or feeling like an outsider, or feeling weird.
Now there are 10 minutes left in the session and J is talking and talking and talking, and I’m trying to think back to what he was saying about the percentage of people in the county who know there is a hotline. I’m wishing he would shut up for a minute so I could think. I vaguely hear him in the background telling me that he thinks I’m going into the hotline job with a good attitude about why I’m doing it and what to expect, blah blah blah. I know that he talks a lot because I don’t talk much, but I really needed silence right then. I wasn’t listening, and it would be good for me to hear what he said, but just at another time.
Finally I guess he paused and I said, can we go back to when you asked how many people are in the county? He said, “Sure, I think it’s about 500,000.” I said, “No, I’m not concerned with the number. I’m trying to think. You said that a small percentage of people know about the hotline and that is why most people think it’s weird that someone would want to work there. It seems that whenever I mention an instance where my feelings are hurt you come up with excuses and reasons why they would say whatever it was they said. It makes me feel like my feelings are wrong, and you say that feelings aren’t wrong or right, they just are.” He said, “It’s true, feelings aren’t right or wrong.” Then he said a bunch of stuff, about why he comes up with reasons that people say things, he could say they are rude or ignorant, or he could just say nothing and let it be. I said, “What would be wrong with saying nothing and letting it be?” He said that he thought I needed to hear reasons in order to make things more logical, but there is nothing wrong with saying nothing. At the end I think he said, “I don’t want you to feel weird.” I can’t believe he would say that, but I swear that’s what he said. I replied, “I don’t want to feel that it’s wrong to feel weird.” And he said, “Good point.” Then I got up and said goodbye and left.
All of that took place in the last 5 minutes of the session and I feel very discombobulated from it. I didn’t like leaving things like that. I definitely caught him off guard, and it was very apparent that he wasn’t expecting me to come out with this. I feel badly, because I’m not expressive and there is no way for him to know what I need and I expect him to just know.
I think he really gets that I am passionate about things, and he gets that I am sensitive about things, and I appreciate that. He doesn’t make me feel weird or unusual for feeling strongly about my values, and I appreciate that also. But when someone makes me feel uncomfortable and I tell him about it, I don’t really want him to give me reasons why they would say that. I guess I want him to validate my feelings, and maybe later when I’ve processed my feelings about it, then I can logicalize the situation. I don’t know, does that make sense?
I wouldn’t go into a physician’s office and say, “I have a headache, I need a prescription for antibiotics.” So I don’t think it’s right to tell my therapist, “I have a hurting soul, I need you to validate my feelings.” I don’t want to tell him how to do his job. He’s been working with me almost a year and I think he might know best what I need. Maybe I think I know what I need, but I’m wrong.
I just don’t know. I only know I’m left feeling very uncomfortable with our session today.