So apparently I am an idiot. I can’t believe how stupid I am. Well, that is how I feel right now.
I got to t and J asked how my holiday was. I told him that I called in sick, and he asked where I supposed to go and if everyone stayed home, or just me. I told him it was just me, I didn’t feel like going. I said, “We don’t have time to talk about this though.” He replied, “Why? What do you want to talk about?” I felt like a balloon with the air sucked out of me. I said, “The email? The one that you said would take a few visits to cover? And I also thought of something from last week.”
I told him about how whenever I talk about something emotional he makes a joke. I asked him if he knows he does that, and he says he does. He tries to lighten things up sometimes. I asked him why and he said, “Like an ice breaker.” I asked him why the ice needs to be broken, if I am bringing up a sensitive topic. He says he does it to make the other person more comfortable. I asked him why he needed to make the other person more comfortable, if they are talking about uncomfortable feelings isn’t it ok for them to feel uncomfortable? Is there something wrong with that? He said, “I don’t think I said that.” He said me meant that he wants to make the other person more comfortable in talking about their feelings. He did say that it doesn’t work for some people, and he is glad I am telling him.
That led to a discussion of not saying things as they happen in therapy. I told him I feel like I’m not really “here” when I am in my session. And I also don’t like to disagree with authority figures, and I don’t like conflict. He asked what it is like for me – after my session do I go over the whole thing in my head saying “Why did he say that, why didn’t I say that, what does that mean, etc” and I said yes that is exactly what I do. We talked about the authority figures issue for a while, and he talked about the tailor and I said I wouldn’t tell the tailor what to do, since he is the expert on tailoring. If I didn’t like what he did I would take it to another tailor and try to get what I want rather than tell the first tailor that I think he is wrong and I would prefer what I want.
I kept looking behind me at his clock, because twice in the last month that clock (the one he watches) has stopped. He asked me why I keep looking at that clock (there is one behind him that I watch normally) and I told him because it has stopped a couple of times and there is a pattern in our sessions and the times it stopped he didn’t follow the pattern and now I’m feeling disconcerted about the whole thing. He moved the clock from behind him (the one that works) to a place where we could both watch it, and that helped. He asked me what the pattern is in our sessions as I see it and I told him what I thought the pattern is.
Then I said we can’t talk about this anymore we have to get to the email. He said, “What didn’t we cover in the email last week?” He went to the files and was digging around for the email, but I had written some notes on a card just in case. I took the card out of my coat pocket, and then I remember I had put two rocks in there. I have a big jar of smooth river rocks and I had taken two of them to therapy today. I asked J if he would like a rock and he took one. I read him my list of what we hadn’t covered last week from the email from the week before. I specifically asked him about the papers. Why he said he would read them, why he then told me he would prefer to read them when I came in for my next session, and why didn’t he even mention it? He got discombobulated. He eventually said that he thought he would be directing the session too much. I said, well you emailed me that you will read them when I come in next time and you didn’t. He said I didn’t respond to the email, so he wasn’t sure if he should. I said, “Why didn’t you ask then?” Of course, this didn’t get resolved either. His exact words from the email were, “I didn’t read the new slips and I think I will just wait until you are here to do so.”
I guess my problem is that I take people too literally. If they say they are going to do something I think that they will. How ridiculous of me! What the hell is wrong with me? I should never assume that people will do what they will say. It’s all my fault for believing them and trusting them! What an idiot.
So then I went over the other things we didn’t cover from the email – the voice mail, doing battle with my husband and mother, and how J talks about his family. He said “The voice mail? Is there anything to say about that?” And he said we talk about my husband and my mother often, and he touched on the issue about talking his family last week, at the end of the session. He said, “We touched on all of those issues last week, at least on the surface.” I said, “Why does it always have to be on the surface? I am only here for 45 minutes, and I do most of the processing during the week, on my own. I came up with all of these feelings and insights and I wrote them to you – that is the surface. I thought that we could then discuss the issues here.” His actual response to my email said, “You touched on a lot of subjects in your email and I don’t think any email reply from me could do them justice. I suggest that I print out your email and we make an effort to cover those topics in our sessions (it may take a few weeks and we may get sidetracked but I think there is real value in talking about it). Of course, you can say “no” and we could handle it some other way.”
I reiterated to him that he had said it could take a few sessions to go over everything. I said I made a commitment to myself not to bring up anything new until the old stuff is resolved. That was a mistake – that took him down a tangent for the rest of the session. How therapy isn’t linear like that. How sure, we could set aside a whole month to talk about a particular subject, but what happens when other things come up in my life? I asked how anyone ever finishes therapy if nothing is ever resolved. He gave me a metaphor of a dirty house. You can clean one room, do the surface dusting and vacuuming, and then get into the really deep cleaning – turning mattresses, doing the closet. Then you move on to the next room and do the same, but while you are doing the deep cleaning in the next room the first room starts to get all dusty again. Cleaning a house is never finished. I said, “So when do people end therapy? When they get fed up they just quit?” He said some do, but he doesn’t recommend that. I asked how they know when they are done. He said, some people have specific issues and when those are solved (like teeth clenching) they are done. Some, like substance abusers, find that if they stop using, and they are leading a healthy lifestyle, will finish at that point. Some like to go deeper. He asked what I wanted out of therapy. I told him that I wanted good relationships, I want to like myself, and I want better self esteem. He said those are amorphous and could take a long time.
I shut down at this point. He asked what I was thinking, what I thought about what we talked about today. I said I was disappointed in myself for not getting everything from my list talked about, but maybe I put too much ont he list. I remember asking why we had to work on surface things, those are just symptoms of the larger issues. Why can’t we work on the larger issues? He said the smaller things are reflective of the larger problems and by discussing the smaller things it leads to awareness and insight about the larger things. He said, “You came in here and mentioned your Thanksgiving. I thought that would have been a perfect thing to talk about today.” I should have talked about Thanksgiving. He said if we had talked about Thanksgiving he bets all of these other issues would have come up during the discussion. Well, if they had, why not just start with them and forget the Thanksgiving part?
Oh, so I guess what I came in with to talk about wasn’t the right thing. I said, “Lots of things went on this week. I had an issue with my boss and his family, I had to take my mother to the hospital, and Thanksgiving. But I don’t want to bring up anything new, I want to have the other stuff resolved.” He said people mostly come in and talk about what is going on in their lives and how their week is. I never do that. I don’t want him to know that much about my personal life frankly. I don’t like it.
Then he mentioned our “relationship.” Ugh. I wanted to say, “We don’t have a relationship” but the words wouldn’t come out. He said in the house metaphor our relationship would be the kitchen, and that room needs to be cleaned out occasionally too. I said, “The kitchen?” He said that is where most of the activity happens, and where the trash is (I think he said that.) He said we do frequently talk about what is going on with us. I think he thinks I talk about it too much. I should spend more time talking about my day to day life I guess.
He asked if it would help if I sent him an email before each session saying what I want to cover. I said I did that with the email two weeks ago and it didn’t help at all. He ended by saying that he would welcome an email from me before the next session telling him what I want to talk about, but I don’t have to send it if I don’t want to.
Which is good, because I don’t have anything to talk about now. I’m feeling totally shut down and defeated. I tried to get him to discuss the things I wrote to him in my email. I really dug deep and found feelings and shared them with him. And he doesn’t have anything to say in response I guess. He said he covered it last week, at least on the surface, and I guess that is enough for him.
He asked me if I would like my rock back and I said he could keep it. He said, “I’ll hold on to it. It will still be yours, but I’ll keep it here.”
I don’t understand anything. I’m not feeling any emotion, I’m just shut down. Defeated. Doomed to be in therapy for the rest of my life because my house won’t stay clean.