I decided that today I would ask J questions. I asked him if I could ask him some questions and he said sure.
The first one was “Do you think I am making any progress.” He said I am making progress in certain areas, and others we still need to work on. I am more aware of why and when I think certain things, and I can see that I am doing and thinking certain things. He said that he thought there was a turning point for me when my cousin overdosed (I have to think about that some more). Is that when I started to show emotion in therapy? Maybe.
I asked “Do we have a goal, how do we know if I am progressing.” J said that the goals are amorphous, but to feel like I am a good enough person, and not to feel shame about being me. He gave the metaphor of a road and a car, and he said that the goal is for me to be in control of the car, that there will be potholes, and accidents, and traffic jams, but my hands should always be on the wheel in control.
I asked him if my life would get better as I progress and he said he definitely thinks it will. Of course anything can happen in life, but he thinks I will be more in control and sure of myself. I said that I got the impression from him that I should just bide my time until I become a grandmother, and he said he didn’t mean that, but just that I have things to look forward to.
I asked J if he has treated other people with my kinds of issues and if they got better. He said he doesn’t like to use the word “better” because I am not sick. He asked me what exactly I mean by my issues, and I went through the list. He said that all of those are treatable, and he has had clients who progressed. Then he gave me an example of a woman he saw a few years ago who heard voices, and she got better and she comes in every once in a while to check in and she is doing great. So even people who have more severe problems than me can be treated. That didn’t mean much to me; frankly, I was specifically interested in hearing about people like me.
I asked him about my difficulty in talking to him about certain things, and my difficulty in reacting and responding to things in the session in the moment and how can I get past that. He told me that it is not a problem to have a reaction after the session, that most of the therapy occurs in the other parts of the week, that the 45 minutes is for gathering data. I told him that if he was a regular person and he said something that bothered me, but I didn’t react until later or the next day, I could call the person or see him and talk to him, but with therapy I have to wait a week and then the issue is past. He said that first of all I don’t have to wait a week to tell him anything, and that this is how lots of relationships work, he gave the example of a married couple and how they might have a disagreement. Sometimes they come back to it, and sometimes they just let it pass. And if something happens in session that I feel is a problem, I might talk about it the next week, or six weeks later. He asked for a specific example and I gave him the example of how last week he told me he lost 12 pounds without even trying, after I had told him of my difficulty in losing weight. He asked me if I thought he was disregarding my feelings and I said that I thought he was. But I didn’t want to talk about the actual incident, I wanted to talk about why I couldn’t respond in the moment. I told him how difficult it is to talk about things so far after the fact. That I feel like I am boring him if I talk about the same things all the time. He responded, “And your job is to entertain me.” I said, “Yes exactly.” And this is related to the other part of the question, my difficulty in talking about certain things. I said that I never told him about the drinking I had been doing and how much I was drinking, but I thought it was important to tell him, and I wanted to, but it was too difficult. He said this is an example of feeling shame.
We talked about how I don’t want him to think badly of me. He asked if that is something about me, or if it is about me and him, and I said it is me, that I don’t want anyone to think badly of me. Then we talked about whether the drinking was bad, and he said it was only bad because I determined it was bad. I was still functioning, it was not interfering in my job or things I needed to do. I asked him if there is anything I could tell him that would make him think I am a bad person, and he said there is nothing. He asked if I club baby seals, and I assured him that I didn’t. He said I could try to come up with something, but he doesn’t think I’d be able to.
J asked if he could say something about himself, and I said, “Will it hurt my feelings?” He said he didn’t think so, and he told me about when he gets speeding tickets he feels very bad, but he realizes he is not a bad person and he sends in the money very quickly and then moves past it. He said a part of me that definitely needs more work is moving past things more easily. The Teflon coating. He said he sees progress, but there needs to be more Teflon.
Then, with only 5 minutes left, I asked him if he thought he could challenge me more. He asked me what challenge would look like, and I thought about it and said I didn’t know. I said that there are things that I know intellectually, but I still don’t feel or believe. He said that up until this point in therapy there is no way he could have challenged me strongly, and I agreed. I needed validation and understanding and trust building, but now I think I need real change. I said, “I’d like you to challenge me more even though I don’t want you to and it hurts my feelings and makes me angry at you and makes me not like you.” He said that he thinks my holistic health coach challenges me (he didn’t call her “your lady”!) and I said that yes she does.
So if I write in my blog about how much I hate therapy and J and I want to quit, please remind me that I asked for it!
At one point in the middle of the session J said, “It’s your song.” I didn’t know what he meant. But there is music playing out in the waiting room (I couldn’t even really hear it actually) and the song was “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks, the song I had as the background music for my slide show about my life and getting older and being alone, etc. I was kind of touched that he said that, and he thinks of it as my song. Kind of a weird feeling.
At the end I said, “This was productive” and he said “Well, we’ll see how you feel later!” But I feel good about it. I think it is a good idea to have sessions like this every once in a while, but up until now I don’t know if I would have been brave enough.