Fighting to stay real

I’m struggling to stay real, to not dissociate and to stay present. To not pretend everything is fine and okay. It’s the only defense I really have against the feelings, flashbacks, nightmares, fears and triggers that are shoving me further and further down the rabbit hole.

No therapy today. Bea is on vacation. This is the first appointment I’m missing that hasn’t been able to be rescheduled for the next day. I’ve been seeing Bea for almost a year now, so that’s probably pretty amazing. And she will be back for our Thursday appointment. So it’s one session. Just one. I’ll still see her once this week. She’s not really gone. I know this. Rationally, I know this.

So why then, do I feel like she left me? Last session, I was all broken and vulnerable and hurting and needy. I have the worst timing. I pick the week before she is going to be leaving for vacation to have a breakdown and to admit to myself and to her that I need her. I pick that week to be more open, to think about and really feel how not in control I was when I was a little girl. And everything has fallen apart even more, in my mind. Because now I let that awful feeling — the one of being helpless and alone and having no control and feeling scared and alone and dirty and bad and wishing for comfort and not being able to find it— in, and I can’t seem to get rid of it now, it’s just sitting there and Bea is supposed to be able to help me contain it, and be okay, and it’s supposed to be okay to need her, but she is gone. On vacation, gone, not here.

Part of me wants to use this as proof, to say, “See? You are too much, too needy, too everything. You exposed that part of yourself, and it’s so bad, Bea had to take a vacation after one week of you being needy. See? You are too much, and everyone leaves. No one can handle you, you drain people dry.” Rationally, I know that’s untrue. For some reason, it’s become impossible to grasp the idea that this feeling, this thought is false.

Bea told me she would be available by email or phone while she was gone. She gave me permission to reach out. I told her I wouldn’t call, and I won’t. I’ve thought about emailing, but what would I say?

Hi Bea,
This is really silly, but a part of me is freaking out about not having therapy today, and feeling like you went on vacation because I was too much, too needy, too broken– that exposing all of that last session just pushed you away. Rationally, I know you had this vacation planned when I was still in “perfect mode”, and that it has nothing to do with me or how messy and vulnerable and broken I am. But the feeling is still there. And it scares me, maybe because I’m afraid that in your head, you want to leave and not deal with me.

I just don’t think so. I’m afraid to reach out to her, that she will not respond, or that she will change her mind and be annoyed that I bothered her while she was on vacation, or that she will reject me in some way. I don’t know.

And I’m very afraid of doing anything that will make her turn shrinky on me. I hate talk about transference, and projection, and whatever else. I don’t want her to be my friend, or my mother, or anything else but my therapist. But, in order to do this work and be honest about my feelings and the things that happened, to be able to talk about and process the traumas, I have to be able to trust Bea, I almost have to be let myself need her and be vulnerable and exposed. There’s no other way. Wouldn’t that be true in any relationship that a person was going to share the worst parts of them self? Wouldn’t it be true, that in any relationship a person will bring old patterns and lessons with them? For example, my parents needed perfect, and I felt like I had to do everything right to earn their love. I took that lesson with me into every relationship I have ever had– my marriage, and my friendships. So why, in therapy, do things have to get all shrinky and analytical? Ugh. Just because those same feelings and patterns appear in the relationship a person has with their therapist doesn’t make those feelings any less real. I mean, that’s like saying the relationship between a person and their therapist isn’t real. If it’s all transference and counter transference and projections and whatever else, it’s just a fake relationship. Which would mean the idea that the shrink actually cares isn’t real– it’s just counter transference from one of their real relationships, the feelings are being put on the client for whatever reason, but the shrink doesn’t actually care about the client because it’s confer transference. And the feeling the client has that it’s safe to let down walls and be exposed and need the shrink isn’t real, either. And if that’s all true, then what is the point of being in therapy? If that’s true, why is Bea trying to help me find the real me? How can I find anything real, especially the real me, in a relationship that is not real? Ugh. I’m not sure this is making all that much sense. It makes sense in my head, though.

I’m not sure how I feel about Bea, or therapy right now. I can feel the fake, miss perfect, control freak taking over. I need to be okay. I’m no where near okay, but I need the world to see me as okay. I’m somewhere between thinking its a good idea to find a new bubble and get inside it quickly, and telling myself to sit with how I’m feeling, to deal with it, to not go backwards just because I hate feeling needy and vulnerable. I’m not sure which part will win this fight, and I am not really even sure why part of me is fighting to stay real. Because being real hurts. Ugh.


22 thoughts on “Fighting to stay real

  1. You are so real in your blog. I feel your pain, confusion and vulnerability. I feel honored to read your blog. I also know what you are going through. I went through these same feelings on my journey. It does get better. I have never felt as good and free as I do right now in my life. Hang in there. It is worth it.


  2. I can relate to your post. It’s been a year since I started therapy myself and I have the bad feelings come up often. It is really hard to sit with them and not fall back into old patterns and get drawn back into the past. It’s a constant battle but one we can’t give up on. Sending you best wishes on your journey of healing.


  3. I have sent emails saying almost exactly that. Personally, I find the sessions that bring out into the open the confused ways in which I feel about my therapist to be some of the most useful.

    Frankly, I think that we have issues with transference, projection, etc in all of our relationships. It’s just that in the therapeutic relationship we can name it for what it is, look at it, and hopefully work through some of it safely.

    After all, hubby not understanding wouldn’t be so scary if you didn’t have the background of attachment figures not understanding and being reliable for you. So much of the time we are reacting to our history as much as we are to the person in front of us.

    In my experience, when I deal with the transference head on and start to peel it away, I can then feel myself interacting more with the person who my therapist really is. The relationship becomes even more real, more intimate, deeper. That is part of what allowed me to really let her in. I had to get to the point where I was sure that I was really seeing her, not just some made up person. But getting to that point meant dealing with all of the relationship issues with her head on.

    The good news was that doing it with her gave me confidence to do it elsewhere and my relationships with others have become more real, as well.

    Being real does hurt sometimes. It can hurt horribly. But being real can also allow you to feel wonderful things. It will also allow you to model a healthier way of being to Kat.

    It’s terribly hard, but it’s worth it.


    • Ahhh….thank you for agreeing with me that transference and all of that happens in all our relationships. I guess the idea is that by naming it in therapy, you can stop reacting to your history……it just feels like all of those labels are ways to invalidate my feelings. It feels like using shrinky lables is a way to draw a line in the sand between us, to remove the therapist from the equation emotionally. I don’t know. I undestand what you are saying about dealing with the trandference was a good thing for you and mama bear. Its just…it feels bad to me to have Bea turn shrinky, its scary because then she doesnt seem like herself. I don’t know.

      Being real….i hope you are right and it is worth it. Thank you. Xx


  4. It does seem like it would be a good email to send. But only if you feel ready to do so.

    Abandonment issues are so tough to deal with. I really relate. They’re not at all rational, and so intense.

    I think that at about the year mark was when I too suddenly started questioning the therapy relationship. It finally really sunk in, how it’s an unusual relationship, that he has other clients who likely feel intensely about him also, and how can he really care, in what way does he care, and all these types of issues. It’s like you can’t see them to start with, though they’re always there. That was the case for me, anyway.

    Don’t have the answers, but I can tell you, welcome to therapy. “It’s weird out there.” Cue spooky music. 🙂


    • I love your “cue spooky music”…it made me smile. It is weird out there, though. Maybe its just getting to that one year mark. Maybe its admitting that i need her, and realizing things could go one of two ways– i can really let her in, or block her out. And i want to do both. Ugh. I don’t know. I didn’t send that email, but i did end up emailing. And it was okay, she emailed back. Xx


  5. You know I know nothing here, but I feel compelled to point out the possibility that knowing your therapist was going to be out of town for a session prompted some anxiety that prompted you to be more broken and vulnerable (as you put it). It seems totally natural to me. If there is anything I have learned to accept in the past year, it is the anxiety that is brought on by situations I know will affect me that are out of my control. Alice, you seem so absolutely normal to me under the circumstances. You have been through so much and you are way too hard on yourself. And Alice… no one is perfect. All those parts of you that are attempting to be so many different things to so many different people, are really normal, but stressful and overwhelming. I admire you for sticking with this intense therapy. It has got to be incredibly taxing. You are doing such a great job at discovering not who you are (all those things you describe about yourself are who you are), but what parts of your life/your personality, are those you want to keep and nurture, and what parts need to be gently worked on and through to be the best you can be for yourself. I wish you much strength. ❤


    • Thank you for the idea that I’m normal under the circumstances. Bea tells me that a lot…its maybe starting to sink in, so the reminder is always good. Intense therapy is hard, i never knew it would be this hard. Thank you….and by the way you know a lot– please give yourself some credit, you are very smart. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate to this so much. I think these things constantly. And when I was speaking about my heartbreak over my last therapist, I kept saying “but it wasn’t even real.” The therapist I’m seeing now said, “Andi, it was VERY real.” So, I don’t know. It’s confusing. But I love what you wrote and I hope you share this all with her. This is really good stuff!!



  7. When I read this I related to feeling as if I suck everyone dry. Like how is this related to abuse and why do we feel like such a bother to everyone and the need to connect and stay connected yet push away and pretend to be fine. It’s so tiring. It’s exhausting to feel as if you are too much of everything you don’t want to be.


    • I don’t know how it relates to abuse. I really don’t. It must, somehow. Maybe the abuse making us feel bad….and sucking everyone dry is a bad thing, so its just another feeling to reinforce the bad feelings? I don’t know. I feel like my neediness is this huge thing, this thing no one will ever be able to handle. And, it seems to me that a lot of abuse survivors have the universal “come here….go away” message they give. It’s the message i send hubby all the time. Ugh. I have no answers. But you arent all the bad things you feel. That much i know. Xx


  8. Oh Alice, I really understand that feeling. I feel like I lock up my bad feelings and pretend to be perfect person with my family. Bea does not want you to lock it all up. Dr K has told me that she’s felt angry on my behalf, that she hurts on my behalf, and she’s often let me know that she is happy for me when something has gone right. Bea sounds similar to Dr K- she’s often told you that it was not your fault, that she doesn’t believe you caused any of what happened to you. I have seen her through your detailed writing, and I think she is the compassionate person you hope she is. For that reason, I think you can send her the email you wrote.
    Chin up duck, we are all with you and all listening. Even if you can’t send that email, take care of yourself and find something comforting to do. X


    • Bea usually thanks me when i am really honest and put everything out there. But its a hard thing to do– as you know! Its hard not to feel like we have to be perfect for those people we care about.
      I did end up emailing. And it was okay, she emailed back. Thank you for listening. I’m really so grateful that i found wordpress. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am so so glad that you emailed! You are so strong, even when you feel at your weakest. WordPress has saved my bacon, too. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to you or offer advice, or just to listen. X


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