Tuesday, I email Bea. She writes back, and it’s only then that I realize a part of me is so angry at her for not seeing how bad I really feel. I respond to her email, but it’s so snarky and mean, I can’t send it. I want to send it, I want her to know I’m upset with her. On one hand, I don’t want to her to leave for vacation while I’m so angry, but on the other, I am so afraid that we are headed for a rupture and I really don’t want to have this huge blow out rupture right before she leaves. Maybe it would be easier to just pretend everything is okay.
Wednesday morning, after I’m all settled on the floor with my blanket and pillows and Stitch, I read my response to her email one more time. And then, without even thinking about it, I hit send. Crap. Why did I just do that? I didn’t really want to send it, did I? Ugh.
When I log on for therapy, I don’t even want to talk to Bea. I’m behaving like a snarky teen, showing up to therapy because I am being forced to go. In my mind all I can think is that Bea can’t force me to talk.
When Bea logs on and says hello, I want to throw my iPad across the room. The teen is so angry at her.
Bea talks about her dog, asks about how school is going for Kat, and says hello to Hagrid. I know she is trying to get me engaged, to look at her, to respond. Instead, I stare at the floor, refusing to look at her. I sit with my knees pulled into my chest and my arms wrapped around them. My responses are monosyllabic, and my voice is hollow, with the words clipped and short.
Finally, Bea says, “I’m feeling a little bit anxious and I think I better take a minute and check in with that feeling, see if I can reassure it. Otherwise I am afraid that I won’t be fully present with you.” She does stuff like this, sometimes. It’s good modeling for me. It is actually really helpful to see Bea’s process of checking in with herself. I do this sometimes with Kat, this pause to check in with yourself so your stuff doesn’t get in the way of what the other person needs. It’s a good skill to have, I think. But today, I am annoyed. I don’t care how Bea is feeling. I want her to shut up and leave me alone. I also desperately want her to see me and to get it.
Bea talks through her process out loud, and soothes her anxious feeling. “This anxious feeling is really worried I am going to mess this up, and it feels so important to me that today be a good session so that when I leave for vacation you can still feel connection and safety.”
I shrug. I don’t care.
“Okay,” Bea takes a deep breath and continues, “That feels better. I was glad to get an email from you, and I hope my response made sense. I kept dozing off, and then trying to finish writing, so I hope there wasn’t anything weird there.”
“There wasn’t.” My voice is cold, and I still can’t look at her.
We sit in silence, and just when I think this is going no where and I should just hang up, I tell Bea I sent a response to her email. “But don’t open it. You shouldn’t read it. I just…I don’t know.”
“Okay. I won’t open it yet. Can we talk about it?” She asks me.
“I…I was mad.”
“Yeah. That’s okay. You can be mad. Mad is just a feeling.” She sounds so sure, so certain that mad is okay.
I shake my head. “I was mad at you. I don’t want things to, well….I don’t want that to make a mess of everything again. I don’t want to fight.”
“Ahhh. You’re worried that you being mad will make me defensive and we will have a bad rupture. I’m not feeling defensive, only curious about what made you mad, and hopeful that I can help sort out the mad and repair anything I did or said to make you feel like this.”
Her words sink in, slowly. She sounds real, and not upset in the least. I still can’t trust it, though. “Maybe you should just delete it,” I suggest.
“I could do that. But I wonder if the teen would be upset then? If she would feel unheard, and alone because I deleted her words? I wonder if I read them now and responded to them if that would help her to feel less hurt and angry?” Bea is gentle when she says this, but there is a tone in her voice….not a bad tone, maybe more like a serious tone….like a mom tone that says *I care and I think this is important so please pay attention*.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to ruin everything and I was so mad at you.” I pick at a corner of my blanket as I speak, still refusing to look at her.
“I don’t think your mad feelings are going to ruin things between us.” Bea pauses, and then says slowly, “I had a new client recently, we had only had a few sessions, and she got angry with me. A big rupture happened, and she ended up quitting. When that happened, I thought of you, and all the ruptures we have had and worked through to repair, and I realized how very important it is to have a strong relationship as a foundation for when these things happen. I mean, of course I know the relationship is the most important thing in therapy, but this contrast just really stood out to me. I’m telling you this because I want you to know, to really see that our relationship is strong enough to withstand the mad. I can handle the mad, and so can this relationship.”
I shake my head. I’m so confused. I don’t know what I want. I feel like I have all these conflicting feelings and thoughts going on inside. “Just delete it,” I whisper the words, and they come out mumbled and muted.
Bea hears *just read it* and so she begins reading. I don’t realize this right away because I’m still looking down, refusing to look at Bea.
okay…I wrote this, the purple, last night…I’m just going to send it now…even though I sort of just want to smile and pretend everything is fine. But I’ve learned enough to know that does not work, so…..here goes. I’m feeling really vulnerable this morning.
I’m not sure about sending this. Some part of me feels like it would be better to just pretend everything is all okay. Even if I send this, there’s no guarantee that the editing part won’t stop my words in the morning anyway. But, I thought if I send this you can read it and we can talk about it in the morning. I just don’t know if it’s a good idea.
The teen is mad and being snarky and mean. I feel that…….the be so angry and make you go away so it won’t matter if you hurt my feelings thing happening. But then after the mad and the snarky and the mean is still the fear of being left. But there’s a lot of mad here, right now. I hate being mad at you. Why does this mad seem to happen every time the really bad memories pop up?
I don’t realize Bea is reading my email until she says, “I knew the teen was here this morning.” She says it in this happy voice, like she is glad to have this mean, snarky, sulky teen around. “I know there is a lot of hurt and fear under that mad, and I’m not scared of any of your feelings. I really believe we can talk about it, and that there will be no ruptures today. I know how much you want to pretend it’s okay, but I am really glad you didn’t.”
My head snaps up, and I look at Bea. Then, I throw my blanket over my head and say angrily, “I said to delete it, not read it!”
Bea immediately apologizes. “I’m stopping reading right now. I’m so sorry. I thought you said to *just read it*. I am very sorry I misheard. I can delete it right now if that’s what you really want. But I sure would like to know what you were thinking and feeling.”
I sigh. I could get really mad right now. She didn’t listen, she betrayed my trust, she read the thing I told her to delete. I could get mad, be full of righteous indignation. But do I really want to do that? Do I want to get angry and push her away over something that was an honest mistake? And really, now that she has started reading, do I want her to stop or do I want her to read it all and understand how mad I am? I don’t know. I can’t decide. Both options seem reasonable to me, and they each seem like an equally good choice. Today, at this moment, I can see that acting furious and causing a rupture over Bea *betraying my trust and not listening* was clearly all about protecting myself from further hurts.
I go back and forth, unsure what to do. “Just read it,” I finally snap at Bea.
“Are you sure? I won’t be angry if you tell me to delete it.” I think she is trying to be reassuring and to make sure I am making choices based on what I want and not what I think the other person wants me to do.
“Yes, just read it.” I’m exasperated and it shows in my voice.
“Okay, then,” Bea says, and she starts to read.
2 thoughts on “The Non-rupture part 1”
I love how Bea is so gentle with you – just like you deserve 🤗
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Thank you 💗
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