Ruptured: Ms. Perfect and Bea email

Ms perfect emails will be italics. Bea’s emails will be in bold.

The challenge here is that you still want to talk face to face, and I really, really don’t.

You have said that you have had no problem containing everything, and that is probably true— for you. I do believe that you feel like you are containing all of it. I understand that none of this has felt like too much for you. That isn’t my experience though. For me, nothing feels safe or contained if you can not be emotionally present. I haven’t felt contained since that Wednesday, and it all feels like too much, and impossibly out of control.

You don’t feel comfortable tackling this by email, and I respect that. I don’t feel capable of tackling this face to face when you are in that shrinky space. I understand that you have made a choice to avoid the feelings, to not let my words land because you feel doing so will be unhealthy not just for you, but for us. I understand that, and I respect that, as well. On some level, I’m sure I am grateful that you are attempting (I assume) to protect the relationship. I can see that you are trying to make it possible to repair things between us, and I know that none of this is or has been about hurting me. But I can’t sit in your office and talk face to face when you can’t provide that emotionally safe container that makes it possible for me to talk.

How can we repair the relationship when we each have such strong feelings about how we can, or can not tackle the issues at hand?

How about if we try a combination of things?  What if we do some shortish emails—in large part it’s logistics—I have three packed days before Monday, and obviously it’s not wise for me to do these emails on the fly.  Then on Monday we could literally spend the session working on safety. You could spend some time figuring out what would actually increase your sense of safety in the room—the blanket, me out of the room, me on the floor by the closet, whatever.  We could do all non-talking things if that’s easier.  I think it’s important that you direct what we actually do, but that’s my thought as one option. Maybe you have others—we can be creative. Talk isn’t the only way to do therapy:)

I hesitate to go below because I have only five minutes before I have to leave. Then I’m busy till probably 8:00 tonight:(  What I can say, though, is that I DO feel emotionally present in this current conversation.  I feel like now you have given me something fair and manageable to work with.  I will answer below when I get a chance, and maybe you can think about ideas for our session.

The teen read this, and all I could think is that it was only now that Ms. Perfect was running things and hiding away all the feelings of anger and hurt that Bea was able to come back and be emotionally present. Even though the teen was feeling angry and hurt, unseen and unwanted, Ms. Perfect pushed all that aside and responded logically and politely.

I really appreciate your suggestions of how to work on this and your willingness to do some shorter emails to talk about all this. It feels to me like I have said everything I needed to say— multiple times— and I’m not sure how helpful repeating myself is going to be for either of us.

I don’t feel all that mad or upset anymore. I’m not overly emotional any longer. You were right. I should have known you better by now and been able to realize you weren’t thinking the things I extrapolated from your words. Clearly, I was already triggered and emotional when I walked into your office that Wednesday, and I distorted everything that you said into this big awful mess. You chose to not allow my upset to land because it would not be healthy for us, and therefore couldn’t empathize with my feelings which just escalated my upset. We both understand what happened as best we can, and now that I am calm and not emotional, you are able to be emotionally present and connected again.

I don’t really know what else there is to say, and as I said, I’m not sure that repeating myself is going to be helpful at this point.

That is all fine—no need to whip a dead horse, as the saying goes.  But what are your thoughts for our session? It seems like we should do some thinking about that, and I surely do want it to be collaborative.

I think—and I suspect you do too—that we’re far from done with the other stuff, but we have to trust that it will unfoldas it needs to.

I honestly don’t feel strongly one way or another. I suppose the biggest challenge at this point in time is that I don’t feel that I have anything more to say, so perhaps non-talking things would be the best.

If you think it would be best and most helpful to try some things you suggested in a previous email, like moving you or me around the room, using a blanket, and whatever else to see what feels safest, I think that is fine.

I’m open to other ideas as well. You stated earlier that talking isn’t the only way to do therapy. My assumption is that you are referring to art therapy and/or sensorimotor therapy. Is that correct?

I wasn’t thinking of anything else in particular—just whatever might be helpful. Sometimes it’s good to choose different objects to represent parts or emotions and place those in different areas of the room to see what might feel right.  For example, you could choose some things to represent your anger, fear, lack of safety, etc.  I could also choose things to represent empathy and boundaries. We could see what feels right in terms of where these things need to be placed in the room. We could see how moving one impacts what feels right with the others.

Whatever grows organically from what we want to do and feels helpful to you without needing discussion would work.

I can certainly see how this could be very helpful, but I’m feeling a bit hesitant towards this idea. I worry that it will be like silently repeating everything we have both reiterated these past few days. I’m afraid that in doing so, we could end up in the same place we were earlier this week. That doesn’t feel like a way forward to me, and I think we can both agree that going backwards will not be helpful at this point.

I realize that I have not offered up any ideas as to what may be helpful, and the truth is that I simply don’t have any sense of what will help us on Monday. I appreciate you giving me many suggestions as to what we could try, and I want to make sure you know I am willing to try something if you feel that is the best way forward, regardless of my apprehension.

I will think on this some more, and see if I can come up with something that feels right. Perhaps I will just bring a new coloring book, and we can sit and color,  simply keeping any talking we do on the surface.

Coloring it is—great place to start.  Thank you:)

Monday June 18

It was easy to walk into therapy, and easy to get out my coloring book and sit and color for the entire session, talking about surface things. Ms. Perfect was running things, and Bea didn’t even realize it. Ms. Perfect is such a good chameleon. She can read people so well, and she knows what behaviors, what speech patterns, what subjects cue others that the “real me” is there. Bea even thanked me for showing up to therapy. She said she was glad that it felt like the real me.had shown up and not Ms. Perfect (not that she doesn’t like Ms. Perfect).

Ms. Perfect found this amusing. The teen was disappointed that Bea didn’t see the facade. The little girl is worried this means Bea is too far away from her now to see or hear her. The adult is too overwhelmed to even think about this. .

Bea had asked that I email her to check in, to see how Monday’s session felt. Ms. Perfect and the teen wrote emails. The teen’s email was deleted and Ms. Perfect’s was sent.

You said that you would like for us to check in with each other about how today was. I thought today was fine. I’m assuming that you suggested choosing a picture based on our feelings and coloring the picture for each other to try to help us slowly start to work through the last few weeks, but I’m just not able to do anything more than show up right now. Coloring and keeping conversation more on the surface seemed to make today easier than it has been to be come to therapy. I’m not sure if there was something specific you were wanting me to speak to, but if there was, just let me know and I will try.

Thanks for the feedback—that was all I wanted.

And that’s it. That’s where things have been left until tomorrow morning, when I will see Bea again. I’m tired. I’m tired of all of it.

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Ruptured: the apology

I emailed Bea an apology.

I’m sorry that I’ve hurt you and made you feel bad because of what I felt on Wednesday. I said in my original email that I didn’t want to hurt you, that I didn’t want to upset you, that I was afraid my words would only make things worse, that I didn’t want to make things worse. I meant what I wrote. I’m still not sure it was worth sharing my words and my feelings, that they haven’t made everything worse. I didn’t want to make you feel like this. I really didn’t. I’m sorry my feelings about Wednesday have made you feel so badly. I said from the beginning, in my book, that I didn’t know how to talk to you about you, I didn’t know how to talk to you about my being mad at you or you hurting me. You told me that it would be okay, that you could handle whatever I had to say. I really was not sure it was a good idea. This is one thing I was afraid of happening.

Please let me clarify, edit this…… I’ll put my edits in bold.

When you said what you said about insurance and the worries about audits and twice a week appointments for several years being a lot and how we didn’t have much deeper work to do anyways— just this teen stuff, really, to me that, sounded like, it felt like you thought I didn’t really need to be here anymore, like I wasn’t deserving of therapy, should not need to be here twice a week, like you should not have to deal with me twice a week anymore, like you believe there is nothing major left to do, like whatever is left is not enough to warrant being here twice a week, to take up that much of your time.

 On Monday the 4th, You said that on Wednesday you took the boat away, but to me it feels as if You didn’t just take the boat away, the things you said  made it sound  and feel to me  as if I deserved to have to boat taken away.

It feels to me like You took the boat away because you agree with the insurance statements you were making, because I was needing too much and that made it feel like I shouldn’t even be in the boat, and that makes all of this impossible.

It’s impossible because I can’t schedule appointments to make things twice a week when I feel like that is needing too much, when I feel like you don’t think I should need to be here at all.

When you said what you said about insurance and the worries about audits and twice a week appointments for several years being a lot and how we didn’t have much deeper work to do anyways— just this teen stuff, really, to me that, sounded like, it felt like you thought I didn’t really need to be here anymore, like I wasn’t deserving of therapy, should not need to be here twice a week, like you should not have to deal with me twice a week anymore, like you believe there is nothing major left to do, like whatever is left is not enough to warrant being here twice a week, to take up that much of your time.

Hopefully that is better worded, and less offensive. I honestly believed when I wrote those words in my very first email, that you knew me well enough by now to know those were my feelings, those were how I interpreted your behavior and heard your words. That what I had written was some of my worst fears, and that I felt vulnerable—like a turtle who lost her shell— just putting those words out there at all.

At this point, that’s all I’m going to say.

You’ve made it clear you are not comfortable working through this via email, and as I said before I will respect that wish. I did want to apologize for hurting you and to try to clarify my words.

Bea’s response

This feels like a workable chunk to tackle by email.  What I don’t want to do in email is start picking apart the details of “I meant this and you heard that.”  I think those details can best be handled in person.  But these bigger, more general things feel very doable by email, so to me it makes sense that we work on them.

First of all, you didn’t make me feel bad—I am responsible for my own feelings, as we all are.  It wasn’t a problem of being able to handle whatever you had to say—I was easily able to do that and contain it. The problem came in how to respond to what you were saying. In order to give empathy we have to let things “land.” I made the determination that it wasn’t healthy for me—for us, actually—to let those things land. I could not take those things in.  So I chose not to respond to them and hoped that when you felt more settled I could talk to you about them. Of course that just escalated your feelings that I wasn’t empathizing. It took me time to find my “wise mind” to respond as honestly, but gently, as I possibly could.  There was no mistake in you writing what you wrote.  That the words impacted me emotionally gives us valuable information.  I use those feelings to examine what’s going on for me so I can respond in the best way possible—I trust that info.  Now if I had gotten out of my window emotionally I wouldn’t have trusted my feelings!

My reaction was basically the same as yours, only opposite—“you should know me well enough by now to know that I would never begin to think those things.”  This does feel better, but I still think we should wait to pick this apart in a conversation.  It feels too complex as a whole for email.  I think sometimes I speak very generally, so when I said the teen stuff felt like the last big piece I’m sure that left you wondering what exactly that meant. People are always asking me to clarify things I say, so I know I have the tendency to make broad statements.  I certainly wasn’t meaning that I thought we should be done with therapy! There is a whole conversation waiting to be had about this—now, and at points in the future. Even without insurance we need to stop sometimes and take stock of where we’re at.  And we have always done that naturally.  Unfortunately, the insurance crap is real. I’ll have new forms for you to fill out next week as I work to pull my charts into compliance. That means we also have to have a treatment plan, and they ask us to have “documented attempts to reduce the frequency of services.” It’s all about money to them, but I like to think my progress notes from the past few sessions should be sufficient documentation of why I haven’t reduced the frequency of sessions. I’m not worried about it anymore—I’m just going to get my charts in order, provide what my people need, and take the fallout when I get audited. I want you to be aware that it could very well be an issue at some point, but also know that it won’t end therapy for you regardless.

Thanks (for the apology and clarifying your words)— again, you aren’t responsible for my feelings, and you did clarify your words.

I have to go—if I didn’t address something you said it wasn’t intentional:)

My feelings about her response:

The teen read the emails along with all the other parts and she felt hurt, forgotten and unwanted. Everything Bea was saying felt contradictory to the teen. First Bea had no negative reaction to my words and then she was shocked and felt a need to protecf herself. First she was here, present and not leaving, and then she was deliberately avoiding the emotional piece. First (according to her) she wasn’t being shrinky, she felt rhat she was being her most attuned self, and then she could only deal with the logic piece and give me refelections and explations. First she wants to work with the teen and there will be no negative consequences for anger and then Bea can only contain things, to allow me space to struggle with this on my own (because clearly it has nothing to do with her), keep herself emotionally healthy and wait for me to be in an adult enough place that there is something there to work with.

This all felt like more instability, more upset, more confusion. At every turn, Bea was responding differently, and the longer I stayed mad at her, the more she pulled away despite being the one to say that I could be mad. It felt like she still was not seeing me.

She was taking back everything she had said and I felt my last bit of trusf in Bea slipping away. I felt my last bit of hope that this rupture would be repaired fly away.

I gave up.

I hadn’t felt contained since Wrecking ball Wednesday. I felf out of control, triggered all the time, my nightmares were visiting on a nightly basis and I was becoming an emotional wreck. I had been holding onto this hope that Bea would eventually see me, hear me, come back. This hope that she would show up emotionally for me, and I would feel safe and contained enough to talk through this disaster and we would repair this messy rupture.

It was so clear to Ms. Perfect that those things were never going to happen. It was also very clear to her that things could not continue as they were. So she stepped in completely. She took over the captain’s seat. No more messy feelings, no more upset about anything at all. Ms. Perfect doesn’t need Bea to help build a container. Ms. Perfect is so perfect she actually has two containers. One holds all the day to day stuff, and is built by schedules and control and busyness. The other holds all the crap, all the things that destabilize me and that Ms. Perfect can not allow to exist. That container is built by cutting, and binging and purging and dissocating.

Ruptured: The emails

My response to her feedback on my notebook:

You said a lot about this all being about the past, and about my mom, and that you just have to give me space because I am fighting against myself and you can only bear witness to that. That last part really hurt. It’s like you said that you can’t really be here, that you can’t help repair this because it has nothing to do with you.

I don’t agree. I don’t think this is about the past at all. I think that this is about the present. I would say that, yes, the present hurts more because of hurts in my past. I agree that similar feelings are present now as were in the past, and that many of those past hurts haven’t been grieved or healed. But I don’t agree that this is mostly about the past. I feel like you want to make this all about my past so it’s less about something you did or didn’t do. It’s like therapists get to blame everything on transference or enactment or whatever it is from the past. You get to say that while you may have had something to do with the thing that set whatever in motion, all the feelings, the “rages”, the “acting out” has nothing to do with that thing, and everything to do with the past. And that is unfair.

I don’t think it’s just that you didn’t speak intentionally about insurance. I think it is that you did not even stop and see where I was, how I was after all the vulnerability the teen had showed the week before. I had barely sat down and said hello and you were spinning out about insurance. You didn’t stop and think how your words were maybe effecting me, and you didn’t take the time to see what kind of head space I was in, and what part had shown up that day. You didn’t check in with the teen to see how she was feeling after being gone a whole week. The grown up understands the practicality of insurance, and how difficult insurance can be to deal with. But even the grown up does not understand how you could think I wouldn’t be hurt by your words about appointments, and not really needing twice a week because we weren’t doing that as much anyway and really by fall I could be done with twice a week, or definitely by 2019 or something like that and you just assumed this without checking in and then tried to back track and say it was up to me, and it would be when I was ready and I should just see how summmer felt, pay attention to it or whatever. Yes, the teen already being present and triggered from the day prior meant her feelings of hurt were and are front and center. But even the adult was hurt by your words. Even the adult heard the message that despite her feelings of needing therapy twice a week to be able to function and hold it together in her life, she shouldn’t need that. The little girl, well, her take away is you are ready to deal with her less often. (I certainly don’t blame you for not knowing I was upset over the Summer schedule, or that once a week is really difficult at times. I hadn’t said anything at that point, so you had no idea. I had done a good job of acting like I was fine with it all.)

I don’t think this is just about the past or even mostly about the past. I think this is about right now. On Wednesday when you were so upset over insurance and were talking about doing once a week there were a lot of hurtful things you said. I understand you didn’t hurt me intentionally, but that doesn’t change the fact you hurt me. One that sticks in my head…..you said something like, “I don’t know how much deeper work we really have left to do anyways. I guess, well, really, it’s just this teen stuff. I dont know what else is really left besides that.” Obviously, I don’t know your exact wording but it was something like that. It’s written in my notebook right after Wednesday, and that may be more accurate. But that is the gist of it, anyways. Do you really feel that I should have heeard those words in a positive or kind way? Because that is not the message that was conveyed to me, and it is not how that felt.

This is about me feeling like you think I should not be, don’t deserve to be in therapy. It’s about me questioning whether you even believe I need and deserve the amount of support I ask for. It’s about you taking away my secure base, it’s about you leaving (emotionally) me all alone on Wednesday. It’s about me feeling uncertain and sad and alone and scared and mad at you that I feel like this, and mad at myself for breaking you, and for trusting you so much that you can make me feel like this.

This is about me continually coming to you (in writing) about these feelings, and you responding with logic, with explanations, with shrinky words and reasoning. It’s about me writing down, right there in my writing that I am afraid X will happen, and you saying it won’t, and then X happening. Like I was afraid you would get shrinky— all left brainy— and you did. I was so afraid of a negative consequence if I put all my mad out there, and there was.

This is about me not knowing if I do get back in the boat and I do unload all the crap in my bag that you won’t dump me overboard again because I made the boat too heavy.

I know you say you are back, that you brought the boat back, but I just don’t feel that. You might have brought the boat back, but you aren’t here emotionally. Maybe you need to be all left brainy to keep the big picture in mind, or maybe you are left brainy because you are trying to do everything right in order to avoid creating more hurt and mistrust, or maybe it’s because you want to avoid another day like Wednesday.

 

You said my sadness in session today struck you…..I was hurt and mad the last few days. I’m not mad anymore. I’m hurt and I’m sad. I know I wrote in my book that I just give up, and that I am not even mad anymore. That’s what I feel like. Like I can’t keep doing this, like I have been screaming and yelling for you to really see me, to really hear me, to come back, to be here. And that’s not working and I am so tired and so alone and just can’t anymore. So I give up. And that makes me sad because I never thought there would be a time that I would write to you:

You said, you sounded like, it felt like you thought I didn’t really need to be here anymore, like I wasn’t deserving of therapy, should not need to be here twice a week, like you should not have to deal with me twice a week anymore, like you believe there is nothing major left to do, like whatever is left is not enough to warrant being here twice a week, to take up that much of your time.

You didn’t just take the boat away, you made it sound, you made it feel as if I deserved to have to boat taken away.

You took the boat away and made it feel like I shouldn’t even be in the boat, and that makes all of this impossible.

It’s impossible because I can’t schedule appointments to make things twice a week when I feel like that is needing too much, when I feel like you don’t think I should need to be here at all.

I never believed there would be a time that I would write words like that, and you would not respond with empathy and understanding and reassurance.

This entire thing with email started there. I am hurt and sad because if someone had told me your response and said that was how you were going to respond, I would not have believed them. Even in all my uncertainty, all my fear, I was still certain you would respond with emotional understanding. That you would read my fear of my words making you shrinky, and you would know what that meant, and how vulnerable and hurt I was feeling and that you would be very careful to not respond in a logical, analytical, left brain way, shrinky way.

So, yes, I am sad, and I feel defeated and like there is nothing left I can do. I give up. And that would be where this deep sadness is coming from. Not from my past, but from my present.

Bea’s response:

Thanks for taking the time to write.  I don’t want to deal with the underlined part in an email—it really needs to be an in-person conversation—but let’s just say that none of it is what I was trying to say, or anything close to what I thought I said. Or nowhere close to what I think.  I’m sitting with a lot of shock and a need to protect myself from this—it’s such a brutal distortion. I’m sorry that this is what you heard and felt because truly that is awful. We will have to figure out what to do with it—but please know that there is none of the actual me as I know myself in those words you wrote.

(Second email she sent, soon after the above email)

I feel like I have more to say—like I brought up the tip of the ice berg in my last email and need to finish what’s been going through my mind and feelings.

I do feel strongly about not responding from “emotion mind,” but from “wise mind” which lets feelings inform logic.  That takes time, which is partly why you’ve been getting a lot of reflections and explanations and not empathic responses. I wasn’t ready to respond with that healthy combination of emotion and logic. I have absolutely been able to provide containment—none of it has felt “too much”—but I was avoiding the emotional piece because it is complicated and I wasn’t sure what to say that would be fair.

I even had a very telling dream last night—I dreamed a man had broken into an apartment I was living in to get something that he supposedly had left there.  I came face to face with him and said, “Why didn’t you just ask me? I would have let you in?”  I was feeling indignant and violated.  His face looked suddenly pained and he said, “Because I didn’t trust that you would let me in.” And I was filled with empathy for him.

That mirrors the response I’ve had to our current situation.  I do feel much empathy for your pain and what you are experiencing, however my other feelings also indicate to me that I need to protect and care for myself. Sentences that begin with things like “you made me,” intrusively put responsibility for your feelings on me.  An accusatory and blaming tone also causes me to put up a wall.  It would not be healthy—or helpful to you either—if I modeled an acceptance of these words.  I can contain the rage and definitely empathize with anger, but as the Kimochis would probably say if they were talking to adults, it would be masochistic of me to take on “mean” as something I deserve.

I know that in the client role I always feel powerless and small, like I can’t hurt my therapist, but that’s not true.  It may feel like we’re tantruming toddlers when we’re in therapy, but the truth is all of our parts are capable of understanding that they need to communicate with respect and not from “emotion mind.”  I’m understanding now that this is what has happened in others of our ruptures when you think I’m not there.  I’m waiting till you get enough adult back on board to have something to work with. Until then I can only contain things and keep myself emotionally healthy.

It does suck in therapy that sometimes we do have to struggle with some of this alone. I imagine going with you into the rageful place  where I deserve all of the distorted accusations.  It doesn’t feel helpful when I imagine that, and it definitely doesn’t feel healthy!  I feel the way we do as parents at times when we have to let our kids take on tough things by themselves—always there to catch them afterwards, of course.  When you reach a place where you’re ready to meet me halfway I know my wall will be down.

I do care, and I value working with you SO much.  This is hard:(

My thoughts

Her response to my email, to my quoted words from the very first email I had sent about this rupture, the email that she had told me she had no negative reaction to, she was now telling me that she was feeling a lot of shock and a need to protect herself from such a brutal disortion. She had apologized that this was what I heard and felt, saying this was truly awful and that she felt none of those things.

I hated that I had caused her to feel so badly that she felt a need to protect herself from my words. At the same time, I was hurt. I had repeated and repeated my feelings, those words to her multiple times and it was only now that she acknowledged them, that she heard me. Not only that, her feelings towards my raw emotions had clearly changed drastically. Either she hadn’t actually read those parts of my emails and notebook, or she was tired of me being hurt and mad or maybe she just couldn’t accept and hear that her words and behavior on wrecking ball Wednesday had caused me pain.

At this point, Ms. Perfect stepped in. She could see I was not functioning well, that things were rapidly deteriorating. She emailed Bea an apology for hurting her, and attempted to clarify the teen’s feelings.

Ruptured: Wednesday June 13

On Wednesday, two weeks after our rupture, I had an early session scheduled, and I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t sure I was going to show up until I was walking up the stairs and into her office.

At the end of Bea’s last email she had said she hoped I would write in my book, and we could start with that when I got there Wednesday morning. I brought my book wifh me. It was full of pain and rage. I didn’t give it to her. I couldn’t. I could barely even say hi to her that morning.

Bea said she had spent a lot of time thinking and that she had come to the conclusion that there were three things she could take responsibility for. She said the rest of what was happening was an enactment, it was transference, that I was acting out because of things in my past. She listed out what she took responsibility for:

1. Not speaking intentionally about insurance matters.

2. Not taking parts into consideration

3. Not realizing that it was difficult for me to do once a week sessions and that I was upset about the summer schedule.

I was just trying not to cry as she spoke. This felt like she was back tracking, trying to interpert Wednesday’s events as something less damaging than it was, as if she were trying to make everything that happened into a minor blip that I was over reacting to.

It all felt wrong. How was it a week ago she had apologized for losing her shit, for not being able to provide a container for things and now she was referring to this as “not speaking intentionally about insurance”? It felt like she was still gone, no matter what she wanted to say about being here and being present.

She talked a lot about this rupture being about my past. She told me that unfortunately she was helpless in this situation because this was about me fighting against myself and all she could do was watch.

By the ens of the session, I had a headache from fighting back tears. The more she talked, the more hurt I became. I had never felt so unseen by her. I gave her my yellow notebook right before I left, telling her she could read it if she wanted to. She asked if I wanted her to email me feedback after she read it. Numb, trying not to cry and feeling completely crushed that all she could do was tell me this entire rupture, all my hurt feelings and anger was about my past, I stared at the floor and told her I didn’t care.

In the end, she emailed me some feedback. She said she had read through my book several times and that she did not feel comfortable tackling it via email. She also said that she was struck by my sadness during our session and that the sadness did not come across in my writing.

Ruptured: The first email (June 11)

I feel like this is a very big risk, like I’m taking a scary chance by sending an email, but I can’t do this in your office. It’s too much. It’s so….what I wrote, how I feel, I’m too vulnerable. I feel like a turtle who lost her shell. And I’m scared.

I wrote this in my notebook, but then….well, I’m not sure I can deal with this one face to face. Because it’s….painful. And I’m so afraid for so many reasons that this is going to make things worse. I don’t want to upset you, I don’t want to break things further. I don’t want you to read my words and get all shrinky. I don’t want my words to make you feel bad. I don’t want you to read them, and then be mad with me for feeling like this. I don’t want to end up in a worse place. I just don’t know.

I should have said—

On Wednesday……….You said, you sounded like, it felt like you thought I didn’t really need to be here anymore, like I wasn’t deserving of therapy, should not need to be here twice a week, like you should not have to deal with me twice a week anymore, like you believe there is nothing major left to do, like whatever is left is not enough to warrant being here twice a week, to take up that much of your time.

You didn’t just take the boat away, you made it sound, you made it feel as if I deserved to have to boat taken away.

You took the boat away and made it feel like I shouldn’t even be in the boat, and that makes all of this impossible.

It’s impossible because I can’t schedule appointments to make things twice a week when I feel like that is needing too much, when I feel like you don’t think I should need to be here at all.

It makes it impossible to talk to you. To trust that you even want to hear what I’m saying, and to trust that you won’t decide the boat got too heavy when I let all the crud out of my bag and take the boat away again.

It makes me so angry because I’m left on my own, treading water. And sure, okay, I can tread water really good for a long time, maybe even forever, but I don’t always make safe choices when I’m alone treading water. It’s not easy, I don’t go on really living and being present in my life, I don’t function well when all my energy and time and brain power are being used to tread water.

You see this all as one tiny part of the whole, but to me, it is the whole. Or maybe more like Wednesday broke the whole, and this is all that is left. And I don’t want to make it worse. What I’m saying feels like it will make things worse. It feels like Wednesday broke us because I broke you. Just call it wrecking ball Wednesday.

—The teen

Bea’s emailed response stated that she had not had any negative reactions to my words or to my feelings, that she was glad the teen had been able to express herself and then she continued on, writing in that distinctly logical left brained style— what I refer to as shrinky.

Her logical response, full of explanations and reflections, did nothing to reassure me or to ease my anxiety. Her lack of empathic response, combiined with my feelings that she had glossed over everything I had written, only served to intensify my feelings that she really did not believe I should need the support or help I wanted. Her response left me more alone than before, and it left me feeling betrayed— she had said she was back, that she wouldn’t disappear because of my anger, and yet, she was not here. She had disappeared.

I sent off an angry email, asking if she had even read parts of my email, and accusing her of not actually being back.

We went back and forth via email, each exchange making Bea more guarded and distant and me more desolate, heart broken and pissed. Nothing was resolved, and it truly felt like the beginning of the end.

Ruptured: Monday June 11

I cried all the way into Bea’s office. Things did not feel better. I was still hurt and upset. I was having terrible nightmares again, being easily triggered and with my secure base gone, I was struggling to contain all my emotions.

This Monday was almost a repeat of the previous Monday, with Bea talking and me struggling to be present enough to listen. I had written in my notebook that the teen doesn’t do repairs, that she only knows how to get mad or hurt and then pretend those feelings away. I wrote that the teen was afraid Bea would get tired of the teen being mad, not trusting her, not talking to her, and that Bea would just give up and leave.

Bea talked to me about how repairing a rupture was never modeled for me, and she said the teen never got to experience a repair. She said that the teen’s experience was just pretending everything was okay. She reassured me that she would not get tired of waiting and that she wasn’t going anywhere, that it was okay if the teen needed to be mad for a long time.

We had agreed that today we would look through our schedules and try to add in some appointments over the summer. It was something concrete we could do to help establish safety again. Just like last week, I couldn’t do it. How could I schedule extra or make up sessions with her when I felt as if she didn’t even believe I deserved to be in therapy?

Once again, there was so much I wanted to say, but I just couldn’t get the words out. I didn’t trust that it was safe enough to try to explain to her how I felt or that it was okay to tell her how she had hurt me and made me mad. I wasn’t sure that it was really okay to talk to her about her. We agreed that if I found my words, and wanted to talk about it, I could email her.

Monday afternoon, I emailed my feelings, I wrote exactly how I felt, how hurt amd devestated I was. I shared how I angry I was with her for breaking the container. I did my best to explain why it was almost impossible to show up to her office, why I couldn’t speak to her, and why I couldn’t do any of the more concrete things she had suggested.

Ruptured: Monday June 4

I showed up to therapy feeling sick with anxiety. I had cried a lot the night before, and again that morning. I was certain that when I walked in the door, Bea was going to be working on some sort of treatment plan to reduce the number of sessions I had per week. After all, hadn’t she said something about reducing session frequency by fall or at least by next summer?

I was determined to walk into her office as if nothing was wrong, as if Wednesday had never happened. I also was not about to bring it up to her. I was going to be the perfect client, no neediness here. I was going to make sure there were no stuck behaviors, no difficult things to work on, no vulnerability that would make me need her. I was not going to break her furthur. I was going to try to salvage what I could and fix the rest by not being too much.

My plan started out great. But then she brought up Wednesday. She apologized. She said that she knew she had taken away the container. She said that she had been aware of this worried part of her running the show but she couldn’t stop it. She talked about how there were probably lots of mad or hurt or scared feelings on my part. She said she knew that she had taken away the boat and left me, but that she had brought the boat back now, that she felt stable and able to contain things again. She said that there had been a part of her that had felt like, “I just want someone to take care of me” and maybe I had sensed that and that might have brought up a lot of mom stuff for me. She said that maybe this wasn’t surprising this happened, that we had been dealing with things the week before that pertained to my therapist as a teen not being able to contain things, not feeling safe to me, not believing me, and ultimately those things resulted in a rupture that was never repaired. She said that this rupture was an enactment, that she understood what had happened and this explained her behavior. She told me the difference was that this rupture would be repaired and that she was committed to repairing it.

I spent most of that entire session very far away, unable to deal wth everything that had happened on Wednesday and feeling way too unsafe with her to be able to be present and talk about anything. She said she was back, but I didn’t feel her.

I did give her my notebook to read. I had written some of my hurt and disappointed and mad feelings in there. I had written that I had broken my therapist and that I couldn’t even talk to her about it because she felt bad enough already. I wrote that I didn’t know how to talk to Bea about Bea.

She read everything. She reassured me that I had not broken her, thatI was not too much. She said she could handle all the mad and other feelings, that I could talk to her, that she wanted me to share them with her. She suggested we look at our calendars to see if we could schedule another session that week because she would be out on Wednesday.

I told her I couldn’t schedule anything right now, that I just couldn’t. I said that I was afraid anything I had to say would make her mad or upset, that it would make her leave. She said she was confident she could contain anything I had to say and that it would not make her go away. She said she was feeling much more stable now.

When I couldn’t find my words, she gave me options of emailing, texting, scheduling a session or having a phone call.

In the end, I only emailed to say thaf I couldn’t make a choice and I appreciated all the options she had given me.