Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Preparing for therapy

A question for those of you who stop by here - well two questions :)
1) Do you "prepare" for therapy?
2) If so, what do you do?

Sometimes I go in cold without even thinking about it during the day. These are usually busy days at work. Funny - sometimes these sessions seem worthless because there is not much to talk about (and then I feel guilty somehow). Other times, these unrehearsed sessions yield good discussions.

Sometimes, I go over what I might have jotted down from the previous week (here or in my private journal) and write down a few topics. It usually takes me awhile to ease into my list. But eventually I do and I feel like I've accomplished something at the end.

On the weeks when I don't go in with a list - I usually ask my T what she would like to talk about and whether she has anything on her list. Without fail, she always defers back to me. I find this frustrating. We have been meeting for about a year and a half. Surely some things have come up that she would like to go into deeper. But that makes it her agenda and not mine.

So - speak up. How does it work for you? And therapists out there - do your patients have lists? Do you ever bring up the topics or do you always defer to the patient?

Oh - and a follow up. Last week - I discussed nearly everything in my previous post and cleared up some things. The boundary issues are raw now with my friend next door. For now, I will try to work through those.

And - I like my therapist. My venting here is more about the relationship and not so much about her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Therapy funk continues

So - for the second time in my 1.5 years with my therapist, I left a message after this week's session to let her know I was in a therapy funk. I came out of this week's session unsatisfied - it happens but usually resolves with processing - and remained so for much of yesterday.

First - my therapist acquaintance who moved into the office next to my T was there on Tuesday. Her door was closed, she was in session and I could occasionally hear her voice. I found this incredibly distracting. So, now I'm thinking of changing my day/time to avoid her.

Second - during the initial phase of therapy this week, I commented on the fact that my friend was there and in session. My T said - "Do you know she's there or could she have left?" I explained that I had seen her car in the lot and had not heard any doors closing while waiting for her. (she ran over with the patient before and was about 10 minutes late for me) This led to T commenting on how observant and aware I am of things around me. Which led to her commenting that I had to be this way - I had to hear the creak of the stair, the door opening etc. Which led to me rebelling with "I don't need to hear it now - I'm not being abused now". I get tired of everything going back to the abuse. She commented that my body is "wired" that way - to respond, to be hyperaware, etc. I asked "how do we fix that?"

That led to a discussion of EMDR - which I've read about and am familiar with. My T does not do EMDR. So she commented that if I was interested in this I would "have to tell my story to someone else". I don't know - it was the way she said it or the way I heard it - but it came across as almost judging me - the second half of the sentence in my mind was "and we know you are not strong enough to do that".

I then asked her about attachment and told her that I thought a natural consequence of my abuse was that I have an issue with attachment. She wanted to know what context I was speaking about and what I had read. Part of me was thinking - shouldn't you know what attachment is and be telling me about the theory and agreeing that this might be an issue for me. Instead - she said she didn't think I had an issue with attachment because I had attachment with my husband and kids.

This led to me reminding her that I don't feel that close to my husband - that we don't "talk" about the big issues. We just exist (but it's worked well for 22 years). That's not to say we don't talk about things like how best to handle something with the kids or whether we should buy a new house or whether one of us should change our career path. But we don't talk about feelings, my abuse, sex, etc...... And she knows that - so that bothered me.

So having vented all this - I will say - I like my T. I would like her if I met her outside of therapy. At first, I thought she would have all the answers. Perhaps now I am realizing that she is human. BUT- I know that much of how I view life and handle situations and avoid intimacy is directly related to my childhood abuse. I know I can't change that, but I would like some guidance in working through it and going forward. I survive fine day to day - most would never guess my past. And she knows all this - I just don't feel like I'm moving forward.

Another caveat - there is a lot of additional stress in my life right now - work stress, nephew situation, daughter's surgery, depressed mother...... So perhaps I am too sensitive right now. She did call back last night and left a message on my cell. Something along the lines of "I'm glad you called (she said that twice), we need to talk about this, I'd suggest you come next week at your regular time and we can talk about a different time to meet. Or if you want to call beforehand, we can talk briefly about it on the phone." Her tone sounded annoyed and it sounded like she slammed down the phone. Although probably neither is true.

So - I continue in my therapy funk. :((

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Is that a word?

One lasting effect of my abuse has been my ability to compartmentalize my feelings. Or perhaps I have developed the ability to "not feel". I suspect that is how I handled the abuse at the time - by dissociating and not feeling. I rarely cry - when I do, it is usually in anger or frustration.

An example in my current life - an unthinkable thing is going on in my extended family right now. My teenage nephew suffered an anaphylactic reaction over the weekend and is now basically brain dead. Although he has some brainstem function, so if they turn off the ventilator, he may live in a vegetative state. I can't imagine the emotions my brother is feeling right now. I am providing telephone support to him, and in the moment during the calls, I have intense feelings with tears in my eyes and a knot in my stomach. But - I can turn it off and have been able to function fine at work in between phone calls.

I wonder if this is normal.