So I had the appointment.
It felt more or less like a job interview. Or an interview for a news article perhaps. Has an intake session ever felt that way to you? Do they always?
I thought, during it, I am telling someone else these things, but I am very much on my own with it. This is not having help. This is doing the hard work while also trying to answer a lot of questions. I’m still on my own with this.
I probably felt that way because I am used to doing it alone. I suppose I had hoped it would be doing what I do alongside someone who knows what I do and wants to help with that, rather than in the presence of someone trying to do something quite different.
I took quite a lot of what she did as an indication that having actual feelings felt too dangerous for her and I needed to stop feeling as quickly as possible. I spent most of the session quite disconnected from any sense of my self.
This may not really have been fair. Perceptions aren’t reality. She asked me about people who had cared for me as a child, and I began to cry. I just miss them so much.
She came and brought me a box of tissues and I took that as, “Clean yourself up, get yourself together, because this is making me uncomfortable.” Again, that might not be fair. But I tried very hard to stop crying and in the process bottled things up pretty hard, so that I no longer had any feeling inside.
All of it made me realize why therapy had not been helpful to me. It’s designed for people who get slammed by their emotions and can’t function. It’s not designed for people who become automatons with pleasant manners when under stress.
I am reminded prostitution is essentially acting. No one is supposed to realize the utter disconnection between your presentation of yourself and what is going on inside.
There was another point when she asked me something to do with being trafficked, and she asked a question to which the answer ought to have been Yuri. I felt very frightened, and I said that. I said I felt afraid to speak. She said, “We don’t have to talk about that today. We can leave that aside.” I might have said something more about it and she said, more definitively, “Let’s leave that aside for right now.”
Well, I thought it was interesting. I know I feel afraid of Yuri. I feel afraid to talk about him out loud, but sitting in a room telling someone this feeling I am having right now, that’s fear. It can be named and understood and it need not be overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be frightening to feel fear. That’s powerful stuff.
But it was also powerful to be able to make that connection between fear and speech. Something about Yuri makes me afraid to speak. That’s what I’m trying to do, make those kinds of connections, because I believe that makes them more manageable–like digesting food you have chewed instead of attempted to swallow whole. To me, that’s interesting and I think helpful.
She didn’t seem to think so.
I think I need to work out what her perspective might be, and what typical therapy is trying to do. I am as mystified now as I was when I started therapy 25 years ago, and I suspect it’s so much a part of her beliefs about how therapy ought to be done that she will not be able to see it or explain it.