Session

I feel very strange today–mostly numbingly tired, but also struggling with emotions I don’t really understand.

I had therapy yesterday. I didn’t know what to really say after last week. I couldn’t really get away from a sense that what I might think or wonder about was not worth the bother of listening to or trying to understand. What do you do if you think that?

But I also imagine that may be a bias I already have and it’s easy to find evidence for something you are already inclined to believe.

I still can’t understand her response to me. I don’t know why I would need to keep repeating “no” to someone. I don’t know why no would not mean no to someone over the age of 14. I don’t understand pushing a boundary once it has been set. There doesn’t seem to be a way for me to understand it.

I do wonder if it was simply that the topic itself was so painful for her it couldn’t be talked about, but I find that hard to accept as an explanation. Do people really subtly try to restrict what you talk about out of fear of their own emotional reactions to it? Would a therapist do that?

So I didn’t know what to talk about, and we had the kind of session we have when she takes the lead. She asked a lot of questions. I dutifully answered. I didn’t think deeply about anything because when I do that she doesn’t wait for an answer. I just get another question. It was quite boring. There seemed to be life at the end only after the session was kind of officially over and we began to talk about going to the zoo.

I did bring up that I seem to be triggered by the sink. I had thought it had something to do with washing dishes, but I feel that doing other things at the sink at too. She asked me why. I said I didn’t really know. She said I could think about when I had last had that feeling. Well, I seem to feel guilty about the sink. I felt guilty walking home for no discernible reason, in class on Thursday for not carrying out the lesson plan in the way I later realized the teacher wanted, on Friday for not plugging a teacher’s laptops in (I forgot). I could go on. Do people only feel guilty on important occasions? Or maybe those are the only ones they remember.

It’s a sink with a metal counter that drains into it. That’s the kind of sink I had in Country X–not the faucet, that was just a tap affixed to the wall–and it was several inches shorter. So short one tall guest who offered to wash up knelt down rather than lean over it.

Maybe I miss my old house.

I also wonder if it looks a bit like a commercial sink to me, with the stainless steel counter, and if there was one like that where I saw bodies being butchered.

That seems more likely, but who knows…

I am struck by the idea that perhaps it frightens me to think that my story might turn out to be merely boring. I could be struggling with all of this difficult stuff and have it only matter to me.

I suppose that’s significant as an idea for me. When you grow up soliciting on the street you have a very clear idea how insignificant your life is to other people.

I think last week’s idea about the boy and his teacher related indirectly to that: it’s not that the boy didn’t matter, but that he was too much. I don’t think, for example, my mother had many ways to calm herself. People like that often navigate life by trying to control the world around them: they can’t calm down, so the best approach is to not get upset in the first place. Children are upsetting.

People who are like that live in these emotional wind tunnels. It’s deadening for a child, but the only way the adult has learned how to function and get through life. I think that might have happened for me with my mother: she didn’t want me, not because there was something terrible or even boring about me, but because her ability to cope did not extend to raising a child. A lot of my story is unusual, but I don’t think this piece is.

It’s a refreshing thought for me. I am sure for my therapist it wasn’t.

It’s not that easy to think no one helped me when I was being trafficked because it was too painful for them to think about long enough to take some action about, but it’s better than thinking the traffickers had their blessing. It’s also better than thinking people were just too busy with their own lives, although that’s probably true.

 

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6 thoughts on “Session

  1. Ellen November 20, 2017 / 11:05 am

    Well, people in general absolutely try to restrict the conversation because of their own fears of their emotional reactions. Obviously therapists need to avoid doing that, but if they’re not the best, they will also.

    I have a friend who asks questions like that. She kind of doesn’t respond to what we’re talking about, but fires out another question in a way that seems mechanical, and it is boring to communicate that way as I feel I’m being managed instead of responded to.

    There’s no way your story is boring Ash. No way. Your T seems uncomfortable with it, but that’s her issue.

    Hopefully you’re getting something out of this because being negated and not listened to one more time just doesn’t sound helpful, even if it is low cost.

    I know this is a suggestion you’re not going to be keen on, but I’ll say it anyway. I think the only way through here would be for you to start voicing your actual feelings about the therapist and the therapy. Even just a bit of them. See how she responds. She should have the capacity to allow you to express your feelings about what she is doing without retaliating. Your feelings might change with expression, or she might adjust to you somehow. It’s a thought. You are not there to be polite and accommodating.

    • Ashana M November 20, 2017 / 2:10 pm

      I am rather at a loss. I see her doing things that (in my view) clearly aren’t working and simply persisting with them. In the last session, she asked me something. I said no, she kept asking, I kept saying no. The same thing (for me) happens with the rapid-fire questions. There is no connection, nothing gets explored in any depth, most of the time the topics hold little interest for me. We have talked about that, but she still does it. I think you are right, but I don’t know what I would say. I find myself thinking why she can’t see what is in front of her. I wonder if the boring sessions we have are more how her own mind works, if her own mind is kind of rapid-fire, jumping from one thing to the next, never pausing to consider anything too deeply, and so it’s more comfortable for her, whereas the way my mind works requires a lot of effort, and if it’s really more comfortable for her to have a session which is more reflective of her own mental processes, and so she’s not having the same experience of boredom as I am having. I know when my own mind gets edgy and jumps around a lot, I basically stop listening to it, because it’s boring for me. The mental chatter gets pushed to the background, but I think chatter is much more normal for other people. I suppose I’ll write more about this, but I do think you are right. I just don’t know what to say. Thanks for your thoughts on this. It really does help.

      • Ellen November 23, 2017 / 7:15 am

        I’ll give you my opinion on this Ash. Therapy isn’t a normal relationship (obviously). Normally, if someone is not being helpful, you might try and get them to change what they’re doing. That may or may not work. But in therapy, your only job is too stick with what’s true for you, rather than directly get the therapist to change. Your job is really not to figure the therapist out to any great extent, though we do anyway. But for instance, when you say no, and she keeps insisting, you would shift the conversation to the fact that you’ve already said you don’t find this helpful, and that you feel unheard and disrespected (if that’s how you feel) when she persists. Presumably, she’d then have to deal with how you are feeling about her and/or her therapy. You get to keep saying how you are feeling. You wouldn’t keep along a track that is boring to you because you’d keep insisting on how you are perceiving things.

        I suspect what you’re doing is going off into your head at the first sign that she’s not really there for you. Which is understandable, but not what you’re trying to do.

        That said, she might be a lost cause. But that’s how I see the task of therapy when it’s not going well – you must stick to your guns for the full fifty minutes as much as you can. Presumably you like some aspects of her as you continue to go, so it might be worthwhile digging in.

        The other thing is, if you do this, you have to be able to tolerate the shame you may feel at expressing your true feelings and needs, which can be tremendous. If the therapist is any good, she will know this is hard and will support you.

        Hoping this advice is not annoying.

        Take care.

      • Ashana M November 23, 2017 / 11:04 am

        Well, I like the exchange even if we may not agree.

        I do know I really am interested in why she does what she does. That is transferable to other situations, for one, and I think there is a benefit to that.

        I spent a lot of years in therapy sharing my perceptions and feelings and being told I had the wrong ones. I think that’s an exercise in futility. We establish we disagree and little else. I do think it is useful for me to know what I think and feel whether or not I choose to share it.

      • Ellen November 23, 2017 / 1:04 pm

        I feel like that also – even if I don’t agree with someone who comments on my blog, if they phrase things with some sensitivity, I still like hearing it usually. 🙂

        But can I just comment – Being told your perceptions and feelings are ‘wrong’ is the definition of terrible therapy. Just saying.

        Cheers

      • Ashana M November 23, 2017 / 11:05 am

        Sorry, I wasn’t finished with that and may not have made sense

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