Session Five. Well that was wrong in so many ways. So much so that this may be the premature demise of Lessons From Therapy. The session went from where I knew it would start but didn’t want it to go, straight into the toilet. And now I’m left questioning Deep Stare and the entirety of my need for any of it. Here’s how it went down.
For me, the experience of therapy is weirdly continuous. I leave the session room and can come back days later able, nay eager, to continue where my last sentence left off. It’s very discrete in that way. With a full roster of clients, I can’t see how it could be a similar experience for the therapist but maybe it is for each patient. It’s as if time is its own entity in that room, lapsing by weeks, the only marker being clothing changes. In that vein, this week I came in ready to pick up from where we left off last. I had insights! I had questions! I needed answers! Me! Me! Me!
I’d stayed up the night before rolling over scenarios that might go down. Did I mention I talk to myself out loud? I do. But that got me ready to fend off the “how are you today” line of questioning that invariably leads to digging around in issues related to the present state of affairs. I was sweaty to discuss 7-day-old affairs. Stat. I was going to stand firm at the gate of kind intervention, shield ready.
But my buckler failed me.
Before the sofa cushion got warm, we were down a line of conversation I wholly wanted to avoid. Not because it was a “sensitive area” but damn, because there were other pressing items on the agenda. “How am I today” led to revealing that I’m ambivalent about travelling to meetup with my partner because it’s a disruption in my current upswing at the same time as being a vital pleasure. I know that already. No need to discuss it on the clock. It’s fine. Or is it? Welcome to therapy.
The conversation highway turned a gentle slope towards the feelings of abandonment I may have experienced as a wee child being left alone when my single mother went on a double shift at the hospital. Fine. I can deal with that too. I’m a grown-up. Not an issue.
Then, before I could quickly steer into the turn to avoid the crash, we careened straight into “tell me about a time when you were young when you felt…” and I swear I didn’t hear a sound after that. You can’t ask me questions of that nature just all willy nilly. There are zero times when I was young. No times when I felt. There is only a looming darkness that springs forth to separate safe me now from Tiny Me then and there are damned good reasons for that. I may not remember what they all are, clearly, but I know enough not to mess with that vortex of doom without a plan.
On this occasion, however, good ol’ Deep Stare just sashayed in on patent leather tap shoes. Confident. Well-meaning. Blithely unaware…despite having been explicitly told there is Terror with a capital T waiting in that region of the map. Just tap danced right off the stage into the orchestra pit.
I don’t know how I could have prepped a person more thoroughly. And yet.
When the Wall of Doom receded, or more precisely, when I stomped it into submission, we were already slipping down the next slope. I felt my personality shift to the unpleasant. It’s a place from which there is generally no turning back. Congratulate me though for not leaving the room right then and there. The butt stayed in the seat. The plan was to remain civil, to play out the proper niceties and leave without being a dick, all while suppressing the urge to hurl cuttingly accurate personal digs and bolt. I’ll take a medal for that, thank you very much.
Half an hour later though, we were still there trading accusations, apologies, explanations for educational purposes, and disappointment. So much disappointment. I don’t know about Deep Stare but my thoughts were playing a bunch of familiar tracks: Had I not researched well enough? Of all the therapists I’d interviewed, was Deep Stare not a solid pick? Was I an idiot for choosing someone in my relatively small area rather than driving to the Big City where there were sure to be a much greater number and variety of wackos to break in therapists before my own wacko arrival?
If you know anything at all about post-traumatic stress and/or C-PTSD in particular, you know it’s a powerful force. Once set off, it’s a bear to wrestle back into its cage. I walked out of that office, barely able to see much less drive. I swear to you I staggered like a sorority sister in heels on frosh week. In the car, several minutes of serious hyperventilating went down before anything approaching okay was reached.
So. Now. Do I suck it up, call it an inevitable pitfall of a perfectly normal process, and continue therapy trusting the relationship I thought we’d established? Or do I cut and run from someone who may be in over their head? I’m sure people ditch all the time when it gets too intense but this doesn’t seem like that to me. This seems like someone who should have known better made an innocent oversight and proceeded down a dark and twisty road.
Going to another session with Deep Stare either means stupidly putting myself in harm’s way in hope of some un-specified shinier future or manning up to face whatever “mistakes” may come while pocketing any side benefits picked up along the way.
I have no idea how or when I’ll make the decision. I have a few days to figure it out.
This would be the point, where you Dear Reader, would be right and good to throw your opinion into the ring. Alas, today, you exist only as a figment of my imagination. My hope is that someday this all will be of help to another, more actual, Dear Reader who may be in the same spot because therapy is for everyone. At some point in our lives, we all find ourselves in need of a shift in perspective that we may not get from the usual sources of support in our lives simply because we tend to hang out with people who are like us experientially. The fact that mental health care lower on the health priority list than preventative dentistry is baffling. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor and discuss the challenges in your life with an impartial third party who’s rigorously trained and experienced in bringing about the outcomes you desire. If ca$h is an issue, there are often publicly supported options waiting for you, worldwide.
It’s your life. Live it well.
Now…what the hell am I going to do?
This post is a snapshot in time. It reflects what I understand about myself and the world at this moment. It contains zero medical advice. To repeat, this entire experiment is one person’s interpretation of events and reflects my opinion only. Do your own research. Draw your own conclusions.