Confession: I am attached to my therapist

I had never realized that any connections I had with people weren’t really real, but just some sort of approximation of connection that has been enough for me to have some friends over the years. I didn’t realize that until it dawned on me that I have a connection so true and deep with my therapist that the “‘A’ word” is being thrown around now. The one word that in three syllables can define a million different emotions and behaviors. And now that I’m here, finding myself attached to my therapist, I can see just how fervently I believed that I would never, ever be so close to someone to become attached. It’s too close to someone, and it means that if she decides one day that she hates me, it will hurt. I won’t be able to just shrug it off. I opened the door to my world, and instead of having her look at it through a pane of glass, she’s in here with me, and it’s terrifying.

I feel like being attached to her is a weakness – something to be ashamed of – so I never saw myself truly telling her the depth of what I feel for her, because it seems like something I should never feel in the first place. So when I came into my last session before my T’s 3 week break, I had fully cut off all emotion. We spent the first 15 minutes just chit chatting, and I had no intention of mentioning that I, or actually a smaller part, feel abandoned by her leaving in the midst of everything that has been going on. Except I had to cut myself off so completely to avoid feeling that abandonment anymore that I couldn’t even think straight. My head was full of swirling, dense fog. But, of course T suspected what was going on and asked if maybe I was cut off because of family issues, work, and the fact that she’s going away for a long time.

So, I told her. I explained to her how much I never expected that I would need someone. I told her that I let her in, and now it will hurt if she someday decides that she hates me. I avoided using ‘attachment’ in my phrasing, but we both knew that was exactly what was happening, and T wasn’t afraid to say it. She didn’t shy away from me when I admitted that I needed her (a fact I suspect T knew long before I really did). She didn’t judge me when I said that I’ve only ever had fake connections with people. Rather, she just said that I did what I had to do. She explained that, for me, people had been unreliable at best and abusive at worst and so I attached to horses and other animals instead.

She accepted the younger parts’ feelings about her leaving, even when I said that it hurt. But then I came back and said that I feel guilty for feeling the way I do, and she gently reminded me she’s sorry that I’m hurting, but the way she feels about me feeling hurt or loss over her leaving is her responsibility and not mine. It’s scary allowing her to take care of herself without me trying to do it for her. She said that attachment is a blessing and a curse, because sometimes it can be hurtful, but that she can’t even remotely imagine ever hating me.

Before we finished, she told me that if her plane falls out of the sky and she doesn’t come back, she wants me to find someone else to continue this work. She said it’s important work that I should continue, and that we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. She assured me she had every intention of coming back, but regardless, it seemed like an odd request. She’s never said anything like that in the 2+ years we’ve been working together.

It was good to get all of this out there before she left, but it was also bad, because now I have three weeks in my own head to convince myself that she actually really hates that I am attached to her and will promptly withdraw any kindness once she comes back. Hopefully August will come soon and I’ll see that isn’t the case. But until then…

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4 thoughts on “Confession: I am attached to my therapist

  1. Hey Kashley –

    I’m so glad you are making such strides in both connecting and feeling steady/brave enough to talk about your connection.

    I remember my wife saying to me at some point – “I’m here forever. You’re safe. I wish you could believe that.” And I said back – “What, in all of my experience, would teach me that? When the very relationship (with my parents), the relationship that is supposed to get internalized to the point where I believe relationships can be forever, can be safe, was NOT forever, and NOT safe?”

    Sometimes, it feels like my history is so much worse than having had no parent at all. Because instead of not being taught at all, being a blank slate, I feel like I’ve been trained to believe all relationships are temporary, are dangerous. It can feel like – “What’s the point of any relationship, when at any time, the other person can just choose to walk away and devastate me like that.”

    But my answer (to myself) – is that firstly, I’m learning that I can feel safe in relationships. The one I had with my mom is NOT how all relationships are. And secondly, if my wife left tomorrow I would NOT be as devastated as I was as a child. Back then (and it feels like it now, if I’m triggered) I felt like I was literally going to die. To explode into a million pieces. But those are a child’s feelings. Because it was true that I needed them to live, to survive. But I can feel, increasingly, that yes, I would be devastated. I would have feelings. But I would still be safe, I would still be good, I would still be okay.

    I know your T is going to help you start feelings this more and more.

    Thinking of you!

    1. MMM, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Thanks for also sharing your journey with this – it’s definitely a long one. I am finding more and more that I have this (seemingly) inherent distrust of relationships in general, because I am used to them being so dangerous and ultimately harmful in one way or another. It’s going to be weird and very hard to venture into this territory with T, but maybe it will actually turn out OK.

      ((Hugs))

  2. Awww, Kashley, that took a lot of courage to have the conversation with your T, but I promise it was worth it. It’s hard to let our Ts take responsibility for their stuff when we so badly want to take responsibility for everything. It speaks volumes of your T and the relationship you two have built over the years. T just wants to make sure that you see how valuable the work you two are doing, and how important it is that you continue no matter what. It sounds like T is in it for the duration, no matter what!

    Sending you safe hugs…

    1. Ah, it helps to hear you say that you think T is in it for the duration. I think that’s probably been my greatest fear throughout this entire time with her, is that she’s going to just leave. And maybe it’s taken me so long to get here, because I’m finally able to venture into the territory of thinking that maybe T isn’t going to just abandon me. That she’s stuck around this long, so maybe she’ll stick around a little longer, and maybe that means it’s slightly safer to let myself feel something around the relationship. Hopefully her plane isn’t going to fall out of the sky now. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words. (((hugs)))

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