We had a rupture, but I didn’t even realize it until today when I felt the very obvious relief of a repair.
I came into my session today feeling beaten down and defeated and considering that maybe I should just stop therapy, because everything is all my fault. I cause my own suffering. I was terrified to talk about my nightmares, because I was convinced that she’d say it was just because of some sadistic desire that a part of me has and something I can control but choose not to.
We talked about what triggered me last week, which was something she said but I can’t remember what. But we talked through what I can say to her in the future if something she says triggers me again. She seemed pleased to be talking about last week, because she said that she felt like she kept missing me and couldn’t connect with me and now she knew she had actually been destructive.
The reason I was convinced she’d go along with me in believing everything is my fault is because the secret I divulged to her a few weeks ago is that a part of me wants to be hurt in the worst way and has a passive wish that it will happen again. The shame over this has eaten me up for years and became more pronounced after I told her. Last week, after I had my long flashback, T asked if that part was a factor in what happened that day. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, because she was essentially saying that I wanted to be pulled into a flashback. It was probably lucky that I was too dissociated at the time to answer. So we left it there and the session ended a few minutes later.
I’ve been wracked with guilt since that session, which increased once I had those nightmares. I hated myself so much for any pain that I felt, any negative emotions, any nightmares that I had, because I kept thinking of what she said and that I’m only in this place because I want to be. Even so, I knew I needed to talk about it with T this week, no matter how much shame I felt about it.
She seemed so pained when I said that it had been hard not to hate myself since she made that comment. She said she never wants anything she says to cause pain and that if she could take the comment back, she would, but I told her that it’s true. She didn’t answer but looked like she partially disagreed. She told me she’d been thinking about last week a LOT (I was surprised). She said it was a poor choice of words and bad timing on her part. She said she wanted so badly for her office to be a safe place for me and even described her “grandiosity” at thinking it should be a safe place caused her to blame the victim.
I sat there, staring at the floor, while she went on for a couple more minutes saying that last week she felt like she kept missing the mark with me, that nothing she was doing was helping me get out of the flashback, and that she wanted so badly to help ease my suffering. She said she’s always been an advocate for not blaming the victim, that she’s even done a presentation on it, and was horrified that she had because it goes against everything she believes and that it’s like her religion.
We were quiet for a couple of minutes before I thanked her for apologizing. She thanked me for allowing her to apologize. She explained that she realized she wasn’t allowing me to just be where I am and that her desire for her office to be safe wasn’t allowing me to do that. But even with her apology, I still feel some amount of hurt from the comment. Her apology doesn’t wipe that away, and I’m still left wondering if even a part of her believes it’s true. It hurts so much to think that there’s even the slightest possibility she thinks I “wanted” to be pulled into a flashback.
After she got all of that off her chest, I told her about the nightmare(s), and I said that I’m now afraid of my own mind because I’m terrified that some part of me wanted to dream that. She asked who the part is, and I said it’s like another abuser. Then I realized that it’s my father. The part that wants me to be hurt is an internalized version of my father. I couldn’t/can’t believe I hadn’t completely realized that before. I told T that I felt myself release just a tiny bit of guilt over having that part once I realized “who” it is. Although I also explained that I feel violated and helpless just at the thought of him being in my head even though I rationally know that I can, and should, have control over that part since it’s all in my head.
Of course, T was tremendously understanding of why it would feel that way, because that’s how things were in the past, and that it’s just where we are right now…That, yes, it is my mind and I do have control over it, but that part was created at a time when I really was helpless and didn’t have the tools to resist it. And then she asked if I could do her the favor of not berating myself for not being in a place yet where I can control that part – that I’ve only just named the part and it’s OK that I’m not “ready” to relinquish it. I had to smile a bit that she knows me well enough to know that I’d be hard on myself for not being rid of that part yet. She asked if there was anything we could do to help start to prepare me to let that part go and, through tears, I told her that her knowing all that she does and not kicking me out is a start.
We were getting towards the end, but I think we both felt some relief that we’d gotten everything out into the open. And it helps me trust her and trust the relationship even more. She said that I have amazing honesty and that she will make mistakes, as will I, but we can make it through together. I don’t know about the honesty part – I am still tight-lipped about a few things – but it felt nice to hear her say ‘we.’
It turned out to be a very healing session, for the most part. I was touched at how readily she took responsibility for her words and owned up to them. It’s surreal to think how much of an impact one simple question can have. I’m still struggling with all of this, but at least, for the most part, I feel secure in my T again.