Thursday, March 24, 2011

Far far away

When I as 9 years old a psychiatrist asked me if there was anything I wished for. I think she meant to ask if there were any kind of toys that I wanted, but I took the question differently. “I wish I was a bird,” I said. “And why do you want to be a bird?” She seemed intrigued. “So I can fly far far away and nobody can ever find me.” She didn’t say anything as she took notes in a folder. Not much has changed. I’m twenty-something and I still wish I could disappear. I still wish I could fly far far away and never stop. At least then it wouldn’t matter that I never had a family. I could spend my life traveling the world, seeing things people have never seen. I can say hi to people as I pass through so that I will never get lonely, but I’ll never stay anywhere long enough to get attached to people. I’ll never stay long enough for someone to decide they don’t want me. I’ll never stay long enough for someone to dump me.


The last couple of weeks in therapy have been miserable. It started last Wednesday when I asked her if she wanted to be my therapist or not. Instead of giving me a direct answer she kept asking questions. It was a simple question at first but then it became some huge question that she refused to answer. She would give me clues and indirect answers that I would have to come up with some meaning for, but she’d never directly answer my question. She said that “It feels like she is being asked to submit to me.” How is asking her if she wants to be my therapist making her submit to me? I just wanted an honest answer and the fact that she couldn’t give me an answer was an answer in itself.

Last week was really rough. I brought something to share with my therapist on Wednesday. Something huge. Something that is really hard for me to deal with on my own but before I shared it with her I wanted her to tell me that she wanted to work with me. I didn’t want to share it if she was going away. I said, “I still don’t know if you want to work with me or not.” Instead of telling me that she wanted to work with me she went on and on about the subtext of the question. I said, “I’m not asking for marriage.” She seemed really amused by this analogy and giggled for a few moments. I didn’t. I regretted the analogy as soon as I said it because she ran with it and could not think of anything else. I began to shut down. “I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me,” I repeated a few more times throughout the session. She just didn’t get it. Well, at the end of the session she got it because she said, “Was it as simple as me saying that I want to work with you? I think maybe I didn’t get it.” Yeah, no kidding. Even after she seemed to understand, she still didn’t tell me that she wants to work with me. By the end of my session my whole body was buzzing. I was barely holding it together. I just wanted to leave. After the session I sat in my car and sobbed. I buried my face in my sleeve, leaned into my steering wheel and sobbed. The kind of sobbing where strange, primal noises came directly from my gut and a string of drool fell from my lips. I sobbed uncontrollably for about half an hour. I sobbed because my therapist doesn’t get it. I sobbed because I don’t want her to leave me but I don’t trust her anymore either. I sobbed because my life just won’t get any better. I sobbed because EVERYONE leaves me. I sobbed because there is something really big that I’m dealing with right now and I don’t have anyone I trust to talk to about it with.  I don't have anyone to help me with it. I sobbed because I don’t think I’ll ever stop hurting, that I’ll ever feel like a whole person.

The next day wasn’t any better. I picked at the fuzzy orange pillow in my lap and listened to her refuse to tell me that she wants to stick around. I worked up the courage to flat out asked her.
Me: “Why can’t you just answer the question?”
Her: “I wasn’t aware there was a question.”
Me: “Yeah, okay.”
Her: “You want a guarantee that I’m always going to be around but I can’t give you that.”

I was silent again. God, why does she have to say things like that? That’s not what I want at all. She just doesn’t get it. I chewed on the left corner of my bottom lip and tapped on my shoes. I was thinking about ways to get out of the room with her.
Me: “I’m just going to go home.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “Because you’re pissing me off.”
Her: “How am I pissing you off?”
Me: “Because I’m not asking for a fucking guarantee. I said that I didn’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me. All you had to do yesterday was say yes or no, but you didn’t. I felt like crap when I left here yesterday.”
Her: “I wasn’t aware that was a question.”

My angry grows because I know that she was aware of it. She mentioned it yesterday.

Me: “Okay. Whatever. It doesn’t matter anymore anyway.”
Her: “Why not?”
Me: “Because I don’t trust you.”
 Her: “You don’t trust that I’m not going to leave you?”

Why can’t she talk to me like a normal human being?  Enough with all the therapisty stuff. 

Me: “A couple of weeks ago you said you didn’t know if you were helping me. I specifically asked you if you were going to drop me as a client and you said you didn’t think you were helping me. What else am I supposed to take from that?”

Her: “I don’t remember that interaction.”

I interrupted.
Me: “I do.”

She went on and on about what she meant by it even though I don’t know how you can know what you mean by something if you don’t remember the interaction.
Her: “I am here to do therapy with you if that’s what you want. You are seeing things as very black and white. You think I want to leave but I’m right here. I come here three times a week to see you.”

Now I am annoyed that she won’t just say that she wants to work with me. Why can’t she say that she wants to work with me? Why is that so hard?

Me: “You don’t do the things you say you will do so how am I supposed to know that you mean the things you say you mean?”

She thinks for a moment obviously searching for what I might be talking about.
Her: “You’re upset I didn’t visit you in the hospital.”
Me: “No, I am upset that you said you would visit me and then you didn’t.”

We talk more about her not visiting me in the hospital. She doesn’t really provide an excuse or apologize for not keeping her word. I can tell she is upset because she keeps taking deep breaths and letting her cheeks puff out a little as she exhales through her mouth. I tell her I think I should go home.

Her: “You keep saying you want to leave but I don’t think you really want to leave. I think this happens a lot in your life. I think you say you want to leave but you really want to stay. There seems to be a pattern here.”
Me: “No, everyone always leaves me.”
Her: “I think maybe you push people away before they can leave you.”
Me: “Whatever, It doesn’t matter.”
Her: “Do you think you’re feeling this way because I was away last week? Do you feel like I left you last week?
Me: “No.”
Her: “You answered that kind of quickly.”
Me: “No. I don't.”

She becomes more rigid in her chair and shifts so that her legs are now facing away from me. I observe her and feel like I am in a Body Language 101 class.
Her: “I think what’s happening is you’re seeing everything as black and white and that’s agitating me because there is nowhere I can go with that. Maybe this is what you want. This is the reaction that you want from me.”
Me: “No.”
Her: “No?”
Me: “No.”

Annoyed and insulted because what I want is so simple. I want her to dump me or tell me she’s not going to dump me and or at least says she does in fact want to work with me. I also want her to apologize that she didn’t come visit me in the hospital and admit that it was kind of crappy that she didn’t after she promised she would. She hasn’t done any of that and it seems as if she won’t do any of it.
Me: “I’m just going to go,” I say and begin to stand up, but before I can get up my therapist says in a very firm tone,

Her: “Would you just sit back down!? You’re really going to piss me off if you do that!”

Startled, I sit back down. I’m extremely upset and having a hard time calming myself. After a few moments of unbearable silence I laugh.—A nervous tic. I lay my head on the back of the sofa and giggle again but this time it’s not a tic. My therapist asks, “What are you thinking.” I say, “I’m thinking I can’t believe you yelled at me.” My therapist smiles.
Her: “Well, I didn’t yell at you.”
Me: “Okay, I can’t believe you scolded me. I wasn’t expecting that.”
We both burst out laughing.
Her: “I surprised myself a little bit too.”
We laugh some more and my therapist looks like she might cry.
Her: “How does it feel to be scolded by your therapist?”
Me: “At first it pissed me off but now I think it’s funny.”

We giggle some more. I’m not sure if the laughter was because what happened was funny or because we both needed a release. I grew serious again after a few moments. My therapist looked at me still smiling and laughing. I’m not sure what she wants at that moment.
Her: “What’s going on over there?”
Me: “Everyone always leaves so I would rather leave them first.”
Her: “But what if they don’t want to leave you and you leave them because you think they are going to leave you?”
Me: “I’m not like everyone else. Everyone always leaves me.”
Her: “What I’m saying is you’re setting yourself up if you push people away or if you leave before they can leave you. I think you do this a lot in your life. You’re doing it with me. You leave people so they can’t leave you. You push them away so that they will leave you. You protect yourself by shutting down before you can get hurt… but you still get hurt.
Me: “yeah.”

My therapist thinks for a few moments before she says,

Her: “This isn’t a one to one but you know my analogies never are, but you know, maybe this one can just stay where it is. I know you don’t like my analogies.”
Me: “It’s not that I don’t like them.”
Her: “Well, do you want this one?”
Me: “Okay”
Her: “So the other day I was watching The Bachelor.”

I interrupted her.
Me: “You watch that show?”
Her: “Well, sometimes.”
Me: “Are you ashamed that you watch that show?”
Her: “No, I think it’s funny that I watch it. Well anyway, I was watching it and one of the women asked the guy to just eliminate her if he wasn’t going to pick her at the end.”
Me: “Um, no. Doesn’t work. Not the same at all.”
My therapist laughed.
Me: “I’m not in a competition for love.”
Her: “Well it’s kind of the same. She wanted to be eliminated before she could get hurt.”
Me: “Um…NO. I don’t think anyone goes on that show looking for love.”
Her: “Okay but in theory it works.”
Me: “Not really, but okay.”
My therapist laughs.
Her: “Will I see you tomorrow?”
Me: “Okay.”
Her: “Cool. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye” we say in unison.

I got up and closed the door.

And then she canceled the session very last minute on Friday.

This week wasn't any better.  She called me on Wednesday at 1:30 and told me if I didn't call her back by 2:00 she wasn't going to show up for therapy.  There was NO reason for her to do that.  I didn't give her any reason to think that I wouldn't show up.  She had no reason to give me a thirty minute window to cancel on me.  What if I didn't get the message until after the window?  I feel like she was purposely trying to miss my session.  I don’t really remember my session from Wednesday except I left within the first 15 minutes and then came back ten minutes later. I honestly don’t remember the rest of the session, but I called her shortly after my session and said, “I just don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t think you want to work with me and I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me.” She called back a few hours later and said “right now we are going through something but I think its an important part of therapy to get through this together. I think I’ve told you in a number of ways that I want to be your therapist.” This was the first time she’s ever said anything like that. Last week she said, “I come here to see you, so that must show you something, right?” And the next day she canceled. I told her on the phone that I feel like she’s playing games with my head. She said that she wasn’t but she wanted to talk more about it tomorrow.
I didn’t want to show up today but I did anyway. The meeting was pretty much the same as other ones except I cried a lot. When did I become such a cry baby? Crying used to be impossible for me.

“I just want to know if you want to keep working with me or not.” I’m not sure why that’s a hard question. I told her that last week and she said that I should see that she wants to work with me because she shows up for our sessions. Then the next day she cancels. I told her that it really sucks that she promised me she’d come visit m in the hospital but she didn’t. She said, “That must have been really disappointing for you.” I said, “I’m not upset that you didn’t come. I’m upset that you said you would come and then you didn’t.” She thought for a second before she said, “you’re upset that I didn’t keep my word.” I shook my head yes. “You don’t think it’s wrong that you said you would do it and then didn’t?” She said that she doesn’t think it was wrong that she didn’t visit me, but disappointing. I asked her how breaking a promise isn’t wrong and she said, “I think things like murder, rape, child abuse, those things are wrong. Not doing what I say I will do, that’s just disappointing.” I was highly annoyed. “Sure if you compare everything you do against rape and murder, than I guess nothing you ever do is wrong." I also said, "I know you are going to say the reason you didn’t come is because the hospital was too far away but that just makes me feel like crap so please don’t say that.” She lined up her fingers on each hand like she always does when she’s thinking. “I’m sorry that it hurt you that I didn’t come visit you in the hospital.” That was the first time she’s ever apologized for anything. I said, “Yeah, well that’s the first time you apologized for it, but it doesn’t really matter now.” Her frustration was growing. You could feel it in the room. “I feel like you’re pushing me into a corner.” She said as calmly as she could.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore. “ I begin to cry. “What can’t you do anymore?” She asked softly. “Any of it. I can’t do any of this anymore. I just asked a simple question and now you’ve turned it into this huge deal. I have so much going on right now besides this. I can’t do this anymore.” I cried. “I know you have more going on, but I think it’s important we work through this. I know this is going to piss you off now, but I want to be your therapist. I want to work with you.” She said, obviously agitated. I cried harder. “Now I feel like you’re making fun of me.” She leaned forward in her chair, “I’m not making fun of you.” She sighed, obviously frustrated. I asked, “Is this fun for you?” She looked at me and said, “Does this look like this is fun for me? This isn’t fun for me at all. I want to be your therapist and I want to see you tomorrow. Are you coming tomorrow?” She scolded in a very harsh tone. Still recovering from my tears and gasping little breaths I said, “That wasn’t a very nice way to say that.” She laughed. “I know it wasn’t. I’m just frustrated right now. Will I see you tomorrow? “I looked at her for the first this session. “Are you going to yell at me again?” She laughed. “I didn’t yell at you this time. I just go frustrated. I want to see you tomorrow, okay?” “Okay.” I stood up and left her office as quickly as possible. I have no idea what just happened.

I just want to fly far far away.