Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's group therapy and individual therapy

I shared in group today.  I cried in front of 15 strangers.  Well, some were strangers and some have been in the program the whole time I’ve been in it.  I told them that I aged out of foster care, that I lived in 42 homes.  I cried about a situation I’m in right now.  I told them that all I’ve ever wanted was family and how people keep promising me family and then going away.  I told them that I feel like there must be something wrong with me.  I was honest.  More honest than I wanted to be but once I started talking it all spilled out.  The group asked me questions and didn’t make me feel like a freak.  It was scary but I feel better for having done it.

I tiptoed out of the last group five minutes before it ended, so I was able to catch the earlier bus.  I made it to therapy on time today.  I was early actually.  I searched for a spot, parallel parked, and leisurely walked.  I walked into the building, and sat on the sofa in the waiting room and played on my phone while I waited for my therapist to call me back.  At exactly 3:00pm my therapist came out to call me back.   

Current Therapist: “You were early today.”
Me:  “Yeah, I left early.”

I flopped on the sofa and put the fluffy orange pillow in my lap like I always do.  My therapist sat on her chair and moved around until she was comfortable.  She crossed her  legs like she always does. 
CT:  “How was the program?”
Me: “It was okay.  One woman showed up today in leather pants, a camouflage hunting hat, and a 
         cape!  It was very entertaining.”
CT:  “Did you ask what inspired the outfit?”
Me:  “No.”

The room gets uncomfortably quiet.  I picked at the orange fluffy pillow and fought with my anxiety so I can tell my therapist what I’m really feeling about our relationship.  I shift in my seat and look down as I talk to her.

Me:  “I don’t feel very comfortable with you anymore.”
CT:  “Why not?”
Me:  “Because I don’t know what’s happening with us.”
CT:  “Uh huh.  Is there anything I can say that will clarify things for you?”
Me:  “No because one week you’re my therapist and the next week it feels like you can’t handle me.”
CT:  “And that makes you feel unsafe.”
Me:  “Yeah and it makes me angry because it took me a long time to feel safe with you and now I
           don’t anymore.”

We grew quiet again.  I kept starring at this black art on the wall that was basically a framed piece of wood with leaf cutouts.  Without looking away from the art I continued to talk.

Me: “Sometimes I feel like you don’t really want to be my therapist.”
CT:  “What makes you think that?”
ME:  “The things you say and I guess the things you don’t say.”
CT:  “Uh huh.  When do you feel that way?”
Me:  “I guess when you are freaked out about something.”
CT: “That makes sense.  Maybe it feels like I am more distant when you think things freak me out.   
          Maybe I am not as warm.” 
Me:  “Sometimes I feel like you don’t like me very much.”
CT:  “Did I say something that made you feel that way?”
Me:  “Would you feel very cared about if someone told you they couldn’t hold your spot while you 
           were in the hospital?”
CT:  “No.  I wouldn’t.” 
Me:  “I think I’m too screwed up for you.  I’m too much for you to deal with.”
CT:  “I think that’s the space you always go to.”
Me:  “You basically said that to me.” 
CT:  “What did I say?”
Me:  “That you thought I needed to see someone else for therapy.  You pushed and pushed me to talk
           about my feelings and then when I finally did you freaked out.” 

CT:  “Here is where I am coming from.  Sometimes I feel like I care about you more than you care
          about you.  You went through so much.  You were abused for a long time by a lot of people and
          now you are abusing yourself.  It’s like watching someone you care about being abused and the 
          person abusing them is themselves.  I can’t sit here and watch you do that.  I want to be your 
         therapist but only if you want to be here.  I can’t be your therapist if you’re going to kill 
         yourself.  I can’t be the only one doing the work.  You have to be willing to do the work with
         me.  You have to want to find a way to live.” 

Me:  “I started coming to therapy because I wanted to find a way to live.”
CT:  “I know you did but then you tried to kill yourself.  I can’t help you if you are just going to give 
         up. 
Me:  “I’m going to group therapy all day two days a week.”
CT:  “I know you are and I’m so proud of you for that.” 
Me:  “How do I know that you won’t change your mind next week?”
CT:  “I think I didn’t articulate things correctly before.  I didn’t handle things very well.  It took me a 
          long time to know what to do and I said and did a lot of things that made you feel unsafe and 
          like you weren’t cared about and I’m really sorry about that.  But I want to be your therapist if 
          that’s what you want but you cannot kill yourself.”

We sat in silence for a few moments before we talked about other things in my life right now.  We talked about the day program and my feelings about a few friends not finding time for me since I left the hospital.  I tried to change the subject a few times but my therapist wouldn’t let me. 

(There are a couple of people who might think this is about them.  It probably isn’t, but if it is, then it’s just my feelings.  Don’t take it personally).

CT:  “Well maybe she is just scared.”
Me:  “I don’t think so.  She said she just can’t find time for me.”

I began to cry, just a little at first but pretty hard by the end of the session.

CT:  “Well let’s try to figure this out.  How do you think she feels?”
Me:  “Like I’m too screwed up to be in her life.”
CT:  “No.  Really think about it.  How would you feel if someone you care about tried to kill 
          themselves?”
Me:  “I don’t know.  I always fuck everything up in my life.”
CT:  “No.  I’m not talking about blame.  I’m talking about feelings.”
Me:  “I always do something that makes people leave.”
CT:  “No.  You’re skipping a step here.  What do you think she is feeling?”
Me:  "Maybe she just doesn't want to be around me anymore."
CT:  "You tried to kill yourself multiple times."
Me:  "I didn't try to kill myself multiple times with her."
CT:  "I know, but think about how that might make her feel."
Me:  "Obviously I'm not very good at it."
CT:  "I'm glad that you aren't."
Me:  “I really don’t know what you want me to say.”
CT:  “I want to think about how you hurting yourself affects other people too.  I think she’s scared,
          maybe angry, and confused.  She’s pushing you away and it sucks but I don’t think that means
         she’s going away.” 
Me:  “I don’t have anyone in my life that’s in my life unconditionally.  Right now I need someone the 
          most and she said she can’t find time for me.”
CT:  “And that makes you feel like you’re not important or cared about.”
Me:  “How can I be important when everything else comes before me?  And I mean everything else. 
          Even now.  There is something wrong with me. “
CT:  “No there isn’t.”
 Me:  “Then how come I can do something huge for someone.  I can give them a huge part of myself 
            and it’s still not enough.  It still doesn’t make me very important.  It still doesn’t make me 
            family.  People keep telling me that I’m family, but then they don’t treat me like it.  They tell 
            me I’m family and they go away anyway.  I’m such a fuck up in life.  Something is WRONG 
            with me.  What’s wrong with me?  Why do people keep leaving me?”
CT: “You have had a lot of people promise to be your family and then leave but I don’t think that’s 
         what’s happening here.  I think she’s scared and keeping her distance from you.  People deal 
         with things in different ways.  Even family can be disappointing.” 
Me:  “She said she doesn’t have time for me.  I think people are always more important to me than I
           am to them.”
CT:  “I know but I don’t think that was completely honest.  We have to stop in a minute but I think 
         what happens for you is that it takes a long time for you to trust that people care about you and 
         then when there is any kind of tension you think Uh oh! They are going to leave me.” 
Me:  “Uh oh! hahaha."  I imitated the way my therapist said Uh oh.

She said more but I couldn’t concentrate because I was laughing through my tears at her “uh oh.”  She laughed too but continues talking on the subject.

CT:  "We have to stop now.”

 I begin to get up. 

CT:  “Do you want to take some tissue?”
 I pull one from the box.

CT:  “Just one?”

I grab the whole box and walk out.  My therapist laughs.  I go back in and put the box of tissue back on the table and leave.  My therapist continues to laugh as I walk away.