Therapy From the Beginning #1
My feelings about the first appointment are all over the place. On the one hand it went well. I was able to talk, and express the real issues well and effectively, I think. She was validating. When I first saw her she looked a little stern, but she was nice. She was professional, clear, boundaried. I think I’m feeling all contrary because I felt intimidated by that and secure in that at the same time. This was Liz’s space, she knew exactly what she was doing. I felt young, emotional, vulnerable, not my usual disconnected, in control self. And that was because of the very obvious and steady frame she set. She was the one in control; confident, experienced, comfortable.
It felt terrifying. But was she really intimidating or was that the reaction of the distressed part of me that wants help? The fact that that side of me was able to reveal itself at such an early stage, was probably because of the stable frame she set. The feeling intimidated may not be a negative thing from her, it may be from the inner me, the me that she could see, that she connected to, that she made space for in the room. So that would be a positive thing, wouldn’t it?
I think the issue is the conflict inside of me. The battle between different parts. The initial session went well but it created tension rather than relief.
There is the ‘Please Help Me’ part that sees what it needs to heal; a potential offerer of help, support and safety and it wants to go towards that. But then other parts go crazy.
The part that is terrified, because it fears 'There is No Help’ because that is all it knows and it doesn’t know how to trust or be with anything else. It’s scared, it feels vulnerable and helpless and in danger of being hurt and rejected. It feels hopeless and worthless and like it doesn’t deserve help, because there is no help.
So the 'I Don’t Need Anyone’ part steps in. I shouldn’t be doing this. What am I even doing? I don’t need help. I shouldn’t need help. I’m making myself ill. I’m being self indulgent. I need to get myself under control. I need to stop this.
Then there’s my reaction to those parts. My defenses. I need to keep the 'Please Help Me’ part hidden. I’m ashamed and embarrassed by its neediness, it’s too much. I should be self sufficient. Capable. So I detach/dissociate if I feel it come up too much in session. But sometimes a little bit is ok? I release it a little bit without revealing the full extent. I ask for help whilst still keeping defenses up. Then I do get a desired response, like with my previous therapist Gwen and now Liz too. But it is still surrounded by shame. I feel I’m being manipulative, generating feelings of care in people that wouldn’t be there if they saw the whole me. I’m revealing a bit of pain, a bit of vulnerability, making them want to help me but then I can’t/won’t drop the defenses so I won’t let them help. I’m hurting them. I’m a nuisance, difficult, cause them problems.
With the 'There is No Help’ part it’s the same thing. No. I need to keep that part hidden. It’s too pitiful, shameful, weak. It’s not the capable, in control person I present to the world. Someone of value. It has no value. It has no validity. It’s pathetic. Dissociate from it. Detach from it. Keep it down if I feel it come up in session. It also has the potential to overwhelm and get out of control, to just cry and cry and not stop, to drown out everything else, what’s real and what’s not. Collapse and cease to function. To go crazy
All this is why therapy is/has been so difficult. The conflict in me. The defenses. The push/pull. The increasing tension and overwhelm, but without relief because of my defenses blocking the release that would come from just letting go, being seen, going with what my body and emotions want to do. Then the validation that would follow of that being ok, of me being ok, in the presence of another person. The support that I could then take in, increasing my solid sense of self and worth.
But now I find I’m questioning myself again. Whether I need therapy or whether I’m wasting these people’s time. What if I see Liz for a while and she learns more about me and thinks things aren’t that bad, gets bored with me, thinks I’m being self indulgent, wallowing, attention seeking. Maybe I don’t even need therapy. Maybe it is all in my head and I’ve just become obsessive about it, fixated on it. I can and should just move on.
But I’m not moving on am I? Is that a sign that I need help, or that I’m obsessing and dwelling when I shouldn’t?
Gwen and Tina, my most recent nhs therapists, both thought I needed, deserved, more help than the limited sessions they could offer. Do I trust their judgement?
Is this fear, avoidance? I’m scared of being rejected, of not getting help. So part of me is rejecting it first, saying I don’t need it. But I want it. I want help. But that doesn’t mean that I need it. What if what I want is wrong? What if I’m wrong?