Today’s therapy session made me feel needy. It was the second session after a long break in which my therapist forgot to contact me. Being away from therapy and being forgotten by my therapist in this time re-activated some serious inner fear of abandonment.
It’s hard to describe to someone who is secure but you basically feel like you’re going crazy. On an adult cognitive level, you understand that your therapist was probably very busy and that you can easily survive two weeks without him. On a child-like level, you feel paranoid, scared, alone, sad and angry. I have had these moments before and felt reluctant to share them with my husband because I don’t expect him to understand and I don’t want to burden him.
Anyway, I opened up in the session and told my therapist that I was scared to need him in case he wasn’t there when I reached out. It was also difficult for me to accept help from other people because being needy was seen as weak while growing up.
He didn’t rush to fill the gaps or re-assure me. Instead, he just sat quietly in his chair with his leg resting on one knee and gazed gently at me on the couch. Cars whooshed past outside, a tree branch cracked and the wooden floors creaked slightly. And yet, I felt the silence in the room screaming out like a canyon between us. I wanted to shake him and ask if he had not just heard what I had said. The silence passed between us and hot tears rolled down my cheeks. I broke down and told him I really needed to know he would stick by me in the therapeutic relationship, even if I expressed uncomfortable or unacceptable thoughts or feelings. Included in this was a plea for reassurance. That I was safe with him in the therapy room and we would work as a team, especially in those moments where I was lost.
YOU ARE SUCH A “NEED JERK”, I REACTED…IN MY HEAD AT LEAST…
I looked to him and after a while, he asked if I was waiting for him to say something. I managed to force out a feeble “yes”. Cold panic crawled through my stomach and I could not believe he was being unresponsive. He said that he understood it must be difficult to be feeling this way. His tone of voice made me blurt out… “it sounds like there’s a ‘but’ in there”. He smiled and said something like: “but there is nothing else to be done except for us to continue talking and try to get somewhere”.
We moved onto other things for the remainder of the session and I was really taken aback by how I had bravely expressed powerful needs and had them ignored. To me, these needs were not unrealistic or unfair. All I wanted was him to say that he’ll stand by me, even if I fall apart. How can you fall apart mentally if there is no one there to catch you?!
At the end of the session, he asked how I was feeling and I replied that I was relatively calm because I had raised positive memories in the last seven days which made me feel good. I also said that I understood he wasn’t trying to be be cruel with his approach but that I needed to go home and digest what had happened.
I’m starting to understand that by not reacting, he was giving me the space I needed to feel all these yucky things which had been buried inside.
Talk about a painful process.