Time flew by and the sessions between my new therapist Heart Healer (HH) and I quickly racked up. We spent the first six catching up on my childhood, major relationships and challenges, as well as figuring each other out.
Like a good detective, HH was curious and tried to figure out basic connections between things before jumping right in and confronting the ‘baddies’. He felt there was a link between the vulnerability and safety of young women and children in my job to an afraid or lonely child inside me.
There was an adult part and a child part. The child felt scared vocalising things because of not wanting to hurt others and see them in pain. The child also did not want to be so vulnerable that others would take advantage or hurt her. I felt a sense of relief at him acknowledging these fears and vulnerabilities.
“There is a child part that doesn’t have a voice,” HH said one session, his finger pressed to his cheek while deep in thought. “There is feeling and emotion but little voice… It feels like it may have been suppressed“.
Over the next few sessions, it would become clearer why this was so.
Despite our productive moments, I have to admit that I was stumped by his behaviour and body language at times. He always seemed quite nervous when greeting and saying goodbye. Was I really projecting or was this about him?, I wondered. I mean, I was obviously anxious going into every session because he was new and I was apprehensive about some things that had come up in previous sessions. But surely he’d be a little more chilled for someone who had been doing this for 17 years? Every now and then, I would notice him yawning. Or sitting back quietly in his seat with his arms folded and closed off. Maybe he had just had a long day or some challenging sessions? I had to constantly challenge my anxious thoughts and give him benefit of the doubt.
But there was one major developing theme I could not shake. I would get to the waiting room a few minutes before our session and sit patiently. Other clients would come and go with their therapists. The big arm of the clock on the wall would strike 12 and still I would sit. He would only come fetch me about 5-7min after our session time had started. This may not seem like much. But in a 50-minute “therapy hour”, it was a lot. The time we were missing out on was not what affected me most. It was the visceral feeling of abandonment. I felt isolated and confused as I waited. I started to doubt myself and our therapeutic relationship. It brought up old themes of not being good enough or worthy of someone’s time. His other tasks were more important and I was ‘a task’ that would have to wait. I didn’t mention any of this to him for over a month. But I had learnt enough from my therapy with DS to raise my therapeutic experience because it was grist for the mill. It was also an extremely difficult but necessary goal of my own to be more assertive.
My heart was pounding and I was trembling as I walked into his room. Could I trust him? HH acknowledged my fear of being retraumatised. There was always a duality. Hope and dread. “I wonder if your need to be seen, heard and validated comes from failed experiences in the past?” he mused.
Taking a deep breath in, I raised my feelings around him being consistently late in starting our sessions. With not a shred of defensiveness, he said he was in the wrong and it was his responsibility to start on time, not mine. He referred to it as an “infraction” and said he had every intention of doing better next time. I felt brave for telling him that waiting longer for him made me question things. He was so understanding and I felt myself relaxing a little. Feeling buoyed, I asked if it would be possible to let me know when we had 10 minutes left in a session because it took a while for me to gather myself before leaving. He said that was not normally something he did but that he was happy for me to pick up a clock he had and move it to a table we could both see. I felt a lot calmer.
He has been on time for every one of our sessions since. And the clock is always on the table as I get in. These were positive steps in building an alliance.