Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The As - Abuse, Anger, Anguish, Ambivalence, Abandonment & Attachment.

A is for Abuse, Anger, Anguish, Ambivalence, Abandonment and Attachment

(I have major issues with opening up and just talking. People talk about freewriting exercises. I freeze. I do much better with questions and answers. So I’m going to interview myself. Since I talk to myself anyway, maybe this will work.)

Q – Where do you think you are in processing the Abuse.
A – I’ve learned enough through my years in therapy, the books I’ve read, the blogs I’ve perused, the survivor sites I’ve joined and my training & education to know there is something else I’m not putting my finger on. Probably some memories out there floating around or something. Every so often it bugs me. But generally it stays far enough down in the depths that I can safely ignore it. I know there are some depersonalization/dissociation issues to deal with too. But I'm ignoring those too.

Q – How’s the medication, depression, anxiety?
A – The medication is okay. I’m still hungry a lot of the time, so maybe that’s more nursing-related than medication related. The depression is a tad bit better, but still not great. The anxiety is still higher than I’d like. I’d really love to throw some ambien for sleep and some xanax for the anxiety into the mix (says the me who used to despise medication, and still does, except when I don’t have it and then want it). But until I wean Bugaboo, it won’t happen.

Q – How’s the SI urges?
A – Bad. But under somewhat of a control now. ‘Nough said.

Q – So that’s the A for Abuse. What’s the Anger and Anguish?
A – Anger and Anguish are tied in processing my father’s death and the feelings towards his family. There’s some Ambivalence thrown in there too. Some confusion and back and forth see-sawing of things. I’m having trouble processing through that. Also having trouble because my sister and I generally “take turns” being the needy and the strong one. She’s needy now – with her anxiety, marriage issues and things. But I’m needy too and have the “older sibling” issues so I won’t lean on her when she is needy. The feelings keep spilling over into life. I cry a lot more than I used too. And the anger cycle leads to SI urges.

Q – So what is the Attachment and Abandonment?
Ablech. Isn’t our time up?
Q – No.
A – darn. Can I plead the 5th?
Q – Does this have anything to do with why you won’t return to T?
A – Yes.
Q – Tell me more about that (see, even my inner voices have been to enough T sessions and have worked long enough now with social workers that I have the “language” down pat)
A – I tried counseling before I had my daughter. It was okay, but nothing great. No real connection with the T. She let me “drive the boat” too much and so I could steer around anything hard and any deep issues. I got so far as to cut off contact with Toilet when I was pregnant. But didn’t get into any real issues.

Marital issues led me to seek some counseling later and I decided to try someone different. Ran a list of therapists covered by insurance, crossed out the ones I knew or had used in court. That left a few. Called some and went from there. Ended up with T. Did a few marriage sessions, and then some big panic attacks ended up with me in individual counseling. And thus began the road of abuse-related therapy.

T was good. Knew just how to push enough without pushing too hard. So progress was made. One of the biggest keys to progress was the fact that she gave me her email. I’m much, much, much better at writing things out and corresponding by writing. Somehow that turned into IM-ing sometimes and then pretty often as I worked through some really tough stuff. That was a great way to work through things for me. My schedule was crazy and she was kind enough to meet after hours or at other odd times. Sometimes we’d meet for coffee. Made a lot of progress therapy wise. But also felt like I got to know her too. And I know this isn’t something she does with all her clients. It was kind of a unique thing. She told me as much.

I gained great respect for her professional abilities, and those of her practice. So I stepped over my own boundary (that I had set) and began referring some of my clients to her. It was very strange for me. Especially when my husband started seeing her husband and we did group sessions. But it worked well as time went on. And I still send people over there.

The relationship dynamic changed and it became more friends/mentorish and less therapeutic in some ways. It was good but I kept telling myself to hold back. Because surely this wouldn’t continue, right? I mean no one sticks around me more than 2 years.

But………something happened. Not sure what or when. The emails and IM stop. So do the coffee meetings. Maybe it was supposed to work this way? Don’t most Ts build up attachment and then cut the cord? Kind of like parents do with kids? I mean in normal families? See I hate attachment because in my family whenever I got attached to someone, they kicked me in the ass down the street.

T is my mom’s age – a few years younger but same general age. Although her kids are younger so I never think of her as being the same age. But anyway, enough that there are some mom-type issues on my end. So there was a barrier on my side – see female old enough to be my mother and guard goes up. But then I let it down a bit as time went on. And the communication increased. And I did that dreaded A word – Attachment. I began to look forward to visiting and talking, value her advice, seek out advice. You know – things you do with a friend who is older and has more life experience. Someone who you have learned has valuable advice and insight.

So I get pregnant and the counseling part sort of winds down naturally. And stops after I give birth. T visits in the hospital. I also call her in a panic when Bugaboo ends up in the hospital and she comes over immediately and is very supportive. And we email some and talk a few times. Meet for coffee some. I contact her when my father dies. We talk briefly. 5 minutes. And she asks me to call when I decide whether I’m attending the service or not. So I do, but have to leave a message. I email too. And that’s it.

That was over 2 months ago. No return emails. Nothing. Now I know one of her children was in for a visit. Another got married. Her mother is older and has health issues. She’s got a life and family. She doesn’t check email all that often. She has a business to run. She’s busy. She has other clients. And I should get over it? Right. But see there are all these attachment and abandonment issues. And I hate them. And I miss having someone in that role – mom-type role to run through things with and talk too.
So why don't I pick up the stupid phone and call? Or email? Or text? Because.......I can't. That reeks of needy. And then I'm the one pushing things. See, I need someone else to make the first move. Because then they act because they want too - not because I did. Make sense? Oh and what if there is no response? Well just can't go there.

So why don’t I make another T appointment with her? Because I’m not sure how to go back to that strictly T-client relationship. I’m not sure it would work at this point. And I absolutely can not be needy – not me. So what if she thought I was just making an appointment to get back to talking and visiting? Horrors of horrors. Me need someone? Me affected by someone not calling me back? No way.

So while some sessions to work on these recent issues and the resurge of SI would be good. And I know they are objectively a good idea, I can’t do it. And perhaps my continued issues with neediness and control are even further indications that I need to.

Q – does the fact that you struggled writing this for days and weeks, have anything to do with the fact that T knows about this blog and has access?
A – Damn straight skippy. Because now I’ll wonder if she calls whether it is from seeing this or just because she thought of it on her own.

Q – so what are you going to do?
A – nothing. Because I’m stubborn. And I hate rejection, even if it is just perceived or in my head. And because de-nial ain't just a river in Egypt. It's a way of life for me. Stuff it down and move on.


Paul from Mind Parts said...

I'm sorry you've had mixed messages from your former therapist. It sounds like she had issues of her own and didn't know how to set the most appropriate boundaries.

But I wanted to throw a couple of other "A" words your way and see if they fit at all?


Wondering what you think?


Ethereal Highway said...


I'm starting to think that some of my similar issues might be about balance for me. But yeah - These "A" problems are frustrating.

Anonymous said...

That was a vulnerable glimpse into your heart. Took a lot of humility and courage.

I dont know your T but I would suspect from the things you said about her in the past...you are not just a "client" in her life, but a friend.

Scripture talks about the older women mentoring the younger women and I would suspect God has placed her in your life to maybe fill some of those needs your biological mother has let slide...

Anonymous said...

I love this post -- the format is great. I've done that sort of thing, too. One time working on a tough decision, I basically had the "for" and the "against" talk it out.

It sounds like you could use some closure with that T. I suspect that because the boundaries got so loose that returning to actual therapy with her would not work, but it would be helpful to be able to discuss what happened with that and how it's affected you. Since you worked well with her, perhaps she could refer you to someone else that would work well.

The whole boundaries in therapy thing is confusing. It seems, theoretically, that we ought to be able to get that kind of help and support from a good friend / mentor. But it doesn't seem to work out that way, practically, when the friend / mentor is a therapist.

I hated that my time with Joe was limited to scheduled sessions in his office or by phone, but at the same time I appreciated it -- he was all and only FOR me, and not a full participant with his own needs and wants.

Enola said...

Prochakas - good point about the needs/wants. In a way it is nice to have someone there that is all about you/me. But that didn't seem to be an issue when it was a t session.

HtoH - I think so too. It's just a "me" issue that I'm not sure what to do with.

Paul - I'm not sure "appropriate" is the "A" word I'd use :) I think they were different, but not inappropriate. They were exactly what I needed then. I'm just struggling with the now part of it. Acceptance and Acknowledge go on the "bad A word" list though - at least for now :)

Paul from Mind Parts said...

Yeah, I didn't really mean appropriate. I meant to say "consistent". The boundaries kept changing and it sounded like you got confused.

Enola said...

Paul - yeah definitely changing. And confusing for me since I struggle with boundaries anyway. Hmmm, maybe you're onto something. C words (Changing and Confusing) aren't so bad :)

lawyerchik said...

Oh, Enola - I read this and I was glad, in a way, that you were able to articulate these things so well, but I also saw a couple of things that made me wonder a little whether you weren't trying to protect yourself be creating distance between yourself and your sister, yourself and your therapist, etc. I don't know - maybe I missed something, but it sounds like you miss the "therapist" part of the person you know and you're afraid to call her and tell her you need her.

I hope you find the courage to do that. It's hard to admit that we need other people, but we do. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Kahless said...

I get the rejection thing. However I would ask what is the worst that could happen if you book an appointment? Compared to how you feel if you dont?

Mike Golch said...

Enola,what a great post,came for a vist via a remark that you left Picture of experience's site.I hope that you and your family have a great weekend.