If I could write you anything in an email right now, it would say this:
I am scared you are not the right person.
We will have been working together for three years on October 6th. Three whole years. In that time, you have helped me through the stresses of my degree, celebrated as I graduated, held me as my long term relationship ended, and watched me (sometimes from afar, sometimes whilst physically dragging me) as I started in my career and my new life. Three years on, we have achieved something that was totally unimaginable when I started working with you. I have all the makings of a successful life, almost all the pillars that I always wanted to make me feel whole. So when I write the next thing I am going to say, please do not think it is because I do not know that you are an absolute blessing.
I can’t remember the last time we felt ‘okay’ with each other. For weeks now, maybe even months, I feel like we’ve bounced from crisis to crisis. I met with a friend for lunch yesterday, and when I said things weren’t great with you, said she, “what, AGAIN?”. And she’s right! It feels like every time I open my mouth to tell someone about our sessions, at the moment it is full of negativity, uncertainty and a great dollop of “I’m hurting”. At the beginning, I thought maybe this is all just that brilliant transference crap that everyone talks about. I find myself getting angry at you for things that I know are not your fault. Being angry about you going on holiday, or you not being contactable 24/7, or the way you say my name at the end of sentences when you’re stressing with me – that anger is directed at you, but it comes from an angry childhood place. So I guess I was rolling through the emotions of that, and I still had faith that you would stand alongside me whilst I ‘grew out of’ these feelings that happen to me.
But recently, the things that make me cross with you seem less about my childhood, and more about the way we’re working. I don’t help this situation, I know – I need you for much more than the standard one hour a week, and I get how frustrating I am at times (if I manage to frustrate myself, I KNOW that you must want to kill me sometimes!). But the last few weeks, I’ve felt like on a number of occasions, I’ve ended up feeling hurt or upset by things that genuinely were not my fault. Take the situation with people being in your house during our session and me not knowing – I know you work from home. I know that you don’t want to tell me who is in your house, because of confidentiality. But I am a client with a trauma background that you are VERY aware of – on a number of occasions we have tried to carry on when there is someone else in the house, and I haven’t been able to cope. I’m only asking to at least be told when someone is in the house – not who, just when – but you won’t. Why not? It feels stubborn and abrasive and that’s not about my transference, that’s not about my trauma history – that’s about the way we’re working.
Then Monday happened. I had been trying to speak to you since Friday morning – I had been so well behaved and had only emailed you over your weekend (no texts, no phone calls). When you couldn’t speak to me Friday, you didn’t offer another option, like speaking Monday, which meant I was left feeling very uncertain. Then I texted Monday, and you rang me, but I could hear in your voice you were stressed and out of sorts. I was absolutely desperate so we persevered anyway, but the conversation went horribly wrong and I was painfully upset by some of the things you said to me. I know you apologised on Wednesday in our session face-to-face, and I know that you were honest with me that you had taken on too much that day and you didn’t have the ’emotional space’ to talk, and I did appreciate your honest apology – but really, it’s left me feeling very unsettled that maybe you’re not the right person for me to be working with. It was a very unsettling week because it started with me being told off, effectively, by the one person I feel safe with – that’s not exactly conducive to my healing.
I don’t know where we go from here. I know that the ideal would be that we only speak for one hour a week, and that in that time you would be 100% focussed on me and the rest of your life wouldn’t impact. But I cannot fit into one hour a week at the moment. We agreed on me emailing whenever I needed to around that hour, and I am doing that. I have worked super hard at not contacting you by text or phone in between sessions, and I am SO much better at that now, but that doesn’t seem to have actually helped our relationship as we’re more ropey than ever. I do not fit into one hour though, and part of feeling safe and contained within my world is that I feel supported 24/7, not just for one hour. R and I were talking yesterday about why I don’t believe your word, when you tell me you aren’t leaving me. Why not? R said. It’s because for every time you tell me that you won’t leave, your body language or certain instances show me that maybe you might. Last week, you were very reluctant to hug me, so it doesn’t matter how many times you’re saying that you’ll stay, all I heard was “I might leave you”. Then I manage to add my negative thoughts to what I’m reading off your body language or your tone of voice, and we have a perfect storm of insecurity and anxiety. Particularly when you consider that this uncertainty, this walking on eggshells so as not to upset you, this always getting it wrong and upsetting you anyway – this is my childhood repeating itself. Trying to make you love me is my childhood repeating itself. Trying to make you stay is my childhood repeating itself.
I’m really low today, and I want to email you, but I haven’t because I know deep down that most of the reason I am low is because I don’t feel contained or held by you at the moment. I wish I knew why that was. I wish I knew how to listen to the words you say, and take them in, ignoring the times you snap at me and brushing them off as one offs. I wish I could believe that you’re the person who is going to see me right through this healing process – I wish that I wasn’t so uncertain. But I am. And the thought of having to start again with another therapist just horrifies me. I love you, Little loves you and I genuinely believe you used to be the right person for me to be working with. But recently I’m not sure, and that absolutely horrifies me.
How did I manage to break the one perfect person in my world? How did I manage to stop you feeling all those beautiful things you used to tell me you felt? I was always so certain that I’d found perfection in you – the therapist who would stand by my side until I was ‘fixed’, in unwavering solidarity against the fears and the panic and the overwhelming emotions that batter me constantly. Maybe you’re not going to be that person for me any more. If that’s true, I am so sorry I broke you. I am so, so sorry.