Abandonment, Anger & Expressing Negative Emotions

As if by magic, following my previous post about wanting my therapist back, I received a two-line email from A. on Wednesday “to confirm that we are meeting on July Xth” and asking could I come at a slightly different time to my usual slot? Very formal and to the point, complete with a “Dear..” at the beginning and ending with “Best wishes,” in typical A. style. She does the same thing in texts, which I always find both amusing and somewhat incongruous to the kind of relationship we have and the way we communicate. It’s the text message equivalent of suddenly calling me Ms Y in session. :)

Anyway, having received said email I instantaneously found myself regressing into some sort of teenage state where my immediate reaction was I’ve spent months not knowing when my therapy will resume, weeks and weeks in limbo. If you think I’m going to reply to your stupid little email straight away, you’re wrong! You can sit there and wonder whether or not I can do the time you asked about. So THERE!

Not many points for maturity, as you can see, and of course entirely irrational; it’s not as if A. will have been anxiously awaiting our work to resume or has struggled to make it through this break. Nor is it likely that she will be particularly concerned about my holding back on replying to her email, but it still felt kind of good to allow myself to act out in this obviously infantile fashion.

Thus, it wasn’t until Friday I emailed her back. And when I did, I made sure to be decidedly less formal than she had been, writing in a way similar to how we speak, starting with a simple Hi A., and ending with a casual Shabbat Shalom for later. [Although, in hindsight, I realise that I actually don’t usually wish her Shabbat Shalom at the end of our Friday afternoon session, but more generally a good weekend. Stuff to ponder in another post, methinks.]

Clearly this need to act out stems from a place of anger at having been abandoned, and not wanting to make things easy for her. There is a part of me who wants to punish her for having put me through this separation, for having put me on hold while she carried on with her real life, and I have a feeling that it may well be a bumpy and challenging time to come once therapy starts over, while we work through this anger, which I genuinely hope I will allow myself to express.

This anger is, of course, not only about A.’s maternity leave, but also a deeply buried echo of all other times when I have felt left behind and uncared for, beginning with my birth mother giving me up for adoption and followed on by similar feelings towards my parents and other adults in my life, growing up. A person doesn’t need to be physically abandoned in order to experience the very powerful feelings associated with it..

And this – rather than just wanting to put A. through a bit of a rough time upon her return – is the reason why I say I hope I’ll be able to give myself licence to let this anger out. It has been trapped for a long time. Maybe the time has come to let it surface? Perhaps a chance for a much needed corrective emotional experience; being accepted even when expressing negative emotions?

xx

PS. Ever wondered how your therapist really feels about you blogging about your therapy? I think my lovely fellow blogging tweetist Therapy Tales has it right. Click the link for a spot on cartoon strip!

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3 responses

  1. I absolutely love reading your blog. I stumbled across it when you had just converted to Judaism but I’ve read all of your entries from the beginning and it has been so wonderful to read about your journey both positive and also challenging as well. It’s so refreshing to read about “the other side” of therapy so to speak. I work in the profession and you only hear of the colleagues experiences, but never how the client truly feels during or about a session, or a therapist! It has really made me feel more reflective about things. I look forward to your next post! X

  2. Hi,

    And thanks again for commenting. Always appreciated (not to mention good for my ego).

    As you will probably have noticed by now, I do try to write openly and honestly – even when I don’t feel particularly proud of my behaviour, and it seems readers respond to that.

    Really flattered that what I write has made you reflect more on what therapy is like from this end.

    As much as I have always resisted being the stereotypical client – (especially being the daughter of a therapist, having grown up on the other side of the couch, not wanting to be THAT client) – I am slowly beginning to allow myself to let go a little, and hopefully concerning myself less with being “the non-stereotypical client” (which is, of course as average as it gets!) will free me up to more opportunities for real change.

    Still, writing about my thoughts and feelings in a blog, and bringing them to session can be very different things, indeed, and it still remains to be seen whether or not I have the courage to bring the anger I experience outside of session into the therapeutic space!

    So, fingers crossed, and I’ll keep you posted.

    xx

  3. I know this is an older post, but I am replying anyway :) I’m dealing with my therapist’s maternity leave right now. I have another 10 weeks to go. She had an early delivery and I never had my last two scheduled sessions. No goodbye, and not enough preparation. I am hurt, angry, and frightened. I feel unsafe with her. She no longer seems trustworthy or dependable. She also feels cruel, although I know she is not. Old feelings of worthlessness and rejection have been triggered, and I feel like she has reinforced what a useless speck of dirt I am. It hurts to be reminded that just because she is important to me, it doesn’t mean I’m important to her. Since her announcement I have been stuck in an emotional flashback. I’ve spiraled into self harm, a suicide attempt by overdose, and 2 near suicide attempts by hanging. I am struggling to stay afloat, but encouraged by your strength of spirit.

    I’m so grateful to you for your honesty and courage in sharing your journey. I’ve read through your blog and I GET YOU! I understand the things you write of on a gut level. Your blog feels like a favorite hangout, one I know well and am comfortable in. I hope you write an update soon.

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