Category Archives: Dear Therapist (I want to tell you but I don’t know how)

To Dr. C

Dr C,

Talking to A Monday brought stuff up, but I’m not totally sure what. There’s a lot of the past floating around, and I’m finding myself really easily startled and frightened…

My head was literally spinning today, it triggered vertigo somehow.

There’s body stuff I’m feeling, and… I don’t even know what else. My heart races over nothing. I feel shaky, like I haven’t eaten in days, but in reality, I’ve been stuffing my face. I wanted to cut; to destroy my body; to pulverized it and stab it and shred it and break it and burn it… and by my body, I mean my pelvic area, where the feelings are creeping in again.

I wish we hadn’t talked about body. The kid really wanted to reach out, but my mouth was glued shut. I wasn’t sure how to speak about it without just screaming… so I kept quiet.

Only now the things I didn’t say are finding other ways to be noticed.

I really wish you were here coz I could talk to you about it, but you are still away through Monday… I don’t feel comfortable bugging A about it. There would be too much to explain… she kept saying she didn’t know my history; she hadn’t read what you gave her. Part of me wished she had. That way I wouldn’t have to figure out how to cram an explanation into the session and still have time to address what was happening in the moment… or just skip it all together because I couldn’t condense it that far.

I can feel the anxiety rising again. There are memories and fantasies and fears all happening in my body at the same time. It feels like I’m throwing imaginary scenarios in to drown out whatever is trying to surface. Imaginary stuff that I create in my head is much easier to control (and tolerate) than the stuff that actually happened (maybe? They’re memories, right? They’re valid? Or maybe even those are all stories?…).

I want to do that body drawing stuff she mentioned because it feels like something the kid could use to communicate. He still needs a translator, but maybe that would help? He seems connected to the idea…

I want to try some more kid techniques sometimes. Maybe the stuff that’s stuck would become unstuck? The kid that talked to De while I colored really likes that idea too. She wants to do more of that. She liked talking… I think she told the boy, because he keeps peeking around the corner wanting to try it…

There’s really not these others inside, but it just feels like there are others there, and I just don’t have a better way to describe the feeling.

SJ’s gone. I miss her. She was the most brave about talking. She was the face of the other kids. I dunno where she went. The boy misses her too, and the other girl and little blue monster all miss her. She was both 7 and 70. She was protective, but little, but also… I dunno. A container for the other kids? Now that she isn’t here, the others have to speak for themselves? Maybe she split into them when she ran off? She was older when she left though. She felt… I dunno. She wasn’t really older, but now the memory of her feels older? Does that even make sense? She left as a kid, maybe 5 or 7, but now the memory of her leaving feels like a young adult having moved away from home to get on with her own life. She pops by to say hi every once in a while, mostly to the kids, but she’s moved on with her life… like the babysitter going off to college or something.

I know these are all constructs of my head to order and make sense of things (and to keep safe), but it feels so separate. It kinda feels like other people who maybe speak a foreign language, or are extended family, or something… I dunno.

And they shift and change over time. I guess it’s me shifting and changing things as my understanding does the same. Sometimes they make sense as they were, other times the narrative needs to change to compensate for discrepancies. I guess it makes total sense if you look at it all as constructs of my head to help navigate life… they change with my understanding and head-space.

I’m really glad you will be back next week. I hope the trip was fun. I’m really glad you are back (and I was really relieved when I saw you post stuff on ig)…

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ramblings about interim therapists and trauma work and body stuff

I’ve been seeing another therapist in Dr C’s practice while she’s been away. It’s been weird, but helpful in maintaining balance, especially with all this physical stuff going on. I didn’t really talk to her about much outside of “safe” things (things going on in the moment, dealing with the physical stuff that doesn’t have a medical explanation yet (or ever?), surface stuff). There were times I wanted to cover other stuff that wove its way into the session, but I couldn’t open my mouth. It felt like my lips were glued together, and even if I did manage to open them, all that would come out were sobs and screams…

That’s not a new phenomenon for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to open my mouth and tried to speak at a time like that. It taps into something I still don’t have an understanding of, and it never feels safe or comfortable enough to just let that part of me do whatever it needs to do for release… maybe I can bring it up with Dr C once she’s back again next week. I wish I could remember what it was that triggered that feeling.

I know before walking into the building, I had wanted to address the body memories that always get triggered (or more intense) when I get my period. We had kinda started taking about bodies, and how comfortable I was in mine (or not comfortable). We had talked a bit about liking or hating any particular part of my body. I said there wasn’t any part I liked. I should have said, there wasn’t any part I liked anymore because at one point, I had liked my eyes and my hands… but both have failed me since. My eyes either hide too much or tell too much; and my hands don’t create to my standards anymore (stupid trembling and fatigue). So no, right now there’s no part of me I like.

She also asked if there was any part I really hated. Of course there are parts I hate more than others, but there wasn’t enough time in the hour to tell her about it and still come out of the session balanced enough to go on with my day… I’m not totally sure I even want to write about it now, though there would be less explanation involved here than with her… I hate my pelvic area, and my stomach, and the insides of my legs. It’s where I feel the most uncomfortable memories, and what triggers the easiest. It’s the fastest way to send me to space…

A had asked if I’d ever done any body work (on paper) with Dr C. I told her I hadn’t, because even though Dr C had offered it, I panicked at the thought of tracing my body. A clarified that she meant doing it smaller scale. No, we never did do that… I’m not sure why the subject changed with A in that session. I think I started panicking and backpedaling into my head, because at some point, she asked how present I was & busted out a ball as a means of grounding (side note: it worked too! Who knew playing catch could actually bring me back? Normally, I can still do that stuff while dissociated. This time, the act of catching and tossing was balancing. Maybe it was the inconsistent way she did it? She would pause, look at the ball, change the speed of her toss… whatever it was, it worked).

Anyway… yeah. There were so many times I could have said more to her, but I didn’t want to get into it knowing that the hour would end too son, and I’d be left dealing with whatever came up for the rest of the week. At least with Dr C, I can reach out during the week if I need to. A did say to call if I needed anything, but I wouldn’t bother her. It takes me a long time to trust that it’s really ok to bug someone outside of the time they are getting paid to interact with me. Even with Dr C, I still hesitate much of the time, and I’ve worked with her on and off for almost 10 years now…

Oh, I remembered what I was originally going to say about the body drawing; it’s another thing where I feel frozen for fear of what I might do or say. There’s still that urge to destroy my body, even if it’s just a drawing. I still want to take a knife and stab the drawing on the parts I hate the most… or, since I no longer carry a knife with me, stab it with the pencil… that would probably freak her out, so… maybe some day I can mention that to Dr C, and we could find a way for me to be ok doing it in some form. The kid really wants to talk about it still. He has no words, just screams and sobs and anger… or silence. He’s usually just silent because the other stuff is not acceptable…

I really wish Dr C was back now. I wish this could be addressed while it’s still here & “relevant.” It’ll be gone again by next week. This is when that concept of easily accessible, more intensive treatment would be helpful; when stuff comes up and would benefit from being addressed in the moment, so it would be nice to be able to walk back into the room and get to work… let’s tackle this shit coz it’s here. Gimme that little body drawing, tack it to a tree, and let me stab the shit out of it. Let me rip it up and scream and cry and cover it in red paint so it bleeds like my body would if I did that to myself. Let me burn the page so it all goes up in smoke. He needs the release. I need the release…

Let me rip the legs off a toy, and bash it and destroy it… but then I’d need to apologize, because the toy did nothing, it’s just a receptacle for the anger. So let me run out into the woods and scream until my voice is hoarse, and my legs are so tired they want to fall off, and my breath burns in my chest (maybe my lungs would actually burn up. That would be an interesting medical & scientific impossibility)…

Sometimes the anger and the hurt is too much. Sometimes I want to disappear to a safe place where I can do something about it without weird looks and panic over my safety, because ultimately, I’ll be safe, this just all needs a release…

Why aren’t there trauma treatment centers in the middle of the woods, with animals and drop-in massage and art and yoga and holistic therapy like they have for substance abuse? And why is nothing local? Why is the only treatment center even remotely like that all the way across the country, and religious?! I want something with no BS about higher powers or gods or spiritual anything. Why does that not exist?! And why aren’t there more art or play therapists around? The kids want time too, but everything’s in an adult world, so they use translators instead…


Dear De

Dear De,

I dreamt about you last night. You were happy in your new job, and your life. I can’t remember much else about the dream, but we connected again in it. I caught you up on everything since we ended, and you let me in on some basics about how you were doing. 

It was nice to reconnect, even if it was just a dream… 

Peace, 

Sam

It’s weird. I don’t often dream about my therapists, but De seems to pop up in them more than most. I think it’s because I feel like I helped break her. I know it was a combination of the job, a lack of appropriate supervision/professional supports, and a lack of effective self-care while she worked in such a stressful position, but I was part of the job… so, yeah. I helped break her. 

I still feel guilty around it. 

What if I hadn’t been so open about my struggles? What if I tried harder at the techniques she presented? What if I’d made more of an effort to keep myself together? What if I’d have not given her access to my journals? What if I’d have been a better, less demanding client? What if…?

Ultimately, I know it was her responsibility to keep herself balanced and supported. I know that quitting work at the sexual assault counseling center was part of her self-care. I know it was her choice, rather than something she was forced into… yet I feel guilty. 

I think my guilt partially stems from my own experiences of burn-out in the field. I let my own experiences build up so much that they broke my defenses. I definitely feel guilty about the way I left my clients at the domestic violence counseling center. They had no notice, no termination, no chance to either say goodbye or run from the experience. I took their choice away. I took my choice away. I let myself fall apart too much before I finally was forced to pull away… I left because I landed in the hospital again (and again, and again). I could no longer function in the basics of my life, forget about in an intense and emotion-filled work environment…

De never got to that point before she realized she needed out. I’m grateful for that. 

I guess I dream about her more often because I worry about her more than other therapist’s I’ve had. I need to convince myself that she’s happy and thriving, even if I don’t know that for sure…



weirdest flashback yet (TRIGGER for talk of suicide)

ok, so I’m calling it a flashback because it came in super-intense, lasted a few seconds (though felt like forever), then completely faded leaving a hollow echo…

so yeah, had my weirdest flashback yet; I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought/urge/almost action to kill myself. Specifically, it very much echoed my first (and most serious deliberate) attempt.

I am not currently suicidal. I have not felt that way in quite a while, except for around 5:20pm tonight. It came out of nowhere, hit hard, and dissolved into nothingness. I was aware of it as something that “didn’t fit” with the rest of my current reality. I had a quick dialogue with myself in the background of the overwhelming feelings. I was aware that I was having a dialogue and that this other overwhelmingness was playing over that.

It took me a while to label it as a flashback though.

I knew it was “wrong” in intensity for my general mood lately. I knew it came on very hard and seemingly un-provoked, but I didn’t identify it as that first attempt until finally talking it through with a crisis chat (everyone else I would have contacted or tried to contact to talk it through was unavailable). In the back of my head, I’ve been wondering if today was the true anniversary of that first attempt because I saw a fb “memory” that hinted at it. The time of day would have been about right for that attempt. The line of thinking that was intruding would have also been accurate for that attempt… and it completely left as fast as it came on, so I’m gonna call it a flashback.

That was super-disturbing. I wonder what part of me was scared so much by something to throw that out at me for the first time in a long time? And I kinda wonder if all those times I was dealing with “impulsiveness” was really just a flashback that I couldn’t label as one yet. I did manage to traumatize myself pretty badly (and many others) with that attempt. I distinctly remember being terrified of doing it, but also feeling like I had no choice anymore because I had made the decision within myself, and needed to honor that decision… I kinda bullied myself into it right before; I was both the abuser and the one being abused…

Anyway, so… yeah. Weirdest flashback yet, but really glad I was able to identify it as one. Now, back to the general “meh” feeling of having my emotions jumbled due to hormonal fluctuations.


another Dear TM…

Dear TM,

All that panic I talked about during that call (and felt even this morning) is being over-shadowed by the excitement of seeing L again in a few short hours. I’m beaming inside. I really want to leave you a message to that effect, so you aren’t left with the impression that I’m such a mess all the time…

Thank you for reminding me to power through, for reminding me that things will be getting better and lighter, for being there when all I could see was this wall of panic and darkness. Thank you for helping me turn on that light

I really wish I could bring you with me to Dr. C to help me catch her up on things (and maybe to hold on to you a bit longer)… but it would require a bit of travel on your part, to a place that really isn’t interesting at all, lol.

Ok, gonna try to concentrate on maybe packing or something to help pass the time. I almost want to just go chill at the airport for the next 2.5 hours because I can’t seem to pay attention to anything right now. I’m way too excited to finally be seeing her again

Thanks again for all your help and support. I know I’m not the easiest nut to crack, but we were getting there. Sorry I fell apart on you towards the end. Stress and I don’t mix well (though I have to admit I did WAY better this time around than I have in the past. Dr. C would be able to attest to that)…

:happydance:

pieces,
s.j.


Dear TM…

Dear TM,

Now you are seeing the hopeless mess that I can become. I don’t like that you will remember me this way. I don’t like that we are ending on this note. I’d prefer you to think of me as someone who can figure shit out and make it in life (coz someone needs to believe that about me. I certainly don’t)…

I’ve put up walls b/c I need you to be a stranger right now. I need to be able to leave without feeling completely crushed about all the losses. It’s not just you I have walls up around. It’s the house, and the state, and mom, and the dog and cats, and art time with my friend, & everything… I’m only going to allow myself to miss the beach. That is all. Everything else is too raw and too painful.

I still want to ask if it would be ok if I called you once I’m settled again… I was going to ask if I could call you on the anniversary day, but it will end up being the day we leave. I will need to concentrate on driving and hanging with the wife… I hope she knows she will have to do the first leg of the journey, the one that gets us out of the driveway and away from this neighborhood. I’m not sure how to say goodbye to all this…

Maybe the IOP will work out? I’m not getting my hopes up, because I don’t have faith in them billing for copays, but at least I can go to the intake without having to pay anything that day. Then we can go from there. The little kid in me wants to keep seeing you as much as I can before I go, but the other part of me sees the heaviness of the depression and knows I would be better off with more support…

I really have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I will come out the other side. I always do.

Please don’t actually hate me, just maybe let me think you do for the moment.

Pieces,

sj


Dear TM (things I doubt I can tell you)

Dear TM,

I want to spend the day in bed again and just cry my eyes out. I know I need to ride the depression out because there is nothing that will fix it, but it’s so difficult.

I haven’t cried again yet, though I have wanted to every day for the past week. I keep thinking if I can let go and cry in front of you, maybe it will feel more useful than simply sobbing into my pillow, but… I can’t let anyone see me cry. I can barely cry when I’m by myself.

I’m still afraid Tuesday will be a conversation around how I’m in need of more services than you can provide, how you need to refer me out. And I will want to get up and walk away and never return or even finish the conversation, but I won’t be able to move because tears will finally spill out of my eyes (though I won’t admit to crying) and I can’t walk out through the building looking like that (and I doubt my legs would carry me very far at that point. I’ll want to crumple up and melt into the floor. It hurts so much because my safe places and people always disappear. I will want to disappear myself, but won’t want to leave your office because I’ll want to get as much you time in as possible before I never see you again).

I’m so so so scared I won’t be able to keep seeing you the next few weeks before the move. I’m scared that I’m falling apart too much to continue seeing you, and your supervisor and you will determine I need to move on… I really don’t want to lose you right now because I actually trust you enough to feel safe with you. Please, please, please don’t kick me out before I leave. It’s just 5 weeks max… (again, a huge change that lands right before that huge anniversary). I know I’m going “back”, but my supports will not be available (L will be busy working and I don’t even think I have the others anymore) so it will feel lonelier than here. Why is it that everyone leaves around July? K, De, N, D, you, the house, everything and everyone…

So much for leaving the panic around possible termination for after Tuesday…

Pieces,

sj