A Letter to my Therapist
I have been seeing you for a year now. I don’t know if it feels that long to you, but for me, I have no idea where the time has gone and believe I have barely scraped the surface of what I need to talk to you about.
We agreed at the beginning I would see you fortnightly. Not enough to be overwhelming and not too little as I had told you at the end of the first session I was often suicidal at times.
It has been a year. I still feel suicidal at times. Often.
I don’t know if you hear it so often during your day and week that these are just words to you.
To me, these words, encapsulate hours of wakefulness at night, where I am lost in a sea and storm of internal emotions. Where the inside child of mine becomes center stage and all the needs, longings, feelings of unworthiness and desire to be seen and heard erupt and yet there is no-one to hear in the dead of night.
In the day, I appear relatively normal. Chirpy in fact most of the time. Needy me has disappeared back inside, and the doors are all locked.
When I see you, I get lost in words — trying to describe what is going on, what is happening. Lots of good things are happening.
I am doing ‘the work.’ I am walking and losing weight (albeit slowly) and talking to my husband more about these things. But, I am still wholly isolated. Agrophobic.
I don’t know if you are aware when I say I don’t go out what that really means. It means I never see anyone else. I want to in theory. In reality, when I think about going for a coffee or going out to dinner somewhere with my husband, or a friend, the anxiety is so high it never gets beyond being just a thought in my head. Does it count that I spent hours thinking about it, trying to plan a way to do it, trying to talk myself into it before I gave up?
But you don’t know any of this when I say I have not been out; you are focusing on all the other positive things I tell you have been happening.
But ten positive things do not outweigh or do away with the reality that I still have thoughts nearly every day of not wanting to be alive.
I am meant to have been seeing you fortnightly.
But that has not been the case. There have been occasions where it is five weeks before my next appointment, three weeks, and we are all over the place.
I committed to you, but I don’t think you have committed to me.
Your life is hectic and busy. You are doing this ‘course’ and that ‘course’ and you are, on writing retreats, and silent meditation retreats, and four weeks training to help other teachers. These are all good things. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a total bitch. But what about me? Where is your commitment to seeing me each fortnight that you promised?
How can I open the lid on Pandora’s box when I don’t know if I am going to be left swimming in a sea of need that will intrude into daytime hours, and I will have no support to deal with the fallout as you are not there? How can I begin to open these lids, when you still after 12 months have not left a space for me to see you in the next fortnight?
I have let you repeatedly know that keeping to the same day and time would work better for me. You nod, as you search for a booking. Oh, its three weeks away. Oh, it is five weeks away. School holidays are here — it is four weeks until next time. It happens every time. I have been clear. I have stayed calm.
I wonder if it is my fault.
Am I not appearing distressed enough, so you are unaware of how much I need your help at the moment? What do I have to do to get your attention? Is it not enough that I say it? That I say the words. Surely you know enough to know that just because I am calm when I say the words, there is likely a whole world of hurt behind them?
I told you last time that I cannot cry when I am in therapy. It feels too much like being under the spotlight. Having someone stare at me, causes all my emotional self inside of me to shut down. It feels like you are waiting for me to ‘crack’ to ‘perform’ tears in some way. Feeling this way means it is less likely to happen. I wish I didn’t feel this way. I know it is my problem. I wish I could cry and be comforted when I cry.
I have let you know that in the days after I see you, I am lost in tears and a storm of emotion. That I feel so so alone when this is happening. That I wish when I was sad, desperate and in emotional pain I had someone with me to help support me. I wish I could bring all this emotion to therapy so I COULD have support when I am feeling it all.
But it doesn’t work like that for me. I can’t turn on tears no matter how much I try. No matter how much my heart feels like concrete inside when I am talking about something.
But just because I do not cry in front of you does not mean I am not drowning in tears inside.
I want you to be able to see inside of me. I want you to see the little girl who desperately wants to be believed, who wants you to invite me out, who does not want you to sit far away across the room from me but is right by my side. I want you to hold my hand, gently speak to me, listen to me, and really see me, instead of clinically discussing the theory behind ‘why’ I disassociate, or go numb, or cannot talk.
Am I childish wanting this? Do I exist in fairyland?
Am I unrealistic when you are in your 30s, and I am in my 50s, and I feel continually less than sitting in front of you with all this internal angst I bring to the table? I want to scream out to you “I am not dumb.” I have a degree and three postgraduate qualifications, and I was accepted into a Masters although I never commenced it. Did I tell you that?
I am entirely over words. I don’t need more words to come out of my mouth.
I need someone who can help me access my emotions and help me understand why even though I try as hard as I can, I am too scared to be emotional when I am with other people. The fear is too high.
Is this fear going to end up being the death of me?
And more importantly, am I going to be able to tell you what is really going on?
Will you be there in a fortnight so I know if I open up the lid on this box, I only have to wait 14 days in between seeing you? I know I can last 14 days, but I don’t know if I can last 28, or 34 or 41 days? I can wait 14 days in emotional pain, but it may feel impossible to me to wait longer.
Am I going to be brave enough to tell you all this? Ask you to please honor your commitment to seeing me regularly? Ask you to please not expect me to wait weeks or months to see you between appointments but still expect me to open the box?
The thought of starting again seeing someone new just feels too much at the moment. I want to be able to work this out with you.
I am scared you won’t want to see me if I say all this — that you will be angry. The fear of appearing ‘needy’ feels overwhelming and impossible. But I am. Needy. I am. The inside childlike part of me that is scared to cry in front of you as I am scared if I start I will never stop and then what will happen?
Will I ever find out?