It’s therapy day today. I wonder what emotional chaos will ensue today.
I just read a brilliant blog post about someone else’s experience of therapy, and wished a. I could write like that, and b. that I understood therapy better.
I’ve been having psychological therapy for months, well, a few years actually…. and when I read that person’s post I realised I barely understand it at all. I thought I did, but maybe I don’t.
Therapy is a very unique experience. You sit across from someone who is paid to listen to you, and listen well. They are trained to be attentive, to communicate empathy, to nudge you towards greater wisdom and self-understanding by their probing questioning and thoughtful reflections offered on you and your life situation and your reactions.
Their focus, during the time you are sat in front of them, is to absolutely and wholly put your emotional and psychological needs at the forefront of their minds, and keep it there.
Their aim, is to help you realise things about yourself that you could not have figured out by periods of solitary introspection or chats with un-trained friends or family.
Therapists add something that no one else can quite match, in terms of positive and useful life-enhancing contribution.
What they are not good at however is alleviating your pain at all times. Often therapists will say things that touch raw and sensitive nerves. Ouch. We hurt. We recoil.
Therapists have the capacity to temporarily wound us with their words and direct honesty. Our eyes become glassy, and teardrop shaped salty blobs form and get heavier, before long rolling down our cheeks.
A lot of the time in therapy I can’t physically see my therapist. Either because of the blurring of my tears obscuring my vision, or because of me deliberately or unconsciously using my hands as barriers to her seeing me.
I spend most sessions protecting my voice into the middle distance, as though I am just speaking to a tape recorded voice beemed in from another room where a therapist actor is sitting with a headset on. I just don’t look at her or acknowledge here presence in the room with me a lot of the time (!) How rude I must seem!
You cannot get in here pointing to my heart, for I have hidden my face and averted my gaze- ergo I am safe.
If I look at you, it seems to makes my feelings worse, so I try not to look.
Why does eye contact do this?
I guess I don’t want to see how her face is reacting to me because then I’ll know what she may be thinking or feeling. (Or at least I’ll think I know).
I am rude with my therapist, in that I don’t always talk directly to her face, making eye contact to a level which is reasonable. I do my level best actually to NOT look at her, especially when my introverted sensitive brain is formulating speech. (Introverts can’t think as well when we are looking at you. Eye contact is stimulating, so we avert our eyes when we think.)
I think a lot in therapy sessions. It is one of my key concentrated and pure thinking times of the week.
Therapy makes me think.
Therapy also makes me FEEL and it’s the powerful feeling bit I dread.
Therapy doesn’t let me hide from the things I fear the most.
Every therapy appointment I view myself, in the form of the beast.
The beast and me have dialogue.
I look at the beast and the beast looks at me. We hold stare-out contests. The beast usually wins, though sometimes I am triumphant.
The beast is crammed in with what I hate most about myself, what hurts me the most that people say about me, and what I was most scared of as a little girl who grew up to be this post-traumatically stressed adult. The beast is an ugly and frightening thing…..just like therapy is ugly and frightening, no matter how skilled your therapist or how motivated you are as a patient to heal and work on yourself and make changes and improve.
Therapy is ugly, and the therapy beast I’m trying to contain with psychological input is ugly too.
That’s why I always feel nervous when I wake up on therapy mornings; even if I’ve felt desperate earlier that week to get psychological help.
I get nervous because I know I will hurt. I WILL h.u.r.t. I know it.
Let the hiding from my therapist and the beast commence.
Therapy and therapist, and beast-like me.
Wish me luck.