Monday, September 21, 2009

My Therapist's Child


I wish it would end. By " it" I mean the prolonged, hellish relationship with my therapist. By "it" I mean a volatile loving, emotionally demanding and equally heartbreaking attachment to a mother-figure that has tested my limits in every way. By "it" I mean the tragedy that necessitates that the most loving relationship of my life must be regulated by a code of ethics, must include that I be marginalized from her private-life, and demands that we eventually terminate.

The woeful voices within me wail like professional mourners when I consider our termination. It's so unfair. And to compound my grief, I watched as she adopted a baby. Oh how I envy this child. Oh how badly I want to be this child, to have the privilege of being deemed worthy of being in her life permanently. I am like a little girl sitting across from a parent that has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I know that the death of our connection is going to come...and just like that little girl, I don't feel prepared- not to lose her, not to face my feelings about losing her, not to face the anger and resentment.

Ironically enough, I began our therapy with the phrase, " and if you have children, I NEVER want to know about it. I mean it. I don't ever want to know." That was my one request. When she became pregnant with her desire for a child, I thought I was going bonkers. I looked at her body ( she gained weight), and later at her breasts wondering why I was having breastfeeding fantasies. I felt as though I was going looney...and then the call came, the unexpected break from therapy, the emotional absence followed by a strange change in dynamic flow. It was obvious that she had become a mother because she was no longer using me to fulfill this longing. It was as though in one instant she finally understood my love for her, but had also fulfilled her desire to act out this kind of mothering experience. I felt confused by the changes in her personality. I also felt extremely neglected because although I sensed these changes and struggled with them, she did not validate the reality-aspect of my experience. She allowed me to believe I was projecting.

There is a limited amount of research on pregnant therapists which grabble with the dilemma " should I tell my patients?" In my case, I feel that she should have told me. " What is different about you? You seem different." I asked her directly and I think that she should have taken my concerns seriously.

Also, she should have planned for the high likelihood that I would FIGURE IT OUT. I got into everything as a little girl, and as an adult I just get into more. I investigate unanswered questions.

After years of calling herself my " mommy-therapist", I have come to see her as a mother. Therefor, this baby is the equivalent of both a new sibling and a son. Given my early abandonment and rejection experiences- I think this would have gone much more smoothly had the therapist taken the time to gently prepare me for the changes. In fact, I feel that by not preparing me for the changes- she was being neglectful. Had she prepared me for the baby, we would have had the opportunity to work through my feelings. I think I would have been so moved by her concern and honesty. Instead, I just felt neglected and rejected. This culminated in a serious suicide attempt. I felt alone in the world.

In the literature that I've been reading, researchers talk about how a therapist's pregnancy is quite literally visible to the patient. I suggest that in adoption cases- the therapist's psychological pregnancy is also HIGHLY visible to the patient. In my case, I began to have strange dreams about babies. In fact, in one dream I experienced a huge earthquake during which I found a little baby crying beneath a tree. I took the baby in my arms and wandered around screaming my therapist's name and woke up crying.

My dream world took a nose-dive before anything else. Soon after her son arrived, I had recurrent dreams that my boyfriend was leaving me at the altar ( abandonment). For over four months, I was assaulted by dream after dream after dream. The dreams hurt, and they took a serious toll on my mental health. I was deeply effected by this dream material.

I also regret that I have been unable to feel genuine happiness for my therapist. I have been so overwhelmed by feelings of rejection, loss, abandonment, and anger that I have been unable to express any happiness for her. I think that I would have been more open to these feelings if my therapist had weighed the pros and cons, and shared this information.

No one prepared me for the traumas of my past- each one of those traumas came out of no-where and this did too. I wish that she would have prepared me- and thereby given me the opportunity to share in a new experience with her. Her silence was very damaging. I felt tremendously dehumanized by her silence because I was suffering and I needed someone to help me regain my footing.

I am not okay. I have broken into sobs probably 10 times today, cupping my hand over my mouth, trying to hold it together. I'm a serious student, and my work is slipping. I'm still having the nightmares. I'm getting stomachaches ( as I did as little child). I'm having difficulty pulling myself from the bed in the morning. I'm struggling to keep myself alive. A part of me really wants to die. Her happiness is my grief.

She notes that we must work through this together, but I wonder if I couldn't do a better job working through this alone. Even though I know she cares about me, there are elements in her behavior that seem assaultive. I'm in such bad shape that I can't afford anymore mistakes. This period of our therapy feels as though I am trapped within a minefield. My therapist keeps pushing me to understand- she says she'd rather understand what is going on for me instead of pacifying these difficulties- but I am too unstable for that right now. Right now I am a millimeter away from falling off a cliff. Instead of being neglectful, I think she needs to recognize that what I need MOST is a pacifier. I need to be held and cared for.

In our last session, I pushed a pillow off of the sofa and onto the floor. She spazzed out and told me that she would not be neglectful by allowing me to wreck her office. What about allowing me to grieve myself to death? In the office, she got up and abruptly picked up the offending pillow and placed this next to me on the sofa. I wanted her to hold me. I wanted her to come close.

This is excruciating pain. This is gut-wrenching, soul smashing, inhumane, violent, volatile, horrendous pain. This is the kind of pain that makes you want to die.

Ironically enough, before the baby our relationship, my life was on an upswing. I was doing so well. Why didn't she prepare me for this? This could have been so powerful, so transformative, if she had been honest and mindful enough to anticipate that I would figure it out and so, she could tell me, and save me the shock. We could have eased through the anger together- but instead, all of these feelings landed on me like an anvil, smashing my skull. This could have enhanced my experience of myself...and instead, I'm rummaging through dumpsters, searching for pieces of my mangled soul.

I have never felt so unhinged. I have never so seriously contemplated suicide.

My therapist makes herself feel better about this by noting that these issues were within me, and that the issue isn't about her baby, but about my relationship to my past. She uses this to rationalize away her responsibility when she reenacts something that harms me. When bad things happens, she reminds me of how I'm really just crying about some ancient wound. She lost a huge opportunity to help me work through something that is tremendously painful. Because of the way this news hit me- suddenly and without any preparation- it was traumatic ( yes, yet another trauma) and it may be insurmountable. I am one millimeter from being crippled. In my past, whenever I started to feel safe, the bottom just dropped out.

I think that I was beginning to come to terms with my past. I had only just began to feel hopeful, and to trust her. She should have told me. She should have prepared me. Not preparing me was neglectful. She talks about how she "knows her baby" ( me)...and so she should have realized that I would sense the huge changes in her and seek out an answer. She should have prepared me- and that would have built my trust and confidence in us. Instead, I had to resort to dishonesty ( to obtain the information) because she was dishonest with me. That's really maladaptive, but she didn't give me the chance to work through this gradually and in a way that isn't overwhelming and extremely harmful. I didn't have that option early in life either. I was bombarded and overwhelmed then, just as I am bombarded and overwhelmed now.

I understand why these ruined tycoons put bullets in their brains during the depression. I feel the financial pressure of therapy within my blood. As the markets crash, I wonder how soon my money will run out. Will I have enough funds to finish my therapy- or will I have to end prematurely, unexpectedly on some botched note- just like in my other relationships? She's expensive. I fantasize about where I could be- if she had been honest with me, and given us the opportunity to work through this gradually. In some ways, it's as though she has set me back tremendously, and she will continue to reap financial gain from my suffering. I might not even have the money to regain my footing. I worry about that too and I really resent it. She could have used this as an opportunity to help me to feel supported in working through my grief and loss. She could have helped me to face these feelings gradually- instead of letting a dung-heap fall on my head...and when I called her, suicidal, dying from psychological pain, drunken and in a bush- she could have called back to see if I got home okay, because I was in hell and I was really doing the best I could...and I was pretty much doing it alone.

Coulda Woulda Shoulda.

I don't want to blame her anymore. I just want to be able to sleep at night, to stop waking up shivering, to stop pissing myself ( like I did when I was little), to get back to where I was. I just want to get help. I just want to be able to find my footing again and to do this without medication ( because I never needed it in the past). I don't have enough money to do this forever. I can't afford to pay her for the months of additional therapy that these ruptures create. There was a better way to handle this. Had she prepared me and supported me, we could have created something powerful. I don't need to re-experience every horror within my life in order to recover. She sits back and allows me to be assaulted by all of these highly traumatic life-events...they did that too.