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Email fallout with T - need advice please

So I went to T tonight ...

I'm not going to reply fully about this now as I need more time to sit and write properly ...

But essentially, I made it through the door and sat there for the whole session... it didn't go as partially planned because, as previously predicted, I did dissociate for a lot of it... but we worked alot on that too- just noticing it was happening and trying to keep me grounded...I tried really hard to stay present and although I couldn't look at him, I continued talking here and there so was connected...

the fact that happened (dissociative reaction) felt disappointing like going back to square 1 as I couldn't speak my thoughts (too many voices in my head and no ability to use my actual voice)...today i really didn't think i would dissociate as I've been feeling stronger... so that was a bit s**t....

but during it all, i had in my head what you said @Sideways .. that even if I go there and dissociate for the whole session, I've still won because I've gone back and walked through that door... it helped those negative voices so much and T was also gentle and encouraging that even though the session was taken up with the dissociation it was an important part of us rebuilding trust...

So that's the positive I'm taking tonight...a slow start but a start at least...the rest I'll leave till tomorrow...

I'm ill and tired, think I've got a chest infection... so bed time now

Thanks for listening 😊
 
Well done!

I think, after intense situations /ruptures like this, it takes a few sessions to work it through step by step. It's understandable that you disassociate and that it feels somewhat unsatisfactory as you want it all sorted. Because it's all a big deal. It's changing a narrative. It's healing (which is a process that takes longer than any of us wish for). And it's re-building trust.

What it shows is your determinatioj for your healing. And your T's committment to that too.
 
I've not commented until now, but have read along quietly cheerleading for you. I struggle to communicate thoughts and end up cringing at my very basic responses compared to some of the fantastic conversations that have happened on the thread.

So, just wanted to acknowledge how lovely it was to read that you went, and you stuck with it. You turned up, huge achievement, even if you couldn't get out what you needed and wanted to. I always hold my breath when I read stuff like this, as it's how my long term therapy went wrong and terminated (maybe another reason why I stay quiet and just read!) but seriously, well done, I hope you can be even a little bit proud of yourself
😌
 
I made it through the door and sat there for the whole session
Reading this made my day.

There’s a myth about courage, that it’s something we experience at big, sensational events. But that’s not it at all. What you did by walking into that office was courage.

It would have been so easy to just walk away from this, and it wouldn’t have been a fail to do that. This therapeutic relationship may break down - therapeutic relationships are often fraught and sometimes we end up needing to switch. It happens.

But this therapy session was worth 20 sessions. Your trauma had you believing this situation was unsafe, and that feeling can be as real in situations like this as any other life threatening situation for us ptsders.

And you went anyway.

You dissociated. But you went. And you’re still here. Exhausted, but okay. You allowed yourself to be vulnerable, and you survived it. May have even experienced being supported when you’re vulnerable.

Now you know - when your brain is telling you to run, you can make the choice to walk into that room anyway.

That skill, that you’ve experienced yourself doing, is transferable to any relationship, and any door, that you’re thinking of running from. You can make the choice based on what you need, instead of what you feel, because you’ve done it before.
 
So I went somewhere yesterday... not sure where but not really somewhere I'd care to go again... think I'd convinced myself that doing the session would be fine. Then the dissociation happened and on top of that I have a chest infection (with fever etc), so I'm just over all a bit spent.

I can't tell you how much reading those replies after my session helped me... thank you @Movingforward10 @Midnightmoon and @Sideways ... I've read them over and over and felt such a sense of support from this whole thread. ..I don't know if I could have done it all without the support from people here... I've of course had a bit of negative lash back of sorts... about never getting out of this cycle, being pathetic that i couldn't voice my thoughts etc. But i can also see this is an old pattern. And so I'm just observing as much as I can without engaging too much. Tricky but I'm doing it...

I think something that's very clearly come out of last session is that surprise, that I can still dissociate. Its strange- i wonder if anyone else here relates. I knew it was a possibility, and before the session a week back, i was afraid i would. But before the session on the day i was convinced i wouldn't. And then I did. I know I couldn't help it at the time, but a voice tells me it's me hamming things up, putting it on. But I also know it's not. And it's the knowing i didn't put it on that it was a natural reaction which I couldn't stop which surprised me. Because I genuinely didn't think I would, i thought I had control. Does that even make sense?

It felt like someone had grabbed my head and put it in (quite an awkward position) and I couldn't break out of that position. I was aware at the time of it but couldn't break it. But each time it happens in the room, I'm also seeing how my eyes (my eyeline) is the key thing to whether i dissociate really badly (stop communication with T), or whether some part of me can stay in the room and still talk. If my eye line drifts back towards my body, I have a small time frame before I can't break out of that (head fully down). I actually begin to focus on body sensations when my eyeline is on my body and then get into the realm of not feeling like my hands beling to me. Or that my legs are attached. And I can't look back up again.

But if I maintain my eyesight / eye line so it's say on the floor or an object in front of T (but where I don't look directly at him), I can keep talking a bit and stay a bit more connected... I really needed T to help me break out of it by asking me what I could see in the room etc, which he did and which helped. But eye contact with him was painful.

So I learned about my dissociative experience alot in that session, and that actually I could stay partially present in some small way and I dotake that as a win.

But I'm also feeling defeated that I couldn't get any of my well- thought out reflections from here into the room. I literally don't know how to vocalise my thoughts. How to talk over the many thoughts/ voices which keep me from speaking in my head. How to get over being convinced T won't understand me and will judge me wrong. And I'm not sure I'll ever know how to voice these things. Especially as there are 10 million things!!. 50 mins is not enough!!

But I'm guessing you'll all say, tell T that! And that's what you can work on!

It's like walking through treacle isn't it sometimes???
 
Hey @beaneeboo

Sorry you're having a therapy "hangover"... I guess it was to be expected, right?

It seems to me that how strongly you are dissociating = how deeply this is affecting you. And that's completely valid.

I'm getting the impression that you're able to see it as an issue that's stemming from your past and that your T has triggered it... so that while yes, there is the present day triggering of that issue by T, what's more important is the deep underlying stuff that it's activating.

It sounds like your T (for all his normal human shortcomings) is able to *be your T* in this situation and help you deal with the old issues that are coming up and pushing you deep into dissociation. And it sounds like you're able to view him as your T, helping you in a difficult situation.

It sounds like challenging emotional work and I don't envy you for dealing with it. I think we all have these phases in our therapy journey tho, where the going is tough and slow and where we're battling our intenesly personal demons.

I'm really sorry you're going through a fevery cold at the same time - that's really cruddy timing. I guess it's time to do all the self-care stuff you can think of and try to get lots of rest, plenty of liquids, some comfort food and anything else that might help.

The depth of your dissociation in therapy would indicate to me to take things slowly and really gently.

But it also indicates to me that if you and your T manage to stay "in" this healing process, then you may touch on and resolve some profound issues.

I agree with what others have said, I think it's a huge win that you went back, that you were willing to dialogue, that you're facing your fears and holding the discomfort.
 
Sorry you are feeling both physically and mentally exhausted. You've had such a heavy load on you though it's understandable your body needs the 'off' time.

I love how you write, how you communicate the inner goings on stuff, it gives me language for my own experiences that I'm still learning to understand. You achieved so much getting through that door again, maybe turning up was more than enough for your brain/ body this week. No rush...

Does your T ever do longer sessions- would a bit more time every now and then help, or another session in the week to bridge the gap?

Side thought which might not be relevant , but your experience of dissociation I really recognise as similar to my own...

Have you ever tried a parallel activity with your T, whilst talking, as part of managing dissociation? I found that a 'non thinking' movement (which gave me enough to be present, but not too much to sidetrack me all together) was a gentle way to try and keep me with it during therapy with ex T. Stuff like a bowl of shells and 'sorting' them, brushing T's dog, folding blankets. Bit random but gave me something to do that was gentle
 
Hey @beaneeboo

Sorry you're having a therapy "hangover"... I guess it was to be expected, right?
Yup 🙄
It seems to me that how strongly you are dissociating = how deeply this is affecting you. And that's completely valid.
Thank you. I'm struggling with the validity thing. But I guess I'm not making it up. I did dissociate badly and I didn't think I would. So I guess it is valid. Just wish I could feel it.
I'm getting the impression that you're able to see it as an issue that's stemming from your past and that your T has triggered it... so that while yes, there is the present day triggering of that issue by T, what's more important is the deep underlying stuff that it's activating.
You are right. I'm not going to lie though, part of the issue, and this may be contributing to some of the block and feeling of being gaslit, is that I feel there are 2 issues which need addressing and which should NOT be mixed up: 1) there was a misunderstanding over email and he also did not communicate himself well, and, 2) I was triggered into a really difficult place because of my own past and this clearly needs working through as my reactions are way bigger than what was appropriate for the situation.

I'm going to write more about this in a separate post though.

It sounds like your T (for all his normal human shortcomings) is able to *be your T* in this situation and help you deal with the old issues that are coming up and pushing you deep into dissociation. And it sounds like you're able to view him as your T, helping you in a difficult situation.
yes this is true... regarding me dissociating and finding the session really challenging, he defo was able to be there and help the situation calm down
It sounds like challenging emotional work and I don't envy you for dealing with it. I think we all have these phases in our therapy journey tho, where the going is tough and slow and where we're battling our intenesly personal demons.
Glad I'm not the only one 🤣.. though I obviously wouldn't wish this on anyone...
I'm really sorry you're going through a fevery cold at the same time - that's really cruddy timing. I guess it's time to do all the self-care stuff you can think of and try to get lots of rest, plenty of liquids, some comfort food and anything else that might help.
Currently in bed! 🙏
The depth of your dissociation in therapy would indicate to me to take things slowly and really gently.
That's what I'm having to do because of being ill... but I needed to see that written down as confirmation that it is ok to slow it down, thanks 😊
But it also indicates to me that if you and your T manage to stay "in" this healing process, then you may touch on and resolve some profound issues.
😭... I hope so.. currently feeling quite deflated by everything... but I know I'm ill on top of everything and sleep deprived so it will be affecting my outlook...
I agree with what others have said, I think it's a huge win that you went back, that you were willing to dialogue, that you're facing your fears and holding the discomfort.
Thanks for your continual encouragement I really appreciate it
 
I love how you write, how you communicate the inner goings on stuff, it gives me language for my own experiences that I'm still learning to understand. You achieved so much getting through that door again, maybe turning up was more than enough for your brain/ body this week. No rush...
Thank you for your posts @Midnightmoon ... I actually think you have a very clear way of communicating...I thought that about your last post too, though you yourself seemed to be a bit less confident in your writing... you have a logical, clear way of getting your thoughts across - there's no ambiguity! So I appreciate your posts too...

As things have played out with my health this week, you are right, that session in itself was enough for my body and brain... need to remind myself of this!

I hide what I'm going through at home. There's no sign on the outside that anything talked about here is going on. So I convince myself sometimes that it's strange I'm ill, tired, unable to work etc... then people here validate why I'm experiencing what I am.. and that helps me feel that where I am in myself is logical... and valid
Does your T ever do longer sessions- would a bit more time every now and then help, or another session in the week to bridge the gap?
Arrrghhh!! This has been a big bone of contention for a long time. It's tricky for him as he hires a room in a building. So there isn't always availability. I think his answer is basically no. He can't provide that. And I feel constantly like 50 min sessions just aren't enough. So it's just one of those things which can't be changed. Sucks!
Side thought which might not be relevant , but your experience of dissociation I really recognise as similar to my own...
That's interesting to hear. I think we all probably think that no one else experiences what we do. Comforting to know someone understands but I'm obviously sorry you relate too...
Have you ever tried a parallel activity with your T, whilst talking, as part of managing dissociation? I found that a 'non thinking' movement (which gave me enough to be present, but not too much to sidetrack me all together) was a gentle way to try and keep me with it during therapy with ex T. Stuff like a bowl of shells and 'sorting' them, brushing T's dog, folding blankets. Bit random but gave me something to do that was gentle
This sounds really useful... no i haven't tried anything like this. T also doesn't have too many tricks up his sleeve - as he always uses the same strategy but that's once I've reached a certain place in the dissociation. Your methods sound good to not get to that place, prevent it a bit. Also as its not his room I guess theres less scope for him to provide me with activity stuff? Maybe i could take a fiddle toy with me?
 
So I know I'm ill, sleep deprived and cranky, and maybe this is not a good time to write, but these thoughts and feelings are here now. So I'm going to get them down. May be useful for me later on.

I'm struggling with the fact that the focus of my / our work so far last session has been on me and my deeper issues... You'll say, 'that's what therapy is and should be about! Your issues!' And yes it is. I 100% agree. I get last session couldn't have gone any other way, particularly as I dissociated badly. It had to be about me and my issues, not feeling safe etc. But, part of me finds it hard to open up with T about all of that, when there's no recognition that the original misunderstanding which occurred, was a two way thing. That it also involved him not making good decisions about how he communicated. (Is this really childish?). I think I'm coming at it from a 'there's a 2 way exchange here and the focus on what's gone wrong can't simply be all on the client because the other's a therapist. Is it wrong i need that Acknowledgment from T? Do I need it?

The whole email scenario didn't just play out because I'm f*cked up. There are other elements which he brought. And those haven't been acknowledged.

I found it hard at the beginning of the session because T was quiet. He said very quickly, briefly , almost under his breath 'Where are we?' or something very similar, right at the start. I mentioned i was trying to land. Then he didn't say anything for ages. There were alot of awkward silences - for me anyway. And I think this triggered a feeling of unsafety for me. It gave space for the dissociation to escalate because the focus was on me. And the silence was very uncomfortable.

That triggered old feelings - that he was waiting for me to say something, and this would then be disproved. I know that's clearly a past dynamic i need to work through. So it's useful it came up. But, he also had the same look in his eyes the session he invalidated everything I said and brought (our last fall out). I felt like a huge spot light was on me. I was waiting for a similar play out to the previous time we fell out. I can recognise that's not helpful. But I also see feelings aren't wrong. And that's what was happening for me.

I guess there feels like a power differential to me because he's the therapist and can easily take the higher ground and its comfortable for him to focus on my issues. But I need this trust thing to be a 2 way thing within the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. As in, he holds his hand up and says 'Yep, sorry about that, could have done that differently and will try next time'.

As a therapist I needed him to lead the way in that first. And if he had have done that, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have got to the point where I dissociated. And no I'm not blaming him for my dissociation or saying he caused it. I just feel like as I was clearly struggling for an uncomfortable amount of time, doing something to help that discomfort (through talking, asking if I'm OK etc) or modelling acknowledgement of his own party in the email process, would have helped settle nervous feelings in the room.

Maybe you'll say 'You could have done the same thing too ' .. but I'm afraid at this stage in my therapy journey, that categorically could not have happened. And the idea of trying to do that and dealing with all the voices is one thing which pushed me into over whelm. I really needed him to lead on that one. That's not me being entitled or lazy.

But the other side is all the work we did on what was behind those feelings of dissociation. And what came up for me (only just remembered now), when he asked where those feelings come from, was my dad and his partner. How disagreement sparks in me, the need to defend myself. Because I had no chance when they 'disagreed ' with me growing up. But those weren't 'disagreements'. They were being emotionally abusive. But I didn't see it that way when I was a child. I told T I didn't stand a chance back then. I felt like I should defend myself. But I couldn't I was too young and their way of thinking was superior. They could argue better. Disagreement means blaming - it means I'm to blame. Means I'm at fault. And I'm not a good person. It means I'm the cause of the things which have gone wrong. Predominantly for their unhappiness. There was no way around that. No proving any other reality.

So at least I got that reflection and understanding out of this session. Not sure how that helps me and T though. Especially as more and more I'm working through lots of stuff here and he never gets to to know it. Because there's too much to bring. Email is difficult Because there's a long convoluted way to use it to say things between sessions. He's given instructions i can't follow. They are too hard using Google drive. I don't have the energy to tell him it is to tricky. So I've given up on the idea of emailing between sessions.

Sorry I'm cranky today
 
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Is it wrong i need that Acknowledgment from T? Do I need it?
No. Not wrong at all.
I don't know if this helps: when I had a big rupture with my T 3 years ago, it took 3 sessions for me to move on from it. I had felt really hurt by T in the two sessions where the rupture happened. And usually she would apologise if she has said something that didn't land well. She would usually apologise straight away. In this rupture she didn't. That first session was a bit like yours: working through what happened to/for me. It felt like half the story and it felt like it didn't resolve it for me. I realised after the session that I wanted her to apologise.
The next session, I plucked up the courage to ask her about why she didn't apologise. She said it was an interesting question and turned it back onto me. I then retreated and didn't press it. She didn't apologise again. And I left feeling dissatisfied again. Whilst she owned some part of her involvement in the rupture, she didn't apologise.
In the third session I said I can't let something go and that I felt hurt by her. And she then brought up the issue of apologising and me asking about that the previous week. And then she apologised. She apologised for not meeting me where I was at, and bringing in her own things into the therapy and apologised for hurting me.
Then I was able to let go and move on.
But it took both her and me 3 sessions to get there.
It's very uncomfortable this processs. But I share the above as an example of how T's need to rethink things. And we need to rethink things.
So no: you're not asking anything unreasonable. It just might need to be a process for you and him to get where you need to be to resolve this issue.
I found it hard at the beginning of the session because T was quiet. He said very quickly, briefly , almost under his breath 'Where are we?' or something very similar, right at the start. I mentioned i was trying to land. Then he didn't say anything for ages. There were alot of awkward silences - for me anyway. And I think this triggered a feeling of unsafety for me. It gave space for the dissociation to escalate because the focus was on me. And the silence was very uncomfortable.
I can understand this. I can also see why he wanted you to lead this discussion and why he was silent and let the silence go on. Wanting you to have control of the conversation and take it at your pace.
Do you feel able to say that you might need some more intervention from him and this silence builds up the risk of disassociation?
But, he also had the same look in his eyes the session he invalidated everything I said and brought (our last fall out).
This is tricky. As your mind is linking this look to previous experience of him and you may be right in your worry, or it may be PTSD brain making things scary when it isn't.
So at least I got that reflection and understanding out of this session. Not sure how that helps me and T though.
It's a great reflection! Amazing processing in a difficult space and time.
I see it as helping you and T as it shows trust that he is there for you to process this. You still have mistrust, or a part of you does, but this other part does trust him.
And you can work on the next bit about your relationship with T in the next session.
Especially as more and more I'm working through lots of stuff here and he never gets to to know i
I think that's ok? We can't tell our T's everything. And if we work things out here: we have worked them out. Or it may be that you bring it to T at a later date.

You're doing great processing it.
Your next session will be better as you have the initial fear and worry out of the way, and next session can explore his part in this and your relationship.
 
Disagreement means blaming
Would it be more accurate to say "Disagreement MEANT blaming"? With those people, back in your childhood, clearly that's what it meant. But that's because that was the way they used it. In better relationships, "disagreement" just means you disagree. And that's perfectly ok. Also, potentially at least, totally safe. And, as an adult, if it turns out NOT to be safe, you've got ways of getting yourself to safety.
I think I'm coming at it from a 'there's a 2 way exchange here and the focus on what's gone wrong can't simply be all on the client because the other's a therapist. Is it wrong i need that Acknowledgment from T? Do I need it?
First, wanting an apology totally makes sense. I have no idea if you're going to get one. For one thing, he may not think he's done anything he needs to apologize for. Could be he's a person who has a hard time admitting he was wrong too. Some people have a real hard time with that, even when they DO think they did something they need to apologize for.Could be he'll do it eventually too. No idea. But, DO you actually need an apology? I'm not suggesting that needing one is "wrong", just wondering how important it actually is to you. And, if not getting an apology is a deal breaker for you, where does that feeling come from. Again, not at all saying you're wrong, just wondering if there's more to the story. What happens if you don't get one? It might be important enough that it would be good to tell him something like "I'm having a hard time moving past this without some kind of apology." (I'm SURE there are better ways to say that.)

The part about email, longer sessions, not being able to say what you want to say, all of that, it's hard. It's also probably a common problem, if that makes you feel any better. I grew up believing "anything you say can and will be used against you." I'm pretty good at not saying what I'm thinking and also not letting on that I'm thinking anything other than what I'm saying. I'd been seeing my T for several weeks before he finally asked me why I was there. I told him I was tired of thinking about suicide all the time and thought maybe I'd try therapy to see if it helped. He was so surprised that he about choked on the coffee he'd been drinking. LOL I do better in writing. Feels safer to be at a distance I suppose. Lucky for me, my T was ok with email and he spent an incredible amount of time replying to emails. Yes, that's not perfect, but neither is having a client who doesn't want to talk. If he wanted to know what I was actually thinking, (which he did) I'm not sure how we would have managed without email. He also used to say that writing things out uses a different part of your brain, or uses your brain differently, and there are some advantages to that. If I remember right, there's been a member or more here who faced this communication challenge and dealt with it by sharing some of their posts, or their diary, with their T. They aren't all up for that, and I can understand several reasons they might not be, but sometimes it's pretty useful.

Congratulations for showing up! I know that took courage. No one ever does something perfect in the beginning, it takes practice. I think you're doing a good job!
 
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