Therapy isn’t enough


Therapy isn’t enough. Never has been, never will be. The Boundary Ninja would often say that to me when I would bring up my pain about his boundaries. I had all the classic complaints. How could I work through what I needed to in only 50 minutes a week? How do I open up when I need to and then pull it back together to walk out? Why couldn’t he hold me and comfort me when I was in pain? Why couldn’t I see him outside of therapy and know more about him? Why couldn’t I live under his desk? 🙂

Now the first time he ever told me therapy wasn’t enough, I must confess gentle reader, that what went through my head was “What the f***?!?! If you know that, then why in hell am I here?! I have no f***ing idea what you’re talking about?!?” Took me a long time to express that (I do believe I cleaned up my language when I asked. But maybe not, I could sometimes really rip loose in the BN’s office. Mainly because the first time I ever used the “F” word in front of him, when I calmed down I apologized for my language. He informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I was never to apologize for that, adults talk that way when they’re angry, we sanitize things too much and I should express myself however I needed to. I have often wondered if he ever regretted saying that. :)) He said many times to me (he had to repeat most things to me about 13563 times as I am slow to catch on) that therapy isn’t enough, and honestly, I thought it was extremely puzzling for a long time. I mean, I heard the words, but had no idea what he meant by them. But I eventually learned their truth.

So why do we go you ask? Good question. A discussion has been posted over on the psychcafe forum which has caused me to think deeply about this so I wanted to talk about it here. I think that this realization, that therapy isn’t enough, was one of the most difficult and most painful for me to understand and accept. But I also think it was an essential principle for my healing.

Our childhood needs are healthy and appropriate ones. In a perfect world, we can expect to be the center of our parents’ attention (ok, we may have to share with some siblings, but you get my point), recognized for the unique worthwhile person we are, soothed, comforted, taught to recognize our needs, express our needs and get our needs met. We should know a level of love and security that we take for granted, as a background in which we can explore and learn and become who we are. We should have loving others, who put aside their own needs to attend to ours’ expecting nothing in return. We should be able to have the felt experience of our worth. We should be able to experience our own needs before we have to attend to others’ needs. This never happens perfectly, but with a “good enough” parent, it’s consistent enough to build a secure base on which you can build a healthy, secure life.

But, unfortunately, as we all know, we do not live in a perfect world, nor does everyone receive what they need from their parents. And when we don’t receive what we need, we often fail to learn what we need to in order to live a full life. There are many important lessons to be learned as children and some of them are vitally important for our development as a whole person.

A person who grows up with insecure attachment (which is another way of saying they really didn’t get what they needed) arrives in adulthood with two problems: the unmet needs of childhood (and all the feelings associated with not having those needs met) and the developmental steps that were skipped or distorted by not having our needs met or being taught certain skills because our parents did not know them either. It’s hard to teach something you do not know yourself.

These two problems are the key to understanding both why therapy isn’t enough and why what therapy can do is often so horribly painful that it feels like you MUST be doing something wrong (even when neither you or your T are doing ANYTHING wrong.) In the rest of this post, I want to talk about the unmet needs of childhood and in my next post address the developmental steps.

The part that makes therapy not be enough is our unmet childhood needs. Those needs: attention, attunement, love, comfort, soothing, specialness, worthiness, went unmet. I won’t mince words, not getting those things can be a terrible deprivation that lives behind an unconscious, life-long search to get them met. In every relationship, we unconsciously test the parameters of the relationship, does this person care for me the way I’ve always wanted, will they finally love me enough, enough that I will finally feel like I am worthwhile and have a place in the world? Will I finally know I am loved? Sometimes we would find a promising relationship that would hold out hope of finally answering all those needs, only to be disappointed. Have this happen enough times and you start to develop bitter baggage, either by believing that love is not real or you are so unworthy as to not deserve it. The painful lessons of childhood are reinforced over and over.

A turning point for me with the Boundary Ninja was reading Geneen Roth’s When Food is Love. She talks in that book about the fulfillment fantasy we build around certain relationships. That we find a person to hang the fantasy on, and how we see them doesn’t have all that much to do with the person they really are. This hit me like a ton of bricks. Because so much of what I felt for the BN had echos in my past. In looking back over my past, I realized there had been a series of relationships with men that started with really intense feelings on my part of “here he is at last” accompanied by feelings of incredible elation and excitement. Then would come a long period where I did what I could to have the relationship (with varying degrees of success) until finally would come the bitter disillusionment of realizing they really weren’t the person I thought they were. So I would move on until along came the next man who held out the promise. The BN was simply the latest in a long pattern.

But here was the problem. While I could often feel like the BN didn’t care because of the feelings evoked by the boundaries, when I spoke to him about what I was feeling, he was attentive and focused and understood and accepted all my feelings. His behavior did NOT fit with my perception of him not caring. As a matter of fact, in my better clearer moments, I realized I had never experienced what I had with him. It was the closest to unconditional love I ever had from a human being. No matter what I brought to him or what feelings I expressed, I was met with compassion, acceptance and understanding. EVERY SINGLE TIME. I talked to him about googling him and seeing a note he wrote to his granddaughter, my erotic feelings for him, my desire to belong to him in any way I could (daughter, niece, lover, wife, friend, you name it I would have been glad to take it), my hatred for the family who knew him in a way I couldn’t, my anger when he held his boundaries, my fear that he would violate me the way my father had, my terror he would stay, my horror he would leave, my love of his socks, my gratitude for all that he was to me, telling him he was my beloved and how could I bring myself to leave him, dreams, books, music, anything that had meaning for me. All of it was met with the same unwavering acceptance. And then he would work so hard to make sense out of all of it, to see the patterns and help me understand myself. And he walked into the heart of unimaginable pain with me and never left my side. And never showed an ounce of fear. To this day, as much as I have worked through idealizing him, I still cannot picture him scared. And on top of all that, the man unflinchingly accepts who he is in my life and just how close he is to the center of who I am. He is my secure base, the place to which I return when I am in need. He accepts that with the full knowledge of the responsibility he has undertaken.

I ask you, how do you look at that person and say “you’re not doing enough?”

So what I eventually had to face was that the BN, without hesitation, would do whatever I needed that was within his power and for my good. In so many ways, I had what I had always looked for, but it wasn’t enough. IT WAS NOT ENOUGH to make the pain go away. To make the loss of a loving, safe father disappear. To make the loss of being unprotected by my mother disappear. To make the pain of living steeped in fear for decades go away. For the pain of realizing that I needlessly lived for years believing in my own unworthiness. If he had broken every boundary, allowed me 24/7 access, allowed me to know him, break bread with him, become an important part of his life, it still would not have been enough. This part eventually became really clear to me because I have a wonderful, loving husband who allows all those things, and it wasn’t enough. As I learned to take it in, I looked around me and realized that I am loved. I am blessed with some amazing people in my life. But it still wasn’t enough. That part of the reason the Boundary Ninja held those boundaries, even when they caused pain for both of us, was because he would not hold out the promise of something that he could not deliver. We can take things in on such a deep level as children, we were open in a way we no longer are. So even if a therapist was capable of giving us the time and attention a parent would to a young child, we are not capable of taking it in and making it part of us in the same way we would have. And as adults, that behavior towards us outside the limits of therapy would be inappropriate. Relationships now consist of two whole people who both bring needs.

I fought, and screamed and wrestled and wept, tears of sadness and rage, I railed against God, and the Boundary Ninja, until I finally faced the truth. I had to allow myself to recognize my loss and grieve. When I finally surrendered and allowed that grief in, it was one of the most difficult and painful things I have ever done. It was also some of the greatest relief I have ever felt. I had always thought that if I let that grief in, there was no way out of it. But it did not destroy me, I came out the other side knowing I no longer needed to fear that grief. I am strong enough to bear it. I grieved for a long time, I grieved until I ended up screaming at the Boundary Ninja “how long do I f***ing have to grieve? when will this be finished?” But I did finish. I don’t want to say that I never feel sad about what happened to me, or even that I don’t still have feelings of grief here and there. But it’s in the past, where it should be. And I am no longer looking for that which I cannot find. Which has freed up a tremendous amount of energy to do other things.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what you can get from therapy, the completion of our development, for which therapy is enough.

  1. April
    November 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks for this one, too, AG. I already know that my therapist will have to tell me most things a couple hundred times each, but being able to read some of those things here at least a few times cuts the load down.

    My dad died suddenly when I was a kid. Although that was 38 years ago, I guess I’m still stuck with a lot of anger and grief. I know that my therapist can’t ever bring my dad back, but sometimes it seems that my brain can’t accept NEVER. NEVER. It’s like I didn’t even know that there was a part of me that still hoped. How crazy is it to be an adult who still hopes that the dead will return, that it was all some kind of mistake, that I can’t give up on him?

    I’m starting to feel how hard the grief is. To me, love feels a bit like life and death, and so does the grief. So the grief is not going to really kill me, huh? OK, good to know.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • December 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Hi April,
      Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I wanted to pass on something the Boundary Ninja told me about grief. My mother in law lived with us the last five years of her life and we were quite close, she was an extraordinary woman, and I loved her dearly. When she died, I was deep in mourning and during one session, I was really angry and I literally almost yelled that I just wanted someone to bring her back and then immediately said how ridiculous that was. BN told me that emotions are often irrational, but that makes them no less worthy to be expressed. That part of grief is wanting impossible things. So, in answer to your question, I don’t think its crazy at all to hope the dead will return. The heart has reasons, reason knows nothing of. I’m glad that reading this helps. And yes, I am sorry to tell you, the grief won’t actually kill you, they’ll just be times you wish it would. 🙂

      AG

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  2. November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    So is that a guarantee that the grief (and the process) won’t kill us??? Thanks

    Like

    • December 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Normal,
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading. You can see my reply above for the answer to your question. 🙂 The truth is when you’re dealing with grief over childhood trauma, it feels like it’s going to kill you because at one time you literally did not have the resources to let the loss in, let alone to grieve it. So when we packed it away, we also packed away the fear that it would destroy us to feel it. Half the battle is knowing that you’re going to win. You will heal.

      AG

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  3. Little Blond Girl
    November 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I do agree that this is one of the hardest lessons. It’s hard to look at that person across from you, who so clearly is the idealized parent, and not just want to go back – to start again, to have them as your parent – to not hit your head against the wall over and over again, with that wish – even if you know it’s never ever going to come true. Because it’s just too late – and sometimes knowing that that exists is painful enough in itself, because if it was out there and it exists, how come I didn’t get it? And while I intellectually acknowledge that I can never have the relationship that I truly want from my T (nor would the breaking of all the boundaries fix what one never had), it’s a lot harder to do on an emotional level. Someday I know I’ll be able to emotionally accept it – but I’m also aware that day is not today…
    Thanks for giving us lots to think about.

    Like

    • December 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Hi LBG,
      I could have absolutely written your comment. What you describe is exactly what I did to heal. I kept slamming into the boundaries, feeling enormous pain over what I didn’t have and what I could not have. Sometimes the pain would be evoked by being cared for here an now by the BN which is how I would know what I had missed. I kept going back to him and talking about how it felt, over and over, until, honestly, I wondered why the man’s head didn’t explode. Easy to get cognitively, much harder to actually believe on an emotional level. Especially since the things you want, once were a matter of life and death. The limbic system isn’t real good at recognizing the passage of time. But you sound very clear, both about where you are and where you need to get. Be compassionate with yourself, there are good reasons that this takes so long.

      AG

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  4. Room2Grow
    December 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Spot on AG… so spot on… The grieving process SUCKS. I am afraid that I will be washed away by all the tears – they never seem to end and it is rather depressing. My T has been reassuring me that the tears will not kill me, the grieving will not make me explode… so it was very reassuring to read that here, as well. Guess my T is on to something, I suppose! I think, that by reading about other Ts boundaries, I have been better able to appreciate the boundaries my T holds, so thank you again, for reaffirming that too!

    Like

    • December 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      (((R2G))) It really does SUCK! I said that to the BN several times and have always been very grateful that his response was to agree. I know the tears go on for an eternity, but you really will eventually reach an end to your need to grieve. But try to be patient with yourself, these are not small losses, they are significant ones and in that sense are worthy of the time we need to grieve them. I am sorry this is so hard, but am very glad for your willingness to persevere and heal. And if you’ll allow me to say so, very proud of you. This is very difficult stuff to face.

      love, AG

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  5. StuckBetweenRock and HardPlace
    December 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hi AG,

    You have responded to many of my posts on Psych Cafe and this is my first time here. You always do such a great job of putting into words the exact feelings that I’m having but can’t seem to place. I am absolutely in love with my former T. For so long I tried to break through her boundaries but she just wouldn’t let me. Why not? She obviously cares about my well being. If she really cared, wouldn’t she just open up to me and let me in? I found a new T to flush out these feelings with and when I told my former T, she suggested I only see my new T. I tend to shut down when I get hurt so when she said this, I left…and I was extremely hurt. That was 8 months ago. I went for 7 months in such agony thinking that she kicked me out because she couldn’t stand me. This past November, my new T suggested I clear the air with my former T. So I did and it was sooo helpful. I saw the person I remembered, my former T who I fell in love with. She still cared about me. She seemed so hurt that I went that long, hurting, without telling her that SHE had done something to hurt me. She told me not to EVER do that again. This is when I realized that she really did care about me.

    I am now scared to face the torture of letting her go. Her door is open to me, but I have to realize that my wife loves me and that is the life I need to accept. I don’t want to go to this horrible place full of heartache over things that I can’t have.

    Now that I have cleared the air with former T. I do feel much better. The negative thoughts associated with former T have been replaced by positive ones. And thats a HUGE help. I still miss her though.

    Thanks for helping so many people through this painful process.

    Like

    • January 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      STRHP,
      Welcome to my blog! Thank you for commenting and my sincere apologies for taking so long to reply. I am really glad that you are finding reading here helpful. I was so happy to hear that you were able to go back and talk to your former T. One of the worst parts about childhood injuries is how we can read such horrible messages about oursevles into other peoples’ boundaries. I think it was so important for you to be able to go back and experience that she really did care about you. I know that it’s still painful missing her and there is a lot to work through but I am glad you are now able to at least carry with you the positives you gained in that relationship. I hope you continue to find healing, your present T sounds like a good one suggesting that you go back to clear the air.

      AG

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  6. marree bruce
    January 16, 2012 at 2:29 am

    T gave that grieving period a name~ “Infantile depression.”

    I must agree with you AG, it was my worst time in therapy too, but I could still function out there, better than ever.

    To think we carried that amount of emotion around in our heads since infancy!

    The resilience of a deprived child just amazes me.

    Like

    • January 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      I’m glad it resonated with you Marree. And I couldn’t agree more about the resilience of a deprived child. I think one of the greatest gifts I received from both my therapists was a deep respect for what I had done to survive. We could recognize that so many of those behaviors had become maladaptive and needed to change, but before we put them away, we gave them their due. They were how I survived until I could learn to do it better. They were reasonable reactions to unreasonable circumstances. The ability of a child to adjust to whatever comes their way really is amazing.

      AG

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    • February 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Hi marree,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s an interesting description “infantile depression.” BN and I discussed pre-verbal memories; that the feelings were coming from a time before the frontal cortex was on-line so that they are inchoate. And I totally agree about resilience. I am constantly in awe of the creativity of the human brain is storing things away and holding them off until we have the strength to face them, and its ability to continue changing. It’s what allowed us to survive and to heal.

      AG

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  7. September 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Hi AG,

    Just went back and reread this post. This is exactly what I am going through with my therapist right now. I have finally accessed a well, inside myself, of deep existential pain that exists because I never received the authentic parental love I should have as a child.

    I don’t believe I have ever felt true, authentic love in my life until it was evoked in my therapy (which, for me, feels more like I am perceiving it and asking for it than receiving, since the T can’t truly give the parental love, in that way as you describe, that is needed to fill the gap).

    So, I have a question for you, that perhaps you can answer, because I am now struggling with this. If I never received it and didn’t know what it felt like until now, where can it come from to fill the void that was left from childhood? I would imagine it can never truly be filled, so how is this wound healed? I plan on discussing this in my therapy, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts.

    Thanks so much,
    DBS

    Like

    • September 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Dpblusee,
      See “How do I fill the Void?” for your reply, thanks for asking the question. I think it was an important one and that you are not the only one interested in the answer. It was good for me to think through how to answer it. ~ AG

      Like

  8. Godwhyme
    October 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I am not sure if a guy can leave a comment on here. It seems like it’s for women only. But I’ll do it anyway because your work here is quite inspiring. I was Googling on How to heal shame and i ended up here. ANd I must say it’s quite discouraging to read someone who is in a serious therapy with a seemingly competent therapist to say the therapy is not enough. Also, looking at your age, i assume that you have been in therapies for a long time? This also discourages me to seek a psychotherapist because it makes me feel like the issues will never resolve. After all, i believe we are both suffering from toxic shame that binds us. To look at it on a bright side, I guess everyone has a different experience and a different level of shame. Anyway, thank you for the insight about your shame. I am a man in early 30’s have been suffering from Shame for all my life. And it hasn’t been more than a year since I found out I suffer from severe inferiority complex. I was never diagnosed with this from a therapist, but the description perfectly fits my condition. I have serious fear of exposure of myself that I always dropped classes where there is a group participation where everyone has to speak about something. This resulted in making me finishing school not on time. So last year, I finally decided to do something about my self -esteem and had sessions with many therapists. I must say it’s quite an adventure. I had a first session with a therapist whom smoked weed before he came. Another one gave me a disgusting look speaking with absolute hatred in his tone. The very last psychotherapist who holds various degrees suggested me to see another therapist because he believes “I live too far from his office.” i live only 20 minutes away from him. So, at this point I don’t know what to do. I just wanted to say I admire the relationship you have with your therapist. I hope I can find one like that.

    Like

    • October 9, 2012 at 11:45 am

      GWM,
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting! And of courses guys are welcome. 😀 I think there just tend to be more women in therapy and more of them wander out on to the web to talk about it, but please trust me that I in no way am trying to keep men out. Some of my favorite people- my husband and BN spring to mind – are men. 🙂 So I’m glad you posted. And please don’t be discouraged. I have been in therapy a long time, five years with BN and I worked on and off over a period of 20 years with my first therapist, but when I said therapy isn’t enough, I didn’t mean it wasn’t enough to heal, I meant it wasn’t enough to make the losses we experienced in childhood disappear. Some pain must be faced, endured and mourned in order to heal. I went into therapy believing I would find EVERYTHING there I had not been given, and it was a painful thing to learn that I would not be able to get it. But that does not mean the situation is helpless. I feel like I really have healed significantly and am living a very full life these days, in a way I never expected to. I will say, you seem to have run into some real doozies in terms of therapists. I would urge you to keep looking, there are caring, dedicated ones out there who can make a real difference. I would also recommend reading my follow up post to this one: How do I fill the void? which discusses how do we go on when we can’t get what we needed? I also wrote two posts on dealing with shame you might find hopeful (actually shame has been a big theme in my life lately so you have my sympathy) The Paradox of Shame – Part I and The Paradox of Shame – Part II. If these leave you with more questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or email me at the address on my home page. But don’t give up hope, there is healing. ~AG

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  9. GreenEyes
    February 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I’m not sure whether this is the right spot to put this question.
    I have a husband who loves me and we have a beautiful little boy. I have an amazing BN of my own and I know he loves and cares about me and would do anything to help within the therapy framework. I have a nice home and gorgeous friends and a good career.
    But…..
    After enduring a lot of abuse, trauma and loss growing up, I fel like I’m entitled to some sort of pragmatic compensation. Everything I’ve mentioned about family, friends, work etc – I would have achieved all of them regardless.
    I have never gotten free passes, extra help or consideration fom anyone. And if I don’t get some sort of pragmatic compensation, then I don’t know why I should bother continuing. It’s been my lifeline and what’s held my sanity in tact for so many years and I’ve had enough of waiting patiently for it to arrive.

    Like

    • February 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Greeneyes,
      It’s fine that you put it here, I also responded to this over on psychcafe. It sounds like you are extremely angry over the deprivations and abuse you suffered as a child. And you are correct, no amount of blessings and good fortune now will make those things disappear. To quote BN when I was talking about why wasn’t I just content with everything I have now, “all the food in the world isn’t going to help if you’re thirsty.” The truth is that what happened to you was wrong in so many ways and unjust and you have every right to be enraged about it. And to express that anger. BUT, and I say this as gently as possible Greeneyes, I think waiting for a compensation that will never come is a way to protect yourself from the losses. After all, if you finally get some compensation, then things are evened out and fair so the losses aren’t really losses. You are still holding out for those losses to be fixed. And they’re not going to be. Which sucks and hurts terribly. But if you accept that those losses are losses and mourn them, the grieving will heal you and free you to enjoy what you do have now. The problem with anger and hatred and bitterness is that they harm us instead of the people whom we are angry, hating and bitter towards. So by all means, rail against the wrongness of what happened and express your reasonable anger, but do not bind yourself in the trap of not living fully just because life is unfair. We all have wrongs that we must bear, some of us much more than others, but people like us who have survived and healed from trauma, have strengths and insights that people with lesser burdens will never know. Don’t be held captive by your past. ~ AG

      PS I will find it perfectly understandable if you are angry with me for saying this. Please feel free to express that, or anything else you are feeling. It is vitally important that you are heard.

      Like

  10. GreenEyes
    February 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I was suspecting it was a defence mechanism. I’m not angry. Appreciate the honesty even f it’s so painful I’d rather act out
    I can fully accept life isn’t fair.
    But I can’t accept having to carry so much more than my fair share of pain, burdens and having to miss out on stuff many people take for granted and be fine about it.

    Like

    • February 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      Greeneyes,
      Thanks for being so gracious. There is a difference between accepting a hard truth and “being fine” with it. What happened was not ok nor should anyone be fine with it. The fact that some people were ok with what happened is an integral part of the problem. Which is why it is so important for you to talk about feeling this way and expressing your anger. You deserve to be heard about just how unfair it all was. The truth is that healing from abuse is to be sitting in the middle of a very large pile of crap and garbage that you had nothing to do with creating. You should NOT have to clean it up. But at the end of the day, you are the one sitting in that pile of crap and so unfair as it is, you have to clean it up. But letting go of ever being treated fairly doesn’t mean acting like it never happened or that it would be ok to have it happen again.

      And I know it seems impossible, but there are some compensations. I truly believe that I value my attachments and the value of my connections so much more deeply than people who take them for granted. There is a very deep joy in life knowing that I have passed through death. It will feel better someday, just don’t give up. ~ AG

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    • February 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      Greeneyes, I think reading this comment from Cat’s Meow might be helpful for you right now.

      Like

  11. GreenEyes
    February 15, 2013 at 12:28 am

    AG thanks.

    I find it really hard sometimes to hear about a normal person’s problems and be empathic. My mind race to the “you think that’s bad?????” Position. And usually I bite my tongue bc most people haven’t been through what I have and I know invalidation is not conducive to good relationships.

    I have railed against and complained about unfairness for a long time. And still it sits there staring back.

    I guess (and T agrees) that I’ve survived what most wouldn’t so I want compensation of the nature most people don’t have. For example I’d love to have no financial concerns – mortgage paid, private school fees sorted, I can go to medical school, my husband can take time off more readily etc, so I CAN have the chance to get better without dealing with the challenges of normal life that most approach with a secure attachment and support from family. Neither of which I have.

    I also want to be extra special to T. An adopted daughter.

    Today is a hard day bc I had a really tough T session, my husband raced off the moment I got home fom the session, our son is sick, miserable and feverish and crying and clinging. It’s a hot day, we’ve had an ant invasion in the kitchen, I sat in the doctors waiting room with a crying bub for 30 min enduring all the exasperated and irritated stares from other patients, I’m exhausted and hubby can’t home early.

    Like

  12. November 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Your blog is seriously keeping me sane right now. I don’t relate to all of this, but I relate to a lot of it — especially fear of the grief. I think I had a tiny minute of grief once, but, for the most part, I tell my therapist repeatedly that I don’t deserve his time and attention blah blah blah, that my life was good – I had every physical thing I needed. I don’t know. I’m a tangled mess.

    I really related to this:
    “Our childhood needs are healthy and appropriate ones. In a perfect world, we can expect to be the center of our parents’ attention (ok, we may have to share with some siblings, but you get my point), recognized for the unique worthwhile person we are, soothed, comforted, taught to recognize our needs, express our needs and get our needs met. We should know a level of love and security that we take for granted, as a background in which we can explore and learn and become who we are. We should have loving others, who put aside their own needs to attend to ours’ expecting nothing in return. We should be able to have the felt experience of our worth. We should be able to experience our own needs before we have to attend to others’ needs. This never happens perfectly, but with a “good enough” parent, it’s consistent enough to build a secure base on which you can build a healthy, secure life.”

    I was discussing this kind of point with my therapist today… that, as a child, your parents are there every single day, and I’m freaking out because it feels ridiculously unhealthy and WRONG to have this intense desire to contact my therapist every. single. day. It feels clingy, childish, immature… and, this clarified something for me: it is true — the needs I had a child did not get met, and they will not be met by my therapist in the same way, so I can relax about that. He’s not trying to be my parent. I, in fact, do not need to rely on him that fully. But, relying on him at all is so…so…painful. It feels so wrong.

    For me, the mark of maturity is NOT having emotional crises constantly, and as I progress in therapy (I’m ~6 months in), I find myself having more intense emotions, and it’s terrifying. It feels like back-tracking. It goes against everything I’ve taught myself. But, maybe I learned wrong. I probably learned wrong.

    I guess my question is… how long am I going to fight this attachment kicking & screaming? I am fighting it SO hard. Like life or death “can’t allow this” feelings. I just wish I knew when it would stop.

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    • Pop
      November 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      LisaK I’m 9 years in and only really just getting into this. Well done you. Its torture, huh?!
      X

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

        It’s…. a lot more bearable when I can read some of your stuff, haha. For me, I find comfort in understanding. So, reading your “lessons learned” so to speak helps me to understand even if it doesn’t take the emotional recoil away. I’m attaching to my T and kicking and screaming the whole way right now. Right now, fear is safety to me. Hopefully, one day it won’t be. My T is a lot like yours. He is very steadfast in who he is, and every week or so, I flip out and tell him to please just kick me out or tell me to stop contacting him between sessions. It’s like I’m begging him because I want to get it over with — “I know it’s going to happen, can we just get it over with.” But, he doesn’t. And I calm down. Until a week later, lol.

        Like

      • November 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Sorry – for some reason I got this reply tangled up w/ a reply from the author on a different post!!! So take all references to “you” and replace them with “her” lol. But thank you for the reply

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