Disruption and Rage Part I


TW*** CSA, rage and really bad language

Well, I think I have hidden in my cave long enough and its time to poke my head out and talk about what is going on with me. I am most of the way through a four week break in therapy due to BN’s vacation. In what we both agreed was spectacularly bad timing, we had a really brutal session, including a difficult disruption, just before the break. It involved what I will readily concede was a re-enactment on my part and a lot of rage towards my parents. It also included my best effort to date of expressing anger at BN in the moment. I have been struggling to stay stable and try to understand all that is going on but to be very honest, I am feeling GONZO confused so part of why I am writing is to try and sort through what is going on and understand.

A disclaimer before I go on, which is that I am angry and in a way that doesn’t lend itself to being particularly fair to the other person. So I want to say up front, and center, that BN was very patient with me, very encouraging about me allowing myself to just express my anger and amazingly non-defensive. If I had been talking to me on the crisis line, I probably would have ended the call as being too abusive, but he thanked me (!) for my honesty.

I have told the story in a previous post of giving BN a stone heart in a heart box to represent my coming to trust our connection (see i carry your heart). BN was very touched and the heart box has sat on the table in his office ever since, along with a lot of other tokens obviously given to him from other clients. It’s come up a number of times in our work, mainly centered on the heart being open or not. And I find it very comforting to see it there when I go for sessions. It’s tangible evidence of our connection being in place, even when absent from each other.

A few months ago, I walked into his office to discover that someone had put something in the heart box, alongside the stone heart. It’s a small ceramic object, which even after examination, I don’t get. I said something, very casually, the first time I noticed it and BN didn’t really say much beyond the fact that he had noticed it was in there.

So every time I walk in his office, this is bugging me. Because it kept eating away at me, and I knew I felt a bit ashamed of how I felt, at our session before the last one I finally said something. I told BN that I really wasn’t happy about sharing my heart box, that I wanted to be the only one, but I also realized in reality I am not the only one in his heart, just as he is not the only person in mine, so I had been leaving it alone. But if I was honest, sometimes I just felt like “get your own damn heart box.” But that I didn’t want to take it out, because I was afraid that would be really hurtful for the other person. To which BN replied “or they just might put it back.” He was very affirming about me being entitled to my feelings, and also talked about knowing that my sessions were completely mine.

I should probably also mention that we did some pretty intense work around me realizing that I had dragged my feet long enough about body issues (ok and sexuality. Which BN brings up EVERY DAMN TIME). I realized that waiting until I felt ready to face this stuff wasn’t a good idea. At one point, BN asked me when I thought I would be ready, to which I quickly retorted “absolutely never.” We both a good laugh about that one. So we are heading once again into deep waters, and I am starting to understand that I have another (please God, the last) integration process to go through. All of which is throwing me back into feeling like I have made no progress and/or am literally the slowest client in the universe. BN is telling me different, but you know that feeling that they have to say that to you…

So I did the mature thing after our session and brooded over it. I think once I admitted to BN that it bothered me and had him be so accepting, my feelings really started to emerge. The more I thought about it, the more obnoxious it seemed to me that the other client put something of theirs in another person’s gift. OK, the phrase “dumb as paint” sprang to mind. I mean, I’m hesitating to move it because I am not sure what it means to them, and then it hits me that they weren’t all that concerned about my feelings. And even though I felt immature and petty for feeling it, I was really hurt that something so important to me can’t be just mine. And, tentatively, I admitted to myself that I was a little bugged that BN was fine with it. Followed by wondering why I was focusing on this when I had important work to do.

How many times will I forget that this is how the important work gets done? By being honest about what gets evoked in our relationship?

I posted about it on Psychcafe which was helpful in that people totally understood my feelings. But as the discussion went on, people were coming at the thing from all different angles, including someone wondering why all of my anger was directed at the other client and not BN. I ended up feeling so confused, that I wrote an email to BN. A long, anxious email detailing everything being kicked up for me. I had gone so far as to buy another heart box so that I could move the doodad without looking hostile. Don’t worry, I got over it. 🙂

I said, in part:

I realized that I really am not happy about someone placing something in there. It was a very significant gift for me which marked a truly important turning point in our work. There is something deeply intimate about it for me. And we talked about knowing that when we are in session, then that is my time to have your focus. Part of the meaning wrapped up in the heart and box for me is that it represents the uniqueness of our bond. Not that I am the most special person to you, or more important than anyone else. but I am me and you are you and what is between us is unique (as is your bond with other clients. Sorry I know you know this, but I want to be clear I understand it also). I also see it as representing both sides of our relationship (we are both the box and both the heart). So this feels like an intrusion into a sacred space. It’s my father not allowing me my boundaries and to have space that was truly mine.

I also said that I knew it had been a gift to him, so I wasn’t sure that I really had any right to be upset about what was done with it. I finished by telling him that I knew I was in a highly reactive state. He responded and told me he was looking forward to discussing it with me and that he thought the process would help. (First thought: Hey, you said you would never lie to me! Second thought: And you think I’M the one who needs help?!?) He ended by reassuring me that our connection was solid.

I’ll talk about the session in my next post, Disruption and Rage Part II.

  1. August 9, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Yowza! This sounds intense… I’m sure that you’ve heard everything useful there is to say by this point, so I’ll stick to just sending you lots of mental support…

    Oh, by the way, I swear that BN and Mama Bear have been to the same trainings! Or maybe they had the same supervisor at some point who moved from one of our cities to the other? “He responded and told me he was looking forward to discussing it with me and that he though the process would help.” Oh, yes, heard that one before. Sigh…

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    • August 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks Cat, just seeing the “yowza” helped. Don’t feel like such a drama queen. And I will admitting it imagining an entry in the course catalog for a counseling degree that goes like this: generic phrases; keep it bland and dispassionate. 🙂 xx AG

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  2. Jones
    August 9, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Well done on hanging in there. This post – and its title – really got me thinking about the difference between ‘disruption’ and ‘rupture’. Not to be cryptic, but it could be worth a ponder. 🙂 xxxxx Jones

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    • August 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks Jones, really hoping for a disruption. Things are stronger on the other side.

      Like

  3. Karel
    August 9, 2013 at 5:12 am

    I hear your frustration, and it does seem weird somebody else put something in the box. Maybe they thought it was one of those wish boxes or something where people add mementos. The T has to be neutral, so that could be why he doesn’t interfere with the display. However, I would have had the same WTF reaction. (This is probably why T’s aren’t supposed to accept gifts. I have enjoyed giving mine a few as “thanks” too though.) I would have probably seen the addition, said, “What the!”, picked it up and asked him, “Where do you want me to put this?” Then he’d probably just smile and put the offending item in his drawer. Yes, the box was a gift, but it is a shared sentiment symbolizing something for you, too. If the other client keeps putting it back in, you can really have fun with that and a shared laugh with your T about how you have to check your gift now and put it in order every time you come in. maybe you’ll bring in a tiny hat or something and put it on their item-see how that flies.

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    • August 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Karel,
      I like the idea of a tiny hat. Or maybe just a note saying “touch it again and I WILL hurt you!” That would get my point across right? I hate the realization that this is, in sone ways, not really about the box. Sometimes I hate the symbolic weight that therapy carries. ~ AG

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  4. M
    August 9, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Karel, I love the idea about putting a “tiny hat or something” over the offenders gift! Great ‘concept’! It struck me as quite funny, actually. I could see myself, in a rare moment of confidence and in gut reaction, doing the same thing in defense of what is mine (or what a believe is mine). Territorial, anyone? Protective? Yeah, just a bit,haha (but justifiably so in a situation like this IMO). YET, there is also that side of me that would struggle with the same issues and emotions AG is going through. I’d go through the whole gamut of thoughts and emotions, I’m sure. I’m also certain that what I’d hoped my BN would’ve done was to protect the ‘sanctity’ and/or ‘sacredness’ of my gift and the symbolism it represents. I’d have wanted him to defend what we shared as sacred by not allowing someone else to intrude on that. I’d have questioned: don’t I matter as much to him? Why isn’t the gift and what it represents as important to him as it is to me? And why can’t he protect that/me/us? Isn’t our connection and what we’ve shared unique and special enough to…..? etc, etc, etc. Also,I’d eventually be asking myself, “What is the need here I’m looking for?” Does that sound correct, anyone?

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    • August 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      M,
      Not only does that sound correct, it sounds dead on. Those are all the questions I need to resolve. The scary part is that I need BN to work through them. Gosh, therapy is fun!! ~ AG

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  5. August 9, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Someone putting something in ‘my’ heart box would bother me also. Maybe a lot. It’s already difficult that the T has others he is also close to, though obviously it has to be like that. Having a gift ‘co-opted’ like that would hurt. I’m sure it brings up lots of things you can usefully explore, but I think the box situation is something BN could easily correct also. Possibly I’m being way too literal.

    Like

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Ellen,
      Thanks, and I appreciate you being literal. Part of what makes this hard is feeling like while there are symbolic and transferential aspects, it really feels like there’s just the right now wanting to have the box, and our relationship protected. ~ AG

      Like

  6. Mrs. Sharkey
    August 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    First off, *hugs*. It sounds like you need them. My therapist and I are working reconnecting after a 4-week break too, and it’s rough.

    My first reaction upon reading your post was rage on your behalf that BN allowed someone else to put something in your heart box. I find myself wondering why he didn’t set firm boundaries with the client who did that. That whole situation would bother me a lot, and your reactions make perfect sense to me.

    Like

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      (((Mrs. Sharkey))) thank you for understanding and for being angry on my behalf. Sorry you are living this up close and personal. I hope you’re able to reconnect soon. Xx AG

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  7. August 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Hi AG,

    It makes so much sense why you would be feeling this way. It’s an invasion by a stranger of something deep and intimate that you have with BN. Obviously, they are in therapy too, so it’s understandable that they have their own issues and might not be able to think about another person, but BN knows how important it is to you. Even if the other client does not have the capacity to understand, BN should (and I’m sure he does). I’m sorry about how upsetting that must have been for you. As you said, I think it’s awesome that you were able to express yourself to him openly and honestly. Sometimes it seems that the strangest opportunities present themselves and allow us to grow. Looking forward to your next post 🙂

    P.S. I think it can be so frustrating when therapists respond to emails with the remark that they’re looking forward to discussing it next time. Don’t you just want them to talk about it now!?

    Like

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Novicum,
      Thanks for I understanding. Everyone’s immediate recognition of why this would bother me does help. And yes, talking now would be better but I know better than to expect processing in an email. 🙂 ~ AG

      Like

  8. liz
    August 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I will try to pretend that, if the same thing happened to me, I wouldn’t have done everything it took to find out who that stranger was and I certainly wouldn’t have tried to set his car on fire, and I will just say that this little incident doesn’t mean your relationship with BN is not as strong as you thought it was.
    And you were incredibly brave to bring this out! I would have died rather than admit that I was jealous, or hurt, or in desperate need of reassurance.
    It is so damn hard to put the whole therapeutic relationship thing into perspective.
    I think it’s ultimately all a question of trust – if I had to sum up almost three years of therapy in one word, that word would be trust.
    I’m sure you’ll figure this thing out on your next session 🙂

    (also, ehm, I am SO waiting for a post about sexuality issues. Just saying ;-))

    Hugs to you.

    Like

    • August 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Liz,
      I like the way you think! 🙂 hadn’t thought of a car fire…. 🙂 Don’t hold your breath on the sexuality part. I am afraid that it is not something I easily discuss and the way I am dancing around the subject makes Fred Astaire look like a total slacker. 🙂 (Sorry!) xx AG

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  9. Mallard
    August 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    First off, I think I would have gone nuclear at the presence of someone else’s token infringing on space that was sacred to me.

    But, ugh, horrible as it is to go through, this probably is good work. Or it might feel like it when you start coming out the other side. Pity we have to do the flailing around, second guessing ourselves and the therapeutic relationship and experience all the accompanying pain to get to the other side 😦

    One of the things I realise I do when I’m in a rupture is pressure myself to get out of that foggy, irrational headspace quickly and therefore devote lots of time on my own trying to figure out and rationalise what’s going on. Partly it’s to ease my distress, but also I am beginning to understand that it’s because I find it difficult to show vulnerability in-session so going, having worked out a rough picture of what’s going on, feels a lot safer than turning up and placing my self in T’s hands. Interesting. I’m not sure what in your post triggered that piece of introspection but I hope it wasn’t unwelcome!

    I’m impressed by your honesty and your ability to express your anger to BN, bad language and all! I don’t underestimate how massive that is.

    Lots of good wishes!
    Mallard

    Like

    • August 18, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      Mallard,
      You just gave a fairly accurate description of how I handle therapy. 🙂 Its a very difficult place for me to reach, but some of my best work has been when I’ve managed to walk through the door, sit down, look at BN and tell him I have no idea what’s going on and need his help to understand and then do not “edit” what I am saying. What makes healing SO difficult is that the thing we must do, be present in the moment and vulnerable, has such terrible experiences attached to it. I would give so much to be able to *think* my way out of this. If nothing else, it would have saved BN telling me 8567 times that its about the feelings. 🙂

      And you’re right, its not fun, but it is good work. xx AG

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  10. August 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I feel sort of sensitive responding to this, because I absolutely know how intense the therapeutic relationship can be. No shame. No judgments. 🙂 So I want to acknowledge that it’s brave of you to share, because sometimes hearing people’s opinions can be triggering, no matter how nice they are.

    This is why I think therapists don’t typically accept gifts. I’ve given my therapist a drawing and muffins off and on, mostly during the holidays. I’ve sent her cards. Recently though, because I have this object permanence thing where I think she doesn’t exist outside of that space with me, like she disappears when I can’t see her, so then I frantically call her so that I can be reassured that she does still exist- I made a t-shirt. It’s a super clever, funny t-shirt too. I was proud of it. At the end of an appt I hurried up and gave it to her, saying as I hurried out the door that I know she can’t accept gifts, but if she could just think about it. Even though it was sort of a copout to give it to her in that way, I’m glad I did. I spent the next week thinking of all the arguments of why she should keep it and why she should not. I even researched her professional ethics to see what the specific rules are. Basically, it’s up to the therapist and if it’s therapeutically relevant, they can keep it. To which my argument was of course that me knowing she had this shirt, regardless of what she actually did with it, I could then imagine her as a real person, with a home, a life, wearing that shirt. Maybe it sounds more creepy stalkerish than I meant it. 🙂 But my fears around her disappearing were very real, and not having any sort of idea of what her life looked like outside of that office, or even any proof that she did in fact exist! my brain would say, the shirt actually did seem to help. We have not actually discussed the shirt since I gave it to her, because stuff keeps coming up, but in this time I’ve also come to terms with the fact that she might just give it back to me. And I’m actually sort of thinking that I eventually want to get to a place where maybe I even ask for it back. Where I can be so secure in our relationship, in believing that she’s real, and what we have is real, that I don’t need her to have this object.

    But right now, who am I kidding!? I love that she has it and am not in that place of being able to ask for it back or handle the feelings of rejection I know it will bring up for me.

    Like

    • August 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      Meghan,
      Definitely am not going to argue with you about gifts sometimes being problematic. 🙂 I have actually given BN a number of gifts over the years, some of them just silly (I have a thing about his socks and have given him several pairs over the years) but the two really significant ones were very therapeutically significant for me, and honestly I would have been devastated if BN had not accepted them. But we also usually explore the meanings and motivations behind the gifts so its seemed like a good balance.

      I also very much understand that need to know they keep on existing and how much it can mean to know they have something from us. I once asked BN if he ever thought of me outside our sessions and part of his answer was that there are significant relationships and of course he thinks about his clients, that he can not look around his office without being reminded. I also agree that someday I will not need that. But evidenty I’m not quite there yet 🙂 I hope your therapist keeps the T-shirt, but hope you will discuss it either way. ~ AG

      Like

  11. jwd50
    August 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Sort of new here. What does the title mean?

    Like

  12. August 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Hi JWD,
    It may be the second part of this post answered your question, but the disruption refers to an interruption in the connection between BN and I. All relationships have misattunements where we will get hurt or angry and its important to repair them. The rage part of the title referred to all the anger that came out about the box once I stopped to let myself feel it. Only took me 3 months. 🙂 ~ AG

    Like

  13. muff
    April 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    “If nothing else, it would have saved BN telling me 8567 times that its about the feelings”

    Liked by 1 person

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