You can come back now

OK, I’ve officially had enough of BN being gone. I’ve got 10 days left to go (so 25 down, you would think that, at least, would feel like an accomplishment) and it stretches before me as an impassable eternity (no hyperbole there, nope! πŸ™‚ ).Β  The last seven or eight months we’ve been doing so much work around shame, and I did not realize just how important it has been to be able to go see BN and be in a safe place where I could, however painfully and hesitatingly, speak about the shame I was feeling. It provided a regular pressure ‘bleed off” so that things did not hit critical mass.

Things are much calmer and more stable these days in that the crises we have been dealing with have settled down, although there are still related issues now and again. But five weeks is a long time. Things happen, some of which I wouldn’t have expected to trigger shame, but have. I had something happen that was incredibly affirming for me.Β  I was asked to participate in an event which made it clear that my insight was seen as valuable and has lead to some opportunities to collaborate with professionals that I hold in high regard. And while it has been really exciting and enjoyable, I am also amazed that there is a reaction of shame. It can feel like acknowledging that other people see me as valuable is a wrong thing to do. Typing the phrase “other people see me as valuable” felt like doing something wrong.

I really do appreciate readers telling me that they find reading here valuable and that it has impacted their lives. I find it really satisfying to know that I am able to help other people heal, so when I read comments or emails thanking me, it is such an encouragement to me to continue writing. And I find it really flattering that so many of you have suggested that I write a book. I want to write a book, I have been intending to start working on a book for a long time (BN suggested I write a book about five years ago when I was bugging him about writing a book. πŸ™‚ ) But I seem to be frozen and unable to start which brings up a tremendous amount of shame (“what’s wrong with me? Am I too cowardly to risk failure? Am I just undisciplined and lazy? What if I write a book and it becomes obvious I’ve been faking it all along and now everyone will realize I have noting worthwhile to say? What if I’ve already said it all on my blog?” There you go, a small sample of my inner critic. Nice, isn’t she? πŸ™‚ )

Last but not least, in what now looks like really idiotic timing (but at the time it had a very now or never quality; my courage had screwed up to the sticking point and I was afraid if I did not act, the opportunity would not come again), I called my aunt, my father’s sister, to ask her about what she told my mother about when my brother had passed away. Didn’t find out anything earth shattering (I hope to post on it later when I’ve had a chance to process it with BN) but hearing her voice took me way back. It was also obvious that the conversation wasn’t really going to go anywhere. In subsequently discussing it with my sister, she thought that I am looking for validation from an adult who was there during the abuse, but I’m just not going to get it. I think she has a point. But that kicked up a bit of a swirly mess (some of it revolving around the fact that I can still doubt the veracity of my recovered memories. Which, when I am objective, seems ridiculous by the way.) I think there’s some pain there that I am just respectfully containing until I have a chance to talk to BN.

But underneath all of this intellectual analysis (who me? use my intellect as a defense against my emotions? Why what in the world can you be talking about? πŸ™‚ ) is just this young, small feeling of “you’ve been gone long enough and I’m scared and sad and I need you and I don’t care what you’re doing, get back here NOW!” I think I have metaphorically dropped onto my diapered butt and am sitting in the middle of the floor just bawling, beyond all logic. I want BN and I want him now. So what if he has to cut his vacation short? And I really am trying to take all of the wonderful advice I dispensed so freely to the rest of you, but my self-compassion is faltering. I HATE how much I need him and that his absence affects me so much.Β  Even though I know that seen in context my need makes perfect sense, it feels shameful and demanding and immature and JUST TOO MUCH. I broke down and sent a text to BN yesterday and he answered several hours later, and I stared at the screen and realized it wasn’t really doing it. Which means I really should call him because I think I need to “experience” him (hear his voice and be able to take in that no, he does not actually hate me. For some reason, the longer he is away, while I know I can trust the relationship is intact, he morphs in my head and likes me less and less as time goes by and the relationship I value so much is seen as more and more of a burden to him. I also hate being this irrational. But the feelings are there.) I feel like a greedy, gaping maw of suck. And then I feel ashamed for feeling that way because we’ve worked through all this and just how exceedingly tedious will it be to hear all of this from me. Again. For the umpteeth time. How far into our first session back will BN be thinking “now why did I get on that flight home?” And I have moments of hating him because I need him and I hate needing him. While at the same time hoping he’s having a great time. AUGH. And last, but so sickingly familiar, that realization that this is IT. All it will ever be. I am less important to him then he is to me, forever and ever amen. The zombie feeling, doesn’t matter how many times you think its dead and buried and at peace, it can suddenly burst out of the ground and eat your brains.

Last but not least, my wonderful, supportive husband has pretty much ran out of patience. Reasonably so, I might add. I am working a lot of overtime at work so he is doing most of the housework, grocery shopping and cooking added to which he he has been listening to me talking about missing my therapist for over four weeks. As wonderful as he is, which is very, he is also human. I understand, but it is deepening my feelings of shame around the fact that I am feeling all this and kicking in my “it’s time to be Suzy Sunshine” instinct which means I feel silenced and unheard. And let’s not get me going on how triggering that is (“Please don’t, this post is long enough!”). So, I am speaking here, to people who understand, so that I can connect and feel heard. Because I think I read somewhere recently that reaching out for support when you are missing your therapist is a good way to cope. πŸ˜€

UPDATE: I called, he called back. I missed his call (stupid ringer was off, and someone had come in to talk to me). He called again. He was wonderful and made it clear he really understood and was glad I called. Just hearing his voice, especially the warmth and care in it, just slows my whole system down in the most wonderful way. And when I made a crack about only nine more days, I’d try to make it when we were ending, he stopped and reassured me that it really was ok to call anytime. God, I love that man. BEST. THERAPIST. EVER. Thanks for all the encouragement and support, my readers are all also the best! πŸ˜€

  1. PassionFruit
    July 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    AG – I hear you girlfriend. I ditto and affirm every word you said. My spirit just nodded in agreement with you and wants to affirm – yes, this sucks! I particularly relate to hating the need, hoping they are having a great time, and feeling shame over needing them so badly in our lives! And then there’s our poor husbands. I have no words of wisdom except to say – I’m right here with you.

    And I would be the first in line to buy your book. Your story is one so many of us can relate to because you are human, you are healing, and you’re just real. I appreciate your authenticity. And you have an amazing ability to communicate complex ideas for simple-minded folks like me. πŸ™‚

    Now, if only our T’s would hurry back!

    Thanks for a great post! πŸ™‚


    • July 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you so much! I really do know you understand (and actually are facing a much longer wait than me right now!) and I so appreciate you telling me I am not alone in my reactions. It really helps the shame because I don’t think YOUR feelings are unreasonable at all, which helps me to see that maybe mine aren’t.(OK the expectation of an early return would be πŸ™‚ ) Thanks for providing acceptance in the face of my confession of shame. And yeah, it would be really nice if our Ts would hurry back. πŸ™‚ And welcome to my blog, glad you came over! ~ AG


  2. Ann
    July 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Your T has been gone a long time!!!! I can understand your impatience, because a month is a long time for a significant person to be gone and is very unsettling! For anyone. I appreciate your honesty here and applaude your choice to write! In my own life, I have recognized what a patient wonderful husband I have, but he can’t understand my “crazy” emotions, especially when I throw too many words at him! That’s a man :-). So— the trick, I think, is to rant and process with those who either get it or experience it. That way,my husband can keep doing what he is good at. Bringing home the bacon,hold me tight at night, and being stable!
    What you are doing here is probably a safer, more satisfying way to unload your fears and anger over BN leaving. So many of us here go through the same roller coaster ride and now we can reflect back to you our support and especially reflect back the words that you have encouraged us with. I am starting to finally take baby steps towards not judging my emotional child side and learn how to find places and people to help me grow! I learned that from you! I also want to be able to not overwhelm my husband about my “wonderful” T as if he was the only valuable, safe person in my life. Now of course it can feel that way, but I believe it doesn’t help my marriage to remind my spouse that there is another man, who is “perfect, understands me and seems to have the right answers that my husband isn’t able to express”. Of course this is the fantasy that helps us heal. Even if he doesn’t show it, on some level BN is competition to him and his self-image as a husband!
    You can punch me in the face when I say this, but if BN had not left for so long, you may not have taken the step to vent and reach out elsewhere! You did that. Not BN. And we are not paid to care about you!! To me this is a win for you. BN will return and when ya’ll process all the pain that came during the separation and he will remind you of how you are moving in the right direction and how you are creatively finding ways to cope while he is gone!!! It still sucks, but when you aren’t so triggered you will recognize it. I know I do.
    My T won’t be gone so long, but since I began reading your blog, I have started being more creative about coping. Why? Because your example opened the door to allow me to ponder on and even share all the shameful emotions I experience. Until a person takes that risk (I think in front of an affirming person), I think it is impossible to start the work. This go round, it has taken about 2 years of therapy to even start the work. Only now my T is really seeing who I am and how broken I am. And I did have him fooled (like I fooled all the others). although I hate the pain of my neediness, it is serving a purpose! When you finally see BN, bring a baby toy or bottle and throw it at him to show your displeasure! (At least symbolically with your words) πŸ™‚
    AG, now that I have shamed you with all my compliments, know I am reflecting back the good I see in you. On a written page, I think it is easier to “hear” than in person. If my friends say something positive to me, I want to disappear. I understand that feeling. But here you always answer your readers questions with respect and encouragement. Does that mean they are perfect. No! Are you perfect? No! And we all disappoint people in our life. But somehow you and I need to figure out that others seeing the good in us, does not mean that we need to deflect it and feel the need to block it out. I wish there was an easy way to figure that out. I have no idea what the answer is to that, but we are all in it together and that is a major blessing to me. No more shame! Xoxoxo, Ann

    Liked by 3 people

    • July 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      So much good stuff here, it’s difficult to respond! Thanks for understanding. And you’re totally right about my husband. He works really hard to understand me and is very patient and supportive. But this stuff can be really hard to understand if you haven’t lived through it. And I would never want to give him the impression, even for an instant that he is less important. BN is how I am completing my development, but my husband is the man I share my life with.
      I promise there will be no punching. πŸ˜€ Especially because you’re right. I have always found BN’s vacations to be an opportunity for both reflection and growth. Somehow its a space in which I can take stock because I am on my own. And if I’m honest, no matter how much I miss him, its very important for me to know I can function without him. He once told me that he thought I “ended” therapy with him (turned out to be four month break followed by a year of sessions every 4-6 weeks) that I did so because I needed to assure myself I could function without him. It is good for me to be in a place where I need to make my needs known and have to reach out to other people (at this point BN feels so safe that there isn’t all that much risk involved). Thanks for the reminder.
      I am glad that my example opened the door for you to engage with your deeper emotional experiences, but like all my best material, going to credit BN with this one. Being so utterly safe with him and always being treated gently and respectfully were what allowed me to go there. So glad its infectious. πŸ™‚ Awesome idea to bring something to throw, I think I am going shopping for some Nerf products. πŸ™‚
      And thank you for the reminder that its ok, and even a good thing, to take in compliments while still retaining a sense of humanity. Perfectionism is a spectre that haunts an abuse survivor’s life I think. πŸ™‚ All of you lovely people give me a lot of practice for which I am very grateful. xx AG


  3. July 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    One of these days I’d love to bring something insightful and useful to give you, but as it stands currently all I have to give is the solidarity of also hating and being deeply ashamed of these pesky feelings 😦 I am sorry this long break brings up so much pain and shame. You’ve made it such a long time through this, you’re almost there! (I know that feels little consolation but hopefully it may bring a touch of comfort)

    I’ve found that sometimes the knowledge of reuniting after a break stirs up the worst anxiety of wondering if they are still safe. You will be back to that safe base soon, and I am confident BN will be glad to see you. I wish I had anything more helpful to offer but wanted to at least give some support and hugs.

    Love AH


    • July 27, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Please never underestimate the comfort that being heard and understood bring. Honestly, from a cognitive viewpoint, I have a pretty deep understanding of all the dynamics at work here, the issues at play and even what the truth really is. I have written reams about it on this blog. πŸ™‚ But all the understanding in the world does not exempt you from having the feelings. So what I really needed was to have those feelings heard and be met with compassion and understanding (instead of the scorn and rejection my shame teaches me to expect) and you have done that. Never discount the support of a loving heart. It is where we draw our strength to face our pain. Thank you for responding. Really. It means more than you can know. xx AG

      Liked by 1 person

  4. July 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I hear you, AG. Five weeks is a very long time. Five weeks when you have been doing intense work is even longer. Call him. Talk to him for 2 minutes and relieve your misery so that you can make it through the next 10 days without having to completely white knuckle it the entire time. (I know, I would find it almost impossible to call in your shoes, so who am I to talk?)

    I, too, have been dealing with the grief of knowing that as much as I mean to MB, in order for her to do her best by me, her presence has to mean more to me than mine does to her. It feels like I mean less to her than she does to me, but I’m not sure that is true. I don’t know the full MB in the same way that she knows me. She knows and loves a lot more of me than I do of her. The difference is that I need her while she doesn’t need me.

    It is a very odd relationship, though, isn’t it? It’s real. It’s deeply felt. By it’s nature, it is uneven and always will be. It’s uneven in terms of intensity, but I’m not sure how uneven it is in terms of depth.

    No, we will never have the sort of access and relationship as family members do. But I am betting that you get more of the side of BN that is so healing for you than most of his family members do.

    My computer is very sick, so I am typing on my phone. I hope that what I have said makes some bit of sense and maybe helps.

    And I really, really understand needing to spread out who you get support from, before you burn out a generous husband. So, please make use of us as much as you need ! We can be here for you.


    • July 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks for the nudge to call. I am going to call tomorrow. (He does have a backup T when he is on vacation in case he isn’t available to call back, he doesn’t want to leave you hanging and I don’t want to take a chance I’m interrupting the backup Ts weekend when going one more day isn’t that hard). I always fight it so hard, only to have it help so much just to talk to him for a few minutes.

      I totally agree with what you are saying about the relationship. Part of what has been confusing about this is that I have settled very securely into this being a deep, real relationship (and there have been some extremely powerful demonstrations of just how deeply BN cares for me over the last seven months) so at the same time that these childlike reactions of fear and abandonment are being triggered, there is also an absolute certainty that I am safe and not abandoned. It’s weird and a bit disconcerting. I also agree, and have long suspected that we get the best of them. I truly understand why the setup needs to be what it is. Those boundaries are what allow the deep work to occur in safety. Part of it was that I read a retired therapist’s blog on why he would not allow a friendship with a former client even though he has been retired for three years. He made an excellent argument for why not, based on what he saw as his continuing responsibility to do no harm to his clients even though he was no longer their therapist. it’s the once a client, always a client attitude that BN expresses. I think sometimes I allow myself to fantasize that somehow, someday I will get to know him more fully and then some cold water gets splashed about. πŸ™‚ But honesty, I have to believe that knowing them fully would probably contain some disillusionment because we always see their best self, always meeting us with patience and compassion. Nobody keeps that up 24/7. But again, no matter how well I understand, there is no way around the fact that it can hurt. Which won’t kill me. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for offering to be here for support. I am truly grateful. xx AG


      • July 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm

        Good, what I wrote came out the way that I meant it. I’m never sure on the phone.

        I am unexpectedly going through a break with Mama right now. She’s fried and realized that she had to take a break. I am going crazy trying to deal with therapy and buying a house/ moving at the same time. We independently, but simultaneously decided to take next week off. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to be able to have no contact at all (even when she had been out of the country, I have been able to get in contact with her up until now.) I’m doing ok, because we are only looking at 2 or 3 missed sessions. Actually I think that the reason that I am doing ok is that I know that she is in town. We aren’t meeting and I need to rely on other resources, but I still feel safer knowing that she is in town.


        • July 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm

          So glad it was a mutual decision, and I understand wanting a break when dealing with buying a house and moving. Moving is really really high up on my stress list. I think it’s really awesome that Mama Bear can demonstrate that kind of self-care (it also means she will stay capable of taking care of her clients). I also love that she trusts you to be capable to take care of your needs until she returns. And I totally understand the proximity thing of having her in town. May I return the offer for support if you need it? We can lean on each other.


          • July 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm

            Mutual support sounds good to me! When do you next see BN? I see Mama Bear on August 6th, unless I am still a basket case, then it will be August 8th.

            Of course the dynamics of what happened were quite a bit more complicated than what I have said here.

            You know the post about telling her something almost impossible? Well I went back in this past Wednesday completely expecting to be rejected. We started out talking about the move, but as soon as we moved to normal therapy stuff, MB said something about how she was exhausted and we needed to focus some more on my making better use of other resources.

            Major, major trigger for me. One of my greatest fears is of being too much of a burden and therefor unacceptable. I felt like I had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and that I couldn’t ask anything of her. I would never be able to tell her about any other abuse, but have to go back to dealing with it on my own. In short, I flipped out. To make matters worse, because I couldn’t “make her burden worse” I couldn’t get any words out to talk to her about it.

            I left her office a triggered mess on Wednesday, neither of us understanding what was going on. We had the exchange about both of us deciding to take time off by email. I tried to speak to her Wednesday evening, couldn’t get words out, and couldn’t tolerate asking her to have the patience to sit with me while I struggled, so I got off the phone. She called back later, saying that she didn’t know what was going on and she needed to know whether I was going to be ok.

            Eventually, by the next day, after another exchange of e-mails and quite a bit of thinking on my part, I had a better handle on what was going on. I was able to keep my Friday appointment and reconnect with her.

            One of the things that she talked about was that while she appreciated the kindness and sincerity of my wish for her to take care of herself, it was important that it not be at my own expense. That was a definite, “this is not my mother” moment. My mother was never aware that I was taking care of her, much less that it cost me me anything. Here was an attachment figure saying “you can care for me, but you can’t take care of me, particularly at cost to you.” We still need to work that one through all of the way.

            It’s remarkable how some of the most valuable relational work comes out of some of the most miserable interactions, isn’t it?


        • July 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

          Hope you see this as we have hit the bottom of my comments ability to nest. πŸ™‚ I totally agree that our most valuable relational work often comes out of the most miserable interactions. BN and I have discussed many times how no matter how hard you try to avoid it, the thing you most dread always seems to happen so you can face it. I really feel for you, as I would not have reacted at all well to hearing that from BN for the same reasons you expressed. I am so very impressed with your courage about going back and discussing that and working it through. I am glad that Mama Bear was able to provide a corrective experience of not allowing you to take care of her (funny enough, BN is a stickler for that one too. πŸ™‚ ) You just have my deep admiration, as I am not sure if I could have faced that one. And oddly enough, my next session is August 6th. πŸ™‚ xx AG


          • July 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

            Be careful what you say about not being able to face that one! πŸ˜‰ Seriously, though, both you and I know that if you had needed to, you would have. And I think that coming back, clarifying what MB had meant (she was concerned about being my almost exclusive source of support (she erroneously thought) when she was staring her own limitations in the face. What I heard as “you cost me too much” actually was “I don’t want to fail you, but I am human and exhausted. Let’s make sure that you can get what you need elsewhere, so you can do well enough, if I need to back off to deal with my exhaustion.”

            My last contact with MB before her break was an email, following up on the end of our session. It simply stated, “You absolutely are not a burden” and wished me a good week. At the end of the session, I asked her if I was ok to be with and her first answer was one word, “absolutely.” I cannot even begin to say how important that response and the email were, but I think that you know. Learning that one’s full self is acceptable, even when the other is tired and stressed, even when you both know just how challenging it is to deal with the emotional extremes and terrible memories.

            Sorry to write so much! In case you can’t tell (ha!), I’m still very much processing all of this. I guess that I should have written a blog post about it, huh?


  5. July 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Sending you support. I have eight days to go myself until my T is back. I also did something triggering that I should have put off, and am kicking myself. It’s just hard to get through T vacations, for all the reasons you mention. Ugh. Hope time speeds up for both of us.


    • July 27, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks Ellen! We can trudge through the trenches together. Try not to kick yourself too much, I have a feeling when I get a chance to examine it, that there are going to be good unconscious reasons for why I called when I did. You probably had good reasons also, even if we’re not aware. I second your wish that time speeds up. ~ AG


  6. Ann
    July 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    AG, One more thought that occurred to me after my last session was that like all of our other relationships, our relationship to our T is always changing and morphing as it develops. Maybe, just maybe, we will learn to relate in new and less frantic ways to our T as the relationship progresses. It feels right now like I will always feel extremely needy towards my T. However, my other relationships grow and change ( parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, husband, children etc.), so why shouldn’t our relationship with our T. Who knows? Maybe one day we won’t care that they get paid for it, and maybe they will grow more attached to us as we pull away! After all in the end we all are emotional humans. Just a thought. Xo


    • July 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks for that thought. The truth is that I have seen my relationship with BN change and grow while we have worked together. The truth is that I am not nearly as dependent on him now as I was at one time and in many ways, as I have stepped out and begun to live more fully, he has shifted into being a mentor for me with more self-disclosure. And that’s just it, for all the analyzing and agonizing that we do, in the end there are two human beings in that room. xx AG


  7. Carol Barrett
    July 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    The longer he is away, the better opportunity to trust yourself though. Shame is normal (don’t worry that you need to cure that). Transference is known to be a co-created situation between client and therapist. No one should be blamed, but it helps to understand that. It’s not done on purpose, but therapists unconsciously have subtle ways of raising and lowering their own boundaries. And they get to control the boundaries, not the client. It LOOKS on the surface like it’s all the clients behavior. But If there is any inconsistency in the frame, there is a psychological imbalance. And the client is likely there because they have boundary problems! You can never know what private issues the therapist is dealing with, that are leaking into the sessions. Maybe the therapist likes the attention at times, but also wants control over the relationship. Who knows? It’s not like they are going to acknowledge it. Quitting a therapist in that situation is like quitting smoking. Very, very difficult, but a healthy thing. Sometimes something intervenes to stop the sessions, but not always. A relationship with transference is never a supportive one. I know this is going to sound terrible, but you may have a better chance to get better if you take the scary leap and try another therapist (even for a short period). Don’t worry about all the relationship, history, etc. that you have with this therapist. It doesn’t go down the drain, you are simply building on it. A doctor I know suggests if you are switching therapists, go with a PhD. if possible. Good luck


    • July 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Carol,
      Welcome to my blog. I strive to treat every person who comments here with respect and courtesy. I appreciate that people are taking the time out to respond to me. So I am assuming that your motivation behind this comment was truly to be helpful and was said out of concern for my well being. So thank you. That being said, I was both saddened and angered by reading this. I am wondering if you have read any other of my over 130 posts? If you had, then you would know that BN is a highly principled therapist whose boundaries are rock-solidly consistent (moreso than any therapist I have ever encountered). And exploring our relationship and my feelings for him have led to a tremendous amount of healing and growth and my living a much fuller life, including writing this blog, than I had ever imagined possible. So to state uncategorically that a transference relationship is never supportive is both facile and false in my opinion. It also angered me to see the responsibility for the whole relationship laid at my therapist’s feet. You’re right, I did really struggle with boundaries (I wasn’t allowed to have any growing up), but have learned a tremendous amount from working with BN. And one of the most important things I have learned is that my feelings are mine, no one makes me feel anything. And you questioned the integrity of someone who has been open, and honest with me throughout our work. BN is one of the most humble people I know, acutely aware of his own humanity (it’s how I learned to accept my own) and clearly owns his own stuff when it gets in the way. So to have you show up and make such a sweeping assertion that I needed to leave a therapist with whom I have worked so successfully based on your opinion of transference feels deeply disrespectful of my experience. BTW, I did go to work with another therapist after my feelings arose for BN. That therapist and I mutually decided that the best course of action was for me to return and work through these feelings. Which BN and my husband both agreed with. I do not lead an unexamined life. Last but not least, if I had been a client with less ego strength and less trust in her therapist, I believe what you said here could have really wrecked havoc with the therapeutic alliance. And as far as Phd and MDs, one of the very worst therapists I have ever known, who damaged a client almost beyond repair because of his incompetence in handling the transference which occurred, was a PhD. Therapy is just as much an art as it is a science and I’ll stack BN’s LCSW and 35 years of practice up against anyone else’s doctorate. I would appreciate that if you decide to stay around, which you are more than welcome to do, that you would become more acquainted with all the facts before offering such a decided and strong opinion of my course of action. ~ AG

      Liked by 2 people

    • DpBluSee
      July 27, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Carol,

      Truthfully, my first reaction to this whole sequence of comments regarding transference in the therapeutic relationship is: what ISN’T transference? And projection, which is also part of the transference dynamic. We experience transference in many relationships in our lives, not just in therapy, but as a great T once said (mine), in therapy you can look at it. You can’t do that with your boss at work when you are angry at them because unconsciously they remind you of your father. You can in therapy.

      This is a dynamic which is functioning all the time in our real lives. We are just unconscious of it. In therapy, we can make it conscious and learn more about ourselves and our patterns of thought and constellation of emotions. A good therapist learns where their transference ends and the patient’s begins. This is an extremely valuable and essential tool in understanding unconscious complexes that are at work all the time in the treatment and room and out. It may not be necessary for everyone’s treatment, but, in my opinion, to effect real, lasting long-term change, it is an essential component of the process. That doesn’t make the work easy, but essential none the less.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Carol Barrett
        July 28, 2014 at 2:40 am

        I agree with all the above! The therapeutic frame is very complicated, and very fascinating to read about. Best case scenario, a helpful transference is established right out of the gate, through the frame. Transference will be different with every therapist, as will their frame. Experiencing helpful transference is essential to feeling stronger, processing things effectively and enjoying a higher level of functioning. Sometimes transference problems cannot be solved in the relationship in which they were created. By created, I don’t at all mean intentionally created! After unfortunately having transference problems, a good transference experience can be highly corrective 😊


    • July 27, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Therapists aren’t robots. They all have issues. I have been going to my T for six months now and I could list a few issues that she has, and I know this just by being in the same room with her for an hour once a week. Nevertheless she has been very professional and has never been inappropriate. And I know two therapists personally that largely got PhDs because it helps their career as far as what insurance will pay them, not that they became distinctly better therapists because of it. (Everyone has to jump through hoops in their careers and I don’t blame them a bit.) All therapists have to get ongoing training and to me as long as they’re licensed the level of degree they have is irrelevant, IMO. Transference is a big deal with people (like me) who are dealing with childhood trauma and attachment issues. I honestly have no idea how it could be avoided. It’s not my T’s fault in the least. I think AG answered well enough, but I just don’t want anyone who is vulnerable right now to read that comment and have unnecessary second thoughts about the relationship they have with a T who is helping them.


  8. muff
    July 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Hoy Hoy AG,

    It’s so easy to relate in how you are feeling; the pull and push of wanting T now, and at the same time wanting to cope without him. It’s real 2 yr old stuff isn’t it. I have been waiting to see my T since his latest repeat ‘performed’. He is OK now tho πŸ™‚

    I went on auto ‘baby self’ for the last week or so which helped a lot. The adult me did the caring while the inner child felt the nasty stuff. UGH! He would say, “All good stuff.” Grr. Thinks it is all some kind of proof thing that we can survive with out them while feeling like shyte.

    As for your book, you are writing it in here me thinks. How many readers will want to know there is an ending to your therapy, and how well you will cope without T? We are all a work in progress, and articulating how we feel during this process couldn’t be express any better than with your words.



    • July 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Muff,
      Good to hear from you!! I hope you are doing well and held up through your T’s latest repeat performance. That man will be the death of you. πŸ™‚ Thanks for relating. I think your description is perfect. The more adults aspects of me are really good and secure and get that its a vacation, but the small child really doesn’t care for those explanations. I don’t think she should get her way, but it does feel important to allow myself to be aware of feeling this way. I’m not proud but its a part of me and important for me to accept. Which all of you are really helping with.

      Ah, as for the ending of the book… that would presuppose I manage to leave therapy. πŸ™‚ Although there are times when it can feel like I am edging closer. Maybe it should be a cliffhanger and I can plan on a sequel. πŸ™‚ xx AG

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ruth
    July 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    hi AG
    I love your blog and your honesty! im just on my first long break from my therapist. ..ive been seeing her for nearly two years…and hadn’t realised I was attached until she went on holiday 2 weeks ago ( one more to go!) I didnt even realise this would happen…so I am so grateful to you for helping me understand what therapy is actually about and that all the feelings I get are pretty normal. I now realise how grateful I am to have her on this journey with me..and you too! I seem to be in a state of permenant anxiety and cant wait for her to get back…but I have had lots of realisations in the last few weeks too, so its not all bad…though bloody hard! take care and be kind to yourself x


    • July 27, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Ruth.
      Welcome to my blog and thank you for commenting. Nothing like a T’s vacation to make you conscious of your attachment. As we mentioned above while NOT fun, they are often a really good opportunity for growth. I am very glad that reading here has given you a sense of normalcy and put your feelings into the right context. I am glad that you are looking forward to sharing your realizations. It’s ever so very slightly easier to endure how hard it is if you see progress out of it, πŸ™‚ ~ AG


  10. Little Blond Girl
    July 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    ((AG)). 5 weeks is a long long time and I can’t imagine how I’d cope. I’m on day 9 of a 25 day break and on day one, well, my coping wasn’t exactly the best. Even after a session of talking about coping!! The fact that your T is in contact, when you reach out, while in Europe, tells me that you mean an awful lot to him, so try and take solace in that (yep, I’m one to talk – though I can’t imagine my T being in contact when that far away). You are down to a single digit countdown tomorrow, no? That’s a good thing. And I’m pretty sure you told me not too long ago, to be in touch with my T if I needed to. So right back at ya. Go back and look at that response…We’re all here for you and struggling along side you. I don’t even talk to my husband about it, for fear I will hurt his feelings. Which means, I talk to no one. So I’m glad you are reaching out. I’ve heard from my T once so far in our break. And the mixed thoughts, from “hey, maybe I do matter”, to…”but I’m still on the outside” float around all the time. Take good care of you…



    • July 27, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      ((LBG)) You have reminded me of the old adage. “Lord make me words soft and sweet, for I may have to eat them tomorrow.” I suppose I am going to have to take the advice I so freely dispense. πŸ™‚ That was a very gentle way to remind me.

      I think because this was a much longer break than usual, he took a lot of care to make sure that his email and cell phone would both be available to him even in Europe (I don’t think I’m the only client who contacts him in between sessions. πŸ™‚ But if I am honest, about two weeks in I had something pretty exciting happen and I sent BN a link to a 20 minute video, thinking I would share what happened but I truly assumed that he would watch it when he returned. I didn’t track the time time difference very well and realized after I sent the email that it was 11:30 PM his time. He sent me back a quick response to tell me he got it and I didn’t expect to hear anything else. I got a reply back seven hours later, which was 6:30 AM his time, that he had watched it and he let me know what he thought. That meant more than I can say and yes, its hard to see that kind of behavior and think he doesn’t care. It’s what makes these feelings so frustrating, I am well aware just how irrational they are. Thank you for understanding and I hope your 25 days (*eek*) flow swiftly past. I’m so glad you all get this! xx AG


  11. July 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Wishing you the strength and health you need to endure the last few days. I made it 3 weeks, grit my teeth like a champ and then fell apart the final week. I may have been doing a “great” job stuffing down my emotions, but my body betrayed me. I got horribly sick and made a swift recovery once I saw my T again. Coincidence? Dubious.

    Good luck to you. Try to eat well, sleep well and have a little fun to ease the wait.


    • July 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Thank you. I totally get what you’re saying about your body. When I first started working with BN I used to contract at least 4-6 Sinus infections a year (I thought antibiotics were a food group) and at least twice a year, it would progress to Bronchitis and for some reason every November it would kick off an asthma attack so that I would be flat on my back for three weeks. As in I would have to plan on making sure I had enough sick time for November. Since learning so much about recognizing my feelings, expressing them and letting them move through me, I cannot remember the last time I had a sinus infection let alone bronchitis or an asthma attack. I actually felt a little bonkers for thinking it until several people, including my husband commented on it. We experience our feelings in our bodies and if we cannot express them, our bodies do it for us. It’s good you’re paying enough attention to catch that. Three weeks is a long break. Therapy the only thing that can make you hate summer. πŸ™‚ ~AG


  12. Ann
    July 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Carol, I was interested in your comment about transference. Where did you get the idea that transference prohibited healing? Now I know that many forms of therapy don’t consider transference as part of the work (CBT and short term therapy). However, some longer term therapy acknowledges the existence of intense feelings toward the T ( as well as vise-versa). This occurs especially on cases where childhood attachment was interrupted. I agree that a poorly trained therapist or one who has little awareness of how their own issues affect the therapeutic relationship can cause severe damage. But there are many Ts who are mindful of the transference, discuss the meaning behind it, and get supervision when they feel themselves triggered or ineffective. I know for me, exaggerated feelings come up at times. I discuss them with my T and often practice taking emotional risks with him before I try them in the real world. I would hate for someone to quit their T solely on transference issues. Again there are Ts (even PhDs and MDs) who don’t know how to therapeutically use transference or even will use it to satisfy their narcissistic needs. Anyone who feels unsafe with a therapist should leave. AG seems very savvy about therapy and openly discusses her attachment with her T. I actually have MA in counseling psych and personally don’t have the skill set to deal with transference. But I do know Ts who have incorporated it effectively with some of their clients.
    AG, sorry to have written all over your blog! Do not feel you have to respond to all my comments! Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      Any and all of your comments are always welcome! Thank you for answering Carol with a lot more civility than I seemed capable of. I also appreciate your trust in me. Thank you. xx AG


    • Carol Barrett
      July 28, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Ann, I am happy to answer your question. I didn’t mean that transference is never supportive, and I should have written that differently (Most human relationships have transference, after all). In my opinion, if a relationship has ongoing, long-term transference problems it causes suffering. It’s a symptom that the alliance has been allowed (even despite everyone’s good intentions!) to turn into overdependence at the expense of really feeling better. It may even be codependent (which can be progressive, talk about adding insult to injury). Technically, a therapist is supposed to refer a client on when transference problems persist. But it’s complicated. The therapist may want to continue to work with the client, and the client is now clinging to a life raft and they are terrified. The therapist may truly just want to help! Now they are stuck in a pattern. If the client gets better, that would mean having to leave, which sounds unthinkable–to the client. I meant this kind of relationship is never a supportive one because transference problems take up too much energy. If you (as the client) can’t imagine ever leaving, there is a possibility that–for whatever reason–the relationship is not helping make you strong enough to do that. What kind of transference is the therapist using, you may ask? Transference run amok is hard to reel back in. (And even with CBT, there is always transference, though it may go underground.πŸ˜‰) I don’t mean any disrespect to AG or BN. I don’t mean to judge anyone. I hope the best for them, and everyone, and I am very sorry for anyone with transference problems and that they have to go through that. We are all flawed, and everyone is doing the best they are able. I know what I am saying upsets the apple cart, and I just wanted to plant a seed in case it could be helpful in the future. Good luck to everyone in this process.


  13. July 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Nope, not alone by any stretch of the imagination. I have absolutely no words of wisdom and absolutely nothing to add to your perfect description of my own feelings – except to shout that Nope, you are most certainly not alone in feeling that way. Aaaargh. It sucks, doesn’t it ?


    • July 27, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      Hi fluffybutter,
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting! May I say, awesome username! I smile every time I read it, so thank you. πŸ™‚ It really does suck! But thank you for taking the time to say you understand and that I’m not alone. If you look at my response to Armored Heart’s comment above, you’ll see the value I place on what you just did. πŸ™‚ So thank you! ~ AG


  14. July 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I hear you and COMPLETELY understand each and every one of your feelings and emotions. Just wish I had your gift of journaling them so clearly. Here’s to the next 10 days of giving yourself the unconditional regard you so richly deserve.


    • July 27, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      Thank you, it really helps to be heard! And I’ll settle for some patience and compassion for myself much less unconditional regard. πŸ™‚ But seriously receiving compassion from everyone here helps me to provide it for myself. ~ AG


  15. DpBluSee
    July 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Hi AG,

    Oh, I so know the shame reaction. I nodded my head when you described feeling shame even within the context of something affirming! I have had this happen to me too. I once shared some creative writing and it was so well received the person who read it cried. I was gratified by her reaction but also had an immediate shame reaction! WTH??!! I have learned, for me, it is about the fact that I expressed myself, or there was more of “me” out out there in the world. I was seen. That is it. I was so shamed by my mother as a child, and later as an adult, that anytime I was seen in the world, no matter how good the circumstance were I still felt the shame of childhood. So I say: “Good for you!!” Do it anyway (which it sounds like you are!) and know the shame is transitory and not about who you are AT ALL! Everyone constantly gives you affirmation and positive feedback about how insightful and articulate you are. That is because it is the truth!! You absolutely deserve every accolade coming your way. You are not your shame, by a mile!

    By the way, I don’t expect any of this to help you overcome your shame. When you are ready, you will act and do whatever you want to do, for you. It can only happen when someone is ready and not sooner. It’s just the process of recovery and how it works. I know you know all this, by the way, so I don’t mean to imply in any way that you may not have heard this all before! All I will say on this subject is, if you did ever decide to write a book, you would be doing such a great service to so many patients in therapy. There is no literature out there for patients to weather the process. Just to know, at a minimum, that it is normal to feel shame and embarrassment and attraction and love in the therapeutic relationship and to go in and talk about it the best they can. To know the red flags to watch for and what are proper boundaries and to resist the desire to run if they can. That would be such a valuable message to get out there.

    Now, onto the rest of the topic of your post about wanting BN. I hear ya’ sister. The little girl just wants what she wants and it is not rational or reasonable or adult in anyway. Nor should it be. It is 100% healthy and normal and human. I am in the same place with my T but mine is only gone for approximately 13 days! My hats off to you. I think if my T said he was going to be gone for five weeks I wouldn’t even know what to do or say and we would have absolutely had it out before he left.

    I think the problem with our culture, in general, is that we vilify “need” and “vulnerability” and “dependency” as if they are a bad thing. The truth is these states are the foundation of all life. It is what connects us and make us really live. The reason we denigrate these states of being is because they are often aligned with emotions like shame and self-loathing because they weren’t addressed properly in childhood. For those of us who have issues with attachment, shame and self-loathing is the part of the package but that is not how it’s supposed to be. We are supposed to need and depend and be vulnerable.

    So I am going to say this in the nicest way possible, but I am in a bit of a mood right now (can you tell?) so it may seem a bit in your face! However, I think you can handle it! πŸ˜‰ All of this, thinking BN hates you (which of course he doesn’t) and you feeling you are tedious and an endless maw of need that will suck the life out of him is your projection. You are not any of these things! The feelings you have are 100% real but are about how awful you were treated by your family of origin and not, in any way, shape or form, a reflection of the real you and what is really happening in your current relationships with those who truly love you and see you. All of those thoughts and feelings you have, all of that which you are projecting onto BN, is just the residual effect of the abuse you suffered.

    I know you know all this but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to reiterate it! πŸ˜‰

    Lastly, bbout not being as important to him as he is to you, I got nothin’. πŸ˜‰ Truthfully I am totally struggling with this now with my T. I am jealous as hell of his family. I hate that he is somewhere, right now, with other people doing something fun and having a great time and I will never be a part of it. What I have learned though, this go around, is that this is the pain of longing to be special. Because I was never special to anyone when I was a child, I have to feel the pain of that now and it flippin’ hurts. There is no way around it. The only way is through. Letting myself feel it, while tortuous, has helped to clear some of it out and allow for more of true self to emerge, and I have felt stronger. But it is truly going through hell to get there.

    Many, many, many hugs to you!!


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      So sorry i had lost track of where i was in replying and skipped right over you! I am so relieved that you understood the shame reaction to praise! I mean its bad enough to feel shame over things you do wrong, but seriously?! Shame because people praise you? It makes me feel a bit crazy so its a relief to hear that it resonates with you.

      I also appreciate your recognition that overcoming shame is a process we need to go through. I am actually planning on tackling the shame around what happened and the block about starting a book with BN to try and understand so that I can move forward. Should be interesting. πŸ™‚ ( A favorite Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” )

      Thank you for the reminder that all of this is my fear and shame being projected on to BN. I do know it, but it truly helps to be reminded. Part of the reason talking to him helped so much is that I experience how he really treats me and their is none of the frustration, scorn or exasperation I fear to see. Those are all mine. πŸ™‚

      And sorry you get this too! I once emailed BN when he was on vacation and told him I hated his family because they got to spend time with him and know him in a way I never could. He was very gracious about it. OK I did end by telling him I hoped he had a good time with the people I hated πŸ˜€ I always feel a little sorry for Ts and their vacations. The leaving and coming back are so fraught with patient distress that sometimes I wonder if its worth going away. πŸ™‚ But you’re right, the only way is through and to keep talking about how it feels until we don’t need to talk about it anymore but yeah, it gets really hard and painful along the way. But its a better way to live. Thank you for all the encouragement and support and for having my back. xx AG


  16. Jay
    July 28, 2014 at 4:37 am

    AG, I love that you are open enough to admit to it being hard to follow your own advice about how to cope with breaks. It was endearing and also made me feel a bit more human. I guess when you wrote the series with your tips, you made it sound so easy and effortless! I felt like

    It warms my heart to see all the support and kind words for you here. I constantly tell DS that if it weren’t for the blogging community and my husband’s stability (what is it about these strong men), I don’t know what I would do!

    Your experiences with shame really resonated. Shame is such a toxic thing and seems to infiltrate every cell and thought if left unchecked. I find the people who experience shame the most are often the people who least deserve it… We are individuals who care and feel too much, who have taken things on when not required and who have assume responsibility for things which are not even in our control. Have you read Brene Brown’s books on shame and vulnerability? Her TED talks were also amazing. Puts things into perspective.

    Lastly, it also kills me that I will never mean as much to DS as he does to me! I don’t have much clue of what he thinks about me, except that he offers a safe space and listens to me. I have often told him that it’s difficult to believe he cares because it’s his job to offer that space and to be kind. Yes, I do believe he must have some liking for me as a person because he’s stuck around. I just wish he would vocalize that sometimes. I guess it’s a difficult position because offering verbal validation may not always be therapeutic. He is really, really strict when it comes to most self-disclosure and has only ever shared one or two personal thoughts or feelings. The rest of the time, it’s interpretation, reflecting or asking questions. I just have to trust that I’ll come out of this in one piece and suddenly see that he has been there all along, through the transference and my ups and downs!


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Jay. I am glad that this post showed you the human, fallible side of me. The truth is that I write explanations and instructions for a living and I am aware that I do have some skill in being a clear, concise communicator which means that my posts can sometimes make things sound so neat, clear and easy when the truth is that everything I have learned I have learned by slogging through the same confusing, overwhelming, difficult morass of emotions that everyone else does. I can sometimes hate that there is no way around the feelings, even if you have a thorough and complete intellectual grasp of a situation. I sincerely would never want anyone to think I expect any of this to be easy. We all carry enough shame without having to then feel like we’re not getting this quickly enough! πŸ™‚

      Shame is the most difficult of all the emotions and the further I have dug into healing from it, the more I have realized how incredibly pervasive it is in most of my reactions and interactions. I have seen Brene Brown’s TED talks and read a couple of her books and really like her stuff. Funny enough, BN and I were talking about her stuff and while he thinks what she has to say is valuable, he feels she doesn’t go far enough. That Alan Schore’s work on shame (which is so cutting edge that there really isn’t much out there for layman) looks at shame as a physiological reaction which interferes with our attachment mechanisms.

      I’m with you on how hard it can be to not know what they think about us; there is an inherent ambiguity to the therapeutic relationship which makes it difficult to trust at times (especially for those of us who are trust challenged. πŸ™‚ ) But I think your reflections on trusting what you see in his behavior are spot on and can be trusted. BN once told me that when I first started working with me, that he could have told me he was trustworthy (after all, he already knew he was πŸ™‚ ) but that it wouldn’t have meant a thing. That the only way for me to know he was trustworthy was to have him demonstrate it over and over until I believed it. I think its the same thing with trusting that they care; we watch them do it long enough and eventually it breaks through. ~ AG

      Liked by 1 person

  17. liz
    July 28, 2014 at 6:43 am


    I just love that you’re kind of person who can write a couple of long, detailed posts about ways to cope with your therapist absence, and then just honestly admit that you’ve had enough of BN being gone and you just want to call him. I really wish I had even a little of your ability to just lay down your emotions like they’re perfectly normal (I know you may not see it that way, but that is the effect your writing has on me – and on a lot of other people, judging from the comments :-D).

    So, thank you, and hang in there.
    (I really can’t seem to add anything else because all of the things you wrote resonated so strongly that I will have to read the post over and over and process it).


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

      I just love that you’re the kind of person who reacts with such acceptance and thankfulness when I express feelings that can feel so shameful. πŸ™‚ The truth is that its not that I know they are normal (although I totally agree that judging by the comments, they are, at least for this crowd. :)) as it is that BN keeps telling me over and over that the solution to shame is to let yourself be seen anyway and to express the feelings of shame. It’s amazing how being met with kindness instead of scorn (or being condemned as pathological) can reduce the shame. And it’s only fair that I admit my struggles. I hate people who act like they are sitting upon Olympian heights far above the struggle the rest of us are engaged in. What a crock! To be human is to struggle. I am so very grateful for BN that he has always admitted to his own imperfections and woundedness. Makes it so much easier to expose mine. Thanks Liz, there is always something very refreshing and bracing (in the best of ways) in your comments. πŸ™‚ xx AG


  18. Ms. Sharkey
    July 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

    5 weeks? Oh my goodness, that is a very long time. No wonder you’re having trouble coping. Anyone would.

    I totally get your fears that he hates you. I have the same reaction to my therapist, and it gets worse during breaks. I become convinced that he’s getting bored and impatient with me, then it progresses to me thinking that he’s actively glad to be away from me, and then that he’s dreading having to come back and deal with me. I visit his website often (I’m ashamed to admit how often) just to look at his picture and remind myself that he exists.

    We’re all here and listening and we get where you’re coming from and what this is like. You can make it through the next 10 days. Lean on us. *hugs*


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      ((Ms. Sharkey)) I am done to nine days (technically 8 1/2) which means I am approaching “won’t even break a sweat” territory. πŸ™‚ Talking to BN on the phone this morning really helped (yes it was a one minute phone call. πŸ™‚ ) This was a much longer vacation than he usually takes, which is why I think he set things up that he could still call and get his email even though he is out of the country. I am grateful.

      Yup that’s the progression. I think talking to him is so helpful because it breaks that, because I hear something so different in his voice. Hey no shame! I look at pictures, listen to voicemails, read old emails, read old journal entries. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I even go back and read my old blog posts. Any port in a storm and anything to help you hang on to the connection when your T is away. It’s developmental, we are still learning to internalize and hold our caretaker when away from them. It’s difficult as a child and a complete b**** as an adult. Thanks for the hugs! xx AG


  19. Robin
    July 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Just a generalized comment here.
    1. I hope the remaining time passes fast. Transference is a double-edged sword, so painful yet healing at the same time.
    2. I totally get how a therapist needs to always remain a therapist even after the relationship ends. (Not matter how much we may want something different.) I know a man who is a therapist and I am sure that he has some patience going through transference with him and probably idolize him too. In real life though, the guy is frankly a jerk. If a patient saw that side of him, it may undo everything they gained in therapy.
    3. The biggest ‘gift’ that has happened to me regarding my own transference issues is that one day I suddenly didn’t care that I had these transference feelings. They were still there, but I just didn’t feel the need to beat myself up about it anymore or anything. That took a lot of the pain away from the whole situation. I don’t wonder or care when the feelings will go away, it will happen in its own time. I don’t know how or why I got to that point, but I am glad it happened.
    4. Intellectually I am sure you know this, but BN still cares about you whether he is sitting in session with you or sitting on the beach. You two have a deep connection and nothing is going to change that, period.
    4. Five weeks is a long break for sure! Do what you have to do to get through it.


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Robin,
      Thanks, I don’t think it will be too bad as I am down into a more managable length of time. And transference is a double-edged sword is absolutely true. Dealing with all these feelings has led to so much heAaling that I know its worth the pain. But when the pain is really bad, I have to work pretty hard to remember that.

      Totally agree with point #2, see the post I re-blogged from Dr. Stein. You know that is a real fear of mine, that I would find out BN is not the wonderful man I think he is. I know that I have a tendency to idealize him, but for once the boundaries are working in my favor and I do not have to learn differently. He will remain the warm, gentle, compassionate man who keeps me safe. Let’s not look too closely at that, thank you very much. πŸ™‚

      I have hit that point of not caring about the transference feelings, I can dip in and out. I am certainly more comfortable than I used to be. This break has really been a throwback for me in a lot of ways. But even now, the level of pain I am feeling is nowhere near the breath -stealing intensity I used to experience. I actually can see my feelings for BN as a good and comforting thing that I draw strength from (which I kind of forgot in the middle of this, thank you for the reminder!). And I do know he still cares, as he told me not being in the forefront of his mind is not the same as being forgotten. I know it s a very real connection. Thanks for all the reminders and encouragement Robin! ~ AG


  20. Ann
    July 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    AG, As I was reading your responses, I applaude your ability to really “listen” to the writer, show empathy and then allow the commenter the space to make their own choices. Each person is an individual whose problems, life experiences, support systems (or lack of) and life skills will influence their choices. I have been around too many people (especially family) who generalize their own experiences and values onto me. Instead of offering options and support, they just think they can fix it by telling me what to do. The consequences of such rigid behavior can be horrific and shaming.
    I once had a family (during my internship) whose teen-age son was impulsive, depressed, scared and suicidal. His father had given him a rifle in the past and now the son was afraid to have it around. In session, the son begged his father to hide it. His dad said no, that his son needed to practice self-control. My supervisor and I tried in a supportive manner to give his dad options to keep his son safe. The kid was terrified he would hurt himself, but dad for some reason felt that his son developing self-control trumped everything and refused to remove it from the closet. Mom just passively sat there. They never returned, so I will never know what happened (this was 30 years ago). But it showed me how a person can rigidly hold on to an (here self-control), that in theory is good, but in some cases can destroy.
    Maybe this is confusing, but I am grateful for a space where a person’s dignity and personal choices are respected. Thank you! AG and the wonderful community here. Ann


    • July 28, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      Thank you Ann, you really do say the best things to me. πŸ™‚ But honestly, I so appreciate hearing that you experience me that way. I think that I have had to fight so hard to find the space in which I could learn who I was, and what I wanted and what I needed. And the journey has not been a straight line nor unbroken progress and at times, I have taken a very long time to get to a place where I could understand something crucial to moving forward. I have been blessed with two patient therapists and many loving friends who allowed me to figure things out at my own pace. I have lost track of the times I have said something to BN only to realize he could have told me the truth I just arrived at after years of work, about five minutes after I first walked through his door. But we must learn for ourselves or we do not truly grasp what we need to. So I feel like it is important to extend the same space and patience to someone else on their journey (I am not always good at it and can be overly “nudgey” at times. πŸ™‚ ) I also know that we are each a unique creation with our own talents, and strengths, desires and fear, dreams and pasts. So while there are broad strokes that we share, each of us unfolds in our own way. I am grateful I was given the freedom in which to do that and it would be wrong to assume that everyone else’s healing has to look like mine. All that said, I know that I can have arrogant, rigid moments, especially when things strike close to my own wounding. (I was horrified about the story about the rifle btw, and understand why 30 years later it stays with you). We are all on a journey striving to heal and all in need of grace along the way, both the extending of it and the receiving. xx AG


  21. GreenEyes
    July 28, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Dear AG, I really hear the monumental struggle with shame and the chaos, distress and damage it can stir up emotionally. If it helps, I often feel like this between sessions (even if they are on consecutive days) and during weekends. Holidays are a different story – long, lonely and often infused with shame and rage about being left (yes I know its temporary), needing him so badly (am I 30+ or 2?) and just being a patient (that can be a killer at times). The last part of a long break can go really slowly. Sending hugs and time speeding xxxx


    • July 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      (((GE))) Lovely as always to hear from you! The shame that can rise up is incredible even though I truly know that there is nothing to be ashamed about. I guess I am making progress in that I am not feeling ashamed of feeling ashamed. πŸ™‚ And of course it helps to know that you also feel this (although I am sorry you do!). Knowing that this is a typical reaction, for folks with our background, makes it much less shameful. Actually I think hearing compassion for feeling this way and not being shamed about it is such an immense help. Thanks for reaching out. And oooh, time speeding, now that is cool superpower! πŸ˜€ I’m down to one week (how lovely to be able to say β€œone” πŸ™‚ ). Cakewalk. LOL xx AG


  22. DaringGreatly
    July 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Hey AG, five weeks I think I would die seriously I would… My T was off sick for one week yes one week and I was all over the place… All I want to do is text him that I love and need him and please don’t leave… I wouldn’t text him as I don’t want to freak him out, but that’s what is buzzing around my head. So a massive congratulations on getting this far.. Well done on reaching out as well… We are all here and have your back ok… So keep shining…<3


    • July 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Hi DG,
      This was a long one, which is why I think BN took extraordinary measures to make sure he was still in contact. I’ve talked to him on the phone twice during this break and each time there’s been this surreal feeling of β€œmy T is calling from Europe.” Makes it hard to believe he doesn’t care. πŸ™‚ And it takes so long for me to get there and is such a struggle to say, but just saying to him that I’ve had enough and just want him home and him calmly telling me he understands, but then NOT changing his plans (which is important because as badly as I just want him to COME HOME NOW!!! I think it would be an unreasonable demand to make, and would feel terrible if he cut his vacation off. As would everyone here commenting about how hard this is. I love that it’s ok for us to acknowledge how this makes us feel. And please don’t worry about freaking your T out. I really don’t think it would. I think these feelings arise for really good reasons and aren’t so much about our Ts as about the deprivation we suffered earlier in our lives. Which makes these feelings important to examine and understand. And thank you for having my back. I am truly amazed at how much better I have felt after posting on this and being so supported by everyone. Have to hand this one to BN, the solution to shame is allowing yourself to be seen, despite the fact that the shame tells you to do the complete opposite. xx AG


  23. August 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

    You saw him yesterday right? How did it go?


    • August 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Happylou,
      Sorry to take so long to respond, been working a lot of OT and unfortunately will probably be going on another hiatus until the end of the month (when it should be over). I did see BN on Wednesday and it was really awesome. We had a really great discussion about positive attention causing shame and then had a very satisfying discussion about healing and how it happens. I am hoping to write a post about it when I can find the time. It was really good to see him and I am most definitely feeling more settled. πŸ™‚ Thanks for asking! ~ AG


  24. Pop
    August 10, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Well I’m barely into a 4 week break and I’m a state! Never felt this way before – the abandonment feelings and the desperate need to talk about the pain.
    I know this pain is the part we’ve looking for for so long, the feelings I need to take ownership of, the only way to heal is to face them. It physically hurts. Like I said in another post, I realised recently how much I had hoped this attachment would take away the pain but now realise its about reenacting it in order to heal. Talking about your pain over and over again. New connections. New understanding from someone else.
    Who isn’t freaking here.

    Any tips? I can’t call her I think she’s abroad for the first two weeks. I think she said I could call after that but I’m too proud/embarrassed. Maybe. I don’t know. My husband is fab. He is very caring and great with the kids. I can cry on him. My family have no idea though. This blog is wonderful I feel just a little less alone.


    • Pop
      August 10, 2014 at 10:29 am

      This is going to sound ridiculous but this whole ‘needing others’ is such an alien feeling to me – it’s like I’ve gone my whole life avoiding any attachments I can’t control (I had a very clingy anxious mum who I could control) so I’ve picked other needy codependent people to have relationships with. It just feels so wrong to need someone this badly, as if your life is in their hands. I hate that they have that power. Why did I choose a 4 week vacation to ‘fall’ for this person? I guess this was the only way to find out.
      Is this progress? Admitting how badly it hurts at least lets me access the connection we have. As long as I hate my own dependency, I can’t access that comforting memory. It somehow strengthens that part of the mind.

      I can’t believe I thought therapy would ‘fix’ this neediness – I thought it would make me complete! That she would be the one! I would never need anyone ever again. That I could take something from her and make it stick, make me whole and self sufficient.

      Sorry for hijacking the thread. So jealous of those of you at the end of your break! Thanks for listening xxx


      • August 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm

        Hi Pop,
        I’m going to say this because you can’t reach me to smack me. πŸ™‚ The fact that you are struggling with these feelings of dependency and seeing how different this relationship is to your relationships in the past, is a really good sign. Despite the pain (which I know is not negligible and am not being dismissive of), I think the feelings that are being evoked have been there all along and becoming aware of them will lead to healing. As far as getting through the break, I don’t know if you saw my two previous posts: β€˜Tis the Season: Strategies for coping with a therapist’s absence – Part I and β€˜Tis the Season: Strategies for coping with a therapist’s absence – Part II. It’s my list of strategies for getting through a therapist’s absence, I am hoping there is something in there you might find helpful.

        And the fact that needing others is an alien feeling doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. It sound familiar. πŸ™‚ The truth is that our early experience in needing someone did not go well. Nor was the power they had over us because we needed them used responsibly. In fact, often that power was exploited to meet their own needs instead of our own. Is it any wonder that being in that position again would evoke discomfort and shame and a feeling of wrongness? What’s important to remember is that this time you are safe with someone who will not exploit your needs. So it will still feel scary but sticking around and having a different experience eventually reduces that fear. It’s one of the reasons we have such a hard time with their absence. One of the developmental milestones of a secure attachment is learning to internalize our sense of security that we gain from the other person so that we can feel it even when they are absent. Not easy as a child (ever see a toddler scream when their mother leaves?) and as you are experiencing now it’s a complete b**** as an adult.

        I can’t believe I thought therapy would β€˜fix’ this neediness – I thought it would make me complete! That she would be the one! I would never need anyone ever again. That I could take something from her and make it stick, make me whole and self sufficient.

        Pop, I don’t want to lie to you, an important part of therapy is recognizing that therapy is not enough and grieving that this person who holds out the best hope of getting what we have longed for, for a lifetime, cannot provide it either is painful and facing that grief is gut-wrenching. But the upside is that you will be able to take something from her and make it stick. BN once told me that we always, always get our sense of worth from another person. So we can gain a better sense of our worth from leaning on our therapist’s and completing those developmental steps so that we know how to get what we need going forward and do not continue to live in isolation and deprivation. I know it’s almost impossible to believe, but someday you may find that you take a great deal of comfort in your feelings about your therapist. Hang in there! I hope the time goes much faster than expected. ~ AG


      • August 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm

        You’re definitely not alone, and your feelings are normal for what your’e going through, even though they are incredibly painful. Hang in there Pop!


  25. Ann
    August 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Pop, I totally get your confusion about feeling so needy after a lifetime of building the illusion of emotional independence! Four weeks is also a very long time. If you are at the beginning of therapy (for me this beginning lasted about 2 years), four weeks would be like an eternity. It won’t always feel so intense, I promise. Like all relationships, your feelings and relationship will change and evolve. No relationship remains static. Also, I found journaling about my emotional pain and confusion ( when my T was gone) helped me do something concrete to process with my T when he returns. It can be very embarrassing to bring shameful feelings up, but important to the work. Also before her next break, schedule a special session to discuss ways to help you feel more secure when she is gone. My T let’s me chose an object from his office to borrow while he is gone. It represents for me the idea that he is returning.
    Most of us are in the same boat here and empathize with your anxiety! This is a safe place to come and AG, along with other readers, always offers great support and wonderful ideas! Hold tight! πŸ™‚ Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pop
      August 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Thank you everyone for your support. It really helps. One of my issues is I struggle to get angry with my therapist, instead just cutting the connection. Which is an extremely horrible place to be. Isolating and scary.
      I’ve just read the coping with a therapist’s absence posts AG, they’re great and I will be trying them out.


      • Pop
        August 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

        Just to clarify I have been in therapy 9 years. Also in denial roughly the same πŸ˜€
        I have no transitional object from my T, I have my own soft toy that I sleep with, but I was thinking of getting something else to remind me/symbolise the feeling of connection…a tattoo. Something small, somewhere discreet but where I can refer to it when needed. It’s not my first, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time but I’m stumped as to what to get. I would love to hear from you lovely people how you would illustrate your sense of connection if asked to put pen to paper? (Or needle to skin)


        • August 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

          I think it’s a pretty personal choice, because it needs to be something that represents the relationship to you. If I was going to get a tattoo, it would be a heart within a heart because of i carry your heart. Would you consider asking your T for something?I have a blanket I traded BN for (I replaced the chenille spread he had at his office to take the one from his office home after using it in some very significant sessions, still have it). While a tattoo would provide you with a visual reminder, I think something from your T might prove more powerful. xx AG


  26. Pop
    August 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Oh yes you’re quite right AG it’s very personal and I wouldn’t go and get somebody else’s artistic interpretation inked onto my arm (although I do love the idea of a heart within a heart πŸ™‚ )
    I just wanted inspiration, I wondered if there were any symbols for connection that I could work on and make my own.

    I’ve been reading your older posts and just been inspired to write a mock email to my T. You and Ann asked if I felt I could ask her for a transitional object and my initial reaction was ‘good God no!’. I’m not sure if its because she has nothing like that in her office like you mention in BN’s office but it might be more to do with my inability to ask for something, nay, THINK about wanting something I may not be able to get.
    This is what I want to say to her but have always dismissed as being ‘not allowed’…

    Its only a few days into the break but I feel like something pretty profound has been unleashed – not only do I feel utterly abandoned and scared but I feel like I need to know that you care. I feel wrong for caring if you care, that it oversteps a boundary or something. Like the therapeutic relationship is about delivering shots of pain not happiness. I’m not sure I’m allowed to ask or even if you’ll answer. But I feel like the relationship is purely for money and that you can’t possibly think of me whilst we are apart, what have I ever given you to like about me? I’m used to giving people something to like me for. I can’t possibly understand what you’d value or find worthy about me if I do nothing to earn that. In my mind you have to work at being loved, do the things people want you to do. Be the person they want you to be. If I can’t be there to make myself seen, show you just how wonderful I can be, how can you see me?
    Do you see me? Do you like what you see?



  27. JLB
    August 11, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    My T hasn’t even left for vacation yet, and I already feel like she is going to be gone for too long. I just started deep, deep, painful grief work with her. It has taken me nearly a year to get to the point that I can face the things that I am addressing right now and she will be gone next week so I won’t get an appointment with her until my regular appointment the following Friday. The time hasn’t even started yet and it feels like an eternity. There is a T covering for her and available should her clients need a T while she is gone. But I’m not going to see that T. I don’t know that T. I want MY T!
    This is the first time that I have had to deal with her being on vacation. Of course around the holidays she isn’t in the office as much, but I have access to her via phone and e-mail and that makes me feel connected enough to hold me over. But I will have neither of those options. Yikes! All of the times there has been more than a week between my appointments with her up until now have been my choice and under my control. And this is totally out of my control and I don’t want to have to wait 2 weeks between appointments.
    When I initially read this post, I didn’t know my T was going on vacation. I also didn’t think it would matter to me that much if she did and I had to go a couple of weeks without seeing her. I was W-R-O-N-G. Wow I realize that sounds really childish. It’s almost embarrassing to post this. It’s funny how the little girl within really voices her opinion when things don’t go the way she wants them to. UGH


  28. Pop
    August 12, 2014 at 5:39 am

    Do any of you have any tips for dealing with flashbacks/regressed states/memories? I’m trying to tell myself they never last and it’s the eventual processing of the content that will heal, so I don’t want to fight the feelings any more – did anyone here ever feel like their feelings were going to kill them they’re so overwhelming?!


    • August 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I think others might have more helpful insight than I have, but I think learning to accept the feelings and not judging them is an important start. I have felt sometimes like my emotions were going to kill me, but even the most intense stuff has subsided after an intense and scary time.

      I think I’m just starting to experience the whole regresses state thing more vividly. At therapy last week I actually envisioned myself for a split second wanting to grab my therapists pants and scream like a toddler because I did not want to leave. I was like , “What the hell was that?” But I think I’ve accepted that it’s part of the process and I’m not judging or condemning myself for these weird experiences and thoughts like I may have in the past.


      • Pop
        August 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

        Judy, I have many many times fantasised about doing similar. Falling down her stairs and breaking my leg so I can’t leave…having my car break down on her driveway (home office)…lol, you are not alone πŸ™‚


        • Pop
          August 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm

          But you are right, even the most painful of feelings have subsided. Nothing lasts forever


  29. Ann
    August 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Pop, at 57, I have only started journaling in the last 2 years. I felt it was redundant, stupid and pointless. However, once I started to attach to my T I began writing things down and I haven’t looked back. At first whenever I felt triggered, I would pretend he was present while I wrote down my thoughts and feelings about being angry, alone, scared, etc. I knew that it was all written down for when I had my next appointment. Sometimes when upset, I would close my eyes and picture being in his office with him- my safe place. Later I just needed to picture his office. It is OK to find ways to internalize that connection while you are apart. Having something from your T’s office can serve as an emotional placeholder while she is gone. It symbolizes the idea that she will return. I apparently didn’t get the bonding I needed as a child. I missed the developmental milestone called “object constancy”. This is where a young child learns both cognitively and emotionally that when someone isn’t present that doesn’t mean they have disappeared and will never return. I figured it out in my head, but emotionally-no. I think that is why people like us are so conflicted by our feelings about our T.
    The process of dealing with these painful feelings is part of healing. When you feel safe to talk about it and if your T doesn’t shame you about your emotions, you can start to heal the emotional wounds that you carry around. It is not the same as when you are with your parents (as a child), but it can be a helpful substitute. I think a lot of what you are expressing here is good practice for when you actually talk about it with your T. Here you see you are not alone and you are not crazy for how you feel. AG has terrific insight into these issues and has a gentle way of normalizing shameful feelings. It is hard work, but you can feel better.
    About having to pay someone to “care” and “listen”, I think we end up rewarding most people in our lives in some way. Even parents can be motivated by their child’s smile, first word, affection, success in school, success in life, grandchildren etc. That is why I think parents of autistic children can have difficulty bonding with a child who doesn’t show affection. This is just my personal opinion. Our T’s don’t demand us to perform or love them, but I guess they need us to put food on the table! I don’t think that is such a bad exchange. πŸ™‚ I hope you have a good week! And AG-good luck getting all your work done. Xoxo Ann


  30. Pop
    September 1, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Hi lovely people. I know AG is taking a much needed break from here – I hope its ok to reach out to the rest of you. All of you seem to have wise words πŸ™‚

    This 4 week break has not gone as badly as I thought it would, I was a mess at the beginning as you know but have generally held it together ok. One week left and now the abandonment pain is in full force.

    This to-ing and fro-ing between past painful memories and experiences of genuine present moment connections seems to somehow exacerbate both – realisation of how much we need people and enjoy connection enables us to realise how hurt we’ve been. Its a double edged sword but from what I understand that’s a necessary process.

    I now feel ready to face these painful feelings and am very ready to talk about them rather than run from them. It’s taken 9 years to get here and its a strange mix of fear and relief. Until I heal from this hurt I cannot have real connections that aren’t tainted with fear of being hurt again and full of unrealistic expectations. The more I understand myself, the more pain I feel and like I said in another post, I had originally thought that therapy was about the opposite – escaping pain. That the more I learnt intellectually the more able I would be to avoid these feelings. Now I’ve resigned myself to moving THROUGH THIS, not around it.

    The one week left to go until the break is over seems a verrrry long time to hold onto this pain by myself. I guess I’m looking for reassurance that this pain is progress and that it is a place some of you can recognise and speak from the other side, that it is possible to move through this and feel peace.
    Hope you are all well and thank you for listening πŸ™‚

    Pop x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pop
      September 1, 2014 at 5:07 am

      Also, I just wanted to add that I feel like I have a different attitude towards this pain. A kind of respect, affection even. That I owe it something and that rather than destroying me (which sometimes feels like a very real threat) it will be the making of me. I no longer seek to feel better or push away the inner child, or tell her not to feel that way, I just want to listen to her. Unfortunately this is the bit we can’t do alone and my wonderful husband can only listen to so much! (Hence me visiting here)


      • PassionFruit
        September 1, 2014 at 7:18 am

        Hi Pop,

        I just ended a 6 week break from my T and I could relate to all your posts above. The pain of needing another so bad and the memories over break. The memories were especially painful, especially to have them while my T was gone.

        I had to seek a T2 for support because I was struggling so bad. I’m still fairly new to this therapy world (only been in for 1.5yrs), so I can only pass on what T2 told me. She said the memories come back when our heart & minds are ready to process them. She said to welcome each memory as a gift that it’s time to heal from those painful memories. We heal them by lovingly and compassionately embracing the child that is hurting in that memory. Validate the pain of what was felt and not push it away with disdain and contemp. Journal is to give voice to the pain. She said writing the memories out will help give a little distance between us and the emotion of it. And then lastly, acknowledge it as part of our childhood narrative, so that when we have a similar fear in our present day, we can say, “That’s part of my childhood narrative, but things are different now. I can now choose in how I respond. I don’t have to be afraid.”Β 

        Those things helped me get through some of the pain. I’m actually still having a lot of memories even now that T is back. I think it’s a great sign of personal progress to embrace the pain and give voice to your pain, so that you can heal from it.

        You’ve made it so far! Hope the last week is an easier one for you.Β 



      • DpBluSee
        September 1, 2014 at 11:43 am

        Hi Pop,

        As I read your post I nodded my head. There are many things you said which resonated with me. It is true that you cannot have real connections until you work through the pain that exists from the past. It is also true that as you uncover more of yourself there can be new levels of pain. I think of it as a spiral. (I think AG has mentioned this). We circle around the same pain and issues but at a deeper level each time and our experience of them is different as we revisit them.

        The only way “out” is through as you mentioned and your working through the pain is absolutely progress. Avoidance does not make it go away. If pushed underground, it continues to inform us, whether we know it or not. Lastly, I do know what you mean about having respect and affection for it. The pain is there for a reason. The little child had that pain and you being able to be aware of it is a sign of health. This process of recovery, in which I am compelled to go towards the darkness and subsequently feel a welling up of my own resources and awareness of my own truth and value, can feel like moments of grace. It is a process that can feel magical at times. I am not saying it is not gut-wrenchingly difficult or suffocatingly painful, but the reward in finding yourself again is immeasurable.

        Your awareness about wanting to listen to the inner child and not push away her feelings definitely speaks to your consciousness of her truth. This is hard work to do so hang in there!

        I do want to support you and tell you that I have been on both sides of the pain. It sometimes feels endless, but I do believe in the process. The way to heal is to embrace the feelings, in as safe a way as possible. If you need a break, take a break. Seek support as you are doing. Go in and out of the feelings as best you can. At your pace. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. There is just your way and the inner child’s way of healing.

        Hugs to you.


  31. Ann
    September 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Pop! It does get easier. Although it does feel like two steps forward one step back! For some odd reason last week I got triggered in therapy and was very anxious because I had to wait just one week to go back! A little like being homesick. After the next session, I was fine! Sometimes my T is gone for three weeks and I am fine. Go figure. We humans are very complicated creatures, but I think we are more alike that we think. I am glad you are reaching out and expressing your pain to others. You are not alone!


  32. Pop
    September 2, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Hi DBS, passionfruit and Ann
    Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s very reassuring that this pain is worth it and that you have all been there.
    My T said a similar thing about memories and feelings coming up when we are strong enough to process them. She said this in reply to my worries about not being strong enough. I guess it means we have created a safe environment and trust our support system enough to feel and be understood. I think its no coincidence I’m feeling worse, the closer I get to seeing my T – I’m actually feeling safer (although it doesn’t feel that way on the surface!) and the more pain and scared and broken I feel, when I move out of it I feel somehow stronger because it didn’t actually break me, I found a strength I didn’t know I had. Then, I feel terrible again…it really does feel like a forwards-backwards process.
    I know I keep coming back to this and I suppose I’m just trying to sort it in my mind but I really thought an attachment meant you wouldn’t feel pain, but the point of attachment is to help you deal with pain. Pain isn’t trauma, trauma is having no one to share your pain with.



  33. Ann
    September 2, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Pop, I love what you said about trauma. There is a lot of wisdom in what you wrote. I will keep that in mind!


  34. Pop
    September 3, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Thanks Ann. πŸ™‚

    Every time I sit with the pain of the abandonment feelings they feel worse but something happens afterwards where it feels a little bit more in the past rather than the present. I guess the fear is that if we accept it, it becomes our permanent truth. But by avoiding it we are certainly dragging it forward with us.

    Now, I’m really close to sending my T an email about how enraged and hurt I feel. Would this be a bad idea? Should I feel guilty doing this during a break or should I trust that she can handle it? And would probably be pleased to hear that I was at last facing how I felt about her?


    • ruth
      September 5, 2014 at 9:34 am

      hi Pop
      ive only just accepted /realised that im attached to my T. the feelings of abandonment are so strong its frightening. ..thankfully my T offered to email me once a week just to let me know shes still there…which helps. im so relieved to read that lots of people struggle with this..its good to know we arent alone..although im also sad to see how many people struggle with abandonment!
      I dont know whether you should email her or not…….but I suppose you will learn something from what you do whether you email or not, when you discuss it with her afterwards. you have more fear of abandonment if she doesn’t reply …. good luck …sending love xxx


    • September 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      I don’t know about your relationship with your T but I would think an email would be ok. You could even preface what you write by saying that you know that she hasn’t done anything wrong and that it’s your past that’s making you feel this way about the break. I would think a decent therapist would handle that just fine and would be able to help you through it once you saw her again. A few weeks ago I told my therapist that I had this weird notion that she had disappeared because she didn’t respond to my emails between sessions. I knew it had triggered something. We talked through it the next time and I actually figured out that it had been at least related to something that happened to me when I was three. This stuff is so weird sometimes. We just have to be willing to face it and wade through it.


  35. Ann
    September 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Pop, This is a situation that doesn’t really have a correct answer. I tend to write things down in my journal and wait until I am face-to-face with my T to talk about my sadness, anger etc. However I understand how that may not work for everyone. One thing I have done is write my T a letter to give him at the next session. That way I get immediate feedback and my T can see my level of distress. You could spend the next couple of days composing the letter, which may help you maintain your balance until your session. What I have found most helpful is having an extra session right before my T leaves for vacation to come up with coping methods for when he is gone. (That includes the name of a collegue he trusts for me to call if need be, when he is gone!)
    I am sorry you are suffering and I have been there. (And will probably experience it again). Therapy is hard and brings up a lot of pain. Becoming attached to a T and then having to have such a huge time break can feel intolerable. I am hopeful about your next session. Hopefully you can spent the time with your T expressing your pain, working to restore your relationship and later brainstorm together ways to make the next break less painful. Let us know how your coming session goes! When do you go back?? Good wishes.


    • Pop
      September 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thanks Ann. Right now it does feel intolerable – the connection has gone. I’m very anxious and go over and over stuff in my head. I need her, I don’t need her, love her, hate her its exhausting. I just want some peace. Monday am – can’t wait! Will write more later xx


  36. Ann
    September 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Pop, it is amazing how one individual can trigger so many intense emotions! As hard as it is, hang in there! If you need to squeeze in an extra appointment that week, do it. Your reactions are normal. I know you feel like a scared two year old, an angry adolecent, a scorned lover and helpless adult all at the same time. It hurts so much, but it is the shitty part of the process. Some relief will come when you are face to face with your T. You may find all you can do is cry for the first 20 minutes. If so, let your T sit with you and your pain. It will take a while, but things will normalize again. I hope the wait goes by quickly.


  37. Ann
    September 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Pop, count down, three days until you see your T!!!!


    • Pop
      September 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Haha yes! Less than 48 hours now! And thank you everyone else who replied re attachment and abandonment – I’ve only just seen the posts.
      Abandonment and helplessness feelings are extremely difficult to swallow. Yet they have to be. They feel so real and present. I’ve fought long and hard to fix them and although I know that I haven’t really been abandoned (logically) I don’t really feel that trying to tell my inner child she’s just fine is going to work. She doesn’t want to be told what the logical solution is she just wants to go through her version of the truth and be heard. I think this is why therapists don’t readily offer reassurance of that kind, it somehow undermines the experience.
      I’m desperate to return to therapy this time around for a different reason to usual – not to fix the relationship or smooth it all over and pretend it never happened and hope it’ll never happen again – I’m going in there desperate to discuss what’s happened, how it feels to have been dumped!
      Will keep you updated xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruth
        September 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        go girl! x


  38. Ann
    September 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Pop, you are spot on! Now the healing begins! πŸ™‚


  39. communication girl
    November 3, 2014 at 11:12 am


    I know this post has been up awhile but I just found your blog (which I love!). I just wanted to comment on your self doubt about writing a book. I share MANY of the characteristics which you refer to with your inner critic so I completely understand!

    I am a writer myself and was thinking how freeing it might be to start your book with your insecurities – even what you said above, quote: ”
    But I seem to be frozen and unable to start which brings up a tremendous amount of shame (β€œwhat’s wrong with me? Am I too cowardly to risk failure? Am I just undisciplined and lazy? What if I write a book and it becomes obvious I’ve been faking it all along and now everyone will realize I have noting worthwhile to say? What if I’ve already said it all on my blog?”

    I think audiences will appreciate that candid vulnerability and immediately identify with you. Of course after admitting these fears, you can go on to tell us about your experiences and your great wisdom. When you get the courage to write the book, I will be another person waiting in anticipation to read it. πŸ™‚


    • November 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Hi CG,
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. I very much appreciate the kind words and am glad you are enjoying my blog. It’s nice to know other people understand. It was very heartening when I was reading How We Heal and Grow, Dr. Smith used an example of someone struggling their whole life to write a book and trying to examine what unconscious impulses were preventing them doing so. Turned out he was talking about himself. πŸ™‚ Not a bad way to start, getting the insecurities right out on the table. My best writing is when I write from the heart and am honest, which inevitably includes a lot of insecurity. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the encouragement! ~ AG


  40. Fafa
    April 13, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Oh I’m so glad to have stumbled across your blog. I am feeling a bit less like a complete freakin weirdo. Everything you describe makes complete sense to me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this craziness. There are other people who think and feel like I do. I’m nearly two years into therapy which has been devastating and life saving but I am only just starting to understand things. Bit by bit. This came along at the perfect time. Love your writing and openness. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. Very grateful.


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