It's hard for me to be completely open with her in that way, because those things always seem "safer" when they're stuck in my head. T doesn't agree, of course. Last week she said something about how I don't have to hold secrets to myself, and I said I do, and she just said that we should agree to disagree.
So, to sum up, my T has definitely only ever encouraged me to be as open as I'm comfortable with and to not hold back. Any good T would be the same way. Have you shared anything with your T, or are you wanting to but haven't yet?
T has assured me repeatedly that I can share with her whatever I want/need to with as little or much detail as I feel comfortable with. She tells me that I don't have to worry about her well-being or her coping. Despite the fact, that she hears very graphic stories pretty much on a daily basis, she takes a lot of time in self-care. There would not be a need for me to protect her.
That said, I do worry about that. It's my motherly instincts kicking in, I guess. We will see what happens when I feel ready to share. Knowing myself, I will probably start testing her first by sharing less disgusting things and see how she responds before I have the courage to open up more.
Kashey, I have especially the last two weeks, hes been gently prodding. I just can't look at him, and talk barely above a whisper. Hes good with it but I feel guilty and want to protect him from them. I mean Ts are people, I wonder if they over lose sleep over what a client said or go home in a fog or something. I mean I'd like to think he doesnt just forget me but I dont want him having images stuck in his head. Thanks for sharing Jen Dark, you'll get there. Be patient with yourself.
I'm still struggling with that a lot. But in some ways it has helped to share some of those things with her. I just keep checking in with her - quite often - to make sure she's still OK with me and with what I told her. And although I don't feel it now, I know that with time I can come to believe that she's still OK with me. The same would be true for you and your T. Have you shared with him why you're afraid to say anything? Have you told him just what you told me?
I shared some shameful memories with my old T before we ended therapy. She encouraged me to share as much or as little as I wanted. She even prodded with questions to get me to be more specific. I remember I contacted her once after a session when I had shared some particular shameful memories and asked her if I had "toxified" her. She acted like she didn't understand what I meant. I told her..you know, the stuff I told you, its toxic. And now that you know it, you must feel toxic too. She said she was not toxic, just concerned. You know Ang, the truth is that while our T's care very much about us, they have been trained to lock work up in a box and leave it there. At least that is what I learned. As much as I would like to think that a T could really understand my painful memories to the point that they would be too detailed or graphic for her, I just don't think its the case. They care, and they understand, and I believe that they certainly don't just "forget us" but I hope your not holding back for fear that it may too much for your T too handle. And I hope T has not made you feel that way. It is sort of part of our character isn't it? Too be more worried about everyone else and how what we say and do will affect them instead of worrying about us?
Well, I don't know if this was helpful lol. But I hope you can sort it all out and work gently through it.
I don't have anything useful to say. It has to be hard to talk about things that you feel ashamed about. If he couldn't handle it, though, he wouldn't be pushing you gently to go there. He must think you need to process it. I don't know about you but the more I bring up and process these "shameful" memories, the more I begin to see that there was no reason for me to feel ashamed, that the "other" was the one who should feel ashamed and that I was just a child, or whatever. It has actually freed me to feel better about myself. I hope that it will help you too.
How about bringing your concern to your T? That you want him to react by not thinking about it is probably how you have handled these difficult feelings: by pushing them down and not thinking about them. And the thought that he can't handle the strength of the feelings may be coming from you, how difficult they are for you to handle.
In order for me to function and be on an even keel, I have always been in a complete state of denial or else a state of being overwhelmed by the memories. It was like I couldn't be in the two places at once and just be okay. But lately I've been noticing that I can stay present much more frequently AND still think about the past without it creating a "shame storm". The power and intensity of those feelings has lessened and I'm learning to manage my emotions better.
I actually like it that hes real, and shows emotion. He did share with me sometimesafter a session of me sharing about what "they did" . He has to go take time to how do you put it? Debrief? I asked him. I felt I "contaminated" him. But he assured me it wasnt me, it was "them". Healways says "ang,look at me, I'm sory that happened to you" So sweet makes me bawl all over again.
One of my T's has a stone-cold-killer face. Unless I make her laugh. So I could be as graphic or not graphic as I want and if it's not funny she just... I could be talking about a kitten, or about details of the most horrible thing in my life and I'm pretty sure she stays exactly the same. She's pretty expressionless to me... I still feel her... empathy. And her voice/tone or things she will say communicate her understanding and care.
My other T is much more expressive, physically but facially I don't think so.
For some reason they are both... kind of stone face. I'm not really sure why. Sometimes it seems like they don't care but I know they care they are just trying not to trigger me by any sort of reaction I guess who knows... they act very much like I'm either lying (my own perception and mind reading here) or it's just like... 'okay this is time #1238102 I've heard this one". I might be distorting (selective memory) right now, I'm not sure.
I'm so glad you were able to share, and I do understand the reactions you're talking about here.
I do share shameful/graphic things with my T, but I generally do it in writing. I write, and then she reads while we are in session, and she responds (adhering the strict rule that she is not to directly quote anything I have written because it is very upsetting to me). I've been with her for 6 years, and I still have a very difficult time actually talking about too much detail unless she intiates it. For some reason, it's more acceptable to me if she talks about the subject first (if I've given her permission to in writing)... like once she introduces the topic, and I don't have to get through the shame to initiate the topic, it's easier.
I also wanted to mention something that I've found really beneficial about sharing the shameful, horrific things from my past. Like you said, intially I was afraid I'd infect her with my awfulness, and she'd be angry and hate me, or find me intolerable. But what I actually found is that while she DID show some emotion after I revealed something, it was not directed at me. She was angry at the people who hurt me, pissed that I wasn't taken care of, appalled at the thought of how I was treated. She didn't come on too strong, and she didn't put me off with her feelings... it was all said in the tone of "you deserved to be taken care of, and I'm upset by all the ways you weren't." And what this did for me was give me the freedom to be angry too. It gave me an example of how normal people react to what happened to me... and it was eye opening for me.
For so long, I've believed that I was deserving of the way I was treated, that I wasn't ever an innocent child who needed to be cared for. But, when I worked through the gory details and the shame (which I was positive would push her away), I found that she hadn't budged, and that she was upset about what had happened to me... not angry that I let it happen to me. It felt good... and very validating. I think has been a crucial part of my ability to continue telling her more and more. Knowing that she doesn't blame me, or think I'm digusting, or think I'm toxic is quite reassuring. It helps me get in touch with the reality of my situation... that things were done that I couldn't control and I'm not at fault. And I'm allowed to be angry at the injustice of it all.
I hope that makes sense.