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So I went to session today looking forward to see my T, with my mind (largely) made up that I would try to discuss attachment and do my best to accept his care. Well...

We get into session and start discussing the email that I sent him last week (against The Rules). It was all going very well until he asked me why I had broken the boundary. I explained (quite painfully) that I was in a highly agitated state at the time and needed to connect with him. He answered that we needed to come up with a better way for me to connect that doesn't violate The Rules. He explained what I could do next time. It was all perfectly rational and reasonable and...devastating to me in my raw state.

I tried to move forward and discuss the emotional abandonment I experienced in childhood, but I could feel my internal walls going up. I felt like I had become the victim of a cruel joke, thinking that my T would meet certain needs and then realizing that he won't. He's never going to let me email him, or hold my hand, or call to ask how I'm doing, or any of that stuff. A deep grief washed over me until I could barely speak.

T saw how checked out I was becoming and tried to re-ground me. He said he understood me and my needs and how badly my early abandonment had affected me. He said I was reverting to my early practice of dealing with these issues on my own (because I had no other choice), but that I was in a different situation now and didn't have to do that.

He asked me, "What do you see when you look into my eyes?"

I answered (hesitantly), "I see that you care about me." And it was true.

But I really wanted to answer, "When I look in your eyes, I see everything that you promise but will not give me. I see everything I cannot have." I felt so raw, it was hard to sit through the rest of the session. I almost asked him to end it early.

He kept trying to get through my wall. And though I did feel a bit more grounded before I left, I refused to open up an inch more. I finally said, "You're working awfully hard to reach me, knowing I have shut you out."

I don't know if I can open this door to him. It's too freaking painful. I can't stand going all-in, becoming attached, when the extent of his care seems like crumbs to a starving child. I'm starting to think that no one will reach me in this place, that I'll always feel alone on the inside.
Original Post
Hi Affinity,

I am so sorry you are going through this. I don't know much about your story but wanted to just say a few things. How long have you been with T?

In my opinion, being able to email is very therapeutic. Is there a way you can type out the email and then bring it in and he can read it there? What is his reasoning with the email boundary?

My T encourages email b/c it's just a better way for me to get out the things I cannot say. It's not avoidance...I just write easier. There is alot of things we talk about in therapy as well, but there are things I cannot articulate in person so email is beneficial. Maybe writing or typing it out and bringing it in? I don't know how you feel about that.

I am sorry you are in so much pain.

Big 's to you!
(((Kmay)))

Thanks for the hugs. I've been working with my T for about 8 months now. The reason I have stayed with him is that he is a highly experienced, caring T, and we seemed to have a nearly instant connection. Transference came up early and strong.

About the email...My T said he allowed email once upon a time and it just never seemed to work out well for anybody. He said it got to a point where he was doing therapy by email, and he didn't feel that was healthy for clients. His clients' anxiety over how the email would be received and the chance that his response would be misinterpreted were both pretty high. So he just decided after a time that he wouldn't allow clients to email him anymore. Plus, he says the boundary is helpful for his own self-care.

I can write stuff out on paper or in my journal and take it to session if something seems too difficult to talk about. I've done that several times with my T's blessing. But it still limits my contact with him to in session only. I can write stuff down, but I know I'll have to wait x number of days before I can share the thought. And with being in front of him, there's no buffer for my vulnerability.

I'm a writer by profession, so I communicate best through writing. Yet my T seems determined to prod me into spontaneous verbal disclosure. In some ways, it's probably good for me. However, I'm not nearly as eloquent when speaking; there are a lot of fits, starts and long pauses. I honestly think what he's doing is reading my emotions through my body language; without that, maybe he's out to sea.

(((Monte)))

My T said that whenever I get agitated, I could call him between sessions, with the expectation that the call would be under 10 minutes. He said if it was an issue that needed a longer response, he could work me in for an extra appointment by the next day. At one time, we were doing 2 sessions a week and had to go to one because of finances. Now that I have met my insurance deductible for the year, I can afford to go back to 2 sessions--which will begin next week.

But, OMG, I HATE calling people, especially my T. I just feel like a massive idiot. The reason I wrote him the email in the first place is because I knew that with my endless stammering, it would have taken more than 10 minutes to get through.

And the worst part is, I can't bring myself to explain any of this to my T. I can't. It kicks up an unbearable amount of shame and pain. The one time I asked him to consider touch and he said "no," I thought I would die. Why ask for anything or stand up for myself if it's not going to change anything? It's my f**king life all over again. Seriously.

Forgive me. I'm just sad and angry and...effed.
Affinity: I can truly relate to what you are sharing in regards to not being able to e-mail. Did he state why he doesn't allow e-mail and may I also ask what other options he discussed with you instead of e-mailing?

I have not gotten to a place where I appreciate the boundaries and still rail against them (him) quite a bit.

I am glad you can see the care he has for you when you are in his presence. This is so important because when you are able to experience his 'care' you are able to internalize him and the attachment is more solidified in a healthy, positive way.

I know abandonment issues are quite painful and difficult to work through. It sounds as if you have a good, sound Therapist.

T.
(((Affinity))) I think you are coming to the most painful place in therapy. The point at which we recognize that while our T genuinely cares for us, they still cannot give us what we so deeply long for. They can give us enough to heal us and let us go forward but not enough to make the deep losses of our childhood disappear. I don't think where the boundaries are placed is really the problem, it's just that running into the boundaries is what makes us aware of our loss.

I once told my T that while I was incredibly grateful for what he does for me that at times I hate him because being in relationship with him is what made me aware if my loss. For me, facing those losses was one of the most difficult and painful things I have ever done, but it was essential to my healing. And this time I didn't have to do it alone, I had my T with me to help me through the grief.

I know it feels impossible to talk about but it's really important that you talk about these feelings. The healing takes place when we experience the feelings in the moment while attended to by a caring other (I suspect this is why your T insists in not using writing too much).

I hear so much that resonates with me in what you say. I hated calling because it meant I was reaching out and expressing a need. I also have waded through so much shame to express what I was feeling. But my T has so consistently met me with care and compassion and normalized my feelings. The only way to work through shame is to be vulnerable enough to speak about it to someone safe (from everything you've said about your T, he sounds very safe). It's so difficult because shame is telling us to do the complete opposite.

You may be too raw right now, but when you feel up for it my posts "Therapy isn't enough" and "Identifying and Expressing Needs" are a more detailed exposition of what I said here.

All that said, I am so sorry for your loss and your pain, I know it feels absolutely intolerable. It does get better.

AG
quote:
But I really wanted to answer, "When I look in your eyes, I see everything that you promise but will not give me. I see everything I cannot have."


Wow does this resonate with me and I can feel exactly what you feel. I am so sorry for your pain Affinity. It is very difficult to feel so raw and for T to seem to be withholding from you. I can understand his email policy but I don't agree with it. I think what you need from him is not long discussions and trying to do therapy via email... you need connection. You need a quick check in to know he is still there. I do this with T. I rarely email any processing stuff but tell him I need to feel him there and/or I am scared he has gone away.

I am very pleased to hear you can now go back to twice a week sessions. I have this now and it's very helpful. I don't think I could make it through a full week. When T goes on vacation I'm usually a numb mess. So I think that you will feel more connected and contained with two weekly sessions.

As for calling.... I find it helpful to know that that when I need T he is willing to be there to respond. I was difficult in the beginning to make that call but as time went on and he was consistent about responding and never punishing for my reaching out... it just got easier to call and it was good experience for asking for what I needed. In the beginning I was so tongue tied I would actually write down what I wanted to say to T and then read it to him. Our calls are rarely more than 5-7 minutes long and are between patients so I know to keep it short.

It's so hard to have some of what you need. It just makes you more aware of what you missed out on as a child. It's a painful place to dwell. I hope you can keep this conversation going with T and find some peace with the feelings.

Hugs to you
TN
Hi Affinity,
I dont think we've met, but here i am reading your post and feeling so much of the pain you are describing. Im sorry you're hurting so much, i can definitely understand and relate.
Thanks for sharing and for allowing me to place certain feelings of mine, reading how you express yours. I really hope your T will be open to something more than the sessions. I don't email T, but i text. Well... Used to text. That has kind of been taken away from me lately. But i know she can still read what i send her, if i ever decide to write to her again. I have no trust left. Im tired of getting hurt, like you said, there is so much shame and pain in feeling like i am begging for ... care, love, whatever it is.

Sending u much light and strength,
LBT
Would actual posted letters work? I do that. I don't usually use email because I don't want the therapist responding, but here are times when writing and getting it away from me is useful. When I do use email, I often tell the therapist I do not want any response. Mail works better for me than a journal because the act of mailing gets it away from me.
(((TAS)))

This was my T's reason for the no email policy:

quote:
My T said he allowed email once upon a time and it just never seemed to work out well for anybody. He said it got to a point where he was doing therapy by email, and he didn't feel that was healthy for clients. His clients' anxiety over how the email would be received and the chance that his response would be misinterpreted were both pretty high. So he just decided after a time that he wouldn't allow clients to email him anymore. Plus, he says the boundary is helpful for his own self-care.


You're right, my T is a good, sound therapist. Which is why I hope I can work through this.


(((AG)))

I think you're right. As I talked about abandonment yesterday, I felt my childhood losses so profoundly. I knew it was bad, but I didn't know just how much I had blocked off mentally and emotionally. Coming face-to-face with the depth of it nearly threw me into despair.

I know I need to talk about this stuff. I will try.


(((TN)))

Thanks so much for the support. We're both in the thick of it, huh? I don't think my T's email policy is going to change. However, he is offering some additional support with the phone calls, so that's something. Now, if I can just get over the shame of calling him. Roll Eyes


(((LilTeaBag)))

We haven't met yet. Welcome to the boards! I'm sorry you lost texting privileges with your T. That must be so difficult. I hope you can resolve the situation soon. In any case, you'll find some very supportive people here.


(((Stoppers)))

I don't know about posting letters. I imagine his policy on that isn't much different.

When I emailed my T last week, I stated that I didn't expect or need him to respond. I would be perfectly happy to just be able to send him emails even if he didn't write back. But even that is a no-go. His policy is very strict. But at least it's a universal policy and not a per-client policy like his policy on touch.


Thank you all for the support. It really is helping.

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