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About a month ago I sent my T an email. I titled it "important not urgent", which I hoped would get across the message-- please read this before my next session and be prepared to discuss, but it's not an emergency and you don't have to write me back.

It *was* important to me. Without getting into irrelevant and unnecessary detail (it's about a topic that had been obsessing me for personal reasons but is not that interesting in and of itself), I can just say that I had received imporant clarification on a subject, from a third party who was something of an authority, on something that had been causing me considerable confusion and distress-- confusion and distress that I had expressed in therapy many times.

So, I sent the email to T. I forwarded on said third party clarification with a little explanatory note of my own, in which I also said that I would love to hear her thoughts on this, either via email or at our next session, whichever she preferred. Sometimes she is talkative in email, I think depending on how busy she is and if the subject grabs her. I like being able to write when things are on my mind, and she understands and accepts this, while I also understand not to expect a detailed reply, or even any reply, every time. If I'm desperate to hear from her, or self destructive or suicidal, I'll say so, but otherwise "we'll talk about it in session" is the default expectation.

The thing is, when I made it to my next session she hadn't read this email. I was very disappointed because I had tried to draw particular attention to it by saying it was important. And really I don't think it would have taken more than a few minutes to read. But I said it was okay, and she told me she was interested and was going to read it.

Fast forward to my next session, two weeks later (I see her every two weeks now). On the way over I'm a little cold and trembley wondering if she will have read it, and seeing myself asking and hearing a no again, and not liking to deal with the humiliation of facing the reality of my insignificance and so basically, I decide not to ask, and hope T will bring it up.

T did not bring it up. I suppose I was feeling too proud to talk about my embarrassment, disappointment, and feelings of humiliation. I hate looking desperate, or being in the position of begging for her attention and interest.

So, I talked about other things, silly stuff, social stuff, talked about life, talked about her. It was actually a fun session. I put the other things out of my mind and tried to be charming and interesting. lol.

Then I went home and decided she just didn't care about that other topic and that I would deal with that area of my life myself.

Two weeks have rolled by again and I have a session this evening. And I feel-- I don't know. Unhappy, cranky, discontent, disinclined to go. I don't need her. I can take care of myself just fine. It isn't really realistic to expect her to be with me through things. She's busy and has an act to keep up. I suppose I will still go to see her because I like her and the level of connection we do have is a world better than nothing.

But. . . I'm just not feeling it. Part of me wants to bring up the email again and have her read it in session, which I know she'd do, but that brings up the "humiliated by proof of my insignificance" complex again.

Maybe I should just get over myself and accept it? I don't like relating to another human being on these terms.
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I went through this with my T when I started writing my blog and asked him to read it. I sent him an email and didn't hear back (didn't expect to as I had not asked for a response) and at our next session, he told me he had not read it yet. Four months went by and still he said nothing. I finally went in and told him that I was angry and hurt by him not reading it. He told me it became more important since he now knew how important it was to me. I felt the same kind of humiliation and it felt like I must not matter if he couldn't be bothered to read it for four months.

But the truth is, that we are supposed to express our needs. It's not knowing our needs that indicates care for us, it's someone responding to our expressed needs that shows they care and that we matter.

I think the better question to be asking here is why does asking for what you need lead to feelings of humiliation, embarrassment and feeling insignificant? This is a tough one to get past, I feel for you. But if I may offer some advice (which you may freely accept or ignore!) when you go tonight, talk to your therapist. Be open about how this felt and that it is still weighing on you. That you are angry and frustrated and hurt. Being honest and vulnerable is really scary but the best way to deal with shame. It also provides a chance to repair it and for you to experience that you do matter and your needs are important.

I now see why my T has a "no email" policy. I'd feel absolutely nuts if he didn't respond. Smiler

First of all, this is not proof of your insignificance. For example, my son is probably the most important person in my life. His wellbeing is one of my highest priorities. However, I still occasionally fail to respond to him in the ways that I should. I get busy or distracted, or I forget. But it doesn't mean I love or value him any less. (And, being four, he thinks EVERYTHING he says has life-or-death importance.)

The same is true with your T. She values you. But, for whatever reason, she didn't get around to reading your email. My rule of thumb is, if something like that really bothers me, I should bring it up in session. The more you try to ignore it, the more you'll just resent it. Go tonight and talk it out. She'll understand, and you'll most likely feel better.
(And, being four, he thinks EVERYTHING he says has life-or-death importance.)

Affinity... wait until he's FOURTEEN. It gets worse Big Grin

hic... I think it might be good to look at WHY you feel humiliated that she didn't respond to your email. And why it is so difficult for you to ask her straight out to read something that is so very important to you. For myself if my T ignored an email I would think, once again going back to childhood, that I was invisible, not important, not worth is valuable time, etc. Then it snowballs and becomes worse... and then I get angry with him and before you know it my therapy is going haywire with resentment and anger.

Your T may have a very good reason why she has not brought up this email but you will never find out unless you ask her.

I know this is hard. Needing someone and letting them know it is very hard.

Good luck. thinking of you

Thanks everyone. Smiler Just writing this out and reading your replies helped me to feel less intense about it all-- it's true people can care about us and yet be distracted and forgetful-- so I'm thinking I will bring it up with T today. I hope I can manage to do so without seeming too accusatory.

I would write more, but session is in an hour and I need to get ready.
Hi again peoples,

I just re-read my last post and am sorry if it seemed brusque and unappreciative. I was rushed because of all I needed to do before I left and a fussing toddler, but I really do read, appreciate, and treasure every comment I get here, even if I don't always say a lot in reply. Sometimes the thoughts are just percolating. It means a lot to know I am heard and people have taken the time to consider and write out some of their thoughts. Plus, perspective always helps. Wink

I didn't even get to talking with T about any of this today, because my session was crazy. T was having an off day, and I guess we triggered eachother, because there was a clash, and some harsh words exchanged, and awkwardness, and crying (T), the first half of the session. The second half of the session consisted of "repair" and me going on an exciteable, somewhat boisterous rant about unrelated topics just due to leftover energy and nervousness. I was getting on my own nerves, God knows how I must have struck T.

Sometimes in therapy I really disgust myself. Perhaps that's partly what it's for? Honest self encounter so we can change? Ugh. . .
T's shouldn't cry out of hurt - it's just unprofessional. Occasional welling of tears from being moved by something, okay, but not because there's a difference in agreement and some 'harsh-ish' words were being exchanged. And telling someone she sounds condescending... geesh!, that is about YOU hurting.
I'm getting angry at your T now, so I'll stop. But therapy is NOT about making her feel comfortable. It's about being a safe, if sometimes rocky, difficult and painful, but still safe haeven for you.

Take care of yourself, don't put yourself down any further. Please?
Thanks, Elsewhere. T was definitely off her game. She wasn't crying because of me (I should have mentioned that before), but because the previous client triggered some of her own issues. Or so she told me. That started us off on the wrong foot and I suppose the resulting conflict with me did not help anything. Yes, this may have been technically unprofessional, but we're all human and I know she can and often has provided better therapy than this!

I suppose I'm turning the blame on myself because I feel I could have responded more gracefully. It bothers me a lot when I feel like I'm relationally misattuned. . . I know, I know, she is the T, but this fact remains. I also think my pre-existent irritation, the one I wrote about here originally, may have contributed to precipitating the conflict. I suppose that's one more reason why it really is good to clear these little things when they come up rather than letting them fester. What a mess.

However, I believe this will blow over. T apologized during the session, as I left the office, and again this morning via email, so if anything, she is taking it more to heart and taking more responsibility than I am. I think it will be okay. But thank you for writing and for expressing concern. A little indignation on my behalf is consoling, I cannot tell a lie. Wink
That would be cool (the smiley)! Smiler

I also wanted to clarify the order of events. We did not start "fighting" after she cried (I would not do that!), the conflict came first, then the tears, then the explanation that she had been thrown off by the first client and that that was affecting things, and her distress wasn't because of me. Although, of course, I believe my state of subliminal irritation may have affected things too.

It was all unfortunate. Oh me oh my. I'm feeling down about it again, I fear. Crazy how everything involving them effects us so much.

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