I sent my therapist a link to my post on my uncensored, jumbled thoughts after last week’s painful session. She replied, and said that she was very much aware of my current struggles and that sometimes therapy can hit hard stretches where it feels very confusing and hard to work out what is happening. She said that my post reminded her of a line in the T.S. Eliot poem ‘East Coker’: “And what you do not know is the only thing you know”.
She first mentioned the poem to me more than a year ago, when I was caught up in a different but still very intense struggle, wondering whether to leave therapy because I didn’t feel cared for or understood. At that time, she spoke about the importance of ‘waiting’, and quoted from a slightly earlier section of ‘East Coker’ which I then shared in a blog post. Those six lines on ‘waiting’ have been hugely important for me and I keep coming back to them. At first I did not really understand or accept them – but the longer I have been in therapy, the more I have come to understand their wisdom and to see it played out in my own life, both within therapy and outside it.
I think a similar thing will come to be true of the lines above. The first three lines make me smile, as they make me think of the number of times my therapist and I have talked about the process of therapy; the fact there is no ‘wrong or right way’ of doing things; and that there is no ‘should’ when it comes to therapy. She has said it before – and I am sure that she will say it many times again. These days I try and pre-empt it by saying “I know you will say there is no ‘should‘….” to which she replies “good” or “you are listening” with a mischievous smile on her face.
At the moment, therapy certainly feels like a ‘way wherein there is no ecstasy’, but much pain. It certainly feels like a ‘way of ignorance’ and a ‘way of disposession’. And the only thing I know is that I don’t know how therapy is supposed to work, and I don’t understand how I’m supposed to ‘own’ the therapeutic attachment in a way that heals, but also in a way that accepts that I can never actually ‘own’ that type of relationship outside its limited experience in therapy.
I love the way that my therapist acknowledged my struggles. I love the way that she pointed me to a poem; one that she knows already means a lot to me and which I relate intimately to therapy. And I love that having pointed me to the poem, she said this about it: “It probably makes it no easier to bear…but it is a route forwards, not backwards and it doesn’t negate what has gone before. It is new territory and it will feel strange at first.”
It does feel strange – but she is in my corner. And that makes both the waiting and the not knowing, much easier to bear.