Tomorrow I resume therapy after a forty five day break. I have no idea what it will feel like, either before, during or after the session. As is often the case, I have run numerous ‘scenarios’ through my head, of the opening few minutes. Few of those scenarios, I have to admit, are positive. In a way, that’s fitting – in the sense that the most positive scenario would be to turn up without an agenda or a plan, and simply open up about whatever is on my mind. The difficulty with scenarios is that they impede creativity and spontaneity, and they create expectations which lead to disappointment when they aren’t met, and when things don’t play out as imagined. In addition, when imagining sessions I have to play two parts – my therapist’s part, and mine. But I’m not her, and so I’m only ever really imagining me, in two different ‘chairs’ and with two different personas. And I can control ‘me’ – to some extent -but I cannot control what her responses to me will be. And so her ‘failure to follow the script’ leads to yet another disappointment and a feeling of being misunderstood.
Just over a year ago, I found myself unexpectedly in some incredibly painful ground shortly after resuming therapy. I ended up talking about my own past losses (the death of close relatives), and this also led into a discussion about the end of therapy, my therapist’s eventual retirement, and – hopefully far in the future – the death of my therapist. This post was written the day I found out that she planned to retire in a different part of the country:
Not something I had ever thought about before (I think I had just assumed she would stay in the same city and the same house), it came as a huge shock, and I found it incredibly upsetting. The idea of walking or driving past her house and her not being there, was unthinkable. Given the subject matter of our sessions at the time, my mind also turned to death; the thought of not being able to easily visit a grave or memorial for her, was very painful.
I’m hoping that when I return to therapy tomorrow, this will not be what it will feel like, after. But I’m anxious. The last third of the break has been nowhere near as positive as the first two-thirds. I have felt nowhere near as connected to my therapist as I did before. Negative, defensive and resistant thoughts have been much more common. And in the last few days, a major trigger which threw me into internal chaos, also seems to have completely driven my ‘internal ally‘ (and my therapist’s ally too) underground. Or rather, it gave the more troublesome parts of me the opportunity they were looking for to launch the expected (and yet simultaneously surprising), ‘end of therapy break sabotage and attack’.
And so I have no idea what it will feel like after. But I’m hoping, I’ really hoping, it won’t be this.