therapy woes–building and keeping connection


Caroline Anderson

I find most relationships to be agonizingly painful. They don’t feel secure to me. I am not good at communicating my needs and am afraid of genuine closeness because I don’t really know when someone is trustworthy enough. I wholeheartedly see myself as completely unworthy of love.

T says my ability to connect is faulty because I have trust, safety, trauma and attachment issues. He also thinks it’s really unfair. No wonder it feels so difficult.

According to T, there is a whole school of thought on connection–how it develops or doesn’t, how it is maintained and how it can be broken. Who knew? He also says connection isn’t a want, it’s a need. It’s a basic need in every childhood and lack of it can have far-reaching physical and psychological consequences. Not experiencing loving connection as a child can leave a person feeling unworthy, unlovable and with a deep yearning. The only way to fix it? ‘Love’, he says.

Did he just say love? The parts of me that carry the young memories and feelings wanted to break into chorus ‘he’s going to love us and take care of us and fill that big black hole inside and make everything better’. The fully functional gets me through the day most days adult part of me on the other hand, wanted to run and hide and is convinced of quite the opposite ‘he can’t love me. How can anyone love me? If you let him love you, it will all end very, very badly.’  

Now, that probably isn’t quite what he meant when he talked about love, but that’s how quickly my mind spirals when the information feels overwhelming.

For the most part, I find the entire therapy relationship to be an odd one. I believe a part of me fails to connect simply because I don’t really know how to do it but I also believe parts of me don’t, or maybe even won’t, because of fear. The fear runs deep and often feels unshakable.

I will fully admit that it’s easier for me to shut others out than let them in because they can’t hurt me that way. I do understand that the goal of therapy is to eventually not go to therapy anymore, but even thinking about the end (which T says he can’t foresee happening anytime in the near future by the way) sends me spinning into oblivion and keeps me wondering whether it’s even worth it. Why do all this painful work, if you only have to say goodbye in the end? Maybe once we get to the end I won’t feel the same level of finality (in other words, like a death) like I do now. I don’t know. All I do know is that right now, there is nothing that can soothe the fear of the unknown and the what ifs.

Then there is the problem with dissociation. I do it. I do it quite often. The coping mechanism that allowed me to survive my childhood, has also greatly impacted so many necessary parts of my life. It is quick, it is seamless and it absolutely affects my ability to connect to others. It doesn’t matter how much you might like someone or even love someone, when you constantly dissociate there’s always a divide between you.

Something feels broken. It feels like as I was going along on this journey I just wasn’t able to form a deep sense of connection. Now I’m stuck trying to deal with everything all at once which is leaving me in a complete state of messiness. Maybe I’m not looking at it correctly, but it feels like I will only be able to deal with the trauma, and the feelings associated with the trauma once I form the strong non-breakable connection with T. But how much longer is that going to take? When will I finally get the sense that he isn’t going anywhere and I don’t need to be in his physical presence to know that he still exists?

It comes up A LOT. Through the snot and the tears and the overwhelming sense of unfairness, we try talk about it. Sometimes I can’t say anything because I don’t know what to say. The loss is huge and the pain is devastating.

Yesterday, he wanted to know if I had any ideas about how we could make our connection feel less fragile to me. Besides being roommates? I wanted to ask. I said nothing because I didn’t know. He offered me the stuffed dog he keeps in his office. I wanted to grab it and keep it forever, but at the same time felt extremely childish for wanting to do so. He said to think about it because it was there if I wanted to take it home.

How do you guys do it? If you were able, how did you build and maintain connection to your Ts (and others)? Were you able to get through the feelings of devastation at the thought of them not being there? Did you use any objects to make the connection feel stronger?

10 thoughts on “therapy woes–building and keeping connection

      • I totally understand! The most frustrating part for me sometimes was that I even had attachment issues. Keep talking about it. I think its very universal for trauma survivors. ❤️


  1. I am thoroughly interested in the responses you get from this post. I feel like everything you said, minus the parts where you mention positive things done by your therapist (bc clearly I don’t get that), could have come straight from my own fingertips.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that it took me about five years to work out what connection was and that I felt connected to my therapist. I was so relieved when she was okay with it and validated how I felt! My sessions are once a month so I try to write to get through the weeks without her. I think that I’m still in denial about things like attachment and I’m not ready to discuss it with her. It’s only recently that I felt the connection more intensely.
    I think that it will come in time. Your therapist seems to know what he is doing and is comfortable with your needs.


    • 5 years feels really long to me. But I guess when I stop to think about it, it’s really only 2 more to go.

      I don’t know if I could ever do once per month.

      I get the denial part of it all. Sometimes denial saves us for a while.


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