therapy woes–bringing the ‘L’ word front and centre


Shawna Erback

I think I thought a lot about how things would be before I started on my therapy journey. Some of what has happened so far I’m pretty sure I expected but others not so much. The one thing I did not bargain for in therapy, was T. Yes, I do understand that a therapist is part of all of it, but I guess what I’m trying to say is I did not expect to sometimes–okay, most of the time, really–feel things about him.

He’s pretty much open to talking about anything (or not talking at all) and once told me that as long as I didn’t punch him in the face, there is nothing I could do or say to him that would make him not want to see me. He promised everything would be okay, no matter what.

There is something I’ve been waiting to tell T because I told myself I had to be sure. It had to be the right time. As time went on though, I realized it would be impossible to be sure when the right time was and how it would all end. Maybe part of me had hoped I would never have to say anything because maybe I hoped it would just go away. But, it isn’t going away, and even though I felt unsure and afraid of what was going to happen once he knew, I couldn’t keep it in anymore.

Yesterday, I sent him a message and this would be part of the letter I wrote and e-mailed to him:

I want you to know that most of the time you feel like the one piece that has been missing. I think it would be safe to say that I care about you, like, a lot, and maybe it would even be safe to say that I love you. Now, you need to know that I don’t mean to say that I’m ‘in love’ with you, because that’s not what I mean. No, that’s not it. Just, I don’t know…..

I feel a lot of shame for telling him. I tried really hard to feel differently, to change it and convince myself it was ridiculous and not true. But I couldn’t change it and not telling him was not making things feel better. I don’t want to love him. I didn’t mean for it to happen and now I almost have myself convinced I should just bottle this up and quit therapy forever. It feels wrong in so many ways but it also feels essential in order to survive. The knowledge of having him helps me survive.

I’m not a complete idiot. I know T can never be the person I want him to be. I also know more than likely he’ll feel differently. I hate it. I absolutely hate feeling this way about him. I hate that every time we are together he fills in part of what has been missing and then each time afterwards I need to leave, alone, and attempt to survive.

Behind it all is fear. I know that. I’m afraid to let myself feel this type of connection with people. Except for my children (which takes a lot of attention and reminders and crossing uncomfortable barriers) it is not part of my vocabulary. Not because it’s not there but because it’s hard to talk about. It’s not something that has really been a part of my life and not feeling loved is one of the worst feelings in the world.

There is a part of me that feels like by telling him it’s going to ruin everything. That I am about to feel the full gravity of my decision to say anything and absolutely everything is about to change. My mind plays games with me. It tells me he will cease to communicate with me between sessions; that he will sit as far away as humanly possible because he will be repulsed by me and what I said. My mind tells me that the walls are about to come up and I will once again feel alone, unsafe and unworthy of anything good. I’m trying to convince myself that my mind lies, but it’s really good at it and I’m not having much luck changing it.

I keep asking myself why I decided to tell him. WHY, WHY, WHY??

The answers are simple when I let myself really think about them. Because it’s true. Because not telling him makes me want to quit. Because telling him also makes me want to quit but at least he’ll know the reason. Because I’m trusting that he will do what he says–that everything will be okay and nothing will change; that he will stay regardless of whatever I tell him. Because I’m tired of feeling lost in my own thoughts and I need to just share them with somebody and for them to just understand. That’s all I want. To just be understood.

A small part of me is saying that maybe there is nothing to worry about because maybe it doesn’t matter to him, like it matters to me. I just don’t know.

I haven’t heard back yet. I’m sure he’s saving it all for Wednesday because it’s so much better to be mortified face-to-face than by e-mail.

6 thoughts on “therapy woes–bringing the ‘L’ word front and centre

  1. Sometimes our therapists are our first secure attachments that we have. Im sure he understands the kind of “love” you are talking about. He will help name it and put your mind at ease. With attachment comes trust which is/was/ the scariest for me. You are doing hard work! Hang in there ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not generally a big fan of Freud, but some of his concepts can be useful. As I was reading your post it immediately brought to mind the idea of transference, projecting onto the safe target of the therapist feelings you’ve previously experienced or are looking for in relationships with others. In psychoanalytic therapy that’s often considered a useful starting point to delve into where those feelings are coming from. Anyway, the point of this ramble is don’t be embarrassed, and opening up about it could actually prove useful in therapy.

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  3. If in therapy one feels safe, those feelings arise. And from there more good work can be done. It is scary though.
    Here is a place that for possibly the first time feels safe. So he is doing good work. But so are you because you sought out help and devote time, money and energy to it. It sounds like you have found a good therapist and that is hard to find. Good work on all levels.
    Maybe by ‘love’ you mean safe, that you love that feeling along with loving him for guiding you there. Loving him sounds like the natural progression in a safe place. In time, that can lead to safely loving others that you decide are worthy of your trust.

    Liked by 1 person

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