I have encountered surprising difficulties in enforcing the decision I took a few weeks ago to stop going to therapy. Not difficulties for me – I am ever more convinced that it is the right thing to do. No, it’s my therapist who seems inexplicably determined to hang on to me. I’ve been going for almost five years now (I can’t believe it either; where does the time go?) so I can hardly be said to be running away, and I feel the strongest and sanest I’ve ever been. But today I will be going for the fourth attempt to discuss leaving with my therapist. I feel he’s trying to break me down by a process of attrition, that if he is stubborn enough for long enough, he’ll get me to change my mind. He is reminding me of Mister Litlove, who believes that if he makes a suggestion to me repeatedly, I will at some point miraculously forget I’ve turned him down ten times already. It’s sort of funny, and then again it’s actually beginning to annoy me a lot.
Does my therapist really have so little faith in me? What does he think will happen if I stop going? I pointed out that I was in now in good mental and physical health. ‘Oh you shouldn’t think that you can only come here when you’re not in good mental health,’ he argued. Eh? So, what would we be working on, I wanted to know? Well ‘other things’ may come up. The problem here is that my therapist refuses to show any sort of personality, any hint or indication of his real feelings in order to act purely as a mirror to me. This puts him in a real bind, as I’m finding it impossible to understand why I need to keep coming, when he refuses to call it in case it influences me. It’s very hard to have a debate with someone who wants to pretend he’s not actually in the room.
I’ve been irritated by the artificiality of this in the past, and I went through a little phase of finding it fun to disconcert him by pointing out all the things I knew about him through little clues I’d picked up. I’m not exactly unobservant. But he refuses to agree to my leaving. The last time I saw him, he ended up saying he thought there was ‘something big’ perhaps on the horizon, and I was unconsciously running away from it. And it struck me that this was a classic suggestion from him; he always wants me to wallow (to my mind) in any bad feelings I manage to dredge up and I think I simply haven’t emoted enough to satisfy him. I’m not a big public emoter; I’m very private that way and choose always to work only in words. I think the point is that I need to be in touch with my own feelings, but whether I display them to others or not is my decision. As I say, this whole situation is making me very annoyed.
And alas, this year, my experience has been one of falling out of faith with therapy. I have always been an ardent supporter of it, and credit where it’s due, it has helped me tremendously in the past. But those of you who read here regularly will recall the problems with anxiety I suffered in the early spring. Looking back, I felt they were exacerbated by therapy. My therapist was convinced this was something I needed to work through, whereas I am equally convinced that it was something that needed to be boundaried and brought under control. Those of you who commented here that anxiety feeds on itself in biological ways and can be soothed by breaking the cycle with medication were absolutely spot on. I took the very small dose of anti-anxiety medicine the doctor gave me, and have felt increasingly better since that time. I’ve also benefited enormously from reiki, and from the sage counsel of my reiki practitioner. I still recall with some delight her saying to me: ‘Oh Litlove, on and on about whether you are a good enough person or not! You’re a person, so you do good things and bad things, get over it!’ There’s six months of therapy right there, and it made me laugh. My reiki practitioner booted me out long ago as too healthy to work with.
If there is anything (obvious) I need to work on still, it’s ordinary self confidence. All chronic illnesses leave you lacking in confidence to do the everyday things, and chronic fatigue is designed to undermine your sense of having a dependable body. I think I can do much better now by letting life teach me, by gradually building up on seeing people again, working, going out. I want to take my time and be gentle with myself, but practice and familiarity is all it needs. I think therapy is working against this desire now, with its implicit insistence that I’m still a project, still a problem. I’m grateful to my therapist for having taught me all kinds of things about myself, for helping me accept my feelings and trust my instincts. It seems bizarre if I am now not allowed to act on them. I guess the therapist’s point of view only goes so far; the day comes when I just don’t get in the car and drive over. But I hate ending things on a bad note, and would so much rather seek consensus. Mister Litlove thinks this is the last thing I have to learn – to follow my own desires even when the people around me disagree (and let’s see how well that stands up in court when he’s the one I disagree with!). He may well be right, but like all emotional growth, it feels horribly uncomfortable, and I wish I didn’t have to do it. Wish me luck this afternoon.