Today I sit quietly numbed by the loss. The red flags were there, but instead I questioned my own feelings. The distractions and lack of presence that took her attention away were such familiar circumstances I have lived a million times before.
I have not been to therapy for years. Quite frankly, I didn’t think I would ever attempt therapy again. And I haven’t considered it up until recently when I felt as though I had hit a brick wall and realized that, while I have a lot of insight, I don’t really know how to help myself through some of the most difficult struggles I have.
Many of you who have been following my blog know that I started therapy a few months ago. My husband went with me for the first few sessions. He went long enough for both of us to feel safe.
A series of events began to take place that caused me to feel uncomfortable. Alone, several of them seemed benign. Eventually they began to add up, and to be honest with you, it took me a long while to understand why I didn’t completely feel safe and why I was struggling so much.
What I am about to share with you is now in hindsight.
It is probably important to note that when we talked briefly on the phone to schedule my first appointment, she asked me several questions. I was emotional at the time because just making the appointment was very hard. During this conversation, I told her that I had been harmed by a previous therapist and she did know some brief details of why I was coming. Enough to take extra care.
Our very first visit was the first red flag. When we arrived for my first appointment, she was not there. We waited a long time and then I eventually called her. She had completely forgotten. She asked me if we could do some shopping and come back in about an hour. When we came back, she stated why she forgot but was not overly apologetic. We decided that we would give her a pass on this one. My husband did say to me that this is one strike against her and for me to continue to keep my eyes open. I think him saying this to me, did help me to take note of things I might not have otherwise.
The next thing that seemed odd was that while she knew I had been harmed by a previous therapist, she didn’t seem to have any awareness of the harm this caused me. I couldn’t really gauge her understanding of the gravity of this violation. So awhile ago, I sent her an email with a link to an article that explained in detail the effects of such abuse by a therapist. I never received a response or any comment regarding this email or the link.
During one session while I was sharing with her something that had happened to me by another trained professional during the previous week, she never even acknowledged how painful this circumstance could have been for me. Instead she focused more on the professional and that the situation wasn’t about me, but about them. While she was correct, acknowledging my feelings regarding the situation was the least I expected from her. And when she said this to me, I looked at her and said back, “Has anything that has ever happened to me ever been about me?” Her mind started spinning for a few seconds and she stumbled and said, “Well, that is a good point!” And then just continued on talking.
I think she may have missed my point. If this situation wasn’t about me, but about them, it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt me or have an effect on me. If we are not going to even acknowledge my feelings, how can I be expected to accept her words or process this experience? After leaving, I realized how much this situation was a disappointment to me. It would have been hard enough to deal with someone else’s similar comments, but I expected more from her.
Every time I showed up to see her, she was checking her phone for emails and text messages as she was greeting me. And then her cell phone was always sitting right by her side with her glancing down at it whenever she received a message. It is hard to feel as though someone is really with you when their attention is on their phone.
This all caused me to question myself and I became too afraid to return. At this time I didn’t have all that I just shared consciously worked out. I spent too much time questioning myself and feeling as though I should not feel the way I did. You have to understand, to be ignored and made to feel as though I am not important enough is a very familiar place for me to be. So working this all out emotionally was not easy. I ended up taking a month off in order to try and figure out what I was feeling and why.
My husband dropped me off for my next appointment and saw her checking her cell phone while greeting me. During this session I was sharing with her my struggle with continuing. She was clearly hyper focused on her cell phone. Something exciting must have been going on in her personal life and she was over attentive to her cell phone and the messages she was receiving. At one point she chuckled at one of the messages she received. And at another time she couldn’t resist and picked up her phone and took the time to send a quick text message back. All while I was talking to her.
My appointment was at 11:00 am. At 11:00 am her previous client was leaving and I then entered her office. Toward the end of this session, she said we wouldn’t have time to continue. She walked me out, but my husband was not there yet. So I told her I would wait for him. She rushed into her office, grabbed her things and said she needed to go and off she went.
I called my husband to let him know I was done. His immediate response was, “You are kidding me!” I was confused and asked him what he meant. He said that it was only ten minutes before twelve. He was on his way and was going to be there before twelve because he knew that was when my session ended every other time I have seen her. I wasn’t aware of what time it was and realized how disappointing it was that something in her private life was so important that it not only distracted her during my whole session, but also caused her to cut it shorter.
When he said this to me, it just emphasized her distraction during my appointment and caused my heart to sink as it made everything clear. On one hand the fact that all of this was accentuated during this particular visit helped us to have the conversation that led me to tell him that she always has her cell phone with her and about it being the focus of her attention. He immediately told me that this is not right.
Again, this was all cumulative. And unfortunately, I was not able to say anything to her regarding any of it. I now know that I cannot go back. I struggled for a while on how to end things. Because I became very vulnerable with her and shared things with her on a deep level, I don’t really trust myself to have any further contact with her. I think it would be too easy for me to get sucked back into a situation that would not be good for me.
I really wanted this to work. I did like her very much. And on many levels, I desperately needed this to work.
I know that many people who follow my blog have either been in therapy in the past, are currently in therapy, or are a professional who may understand the therapeutic process enough to know why this is not a good situation. I do wonder if any of you have ever had a similar experience?
I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to feel. Didn’t I deserve better? Maybe someday the emotions will rise when I am ready. But today,today, I sit quietly numbed by the loss!