The next morning I had another session with M, even though I didn’t want to be there. We sat on the couch but I wasn’t really talking, so M laid down on the floor again. “This seemed to help last time,” she said.
Whatever, I like being next to her, so I laid down, too. We stared at the ceiling.
I don’t really remember a lot of what we talked about. M asked what I thought of the conversation with my parents, but it was all still confusing to me. I mostly was mad at M for not letting me get mad (she said she did this to “keep the door open”), and hearing her talk so clinically about me was also kind of scary. I didn’t tell her this.
M asked why I kept coming to therapy. I initially told her I didn’t know, but I later told her it was because I was scared to die and I’m building up this like, reserve of something.
M wondered how I would tell her when I was ready. I told her I was looking for a “z”. You know how in like, Cartesian Coordinates, there’s the x axis and the y axis, and also, for a third dimension, there’s a z? That is what I’m looking for, because I’m on this continuum of the x axis where either direction I go ends in a form of death. If there was a “z”, something out of the blue and in a completely different direction, then maybe it would be, I don’t know, worth it or something.
M asked what it was that I wanted. I don’t want anything. I don’t even want to die, really, I just want to not exist. “Nothing,” I said.
“What do you think it is that I want?”
“I think you want to stop feeling like you have to cut or dissociate,” M said.
“Maybe,” I said. “But I do it for a reason. It’s a scary place out there.”
“I think you want to find meaning,” M said.
“There’s no such thing as meaning.”
“It doesn’t mean you don’t want it.”
My mom called me that afternoon and said she had been looking into our insurance plan. This was something I had done a year ago, and I told her that, but she proceeded to tell me what our plan covered anyway.
“And I can’t believe that they lump drug and alcohol dependency in with something like your… condition,” my mom said. I squirmed.
“I can!” I said, in support of all the addicts. “Mom, people become addicted usually because they use substances to try to escape whatever is going on in their life.”
“Well, I just think it’s a matter of willpower,” my mom said.
“It’s no different than me picking up a blade.”
She ignored this.
My mom continued on to say that she would be writing to senators to see if I could get public assistance for my “disability.” Wow, Mom, thanks.
In short, she did not offer to help pay for therapy, even though she knows that I am running out of money and even though she knows so much more information. I’m suspecting that my parents won’t help to pay because I won’t agree to be medicated. I think they fucking suck.
Later that night, I made a graph explaining “z” and sent it to M:
She did not respond. Not that I really needed her to, but acknowledgement would have been nice. This lack of acknowledgement is probably what spurred the following.
Yesterday, Sunday, I texted M again about the logistical thing, because now I’m not sure if I’m going to New York. Anyway, it’s a very complicated thing, too complicated to do over texting, but she said texting was for logistics so I was going to push her on this. I’ll just write verbatim how the conversation went:
7:56 am: N: Hey, did you get a chance to determine the time for Saturday?
9:19 am: N: And, I don’t think I can go to New York. Would we be able to move this Saturday (a long session) to next Saturday? And resume all the normal times? And would you tell R that I’ll be fine by myself for a few days?
3:30 pm M: I won’t find out until Monday. But I don’t imagine it will be an issue.
N: You don’t imagine what will be an issue?
N: Sorry, do you mean the time or the days?
4:23 pm: M: The time
N: Okay, I just don’t want to ask people to switch things if they aren’t being switched.
5:34 pm: M: Let’s talk about it all tomorrow night. It seems a bit complicated to figure out over text.
[I thought this made sense, but I was also fucking pissed. Did we not talk about logistical things over the phone on Friday morning? Did we not agree to logistical determinations over text? I did not want to use up my session time for scheduling things, even though I don’t talk, but more than that, I was trying to hold M to the rules. As she was me, I suppose.]
6:40 pm N: Will you keep everything like, non-permanent until then?
N: Unrelated, can I bring pillows if we’re going to continue laying on the floor?
[No response from M. I am getting seriously pissed about the not texting about logistics thing. So I blow.]
N: No, fuck this. Texting is supposed to be for logistical things! Why do you do this?
N: Yes what?
N: You do realize how cruel you are sometimes, right?
N: This issue is logistical. This was something that I proposed a few weeks ago. We both agreed to it. If it’s too complicated for you to figure out over texting, then you can either call me, or we can take ten minutes before or after the session to figure it out.
N: And I’m sure I’ll get some new type of punishment for saying that.
M: I can do what you proposed, if it’s what I think.
N: What is it that you think?
N: Whatever. This is what was agreed to: a) Texting for logistical matters and if I need to know you’re alive; b) Emailing for other things, and your acknowledgement of said emails; c) Phone calls for emergencies. This is what was agreed upon, and these are the rules I will follow because we had agreed to them. They weren’t served to me a like a sentence with complete disregard as to what I thought and without respect. We agreed. So, again, this scheduling issue is logistical. If it is too complicated to discuss over text, then we can find an alternative solution. And if you can’t do that right now, then you can tell me that and let me know when a better time would be for you, like sometime before the session.
N: Boy I feel like I am digging my therapy grave.
M: Let’s talk about it tomorrow night.
M: I meant the schedule that we agreed to…
N: Before or after the session?
M: During. And I am done for the night.
N: Fuck you.
And then I cried a lot. A lot a lot. And then I wrote this email and oh my god, is this post ever going to end.
My mom called. She said she liked you and she thought you were nice, and you “did a good job of mediating when it was necessary”, which is her underhanded way of saying you did a good job of shutting me up when I was being “bad”. She now has this notion that it’s you and her and my dad on a team, so, thanks for that.
She also said she is going to try to help by “writing to senators” to see if I can get public assistance for my “disability”.
Anyway, I was sitting here, hating your every atom of your existence, and I was wondering to myself why it is that you act the way that you do. And, I mean, I’m sure some of it is because of who you are and your experiences, and some of it is in reaction to the way that I’m acting. So, I examined the latter.
This is going to be about my mom, and I hate how cliche that is because you know, therapy, but whatever.
So, growing up, my mom was really authoritarian. She made the rules and my dad did not question them (though when he didn’t support them, he got in trouble). And I know rules are there to keep kids safe, right? But a lot of the time, especially looking back on it, she made the rules just to throw her weight around. “Because I said so” was a very common response to my inquiries (and I had a lot of them), and this became increasingly frustrating as I got older because she would enforce things without sound logic or without providing an explanation. There was very little acknowledgement of my frustration, and if there was, it was condescending. If we were fighting, she would give me the cold shoulder and pretend like I didn’t exist until she decided that I did again. And once I did exist, what we were fighting about was never discussed, leaving me in a mess of anger and confusion. She lives by the idea that children respect their parents because they are the parents, and that just did not work for me. I felt like there should have been mutual respect, and since there wasn’t any respect for me, I did not have respect for her or her rules. However, if I didn’t follow her rules, I would obviously be punished, so I spent the first eighteen years of my life (probably twenty-four) silently hating my mom and thinking of all of the things I would say to her once I had the freedom to do so.
And then you come into the picture, right? And whatever, transference, etc., and I’m feeling the exact same things with you that I did/do with my mom. I mean, it’s this super intense hatred that I can only express through an email, because it’s so powerful that it makes me mute in person. And this totally sucks because I also like you, and I don’t want to hate you, but I feel like I’ve hated you my entire life and I have only known you for eleven months. And I hate you because of the way you make me feel, and because you remind me of my mom. I so desperately want you to not be my mom, and when you act like her, it makes me mind-blowingly angry.
That Thursday you said I was being ridiculous was really upsetting because when I would have an occasional freak out around my mom, I was told I was being ridiculous. There was no acknowledgement of the situation or how I was feeling, and I didn’t know what it was I was feeling, except that it felt really far away and out of my control. The same thing happened with Jessica in the bathroom – I freaked out and she threw me in the hospital. And that night with you felt so similar to me, because I had closed off feeling anything all day, and then we left the office and it all rushed at me and it was so much larger than anything I could handle, and all I heard was that it was “not okay” and “ridiculous”. I mean, do you think I want to act like that, or feel that way? Do you think I want to piss you off? Of course not. (Well, occasionally I do, because I’m trying to speed up you getting rid of me, but that was not what was happening that night.) And, just like with my mom, we’ve never talked about it. It’s like it’s never happened, but we both know it happened, and I don’t know what it means and I don’t know what would happen if I did bring it up. When you texted me the next day about the insurance thing and said “I just want the financial piece to be easy for you”, that pissed me off because my mom likes to use money as a way of controlling her children, and making things “financially easy” just means that she’ll remind you later of how much she helped you out – to the penny. Oh, pennies.
Why a penny, M? Was I not good enough to fuck with a quarter?
Now that I’m an adult (supposedly) and away from my mom, I feel like I have this tiny island of self-assertion, and it’s surrounded by all this water and there are people not too far away who have much bigger pieces of land and even though my island is tiny, everyone wants it. These people specifically are/were PHP, my boss, my mom, and you. And with you, I am fighting tooth and nail to protect my island, because I do not want to be under someone else’s rule again.
I recognize the need for boundaries. Things are less murky with them, and everyone knows where everyone else stands. I can appreciate that. But I feel like this situation with you is tricky. First, the boundaries were instilled by PHP, so it seemed like more of a struggle against a being or an entity, something that was larger than I could take on. But then we go to your private practice, and nobody is in control of you anymore, and you are the one who has to come up with the boundaries. This poses a problem. If you try to assert yourself over me, I will lose respect for you. If you present rules in the way that you did last week, I’m not going to listen to them because I’m terrified, and I’m going to do the exact opposite of the ones I do hear just to show you how little respect I have for the rules. Of the rules I did hear, I did not hear any accompanying logical explanation. All I heard was that “This is how it’s going to be, because I said so.” I’m sorry, but that is just not going to fly.
I know that I was being irrational tonight, and that talking about this complicated logistical thing would be fine in session, because I never talk anyway. But it felt like you weren’t acknowledging me, and that I needed to defend my land and point out how this went against what we agreed, so I didn’t back down.
I feel like I have to play this game with you to protect my Island of Self-Assertion. It might be tiny and I might be low in defenses, but I have some weapons and I try to use them in the best way I know how. I see you as an enemy, and the best way to defend yourself against your enemy is to know them. When I was hating my mom for whatever rule she imposed, I would usually spend a lot of time in my room thinking and analyzing every tiny detail of the rule, and of her, and of what she had said or done in the past and how it related to the present. And I knew exactly where and how to cut her down, if given the chance. I feel like I am on the defense with you, and I am warning you to not mess with me. My island is all I have.
But really, I would like to try a different approach. The analyzing and the defending and the being ready to attack expends a lot of energy. My therapist, I think, is not supposed to be my enemy, and there’s no way I’m going to be able to do therapy if that is how I view you. I know that when I push you, you push back, but really that’s just making us spin our wheels. I’m not saying you should back down, because you have land to defend, too, but waving your weapons in my face is just going to make me paddle across the ocean at night and commit acts of mayhem while you sleep. So, maybe we should make a treaty.
M, what I was trying to do a few weeks ago was come to some mutually agreed upon boundaries. If I feel that I have a part in this, or a say (does this sound familiar?), then I can respect the boundaries. It’s not always easy for me to do that, and I might need reminders, but I can hold myself accountable because they were things I agreed to. I was telling you what I need, and we agreed to them. Did we do a good job of enforcing them? Not so much, no, but it doesn’t mean we can’t try again. Those are the rules I will follow, because they are what I agreed to. If you would like to propose additional rules, then I can extend the courtesy of being open to them, but I cannot promise I will agree to anything, and I refuse to agree to anything that does not have a logical base. As far as I know, boundaries are in place because they are in the client’s best interest, so anything that appears to be lacking this will not be accepted.
I would appreciate acknowledgement of this email, as you agreed to do.
M did acknowledge my email, just a few minutes ago. She said she “skimmed” it. Well, there you go, I guess.