Analysis is hard. It is more than hard. It is incredibly difficult and painful, and I’m only three months in.
I have a dead mother.
Not actually dead, mind you. She is alive and well halfway across the country, which honestly isn’t far enough. But she’s dead on the inside. She’s boring and dull and dead and so closed off from her feelings and instincts that she didn’t breastfeed or hold me when I was little. I didn’t think it mattered too much until I found myself begging my analyst to touch me. Her gentle denial stabs me, every time, on some raw, visceral level and the pain is so intense I find it difficult to breathe. It’s horrible. She says it will get better with talking. I have no choice but to try, if only for my daughter.
I try not to blame my mother for her deeply wounding mistakes, as I can see how her own mother was cold and aloof, and her mother before her. But it makes me angry. I’m choosing to get help so my daughter can have a different experience. I am putting myself through this so my daughter (hopefully) doesn’t have to. Why didn’t my mother do that? I didn’t matter enough? I didn’t touch her in a way that made her want to overcome her problems so she could try to mother me properly?
I sometimes feel slightly jealous of my daughter. She will never know denial of the breast or premature separation or refusal to be held. I simply won’t let it happen. She will wean and leave our bed when her brain and body are ready. I want, more than anything, for her to never have to feel this kind of pain. I want her to be able to mother her own child someday without having to go to therapy to figure out how to do it. I just wish my mother had done the same for me.
I want my analyst to sit on the couch with me.
This needs to be explored thoroughly. My previous therapist would sit on the couch with me, at my request. I loved the physical contact. She would hold my hand, we would cuddle… it was very nice. In my mind, it was representative of acceptance – my mother is quite uncomfortable with physical contact and so, as a child, I received less of it than I would have liked. I’m also convinced that my mother finds people repulsive, including her own children, and so to have my therapist sit with me felt like I was not repulsive to her.
But also, having my therapist sit next to me on the couch meant that we weren’t facing each other, and she couldn’t look at me. I think there is something big here. Currently, my analyst and I sit across from each other – I’m sitting on the couch and she’s sitting in her chair (on her “perch”, as she once called it). As much as I am telling myself that I want my analyst to convey to me that I’m not repulsive, I think there might also be something to do with looking at me. To be looked at and acknowledged means one must exist. I think I have difficulty in this area. In the beginning, I did make quite a bit of eye contact with my analyst – a sharp contrast from where I was when I left my previous therapist. But last week, I noticed I was not looking at her at all. I also noticed I was feeling a distinct lack of connection following the sessions, and I hypothesised it had something to do with the lack of eye contact. I had to make a conscious effort to look at her on the last session of the week, and I noticed the difference. Our sessions are naturally increasing in content and intensity, and I’m wondering if it’s difficult for me to have that raw feeling of being seen while exploring topics that are more difficult. And if that’s the case, I may be looking to alleviate that discomfort in two ways by having her sit on the couch. One, it would feel like she is more “with” me if she sat next to me, and two, I wouldn’t have to tolerate the feeling of being looked at. I mostly remember my mom making eye contact with me when I was in trouble, so maybe having eye contact with my analyst also feels like I am in trouble for having thoughts or feelings.
When I first started analysis about three months ago, I told my analyst about how my therapist would sit on the couch with me, and I requested that my analyst not do this. I thought it was because I knew I needed to tolerate the feelings of not having physical contact, and that in order to work through them, I needed to have my analyst sit in the chair. To have her sit on the couch with me would be to skirt around the issue and to gratify my need for the contact. While I still believe that is true, I think there is more to it in the sense that I do not want to be looked at, that acknowledgement of my existence is too overwhelming, and I need to tolerate this, as well.
I thought I might try to take this blog in a new direction. Being a mother is an experience too remarkable to not capture, and the same, I think, with being an analysand. So, here we are.
My ultimate goal, of course, is to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted human who is comfortable in and with herself. My daughter, Peanut, is ten months old, with a personality so uninhibited that I don’t know how she fits it into her little body. In order to foster who she naturally is, my husband and I try to create an environment which does not sap her energy and liveliness. We attend to her when she cries, we bed share, I breastfeed, in hopes that she will not have to worry about why her primal needs are not met and instead can grow and develop with confidence. I find myself intensely attuned to her; I suppose my analyst would say that I track her.
Speaking of my analyst – after two and a half years of tempestuous therapy, I left my therapist. Considering my options, I decided to enter psychoanalysis. For one, I enjoy the depth and work required. It challenges my brain in a vigorous and exciting way. Two, I want to be an analyst, and one has to undergo personal analysis before one can sit in the chair. So I thought, why not? And I very carefully selected my therapist – analyst. She’s good. She’s steady and sharp. She will be good for me.
So, that is what I hope to do here – record the intertwining journeys of being a parent, and becoming an analyst. I have a feeling that each will strongly influence the other.