I don’t know whether this is any better – it might come off as equally ambivalent and not really add anything helpful. Maybe it’s even more confrontational. I like having you guys in there, and it feels more authentic to share the actual process, instead of just editing the original version, but maybe it sounds like I’m trying to gang up on her. I don’t know. I’m not sure if I even know my own name any more.
I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for her quitting, to picture myself walking out on Tuesday knowing that I’ll never see her again. But I don’t think I’ve actually accepted it as a realistic possibility, and if she actually does, it’s going to come as a horrible shock.
*continued – see previous post*
That was supposed to be the end of the letter. I posted it online, and I asked my friends for their feedback – too harsh? Too blame-y? Too ultimatum-y? As always, they were protective, and affirming, and insightful. DV talked about good therapist repairs, and said “I think that what’s underneath it is the therapist’s own confidence and inner strength – their belief in themselves that they are good enough and they’ll find a way through, and that it doesn’t diminish them in any way to recognise their misattunement and to apologise for not meeting their client’s needs at any given time.”
I really like that – I agree. I don’t think it diminishes you at all, to say you’re sorry. Probably the opposite, actually.
Some of them think the letter is perfect the way it is. Others think there’s something missing.
“I worry that you are almost inviting her to quit,” Q says. “She might even read it as though you want her to because you are dissatisfied but don’t want to make that decision. I wonder if you could instead invite her to work with you to create something that can be mutually acceptable.”
Meh. I don’t really want to do that…at least, I don’t want to do it more explicitly than I already have. It feels like too much of a risk. I really can’t predict how you’re going to respond to this, and if I invite you to work with me and you do decide that I would be better off seeing someone else, I’m going to feel a whole lot more stupid and naïve and ashamed.
We’ve put too much blood and sweat and tears into this to terminate over a misunderstanding, though. I know you can and have responded in a helpful way, like this time:
Thank you so much for sending this. I know it’s really hard for you to communicate difficult stuff like this. I want to reassure you that I understand you are trying REALLY hard to communicate in sessions and I get that you have come a long way from the early days of Aisha.
So, to be clear: I am not inviting you to quit. I’m inviting you to let go of the need to defend and to be ‘right’, and of the urge to explain to me why it was so crucial for you to explain. I’m inviting you to recognise and internalise that you did really hurt me, even though you didn’t mean to, and to tell me that you’re sorry. At the end of the day, though, really the only thing that makes sense is to invite you to be authentic, whether that leads us to termination or continuation.
I didn’t realise how hard I’d been crying, writing this, until I stroked Lily and my hand came away wet.
I went and got in the shower, and before long, I was sitting in the bottom, water streaming over me, sobbing. Something weird happened, though. I felt…real. I was actually inside my body. I wrapped my arms around myself, palms resting against my ribs, and I could feel that they were my arms, that they belonged to me, and having them around me felt comforting. I was crying hard, and shaking, and feeling intense grief, but I didn’t have any urges to harm myself, and the emotion felt safe.
It didn’t last that long – maybe a couple of minutes. I feel like you guys are probably the only people in the world who’ll understand this, but I felt excited. I want to do that again, I thought. Is that how emotions feel, for normal people?