She Forgot Me

I felt totally humiliated today. It was like one of those dreams where you show up to school with no pants on, except this time it was showing up for a session and finding your therapist wasn’t there and wasn’t expecting you, and it wasn’t a dream.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I told Nikki I was thinking of taking three weeks off therapy. I desperately needed to save some money, but mostly I just wanted a break from the constant triggers. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that that wasn’t a good idea, that it would just be perpetuating my avoidance and reinforcing my “therapy sucks” attitude, neither of which promote healing. But after our crappy session in the park, when we were back in the reception area with clients and other staff milling around, she asked me whether she should cancel three weeks of our regular sessions, and I felt so intensely aversive to telling her that I was coming back that I shrugged.

I don’t care. Whatever.”

And I walked out.

An hour or so later, she texted to thank me for the Christmas card and to wish me a Merry Christmas. I’d had enough space to calm down, and I texted back “See you on the 3rd!

Today I arrived right on the dot of 6pm, and buzzed the intercom. When somebody picked up and asked “Who is this?“, I panicked and froze. I must have pressed the wrong buzzer; the consulting rooms always just buzz you in immediately. I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just waited for a moment, my head going fuzzy, then pressed it again.

This time, one of the psychiatrists who works at the rooms came to the door and opened it.

Who are you here to see?

Um…Nikki,” I said, awkwardly stepping around him while he stood halfway blocking the entrance.

There’s nobody here,” he told me. “I just turned off all the lights.

It was like I’d just run straight into a brick wall. This sudden, shocking wave of shame and humiliation just rose up and smacked me in the face. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I felt like this pathetic, unwanted, pitiable thing.

Before I could excuse myself and run away, he was dialing Nikki, and telling her there was a client there to see her. I heard her voice on the other end of the line, indistinct, then he covered the mouthpiece and asked “What’s your name?

Oh my god. Oh my god. I’ve seen her at 6pm on Tuesday every week for the last 7 months, and she had to ask who I was. Oh my god.

While I was still trying to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation and go somewhere quiet where I could tear myself apart, the psychiatrist finished his conversation with Nikki and told me she’d be there in 10 minutes. I sat down to wait, cursing myself. The day before, I’d wanted to text her to confirm my appointment, worried that this exact thing would happen, but I refused to let myself. Stop trying to control every little aspect of the process, I told myself. You told Nikki you’d see her on the 3rd, so just trust that she’ll be there.

Ha. Well, that was stupid.

She arrived breathless and panting, dressed in cut-off denim shorts, and excused herself to change. By the time we finally sat down, 20 minutes of the session were gone.

I thought we’d agreed that you’d contact me if you wanted to keep your sessions?” she said.

I did. I texted you and told you I’d see you on the 3rd.

She pulled out her phone to check, then winced. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “It’s lucky I only live 10 minutes away!

Apparently she cancelled all my sessions for the three weeks. Even if she’d forgotten the text message, I never actually said I wasn’t coming. I don’t blame her (she obviously assumed I was going to decide in favour of a break, and no point screwing herself out of possible income), but it hurt, that she wasn’t holding that space for me. It feels unbearable that she’s booking them back in, like I’m crawling back to her begging.

So; the session sucked. I could talk to her lightly, like telling the story of the time I ran stark naked down the hallway because there was a daddy long-legs spider in my shower, but I couldn’t share anything important. I can’t recover that quickly yet, and I didn’t have the sense of safety that I need to open up about anything – not only because she hadn’t been there, but because there was so little time left.

We came close to something difficult when she asked about my foster brother, but I said hesitantly “…I don’t know if I want to talk about that today,” and she dropped it immediately and moved on. I needed to be coaxed today, reassured that she really wanted to hear what was going on for me, but she probably felt it was important not to push me.

I’m trying to balance my humiliation with what it probably felt like for Nikki, to be called by a colleague and told she’d forgotten a client, and then to have to face that client completely unprepared. I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to hurt myself to express my feelings.

And at least for tonight, I haven’t self-harmed.

She Forgot Me

7 thoughts on “She Forgot Me

  1. I understand the humiliation that you feel. My T cancelled a session the night before due to illness of a friend and asked me if I wanted to reschedule. I said ‘yes next week’. When I arrived at her house, I had to knock many times until she answered. She said that she wasn’t expecting me and asked me to wait. She eventually let me in also when she had changed. She said that things had been all over the place. I think her friend had died and she had been supporting his wife and family.
    I was totally embarrassed and had also driven about 40 miles to get there. She finished a text when she had asked me how I was. I was totally detached and just couldn’t focus at all. She wasn’t prepared and it threw me.
    You have nothing to feel humiliated about, it’s just a misunderstanding. x


  2. Sirena says:

    Last new year my therapist got the times mixed up and I was standing outside a locked building texting her to say I was there. Eventually I left. It was a horrible feeling, you have my sympathy. I hope you can hold on to the fact that she rushed to get to you. She wanted to be there.


  3. Rea, this sounds like my worst nightmare. I am so sorry.
    While I acknowledge what Sirena said, that she did rush to get to you, at the same time I hate that she said it’s “lucky she lives only 10 minutes away” – as if you should somehow feel grateful for her “herculean” efforts, for her “convenience,” when really she’s the one that forgot the appointment; she’s the one that screwed up. As if she’s trying to minimize how crappy the situation is, and deflect responsibility off herself (maybe I’m not being fair… but I’m feeling very protective of you, Rea, and very pissed at her, no matter how unhelpful that might be).
    You never said you were canceling, so she shouldn’t have canceled (or at least should have reached out to you for clarification before canceling). Bottom line.
    I’m glad you can put yourself in Nikki’s shoes and see that maybe this wasn’t easy for her, either – that you can have compassion for her. But at the same time, it’s perfectly okay for you to be hurt and angry and triggered, because this therapy isn’t about her feelings – it’s about yours.
    Lots of love and hugs for you, Rea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rea, this sounds so unbelievably painful and intensely upsetting. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I started reading your post and my heart sank for you. Nikki seriously fucked up – she shouldn’t have cancelled.


  5. I feel your pain. That is an awful thing to happen. Whatever doubt N might have had when you left the session, the text message should have removed it, and if she was still unsure she should have followed it up. I am impressed at the way you’ve handled it despite how difficult this must have been.


  6. Oh this is my worst nightmare and I can’t even imagine how you felt. A has previously told me that if she ever isn’t there that it isn’t me or my fault but still. I told her if she didn’t show up one day I would quit it would feel so awful.

    Mistakes happen, but she should have handled it focused on you and compensated you for the lost time somehow – at the end of the day it’s a business arrangement as well as a relationship, and she failed you in both here. I’m so sorry.


  7. Something like this happened to me, not with E but with a therapist I saw a long time ago. It felt terrible. This was really a long time ago, as in no possibility of texting. It was entirely her fault, but when I did see her a week later, she kind of shrugged it off (she was a bad therapist in many ways). I didn’t even like her that much, but I was alone and desperate and when it was clear that even bad therapist didn’t give a shit, I felt humiliated. I actually sat in the hall outside her office for 45 or 50 minutes because I just couldn’t handle the idea of going home.
    Even that time a few months ago when E got confused about the time of our session (rescheduled from the normal time) and met with me 15 minutes late, I was completely discombobulated and the session was very difficult.
    I’m giving Nikki pretty low ratings these days, but she does get a couple of points for running madly to meet you. I am sure she was horrified to realize what she’d done. It’s obvious she cares about you. But she’s not meeting expectations for professionalism. This worries me because even when she’s on top of things, it’s hard for you to talk about your feelings. When she’s playing with cats or talking a walk outside or arriving late or whatever, how are you going to feel secured and contained and supported enough to open up about the truly difficult stuff?
    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what we need from therapists in order to work on deep trauma. One of them has to be a very reliable scheduling and communication system. I like that E has it set up that I get an automated email when she or I cancel a session, even if we talked it over during session. It’s just a very clean and clear communication. And if she misunderstood, I’d see that and email back to correct it. Trauma therapy is difficult enough without adding in needless disruptions in the therapist-client relationship.


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