I feel too humiliated to go back to Jen. I didn’t get a response to my email telling her that I felt hurt and unsupported, and the thought of her reading it, going ‘Eh – delete’ and then not giving me another thought is so much worse than the original hurt of her not contacting me after Anna quit. This is what you get when you expect people to support you.
I do know that I have no real idea of what is going on for her. Maybe if I went and saw her she would be supportive. But it’s humiliating. Being ignored and going back anyway feels desperate, and that’s humiliating. The very real possibility that she’ll tell me, gently and kindly, that I overestimated our relationship and that her support is only available on her terms, when she offers it, is unbearably humiliating. Imagining being back in her office makes me feel exposed and ashamed and so desperate to hurt myself.
Thinking that I was worth more than I really am is horrible to realise – not only because of the impact on my relationship with Jen, but because it feels like I’ve been tricked, that I trusted in connection and reaching out and my trust made me pathetic.
No response from Aisha to my termination email. No surprise there.
But I do think that I will go back to Jen at some stage. As much as I hate bodywork, it’s an important part of my therapy, and probably not one that can be achieved by working with a psychiatrist. Before I started seeing Jen, I literally had no idea that I had body-related triggers, not even the obvious ones, like things in my mouth or having someone holding and moving my head. I didn’t know that I can’t lie on my stomach because you can’t put your hands up to defend yourself and it takes longer to get up and get away, and it never would have occurred to me that it’s fine to be touched by strangers because if they hurt you you only have to endure it once, but being touched by people you know isn’t okay because even if they hurt you, you still have to keep seeing them and keep being hurt.
So far this knowledge hasn’t helped me a whole lot, I guess. Maybe I was better off ignorant, or maybe I’m just making it up. But it feels important to know.
With all the intense pain and emotion and anger at Anna and Jen and Aisha, it’s been hard to really stop and think about me. I know that sounds stupid – this whole situation is fundamentally about me – but I get caught up in those thoughts of ‘no decent professional would ever act this way’ and ‘how could she do this to me?’, which are focused on her and what she’s doing. I forget to stop and think about what I’m feeling, about why I’m so hurt and what need isn’t being met.
So when I eventually faced the question of whether to go back to Jen and Aisha, I worked through the following questions:
With Aisha, the answer was no – our relationship has too many barriers to be able to meet my needs – time zones, her schedule prohibiting ability to be responsive when I need support, her travel cutting us off for 9 straight weeks a year, her inability to connect me with other services because she isn’t local and isn’t aware of them, and just the physical distance.
With Jen, I think the answer is a maybe. If she is completely unavailable out of session, then I think that could be functional. If that had been our understanding from the start, I don’t think I would have had any issues with it. The challenge is in adapting. She gave me her mobile number soon after we started working together and has repeatedly told me to contact her whenever I need her, and she’s initiated calls and texts to check in whenever things are bad. She was the second contact on my crisis plan, which meant being available for contact 24/7 for the 12 weeks of my DBT course. (I contacted her once, while Anna was on holidays, because I had to take Everest back to the shelter to be adopted out the next day, and I desperately wanted and needed to keep her but my lease doesn’t allow pets.)
This feels childish and petulant, but I don’t want outside contact unless it’s consistently okay for me to contact her and she can consistently be responsive. That feels like such a ridiculous overreaction, and so unrepresentative of real life – people aren’t consistent. But our relationship isn’t representative of real life either and I would prefer to just call for an emergency appointment if I really need to see her or talk to her.
So that sounds pretty settled, right? Why haven’t I gone back to see her and start figuring some of this out with her? Well, because I don’t have any other sources of support to fall back on right now. I feel guilty and wrong for using that as a reason, because most people only have one practitioner and they have no choice but to make that leap and deal with it if it goes badly. But that hasn’t been my experience. My very first week in therapy I started with both Aisha and Jen, and steadily (though reluctantly) added more and more, to the point that at the end of last year, I saw 5 professionals weekly plus a DBT group. When I’m having difficulties with one provider, I’m used to having at least another one there as a secure base. That’s going to have to change, now that I’m looking for one psychiatrist only, and I’m glad it will, but I’m not there yet.
Of course, that’s assuming I actually manage to find a psychiatrist. Today I resorted to trying to sign up for an online psychologist through BetterHealth, but that failed because I don’t have a credit card (and they don’t take PayPal). One of the psychiatrists on my short-list returns from overseas tomorrow, so maybe that will go somewhere. Honestly, I don’t really want to see anybody. Part of me is afraid that I won’t self-harm so they won’t be that invested in helping me, and part of me is afraid that I’ll be so triggered I’ll escalate into severe self-harm and more suicide attempts. At the moment I’m kind of passively suicidal, in that All I’m doing is trying to get through each day so what’s the point of being alive? way.
But I’m doing okay. I’m still here. I may not be happy, but I’m still here.