[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 about a conversation with my therapist – continued from previous post]
(That comment knocked me back on my heels a bit – it was totally at odds with what I expected Edward to be thinking and saying. It took me a moment to pull my thoughts together enough to respond.)
Me: I don’t see that – I don’t think that is the case. I don’t think my anger was justified.
And, it’s hard for me to allow myself to have anger, whether it is justified or not. It’s hard for me to allow myself to have any anger about anything . . . I’ve been told that there is no such thing as “right” or “wrong” emotions . . . they just show up and we don’t really have control over them, we only have control over how we behave in response to our emotions . . . but, it seems logical that we can control anger to some extent . . . I can think through what happened and realize that I really have no reason to be angry with you and that helps make it go away.
Edward: I think your anger is very justified and reasonable in this case.
(Once again, I was surprised by his words. I realized I must be missing something . . . )
Me: Okay, I guess I don’t know why you would say that.
Edward: I heard you say you were angry that I missed the fact you were beyond hope. I heard you say you were angry that I missed that you didn’t have that capability for sharing the vision of hope I was presenting to you.
Me: That’s not what I remember saying . . .
Edward: Well, true . . . that’s not what you said literally, but that is what I heard you say.
Me: (Raising my eyebrows) Okay . . . keep talking . . . you have my attention . . .
Edward: What I heard you say is that you were angry towards me for missing you . . . for presenting that possibility to you, for holding that possibility out for you to grab onto, and for totally missing your state of hopelessness. I missed that you were experiencing yourself as disgusting. I missed that you were frustrated that I don’t experience you in the same way and that you fear I might not understand how you are feeling about yourself.
Me: Okay . . .
Edward: And, by the way, you’re hiring me to see you and not miss you – that’s my job. My job is not necessarily to hold out hope for you . . . that might be one part of my approach, but the main purpose of my work is to see you and to see whatever state you are in. It is my job to respond to whatever is going on inside of you . . . to take your concerns seriously and to give them the attention they deserve.
Therefore, your anger was justified because I missed you; I missed where you were in that moment.
Me: Okay . . . well, if we look at it that way, then yeah, you have a good point. I had never thought about it that way before.
(Long, thoughtful pause)
Me: It’s just shocking to my system to hear you say something like that.
Edward: Why is that?
Me: I’m not used to men in my life taking responsibility for stuff . . . especially for stuff that is not obviously their responsibility . . .
Edward: Do you think it is not my responsibility to see you?
Me: Well . . . now that you have called my attention to it . . . I can see how, as my therapist, that is your responsibility. I’ve just never before considered the possibility that any man, anywhere in the world, would believe it is his responsibility to “see” me.
Edward: Do you think your dad didn’t have that same responsibility?
Me: Maybe he did . . . but I don’t think he was aware of it . . . I most certainly had not considered the possibility he had that responsibility until right now . . . not that clearly, anyway. I don’t think he would have acknowledged it as one of his responsibilities . . .
Edward: What would he have recognized as his responsibilities?
Me: I guess things like keeping a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my belly . . . and to teach me how to be a good Christian . . . to not allow me to do sinful things.
Edward: (Putting his hand on his heart) Ouch.
I nodded my head in agreement.
Edward didn’t say anything more; he just sat quietly with his hand still on his heart and carefully watched me. It was one of those moments that are so uncomfortable for me. I couldn’t hold eye contact with him, so I looked anywhere but at him . . . and flicked my fingernail on the rim of my coffee mug . . .
Finally, I gave into my compulsion to fill the silence . . .
Me: So . . . what now?
Edward: What do you mean?
Me: I don’t know what I am supposed to say now . . . I don’t know what to do with what you just said.
Edward: Let me turn things around and ask: In what way would you like me to support you?
Me: I don’t know, I was hoping you could tell me that – I have no idea what I want or what I need, where to go from here . . . I have no idea how to fix it.
Edward: Excuse me for being dense . . .
Me: (Laughing a bit) Yeah, I know . . . what is “it”?
(Edward laughed and nodded)
Me: I was hoping you could help me figure that part out as well – I don’t know what “it” is either.
(After a pause) I guess what it boils down to is that I don’t feel good enough . . .
(With a sigh) it goes back to the “I’m disgusting” thing.
Edward: I know we talked about the feeling of disgust in the last session . . . I don’t want to push you into talking about something you don’t want to talk about . . . are you willing to talk some more about it today? Do you feel capable of talking more about it today?
Me: Sure . . . I’m willing to talk about it.
Edward: Okay . . . we can stop at anytime . . .
Me: Thank you . . . I’ll let you know if I need to stop.
[Continued in the next post . . . ]