Posted by: Marie | May 21, 2010

(318) Connecting some dots

Post #318
[Email to my therapist written on Sunday, January 17, 2010 – 11am]

Hey, Mark –

I figured it would be a good thing to send you a status report in preparation for our session this week . . . .

Something really nice: As soon as I walked out of your office after our session, I noticed I felt a notch lighter in my spirit and in my body. I didn’t know if it would last, but I enjoyed it that day.

I’m pleased to report that it has lasted . . . if feels like a bit of the weight of the crap (maybe 5% of the weight?) has lifted off of me. I am especially noticing it last weekend and this weekend – weekends are, by far, the darkest hours of my week – that is when I tend to be the most depressed.

On the Hike by Martin Chen

I’m finding I’m more excited about getting out of bed and working on my various creative projects – and playing with the idea of pulling my hair out of my face.

On the other hand, I’m still reeling a bit from everything that happened in our session. I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with what I experienced, nor have I figured out what should come next. I don’t even know what to say about it . . . the experiences from last session are sitting here inside of me, waiting for more pieces of the puzzle to arrive.

When I think about meeting with you again, I feel extremely vulnerable, scared and off-balance – and tapes are running in my head that tell me I should not have been so demonstrative our last session.

There is one thing that I got my arms around as a result of what we talked about in the session . . . it has to do with the “religion thing”.

I have never felt resolution around how we parted ways before. I struggled with it way back then (Fall 2008) but I thought I got it squared away in my head before I scheduled our first session this time around. I decided that, if you bring up religion again, I’ll give you one warning – then, the second time, I’ll leave, I won’t pay you for that session, and I won’t come back – ever. I thought creating that boundary would be enough for me.

However, I came away from our first session with the issue stirred up again – and found myself questioning if I could continue with you because just setting the boundary does not feel like enough of a resolution for me.

I hear what you are saying when you tell me that your intention was to help me explore my spiritual beliefs by pointing out interesting, if not incongruent, thought processes. I really get that your intentions were/are healing.

The question I have been struggling with for the last 18 months is: Why did I react so strongly to that? Why did I (and still do) feel wounded by you? Why has there been no healing of that wound?

Well, in this last session, we uncovered some information that provided me with the answer . . . in the days since our session, I have been able to connect the dots.

In our session, we talked about the various methods of “punishment” my dad used to keep me in compliance with all his rules: whipping, hitting, threats of disowning me and my children and my children’s children, telling me that no man would want to marry me if I wasn’t respectable, telling me that even God wouldn’t want anything to do with me if I had a disobedient heart . . .

Well, it dawned on me this week that the way in which you “helped me explore” was very, very similar to the way my dad “helped me be obedient”. Your personalities are very similar, you have the same strong dedication to being a Christian, you used many of the same words and phrases my dad used, and you spoke to me in a loud, aggressive manner, trying to convince me to believe another way, just like my dad did.

With my dad, it was punishment – he was trying to “bring me into line”. He used religion just like he used his belt. But, with the belt, I knew how to numb my body. I’d rather he used the belt because dealing with the after-pain was easier. Either way, there was no way to escape.

With you, I was reliving those dreadful moments from my childhood – I just didn’t figure that out until now. I felt very unsafe when you were speaking to me that way, but I didn’t know why until just now. I felt as unsafe as I would have if you had been hitting me with a belt.

My aggressive responses to you were simply the child version of Marie trying to survive having her soul crushed – I fought back the same way with my dad . . . I’d fight until he’d crush me into compliance.

When I wrote out my five-page script, and read it to you in August 2008, I asked you to keep your religious beliefs out of my therapy. You promised you would. Then, two months later, you brought your beliefs into the therapy session again.

I didn’t have the will to fight back, I just silently and compliantly listened to what you said. With that, I knew I had to leave. I didn’t feel safe enough with you to stay.

I tried to talk to you about it – to give you a chance to understand the impact of your behavior – the day we met for coffee at the coffee shop. (But, I can see now that it is unreasonable to expect you to understand the impact of your behavior if I didn’t understand it well enough myself to articulate it to you.)

In the absence of your understanding, I lost trust in you, and I lost hope in the possibility of a “safe” relationship with a man – any man. (If I can’t trust my therapist, whom can I trust?)

So now, once again, I find myself struggling with the feeling of being unsafe with you. I thought having a plan in my head for how I would deal with it would be enough. But, it is not. I’m finding that, in my mind, I already have my coat on and one foot out the door, ready to run away if you “go there” again. I’m feeling I will always have to be on guard with you.

I don’t need you to apologize for anything – I am clear that your intention all along has been to help me. There was no way you could have known what was going on for me – I didn’t even recognize it until this week.

What I do need from you is:

1) An acknowledgement that you understand how I experienced your behavior;

2) A promise that you will keep all discussion about religion, and God, out of my therapy – unless we set up tight parameters around the discussion in advance.

Would you be willing to do that?

– Marie


  1. I’m looking forward to hearing what happened in the session.

    Feeling lighter is great.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I appreciate your continued support!

      – Marie

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