Posted by: Marie | January 23, 2012

(623) Pushing boundaries – Part 4 of 4

Post #623
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, May 12, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

——————-

Edward: Of course! That makes perfect sense to me!

(His response left me wondering if “of course!” meant wanting that was normal or if it meant it would be okay for me to initiate contact in that way. So, I tentatively asked . . . )

Me: Would it be okay for me to do something like that – to initiate contact in that way?

Edward: Yes! That would be fine!

Photo by Martin Chen

(For a moment, I couldn’t respond because I was so astonished I had gotten brave enough to ask the question, and I was astonished he actually said “yes”.)

Me: Thank you for letting me know that would be okay . . . that is a big deal – knowing I have that option – if I ever got brave enough to actually do it . . . it is good to know it would be okay.

(After catching my breath) My fear is that you would think I was coming on to you sexually. (becoming emotional again) It is one of my greatest fears . . . that someone I really care about pulls away from me because he thinks I’m coming on to him sexually – it has happened over and over and I’m afraid it’s going to happen here.

Edward: I do know – I am very clear that the type of touch you desire is not sexual. I’m clear that you desire – and need – safe, affectionate touch.

Me: (Becoming very emotional) I would be horrified if you ever thought I was coming on to you sexually . . . .

(He nodded his head but didn’t say anything . . . he looked like he was waiting for me to finish the thought – probably because I was looking to him to verify that he knew for sure I wouldn’t do that, but he hadn’t provided that assurance yet . . . )

Me: (Finally, after more tears) Do you know that I would NEVER come on to you sexually?

Edward: Yes, Marie, I do know that.

Me: (After a pause to let emotions die down) Knowing I have that option is huge for me – I have always dreamed about having the option of initiating that kind of safe physical contact with a man, but I’ve never had that option. I thought I would never have that option. But, now, I do. (small laugh) I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

(I wiped tears and we both looked at the other to see what would come next in our conversation.)

Me: So, what now?

Edward: I don’t have anything in particular planned. What is foremost on your mind?

Me: Well, I can’t say that it is foremost on my mind, but I think it might be useful to go back and review the letter I wrote to Mark . . . specifically the parts that mirror my relationship with my dad . . .

Edward: Okay! Let me pull my copy from my filing cabinet . . .

(He stood up and got his copy from the filing cabinet and I pulled my copy out from my bag. I started reading through some of the stuff but found I was pretty ambivalent about it. It wasn’t a matter of being disconnected from my emotions, I just wasn’t getting triggered by reading the letter and remembering the conflict. After a few minutes of reading and answering some questions from Edward, I kind of shrugged and said . . . )

Me: I don’t know that spending our time reading this letter is particularly helpful because nothing is coming up for me . . . it feels like a waste of time . . .

(With frustration in my voice) I don’t know why I’m wasting time on this . . . I don’t know why I even wanted to look at it.

Edward: Do I hear you saying you are feeling ambivalent about what was happening when you wrote that letter?

Me: Yeah . . .

Edward: Are you okay with experiencing that ambivalence?

————————–

I didn’t really respond . . . I could see his point . . . giving myself space to experience the ambivalence could allow me to recognize that healing has occurred . . . but it still felt like I had wasted time and that bothered me. I believed I should have somehow recognized that I didn’t need to spend session time on it before I wasted that time.

I could see I was falling back into my perfectionist mode . . . the mode in which my need to always be productive takes center stage. I know that isn’t healthy, but I was struggling to not go there.

So, I didn’t respond, I fell silent and let the conversation die out . . .

That brought us to the end of the session. As I prepared to leave, I asked Edward for a hug. I found I was feeling okay with hugging him today . . . I guess purposefully choosing to not hug him last time was enough to establish the internal sense of control I needed.

I left the session today feeling like some of my biggest concerns about my therapy had been addressed and I am in control of what happens next in the process. That feels good.


Responses

  1. A big session!

    • It was one that brought some much needed relief!

  2. Seems like you broached a really sensitive topic very bravely Marie. Talking about a sexual topic with a male therapist is really tough, and it seems to have gone well. Good for you.

    • Hi, Ellen –

      I’ve found that talking about sexual matters is only somewhat uncomfortable . . . what made this conversation very uncomfortable was that it had to do with the sexual relationship (well, the absence of one) between him and me.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      – Marie


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