Survivor challenges her therapist

My stomach was turning and my chest was jittery on the drive to my therapist’s office. I thought this must be symptomatic of a physical ailment like migraine or menstruation. Except my earlier headache had disappeared with 2 ibuprofen and my period had not really begun. Then it hit me… This is pure adrenalin from fear and anxiety. I was scared to confront Lynn about our patient/therapist connection but I felt that I must. In order to move past my sense of defenselessness I needed to express myself; it was the only way to have a productive session.

I believed Lynn didn’t care about me as an individual. Our sessions lacked a supportive atmosphere. I felt judged for failing to not drink because she inevitably brought it up at every session. Her mission appeared to be cure quickly and be done with me. Inside myself, I believe there is a reason for my drinking and I have to work on that piece of me in order to live/cope in this world without alcohol.  It is not as simple as AA or willpower.

“How have you been doing with the drinking?” She would ask. “Are you taking Klonopin when you drink?”

I always answer truthfully, Yes, I’ve been drinking and Yes, I take one klonopin pill at bedtime.

Every session feels as if there is a mirror up to my face and I get a ten-fold feeling of disappointment in my resolve. As a bonus, I  experience the displeasure of my therapist.

I admit I’m disappointed in myself and I have psyched myself up to tell Lynn that I don’t need to feel her frustration, too.


“How are you?” is how she always begins our sessions.

I have anxiety. I’m not feeling well.

Lynn asks, “Is it because you don’t want to be here?”

“Yes” I agree, “I wanted to cancel.”

She smiles because her guess was right. She asks if it was the way our last session ended, with me talking about my marital relationship. She presumes that is what triggered my anxiety.

“No, I feel like you are focusing solely on the alcohol. Like I should wave a magic wand and stop drinking. I feel judged that I’m not doing that.”

But, I consider her question about whether I am protective after a disclosure about my marriage. Could that be my issue? She is the therapist and maybe she knows more than me.

I tell her,”I don’t know what the issue is really. Maybe it’s my relationships.  Last time I talked about transference but maybe I meant projecting.” I explain to Lynn I don’t know what is real and what I’m projecting onto others.

Lynn openly tells me she is not sure what I want.  “The first day of therapy you came in saying no incest/past Courage to Heal stuff, you’ve already worked on that.”

She says, “You keep one foot out the door. I’m not sure where we are going. You orchestrate the conversation.”

“Did you have these issues of not being able to feel comfortable coming to therapy with other therapist?” Lynn asks.

I think to myself, I may not be giving off a clear signal and that does make it hard for others.

“No, I never felt this apprehensive for such a long time.”  I admit that I’m not feeling supported. I say, “I don’t know if the relationship is hard for you and you don’t want to work on it.”

Lynn says she has never felt she can’t work with a patient’s issues.

Then I disclose a private feeling that bridges the distance.

“I’ve never been to a therapist and talked specifically about drinking as my coping mechanism. I am in new territory and it is easier for me to blame you, my therapist, or my husband, than me, the person that must make the changes. I am cognizant that this is my “final frontier.”

[If I learn to live without alcohol, I will open a new chapter after 49 years, where I can accept myself without escaping with alcohol.]

I sit on Lynn’s couch and listen to her talk to me. Lynn admits that the greatest percentage of patients that leave her practice do so because of alcohol dependency. This disclosure interests me because I am about to be one of the statistics that run when the going gets rough. But, I admit, and tell her “One thing I do is stick to something I commit to.”  She shares something about herself that I already know, “I am straightforward and shoot from the hip.”

Somehow, and I don’t know what words I use, but I ask if she wants to work with me. Lynn re-words my thoughts, “Do you mean Am I invested in you?”

Lynn tells me, “You are unique because you sit before me trying to work this out. Many patients have left by now.” Her words relax me. I know what I’m doing is the hard shit. Working on changing my thoughts so that I don’t need to drink is an area where I need help. I drink because I hate myself. I feel shame and unworthiness. It is hard to reach out to another and talk about this stuff!   But — if I am to heal I must talk about it. My goal is to live in the present but in order to find enjoyment in the now I must see why I live on a daily basis with self-defeating thoughts.

Lynn asks if I read the Courage to Heal while in therapy. I say that I did. She replies, “I have used that book in group therapy situations.”   I tell her I think my issue is no longer the incest/sexual abuse or my brother but the thoughts that I develop that repeatedly tell me I’m not good enough. I need to let go of the past and learn to live in the moment. I mentioned the new book I’m reading about mindfulness and tell Lynn I’ve not had a drink for a week and between that and meditation at night, I have slept well and I feel good.

Lynn praises me and asks, “What is one good quality you see in yourself?”

My answer, “Right now I cannot think of any.”

She smiles and says,There are more than one but for next time I want you to come up with one thing you like about yourself.”

I was a blank slate. No ideas. Nothing. It was enough that I expressed my inadequacies to her. No way could I think of a positive.

The conversation flowed freely and ultimately, I trust that she could be the therapist that helps me along this most difficult journey to wholeness.

Trust is a tricky thing for a survivor of sexual abuse who was raised by a narcissistic mother.  ♥Daylily

7 responses to “Survivor challenges her therapist

  1. anxietyadventures

    Congratulations! Well done on having the conversation and I’m glad it worked out!

  2. I am so proud of you Daylily. It takes a lot of courage to do what you did, and I am extremely pleased you feel that Lynn seems like the right person to help you. Take care -Sparrow

    • Thanks, Sparrow. It’s kind of embarrassing that I’m so much older and I’m still struggling through this life. But, that’s just me and my negative thinking that I should not give into. You are kind to support me and I appreciate it.

  3. You’re truthful with yourself and others, courageous and sincere. I hope you’ve thought of things you like about yourself by now. Your therapist is right, there are many. Warm thoughts, best wishes and hugs to you.

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