I can’t let go of the craziness that happened with my last therapist. Her name was JoAnn. I had a dream the other night that I was out to a restaurant with my best friend. I had to go to the bathroom, and when I went into the Ladies Room, it was flooded with inches of water on the floor. Just as I was trying to decide if I was going to wade through that water, another door into the Ladies Room opened. When I looked in, I realized it was JoAnn’s office, and she was sitting in a recliner and she had a huge stomach. There was also a hospital bed in the room. I asked if I could come in, and she said no, but my friend could.
I relayed this dream to MT, my therapist now, and she said it seems you are having trouble letting go of JoAnn, so I wrote this letter to her to see if I could figure out what the problem is and I think I found it towards the end of the letter.
So, here it is:
When I first started going to you for therapy, I was full of hope and you reinforced that hope. I had healed to a point in the past where I was functional, and I believed that you could help me get back to that point again. You told me you were a trauma specialist. You did EMDR. You practiced Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. You worked with mindfulness. What I realize now is that you never said you were adept at dealing with huge emotions. You never said that you were adept at containing me and my feelings and my experiences in the therapy room in the therapy hour. And you were not adept at any of those things. At first, you told me to call you and text you any time. I did. I grew dependent on that contact. You acted as my mother…..and I really loved that. I finally had a mother. You hugged me and held my hand. You called me sweetheart and honey. You offered to brush my hair. You wiped my mouth one time when I vomited. But, when I had big emotions, you told me to ground myself. You acted like I was doing something wrong when I cried or if I had a flashback. You made me ashamed of my feelings. I tried to tell you how much it scared me to be told to stand up when I was feeling vulnerable, but that did not matter. You still insisted. I tried to tell you what had happened to me. You told me I could heal without retraumatizing myself by talking about it. You shut me up just like the abusers did. You started refusing to answer my texts or phone calls, even though you kept telling me to call and text you if I needed to. I called you around Christmas, on a night I couldn’t stop crying, and I thought about dying, and you told me that you were too busy to help me, that I needed to use my skills….I had no skills. Standing up and pushing on a fucking wall did nothing for me. You told me everybody was too busy around the holidays. Not me. I was pretty busy just trying to be me. I called you once in the summer, and left a message. You called back almost immediately and told me you got out of a pool to talk to me. Only, you seemed really mad that you had gotten out of the pool. So I said, never mind. I’ll see you in a couple of days. Then you were mad that it apparently wasn’t for an important reason I called. One night, when I left therapy, you told me you would call me in an hour. You did, but you yelled at me and told me to use my fucking skills. You stopped being the good mother and turned into a scary lady. I kept trying to do therapy right and sometimes I did and you would say you were so proud of me and then I would not be able to do it right, and you would yell or not talk to me. You got mad because I got so upset a couple of times that I had to go to the ladies room to be sick. You seemed to think I had control over that. Believe me, I would never choose to throw up. You told me that you made a clinical error by hugging me in the first place and then seemed SURPRISED when the thought of no JoAnn hugs made me so upset. The last day we really had therapy, you wanted to do something that I refused. You said you were immobilized and woould no longer respond to me. I tried to talk about some other stuff and you didn’t say anything. When our session was over, you would not walk to the door with me like you always did. I asked for a hug. You told me it would not be authentic and you refused. I cried and you left me. And then you made me leave, still sobbing, and walk through that fucking waiting room. You did not care. You just turned and walked away. I was so confused. I was so alone. I was devastated. I asked for another appointment and you told me I would just have to wait. That you were not ready to see me. I wrote you an email to terminate my therapy with you and then I went to therapy and thought that we could fix this just like every other time, but you told me I was too traumatized for therapy and that I had to go to DBT. Then I had a termination session a few weeks later, and begged you to take me back. I spent the whole session begging you. Then later, I realized I had done the last session in a way that I really wished I had not, and asked you for a redo. You said no. That was not therapeutic. Maybe that’s why I can’t let go now. I think more likely, however, I was trained to want to be with you, even though you were very emotionally and verbally abusive to me. You gave me intermittent positive reinforcement. That is a pattern that makes a behavior very difficult to break. I have a trauma bond with you. I was very broken and depending on you to help me. Sometimes things were very good. Lots of times you were just plain abusive and inappropriate. That bonded me to you just like the abusers abuse bonded me to them. I just want to tell you that no matter now much I wanted and needed a mother, you should have never tried to be my mother. You should not have acted like my mother. You should have never hugged me. You should have never touched me. You should have let me wipe my own mouth that time I vomited. I really was and am capable of wiping my own mouth. You thought you were helping me to heal, but you just turned into another mother figure who abandoned me. I really thought that the pain I was going through was my own fault around this stuff with you, but you should have known better. You told me I was as bad as a clinging toddler at one point. Yes, I was. But you let me be. You created that situation. I thought you were rescuing me. You should have been teaching me to rescue myself. You should have been guiding me. I’m really mad at you. Even if this stuff was your brain tumor talking, you should have known that something was not right. Your personality did change in the time I knew you and I could not have been the only person that noticed. You were responsible for yourself. And you were responsible to not hurt me, but you did hurt me. You wasted two and a half years of my life that I could have spent healing. I am pretty sure that you were out of your depth with me. Lots of therapists would be. You should have said so. When I wasn’t healing, you should have spoken up and referred me on even though that would have seemed cruel. When I didn’t heal, I thought I was doing it wrong and that it was my fault. The thing is, I’m healing now. Can you believe I was brave enough to go back to therapy? It surprises me some days, but you know what? I AM A FUCKING WARRIOR.