Does My Therapist See Me Differently Now That They Know My Trauma?

**TW for mentions of SA and other non specific trauma

This question has been on my mind lately. Does Alex see me differently now? I feel like I can sense a difference in our meetings somehow, but am I just imagining it?

Sometimes my SA history makes me feel so dirty, and so different than other people. But sometimes other people also legitimately treat me differently, and like less when I tell them. So I never know what is real or where the judgment is coming from. Me or them?

I actually told Alex about SA stuff extremely early on in our relationship. It had taken me a whole year to tell my last therapist, and shortly after I stopped seeing her (to say it didn’t go well would be an understatement). But I had opened that box right before leaving, and I found myself holding a lot of trauma all alone. So, when I found Alex the trauma was eating me alive and I didn’t even know what to do, so I told her just to make our work even a little relevant to what I needed.

She reacted really well, and actually shed a few tears when I told her, which no one had done before. It felt really good to tell her, and our work was way better after that.

So there was this closeness and trust for a few weeks after I told her. But then this weird feeling started to develop? And it’s so subtle and vague I feel like I must be imagining it. I started to feel like she was being hyper vigilant about her boundaries (Like in an interfering way), even though we had never had issues with that before. This totally plays into my past weird brain stuff- so I cannot for the life of me tell if it is real- but I feel like she was pushing me away before I crossed a boundary. Like she was anticipating it?

This would happen randomly. Like one time I brought up something in an email she had sent me to tell her it had upset me. I was trying to tell her that something she had said, and her super fast reply was that she couldn’t start emailing me more because it wasn’t a sustainable form of therapy or good for us. Like a literal speech on email boundaries. When I had been seeing her for 4 months 3x a week, and we had exchanged like 3 emails (short ones too?). And that wasn’t even relevant to what I wanted to bring up. I just responded that I didn’t want to email more, just talk about what she had said.

It just seemed so weird to me?

Then one night we were talking about sleeping with older people/past stuff, and she asked me how it felt to talk about it with her. I was so relieved when she asked this because I thought it was finally my chance to clear things up between us, and let her know I wasn’t struggling with some huge attachment to her. So I said that it was okay to talk about it with her because I knew she was different than the other people in my past, and I knew nothing would happen, and that I was safe. She agreed with me, and I thought it was a good moment for us.

I thought that would have solved it all, and for a while it did? It was normal anyway. One day I said I felt a little disconnected from her, and kind of weird. In my brain this was not about SA at all, which we hadn’t been talking about for a while. But she responded with a “I wont hurt you, nothing will happen, this doesn’t have to be weird” thing again. And once was enough. Really- I was starting to feel stereotyped. Like SA patients get this weird rep, and I felt like Alex was assuming my issues instead of actually listening to me. After that session I actually stormed out. I could not figure out why that had made me so upset.

At our next session we talked about my exit, and I got so upset again I ended up telling her I thought the interpretations she was making were obvious and insulting (I cant believe I said that).

I think she got it. I’m still so confused though. Update later.

Unexpected Therapy Swerves

Ahhh Therapy…. what a weird place. And therapists, what weird people. I never feel like I can get my footing when i’m in there. Right now, I just got back from a normal session with Alex, with a swerve at the end that totally threw me.

Just like for everyone else, Alex’s absence during the holidays prompted us to spend a lot of November and December talking about attachments and examining our own relationship. This sort of “therapeutic relationship” stuff is hard for me, and her going away is hard for me (thanks abandonment issues), and basically I just hated therapy for the last two months. We would reach a stalling in our work before the break, I would struggle while we were gone, and then I would come back totally disconnected and mistrusting of Alex again, and we would spend a week or two doing repairs. After doing this twice for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was ready to get back to our normal, uninterrupted rhythm . And so- to get through it I have been trying to keep my sights set on January. Remind myself that the future where Alex is there 3 times a week, 4 times a month, was not so far away.

And finally, without as much damage as I thought there would be, January came, and I took a breath out. Alex and I started to go back to normal this week, focusing our work on non us related issues. But after a really good session today she just casually mentioned at the very end of our session, that she was going away again!! She’s taking a week off to do training stuff in one week.

In my head, when she told me that, all of these annoying thoughts came back

“why didn’t she give me more warning! Doesn’t she know how hard it is for me to deal with this?”, “One week isn’t that long, it’s pathetic to feel anything at all about something so stupid.” , “She doesn’t really care about you, and you shouldn’t expect her to.”

Ugh…. These thoughts and more. And I find them all so stupid!

I know her going away isn’t personal, but it’s so hard for me to trust people when I feel like they don’t consider me or aren’t consistently there for me. And on top of that I feel so embarrassed about ever feeling hurt about her leaving. I feel aggravated because I thought this was all over, and I really hate bringing this stuff up, but I know she will be able to tell i’m upset. I just feel like we justtttt did this twice.

I said that I wished she would stop going away so much, and she replied playfully about how her schedule is never the same for more than two weeks. That made me feel like this wouldn’t be getting steadier soon.

After I left therapy, on the walk home I felt strange and upset. I wondered how many times we would have to rehash this before things changed, and it stopped being so uncomfortable. I’m not sure that will ever happen.

In the end I guess there’s nothing I can do other than get through the break without dying, bring it up to clear the air (even if it wont change anything), and (possibly?) start looking for a T who is a bit less active -_-

Post Therapy Routine

Back when James was the only one attending therapy, and when he only went once a week, we didn’t really have any therapy rituals in place. This was because James had to go to therapy on his lunch break and had to go right back to class afterwards, but also just because he didn’t think he needed them at the time.

This lack of time after created some weird situations -(hello crying in school bathrooms)- but was mostly fine. However when I, Kate, Started to go to therapy+ trauma stuff started to come up, I had MELTDOWNS after the first two or three sessions of even mentioning it. I had just started to see my T, Alex, and I stupidly didn’t tell her what talking about it was doing to me. Luckily, I think she could tell I wasn’t ready to go there, and we worked on more stabilization first.

During that period I just got into the habit of walking home from Alex’s office while listening to music and thinking about the session. I think the walking helps me loosen up my body after being in a prolonged period of stress. When I get home it’s lunch time and I make food. While things are cooking I write down what happened in the session. Just the basics- major topics, things that stuck with me, things to think about before next time. This helps with any memory issues, and helping all of the parts benefit if what you discussed was relevant to them (and if it isn’t- you can always keep it private). Once my food is ready I put my list away and forget about it all watch TV while I eat.