A few months ago, I was struggling with some really intense feelings.
I had realized, at this point, how much my therapist meant to me. How she had been the ONE person who had been there for me through all my struggles.
The feelings were complicated. I felt ashamed… I realized that I wanted more from the therapy relationship. I didn’t want to just be her client. I wanted to be her friend. I wanted to be special. She made me feel this way…I wanted that feeling to be the truth.
Yet, I also knew that these weren’t the feelings I should be feeling. I know the boundaries that exist in a therapeutic relationship…and I knew that I was beginning to over-rely on her for emotional support.
I talked to her about the feelings, finally, after agonizing and worrying about them for months. I told her how her frequent communications made me feel happy…how they made me feel thought about, and how, sometimes, when we would joke and text, it made me feel like she was more of a friend. She heard me. She understood. But she also stood strong on the boundary.
She couldn’t be my friend. I knew this.
Even though I wanted it.
She made me feel worthy. She made me feel valued. She made me feel loved.
And then, I fell into a hole–fearing loss, fearing abandonment. I clung harder, because I needed her to know how I felt. But, the fear of losing this one, stable, productive relationship made me feel absolutely alone. Absolutely scared.
I remember telling her, in the midst of this spiral, that I would often wonder, now, if her lack of answering a text was her way of teaching me a lesson.
In my head, this makes perfect sense. Growing up, my mother was the queen of “teaching lessons.”
So, if someone started ignoring me, especially because I had become overly clingy, it simply made sense to me that that person may be sitting back thinking, I am not going to answer her immediately. She needs to know I can’t be here all the time. She needs to learn.
My therapist’s response to me when I suggested that she had been, perhaps, teaching me a lesson was shocking.
She looked at me, with a sad look on her face and she said, I would NEVER do that to you. I would never be that cruel.
Here I am, a few months later, still processing that response.
I never realized that the form of communication, the form of learning that I am so used to, might not be normal.
And, for some reason, this really surprises me.
I am pretty empathetic. I am pretty emotionally attuned to other people.
And yet…the fact that I thought something was normal which, in fact, is not, threw me for a loop.
It has made me question a lot of the truths that I have held about myself and my life.
After all, if something this simple is not normal…what else have I internalized?
At the same time, I have started to allow myself to form deeper and more honest relationships with other people. Yes, I still feel that I rely on them, now, instead of my therapist…but I think that the relationships are much healthier, much more honest, and much more…true… than the relationships in my past.
I am more vulnerable. I am more open.
I am more me.
A few months ago, I sat on a couch and cried, telling the one person that I cared deeply for that I simply could not imagine not wanting her in my life. Not needing her.
Today, just a few months later, I have realized that I rely on her so much less.
I don’t feel the need to talk to her everyday, like I once did.
Do I still want her in my life?
I do. She is simply an amazing person…and I like her.
But, I can now also say that I have some other wonderful, amazing people in my life that make me see my own value and worth…and who make me start to think that maybe I can be loved for who I am.
And that is making a tremendous difference to me.
I am learning. I am learning what is true and what isn’t.
I am learning who I am.
I am learning what I deserve.
…I am learning.