Last week’s Therapy

thVMG1QV7RIt has been difficult to write a post this past week. I feel all dried up and hollow inside. Childhood abuse has been top of the therapy agenda recently and this could be why I feel like a child with no voice, paranoid that no one really wants to listen.

My individual therapy with Paul last week was very positive. We spent considerable time discussing the horrible experience I underwent at the previous group session and how the Leader, Frankie, got right on my wick. I wrote about this in my last therapy post, “Do they Believe Me?”

Contrary to it being an incredibly difficult experience, it transpires as a pivotal moment in therapy because I’m finally starting to connect to feelings for the first time in decades.

The thing I love about Paul is that he always oozes empathy and never tries to sway any of my opinions, even if they are a little far-fetched sometimes. As we talked last week, I started to feel unprecedented trust for him.

We have been meeting each week for about eight months now and only recently, wethAC9G5VIW were discussing the importance of the Client-Therapist relationship. I quickly realised that my inherent inability to trust must stand in the way of ever experiencing genuine connection. I told Paul it is difficult to envisage ever being able to trust or connect, but one way to learn is to work on our therapeutic relationship.

The day after my session with Paul, I was back in the group. It felt foolish to return to an undervalued situation when I was still feeling so vulnerable. Nevertheless, I’ve been running away from myself for too long and it’s now time to deal with those fears head on.

Unfortunately, our group therapist, Frankie, is not very receptive to anything that might sound critical, she does tend to take up a lot of time talking, and the more she talks, the more she orchestrates the entire session. Little did I know, at least one other group member was feeling the same.

thL0DCGPXCIn response to my own concerns, Frankie immediately launches into defence mode, going around in circles, trying hard to justify her leadership. I couldn’t even tell you what she was blabbing on about because my blood was simmering and the ears shut down long ago.

I said, “Sorry, Frankie, but you’re starting to get on my nerves. If we are encouraged to raise issues during the start of group ‘check-in’, then surely as group leader, it is your responsibility to keep on top and remember who needs the time.”

The rest of the group session went really well, but unfortunately, Frankie did it again with one of the other members. We had already reached the end of session before we realised that he didn’t get the chance to speak, while Frankie sporadically talked for 16mins in total, and yes, I did time her!

At the end of group ‘Check-out’, one of the other members said, “I am very sorry, Frankie, but this is not meant to sound like we’re all ganging up on you, but you talk far too much.”

I am ashamed to admit that I did openly scoff in agreement.

In the past, I have been guilty of what I call, ‘displaced anger’ and I think many of usthKJUJOY62 are guilty of this to a greater or lesser degree. It is when we project anger from our own circumstances onto someone or something else. In recent weeks, I’ve stated that the trauma associated with my parents has somehow lessened, but I am slowly becoming aware that those traumatic memories are slowly evolving into anger… an intense, all-consuming, destructive rage and I really don’t want to go there.

I am terrified of anger and have never been able to express it without turning into a jabbering piece of jelly. It has always been a very self-destructive imploding emotion and I’ve no idea how I will manage to process it in the coming weeks.

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48 thoughts on “Last week’s Therapy

  1. mandy smith

    omg, Cat. When I read, “I said, “Sorry, Frankie, but you’re starting to get on my nerves” I just wanted to grab you and hug the livin’ daylights out of you!!! I’m so proud of you. Why? Because standing up to people when they do wrong is something I’ve never been able to do, and you DO do it, Cat. Dammit, it’s so awesome. And you enabled someone else to stand up to her, too. When one person comes forward, others become empowered and become stronger.

    Okay, now that anger issue. You and I are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. You hate feeling that emotion because it takes you to places of outbursts or self-destructive places. I hate that emotion, too, because I shrivel up and feel terrible weak. Feeling angry would be empowering to me if I could learn that it’s a useful emotion. But, I guess I become a blabbering fool and sound crazy (on the occasions I’ve allowed myself to go there) and I’m not proud of myself! I know you’re scared when those feelings toward your parents are turning to anger. And that’s why being valued in your therapy group is critical right now. You need to spill this stuff out. Maybe with this last group session and more than one of you standing up to Frankie, she’ll take note. I sooo hope!

    Well, I’m sorry for blabbering on so, but after last weeks session, I was so miffed at Frankie, and to hear you stand up like that–I just know you’re moving in the right direction, Cat. We need anger to power through some things. It’ll be a victory for both of us to learn how that works! ♥

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    1. Cat Post author

      It wasn’t until I came home did I realise what her final comment to me was, “I hear what you’re saying, but I might not do it any differently in the future.” I thought, shame on you, Frankie and it might just be something I’ll bring up this week at group 😉

      I am never shy in speaking my mind, as long as I am not overwhelmed by anger. However, I don’t want to get caught up on that stupid woman and miss some of the work I should be doing on myself.

      Thanking you for your support, Mandy 😉

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      1. mandy smith

        Of course, Cat. I try to be supportive and then sometimes get caught up in my own emotions. I think her response was very insensitive because it really invalidates your feelings. How about talking it out–her listening to what you are needing, and then explaining why her way is best?
        Don’t I just want to live in a perfect world? :-O

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        1. Cat Post author

          I didn’t think you got caught up in your own emotions, you were merely mirroring my own and that’s helpful. I will need to wait and see her responses on Frid. Thank you, Mandy 😉

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  2. Priceless Joy

    I wish I had some kind of magical answer for you but I have had to deal with a great deal of anger lately myself. I am finding though that I will feel intensely angry to where I have steam coming out of my ears and once that steam has been released, I can be okay again. I know that sounds cartoonish but that is really what I feel like. It’s like I have to feel it, get over it, and release it.

    I’m glad that you and Paul are having good one on one sessions. I think that is important. Frankie sounds like she needs some more training/education before she leads a group.

    I’m sorry you have had to be dealing with so many tough emotions lately and I do hope you feel better now that you’ve seen Paul.

    On a different note, I put out the FFfAW out early today. Have you seen it yet?

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    1. Cat Post author

      That sounds a healthy way to process anger, Joy. I just seem to frazzle inside. Well, I can’t pay too much attention to Frankie and miss time on myself. It’s an intense therapy programme and we were warned some weeks would be difficult. They are productive and positive and that is the main thing.

      Yes, I did see this weeks prompt

      Thank you, Joy

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      1. Priceless Joy

        I saw your suggestion about putting a blue frog on my post for the FFfAW and I wasn’t able to write you back because my iPad locked up on me. I finally had to go in and delete some apps. Phew! Finally, I can get on the internet again. It happened right after I left the comment for you and I am just now able to get back on.

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    1. Cat Post author

      The anger is a nightmare, I just fall apart and nothing can depress me more… supressed anger is the root to a lot of depression.

      Thank you 😉

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  3. therabbitholez

    Frankie’s job is to listen and encourage, it’s imperative that group members be allowed to speak, many of you have had no voice at all for so many years and by peeling away the layers it allows you to give voice to your thoughts, so well done for standing up for yourself.

    Anger is a natural part of depression, and that too must be allowed to be expressed, with your therapist Paul this will happen in a controlled way, more importantly your entitled to feel anger, you’ve suppressed it for so long it will come out allow yourself those feelings, then in time you can begin to put all the pieces in place on your road back to life.

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    1. Cat Post author

      It’s going to be one of the biggest challenges in therapy. Yes, you are spot on about Frankie’s role, but she needs to deal with it herself, I have little room for her.

      Thank you for your feedback

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  4. sensuousamberville

    Where to start….
    Standing up for yourself is awesome, demanding more from your therapist in group is outstanding, as I told you before, you are healing, looking for more, sorting and analyzing. You want to move forward now, become annoyed when you coast. This is great.

    If possible, always praise in public and scold in private, it goes much better this way and builds relationships, we don’t force the scolded person into a defensive position. Perhaps Frankie will take the message, as two of you delivered it… uhm.. quite clearly. 😉 …but notice I did say if possible. If a reality check is in order to avoid the group’s time being wasted, a what the heck may be in order.

    Are you able to meet with Frankie in a quiet corner after group? To go over something that may have ruffled you up? It would be good if this was allowed, sending you off with something bubbling in you is only going to boil over, a misunderstood look or comment that can be clarified or even one that was just wrong… it is good to go over these before leaving. It is constructive feedback for Frankie and just all around constructive for you. That is the goal of the group, yes?

    Displaced anger is going to be an outlet to memories surfacing, so we bounce back to “forgiveness” to help disperse that anger, again, not forgiving the action or even the person, we went over this. We can’t control the memory but we can control the anger, the reaction. Pause, breathe, Don’t let the anger cause you to react. The memories are difficult to relive, to understand and sort. Rage is a valid response, listen to it, but don’t let it direct you.

    *super big hugs*

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    1. Cat Post author

      HI Amber, lovely to hear from you. Yes, I feel that shift happening within.

      I agree about praise in public, scold in private, but unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk outside group, not even to the leader. We do have a “check out” but some still seem to leave with baggage.

      I will try my best not to allow anger to be in control and I love, “listen to it but don’t let it direct you”, sound advice.

      Thank you, Amber

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  5. myspokenheart

    Good job! You are doing so well Cat and I know you will come out of this amazed at both your growth and your new found freedom. Just don’t fall into the trap of playing the why didn’t I do this sooner game with yourself. It’s pointless. You weren’t ready before and timing is everything.

    ((HUGZ)) Andrea

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you for your encouragement, Andrea. It is so easy to wonder ‘why not sooner’, but I try not to think like that. I did try therapy in the past, but it was never the right time to face what I face now.

      Thank you for your feedback, always appreciated 😉

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    1. Cat Post author

      It seems many of us are afraid of anger and I wonder how much is to do with not being allowed to express it as children. Thank you. I do keep looking on your blog from time to time, but it only directs me to your gravatar. Hope you’re doing ok 😉

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  6. cardamone5

    I know how disconcerting unresolved emotions coming to the surface can be. If you’re anything like me, you feel the emotions, but are unable to express them very well or at the right people (even in absence.) The compulsion to deal with the feelings presses on you until you become so anxious, it is unbearable. Recently, I have been contending with grief that I thought I was ready for, and then my reactions/poor choices indicated how out of touch with myself I was. Basically, it sucks, but it is necessary to heal (or so they tell me.) I wish you fortitude and peace as you process your emotions.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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    1. Cat Post author

      I am a lot like you, Elizabeth, with expressing those emotions… they come like a hurricane swirling beneath the surface. Maybe we’re not so out of touch with ourselves as we think, as we can only deal with these emotions bits at a time.

      Thank you, Elizabeth

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  7. kat

    you did awesome. that was the exact thing to do, the exact way to do it, and just stick to your guns if it happens again. it feels so good to do this (confrontation) of what we need properly. and it isn’t mean, or angry. it is what it is, and it needed addressed.

    i too have issues not reacting and standing up for myself properly, esp toward any authority figure. my ‘normal’ is to be so angry i spit fire and scream and yell. but i have been working on this, and now more than not, am able to calmly just state that i feel i am not being heard, and things go so much better and are resolved so much easier, and in the way i want.

    here’s to both of us staying calm and getting what we need. cheers!

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    1. Cat Post author

      You’re right, it wasn’t done with anger or meanness and it really did need to be addressed. The challenge will come if she continues not to respond. However, I keep telling myself that the rest of the group is supportive and that’s the main thing for me.

      I like the “I feel I’m not being heard” statement and I will try that one next time!

      Thank you so much, Kat

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  8. Jinx

    I’m sorry you are on such a difficult journey but it sounds like you have great self awareness and that will truly help you in the long run. I really empathize with the displace anger. Mine is anger with myself and turning it onto others. It sucks but at least we know where it’s coming from and we can continue to work on it 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      My anger is exactly the same as yours and, I agree, at least we continue to work on it.

      Thank you for your feedback, always appreciated 😉

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  9. borderlinefunctional

    As hard as this whole thing is I think you’re doing tremendously well, opening up with Paul and being willing to explore extremely difficult past trauma. I hope that your client/therapist relationship continues to strengthen and that you truly benefit from it!
    It sounds like Frankie really likes thinking she is important and helpful but has some serious gaps in her knowledge and abilities to support the group and facilitate healthy sharing. I am very proud that you told her how you feel and am not surprised that others in the group are feeling the same way. I hope that their expressions of frustration can help you to feel more confident in your assessment that when she questioned your admissions of abuse it was certainly a reflection of her poor coping skills and not of your credibility.
    I don’t know how the group’s structured but I hope that if things continue with her behaving as she does that there is some option for you to go above her and potentially change the dynamics.
    Re) the anger – I think it is perfectly understandable that it’s coming to the surface at the moment and I understand being afraid of it. I hope that you can talk to Paul about this and get his advice on ways to healthily release your anger and / or manage it as it comes up.
    Wishing you well with it all!
    Aimee xxx

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Aimee… I think Frankie does think she is important and helpful, but she’s so caught up on what she wants to be, she evidently misses what IS. I hope it’s not necessary to go above her head and maybe she will respond appropriately by shutting her mouth up!!
      I see Paul today and will discuss the surging anger.
      Thank you for your support and understanding.

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  10. littlevoicetalks

    I’ve experienced a few therapists like this and wondered just exactly what I was paying for. Seemed at times they were in therapy talking about THEIR stuff and I used to feel outraged inside.
    I guess there is a position of power that may be fed being the facilitator of a group and I guess when she has dealt with clients with such issues, a kind of arrogance can build, that she can orchestrate and highlight why everyone is feeling the way they do but actually she might well just be loving the sound of her own voice. Definitely a power trip, definitely sounds like she knows more about you all than you do. One therapist I had the fortune to have spent many hours with told me ‘you are the expert on you.’ True, true. I just never realised it at the time. So Frankie, stick a sock in it love, let other people have some airtime xx

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    1. Cat Post author

      I think she attempts to impart her knowledge onto everything people say, but sometimes we’re not looking for words of wisdom or even possible solutions, sometimes we just want the space to feel totally pissed off. Unfortunately, she might not get this, but I’m not about to allow her to ruin my experience. She’s not all bad, but I’m lucky to feel affinity with most of the other group members, I can easily ignore Frankie, which I do most weeks, anyway 😉
      It’s always so good to have a good old rant and read other people’s take on the situation… yours is always very insightful. Thank you for commenting

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  11. fromthedarkintothesunshine42

    You blow me away cat your inspiration to talk up and explore is growing massively, even though it’s never nice!

    I continue to be inspired you give much courage to me to face my own challenges and own up to my anger…
    thank you for being around and sharing. .
    Love lisa

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    1. Cat Post author

      Awe, thank you, Lisa, we seem to inspire each other. Anger is an incredibly difficult emotion, but once I start to look at it in therapy, it isn’t the monster I feared. You seem to accept those challenges, so I’m sure you will also get through the anger.

      Thank you for your feedback

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  12. peggyricewi

    I have always found anger to be a difficult emotion for me to express. You mentioned that perhaps it comes from not being allowed to express anger as a child – interesting thought. My dad is completely non-confrontational. My mom lets her anger brew and stew and grow…and then explode. So I feel like I never had any healthy example of how to express anger in a way that was constructive for me, that I could learn from. My therapist has helped some, but I still find myself feeling guilty, even about anger that is appropriate and justified.

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  13. myskinblues

    I didn’t know my “displaced anger” had actually such a name!
    Very interesting point, I do tend to engage in such a behavior, too, and I think it may have something to do with my huge difficulties in managing anger in general, so that I have to “dilute” it and “distribute” it someway.
    Anyway, I’m glad that you made your point during group therapy. It is always important to address one’s own concerns, especially in such contexts. There’s always time to get better at the “emotional managing side”, then 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      Anger is a very difficult emotion to deal with and it is so easy to direct it onto something else.

      Thank you for commenting. How are you doing?

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  14. Tracesofthesoul

    Good on you!! That took a lot of courage to say what you did!! And it sounds like some of your group members feel that same. That is actually a good thing…group cohesion over time…awesome. If someone told me I talked too much facilitating a group, that would be something I would consider seriously. As a group member myself, when the leader talks too much, I zone out. I hope you`re proud of yourself!! Cheryl-Lynn

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    1. Cat Post author

      If someone told me I talk to much as facilitator, I’d be mortified and try to change it, but I’m not so sure she will…. time will tell. Thank you for your comment 😉

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      1. Tracesofthesoul

        Well I’m not saying I wouldn’t be a bit embarrassed. But even in phonecalls on our helpline, I was once told that I should give the caller more space…I heeded that advice…we need to be reminded and not always act like “experts”. The callers are more experts of their lives than I am and if I want to empower them THEY have to talk and figure it out. It is a humbling experience but it is helpful to learn how to be the best that we can be. Again, kudos for your courage:)

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        1. Cat Post author

          Telephone couns is a little different to face to face. I worked in drug rehab for many years and telephone couns lines. Today’s group went a lot better and the Therapist seems to have taken things on board, but then it leaves me feeling a little guilty because I’m sure it must upset her in some way. Thank you for your feedback, it helps a great deal

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  15. Glynis Jolly

    BRAVO! What you said to Frankie was right on cue and said just right. I wonder how many of the other members wanted to openly applause you. The woman appears to have some serious issues of her own that are preventing her from being decent at her job.

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  16. Karen Beth

    as you may know Cat from some of my own writings on therapy I have always stuggled with anger in session … anger is one of my most difficult emotions to express, it’s because anger = abuse in my past and it scares me to death.. I can’t even see others get angry without being triggered.. I understand

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    1. Cat Post author

      I find anger self-destructive and, yes, I can see how it connects to abuse in childhood. In our household, anger was insolence and usually merited punishment, so it’s easy to see the connection, but I have only been able to make sense of that since being in therapy.

      Thank you, Karen, it has been really nice to hear from you 🙂

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