Observing the Emotion

So much has happened in therapy, but I’m having difficulty stringing appropriate wordsth9Z4WPL2Y together that best describe what’s unfolding. It’s probably best to split it up into three separate posts over the next few days, as I begin to unravel what all of this means. I’ve decided to start with the most bizarre and confusing of them all. It happened at my individual session with Paul on Wednesday.

I always arrive with some kind of an agenda, but Paul threw me off course by bringing up something that also involved us thinking about the end of my treatment programme in December. This was unexpected and the emotions even more confusing.

Since the start of this programme, everyone has been encouraged to ‘observing the feelings’. I cannot profess to understand exactly what happens when we do this, but I can testify that it does ultimately bring some degree of healing. In the past, I’ve called this ‘spontaneous healing’, you don’t quite know where it’s coming from, but you know when something powerful is happening.

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I sat rather uncomfortably with Paul on Wednesday, observing the intensity of this humiliating emotion. I do have a huge problem with being unable to cry in private, so blubbering in therapy is off the agenda. Nevertheless, in between fighting back the tears, we were able to explore what was behind the emotion.

As the weeks have turned into months, and I continue to reveal bits and pieces of myself to Paul, his responses are what strengthen my trust and respect. However, I do not seem to experience the same attachments as other people do with their Therapist. Does this mean I will never progress as well?

I simply see our sessions as a professional agreement that has a beginning and an ending, with our time currently in the middle, therefore abandonment issues do not seem to feature in there. I am also reluctant to give much thought to our ending, when there are so many other issues to explore in the nine months remaining.

thRMM5OZB2There is something about therapy ending and a sense of aloneness, which seems to invoke powerful emotion. The thought of going back to life before therapy is very frightening. Is it possible? The isolation can be inviting and I was never strong or motivated enough not to fall into the warmth of that safety net.

When I started this programme, I held it up on a pedestal because I wanted it to be the be-all and end-all of my recovery. At the very first session with Paul, I said, “I want this to be the last time I ever need to go through therapy.” I am not so sure that will be possible.

I am worried for the future. It feels impossible to achieve a new life while living with PTSD and Agoraphobia and even less possible to recovery by December. There is a real danger of life becoming aimless again, returning to the black hole, and this is usually a downward spiral. I wonder if this is what made me so emotional.

The truth of the matter is, I don’t know what’s around the corner.  When I consider how far I’ve come in nine months, who’s to say how far I will go between now and December. Fear can make us imagine all sorts, but it can also fuel us forward in times of great need.  That’s where I need to look, forward.

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36 thoughts on “Observing the Emotion

  1. mandy smith

    Oh Cat, I so feel your fear of the unknown. I’ve been there–I’m there now!–and it’s so unsettling that it take our focus off doing “the work” and we just go to a state of panic with questions: “What’s going to happen to me if things CHANGE?!!” I know this sounds so off topic, but I understand that now, parents taking their kids to Disneyland (or wherever) don’t tell them ahead of time. They pick them up at school with bags pack and say, “we’re going to Disneyland NOW!” Why, because the minute kids are told something’s going to happen–even if it’s 9 mo away, that’s ALL they focus on. Can’t do their homework, can’t sleep, can’t focus on the now. I think it happens to adults, too. Obviously, 9 mo is a long time away, but bring it up, and it’s right around the corner for you. I so get that!! Right now, take a deep breath. Good that you can work through this here–take all the time you need. Maybe you’ll have something lined up for further therapy IF you need it in 9 mo. Paul will help work it out. Hugs to you my friend!

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    1. Cat Post author

      That is what it is, a fear of the unknown, but I am fairly determined not to allow it to take focus away from what I need to work on in the present, well, that’s my intention, anyway. I may need to think about Trauma Therapy, but as I already said, that’s 9 mth from now, if at all. The other thing is that before I started this therapy service, I always had the Mental Health Team to fall back on, but that isn’t an option now and neither would I want it to be. It’s just that feeling of aloneness again

      Thank you, Mandy, your support helps me along 🙂

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  2. Ellen

    Well, it seems like a lot to be emotional about Cat. Maybe starting to feel more emotions is a good thing for you. I do wish also your therapy could last longer – two years is not long for major obstacles, is it.

    I think all kinds of therapy can be helpful, and they don’t have to be attachment based. And seeing that this is strictly time limited, it’s maybe a good thing you’re not hugely attached to Paul. He does seem very competent – starting to deal with leaving and ending is a good idea, and a lot of T’s would not encourage it. Dealing with it the week it happens would probably not work well – too stressful a time, and no time anyway to get into it. You seem to be using the time you do have well.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I think you’re so right there, Ellen, I even wondered at one stage if I was just feeling emotion because everything just seems to be….well, emotional. There were other difficult emotions just coming to an end, which I’ll write about another time.

      Yes, Paul is very comfortable with sitting with the difficult emotions and never tries to make me feel better by offering solutions. I don’t see the point in becoming overly attached to the point of feeling devastated, but maybe that’s an issue for therapy 🙂

      Thanks, Ellen.

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  3. Priceless Joy

    I would probably feel as you do if my psychiatrist told me “such and such will be the end of your therapy.” Truthfully, it would be downright frightening! I would become emotional. But once I thought about it, I might be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That maybe there are better things waiting at the end of therapy. I suggest writing down all the things you are feeling about this and talking to Paul about it next time you both meet, unless you have a better idea. Well, maybe I’ll understand more when you post the other posts you are referring to regarding this therapy.

    Hope you are having a wonderful evening!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, writing down the possible why’s could be helpful, Joy. The end is a scary place, but in many ways, we learn a lot from that too.

      Thank you always for your support!

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  4. littlevoicetalks

    And maybe come December you will be ready to go it alone and the isolation won’t feel like a viable path for you anymore. It’s a toughie. Do you think you may be a little more attached than you think because trust doesn’t come easy and you respect this man and his awareness? Regardless, human traffic and movement is difficult to adapt to. There is a rhythm in having a routine and people featuring in our lives whether it’s once a week on a Thursday or annually at Christmas. I guess loss can be felt in many ways, not just the person but the prospect of loss of your recovery.
    I think you’ll be ready Cat. You are determined and courageous in what you’ve put out there and the journey you’ve embarked upon to live a more connected life. Time to have faith that you can do this …
    X

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    1. Cat Post author

      I have wondered about the attachment. I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever experienced a healthy attachment and maybe wouldn’t recognise it if I tried. It’s all very intriguing, really, and may even add up to the loss of everything, not just Paul, but the group therapy as well. Yes, I am determined and hope I can be courageous. Thank you for your encouragement

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  5. Tracesofthesoul

    I wrote a long response and not sure if it went through…darn:( Sending you healing hugs, Cat. I don’t think everyone leans on their therapist as a lifeboat. I know I didn’t when I was in therapy. I did need guidance but I could float…barely, but I could. Keep reflecting, journaling and sharing…any major questions you may have bring them to your therapist. Does this make sense? Oliana aka Cheryl-Lynn

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    1. Cat Post author

      Oh no, I hate it whenever those long comments vanish into cyber space….gggrrr.. I checked spam, but I’m afraid it’s not there. What you say makes a lot of sense, Oliana. I have been questioning the relationship with T a lot in recent weeks. I was holding back in the initial months, but I just cannot see myself feeling any closer than I already do. It’s a professional relationship that will end, so I don’t fancy becoming overly involved… I’m not sure that would be in my nature, anyway. Journaling and posting help immensely and very often I explore in writing and conclude in therapy, if that makes sense. Many thanks for your comment, always helpful 🙂

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  6. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

    You sound very brave Cat, and it’s great that you’re thinking about how much you can achieve in the next nine months, because you really can. Endings have been very much on my mind as well – triggered almost certainly by the Easter break, amongst other things. I have been asking my therapist to tell me what it might be like in our last ever session. I find the thought completely inconceivable, very scary and very painful – the thought of losing her in unbearable. But at the same time I want to know what on earth it will be like. And I know no one can tell me what my own last session ever will be like, but I want to know how it goes for others. At the moment, I can’t even imagine it. Our therapy is long-term and open-ended, but she is my parents’ generation and she must be nearing retirement. Then there’s the possibility of ill-health to worry about. It feels as though it _will_ be devastating, even though I know that by the time if comes to that ending, hopefully things will have changed so much for me, that even though I will still be very attached, I may not have these obsessional feelings and I may be able to see it as growth rather than purely as loss. Knowing my time was very limited with Jane didn’t prevent me from getting incredibly attached and being absolutely devastated when things ended, and I’m glad if your levels of attachment don’t get to that place and if you can avoid that devastation. If you _do_ need more therapy after this, then having built up trust and a level of attachment to Paul, that will stand you in very good stead for knowing how to work on building a similar relationship with another therapist, and on recognising that from the start. Life without therapy _does_ feel scary, and perhaps when it stops feeling scary, or feels much less scary, we know we’re getting to the point where perhaps we don’t need it anymore….my therapist always tells the story of when someone once asked her how you can tell when you don’t need therapy anymore, and she instinctively said ‘when you don’t notice the holidays’……

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    1. Cat Post author

      I am quite sure I’ll be upset when it comes to an end, but that might be more about the entire programme ending rather than my relationship with Paul, although I imagine I will keep in touch with most of the people in group therapy. The T’s say that endings are a very important part of Mentalization Based Therapy, but I sometimes wonder who we should process this with, if the therapy no longer exists. Paul said many people start working on the ending weeks, even months, beforehand, but I’ve got too much work to do on other things.

      I like your T’s response to ending, “when you no longer notice the holidays.” Paul’s on holiday this week, but I’m actually quite glad. The last time he was on holiday, I had just let go of a lot of trauma and the time off was good for finalising that. Oddly enough, this time, I am just letting go of anger, so once again, his holiday coincides with needing that time. It intriguing how much we differ on this because I would be quite alarmed if I DID notice the T’s holidays 🙂

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  7. kat

    ah, the unknown. ya, in general, not too fond of it. scary, what with all the unknown rules, how to do things, absolutely terrifying, really. but then, some of the unknown places are something really worth it…like marriage, or deciding to move to costa rica for the rest of your life. they are terrifying too, but in a much more positive way, where its worth trying even though we don’t know the rules and how to do things to get there.

    working in therapy is good, and it is no longer unknown. tackle as many issues as possible. finishing therapy is also good. but after that, well, it is unknown and terrifying too—but could be great, wonderful–and will be worth it to tackle it also.

    these unknowns seem to be unsurmountable…and often that keeps us from trying. but you are strong, you will try, and you will succeed. you have succeeded to reach this point already. you will chip away at it, and you will get what you want. you will move on, and live.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Kat… Oh yes, I don’t usually do too well with the unknown, but we probably do learn the most from those times. I am quite sure you’re right about something good waiting at the other side of this ending. I still have 9mth to go, so it doesn’t feel right to overthink it too much. Thanks, Kat 🙂

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  8. Andi

    I think that therapy looks (and feels) different for everyone. So not feeling the same sense of attachment doesn’t mean you aren’t getting similar benefits. You have clearly progressed and your reluctance to end treatment shows that you may feel some sense of attachment to the treatment environment, even if not Paul himself. You are doing such great work – both in sessions and between session, as evidenced by this blog.

    I think observing the emotion, pondering it, and keeping an eye on the future are all wonderful ways to manage this. You are doing brilliantly.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Feeling an attachment to the overall treatment environment may well be right. Our blogs are amazing for maintaining that focus and learning so much from others. Thanks for your feedback 🙂

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  9. cardamone5

    Thank you for your honesty, and bravery. No matter what, you are real about your feelings, and that is a good thing. I am applauding you from afar, and wishing you appreciation of your many talents and gifts, in part because of your struggles.

    Love,
    e

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  10. Karen Beth

    I have been in therapy 8 years now … I have thought a lot about when the ending of my therapy will be, but I let that be something that happens when I am TRULY ready … its always a scary thought, but make sure you are ready when you are ready …. your feelings are true and right, but make sure to never rush out of something until you are ready to take that step.. do you feel Paul is pushing you, or is he giving you space to end when you are ready?

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Karen, lovely to hear from you! Unfortunately, the therapy I am currently in is an 18mth programme. One group and one individual session each week, so the ending is always in sight and I guess people need to work towards that. Thanks for commenting

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  11. Glynis Jolly

    I’ve never gone through a therapy program, at least not all the way. I started one over 30 years ago but I dumped it when the therapist decided there was something wrong with me not being able to cry after just 3 sessions. I am on medication though. The thing with me is that my emotional problems are from part of my brain not working; the nerves in there no long exist. I’m not like you. I’m always looking for the end of almost everything. You may need more therapy after this program, but please don’t sabotage yourself. ❤

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Glynis… that must be quite difficult to have brain issues causing emotional problems, at least I know where my issues originate.
      I may well need more therapy after this programme, but that’s what p’s me off. However, I don’t want to focus on the end and miss what I can achieve in sessions in the present moment… oh, did I really say that sensible piece of self-advice? 🙂
      Thank you, Glynis

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  12. therabbitholez

    I think the beginning and the end of this journey back to life(as I put it) are both equally challenging, at the start your expectations are different with just the desire to go through the process to see where it leads, however s you know to start that process takes a lot of courage to begin to address not only one problem but a myriad of issues.

    You have no idea what you may reveal or what the reaction might be therapist or yours, it is the unknown and your anchorless.

    As trust builds the relationship with your therapist is not without obstacles, as you say he is there to do a job with objectivity, but at the same time to build that relationship which allows you to open up, so therefore you can peel away the many layers to get to the root.

    Although it’s nine months away, the challenge is where will you be when this support ends, again this is unknown, recovery is the goal, but that has it’s own obstacles through as your having to re-learn or learn how to deal with your emotions more productively, and many things will have to be left in the past, so again there is that anchorless feeling of what to do next.

    The pieces have all been put back together though differently now to present this in your everyday life moving forward, all I can say is baby steps, you have completely step outside of yourself and the healing doesn’t stop when therapy does as you probably know, I say it again baby steps turn into bigger steps and so on, but allow yourself the time to do that, keep doing what your doing, build a network around you as support is key(you have it right here on this blog) and trust in yourself that you will make it.

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    1. Cat Post author

      There is so much unknown and the only way that helps me deal with it, is not to think about it! I don’t like the idea of thinking too much about the ending when it’s another 9ths away. Yes, baby steps are needed and I would never be as far ahead if it weren’t for my blogging-chums, like you. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment

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  13. manyofus1980

    Endings can be hard. I dont think its as easy as snap your fingers and your recovered. So if your not all the way recovered in 9 months time, dont fret. I know therapy might not be what you still want, but ptsd, thats life long. Unfortunately. Sometimes it rears its ugly head at the most awkward of times. I’m sure you’ll make great progress between now and when the programme ends. XX

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Carol Anne… I just need to wait and see how things feel in 9mths time. I was hoping not to need further therapy, but that might be unrealistic. Thank you for your ongoing support. Hope your day has been better.

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  14. fromthedarkintothesunshine42

    Wow 9 months away. .I’v felt the fear and rejection just as bad it’s scary the unknown. .and hell cat 2 and half years on iv had 3 therapist because iv never felt finished and utterly scared and attachment is massive for me i battle every one who shows they care I imagine my mom …

    Take care you can do it slowly and so what if you not finished in December you carry on..
    Love lis

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    1. Cat Post author

      This must be the 4th or maybe even 5th time I tried therapy. This therapist is the best so far, so I will stay put until; the 9mths are over. The unknown is always scary. Thanks for commenting, Lisa

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