Stuck in Therapy & Resistance

Everything was ticking along rather nicely in therapy, until circumstances took anthBPASDXP0 unexpected turn three weeks ago. I’ve managed to keep my head above the depression, but it has been difficult to write or read other blogs… my apologies. Thankfully, the worst of it’s slowly edging away like a stormy weather front.

I have spent months sharing past memories, edging through childhood trauma, recounting the years of sexual abuse, and trawling the effects of growing up with narcissistic parents has become one of the most enlightening and validating experiences of my life.

During those developments, my head felt as though it was in an endless chaotic loop. I steamrolled ahead and experienced a number of lightbulb moments along the way and even the odd bolt of lightning, but it was a relief to feel the intensity of the issues start to fizzle out.

I reached the end of that process and was surprised to feel completely empty, I still do. Last Friday, I missed group and then on Wednesday afternoon I dragged my stubborn reluctance along to my session with Paul, uncertain what we would talk about for 50 long minutes.

I’m still trying to understand what the terms, “letting go,” and “moving on” actually mean, which is one of the reasons why I came to blogging in the first place. I used to think they were two of the same; once we let go then we automatically move on.

My experience is that it’s not just about leaving the past behind and then skipping merrily on our way. To ‘let go’ is more about coming face to face with who I am in the present moment.

It seems to me that while we may recover from difficult experiences in our past, moving on from the emotional and psychological baggage does not necessarily happen simultaneously.

While I did recover from an attempted murder experience, it didn’t spontaneously change the PTSD and Agoraphobia diagnoses. It’s similar with childhood trauma, I may heal from the actual traumatic experiences, but it will take time to alter the effects that still ripple through my life today.

When I was thinking about this post, I googled “stuck in therapy” and came across a term I had not heard of before, “Resistance,” which is what we do to protect ourselves from our biggest fears. It’s when we convince the potential enthusiasm that something is not so important, when in reality, it is.

A perfect light hearted example of my own resistance – and I hate to make this admission – is my fear of creepy crawly spiders. I’m reluctant to admit the true extent of those fears because there are some big mother spiders in London.

untitled (2)When I lived with my ex-partner, if a spider happened to grace us with its presence, not only did I vacate the room, I would sit in my car until he apprehended the offender and then proved it.

Now that I live alone, I resist admitting my fears in the hope of conjuring enough bravado to catch the bionic blighters in a pint glass. If all else fails, I can eventually retreat to bed pretending I don’t care if the hairy-legged-mother successfully navigates its spiteful way into my bedroom.

That may well be a funny example, but ‘resistance’ can also take the shape of much more insidious behaviours, such as recalling painful experiences but failing to connect with the emotion, or having dissociative lapses in memory during therapy. Some people might rewrite history to protect whatever fear they resist the most, or decide we are bored or disheartened with sessions and then feel angry with the Therapists when we perceive them as a threat or believe they no longer meet our needs.

Apparently, we’re constantly grappling with resistance throughout our therapeutic journey. Sometimes there are moments of fluidity and clarity, when we embrace new realisations that were previously resistant to our fragile minds. At other times, we just don’t get it and continue to subconsciously battle with the things that piss us off the most.

Of course, most of us are not aware when resistance is playing tricks with our minds,th9EDMWIXO which is a rather daunting prospect. The thought of reaching the end of my therapy programme before realising I’ve been avoiding the issue that needs the most attention, is almost discouraging.

When I started therapy, I imagined letting go to be the conclusion, but it’s actually just the beginning.

Advertisements

49 thoughts on “Stuck in Therapy & Resistance

  1. edwinasepisodes

    Oh I am sorry that you have been struggling Cat, I have wondered where you were. I hope that you re starting to feel better now. You have been through so much that ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’ is not going to be easy. Keep going though, I am here willing you on 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  2. sensuousamberville

    Stagnation in therapy can have many triggers to make this so. Often it can be from life, or the progression of therapy has reached a wall, sometimes hidden or something powerful. So going out on a limb a bit, your light bulb moment, realizing about your parental NPD issues and how they shaped you, coming to terms, finally with the fact that this was not your fault or your doing, that you are and were not the blame for everything that occurred in childhood. Then the wall you built, sending your mother and sister the closure email, the I want distance email, feeling that it closed a part of your life off. Even if most of or all of this life is not pleasant to you, closing this door installs a deep feeling of loss. That the realization of why many things are so, why you feel the way you do about many things, has not made you suddenly feel completely healed as you perhaps expected. This was a huge moment though, and healing can and will occur so much faster, just hearing the words is not the same as feeling them deep inside, it took years to shape your schema, reshaping will not occur in a blink. But it can and will be Cat.

    When a patient becomes stuck, it is good to tackle it right away, try to discover why this may be so. What is good though, is when this wall is attacked and torn down, often there is a giant leap forward. Sometimes it can be a little thing, were a comment or action was taken out of context, it is always good for both the therapist and the patient/client to talk through the resistance. To discover its root. Your therapist, Paul, should have some good techniques to help you both through this Cat.

    Don’t give up! Has Paul noted the resistance? Has he talked to you about it? If not, don’t wait for him to pick up on it, bring it up.

    Therapy is many faceted, It only shines clear with openness though.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Through the course of writing this post, I realised a couple of reasons for the stagnation – avoiding feelings and fear of moving forwards. This resistance theory resonated so much, I just knew it was applying to my own circumstances and it probably comes in a number of shapes and sizes. I’m encouraged by the awareness. These things have the habit of popping up when I need to hear them the most and your comment really does make a lot of sense.

      I’ve been aware of a sense of loss surrounding the mum stuff and the no-contact request. Today was the first time I ever felt sad about it, although the resistance soon diverted my attention. I would never regret my decision and it probably does spell thee end for her and I, but maybe it’s still okay to feel sadness for the loss….mmmm.. just thinking out loud.

      Paul has never mentioned resistance; it would not be his approach. He is very person-centred Therapist and that suits me otherwise I might feel too challenged before I’m ready to face certain things. When I mentioned resistance, it was at the tail end of our session, but I could tell by his face that he recognised the significance of my discovery. I am fairly confident I’ll use it to my advantage, albeit a very scary one 🙂

      Anyway, thank you for your comment, Amber I always cherish your wisdom and professional opinion.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      1. sensuousamberville

        Thank you Cat, that was a very nice thing to say. 🙂

        You are becoming much more aware of yourself, your triggers and how to overcome them. I think you are discovering that therapy is providing you with healing tools that really do work.

        Like

        Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      That’s nice of you to say. It’s always bittersweet when someone relates; not so nice that you’ve experienced something similar, but it makes it feel worthwhile to write if someone says it resonates. The last cartoon is funny, so typical for most of us, I imagine.

      Thank you for taking the time

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  3. D. Wallace Peach

    Great insights, Cat. I am actually excited for you despite how frustrated you must feel. When we start seeing how our minds work, how our defenses and resistance protected us, we can start addressing them. They are our helpers, trying to keep us safe from hurt, but they can also keep us stuck. Insight allows us to see how they’ve worn out their usefulness. You might thank them for their kind concern, and then suggest they start packing their bags. You are stronger, not the person you were. The recognition of these dynamics is a signal that you are ready to take a closer look. Peace.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      While writing this post, I realised just how important and necessary this “stuck time” actually is. Learning about resistance can only be a good thing and I am confident of addressing the ones that need it the most, or most of them, anyway 😉 Awareness is always an exciting moment and I do feel ready. Thank you for sharing a part of that

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  4. Priceless Joy

    Once we get comfortable in therapy and comfortable with our therapist, it can be traumatic thinking about that comfortable relationship ending. When mine came to an end (about 12-14 years after it started) it seemed to be this gradual letting go and it wasn’t traumatic at all. It felt like I was finally well enough to be a part of the living. And I never thought of it as completely ending, I always felt they would be there if I needed them again and that I wasn’t completely “on my own.” In other words, the birth cord was never completely severed it was always “symbolically” there. I remember it more like “ready to go out on my own,” kind of like graduating from High School or College.

    You have shared a lot with us Cat and I appreciate your honesty and ability to do so. You’ve been a great friend to me and I appreciate that too. I’m sorry you have been in a depression. I knew something was up but I didn’t know it was that. I hope it is behind you now and let me know if there is anything I can do.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Joy… I suppose I am becoming closer to Paul, but I don’t yet fear the end. although I daresay this will change. I can’t imagine what it must be like to share your life with a Therapist for so many years. When I reach the end of my programme this time next year, it will be the first time in 15 years when there has been no mental health service around me. That feels a little daunting, but I still wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Thank you for you lovely words of friendship

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Priceless Joy

        Aww, so you have been in therapy as long as I was. I’m glad you feel the way you do – I personally think that is healthy. Since I started knowing you Cat, you have grown in leaps and bounds. It shows in your writing.

        Like

        Reply
        1. Cat Post author

          No, the mental health services aren’t all therapy. I’ve been in and out months here and there, but this is the longest, 2yrs. Thanks, Joy, I feel change, but still not altogether sure exactly what

          Liked by 2 people

          Reply
  5. kat

    i find i have the same experience as you are having now. i have been stuck for several months in therapy, because i was afraid of ‘moving on’ or getting ‘too much better’. because i don’t know what is going to happen to me then. i just realized that these fears are what was making me stuck. i have to build the template of who i will be based on who i have finally discovered is me now. and you are right, letting go and moving on are not always synched up. they are independent. good luck on your journey forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      That stuck feeling is so frustrating. I understand about not wanting to get “too much better” and you have good insight on that one. That was the statement I took to the Psychiatrist a few years ago, “I don’t want to get better, not if it means reconnecting with people, etc” Moving forward is scary shit, but I hope you manage to edge in that direction. thanks, Kat

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  6. Ellen

    There is definitely a difference between understanding the past and moving ahead in the present.

    For me, I’ve learned to respect resistance. Resistance can be trying to protect you from things you’re not yet ready to face, or where the cost of facing them would be too high. Spiders really don’t pose a danger, but some realizations do, at the wrong time. However, when the time is right, it’s great to recognize resistance and tackle it.

    From my perspective, two years seems woefully little time to tackle lifelong issues. However, maybe from your perspective, you see us as lingering overlong in therapy and not getting on with life.

    Glad you’re feeling more positive again.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Resistance is our best friend, and greatest foe! I doubt I could cover a lifetime of issues in two years, but I hope I can challenge the worst of it with Paul.

      Who knows what future therapy will mean or how long it will last. I’m not sure we can ever gauge someone’s progress by the time they have spent in therapy, 2yrs or 20yrs. I do imagine that it’s a much more complex process for those dealing with trauma and parts and I would think it would be a longer journey.

      Thanks, Ellen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. therabbitholez

    Recovering from recovery is not something your told about, which in its self I found very hard, you get over various aspects of your life as you’ve recounted here, but what next, your left in a kind of no mans land, a therapist once told me that’s when the real works starts, it didn’t fill me with joy because your talked out.

    It’s hard to to process and put all you have learned into everyday practice.

    I’m with you 100% on spiders, a friend wanted to take me to one of those classes and I reasonably thought I’ll live with this particular phobia, just the very idea of being in a room with a spider or even touching one was a step to far..lol

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Recovering from recovery is a good way of putting it. I have read that when you get to the end of the history lesson with the Therapist, that is where the real therapy begins.

      Thanks, Cay

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

    Brilliant, brilliant post, thank you. And I relate so much, in so many ways. I’m resistant to accepting the boundaries of therapy, resistant to grieving the past…..the list can go on. It’s such an important topic thank you so much for writing about it….. I’m really valued your realisations about what ‘letting go’ means. Sometimes just realising we’ve got a definition wrong ir incomplete, can make all the difference….. Take care….

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Awe thank you so much. I love how these theories pop up at just the right time in our therapy and the letting go realisation was kinda bittersweet, but it seems to make sense. Thank you for such a nice comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. Pingback: Memories of Violent Crime & the Feelings. | My Travels with Depression

  10. mandy

    wow, Cat. I never, before reading your final line, thought about “letting go” is not the end, but the beginning of the journey. That can feel overwhelming, when it’s taken so long to get to the letting go! At the same time, now that you’ve shed light on it, I think maybe it’s a good thing. Imagine never getting to the letting go stage? I say, let’s look at it as all-systems-go now. Knowledge is powerful, Cat. I know facing fears is a really tough thing, but all that you’ve faced so far? This is doable. I’m with you all the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      The realisation is a rather daunting one, but it’s very true, when you think about it. I’ve been doing a little reading and this stage seems quite common in therapy and very significant. I too believe knowledge is powerful, it was with regards to narcissism and I have every confidence in this beauty. But, yes, shit scared would sum it up nicely. Somehow, it just seems so wrong to have emotions about the past. I know that it’s the most natural thing in the world, but I feel guilty for having them. Cheers, Mandy, very grateful for your encouragement & support

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. mandy

        That makes two of us then, Cat-feeling guilty for having emotions about the past. Maybe when you’ve been told so many times to “get over it” and “move on” you feel ungrateful for having lived through things…

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  11. D.G.Kaye

    So nice to see you back Cat. We so often hear those words used lightly, ‘let it go, and move on’. Either those people struck it lucky in life and never had to endure any sort of abuse or they live in denial themselves. I believe that moving on is an ongoing life process. But I do believe you’re winning your battles Cat. You haven’t walled yourself up in a little hole. You seek therapy, and you write, which in itself a wonderful therapy. Many people can relate to what you write about, and that should give you comfort that there are many who can relate. It’s ok to move at your own pace! 🙂 Welcome back!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
      1. lynettedavis

        I agree. It’s okay to work through the resistance, but it’s okay to go at your own pace too. And it’s true that your posts help so many of us to understand what we’re experiencing in our own battles. Wishing you well.

        Liked by 3 people

        Reply
        1. Cat Post author

          Hi Lynette, yes, it needs to be at our own ace for sure. It’s nice to know that my posts might help someone else understand their own challenges. Thank you 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
          1. lynettedavis

            Oh yes! It also alerts us to the fact that healing/recovery is multi-faceted. I, personally, learn so much from EACH of your posts. I guess that old saying is right–it’s not about the destination but about the journey…

            Liked by 2 people

            Reply
  12. cardamone5

    I can relate to this post on so many points (resistance, wanting to let go, thinking I have and then finding I’m not even close, and of course, spiders.) You are doing a great job. If you are becoming aware of your resistance, that means you are on your way to recovery. Hugs from across the pond.

    love,
    E

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Ah Elizabeth, I’ve been looking for you! I sent you a message somewhere because when I tried to connect to your blog, it would only connect me with your gravatar, but oddly enough, I notice it’s okay now… how strange.

      I think there’s a lot of hype around this letting go. How can we completely let go of anything remotely traumatic? Perhaps, just by functioning, we are letting go and moving on.

      Many thanks, Elizabeth, great to know you’re still around

      Like

      Reply
  13. Pingback: Mediocre Therapy | My Travels with Depression

  14. Darque

    I can never thank you enough for sharing your journey with us – you are a true inspiration to me. I had to share this with my readers. I am on my journey, too, and sometimes it feels like there’s never any end – but it IS all about the journey.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Darque, thank you for such a kind comment and I am pleased you reblogged, it’s always nice to know my efforts are not in vain… sometimes I hesitate before publishing but people like you help me realise it is always the right decision to share our experiences. Hope you’re well

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Darque

        You’re welcome, Cat. Relating in ways that other people understand is always a nice bonus – the inspiration & motivation by others like you, that’s what keeps us functioning sometimes… Thank you for the lovely sentiment, too. We are struggling, but we continue to move forward, baby steps at a time… One of my signature quotes comes to mind: “I Continue To Survive ~ Dignity And Grace Under Fire ~ While Others Desperately Conspire In Vain To Make It Not So…”

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  15. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

    Reblogged this on Life in a Bind – BPD and me and commented:
    I love this post, by one of my favourite bloggers, because there are two very powerful concepts described within it, which resonate with me very much indeed.

    I have been, and continue to be, resistant to many things in therapy. I still struggle with resistance against accepting the boundaries of therapy; resistance against taking on board that I may have missed out on a type of acceptance when growing up that simply cannot be ‘made up for’, but must be grieved; and resistance against the possibility of mending my broken relationship with my parents. Those are just three examples from a much longer list.

    There has been movement in other areas, though – where, as the post says, I have embraced new realisations that I previously resisted. This includes, as described in a couple of recent posts, accepting the idea that I must ‘wait’ and be open to receiving what others have to give and to the possibility of developing self-validation, rather than constantly asking for reassurance from others.

    I think the most powerful lines in the post are the final ones: “When I started therapy, I imagined letting go to be the conclusion, but it’s actually just the beginning.” In some ways, ‘letting go’ feels so much like a loss, involving suffering and being left empty; whereas this post makes it clear that it’s not so much about losing something, but about gaining the ‘here and now’ – coming face to face with the person we are in the present. More than that, it makes it clear there is still so much work to do – we can let go of what cannot be rewritten but we can do an awful lot to mould the way we deal with what we have let go.

    I’m fearful that ‘letting go’ will change me – but perhaps it’s actually about realising that I have already changed. It’s not about leaving something behind, but about recognising the ways in which it still is, and may always be, present in some way. And perhaps it’s resistance to that idea, and accepting what that means, that makes letting go so difficult to do.

    Like

    Reply
  16. La Quemada

    In this post, you do a great job articulating a lot of what I have done through years of therapy, namely I have resisted dealing with the issues I most need to address. Several times I have run out of therapy sessions without getting to the heart of things, or maybe just opening them up enough to hurt me, but not with enough time to heal. Now, fortunately, I have insurance that allows me to go regularly, although with an expensive co-payment. And after literally something like seven years with my same therapist, we are *finally* looking at abuse that occurred early in my life. Even now I go back and forth about doubting whether it all really happened. I still often feel as though “moving forward” is only possible with denial and minimization. There’s a lot of acceptance work ahead for me, I think. At any rate, thank you for a thought-provoking post.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Opening up wounds just enough to hurt but not heal sounds very painful and rather familiar. I’m pleased to hear you’re in therapy. The acceptance work is huge, but I always wonder just how much of the painful memories/emotions we expect to heal before we feel we have “moved on” or “let go” I’m discovering that there probably will always be an element of all those emotions from childhood, but it is back to acceptance, one of the stepping stones for moving forward. Thank you for your lovely comment, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  17. Rob Alberts

    During my depression I kept and keep on bloggingin a positive way.
    Two times I wrote a depressed negative blog.
    Now it is hidden after a keyword.

    Loving myself and my surroundings is still difficult.

    Kind regards,

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Rob,

      I am not sure if I would necessarily call it a “negative” blog. Sure, it was an account of how bad you were feeling at the time, but that is also important for people to read and identify with, maybe not on your blog, but on many others.

      Sometimes it is so easy to think we are the only ones experiencing particular problems until we read of other people’s experiences, good and bad.

      My blog is my journey through therapy and I can only hope the focus will one day become as positive as yours.

      Thanking you for commenting

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  18. Rob Alberts

    Normally I write in a positive and optimistic way.

    I started a therapy some time ago.
    Because of insurance matters this was limited.

    Now I got entrance to another level with a different time limit.
    Starting within a month I am more optimistic.

    Thanks for your respons.

    Kind regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Your feedback counts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s