Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tonight Grace feels validated and cared for...

Today was a healthier day for me. Much more so than the past couple of weeks. DT called me this morning and we arranged to meet at her office at 1:30. I wasn’t sure what to expect during the appointment, but I had decided that whether we decided it wouldn’t work or made the decision to continue working together~ I had to be okay with the conclusion that resulted. As I’ve said before, I am afraid to stay and afraid to walk away. I have been holding onto this hope that has seems to be falling like sand through my fist. And my frustration level with our communication was still sitting at “F” ~ full.

So, let's go right into the appointment recap, shall we?

Grace sits down on the couch in DT’s office and says, “I know that my expectations are unreasonable, and I know that I’m not being fair to you. But I want you to be the way you were before, and I can’t seem to get past that. And because I can’t get past it, frustration and bitterness are growing inside me at an alarming rate. “ Tears begin to form in Grace’s eyes.

DT replied, “I know that you want me to email you at night, like I used too, but I do not have the availability and I have struggled with setting boundaries that are agreeable to both of us. I have told you that I will email twice a week and you know that you can call me until 10:00pm and I will try to be available to you.”

Grace rolls her eyes at DT before replying, “I hate talking on the phone! And it’s not easy for me to find a private place to talk to you with the kids and with dear husband lurking around.”

DT is quick to offer a solution, “You can go outside.”

Grace is quick to negate, “I can’t because dear husband will follow me, he watches me like a hawk making sure I’m not going to dive off the balcony or slice my wrists. And historically, when I talk to you on the phone he interjects his comments and then I’m arguing with both of you. And to add to that, if I express anger toward you and he hears me, he thinks you’re not helping me at all and tells me I should quit seeing you.”

“Well,” DT states optimistically, “Dear husband can come to an appointment with you and I can explain to him what we are trying to do…including boundaries and privacy when you call me at night.”

“I can’t make him come to an appointment,” Grace says with an air of defeat in her voice, “And you know I hate the ‘phone contact’ thing anyway…so I’m afraid he and I would both be arguing with you, and I don’t think that would be fair to you – if we gang up on you.”

DT sighs, “So, Grace, tell me what would work to help you feel like I haven’t abandoned you.”

“I don’t know,” Grace says, voice cracking, but trying hard not to cry, “I get so scared at night and you used to be here for me, and now you aren’t there and I’m scared and I can’t feel you there so I get mad at you for leaving me.”

“But you know that you are safe, Grace,” DT says softly, “What about the recordings I have done for you, can you listen to those? I’m happy to do another one for you if it will help you.”

“But when I get that mad at you for not being with me, then I can’t listen to your voice,” Grace’s voice sounds childlike, “And I know I have other supports...dear husband, friends, but at night, when we're scared, little Grace only wants you. She needs you to be there! And I know you have your boyfriend now, and the time you stopped emailing me coincided with the time you told me when you were at his house and he had no email so you couldn’t respond to me, so in my mind you left me behind to fend for myself, because you want to spend time with him and you no longer want to help me. We feel abandoned now."

“Grace,” DT quietly speaks her name, “I do want to help you, and I have not abandoned you. I struggle sometimes. I want to help you, and I’m educated and knowledgeable, but sometimes I question whether I am helping you. I know you're hurting and I know how hard you’re trying, I see you struggling, and I want to help you…I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I want to be honest with you, there are times I cry at night because I too struggle. I want to help you and sometimes I’m not sure what to do.”

Grace looks at DT and she wants to believe her, with her whole heart, she wants to believe her, and she’s glad that DT was honest and real about her own struggle, but Grace is still skeptical and afraid.

DT continues, “I want to be able to work through this with you, I want to find a middle ground, but I cannot commit to something that I won’t be able to follow through with. That would hurt you more. Emailing you twice a week is workable for me, and I have agreed to do this. Sometimes that is a struggle for me too, what to say to you in email ~ I want to validate the good things you're doing and I also want to acknowledge the pain you're in and it’s a delicate balance because if I say the wrong thing, it could, and has, caused a very negative reaction from you.”

Grace takes a folder out of her bag and hands it to DT. “Here are some examples of how you made us feel safe at night. Here are some of the things you said to us. You told us you “hear” us, and you are “with us…in person or in spirit”, Grace continues, despite the lump that has formed in her throat, “And if I was having a horrible time, you would offer to meet for an extra session. You never do any of that now.” Tears are now visibly falling down Grace’s cheeks, so she turns her head away, still feeling shame and embarrassed when she cries in front of another, even DT.

“Grace,” DT voice sounds calming, “You know if you need an extra session I am always willing to schedule that for you. That has always been an option. But lately you have been cancelling your regular appointments, which is something you have not done historically."

Five year old Grace answers, “Because I'm mad at you for abandoning us! And I don’t want to ask you, I’m not good at asking for what I need or want, and I never had to ask you before, you offered! I never asked. It doesn’t matter, I don’t know what will help. And I’m so afraid. I can’t do it much longer ~ the nights. I’m scared and overwhelmed. His voice is always inside my head, I can feel him in my body, it hurts so much and I can’t make it stop. And the only thing that works now, now that you’re not here, is drinking and ativan and klonopin. And I’m afraid I’m going to die, DT. Not on purpose, but I’m afraid I’m going to take too many drugs and drink too much and I’m going to die.”

“If you call me and tell me you’ve been drinking and taking and excessive amount of antianxiety medication, I will call 911 and send someone to your house,” DT’s voice isn’t as calm now. “Grace, you know I had to set limits. Your safety is my number one priority and there were times I wasn’t able to access your safety via email. You know how many times I would come home at night, and open emails to find pictures of you cutting and bleeding. I couldn't sleep at night!"

“Well, the phone isn’t any better,” Grace says defiantly, “I won’t call you. I won’t do it! And I’ve only cut once since December. And that was after I got off the phone with you and I was mad and I cut my thigh in the bathroom before DBT class.”

“I know,” DT replies, “Did you tell DBTC about that?”

“No!” Little Grace responds, “I wouldn’t tell her. Why should I?”

In an effort to provide some validation and acknowledge the improvement in SI that Grace has exhibited recently, DT says, “I know you aren’t nearly as destructive to yourself as you have been historically. And you’re doing much better expressing your anger outward rather than turning it in on yourself and little Grace. I know you’re drinking much more now. And you shouldn’t drink on the klonopin. Have you told PDOC about the drinking?” DT asks.

“Yes,” Grace says flippantly, “She knows I drink and when she gave me the klonopin she told me I couldn't drink when I take it. But I do anyway..."

DT wrote a note...probably to call PDOC and tell her about the the alcohol/klonopin combo.

An idea comes to Grace, "Maybe it would help if you could give me a picture of you.” Little Grace says, without looking up, “Maybe I can hold your picture and talk to your picture and feel like you’re really here with me.”

“I can do that.” DT agrees, and goes on to add, “I know it hurts, I know it seems so hard right now. But you have to realize it’s going to feel harder right now because you aren’t disassociating as much, you aren’t cutting yourself, you’ve decreased your vomiting. You are more present. You are living through the pain in your own body now, instead of ‘going away’ as a way to cope. I know it hurts so much more right now, but it’s actually good that you’re doing this. You are making progress, as much as it may not seem like it to you. And I am still here. I have not left you. And if this doesn’t work, then we re-evaluate and re-negotiate next week.”

Time was up, but DT added a last comment, "Grace, I'm worried about your drinking."

And Grace replies, "Me, too."

Little Grace wanted to HUG DT at the end of the hour! But Big Grace decided not to let her because she’s still afraid of ‘touch’.

Tonight Grace feels validated and cared for by DT. Pictures received and DT even offered to give Little Grace a t-shirt. … Gawd! I sure hope that woman grows up some day!

*No alcohol and No anti-anxiety meds steps...


  1. Awww......that melted my heart....Little tears in my eyes. She really cares about you, you know?? I do understand how difficult nights are, and how difficult separations from our T is. I have been through that with mine where I just have this need to make sure she's still there. So strong is that fear of abandonment that we see it and sense it anywhere in places where it does not exist. And it tends to effect the relationships we are most dependent on, thus it is our therapists we fear losing the most at this time. What you and your system are going through is a tough time. All of you are attached to your therapist yet fear she will not "stay". It is a reasonable fear. It is common for survivors, but it sounds like she has all intentions of being with you for the long haul.
    Secret Shadows
    PS---I have a picture of my therapist, too. I also have a stuffed animal she gave me, her voice on my voice mail, emails ( I save all the emails we exchange), and one stuffed animal that is exactly like the one in her office. Oh, and a healing stone she gave me. There's probably more.
    You take're not alone.

  2. Thank you for your comments...and the validation that i'm not a complete freak for the way I feel. I also have a 'healing' stone she gave me, and she has made me relaxation recordings on my mp3 - and I too save her emails. The "logical adult" Grace knows she cares, but the 5 year old is so scared she will leave us, and the angry Grace looks for any sign of abandonment and lashes out in anger at all of "us"..."see, I told you so!" It's so hard to find a balance...but so far today, I am okay...of course it isn't dark yet *sigh*
    You take care as well....
    ~ Grace

  3. Grace, I am so very glad you met up with DT and that it was a reassuring t. Yeah, those little Gracie's are the hardest to over come dear. One day, one day. Blessings and safe hugs to all.