Last week, as well as the model for describing emotion, Therapist 2.0 gave me a handout about ways of describing emotion – what the prompting events, experiences and actions of different emotions look like. It was to be my homework for the week because identifying my emotions is something I often have trouble with. The more I read it, the more I realised a few things. One, what it is I felt/feel for Therapist 1.0, two, just how ashamed I am of that feeling, and three, how completely that shame came to dominate my behaviour.
It’s hard to actually get the words out on this one. I’ve been drafting the post in my head all day, but now that I’m sitting in front of the laptop it feels excruciating because I still can’t make sense of it. Let me show you a list of prompting events for feeling love:
- a person offers or gives you something you want, need or desire
- a person does things you want or need the person to do
- you spend a lot of time with a person
- you share a special experience, together, with a person
- you have exceptionally good communication with a person.
Do you see where I’m going with this? I felt, for the longest time, that I was far too dependent on Therapist 1.0. I talked about it with her. I talked about it with my psychiatrist. There were many, many conversations about transference with both of them. The problem is, I was so intensely, overwhelmingly ashamed of that dependence and need, that I was never able to name it for what it was. Love. She was at various points over the years my husband, my mam, my dad, my friend………and yet she was none of these things, not really. The intensity of it though, was and still is very, very real. I was in knots telling Therapist 2.0 about this today, because it all just feels so horribly, shamefully wrong.
As we talked about it, a couple of things became apparent. From the very day I met Therapist 1.0, I was afraid that she would reject me and tell me we could no longer work together. It occurs to me as I write this that maybe that fear of rejection is the reason why I couldn’t identify what I was feeling as love, that if I had told her, it would cause her to freak out and tell me to take a running jump. So I pushed it down, pushed it away, repressed it. Therapist 2.0 explained something else to me today as well. When we repress emotions, they don’t go away. They intensify, and they keep coming up. So the more I felt I needed her, the more I tried to push it away, the more intense it became, the more ashamed I felt, the more I feared rejection………….oh my god it is all so unbelievably complicated!!!
The primitive part of our brain that feels emotion doesn’t understand boundaries, or transference, or therapeutic relationships, but the more evolved part of our brain that logically understands these concepts doesn’t understand the emotion. In my head, this need, this love was an abomination. My brain labelled it as wrong, shameful, and tried to bury it. But emotions won’t be buried, not for long, because we cannot control them. We can control what we do with them, but only if we can recognise and acknowledge them.
So now I know. All those complicated, confused feelings were love. Does it change anything? Yes, I suppose, in so far as there was relief in talking about it, in naming it, but mostly in the fact that Therapist 2.0 didn’t bat an eyelid when I told her. On the contrary, she helped me to understand – how could I not develop these feelings towards someone who helped me so much, for so long, at my most vulnerable? Someone who heard the very worst of me and didn’t judge me. Someone who showed me unconditional regard and compassion. Who wouldn’t want that?
I think the problem in all of this isn’t the fact that I felt love for her, but rather that I fully expected to be rejected, and experienced such intense shame for feeling something that as it turns out, is completely natural and makes perfect sense.
I wasn’t going to write about this because I was so unbelievably embarrassed and ashamed. But then I realised that those are the very reasons why I need to write about it. Hiding it, even from myself, all these years, has caused nothing but pain and hardship. I still don’t understand it, not really. It’s taken me over two hours to write this post, and I’m absolutely exhausted. But this is progress, for sure.