You know all the difficulties I’ve had over the years with transference and Therapist 1.0? Well today, I finally started both to really, properly understand it, and work on it, with Therapist 2.0. It’s been frustrating the hell out of me, because despite the distance of over a year now, I still find myself desperately missing 1.0, and when I’m feeling more vulnerable, will still go online in a half assed attempt to bring myself closer to her. But, it never works. If I do happen to find something out about her, it brings momentary relief but is swiftly followed by overwhelming guilt and shame because I shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, so I end up feeling worse than before.
Here’s the thing though. Apparently, all this effort I go to to find out about her, to set her up as being the only one who can really fix everything – it’s yet another way my subconscious has come up with to avoid feeling feelings. We talked about it quite a bit today. I start to feel sad, or lonely, or vulnerable, but rather than being able to sit with those feelings, I put it onto her. So instead of dealing with whatever emotion it is that may be causing the problem, I ignore it in favour of looking for her, and when I can’t actually get what I want (because duh, she’s not my therapist anymore and there’s only so much you can glean from someone’s profile picture on facebook) I push the emotion away. Fun fact about emotions though – we can’t ignore them, because if we don’t acknowledge them, they don’t go away. They stay there, and they keep trying to break through to the surface, so we can do a couple of things – do what I’ve been doing for years and resolutely ignore what my emotions are trying to tell me, or, try something new. Try and sit with it.
That’s what Therapist 2.0 had me do today. As we started to explore the ridiculous tangle of emotion I’ve attached to 1.0, I started to get upset, and that’s when we spotted something else that I do to avoid feeling – I stop breathing. I quite literally hold my breath until whatever emotion it is has been safely locked down again. But no more than pushing it away onto Therapist 1.0, deciding not to breath until it goes away has the same end result. It will invariably come back to bite me in the ass. Today, she didn’t let me away with that. She had me sit, find where the emotion was in my body, and let it out. It was scary as hell. I cried, and then I cried some more. I don’t like feeling strong emotions. They’re overwhelming and I’m afraid I’ll never come back out of it. I’m ashamed of showing strong emotion, particularly in front of someone I don’t know. I expected her to laugh at me, to tell me I was being ridiculous, that I was making a fuss over nothing. She did none of these things. She sat with me, and helped me stay with what I was feeling. This morning was every bit as overwhelming as I feared, but it didn’t break me.
What I really took away from today is that when I don’t breathe, I’m avoiding feeling. If I avoid feeling, I’m going to keep pushing it out onto Therapist 1.0 and I’m never going to be free of the cycle that’s been plaguing me for so many years now. So this week, as well as continuing on with showing myself compassion, I’ve to try and notice what it is that triggers my need to reach out to 1.0. If I find myself thinking of her, or looking for her, I’ve to take a step back and try to identify what emotion is there – name it, find where it is in my body, and sit with it. I have to teach myself to have the strength to sit with pain, and know that it will pass. I have to learn how to support and comfort myself.