I went into this session so optimistic. I’d done so much work and was excited, not to be patted on the head for it, though I certainly wouldn’t have turned that down, but to find the perimeters of the wall I’ve been hitting and start finding ways to break it down. The work I did in the intervening week to dissociate less and focus on myself more had been both successful and interesting in ways I hadn’t anticipated. On the one hand, being more productive at work felt good and necessary. It didn’t fix my work situation, and it didn’t completely eliminate either of those issues. It did show me that the dissociation had a very clear purpose, as does focusing on others. Both are protective, which I knew, but I hadn’t realized how much turmoil was happening in my brain just under the surface. I wanted to process some of that in session. Instead, my therapist decided to return to methods we’d already discussed not working for me at length.
After walking my therapist through my attempt to dissociate less, how it’s been going, and the limitations of that attempt, she walked right back to square one and asked if I wanted to sit with the part of me that dissociates.
I admit, I didn’t call her on it, and I should have. I was a little taken aback. We’d had this discussion just two weeks before and yet she was offering me the same tool that we’d already established simply didn’t work for me. It’s a bit like offering someone a Phillips head screwdriver when what they need is a flathead, then insisting you’ve handed them the right tool. I was being asked again to use a technique that is ill-suited to my needs and issues. While I can appreciate that’s likely worked for clients of hers in the past, it just isn’t for me. She knew that, and she went back to it anyway.
I tried to move past it and started in on how much I focus on other people rather than myself and getting my needs met. This was another situation in which I’d been relatively successful, but had found it difficult to maintain when people were clearly upset. It was one thing to focus on getting my own needs met when it was a relatively quiet and chill afternoon, and another when two doors slammed simultaneously at work and I could hear screaming from both offices.
We had half of a productive conversation about that topic. We started scratching the surface of protective coping strategies and their limits when she went right back to the same ill-suited tool.
I can admit that trying to envision the part of me that dissociates or the part of me that focuses on others might well be a good way to be vulnerable in session. Maybe there’s an alternate timeline where I understand how to use that tool to my advantage and use it to take the hinges off long-sealed doors. I am not in that timeline. Instead, I felt like it was beans dad day on Twitter again, and I was sitting with an authority figure determined to make me use a tool without ever explaining how.
I left that session feeling like I was going to have to figure out how to dissociate less and focus on myself more on my own. That’s not out of the question. I’ve certainly puzzled out worse behaviors and ended them on my own before. The question becomes, if I’m going to be doing the work on my own, why am I still showing up to these sessions?
I’m going to have to rethink whether this is the right therapist for me. While I’m sure she’s done amazing work with other traumatized clients, I’m just not sure I’m ever going to be one of them.