It’s been weeks between posts and I’m now nearly halfway through my 12 counselling sessions. They’ve not been easy, and every Thursday afternoon I decide not to turn up that evening. But I haven’t missed a session yet. And I’ve been on time for every one. Moira, my counsellor, interprets this as me being strong and caring for myself. I think it’s probably got more to do with needing to be ‘good’ and not get in trouble.
I’ve had talking therapy before, and yet still I’d forgotten just how hard it is. How much I hate it. How I always feel more miserable leaving the room than I did when I stepped through the door. After my first session, I felt completely drained. After the second, full of rage. After this week, session five, I was overwhelmed. I knew I was depressed, that I’ve been feeling low for a long time. What I didn’t know is how deep those feelings go.
Moira is a good counsellor. Probably the best I’ve had. And I like her. But trusting her is another thing completely. I haven’t trusted myself enough to be honest about how I feel. Alone, with no chance of anyone hearing me, I can’t say out loud the things that are in my head. So trusting her enough to put those words in the space between us is a big project. I’ve spent five hours of my life with her. Or rather, just over four hours, since we have 50 minute session together. I’ve spent more time with acquaintances on a night out. Why should I trust her?
She’s an expert at building that trust, or ‘rapport‘ as it’s probably better described. And yes, there’s a lot more trust between us after four hours than I would have with an acquaintance on a night out. But it still takes longer than that. And sometimes, the empathy that builds rapport can also create a barrier to opening up.
Yesterday, Moira verbalised that she was feeling an overwhelming feeling of guilt and suggested that if those feelings were being transferred to her, it demonstrated the strength of my experience of that guilt. I was glad she told me, and I understood what she meant. Body-centred countertransference is a concept I know well from my own work. When she said it, it helped me acknowledge the strength of my feelings and accept that they were real. But here’s the thing about guilt: it also made me feel guilty. Guilty for transferring that to her, and scared that I had no control over that transference.
I have another six sessions with Moira. In that time, I want to work towards being able to open up to the people closest to me – and specifically my partner, P – in a healthy way. But what if meeting those needs for myself, what if that process of opening up, actually hurts someone I love? What if I pass on my guilt, my anger, my rage? And if I transferred those feelings to Moira, without me having really opened up, what will happen to her if I let it all out?
So I find myself nearly halfway through my allotted 12 sessions and I’ve barely started saying anything that’s really real. I worry that I’m setting myself up to fail. I’m opening the floodgates, and I’m going to leave myself stranded.
And the most perverse thing? I don’t want more than 12 sessions. I want it to be over as soon as possible. I hate doing it. But I believe it’s helping.