A Letter to My Therapist, from a Client Struggling in Therapy
I arrived at your door for the first time almost five months ago. I was incredibly nervous. As I usually do I tried to pretend I was fine. Somewhat ironic given the circumstances. I had made contact with you before your summer break and waited to see you on your return. In those four weeks I had yoyo-ed around.
I had worked myself into a panic in the days beforehand by trying to succinctly answer the question I expected you to ask about why I had come to see you. I hadn’t been sleeping for weeks and had been struggling to see what the point of my being was. Nights crying were standard fare. Intellectually I could see patterns repeating but didn’t see why - and a whole raft of things, some of which had happened more than ten years previously, had begun swirling around my head again. I felt fundamentally a bad person.
I am used to telling everyone: I am fine. I had to be. I didn’t actually have any other words to explain how I felt. I see now I had been quite skilled at hiding in busy-ness, in work, in extreme physical exercise and in being needed by others.
Now, five months on, I want to say thank you. I can now sit up straighter and look at you rather more often than I did that day; still uncomfortable, but much more aware of myself. I have felt gawky and awkward on the handful of occasions I have even touched on how important seeing you is to me. I still get pangs of insecurity and guilt that I am wasting your time and can barely look at you in those moments I know. The realisation in these past few weeks is that for the very first time in my life I can begin to talk about my shame, my sadness, my loneliness and, most of all, my confusion about myself. I know I have veered off for some sessions talking about work when really I wanted to talk about something else. Thank you again for bearing with me.
I am so glad I yoyo-ed into coming that first day, although often I feel exhausted, emotionally drained and frequently want to rush home and curl up under a rug after a session. Sometimes my thoughts after we’ve talked are all encompassing and I don’t know what to do with myself. So thank you also to Harriet Frew who penned ‘To My Client Who Is Struggling in Therapy’. This so accurately describes the daily mountain I feel there is to climb to just ‘be’ and makes me less scared the very strong desire I often have to run away when difficult thoughts spin in my head.
I look forward to our next session. I always do. My challenge this week is to tell you this letter is from me.