Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bad therapy

In French, the origin of rejeter is more obvious than it is in English. Jeter is “throw”, and re is … um, “re”. That's “back” and “throw”. Or “again” and “throw”. In English, “throwback” is something entirely other. But in a sense, it isn't, either, is it? Because when I feel rejected, it calls up all this rolodex of bad memories from the past. It's a throwback feeling.

The word, at least its etymological roots, suggest something more violent than it really is – we are rarely actually thrown, I hope. But it still feels that way. Our brains respond to it exactly as they would to physical pain. It makes rejection something worth avoiding.

A year and a half ago I stopped seeing a therapist I'd been seeing since before cancer. I went to her because of my sugar binging (which she never took seriously) and my difficulty organizing my career (about which she never proved helpful.)

By the time I wanted to end the relationship, I found that she and I had gone down different paths. She had not understood, since at least half a year ago, why I found all of my reading about Asperger's syndrome so comforting, so affirming (more on that another time), and I generally found her suggestions unhelpful. Redo my website by the next time we meet? Seriously? Anyone who has ever done, or redone, a website, will know what a tall task that can be, logistically and emotionally.

Other things bothered me, such as her suggestion that I consider meditating (I've been a serious meditator since before we flipped the millennium) – and that I needed anti depressant pills (even though I really didn't want them at that time) and that I was resistant to therapy and was likely to have conflicts with any therapist (as though my reluctance to accept unproven authority figures was a fault) and that I complained too much for too long ... okay, I can see that last one.

My favorite, though, is that she said we should have stopped the sessions a long time ago, but she had needed to deal with counter transference, to whit, her imposing her own relationship issues on me. Wha...?

She listed everything in the paragraph above (and then some) in the last session we had, just after I told her that I didn't want to engage in therapy any more. Talk about a doorknob surprise.

I had wondered about the usefulness of the therapy sessions before, testing the waters to see what I thought, what she thought. I guess that was my own, ignored, warning that I should have gotten out of there, fast.

One and a half years ago, when this unfortunate ending took place, I was sad sack me. Crying, anxious, a complete wreck. My friends helped, a lot. They propped me up from my quivering, twitching, disturbingly dusty and full of cat hair place on the floor. They listened to me cry, question my worth, wonder if there was something seriously wrong with me. One suggested that it was like a bad break up, another said it would be comical if it wasn't so not, and another suggested I ask for my money back.

The thing is, it was rejection from someone I no longer wanted to hire. Interesting, right? Rejection from those we ourselves have rejected still hurts!

I have only one choice about the pain, which is that I must absorb it and move on, but I have a lesson I can learn for the future. If I take seriously the “throw back” version of rejection, then I should be grateful for rejection. Because if I never got anything back, I would live in a vacuum. If I never got anything back, I wouldn't know which path was the right one. 

I'd like to emphasize that it's not being me that's getting thrown back. 

Bats! Here's an analogy: echolocation. If I don't hear return squeaks, I won't know where the walls are, and where there's beautiful night sky.

I have no complaints whatsoever.