Marie: An Email I Sent to Carl After Our First Session

Posted By: on December 30, 2014
Feedback about first therapy session

Editor’s Note: This is part 5 of Marie’s story.

This is an email I wrote to Carl after our first session:

Hey, Carl –

I wanted to provide a status report (that’s what I call them) in preparation for next week’s session. 

I’d like to give you feedback on our first session . . . mostly that I am very, very pleased with how it unfolded.

There are many things you did that are helping me feel welcome, “seen” and “heard”:

  • made a point of recalling bits of my biographical information
  • kept track of the questions I had asked and if you had answered them yet (you kept better track than I kept)
  • assured me you do create notes at the end of the session
  • shared little tidbits about you and your life

So . . . thank you, thank you, thank you! Those gestures are much appreciated and they mean a lot to me.

In another direction . . . I was thrown for a loop when you dove right into the very tender areas of my history. I was not expecting that in the first session.

However, I felt relief when you did so. Those areas have been festering for so long and I am so ready to clean them out. Those areas really hurt and it is past time to work on healing them.

For the past two years, I worked so very hard to get the other two therapists to go there with me. Once in a blue moon, I was able to set the pain in the middle of their path so they couldn’t help but bump into it and talk about it with me. But, for the most part, they went everywhere but there.

I’m glad you are approaching those issues with direct questions. It lets me know it is okay for me to go there with you.

Have you ever been so exhausted that, when you do finally get to the time and place you can collapse and sleep, the sense of relief is almost overwhelming? That is what I’m feeling right now as I think about what is possible in our sessions. I’ve been holding it all in for so long . . . it is awesome to have someplace I can start letting it out.

So, thank you.

And . . . onto yet another direction . . .

Concerning my inability, at the very end of the session, to tell you about the “movies in my head” . . .

I was hesitant to tell you what I am going to tell you. I was afraid you might act like my previous therapist. I thought it might be safer to just not tell you.

Then, I realized I would be dragging my history with Mark (my previous therapist) into our relationship if I withheld information because of fear.

So, I’m choosing to tell you. I do believe you will take what I say as I intend it . . . based upon the little I know about you, I think you will handle it just fine. 

So . . . here it goes . . .

At the end of our session, I told you that rape, pain and violence are associated with arousal for me. It has always been that way for me since before I even understood sex. It is difficult for me to admit because it goes against my basic nature. This topic, this area, is by far the most shameful and most painful part of my story. I have never told anyone the details; I’ve only talked about in general terms. It feels like I will surely die of shame if and when I talk about it in detail with another human.

This ties into what happened to me in our session . . . so, back to our session . . .

As I was in the midst of telling you about the sexual abuse, I began to feel overly vulnerable. I started to look for a way out of my vulnerability. And I found one when a thought crossed my mind: you might be moving into sexual topics for your own gratification. That stopped me in my tracks.

Then, I “poked a finger” into your energy to test your intention – I could feel no such thing was happening.

I could feel your motives were pure.

So, here I am fighting this internal battle. My logical mind knows it’s all okay. My emotions tell me I’m opening up, and becoming vulnerable —  too vulnerable too quickly. I’m not able to tell you all this yet. So, I continue to look for a way to avoid sharing my vulnerability. And, again, I find it:

When you asked about the “movies in my mind”, and then moved in your chair, my mind found a way out of sharing. I internalized your movement to, again, mean you were inappropriately interested in what I was about to say, and that gave me permission to freeze up and protect myself.

A moment later, I again felt your motives were pure, and I was able to say a few things more to you. But, there’s no way I could go into the real story yet – I’m too fearful.

For what it is worth, I experienced this very same fear with Dr. Barb and with Mark the first few times we talked about sexual stuff. In both cases, it passed within a session or two. So, I logically know it is about me, and my history, and not about you.

I also know the fear would have come up even if we had delayed talking about sexual stuff for a few sessions – because Dr. Barb and Mark both waited a few sessions . . . it didn’t make a difference.

I don’t want you to change anything you are doing – I mean, I don’t want you to back off of the very tender areas. I need to “go there” – sooner rather than later.

I just need for you to be aware of the internal battles I’m fighting.

I hope this makes sense.

Thank you . . .

– Marie

Other posts in Marie’s series:

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