Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’

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Today I had my session and I had this whole plan of what I wanted to cover.  There were three things on my list, but I realized that the third was pretty big, and I was so proud of myself for recognizing that it wasn’t realistic to expect to get to it this session.  (It was definitely a premature pat on the back.)

Well, I got to the first part of the first item.  So much for planning out a session!

One of my recurrent fears is that by telling Mama Bear the details of the abuse, I will harm her in some way.  We have previously talked about how she knows how to take care of herself.  Yes, the work is very hard, but she has ways to make sure that she gets what she needs, in order to stay healthy.  She couldn’t have been working with severely traumatized clients for 20 years without figuring this out, otherwise she would have burnt out long ago.  I understand all of this, but that fear keeps on rearing its head.

So today, she said, “It keeps on coming up.  Let’s pay attention to what this means to you.”


Pause as I thought.

“What are you thinking about right now?” 

“I don’t know if this happened while I was working with you or with L (my 2nd therapist), but I really needed for my mother to understand what was going on and to support me.  One of you suggested that I copy part of The Courage to Heal and send it to her to read.  When I asked if she had read it, she told me that she couldn’t, because it was too painful for her.  My thought was, ‘You think that it is too painful to read, what about living it?!?’”  All of this was said very calmly, even matter of factly.

When I told Mama Bear the first part, I had glanced at her and she had her normal, caring expression on her face.  When I finished, I looked up again, and saw that she was struggling with something.  When she saw that I had seen, she said, “I’m sorry, I am just really struggling with my reaction to what you said.  I know that your mother loves you, but at the moment I am just furious with her!” 

For a second, I was taken aback, because she so seldom tells me what her reaction is, so I knew that it had to be a strong one.  And suddenly I felt freed to begin to feel the emotions that I had bottled up inside of me.  Loss, betrayal, sorrow, fear, and yes, even anger.

At the end of the session, she asked me, “How was it for you when I told you about my reaction?”

“It was validating.  It helped me to accept that I wasn’t asking for too much from my mother and that my reactions to her failing me again were actually reasonable.”

By the book, the session is supposed to be about the client and not about the therapist’s reactions.  But by her being fully authentic and sharing a reaction that was so strong, I found my way to the feelings that I just wasn’t connecting with.  Sometimes “rules” need to be broken.

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