“Well, we could have you bring food into session, and you can practice eating in front of me.”
I tried so hard not to let her see my panic, but she saw right through me. She stayed silent, and I remained quiet too as I attempted to lower my heart rate into a normal zone. Finally she spoke, “I think we need to address the issue of you and authority, or more specifically, your fear of authority figures. It just seems like anytime I push you or even suggest something to you, you curl up into yourself. So we need to change how we do things in here. What are your suggestions on this?”
I shrugged my shoulders. Honestly, I didn’t know.
“Okay then, here is what I think we could do. From now on, you are in charge of all the therapy sessions. You get to decide what it is we talk about, and you are going to do all of the talking. I’m going to sit back, listen, and I’m not going to interject. The entire session is yours. You’re in charge. And I’m not going to save you. If you decide not to talk, I’m just going to sit here and stay quiet. That’s up to you. Yes, actually. I think that is EXACTLY what we are going to do.”
I cringed. I’d rather do just about anything other than what she suggested.The idea of one hour monologs and being thrust into the spotlight like that made me want to cry. I tried hard to come up with a good counter-argument or a different suggestion to the one she had just proposed, but I couldn’t think of anything.
“No! Please no. I promise I…” I looked at her face and immediately knew that she wasn’t going to change her stance nor was she going to argue with me. I buried my head into my knees, “Just please no.”
When I got quiet she started to speak, “This is my fault. I’ve allowed this dynamic to go on for too long. Danielle, I’m not your father.”
I felt like I’d been hit in the chest. I wanted him there, but she wasn’t him and I knew that.
“I know” I whispered.
“Okay.” She stood up and so did I, “Well next week you’re in charge, alright?”
My eyes stayed fixed to the floor. I bit my bottom lip for a moment before shrugging my shoulders and sighing, “Yeah, okay.”
I made it out into the parking lot before a rush of angry tears began to make their way down my face. How could she do this to me? She was ruining everything. I didn’t want things to change, and for the first time ever, she wasn’t giving me any say in something that had a direct impact on me and how I felt. She wouldn’t let me play out that relationship with my dad anymore. Her office was the only place left where I felt tied to him, and she was forcibly taking it away. It was the last bit of him I had left. What’s worse, she knew exactly what was happening. She knew what she was doing and what she was taking. She also knew that I was hurting. A lot. Even if I didn’t show it to her.
I never told her how that day felt. I logically understood the importance of what she did and her ethical responsibility to do so, but emotionally it was still really difficult. I struggled quietly with what felt like death, and there were many nights with tear stained pillows. Maybe I should have talked to her about the transference and my loss and confusion, but I was too ashamed and embarrassed to do so.
Several months later, I’m just now beginning to fully comprehend how important that change was for me as a person, but also for the therapy process. And to be honest, I’m really glad she made that decision. She once told me that she would never take something away without having something else to replace it with first. I feel that at that moment she literally pulled something out of my hand and held it out of my reach so I couldn’t have it again. I was completely oblivious to what she was placing in front of me in exchange. It took awhile to see it, but now I do.