i am a survivor

I have a therapist. Her name is Sarah. Every Tuesday night at 6:30, Sarah and I get together for a little pow-wow we’ll call therapy. I wonder why. Actually, that’s not true.

My therapist wonders why.

Last week, while I was talking about something that was triggered by something else, Sarah asked me “What do you need? What is it you hope to get from me right now? I don’t understand what it is we’re working on here.” I’m sure that for alot of people, these questions and comments could have directed the chat in several different directions. For this person, for me, two things happened. I stopped talking and I went completely numb.

The last little bit of this session is a blur for me. I only remember being glad to get out of there. Three days ago I kept my pow-wow appointment with some trepidation. I told her I’d been thinking about what she said and that I had no clue what I needed. I wanted to know if that was odd and she refused to answer my question. (of course she did…my pow-wow’s are not for her to give me answers…i’m supposed to figure my answers out for myself, duh)

She continued by telling me how long I’d been seeing her for our weekly pow-wow and that I seemed to be stuck in a certain place, unable to get through it or past it or something. She told me that the week before she had felt some kind of ‘pull’ towards me but didn’t know what that was about and that’s why she asked what I needed. She said it seemed like I didn’t want to get past this place and this next part is almost word for word…

“You seem to want to be stuck in victim mode and not move to survivor mode. You harbor such strong feelings about your grandfather and he’s been dead for years and years. You seem to think about these things obsessively and I don’t want you to think about these things anymore. I want you to have some closure, some freedom, some life without this heavy load on you. I don’t know if this upsets me because I feel inept or what but I’m really not sure how good a listener I can be for you right now.”

As I sat there thinking, I said “I am nobody’s victim anymore. I am a survivor. If I were a victim, that would mean my grandfather wins and I will never allow that to happen.” I looked at her for a few moments, took a deep breath and told her “If you really feel this way, perhaps it’s time for us to do something else.” She asked me what I meant by that and I told her it was probably time for me to move on because I should not have to defend myself or question what comes out of my mouth while I’m there.

There was more. Alot more. I just can’t write about it right now. Maybe this weekend. Maybe not.

I learned today that I have rheumatoid arthritis. Oy.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. and Whoa. I’m sorry about the RA. AND. It would appear Sarah has helped you all she can. That is about her limitations, not about you. We all have limitations. I wish Sarah had had more grace about coming to this place with you. I could say a lot more. I’m sorry this was handled the way it was, Traci.


  2. I agree with what Susie said. Speaking as a therapist, I know that there have been many times that I knew I had done all I could for this person or that one. I believe I handled it with more poise … I surely hope I did. But it is OK to move on, for you both. Traci, the good thing is that it shows growth on your part. You’ve matured, and Sarah has either stayed more static or perhaps she has moved in a direction that put distance between you.

    Think about her comment about remaining in the victim mode. I don’t know quite how she assesses that, but try to not take offense. If you can, try to figure out what it is that make her feel you are stuck. It may well be that she reached her own peak of efficiency, but on the chance that she is seeing something you, or I, or Susie, or whoever, hasn’t recognized, try to step over and see what she meant or what she sees. As you said, her job was only to help you find the answers, not give them to you. Each therapist has his/her own way of doing that; it sounds as if her method has become ineffective to you, but perhaps she has brought you to a place of self-assessment that will enable you to comb through the rest of the session and understand her actions. Please understand, I’m not saying that you did anything wrong … but if you can possibly look at it from her perspective, it might help you to see the issue.

    I don’t know … it may just be “thunk, we’re done.” I hope not. But some therapists run into a brick wall, and they retreat without tying up the loose ends. I think I never left a client without making it as clear as possible why I was terminating the relationship. Therapy is a rather messy business at times. Good luck.

    BTw, I don’t have the impression you are stuck in the victim role. I’m not there, but . . . .

    And I’m so sorry about the RA. That stinks. I wish you the best of luck with treatment. And I’m sending two hugs … on for RA and on for inept therapists.


  3. Hi, Traci. I don’t see you as a victim. Not at all. Why does hitting a tangle mean you are a victim instead of a survivor? I don’t understand that. As long as you are working for yourself, you are a survivor.

    This next bit is just me, please ignore it if it does not apply, ok? I was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis (very different from RA) seven years ago. It was quite painful and I was scared. I declined traditional medical treatment, as it seemed too damaging. I went with natural treatments. It helped without putting the rest of my health at risk. A couple of years ago my shit hit the fan psychologically. I couldn’t run anymore, you know? I noticed even more improvement in my arthritis after I got used to crying, screaming, ranting, raving and venting my anger (that I didn’t even know I had). It seems that the more willing I am to let my emotions out, the better off I am. I don’t think I would be able to do this without the therapist that I have.

    I am seven years from diagnosis, with NO traditional treatment and 95% of the time, I am not even aware that I have arthritis (and NO, it’s not because I ‘forgot’, lol). Maybe RA treatment could be greatly helped by a deeply supportive therapist. I have noticed that I am better able to get in touch with and work through stored emotions when I can really FEEL the strong support of the therapist. That said, my heart goes out to you, Traci. I had a misunderstanding with my therapist a few months back. It really threw me and I’m glad we’re back on track. Whatever you decide to do, I’m cheering for you.

    You’re a survivor.


  4. Posted by jomama on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:32 am

    I just discovered your blog today and I am so glad I did. Your writing is so touching and real.

    I was trying to find an email address so I could tell you how much this post moved me. Your blog is sometimes painful to read (in an emotional way, not in a bad writing way), but I appreciate your honesty, strength and introspective wisdom and look forward to reading more.


  5. I followed a link from Susie to find you and this post made me sad then really pissed at the therapist. Sometimes we’re just stuck because we’re stuck. Sometimes we (I) obsess about the past because something has thrown me currently, something’s reminded me, etc. After 10 years of therapy (with an excellent therapist), and eight years since therapy, I still have times of obsession about the past and feel unable to leave everything behind. It’s been years (and years and years) and yet some days the pain feels fresh and permanent. And if someone wants to assume I enjoy the victim stance, then too bad. I am a survivor doing the best I can.

    Hang in there, honey.


  6. I came here from Susies site. I haven’t read much but this post. So far, from what I see and the comments from 2 therapists, you’re a very good person and just have things to deal with. It sucks. I’m sorry for what you have to deal with and I don’t even know what it is. I just know from my own struggles that sometimes are much more difficult than others.

    The way the therapist spoke to you sounds very harsh to me. I’m not a therapist, but I’ve been to a couple of them- still with one- and I can’t imagine that would be the way he would speak to me ever.

    Best wishes to you.


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