Monday, July 4, 2011

The Third Rail

Naturally I texted L after our last appointment. 

  Me:  Do you have time this Friday at 7:30am? 
           Things to hold my feet to the the fire about:  Why I think I shut down today.  Surprised that you didn't notice my need for drama.  Just thought it seemed obvious, not to me, but to you because you're way smarter.  Which makes me realize there's a lot of crap that I don't tell you and I kind of assume that you already know....I could ramble a lot more about this, but I think I'll hold off in order to build it up a bit more!

  L:      See you Friday at 7:30

When I pulled up to her building it's always a crap shoot who's there first, me or her.  Because we usually meet at 7:30am our cars are typically the only ones in the parking lot.  I prefer to get there after her, so I try to time it accordingly.  However this morning I arrived just as she was getting out of her car.  Crap!  I've been spotted, and now I HAVE to go in.  Of course not that I ever wouldn't go in, but I at least like the option!

She waits for me to walk into the building and up the stairs with her.  She almost always wears dresses/skirts, and she's a runner/hiker.  So as I follow behind her on the stairs I notice her amazing long, muscular legs.  She's a couple of years older than me, but she's in amazing shape.  Definitely hate her for that!

I really like our appointments on Friday mornings.  My usual time is Wednesday morning at 7:30am and it definitely has a different feel to it.  On Wednesday it's the middle of the work week, I'm dressed more business-casual, and my mind is typically filled with day-to-day crap.  I hate-my-job-stuff, partner-stuff, foo-stuff, the usual-stuff, and I'm typically a little more distant from L cause it's been 5 -7 days since we last met.

But Friday appointments are much different.  I dress more like myself, t-shirt and jeans.  This Friday, because I wasn't going into the office after I was in a t-shirt, my new-favorite pair of Tommy Hilfiger cargo shorts, and flip flops.  So totally me and so comfortable.  Also, because I've usually just seen L two days prior, we concentrate less on the day-to-day stuff, cause much hasn't changed, and our conversations tend to be much deeper.  Plus, it's only been a 48 hours since we last met, so my walls aren't as high. 

This Friday was no different.

She started right in on the text.  

We talked about why I shutdown.  That's one of the nice things about going twice a week.  I get to revisit things we talked about, or didn't talk about on Wednesday and I get to further explain myself.  Especially because I live in my head, so much doesn't get said.  So this time I was able to replay for her what was happening the other day when I felt misunderstood and totally backed away.  I also owned being misunderstood because I know I have every right, and the ability to say to her that her understanding of how I'm feeling isn't accurate, but that's not what happened.  Instead I choose to take 20 steps back.  This happens quite often, both here and in real life.

She asked if we could make a pact that when I start to shut down that we talk about it.  I agreed, sort of.  It's gonna be hard to not retreat.  It's a basic instinct, and a basic need for me.

We also talked about the third rail, or the moth-to-a-flame thing.  It's my fear of intimate, close relationships.  Like a moth, I'm drawn to the fire of connectedness, but it's also the fire that kills me.  (OMG!, as I'm writing this a moth flies through the open porch door and is circling me, what kind of sign is that???!!)

My partner M and I met a long time ago while she was working for me.  Yes, it was a modern day version of the office romance.  Except for us, two women, it was a little different.  It's a very, very long story, maybe a blog for another day??

Anyway, for me it was difficult for lots of reasons, but one of the obvious is ones  is that I was her boss.  Once we started dating we both agreed that she would need to leave the company, but while she was looking for other employment, she still reported to me.  So, in order not to feel like I was playing favorites with her, I actually went to the other end of the spectrum and was somewhat demanding of her at work. I expected more, and better from her.  It was a very difficult time for both us.  She felt like I was being unfair, which I was, but I was trying to compensate.  Or at least that's what I was telling myself. 

However, in addition to the work-boss-quandary-thing, I was also having a hard time accepting my feelings for her.  They were sooooo strong, some may even say too strong, but there's a lot more to the story, like I said, maybe a blog for another day.  But out of all this struggle does come quite a few very funny stories, and couple of poignant ones as well. 

When M, my partner, tells others our how-we-met story, she always likes to point out that I was a great boss until the day I told her that I liked her, and then things got very, very ugly (and complicated).  The moral of the story being that I'm nice to you and fun to work for unless I actually like you, and then all bets are off!

L and I have talked about my how my partner and I met-story, and I repeated the above to her on Friday.  And I said that's how it is with a lot of relationships for me.  Once a person starts really mattering to me it becomes too much for me.  I told her it's like the third rail for me.  As soon as I touch it, I get electrocuted.  Much like my relationship with her.  It means too much to me, it's too important.

We then talked about our relationship, L's and mine.  I really needed to let her know how important she was to me.  I know some of twisted thoughts (can you say transference??) have to do with my childhood and my mother.  I also know some of my fears have to do with ex-t-who-crushed-me(C).  But I'm also sure that some of it has to do with genuinely liking her, we really do have a great connection.  She agreed, and even threw in that along with the transference, there's even some countertransference.  When said that I looked up at her and asked 'Countertransference?', and she nodded her head yes.

Some day we'll talk more about that.....

She also asked me to talk more about what I was calling drama, and the need for it.  I told her I really hate that I used the word drama to describe the process, it's not accurate and has a negative connotation to it.  I still haven't found the right word but for me it's something that I need to, or tend to do to feel connected. 

Typically what happens is that I build something up inside my head.  To a point where I feel like I'm going to explode, or implode.  So when I finally start to tell L, the drama is that I can't just sit and tell her.  I pace, or move around alot in her office, or I sit in a different chair.  My movement feels dramatic, and my speech is very slow and deliberate.  Sometimes painfully slow. 

We talked about that for a long time.  She thinks that part of it may have to do with my need to 'honor' how important and painful it is for me to talk.  Like I just can't give it up, there has to be some sort of 'ceremony'. 

My text about 2 hours after our session:

Me:  Just in case I wasn't clear today, my relationship with C can't hold a candle to my relationship with you.

L: Thank you, very much appreciated


  1. When my t told me I could go back and see her at some point in time I was honest with her and told her it might not be possible for me to do so. I told her if I didn't it was because I liked her too much and felt a strong connection to her. I told her for that reason I couldn't do therapy in short chunks of time. I think it's great she's honest with you about the counter transference.

  2. lostinamaze, why does the strong connection mean you can't go back to her? Too vulnerable?

  3. Yes, too vulnerable. She will only do therapy in short term chunks now. I have developed a strong attachment to her and so I think each time a short term chunk of therapy was done I would have to keep dealing with the abandonment. I'm not sure I can do that. I don't think this would be a problem if I didn't like her so much.

  4. Just my thoughts, and I could be totally off base, but if she's not comfortable with your attachment would you consider seeing someone else?
    The last T I saw definitely wasn't comfortable with my attachment/connection issues. It took me a lot of going back and forth with her to realize she wasn't the right T for me. And after interviewing a bunch of T's I think I finally found the right one for me, and it's helped tremendously.
    Just a thought. And what does your t say about your attachment stuff?