From Ease The Ride.
For the first time ever tonight, therapist abruptly cancelled a session on me. By abrupt, I mean 24 hours before our intended appointment time she texted me to tell me she was cancelling. I think what made it feel even more abrupt was that she had also texted me about 5 hours earlier to confirm the appointment.
In the time we’ve worked together, there have only been maybe 3 weeks where I did not have an appointment. Three in almost 18 months. And all 3 of those I knew about at least 2 weeks in advance. I had time to prepare for it.
This feels a little like the rug being pulled out from under my feet.
There’s a hard split right now in my reactions to this cancellation. All my different feelings trying to speak up and get their say. The first, the very first feeling I had when I read that text, was just utter disappointment. My hour of safety and containment being taken away. As I looked at my phone screen, I suddenly just thought: “Oh.”
I sent her a text, a simple “okay,” within a few seconds of reading it to both let her know I’d received the text and also make sure she registered my disappointment.
As soon as I’d sent that text, I realized belatedly that if therapist was cancelling, after having just confirmed my appointment the same day, something had to be wrong. Immediately I spun into worry. Was she okay? Was her family okay? Did someone get sick, get hurt, die? I will likely never know the answer to that question, but I did send a follow-up text to let her know that I’m not the most selfish human being on planet Earth and I am thinking of her. After all this time, I care deeply for her. I wish her the best in her life that I know nothing about and I would hate to think of something disturbing it.
Yet, despite the worry, part of me feels so…unimportant. Betrayed.
It’s a reminder, again, that in the grand scheme of things I am barely a speck on her radar. I am a client. I am someone that she speaks to an hour a week and may think of here or there if something reminds her of me, but her thoughts about me are put in a box when she leaves. It’s another incident that makes our relationship so clinical to me instead of personal.
On top of that, I’m someone who relies heavily on structure and routine. My control freak nature demands it. I’m also someone who is so vulnerable to anything, small or large, that resembles abandonment. So the last minute (my perception of it) cancellation feels like a betrayal. It feels like my promised hour of support, the hour I count on each week, was ripped away on a whim. She’s supposed to be there and she won’t be. And I don’t even get to know why to make it easier to accept.
The rational side of me gets it. Of course she would cancel. She has a family and friends and people in her life that matter to her. Those things take priority. I don’t. I don’t get to matter like that.
But of course, humans are not 100% rational, are we?
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, so I am scheduled for my next session with her Tuesday night instead. My almost immediate impulse was to cancel on her. She cancelled on me, so this is how I get even with her. I’ll go three weeks without a session. That’ll sure show her!
Except how does cancelling on her even accomplish the act of getting even? She’s there to help me. And since she wasn’t there to help me this week, I’m gonna get back at her by…not letting her help me again? That’s the problem with a relationship that’s completely fulfilling for one person and fulfills no needs for the other. Any decision I make to hurt her just hurts me.
This awareness is important to have, because hopefully it will keep me from actually cancelling, which would be very foolish. On the contrary, it’s always sobering to remember that therapist means much more to me than I do to her. As soon as therapy ends, I just lift right out of her life. Onto other clients.
Like I said, clinical.
So anyway, I’ve told myself no cancelling for a few days while I let these feelings run their course. I’ve also promised myself no self-harming. So far, I’ve stuck to both.
I’m trying to stay alert to these thoughts and feelings. I’m honestly not really judging them, just kind of observing them with piqued curiosity. Like a split of different parts, the calm part watching the distressed one quietly implode. I’d like to see where they go, even if it is distressful to me.
I know that I will be okay and will get through the week without my session, but I also know my feelings are valid and can’t be so quickly dismissed. In the past, I’ve found that I seem to do a lot better once the hour of the would-be session has passed, so I’ll see how I feel at this time tomorrow. In the meantime, I can and will practice some methods of self-care to get though these feelings. And continue to hope therapist is okay.
About the author
Megan is a 24-year-old graduate student who has struggled for a long time with mental health issues, namely depression and social anxiety. More recently, she and her therapist came upon the realization that borderline personality disorder (BPD) was also a very accurate fit for what she was experiencing.
Megan’s blog is a way to consider how BPD, depression, and social anxiety are affecting her. She hopes that it will also serve as a measure of her growth in time.
Image: inyourBalcony, Creative Commons.