Last night at iOP was horrible. I had the worst ½ hr I’ve had in ages. We have a brand new art therapist, brand new meaning straight out of college. I thought she was doing great. Obviously she was a bit rough around the edges from lack of experience but wow, last night was something different.
After dinner she called me into the office. She said that the group doesn’t feel safe and it’s because of me. She said, directly at me, that I’m the disruptive one in the group and she is calling me out on that. She said I was being very disrespectful and also was treating her, the therapist, passive aggressively. She feels like there is something between us that isn’t working, hasn’t been working. There was a bit more than that but at some point I flipped out.
To note: I think very little of myself, very, very little. But one thing I hold strongly to my heart is respecting and valuing those around me. Safety is of utmost importance and the last thing, the very last thing I would ever do is put anyone in a unsafe condition. I also expect to be treated fairly and when I was accused of being disruptive, it came as quite a shock.
We were having an open period of art to finish projects. I was consulting with the person next to me on the project we had done two weeks ago. This turned out to be the “disruptive side conversation”. During the class she singled me out as if I was intentionally doing something wrong. She had never run a group therapy session with us, made no announcement that she was going to do that, simply started talking with one of the persons in the group and expected everyone to know what was going on. Later, in the office, she couldn’t grasp that I wouldn’t know what all the aspects of art therapy are. I had said that every week she changes so how was I to know? I’m not an art therapist! What’s more, she was shocked when I said art therapy is my favorite part of the program. I mention that last one because that clued me in to something that she is doing which can only be explained as her lack of experience in reading people.
She has been mis-reading me from the beginning clearly. The funny thing is I’ve been her biggest cheerleader! I’ve been bullied my entire life. I didn’t realize this till earlier this week. For some reason I thought it was only like a high school thing but my therapist cleared that up by listing all the times in my life and all the things that happened to me that are considered bullying: the assaults, the military, the cult, even recent situations. The way this art therapist looked at me, treated me, and talked me to me felt exactly like bullying. I told her that too. On the outside I look like a very confident well put together person. Unless someone is experienced, or I show them, people don’t see just how fragile I am inside. I am constantly in fear mode, constantly. I am never not afraid. This was also a shock to the art therapist…. duh, inexperience.
She also pointed out my response to her when she said, in group, how sarcastic I am to her. I try never to be sarcastic, ever. I’ve never said I was sarcastic either. She actually argued (grant you, this is in group in front of everyone) that I did to say I was sarcastic. Nearly everyone chimed in saying they’ve never once heard me say that and that I’ve never been sarcastic.
Back in the office… now the other girl is in there too. The art therapist said that she, the other girl, is defending me which separates us from the group. What?! She’s now just insulted the other girl who, by the way, told her she felt discounted because she wasn’t confronted too, during the disruption. She’s also a victim of bullying so by being ignored, wow, one more message that she is a non-person.
I have to mention the therapist’s fears of calling both me and the other girl out together. I can’t remember all she said but it was something to do with not wanting to create an us-and-them situation. Is this Psych 101? This stung me in a particularly horrible way. When I was in the cult, every time I started making a friend, I was accused of lurid motives and separated. I was alone in a crowded cult for 5 years, can you imagine? So when she decided my (new) friendship with this other person was a negative, um yeah, that stung, a lot!
It’s hard to write everything that happened honesty. I felt emotionally ripped apart last night. Thank goodness for the long ride home. The time flew by though, faster than it ever has, because I was in shock. I woke up this morning in tears. The weight of all my memories that have been triggered because of yesterday, are all consuming. I can’t stop crying. Thank goodness I have a therapy session today.
Later this morning…
I talked to one of my friends from the program. At one point I was out in the hall exploding basically, grabbing my stuff to just leave. I don’t remember this but she said I asked the art therapist directly if I was the one who was making the group unsafe. She answered an emphatic “yes.” My friend said that they all turned to one another in confusion because that simply wasn’t true. I’m so glad I talked to her this morning. She gave me some other examples of things the therapist had done. She also said that the art therapist wasn’t a credentialed “therapist” just an art therapist. She kept telling me over and over, “I’M the therapist!” My therapist, who’s been one for something like 30 years has never once said that to me. I mean, seriously?
Update after my therapy appointment
My therapist held it together but was clearly very disturbed by this entire incident and tried to explain to me as best she could. She also said what she would have done if she were this persons supervisor. She, in fact, does supervision for therapists so she knows. From what some of the things the art person said to me, my therapist thinks, besides all the unprofessionalism, damage and re-victimization she’s done to me, she could be experiencing counter transference, or something like that. It’s where a client reminds the therapist of someone and they transfer their dislike or difficulty or whatever to the client. Anyway, she asked what her last name was and took furious notes. She helped me process what I could in that short of a time. Then she said I need to get re-integrated back into the group so I can move forward. Right now I don’t feel like I’m a part at all. Right now I feel like I’m a damaging person in the group. I need iOP so I will continue to come but just keep quiet and stay non my corner. My therapist says I need to be a part of it, not just an observer, so she gave me an exercise to do.
If anyone is familiar, it’s the “I feel… I am… I need…” thing. She helped me write what worked for me and asked me to read it to the group tonight before the group gets going. I texted it to the coordinator to ask permission and she agreed. This is what we wrote:
many difficult emotions as a result of last night.
working outside of the program, with my therapist, to work through all of this.
the group to know that I respect and value each of you, and I want our group to move forward toward healing.
The last line was the hardest because I don’t want to put my needs on anyone. The other part I couldn’t do was to say “our group”. I wanted to say “the” group. I don’t feel a part of it and my desire is for them to feel safe, to move forward. I don’t care about me, I’m nothing. But my therapist insisted I put that in and just fake it for now. Before I left she gave me a big hug. It was weird. I could tell she is really very concerned. This was too soon after being ripped apart by one of the therapists at the treatment center two months ago. (More tears, more tissue)
You know what really is ironic in all this? My therapist, on Tuesday gave me a challenge to do in group. I’m working on the whole “I count, I have value” problem. I was to look around at all the people in group thinking about their value and how each of them count as a person, and then consider that I equally count as a person. Wow…. so there I was opening myself up to a huge risk of being valued, and all that stuff happened to prove otherwise.
Oh, and at the end of it all (yesterday) that same art therapist asked if we could hug?!?!