Home Anxiety Leaving Therapy with more Anxiety than when I arrived – Pt 1
Life doesn't always go as planned

Leaving Therapy with more Anxiety than when I arrived – Pt 1

by Matt Pappas

If you’ve read any of the past articles here on my blog, you know that I see a therapist twice a week. She really is something special and I’m so fortunate to have found her. I don’t hide the fact that I go to sessions regularly because I’m not ashamed of it, and neither should anyone else who seeks the help of a professional therapist or life coach. If anything we should be applauding ourselves for the courage to reach out and seek the help we need.

For many survivors that I connect with on social media, their sessions can be intense, frustrating, scary, and just downright exhausting. Everyone is different in how they react when working with a professional, but let’s face it when you are digging up old feelings and traumatic memories from your past, how is that anything other than unbelievably difficult?

For me personally, I look forward to my sessions each week as a total life line and support system. That doesn’t mean they are easy, not by a long shot. I leave each one mentally drained and needing to process on my own what we talk about. J has become such a big part of my life over the last 16 months that I can’t imagine it without her. In fact, when a session has to be cancelled at the last minute, it’s a total anxiety rush and can send me spiraling into depression in a hot second. Being so routine oriented, and needing my structure, causes me such grief when things deviate from the normal schedule too much.

A session I had earlier this week, as I write this post now, started out pretty decently. I walked into her office, exchanged greetings and we began going over the latest tracker sheet that I had been keeping up with. Nothing different here yet, pretty standard stuff. I was mostly at ease and comfortable sitting on her couch and doing my usual holding onto a couple throw pillows beside me. I didn’t feel particularly stressed at first, and then she brought up the question that immediately spikes my anxiety, ” have you talked to your mom lately”?

Literally within seconds I started to fidget, become antsy, putting my hands on my head in frustration, and I’m pretty sure my face started to get red. The reason she keeps bringing this up, pertains to what I wrote about in a past article about a breakthrough that answered some questions and created more. (I encourage you to check out that post and get a better idea of what went down).

Once I realized that my mom had told so many people of my past, without my consent, it’s been a sore spot with meLife doesn't always go as planned.  This can cause Anxiety ever since. A total betrayal of trust,  that to date, I can’t get past. I place so much frustration and anger on her for that, it’s just not even funny. Every time J brings it up in a session, everything seems to go downhill and I can’t recover very easily. I know we have to keep working through it and breaking it down, but damn!

She’s working to try and convince me that my mom did not have bad intentions, but just doesn’t have a filter or know when to keep a secret. “She’s not out to get me or tear me down or make light of my past,” she says, and I’m just having none of it! My mom shared my story when she had no right too, that was my secret to share if or when I ever decided. Who knows how many of her friends, other family members, and people in the church know about my past. I can only imagine and that frustrates me to no end.

J isn’t invalidating my frustration about my mother telling my secret, but she is trying to work with me to use some Radical Acceptance.

I”m sitting there as the minutes slowly tick by just countering everything she is saying with how angry I am at my mother,. How frustrated I am, how I wish I could tell her what I really felt and just blow my stack. How my screwed up life is my mothers fault, and that I wouldn’t dare talk about my abuse at the time or anything else since because of the judgmental response that was sure to follow. (notice how I place the anger on my mom and myself, and not on my abuser?)

Normally I leave a session feeling glad that I went, and although I’m mentally drained, I’m relatively content. Not this one, not by a long shot! I left there so frustrated and with so much anxiety I didn’t know what to do with myself but come home and write and try to use every DBT skill I could think of. Eventually I was able to chill out and ease my mind a bit, thanks in part to a survivor chat on Twitter that helped take my mind off of the nights’ events. Distracting is not always the best method to use, but it can be quite useful at times.

I’m purposefully breaking up this post into 2 parts, because based on the events of the session referenced here and what went down in the following session, it’s too much to put down all at one time.  I hope you’ll check back soon again for the rest of this experience.

Update – Please click here to read Part II



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Joy Richardson April 25, 2016 - 1:18 pm

I had a similar thing happen to me. My parents are well known people internationally. When they found out that I was severely abused when we lived in Asia, they held a press conference about it with representatives from many countries involved. Thousands of strangers know what happened to me and thousands in Orlando know (the base of the organization is here). Now whenever I meet someone who knows who I am I’m always wondering if they know, it is a wall I have to jump over every time.

Lyric April 25, 2016 - 5:35 pm

Whoa! Wow Joy I don’t even know how I would react, but I give you even more credit than I already do for being so strong. Even if you don’t feel like you are..trust me coming from the outside looking in, YOU ARE! You are brave and I’m so glad I can call you a friend and fellow survivor!

I’m hoping one day I can somehow come to terms and find some peace with what my mother did, but as of right now, it’s not looking too good.

Vennie Kocsis April 26, 2016 - 12:34 am

First, I commend you for 2 x a week therapy. I struggle with 2 x month. I need 2 weeks to recover before going again. Good for you for digging in.

I think honestly many therapists cannot wrap their own brain around certain things and reason in an attempt at “fix it” mode. Not their job, in my opinion. Their job is to listen and define. She should have absolutely affirmed you; betrayal, the lack of loyalty and protection of your privacy from your own mother. That is a horrid betrayal. I personally can’t reason that. It’s bad ethics on the part of mom. Therapist should h e said THAT. I don’t believe always in the concept of acceptance. I’m a bit of a challenge for my therapist. No. I don’t have to accept fucked up behavior from people. That, to me, is not healing, but self abuse. Now, I can accept that someone’s an apathetic ass, but they likewise have to accept that because of it they don’t get to be in my life.

I am really sorry your mom betrayed you like that. She should protect your character. I can say I understand. My Mom, the Narcissist. That’s all I will say. She didn’t give a damn about her kids. So… I dare a therapist to try and justify that. Yeah, there’s an explanation for my mother’s behavior and mind control. But I didn’t need that to heal myself or figure myself out.

I needed to choose myself first without question. I think that’s where this therapist went wrong. She should have chosen you. Because a. That’s her job and b. What you mom did was effed.

? to you.

And yeah, you’re right. we’re all brave. Hey Joy!

Lyric April 26, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Hey Vennie!

Thank you for commenting, I respect your insight so much and I truly enjoy reading your poetry and blog posts.
This whole thing with my mother, it’s just such an issue with me that I can’t get past. I get that my therapist is trying to get me to see that my mother wasn’t telling anyone to purposefully try and hurt me..atleast I think I believe that, but I am having some issues feeling like maybe I’m not getting validation that I need in this area during therapy. I’m definitely having issues accepting it. It just doesn’t make any sense to spill a secret like that about your own kid! Gives me anxiety just thinking about it..ugh

My judgment is maybe clouded because I’m so close to the situation and I can’t see anything further than what’s right in front of me; as in being objective. Hell I don’t know… I have another session tomorrow night where I’m sure we’ll talk about this at least some. I’m thinking I really need to let these feeling simmer down a bit but honestly I’m not sure they will. It’s at the forefront of everything I think of these days in terms of my recovery and even just every day life.

Thanks for being such an amazing encouragement for me and I’m sure tons of other survivors. you rock Vennie!


Vennie Kocsis April 26, 2016 - 3:27 pm

I understand. I think I see where the therapist is going. I am SO angry at my mother, but she is dead. So what do I do with the anger? I work through it too. I can’t ever confront her. So it seems like therapist could work with you more on that its okay to be angry and how can you channel that in a healthy way for yourself. I truly get everything you say here. ???

Lyric April 26, 2016 - 6:13 pm

Thanks Vennie! I’m anxious to get back in there tomorrow evening and talk this through more. Sitting at work this afternoon and driving home today, I’m realizing this isn’t going to go away or simmer down. It’s too much to not try and process it. Maybe I won’t write that letter right away but I’m not letting this go. I’m hoping and expecting that she will continue to work with me to process this and somehow come to grips with it. I don’t know if I will ever be able to confront her or if it’s even worth it to do so. I’ll keep ya posted if you’re interested 🙂

Vennie Kocsis April 26, 2016 - 6:16 pm

Maybe write the letter while the emotions are fresh, but just keep it? I have written to my dead mom many times. I love writing therapy. I hope your therapist will understand where you’re coming from here because it’s so super valid.

Lyric April 26, 2016 - 6:31 pm

Are you sure you aren’t in my head Vennie? 🙂 I was just sitting here and thinking, I could write it but not send it. I think if I wrote it now it would be so unbelievably angry it would be either totally liberating or scare me to death to write what I have inside my head.

Vennie Kocsis April 26, 2016 - 7:23 pm

You have the right to be angry and really wish anger not being a base emotion we’re really feeling pain. Maybe write it, seal it in an envelope, put it somewhere so you don’t have to open or read it again until you’re ready?

Lyric April 26, 2016 - 7:26 pm

If I do that I’ll have to put it somewhere that I’m not tempted to reopen it or send it out in a bout of anger or frustration. But it’s not a bad idea at all! Thanks Vennie! #YouRock!

Vennie Kocsis April 26, 2016 - 7:28 pm

You’re welcome. I get it. I don’t have much good to say about my mother in regards to what she did with her children. And I’m okay with that. But your mom is alive so I know that’s different for you. ? heart hugs ?

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