In preparation for the Group therapy session on Tuesday, we are writing one of those letters that you don’t actually send to the therapist that we have transference with. We may share parts of the letter with her in the group session. It just depends on how brave we are feeling….
While working on the whole bed/table trigger in therapy, we have come to realize how incredibly triggered we were on many levels. Initially, it was the bed/table trigger and how it triggered the memory of a traumatic event that I still have yet to get a grasp on. Then, it became so much more. When we arrived that second session with the table up, a flood of feelings came up for us. It was initially just you and us and the bed/table. I think this was the beginning of our struggle with transference. You asked if you could “introduce” me to the table and your good work that you do with it. You emphasized how the table was being used for only good and positive things. I understand logically why you did that. You wanted to try to help me separate the bad memory with the current reality of what is. If this had been a memory that I have already processed in therapy, then that might have helped. As it was, I was trapped in the trigger of the memory that was currently mostly feelings of fear. I began floating from the moment I stepped into the room and realized that we were alone in the room with you (who we began to see as our Aunt L) and the bed/table. You asked us to come closer to the bed/table and we did, though most of us had scrambled deep inside so as to not feel the awful fear that comes when near the trigger. We began to transfer the Aunt onto you and saw it as the Aunt asking us to come closer to the bed/table. We became compliant and nodded when you asked us something because we just wanted to get through it. Next, you asked us where we would like to sit. The way the room was set up, the only choices we had were to sit where we would see the table throughout the group session or sit right next to the table facing away. We could not bear either, so we sat at the side and could not look that direction the whole session. Then, you asked if it was okay to sit next to us. It was a good question to ask someone who is struggling, but we were not in the place to say no. We were stuck in the memory and in being compliant as we had to be with the perps so we said “yes”. I was angry with myselves after this because I felt we were too weak to say “no”. However, we were able to say no when the other T asked if we would be okay with you touching us in reassurance. This was a huge accomplishment for us considering everything we were going through internally. I seem to recall a little one coming out briefly and I remember hearing her sob. It was very real, too real, and we pushed her inside due to not feeling safe.
We were confused as to why you would leave it up after learning what a terrible trigger it was for us. We felt unworthy of anyone caring about what we are struggling with. We noticed that the candles that had been lit the week before were not out as they had bothered some group members. Candles do not bother us as we love them, however we understood completely why you would not bring them out due to how it affected the other group members. Yet…..the thing that was even more than just a little bothersome and upsetting to us was left up. This made a big impact on us as it sent the message that we were not as important or worthy as the other group members are.
The other T talked to us on the phone that week and told us of a couple of options that you guys had come up with to manage this situation. The first idea was that when we arrived at Group, the members and therapists would help in disassembling the bed/table at the start of session. I could join if I felt okay to or if not it was okay. This would only make it much worse for me, adding to the initial trigger and transference, feelings of causing problems in the group. You see, we don’t want to be the center of attention and we definitely don’t want to be a bother to others. We feel that this would be taking time away from the other group members who also pay to be there. We also worry that there will be resentment among other group members. This group is for all of us and to have the other members all do something specifically for us would send us plunging into despair for fear of burdening others. It was totally not going to be okay with us. The other Group T said that was not your goal and that you both had hoped that this would send us the message that you all care about us. I told her that we wouldn’t receive the message that way at all. We don’t want to take more than others take from group. Even when our T talked to us about the possibility of sharing this letter with you during group, we were uncomfortable as we didn’t want to take away from the other group members’ time. K reminded me that the group was also for me and that my sharing with you about the transference stuff could be helpful for other members to witness.
The second idea was much more doable and one that we were going to suggest ourselves as we did not want to be any more of a burden than necessary. The second idea was to set up a screen so that we would not have to see the bed/table. We feel now that we are not worthy of you taking down the bed/table for whatever reason and that is okay with us as it is not anything we would have expected normally. We only said something because it was a therapy setting and we felt more comfortable asking for something there than we would anywhere else. I imagine it is too much trouble for you to take it down only to have to set it up again for the next day’s clients. My usual response to this situation would be to “grin and bear it” because I do not want to cause anyone trouble and I definitely do not feel okay asking someone to do anything for me. I realize as I write this that it may sound manipulative, but that is not my intent. My intent is to be as honest as possible about the thoughts and feelings that go on inside regarding this situation. We are okay with the screen idea as it is a great compromise on the subject. Still, I felt like I should mention the reactions I was feeling from insiders regarding feeling unworthy, etc.
As we wrote this last part, I was reminded of how we went our whole life without telling anyone about the abuse until I was in my 20’s and went to therapy. I remembered that one of my main reasons for not telling any family was because I didn’t feel like my father could handle the news that I was abused by the uncle. I preferred to “grin and bear it” and endure it alone than my father be hurt by the knowledge of what I went through. This is how much we don’t like to burden others.
We do appreciate any feedback on our letter. As we wrote it, I definitely did not feel okay with sharing it with this T as I am worried it might sound bad/negative. She is a good lady and therapist and we don’t want to make her feel defensive or hurt…..also don’t want to sound petty or anything…..