When it was time for Sadie to return to her office Thursday, I replied to the e-mail I shared in Asking for Help. I included a link to that post, and explained that when I called her I didn’t really know what help to ask for. I said that I’m conflicted between always wanting to see her and wanting to avoid seeing her, and the part of me that should be deciding what I really need was clueless about what I need.
I was busy that morning taking mom to have surgery, but expected to be back in time for a 1 o’clock or later appointment, if there was one available, but only if Sadie thought I actually needed to see her and wasn’t just being an attention whore. In the afternoon, I got a reply stating that she hadn’t had any openings but had repeatedly tried to reply to my e-mail and kept restarting because she felt she had to choose her words carefully. She asked if it was possible other people feel that way, and don’t respond to me because they are afraid of how I’ll interpret their words.
I went for a walk outside and tried to cry. I was so hurt, but the tears wouldn’t come. In the evening, I sat down to write a reply, knowing that if I didn’t do it then she wouldn’t see it before Monday. I told her that in being careful with her words, she had ironically said the worst possible thing. In DBT we talk about how Borderline Personality Disorder develops from a combination of being emotionally sensitive and being exposed to an invalidating environment. One way that my family always invalidated me was by saying “I can’t say anything to you. You always take it wrong.” It was their way of avoiding responsibility for the hurtful things they did. It was never that they had done something hurtful, but always that I was just too oversensitive and was misinterpreting everything.
Sadie didn’t know she was stepping into a mess from my childhood so even though my impulse was that I wanted a break from therapy, I told her I would see her Thursday. She could have just said, “Okay, see you then” and everything would have been fine. However, Friday morning during work I heard the notification tone on my phone and looked at the e-mail she had sent me in response. She said that saying what she wanted to say had backfired on her yet again and maybe e-mail wasn’t the best way for us to communicate.
I went running to hide in the bathroom where I sobbed so hard I threw up. E-mail has been very helpful for us in the past, and we’ve never had this sort of miscommunication before. I knew she was saying that we shouldn’t continue this conversation by e-mail but I couldn’t let it go unanswered and just wait for nearly a week before seeing her. I told her I was sorry for taking everything so wrong, and that I felt like I was breaking everything good in my life. I told her crying over it had made me throw up, and that I wasn’t sure if it was entirely the situation that caused it, or also the fact that I’d skipped 24 hours worth of medication. You wouldn’t think that skipping it for just one day would have an impact, but it always does.
I was a mess, and I went to ask my crew lead if I would need to clock out in order to go out in the parking lot on lunch. I felt sure I’d need to talk to the on-call therapist and wanted some privacy. My crew lead panicked a little, thinking I’d been crying over work, but I explained. She told me to go take a break if I needed to – go sit down with a drink or go to my car for a bit if I wanted. She told me that I didn’t need to work on my big reorganization project that day if it was too much to handle, but I felt it would be a good distraction. I was still talking to her when Sadie replied again.
I dreaded opening the new e-mail, but it had a totally different tone. She told me that I didn’t need to apologize and that nothing was broken. She advised me to take my meds and distract myself from my thoughts and feelings, and said if I still felt bad on Monday I could check and see if she had a cancellation. I’ve looked over and over this e-mail since I received it. I find it fascinating that within hours of each other I could get one e-mail that hurt me so badly and another that comforted me.
I work on Monday and Sadie only has 2 time slots that are after my work day ends, so the chances one of those two clients will cancel are slim. The same is true Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m scheduled to see her on my off-day of Thursday. I don’t want to wait that long. I’m considering the possibility of telling her I can take an appointment that’s during my work day, and asking if I can leave and then come back. As long as I’ve got my early morning work done before then, I imagine I’d be allowed to do it.