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Exploring transference issues with my T- the 'rules' I need to change

Posted by Mand , 07 June 2014 · 313 views

After my last session with my T, I sat in my car outside and sobbed for 10mins. Today I was wondering why I didn't release this emotion whilst I was with her. I recognised that my desire for control, to create safety, meant I needed these rules because obeying them maintains this for me. I have written down the following and I will give it to my T on Thursday. I share it here incase others recognise themselves in this, and I hope this might help them.

Why did I wait until I had left T on Thursday to break down? Because I have created 'rules'. She wouldn't give me any when I asked what the 'rules' were, so I made them. What are they?

Rule 1
I must not show honest emotion. She does not want to deal with my emotions, specifically anger and crying.

Why have I created this rule?
a) transference (mum, dad, HIM?)
b) therapeutic window

How is this rule hindering me? It is stopping me be honest with her in 'real time'. Therefore it is slowing my acceptance. Last week- I shut down as I brought my barrier down. I desperately needed to cry. I wouldn't. I waited until I was in the car, I deconstructed my barrier, and then I cried.

Ok - new rule.

Rule 1a
It is ok to show my T when I am angry, to cry in front of her. I know she won't comfort me. (Ah- memories of mum? Is that why I can't show her? Fear of rejection? Ok - fear of being too demanding- too clingy. She will 'shut off' from me. Tell me she can't help me. That I am on my own?)

But she will witness AND respond to my emotion.

Rule 2
I have to get 'it' right. I have to please her. I have to say what I think she wants me to say otherwise she will give up on me.

Ok. This is irrational. I can CBT this.
New rule.

Rule 2a
It is ok to say honestly my thoughts and feelings and memories. I do not need to constantly worry I am getting 'it' wrong. (What is 'it' anyway?). My T has shown no sign of giving up on me. Why would she abandon me now? At such a pivotal point that we have worked so hard together to get to?

Rule 3
If I can't contact her, can't see her, I can't cope.

Another irrational one - CBT it Mand.

Rule 3a
I have coped all my life. She is helping me, but I have proved over and over that I can and will cope without her. It is alright to need her at the moment, but becoming independent from her is key to success. This is what we are working towards.

I needed this post. Thanks for helping me realize something I need to work on.

V glad you saw how shut down you sounded in your description of T, wondered if you'd noticed how much thought rather than emotion it seemed to have gone.

I like your rules, they're food for thought. I really desperately need to be honest with T this week, but I've noticed that things tend to go pear shaped when at the start he asks me how I am, and I say 'fine', and then we battle on in thought land and I leave behind crippled emotional me.

I have banned myself recently from saying 'fine' unless it's true. The first week (last session), my mouth answered, 'hormonal' (that time of the month, but shocked that that's what I blurted out!). This week, I must, must, must not say 'fine' as I am finally scared for myself.

But... When I try to frame some response other than, 'fine, how are you?' For this Tues session (yes, I rehearse!), social convention just takes over. How can you dump on someone at the get-go that you're not fine, actually? So yes, don't underestimate the power of ingrained manners. It's just not normal for us to ask for help.

But you're very right, the 'face' we put on is less than helpful. At the mo, it's the starkest example I've noticed of my dissociation. Always there, like a weird controlling mask...

Wish me luck on Tues. I'm going to try this honesty nonsense everyone's talking about. Scared to death, bound to fail, but going to try.


Kayla- glad this helped. I thought I probably wasn't alone on this!!

Q- I will be with you in spirit, cheering you on. As I do my horse riding I will think of you. Maybe write out some things on a piece of paper? My T sometimes does not do the nice chat bit. She's realised that it allows me to fend her off. Her opening on Thursday was brutal. She looked at my anxiety sheet and asked me to talk her through my suicide plan. Honestly, it felt like I was hit by a bloody wrecking ball, but in my surprise I blurted out the truth. Maybe your T would cheer if you went straight in with what you need to talk about. They're bloody odd like that ;-)


I guess I ought to try the honest thing too? The first session, about a month or two in, she had told me we would start with the trauma work. I came in on the verge of tears and she asked if I was going to cry. That one question was a trigger (I now realize) for my mom's abuse and I shut it down. I have never been that close to crying again. I know my T didn't mean anything bad by it, she was just surprised I was so close to crying and I hadn't even sat down in her office yet.


Do I need to tell her this? I usually act like everything is great in life...she let's us talk about random stuff and I push it until the last ten minutes. I really suck at this therapy thing now that I think about it.


Sorry to hijack Mand's post but that really made me smile. I do exactly the same, then have a rotten week left with the overspill from that last 10 mins. Hence the discipline over the first question he always asks me - it's an experiment in honesty, we'll see how it goes.

I think you should try to share, though I' m guessing she already gets it. My T and I now just chuckle when he tries to hand me a tissue and I completely shut the tears thing down. So it's probs common? But my T was shocked when he commented that he hadn't made me want to throw up in a session for a while and I confessed that that now tended to happen in the waiting room...

Let's hope for all three of us that the will to be honest is half the battle... Lord knows, it's a big ask from anyone, even without the trauma to deal with.

Mand, as always, spot on with the thought provoking. Useful stuff for a long, long plane journey....


Dealing with a lot of the same stuff too and shutting down quite a bit.  Nice to know I'm not alone on this.  Thanks for posting, Mand. (Sorry it's been a while - still reading and grateful for the contact, but responding is harder)


:metoyou:  :hug:

Mand - This post really struck a chord with me. I shared my 'rules' with T about a month ago. Not 'rules' with her in particular but 'rules' I've used to govern my life since CSA. I've searched on this forum for someone else who calls it 'the rules' - I couldn't find anyone - but I assumed I wasn't alone, but wasn't sure. You're not alone. In fact, for me, many of my barriers to healing are grounded in the 'rules' because it means violating the 'rules' in order to even trust her enough to talk. I still talk - and cry - at the sessions but then later feel guilt and shame for having broken the 'rules'. My T tells me to be gentle with myself. If that makes sense for you too then you might consider being less hard on yourself because you have coped your whole life and even acknowledging that you have rules and that the rules need to change in order to heal is a big step. For me, I'm still scared at times to take the step - and I struggle with it - but I agree with my T that it's a step worth taking. I shut down and disassociate - and there's nothing wrong with doing that. It may take me longer to heal but I need to learn and understand how to cope in other ways. I can't undo what I've done my whole life overnight. You might not be able to change overnight, either, but the fact that you've identified that how you cope may not be the most efficient is a huge step. Take good care and thanks for sharing. I might be brave enough to post my rules soon - because I saw this. jsm
Kayla - if you can be honest then I have realised - yes- it's the only way forward! Q answered far more eloquently than I (I have a feeling that her airport lounge bubbly helped loosen her 'tongue' as it were ;-p) so with you both on the last 10 minute thing, so I guess this is probably to norm rather than the exception! Wonder what idiot invents the hour rule....;-)

Allegro- I totally understand the difficulty in responding. I am grateful when you do because I worry about you and it relieves me when I 'hear' from you. But you are showing good self care, and you must always behave in a way that is acceptable to you. I am glad this blog has helped you.

JSM- phew. Another 'rule' person. I had the feeling I wouldn't be the only CSA survivor who felt like this- but like you - I couldn't find anyone else talking about this area specifically. I think there are a couple of others who have blogged about their rules, but not specifically with their T and healing. I completely relate to the difficulties when the 'rules' are broken. Breaking my silence leads to SUI and SH tendencies. The need to punish myself is the hardest to resist. And so I must, to break this programming. But sometimes I am weak and fail. But then I must not punish myself more for this perceived failure! Gosh it's bloody hard work.....

Thank you for your response, it is lovely to hear from you.

Safe :hug: for those who are happy to have them.

Jun 07 2014 01:06 PM

These new rules are wonderful! I struggle all the time with figuring out people's rules and I create them if they are not obvious. I think sometimes rules are just ways for me to separate myself and other times they are healthy boundaries.


It's hard to tell those two things apart sometimes.


I need to let this percolate. I feel fear associated with it.


Thanks for sharing this. It is helping me with another layer of the onion.


Just how big is this onion, anyway?! winky.gif


I'm so glad you've been able to cry. It's such a process, isn't it? I hope you can show your emotions with your T. It sounds like it will be a big healing step.

T and I are working through my rules now. It became so intense starting this week we are going to 2x/wk. I have the same tendencies SUI/SH and it is very hard. I've also started breaking down and crying at the most inopportune times. We can do this. It's hard but we can. Agree intrepidshe, it is all of it, boundaries, separation, and more -- at least it is for me. Take care everyone, jsm
Ah, the onion. I remember the early days when my T discussed the onion. In my head it was a pickled onion. Little did I realise that I was going for the worlds largest record breaking onion!!!! Guess you guys are in the same boat!

Intrepid - it gives me fear too. Because it exposes such a vulnerability in me. The thought of getting angry when with T or sobbing. Woah. Steady on! I LIKE my 'zen like' control. Reckon it must drive my T nuts. Maybe I like driving her nuts ;-). Ooh- wicked Mand is appearing....
Humph. A girl aims for honesty, then gets accused of letting the drink talk.... :P

Been thinking about this and at the mo, my rules seem to be:

1. Don't talk about it out loud as that makes it real (too common to state, almost!)

2. I can't burden people with my problems, including T. Other people have it much worse, I should just be stronger. This also relates to my life rule, 'people need help. If you can help them, you should', which makes identifying and acting on my own needs near impossible.

Anyone else ever feel they can't dump on their T, that they shouldn't be a nuisance, and that surely the T has more deserving cases to focus on? V hard to begin to deal with - I suspect the childhood issues I'm pretending never happened probs left a lot of us with this...

3. The best way to not be picked on or hurt is to blend in. Put in a 'face' and be invisible.

This one is both the result of trauma and directly opposed to dealing with it through T.

Now, comparing my list to Mand's I have a sneaking suspicion that they differ because you're a fair way ahead, Mand, and have a longer, stronger relationship with your T. I can't wait till I move on to struggling with your rules... Which is actually the truth, as I think 3a is amazing :)

Back in the UK! For some reason, reaching home made me very low (life getting real and unavoidable again, I guess), but I see a glimmer of hope that progress can be made. Even without bubbles!
Q- yeah- you've been in my head again!!! I have those three as well. They all ring so true - but especially number two..... Sometimes I think I am doing brilliantly. And other times of feel like a piece on a board that the Fates are playing with. And the dice has been rolled, and I have been returned to the start of the board.......

I shall be with you in spirit on Tuesday. Stay strong my friend. We are here for you. :hug:

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