School is out for summer in New Zealand, for us that means a change in our work hours and therefore the times we see Liz. During semester time, we work one evening so that we can have a morning off to go to therapy and try to recover before heading into work; while during the semester breaks, we have late afternoon appointments so that we minimise our time off work. I’m not sure which is better – the afternoon sessions mean that I arrive wound up from work, and the morning sessions mean I have to quickly recover from therapy so that I’m ready for work. Yesterday was our first afternoon session, and it was challenging for several reasons:
- Our summers are humid and the building isn’t air conditioned, so her office smelt like previous clients.
- We’d had a bad day at work, with lots of in-fighting amongst the staff about a staff member who isn’t doing their fair share of the work.
- We were worried how Liz would interpret a piece of writing we’d sent her that one of us had done.
- We had self-injured recently and were worried how Liz would react to that.
It was the piece of writing that worried us the most, possibly because it was the first time we’d shared something like that with Liz. To us, this piece was a clear warning to the daily functional ones that we are hated and will be destroyed if we continue down the path we have taken. We went in with the expectation that Liz would see it in a similar way… but, she didn’t. She saw the piece of writing as a warning to her from some young ones. This threw us. We didn’t see Liz within the writing at all, but I wonder if that is because we don’t really consider Liz part of our healing… Sometimes it seems as if she is part of the “healing hoop” we have to jump through in order to heal, rather than a real person who can help us along the way.
Leading on from this, Liz asked us to play a game where we took turns drawing a line on a piece of paper. We’re deeply suspicious of Liz and her art therapy abilities, so we were worried about what this would show her about our state of mind, but went along with it. It was terrifying… absolutely and utterly terrifying… Liz was drawing on the same piece of paper as us… we couldn’t control where she put her lines, we couldn’t keep her to one corner of the paper while we had the opposite corner… At several points we froze in total panic. Having just read about the technique, it’s often used in Gestalt and art therapy with difficult clients, where the “typical therapist-client interaction can often be distant, demanding, and frustrating”. Great, I’m a difficult client… Sometimes I really shouldn’t research! I know that I should take from the technique that Liz is trying to find new ways to build a relationship and interact with me… but all I see are the words “difficult clients”.
One thing that got stuck in my mind from the session, is Liz saying “it concerns me what you are doing with all of these repressed emotions”. I know what I’m doing with them… I’m systematically sabotaging and destroying myself.