The One Where I Almost Cried In Therapy

In therapy, I talked about the upcoming changes in university, explained the original plan of taking my time for coming to a decision about my professional future (which the therapist said was a good strategy) and how I’d chosen continuing university when forced to decide immediately. As a result of the week’s events, the BDI-II score was up to 17 points today.

Half of the session was, as part of our usual routine, spent on a situational analysis of the phone conversation with my mother on Monday morning. This one had been special because even though what I’d felt and thought had set me up for failure (panic, doubt, flight instinct kicking in), I’d managed to get the best out of the situation that was possible considering the circumstances: ending the phone call without making the situation even worse through offending my mother, and thus giving myself time for thinking.
My therapist asked me why that was so, and I couldn’t come up with any other explanation than my reaction being an automatism, developed through seven months of therapy.

I explained my sentiments about prehistoric archaeology and how I felt that changing not only to a different degree, but also to a different subject was necessary if I wanted to go back to taking classes. I had not been entirely certain what he’d think about the latter, but he supported the notion completely and shared some personal experience afterwards concerning his own career choice and how he’d made a new start by becoming a psychiatrist / therapist after he’d started out in a different medical profession which, despite his huge interest in the subject matter, had not made him happy simply because of the way everyday work was shaped. And he said I might actually become able to enjoy archaeology again as a hobby or passion in the future if I liberated myself from all the dreadful negativity and bad memories connected to it.

At one point, I got very close to crying while speaking about this: my voice died mid-sentence and I sat there with a frown and moist eyes, looking out of the window, but my therapist just calmly repeated what I’d last said and I caught myself again. He clearly noticed what a highly emotional topic this is for me and from our discussion I can tell that he understood its significance.
Strangely, I was ok with getting this emotional in front of him – actual crying might have embarrassed me, but I felt no negative response inside myself for displaying so much sadness. Becoming obviously moved is something I rarely do, and never if I can prevent it, because it is very difficult to make myself vulnerable like this without immediately wanting to put the defensive walls up again. The fear of being shamed or hurt is just stronger. Him not fussing about it certainly helped – he acknowledged it afterwards, but didn’t make me talk about it.


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