Rewind to Dec of last year. It was my second ever visit to my first therapist, K, and my toddler was sick so I had to take her along with me. She just had a rash, she was actually fine, but rash automatically means 'no creche'. The session went ok. I had been pretty organised and brought along enough food and activities to keep her amused. And apart from one trip and fall and cry towards the end, toddler was pretty good. But in the back of my mind I was worried about the inconvenience I was causing by having her there. And right at the end this back-of-my-mind thought came right up to the front.
K leaned back in her chair and said "I just want to tell you..."
and then: pause...
in that split second pause I managed to think a thousand thoughts: starting with "oh sh*t here it comes" and progressing at lightning speed to "I don't care what she says, I don't have to come back here any way". In that split second I imagined she was going to tell me how bringing along my toddler showed a lack of commitment to my recovery and she wouldn't be able to continue to work with me. In that split second I put up a wall so big I was ready to get up and walk out and not even let her finish her sentence.
So when she finished with "...I think you're a really good mother" I was so shocked I actually blurted out "I thought you were going to tell me off".
Fast forward to last week's session with J - and the identical situation arose. Toddler was too sick to go to creche and I had to take her to my session. Again I tried to keep toddler amused, but this time I was very conscious that toddler really was quite sick so I was more than willing to put her needs ahead of the effectiveness of the session.
And sure enough, towards the end of the session J made a comment, and then there was *that* pause.
Two very interesting things have sprung up from this pause however:
Firstly, I was able to catch my thoughts this time. Yes I drew breath, but I was able to remind myself that my worst fear didn't eventuate last time so it was unlikely to eventuate this time. Relax and wait and see what she says.
And secondly the moment came and went, and I don't actually remember what was said. I remember the moment, I remember my feelings, but the exact words have faded. They are not indelibly etched on my brain; burned into my memory for all time. The terror of the first situation was not there this time.
I have learned to trust. Trust that J is not just faking being nice to me and will turn on me at any moment. Trust that I am not doing anything wrong that I will get into trouble for. I can trust her to help me and support me with kindness and constructive advice - not just put me down and bully me as a means of motivating me to excel simply to avoid the shame of failure.
I trust J. Yes I still hold a lot back from her - and I probably always will. But at least I know that the bits I chose to share with her will be heard and dealt with fairly and non judgmentally. So even if the wall never comes all the way down, it's certainly getting smaller.