Whatsapp My analyst and I grew more intimately connected each week of treatment My entire body feels tense, not ideal for the setting.
I try to relax, but the plush leather couch crumples under me when I shift, making the movements extraordinary. Of course it has. On the surface, when the patient has been highly selective of the discussion topics, therapy always resembles a friendly get-together. She quickly and convincingly pointed out that I work rather hard and am, ultimately, paying my bills on time, that I have friends, an appreciation for arts and culture, and so on. I was too insecure and too single to handle such a compliment from a beautiful woman.
I shrugged my shoulders, only half looking up. Do you bend me over and take me from behind? I take a second to let the red flow out of my face, and ponder what she said.
So I go home, incredibly turned on and completely unashamed. In treatment I came to realize that all people have contradictions to their personalities. In my case, my extreme sensitivity can make me feel fabulous about the aspects of myself that I somehow know are good my artistic tastes and cause deep hatred of those traits I happen to loathe the thirty pounds I could stand to lose.
My next session with Lori is productive. One constant is that I put crudely high expectations on others, mirroring those thrown upon me as a kid. Then, a week later, Lori mentions it, and I become tense again. There were two ways to find out: We both know the answer to that question. All I can do is stare back. I see what she means. When our sessions finally resumed, I could not wait to tell her about my budding relationship with Shauna.
Plans happened magically without anxiety-inducing, twenty-four-hour waits between texts. Her quick wit kept me entertained, and I could tell by the way she so seriously spoke about dancing, her chosen profession, that she is passionate about the art form and mighty talented too. Shauna is beautiful, with flawless hazel eyes and straight dark hair, spunky bangs and a bob that matches her always-upbeat character.
She is a snazzy dresser and enjoys a glass of whiskey with a side of fried pickles and good conversation as much as I do. So upon the precipice of my return to therapy I told Shauna about Lori, and admitted to having mixed feelings about what I was getting back into. The first two sessions of my therapeutic reboot had gone great. Lori appeared genuinely thrilled that I was dating Shauna and could see how happy I was. I stuff the cat food back into the Tupperware and toss it into the refrigerator.
I make my way into the living room, angry at myself for not changing the settings on my new iPhone to disallow text previews on the locked screen. I can tell she regrets looking at my phone without my permission, but I completely understand her feelings. On my walk home, instead of being angry at Lori, I understand her thinking behind the text.
A patient may in turn contemplate that a love is blossoming between them, and, in fact, it sort of is. This takes genuine care and acceptance on their part. In employing countertransference — indicating that she had feelings for me — she was keeping me from feeling rejected and despising my own thoughts and urges.
Atlas has an upcoming book titled The Enigma of Desire: Atlas explains that there are certain boundaries that cannot be crossed between therapist and patient under any circumstances — like having sex with them, obviously.
What do you do with that? Do you deny it? Do you talk about it? How do you talk about it without seducing the patient and with keeping your professional ability to think and to reflect? Atlas quickly points out that emotional intimacy — though not necessarily that of the sexual brand — is almost inevitable and required. Atlas says this topic speaks to every facet of the therapeutic relationship, regardless of gender or even sexual orientation, because intimacy reveals emotional baggage that both the patient and therapist carry with them into the session.
In order to be able to be vulnerable, both parties have to feel safe. Atlas steadfastly says she does not want to judge too harshly why and how everything came to pass in my therapy. In order for Lori to advance in her field as a social worker, she has to attend 3, conference hours with another professional to go over casework — kind of like therapy quality control. We talk about all of this during one of my scheduled sessions, for the entire hour — and go over by a few minutes, too.
It can become a cycle of behavior that Lori seeks to break. I refer back to the time when, unprovoked, she brought up my attraction to her. There was no in between. Lori noticed that I was frustrated with myself and wanted me to know that an attraction to a therapist is so normal and happens so frequently that there are technical terms for it.
I turn my attention towards the presence of countertransference in our session. She says she liked the fact that I was wearing a blazer and a tie on a first date. She adds that I was a little shorter than she anticipated, but was content with the two of us at least being the same exact height.
It seems my emotional workouts in erotic transference were just beginning to produce results. But, so you have a full understanding of how this works, we can date. The difference this time is the answer I want to give is on par with all of my involuntary urges.
Would Lori and I really be compatible in every way? Would she ever see me as a lover, a partner, an equal, and not a patient? Could I ever reveal a detail about myself, or even just a shitty day of work, without wondering if she was picking it apart and analyzing it?
Frankly, all those questions could be answered in the positive. Work payments that were past due are finally finding their way into my bank account. As it turns out, my short-term money troubles were not an indication that I had no business being a writer, or that my life changeup was as irresponsible as unprotected sex at fourteen years old. I took a mental step back from my current situation and realized that in spite of my recent hardships, I was succeeding.