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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate: I don’t know if I felt abandoned … I didn’t exactly

Customer Question

I don’t know if I felt abandoned … I didn’t exactly feel like Linda had brought me there and then didn’t take me out of it. It’s just that I guess I have developed, throughout therapy with her, the idea that she will and can keep me safe. But in my mind on Tuesday, she was sitting there while I was “there” with them, and at the time, when I first came out of it, to me it was like she must have been “there” with me, but didn’t do anything to help me. Like she sat by while they were doing things to me, and did nothing to help me, when she is the one person I trust to really help me. And even though she wasn’t really “there,” I wasn’t either. I just really felt like I was , and she could have rescued me from the situation by somehow pulling me out of it, if that is possible. Is that possible, usually?
As I have said, she didn’t know what was going on with me. So what was she going to do? But thinking about that later, that kind of disturbs me as well, because I would think she would know me and would be able to read me well at this point, and would have known that I wasn’t just crying – that something bad was going on. Why didn’t she recognize that?
I am comforted knowing it likely won’t happen again. At least like that – since we aren’t going to do EMDR anymore. But if I have flashbacks by myself, who is to say I won’t have them in therapy when we are talking and thinking about these bothersome (and perhaps triggering) things? Will she recognize it? Will she be able to get me out of it? I don’t remember if I asked you this --- have you ever seen someone have a flashback? Can you tell what is going on? Were you able to pull them out of it? If so, how?
I don’t totally remember what I was going to write to Linda – except to say she need not feel bad or apologize, because it wasn’t her fault, and that I appreciated how she handled my letter on Friday and respected and validate my feelings. I also don’t want her to be walking on eggshells, so to speak, not pushing me to do anything difficult or upsetting. All of it is difficult and most is upsetting, so we wouldn’t get anywhere. I know there was more , but I don’t remember exactly, even though it seemed important. Do you know what else I may need or want to tell her?
I must be exhausted. I slept for over an hour this afternoon and am really sleepy now. I could have kept sleeping this afternoon if I hadn’t had to get ready to go back to church.
I agree that bagging praise team, and perhaps choir, is a good idea. I hadn’t even considered the fact that moving back to the other firm is going to be a time-consuming nightmare. I am supposed to sing next Sunday on PT and sing a solo for the first half of one of the songs. I don’t want to do it. I talked to Donna tonight. She said she would do it and that she could do the solo. I think she wants to do it. So now I just have to talk to C – I’ll either talk to him at practice Tuesday or email him tomorrow. The other thing is that there are several singers that are way better than me – I’m sure they would love to be asked to be on PT. And I am going to hold my ground with C.
Tonight was a great night of worship. As far as my song went, for some reason, I got really nervous right when I started to sing. I have no idea why – I never get nervous anymore. But I did. Then after the program was over, this creepy guy who came to our Sunday School class this morning came up to me and said, “I am serious about this. I do not give compliments lightly. When I heard you sing for the first time (which I guess was probably this morning, because I’ve never seen the man before), I knew that it was an angel singing through you.” Very creepy. What was I supposed to say? I just said “uh, thanks. It was nice to meet you.” I wonder if that kind of line has worked for him with other women. Barf.
Well, I am really beat and the new meds are kicking in (btw – I haven’t had to take a single sleeping pill since I started taking the 2 new meds) .
Talk to you tomorrow!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi Shay,

It may be possible for Linda to pull you out of the situation during EMDR if she was aware what was going on. She would need to know from you what you were experiencing or see enough signs that you are distressed to make a good guess at what was going on. I think this might be something that would help to put in a letter to Linda so you both can explore this issue and you can regain the trust you had before with her. It's not that you don't trust her. I understand that. But it seems that this session had an effect on the relationship between you.

It would be hard to tell that you are having a flashback unless you showed some outward sign. It is mostly a dream like state, so it may seem that you are staring into space or just thinking. Unless you act out in some way, no one else would know. If they did know, they could touch you or get themselves into your line of vision and try to talk to you. You would come out of it because ultimately, your mind would reconnect you to the present if there is enough stimuli to do so.

All of the concerns you have about the EMDR are good topics to write Linda about. Some of your questions about what happened only she can answer so letting her know how you feel is important. Leaving this without answers is only going to make it harder for you both to move on.

That is a very odd comment that the man at church said to you. It is hard to know how to respond to people who introduce themselves by making a very personal statement. It would have been much better if he had approached you in a more socially acceptable way and allowed you time to adjust before he brought on the deep statements!

Hope your night went well! Talk to you soon,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes - that guy was odd. But I could tell as soon as he walked into our sunday school class that he was socially awkward. He doesn't seem to be shy, but says things that are not Germaine to the discussion. He started telling us about how he was bullied terribly by a lot of people growing up and it has made his life difficult, but he has forgiven them. Not really related to what we were discussing at the time, but I figured he really neede to get that out and get some support. I wanted him to feel welcome, since he is new, so I made a point during the greeting time to go down from the alter and shake hands with him and tell him I was glad he was there. He must have taken that as some kind of signal, because after church when Donna and I were wrapping up our mic cords and talking, he came and interrupted and told me he thought he knew me from somewhere and then was telling me some random things. Then when I was leaving, he tol me that he was going to be there last night. So he is definitely socially inept in some ways. But of course I was nice to him. I don't want to low people like that off, because I sense everyone else does, and perhaps tht is why they are how they are. But then sometimes they misinterpret it and end up following me around or asking me out or being creepy. But I thought what he said last night was REALLY creepy.
Those are all good ideas to write to Linda. I hope I have time to write her today before our appointment.
I don't think Linda would have any clue if I were having a flashback, then, because when we are discussing difficult things or I am having memories, I frequently zone out a bit and stare or close my eyes and don't say anything for a while. From what you said, that's exactly what it would look like to her if I were having a flashback.
I was thinking about what you said about me feeling abandoned when she didn't pull me out of what was going on last week after the EMDR. Maybe I did. I realized last night (I realized it before, I think, but I just put it together in my mind last night) that I expect her to take care of me. I know that is not her job, but I think I do. As we discussed, I think I expect her to be a mother - but not like my own mother. She has told me enough about her family that I know she is a good and caring mom. Plus I can just tell. But when she left me hanging (what I felt at the time - I know she don't really), I felt she didn't care enough to do anything to help. And I don't know if that made me have the feelings of shame and embarrassment about her knowing everything I told her, or if that shame and embarrassment made me feel like "no wonder she didint want to help me."
I am not sure which one it was. Do you? Or do you think my assessment is off?
I think I need to be up front with her about the feeling that she is going to act as some kind of "mother" to me. Because maybe she can do something to stop that, because I'm thinking it's not a good thing, and that in itself is kind of embarrassing. Maybe it is good that this whole thin happened, because maybe it will make me stop feeling/thinking that way. I don't mean to view her that way. It just happened.
It seems like I agave a twisted way of thinking of people in my life. Like p - i see her as almost a caretaker. Same, I guess, with Linda. I have a bit of a crush on c, but he is married and is my minister. I think sometimes I would rather hav a relationship with a woman than a man. I see my friends here, especially at church, and P's family more as my family, I see my family as people I love but who are more outsider to my life. It all seems to be twisted around. It's embarrassing. Will it ever be normal, how other people are?
I was talking to p this morning. I think I may go ahead and go to pt practice Tuesday and see what is up and suggest that all 3 of the women and 3 of the men sing Sunday because it isI Easter. Vicki's father in law is very ill, so p pointed out she may not be there anyway. I will try to sing the solo Tuesday night, but if I feel uncomfortable at all, I will tell c I can't do it and have Donna do it. So I will see things through to Easter as to not stress c out. And then I will talk to him. I don't know why he seems hell bent on having me there all the time. I mean, he has 3 alternate altos, yet instead of putting one of them on the other team, he ended up putting me on both. And Donna is better than me and can learn things in a snap and can sing soprano or alto. And she's been on pt a lot longer than I have. All of them have. Linda thinks he just likes having me around, but I don't get that sense. I guess it I handy of I'm already there, if the drum player is sick, I can fill in (whih I, of course, like), but he could always just call me. It's not like she just doesn't show up. She let him know. I don't know. But I need to hold my ground. It was flattering when he would say he needs me and my kind of voice is what he wants on pt, but I dot believe that now, especially when the other women have such different voices. And if people have said stuff to me and Donna, I'm sure they have told him that I drown the others out. Maybe he thinks the sound people took care of it, but they didn't. Maybe next week when I talk to him, I will have p there. She will back me up.
Another question: some of the meds dr m had me on ha the effect of stimulating my appetite. It was ridiculous. I told her about it, and she wasn't sure if any of the meds could do that, but I did some research and figured out that some people had that experience on doxepin and another one. She took me off the doxepin, which was good. Anyway, since she started playing around with my meds, I've gained like 20 lbs, which is obviously not good. It is stressing me out. I have been walking some and doom the wii fit, and watching what I eat more, and although I haven gained any more, I haven't lost any at all. I'm not sure if it's just the meds (or the meds at all, although I really think it is) or I'm depressed or something and eating more. But is it appropriate for me to ask dr m to either prescribe something that might spark weight loss or maybe to switch my ADD med from Wellbutrin to a stimulant (although I'd have to watch it because she said in adolescents, they suppress appetite, in the elderly, they stimulate appetite, and in-between it just depends on the person)? I don't wan to seem as though I just want a quick fix and am not willing to put work on, but that's a lot of weight to gain in such a short period of time, and dealing with everything else, the weight gain is upsetting. Do you think I should ask her? I don't want to ask my primary, because dr m knows more of what I am on and have been on.
Last night I didn't sleep quite as well, but still a lot better than it was a week or 2 ago.
Talk to you soon.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It sounds like that guy from church may have a social disorder, possibly a learning disability or autism related. You probably are safer just keeping a distance (hello, how are you and that's it) until you get to know him better.

It does seem like you are transferring your needs for a mother onto Linda (and possibly P). This is a normal part of therapy and something you can definitely address with Linda. It is a sign that you have strong needs in that area of your life, which is a therapeutic issue. You are normal in your reactions to others. You are just expressing your needs through the type of people you surround yourself with. Most people do. Once you address your mothering needs, you will be able to see your relationships in a different light.

It's not clear if you feel shame that you told her what happened to you or if it's why you figured she did not help you. That is only something you can answer. But either one would not be inaccurate because they are your feelings. It is possible for you to feel either way about what happened.

It's a good idea to stick to your guns when talking to C. This is about taking care of yourself which right now you need to do. C may want you involved, but letting his needs come before yours may come at a cost. Ask yourself this- if you do not take care of yourself now, who is going to do it for you? You already feel you need a break. This is about listening to your inner voice and giving yourself what you need. If C tries to make you feel guilty, that is his issue. You don't have to take responsibility for his needs. That is good boundary setting.

I would definitely talk to Dr. M about your medication. Every person reacts differently to medication and it may be that one of your meds are affecting you more than it should. Plus anti depressants are notorious for causing weight gain, even if you don't change anything in your diet. There are some that do not cause weight gain. You can ask Dr. M if those will work for you.

I'm glad your sleep is improving. Hopefully there will be more good nights than bad!

Talk to you soon,


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.


I want to be clear that C wouldn't purposely try to make me feel guilty, and he would tell me to do what I need to do. It just makes me feel bad when he says he misses me on PT or that they're going to miss me, and when he says that I need to do what I need to do, I feel like underlying that is "even if it causes us problems." I talked to Jamie about it, and she said that I should have a firm idea in my mind exactly what I want to do: if I want to quit or take a break, and if a break, how long.

About that guy, I agree. I was telling Jamie about it this morning because she wasn't at church yesterday morning. She pointed out that I am always nice to the outcast type people and I end up in weird stalker-type situations where they won't leave me alone. That is true, I guess. But someone has got to be nice to them.

In thinking about it a bit more, I think I felt the shame first, then thought "no wonder she didn't help." (As opposed to the fact that I felt she didn't help being the reason I felt ashamed).

I feel like it is so pathetic for me to have al these needs, and that I am being manipulative trying to get these needs met in inappropriate ways - from the wrong people.

Okay, so here is what I wrote Linda. Please let me know if you think I need to change, add, or remove anything:


I'm glad you were okay with reading my letter Friday and that we were able to talk some of the things through. I was super nervous before our appointment, and it was much better than I feared. Thank you for handling things so well with me and for considering my feelings and for being so kind.

Thank you also for calling Friday evening and for your message. It made me feel good that you were thinking of me and told me so. That makes me less alone and like you are on my side. I didn't doubt that you were on my side - I didn't mean that. But it's just nice to be reassured of it.

As a side note, I'm glad you like the Matt Redmond song, but I hate to think of you driving hours listening to one song over and over. As soon as I have the time, I'm definitely going to make you some road trip CDs.

There is nothing you are doing that makes me feel like you think badly of me. It's just my own shame - it didn't come from you. I think I am just projecting it onto you and expecting that you should feel disgusted with me. It's nothing in your words or actions - it's my own feelings. I know I may have seemed accusatory, and I apologize. I know that it's my own feelings, although I'm not sure what to do about it.

And you had no reason to apologize or feel bad about what happened last Tuesday. You did everything you could do, and it wasn't your fault. I had just wanted to share what I had been feeling at the time. To me, I was going through this really scary thing and I couldn't stop it. The voices were awful and the feeling that I was floating above myself kind of freaked me out. It was, too, as if I were stuck in what happened. I hadn't heard you say anything - either because I was "somewhere else" or because I had my hands over my ears (or maybe both) - and when I kind of snapped out of it, you were sitting there and I thought that you knew what had just been going on and where I "had been," almost like you had been three, too, watching. I don't know why I thought that - I know it was totally irrational and could not be true. But at the time, that's what I thought, and I didn't understand why you didn't rescue me. That's why I was kind of hurt. I thought you were leaving me to fend for myself and I didn't know why, unless it was because you were disgusted by the things I had told you.

But that wasn't your fault at all. You weren't there in my head and I know you had no idea what was going on. And I don't know what you could have done, even if you had known what was going on.

And as far as my feelings about being embarrassed and humiliated about the fact that you know all this stuff and what happened and what I did, there is nothing you did to cause me to feel this way, and there was nothing you could do at that time (even if I had told you then what I was feeling).

Thank you for taking my feelings and concerns seriously. That means a lot. I was afraid you would not understand and I would feel like my feelings weren't valid.

It scares me how dependent I am on you. From what you have told me and what I have read, that is normal at this point in therapy. But it still makes me worry and feel very vulnerable. You could crush me if you wanted to.

Also, we have discussed that most of my friends here are my parents' age, and that I'm likely trying to fulfill some need. We also recently talked abut the fact that this is probably a factor in why I was drawn to you right away and trusted you early (early for me).

But here's the concern: not only am I dependent on you because of your support and the nature of therapy; I think part of me sometimes wants or expects you to take care of me and keep me safe - like you are my mother. I seriously expect sometimes, if something hard or scary is going on, that you will sit by me or hold my hand or put your arm around me to comfort me and let me know it's okay. Not that my own mother ever acted that way, but it is the way I envision a good, caring mother would act, and I know you are a great mother to your daughters. But you are not my mother. I totally realize that, and I realize you can't be my mother-figure. I know there are all sorts of ethical issues that arise for you, as well as just common sense. I hope I am not freaking you out by telling you this.

I feel bad that I feel that way sometimes, and I am sorry. I wasn't going to tell you this, because I don't want you to think I'm crazy or weird or something worse. But then I felt like I need to be up front and totally honest with you. ‘M sure you probably have or would have figured it out yourself anyway.

I really, really hope this doesn't affect things between us or in therapy. And I really hope you don't feel like this means you can't be my therapist anymore. It doesn't mean that, does it?

So - there it is. I hope you don't mind me putting it in a letter again. Sometimes it seems easier.


Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks, Kate.



Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.


You are not maladaptive in the least trying to get your needs met with people like Linda and P. These are not abusive or wrong relationships. They are need based relationships. That is true of all relationships. And the fact that you do have a lot of older people as friends only says that you have an unmet need. You aren't hurting anyone trying to get this need met. You are in healthy relationships that obviously fulfill a need for you and for the person you are with, like P. She may need someone to nurture. Given her background, that makes a lot of sense. Neither of you is hurting the other. But addressing your unmet need does not hurt, either. It can make you feel happier with yourself if you can meet your own needs as well as get them met with others. It becomes a choice rather than a driven need that can only be filled one way, through older friends. But even if you never addressed this need, you would still be reacting in a healthy way in your relationships.

Your letter to Linda is good. You were open and honest about your feelings. You address your concerns very well and give Linda a lot to work with. There is an underlying fear in your letter that you will hurt Linda with what you are saying. Or that she will not want to see you any more. What do you feel is the root of this fear? I have an idea, but your feelings will tell me if I am accurate or not.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I don't know. Maybe I am afraid she will think I am too needy or needy in an inappropriate way and doesn't want to deal with it. I'm afraid I am crossing boundaries. It's kind of like that weird guy at church. He violated my boundaries, in a way, and even you said the best thing to do was stay away from him. And I'm afraid she will think my needs are wrong. And I feel wrong for having them.

What was your idea about it?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Plus - I trust her a great deal and have confided a ton of stuff in her. I will feel betrayed if she makes me leave, but at the same time know it was my fault.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

The difference between you and the guy at church is that you are expressing yourself in therapy and he is not. He is having his reactions in regular social situations with people who are not trained to respond to his needs. You are having your reactions with Linda, who is a therapist and is trained on how to handle your needs. And you are not having your reactions outside of therapy with other people. That is not to say that the guy at church is wrong. He is just unable or unwilling to have his reactions in the appropriate place.

Therapy is set up so you can express yourself in a safe and private environment with someone who is trained to help you unravel your needs, wants and issues without judgment and/or censure. That is why it is confidential. So you can express the deepest feelings without fear of it leaving that room. Therapists expect the people they see to have outbursts, transference, tears, anger, and other strong emotions. We prepare for those things so we can help. That is why there is no right or wrong when it comes to your feelings. People bring their deepest fears and most unhealthy thoughts and feelings to therapy so therapists can help them find the healthiest ways to change and feel better. Linda will not make you leave therapy because you express yourself. That is like you quitting on a client because they have a legal issue. It is what you do. And therapy is what Linda does. Short of physically attacking her or threatening her, there is no reason for her to have you leave therapy.

Because of your attack and how you grew up, there are issues that you feel interfere with your desire to live an emotionally healthy life. It is a sign of strength to not only realize you have issues, but to take the steps to address them. That is almost a guarantee that you will recover. That is why letting your feelings out in therapy (and here with me) will help you. The more you express, the better the issues can be dealt with. Holding back only keeps you from recovering as you wish to.

Oh, my idea about your last post was that you may be developing a relationship with Linda based on your maternal needs. Because of that connection, you may be even more fearful that she would reject you because that is what your mother did. And to have your mother and Linda reject you would seem like too much to you.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
You may be right about that. If that happened, it would reinforce that how my mother reacted to me was okay, when I've just learned that it is not.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi Shay,

I just wanted to check in. I received a request from you this morning for a new question but all it contained was a period mark. It was reported to the moderator who closed it. I just wanted to be sure that everything is ok and if you meant to start a new question.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I did start a new question, but deleted it and when you edit, it makes you leave something there, hence the period.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for letting me know. Experts don't get to see what you all see on your end and I just wanted to be sure all was ok.