Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

What’s the point of all this talking?


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So today I had therapy.  And at the end, when we were setting up our next session, I asked if we could meet again this week since “all I did was talk” this time around.  He didn’t have many openings for this week, but was concerned about having me wait till next week if I felt I really needed to see him.

I’m fine.  I don’t need to see him, meaning there is no crisis.  I am functioning well.  I am actually feeling better than last week.

“But all I did was ramble, and I feel that I don’t accomplish anything when I do that,” I said.

“What is there to accomplish?” he asked.

I wanted to reply, “Fixing me.”  But he went on and explained that our goals are to make sure I’m living life the best that I can and we discuss how I’m doing with that and by me ‘rambling’ today, we learned that I am on track with things.  I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m making progress in certain key areas.  So today wasn’t pointless at all.

Does anyone else feel that if they haven’t been put through the wringer, nothing was accomplished?  That if you don’t feel like crying or collapsing in bed (or both) after therapy, you must not have “done it right”?  Or that you have to have some concrete agenda, some measurable task, or some specific homework to say you’ve been successful?

Maybe that’s the perfectionist in me that has always felt this way.  I want to be the perfect therapy patient just like I want to be the perfect student and the perfect teacher.  Perfectionism is hard to let go of for me because it has always been threaded through every single aspect of my life.  I’ve started to loosen up with the student/teacher bit, but until today hadn’t realized how much I still want to be the perfect therapy patient.  I must work hard, however, is such an abstract idea, and I’m not always the best judge of when I’m working hard.  I will always say I’m not working hard enough.

Ring true for anyone else around here?  Well, today I learned that working hard enough does not always require blood, sweat and tears.



November 3, 2009 - Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , ,


  1. yes yes and yes. i get it. what an interesting thought. i hate leaving therapy feeling “unproductive”, or not having some deep thought to ponder, or solution to a problem.

    but is that reality? an hour “fix”? i guess not. but it would be nice.

    Comment by Melinda | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow, this hit hard with me. Through my therapy, I have learned to accept that perfectionism is part of my identity. It was there long before I had issues regarding eating, exercising and weight. I have often left therapy feeling almost good and wondered what I did wrong. I have often felt like if I don’t feel like curling up in a ball when I walk out, then it was a “succsessful” session. I have always been goal oriented and many times my goals are too lofty or not properly planned.

    While perfectionism can and has be detrimental to me and my life, it can also make me feel good about myself. I’m learning to redefine perfect. I still have to look to others sometimes to get a better perspective, but slowly, I’m finding that perfect means different things for different situations.

    Comment by unknownperson | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  3. Exactly! I would say perfect, but well…not so appropriate!
    I feel like I should always deal with my trauma and abuse, or be in a horrible place to be worthy of help. Sometimes my therapist will even say,”We aren’t going to touch that subject today because you aren’t ready, or too fragile,” and I always feel like a failure. I’m glad that I’m not the only one. Thanks for bringing that up. It rings true:)

    Comment by Angel | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  4. YES! I brought this up recently in therapy, too. I’ve always felt this way in there.
    Even in physical therapy I always felt like I had to do everything perfectly. I hated the thought of not being a “good patient” and not improving like I “should”.

    Comment by Andi | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  5. ironic that you wrote this today as I also had therapy today and I felt like “all I did was talk”. And it was true, I did talk and I was in a really great mood because the Smeltzer’s just got here and yadda yadda and I just got on a topic and started to talk to my T and tell her stories about when I was little and things I would say to my brother and random memories I had with friends….granted it was related to me and my competition with my brother and or my relationship with my friends and how i felt like the big one since I was always much taller than my friends and so it had relavence, but part of me when I left was like…….”wtf why did I talk so much?! That was pointless!” And I got annoyed because I did not use my hour in the most productive way and to get out every single minute of the hour. However, I am not really consumed in being the perfect therapy patient. I guess that is good lol. When it comes to recovery I am really not all focused on perfection which I mean well who knows…like I was not the most compliant person but I did get THE MOST UPSET once I got “in trouble” or got a “Contract” because I found myself unable to be PERFECT in that realm of things.
    Anyway, I am rambling, but I liked your post, and I think your therapist has a valid point, although I also know I can be prone to especially in the past talk about things that really don’t matter and are great conversations but something I do in order to avoid talking about other stuff? However, i would agree and say that just because you are not crying your eyes out or want to pass out due to emotional exhaustion after a session doesn’t mean that it was not helpful or productive.
    One thing in my recovery though that I have noticed is my obsession with having to be PRODUCTIVE. I must make EACH MINUTE OF MY DAY COUNT and do something all the time to remain productive to make the most of my hour etc and so I think that can be related to maybe your desire to make therapy that way as well…..
    At the same time, I hope you are okay, because I know I get super upset if I ask for MORE help and then I am not given it…….although it doesn’t sound as though you interpreted this situation in that way.
    Well, I believe this was the longest response I have ever wrote.
    Good night!

    Comment by Jessica | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  6. Oh and so to summarize or as my therapist said. EVERYTHING IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE. I think we have all been told this so many times, but again another situation to use that philosophy and truth. Just because you talked a lot in therapy doesn’t mean that it was UNPRODUCTIVE. Why can’t you talk a lot in therapy AND get something out of it? (rhetorical question and I know that you know the answer just thinking outloud) Now I am done.

    Comment by Jessica | November 3, 2009 | Reply

  7. I total get it. Of course I also spent 3 nigths avoiding my bedroom and sleeping on the couch after “misinterpreting” my therapists “homework” assignment. After that she said it’s ok to feel just a little push. I don’t have to try and tackle all the issues at once.

    But I do feel like “what the heck am I doing here?” a lot of the time.

    Comment by David | November 4, 2009 | Reply

  8. Yup…sometimes I don’t talk about things that are “deep” or “upsetting,” or we’ll talk about solving a problem that isn’t directly related to my “issues,” and I’ll feel like I “didn’t accomplish anything” when in reality I accomplished a lot. I gave my therapist a good look at my thought processes. I prevented the problem from becoming a bigger problem. I was heard.

    Comment by Jess K | November 18, 2009 | Reply

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