Mental Health · Random thoughts

Transference and Jealousy

I’ve been trying to process my feelings and learn from them. Not to judge me but to see what these things are telling me and how I might grow from them. I’ve been seeing the same therapist now for almost 7 years. During that time I have seen how that relationship and my feelings about that relationship have evolved. When I first started seeing her I was 32 and in some respects I know I found her attractive. In fact, with almost every therapist I’ve ever had, the criteria for me wanting to work with them was that they were female, attractive, and nurturing. I found her online and the criteria I was looking for was that she treated BPD through DBT (because that is what I had diagnosed myself with and believed the therapy that would best treat it) and that she was female and attractive.

When we first started working together, I think I saw her in many ways as a parental figure. I was in a lot of emotional pain and I felt safe and almost childlike looking back. Over these last 7 years, I’ve poured out my whole inner being in her office. Everything that makes me, me, the good and the bad. In a classic, therapeutic form she has met everything with a professional and nurturing demeanor. She has used all her skills to help transform my ways of thinking. To teach me techniques to use to manage my emotions. She showed me what was possible and acts as a life coach in helping me to achieve my goals.

Somewhere along the line (perhaps a year or so ago), I began feeling romantic feelings, or what my mind told me were romantic feelings towards my therapist. As I do anytime I think something is wrong I began researching this. Good ol’ google. I was terrified this would mean that I would need to stop going to see her. What I learned was that first, these feelings were normal and common. More importantly, I learned that it does not mean it needs to be the end of that therapeutic relationship. That if handled correctly there was a lot that could be learned from this. I was then concerned about whether or not to share these feelings. More googling. Google stated it was best to share them but of course, keep in mind that my therapist would not reciprocate them and that honestly depending on the therapist they may choose to stop working with me. I was again terrified. I did not want to have to stop seeing her. However, I took the leap and shared them, over text, the idea of doing it in person was terrible. She communicated back that as long as they didn’t interfere with my progress and our ability to work together we did not need to stop seeing each other. And that was the last we have spoken about it.

Thinking about transference, a little off topic, one article I read said that therapists believe transference happens frequently in everyday life, not just in a therapeutic setting. I was thinking about a friend from my hometown. She is a person highly emotionally intelligent, nurturing, and with an education in social work. She was one of the first people who started to help me see some of my mental health struggles. I much like I’ve done with my therapist poured out all of myself to her. I think that often the lines between feelings of gratitude and love get blurred. Perhaps my feelings towards her are in a greater part due to transference. I think much of the feelings that I have towards her and my current therapist are feelings of gratitude, admiration, and connection. Connection of course is something all humans require and crave and something I am greatly lacking in my life.

Lately, I’ve noticed what I think are feelings of jealousy. Previously I never had issues sharing my therapist’s contact information with friends. I know how much she has done for me and I wanted to allow others that opportunity. Recently, I had given her information to another lesbian who I see regularly in recovery at meetings. That person still continues to see my therapist. This person also started using my sponsor in recovery. It ended that relationship with my sponsor as my sponsor I perceived as clearly expressing favoritism towards this other person. Sharing my therapist’s information with her has caused me to feel regret, jealousy, and fear. Fear that my therapist would like her better, perhaps. That it would somehow diminish or destroy the relationship I have with my therapist? I’m not sure. I have a lot of avoidant attachment issues due to my mom which created an ongoing fear of rejection within me. I think I have fear of being rejected by my therapist. I shared these new feelings with my therapist. I am not exactly sure how they were received. Mostly she has chosen to not acknowledge them.

In my last session, she mentioned something based on what I had shared about feeling inadequate in my connections from perceptions of things I watch on tv. She shared that I shouldn’t use that as a basis and also that often they share on tv about romantic relationships between therapists and clients occurring which never should happen and are a huge no-no. Extremely emphasizing that. Reflecting on it, it made me wonder, did she feel the need to emphasize that due to the things I shared?

I know the blurred feelings I have are not reciprocated. I know I’ll never be in a relationship with her. I’ve never hit on her. I don’t feel like my mixed feelings have interfered with our therapy. I have expressed my gratitude to her on multiple occasions. Which is genuine. I don’t know if my feelings of not wanting to share her with other people in my life are good or bad.

Another thing I am wondering is do I often feel romantic feelings towards avoidant relationships? Is this the classic Freud situation that I am pursuing my mother in all of these relationships throughout my life? It makes me reflect back on the relationships where I had felt the most desire and they all were in instances where the person was avoidant. In each of those relationships, they were with people who were inadequately able to reciprocate the type of love I needed or wanted. In fact, in all of those relationships, I was continuously rejected. In every healthy relationship where feelings were reciprocated and I was pursued, I didn’t desire it. Not sure what all that means or how to fix that.

Anyway, I am supposed to be doing homework now but I couldn’t get these things off my mind so I needed to get them out of my head. I hope these are things I can learn and grow from. Perhaps now I can focus.

Cover Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

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