The following is a guest post from Kira Love Flores of www.HeartsHealing.com. Kira is a survivor of therapist abuse who has her own October story to tell. (Please note: Kira’s “T” and my “Dr. T” are two completely different people. ~Kristi)
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Anniversaries… dark anniversaries… October is a big month for me, especially Oct 29, “Black Monday,” well, it’s Thursday this year…
Oct 29, 2007 will forever stand out in my mind as the day T nearly drove me over the edge into insanity. For some reason, this “anniversary” seems like a far worse one than the day we met and the day we had our last “session,” and worse than the day I reported him, and worse than so many other potential anniversaries with the notorious T who temporarily destroyed my life…
T was my therapist and eventually my priest (not even my denomination!). He had also become my mentor as I was training to be a therapist. Via his abuse of a once beloved therapeutic model, T reduced me to a defenseless, vulnerable child deeply in love with him as her “perfect daddy.” T also posed himself to be my kindred spirit soul mate… and he proceeded to increase our physical contact, slowly, subtly, over a two year period. After several months T was holding me close at the end of each session. He gradually introduced various “add-ons” such as swaying me from side to side, rubbing my upper back, nestling his head between my neck and shoulder, holding me absolutely still while breathing slow deep breaths, squeezing me back in for a longer embrace… eventually he was holding me close on his couch… He told me he loved me, even as “a love loves a love,” and that our love was forever, and that he “could see no reason our connection would end.”
The following is a brief account of that hellish day in October…
I was so confused and heart broken after church, and beginning to go numb again, that I called him the next day. BLACK MONDAY. I told him what I’d observed regarding his ignoring me, avoiding eye contact with me, and that I was wondering what that was about. He said, “This is not working,” and “This isn’t good…” and then—a moment in time I will never forget—he threatened, “AND I FEEL LIKE IT’S COMING TO A PLACE WHERE MAYBE I NEED TO REFER YOU TO SOMEBODY ELSE FOR THERAPY.” T told me this on the phone in a season when he knew I’d been decompensating, breaking down. He also knew how absolutely dependent I was upon him, a dependency he had deliberately fostered. I had told him many times over two years, “I could not even conceive of not having you in my life!” His laying down the gauntlet over the phone at such a time and in the context of all his abuse and misconduct toward me, is an example of unbelievable therapeutic negligence and shockingly cold-hearted malevolence toward a client.
Since in our very next session he admitted I’d been right in my perceptions of his ignoring me Sunday, why not address my very real and accurate perceptions on the phone with me that Monday? Why not treat me with respect by engaging with me in my valid inquiry and explaining his confusing, if not cruel, behavior of ignoring me in a social setting? Instead he punished me with the most severe punishment he could dish out: threatening to sever our relationship. In this session’s Clinical Record he portrays me as an extremely petty and insecure client or worse, as an extremely personality disordered client, and in this case merely due to my perceiving behaviors of his which he later verified as actually taking place!
He also wrote in my record that after he had told me he might refer me out I had “immediately calmed down,” and that I’d experienced, “greater calm at end” of our phone session! Not even close. When T decreed those words of doom, I thought it was over. I thought he was completely abandoning me right then and there over the phone. The blood drained from my face, my heart fell into my feet, my world had crashed. I experienced this as the most dreaded and absolute of psychological rejection and abandonment.
After dropping that bomb, he then gave me the ultimatum, the choice: attend his church OR therapy. I completely regressed and fell apart. Terror, with its sharp teeth and black hole of a throat threatened to swallow me whole. I was a victim of the trauma of entrapment without any possibility of escape. I was trauma-bonded to T. He’d anchored himself within my psyche to my introject of dad and to my experiences of God and to my longed for “Golden One” and Rescuer-Redeemer. He was deeply embedded and interwoven into my very being. T had deliberately engineered this dynamic as well. There was no way I felt I could lose him and survive psychologically. I could not leave, but he was killing me in a slow agonizing death, “killing me softly with his song…” He was my life! Catch 22! During the phone “session,” I told him I was physically shaking, and I said many things indicating my generalizing this horrible situation to our entire future relationship and any possibilities of my “ministering” with him at his church or working for him as a therapist. My world had crashed. This was unquestionably one of the worst days of my life.
…My universe had exploded, my mind shattered. I dissociated the rest of the day, numb then crying. My husband, once home from work and seeing his poor wife in a heap, held me close, believing my account that this was “intense therapy processing,” when actually, this was my own personal version of hell. I was debilitated the rest of the day. My body was shaking; I felt cold. I was crying, trembling, in shock, regressed, going from intense fear and pain to feeling nothing. The terror of the reality was this: I now knew without a doubt that I had no power in my relationship with T, and T could do anything he wanted to do—even to the destruction of my soul—and that he was willing and capable of doing so!
Well today, on this dread anniversary, I did what Sue Penfold from TELL often recommends: “The best revenge is a well lived life!” I worked on my brochure for my private practice… I worked on my web site, I actually cooked dinner (a rarity indeed!), I had a glorious massage, had some nice time with hubby, comforted my adult daughter, and then… actually felt deep sadness about something completely OTHER THAN T!
One of the casualties of his abuse was the demise of a 10 year friendship… When that came down a year ago, I just couldn’t process it, too much with all the pain of T. Everything diminished in comparison to THAT pain. Well, now T is truly diminishing more and more, so when my husband and I watched a movie where a woman’s sister had died and she found a recently written loving sister note, I lost it. My ex-sister/friend had written me sweet notes like that… deep sadness… tears… “Oh, yeah, so this is what it’s like to feel OTHER kinds of loss and pain.” Not much nicer, but at least, not about HIM!
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Kira Love Flores is an individual, marriage and family therapist. She specializes in trauma and clergy/therapist abuse. You can visit her website at www.HeartsHealing.com.
© 2009 Kira Love Flores
All rights reserved, printed by permission.