Surviving A Narcissistic Therapist: My Story (part 1)

Some people know what it’s like to miss a therapist. Some people know what it’s like to miss a narcissist. Very few people know what it’s like when the person they miss is both: the one you trusted and allowed into your deepest thoughts and fears, who then systematically and abusively tore a hole through your soul.

This blog was intended to be mainly informative and supportive through the use of articles and research. On further reflection, I thought it wouldn’t be complete without the sharing of my story. I have decided that I am going to dedicate a section to this. Some personal writing that will be different from the rest of the content on the website. 

Because – why not? It might help me; it might help someone else; and it might even liven things up a little around here.

So here it is – part one of my story.

I’m currently laid out on the grass, relaxing and having a summer picnic with my partner. Things in my life are generally idyllic. That is, everything I could really hope for (except maybe money which isn’t all that important) is in abundance. I have great friends, a rewarding job, good physical health and a roof over my head.

Despite the sunshine and positives, there’s this consuming chasm of grief that rips through my life. I miss Mr C, my old therapist. I miss our bond. I miss being respected, loved, and cared for by him, in a safe and unconditional way. I miss the fakery: the person Mr C pretended to be when he was helping me.

It all started in November 2015. Mr C said that he would take me on as a patient. I was surprised and delighted: I really thought my problems wouldn’t be considered severe enough, that the state-funded service would cruelly reject me somehow, in preference of the queue of more worthy patients that metaphorically lingered in the corridor. 

It was nonsense, really. My problems were more than worthy of consideration, and certainly severe enough to warrant psychotherapy. Mr C taught me this, about a year before he turned into a coward and a bastard.

After Mr C said yes to therapy, remember jumping into my little car, shedding a few tears of relief, and switching the radio on to hear the song ‘Are You With Me?’ by Lost Frequencies. Someone was with me. I was no longer alone. For perhaps the first or second time in my life, I’d reached out for help and someone had agreed. All I’d really known before that was abuse and bullying – something I’d internalised and come to believe was the norm.

I really struggled with psychotherapy at the start. Opening up was almost impossible for me. Mr C seemed to work with my trust issues rather patiently, though I sometimes wondered if he felt frustrated with the pace things were moving at. I was frustrated, for sure. Almost every cell in my brain and body screamed don’t trust him, and despite his kind words and endless patience I would freeze on the spot, unable to even make eye contact. Maybe it was purely my insecurity and abandonment fears from past experiences, or maybe in hindsight I could call it intuition. Whatever it was, it made therapy very, very challenging.

Mr C and I never exactly got to the bottom of my trust issues. I did attribute a large part of it to our rapport, or lack of rapport. I’m a chatty kind of person. I like to smile and I like to laugh. I’m sometimes a little too sarcastic or cynical (the lowest form of wit), but that’s because I’m British. Mr C was unapologetically British too, except he really wasn’t one for smiling or laughing. Sarcasm held no place in his office and often he acted oblivious to it.

I put it down to his formal approach to therapy that I often found him cold and aloof, lacking in the conversational tact that would have made things easier for me. At the same time, he had a wonderful way of drawing out my insecurity and being kindsweet and caring. He was much kinder to me than I was to myself. It was like working with two different people at the same time – the cold one and the warm one.

Mr C held a lot of power in that room. He was a skilled analyst and an intelligent man. When he left a deliberately long silence, I knew it. When he spoke, it held far too much weighting. Sometimes he refused to answer simple questions, like how long will therapy last? Which made it all the more counter-intuitive when he relaxed back in his chair and humbly said things like ‘I’m just an ordinary bloke.’ His local dialect carried a certain familiarity and charm, like butter wouldn’t melt. 

Which was he – the powerful man or the humble one? figured that, underneath the ‘act’ of formality, Mr C had a carefree sense of humour and a good, stable handle on life. I came to both fear and adore him in equal measure. I wished I could know the true person. My sweet therapist and his funny little quirks.

After a year of working with Mr C, I was to find out that he was far from ordinary. The first signs of this came in the summer of 2016 when I began to suspect he was depressed. I sensed that he was heavily burdened with something. Poor Mr C was in pain.

Slowly, my attention turned away from my own therapy and towards how Mr C was feeling. Perhaps he needed it more than me. And I’m incredibly talented at finding a way to put myself second in the priority queue, even though Mr C was having none of it (at least, at first). But please don’t feel sorry for him, like I did. Not until you know the full story.

Click here to jump to part two.

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