She promised up and down she wouldn't.
But that didn't stop her the last time, did it?
Here's the situation.
I started seeing my current therapist shortly after finding out I was pregnant. I had a lot on my mind, regarding mental health maintenance and pregnancy. I'd broken off my relationship with my previous therapist, when I finally realized he was emotionally abusive. My psychiatrist had taken me off my medications, which had me terrified that I might have a relapse. I was still processing a lot of questions about my identity in the wake of my diagnosis, my hospital stay, not to mention the exhausting effort of trying to get back into life, friendships, work, with this huge part of my recent past a secret from pretty much everyone except my immediate family, my doctors, and my anonymous online friends.
Plus, I was pregnant, and I'd just gotten laid off.
So, I wrote about a lot of it here. Here meaning this blog.
Some of you (most of you?) might remember that this isn't my first weblog. I had another, that I loved, that I ended up having to destroy after sharing it with the wrong people. Does it sound melodramatic to say that was heartbreaking?
I came here, and began to rebuild, but my readership has never been what it once was. And I have to confess that sometimes I see this blog as the replacement child, conceived after the firstborn's death, loved, but always a poor reflection of what was lost.
Still. This is my place. My past hurts have hemmed me in, made me far more careful of what I share, but this is still the place for that sharing to happen. And you, my small circle of readers, are my safe space in human form. I can hear you, washing your dishes on the other side of my screen. I trust you to pick up your extension when you have a moment. Maybe you'll say something. Maybe I'll just see your addresses flit by on my visitors page-- an internet calling card of sorts.
That's the advantage of being small, anonymous, writing in an unfashionable format in a world where everyone else has moved on to wittiness in 140 characters or less-- not that many people come by, and I get to know the ones that do.
At any rate, back when I started seeing my therapist, I talked about my blogging, about the anonymity, about my other big blog-based project, that occupied my time when I was insane. I talked a bit about the bad experiences that led me to shut down my first blog, and to make my other one password-protected.
So at one point, when I was trying to fill her in on the big mass of concerns I listed at the top of the post, I said, "You know, I've been writing about this. Why don't I just bring you the articles?"
I did. She said she was impressed, both with my sentiments and with my skill in their expression. Which was good to hear. We talked about them for a while.
But before the end of that session, I needed to make a point. "I realize that my blog is public, so this may seem like a strange request, but I'd rather you didn't read it."
"You've never given me the address."
"Well. It would be pretty easy to find, now that you have two articles I published there."
"I'm interested in this. Why would my reading be different from anyone else who could come by and read your blog?"
"Well, I'm anonymous for a reason. No one in my regular life reads my blog. Although some of my readers know my name, now. But that's because we've built a relationship through sharing this part of our lives for years."
"Although, really, the big difference is that you... aren't my friend. We might enjoy talking with each other, but you're not telling me what your plans are for the rest of the evening or what you're worried about with your husband. Our relationship is one way. That's a power dynamic that goes against me feeling like I have a safe place to write. Even though I very well might talk about the exact same things when I come to therapy."
"So it's not that there are things you're writing about that you don't want to discuss here."
"No. But I want to be in charge of when things get introduced for analysis. Now, the thing is, I can't stop you..."
"There's nothing stopping me from reading your blog?"
"Well, I would hope professionalism and a commitment to building a trusting relationship with your client would stop you."
That's about where we left it. A little over two years ago.
I'd wondered, from time to time, in the months since, if she'd been by. A lurker who always visited via one of the articles I gave her. Though that same article had been linked from another site, where I've gotten some new readers (Thank you, tracey!), so it could easily have been someone else.
But a few weeks ago, I talked fairly extensively about one article I wrote before Sprog was born, called Toxic Boobs. I mentioned the title, because I still feel it rather succinctly sums up how I felt about my body at the time I wrote it. And that discussion flowed into some reminisces about conversations J and I had when I was debating whether or not to submit that essay to a local writing competition (thus outing myself as mentally ill in the process.)
Anyway. When I came home and opened my blog overview, I saw that someone had done a title search on "Toxic Boobs" from Google, and had then clicked around the site. Fifteen minutes after I'd left her office.
So, yeah. There's really no reasonable doubt that she decided to read my blog without telling me.
I was thrown. I didn't know what to do. I felt betrayed, and exposed, and angry.
The next week, when I met her for our session, I said, "I'm sorry, this has been on my mind all week, so I'm just going to ask-- what did you think of my post?"
"Your... your post? What do you mean?"
"The post you read on my blog."
"Yes. On your blog. Rooful. I thought that was clever. Since... craftyroo is your email."
"Yes. What did you think?"
"Of your post? I didn't read it."
"You didn't read it."
"No, I was curious, so I clicked through to the article. Toxic Boobs. And then I clicked around a bit. But I didn't read anything."
"I... I don't understand why you'd go to the trouble of doing a title search and hunting down the blog, and then not reading it."
"Well, I needed to get on the train, and I can't read with motion sickness."
"You don't believe me?"
"Well, it sounds a little like Clinton claiming he didn't inhale."
"So you think I'm lying about my motion sickness?"
"Well, not necessarily. But I don't understand why you'd search for the article and then not read it."
"You can't think of any reason why I might just click around and then not read?"
"I could imagine you might get interrupted. But it seems to me you'd come back and finish later."
"You can't think of any other reason?"
"Well... no. No, I can't."
I asked her why she went looking for that article. She kept saying things along the lines of, "There was something about the way you were talking about this article. There was... just this sense I got. And you were so specific. You told me the title. You'd never been that specific about your writing with me before."
"I'm having a hard time imagining what could be more specific than printing out two entire articles and giving them to you to read."
"Well, yes, you did that. Did they have titles?"
"Yes. They were printed out with the articles. And we talked about my not wanting you to read my blog when I gave them to you."
"Yes you did."
"So, why did you look up this one?"
"There was just something about the way you were talking about it."
"You think I was sending you some subtle message that I wanted you to go read it?"
"No. Nooo. Ha ha ha. It wasn't like I thought you were speaking in CODE. I didn't think you were sending me secret messages! Ha ha."
"I wasn't thinking 'secret message' so much as 'tacit invitation.' "
She stopped laughing.
She asked a lot of questions about how I knew she'd been by. She asked in a way that made me think she was trying to catch me in some paranoid behavior, guarding my site in some obsessive way. When I told her that the very first page of my blog's control panel was a list of all the hits my site received in the last twenty-four hours, she looked shamefaced.
Of course, now I am feeling a bit obsessive about my visitors. I even considered taking this blog down and building again somewhere else. But, that thought makes me angry. I've been down that road before. And if this blog is a pale reflection of the last, what will the next be? Will I have any readers at all?
I'm like the old coot boarding up his windows: "I've lived at this web address for five years, and I ain't leavin' for no fancypants therapist! OR a hurricane!"
Later in the session, I likened her behavior to a dinner guest I've welcomed to my home, who I've caught rooting through the medicine cabinet. That seemed to make sense to her. And she apologized, and promised never to read here again.
But I don't know why I should believe her. Especially given her tactics once I confronted her about the violation of my privacy-- denial, attempted shaming, laughing in a way that belittled my concerns.
Because, you know, on one level I could understand-- you see someone's diary, just sitting open, you know you shouldn't read but you do. It's a bad thing, but it's understandable, and if she'd just copped to that right from the start and offered a sincere apology I wouldn't be writing this.
Instead, when I asked her why she didn't just ask me to bring her a copy of the article (which is the sort of thing I've offered to do on several occasions over the course of our relationship), she said, "Well, how do you feel about that? That I didn't ask?"
Bitch, this is not part of my therapy. You compromised our working relationship. I am your client, you are my therapist, and I pay you to create a safe place to talk through my troubles. That safe place doesn't exist without trust. I want to know why you broke faith with me. I shouldn't have to pay you by the fifty-minute hour to get an answer.
I'm not sure what I should do next. I'm particularly angry, because up until this happened I'd actually been feeling really great about our relationship. I thought our sessions were becoming more productive, and helpful. I was starting to tackle some of the Big Things.
And she shot it all to hell. For what? Really. I would like to know.
Maybe she's reading.
If so, I hope she has the balls to give me a real answer this time.