Who's left to trust if you can't trust your own therapist to show up?
To begin with, I have a lot of low self-esteem issues. I had friends who turned on me in high school, leaving me feeling very rejected. So on the night of my college graduation, when I found out my boyfriend had left me for someone else, I felt myself spiraling out of control — so I sought help.
I found a woman named Abby (name changed). She seemed to specialize in many of the issues I needed help dealing with: self-esteem, anxiety and relationship issues. And she took my insurance, so we set up an appointment.
Abby was an older woman, about 65. She had a blonde pixie cut and a warm vibe. She welcomed me into the office with open arms, and our first session began.
We began seeing each other once a week — alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays — and everything started out great. I was beginning to feel a little happier in my social life and in my career. At the end of each session, I'd give her my copay, we'd confirm our appointment for the following week, she'd write it down in her planner, and I'd be on my way.
After one session, however, I noticed she hadn't written down our next appointment. But because we'd been seeing each other for the past month or so, I assumed she'd either already written it down beforehand or she would've just remembered.
But on the day of our next session, I'd had an incredibly stressful day at work and the only thing getting me through the day was the promise of talking to Abby about it.
I showed up and sat in the waiting room like always. I didn't want to intrude on the patient before me, so I sat in the chair, scraping the sand tray with the provided rake, flipping through psychology magazines.
But she never came out to greet me. About 15 minutes after our appointment should've begun, I left.
I felt incredibly stupid. Maybe our appointment was on Wednesday instead of Tuesday? I thought. I knew I hadn't gotten the day wrong but I decided to give Abby the benefit of the doubt.
I returned the next day to no avail. What was going on? I called Abby and asked her what had happened. She said she had forgotten. My therapist forgot about me, but I still decided to give her another chance.
The following couple of weeks were normal. Abby had apologized, but I could tell there was something wrong. She seemed distant and distracted, and she kept giving me advice she'd already given me before. I began to feel agitated.
I had recently been interviewing at a great publication in New York City and was very close to getting the job. In the end, I did get it — for all of 20 minutes. The acceptance letter the company sent me was addressed to someone else. I emailed the hiring manager about it, and he said he'd sent it to me by accident.
I felt more rejected than ever. I happened to receive the faux acceptance letter on the same day as my session, so I was itching to speak to Abby about it. I really needed her that day, but she bailed on me once again.
I left a very angry voicemail on her cell before leaving her office. At midnight, while I was hysterically crying and reflecting on my failures, I received a novel-long text from Abby. She claimed she had to go in for an emergency root canal after she had a dentist appointment at noon.
She said that in the process of making the appointment and getting to the next dentist's office, she didn't have time to tell her patients she wasn't going to be there. Do emergencies happen? Of course. And had she told me this was happening, I would've been very understanding.
But I found it very odd that in the six hours between noon and our 6:15 PM appointment, she didn't find one second to text me saying she couldn't be there. And I began thinking about the other patients she had that day. Were they feeling as abandoned as I was?
Between forgetting about me, her distance and flat-out disregarding our appointment, I realized my mental well-being couldn't handle a flaky therapist. So I terminated our relationship.
I was nervous about trusting another therapist going forward. But I know I needed help sorting through my issues, and eventually I'd find the right fit.
Fast-forward four months. I've started seeing someone new, and she and I seem to click. It's still the beginning stages but I have hope that there are loving, caring therapists out there who do want to help. And I hope I've found mine.