Anxiety in the Chair, on the Couch

She sits across from me. The fifty-minute hour is a few minutes old. This is the first week in which we’ll meet twice. We aren’t new to each other. Our initial session was over a year ago. I sense that she has doubts about coming twice a week. A few sessions ago, when I suggested that she might want to come twice a week instead of once, I was anxious about how she might respond. In the moment, as I suggested it, I experienced my stomach churning, and let my awareness pass on to other things. The next day, when I found myself in my own psychotherapist’s office, she’s a psychoanalyst, on the couch, speaking about something that had just come to me, I remembered that anxious moment from the session the day before, when I’d sat in the therapist’s chair with my stomach churning, and then, on the couch, I changed subjects and started to speak about that anxiety I’d felt in my stomach. These sentences, thoughts, and memories come and go now, in this session, the first of two of the week, this first week in which she’ll come twice. I’m anxious. I don’t feel much anxiety from her. My own anxiety regarding our work together requires more of my attention. I’m unaware of too much. These sentences in my mind disappear. She’s speaking. I’m listening, to her and to myself, simultaneously. Moments or minutes pass. Something in her words, or maybe in between them, suggests that she’s anxious. I wonder what about, this uncertainty passes, and I wait for whatever happens next.

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