Call The Midwife – quote 

I’ve just heard this quote from Call The Midwife and think it’s both beautiful and relevant! 

“It’s no bad thing to be lost in a fog or at sea. When land comes into view again, you will appreciate it with a keenness that is denied to those who know nothing but the safety of the shore” 

The Reunion – Back to Therapy Tomorrow

I started drafting this about 2 hours ago.  It was feeling very confused, but since typing it all out, I seem to have made some sense of it.  This is what I love about writing and about blogging. It helps me to un-jumble all the chaotic thoughts and organise them a little better.

It’s Monday 27th February today and I have called in sick at work. I woke up early this morning with such a pounding headache.  That and the familiar sense of sadness.  I hate that feeling. It is so obvious even when you’ve only been awake for seconds and you know the likelihood is, it isn’t going anywhere for at least the rest of the day.  Not a nice start to the day, or the week!

The thing is though, tomorrow happens to be “Return To Therapy” day and so I don’t think it is a huge coincidence that I feel like this.  I often have a lot of physical responses to therapy stuff (read: feelings).

Tomorrow will be the first session back after 12 days.  Today is day 11 (obviously) and yes, I have been counting! On the whole, I’ve done okay. Last Sunday and Monday were pretty awful, but since then I seem to have been in “adult functioning” mode and have been able to get on with life and not feel that sense of doom and panic that I had.

An hour or so ago, I re-read the post from last Monday and I cried. It felt as though it got me back in touch with those feelings again. I wonder if I am a bit regressed today. I think Little Twink is around.

All I have wanted for the last 11 days is to be back in there with her, so you would think today I would be excited and happy wouldn’t you? But no. I feel weird. I feel anxious, nervous even, and physically my head is banging so hard it’s like a door knocker!

What am I nervous about?

  • Am I scared she will have changed?
  • Am I scared it will all be a big anti-climax?
  • Am I scared she will extend her break at the last minute?
  • Am I scared of overwhelming her with all the stored up needs from the last 12 days?
  • Am I scared of admitting how needy I’ve felt and telling her the real feelings I’ve had?

I think given how easily that list was to write, the answer is probably yes to all of them.

It has made me question whether this is how I felt as a child when my mum was due back from one of her latest holidays. Did I feel nervous then? I can’t remember.  One thing I do remember is that she would be really “nice” for a little while and then everything would go back to normal and that seemed to hurt more than if she had stayed the same.  I guess it was that bit of hope that things were different at last … and then that sense of utter devastation that nothing was different at all  would hit. And it hurt like hell.

good-or-bad-mum

I don’t think that bit applies to therapy though, because I don’t want anything to change and she doesn’t need to be “nicer” than normal, because she isn’t like that.  Maybe old habits die hard?

This cocktail of feelings is unnerving. The mixture of anticipation, excitement, panic, dread – it is horrible.

I have read on the net today that lots of people feel angry towards their T on the return to therapy. Anger for having left them alone or anger as a defense to their painful feelings of abandonment. I don’t feel angry.  T has often told me that it is okay to feel angry feelings about her and that it is natural but consciously at least, I have none. Maybe unconsciously I do? Who know’s?

I have known for the last 11 days that today would bring these feelings of anxiety and nervousness, so it’s nothing I didn’t predict already. I’ve felt this way before.

I have tried to intellectualize my way out of this today and it has helped a little – I know that isn’t a good thing really, but it helps me to feel the feelings with less shame. It at least stops me from denying them completely.

For anyone who hasn’t watched The Strange Situation,who struggles with these feelings, give it a watch now, it is incredible. It models attachment styles in babies beautifully. It reminds me that a lot of these feelings are all due to my particular attachment style which is either anxious or disorganised. T says I flip between the two.

With that in mind, I can appreciate that it is transference making me feel this way today.

Because of my attachment style I experience a really high amount of distress when I am not with my caregiver (therapist).  I can’t soothe myself well and I therefore stay hyper-vigilant whilst she is gone.  When she returns, I remain just as fired-up because I don’t know what I am going to get. The good mother or the bad mother.  I guess that does link in with my memory from childhood actually doesn’t it? How long will the niceness last? How long until I have to feel the same again? I guess that is why I have often gone back to therapy after a break with “no feelings” and nothing to discuss, because if you want to keep your caregiver good after they’ve been away, you keep any “bad” feelings away don’t you? You stay good.

That isn’t going to work tomorrow because I have a whole host of feelings ready to take to her.  I guess THAT is what is making me anxious.

 

Object Constancy – Are you still alive?

The definition of object constancy, according to one of my favourite sites for C-PTSD is “An inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision

As I understand it, a lack of object constancy is a result of insecure attachments to caregivers when we are young. It means that those who suffer from a lack of object constancy are kinda stuck at that development stage, having never successfully managed to pass through it.  At that age (about 2 or 3), when your caregivers leave, you are naturally frightened, sad and worried that they will be gone forever, but with any luck, you have a decent caregiver who models to you time and time again, that they will return and so you manage to learn that you don’t need to worry – that said caregiver is still “there” somewhere and will return.  You learn to self-sooth and use your internalized image until they return to comfort you again. You gain “object constancy”.

Unfortunately when you don’t have a decent caregiver like moi, you don’t learn that and so when someone isn’t around, you still feel those infantile feelings of abandonment, panic, fear and/or anger and you begin to question whether that relationship even exists anymore. This is what causes the panic, the clinginess, the jealousy and can drive our partners crazy.  It is what makes us feel “needy” when we compare ourselves to others who don’t suffer from a lack of object constancy. Having a lack of object constancy makes us insecure – literally.  For example, if my boyfriend is out and doesn’t contact me all day – I won’t automatically think that he is just busy and will contact me later.  No, obviously he doesn’t love me anymore, is planning to leave me or worse – is dead!! Dramatic isn’t it?

Learning about this has really helped me because now when I get these feelings and thoughts, the adult part of me can (try to) calm myself down. Easier said than done I must say, just see Emotional Flashback? for proof that I can’t think my way out of the feelings, but it does help to understand that I’m not “crazy”. God how hard I used to try to be “casual” and “calm” in relationships – I tried so hard to be the laid back girlfriend that boys wanted but eventually my true colours would come glaring out – usually after a few vinos and that was not a pretty sight believe me!!   The worst thing about this is that when I eventually unleashed the crazy, it was the beginning of the end in my relationships and so my worst fears would then be realised – da daaaaaa!! It’s a wonder I’m in therapy isn’t it?laid-back-gf

Anyway, I’ve been thinking today about all this object constancy stuff in relation to this therapy break… I think this explains a lot for me. It explains why I felt so awful on Monday. She was gone physically so to me, having a lack of object constancy, she was gone forever. That brought all my feelings of panic, abandonment, terror and grief flooding back.  I’ve since calmed down because I can reasonably talk myself down to a degree, knowing that she will be back, just like she has every single time before.  The logical stuff can work to a degree, but poor Little Twink, she couldn’t rationalise that way could she?  She didn’t have a good role model like T showing her this stuff and she didn’t have a “good enough mother” either.

I guess that the fact I can’t “hold someone in mind” positively for very long is probably why I assume nobody can hold me in mind either?  That would make sense.  Clearly I am painting everyone with the same brush!! I did think this morning that Monday was particularly awful but since then I’ve been okay. I don’t know if I’ve just gone into “self-sufficient mode” because I’ve repressed any feelings since or whether I’ve genuinely been able to calm myself down enough with this logical thinking (or if that is even how it works?).  I also thought that although I’m okay, I am looking forward to next Tuesday and that I would absolutely hate it if I no longer had therapy with her anymore.  I also admit (cringing) that it does feel like she is no longer alive when she isn’t here… and that I will be anxious when I wake up on Tuesday – what I am nervous of I have absolutely no idea!!

This is another one of those things that I knew already – but know a bit more today.

T is re-parenting me by constantly showing me that she will return – like, I guess, most people will in this world. …..Just not my mother.

teddy-bear

 

Living without the Narcissist Friend

Last night I went out for a “date” with my lovely other half. Conversation somehow found it’s way to friendships and one friend in particular. Or should I say, Ex-friend. 

Last August I cut ties with one of my closest friends after a particularly brutal verbal attack.  It was the last in a very long line of them but this time I just had enough.

She wasn’t a typically “nice” person. She did sometimes do and say some awful things, un-PC things, shocking things.  I had learnt to laugh them off, shrug them off or just roll my eyes at her and shake my head.  Don’t get me wrong, I did tell her she was wrong – countless times but it always fell on deaf ears and I didn’t want to always spend my time telling her what she should and shouldn’t say or do.  That was up to her.

narcissist bird.jpg

Anyway, cutting to the chase – I’ve been without said ex-friend now for about 5 months. We had been very close friends, at least in my eyes, for about 8 years. I miss her sometimes and particularly when I’ve had a glass of vino like last night or when I’m feeling lonely. 

I don’t have many friends. I have some friends and I have my boyfriend and step-kids, but the horrible, hard truth is that ex-friend and my mother are both very narcissistic: I’ve “lost” them both recently, or so it seems. 

Actually, I don’t think I should say lost because it’s been my choice – what would the right word be?  I’m leaning to remove the negative things and people from my life. Both of these women hurt me over and over again, for years and I just used to let it happen. I’m not actually sure I even knew it was wrong at the time.

Trying to explain to my boyfriend that despite her/their horrible ways and the many ways she/they hurt me and knocked me down time and time again, I did love her and I did get something from our friendship, but it’s like persuading someone that Hannibal Lecter was a nice guy!! 

I miss having someone I could go out with once every few weeks and have a drink with, talk rubbish with – connect with (although looking back, I guess it wasn’t an authentic connection) and just relax with. 

I know deep down, I can’t have really relaxed, not properly, because I was always on guard for an attack or at least repairing the attacks she spat at the bar staff or innocent people sat nearby. 

Realising that ex-friend and mother are exactly the same is still a shock sometimes.  You know the kind of thing that you know, but you get reminded and it’s like you’ve just realised all over again? 

The fact that I accepted and loved both these people for so long still hurts me. How was I so blind for so long? And now I can “see” how can I miss someone so bad for me? 

Another example of the inevitable pain that comes with recovery I guess. Newly educated, logical mind tells you that “X” is bad. Old mind wants what is “normal” and misses it’s old creature comforts – be that abusive or not.  Perhaps it is fear of the unknown or maybe it’s just that familiar is comfortable, whether it’s good for you or not.

It’s our default position and that is what we are fighting against all the time in recovery.  Fighting against repetition compulsion.

repitition
Weirdly, I’ve noticed that I never want to text or call my mother anymore. Never. I guess I’ve replaced her with my new “good mother” – the therapist. 

The journey continues….

Shh!! My Inner Child Is Taking A Nap..

I just wanted to write to thank everyone who liked and commented on my post yesterday “Emotional Flashback?” I was in a really horrible and desperate place yesterday and the comments and likes really helped – the likes because I felt less “alone” and less “crazy” – the comments because it is lovely that people take time out of their busy lives to add some support/validation or give suggestions when others are suffering. It is so easy to “read and run” so I thank you all, sincerely.

Today, it feels as though the child part of me – I will call her “Little Twink” has settled back down.  Perhaps she is taking a nap after exhausting herself being so hypervigilent and alert yesterday.

Yesterday (and Sunday) I was really feeling these child-like feelings of abandonment and pain. Sadness, grief, worry, embarrassment – all of it. The post I wrote yesterday was as raw as they come. I very nearly didn’t post it because it is embarrassing to me to have feelings that strong, that needy and that dramatic, but, the point of this blog is to share my therapy journey and so it wouldn’t be right to not include these darker moments with you all.  Being able to accept these feelings as being “allowed” is still very much a work in progress for me.  I hope that by sharing some of this darker more desperate stuff, people are able to see that they are not alone if they experience similar things and on a totally selfish note, it helps to validate my pain when people tell me they understand it too. Win-Win right?!

Looking back to yesterday, everything felt so terrible. Everything was going wrong – it all felt so hopeless and just, well, shit! Today, I feel so much better. I am smiling again, I am laughing again and I feel in my “adult” brain again.  I have been trying to understand what took me out of that place and I don’t really know.  Perhaps I just felt everything enough to let it pass?

When I regress like yesterday and Little Twink takes over, it’s nearly impossible to imagine feeling better.  When the adult me is back in control, it’s hard to imagine having felt that bad!  It’s a weird concept.  I knew the second I opened my eyes this morning that today was going to be a better day. The first thought I had when opening them was that I had been able to sleep, all night, unlike Sunday night – that seemed to make things better immediately. I managed to get out of bed easier and the day just seemed “lighter” somehow.  When I was on the bus to the station this morning, I read a few posts on here that made me smile – they genuinely lifted my spirits and when I caught myself physically smiling (like a loon on her own!) on the bus, I knew adult me was back!

I hope that Little Twink has settled down because she feels heard and reassured and not because I’ve shamed her to pipe down. It’s hard to tell isn’t it? I am aware as I read this blog entry back to myself before posting that that my need to refer to those feelings in me as another person/part of me – Little Twink – and by using words like she and her I am objectifying to make it easier to tolerate. Baby steps.

sleeping

I read about emotional flashbacks ages ago. Pete Walker’s work talks to me as though it was written for me alone.

When I read sentences like this “Flashbacks strand clients in the feelings of danger, helplessness and hopelessness of their original abandonment, when there was no safe parental figure to go to for comfort and support” I can rationalise that I can tell my T the feelings I had yesterday without feeling hideously embarrassed because she knows this stuff isn’t really about her – it’s transference.  Yet, there is still a huge part of me that finds the whole thing so scary. I am learning that for me to really, truly need or depend on her (anyone?) it scares the living daylights out of me – I think this is actually what triggered all of this in the first place.  To acknowledge and admit that her being away for one week could cause such awful angst and sadness is one hell of an insight for me – but I am glad that I am starting to be able to let the feelings in because for the last 2 years, I’ve been adamant that I’ve had no feelings whatsoever about the breaks…. Clearly my unhelpful defence mechanisms are starting to thaw – and that is progress.

Anyway, thank again everyone. I am sure there will be much more where that came from!

On a completely different, happier and more random note – I wanted to thank Just Ruminating Rob for his Bitmoji suggestion – here’s mine! (I’m now addicted and sending them to all my friends ha).

bitemoji

Twink x

Emotional Flashback?

Have I been triggered by T being away?

I can’t make any sense of what is going on in my head but I don’t like it. It is horrible. It makes me want to scream and cry and punch things and cry some more. My mind is absolutely consumed with therapy things and the fact that T is off this week – yet I wouldn’t even have a session until tomorrow anyway, so how does that work? I keep reading and writing hoping to suddenly “get” something to make this all hurt less… but all it does is make it worse. I’m trying to intellectualise it away.

I hate the break, it is really painful this time, really, really horrible. I never understood when she used to say it might bring up painful feelings – I didn’t foresee it feeling like this. I read earlier that missing your T can feel like missing a friend when they go away, but it is nothing like that at all. If my best friend went on holiday, it wouldn’t make any real difference to me for a week – or even two.  We might have contact via text, but that’s all. T said if I needed to, I could send her a text message to ask her “are you there” but as I’ve said previously in a blog, how is that meant to help me when “there” is just somewhere that I’m not??

I keep thinking that maybe this is how I felt as a child when my mum went away. Maybe these feelings are emotional flashbacks, but I can’t remember. 

I don’t know if it’s worse knowing she is at home and not physically far away or whether it would be harder knowing she was miles away on a beach abroad somewhere. I can’t work out why I wouldn’t be feeling like this if she weren’t on a break because I wouldn’t be seeing her yet anyway!! so why is it making such a huge difference to how I feel?

I feel like the child part of me is in charge at the moment. I didn’t want to go to work today, I really felt very down the second I opened my eyes. I forced myself to go, obviously, but it was hard. I feel very miserable and I can’t even explain why. I am even questioning whether it is about her being away or whether I’ve just made that up.

I want to hide away yet my thoughts are so loud that I don’t want to be alone because then they would be even louder. I know I sound desperate.

It’s made me realise this was how I felt at Christmas those days when I felt so miserable and cried easily – it is exactly the same. Those feelings kicked in very quickly after my last session to, and before I would normally see her again.

I don’t like this feeling of being left to fend for myself, without therapy. It makes me want to cry. I can’t handle things on my own. I need to check in with her twice a week – it makes my weeks okay. I need the connection and I need to see her and talk to her. I need the understanding, the smiles and the odd “in joke”.  It feels like I’m suddenly obsessed with it all – I feel ashamed for feeling this way. I am a grown woman and not that child anymore, but it doesn’t feel like that at the moment.

I’m already thinking about the Easter break and that makes me want to scream. After Easter it’s summer break – her’s and mine – constant breaks all the time, why?????????????????????  All that therapy breaks do is BREAK ME.

I could never imagine a year or two ago having these feelings because of the breaks. I used to laugh at the thought that you could feel so strongly because your therapist had some time off, I admit I thought it was a bit pathetic really. Now I am in panic because what if this is only the start? What if there are more horrible feelings and thoughts like this? I just want to make some sense of them so they don’t feel so powerful and so confusing.

I don’t like feeling this needy and this vulnerable and weak and young. How the hell did I cope with these feelings when I was actually young? How didn’t I die?

It feels like life and death – clinging on, surviving. So bloody dramatic.

Why won’t I just send her a message? I am adamant that I won’t – my reason being that it won’t help or it will make me miss her more. It’s like I’m punishing myself somehow or just trying to take some control back over feeling so, well, out of control.

 

Packing up my feelings 

Last night I had a dream that my boyfriend and I were packing up our house to move when I couldn’t ignore the sense that he was also moving away from me, emotionally speaking. 

I confronted him and suggested that we moved out separately because it felt that was what he wanted. He said he wasn’t sure – but he didn’t say no and so I took that as my answer. I began running around the house collecting my things ready to take away with me – in a hurry.
Later in the dream, i was in my car, he was driving behind me and the car in front of me crashed at some traffic lights. I remember thinking how upset I would be if it were my car that was smashed like that. 

That thing happened again – I have a dream about therapy – I understand or make sense or something and then I wake up and I’ve forgotten! This has happened the last few nights and is infuriating because I know it’s bringing me some clarity. 

It was something to do with the article I read last night about not being able to grieve a childhood that you didn’t have, because you can’t appreciate the loss of something that you’ve never had. 

It was about how you start to get glimpses in therapy of how that original attachment should have been (via the relationship with the therapist) and how you play that out – take it in, let it emotionally “feed” you and/or pull away from it because the thought of trusting it’s safe is so scary.  The fear of abandonment. 

I had a thought that the reason I went into my last session before the break feeling like I had no feelings or emotions to discuss, nothing to use to connect with her was because I had put it all away – because of the break. But I think also because T didn’t react how I hoped she would on Tuesday when she made her harmless (badly-timed) joke…. I think it scared the child and vulnerable part of me back away, I packed up my feelings and left. 

I think the dream of packing up the house and moving out alone may symbolise this – vulnerability and dependence.

Perhaps witnessing the car crash and thinking how upset I would be if it were my car “smashed in” is a symbol of the fear of conflict… not wanting to tell her it had upset me. 

It’s played on my mind that when she mentioned blogging on Tuesday I didn’t tell her I had started my own blog – I’ve been questioning myself why? I think it’s because when I attempted new things or got excited about things like this as a child, my mum would mock it and ruin it. I guess I wanted to keep it “safe” from being ruined. I know this is transference because she wouldn’t do that – she is always encouraging.

I also note I had a bit of a Freudian slip by saying “when I wrote on my blog...” then corrected myself quickly “journal”… ahhhh! 

She also asked whether I write things that I wouldn’t “bring to her” I said no…  

Real answer: Yes! 

Why exactly do I pay for therapy yet go and not tell the whole, scary truth? Is it fear? Fear of being mocked, fear of upsetting her: our relationship….

Good girls don’t say things like that, do they? Ive learnt that if I am not good, nice and have no feelings, I’ll be abandoned. 
I guess I’ll have to tell her this then. 

The therapy break hasn’t even started.. yet it has started for me

It was my last session before the therapy break yesterday and I had forgotten! I’m not entirely sure how that is possible given I’ve spent over a month in countdown for it and spent Tuesday night’s session crying at the thought of it – defenses? Maybe.

The session yesterday was very light-hearted. Very different from Tuesday’s session where I cried a fair bit.  I wanted to find something to connect with her on in one way, yet in another, it is easier to leave for the break on more of a light-hearted chat… I guess it depends what mood I am in on the day.

I slept heavily last night and I know that I dreamt about her – I remember waking (I think) and “understanding” something about her – I can’t articulate this very well because the memory is now hazy – more or less gone.  It was like I accepted or understood something from the child’s point of view – my inner child that is.. like I was a small child and I understood why the break was so painful for her – but now it’s gone away again and I can’t get it back.

I read some articles this morning in bed about the therapy break and I had tears falling down my face again… one thing that I hate about it is that it hasn’t even begun yet – I wouldn’t normally see her again until next Tuesday, yet the countdown to the break being over has already started … that makes me feel both sad and needy.

I was reading a wonderful book which I finished today, the ending of which was very tear-jerking and I cried again. I’ve been wanting to write here, but I don’t know what it is I have to say. How do I feel and what am I thinking and feeling? I don’t know. What would happen in an ideal world – I still don’t know.

I’ve worked in absolute silence today. No TV, no radio. Absolutely no background noise and that is unheard of for me – does that mean my brain is noisy enough with unconscious thoughts that I just can’t grasp?

I look around the house and notice I need to clean,  the house needs hovering and dusting – bathroom needs bleaching yet I just don’t want to do it.  I am usually extremely OCD about this so that is also weird. Have I regressed or have I put my barriers back up to defend myself for this break and I’m having a strop? Am I angry? I don’t seem to have the answers. I guess that’s okay, isn’t it?

My T says that I like everything to be neat and tidy – to have its place – to be understood…. she says that I don’t like my “messy feelings” and we’ve been working on trying to get me to stay with them – to tolerate them but not let them overcome me.

So this is a work in progress but this is me saying – I don’t know how I feel today but I won’t lie, the break that I am already “in” in my head, sucks arse.