I felt unwell yesterday morning, coldy, headachey and sick. I left work at midday as usual to travel to T’s and noticed when I was sitting outside in the car that I felt better than I had all day. I am quite interested in somatic symptoms these days and I do believe that we can experience physical symptoms from emotional feelings. The fact that I now felt better made me question whether it was due to being back “with” T.
I went into T’s and told her the above. She seemed to agree with me. She asked me where I tend to feel my feelings on my body and I said my stomach. I told T that I used to really suffer when I was younger with IBS and that I had a camera in my intestines to see but that the doctors didn’t find anything wrong. I told her that now I can understand it was probably stress and fear and everything else – but that I didn’t realise that then. I said every now and again I might get a flare up but it is the exception rather than the norm these days.
T asked how I was feeling compared to how I was on Tuesday. She said how painful the work is for me right now and I agreed. I told her that I had been thinking that basically it’s obvious that the reason I struggle so much is because of the message I received as a child. That although I “knew” this is one way, it feels like a shock today. I said it was hard to explain.
T said that she understood what I meant and said I am going back over things in a feeling way now and it feels like it’s new information, it feels like a shock because it’s really being understood on an emotional level. I agreed.
I told T that I wrote on here the other day that it didn’t seem possible that anyone could really understand this feeling because on paper it seems pretty minimal, trivial even but that for me, the reality is that it is huge. T said that by that I probably meant I was worried that SHE didn’t understand and that she wanted to reassure me that she absolutely did.
She said it had stayed with her that I had said if she told me I couldn’t email any longer, that I would really struggle to come and that she thinks it is humiliation that would make me feel like that. She said she felt humiliation was certainly something I struggled with. I said that I was glad she had brought that up because when I had left the other night, I thought to myself that what I said may have come across in a threatening/blackmail way like “if you stop me emailing, I won’t come anymore” and that I certainly didn’t mean it like that. She said she didn’t think that at all and that she knew exactly what I meant. She said it just made her realise quite how awful that would be for me and how much damage it would do. I was relieved that she understood what I meant.
I said that it was hard to argue with the facts. In that place last weekend, it felt so awful. I said it felt completely consuming and just so devastating. I said contacting her felt so desperate and I was so full of absolute fear. T said that it was extremely primitive and was the baby experiencing the literal life or death feelings of needing to connect. I got a bit teary and said I understood that now. I asked T if I was feeling now what I used to feel then, or if I was feeling it now because I didn’t feel it then? T said that I would have split the feelings off back then in order to survive. That I would have fragmented it away.
I said to her life or death genuinely was how it felt but that nothing I say seems to be “big enough” to explain it. It was completely overwhelming. I said that she says my emotions hit me like tidal waves and that is how it felt. It was so scary. T said she really did understand and how painful it was. How scary. She said her favourite line “this IS the work” and that I was “deep in the work now”.
T said that a child when upset needed to hop onto mum’s lap, talk, listen, cuddle, be assured, be looked at lovingly etc and that the child could then go off and play on its own and carry that love with them for quite a while. She said that the child that didn’t get to do those things, that need for that affection and understanding etc would build up and up. She said that the reason my mother called me needy was because she was completely unable to deal with any needs that I had because she was too wrapped up in herself but also that she made me needier because if she had given me those things, sat me on her lap, looked at me with love and kindness, I wouldn’t have been “so needy”. As T said the words about being looked in the eye with love, I started to cry. T said “that’s really touched on something hasn’t it” and I said yes. It hurt.
I said I just find it all so shocking and I can’t imagine how she didn’t give me such basic things as a child. I said how can you not give a child those things? Those simple, natural things? I said that I just couldn’t imagine not doing that with my youngest stepson, his little face, if he was upset or something it’s just automatic to want to pull him close to you, cuddle him, chat to him, make him laugh, cheer him up – and he isn’t even my child! T agreed.
I said to think I ever felt any guilt towards my mother seemed amazing right now. T asked where my guilt was today and I said it was miles away right now… I said I feel so far away from guilty.
I told T that when I received her email last week I “scanned” it for any signs of frustration or annoyance. T nodded and seemed like she probably already knew I might do that. I told her that I did that a lot, with everything and everyone. She said that I may “scan” her one day and notice a shift in her and think it’s about me which may throw me into a panic. She said I may well pick up correctly on a mood in her but incorrectly assume it is about me when it might not be. I said I thought that was likely and said that I did that a lot at the beginning of relationships. Constantly checking to see if they still like me, if they have “gone off” of me, if they are as committed and dedicated as me, if they are as happy as me…. she nodded.
I told T what I wrote here the other day about how it felt like she took longer than normal to open the door on Tuesday evening and that in those few seconds, so many things went through my head such as if I had the wrong day, if she was on holiday, if she had cancelled… I said I know it sounded ridiculous for such a quick period of time. T said she knows what happened: she had forgotten to put her phone on silent when I knocked. I thought “Ah” So I was right, she DID take longer!!”… I am pretty sure 99% of people wouldn’t have even noticed it was so quick.
T said that we will deal with whatever comes up and we will work it through. She said she thought that my bad feeling towards her may well be sparked by an email. I may read something differently to how she meant it or something like that. She said that it’s very likely to be emails for me but that she still will not take them away from me (phew!!). T said that the psyche is very clever at taking us where we need to go and so no matter what happens, it will happen in order that we “do that work” and it will be beneficial in the long-run. I understood this.
I told T that I had written how amazing I find it that her greeting to me is always the same. Her voice, her eye-contact, her smile etc. I said it was a “real skill”. T said “skill” back to me as though it was a question, I wasn’t sure why really but I think she thought along the lines that it was natural and not something she had to try to do.. I’m not sure I quite believe that though… I’m not sure.
T asked how it felt that she was always the same and I told her that it was nice. Comforting and reassuring. She smiled.
I told T that I remember once turning up and she had written down the wrong day for my appointment (right back at the very beginning) and she hadn’t answered the door. She remembered the time I meant. I said that it hadn’t bothered me at all back then, although she seemed insistent that it did deep down, it really hadn’t but that at the same time, the fact I still remember it nearly 3 years on says something. T asked what would happen if that happened now and I said I would freak out ha.
Somehow we got onto the subject of clothing. T asked me if I worried about what I wore when I was coming to see her. I said no and told her that I had actually written about that the other day on here. I said that I had realised however that I had brought a new outfit every time I had seen my dad in the last year or two and that I couldn’t believe it. T said she understood that.. how important it was for me to get his approval. I said it was sad really. I told T that I was very aware of what to wear when I saw my mother too but that she would say something about what I was wearing regardless of whether it was nice or not – there would be some criticism. I said I was worried I would bump into her after the session as I was going to the hairdressers and that if she saw what I was wearing she would call me a tramp. T seemed horrified and said, “ would she actually call you that?” and I said yes, 100%. T said that was disgusting.
I told T that I don’t worry at all anymore about what I wear to see her and that in fact, I don’t worry about my hair either. I said it was nice because I don’t even feel like that with my mum or my dad and so it’s a relief. T said that was good and that I should be able to just bring myself (or my self!).
I said that even at work people comment on your clothes and hair and that only yesterday someone at work said to me “aw you look so cute in those trousers” and that I absolutely HATE being called cute. T said it probably has something to do with always having to look like a little doll, like a perfect child who didn’t have any needs or feelings or have any anger or make any mess – I said yes, I think so too. I said that sometimes my boyfriend will say “I know you hate this, but you look so cute” and I said to her (in a jokey way) “I am not cute. I am an angry woman!!” and we both laughed and she nodded and said, yes you are!