I am back typing this on my laptop at my kitchen table with a cup of tea. I like the homely feel I have this morning, even hearing the washing machine makes it feel nice and cosy and writing on the laptop is more enjoyable than trying to type out a blog on my phone. I am also back from my mini break (as I wrote last night) and have now seen T again so I am sure that helps with that feeling too.
So about last night’s session then.
I felt weird on the drive to T’s last night. I felt nervous about the session but also I didn’t feel confident driving there, it was and the roads were busy and I had only been home from our mini-break for about an hour before leaving and it all just felt a bit odd. As I parked outside T’s house I felt sick. I recorded a voice memo on my phone just to speak the feelings out loud to play back today. The voice note said:
“It’s 7.25pm, I am outside T’s house with 5 minutes to go before my session and I am feeling a little bit… nervous and anxious I suppose, not really sure why. I feel like this sometimes, more recently. Erm…… yeah… I’m not really sure what is going on to be honest, it is very strange. Like I want to see her and when I leave later I will wish I could stay for longer and tomorrow I will wish that I could come back and yet here I am, outside my session that I look forward to all week and I just want to drive away. I don’t know why that is to be honest. I’m not sure. Anyway I’ve had some really good days on holiday with hubby’s parents and stuff so I was feeling in a really good mood. It sounds bad when you say it like that doesn’t it? Now I feel sick. HA! It’s funny as well because I had a dream about T on Saturday night and in the dream I was sat outside her house crying and her house had scaffolding up at it and now I am outside her house and it’s just a bit strange. Also I am parked right outside her house which I don’t usually do and it feels kind of like I’m being a bit invasive or something because I can see”.
I recorded that and then went to the door and knocked on it. As always, T opened the door with a smile and said hello to me. I sat in my usual spot and she just kind of watched me as I sat down and looked at her. That is still uncomfortable. I don’t like that silence even though it must last literally seconds. She asked how I was and I said I was okay and told her that I had just got back from my break and she was surprised. I told her about the trip and she commented that I hadn’t told her I was going. I told her that it was a very last-minute decision (which it was) and that I had ran out of time in my last session to tell her.
I told T that I had felt fine, good even, the few days after my last session despite how difficult it had been and T commented that I am “really doing some hard work at the moment”. I agreed with her and thought to myself both last night, and now, that it is nice to have that acknowledged. I think I do minimise it a bit as surely T’s hear much worse right? I still don’t really feel entitled to struggle with some of this therapy work and so hearing her say that was helpful.
I told her that Saturday and Sunday I felt down again and that I wasn’t really sure why and T said that it seems my body does that a lot at the weekend when I get a bit of space. She said that regardless of being at work or not, I see T Tuesday evening and by the weekend, it’s like something has been held off for long enough and I am ready (and needing) to get back in to speak about it again. I agreed and nodded that she was probably right. I also decided to be brave here and so I told her what I have written about a few times recently, I said:
I have noticed and written a few times lately that when I see you on a Tuesday night, I leave feeling good and I feel really good the next day or so, like I feel happier and more confident – even more confident to drive to places that would usually scare me or whatever, I just feel happy and then… it’s like it fades off and it runs out and I feel down and rubbish again.
And then I want to come back, I am looking forward to my next session and willing it to hurry up but then it comes and I start to feel nervous and a bit sick! I don’t know why that is.
T was listening attentively and nodding. She seemed to find this interesting and like it was new news (even if it wasn’t). She said that this was why it would be helpful for me to still be coming twice a week because I could “hold something for longer” with two sessions. I spoke to her about the practical issues and told her that I would love to have two sessions again but that I just couldn’t afford to lose a day’s work each week and then pay the cost of the extra sessions. I told her I calculated it and it worked out about £650 per month and I just didn’t have that money right now. She added that even 3 times a week would help me and she said it would get me “through it quicker”. I had mixed feelings about that comment, 1) it would be nice to get through the shitty bits faster, naturally but also 2) that I didn’t want to stop seeing her quicker. My anxious and insecure brain also flicked straight to the “she wants me gone quicker” place but I know that isn’t the case so I am ignoring that.
T said her usual phrase about how we will “put it out there, into the universe and wait and see“. She says this sometimes I think its basically her take on, if it’s meant to be – it will be. Or something. We moved on.
T said that it was good I was able to tell her these things and that it helps her. She told me that I can “check she is there” between sessions if I needed to and I said I knew that but said “it’s not the same”. I was surprised I had said that to be honest. She agreed and said it wasn’t the same, but it might help. I thought about telling her that actually when she emailed me back between sessions, I often found the smallest thing to read into and convinced myself that she hated me – but I thought better of it. There is only so much honestly one can bring at a time lol!
T said that the issue is that I feel I am too much. She said that I still feel I am too much by just “being alive and breathing!”. I laughed even though she wasn’t trying to be funny and nodded in agreement. Yeah, I know… She said that when I was a baby and a child, I WAS too much for my mother and how of course that is the message I’ve taken in my entire life. She said “just taking up space in the world makes you feel as though you are too much”. She said I wasn’t and I smiled. I know that this is one of the reasons I don’t like to contact her between sessions, she is right. I don’t want to be “too much”. Same for a lot of us in therapy I think. Clearly it all comes down to abandonment fears doesn’t it? I don’t want to be “too much” and then she gets sick of me and leaves me – or shames me – or both. I said
That good feeling, that happy feeling I have after my session for a day or a few days, is that how other people feel all the time??
She looked a bit unsure what I was asking so I added:
Like, my husband for example, does he feel that happy and content and confident 24 7? Is that really how huge this all is?
T said that it was all about attachment (so yes then) and that my husband had been able to form a secure attachment but that I had not because of my mother. I knew that and so questioned, is that how huge the difference is between those of us who are insecurely and securely attached? Is it THAT huge?
She didn’t answer the question exactly but the answer was yes. I felt my throat tighten and tears sting my eyes as I vocalised this thought. I swallowed them down though.
I told T that I would have thought, and hoped, that after 4 years of seeing her I would be able to make that good feeling last longer by now and she said that in the grand scheme of things, 4 years was nothing and not a long time at all! I knew what she meant by that of course but it doesn’t feel that way sometimes does it?
Conversation moved on and I told T that I had heard from my mother at the weekend and that I was seeing her Wednesday (today). She looked disappointed for me and I told her that my mother had text and asked when I was free and we had agreed on Wednesday afternoon. I told T that she had suggested her house but that I didn’t know whether to go there or not when her husband could come home at any point and obviously I didn’t want to see him. I said I had suggested a coffee shop and so that was how it was left. I said the good thing was, it was a coffee shop so we shouldn’t have to be there too long and certainly not as long as that god awful meal last time and that she doesn’t really like going out for tea and coffee so I doubted it would last long.
I told T that I was nervous about her asking me “what was wrong” and why I don’t text, phone, see her hardly ever. I said that it would be the first time she has seen me on my own and that I thought she might jump on the opportunity. T said just to keep things light, to say things like “life has changed” and “my life is so busy now” etc. I agreed but said it is hard to say things like that when someone is pushing hard for a proper reason. T advised me to slow my response down a bit, to take a sip of my drink if she asked a difficult question in order to give me time to digest the question and think about my response. I found this helpful as I am always so quick to respond to everything, it is part of the fear and panic response I find myself having around her.
T said that there was nothing wrong with me saying “I don’t know actually” or “I am not sure about that at the moment” if I was stuck. She said I didn’t HAVE to give her an answer for everything if I didn’t have the right words. I hadn’t thought of that before.
T also said that I was perfectly entitled to say things like “I don’t find this interrogation helpful mum” or “I am sorry that I don’t have the answers you would like me to have“. I so can’t imagine myself saying these sorts of phrases to her but I do agree that they are good! T reminded me that my mother is not this all powerful human being and that she does not have any power over me whatsoever now that I am an adult. She said “She is a narcissist and narcissists are horrible, but she does not have any control or power over you now, try and remember that“. That really helped. I even suggested if she kept quizzing me that I could say “Mum, THIS is why. This right here – it is not enjoyable for me when you are like this!“. T said absolutely I could. She also said that my mother has not changed but that I had and that if she said “you have changed” I could say, “yes I have and I am sorry if that is hard for you but I am much happier like this“. Ha!
I told T that I had a dream the other night where my mother confronted me and said that she felt I didn’t love her and that I rejected her and that I had responded by saying “it’s not nice is it? Now you know how I felt when I was a child but the difference is, I needed you then and you don’t need me as a 50 something year old adult” and that I had then walked away. T asked how I felt in that dream and I said I felt good – empowered. T said that is what I WANT to say and asked what stops me from saying that in real life. I said I just didn’t want to argue with her and T said there doesn’t need to be any argument and that I could just simply say that, and leave! I laughed (although she wasn’t joking). True I nodded.
To recap (for myself) the things I feel genuinely happy to say if necessary are:
- I’ve just been so busy with work and the kids and my mini-break etc, life is just so busy these days.
- Sorry you feel like that, it’s just how it is for me now.
- Mum, can you please stop the interrogation? we are here now aren’t we?
- This is why – you are never just happy to see me, there is always negativity or passive aggression. It is not enjoyable.
- I am sorry but I don’t want to sort things out with your husband. I am fine the way things are.
Note to self: I don’t have to respond immediately and I don’t have to have the answers. I can say I will need to think about that or I will get back to you on that. (Easier said than done I think).
If she genuinely does say that she feels I don’t love her anymore (which I doubt to be honest) I might say Mum, I told you about a hell of a lot of pain last October and you didn’t respond in a caring way to a single bit of it. It is very hard to see someone who doesn’t care about your pain. I am trying to find a way that we can still have contact with one another, but it never feels like it is good enough – I cannot do what you want me to do. I am sorry for that but this is all I can offer right now.
BLEUGH. Moving on.
Lastly I told T about the dream I had about her. I told her there was 2 people like her, and two like me. She asked what I meant and I said “if you were a teacher and I was a student then two teachers and two students”. We were all in this therapy room and you told me/us that you were going away for 3 weeks and I kicked off. I went mad and was crying and falling apart saying I wouldn’t be able to cope and the other person was calm and collected and said she would be fine. I said the other woman said it would be okay and I was furious thinking “that’s easy for you to say!!” and that when I left, I got into my car and was crying and I noticed her house had scaffolding up at it which pissed me off even more as I thought “I’m falling apart and she’s off getting her fucking house renovated!!”.
We spoke this through in some detail and T thinks that the two women represented two sides of her, and then two sides of me. The side which reacted saying she would be fine and was calm being the me I show T about breaks, and the other side who was furious and upset and falling apart. That made sense.
She was interested in the scaffolding and spoke through a few different meanings to what that could represent. I said to me scaffolding “supports” the building but that it was me that needed the scaffolding. She asked what it was about the scaffolding that made me angry and I said it was seeing what she would be doing for the next few weeks and knowing that she was there but unavailable to me. She said “so it was in your face and you couldn’t miss it” and I agreed. She said “so you wasn’t protected from it“. I told T I thought it was interesting because she was so sure I had denied anger about her going on that break and that the dream seemed to be playing that out for me. I said it was strange that would come now though, now we’ve been back two weeks and T said it is very common to come once we are a bit more settled back in and feeing safer.