Reaching Out Or Self-Soothing? 

Would reaching out to T actually help? 

I’m torn. Do I try and handle this by myself and prove to myself. and to T, that I am able to regulate myself and hold it in her absence? Will she be proud of me if I do? 

I want to give her a break – that’s what she needs. It’s why she’s taken time off. 

Yet at the same time I’m thinking that she’s always encouraged me to reach out when I need to and encouraged that I don’t go into self-sufficient mode as I always did as a child. 

I think she would rather help to regulate me than hear later that I struggled with it alone. Wouldn’t she? I don’t know. 

I don’t want to isolate myself through shame. I’m trying to fight that pattern. 

I’m okay. I’m surviving it. Like it’s painful and I’m sad and I was thrown into an emotional flashback for sure, BUT I’ve made sense of it now and I’m allowing the sad feelings to come. I’m allowing myself to cry and listen to the child part talking. I’m not falling apart. 

What could she say that would help? She would probably validate my feelings but I’ve already done that for myself (and so have some kind readers) so I don’t think I need that. 
Then there’s the issue that as I don’t know where she is, she may not read or reply to me for hours and hours and that could potentially throw me into abandonment stuff which I don’t need right now. 

She may even reply kindly but it may set off the feeling it’s “not enough” again and so perhaps I’m safer staying at a distance and handling it myself? 

Things have gone south: Emotional Flashback 

Things have gone south. 

I went to the quiz night last night with my boyfriend and his parents. The evening was pleasant until… 

3 women walk towards our table and as I look up, it’s my mother and two of her friends. 

Oh My God. 

I felt a weird panic. Shock, fear, awkwardness. I couldn’t believe she was here. This was my local and she knew I drank here sometimes and that we did this quiz with my boyfriends’s parents…. what was she doing here? And on a Wednesday night? She had never been here before my birthday. Childish I’m like “this is my place. Not your’s”. 

Everyone said hello to one another but the awkwardness was really obvious. My mother put her fake posh look and voice on and said “we came for supper”… supper??? Sorry who are you? Before I knew it, I was saying “Supper? Since when do you use that word?”. Looking back I guess that was a bit aggressive but the words had flown out of my mouth before I had processed them. She was trying to put on an act of some sort of poshness because she thinks my boyfriend’s parents are posh. 

The difference between my boyfriend’s parents and her (and her friends) was so obvious. I really wasn’t enjoying this one bit. I wasn’t prepared for it.

There were a few moments of small talk and then she and her friends left. Nothing more was said. I felt so weird… so uncomfortable…. and I’m not sure if everyone did, or if it was just me, but suddenly it felt as though there was an elephant in the room. Things weren’t being said that were being thought – I wonder if I’m wrong? 

I panicked because I’m scared (or the little me) is that she will tell them I’ve been bad – that I AM bad. Because that’s what she did to me when I was young. She always made stories up to my grandparents and told them in front of me so that they disapproved. She would phone them or my aunty or my sister’s dad or get her latest fling to tell me off. I think that young fear is still there. 

I’m a different person with her to with them. Please don’t ruin this for me…. please don’t tell them I’m bad!!  She always won the crowd – the audience, whoever was watching. How ashamed I was. 

Anyway we got on with our evening and she wasn’t mentioned again. Me and my boyfriend came home and I went straight to bed as it was late and as my head hit the pillows and I grabbed Frank, I cried. 

I didn’t know then what I was crying for and I’m not entirely sure now but I woke up for work this morning and (sorry for tmi) had a very upset tummy. I called in sick and am now in bed with a thumping headache. 

I know not everyone believes in the mind and body link, but I do and so I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this happened, that I cried and that I’m feeling crap. But I can’t put my finger on what upset me so much. 

I’ve had my mind and body book out and looked up my symptoms to see if that helped, diarrhoea mainly pointing towards not being able to hold on to something anymore, being scared shitless or feeling as though you’ve been hit in the guts. The headache points to too much time in the head and repressed feelings. 

The thing is I’ve been aware that I’ve been really overeating. I feel constantly hungry at the moment and I’ve not been caring what I’m eating or how much. And I haven’t been to the gym like I usually do. This is a huge change from previous months where I’ve been eating a certain amount of calories and exercising a lot. I put this down to the break but now I’m not so sure. It’s no surprise my stomach is chucking it all out, there’s too much!! It’s also made me think back to a time when I used to starve myself and hide my food in my bedroom bin and then get told off… no I’m doing the opposite. 

My boyfriend had to go to work and I really wanted him to stay and cuddle me. Problem is he’s scared of getting ill and so won’t come near me when I’m sick. 

I’m really in touch with this needy feeling of needing to be looked after. As I write this tears are dripping down my face. 

I wish I could expand on that a bit, but I don’t think I can. I just have this craving to be looked after and made better. I wish someone was here to give me a cuddle, let me cry on them, maybe cook me soup at lunch and make me feel loved. I need love.

I’m crying because I need love. I want love and affection and to feel looked after. Instead I’m eating food and that’s making me ill as my stomach tries to tell me “no, that’s not helping!”. Apparently the hole can’t be filled with food.

Maybe I’m a bit regressed and I’m feeling like a child that needs her mummy.

I had a dream earlier this morning that I had made my hamster a new cage up as he had wrecked his. His tube had broken and he was seconds away from escaping and his fur was matted. I bathed him, held him and fixed his cage and tubes. I mothered him. 

That’s why I’m crying isn’t it? This sucks so bad. I feel heartbroken. 

And today and I would normally see T but she’s gone and that makes it hurt even more. 

I need a mummy and she’s gone. Both in the sense that the mummy I wanted never was mine and my therapy mummy is away. I’m feeling alone and in need of being looked after like a child. That mother hole constantly getting bigger. 

I’ve just cried a whole river. Snotty, noisey crying. Wow that was horrible. 

Damn it. 

Given With Love: Transitional Object

Well I feel rather chipper today and it is thanks to T (and Frank).

For those who haven’t read my previous few posts, I had been debating whether to ask my T to buy me a teddy bear for me to use as a transitional object for the break next week (and future breaks I guess).  I was battling with this because I am an adult who “shouldn’t” need a teddy bear, but at the same time, the work we are doing is very painful childhood trauma stuff and so my inner child felt it would be soothing in T’s absence.

In my session last Thursday, I plucked up the courage and said that I had an idea for a transitional object but that it was “a bit out there“.  She said that was fine and so I said “Well… I had an idea that if I gave you the money, you could buy me a teddy?”.  She said yes immediately. I was pretty shocked and weirdly embarrassed or awkward or something and so I started rambling on about how I had back-up ideas if not but that this was my favourite idea.  T agreed instantly and looked completely un-phased. She said “I bet you have been struggling with this all week haven’t you?” and I said yes and laughed (she knows me so well, I love that).  She asked me why she would possibly say no and I explained my thoughts surrounding it being a childish wish and not very age-appropriate.

Anyway, when I got to my session last night, T opened the door and as I looked over to my seat THERE HE WAS!! Sitting there waiting for me. I was SO excited. Like childishly excited. He was so cute and I felt so happy. I made this very obvious and ran to him and cuddled him and thanked her. She was smiling the whole time, she looked like she was enjoying seeing how much I loved him. I felt so warm inside. I told T that I felt “fuzzy inside”.

We chatted about how she had chosen him and how we thought he had a happy face and had character.  I thanked her several times and then she said

“He is given with love”

But what I heard was “give him some love” and so I said “Oh I will I promise!”.  T then said:

“I actually said “He is given with love””

GIVEN WITH LOVE!!!! LOVE!! L.O.V.E

Now obviously I guess everyone may have a different take on what that means, but to me, that means something along the lines of: she really cares for me and she enjoyed getting him for me and enjoyed giving him to me.  That it wasn’t a chore for her. That she took pleasure in it.  Something like that anyway. I hope. The child part of me is secretly hoping it was secret code for “I love you” but the adult me is brushing that away because that is unlikely.

Nothing like over-analysing hey!!

After 5 or so minutes, T asked if I wanted her to hold him for the session to “charge him up“. This is something we have discussed before because T once told me that when she was in therapy, she used to have her T’s scarf and that her T would “charge it up” all session before giving it back to her. Her having told me this has always made me feel like asking for a transitional object was not something to feel embarrassed about.  I knew that she would understand and knowing that she has been there herself really does help.

I will discuss the actual session in a separate blog so staying on the subject of the teddy for now, my session was about to end and T gave me the teddy back. I said that I needed to think of a name for him but that for some weird reason, Frank had come into my head.  T smiled and said

“Well, its “Fran” with a K isn’t it!”

(My T’s name is Fran – I’ve never disclosed that before and I’m unlikely to again, but I couldn’t really explain this without telling you all). We both laughed! I said I hadn’t thought that at all when the name popped into my head and we laughed at how clever the unconscious is. My brain clearly had. And so, this is how Frank came to be.

When I left, I sat Frank in the passenger seat of my car and put the seatbelt around him, I took a few photos of him to send to T once I had got home which I did. I thanked her again and she replied to say:

“I hope you are able to enjoy Frank and he is able to help soothe and steady you when needed. Sleep well Twink. See you on Thursday. Kind Wishes”

My heart was (is) warmed. There truly is something about her having chosen him, that she has got him for ME and only me. That she thought about me when she purchased him (being held in mind I guess).  I know that I asked for him and so it wasn’t a surprise, but I love him and what he represents. It’s hard to explain. I was fully intending to give her the money for him but she said she didn’t want the money and that she felt it was important she didn’t take it from me.  So that makes him even more special.

I think perhaps because of the maternal transference I have, it is almost as though I am getting something fulfilled – that “mum” has chosen me something and that it will be special to me because of that.

I cuddled him several times last night and I “introduced” him to my boyfriend who has been really cool about the whole thing and hasn’t shamed me at all.  I feel like a little bit of my T is in my house with me now and I really hope that he helps in the break next week.

Teddy 

Yay, I’m getting a teddy! And not just any teddy, my T has agreed to buy me one to use as a transitional object for the break (this time next week is my last session for a week). 

I can’t wait to meet him/her. 

I’m so excited!! 

Oh I mean, my inner child is excited. Obviously adult me isn’t at all bothered…. 😂

I’ve Fallen In Love With My Therapist: Transference in Therapy

Transference. A particular case of projection, used to describe the unconscious, emotional bond that arises in the analysand toward the analyst. (See also countertransference.)

Transference is a phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. One definition of transference is “the inappropriate repetition in the present of a relationship that was important in a person’s childhood”.

As you may have seen from some of my recent blogs my therapy appears to have really taken off! Therapy feels entirely different from what it used to be, it is harder but at the same time, much more fruitful.  The transference seems to have really kicked in.

I told T on Tuesday that I felt feelings for her that were similar to feelings I have had in the past when falling in love. I also admitted to her that I had become preoccupied with thoughts of her.  This had freaked me out A LOT because I am a heterosexual female who is not, and has never been, attracted to other females – and also (and perhaps more confusingly) I see my T as the perfect fantasy mother and not as a love interest.

Talking to T about this was difficult and embarrassing as you can probably imagine but I am really glad I did because she has really helped to normalise this for me and in turn, I have stopped panicking.

You may have heard of erotic transference. I had, in fact my T had warned me that she thought my therapy may well be headed that way! I shrugged this off and didn’t believe her because it seemed utterly ridiculous and to be honest, petrifying! I didn’t want to have any kind of sexual attraction to my perfect fantasy mother. That would be weird, right?!

Well… it turns out it actually isn’t that weird and despite what us adults think, it isn’t actually a sexual attraction as we know it at all.

What I have learnt is that during the psychotherapy process at some stage once the trust has been gradually earned and you begin to feel attached to your therapist, you start to feel special.  For me this has taken nearly 3 years but it felt as though it has all hit me at once.

All of a sudden, I felt very aware of and in touch with my inner child – the less logical part of me, the more childish, feeling-based part of me and I began to listen to what she was saying.  This enabled me to write my blog “the fairytale ending” which I then subsequently took to T and read to her (through my tears).  I had suddenly got in touch with some previously stored away pain, grief and sadness.  It became abundantly clear what it was that I have been searching for all of my life (a mother) and that I had some very deep, unmet needs from childhood.

T was so wonderful about all of this and she made me feel truly heard. I feel that she understands me (sometimes better than I understand myself) – I feel seen and cared for.  She does not humiliate me in my needs which I am used to.  She stays strong and sits with me through my pain and because of all of this, the bond and attachment I feel has increased.

So I have now idealised my T. She has become the all-powerful, all-knowledgeable, can’t-do-anything-wrong, on a pedestal therapist whom clearly holds all of the power to my future happiness and I want more of that! Who wouldn’t? Seriously for me, this feeling is intoxicating and it feels like love.

Cue absolute terror!! agggghhh I’ve fallen in love with my therapist! (Please note that for me, this has not become sexualised [yet?] but for lots of people, it does).

Now that I have taken some time to talk to T about this and have read nearly everything online, what I have come to understand is that it is in fact about desire – the hope that all of your prayers have been answered by this wonder-woman and it’s about transference. Having T in my life means that I finally have the chance to win the “perfect” love of a mother substitute!

Erotic love is based on very infantile wishes and needs – going back to the beginning a baby needs its primary caregiver (in my case, my mother) for survival. Literally.  The baby needs to feel loved, seen, understood.  It needs to be held, fed, changed and if some of those basic needs were not met, you will have a metaphoric hole in your life and that is probably what has brought you into therapy in the first place. The need to “fill” that hole has probably not ended well.  For me this played out in all of my relationships where I was extremely anxious, became almost obsessed with my love interest (secretly), never felt at ease and got extremely jealous and insecure.  Needless to say, “love” wasn’t fun and it certainly wasn’t easy. I think the jealousy I usually feel in my relationships with men are going to play out in therapy as jealousy towards T’s children.. I can see that happening.

In therapy I will basically redo any of the developmental stages that were not sufficiently completed as a child, but with my therapist instead of my mother.  The aim is that she will be a secure base – something I didn’t have growing up, that she will help me to redo these stages how they should have been done therefore enabling me to move on to the next stage and the stage after that and so on until I have “grown up”.  I am probably in stage 1, right back to being a baby and the “love” and fixation that I am feeling towards my T is normal for the development stage (i.e. this is how a baby would feel towards its main caregiver). The mother fixation.

mother fixation

Etymology: AS, modor, mother; L, figere, to fasten an arrest in psychosexual development characterized by an abnormally persistent, close, and often paralyzing emotional attachment to one’s mother. Compare father fixation. See also freudian fixation.

I have also learnt that the feelings I am having of wanting more of T, wanting her to myself and not only being able to see her in my set therapy hours, because I pay her, wanting to know more about her private life, wishing she didn’t have a husband or children (aghh) – is part of the learning curve that children go through when they go through that annoying “mine!” phase. I will learn to share my T – in due course.  Lets not get ahead of ourselves ;o)

During this process I will be taught that it isn’t T that I “love” but the feeling of genuine acceptance and unconditional positive regard that has been missing all of my life. This will enable me to understand where I go wrong in relationships (for me, picking avoidantly attached men, due to repetition compulsion and mistaking an activated attachment system for passion) and why, it will enable me to identify my defence mechanisms and have healthier relationships in the future having resolved all of my unfinished business.

“it is my proposition that the emergence of the erotic transference signifies the patient’s deepest wish for growth. Like those in love, patients wish to be known and understood, to change what they do not like about themselves, to alter what makes them unlovable. Through the erotic, light is shone on the deepest recesses of the psyche” (Mann, 2008, p. 9)

So, if you find yourself caught up in an erotic transference, a wish your therapist was your parent, fixated on them, Googling them and becoming distraught at the findings (yep, I did this) then don’t worry, it is just evidence that your therapy is on course and you are exactly where you need to be.

TT x

love

 

Activated Attachment System

It’s Tuesday. The day I’ve been wishing would hurry up and get here so that I can see T and speak about everything that has been driving me insane since Friday, but guess what? I am fighting against the fact that I don’t want to go.

This is so typical for me, this is what I do when she’s been on a therapy break and I’ve spent a week or two counting down the days until I can reconnect with her, only to arrive at that day and …. Nope, I don’t wanna go. I guess this is the push and pull of my anxious attachment. Come here – go away.. Jeez it is exhausting.

 

Attached

I read a book a couple of years ago Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Rachel Heller and Amir Levine and I am re-reading it now, now that I am further into my therapy journey and now that I have more insight on myself and why I do things. I seriously recommend that anyone who struggles with attachment related injuries gives it a read, it is wonderfully validating and very helpful.

I keep trying to visualise tonight’s session. What will I say to T when she asks me how I am? Sometimes I start to play out a possible dialogue and other times I tell myself not to plan it, to just turn up and see what happens. I am nervous. So I’ve been doing what I usually do, reading as much as I can on the internet and in books to kinda diagnose myself. It’s like I want to be able to take the information to T almost so I can say “I did and felt this… but it’s okay, because I read in this book that it’s because……” which I know is completely ridiculous because she is a highly educated, talented, skilled therapist and she doesn’t need me to take her snippets from Google! Still, perhaps I have a fear that she will punish me and I am trying to protect myself by doing this.

On that note, I think I have figured out what sent me spiralling and as usual, it is all about my attachment style. Taking some quotes from the book, and a website, here is what I’ve learnt:

“The attachment system is the mechanism in our brain responsible for tracking and monitoring the safety and availability of our attachment figures. If you have an anxious attachment style, you possess a unique ability to sense when your relationship is threatened. Even a slight hit that something may be wrong will activate your attachment system and once it is activated, you are unable to calm down until you get a clear indication from your partner that he or she truly is there for you and that the relationship is safe”. 

“Once activated, they are often consumed with thoughts that have a single purpose: re-establish closeness with their partner. “activating strategies”.”

“Activating strategies are any thoughts or feelings that compel you to get close, physically or emotionally, to your partner. Once he or she responds to you in a way that re-establishes security, you can revert back to your calm, normal self.”

[Next section taken from: http://the-love-compass.com/2014/02/22/understanding-the-needs-of-the-anxiouspreoccupied-attachment-style/]

“Protest behaviour

A protest behaviour is any action that tries to reestablish connection with the partner and get their attention. If we can reassure our partner’s needs before they engage in protest behaviour, then they can be calmed very quickly. If things continue to escalate and needs continue to go unmet, protest behaviour ensues and can harm the relationship. Protest behaviour includes:

Excessive attempts to reestablish contact: Excessive texting, calling, messaging etc.

  • Withdrawing: Ignoring, not taking calls, etc.
  • Keeping score: Waiting to see how long it takes for them to call you back and waiting the same amount of time before returning their call, waiting for them to apologize, etc.
  • Acting hostile: Eye rolling, walking away, leaving room
  • Threatening to leave: Making comments that you can’t do this anymore and that your better off without the person in hopes that they will convince you to stay
  • Manipulations: Saying you have plans when you don’t, not answering calls, playing games
  • Making him/her feel jealous: Making plans with an ex, talking about your attractive coworker, texting friends of the opposite sex, etc.
  • Protest behaviour can manifest itself in anything that jolts the other person to notice and respond to you. It can cause harm to the relationship.

Longing for someone who is no longer available – biological and emotional make up is programmed to try and win them back. The process of attachment follows its own course and schedule. This means you will continue to think about the other person and will be unable to push them out of your mind for a very long time.”

 

Using this to help me 

So I think that I understand what happened for me:

  1. Something activated my attachment system. I think this was my reading into the comment that T made about how she had hoped I wouldn’t need to be in therapy for long. As previously explained, I had read into this that I was much harder work than my T ever anticipated and that basically, she probably wished she had never taken me on.
  2. I emailed T to re-establish contact… but unfortunately for some reason, her response wasn’t enough to settle me and so I then….
  3. Engaged in protest behaviour – however the chosen method was internet stalking. I guess this felt like the safest option because she didn’t have to “know” about it.
  4. Unfortunately said internet stalking resulted in me feeling even worse upon finding out she is married and has two daughters close to my age which just fuelled my insecurity.
  5. I then became fixated/obsessed with T due to “longing for someone who is no longer available” – this explains why I was unable to push her out of my mind.

I guess the purchasing of the book for T was all part of this longing – it was a way of establishing connection and closeness .

 

Tonight

I know I should probably relax a bit more and not spend so much time analysing the crap out of myself and my behaviour and thoughts, but it has actually benefited me figure this out. I feel much more able to take it to T tonight and discuss it with her now that I understand the bigger picture.

 

 

 

 

 

Obsession, Chickens & Dream therapy

Okay, I am struggling. Really, really struggling.

I don’t know what has happened but since Friday evening when I wrote about walking home, playing the song that reminds me of T, thinking of those lovely memories with her and then the awful internet stalking binge that I went on (still not over that!) I have become obsessed.

I don’t want to use the word “obsessed” because it has very negative connotations and conjures up an image of some mad stalker or something. But for the sake of being bluntly honest, that is probably the most accurate word.

I just cannot stop thinking about T; and I am talking like 24/7 completely and utterly consumed by her. I can’t even give an example of the types of thoughts I am having, I can’t consciously grab hold of one long enough to examine, but she is just “there” if that makes any sense?

Unfortunately the fact that she is so “there” has resulted in everyone else no longer being “there” at all. I feel awful writing this, but I can’t even connect properly with my boyfriend. It is as though I just can’t see and feel him at the moment. Like there isn’t room for them both.  I feel so guilty that I feel this way that I just spent the last ten minutes crying in the toilet partly for that reason.

He is so happy today because we’ve just been to a garden centre and he’s brought some new plants. He is a keen gardener these days and it has given him that lift that I get when I’ve been on a successful shopping trip. Yet here I am, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon sitting in bed writing this in the hope that my headache goes, that I make some sense of all these thoughts in my head and that my mood lifts, for his sake as much as mine. I don’t want him to feel rejected.

It feels similar to cheating. Being totally consumed in thoughts about another person and your partner having no idea. The confusion and the guilt – it is very similar to that.

I have spent hours on the internet reading about transference and trying to make some sense of what is going on. It isn’t erotic transference because I only see her in a motherly way, there is nothing sexual about any of it – yet the feeling is similar to falling in love. All encompassing love.

***

Chickens

I found a book at the garden centre on chickens. I was drawn to the book and picked it up admiring the beautiful chickens and their lovely colours and patterns. The reason? My T (of course) because she keeps chickens.  It is one of the few things I know about her.

I thought to myself that I would buy her the book, she would like that and i would like that too and then the voice in my head told me not to be so stupid, that I wasn’t allowed to buy T things, that she would ask me why I had, perhaps even reject the gift and that I would feel ashamed and rejected. The pain of that thought alone was intense and physically hurt my chest. I felt as though I could cry right there and then and so I put the book down and walked away.

I thought to myself that it just isn’t fair that I can’t do these things. That I can’t have T as my mother figure and that I have to keep to a more professional and boundaried relationship with her. I wanted to be able to do these things and it feels so bloody unfair that I can’t. Writing that sentence has brought the tears back up. Wow it is strong.

I am aware that words like “isn’t fair” are rather childish so perhaps I am regressed. Perhaps it is the child part that is feeling the perceived rejection and unfairness.

Anyway, I then fought against all of this and decided to buy the book. I thought I could decide later if I gave it to her or not. Perhaps I would keep it for myself and it would remind of me of T, or perhaps I would decided to give it to her. So I now have a book about chickens sitting on my dining table downstairs that may, or may not, make its way to T.

***

Falling in “Love”

I started thinking about similarities in the way I think, feel and behave at the start of relationships and compared it to the way I’ve been feeling about T.  There are some definite similarities:-

  1. I become totally preoccupied by that person;
  2. I buy them gifts;
  3. I think of them in songs and play those songs on repeat;
  4. I see things everywhere that remind me of them;
  5. I go off whoever else is around me – perhaps a current partner;
  6. I want and need more.. more, more, more;
  7. My mood changes when I am with that person;
  8. I cry when that person leaves me physically or I have to leave them;
  9. I try and play it cool and fight against all of these things because I know that other people don’t tend to feel this way and because I don’t want to show my “true colours” and scare the new love interest away; and
  10. Later down the line, I constantly ask if everything is okay, if I’ve upset the other person and struggle with insecurity and jealousy to a hugely embarrassing extent.  Funnily enough, insecurity is what made me contact a therapist in the first place. I had no idea (consciously) abut anything else.

Wow, I know, this really does show my issues doesn’t it? LOL. I think this is what they call a preoccupied attachment.

Okay, so what I understand so far is that I am currently preoccupied by my T, that I am repeating old behaviours and that the reason for this is down to my anxious/preoccupied attachment style which in turn, was caused by my experiences as a baby with my caregiver.

That has helped actually… writing all of this has really helped me to understand what is going on and has made it far less scary. I can actually feel my mood lifting.

The good thing about all of this is that I am in therapy now, that all of these behaviours and thoughts are “under the microscope” so to speak and will be examined thoroughly.

Hopefully one day, this will no longer be my pattern.

***

Last night’s dream

Here are some notes I wrote this morning about a dream I had last night (about T, obviously).

In session with T and was feeling a bit weird. A mixture of anger and upset. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling, but I wanted T to know what was wrong without me having to tell her. T didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong.  I got that familiar feeling that I had been talking too much again and so instantly stopped talking and just listened to her, although I was more listening to my internal dialogue. 

I asked T why I was suddenly finding therapy so hard (I was hoping that she would push this and guess what I was trying to say to her – which was that I am suddenly thinking about her a lot and that I am preoccupied with her.  I wanted to tell her about my Googling and admit how bad I feel.  I wanted her to make it all okay and to rid myself of the shame and guilt and for her to still be there and not leave or go mad).

The session ended and I got up to go, T opened the door at the front of the room (there isn’t one in real life) which was odd. I was surprised. T quickly left the room in a way that told me to stay where I was – I assumed her daughter was there.  She came back and apologised and we left the room together and I got into my car. 

I realised I had sat in the back of my car and that I needed to get into the front seat and drive it  I didn’t want to and didn’t feel capable of driving because I was feeling so confused and regressed and angry and upset.  Nothing was clear. 

But then I saw it!!! There was an envelope on my steering wheel! With my name on the front.  It said “To Twinkletoes, with love from Poland”.  The card was half of a ripped up xmas card, it said something in about how I would like a cook book which had a weird name, something like “blonde bee cookery” and I thought to myself that perhaps her daughter had it and she had thought I might like it.  I wondered why she was giving me this card that she wrote in Poland at Xmas now, in the summer.  Perhaps she forgot she had it.  I was thrilled she had thought of me on her holiday and that I had something like this to keep because only that day I had thought how I would like an transitional object in the form of something handwritten (this was true in waking life too). 

I started to drive home but couldn’t see properly. I felt I would crash. I took my glasses off to see if that helped and then realised my headlights weren’t on, so I put them on. I didn’t feel able to drive and had such a huge sense that I needed someone to tell me it was okay, to let me stop the car and get into the back, to give me a huge cuddle and let me cry it all out and for me to not have to keep acting as though I was capable. 

My thoughts on this dream are that firstly, it is extremely close to real life events. Me wishing T would know things without me having to tell her – particularly about the more embarrassing things such as this transference and the Google stalking…  me sitting in the back of my own car instead of the driver’s seat I take to be symbolic of the fact I need to “drive my own therapy” and not sit in the back.  The card is possibly a mixture of the fact i want to ask her for something handwritten to keep in breaks and a wish that she would buy me a card or gift so that I knew she had thought of me – without me asking of course. The wish in the dream that I would tell her everything and she would not leave or punish me is clearly true in real life too.  It is almost as if I had a session with her in my head because I am struggling so much in waking life.  The part about not being able to drive and not feeling capable, of wanting her (or someone) to take over and let me collapse is probably a real wish at the moment. Not wanting to have to put on a front of being strong and able when I am not feeling it.

***

Where are you now?

That is a question that T would ask me at the end of a hard session.  Where am I now? I feel a lot better having written all of this out. It has made some space in my brain which was feeling too full up.

I understand that I am repeating behaviours and I guess that is probably pretty useful (although embarrassing) to my therapy and will hopefully be something I can use to learn from.  I just need to be able to tolerate these uncomfortable feelings (something I struggle with).

Now all I need to do is get the guts to speak to T about it and decide whether to give her the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winnicott: Fear of Breakdown

Have you ever read about Winnicott’s fear of breakdown? If you haven’t, I highly recommend that you Google it and have a read. I just found a paper written by Claire Winnicott (psychoanalyst and wife of Donald Winnicott called, “Fear of breakdown: A clinical example” and I found it utterly fascinating and extremely comforting.

Below I have picked out a few of the most relevant quotes for me personally within that paper and I think that some of my fellow bloggers may find this as interesting as I have.

According to D. Winnicott, the fear of breakdown is described as “a previous early breakdown occurred at a time when the ego cannot organize against environmental failure, when dependence is a living fact. At the dependence stage environmental failure disrupts the ego defence organization and exposes the individual again to the primitive anxieties which he had, with the help of the facilitating environment, organised himself to deal with. This leads to an unthinkable state of affairs”.

 

Clare Winnicott says in her paper “In fact the word anxieties is not a strong enough word, and Winnicott lists what he calls the primitive agonies against which new defences must be constructed. This early trauma will continue to be a threat until and unless the patient is able to experience the original event now with the help of the ego supporting analyst (mother)”.  Winnicott concludes “there is no end [to the analysis] unless the bottom of the trough has been reached, unless the thing feared has been experienced”.

Clare Winnicott discusses one of her patient’s story which, in my opinion, is well worth the read. In that story she talks about the patient working through her “negative feelings with regard to dependence” – something that I struggle with in my therapy and something that I know fellow bloggers also struggle with.  I am hoping this may normalise it for you as it has for me.  She also talks about the “broken-down child” and how that part of her patient was “split off and defended against”.  Claire Winnicott says “In other words, she developed a successful false-self to deal with the situation”.  This is one of the “primitive agonies” that Winnicott described in his theory.  My thoughts as I read this section were that this explains why my T used to press me to not only consider the “self-sufficient adult” and to think about the non-logical, non-rational parts of me.  When she used to ask me where my feelings were. My false-self was certainly centre-stage.

She explains that her patient began to see her as “a mother therapist who could feed her” albeit via the power of a dream. Claire suggested to the patient that the patient saw her as having “special powers”.  I know this is something that I can relate to. My T has been placed on a pedestal and I certainly view her as being some sort of “golden healer”.  Irrationally thinking that if only I could get more access to her, that I would be healed when deep down I know that is untrue. At least it appears to be a normal part of the process.

The example discusses the patient’s use of a transitional object which is something that a lot of us going through trauma therapy have spoken about before. Another reassuring thing to read.

The patient later has a dream where she literally picks up her child self. Clare Winnicott suggested that this represented the fact that the patient “felt strong enough with my help to go back and pick up and carry that distressed child part of herself from which she had been cut off for so long. I also said it seemed that the child was now no longer frozen, but was ready to move and come alive and to be part of her grown up self”.   This was of particular interest to me at the moment because I was telling T on Tuesday that all of a sudden the “voice” of my inner child is clear, that suddenly it is very obvious that I have an adult voice and a child voice and that although they are in constant conflict, it is very much there and it didn’t used to be.  Reading this has reassured me that perhaps this is a sign I am getting stronger and am more able to “move and come alive” as Clare describes about her patient.

 

In summary of her patient Claire says “as the transference became established the patient was able to reveal to the analyst in a concrete way the nature of the early trauma which had caused the original breakdown at a time when the patient’s immature ego was not strong enough to encompass the experience. The traumatized child part of herself therefore became split off and defended against. The work of the analysis has been concerned with the gradual experiencing for the first time, with the support of the analyst, the pain and terror of the early breakdown. Over a period of years this has led to the re-discovery and reintegration of the lost child in to the patient’s present ego organization”.

 

Perhaps this may offer some explanation to anyone who is feeling frustration and anger at not being able to cry in therapy yet? Maybe the tears only follow once the psyche starts to acknowledge that lost child and lets it speak out. Some lost children will take longer than others to come out of hiding due to their own personal trauma. For me, this took over 2 years. I guess it depends on quite how long and how strong that defence was, how strong the “false-self” has become and how safe it feels now. I relate this to all of us who have longings that we are too scared to act on: I hope that we learn to push past each of our uncomfortable limits a little bit more each time our therapists respond in a caring, understanding, attuned and non-punishing or judgmental way.

The therapeutic journey seems to be more clear-cut to me having read these papers. Obviously as with any theory you will have your own opinion on it, but for me this is encouraging. It has helped to explain away and normalise the fears I have with dependency, the depth and strength of the feelings of grief and sadness (the primitive agonies), the need for a strong mother like attachment with my therapist, the use of transitional objects, the need to “hear” the child within, or the “lost child” as it is described here.  It explains that gradually over a period of potentially more years, I will re-experience the initial breakdown in small more manageable chunks and that is how I will heal.  I have even read that “This fear is characterized by feelings of falling forever” and that sums up very well the feelings I get when I am in what I call an emotional flashback, where I am triggered and regressed. Those times I have written about where I feel utterly desperate and unable to function as an adult, unable to go to work and just want to stay in bed and hide from life.

I hope this helps others the way it has helped me.

 

 

 

 

The Golden Fantasy

Tuesday 27th June 2017

As I expected, I had to read my “Fairytale Ending” blog out loud to T Tuesday night and it was bloody tough.

I told T that I didn’t want to read it out loud but she encouraged me to give it a go. She told me to take my time and to remember to breathe. I felt so nervous about reading some of it to T, mainly the bits about her, but I also knew that I would cry my way through it as usual and I guess I was scared about that too.

Anyway, I did read it and it was very, very painful. I cried pretty much the whole time, sobbed actually, the full works: nose-blowing, make-up running, noise producing sobbing.

But, I DID do it and I am really glad I did.

I couldn’t look at T for pretty much the entire thing because I felt so vulnerable and scared. So exposed.  T was reassuring and comforting as always. She kept saying “it’s okay, I am here“.  She said some other things too but if I am honest, they just felt like words to make me feel better rather than the truth.  Things like “I can see how intelligent the child was – is, she is very clever. She works things out, she understands things” – I just brushed that comment off because I don’t feel that is true at all. I am not saying that to fish for compliments, I genuinely do not believe I am, or have ever been, intelligent.

The first sentence to make me cry was “Someone who would listen to all of the pain and have genuine compassion…” – that surprised me because I didn’t think that was a particularly weighty sentence, but when reading it to her it suddenly became rather poignant and was the first sentence to make my voice crack.

The second was reading ” I think I am scared sometimes by the depth of feelings I have for her and how painful the loss would be if she went away“.  I broke down in tears at this and T told me that the reason I was finding this so hard to say was that by telling her how strong my feelings are for her, I gave her the ability to hurt me.  I agree that is probably the fear.  Letting someone really know how much you need them, want them and love them does open you up to the possibility of a lot of pain doesn’t it. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who has been guarded with her heart or someone who takes a long time to open up, but with T it seems that is how I am and I can only assume it is because it is so important with her.

In relationships in the past I think I always subconsciously knew that I could find another boyfriend (talking younger years here, not serious relationships) whereas with T, it feels like a vital opportunity that I absolutely cannot fuck up.  T said that perhaps I was worried that not only would she abuse my love and trust in her but that she would enjoy the power she had like my mother did. That she might lord it over me.  I agreed with her.  My mother played on and enjoyed the control and power she had over me, particularly when I was vulnerable or crying and needy and so that was most definitely a fear here.

When I read the part about how I think the reason I write here, read and comment on other people’s blogs and read therapy-related books is to try to keep some sort of connection to T, she suggested that I was using them transitionally.  The same purpose that someone would use a transitional object.  She said that actually it was very clever.

[I reached the end of the first page at this point and T asked me if I wanted to stop or carry on. She told me I was doing really well and said “see, nothing bad has happened, you are still here, nothing has exploded or anything“.  She told me that it felt so unnatural and scary to me because I haven’t ever been allowed to have feelings and so I had to fight past that.  I wasn’t sure and didn’t say anything. I was thinking.. half of me wanted to maintain the courage and keep reading, to fight against everything telling me to stop – the other half was aware that T may be suggesting it for a reason. She has suggested before that I may “purge” a bit and almost punish myself and push myself too far.  I told her I would carry on for now.]

I read the part about having “verbal diarrhoea” and T said “awww” which sounded weird to me because I think I only really associate that word with sarcasm but she wasn’t being sarcastic. I cried as I read “I have so much to say, so much to share, so much to be soothed and so little time”.

We discussed what I said about the difference between Tuesday and Thursday sessions and how I feel so different in them. That it feels that on Tuesdays the child is there, whereas Thursdays it is the adult.  T said that the psyche is very clever and it is trying to protect me.  She said it is because the gap is longer and it knows I need to get through Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday before I can see her again and so it does what it can to keep me safe.  I told her that I understood that but that the child part of me feels it misses out on a Thursday and that it is frustrating.  T said she completely understood this but said I shouldn’t worry about it for now because she believes that in time I will be able to bring the child part into my Thursday sessions more and more.  She said she thinks starting the second session is what enabled me to bring her my child part in the first place and that without the second session I may not have been able to bring it to her (which makes total sense to me because I was not aware of the child part at all for the first two years when I only had one session a week).  She told me to trust in my process. That actually really helped.

When I read the part to T about wanting her to think of me as a competent “normal” adult just sometimes she said “you are worrying about my feelings” and said that this was because I had to look after my mother in all of her needs and feelings growing up and so naturally I was now worrying about her and how she felt and that I was probably worried I was being too much for her.  I told her that I did worry I was too much, but equally it wasn’t so much that I was worried about how T felt, but that I didn’t want her to think of me as pathetic. T told me that she did not think I was pathetic and that I really need to learn to trust that she can look after herself as well as me. I note that in my head I thought “but that’s too much for you to do!” and it is only really today that I realise how sad that thought is because I guess a parent should be able to do that for themselves and their child but my mother couldn’t/didn’t which is why it seems such a foreign idea to me. T said that she saw all sides/parts of me and that if I only brought her the competent adult, then we would be rather stuck. We laughed.

We spoke about therapy breaks.  I haven’t ever shown T any anger about the breaks. I have cried about them to her once I think, but this time I read her the words about how it feels so cruel and how it feels like I am almost tricked into trusting her not to leave – for her to then leave.  T told me that she agreed, that the breaks are bloody unfair.  She told me that she understood that right now it felt the breaks were purely for her benefit and not for mine, but that in time that will change.  She said that she really did understand and asked me if perhaps I felt angry with her?  I said no, I wasn’t angry at HER but just at the whole idea in therapy that you have to get so bloody needy and vulnerable and depend on someone so much for them to then disappear and leave you alone.  She said that perhaps the anger towards her was still too scary at the moment, but that in time it would come and that it would feel “liberating”. I thought to myself that seemed like a strong word and I assume that the reason it would feel liberating would be that it would be a transferencial (is that a word?) reaction perhaps – what I couldn’t do or say to my mother? I don’t know. She also said that her next break was now 2 weeks away and that may be why this was on my mind. Eugh 2 weeks… that isn’t long.

We discussed the adult/child conflict and I told her how I did understand it all in adult terms but that the child didn’t.

Moving on, I read “Adult me knows that I am an adult now and that I cannot now get all that I missed and long for. That it is too late”  and T interjected quickly and said “but all is NOT lost – you can still get something, there are things I can give you” I didn’t look at her when she said this and kind of carried on reading immediately, not pausing to talk to her about what she said. I continued “I have a hole in my heart that is exposed to the elements and it feels like no amount of plasters or stitches or even filler can make it better” I broke down again here.  T said “No, plasters and stitches won’t help, I know” and I said to her that I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful to her and what she does give me, she said I didn’t sound ungrateful at all…I said that it all feels a bit artificial. Like filler.  Like I have to accept that the hole in my heart will have to be stuffed with “stuff”, like cotton wool or something but it isn’t “stuff” that I want it to be filled with.  It felt like the cracks would still be there – I am not sure if this makes much sense?

void fill

Now for the cringiest bit…

I read T the section about how it hurts knowing she is a mum and that her children get her in a way that I don’t – and never will.  I read that when she said “my children” it hurts and how I tried to keep a poker-face. T told me that I absolutely didn’t need to hold it in or keep a poker-face, she said I didn’t need to do that to protect her from my feelings that it was okay for me to tell her and show her how it made me feel.  I kept my head down and ignored this too… I definitely did not want to look at her. I continued:

I can’t ask her things that I want to know and so it isn’t really the same is it? Because what I “love” is the feeling I get because you can’t love someone you don’t even know

T said it is interesting how I assume I can’t ask her the things that I want to know and that she has never told me that – that I have made this boundary myself.  I laughed this off and said “I knew you would say that” she said that of course I know her. She said that I knew where she lived, what car she drove, that “others lived here“, what her personality was like.. I nodded in agreement but it wasn’t what I meant. I think she probably knew that and was just trying to make me feel better.  She said that as much as I thought I wanted to know lots of other things about her, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it and that it would be too much for me. She said “me even saying “my children” is too much” and I thought to myself agghhh this is why I didn’t want to tell you – now you won’t tell me anything at all!! So I said to her “I don’t want to feel like that!!” and felt a bit angry with myself.  She said she knew that and that it wouldn’t always be that way. I kind of regret having told her that but she said it was very important for her to “protect me” in this.

I read her my dream and she said that her take on it was “sneaking up behind you” or “creeping up your behind”…  she said that she thought perhaps I was scared about what was yet to come and I said yes straight away. I most definitely was scared about what was yet to be felt, experienced, remembered… how could I not be.  She said “what you haven’t yet remembered perhaps?” and I agreed.  Bleugh what a horrible thought.

“My adult wants to make it all better for the child. To cuddle and love her better and yet the child is saying “No! not you!! – someone else!!””

T said that it was actually really good that the adult in me wanted to look after and protect the child because it would be really easy for me to be vicious and angry to the child part and shame it.  I told her that although there was that part, I was so angry about the fact that I should have to do that because I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be someone else that fills that for me, I don’t feel like I can do that, like I WANT to do it and so whilst I can be kind to the child part at times, I can’t and won’t be its mum. T said that I couldn’t do this yet, that this is why I needed her.  I needed to get some of my unmet needs met first by her, but that eventually I would be able to do this.  T said that it was awfully unfair that I should have to do this at all of course and that she understood my anger. That I was completely entitled to my anger. I feel angrier today than yesterday. Today I am very grumpy.

I had finally finished reading it. Thank God. I felt emotionally exhausted. I had cried so much and when I looked at the time (for the hundredth time), it was 8.20pm so I only had ten minutes left which felt scary because I had just read all of the painful stuff and I guess I was hoping we could sit and chat and I would get time to calm down for longer than that before leaving.

T asked me what bits I felt I would most like to re-visit or discuss.  I skimmed through it and said to her that none of it felt very important now….  we both laughed at the ridiculousness of that statement! I said that it felt it had lost its power and importance all of a sudden and she said that having read it out loud, having shared it with her, having been able to access the emotions and cry through it would have been cathartic and that is why it no longer felt so scary, but that there was a lot to it and it was all very big stuff.

I said the dream didn’t seem important and neither did the breaks right now.

She said that I was clearly very in touch with both the child and adult parts of me now and I asked her what exactly IS the child part? What does that even mean? I said that I’ve never been so aware of it before but that clearly it isn’t an actual child in me, so what is it? T said it is the feeling part. That the adult part of me is the rational part  and the child carries the feelings and all of the historic stuff, the pain, the fears, the worries etc.  It is more unfiltered.

I told T that I know it sounds weird but I have this image/memory of me about 6 years old in the place I lived in at the time, I am in my nightie and I am walking up the long corridor which went from the front door to the back of the house and I am all alone and scared.  T asked me why it was that I felt I was 6, she said I often say 6 years old and she wondered if there was a reason I thought this? I said no, it just feels that I am about 6 and I look about that age. I said that perhaps it isn’t even a memory, perhaps I’ve made it all up or something. T said she felt this stuff went right back to birth, to when I was a baby but perhaps the reason for “feeling 6” is that it is the rough age when you start to remember things and have explicit memories.

T said that she was certainly not the perfect mother but that is my fantasy because it is what I need right now.  I looked at her when she said this for probably only the second time in the entire hour. She looked quite serious and sincere when she said that, but I still don’t believe it ha!

T said “when we haven’t been given what we need from a good enough mother as little one’s, all we have to go by is our fantasy of what it would look like to have that. For it to feel safe it becomes an idealised “perfect” fantasy of a mother who can meet all of our needs in a perfectly attuned way.  A golden fantasy that feels safe because a perfect mother cannot hurt us.  So it’s perfectly normal and to be expected that you hold the fantasy of Miss Honey close to your heart – that is what she represents for you.”

She also told me to remember that I do still have a competent adult part and that is a good thing. She said in the breaks I need that adult. That I still need to be able to go to work, cook for myself, wash etc and that I shouldn’t forget that I have both the child AND the adult otherwise it can feel far too scary and overwhelming.

End of session

 

Tuesday night’s dream

I had been on a rollercoaster.  I sat on the ride facing someone else. I closed my eyes tight and thought to myself that I just had to survive it. That I wouldn’t die, but I might feel very sick and that I might hate every second of it. I did it and although it wasn’t pleasurable to me at all, I did survive and I even debated going on a second time and opening my eyes that time.

I think that is a very symbolic dream given the session.