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? 

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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.

 

 

 

The Fairytale Ending: Amended/Revised

For anyone that read the fairytale ending, this is pretty much the same post but I have expanded on it and sent it to T ahead of tomorrow’s session. Don’t ask me where I found the courage to do that……….. aghhhhghgh.

 

Matilda and Miss Honey

The child in me has been waiting for an adult to come and save her. She has been waiting to be rescued for approximately 29 years. She wants someone to come and take the pain away. Someone to fix everything bad that has happened – to magic it away forever.

Matilda got her happy ending with Miss Honey and she wants hers.

I used to hope that adults, mainly teachers, would see that I was a good girl and would adopt me. Friends’ parents would joke that I was their adopted daughter – it was a joke to them about how regularly I spent time at their houses, but to me it was the potential beginning of my fairytale ending.

Enter T

So I find T one day many years later. At this time I am an adult in age, and in physicality, but emotionally a child. Emotionally stunted at about 6 years old. Still unknowingly craving love, affection, understanding, acceptance and warmth.  Still so desperate for that bond.  That unconditional love. I had a yearning for something but I didn’t know what it was, or how to get it. I tried to get it by moving from boyfriend to boyfriend, even at a young age. I don’t like that about myself but I understand that I just copied what my mother did – that was all I was taught to do. Clearly it didn’t work. But I didn’t need a man, I needed a mother.

I guess I picked a female T for this reason. It wouldn’t have been so easy to find my new mum in a man would it? My fantasy about therapy wasn’t only to “fix myself” but I guess I had this feeling that I could potentially find a kind adult to care for me. Someone who would listen to all of the pain and have genuine compassion… someone who, like I used to hope my teachers would, would see I needed rescuing and would rescue me. I guess in a way it was hoping someone would take pity on me.

Looking back I felt (feel?) some similarities between T and my mum in that I saw them both as powerful, authoritive and strong. I guess therefore potentially dangerous. I felt a similar unconscious sense that I had to be good, well behaved, polite, well-mannered. The alternative? Punishment.  But of what kind? I am not really sure. Abandonment and rejection perhaps.

I liked and respected T for the first two years that I saw her, but now it is more than that in ways I am not sure I have the words to explain. Just thinking about it makes me well up with tears. I’m not entirely sure why, 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. Is it worse to lose something wonderful or to have never had it?

T has shown me and given me things that I had never seen or felt before. Patience, understanding and non-judgment – but I think the thing that sticks out most for me is attunement. I don’t even think I knew what that word meant a while ago and now it is the word I use most regularly in all of my diary entries and blogs. Attunement is key. It is so important on such a deep level. I don’t think I ever felt my mother attuned to me and what’s more, you can’t fake attunement apparently so it truly is precious.

“being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being “at one” with another being”

I’ve written a lot about all of the ways T is amazing and how I love her – or what she gives me or represents. What I still childishly fantasise her being one day – effectively my Miss Honey.

But…. on the less lovely side of things. T’s attunement to me, her patience and everything else, have suddenly shone a beacon of light on the loss. The loss of my childhood, my innocence and my birth-right to have been loved by my “good enough” mother. A childhood that felt full instead of starved and warm instead of cold. Safe instead of dangerous,. Loved instead of hated.

All of a sudden I am feeling the stark contrast of what T offers me and what I have/had and it hurts. Like it hurts my entire being.  My soul. Everything. It hurts me in a way I don’t think can be explained.

As I write this I have this strange energy coursing through my body, like adrenaline. Maybe it’s anger. It’s mixed with sadness and prickly tears. But the tears aren’t flowing, they are forming a barrier behind my eyelids almost refusing to come out. Like they are trying to stand strong. Like a line of soldiers making a human fence.

Everything that I (very cleverly) defended myself from knowing, seeing and feeling suddenly staring me in the face with a (not so) welcome home banner. I’ve reached the truth, my truth and it makes me want to debate for a moment if I want to keep walking towards “truth” or run backwards to denial and just pretend none of it is real.  Although that isn’t possible now. I sometimes question what was harder: blaming myself for everything, for the things I didn’t have; or knowing it wasn’t my fault and knowing who’s “fault” it was… what is worse? Which is the lesser of the two evils?

Verbal Diarrhoea

The adult part of me knows this is necessary for my healing. That this “is the work” as T would say. I guess that is what enables me to stick it out and not run away. (That and the fantasy of Miss Honey of course) but child me is in pain and shock and so I guess that explains why now I am craving the fairytale more than ever. I feel so regressed so regularly in therapy and sometimes in-between sessions and the craving for T is more intense than ever before. I think that the reason I enjoy writing my blog about therapy, enjoy reading other people’s, reading therapy books, re-reading my old blogs and the comments on them, is all part of this – trying to “feel” the connection that I am craving when I am not physically there with her.. and then sometimes when I am there, the sessions go way too quickly and the loss is right there again sitting in my chest hard to ignore. So I talk fast. “Verbal diarrhoea” as my mother would say, because I have so much to say, so much to share, so much to be soothed and so little time.  And then I leave and feel so ashamed of how much I’ve talked. I should not be the centre of attention – that is for my mother and not for me. I do not deserve that. I will be punished for that – and so I punish myself.

Tuesdays/Thursday Sessions

Thursday sessions sometimes seem like they don’t give me the same feeling that Tuesday sessions do and that is annoying because it is my “ last chance” at connection until the following Tuesday and that feels like a lifetime.  I keep wondering why it is that Thursday sessions feel so different and it feels as though I go into that session more (too) adult. It feels as though I go to Tuesday night sessions way more in touch with the child me, the regressed me, the sensitive me that wants to bare her soul and be soothed – whereas Thursdays I am an adult who wants T to see how competent I am. How grown up I am and I am so bloody fed up with trying to be the grown up so why do I do that? Perhaps I don’t want T to think I am a complete lost-cause. I don’t want her to think I am pathetic and childish and immature. I want her to think to herself just sometimes when I leave that she can have a normal “adult” chat with me about normal life things and not have to feel as though she is babysitting me or teaching me how to be a normal person…. And yet even that is completely contradicted by having a childish need to be rescued so none of it makes sense. It’s like the child in me has a tantrum when I leave on Thursdays and is shouting

“Hello? What about me? Now I have ages to wait just so you could be all grown up”

I wonder whether T sees a difference between Tuesday me and Thursday me or whether this is purely internal?

 

Therapy Breaks

And then you have therapy breaks. I mean, the adult gets this – of course she does, but the child wants to shout:

“What about me? You can’t just leave me here on my own. I will die without you looking after me”

It thinks it very cruel that it is expected to fight against everything it knows to “let someone in” and to learn to trust, to learn to take down the barriers and try to stop the competent (fake) adult taking over. So it does, slowly, very slowly it does this and then it is left alone?!  WTF is that about.  You wouldn’t leave a 6 year old child at home on their own for an entire week because it would die. Unable to eat or wash or anything and it feels almost the same, but emotionally speaking. Mixed messages – confusing. “Trust me, I won’t leave you” – oh, I’ve gone away. Then there is inner-dialogue between adult and child

“T deserves a break, she needs a break to look after you properly. It is only a week [or two weeks], she will be back before you know it”

“She hates me. She wants to leave me. I’ve worn her out. She is fed up of me. She won’t think about me, she will forget me. She won’t ever come back! I don’t need her anyway. I am fine. I am grown up and mature. Watch me cope all by myself. I don’t even think I need therapy anymore”

To the people that created this therapy. Freud etc: you missed something here!

 

Adult vs Child

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. Adult me knows therapy will help me to accept this and move on. Adult me knows T isn’t going to become mum and make it all vanish – that she doesn’t have a magic wand and that she can’t wave it so that I am 6 again, but her daughter, and none of it would have happened. Adult me gets that in therapy T will help give me some of the things that I didn’t get that will help me. Things like a kinder internalised voice – she had already done that to an extent and she is helping me not to feel so ashamed for having needs, to feel loveable. But child me… she hasn’t quite given up the hope of being rescued yet.  I know the happy ending will still be far nicer than the story ever was…. That in comparison the ending will be nicer than it could have been…. but I have a way to go to be okay with this. Today I feel robbed and angry. Like 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. Horrible image, but it feels like it is left open and it is being chewed on by insects.

That poor little girl was and is so desperate to be loved by a mummy that she didn’t get. It makes me sick.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for what I do have – that I have found T, that I can get so much from her that I have never had – but I guess like a child it wants more of what it likes and it can’t really have much more and that seems so unfair. Knowing that T is a mum seems to make that harder because it makes me jealous that her children get her as a mum so when she has said the words “my children” I have to try hard to keep my face neutral in case she can see anything in me change. Poker face.  Luckily she can’t feel the movement inside my chest.  Plus anyway, it is obviously a one-way relationship where 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. The whole thing is so confusing.

Dream

I had a dream on Saturday night that two boys I had been intimate with in my life (not both physically) told me that I had an infection on my bottom – I looked in the mirror and it was disgusting, all scabby and disgusting. The word in the dream that jumped out was “bacterial”. I hadn’t seen it because it was behind me, on my bum and so out of my view and I felt hugely humiliated and dirty. I felt so ashamed that they had both seen it and knew it was there and that I didn’t.  I have thought about this dream a lot since and I think it is representative of the fact that people that knew me well enough “saw” I had issues, problems, gaps… but that I didn’t and how ashamed I am about that and now the “scars” of it all seem to be obvious – like the scabby rash thing in my dream.

“A hidden or invisible attack that may weaken or even destroy you” – “Feelings of inadequacy or a sense of uncleanness”

 

One thing that amazes me is quite how relentless my inner child is at not giving up that hope. I am not sure if that makes her determined or stupid but there we have it. She isn’t ready to drop that fantasy yet. Saying that, I do admire the fact that she has continued to fight and has never totally given up. I wouldn’t have blamed her.

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!!

The thought that I can make this better for myself seems ridiculous because although half of me wants to be grown up, the other half wants to stay young because if I stay young then Miss Honey will come and if I don’t – she won’t.

 

I do not want to have to be my own mother. I don’t want to grow up (even though I already have).

The fairytale ending 

The child in me has been waiting for an adult to come and save me. 

She has been waiting to be rescued for approximately 29 years. She wants someone to come and take the pain away. Someone to fix everything bad that has happened – or possibly magic it away forever. 

Matilda (film/book) got her happy ending with Miss Honey and I wanted mine. 

I would hope that adults, mainly teachers, would see that I was a good girl and would adopt me. Friend’s parents would joke that I was their adopted daughter – it was a joke to them about how regularly I spent time at their houses, but to me  it was the potential beginning of a fairytale ending. 

Enter T

So I find T one day many years later. At this stage I am an adult in age and in physicality but emotionally a child. Emotionally stunted at about 6 years old. Still craving love, affection, understanding, acceptance and warmth. Still so desperate for that bond. That unconditional love. 

I guess I picked a female T for this reason. It wouldn’t have been so easy to find my new mum in a man would it? 

I guess I felt similarities between T and my mum in that I saw them both as powerful, authorities and strong. I guess therefore potentially dangerous. 

I liked and respected T for the first two years, but now it is more than that in ways I am not sure I have the words to explain. 

T has showed me things that I had never seen. Patience, understanding and non-judgment but I think the thing that sticks out most for me is attunement. I don’t even think I knew what that word meant a while ago. 

I’ve written a lot about all of the ways T is amazing and how I love her – or what she gives me or represents. What I still childlishly fantasise her being one day – Miss Honey. 

But.. on the less lovely side of things. T’s attunement to me, her patience and everything else have suddenly become a beacon of light on the loss. The loss of my childhood, my innocence and my birth right to have been loved by my mother. 

All of a sudden I am feeling the stark contrast of what T offers me and what I have/had and it hurts. Like it hurts my entire being, my soul. Everything. 

As I write this I have this strange energy coursing through my body, like adrenaline. Maybe anger. It’s mixed with sadness and prickly tears. 

Everything that in(very cleverly) defended myself from knowing, seeing and feeling suddenly staring me in the face with a (not so) welcome home banner. 

The adult part of me knows this is necessary for my healing. That this “is the work” as T would say. I guess that is what enables me to stick it out and not run away. That and the fantasy of Miss Honey of course 🙂 but child me is in pain and shock. 

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. Adult me knows therapy will help me to accept this and move on. Adult me knows T isn’t going to become mum and make it all vanish – that she won’t wave her magic wand and I will be 6 again but her daughter and non of it would have happened. Adult me gets that in therapy T will help give me some of the things that I didn’t get that will help. Things like a kinder internalised voice, she had already done that to an extent and she is helping me not to feel so ashamed for having needs, to feel loveable. 

But child me… she hasn’t quite given up the hope of being rescued yet. 
I know the happy ending will still be far nicer than the story was but I have a way to go to be okay with this. Today I feel robbed and angry. Like I have a hole in my heart that is exposed to the elements. 

That poor little girl so desperate to be loved by a mummy that she didn’t get. It makes me sick. 

Session re “An Hour Is Never Enough” Blog

Hi everyone,

Thank you to everyone that commented on my post last night ahead of going back to T’s, I really appreciated the thoughts, comments and birthday wishes. You are all lovely!

All went well last night. Obviously.  I mean I knew it would because it always does and because T is lovely but yet there is always that trepidation nonetheless.

T opened the door, smiley and kind faced as always.  I sat down and made small talk about the weather, how hot it is, she asked whether I had got my air-con re-gassed in my car yet and we laughed about the fact that I hadn’t (we’ve had this conversation SO many times). I told her about my holiday and we compared notes because T had been there in the past.

T asked me how I felt since our last session where I was very upset. She had my blog in front of her and asked if I was happy for us to go through it. I agreed.  I told her that I felt absolutely fine during the break and my holiday and that actually, I felt okay only a few hours after I wrote the blog which I sent to her.

T said it was very courageous of me that I sent my writing to her because it really helped her to understand.  She said that my writing was beautiful (eek!) and that the image I had chosen (from Google Images) was beautiful too. She pointed to a piece of artwork that she has on her wall and told me that it symbolised the same thing. I didn’t know that and so was surprised. I told her that I had often wondered what it was/represented but that I hadn’t known. She told me that perhaps my subconscious had known which was what had drawn me to the image I selected. .. maybe!

mother

She asked me how it felt that I sent it and whether her response had helped.  I told her that the one saving grace I have is that when I am “really in it” meaning really upset and feeling the feelings, that any embarrassment seems to go away for a short while and my neediness takes over. I needed to write that blog and get it all out and make some sense of things – and I needed her to read it too.  The embarrassment and shame that I always feel follow shortly after.

T told me that I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of. She told me how absolutely normal these feelings were and that I really didn’t need to be embarrassed.  She said that she hoped in time I would feel less embarrassment. I said that this had got better so hopefully it would continue to.  For example, in the past, knowing I was going back after a break to discuss that blog would have filled me with dread all day and probably made me feel rather unwell where I would have been very nervous – whereas yesterday it didn’t feel half that bad. There is definite improvement.

T read some of my words back to me, pausing at certain parts to either look at me or for me to comment on.  I told T at one part that when I was crying before I had written down any of my feelings, my stepdaughter came into my head – the fact that she had wanted a night at home with her mother before coming to us following a school trip.  I said to T that all of a sudden I understood that. I FELT that, in my heart like a physical pain. As I said this, my voice broke and I cried a little.  T looked at me as though she completely understood what I meant and she understood quite how painful that was. I said that the realisation had been very hard. T said that she needed a “top up of mum” before going back off to her Dad’s (and mine) for the weekend and I said that I understood that now, but I never had before. I said a little bit of me was angry with her for this (read: jealous) because she had something that I had never had.  Obviously I don’t really feel that way, it was just a fleeting jealous thought.

T read some more of my words and told me that everything I had described about my wishes for things I could do with her such as drinking tea, putting my feet up, having a blanket: some of them could be met.  She said I was welcome to put my feet up on the sofa, I was welcome to use the blanket which was on the back of the sofa, we could have a cup of tea if that was something I really wanted etc.  I told her that in a way I knew I could use the blanket but it wasn’t quite the same. It wasn’t really what I meant. She seemed to know that already anyway but said that some of the things I missed out on, the things that I crave, could be met now if I wanted.

I told her that I was a bit confused because I had read such conflicting things online about how therapy works. I told her that I had read the whole point of this type of therapy was to re-parent me, make me stronger and more emotionally mature, then I would detach and become more complete and adult. More whole. Yet I had also read that T could not be a replacement for my mother because I am now an adult and that was impossible and it was unhealthy if I was allowed to think of her that way.  T said that clearly she couldn’t say to me “I will be your mummy now” because that was not practical and was not fair. She said that would be harmful to me.  She said that as hard as it was for me to hear, she couldn’t be my mother but that she could help me to internalise the things that I missed out on that would help me.  For example, internalising her kind voice. Making me feel that I was special and important. Making me feel validated, feel that my feelings are important and okay – that anger and sadness were allowed and all of those very important things. She said that the therapy could help to re-parent me in some ways.  I said that I understood that I just wasn’t really sure what I could hope for from her and what I couldn’t.

I somehow plucked up the guts and told her that on my birthday I had hoped she would text me.  I said that my boyfriend had told me that she wouldn’t and that she was not “my friend” and that it felt weird to me that we couldn’t consider one another friends because I feel so close to her (even though I obviously understand I am a patient in therapy really).  T said that firstly if she had text me happy birthday that would not necessarily mean we were “friends” but that we did have a close connection and she understood why I would like to have had a birthday text.  She asked me if I wished she had of text me and I said that although I do in a way, yes, perhaps it would have brought up other things so maybe it was best she didn’t.  T said that it didn’t matter if it brought up anything – that we would talk about it and that I didn’t ever have to worry that things couldn’t be handled between us. That nothing would ruin anything and all thoughts and feelings were allowed here with her. That we would work with anything that came up.  She then explained that the reason she hadn’t text me was because I had previously told her that her texting me might be hard for me because she might text on some occasions and not others – that I might feel misunderstood.  Ultimately, that it could end up hurting me somehow.  I said that although I did feel that way, I felt that my birthday was different.  She said that she just had to be very careful not to hurt me in any way and that as we had previously agreed she would not contact me at any time, at least I knew where I stood – consistency. I said I understood that.

T said that much like my step-daughter needed “topping up” by her mother, I could “pop in” but just not in the physical sense. She said that is why she tries to encourage me to contact her if I need to. I guess that is why she has said to me before that I could “check in with her” if I needed to.  That made more sense to me now. I used to wonder how that was beneficial to me.

She said that although I might think I would like to be able to pop in and see her whenever I wanted to, as often as I liked and at whatever time, that the reality would actually be very messy and not be what I thought it would.  I am not sure I totally got this but I agreed anyhow.

She read the sentence about me only having her on “paid, restricted kinda borrowed time” and said that I really should try not to think of it this way because it was “horribly punitive”.  She said that I pay for her to be there with me, doing that job but that all of her care and affection is completely free. She said those things couldn’t be brought: that it does not work that way.  She said to try not to think of it like that but that she understood the pain of the restricted time – that sometimes it just doesn’t feel enough.

I got teary again at this point and told her (through tears and snot) that I think this feeling reminds me of the fact that my mother told me so often growing up that raising me was a chore, that she hated being a parent, that I was a horrible child, an even worse teenager, that she thought kids were disgusting – basically that she was only there because it was “her job” and that it is horrible to think at times like this, when regressed, that she is only there for me because it is her job too.  That I just wanted someone to be there for me because they wanted to – not because it was their job.  I had never said or written these words before, they just came out. They were really raw. Very deep feelings that hurt to say out loud. I was emotional and I really felt a need for her to properly “see” me and understand this in that moment.

T did seem to get what I was saying and repeated that her care was free and that she did truly care for me – that I was not a chore to her.  She said that she missed me (actual words) whilst I was away, particularly at my normal session times. That she did think of me on my birthday and wondered whether I had a nice holiday.  She looked at me and I half-smiled and she said “but you don’t believe that, do you?” and I laughed and said no.  I told her it isn’t that I don’t believe her as such, but that it just doesn’t really feel true.

She asked what my fantasy was about what happens to me when I am not around and I said that although the adult part of me knows I don’t stop existing to her – to others when I am not around, the other part of me, perhaps the more childish part DID feel that way. That I would be forgotten.  T explained that this was because unfortunately I did disappear to my mother when not around and that I wasn’t taught to feel that I was special.  T also said that she wasn’t in it for the money. She told me that if something happened and I could no longer pay her, that she wouldn’t just stop me coming. That she would never do that.

T read these parts to me “It’s probably also a bit of the inner child in me mourning the loss of the mother I would have loved to have”

and

“I guess it is the sadness of knowing I won’t see her for a while mixed with the sadness that I can only have her on paid, restricted kinda borrowed time.. mixed with the slap in the face blatant comparison of her and my mother.  Of what I could have… and what I do actually have.”

I told her that the comparison was just suddenly so obvious, so intense and painful.  That it felt so hugely unfair.  She seemed to get this immediately and said that she understood how painful this was.  I told her that the things I said I would have liked to do with her like drink tea and chat on unlimited time sounded silly but that they were small examples of the things I would like. T said they didn’t sound silly at all because it was more about what those things represented such as nurturing, warmth, understanding, comfort, home, safety.  I was teary and said yes.  She said that I wrote the words “emotionally fed” and she hoped she could help to offer me that feeling to a degree. I said she did, that I always left feeling happier and better. I said that although clearly I can’t remember being a baby and being held to my mother’s breast and fed – I just know it didn’t happen how it should have. That I can just FEEL it in my whole body. That wasn’t there, it was missing, the love and attachment was absent.  T seemed to know exactly what I meant and she said of course I did. She said you don’t have to remember a time and date of an event to remember something and that she knew exactly what I meant.

I said where I had written the words “It just hit me like a steam train” that it really did feel that way. Sudden and brutal.

T said that she wanted me to know that she truly really respected the attachment that I have towards her and that she would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. She said she knew how scary it was for me to feel this way – which it sure is.

I told T what I had written in my blog “Transference” and she agreed with me that it was some sort of repeat – that it had triggered off some old feelings and said well done for being able to see that.

T then read the last few sentences about my angry song and said she was very pleased there was a bit of anger there.  She asked how it would be possible for me to NOT feel angry. That there was so very much to be angry about. All of the things I should have had that I didn’t, the fact that I was now having to spend so much time, effort and money in therapy to fix something that shouldn’t have needed fixing.

I asked her if she had listened to the song and she said she had not because she thought we should listen to it together. I warned her the song wasn’t particularly “nice” and she said that “nice and angry don’t tend to go together”.  We played it – I felt a little awkward and didn’t know where to look as it played but at the end she said she could totally understand why I related to it so much and that she thought the song was powerful and the words very deep too.  I told her that I played it very loudly when driving and it always made me feel better.  I said the line “with her hand in my head” was very relevant to me because that is how it always felt with my mother – she controlled me so much. She may as well of had her hand in my head physically as well pulling at my thoughts.

We spoke a little about music and the power of expressing yourself with music. I told T that when I was young I spent all of my time in my room playing music and so I often felt very strongly for certain songs and could almost always link a song to a place or a time or a memory.  T asked me if I knew a particular song, I didn’t so she played it and we sat together and listened to it. The song was about someone accepting every part of you and not leaving. Someone who saw the “dark” side of you as well as the light and loved you just as much.  The song made me emotional and I did get teary. T said she thought I would like it and I liked it even more just knowing that she knew me enough to know what I may like.. does that make sense? If anyone is interested the song is “Everything” by Alanis Morissette –

I did mention the whole step-kids not mentioning my birthday thing to her and said that I had noted how it had annoyed me and that I did know that I probably shouldn’t feel that way: but that I did.  I said that perhaps it was because of the way my mother made me look after her feelings and the way I was always forced to make a big deal out of her and her boyfriends’ birthdays (the things I wrote in my blog yesterday basically) and she did agree.  She said that it wouldn’t have been personal. That yes, that could be encouraged along but that also the kids may have felt a little left out that they weren’t around for my birthday (or indeed for our holiday).

T said she was conscious that we only had a few minutes left and said that she wanted to see how I thought I was going to feel when I left. I told her that I thought I would feel fine, good, better but that sometimes I surprised myself.  I told her that knowing I couldn’t/wouldn’t see her for a week or something was somehow instantly hard for me but I knew I would be back on Thursday and that the time went by so quickly so I thought I would be okay.

And I am, Other than having a chest infection and cold today I feel okay.  No therapy hangover or left over sadness.  Perhaps I am just glad that I am back there with T and feeling as though someone completely “gets” me.

What I was really saying was…

Towards the end of my session yesterday I told T that I had recently read a fellow bloggers post (you may recognise yourself in this if you are reading but I am keeping this anonymous for your privacy – I hope you don’t mind me writing about it!!) where she detailed that she had sent her T an email clearly showing how much pain she was in and subsequently her T’s response. I said that it had shocked me to read the T’s response because it felt so cruel and so unattuned.  I said it had really shocked me and I guess scared me in a way because I don’t know what I would do if my T did that to me.  My T has recently suggested that humiliation is a real issue for me because my mother always punished me for having needs and embarrassed me at the same time for being too needy and so I guess that is why this tapped into me so much.

I guess the worry that my T might respond to a similar email from me made me panic.  What would I do? How would I respond? How would I continue to see her? What would happen if my T were to become “bad” in my head? Then what?

My T said that often therapists who “haven’t done their own work” can sometimes struggle with knowing how to be attuned to things like this.  The push and pull of people affected by attachment trauma is palpable – to me at least – because I experience it first hand and luckily for me, my T seems to “get it” enough that I feel understood. So far at least.

I told T that I had responded to this poor lady with sympathy and said that I was sure she wouldn’t appreciate me or anyone else “slagging off” her therapist because I know I would become extremely defensive, but that I wanted her to know that I “got it”.. I said other people had responded in much the same way as me.

T said that therapists that haven’t had their own therapy and dealt with their own issues often come up against countertransference and can struggle to properly “see” the issues their client is facing enough to be able to respond in the appropriate way. For example I said that someone I know regularly threatens to cancel their next therapy appointment when distressed. I said that even I (as a completely untrained individual) understand that this isn’t really because they don’t want to go to their session, but it is out of fear and panic and pushing away when they most need something – the same way that I push my boyfriend away when I need to be held and comforted most.  My T agreed with this and said that usually someone threatening to quit or cancel sessions is for that same reason and that they mostly just need to know that their therapist WANTS them to come, that they will stay, that they won’t give up on them or abandon them – like a lot of us who have been previously abandoned and assume the same thing will happen again.

I think for me when I need my T the most that is when I am the most scared of her. I’ve written a lot recently about the fear of needing T and how I find it difficult to put into words – the fear is so huge and feels life-threatening, I think perhaps this feeling is similar for others.  I honestly believe the only reason I’ve never cancelled a session is because I am far too compliant and too much of a people pleaser to take that risk… but perhaps it will happen one day.  T often warns me that one day I will feel a lot of anger towards her and that I may not want to come.. she’s been right about everything else she’s predicted in the past despite how unbelievable it seems at first.  For example she used to ask me how it felt when she was going or on a break and I used to laugh and find this really weird… not so funny now is it Twinks? LOL.

Anyway, back to the point – therapists that have or haven’t “done their own work”. T said that therapists that haven’t worked through their own issues may be triggered by a patient in distress and this can sometimes explain the reason for a (what seems punitive) response, especially by email when it is hard to know the way in which something is meant.  I know for me I read emails in the mood that I am in rather than the way they may have been intended.  Have you ever shown someone else an email or text that you think is rude or abrupt for someone else to say they don’t see the issue? … hopefully not just me. I am hugely hypersensitive and very hypervigilent so I notice the most microscopic of change in people – another thing I can thank my mother for.

I asked T what would happen though if the therapist hadn’t had any attachment-based trauma and was dealing with a patient who was very wounded by attachment based stuff? I said what if they had no attachment problems growing up –  how would they understand? T said that nobody ever has absolutely no attachment issues.  I questioned this as I had thought for a long while now that most people who were securely attached wouldn’t have experienced ANY attachment related problems.  T said that everyone has some kind of issue growing up because no parents were absolutely perfect – and that attachment effects so much in our lives, the way we respond to life, the way we grieve, all sorts of things. She then said that therapists barely touch on attachment in their training…………………

Whhhatttttt???????? Sorry but this seems absolutely mental to me. I just assumed that all therapists learnt about attachment in a very deep and detailed way .I assumed it was the pillar of their learning? At least the fundamental building blocks no? Apparently not.  I didn’t hide my shock when T said this. I was really thrown.  She said they touch on it in a very basic way in that they learn that a baby’s attachment to its mother will have links to how that child (then adult) will grieve.. she said that all her learning has been through her own therapy, through being a therapist and through reading and training seminars etc.  Wowzas.

So I said, the thing is, I find it hard to believe that a therapist who hasn’t had deep attachment trauma could come anywhere near to understanding what people like me experience – what we feel and how we view the world, the people in it – how we see things. I just don’t think you can learn that stuff in a book.  T said she believed that experiencing things would certainly help.

I said to T that if you were a therapist that had similar issues to someone sat in front of you who was deeply distressed and crying and feeling this unbearable pain how hard that must be – that it must tap into their own issues? I said if I was a therapist and someone was in front of me going through things that I could relate to, I think I would find it incredibly difficult and would end up crying with them! T said that once you have done your own work, you hold a boundary and you don’t get affected by it in the way that I might think I would. She said once you’ve worked through your own stuff, you are boundaried and it doesn’t feel like that….

 

Okay so basically what I was saying to her was this:

T, what happened to you growing up? Did you have attachment trauma? Did you have a shit caregiver? Were you abused? Was your mother narcissistic like mine? Was your Dad an absent, head-in-the-sand coward too?  Please tell me about your life so that I can decide whether you really understand my pain.

Do you realllyyyyyyyyyyyyy understand how I feel or are you just remembering things you’ve read in books?

Why don’t you cry when I am upset?

Share your history with me please!

 

But clearly I didn’t actually say that and I think I was hoping she might work that out and ask me if that is what I was getting at – but she didn’t. Or at least she didn’t then… maybe she will think on it and what I *really* meant, we shall see.

Back to the crying conversation: T said something like “I am not really a crier” or “I don’t cry often” or something like that…. I didn’t like it when she said that because it took me a very, very, very long time to be able to cry in front of T and I still feel hugely uncomfortable and embarrassed when I do cry in front of her… for some reason her saying she isn’t a “crier” made me feel like she would judge me more than I already worried she did. Obviously though I acted as though she had said “I like cats” and just smiled and nodded in interest.

She then said that she had a previous career (“before I had my children”) (OUCHY – Why do I hate this so much. T: please stop talking about your children, I don’t like it)that had helped her with this stuff.. she didn’t expand on what that was (although in the past she has told me she worked with domestic abuse victims and that she worked in a school and a care home) – so I assume she meant one of these: my mind has since fantasied that she was saying

“I’ve worked with victims of domestic abuse who have had it much, much worse than you – that will stop you crying at attachment trauma“…

but I know that isn’t really the case.

T said it really wouldn’t be helpful if she were to cry (if a therapist were to cry) because it would put the patient in a precarious situation. She said that if someone was co-dependant or was used to parenting the adult (like me…) that person would then feel a duty to protect and look after the crying therapist. That made sense I guess.  I admitted to T that one half of me would feel like they really were moved by what I was talking about – enough to cry for me but that yes, if she were to cry I may feel I had to stop what I was saying because I wouldn’t want to be the cause of her tears… it was a double-bind.  She said that sometimes she may feel her eyes go prickly/water but that she could generally hold her own stuff back.

I said to T that therapists must see so many people cry that I guess it is hard to be moved to tears – they’ve seen it all and heard it all.. I was basically implying that nothing would shock them enough to be that moved emotionally by someone else’s pain.

I was basically saying:

Do you think that my stuff is boring?

Do you think I am over the top upset?

Do you think I should be over it by now? That compared to other clients, my stuff is very basic and not a big deal?

Do you think I exaggerate or that I feel sorry for myself?…..

 Do you ever get upset for me?

Do you ever nearly cry at what I tell you?

Do I as a person MOVE you at all?


The session was over at this point and I was standing at the door on my way out when T said that of course they get moved by things and that they’ve never seen or heard it all – that they are not robots and of course they still have their own feelings about things but they have just learnt to handle them effectively and that they need to do this in order to not “burn out”. She said that therapists who were burnt out were dangerous to their clients which was why their breaks were important. She said that burn out was a dangerous little shit.. and that she could see it from a mile away.

She said “bring this back with you next week” and I said “Yep, will do!” but I meant: l want to see if you remember and I want to see if this plays on your mind at all and you work out what I was really saying/asking you.

We shall see but I just have this feeling that she won’t, which is a shame.

She’s a geriatric Barbie doll

Last night’s session.

Work had a bit of a weird atmosphere yesterday. It was very quiet and lots of people had taken the extra day off to make a longer long weekend. Mood wise I felt okay you know, not particularly happy but not very down either. Just so.

On the way home from the station last night I found myself with a bit of road rage 😡 and then when I got home found myself snapping at my boyfriend and feeling irritated. I drove to my session and noticed that I felt in a bad mood, nothing felt right. No song was right, I felt annoyed and thought that it was probably due to therapy somehow.

When I got there T asked me how I was and I said I was good and that I hadn’t thought about anything therapy related at all since my last session which wasn’t like me at all. T said perhaps something had been released and it had enabled me to have a bit of a break and “leave it” there with her. I agreed.   I told T that although I had been feeling okay all weekend, since I got home from work tonight I felt a bit miserable.  T asked if I was upset and I said, no, sorry I mean snappy, irritable – I clearly use the word “miserable” out of context when describing my own mood.  T said perhaps because I had therapy tonight and I said that I thought the same although it wasn’t because I didn’t want to come, because I did.  I said I didn’t want to cancel and I would have been very disappointed if she had cancelled, but perhaps the mood was because I knew I would have to think about and deal with this stuff again.  She said that most people who get road rage are people who have passive anger.

We spoke about how the weekend had been and I showed T a photograph of my mother which she had put on Facebook of her and her latest group of BFFs at a festival. My mother was wearing a top which she had tied up to be a short crop-top and looked just ridiculous. T looked at the photo for quite a while and said how age inappropriate she looked and how fake her smile was. I agreed.  T asked how it made me feel and I said it hadn’t bothered me, but I had laughed and thought how pathetic it was.  T said that somewhere it would have affected me and said that my mother had no regard for the fact her daughters wouldn’t like to see their mother acting like that.

I mentioned my upcoming holiday in two week’s time and T said that she knows this is really hard, but perhaps now was the right time for her to give me her summer holiday dates (Bleugh).  I said that was fine and got my phone out to put them in my diary.  She said she was doing things differently this year and was going to take one week in the middle of July and then 2 weeks in September. I noted the dates and said that was all fine.  T asked how it felt and I said it was fine and probably wouldn’t have much impact on me until just before.  T said that she felt as I struggled to show her any needs, I probably felt I had to keep it in and that perhaps I didn’t let my true feelings about this out to her. I said maybe, it was hard to say because at the moment it felt okay but we would see.

T said she had been sitting there before I came in thinking about quite how hard I find it to show her I have a need/needs. I said yes. She said that she was thinking how my mum liked me to be vulnerable and as we had discussed before, was quite voyeuristic about it and so she wondered if I was up against that with her because she was encouraging my vulnerability?

This wasn’t something I had ever thought about before so I wasn’t really sure what to say or think. T said that she knows how thankful I always had to be to my mother for bringing me up or simply being my mother and she wondered if I felt I had to be the same towards her? Did I have to be thankful and “blow her ego up”… I was thinking, no obvious thoughts came to mind.

T said she wondered if sending emails to her with my gratitude kept me safer. Whether I was less likely to be attacked that way? She said that in her last break I had text her a text to show my gratitude towards her and our relationship and that maybe that was the safest way to do it but that deep down I may have felt angry with her.

T said again that at some point I may well start feeling angry and irritated by her. That I will make her what she needs to become for me to really deal with my anger and rage. She said that she didn’t tell this to scare me but wanted me to understand it so that I understood when it happened. I said it did scare me a bit because coming here was my safe haven and I didn’t want that to change.  T said it would and could still be my safe haven, we would work through it.

T said that emailing on its own was showing a need but the content was hard for me to express. She asked me where in my body I felt it? I thought and I wasn’t sure. I said probably my head because I often get a headache if I’m down and said I have what I call “head cloud” which is where everything feels heavy and miserable sometimes. I said sometimes I just wake up like that. T asked if it’s after I’ve had dreams and I said yes sometimes. She said that sometimes our mood could be because of things that are unconscious to us at the moment and I agreed.

T said it was worth thinking about because some people might notice for instance that they get a stomach ache before they cry or something like that. I said I have noticed things before like I sometimes get heartburn before therapy and I’ve had it enough now to be able to explain it to myself “ah, it’s because I’m nervous about therapy tonight”. T nodded. She asked if perhaps I saw a colour or a picture or a shape? I said no… I said I don’t really understand but that I didn’t think so.

T asked how I feel when I am miserable or angry, where do I feel it in my body? I said I don’t know… this was hard because I felt a bit stupid not knowing the answer – t said it is okay and that it’s still a new concept for me but it’s worth thinking about.

I told her that I had a memory the other day that when I was young and my mother was getting ready to go out, which she did a lot, she would pout in the mirror and ask me how she looked. I would say “lovely” and she would always say “JUST lovely?” So I would say “beautiful” and she would say “just beautiful??”. I told T it became a joke that me and my sister would tease her with and before she asked we would reel off as many positive words as possible and that it was annoying. I said it was only now I realised how narcissistic that was – she was literally asking me and my sister to tell her how wonderful she was.

T asked if she would tell me nice things when I was going out and I said no. Never. She did the opposite. She always pointed out things that weren’t good enough, in front of my friends and that again it’s only now I realise how cruel that was. I said that I always tell my stepdaughter how lovely she looks and said that only the other day she had done her hair and I told her it looked nice but she said she was worried her ears looked big. I said they absolutely didn’t and then told my boyfriend on the quiet to tell her how nice she looked. I said even if she did have “big ears” or something, I would never, ever point it out to her.

T said a mother should tell her daughter she looks pretty. (Automatic thought was lucky T’s daughter probably got that growing up) – I know, jealous much.

I said, I hate the impact she’s…. then got choked and started crying but managed to stop myself quickly. T told me not to swallow it. I took a few deep breaths and said I know we’ve touched on this before, but… and T interrupted and said we will have to revisit it many times… I said the impact she’s had on my view of my body and looks makes me feel so angry.

I thought very briefly about telling T the extent of this but she said something and I decided not to.  Part of me really wants her to understand the ways she has affected how I view myself physically but at the same time I am scared to point my flaws out to T because I don’t want her to look for them when they’ve been pointed out to her and become more obvious.

I said the last time we spoke about this, I had left her’s very upset and found the next day or two really very difficult. T said that’s because it came up at the end of the session and that when this happens it may well get me in touch with my anger. I said I think it did a bit last time because I felt angry that I had to go. T agreed and said you would have liked to stay. I said yes. This made me upset again. (For background when this happened I cried a lot when I got to the car and all the way home and again a lot at home. I kept hoping T would text or email me to see how I was because I left in so much pain but she didn’t and that felt cold).

T said I was angry with my mother even if I didn’t feel it and I said oh I know I am, I am not trying to pretend otherwise. I am very aware of my anger at her. I said this is why I am steering clear of her at the moment because I wouldn’t be able to stop myself if she said something.

T asked what sort of thing and I said if she made a comment on my weight or clothes etc I think I would lose it. T asked what I would like to say? I said I didn’t have a clue but that perhaps I would tell her she looked like a geriatric Barbie doll. T burst into laughter but stopped herself quickly.

She suggested that I wrote a letter to her and dispelled some of my anger. I said I had written letters before that I had read to T and she said I had, but they were much more “in the head” and this might help with the anger. I said I wouldn’t know where to start. She said not to worry about sentences or spelling and just to write words or scribbles or whatever I felt I needed to do. I said maybe.

I’ve since thought about this and note that I feel some reluctance which surprises me because I’ve always wanted T to “give me homework” or some sort of project to do and yet I don’t see myself doing this at the moment. Maybe I’m scared of my anger or something, I don’t know.

I said to T that it is really hard that she doesn’t even know I am so angry with her. I said that usually when you are upset with someone, they know about it and it is hard to be so angry and yet have to act as though everything is normal when I speak to her. For example she text me Sunday inviting me to a festival that she was at (don’t ask!).  T asked what it would mean to have replied and said “I am upset/angry with you at the moment”? I told her that then she would ask why and I can’t tell her and even if I did it would be completely useless because she can’t accept any criticism or blame for anything and it wouldn’t get me anywhere.  T said that neither of my parents were able to take any blame at all for anything. I agreed.

I said that I genuinely do not want an apology off of her – I have given up hope that things may ever be different: that she might change one day into what I want her to be – I said that if she did apologise now, it wouldn’t help, it would be too little too late so it isn’t that…

T said you just wish she was a normal mother? I said yes.  I told T that my anger and sadness were very mixed up and it was hard to say which I felt because I wasn’t sure. With that I got teary again and as I tried to push back the tears, they came out quite hard and forcefully and I let the tears come for a bit.  I think T said “oh Twinkletoes” and that seemed to make it worse but in a kinda nice way… I wasn’t entirely sure what I was crying about.

I think we spoke about some more stuff but nothing is jumping out right now. I left T’s feeling okay-ish although I had to sit in the car for 5 minutes before driving off and I cried again and felt so very sad.  When I got home I was very quiet which is very unlike me, I didn’t have anything to say and I didn’t really have any conscious thoughts, I just laid on the sofa until bed time.  Eventually my boyfriend came over and asked if it was a hard session which I said yes it was… and cried again as he gave me a cuddle.  He later asked me if something had happened and I said no, it hadn’t.

I wish I could explain to both him and to myself what I am crying about specifically but I can’t. I think it is just the sadness about the whole situation really. I wish it wasn’t reality but it is and it sucks.

T hit the nail on the head when she said that I was having to re-write my history and figure out what is and isn’t true and realise the damage that has been done.  I just feel like I am in the middle of it all at the moment and it does feel overwhelming at times…

The tears could be about the body image stuff and the anger and shame that brings up in me… it could be the breaks coming up.. it could be the neediness and the fear that brings.. I don’t know, but when I got in the car last night I thought how quickly my session had gone and how it just didn’t seem long enough.

Twink x

 

The difference it makes seeing T

So, as you might have noticed, I wasn’t in the best of moods yesterday. I was very down and very miserable, that lasted all day long. I took myself off to see T as usual and was feeling a bit anxious about going in.  As it turned 7.30pm exactly I got out of the car and knocked on her door. It felt as though it took her longer than normal to open the door, I had a very quick panic that perhaps she wasn’t there – I had the wrong day – she was on holiday… totally irrational for what could have only been about 3 seconds.

T opened the door with her usual smile and “Hello Twink” – she never ever seems any different. I thought to myself then and again today, how hard that must be. How she can keep the same eye contact and smile, the same tone of voice day after day, week after week… that must be hard. I sure as hell do not keep the same voice, smile etc at work every day that’s for sure!

I walked in.. sat down and T asked “how does it feel coming tonight?” I said.. “usual” and kinda looked at her awkwardly and said “I feel nervous/awkward”. T seemed disappointed/sad that I felt this way. We started to discuss this but within literally seconds of me trying to explain how I felt, the lump in my throat appeared and I began crying.  I am still shocked at how quickly the tears seem to come sometimes. I had barely been in the room a minute! I got a bit embarrassed and T said not to feel embarrassed, that it was good I could bring it to her and said it must have been really tough “holding it all weekend”.  I said to her I hadn’t done very well “holding” it at all because I had cried a lot over the weekend.  She said exactly, you’ve held it on your own – without me. You needed to bring it here. I agreed.

I got upset telling T how I felt which is basically what I said yesterday. I get hit by this tidal wave of feeling/emotion – depression or grief or whatever it might be… I then feel as though I absolutely NEED to email T, like it isn’t a want but a real need and then I send an email to her and at some point afterwards, I am hit by the shame of being so needy and then the fear and panic that I will be punished or pushed away or told off by T.  I was very upset telling her this.

T said (for probably the millionth time) that she would not be punitive, that she would not punish me. I said I knew that logically but that what worried me was that she thought that I didn’t know what was “too much” and then would feel she had to (reasonably) tell me and that I didn’t think I would handle the rejection well – the boundary.  T said she did not think that at all.

I told T I worried she would say I could only email say, once and no more – that she needed to tell me what was okay and what was too much. That she would say X is okay, but Y is not. T said she absolutely wasn’t going to do that, she wasn’t going to put a limit on me like that. That felt so reassuring although I still think she might regret saying that lol…

She said it was like I had created rules in my head what was okay and what wasn’t – she said I really didn’t know were the boundaries were did I… I agreed. I said that last week I had seen her twice as usual but I had then emailed her TWICE before the dream thing and that the dream thing felt stupid because at the end of the day, it was only a dream!!!

T said that it wasn’t “only a dream” and said that the dream had clearly stirred up some very deep and painful feelings in me. I agreed. We then spoke through the dreams and T asked me what I thought they were about. I said I thought it was obvious and she said she wanted to hear my words/my view of them.  I said that the shower one I felt was about the fact that when I was young and my mother was (rarely if ever) single, she would be much nicer to me but that then as soon as she got a new bloke, I was dumped again and in the way.  I said that I guess the fear was that if there was a man around T, that I would lose her in the same way (despite how unrealistic that really is).  T agreed.  She said she felt both dreams were of a very similar nature but the second was much worse.

We spoke about the relevance of my stomach being split open – of my guts all falling out. T said how scary that must have been and that she felt the fact I was in so much pain and the guy on the phone wasn’t taking me seriously, wasn’t helping me was very symbolic of the pain I was in during my childhood and how nobody “saw” it and nobody helped me or took me seriously. I agreed completely.

We spoke about her “daughters” and her “son” the photos etc. T said, “you say you felt insanely jealous” that is a very painful feeling. I said yes. I said that the way she looked at her son with such fondness upset me so deeply because I knew nobody looked at me in that way and that hurt my chest.

T said how it all comes back to not feeling “held in mind” and that when other people are around I think I disappear. Me and T have been having this conversation for some years now so this isn’t new.  I agreed.  She said that I think when others are around, partners, kids (referring to the dreams), that rather than the love being replenished, it is taken away.  I agreed. We said how this is due to the fact that is how it was for me as a child, I really was forgotten when my mother’s latest love interest came along – or her new best friends who were often only a year or two older than me.  I hate her for that.

I told T that I was really struggling at the moment and that I felt so up and down. One day I was happy and the next I was furious or depressed. I said it was tough and it made me worry about how my boyfriend felt. I said it made me feel as though I was less stable than I used to be which can’t be true… T said it may well be true but only for now.  She said you have years and years of held in feelings and now they finally have a way out it is hard work.  She said to try and hold on to the fact that in the end, I will be so much more stable on a permanent basis.  I agreed.

I told T that I don’t understand this absolute dire need to reach out to her when I feel like that – I told her again that it really didn’t feel like I just might like to, it was like I absolutely HAD to – like I couldn’t cope on my own. T said that was okay, that is what I needed right now and that was fine.  I told her I worried she might feel like I treated her like a dumping ground for my bad stuff.  T said she did not feel like that at all. She said that it won’t always be like this, that you have to be flexible depending on what the client needs and what the client is going through.  She said that she does have her own boundaries and will only read/reply to emails when she can and that is HER boundary.  She said she won’t “bleed all over the client” because of her own stuff.  I said I worried that she saw my name ping in her inbox again and again and would roll her eyes and think “god, her again!”.  T said that right now, during those moments, I was regressed to a child state and I did NEED T and that was okay.  T said I was really scared of being vulnerable and I agreed yes I was. Very.

I wonder to myself today whether T or anyone really can truly understand the depth of that feeling – I don’t think they can because it is so hard to explain. I told T that it was weird I was suddenly so aware of this because it’s got harder/worse than it ever has been before, I didn’t even used to know I felt scared (even if she did). T said I was “right in the depths of the work now”.  She told me to just say to my boyfriend to hang on in there with me for now because it was a hard time.  I did say that to him when I got home and he said he knew already. I said “why, because I’ve been a miserable cow?” and he said “no, not miserable but…. up and down”.  I agreed.  He said he felt I was picking fights with him when I needed to cry. I disagreed with that but said perhaps I was being easily triggered by things.

I also told T that I had noticed the last week or so that when I returned home from anywhere, being home was making me miserable. T said “when you are alone?” and I said, whenever – alone or with others. I told her that Friday night I actually excused myself off to bed early because I felt so miserable and low that I just didn’t have the energy to be around everyone and try and act happier than I felt.  I told T my grandmother had shown me photos of me as a child that day and that I wondered if that had brought on a lot of feelings.  Seeing “little me” in front of me like that.. kinda makes it hard to deny what she (I) went through. I also told T that when I was younger, coming home from my nan’s was always horrible and I would be in tears very quickly.  I said perhaps that is part of the reason I felt the same when I came home Friday from my nan’s. T said it almost definitely would be.

T asked me how I thought I would feel when I left and I said I thought I would feel relieved because she hadn’t told me off for emailing or asked me to stop. I told her that I knew it sounded very extreme but I truly felt if she told me I couldn’t email her anymore, that I wouldn’t want to continue therapy, that is how scary it felt. I also told T that I felt very fat, ugly, spotty and just generally wrank. I said I hadn’t even done my hair for work today and I always did my hair.

I left feeling much lighter (as always) and I woke up today feeling happy. I spent some time when I got home last night preparing a healthy salad and fruit salad for work today, I got up and did my hair and I walked to the station instead of driving or getting the bus.  I also went out for a walk at lunch time to get my steps up.

Isn’t amazing what a difference seeing your T can make on not only your mood, but your clothes, your hair, your exercise.. everything. Is that just me? I was thinking this earlier and it triggered off a weird thought – every time I see my Dad (not often), I have brought a new outfit to wear………… that says a lot doesn’t it? Yet I will go to T’s in an old baggy top with my hair tied on the top of my head with black eyes from crying….. I really must be starting to feel more comfortable showing T who I “really am”. Clearly more so than my own parents. That is amazing isn’t’ it?

 

Thank You T.

Following on from my “Rainbow” post last night, I woke up feeling lifted today. Thinking about T and how grateful I feel to have her alongside this journey.  I had to email her and tell her despite the fact that I will see her tomorrow – it felt like it couldn’t wait (plus also I am hiding behind the email hah!!).

For the purpose of full and frank disclosure as always, here is what I said:

Dear T,

I sent you an email this morning on my way into work but then my phone crashed due to having no memory and it doesn’t appear to have sent so I am sending it again just in case.

When I left you last night, I felt better. Lighter I guess. I played a song called “This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes which I wanted to share with you – it really spoke to me.  On the drive home I saw the most beautiful pink and orange sunset and then a rainbow!! It made me feel strangely emotional and grateful. It felt very symbolic.

Today I feel like I wanted to tell you that I feel really seen, heard and held by you. Something that I have never felt before and how lovely that feeling is.  Feeling that you are really “on my side” is so powerful and I wanted to thank you for that.

The painful feelings are still there, but they are not overwhelming today. I know that I am going to be okay in the end and that is a wonderful feeling to finally have found.”
I am all gushy I know but I meant every single word of it.  How important is this relationship? It’s bloody HUGE isn’t it! There truly is nothing like it.