Today: 27 September

Last night I had a dream that I was at my nan’s house early in the morning (I think I had stayed there and had not long been awake) when the doorbell went. In my gut I knew I wasn’t going to like who was at the door and I was right, it was my mother. As soon as I heard her voice I felt dread. She walked in and looked at me and I didn’t attempt to look happy to see her. I was not at all happy that she was there and felt as though she had planned this on purpose because she knew it was the only way for her to see me. I also knew that my time with my nan was now ruined. I don’t remember how old I was, but I think I was young because I felt like I had no control over this situation.

It happens to be my mother’s birthday today so I guess it’s no massive surprise that I dreamt of her last night but also I think there’s more to it because the house I am moving to soon is very near to my grandparents’ house and I was telling T the other day that I was a bit anxious that this would mean I would have to see my mother and her husband driving past my new house regularly on their way to my grandparents’, or that I would be reversing out of my drive and be let out by someone, only to find out its them. I told her it probably sounded silly but that I worry about that kind of thing because I don’t even want to SEE them when I don’t intend to (or him ever). T also pointed out that there would be a chance that I would be at my grandparents’ house and they turn up whilst I am there. She told me that if that happened I would be okay and I could simply say “hello” and then leave. Likewise she said if I was in the car I could simply put my hand up to acknowledge then or even wave (not enthusiastically obvs) and then drive off. I suppose it’s no real wonder I had that dream, that is a real-life anxiety at the moment. 

Today 3 years ago I passed my driving test (later in life than most people) and annoyingly that brings mixed emotions too. I did not book my driving test on my mother’s birthday on purpose, it was the date my instructor had offered and so I accepted. At the time I rarely saw my mother and I hadn’t told her that my test was booked for fear of failing and just to avoid the pressure I suppose. My mother had spent years and years telling me that I would never drive and that I would not be “a natural driver” like her and my sister. Her comments annoyingly put me off even trying for many years until I started to separate from her and book my secret lessons and test in. 3 years ago today, on her birthday, I took my first driving test and I passed. I passed with only 3 minors. I was so shocked that I had done it because I genuinely did not think I would have a chance. 

After I told my husband who was over the moon for me and who had been a huge source of encouragement, I told my mother. Initially she shrieked and seemed really happy for me but when I visited her later that evening for her birthday she said the following: “They probably passed you because you work in the City and wouldn’t actually drive that often”. 

That comment stung SO bad. It played on my mind for ages and ages. In fact, even today, 3 years later that comment hurts. That is my mother all over, she can put a dampener on the happiest of events or days. She always knew how to make me doubt myself or feel insecure. It was always the same. 

Today, 3 years since that day I am sitting at work and thinking how proud I still am of that day and to be honest how I still can’t believe I did it. I also thought that since that day, I have got married and in the next week or two, I will be completing on my house purchase with my husband. In some ways I can see that I have done well and achieved quite a lot since I distanced myself from my mother, though I know that sounds big-headed and I hate big-headedness.. but it does also make me a little bit sad that I’ve had to celebrate these huge events without a supportive and proud mother standing at the side-lines. I imagine people who have supportive mothers don’t even really recognise or register how nice that is (and rightly so, it should be something you take for granted), but for me today that feels a bit rubbish. 

My mother is currently on a two week holiday abroad and as harsh as it may sound, I am very glad for that. I am glad I don’t have to see her and I am glad that I haven’t had to decline another invitation from her which we both know I will not attend but that leaves me feel guilty regardless of knowing my reasons are valid. I keep hoping that my house does finally complete before she is home but I don’t really know why, because even if she were home from her holiday it isn’t like she would be offering to help me or popping over with sandwiches!! She never has. It just feels safer somehow if she is further away… somehow it feels like something could be ruined and that I would feel more anxious if she were around. Sounds mean doesn’t it? 

Just to put the icing on the cake, it happens to be my mother-in-law’s birthday on Sunday and we are going out for lunch to celebrate. We have a card, present and will sort a cake out etc. My mother-in-law is a kind lady and she deserves to have some fuss made out of her just like she does on Mothering Sunday, but it is a reminder of how different things could have been for me and my mother. 

One nice feeling at the moment though (to counteract the above!!) is that despite the sadness that occasionally creeps into my dream world or my conscious thoughts, the heart-breaking, life-altering pain has gone. Acceptance is well and truly here. The situation is sad but it is what it is and it is not and has never been, my fault. I no longer spend days occupied by thoughts of her or reading everything there is to read on Google about narcissists or narcissistic mothers. I don’t watch countless videos on YouTube about dysfunctional families or toxic parents etc. I know I am literally thinking and writing about her now, but on the whole she doesn’t take up much space anymore and that is a real relief. 

I feel pretty at peace with the fact we have very low contact and I do not feel burning anger over the situation. I don’t daydream about it being “fixed” like I used to. I don’t hope to hear from her either. I don’t feel that my low contact with her is some kind of punishment or revenge like it once was, I just feel safer with the distance between us. 

Obviously that’s not to say that I’ll never have moments of weakness again or never cry at how sad it is or at the “could have been’s”, but they are less and less frequent these days and even when they come, I do not act on them OR even want to act on them which shows a lot of growth and strength I think. 

Annoyingly I now feel like I am starting a similar process with my sister and honestly the bad thing about having “been there before” is knowing how painful it is and what a long, long process it is too. I suppose there having done it before at least allows me to have hope that it does get better – because it has done once before and at times, I never believed it could. 

I have been lucky enough to have not lost many close relatives in my life so far but I wonder if the feeling is similar. After the stages of grief and anger and denial and bargaining have been tired out, you reach a level of acceptance and understanding. It doesn’t mean that you are glad that person has gone (emotionally or figuratively in my case), but you are able to move on with your life in a way that isn’t so debilitating as it once was. Just a thought. 

I’ve been starting to think about how getting to this place re my mother is a sign that therapy really has worked – and in so many ways. The processing of the blocked grief, fear and anger but also of the kind of re-parenting I’ve had from T. I do notice how steady I feel these days and how much more secure I feel in relation to my relationships. T has just returned this week from a two-week break and in all honesty as much as I was looking forward to seeing her, I felt fine. I didn’t feel like I was desperate to see her or feel like I was counting down the days. I could have easily done another week. It felt this time more of a wish to see her because I care for her and less of an urgent need to see her to help me if that makes sense. That is also a nice feeling and one that makes me feel a little stronger about my sense of self. It has taken 5 entire years though and that feels like a lifetime! 5 YEARS of therapy….wow.

Pondering the above has made me feel that I don’t think I am going to need to continue having two sessions for much longer. I know that T has said before that even if I don’tneed two sessions a week, that I should let myself have them just to enjoy the holding and the conversations and all the lovely good stuff that therapy brings. I am also conscious that I am only just back after a break and as much as I currently feel this is a genuine feeling, perhaps this is my subconscious kicking out or something. Who knows, stranger things have happened and this does tend to be a similar theme when breaks are around so I am not intending to do anything about this just now… I am going to just sit and wait for a while. Hold still as T would say and “sit with it” for a while to see what comes up. I’m also aware that T would say I am pre-occupied with my house at the moment and so probably not properly “in it”. We shall see…. Obviously seeing T twice a week is not a chore or anything, it is nice but also there’s a part of me that would like to reach a stage where I am less reliant on her and not spending £320 a month on therapy LOL. T would literally hate it if she read that last sentence.. it would doubtless start a whole conversation about my health and wellbeing being more important than money etc which of course, it is. But let’s be honest, nobody wants to have to have therapy forever – especially twice a week. Yesterday me and T spent about 45 minutes discussing keeping chickens, guinea pigs, domestic hedgehogs and how she has a dog-pram (this still makes me crack-up!). The point being, whilst potentially therapeutic… not really actually therapy.. but I had nothing pressing to talk about. As ever, I totally believe that I still need to be seeing her once a week so I don’t think I am ready to be without her in the world. My dependency just feels.. lighter than it once did. Sometimes I look back on old blogs about my teddy bear (Frank) and about being jealous about her daughters or her talking about her mother or something else and I can’t even believe that was me!! It’s so weird.

Anyway, I am going to the gym to try and burn a few calories and stop writing every thought that comes into my head!

Have nice weekends everyone. X

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Dreams

Friday night I dreamt of T. It was a strange dream and it wasn’t until I was out for a run Saturday morning that the dream suddenly came back to me. I actually stopped running suddenly as it flashed in my memory and I opened my phone to write a quick (illegible) note before it went away to the place that forgotten dreams go.

In the dream I was having a session with T but my husband was also in the room, though he was completely relaxed and just reading a newspaper with his legs stretched out. T told me that she used to do another job and said that she was so rich that she had more money than she could have ever spent. I was like 😲 wow!  I then picked up a glass of orange juice which was in front of me and drank it and just as I swallowed the very last mouthful, I realised that it was T’s juice and I was horrified and said to her “OMG I am sooooo sorry, I thought that was mine!” she didn’t seem too bothered and just said “So I see”.  I was mortified that I had done that, it was like I was just on autopilot and wasn’t thinking about what I was doing.

Looking around T had drawing stuff and sewing stuff everywhere. The room was messy and I remember thinking she was arty and had numerous hobbies. She went upstairs for something but didn’t come back for a very long time. Meanwhile I remember thinking how glad I was that T was able to see how I was around my husband in that I didn’t change and that I was completely myself.

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Then, last night I had another dream. This time about my mother. This one felt SO real. In it I had arranged to go shopping with my mother and when I met her she was with my Nan and my sister. She hasn’t said they were coming and I was a little bit annoyed because I felt a bit overpowered by them all (due to the fact they are all close and I’m almost estranged).

I remember walking around a shop feeling a bit nervous and then my mother said “right, you need to snap out of this now! Get your husband and come to my house Monday after work” – what she meant was that I had to start talking to her husband again and my husband also had to come along and make up with them both”.

I felt angry and said that I didn’t want to and that I did not miss going to her house or seeing her husband and said I was happy with the way things are. She was furious and shouted “Ohhh well as long as YOU are happy, that’s all that matters isn’t it?!” – being sarcastic. My nan and sister were standing behind her looking disapprovingly at me.  I snapped “see, this is what I mean. We can’t spend time together without something like this happening. I’m going, bye“. And off I went.

I then had an internal panic about how I would find my way home from where I was to my in-laws where I’m currently living and then I realised I had my car in a car park and was nervous about the drive. I remember thinking I should call my husband but thinking he was at work so I shouldn’t bother him and that I was an adult and should be able to work it out on my own.

In the dream I was shaking with anger and fear but I felt pleased I had been able to say what I needed and walk away.

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I felt fine, happy even, both yesterday and today and so the dreams didn’t seem to impact my mood like they sometimes do. I was grateful for that as I hate the feeling they can leave me with some days.

I assume I am dreaming about T because she is on a two week break and I actually quite like the dream because my husband was there and totally relaxed which I like to think is symbolic of how comfortable he is with me having therapy and also perhaps something to do with the fact that my husband would love to meet T and to be a fly on the wall and equally, I would like T to meet him.

I am not sure what the relevance was of me drinking her orange juice, but the feeling in the dream was that I had been SO relaxed and comfortable that I had done it without thinking and maybe that’s a nice sign of how relaxed I am now feeling with her compared to over the years.  Her telling me how rich she used to be was strange and I was so shocked but I wonder if this could be symbolic of how little I really know about her life.  For example not knowing what she is doing in her break and not really knowing anything about her past.

The dream about my mother on the other hand, well, that one isn’t so surprising or strange although the timing feels a bit odd as I haven’t thought about her consciously so it seemed a surprise in that sense.

The content of the dream however is so close to reality that it doesn’t surprise me whatsoever.  That dream could very easily play out and in actual fact, in recent months I’ve been so nervous about her blatantly asking (telling) me to pack it in and do what she wants – go to her house, see her husband, get my husband to suck up to them etc.  However as I have written recently, I have suddenly made peace with that fear in me and I now really know that I don’t want to do those things and so the panic I used to feel is no longer in me.

Perhaps the dream was my subconscious’ way of playing out the scene.  Trying it out for size.. preparing me for the real deal perhaps? Also the last time I saw her we went into a clothes shop and I felt the same nerves about her.  My psyche is clearly working some things through.

T would say that it demonstrated that I could stand up to her and walk away and survive it and that I would be okay. The world wouldn’t end etc.  But honestly, I don’t feel that worry and panic or fear at the moment anyway.  Still, it was quite helpful to have that dream because perhaps in the future a similar scenario will play out for me and I will have that memory to use for reassurance.

In real life, my mother text me earlier this week asking me how the house was progressing and said again how much she just cannot wait for me to move back closer to her and how she can’t wait to see me so much more.  This really is weird, I’ve said this before but I just do not understand her logic here.  I have lived ten minutes away from her for years now and now that I am temporarily further away its like she’s convinced herself that this is the only reason we don’t see each other more often. Like whhhatttt??? It’s so weird!!!

Last time she did this T said “that fucks with your head” which is true but when I asked T WHY she would think that or say that, T said she wouldn’t be surprised if she was just saying something for the sake of saying something or even saying what she thinks she should say.  It baffles me nevertheless, it isn’t like she would even come to my new house because she never does and never has and she wouldn’t now because of my husband.  Surely she isn’t going to expect an invitation for her and her husband to come and see our new place by way of offering an olive branch? God I hope not because that simply is not going to happen.  Perhaps she really does think that just because we will be living a new, exciting phase in our lives (having purchased our first home) that all the past will magically be wiped away and we will all play happy families again.  Oh dear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First session back (phone)

Due to being unwell I had to miss my first session back which would have been on Tuesday and as I still feel rotten today, I asked T if we could speak by phone this afternoon.

I didn’t feel like I had many feelings about speaking to T after the break though I did notice some nerves kicking in as it got past about 2pm.  I have no idea why. What is there to be nervous of?

Interestingly it was about 1pm that I sat down with a pad and pen and felt that I wanted to write something. Really write something.. something with power, with meaning; something that meant something to me and so I wrote my last post.  It might not feel particularly powerful to anyone else as it is my personal story, but it felt powerful to me and it had the desired effect. That feeling of both creating something and working something through.  I know I’m always banging on about the power of reading and writing but this is exactly why I love it so much.

It’s funny also because I thought to myself earlier that I would like my hubby to read what I have written and that I hoped he would ‘like it’ – considering the subject matter, I think that is unlikely LOL.

Anyway..

T started our phone session by talking about me being sick.  She said she was thinking about how it is interesting I have got sick on the back of the break.  I had predicted this conversation as she often says this sort of thing.  She said it was interesting that I had a chest infection as though I have had “something on my chest” for the last few weeks that she was away.  I agreed and said I had also thought this.  That is only half true really. I had thought that but I am not sure I agree with it, I just knew she would say it. Though being absolutely fair to her, it has happened before so maybe there is something to it. Who knows.

She asked me how I have been and I said that I had been fine. I said that the first few days of the first week were a little difficult but after that I didn’t give anything much thought (i.e. I blocked her out of my mind completely LOL).  She asked me to talk about the first few days being difficult and I started to explain but ended up being side-tracked by something I had said and then the conversation kinda went off in various different directions so I never really answered that question properly.

I told T about Easter and how I had cooked a big roast dinner for 7 of us and how I had decorated the table with little chicks and things.  I told her that we hid eggs in the garden for the children and how we went for a walk and ended up playing with a frisbee in a field which I had never done and enjoyed.  T said that was good and asked if I had taken any photos that I could show her and I said that I had.

I told T about the text from my mother about the family BBQ and how that has been on my mind for the last 10 days or so. I said that I hadn’t answered my mother’s text about whether or not I could go yet because I was busy at the time she asked and she’s not asked since.  I said I still hadn’t completely decided and that I was torn but felt in my gut, I shouldn’t go.  T asked me to explain my thoughts which I did (I won’t go into that on this post as I’ve already written about them in several previous posts).

T said “what’s in it for you?” and I thought about that and said “well, my nan and grandad would love it” to which T pointed out that is not for ME, that’s for them.  I suppose what I meant was that I would like them to be happy.  T said that I can arrange to see my grandparents in other ways. She suggested we had them over for dinner or that we went to see them.  I agreed and said that was totally possible and we could and would do that, but it wasn’t the same for them as having their whole family together.

T said she thought it was a bad idea for me to go there with my mother and everyone else getting drunk (standard).  She said I could end up getting “sucked back in” which I agree with.  She said it was far safer for me to stay away from big events like that, especially when there was a lot of drink involved and when I would be going without my husband for support.

I told T that I felt the “ever-hopeful child” as she says wanting to go and wishing that it would be this lovely family day… but that I could also see that the more adult part of me knew it was likely to be a big, drunken, dysfunctional mess.  I also explained that I really didn’t want to see my mother’s husband and that whilst I didn’t want to be mean or rude to him, I would just rather not have to see him at all.  T agreed with me and totally understood my reasons.

I told her that I also worried that if I went, I would have to start attending all family events, on my own, and that I didn’t want to.  She agreed.  I told her that I had had a bit of a go at my husband for not saying he would come with me but that I knew deep down he was trying to show me that I could do what he does and refuse to attend things where people are abusive and cruel to me.  T said that actually she felt the best thing my husband could do was refuse to go and also encourage me not to go either (he doesn’t do that).  She said this isn’t a normal situation with a normal family bbq – this is a whole family of dysfunctional, alcoholics and narcissists/enablers.

I then told T that my mother had text me a week ago today asking me if I fancied going out for a drink with her last Friday night.  I said that I had been shocked because she’s not invited me for a drink for many months now and that I didn’t think she would do that anymore.  T said that the thing with narcissists is that the boundaries people set with them tend to wear off and so I have to keep on reminding them/re-establishing the boundaries.  She said “you will have to remind her again and say “Mum, I’ve told you, I don’t want to be with you when you are drinking/drunk””.  I agreed but if I am honest, I just don’t feel like I can/want to say that.  I much prefer just avoiding it and suggesting meals etc.  She is right though, about a year ago I did tell her that I didn’t want to see her in those settings.  Having said that, several months ago we went for “a meal” and she got trolleyed and acted highly inappropriately…

I didn’t get chance to tell T about the dream I had about her. I did want to but by the time I remembered, it was ten minutes until the end of the session and I didn’t want to rush it.  Hopefully we can talk about that next Tuesday. If I still remember.

At the end we just caught up on some boring stuff – an argument we are having with our current estate agents and the latest on our house purchase etc.  I also told her about my husband’s sister and my own sister who has now broken up with her boyfriend (as of last night though so it’s very early days).

By the end of the call I felt pretty happy and comfortable and it started to feel less weird again.

Since coming off the phone and since writing this and my other post this morning I have been trying to think that if I grew up feeling (knowing) that my mother was at her happiest when I was not around, how that might play out with T. How might that impact the breaks.  This is a new thought so I haven’t got very far with it yet, but I suppose it might have something to do with why I never speak my mind about the breaks – because as a child I learnt my mother was happier when I went away/she went away and so I did what I was told. Went where I was told to go; regardless of whether I wanted to or not.  Perhaps that is why I have never been able to access any anger over the breaks.

Anyway, I need to think about that a bit more so to be continued…

 

 

 

 

Sick

Today should be my first session back with T after an 18 day break but I am unwell.  The timing really is impeccable.  I started to feel unwell on Sunday and recognised the very familiar pain: a chest infection.  I seem to get a chest infection at least once a year and I realised the other day that for the last 5 years, it has been in April or early May.  I don’t know why that is, perhaps it is to do with the weather or something.  What I do know is that it bloody hurts and I am writing this from my bed, where I have been since Sunday afternoon.  On my bedside cabinet I have lots of screwed up bits of tissue, half eaten packets of throat sweets, water and pain killers.

I decided I was going to have to face facts and email T earlier this morning to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to come.  I have been putting this off for a couple of reasons: 1) In case I felt better later and could go, but also 2) because I’ve read lots over the years about how lots of people cancel their session immediately before or after the break out of anger and punishment and I didn’t want T to think that was the case.  It really isn’t.

T and I have spoken by phone in the past so I knew that could be an option but talking hurts my throat and then makes me cough and the coughing really, really hurts.  Also as silly as it sounds, I genuinely feel too crap to get showered, dressed and drive to her house and back.  So I have cancelled my session.  This is the first ever time I have cancelled due to sickness in 5 years.  I am just glad that I have two sessions a week so hopefully I can go on Thursday.

T often puts physical illness down to emotions and has regularly told me in the past that colds for example are “uncried tears“.  Funnily enough T often has a tissue on her and is blowing her nose so perhaps she has lots of uncried tears herself…. or maybe she has allergies. Who knows.

Anyway just out of interest whilst I was waiting for my laptop to load, I did a Google search for the emotional causes of chest infections and it says that sadness affects lung function and the chest region. Some of the symptoms this website lists are “chest discomfort, weak voice, lack of desire to speak, low resistance to respiratory infections, pale bright face“….

Maybe the reason I get a chest infection every year is to do with emotions building up or grief that I have not expressed.  Who knows? I do remember that when I was signed off of work last September, T had been away for 2 weeks and I fell apart the day before her return.  Maybe unconsciously I hold it all in and then it gets too much and I just breakdown one way or another.  Maybe.

 

 

Nearly the end of the break

I have been thinking about writing for several days now.  Yesterday morning I told myself that I would write when I got home from work as it was my half-day and that I would use my usual therapy session time to write but instead I binged episodes of Line of Duty.  I have been really aware that recently I am either watching an episode of something addictive: Luther, then Cold Feet, then Killing Eve and now Call of Duty, or I am addicted to a book or audiobook.  Again in the last few weeks I have read Normal People by Sally Rooney, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and now, Conversations With Friends also by Sally Rooney.  I’ve been completely sucked inside this fantasy world every free waking moment.  That includes walking to and from the station and/or office, on the train journey to work and back, whilst cooking dinner, whilst showering etc.  I’m not sure that on the whole there is anything particularly unhealthy about this but I have a sneaking suspicion that it could be an attempt at blocking out thoughts and feelings; a need to escape reality.

Regardless of the above, as it is now Friday evening the therapy break is nearly over.  On Tuesday evening I will be back in therapy with T and as usual (guess what I’m going to say here?) I don’t really feel like I want to go back.

LOL

I have to laugh now because this is such a familiar feeling.  It is SO weird because as I start the break and I tell myself that soon enough I will be thinking this, I dismiss myself – it seems so unlikely. Stupid even.  But yet, here I am again.

It seems that I am not alone in these feelings and I recently read another blogger write so clearly what I feel.  During the breaks, I’m not sure how far in but I would guess approaching a week perhaps? I start to feel as though I am coping well and feeling good and then I start to question why on earth I put myself through the twice-weekly torture that is digging around in my emotions/my childhood trauma.  Why do I do that when I am sitting down to type this having not done so for near on 3 weeks and I feel fine (okay excluding the potentially unhealthy reality escaping above; but that could be a coincidence, right?).

It is really strange to me because I felt shitty about the break and the fact that T had given me some of her chicken’s eggs felt so wonderful. It was most certainly a transitional object of sorts and there I was in the kitchen with my husband and stepchildren a couple of days later snapping pictures of us making fried and scrambled eggs and omelettes and I sent them to T thanking her.  It felt comforting in a strange way that only other therapy-goers could possibly understand.

Then there was the dream that I wrote about recently. The one where T and my mother had the same curtains, wall pictures and wallpaper and I didn’t want to tell T in case she was offended.  I can clearly see the symbolism in that dream and do not deny it is probably trying to grab my attention and make me aware of what is going on deep in my subconscious mind. But yet.. here we are.

Being honest I have barely thought about T this week and I will go so far as to say that yesterday when I left work at lunch time, I was rather excited to have a whole afternoon off work to myself where I didn’t have to rush home, drive anywhere or poke around in old pains.  Nope, I could come home, eat lunch on the sofa and watch tele.  After a few hours of tele I decided I should do some exercise so I wasn’t a total couch potato.. only mostly.

Anyway perhaps I am feeling this way because my defences are up and I am unwilling to feel anything to the contrary.. maybe T is right and I have always learnt to become very self-sufficient but wouldn’t it be nice if actually it just meant I was a whole lot stronger and more able than I realise I am?

As I write this I ask myself “am I looking forward to seeing T?” and I can’t quite settle on an answer. Saying no feels horrible. I’m not NOT looking forward to seeing her and yet I don’t feel a real pressing need to or a craving to either.  “Did I miss her?” – again, my instant feeling is to write ‘no’ but again, that sounds nasty and I don’t mean it to.  Could I survive another week or so? Yes I feel I could, easily but perhaps that is only because I know the break is nearly over and so it is easy to sit here and think that.  Perhaps I would be writing something very different if I was only, say, half-way through a longer break.

I sometimes worry that I am a fickle and shallow person because I can see that in my life I sometimes have this disturbing ability to just cut people out as though they meant nothing to me.  I am aware how narcissistic that sounds and yes, it does worry me sometimes.  For example, my very narcissistic friend that I fell out with about 2 years ago now.  When me and her finally came to blows and our friendship ended I was upset and confused for a while but looking back I got over her very quickly in the scheme of things.  The second friend, my old narcissistic work colleague who I used to call “work mum” (shudder).  I fell out with her one day and never looked back.  Genuinely I never even got a craving to send her a single message. I felt nothing but relief and freedom when we went our separate ways.  After so many years of.. well.. friendship? that concerns me.  I would however like to point out here that in both of these situations I was being emotionally abused by narcissists and at the point of the breakdown of these friendships I was completely and utterly done in.  Exhausted.

But I can say the same about romantic relationships and even partly family. My mother and her husband (it pains me to call him my stepdad these days).  They were both, in their own ways, bullies and abusive yes, but I have literally removed myself from them and the life we all shared together – that ‘family’ unit.  How many people can do that I wonder?  I admit that is only a very small part of the very large picture and as anyone that reads these posts will know, I have also spent years of therapy and crying and writing to keep that distance and not run back towards the dysfunction.  BUT my point is, sometimes I worry that my ability to just flick a switch of “don’t need you/care for you/love you” is just a bit too easy.

The relevance of T and the above is that I feel like I left my last session feeling sad that I would miss T, mopping for her for a couple of days and then *flick switched* – no more sadness etc.  It’s weird!!

If I was reading another person saying the above I might secretly think to myself that said person just cannot tolerate feelings of loss or abandonment and I might be right, however, I clearly deal with the biggest loss of them all in therapy don’t I? The loss of a childhood.  The loss of a ‘good enough mother’.  The loss of growing up feeling safe and loved and precious and feeling like you are good enough and that you should expect to be treated fairly and with appropriate levels of respect.

Perhaps my capacity to feel any further loss is limited.  Who knows.

Another thing I find funny is that when I watch therapy on tele or I read about it in books, I can see how it is such a great opportunity to just say stuff – whatever you think of, whatever comes to mind, anything no matter how creepy for example when I was recently (binge) watching the series ‘You’ she told her male therapist that she fantasised about having sex with him.  She had no embarrassment about that whatsoever – just came right out and said it and when I’m watching that kind of thing I genuinely think that’s great! that is EXACTLY the point in therapy.  But what I notice is that is because I am not thinking about, or perhaps feeling the relationship between the therapist and client.  So in my mind I think wouldn’t it be great to go to my session on Tuesday evening and just be blunt and hit T with

“So I felt sad about the break at first and I loved the eggs but after several days you basically became non-existent and I didn’t give you a second thought.  I don’t NOT want to be here but I feel like I could take it or leave it.  Sorry”..

And I know that T would take that. She possibly (probably??) wouldn’t care one iota. BUT I absolutely couldn’t and wouldn’t do that because I care what she feels and thinks and I don’t want her to think that I don’t.  Also, if I am brutally honest with myself I think I worry that then she would think about me a certain way and then when my neediness, attachment and insecurity all kicks back in (inevitably) she might not understand or she might have forgotten since having ‘moved’ me from one box in her head – to another.  A less “needy” person box.  A box for clients she doesn’t have to care for as much. Love as much, perhaps?

I’m freewriting here so this may not make any sense at all.

But the question in my mind right now is: what is the healthy balance? What is the middle-ground? What is ‘right’?

I imagine that I should be able to feel the good attachment with T and miss her whilst also feeling strong and able and I do to some extent I suppose… I haven’t turned her bad but I guess I kind of lose the warmth and comfort of the good stuff in a way that is hard to explain.  It’s like for me I am either totally besotted with T and realise how crucial her existence is to my entire life OR I am just not bothered.  It doesn’t go so far as anger or hatred for me but I lose the lovely feelings of dependency too.

Interesting and confusing thoughts.

 

Inner dialogue

It is Friday afternoon, quarter to 3 and honestly today is dragging soooooo badly. I am so ready to go home and have yawned non-stop today. I was actually in bed at my normal time having spent the evening at home alone watching my programmes and drinking tea so nothing deserving of this weird kind of hangover feeling that I have. I guess it is all the stress of the last few days mixed in with the relief of having got somewhere with T yesterday afternoon. I just feel drained.. completely drained. 

I haven’t got clear thoughts or feelings to write about today but I am planning to try to document any feelings that come and go over the next few weeks post yesterday’s session. I cried as I typed up my previous blog yesterday early evening but the main feeling was utter relief. Later in the evening I started to think and rather than trying to explain it, I am going to write out my inner-dialogue here. It went something like this…

“Hmm yes I think if I could separate T from therapy then that would be the ideal situation. Because I want to see T and still have her present in my life but yet I don’t want to have to “do therapy” twice a week. But T is therapy.. there is no having one without the other. That sucks. If I could just see T without therapy… though it would be entirely different and I might not actually like it/might not actually benefit the way that I do from seeing her FOR therapy (not that it is an option either way – just saying). So therefore it kind of IS therapy that I want… with T.. so what is my issue with it “being therapy” then? What is it exactly that is causing this internal struggle?”

And then today it continues along these lines..

Also it is interesting that I typed the following words last night without thinking them through “I know there’s nothing negative about doing that even if I don’t *need* to.. but the feeling I have is that I don’t WANT to NEED to”. Oh Christ… *replays T saying “I do think there are still some dependency issues at play here… not wanting to feel dependant”. God, is she right? Is this all about not wanting to depend on T? Surely we are passed that by now? I mean, I don’t feel I shy away from telling her or admitting to myself when I feel I *need* her….

Is she right that this has come on top of her 2 week break… is the upcoming break making me go into self-sufficiency mode? Am I “acting out” and trying to tell her I don’t need her anyway? Oh yuck. 

It feels very weird… this whole thing is very weird. I felt instantly better when T agreed that we could talk about me dropping my second session – like the relief was huge (mainly because she was no longer horrible LOL) but I am aware that in the distance of my brain, there’s a little, tiny, brat piece of me saying “I don’t want it now that she said I can have it” and I actually feel really ashamed admitting that. Like what is that about? A toddler strop? Pushing/testing the boundaries? 

Is T right that if I had gone there and said I needed to stop, temporarily or permanently and she had just agreed, would I have felt hurt? Seen it as a sign she doesn’t want me there anyway.. seen it as a sign that she wants rid of me etc? It’s hard to tell. Possibly though I suppose. Did I use this as a good time to tell her I needed to drop down/back a session knowing that she would respond the way she did (based on evidence from last time)? Was I trying to punish her? Clearly not consciously.. but unconsciously”

Seeing that written down actually makes me realise quite how much internal dialogue I have with myself!! I feel calm enough knowing I have no timescale and no rush to make any decision but yet I don’t feel fully calm because I feel inside that I have a decision to make and I am aware that I am trying to work something out still… figure out what I am thinking and feeling and what it all means. I feel a little fragile today I think.. I haven’t really admitted that to myself until writing this now. I feel a bit… needy to make sure things are really okay, that T is really okay with me – that WE are okay and will be okay regardless of what happens but obviously I am trying to hold on to the fact that they are, and I am too proud to tell her that considering the bloody topic(!) because imagine if I tell her this and then in a few weeks I tell her that I have thought long and hard about it and I DO want to cut back? It would be like giving her ammunition to use later (yes I know, interesting that I would think of it as ammo LOL).

Christ this blog has turned into me bloody psychoanalysing myself!!!!

Denied Anger?

Morning WP guys,

I was woken up with a shock this morning as my husband shouted and flew out of bed.  Turns out he snoozed his alarm and it was 8.10am instead of his usual get out of bed time of 7.00am.  I panicked with him and started rushing around to get his clothes out, got his shoes, bag and jumper together, made him some toast and a cup of tea etc.  It’s these silly things which make me realise how much I feel other people’s feelings and how much I HATE it when someone around me is angry or stressed.  My husband is truly the loveliest, calmest man ever and on the very rare occasion he is angry or stressed, I panic SO much.  We actually have a bit of a joke about it where he says “You don’t know what angry is! You’ve been wrapped in cotton wall you entire life”.  Clearly he is playing and we both laugh when he says it. I remember literally maybe two or three occasions in the last 4 or so years where he has shouted at one of the kids for misbehaving, I find myself sitting there wide eyed and solemn like I am one of them.  He has often asked me why I get so scared and awkward and I’ve never known the answer other than I guess my fear and panic gets triggered from when I really was a child.  Anyway, back to the point…

It is now 8.50am and I went to sleep by about 10.45 last night so I’ve had plenty of sleep. I often sleep well after my therapy session, usually deeper than normal which I think was the case last night as I have a dull kind of headache which I sometimes get after a deep sleep. On the flip side, I came on my period yesterday afternoon and I have woken up to a ginormous spot on the side of my nose (not a good look!) and stomach cramps. Isn’t being a woman just wonderful? On the more serious side, that does indicate another month of unsuccessful conception.  Possibly not a bad thing considering my emotional state, but very disappointing.  Last month I fell about crying when I came on but this month I feel I have so much on my plate that it is probably for the best.  As much as I hate to admit it.

So, I am waffling. The point of writing this morning is meant to be about my session last night.  My first session back after 3 weeks.

I felt anxious all day about my session last night. Nervous even.  I didn’t want to go on one hand and yet I was desperate to go on the other.  I was in touch with feelings of shame, I felt weak and embarrassed for having fallen apart these past few weeks.  I kept myself very busy yesterday, going to the shops, going to the sea, driving a lot, car wash, cooking, yoga. I even watched an episode of something on tele which took me up literally until the minute I had to leave to drive to T’s. I think in hindsight, that was avoidance of the feelings about going.  I knew I had to go, needed to go and partly, wanted to go.  So best I just get there and deal with the feelings after right?

As I parked up outside her house, I had about 5 minutes to spare. I sent my friend a voice note telling her I was feeling sick with nerves. I acknowledged that I knew I would have no reason to feel like that, and that I would come out feeling a hundred times better than when I went in, but right then, I felt sick with nerves and embarrassment.  As I told her at the time, sometimes I feel that T is so strong and tough and well put together that she makes me feel inferior and stupid.  Now obviously I know that they are meant to be those things and that if we were getting therapy from someone we perceived to be weak and not well held together, then that wouldn’t be very helpful and that therapy wouldn’t work. I also understand that in attachment work like this, she has to take on the role of my mother figure and so I guess naturally that means she is going to seem stronger, wiser, tougher etc AND obviously she is a professional therapist so that is natural right? But I think clearly it does tap into some older feelings for me of being shamed by my mother for having needs – this is not a new realisation but times like this I guess it is made all the more obvious.  I don’t know if everyone feels this way when going to see their therapist?

I went and knocked on the door when it turned half past seven and kind of dreaded her opening the door (LOL).  She opened it and smiled at me in her usual way, I felt awkward and said hello, how are you and asked if she had a nice break.  I ALWAYS feel awkward those first few minutes. Always.  I hate that first part still now, 4 years later. I find it uncomfortable the way she watches me walk in, sit down and then wait for her to ask “How’s Twink?”.  I don’t know why I find this so awkward really… anyway she asked how I was and I just pulled a face of “pffttt.. meh… ” (the globally recognised face, right?). T asked if I had been to the doctor and if I had been signed off etc and I filled her in on the practical stuff.  She said it was good that I had been signed off as it would give me a bit of space. She then asked if I wanted to come twice this week which I said I did, she offered me a slot on Thursday afternoon which I took immediately and said I was going to ask for an extra session.  She asked how it felt that SHE had asked me and I said that I was relieved.  I wonder now why she asked that?

T started pretty instantly by telling me what she thinks happened, can you guess?  She said it was the break that had “really got you in touch with the feelings”.  I have said this lots of times before but it really does make my eyes roll.  Whyyyyyy does she always think it’s about the blinking breakkkkkk??? It kind of irritates me when she says this but because I love her I just try and smile obediently and agree that hmmm possibly.

T said that it was no coincidence that I woke up the very next morning after our last session feeling such anger.  (I admit I hadn’t thought of this link) and that she thought I’ve been trying to hold it all in for the last 3 weeks and it again, was no coincidence that I fell apart exhausted from it all at the weekend, Sunday in particular, knowing she was back at work the following day.

Hmm.

The more she spoke about it being the break, the more I find myself thinking “it’s not” and so I try to smile and nod and accept that hmm yes, it could be possible I suppose.  I found myself telling her “possibly but not consciously”.

At one point she said, lovingly but sarcastically to prove a point “Twink, it isn’t just a huge coincidence that the day after you realised it was a break you woke up feeing fucking furious, that you then spent 3 weeks feeling shit and you’ve collapsed with it all the day before I am back!“. We both burst out laughing and she laughed “God I love you Twink but come on!” (me thinking OMG she said she loves me! LOL). I laughed with her and said “It is. It’s a giant coincidence” but I was laughing too.

T started to say that I was feeling FURIOUS that she went away and not only did she go away, but that I felt she hadn’t even warned me! that she was just suddenly not coming back for 3 weeks.  She said that not only was I dealing with all the shit with my mother, but that my mother was going away and so was T and that T was leaving me there to cope with all that shit on my own.  She said how it would be perfectly understandable for me to feel angry with her.

I just smiled… nope…

She asked me about the dream which triggered me on Sunday and I told her.  She said that she thinks the dream was trying to tell me something and trying to get me to piece something together BUT that she did not think it was an actual physical event in the way she thought I did.  I told her that was my worry and that since that dream, my heart had been beating so quickly, that everything was making me jump, that I kept getting these sudden hot flashes and that the overwhelming thought was “I can’t cope with any more pain, I can’t handle anything else”.  T said we had already uncovered the horrific thing and the horrific thing was my mother’s neglect and abuse.  She said something along the lines of “throw another incident of abuse in there and it wouldn’t make any real difference – the real damage was done by your mother“.  I note that T has always maintained that stance, I have often felt I put more weight on the physical sexual abuse than she ever did – perhaps she is right or perhaps it is her style as a therapist, she is very pro attachment and so I guess that would make sense.  Even I can see that whilst the sexual abuse was physically awful, the emotional side effects from a lifetime of neglect, abuse, boundary invasion etc is longer-lasting and yet it remains in my head that the physical is worse somehow.  T has said before that she thinks that I think that way to keep myself safer, put the blame on him rather than my mother.  I don’t know.

Either way, hearing T say that she didn’t think I had another abuse situation to uncover helped me to relax a little. Thank Fuck For That.

T said that she does think the dream is trying to tell me something (heartbeat starts to elevate again) but not in the way I think.  She said she thinks the dream is indicating I haven’t quite made a link, uncovered something that I need to and that she thinks that link is that I am feeling so much anger towards her.  She thinks that it is so terrifying for me to “turn her bad” that I am totally and utterly denying those feelings and dream is telling me I need to uncover it.

T said that it is imperative I can access those angry feelings towards her and that we can deal with them.  She said that it is my chance to get out all the angry feelings from when I was young in a safe place.  She said that all that anger had nowhere to go when I was young as my mother could not handle it, as it was terrifying as a child to feel anger towards her because she was dangerous and that I had to push it away to keep her good – to survive. She said that now, if I can direct all those feelings to T, they will be released and I will get great healing from that.  She said that she is safe and that she won’t turn on me, won’t abandon me etc.

T said that “it’s all there in your writing! you’ve told me it all, cleverly” meaning my anger and that she thinks I’ve directed it all towards my mother because that is safer now than directing it towards T, particularly when she isn’t there.  She said it is very scary to admit to yourself how much you need me.  I agreed with her, yes it is.  She said that because of how important to me she is, it makes sense that it would be terrifying to risk being angry with her, because I would naturally assume she would leave and that is the very worst thing that could happen.  I agreed with her and said that I knew that because last Christmas when we had that awful rupture over her sending me that text message which was meant for someone else, that one incident caused me SO much pain that I made it mean she didn’t care for me AT ALL, that it was all fake, all a lie, that she never cared and honestly I felt absolutely horrific.  So yeah, it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to revisit that place. Being angry with T is not something I am comfortable with. Being angry in general isn’t something that I am comfortable with.

She said when I said in my email at the very beginning of the break that I couldn’t let my mother have my anger because it was pointless, that I couldn’t “sock it to my mother OR to her”.  LOL at the word “sock”. 

Anyway I think that I’ve written out the gist of the session and I don’t think there is much need for any more she said and I said’s, so what am I thinking today having slept on the session?

Well.. the thing is, I can quite clearly see that her theory makes sense AND I can see why accessing anger and directing it so her as a safer environment would be helpful.  I hope that hearing her say this, AGAIN, will give me permission somewhere if it is needed but I also find it frustrating that she is so convinced I am angry and that I cannot feel that in  myself at all. I almost wish I could!

I can see that I’ve always been a people-pleaser and a “good girl” and so it makes sense that anger isn’t really something I’ve ever allowed myself to feel and as I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve seen a lot of destructive anger and violence and so it makes sense that I’ve learnt to deny those type of feelings, particularly towards someone who is kind to me – why would I want to take the risk of pushing her away when I need her so much? I guess the feelings will come if and when they want to/need to… I am almost willing them to come now because the idea that at the end of them is some relief, is very appealing.  My husband suggested I go in there and “fake it out” he said you know if you pretend to be in a mood with someone, sometimes it can end up actually making you moody!” he was joking but I have even thought about trying to write a pretend letter to T telling her how angry with her I am for leaving me and seeing if that unlocks it…. seems a bit fruitless but you never know.

Has anyone felt anger at their therapist for breaks before? Have you told your T and was it helpful? I would love to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe enough to “act out”

I’ve been thinking of my phone session with T ever since we got off the phone yesterday. I’m pretty sure I was processing it overnight and it was the second thing on my mind when I woke up this morning (second only to the fact we have to find a new house to live in!).

One of the things that I remembered since writing last night was T saying that it was actually a sign of feeling safe that I was able to cancel my session the other week.

Don’t get me wrong, she very quickly tried to encourage me to always go to my sessions no matter how hard it was or how angry or upset I was feeling, in fact she said “even if you have to get here crawling on your hands and knees!!” So I just want to make it clear that she wasn’t rewarding me for it so to speak.

She said that I must have felt some sense of safety that I could be angry and cancel a session knowing it could, possibly, hopefully be repaired and made to feel better again… eventually.

She asked me whether I was scared she would retaliate or attack back or punish me for my anger and I told her that actually, I had been able to hold on to the fact that in the past she has never done that and that I did know she would allow me to have and tell her my feelings without embarrassing me. I did manage to hold that fact (this is progress, right?).

I’ve thought about this a few times since and it may sound a bit weird but I think it does show a sense of safety doesn’t it?

I used to always strive to be TWBTC (the worlds best therapy client) and obviously perfect therapy clients do not cancel sessions and do not experience any anger towards their T’s do they? Yet alone TELL them about it! So yes, I do think it shows some kind of ability to hold on that all will not be lost, all will not be ruined and destroyed forever.

This made me think about what would happen with my birth mother (note the negative tone). I genuinely don’t remember a single time that I’ve sat my mother down, told her that she has upset me or annoyed me somehow and had her say she understands how I feel and apologise OR say she understands how I feel even if she has her reasons. Isn’t that saying something? I have NEVER had that experience with her. Not once.

What I have had is her belittle me, tell me I am pathetic and childish or need to grow up or attack me back with things I have done that upset or hurt her somehow. She had often told me how ungrateful I am and remind me of “all the things she’s done for me” but the difference in the two experiences is huge.

T reminded me yesterday that my mother’s inability to show me love and affection and the fact I didn’t FEEL loved, was about her and not me. She said quite strongly that I AM loveable, that it was her issue and not mine. She also said that mothers who absolutely smother their babies and are draped all over them is about their needs (the mother’s) and not the baby’s. She said it’s similar in therapy, the baby shows it’s mother what it needs and so does the client. There is no need for a mother or for a therapist to smother. It doesn’t allow the baby/client to breathe and think for itself.

Anyway, the point of this blog was meant to be that although not advisable or encouraged, it may well be progress that I’ve been able to get angry and “act out” probably safe in the knowledge somewhere deep down that she will still be there.

Trying to recover from the rupture

As 4pm drew closer today I began to feel more and more nervous. At ten to 4 I had to rush to the toilet where I got stuck for the entire 10 minutes (sorry for TMI)!. I watched my phone hit 4pm exactly and felt sick… I found T in my call list and pressed dial.

The phone rang just once or twice and then T picked up. I didn’t know what to say to her.  We said hello and then she asked me how I was currently feeling  had felt since I had sent her my email the other day.  In all honestly I wasn’t sure how I felt so I actually had to think about the answer to that question. I told her that her reply to my email had helped to lift a lot of the anger and pain and that knowing I would be talking to her today had also helped although I admitted that I was nervous and scared that it may end up making me feel more pain.

T told me that she had done some writing that she wanted to read to me to try to explain why she spoke differently to me and to other people. I was quite shocked at this, I’m not sure why but I think it’s something about the fact she had been thinking about it a lot and had clearly put a lot of thought in prior to this call.  Writing that now sounds obvious really doesn’t it? I guess of course she did.  Anyway, she begun to read to me and I can’t quite remember what she said but I do remember that I started to cry pretty quickly because what I “heard” at first was something that meant “some people need more love than others – than you do” and I cried because I thought my worst fears had come true. There really wasn’t anything she was going to say that was going to fix this rupture and there really was nothing she could say that was going to make me feel better, to enable me to trust her enough to be vulnerable with her again – to do the work with her anymore.

She said something about how she didn’t want to force herself and her love on me (as I heard this I thought to myself “it isn’t forcing when I want it”.) She said something about how my mother was an overbearing narcissist, that she didn’t want to repeat that for me and that she trusted me to show her what I needed.  She also said some things about how she worked using her intuition and that she truly believed that she was a good enough mother figure to me, and to all of her clients.  Now I got what she meant about my mother being an overbearing narcissist in one sense, but in another I was confused because my mother DIDN’T show me any love or affection so surely that isn’t the same? Surely that IS exactly what I need? There was so much being said and so many thoughts and feelings going on at once that it is hard to remember it all now.

She then explained how everyone she sees has different needs and said to me to think about my 3 stepchildren and how I would treat them all differently, but love them all the same amount.  She said you could have two children and one need a lot of reassurance and the other not need that so much. She said she worked using her intuition and was guided by me.  At this stage I was feeling pretty confused because, as I’ve already said, I understood what she was getting at, but I just kept thinking… yes, but I NEED you to show me love and affection so why won’t you do that??? If we all have different needs and I’m yelling at you because I want something (for my needs) then why aren’t you doing it?

I cried pretty constantly the whole time she was saying these things and then she asked me if I understood what she had said.  I told her I kind of did but kind of didn’t and she said it was okay if I didn’t fully get it at this moment in time, that perhaps I would in the future and that perhaps it would take more than just this one hour (someone had said this to me in a comment the other day and I am thankful they did as otherwise my expectations would have been too high – thank you).  I still felt rather disappointed and a bit deflated at this stage.  I could hear she was trying to make me feel better but it just felt a bit like what she was saying to me and what she was expecting me to feel weren’t tallying up somehow.  Like, was I missing something here?

She said that there was no denying it “was a monumental way to cock up“.  She actually admitted to me that when she realised what had happened, she had to phone a therapist friend of hers to cry to them! I felt instantly very guilty and sorry for her when she said this and said “oh nooo did you?” and before I could finish saying it she snapped quite abruptly “No! You do not feel guilty for that, I am not telling you that for you to feel bad about, but simply so that you understand that I did and do care very much“.  She said she knew instantly how deep this would have hit me and then said that the only reason she didn’t pry into how it had made me feel instantly and by text was because I was meant to be in session with her only a few hours later – until I cancelled.  She also added that being a therapist was a vocation to her and not just a job.  She said she really does get it and does deeply care, it wasn’t somethign she did simply to pay the bills.

I eventually said to her outright “I get that everyone has different needs and that you treat us all differently, just as I do my stepchildren, I get that.. but, I feel like I am always fighting to get someone to show me love and they never do and that IS what I want!” T said that it might feel to me like what I need is for her to show me lots of “gushing love” but that often what we think we need, isn’t actually that helpful for us.  She said that if she is working with someone who has had no love and affection from a mother and who has suffered childhood trauma and cruelty, that gushing them with love would be extremely damaging and painful for them.  My ears pricked up…  I questioned why and she said in the most extreme case, showering someone who has been loved deprived with affection COULD lead them to commit suicide. At this point I was listening intently but still confused and then she said this:

“Imagine a baby that is starving, literally starving and nearing death, extremely malnourished and very sick.  What you might think you need to do is to take the baby and feed it and feed it and feed it to make it better, to save it? But actually that would kill the baby!  What the baby would need is to be drip fed tiny bit by tiny bit until it built up a tolerance and could slowly adjust to having more food”…

Something about this image clicked in my head and really made sense… okay… okay, this was helpful – I told T this image was very helpful. She continued explaining and said that in my head I think I know what I need but that a lot of that was fantasy and built up using the fantasy that she is the perfect mother and that the perfect mother would and could never hurt me.  But that the fantasy was wrong.

I told T that it was so painful for me because so many times over the years I have got upset and complained to my mother that she never hugged me or told me she loved me or showed me any affection and my mother would shame me and tell me to grow up and tell me that I wasn’t a child and that I was pathetic.  I said it felt like the same thing was happening all over again – not the shaming so to speak, but like T was saying that she wouldn’t show me any affection even though she could have.  I told T that my mother was always very gushing with her men – just not me and the feelings were triggered by the text she sent me.

She said something again about being led by me and I said something like “but I have told you before that I sometimes find your emails lacking warmth and a bit cold and clinical!” and she said it was quite a while ago and said “lets not get too carried away, it is only an email sign-off, you do FEEL my love in many other ways – I know you do and I know that you have the capacity and capability to feel that love. Some people cannot feel it and need me to speak to them in different ways, in ways that might help it to get through to them. You feel my love here”.

Hmm…something about what she said made me feel ashamed. It felt as though she was saying “Jesus Christ, it’s a bloody sign off on an email!” and so I said that I understood that it was stupid and I was being irrational but she butted in and said she doesn’t think that for a single second, she said how much she understood the pain was very deep. She said every therapist’s favourite line… twice “This IS the work” with extra emphasis on the IS. I had to try not to chuckle.  She then spoke about “the frame” which I took to be a reference to the therapeutic frame, as in the guidelines or something? She said that it is expected and normal for me to want to bash the frame about and hit it and try to change it and it is her job to hold steady whilst I did that.  This gave me an image of a toddler who wants things it can’t have and kick and screams for them all the while the mother is calmly saying “no” but not shaming the child and, perhaps, validating the child’s pain? I don’t know, I could have this entirely wrong. I need to do some reading about the frame to fully grasp this I think.

[What I need to write next may offend/upset/annoy or possibly trigger those who have D.I.D or parts – I am not sure but I want to be cautious so consider this a warning if you want to continue reading].

T said that the person who the text was actually for was much more dissociated than I am and she said that sometimes she “doesn’t even bloody know I am here at all! I have to fight to get through to her to know I am there for her!”.  She then said I wasn’t that split and dissociative and that I did know she was there – that she only had to say something gently and I knew it, but that the other girl didn’t.  She said that working with parts was an entirely different way of working but that I wasn’t that split-off. She said that I was integrated.  (I questioned how true that was as she said it..).  She later said that the work I was doing was entirely different and that we were “nowhere near each other” whatever that meant.

I told T that I always secretly hoped I was her youngest client and that it made me special to her somehow.  She told me that it didn’t matter whether I was the youngest, oldest, prettiest or whatever.. that I was special to her just for being me.  She said that I didn’t need to “jump through hoops” for her.  I cried as she said this even though it felt a bit of a cliché you know like “you are special just the way you are”… but I think I believe her….. I think.  She said that I was working “beautifully” and was doing very well and that she admired me said I had plenty of courage even if I didn’t feel I did at times.  She said something along the lines of how the other client was in a very difficult place and that therapy was very difficult and unpredictable for her but for me, I may be struggling but i am progressing along very well.  I have mixed thoughts about this.

She told me that there was a space inside her that was just mine and that nobody else could ever take or come near because it was just for me and then said that she wondered if it felt a bit like finding out you were going to have a sibling when you were a child – others – someone else to share mum’s love and being really angry about it.  She said she wondered if it reminded me of when my sister was born?  I admitted when my sister was born I was terribly upset and jealous, having been an only child for 7 years, I was used to that and when I already had no love or affection another child surely meant I would have even less?! I’m not sure how accurate that fear was because it made not difference to the lack of love I got but it did result in lots of other feelings of insecurity and being forgotten or left-out.  It set me (and my sister) up for years of competing for her attention. The ultimate power-trip I guess. MEH.

She told me she had a lot of love and care for me and she said if I wanted her to sign her emails off “with love” from now on, that she would. I felt immature but thought to myself that it really isn’t the same when you ask someone is it? LOL and then she said …. I try to match your style in your emails to me… and I interrupted her and said, I had thought this only today.. when I re-read my emails to her, I always signed them off “Thanks, TT” and admitted that was rather formal, especially for me! I said I had done that because I was copying her style and she said she was following my lead!!! I did laugh at this.

I guess the main things I took from the call were that she thinks lots of affectionate words and gushing love is NOT what I need, even if I think I do… that she thinks I have the capacity to feel her love in many other ways and that some clients do not and that because I am in a constant state of hypervigilance, looking for perceived proof of being rejected or abandoned, that is why this hurt so much.  It did tap in to some very deep wounds of mine, mainly being unloved/unloveable and not special.  She said once or twice that I did not get to experience the good enough mother and that I was not taught that was allowed to feel angry and resolve something with her and that her love did not change for me if I did have those angry feelings.

Right now I have lots of words and thoughts and reactions to sit with and work through but I do already feel heaps better.  She reminded me that each rupture we get through is helpful and will build a deeper level of trust.  She said with each rupture that we successfully repair, I will gradually remember that things can be survived no matter how hard they get between us. I understood what she meant as she said this because the other day it seemed insurmountable and now it doesn’t.

Right now, believe it or not… whether she signs an email “with love” or just her name feels wholly insignificant… isn’t that funny? Or perhaps makes me a little crazy! Perhaps her reassurance has helped me to come out of my triggered place and back into a more rational and adult place? I’m not sure.  I feel hopeful but yet the remains of some sadness lurk below the surface, a bit like when you’ve got back together with an old boyfriend and you are glad but you feel a little fragile and kinda nervous and careful? on guard perhaps?? I dunno, it’s hard to explain.