This week passed by in a pattern of me speaking to T, which brought some relief, but then almost as soon as I recognised that, the panic came again. Attachment need is truly insatiable and I don’t think it can be understood by people lucky enough to have always been securely attached. It is possible when things are raw like they are now for me to miss her WHILST we are talking, like my body is preparing itself to scream and cry the very second she puts the phone down.
I was nervous to go to our session this week because I knew I wouldn’t leave feeling any better. T had something on afterwards so we had moved our time forward, but with that came a pressure to make sure I was okay to end on time. I didn’t want to be a frustration to her because I was panicking about leaving. I think because of knowing we had to end well, I held back from much connection.
I had texted her earlier in the week to ask if we could read in our session. When I sat down though I didn’t really feel like it. I talked for a while about the ridiculousness of this feeling. I feel horrendous but there is no changing it. She can’t adopt me, and even if she could she wouldn’t be able to erase what had happened. It just IS and there isn’t much point going around and around it. You’re going to leave me eventually, I said. When I’m 92 and still having the same ridiculous conversations you will get fed up with me and leave. I’m not leaving you, she promised… but I wasn’t really listening.
After a while she asked me if she could share with me a picture book on mindfulness and meditation. She came to sit with me and we read it in silence, just the two of us alongside each other. I would LOVE to be someone who can be all mindful and find space to meditate etc… but I’m just not. It’s terrifying to think about sitting still, I said. Sitting still would make everything implode. At least when I’m busy everything is kept at a distance from me. When I’m busy even though things are still painful and awful, I know they’re less bad than if I let them penetrate the shield. I know, she said. I am not telling you that you have to meditate. I asked to borrow the book and I will maybe try to come back to it later in the week. At the moment I feel like I’m curled up in a ball trying to keep all the pain away from my deepest insides though.
After we’d read that book, we read No Matter What by Debi Gliori. Readers who have followed my blog will know this book is almost at the core of our work – it’s a book about a small fox who is in a grump and testing his mother’s love. ‘If I turned into a bug, would you still love me and give me a hug?’ The book is repetitive and soothing, with the mother fox always promising to love small fox no matter what.
T read to me and she was trying so hard for me. Pausing, looking at me, telling me she would love ME no matter what, that love like starlight never dies…….. and I just didn’t believe her. It was awful. She was reading and trying so hard and I was sat there almost feeling cross about it. Feeling like I didn’t believe her.
When she finished reading I sat up and moved further down the sofa, away from her. My whole body language must have screamed distrust and anger, I was turned away with my back to her. Do you believe me? Look at me. she kept saying. Eventually I looked at her through my hair and she grinned at me which made me grin…. and then start to cry. I knew we were so tight on time so I sucked it all back inside without answering her. We cuddled, she told me a bit about her plan for after my session, and I left.
On the way home I pulled into a car park and sobbed my heart out. It was awful. I tried to speak to GP but he had finished work early for once and I didn’t want to disturb his evening.
I asked her if we could speak the day after. She emailed back to say she had a very tight slot but it was fine to squeeze me in. As it happened, she was then late so we only had 15 minutes. She promised she would ring me back whilst she was walking the dog in the evening, after the client she was clearly about to see. So we talked for 15 minutes. And it actually helped.
I talked about all the children I’ve worked with over the years, how you work with them and love them and then they move on and time passes and eventually those children I loved get forgotten about. I don’t like it but it’s inevitable. There are only a handful of children I really remember well from my first years of work…even though at the time I would have sworn I would remember forever. This is what is going to happen with us, I said. How many clients do you see in a week? Loads, surely. When we stop working together I will just blend in and eventually be forgotten. No, she said, you are going to be one of those people I never forget.
Well you will still leave me, I said.
I’m finite, T said. I know you don’t want to hear that but I am. I don’t know anything about what will happen to us after we die but I do know that the only reason I would ever leave you is
if I stop being a therapist and then I wouldn’t leave it would just be different. We’d work it out when we get there.
Then she had to go to her client and I was left thinking. Earlier in the conversation I had said she isn’t meant to want to stay in contact with me after therapy and she had dismissed that, saying she wasn’t meant to talk to me on the phone whilst doing something else like driving or walking the dog either but we do it because it works for us. I would never have imagined that happening when I first starting seeing her, but we’ve worked it out as we’ve gone along. I found a little bit of trust in her again, that we will continue to do what works for us. It might not be conventional or the way it should be done but we will make it work. Her reminder that she does what I need worked and I felt a tiny, tiny bit of relief from the attachment pain.
When she rang back, she was walking the dog and started by describing to me the huge horse chestnut tree she was walking under. Can we go outside one day? I blurted out. Can we take (Tdog) and walk? It might help me feel you are a really real person. Of course! she said. We would just need to discuss what would happen if we bump into someone I know but that’s fine. If you want to go for a walk next session we can talk at the beginning and then go. Then you will know where I walk when I’m on the phone to you! She sounded positive and excited and I just loved her all the more for it.
When we had been on the phone for 15 minutes I said she needed to go and she was relaxed and said she had a few more minutes. I loved her for that, too… finding time. When we said goodbye, I felt lighter.
I emailed her much later, just before sleep. I just need to tell you that I love you. Forever. You and I may be finite and maybe there is no such thing as forever…but the impact you have had on my life and way you have changed me as a person will overcome all finite boundaries, until long past
we are dust making up the stars and last endlessly.
I’m finding some balance again. I can feel it. Xx