So I had lots of great plans for therapy today. It was going to be a session where I rebuilt my self esteem, I suddenly would find things I valued about myself, and that would mean that Christmas wouldn’t be anything like as hideous as I am expecting it to be. I get these really great plans when I’m feeling like I can’t carry on – when I feel like I need T to perform some sort of magic trick, rabbit out of the hat style, because otherwise this life really can’t continue. As always, the session then never goes like I expect, but normally, that’s ok. And today, it was.
We talked a lot about my fears for January. I start my new job, which is massively overwhelming and full of so many potential pitfalls. I am working my butt off to be ready, and I am confident in my ability, but I am really terrified of the effect it is going to have on my mental health. At the moment, my mind is a constant whirring of “you’re rubbish” thoughts, and “you did that badly” thoughts, along with a good dose of “you’re disgusting and dirty” thoughts. All the professionals working to look after me are convinced that a job will keep me healthy – because I will be busy, and I will be unable to be sick during the day, I cannot self harm, it will be good. T seems a bit more aware of the risks, though. We talked a lot about how there is potential for me to fill myself to bursting with more and more negative, job related statements, like I’m useless at my job, I’m letting the children down, my boss is cross with me etc., which then will not reduce but instead exacerbate the current monotonous, repetitive torture going round in my head.
I left our session feeling a little frustrated because there doesn’t seem to be any answers to help me with this. There is no cure, no quick fix, no magic pill. All T keeps telling me at the moment is that I must eat, and I must rest, because that is adding to my black and white thinking and it is not helping me stay in control. I know she is right (though I want to throttle her when she says it!) but I’m just finding it so, so hard. My one and only reason for trying to eat right now is because of the look on her face when I disappoint her (again) and she gets that motherly, concerned tone to her voice (again) and tells me (again!) that I must eat because of all her usual reasons. I hate and love it all in one sentence. Her concern makes me feel loved, and sometimes I want to not eat forever so I can always hear that tone in her voice; but in direct contrast, I want to snap out of this quick sharp because I know that the “I’m pleased/proud of you” tone would be so much sweeter. It feels a little like I cannot take the risk with being fixed: in case she doesn’t have that next level; in case there isn’t a “proud of you” tone because actually, she isn’t my mother and she doesn’t care; in case she will never be proud of me; in case being ‘fixed’ means she stops caring because professionally, her job is done. Staying broken, but keeping her, can feel like the safest option.
That’s off on a tangent, sorry.
We talked about the idea of “good enough”, in an attempt to start challenging my perfectionist streak. I need to be perfect but never can be and it really upsets me, and January’s new job is going to be total chaos for weeks, even months. T told me about studies where ‘perfect’ parents actually didn’t make happy children, because children learn and benefit from witnessing mistakes from adults, and the growth from it. She tried to nudge me towards thinking about trying to be just ‘good enough’, to retain my sanity. I think I took in more of this than I was verbally saying, it has sunk it and it feels like it could be the beginning of a healthy coping strategy for January – “was that ‘good enough'” instead of “was that perfect”. It might also serve as a prompt for T in our sessions, to support me during the inevitable panic that I’m doing badly and everything is a doom and gloom…
What did really help today, though, was listening to T talk about herself. She told me how, since she’s been broken, she’s only been able to do one thing at once – she’s usually the sort of person who has an unfeasibly large amount of plates spinning at one time. But since being broken, she has stopped and is instead doing that one thing properly, then moving on to the next one, and doing that properly too. I guess an idea of quality instead of quantity. It was gorgeous to hear her talk about herself and was ‘modelling’ behaviour in the truest sense. I am really pleased that she shared these ideas with me as it started to give me scaffolding for January. Things that mean I might survive, no matter how painful initially.
The other thing I just adored about our session today is seeing T excited for Christmas. Her (grown up) kids are home and she’s distracted and excited and it is so, so lovely to see her as a human and not just a professional. It was so healing to see that there are people enjoying the holiday, loving their families and just generally being normal. It was really sweet to see and I hope a little bit of her excitement might have rubbed off on me?! My little toe is starting to feel a little festive, maybe…. T genuinely deserves all the best things in the world and I truly hope she has a beautiful, relaxing and crazy-free Christmas.
14 sleeps until I see her again now, and I’m already feeling that attachment sting. I’m preoccupied with thoughts of how she has forgotten about me because she’s now focussing on the important people in her life, and I’m not important to her or to anyone. I’m a nothing. I’m a nothing, on my own for 14 sleeps, doing the motions of Christmas whilst my mind is elsewhere. I miss her, and I know that is pathetic.