On Surviving When Exposed.


T is going away for a month, starting this Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, it will be 27 sleeps until I see, speak or hear from her again.

Two sleeps is normally about my limit.

I’ve known since January that she was going, but the whirlwind of emotions inside me have been building up the last few weeks. In our session this week, all I could think of was how much I wanted to kill myself. I was sat wondering, if I kill myself when she is away, when would she find out? Would it be when I didn’t turn up for my session? If she found out before, would it ruin her holiday? Would she even care?

27 sleeps was a completely overwhelming timeframe. I was panicked that I absolutely would not cope, and the suicidal parts of me would win, because there would be nobody backing up the parts who wanted to live. 27 sleeps is plenty long enough for me to entirely ruin my life. I’m very talented at self-sabotage, and I could just picture the car crash.

Although we had talked a lot about the break, we hadn’t really planned for it. My eating disorder therapist, A, is going to see me weekly, but things are very strained in our relationship and I knew she would not support me appropriately if I fell apart. A lady who I see for massage was prepared to comfort me during T’s absence, but massage is bringing up enough of it’s own dramas; I wasn’t sure that was a guaranteed safe space. T offered to find me one of her therapy friends to “foster me” (her term, how cute?!) but I don’t know them, and I could see myself not liking them and then being in a much worse place. Ultimately, I felt like I was running into this month naked and alone, and just hoping that I didn’t get killed by one of the many hidden dangers we hadn’t properly considered.

I was a bit cross with T at the end of our last session, whilst I was gulping down sobs and trying not to throw up with the intensity of my constant “I need to die” thoughts. Yes, she was hugging me and yes, I felt loved, but I also felt like we’d not properly prepared for her absence in a way that had a good chance of keeping me safe. Now I have a career and I live on my own, it’s vitally important I am safe because there is nobody around to take away the pills or to cover for me if I can’t do my job. I didn’t feel like she had properly considered the impact that her break would have on me, the adult, and so I felt cross.

I left our session still sobbing and it took me a long time to calm down. Somewhere in that time, I decided to ring R, a therapist I’ve previously worked with, who left to have a baby. R worked with me in more of a mentoring capacity, but I loved her honesty and her logic and her kindness. We have kept in touch in the year since she left, and it seemed like the most sensible option to keep myself safe.

I briefly checked with T that she would be ok with this, and then I spoke to R. We had a really useful conversation, and she summed it up by saying that, “really, you just need holding for a month.” She is so completely right – my adult just needs a holding space, to explore what comes up and to express even at my lowest points. I also trust R to give me a fresh view on my life; I am looking forward to a breath of fresh air as I am feeling so stuck in work, therapy and life. We have booked for 5 sessions, starting this week and then covering all of T’s absence, and I feel confident about this plan.

So, the only problem left is Little. R knows nothing about her and, understandably, doesn’t want anything to do with her – Little’s relationship with T is unique and very intricate, and nobody wants to mess with that. The problem is, we haven’t really done much preparation for the break. I’ve talked lots about how worried she is, and T has given me lots of verbal reassurance for her fears. It doesn’t feel like that will hold her, though – there is nothing tangible, no written words, no voice to listen to, nothing to have. Little is not going to care what I have to say about T being away, so words are pretty much useless.

She already feels naked and exposed; when she’s more present, I am constantly aware of my back and my neck and my shoulders, as if she is uncovered or bare. She already feels like words are meaningless – they don’t prove that T is coming back, people can say anything and it doesn’t mean it’s the truth. She already feels like she is going to be totally alone; currently, she offloads memories or images to T’s inbox (or into the smell and softness of T’s shoulder), but there won’t be that option. She could not feel more exposed, and I am utterly terrified for her.

I emailed these feelings to T, and I’m hoping/praying that she thinks of something that means we leave our final hour this week feeling more supported. T suggested Little taking something from the therapy room, and bringing it back – I don’t think this is appropriate as a) we’re not naive enough to think getting a small object back is enough of a reason for T to want to see us and b) having to give it back will be very painful. I wish I could turn T into a blanket or a wrap or some form of covering structure for Little, as she so intrinsically needs to hide and be covered and be protected right now. It is so painful to realise how much she uses T for these feels, and I am so scared for her when she has to spend a month so exposed 😦 I wish T could metamorphose into this! But she can’t. She also desperately needs a safe ‘box’ to offload into whilst T is away, because otherwise her memories will overwhelm her, which will in turn overwhelm me.

We have time to talk on the phone tomorrow, and then our session on Wednesday. I wish I could make T see how scared I am for Little… and how scared I am for myself. I hate feeling so exposed.



7 responses »

  1. I am so glad you have R! There is definitely no easy fix to cover missing T and comforting Little about her return. You should see livibg alone, having a career, and winning over your dark feelings as a success: you are doing so well! As hard as it will inevitably feel this coming month, I have no doubt that you are strong enough to do this πŸ™‚ T is worth waiting for, and you and Little will manage it, especially with A, R and good friends for support πŸ™‚ Always happy to chat too m’lovely πŸ™‚

  2. Seems like a really great plan to have engaged R to help you through this. I can see that a whole month is a daunting prospect – I would absolutely hate that also. Wishing you lots of strength and self- compassion.

  3. I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. If you would like to accept it, please go to my blog site for details. You are an inspiration and thank you for your advice and support. TBH

    Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

    I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are loosing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

    Each step you take you are not alone.

    Stand Strong.


    Please go to this link to read how to accept your award.
    Please go to this link to read how to accept your award.

  4. Wow! This took me back to a few years ago, when I was seeing a counselor, who also went on vacation. I went through this whole anxiety and depression thing that she was going to be gone. I didn’t think I could handle it at all. I’ve also felt that way when other people I’m close to, such as family or friends go away. Its not as bad now as it used to be, but I remember how horrible that feeling was. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. You can do this!

    • Thank you for your comment πŸ™‚ it really helps to speak to people who have survived! The abandonment of it is so very painful. I am glad to hear it isn’t so bad for you now.

  5. May be you are going to have to do something completely different. May be you have untether your trust and truly place in in T’s hands. No object to hold, just your own naked vulnerability put in her hands. Give it to her and watch the return. If you start to change some patterns of behaviour through experimentation then surely your belief system might change to be less self-destructive.

    You will cope. Because you are a survivor. And think how proud T will be when she comes back to you having taken care of yourself. She’ll be so very, very earnestly proud of you and how good would that feel?

    You can do this … we’re here too in the blogosphere. x

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