One of the most interesting things to note whilst T has been away is how the intensities of my emotions alter, dependent on how connected, or disconnected, I feel to her at the moment they strike.
Though she has now been away 21 days, with 6 sleeps to go, I have mostly been fine. I wouldn’t say good, because there have been wobbles and I have leant heavily on other supports, like R and S and A. But it has been fine; I haven’t self harmed, there haven’t been any hugely dramatic days of crisis, and generally the time has passed quicker than I was expecting it would. But there have been a few times where my emotions have overwhelmed me, and those times are when I cannot ‘feel’ her within this world, or I cannot ‘feel’ our connection.
‘Feeling’ is an odd description of it, and I usually shy away from anything I could deem nonsensical. Let’s face it, feelings come from sensors in our bodies, nerve reactions etc.. But one of the most potent and healing aspects of my therapy with T is how I ‘feel’ ties to her even when we’re not in the same room, or speaking.
Some of these ties are obvious. The most powerful is smell – she smells amazing and it’s a distinction I can pick out of any other smells. Then more obvious ones like voicemails, colours (her blanket perfectly matches her therapy room), physical objects, or phrases I hear other people say that remind me of her. But some of them are less obvious, and inexplicable. In trying to write words about them, I guess I’ve realised they are feelings inside me (just under my ribcage), feelings that make me feel real.
Being connected to her means that I must be real. If she thinks of me, or something reminds me of her, I must be real. If she is hot under the same sun giving me sunburn, then I am just as real as she is, and she is the person most obviously, wholly real to me in my life. If I’m wrapped in her blanket, all of the emotions around how she let me have it are real. If she is real, and I am connected to her, then by default, I must be real.
I think I spent a lot of my childhood feeling unreal. I have many memories of feeling ‘out-of-body’, sensations of watching myself act a role or listening to myself like a radio presenter. As I grew up, the acting became a solid and successful coping mechanism on which I built my adult life, so I never felt real. Then, my career is largely about acting, or having a professional persona, and so on and on goes my feelings of weightlessness and disconnection to the world. Added to my feelings that I am worthless and thus undeserving of space in ‘real life’, I have spent a lot of my life floating above, halfway between ‘desperate to be involved with life’ and ‘desperate to die and leave this hell’. T was the first therapist to metaphorically grab hold of my ankles and start to weigh me down. I’m not really sure when I started to feel ‘heavy’ (though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s connected at least a little to my intense feelings of ‘being big’ and ‘taking up space’ that comes with my ED), but I have really noticed since she has been away this time that I still feel mostly grounded.
I am incredibly impressed with and hugely grateful to her for the way she has helped me connect. In almost all instances, I hold off ‘connecting’ until I have connected through her first. I sit in sessions and test out her reactions to the situations I’m experiencing – she is endlessly, beautifully human so I trust that her reaction is one to follow. Usually, together we tease out how I’m genuinely feeling, and then I build my emotions and connections around what we process. The rest of the time, I can use her historical reactions to inform new experiences. Joined to that all the ways she’s helped me ground physically, with touch and rabbits and blankets and kind words in electronic form…. My feet are often securely on solid ground now.
That’s terrifying, but it’s amazing.
Saying that, last night, I started floating. I’m with my family on a family holiday, the first in many years, the first since those painful years of abusive parenting and neglected love. The situation is different now, but the painful comparison is hard to bear. I emailed T, as I do most nights, but this time it obviously came from a floaty place.
I really miss you. I’m sorry. There isn’t really anything else to say. Lying awake listening to the sea and missing you. Loneliness has the same rhythmic pulse as the sea. Never noticed that before. I miss you. Rabbit is back at home, as is your blanket. Mum asked too many questions. Little needs you. She’s full of tears tonight. Feel so disconnected from you tonight. Are you feeling the same sun? Can’t feel you at all. 7 sleeps… Run out of energy to survive 😦
She replied at 1am, which was amazing as I read it when I was half asleep, then woke up and assumed it was a lovely dream, but it was true! Amazing to hear from her, and I am so grateful that she is in tune with when I am just emailing her to offload my day, and when I’m emailing her to because I’m desperate. Turns out she’s not feeling the sun, rather the opposite in fact, but she was walking on a beach yesterday. The fact that we’re both by the sea connected me to her in the most amazing way. All the water in the seas are connected, after all.
I walked down to the beach this morning and sat by the shoreline, naming my emotions as per my ED treatment prescribes, but putting them into imagined bottles, hoping my messages would float to her across the seas.
I miss her horribly, but I am surviving, and I am so overwhelmed with gratitude today. Her importance cannot be adequately in words. It can only be felt.