I have a brilliant massage therapist, S. I see her when I need to, which is usually every other week or so. She tolerates my impulsive needs to see her, and when I am with her, she is wonderful at calming any crises, restoring calm to my insides and encouraging me to connect with and through my breathing. We have had some sessions where I have freaked out and she has supported me back to a calmer place; we have also had some more positive sessions, where I’ve actually discovered sensations that I like, stretches that I enjoy and places that feel good. It is a wonderfully scary process, learning to come back to myself and to begin to have feelings or sensations that are pleasurable rather than negative or painful (ugh, even just using the word pleasure feels wrong… but no, I want to learn that my body is not an entirely negative waste of space).
This has been an immensely difficult week. Therapy was horrid, which is unusual. It’s often hard, or painful, but I usually feel contained by T and I almost always leave feeling held and capable of managing the week. It took me about 50mins to tell her that I was intensely, overwhelmingly angry with her. Eventually I could tell her what I knew about her son, and perhaps a little about why it had upset me so much, though I don’t suppose I was making much sense because all I could hear inside my head was someone screaming, please save me, please make this feeling stop. We ran over by nearly half an hour, because I just couldn’t leave. I felt like I was dying inside, and having a full-blown toddler tantrum, complete with a certain amount of foot stamping and huffing and puffing. By the time I had put my shoes back on and all my stuff back in my bag, I just couldn’t stand up.
In the end, she came to sit next to me on the sofa. She asked me what I needed, but I couldn’t tell her – save me, save me, do something, please make this stop, please do something seemed a bit overdramatic. She shuffled her feet right up next to mine, so our legs were pressed together and that made me feel a little more grounded. She offered me her hand, because I was trying to rip my wrists apart with my nails, and I snapped at her: its my body I can do what I like. She said something about how she hadn’t pushed herself on me, and I think she thought I was triggered by the touch but I wasn’t, I just didn’t want her to stop me harming because why should she get to only care about me when I’m hurting?
I talked a little and she talked a lot… telling me that she doesn’t want her children to be perfect and she doesn’t want me to be perfect she just wants me to be me, telling me that life isn’t about being perfect, that’s what makes it so beautiful. I was choked up, my sentences short and my childish. He gets you, I don’t belong, he gets you, he gets you. She held me then, and I tipped into her and listened to her ask my hair, right now, who’s got me? I couldn’t say to her that it almost makes it worse, that I get her now but not all the time. Eventually I relaxed into her and she held me, rubbed my back in the most beautiful way, whilst I composed myself enough to leave her.
I am not really sure where I go from here. I want her to be my mother. Not literally, I suppose, I know that isn’t possible. But I can’t help wanting more from her, ALL THE TIME. She gives me everything she can and she is unbelievably supportive, but it’s like a bottomless pit of need. She can throw everything she has into it, but it will never be filled. So all the time I’m searching, searching like a lost little ghost wandering the earth trying to find the mother I never got to have.
I’m working my butt off in therapy, I am trying hard every single day to feel better and to survive in this world. But where the hell do I go from here? Will this searching never end? T is the closest to perfection I will ever get – but she can still never be that mother, and she will never replace the irreplaceable relationship that I crave. So what the hell do I do?? I don’t know how I carry on living with this bottomless pit inside me, wandering around like a ghost, you know?
Back to today’s massage: when I got to S, I couldn’t speak. I had no words to explain what was going on inside. The beautiful uniqueness of massage is that she gets to feel what is going on – and she spent a long time grounding me, because I was really struggling to breathe. I did eventually relax into it, regulate my breathing and feel some connections again. S knows all about my therapy, and eventually she started to press a little… how was work? How has your body felt this week? I couldn’t tell her… but I did ask her “do you feel you belong?”. Her answer was interesting, and it got me talking about what had happened with T this week. She recognised how painful it must be, and that was so helpful… with her hands on my back, the pain feels slightly more bearable. I told her how I feel like I never belong, how I genuinely hoped that I would find what I needed within my relationship with T, but how I’ve now realised it wasn’t possible to replace my parental loss with this therapy relationship. I told her what my mum told me, about never wanting me, and she kept me grounded with her hands on my shoulders and neck whilst I felt the first sensations of overwhelming grief about it.
I began to cry when she, beautifully succintly, described the longing and searching I am feeling as a bottomless pit.I sat up, head in my hands and fighting back tears, whilst she sat next to me as I shared my fears that I will always feel this way, I will be searching my entire life for a relationship that I can never have. When I had stopped speaking, words run dry, she had some very insightful and helpful thoughts. She talked about phases, how this is a phase, and how life is a journey through phase after phase, each demanding to be felt but all surpassable and ultimately fleeting. This phase is a grief process, and we both acknowledged that grief is better than the denial phase that came before. When I said how painful this was, she reminded me that that is part of being alive – being alive means feeling, good and bad. When you’re not alive, you’re supressing all feelings and that is so unhealthy. She told me that the pain needs to be felt to experience the good – it just depends on whether I am ready to feel the pain to be rewarded with the good. She talked of how I am working so hard on myself, and that she is hopeful that my future looks bright – she thinks I will grow around the trauma and there will be a time when I am no longing defined by it anymore. When the immediate panic had passed, we went back to the massage and I left her, after a lovely hug, feeling a lot more grounded. Breathe into it, be within yourself, she says all the time. I left feeling within myself.
I am horrifically sunburned tonight, because after our session I went to the local common and I sat looking at the view, loving the sunshine and reading “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green (I want to see the film soon, but I always read books first…!). It’s a beautifully written book, full of wordplay and honesty, but there was a particular part which kicked me in the stomach. After a loss, her parents ask the female protagonist what she needs; what can they do to support her. She tells her mum that there is nothing, but she just kept asking, as if there was something she could do, until I finally just kind of crawled across the couch into her lap and my dad came over and held my legs really tight and I wrapped my arms all the way around my mom’s middle and they held onto me for hours while the tide rolled in. That plain and simple description, of grief being like a tide rolling in, and perhaps that all we need is for people to sit alongside us and hold us whilst it happens, has given me the first sparkle of hope that maybe this is a process, a phase. Maybe I don’t need to replace what I lost or never had, but instead work through the grief, with someone to hold me whilst the tides of emotions surrounding it wash in and out. T says to me all the time, I can’t do this for you, but I will walk alongside you all the way, and I always dismiss her because I don’t want her to walk alongside me, I want to feel like an integral part of her. But maybe alongside is ok. Somebody to hold me whilst the tides roll on, until this phase has passed and the next begins. After grief, comes acceptance. As S says, it’s only a matter of if I’m ready to face it.