When I sat down at the beginning of my therapy session yesterday, I was shaking like a leaf. My whole body was numb and my hands were vibrating and my stomach felt so sick. I was so nervous – there is so much pressure on the last session of the year, the last session before the Christmas break.
As I curled into T’s sofa, the nerves absolutely overtook my words and it was really hard to explain how scared I was. “I’m really nervous” doesn’t really cut it. I’m terrified that I’m going to mess this hour up, resulting in two weeks of complete hell til you fix it…or maybe, I am absolutely terrified of feeling anything today in case we can’t wrap it up neatly…or even, this is the single worst time in the year for attachment agony and I don’t even know how to start with talking to you about it… would have been closer. But they weren’t the words that I had. Hence, quite a lot of silence followed.
Last year, I left the last session in an awful mood. T had felt distracted and I really was struggling to cope with the time away from her. Because of last year, I was worried about this year – considering how bad everything has been, so much was riding on it being a success. Which usually almost guarantees it will go wrong!!
I needn’t have worried, though it didn’t start out on quite the right footing.
After all my initial sielnce and T’s gentle prompting, all I had was Little’s silent desperation, and Sass’ not so silent anger at how unfair life is. Despite her being in control for all of our last session, and despite me trying to reason with her here, Sass was very prominent, and as soon as T tried to steer us towards being open about what was happening or ‘what I needed’, Sass steamrollered Little. I felt Sass bubble up inside me like a ball of uncontrollable pressure, and though I really, really needed Little to have the time with T, it didn’t seem like that could happen.
I knew that the absolute worst thing that could happen was to leave angry. I’m sure anger has a place and time, and T is all for me experiencing these emotions, but leaving the last session of the year angry, considering how awful everything had been this month, would have been pretty dangerous. Sass had some space – it’s not fair, you are going to have a break and forget about us, it’s not fair that your kids get you etc etc etc.. – I was at least able to say to T that I didn’t want to be angry with her and I didn’t want Sass to have all of this session as well as all of the last one. T suggested that I try to tune in to what everyone inside was saying, but that’s impossible. I kept speaking but it was all Sass’ voice. All I could hear was Sass being angry, me being frustrated and panicking at the ticking clock, and Little just cowering inside me, pressed into the sofa and utterly howling for T.
Sass, T and I talked for a little while about this fear of being left. Being forgotten. When I was at school, and hopelessly attached to my PE teacher, the holidays used to bring about the most awful panic. What if I get pregnant, what if the world ends and you aren’t here? The panic used to absolutely overcome me, and this was my overriding sense of emotion in the session – fear. Fear that T wouldn’t be there if I needed her. Fear that she would forget about me. Fear that she’ll spend time with her beautiful kids and decide not to come back for me. Fear. Overwhelming, knees shaking, mouth drying fear.
Thankfully, T asked if Little wanted her to come to the sofa, which was just as well because there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to ask, despite Little’s crying in my head. I nodded and shifted over. She asked if Little wanted to be touched and Sass curled us up into a tighter ball away from her, but something about being closer to her allowed Little to throw all her fear and panic at T. We ended up tucked into T’s chest, heartbeat in one ear, and all of those awful attachment fears pouring out into the safety of her.
What if the world ends? asked Little. What if the world ends and I’m there and you’re here? T laughed gently and reassured Little that the world doesn’t often end. My world ends multiple times a week, I interjected, so what if it does again when you’re not here? Then you will be fine, T reassured, you will be fine, and I am coming back. What if They come and find me? What if They come and find you? How much do you actually believe They will come? I know Little is scared but you and Sass need to support her with your knowledge that They won’t come for you or me. You are safe. What if you spend time with your children and decide they’re better than me and we’re not worth it anymore? What if I don’t matter? We’ve had this conversation so many times before, but Little fears the answer acutely every time anyway. Not better, just different. I’m not spending time with better people, just different people. And I will be back. What if you take a break and forget about me? You are you. Nobody else fills your space. You are irreplaceable. I am taking a break from the paperwork and the homework and accounts and all that boring grown up stuff, but I absolutely won’t forget about you. Do you think you are forgettable? You are completely unforgettable. Look at me… She sits me up, but I can only hide my eyes and tell her I’m listening. She manages to get me to look into her eyes for just long enough to tell me, with such warmth and sincerity, that I really matter. You really matter, she says, you really matter to me, I am not going to forget about you even when I take a break from paperwork stuff, and I am coming back.
We stopped talking about the deep issues, then. Little had heard what she said, but more importantly, she had felt her heartbeat in her ear and felt T hold her head with her hand. So perhaps I had heard that I matter, but Little had felt it.
We sat together long enough for T to get giggly and warm with me about sprouts and buying presents for dogs. I adore her in a way I can never put words to when she is so beautifully human like that – and as she was poking me playfully to try and get me to look at her, my heart bursts full of love and acceptance and safety.
I gave T her Christmas present and card, but I could give her the moon wrapped up in a sparkly box and it would never hold all the thank yous I have to say. Thank you for holding all of me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for explaining safety in such an experiential way to the parts of me that have never experienced it. Thank you for being you, always, and letting me learn to be me. We hugged, she promised not to forget me, promised that all I had to do was get from now until the 2nd January and then we’d fix any problems together. She asked me to go gently. So I am trying… Really.
I’m now in a beautiful holiday cottage with my parents and so far we’ve been for a walk on the beach, eaten food and watched kids films. I am typing this sat in the most beautiful bathtub with bubbles everywhere and candles. I have reading to do, and knitting, and I am allowing myself time to be gentle. If not because I matter to me, then because I matter to her.
I will probably blog again before Christmas, but in case I don’t – have a relaxing, gentle festive period, blog world. Much love.