I did a silly thing, during my last therapy session before Christmas, on Monday. T and I had a half-conversation about emails, and instead of clarifying it before we spent two weeks without contact, I left with questions unanswered.
T has previously said that I can always email, whenever – the deal was that she wouldn’t necessarily reply to them, but she would read them when she could. Then, in our session, we briefly talked about how her emails now come through to her phone – we both agreed that was dangerous! I teased her about not checking it on Christmas Day…. but I didn’t go any further. I should have asked if I can still email her whenever. I trust her, she holds pretty firm boundaries… I hope that she’d have turned off her phone for the holidays, or just not checked it. But because I’m not sure, because I didn’t check, and because my absolute greatest fear is to make T cross, I am in a bit of a mess. Little has desperately needed to connect over the last few days, but of course, I have convinced myself that emailing her is wrong. And so the battle in my head rages on.
I’ve had a nice Christmas. I have spent the last four days almost exclusively in my PJs, watching kids films, reading and knitting, except for the occasional long walk in the gorgeous countryside. Today I went sales shopping with my best friend. It’s been very, very quiet and low-key but that’s been just what the doctor ordered I suppose. I’ve even taken my meds every day, and started using the Headspace app which is absolutely brilliant. My adult head has had a lovely few days, and feels very strongly that T needs and deserves a break without emails binging on her phone. She is exceptionally important to me, and she models correct and healthy self-care which I am trying to adopt, so of course I want her to have a proper break. My adult self knows that it will only be 6 sleeps until we next meet – it’s really not that long.
Little, though. Oh my goodness. I have really tried to be kind to her. She is permanently attached to T’s blanket, Rabbit is here too. The Headspace app is helping. I’ve not harmed, I’ve eaten loads of food and not been sick, even when I’ve been absolutely desperate to. And when she started to pine for T, when my insides started to twist and knot, I have tried to remind her. I have reread emails, I have looked back through our texts. I have counted the number of sleeps and tried everything I can to reassure her. I’ve let her knit a fox because she loves foxes almost as much as she loves Rabbit, now.
But because I will not let her email T, because I am actively saying no to her want to connect to the one safe person in her world, she is getting louder and louder.
The Samaritans have been a total godsend over Christmas, and I am incredibly grateful to them for listening to my absolute crazy talk. One lady I spoke to was particularly helpful – she asked what I wanted to achieve by emailing T. I answered immediately; something garbled and tearful about checking she still cares and making sure she’s not left. Making sure she hasn’t forgotten me. There’s something in there that smacks of total jealousy, too – or maybe grief (or both…), that she’s curled up with her kids and I’m not with her. Mostly though, it’s fear of abandonment, fear of being forgotten, and fear of being unloved and alone.
But then I pondered that for a while. In our session last week, T was jokingly teasing me about not trusting her, because despite her repeating the same promises to me over and over, I still make her say it again! I told her that I did trust her, but she’s not exactly wrong (who am I kidding, the woman is never wrong…). Really, this seems to me to be an exercise in faith. I have faith that I will survive, although sometimes that wavers. But I don’t really use the faith and trust I have in T. In our last session, she sat me up and tried to get me to look into her eyes. I can’t manage it for long, but she promised me with such sincerity in her eyes that she isn’t leaving, she’s coming back and most importantly, that she won’t forget about me, and that I really matter to her. That session was not even a week ago, and yet I haven’t retained that feeling of being loved in any way – because I need her to say it again, promise again, prove to me that she isn’t going back on her word. There are countless beautiful emails from T; ‘I care about you because you are YOU. I don’t compare you to anyone else. You are special in yourself just because you are you. You don’t have to be different in any way. I am not going away from you. I am not leaving.’ I believed her when she wrote that, when I read it sat at work a few weeks ago, but I find it almost impossible to connect those words to her, now. My ability to retain the strong, incredible attachment I have to her, outside of the times we speak, is almost nonexistent.
I agreed with the lady from the Samaritans that I would wait until after Boxing Day to email T. As always happens, now I’ve lifted the restriction, Little has actually been a little more able to manage the lack of contact today. But it is the constant balancing act between my adult self – who wants T to have the break she deserves, who wants to be able to prove to everyone that we aren’t totally dependent, who wants to have a break from therapy herself! – with Little, who’s fear of abandonment runs like the deepest of rivers through an already decimated woodland. It is exceptionally hard to reassure her that the person she adores, who let us curl up against her on Monday and who talks with such sincerity in her voice, is the same person today, even though we haven’t seen her or heard from her. It feels a little like when small children play peekaboo – Little lives with a genuine anxiety that when T pops back out from behind her hands, she might be different. More than ‘might be’ – it feels almost to be a certainty, because we are bad. That fundamental belief that underpins everything.
I have absolutely no idea how to reassure such a small part of me… as an adult, I can practise trusting T, I can practise keeping the faith. But Little feels far too experienced at knowing that people come back different, or don’t come back at all. People go from loving her to hurting her. The safe people close the lid on the box. Even quiet people make her ouch really bad. I just don’t know how to support such a traumatised part of me.
At the moment, we’re balanced. I’m making a conscious effort to keep T’s words and emails in my head, and Little is just about doing okay. We’re literally getting by minute by minute, which turns into day by day – with Little’s anxiety building, expanding, mutating with every tick of the clock hand. I am trying to keep the faith, but it feels rather like swimming against the tide.