Thank you so much for the overwhelmingly thoughtful responses to my last post. The WordPress community is such a supportive world xx
So I met with T last night.
As soon as I sat down, I knew someone was in the house – the TV was on, I could hear it. I tried to ignore it, and we tried to talk about my week at home. We talked a bit about how I feel like I’m living two lives – how I almost feel like I’m cheating on my mother with T, how I feel like I’m disloyal and fraudulent. My self hatred is at a peak, and we talked for a little while about this.
T had an interesting view. Before T and I worked privately together, I basically didn’t have a relationship with my mum. We fought, then didn’t talk for ages, and we certainly didn’t spend any positive time together. Going home to visit was a chore, and often caused more damage and pain. Since T and I have been working privately, and have been able to build this incredible secure attachment bond, I have been able to have a positive relationship with my mother. T suggested that, even if my mum were to truly think about my relationship with T, she might consider it to be positive. My relationship with T has enabled me to have a positive relationship with my mum – something we could only have dreamed of, even 18 months ago. When we spoke today, T reminded me that I carry her blanket around with me all the time – I cuddle up with it when watching TV etc. She described it as an ‘obvious emblem’ for our relationship, one which my mum will have picked up on. But since the blanket has been present, mum and I have had a positive relationship. So yes, mum might be hurt if she knew how much I adore T, but without T we wouldn’t have a relationship at all. I can only agree with T on this point, and have managed to find a certain level of peace with it. The relationship I have with my mum is healing in its positivity – we are now able to spend time together in ways we were never able to before. To have fun together and to love each other… we are both healing from what we didn’t have before. There are lots of things very odd about this ‘second chance childhood’… but maybe it can be a good thing, even if there needs to be therapeutic intervention to make it possible.
Then the TV noise turned to talking, and I switched out. Pulled T’s blanket right over me, covering every inch, and hid. T asked me what she could do to make it better… eventually she moved closer to me… but it didn’t help. She offered to go and ask him to be quiet, offered to hold onto my feet, but nothing made it any better. It felt like being repeatedly kicked in the stomach, the agony was so intense. Having her son next door, whilst I was sitting and talking to his mother about the loss and grief of my own childhood… it felt like having it rubbed in my face. It felt unbearable.
Little pulled Rabbit under the blanket, and began to sob. Rabbit loves you, Little said. Rabbit wants him to go away. Rabbit hurts. Rabbit sad. T stopped trying to talk to her about therapy and started talking about Rabbit instead. Did he enjoy his wash in the washing machine? Is he white again now? T and Little had a chat about how he went round and round, and eventually T persuaded Little to let her cuddle Rabbit. Slowly, she began to pull the blanket down from over my head, playing peekaboo with Little. I want to see you, she repeated, over and over. I want to see you, I want to see you.
Eventually, she uncovered us and still the sobs came. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be angry, T reassured… but of course that doesn’t stop the pain. All we could do was sob, cry that it was unfair, and have half-conversations. You want to be the only one, T suggested. Is there no space for me to love anybody else? NO, sulked Little. And she’s right, of course. I want her all to myself. Just for me.
T said a beautiful thing. She told me how, when she found out she was having a boy, someone told her that the more freedom and space you give them to be free, and to love other people, the more love they will be able to give back. I think it’s the same for you and me, she said. The more space you have for others in your life, the more you can love me, and me you. I liked this, a lot.
He was in your tummy, Little said. And you were in your mummy’s tummy, she replied. No, yours, yours, yours, poor Little cried, and eventually, with exhaustion, we fell into T’s open arms.
We cuddled for a long while, just talking about nothing, really, T just holding Little and rubbing her back and arms and being there. For every cry, for every pitiful sob of you love him, or he gets you, or it’s not fair, T holds steady and repeats her mantras – you have me now, I’m here now.
We talked about why I am always more upset by her son than her daughter – true, only because I feel that she’s much closer to her son than her daughter. We talked about that for a while, and then eventually Little asked T to read our new book. It’s another book by Debi Gliori, who wrote Little’s absolute favourite book, ‘No Matter What’. It is called Stormy Weather. It has the two foxes in it, a symbol for me of T and I… curled up with blanket and Rabbit and and very tear stained Little, T began to read.
It tells of bedtimes all across the world:
Pull up the quilt, turn out the light,
Dear child, it’s time to say goodnight.
In darkness black and soft and deep,
I’ll watch beside you while you sleep.
Then it talks of when storms come. The book is, as always, beautifully illustrated, with the howling winds and pouring rain a stark contrast against all the Smalls tucked up with all their Larges, safe and warm.
Then should the oceans roar and rise,
And dark clouds race across the skies,
I’d hold you tight and close and warm,
And keep you safe all through the storm.
The session had to end, but we spoke today. I was hibernating – I didn’t get out of bed today, instead choosing to hide under my duvet and her blanket and watch crap Scandinavian films and read books. It hurts, I howled, make it stop hurting. T is always honest in her replies… that’s what we’re working towards, but sometimes we have to feel the hurt first.
We talked about how jealous I am feeling. It’s such an ugly emotion, jealousy, and I hate myself for feeling this way towards her son. T encouraged me to think of what jealousy is made up of – grief at what I never had, anger at him for having it, anger at T for not being who Little wants her to be… it’s a complex and terrifying emotion, but not one to be punished. It’s full of such pain.
He gets you, what did he do to get such a perfect life, why am I so bad? I wailed. She made me cross with her reply that he, too, has had difficult times in his life, because through all of them, he had her. My voice cracked as I said it – he’s always had you as his mother.
Ah, she said. But you have me as your therapist. I’m here. When I was in therapy I told my therapist a lot more than I would ever tell a parent, any parent. What we have is also big, just different.
We somehow ended up talking about stars. The book is beautifully illustrated with stars:
…and we ended up talking about how T is always there, even when I can’t see her, just like the stars. The book ends with the most beautiful lines:
Sweet dreams beneath our sheltering sky,
The tides and winds our lullaby,
The stars our light, the whole night through,
Shine down so bright, on me and you.
The stars over me are the same stars over you, Little said. Yes, T replied, and no matter how far away I am, we can always see the same stars, and I will always be here for you. I will never forget about you. No matter what.
It is agonising, the stormy weather of my emotions, especially when heightened by something as simple as the TV being on in the next door room. But here we are, Little and T, Small and Large, curled up safely under the stars. The storms will still rage, and they may still scare or hurt or anger or cause jealousy or do all sorts of unpleasant things, but now, unlike before, T and I are together, through the stormy weather, under starry skies. No matter what.
And that is breathtakingly beautiful.