On Being Vibrant, and Pain That Makes You Strong.

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Ohhh, it’s been a painful day. I’m tucked up in bed now, hibernating from the world, with T’s blanket wrapped around me and Rabbit’s ear laced between my fingers. I’m still tear stained with blotchy cheeks and my rib cage is sore from the effort of sobbing, but I am finally calm. Warm and calm.

I saw F tonight, for a Rosen/massage session. I was really looking forward to it because it had been two weeks since our last one, and I have been really struggling in my body the last few days. T has been away on a course, and I have been struggling with the attachment/abandonment things that have come up. Because I’ve been struggling so much, I am really cross with myself, and I seem to have turned that into feelings of disgust. I felt slimy, dirty, just utterly disgusting, all up through my back and shoulder blades, but especially around my neck and scalp. I said this to F at the beginning of our session and he carefully suggested to me that he doesn’t see me in the way I was describing myself… which helped.

I got up onto the couch and just absolutely could not settle. My stomach was lurching, my rib cage was jumping involuntarily and just the act of breathing in and out seemed impossible. It took a ridiculously long time for me to settle into the bed and even when I had, it was volatile – doors slamming or people’s voices were tripping me straight back into that panicky place again.

F covered up my back and went to start on my leg – as he has done in every session before. I freaked – it took all I had not to vomit, scream, cry or all of the above. I was hit with half a flashback, of being uncovered, exposed… nothing more tangible than that, but it hit me full force. F must have realised immediately because he covered me straight over and stopped. I think maybe I said I didn’t want him to touch my legs… I don’t know.

F came back up to my head, stood close whilst I tried to claw my way back from that hugely intrusive body memory. He held on to my shoulders and back, and stroked my hair whilst I tried to centre again. We did start again, but I was so jumpy that F suggested a massage, rather than the Rosen. I agreed – I felt so utterly disgusting that it seemed like a good plan to try and feel pleasure in the areas that felt so wrong.

The massage was lush. I absolutely adore my neck and shoulders being touched, and it was such a huge relief to start to allow enjoyment into those areas of such difficulty. I finally felt myself properly relax, go very sleepy and generally just come back from that trauma place. I do wonder whether I need less of the Rosen and more of the massage… whether the Rosen is too triggering without the soothing release. I love massage because it is stroking and releasing and warming and there is something very parental about it… Rosen seems to rely on my own strength to process, which I’m not capable of doing at the moment. Anyway. Something to keep an eye on.

We finished off with F massaging my arms, feet and ankles. This felt like a success as my left ankle was very sore, but I wouldn’t have been able to be touched there earlier in the session. It was an absolute miracle that I managed to get Little up, dressed and away from the blanket she had been clinging to all session – there was very nearly a toddler tantrum moment, she loves that blanket and could probably have done with a nap! I left feeling much more settled than I had been to start with, but also quite raw. Will see him again next week.

When I got back in my car, T rang for our scheduled chat. She’s back from her course now. I was crying before I’d even answered, and she had huge concern in her voice as to why. Once I’d choked out that it wasn’t anything bad, I just felt sad and tired and I missed her and I hated myself for missing her. There was a lot of sobbing about wanting her to let me live with her, wanting to make myself small enough so she could tuck me under her rib cage and take me everywhere… there was just a whole shit load of sobbing!!

A lot of anger at myself, too. Anger that this week has felt so hard, that I am thrown by such seemingly minor changes to our schedule. You should hate me, you shouldn’t want to see me, you’d be so much better off without me, I want my mum, I’m going backwards… all these fears I have came pouring out, maybe loosened by the massage. T said exactly what I needed to hear: Do I get a choice in this? My life wouldnt be better without you in it. I don’t want you to make yourself smaller so I don’t notice you – I want you to be you. And then, perhaps the most beautiful thing she has ever said to me: There’s a real spirit in you that deserves to have life… my choice would be for you to be in all your vibrancy, because you are so very vibrant. I know you don’t always feel it but you are.

She spoke with such love and tenderness and warmth tonight, as she reassured me that she doesn’t feel about me the way I feel about myself. She held steady through all my sobbing and she steered me back to more solid ground with her reassurances. When I cried that I felt I had gone backwards this week, she replied, I don’t see it like that. We do waves. Sometimes you can stretch out, sometimes you fall in again. Right now that’s how you need to be, and that’s okay. And my god, I believed her. I really did. She thinks this is okay. That I am okay.

I am scared you will leave me, I said, everything successful I do, new people I meet and challenges I take up, they all happen because I feel secure with you. The worst thing that could happen to me would be for you to get sick of me, burn out and leave me… I am so scared. She was so reassuring that she has a choice, always a choice, and she chooses me. No matter what.

I love her. She is the anchor that steadies my ship in a storm, the hand I reach for when I try to cross a busy road, the light switch in the dark when monsters seem to be all around… she is truly wonderful, in a way that I will never be able to truly express to her. To heal a soul is a remarkable thing.

I started watching House of Cards tonight – too tired to get into it properly but the first line really caught my attention. He says, there are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. This made me laugh out loud with how true this is. I hope that this pain is the pain that makes me strong – that this pain is just waves along a journey of developing strength, happiness and wellbeing. I don’t want useless pain – but I can live with pain that makes me strong, just so long as she can still stand by me.

Two quotes from Beau Taplin, to finish. Sweet dreams, all.

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3 responses »

  1. A couple of thoughts, apart from the strength in you and of your bond with T. I recall a patient with Borderline Personality Disorder. One of the things that was so striking about her — she was one of the most “alive” persons I’ve ever met. It came at a terrible cost, but the intensity of what she felt was something to behold. I also recall seeing the play “Equus.” Among other things, it offers us a very troubled, but very alive young man in contrast to his psychiatrist, who has little vibrancy. I’m surely not here to suggest that one can live in the pain very often, but T seems to believe there is something very attractive about you: you have “life.” She uses the words “vibrancy” and “spirit.” Few of us have this. It is a very good thing.

  2. You are okay. Its okay to have pain, and to hurt. It doesn’t make you bad or crazy or anything else. You have a team of people supporting you becasue you are worth it. You are so very strong, even if you don’t feel it. Xx

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