I want to post this before this week’s session, otherwise I get muddled.
“Can we play?” I was sat on the floor, not the sofa and T had immediately asked why.
She said yes, got the animals out and I immediately began separating. Sorting and ordering. Spiders, bugs, toads for me – elephants, giraffes, horses for her.
She asked me why I was separating them, what was the significance of the two groups. I knew I wanted all the gross, dark, disliked and scary ones. I knew she needed to have all the animals that people liked. I needed to show her I felt completely isolated from the world. That I’m this rank, disgusting creature and I don’t fit. Nobody wants me.
I put my head in my lap and started to cry. T suggested that she move round to the side of me – she shuffled all her animals round, so that they were alongside mine. I felt calmer just having her next to me.
And then I ranted. Ranted about my brother and his cocky attitude, how he’s messed up but my parents are still idolising him, even though they disowned me for 18 months when I messed up. How my mother had spent the whole weekend nit picking, how she’d made me feel so inferior to the friend I was with and how it had felt just like before – constantly being criticised for everything I am. How my ex has a new perfect girlfriend and my parents basically agreed that she was better than me, rather than showing any support or solidarity. I cried, talking about him. Really cried, because he is my ultimate insecurity – I gave him, and that relationship, every ounce and fragment of myself. Every single one. And it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough, I was too spider or bug or toad like to fit and succeed within his world. I cried, rolled over to her, and lay down with my head in her lap for a few minutes whilst the tears stopped.
I said how weak I feel, for being in therapy. T disagreed. “I think being in therapy is a sign of strength. It would be so much easier to ignore everything that you’re working on, but you don’t. You are so courageous in facing all you are.”
Then there was a lot of moaning that this isn’t fair. I’m never going to be who my parents want, they would much rather have a different child, so I am always going to be inferior. I will always break their mould. “Nobody is ever 100 % what their parents want them to be. They created a free spirit. Thank goodness. I celebrate your independence and your bravery to be yourself,” T said. Bless her.
“Everybody loves anyone else more than anyone loves me…” I whined. T squeezed me, sighed and said, “You don’t love yourself very much right now.” She’s right, of course. I am crueler to myself, much more than anyone else is.
I worried aloud that anyone meeting my parents now, must think I am lying about everything that came before. Nobody would believe me. “Even without anything else, the stuff with your mum would have been enough to cause all the things you struggle with,” T suggested. “I don’t think you’re lying. I see you. I believe you.”
We were sat up together, shoulders together, backs against the sofa. “Remind me of this conversation if I ever think about having children!” I said. T disagreed. “You’ll be a really considered mother because you’ll really think about the impact on your children.” I really hope so.
We were talking about how my mother just didn’t see me as a child – how she had this image of me that she wanted, and she just ignored the bad bits. I was telling T about a photo on the wall in my parents’ house. I am about 6, smiling beautifully, on a beach, spade in hand. All down one leg is a line of bruises. They could be from anything I guess, but I sort of know they’re not from just anything. How did nobody see? Why am I smiling?
“Because everyone smiles for the camera. When someone says smile, you smile, even if you don’t feel it.” I nodded at this. “And besides,” T says, her tone slightly sarcastic but hugely warm, “you were a good girl. Smile for the camera – good girl. See?” And there it was. The 6 words that I think maybe triggered all this hell. Those two words – good girl – they haunt me. They hurt me. I can’t get them out of my head. T realised immediately what she had said – said she didn’t mean to trigger me. I curled up against her heartbeat and tried to ground.
“How do I leave you?” I whispered.
“I’m still here,” she whispered back. “I’m right beside you, even when I’m not.”
I did manage to leave. And then all of this new hell broke loose.