Thank you to everyone who commented on my previous few posts. Things have felt really awful but it always helps to know that there are people who are understanding and supporting me.
T and I spoke on Wednesday, which was helpful. I mostly just howled down the phone whilst she listened to me, but even sobbing my heart out to her calm breathing helped a bit. I had backed myself into a corner by cancelling, part of me really wanted not to go (Sass, primarily) but Little especially was desperate to go.
I mostly just sobbed about how much I needed her to love me. Eventually she said kindly that no matter how much she tells me, no matter what she says, I don’t listen to her. I don’t hold on to what she says. In a way this helped me calm down. It’s not that she doesn’t love me, care about me etc, it’s that I don’t hear her.
T was helpful in that she promised me she would keep my session open and I could choose. Not go, phone session, or go. It helped to have the flexibility.
On Thursday I saw R before T. I explained the whole situation to R and we talked through the different options I had. I ranted and raved for most of the session until eventually I was able to draw breath and think. R is good for me because she says what she thinks. Her opinion was that all this pain, all this angst and difficulty, this is the work. The work is in the pain. We talked about how transferential this is, how most of this anger is actually for my mum, and how important it is for my healing to persevere with it.
I cried when I talked about how hard it is not to have a plan. If I knew that I would need to be in therapy forever, then in a way that would be okay. I could accept it. If I knew I was going to get better, I could accept that, too. But it is incredibly hard to hold all the pain and panic that comes with the attachment ache… which is partially why it feels so unrelenting and unbearable.
I left R with her telling me I should go to T and take this with me. Be honest.
So, I went. She started by asking me if I was happy or angry about being there…. which was too hard a question, so she switched tactic and instead gently teased me and talked about light things until I settled into being there. Eventually she fell into a calm silence and I filled it with very calm, grown up talk about why things felt so hard.
We talked around it for a bit. I asked her to tell me what her supervisor thinks, what she would tell me if she wasn’t in therapist mode. She repeated her faith that therapy is like an onion – this is just another layer.
She also talked to me about how she thinks my therapy is a bit like a baby learning to walk. To start with, babies are entirely helpless. They have to stay where they’re put and they can’t change it. Then they start to crawl, and walk, but the steps away are always followed by looking behind to check that mum is still there. So for a long time there is a back and forth of walking away and coming back. When babies have bumps or knocks that can make them stay closer for a while, too. But eventually they learn enough independence to be okay walking far away. I see my role with you as helping you to find your independence, T said. I really believe you will find it. This is just a checking back moment.
Eventually we talked about why this feels SO hard. When this need comes up I am almost immediately triggered by my belief that being needy (attention seeking, being a drama queen, over exaggerating and all those other lovely expressions my mum used to use for me…) will make people want to leave me. It will make people want to get away from me.
As we were talking I began to see the cycle that causes these awful moments of panic. First, the attachment seeking feeling happens. Almost immediately afterwards, I have the most overwhelming feeling that it is BAD to need them, I’m stupid for needing to reach out. This negative self talk then triggers the initial need thought into hyperdrive because being told not to reach out triggers the very vulnerable young part who needs to reach out. Which then in turn causes more self hatred and conviction that people will leave me.
Need, self hatred and restriction, more need, more self hate….
At some point I break the cycle because the need gets too great and I reach out. This helps for a short while by soothing the need, but then afterwards actually heightens the panic in some ways because it triggers that self hate.
So at the core of this is my disgust with myself and my belief that if anyone was ever to fully see the real me, they would leave. I saw GP tonight and he asked me if I believe him when he says he won’t leave me. I don’t! I believe that HE believes that he won’t leave me, but I hold a constant fear that he only thinks that because of who he thinks I am. If he was to find out who I really am then he would no longer want to stay. Whenever I think of myself, I remember this poem by Jeanann Verlee (she is a spoken word poet and this poem is immensely powerful to hear live, it’s on YouTube):
I think they broke me. My body is melted wax, it is ripe and stink and bent. It is a mistake. I have a hornet in my head, she’s an angry bitch, she hurls herself against my skull. My body is a slug, a mob of sticky wet rot. My body is a spill nobody wants to clean up.
There feels to me to be no better description of how I feel about myself than this.
The people I love would immediately tell me never to feel this way about myself. But I live in constant fear that those who I love and need the most will eventually find out that I AM like this. That one day I will expose the core of rot and pus and darkness within myself and they will leave.
I wondered aloud with GP today what would happen if I wrote that core down and gave it to him. If he truly believes he will stay, maybe showing him and having him stay would help with this fear. I might try to write it down… showing it would take strength I’m not sure I have, though.
Both T and GP have reassured me this week of their care and love. GP made me smile so much today when he was telling me how he sees me. T told me yesterday she thought I was incredibly strong. She was telling me about incubator babies – I was one and she often tells me she believes my attachments stem from those few weeks – that it is ‘classic’ for incubator babies to feel like I do and it is important we work with those feelings. She said that she thinks it’s easy to forget, though, that those incubator babies have the most incredible internal strength. Despite being dragged from mum and kept away from her, they survive. They don’t curl up and die, even though it must be beyond horrendous. You are so strong, T said to me, leaning forwards towards me in her chair. You are so SO capable. Sometimes we don’t talk about that and celebrate that enough. You survived!
It’s been a hell of a month. Today is the first day I’ve felt very slightly lighter. I cried with GP today but I laughed, too. Same with T yesterday. Baby steps forwards.
Before I finish this blog post I just want to write something about both T and GP. My blog is my diary, a record of my innermost thoughts and emotions. T and GP are both very kind to allow me to write about them – even though this is anonymous, knowing that a big blog world might be scrutinizing them must sometimes be challenging. On my last post, there were some suggestions that T had been harsh and cold – I just want to acknowledge that my posts are a snapshot of a moment in time. Sometimes in a moment when Sass is in control and I want the world to burn. Sometimes when Little is in control and no love is ever enough. Sometimes when I’ve been highly triggered and so the world feels too much like the abusive torture from my past. However, despite what Sass would sometimes say…these two professionals have saved my life through their determination, their perseverance and their kindness. A book I read the other day talked about how we all love imperfectly. Nobody is perfect and none of us are capable of perfect love. However, it’s still love. Sometimes they will get it wrong – they’re busy, tired, trying to reply whilst multitasking etc – but I am SURE I get it wrong with them much more often, and they stand by me and support me because that’s love, even when things are imperfect. I hugely value everyone who comments on my blog posts and who gives their opinion – even if it stings to read! – but please do not forget that we are ALL imperfect. The beauty is surely in how we love in spite of all our imperfections.