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Freefalling. 

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— trigger warning for detail of sexual abuse, graphic dreams (not real) —

Last week, I officially switched my GP. So A is now no longer my GP. 

With hindsight, I shouldn’t have switched when I felt so poorly. I did it because I had backed myself into a corner – I had said that I would that week, so I felt that I had to. 

A had been totally wonderful when I was super poorly. My husband had to drive me to him to pick up the prescriptions I needed – I remember very little of the appointment, except for crying and crying and crying whilst he talked gently to me about medication etc. 

As we drove home, my husband said to me that A was immensely kind to me. Kind and calm and gentle. I couldn’t agree more. 

A few days later I registered with new GP. And then I started to freefall. 

Mostly, I’ve felt the freefall as I’ve slept. I have had the most horrendous, hideous, torturous dreams about A. Multiple dreams a night, every night since I switched. There are so many that I couldn’t write about them all, but they all seem to slot into three categories of hellish nightmare. 

*trigger*

1. He dies. His death is always really graphic, messy and loud, and always my fault. Once They cut him into pieces in front of me. In another They stamped him to a pulp in front of me. I always wake up feeling absolute panic that he is dead and it is absolutely my fault. I always wake up replaying his screaming over and over. 

2. He makes me have sex with him. In these dreams, he starts out nice and then morphs into one of Them. In one dream he put his arms around me to give me a cuddle, he smelt nice like he normally does, then he suddenly smelt toxic and poisonous and evil so I yanked away from his cuddle and he had one of Their masks on. In another dream he ripped his face off to reveal who he really was underneath. In all of these dreams, he then rapes me whilst I sob and howl and beg for him to stop. I wake up sobbing, feeling disgusting, and with the throbbing pain that body memories bring between my legs. 

3. I make him have sex with me. In these dreams, it feels like Sass is in control, and she knows that she can control him by sleeping with him. It’s the only way she knows to stop him leaving. In one dream, he came to pick up his daughters from school and Sass was there, and she didn’t want him to leave. She begged and cried but he still kept trying to leave so then she used her body. He didn’t want to, in these dreams he’s resistant and I have a real sense of a big age gap… But Sass gets her way. He stays. He cried afterwards, but he stayed. In my dreams this week she has fucked him over and over. Each time he doesn’t want to to begin with but then she sells herself and he gives in. He feels guilt afterwards but Sass doesn’t care about his guilt. From these dreams, I wake up feeling like I’ve violated him. I wake up feeling like I want to kill myself for having such disgusting thoughts. 

*end trigger* 

Every night so far I have had at least one. On a few nights I have had multiple dreams, each one building on the horror of the one before. I am terrified to fall asleep (I am writing this blog post at gone 11pm to prevent myself from sleeping). I feel like I shouldn’t be near him because I am disgusting and he should keep far away from me. 

Added to these hideous dreams has been an added obsessional thought process of jealousy of his daughters. For context, A has totally gorgeous girls who he clearly adores. They’re the kind of girls my mother wanted me to be – beautiful, bright, intelligent young women who will become doctors or something equally wonderful and they’re just the kind of girls that my mum points out to me and compares me to – my entire school career was punctuated with “Why can’t you be more…. like …. is?” and to be honest, she still does it to me as an adult. Most of the time I’ve learned to live with my mother’s insecurities and I understand that nobody is ever as perfect as they seem… but that’s the context to his girls. They’re totally perfect. I’ve always known this (there are photos in his office) and, much like with T’s kids, I swing between being totally fine with them and wanting to physically destroy myself because the jealousy is so overwhelming and immense. 

A spent the weekend on a family trip away. I forced myself into a promise that I would not contact him and taint his perfect weekend. That forceful insistence from my adult part sent Little into a whirlwind of attachment panic. I was still really, really poorly and that never helps, it always makes the attachment panic worse. On Saturday evening A posted a photo on Facebook and I could have clawed my eyes out with the jealousy it brought up. Simultaneous to the jealousy was all the normal, appropriate emotions – like being so happy for him that he was having a good time – but poor Little, her meltdown was excruciating. Jealousy is a tremendously unpleasant emotion. Most of Sunday passed with Little dying with jealousy, a need to be loved and a desperation to be cared about in the way he clearly does with his girls, Sass having an almighty meltdown because the whole world was stupid and she was stupid for ever wanting him to care about us because we are nothing, we are stupid and useless and disgusting and look at his girls and look at us and how could we ever think he would want to be anywhere near us (and so on…), and then my adult self just desperately trying to BE NORMAL!!!!!! and keep all the crazy away from A, who didn’t deserve for me to ruin his weekend. 

We didn’t make it through the weekend. Sunday afternoon we had a conversation in half texts and apologies. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  (I’m sorry for tainting your weekend, I’m sorry I can’t cope, I’m sorry I’m jealous, I’m sorry I’m so useless/disgusting etc). 

All of this, the dreams and the jealousy, I am sure will have been triggered off by the switch in GP. I knew that transitions are always difficult but I hadn’t expected this. 

When I told T about the different dreams she told me it was clear where the anxieties are. She said that I’m totally torn between pushing him away, forcing him to leave (killing him off in my dreams), begging him to stay and wanting him to care about me even now I’m not a patient (making him sleep with me), and struggling with a boundary transition with a man (him making me sleep with him). The way T said it was like it was totally normal and to be expected……. It definitely does NOT feel normal. I feel completely crazy. 

This is the damage that insecure attachment does. 

Part of me wants to push him as far away from me as possible – this relationship is too risky, I care too much, he probably doesn’t care at all, he’s going to leave, it will be much less painful if I make him leave than if he walks away from me. 

Part of me (almost all of me…) is desperately crying out for him to stay, to not leave me. But this part knows that I have nothing to offer. I’m not pretty or kind or smart or funny, I’m a nothing. All I am is a fuck toy, something to be used. This part knows, from many experiences previously, that she can make any man stay with her if she tries hard enough. If she sells herself well enough. This part is the part who remembers being passed around between men, being used, just being holes, not being a person. This part is convinced that she has no other value. This part is holding all the anxiety that, now I’m no longer a patient, he is going to leave me. 

And finally, part of me is totally terrified of the change of boundary. T said to me in our session that men in defined, clarified positions in my life don’t hurt me (sexually, anyway…) – my experience so far is that male family members, male teachers etc are safe. It is unknown men, masked men with no connection to me, men who I couldn’t name and have no description for…. They’re the danger. I had never thought of this before, but she is right. T feels that the moment, in this freefall place after the transition, A is an “other”. He’s no longer defined by a role, which makes him feel dangerous and unsafe to whichever part of me is trying to raise the alarm in my sleep. The fact that I know him and I know he would never, ever hurt me intentionally and he would never cross any sexual boundaries with me, that knowledge isn’t enough for this protector part. In fact, I’m not even sure she can hear me. 

All of this, all of this pain and confusion, all of the disgust and hatred of myself… It makes me want to lock myself away to protect A from me. I love him and I don’t want my dirty disgusting thoughts, emotions and dreams to damage him. I don’t want to break him, I don’t want him to run away from the rot. I don’t want him to leave me. All of this has built into the most overwhelming attachment panic that cannot be soothed. 

I tried to cancel my catch up with him this week but he told me he would be there. He wanted me to be there, he hoped I would. That I can’t break him. But yesterday, in a moment of terror shortly after waking up from a whole night of horrendous dreams, I texted them to him (mostly to give them to an adult, to get an adult to take the terror and the disgust away from me) and he couldn’t read them. He deleted them. It terrifies me that the rot that lives inside me will force him to break, to leave me. 

I don’t want to break him. I love him and I don’t want to be something disgusting that he has to carry round even though he’d much rather not. I want to see him on Friday, I’m freefalling and I am desperate for him to catch me, to squeeze my fingers or give me a cuddle and show me that we have transitioned but it is not the end of us. 

But I’m so dirty, disgusting, rotten. I don’t want to taint him. I know that he wouldn’t have ever felt like I would taint him before… But now, with these dreams and emotions, with their intensity… I just don’t know. 

I know that seeing him will help but I cannot picture how to walk into his room and sit down next to him, when I have had such disgraceful, damaged, disgusting thoughts and dreams. 

I keep trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will have met with new GP and spent time with A and everything will settle down. I know that attachment panics don’t last forever. I know they’re triggered by instability and change. But it is absolutely fucking agonising whilst I’m in it. 

It is so late and I need to sleep. I’ve typed this whilst lying in bed, T’s blanket wrapped around me. It’s not her I want to be clinging to, though. I have no tangible piece of A to cling to, and I am terrified to fall asleep and add more disgust onto what I have already done. 

The part that doesn’t want him to leave us would give everything tonight to fall asleep, my fingers holding his for safety and love. He makes me feel safe when I am with him and I cannot find that feeling at all right now. 

Xx

Triangles and Gaps. 

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Things are feeling a bit more settled between T and I. Over the last few weeks, since the huge rupture, we’ve started our new routine – one face to face session, two email days. No contact in between – unless I request a half or full telephone session (which is obviously dependent on T being available). 

It has been working well. It has given me much more structure and routine, the increase in planned contact has helped, and the set times has helped me to really plan what I want to discuss and what I want her to reply about. It has helped me focus my emails, so they are less written by Little and more written by me. So, it was working well.

 And then I got sick. 

By the time I saw her on Tuesday for our session I had no voice at all. My tonsils were so big and sore I couldn’t swallow without audibly cringing. I was in my PJs because getting dressed required too much energy. I was definitely too ill for therapy…. but she is the closest thing I’ve got to an emotionally supportive mother and my god, I needed a mum. 

Because I could barely speak, we did a lot of sitting together in silence, fingers linked. I did quite a lot of dozing on her. She did a lot of quiet comforting, soft stroking and soothing noises. 

We did talk a little about how hard I find it when she keeps her boundaries. This was a follow on conversation from our previous session, really. Because I could barely speak, she asked if she could explain two different triangles to me. That way, she could speak and I could listen! 

The first triangle was the “drama triangle”. She explained how we all fit within this triangle at times, and how everyone naturally bounces between the different roles on the triangle during a normal day. Where this triangle becomes problematic, she said, is when someone gets stuck in one of the roles. 

One person being stuck in a role then encourages/insists that the other person in the relationship fulfils one of the other roles. T feels that being stuck in any of these roles is emotionally difficult for anybody. She feels that keeping her boundaries with me stops her from being stuck in a role.

She said that the reason she worries about me and A is that she worries that I play ‘victim’ and he plays ‘rescuer’. She said firstly, she feels they can play off each other – the more someone rescues, the more the other person feels like a victim, and the more someone acts like a victim, the more the rescuer feels the desire to rescue – but secondly, that if the rescuer reaches overwhelm, they can switch to a different role. Either they become victim-like themselves, or they become a persecuter. She explained that her concern for me and A is that he cannot sustain rescuing me forever, and she worries about the damage and upset to me when he (in her eyes, inevitably) switches to persecutor or victim. 

She then drew me the triangle that she tries to keep within – both with me, other clients and in her personal life. It looked like this: 

So, the victim becomes vulnerable – less passive, more open? The rescuer becomes a responder – more boundaried, more faith in the vulnerable person to have their own strength. The persecutor becomes potent – full of their own strength and certainty but without malice. T explained to me how the roles are somewhat similar but also fundamentally different – and, she feels, much less damaging to everyone in the triangle. 

She talked about how inevitably all of us slip into the drama triangle occasionally. She reminded me that there have been times when she’s rescued me. There have also been times when she’s been the persecutor for me. I can see really clearly times that I fit into different roles from the drama triangle. I could also see how my mum lives and breathes the drama triangle roles – she does the victim and the persecutor so well. 

I was too ill to talk about this much more, but it was helpful to get more of an understanding beneath her anxiety about A and me. It comes from her deep care and want for me to be alright, to not be hurt. That feels very loving. 

I saw her again yesterday. In between our sessions, I continued to feel really poorly and as I got more and more emotional and exhausted, the more and more I needed her. She emailed as agreed on Thursday, and I woke up Friday morning in a complete panic that now there would be no contact until Monday’s email. That felt unbearable, like the tiny baby put down to scream and scream inside it’s cot. 

I emailed her that night: 

It’s the wrong thing to do to email this to you, because you won’t reply and then I will be heartbroken and I will wish I never sent it because then I wouldn’t have felt the rejection. 

But I need so badly to connect, I’m tired and so ill and I know it’s asking for rescuing but I wish I could come and curl up with you. 

A is away camping with his girls from tonight. I feel like my heart is tearing itself apart into tiny broken fragments. My own self imposed ban on contact (even though I know A would tell me I can still get in touch, I don’t
want to be a dark stain on such a gorgeous weekend for him) feels horrendous. I feel so alone. 

I’m on the sofa writing to you, cuddled up in your blanket. I know you’re still there and I know you care about me. I do know… they just feel like bubbles skimming on the water, sliding away from me every time I try to grab them to get a more solid sense
of you. The more I try, the further they wobble and skitter away. 

This is the first time that I’ve really wanted to beg you to break our new contact agreement. I want to beg you to love me and to be the virtual hand hold and hair stroke I need while I feel so poorly and alone. I won’t beg, I know you will do what you
feel is right and my begging just hurts me. I’m sorry I’ve not even managed two full weeks without wanting to break down the boundaries I wanted us to put up. I’m sorry xxxxx 

And, of course, she didn’t reply. I knew she wouldn’t, but I had wished she would. 

Saturday passed with much sleeping on the sofa and Little’s desperation to connect to her. Eventually, L texted her, begging to connect. T replied, offering to speak, which L was thrilled about. They spoke, and as always, it felt better for the half hour they were on the phone…. But as soon as she’d gone it felt bad again. 

And it felt really bad for me as an adult. I was so frustrated that I had ended up paying for a half hour session that I didn’t need. Little could have coped – there was no major crisis, no drama, she was just missing T and feeling poorly. 

I emailed T about this: 

We shouldn’t have spoken yesterday. I was so cross with myself for talking to you afterwards – full of angry thoughts that I definitely could have waited, I could have got through to Monday…. but before ringing you I couldn’t, it isn’t a choice when
it’s that bad…. but as soon as the need is met and L calms down I am filled with an angry frustration that I could have managed and I chose not to. It wasn’t a choice for L and she overrides me. I don’t know how to override her. She just gets louder and
louder and louder until I can’t hear or see or move except to contact you. I’m useless and weak and pathetic and I don’t know how to teach myself to wait when L CANNOT wait. She’s not doing it to be naughty, the world is genuinely ending for her when it’s
like that and hearing your voice is the only coping mechanism she has. 

She replied (in her agreed time) to reassure me.

It sounds so incredibly painful. I can really hear the different parts of you – one who wants to look after yourself and be the adult and the other part that sabotages you and wants to stop any iota of care being given to you. 

I really get that L wanted contact then. And we had agreed that you could let me know by text if you wanted me to contact you. And that is what she did on Saturday. She contacted me to have a virtual hand hold. I hope that it helped. 

And yes the adult [me] could have coped until today to receive an email from me and then to tomorrow to see me. 
She ended her email by saying we could talk in our session about whether our new arrangement was working. When we were face to face my frustration came out. 

No matter what I do I lose. If we have really firm boundaries with no contact out of session then I cannot cope. If we have loose boundaries I feel like I’m too much for her. If we have a middle ground, like now, L can’t cope. I can’t win.

What Little actually needs is a parent. She didn’t need a phone session – She needed a check in. She needed a quick text, a simple button push. But I can’t schedule that, I can’t pay T to be around for that ‘quick check in’ because I never know when they’re going to be. I can’t schedule Little’s emotional meltdowns to be in time with our sessions…. But I also cannot ask nor expect T to be fully present and able to respond or check in at any possible moment. And if I did, adult me wouldn’t cope!
T asked me if there was a compromise between the parts. There’s not. I can’t win, no matter what. 

It feels agonising that I was in such desperate longing pain for her on Friday and she didn’t reply. It’s agonising that she can leave me in distress like that. But then it is also deeply frustrating to my adult when I cannot survive a weekend when NOTHING IS ACTUALLY WRONG without reaching out to her. No matter what I do, I lose. 

There aren’t any answers that helped to hear. T reminded me that by not responding she is encouraging my adult part to grow a little more to be able to parent Little. I just don’t believe that is possible… so it’s hard to take comfort in that. We recapped briefly the importance of developing my distress tolerance, that I need to reassure Little that it’s possible to wait, to sit with uncomfortable (but not ultimately that awful) feelings. 

I got really frustrated with L in session and very dissociative. Sass was definitely in control, stroppy and argumentative. It was time to go and T knew I wasn’t present… She kept asking me what I needed, and I tried to leave but she stopped me. What does Little need? she kept saying….. She needs to pull herself together, replied Sass. T firmly corrected Sass and came towards us for a cuddle, but Sass repeated herself – she needs to pull herself together – and stormed out. 

So now we are into another gap. No email response until Friday. T talked about Little learning and maybe she will. But I’m not honestly sure… and until she does, the gaps are agonising for her. Which makes them very painful and frustrating for me. 

Grrr. 

xx

Boundaries, Salt and Rules of Play.

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When I saw R last week, we discussed how I have a really long list of things to talk to T about and work on in therapy. The list felt overwhelming and I wasn’t really sure where to start. In the end I just picked one. 

Boundaries vs. Humanness. 

I often feel like people are on a sliding scale, one long line with ‘Boundaried’ at one end and ‘Human’ on the other. It often feels like everyone I love seems to slide up and down that scale depending on what I’ve done. If I’m good, then people slide towards human and if I’m bad, too much, too dangerous, too dirty, people slide towards boundaries. I hear and read all the time that boundaries are a good thing – if you Google ‘boundaries in relationships’ then it comes up with pages and pages and pages of how healthy boundaries are etc – but I just can’t understand how they can be good, because everyone who’s ever had any boundaries with me has used them to take big steps back away from me. It feels like boundaries are never about protecting me, but instead they’re about protecting the person behind the boundary wall. 

I hear everyone telling me they’re a good thing but I can’t understand how. I feel stupid for not understanding it but I don’t understand how anyone having boundaries can make them or the people they love and spend time with safe. I don’t understand it and I wish I did because it would stop making me feel like everyone was leaving me because I’m bad. 

T and I spent our session and our emails talking about this. There have been a couple of times recently where I’ve felt like her boundaries have been in direct contrast with how much I want her to care for me. I find impossibly hard to connect the person who cuddles and reads me stories and replies to panicked texts at bedtime, to the person who can let me leave her house totally hysterical and sobbing my heart out and not want to check in, the person who can hear me talk about suicide and not ask me to please not harm myself etc. 

It has helped, a little, to understand how T feels differently to me. T feels like she shows me love through her boundaries. She wrote in her email yesterday, 

“For me boundaries mean clarity and transparency so that you are clear what to expect eg you know when the session begins and when it ends. For me that means that there is a safety in that. Sometimes a client will choose to bring something up towards the end of a session knowing that it is the end of a session and there is only a limited time to look at it. They then have the choice to bring it to the next session. It feels really important to me to respect that and trust the person.”

She talked a lot in session about how she wants to be sure she is giving the best of herself. How, for example, she doesn’t want to reply to emails if she knows she is tired and she isn’t going to be able to give me what I need. How she wants to be really clear about her availability so that I am not unsure about time she has for me. I asked what boundaries she had with her children, she said the same as she has for me – she wants to give the best of herself and so wouldn’t reply if she knew she wasn’t in the right space. 

Her other example was with her grandson, when he wants more toy cars. He will scream and shout and tantrum but if she’s said no then she means no and it’s her way of showing she loves him. That if she gave in when he tantrumed then that wouldn’t make him feel safe. This doesn’t feel the same to me as where I’m coming from, this feels like a behaviour boundary as is part of helping someone to grow up into a normal human being. I definitely know that there are times with Sass/Little where a firm NO is what they actually need from T – it’s part of helping them grow and understand societal norms which they weren’t taught when I was younger. I guess the boundaries that hurt me more are when I feel like I’ve been emotionally “too much” and she has kept her boundaries (or, even worse, enforced new ones) in spite of that. 

I don’t feel like I have any boundaries with people at all. I show love by giving all of myself. I have behaviour boundaries, e.g. I will not tolerate somebody yelling at me, but I have no emotional boundaries. I show love by trying to be permanently available to those I love. I show love by trying to make sure that I give people what I can. I can’t always manage it – if I’m tired or overwhelmed it’s hard – but I hope that the people who I love and who love me know that if I can’t be what they need, it’s because I CAN’T and not because I won’t. That to me, is love. 

I also feel that when we, as a society, talk about love, we measure it’s intensity by it’s lack of boundaries. Think about the phrases we hear – I’d do anything for them. He’s my everything. I love them unconditionally. I’d take a bullet for them. I love the bones of them. – everything we say about love, both romantic and parental, comes from it’s crossing of boundaries and how uncontrollable it is. We don’t say well I love you but only when you fit within my boundaries. 

I asked A (GP) about this. T will accuse A of having no boundaries with me, but then I feel like A and I are very similar in our expression of how we care. A described them as “some arbitrary concept which puts a limit on the closeness of a relationship”…. which is the most perfect description I could get to how I feel about boundaries. 

I feel like perhaps A and I are “can’t” people, whereas T is a “won’t” person. If I let someone down, it’s because I couldn’t do what they needed. It wasn’t a choice – my choice would have been to be everything to everyone – it was a “can’t”. A is the same – I know that if for example he didn’t reply, or couldn’t meet up or whatever, it would be because he couldn’t, not because he wouldn’t. T is a “won’t” person. She will make a choice. And maybe T has got it right! I know that both A and I get battered by our desires to help others professionally, to be everything the person needs. T doesn’t seem to in the same way. Maybe she is right, maybe being a “won’t” person is healthier. But I know that I feel love much more easily from “can’t” people, and I cope much better with rejection if I feel it was because someone couldn’t, rather than because they wouldn’t. 

Understanding more about T’s perspective has helped me feel less unloved and rejected by her. Even if it’s not how I would want her to be with me, understanding it more has helped soothe the damage it causes when she chooses not to do what I am desperate for her to do. It has helped that she has talked to me about her feelings when we haven’t been angry and emotional. She wrote, I do care what happens to you and I feel sad when you are upset. I don’t feel that I show it more by checking in with you. I try to respect and value you in your process and trust that you are able to ask me if you need something.” Maybe moving forward from this is about remembering these conversations and adjusting how I behave, about remembering how she cares for me and adjusting my behaviour in consideration of that. It feels like understanding her more might be the key to moving forward with our relationship. 

She wrote, 

“I wonder whether you are seeking a demonstration that I care and if I don’t show a big demonstration then you are scared I don’t care. Do you know the story behind King Lear about a king who asked his three daughters to tell him how much they cared for him. The two eldest gave huge descriptions of how much they loved him and the youngest told him she loved him like salt. The king was very upset that there were no grand gestures from the youngest whom he loved a lot and did not like something so ordinary as salt. He was so angry and rejected by her that he banished the princess from the kingdom and then divided his kingdom in two between his two eldest daughters. She managed to get a job in the kitchens where he was living and managed to serve a meal totally without salt. When the King tasted it he realised how important salt was and then realised that his youngest daughter did care. What if I care for you like salt? In an ordinary way?”

Hearing this from her really helped. I hate the use of ‘ordinary’ but I can see how this relates to us and how we respond to each other. I also feel though that it isn’t right to be dismissive of the other two sisters. T would say that she feels A does this – the big gestures, the swooping in to save the day, the knight in shining armour thing – which is unfair to him. He is relentless in his care and it’s not just wrapped up in ‘saving the day’ stuff (though that is the stuff that makes T a bit resentful and jealous when I openly adore him for it) – he does the daily grind, the constant reminders, the everyday soothing with me. He isn’t a pantomime act, saving the day on stage then stripping the outfit off and walking away – he’s a constant, a heartbeat I breathe to and a relentless hand hold. I get angry with T when she talks of him as that fleeting saviour because I know he is so much more… But I appreciate the acknowledgement of the different ways of showing love. Open, giving, big gestures love is easier for me to see and hold and use to prove to myself that they care and won’t leave… but I understand a bit more now how her love is different, quieter and definitely more ‘boundaried’, but still very much there. We’ve got more work to do on this, but this helped. 

It did make me wonder whether one way of helping me cope more with relationships would be by having clearer definitions of the boundaries within them. Almost a list of the rules we play by. I say that I have no boundaries, and T would say that A doesn’t, but actually, we all do. All of my relationships do. 

I asked my husband earlier what boundaries he thought we had. He immediately said ‘none, of course’, but then when we talked about it, we do. Here were the few we thought of. 

  • We respect our wedding vows and work to keep these every day. 
  • We acknowledge each other’s need for space and time to be alone. 
  • We make any decisions that will effect us both as a team. 
  • We respect our sexual and physical boundaries. Anything we do is discussed first and agreed by both. Changes to consent are allowed and respected. 

I’m sure there are more, too. It helped me to see that these are boundaries but none of them put us on separate sides of a wall. They’re just rules we both play by. 

Then I thought about A. There are ‘boundaries’ there, too, rules we both play by. 

  • There is a boundary about contact – that I can get in touch any time, and he will do his best for me. That’s a boundary – it’s not got strict times and rules like T, but it’s our rule of play – he will do his best and I will respect that (and inevitably love him anyway). 
  • He does not touch me without my consent. Ever. He never assumes consent and understands that consent is fluid and changing – he still asks every time to look at my tonsils, even though he must have seen them thousands of times. He is immensely clear on his respect for me and my body in that way and I totally trust him because of it.  
  • I will tell him if/when he triggers me (even if I think it will hurt him).
  • I hope he will tell me if he’s not coping with me (even if he thinks it will hurt me). 
  • The specific details of my abuse history, the things I’ve told him that they did, are private and not to be shared without my consent. General overviews to other professionals (and I guess to personal relationships if he needs support) and in my notes are or course fine, but the specific details are private. 

I’m sure there are more for us, too, and I am sure he has others. I’d be interested to know.

Then T. We’re redefining our list at the moment, but I do think that having clarified boundaries will help me to understand our relationship more. I’m wary of writing a list until we’ve discussed it together in session but I think it will help. 

So I feel further forward now than I did last week. Seeing boundaries as less of a punishment and more as “rules we play by” seems to help me feel that people aren’t sliding up and down a scale of humanness but are actually human all along. Clarity of those rules of play and an understanding of T’s emotions and feelings behind them has helped – I definitely find her harder to understand that A because she is so different to me and he is much more similar in some ways. 

I haven’t wanted to kill myself now since Monday night. That part of my brain has been quiet for days… I feel like I’ve got ever so slightly more control back, a slightly tighter grip, less dramatic spinning in a marginally calmer whirlwind. Progress. 

X

Updates. 

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This week, T and I have started our new strategy. One session a week, then two email responses. I can still email whenever I want, but the agreement is that T will only respond on the chosen days. If I’m in crisis then I can still text her to ask for a phone call, but the idea is that I will become more secure in when I will hear from her, which will hopefully stop the panic cycle that I’ve written about before. 

This has worked mostly successfully this week. It has been hard to wait for her email on both days – last night she didn’t email until nearly 11pm, by which point I had worked myself up into a complete frenzy that she had obviously forgotten about me. But she did reply, at nearly 11pm on a Friday night, because she said she would, and that showed me she does care. 

We had some difficulty at the beginning of the week because T really wants us to start using encyrpted emails…. and I really don’t. It feels too boundaried and constricted and like I’m something dangerous to be put in a box. To be fair to T, I had a total meltdown about it, a full blown temper tantrum strop, and she has backed down from it temporarily. It’s really important to her though, so I’ve asked if we can come back to it in a months time. I feel too insecure right now to cope with it right now but potentially it’s something we can work up to in the future. She seems okay with that.

I think it’s been a quieter week for GP and I, although flicking back through our messages, we’ve talked lots every day, so actually maybe not?! It’s felt marginally less intense and emotional though, so I hope he is feeling some benefit from T giving more support. It’s been a wobbly week for me as he’s spoken to my new GP (these acronyms are going to get very confusing!). He is handling it brilliantly and with such care, which is keeping it somewhat contained, but the change, the new relationship and the perceived risk of losing him (no matter how much he promises me I’m not actually losing him) causes panic and a desperate need to cling on tighter and to beg and to safety check. I know that this is the most unsettling part – somewhere between the first suggestion and actually just getting on and meeting her – at the moment I’m floating in all the possibilities my brain can make up (what if she hates me, what if I hurt her, what if GP leaves me, what if she’s one of Them, what if I lead Them to her and They hurt her, what if, what if, what if…). I know that when I’ve actually met her (and GP subsequently hasn’t left me because of it) then I will feel much more secure again. The nervous waiting is the most unstable bit and so I am going to register with her next week and try to meet with her as soon as possible. 

This transition from GP (he can be A from now onwards, I guess?) to new GP (who will eventually become just ‘GP’) is a massive test of one of my deepest attachment fears – that people only care about me because they have to, and that as soon as there is a get out clause, people will run far, far away. I know A has told me approximately 85 million times that he is still going to be just the same for me after, that this only changes who I go to for prescriptions/general doctor stuff for really…… but it is hard to help Little to truly believe that until she sees it. She lives in fear that love and relationships are tricks, that he might pull away from her afterwards. And if he does, then she will not be able to reach out to anyone and say how awful it feels, because to everyone else, of course you wouldn’t continue a relationship with a doctor after you were no longer a patient. If he backed away and she grieved that and pined for him, she would be made to feel inappropriate for wanting him. 

This triggers a lot from a relationship I had with a teacher at school, who was intense and supportive and wonderful… until she wasn’t. And then when she wasn’t and I was distraught, all that other teachers and friends could say was how silly and inappropriate it was to have that bond in the first place. Didn’t I know my place? Silly me, to assume I was cared about more than as just the pupil role that I was in. 

So for A and me, and for A and Little, this is a huge transition. He shows me all the time how much he cares, so I know this is purely a historical fear, but it feels very much like making the leap, letting go of his professional, doctor responsibility hand hold, free falling for the shortest time, and then holding his other hand, where our relationship hopefully will still exist because he cares about ME, me as who I am, and not me as a patient. That relies on him wanting to continue to know me and care about me and that’s terrifying when I just can’t understand why ANYONE would want to know me or care about me. 

I know that he will be there. I trust in us and our relationship and I have trust in him. But it still feels really nerve wracking and difficult to make the leap. 

I have lots to write about T and our work this week but I will separate that into another post. X 

Evidence of Caring

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R was so wonderful yesterday. 
I respect her for being honest about her feelings and telling me the truth of her uncertainty. She could have agreed to see me more but then backtracked later… she could have agreed but then not been emotionally able in the extra sessions. I hugely value her for her ability to be honest with me, even though she knew it would hurt me. I really value her strength in holding strong to her own boundaries, whilst showing me how much that hurts her, and simultaneously holding my pain. 

Pain doesn’t really cover it. I put my head on my knees and sobbed, repeatedly saying I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay. You’re not okay, R said. It’s okay that you’re not okay. 

Still crying, I got up to leave. She pulled me into a cuddle and I sobbed into her shoulder, huge, loud, squeaks mixed in with hyperventilating gulps. Are you really okay to leave? R said. I can’t stay here forever! I squeaked. I pulled away from her cuddle and put my hands to my hair, pulling and tugging to try and gain control. No, I don’t want you to leave. Come on, sit down, she said, walking backwards into me until my knees hit the sofa and buckled. She sat on the end of the sofa with me, holding and stroking my hand. 

I have no plan, I sobbed, I really wanted you to have a plan. I know I’m an adult but I need a grown up to step in and save me.  You do have a plan, R soothed, and she recounted to me the steps I was going to do. I don’t want you to leave feeling like I don’t care. I care about you so much. 

Eventually I reined in the tears enough to not be actively sobbing. I pulled my hand from hers, trying to start the separation… she followed my hand with hers, held it and placed it on my leg, then squeezed it once more and finally patted it a few times before she let go. 

It was immensely soothing to feel that she was finding the ending difficult too.

I stood up to leave and said something light about how next time I see her I will be on holiday. She said she definitely felt this would be a huge help. And then I left.

These are our texts since. 

It melts my heart that, on a Sunday when she will be busy with her little boy, she has taken the time to connect with me. My heart aches with all the pain it’s in at the moment…. but inside all the pain there is a little ball of love, warmth, colour and positive energy from R. Love her. 

Xx


Super Sticky Glue

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Dear T, 

I’m writing because it is keeping my hands busy when what I really want to be doing is destroying myself. 

I’m really sorry. 

I am so worried about us, and I am so worried about me 😦 I went to R today feeling really positive, that there was going to be a plan in place and I would start making steps forward. I had considered that maybe she wouldn’t want to see me more [I had hoped she would see me fortnightly] but I guess I hadn’t actually processed it. 

It was so helpful to talk everything through with her and she was reassuring that she wholeheartedly believes that you care about me and she said a number of times that the work is in my relationship with you and how important it is that, even if this is the beginning of our end, we still talk all this out before making the decision, the importance of a planned ending etc…she was wonderful. 

…but she “doesn’t feel comfortable” seeing me more until she’s run it through with her supervisor (who is helpfully away for a while)… and I just felt that no matter what the supervisor says, clearly she isn’t comfortable and I respect that. She must have said a hundred times that it’s a professional thing and not a personal thing, how much she cares etc…. It still made me sob though after quite an adult session.

 She ran over with me for about 40minutes because I was sobbing and she didn’t want me to leave like that but it was almost impossible to calm down knowing I had to leave her for a whole month without the stability she brings.  

I kept saying that now there is no plan…and R kept saying that there is, that you and I can make a plan, that she trusts our relationship. But it all feels totally hopeless because you don’t feel stabilising at the moment, I feel like we have hours and hours and HOURS of talking to do and I just know that that means there are weeks and weeks of sessions to go, that an hour is never enough to even begin to talk about all the list of my worries for us. So does that mean, now that R won’t see me, that I’ve got months ahead of more instability and heartbreak with you? R reeled off so many things she felt you and I needed to talk about, each of them sessions worth in themselves and I feel totally lost now. I really needed R to give me a sense of stability and now it’s a month until I see her and that’s awful. 

Little told R she is scared of you 😥 it makes me feel sick to hear her say it, what on earth have I done to destroy her security like that? How have I managed to ruin everything? 

I love you so much, I just want this to be okay again. I was hoping R would have a magic cure to this, that she would give me the stability I need which would give me the strength to talk everything through with you for as many sessions as we need. But she can’t and I just feel like the sky is crashing down around me. I need us to be okay again…. And I know that’s going to take a lot of work and I honestly don’t know if I have the strength. I am so, so scared. I feel totally exposed and vulnerable and I don’t know how to keep on going. 

Please don’t get mad with me. I think I will shatter into a million fragments if I hurt you again. Please just tell me that you’ve been thinking and you’ve remembered that actually you do have the magic cure… you know just what to do to make us okay again and to make me okay again. Tell me you’ve found the superglue to stick me back together, the glue to stick us back together. Please tell me you have a plan that doesn’t involve my raw, open, bleeding heart being exposed to weeks of further cuts and bruises.
Please tell me you love me and that is all we need and we are going to get through this low together and that this is not the end and that we are going to be okay and that I am going to be happy and beautiful and free one day and that this sad, ugly, trapped me will all be a painful sharp memory. Please tell me I am going to survive this. 

I am sorry for everything I am that hurts you. I’m sorry for this. I’m sorry for everything that came before this. I’m so so sorry. We love you and we didn’t mean to ruin us. 

Xx 

The pictures in this post are from Pinterest… they are lyrics from ‘Liability’ by Lorde. https://youtu.be/BtvJaNeELic

Finding Her

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When I still hadn’t heard from T at 3pm, I texted her. It would be good if we were able to reconnect by phone today. I am free from now, if there is a time that suits.
She rang me a few hours later, on her way home from work. The first thing that felt different was that she was totally focussed on me. Quite often for our phone calls, she’s walking the dog or driving home, and I know she is listening but I also know she isn’t 100% focussed. Sometimes that’s nice because it means she’s more open and relaxed and human with me than she can be in session… but tonight it felt nice that she was dedicating time to listening to me. 

She started by saying that she didn’t feel she had been that negative about GP. She said that she felt, listening to me, that I was worrying about looking after him, and she was feeling protective of me. She referred a few times to a throwaway comment I had made, about his phone pinging at all hours and annoying his wife and that I worried she would hate me. She says she didn’t want me to get hurt and she is worried for me that I worry about him. She kept saying that she didn’t feel she had been otherwise negative… so I kept repeating that I it did all feel extremely negative and I did take everything she said about him as a telling off. Eventually she apologised, said she hadn’t meant to make me feel that way. “I just don’t want you to be hurt,” she said. 

She said that she felt I had raised concerns about him and she felt she wanted to reflect them. I said that I felt she had misunderstood. I worry for him, because I care hugely about him and he is so giving and caring and I don’t want him to burn out. I feel like I know how dangerous I am and I don’t want to break him… so I do worry that I will hurt him. I am not worried about him, I’m not worried that he will ever harm me (just that I might harm him). I know that if he ever burned out, he would talk to me, he would hopefully look after himself, but he wouldn’t blame me. I wouldn’t struggle with his need to look after him, and even if I found the distance difficult I trust that he would never intentionally harm me. She said she felt maybe she had misunderstood my worry.

I said that it felt awful that she questioned his intentions with me, like he can only be badly intentioned because nobody can actually love me enough to care like he does. Like I’m too damaged for that care. She immediately said she doesn’t doubt his intentions at all, that she knows it is purely because he cares about me. I felt that she had done that in our session, but she sounded very sure on the phone that she trusted he wasn’t ‘dangerous’, which felt soothing. 

She said she doesn’t want me to be stuck in the middle between them all fighting. That part of the reason for her wanting to talk was so that there isn’t any ill feeling between them. She said sorry for making me feel like I had to choose him, defend him. 

She said sometimes she feels like I’m idolising him and wanting her to be someone she cannot be. I said that wasn’t what I meant, but that yes, at the moment there is too little other support in place and he is often the only person holding my head above the choppy water. I said that it is very difficult to leave her and head into the other 167 hours in a week without her when things still feel horrendous and that he is supporting through that time at the moment. I said that I don’t expect her to ring me at 11pm, she’s laid down her boundaries loud and clear, but equally I find it very unfair that she should be chastising me for reaching out to someone who will help when things are unbearably low. 

I said it feels almost impossible to know who she is sometimes. I know how I would describe her to someone else – kind, warm, caring, supportive etc – but then sometimes she just switches into this ice cold, stone walled person who I cannot get to… and that terrifies me. It terrifies me that I’m never 100% sure which is the real her… with GP I feel like I get a good sense of who he is – him as an actual person. With T I feel like she gives so little of herself away and that feels very disconcerting. I said that it felt totally horrendous that she let me leave on Thursday, so so upset, and didn’t check in. Without taking a breath I said I understood why she didn’t but it still sucks and makes it almost impossible to find our relationship within that. She said that she knows me and she knows that I will reach out… but that yeah, she would have just waited to see if I turned up to this week’s session. That made me cry. It is so very cold and it is impossible to find the woman who cuddles me, reads me stories and tucks my hair behind my ear, in the therapist who was happy to wait a week for contact even though I had left in floods. I want to feel like I know who she is but her email and the way she let me leave the session feel like too much of a barrier to overcome right now. 

We needed to end then but I was crying and she said she didn’t want to say goodbye whilst I was upset. We stayed on the phone for a few minutes whilst she asked me inane questions about my sofa to get me to come down from the emotion.  She sounded like the T I feel I know today.

As we ended she said that it’s not going to be a big, bad thing, but she wants to talk about how we work together on Thursday. She mentioned endings – that at the moment she tells me when it’s time and I get upset, that maybe it would be better if she gave me a 10minute warning? She also mentioned that I will often email things which I won’t then be able to talk about in our sessions. She said we’d talk more then. 

Then we said goodbye. It was good to hear her voice but it still feels like we have a really, really long way to go. xx

Say Something, I’m Giving Up On You.

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I’ve been trying to write for days but I haven’t had thoughts stable enough to try to convert them into linked paragraphs. I’m still not sure I can. This will be long. Sorry.

I feel at rock bottom. I don’t feel manic, crazy, hyper, panicked… none of those. I feel oddly calm. I just don’t want to be alive like this anymore.

I can’t live with these lows. I’ve been in a dip for what feels like weeks now and there is no sign of anything getting better. GP and I are in daily (frequently multiple times daily) contact. Similar for T and me. Each contact helps temporarily – it calms the rocky sea within me. Then they go and it immediately starts up again. It is totally relentless.

I don’t have any words to truly explain the depth and breadth of this. It’s damage from a time before I had words and I feel like I am grasping at bubbles trying to explain it… I can’t ever get a good grip and when I try too hard, it escapes me altogether. It feels a little like always being an outsider. Never being truly settled in a place or with people. A little like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. Like rattling around in a box. Like having no anchor within myself. Last night when GP asked me I told him it felt like I’m a balloon. Floaty and vulnerable and easily buffeted. The need to ‘check in’, find them in the world, comes from not feeling the tension on the string between them and me. The ground and me, the world and me. Without a sense of that link between us I feel ever more buffeted and loose until I feel total panic and lose all sense of who I am and where I fit in the world.

I know that there have been times when I have had a more secure sense of the string between us, but I don’t right now. I feel a need to constantly, relentlessly connect to them. A constant need to remind myself who I am.

I cannot hold what they tell me. I couldn’t willingly leave you, T told me this week. I wouldn’t imprison you by making you come but I couldn’t leave you because you’re YOU. You’re an amazing wonderful woman and I wouldn’t want to leave. You can’t push me away. I can’t hold onto that. GP says similarly – I am not leaving you. You cannot push me away. I will always have time for you. I care about you. 

They both ask me if I believe them. I don’t. I believe that they believe what they are saying – I believe that they think they will always stay. But I don’t believe them because I feel completely sure that they are only saying that because they haven’t seen the ‘real me’. That one day, they will realise who I really am inside, the core of me filled with rot and disgust and they will run so far from me. When they find who I really am, then they will leave.

*Trigger warning for this paragraph.* Last weekend I had an awful flashback of a time, or multiple times, where I had enjoyed something done to me. I know all the facts and information about victims of sexual abuse, how confusing it can be for very very small child to be touched etc…. I know all that. But it still feels pretty shit. *Trigger end.*

Little texted GP about it. She wrote and wrote about what she remembered and I didn’t censor it. I wasn’t really present enough to censor it. Literally as she pressed send a text came from him saying that he was with family and busy – I totally panicked that L had just sent him pretty graphic detail of her experience and he was at lunch with family. I texted to say not to read it… but too late. He later replied to say it made him feel sad, angry and powerless. Any initial comfort I had from his response passed almost immediately in waves of terrifying, overwhelming guilt that I had made him sad – that I’d ruined his day, that it was my fault he was sad, that he was definitely going to leave me now and that I had been too much, too dirty and now he would leave.

What followed was a few hours of trying to push him away…You can leave you should leave I’m unfixable, I’m broken they took me apart and put me back together wrong and that can’t be fixed it’s always going to be this way. I’m not yours, the responsibility isn’t yours, you don’t have to stay. I make you sad. I’m toxic and untouchable and my needing you isn’t fair it puts you too close to the rot and damage. Ring [potential new GP], give me to her and then run. I’m toxic and dangerous and bad and give me to her and get far away. Thinking about it breaks me but you are so important and you deserve to stay away from me.

And lots of self blame… I feel like it’s all my fault. They were bad people but I didn’t stop it. I never told, I hardly ever fought back. When I did it wasn’t enough. They ruined me because I didn’t fight hard enough, or sometimes even at all. I disgust myself. And everyone who had a chance to stop it didn’t because I didn’t tell… and those who must have known something wasn’t okay just decided I was attention seeking and clingy and never tried to find out what was underneath it all. I was already bad to them. I didn’t end it when I had the chance, just before I met you when life held so little value… I should have finished it then. But I didn’t and it’s my fault for not being brave enough. Now I would lose too much and hurt too many people all because I didnt do what I should have done. Meeting you and everything that’s come since makes life so, so beautiful and I live in constant fear of tainting the beautiful things by just being near them. We love and value you in so many ways and I’m desperate for you to always love and care about me and stay and i can’t bear to think about life without the person you are and the role you hold and all you bring… but i hurt you, because with me comes a whole load of toxic rot which I wasn’t brave enough to prevent or stop or kill. It’s too much, I’m too much. It’s my fault. I don’t want you to hurt. 

His reply – You can’t turn me against you. It’s not possible. Don’t even try. – gave me a brief respite, a brief moment of lightness at the acknowledgement that he knows me so, so well and that he’s the most incredible soul… but the guilt in my flashback and the guilt of hurting him by sharing hung heavy.

*Trigger for this paragraph.* That night I had two dreams. In the first, I dreamed that GP and I built a nest together. Pillows and feathers and foam and blankets and clouds (and Rabbit!). More cave than nest as we pulled the blankets over to cover most of the roof. Then he tucked me in and put some more squishy things around me and sat on the edge of it guarding and I slept in the nest cave with him keeping me safe. It was wonderful. I woke but then fell back asleep. In my next dream I dreamed that I had made him sad. I wanted him to be happy, I felt all the awful guilt and shame of making him sad… so I undressed. Knelt in front of him, opened my mouth, opened my legs. Dream me did everything she knew how to do with her body to make him ‘happy’. Dream me tempted and encouraged him. She wanted it because she so badly wanted him to love her. When I woke again I felt more disgusting and ashamed than ever. It was awful beyond belief and I felt like I was violated and that I had somehow violated him, too. That him knowing me was dangerous. *Trigger end.*

I spoke to T that night, and she kept telling me that I am not responsible for other people’s sadness. She made me smile (and also panic a little!) by saying she wanted to ring GP to tell him he shouldn’t have told me he was sad! I disagree – I was already triggered before he said it and it also really helps to hear other people react to my experiences like a ‘normal’ person, someone who feels what happened to me was so, so wrong – and I asked her not to. She said she wouldn’t – That’s me trying to rescue you, wanting to protect you. It did encourage me to check in with GP about who supports him when I hurt him and it did reassure me that he feels he would seek support as and when needed.

I still tried to not go to T for my session this week. I felt so sure that I would hurt her in the same way I had hurt him. When I got there I was super dissociative and remember very, very little of it. Almost none. I have snapshots of her talking to me, sitting on the floor holding my feet tightly to try and get me to ‘come back’, cuddling into her with the coolness of her bare skin against the sticky hot tension of mine. I remember her joking with me that she must care about me a lot because holding my feet is not in her job description! We ran over but we still hadn’t really resolved anything. When she told me time really was up, I put my head on my knees and sobbed. I left without saying goodbye.

I rang GP but he was busy. I drove home, still pretty dissociative. I had to pull over a few times because I wasn’t sure I could stop myself driving off the road or into oncoming lorries. I remembered a conversation a few weeks ago with T where I told her I would want it to look like an accident… and she said now I couldn’t crash because she would always believe I’d killed myself. I rang the Samaritans and cried until I threw up on the side of the road. I eventually got home and cried to my husband who struggled with what to say to my wish to die. GP picked up my texts and missed calls and we spoke at about 11pm. Bless his kind, good heart. By then I was pretty much cried out. Talking really helped, even though I could hear the worry in his voice, and then I saw him the next day. That hour and a half was warming and holding and comforting… but still I feel so low.

I wish I had killed myself a few years ago. When I had just split with my ex, I had no job, no friends, no partner, no family relationships…… I could have killed myself then and nobody would have cared. I am trapped now. Killing myself would upset my friends and family, those I work with… It would be selfish. Impossible to hide. I can’t just end things quietly, I cannot just slip away. Now I would disrupt and upset… Then I would have just vanished. I feel trapped by that.

I cannot live with the lows. I know that this will pass and there will be high points again – but that doesn’t feel like enough anymore. It doesn’t feel fair or okay that I had a truly shitty childhood, followed by a very difficult early adulthood……and now I’m an adult and despite all my hard work and all the therapy and all the people who support me things are STILL SHIT sometimes. I know this will pass but I also know that there will be more lows in the future and I’ve had enough. I don’t want to live a life like that. I didn’t kill myself at 23 because I had nothing then but I was holding on to hope that I would one day have everything I have now. It is agonising that I’ve got EVERYTHING I wanted now… but those lows still followed. Had my 23 year old self known that I would still feel these lows, she would have ended it.

Because it isn’t going to get better. My understanding of attachment is that it prevents the formation of early neuron pathways and there are gaps. I’ve seen images of an attachment disordered brain and a ‘normal’ brain and there are obvious gaps.

My understanding is that these gaps can only be “filled in” up until no later than 7 years old. Mine weren’t. Those ominous black gaps are there. So there will always be lows. I appreciate that they might become further spaced apart and I will probably continue to develop strategies to cope…. But that’s not enough. I can’t cope with them at all. I don’t want to accept them. I don’t want to live with them.

I’m desperately searching for a solution, a way to convince myself that one day it won’t feel like this, that one day I won’t have to worry about sinking into yet another awful low. I wonder about therapy, about the support I have around me. Is it right, is it enough, is it targeted on the right things? GP gently questioned whether my relationship with T is the ‘right thing’ therapeutically – are we too close? Am I challenging myself? Am I moving forward with her? I know that yes, I have moved forward massively through working with her. I know how much she has done for my self esteem, my security, my sense of self. I know that I couldn’t live without her now, or maybe ever – whilst I’m not totally secure in our relationship because I am still convinced she will leave, I know that she is the closest to a secure attachment that I will ever get – and if I forced myself to leave her, I would grieve horribly and then search instantly for another maternal attachment figure. So leaving her isn’t right. But should I be doing something else as well as that? I see R, but we probably aren’t as focused as we could be. We probably could be more focused, I probably could challenge myself more with her. But then that is almost impossible to do when I only see her monthly. Should I be tackling the symptoms of how I feel? The anxiety? Should I be doing something like CBT to try to address those horrendous anxious feelings I live with constantly? Or would CBT be pointless without addressing the root of all of this?

What even is the root? I’m becoming more and more sure that it all comes back to my core beliefs of who I am – my certainty that I am truly unloveable, unfixable, annoying, attention seeking etc… I sat in a coffee shop the other day and made a list of all the words I constantly hear in my own head.

When I showed this to both T and GP they both adamantly denied that they would EVER feel any of these things about me. T tried to acknowledge a few of them, that we can all be attention seeking when we need something…. but kept telling me she didn’t feel any of these things about me. GP repeatedly said the same. And I watched him, choked up and trying to convince me that when he thinks about me he never, ever, EVER would think these words……. and I couldn’t take it in. I am totally convinced that this is who I am, and if he doesn’t yet think of me in this way, it is because he hasn’t got to know the true core of who I am yet. Same for T. When they REALLY know me, when they find out who I REALLY am, they will leave. They will think these things about me. They will abandon me.

This makes me impossible. I need to hear, constantly, that they don’t feel these things about me and they won’t ever leave. Then they tell me and I don’t believe them. Then I feel guilt for having asked, for needing them… which then feeds back into the original need to hear that they won’t leave and they don’t hate me…. and then the spiral starts again. GP asked me what he could do to help me feel more secure that he is staying and he means it – there isn’t anything. No matter what he did, it would trigger off negativity somewhere else. If he told me 50 times a day that he wasn’t leaving, I would feel loved but intensely guilty that he was giving up time in his life. If he never told me, I would feel relief that he wasn’t close to me so I couldn’t be hurting him, but the attachment pull towards him would be horrific. I can’t win. He can’t win. There is no winning.

I recently wondered whether it would work to try and SHOW T or GP what I think is at the core of me. If I showed them, and they didn’t leave, then would that bring me permanent reassurance? When I was talking to my best friend about this yesterday, we recognised that this is impossible. I don’t have some internal demon or monster that I could bring out from the place it lives and let it rampage around. There is no physical thing that I could point at and say “That’s who I am. Hate me now.”. There is no true test of this because it is my perception of who I am and their perception of me is different. I hate myself when I reach out for comfort from them because I believe I’m annoying, needy, clingy, attention seeking….. but they tell me they don’t mind. It’s my perception that I need to change, but how? What the hell do I do?

And is it even possible to change my core beliefs about myself? GP asked me if those words were words that I thought of myself or if they were words told to me by others – and I couldn’t even really pull them apart anymore. Some of them probably came from others initially (slut, attention seeking, drama queen)… but they’re now so ingrained in my internal voice that it’s hard to tell. These feelings are so non-verbal and I know I have just allocated words to them after the feeling. T will tell me many of these feelings stem from the earliest removal from my mum… so how do I change what is at the very bottom building block of who I am?

I’m desperate for GP to say here, take these meds and it will get better. He won’t, and he’s right not to because this isn’t something a drug could fix. I find myself wishing for a label – if I could call it depression, anxiety etc then surely it is something I developed and as such can be ‘fixed’. But this isn’t something I developed – I wasn’t ‘normal’ and then this happened so logically I must be able to turn it back to normal again. This IS my normal. This is me – and I don’t want to be me anymore.

GP reminded me that all I need to do is carry on putting one foot in front of the other. I’m trying. I am. But I’m exhausted now.

This song really connects with me at the moment. It feels like a conversation between me and L.

Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you

And I… will swallow my pride
You’re the one that I love
And I’m saying goodbye

Say something, I’m giving up on you
And I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
And anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you.

xx

Loving Imperfectly. 

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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. 

Xxx