Bloody hell, therapy yesterday was a reminder of what therapy used to be like, when it was unpredictable and painful.
I was terrified about going to therapy in the first place because I’d spent the whole of the last session ranting about how awful my parents are…. only to then spend a few days with them and for them to be mostly totally fine! Logically I knew that T knows my parents can change between fine and awful and I logically knew she would never be cross with me… and of course she wasn’t.
It took a long time for that anxiety to pass, so we spent a long time talking about light things. Wedding things, thoughts about having children in the future… until my tummy had stopped doing flips and I’d stopped feeling like she might leave me because she was mad with me.
When I’d calmed enough to stop talking, T told me she’d found a book she thought I’d like. She came to sit next to me and started to read. It was okay to start with – T was there, next to me and she was reading to me and it all felt… there isn’t a word for the way T makes me feel in those moments. “Whole” is the closest, probably. But then… well.
The Story in the Book
The book is called “The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back” by Margot Sunderland, illustrated by Nicky Armstrong. There is a sand dragon called Eric. He loved the sea, how it goes in and out. He plays with the waves and dives into the sea. The sea was lovely and beautiful to him.
Then one day, it didn’t come back. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me, you are my everything.” But the sea doesn’t come back and Eric lay still on the floor in an death-like state. Friends tried to help but Eric was still frozen and still.
In front of him, a flower appeared. Eric realised the flower needed water because otherwise it wasn’t going to survive. He ran and ran to try and find water and eventually he came to a dog called Surf who gave Eric his water bowl.
He watered the flower which grew and in turn, more flowers grew. Then another and another. Surf helped Eric make a beautiful rock pool. Eric began to cry and Surf comforted him. Together, they acknowledged how much the loss of the sea upset Eric and how lost he felt. They remembered together the beautiful parts of the sea and they placed a sign next to the rock pool, dedicated to the sea.
The book ends with other people acknowledging how beautiful the rock pool is, and Eric and Surf take a memory of the sea into the warmth together and sit with it together.
What Adult Me Felt
What a beautiful book. It explains the unbearable loss felt when someone you love leaves, but then it also recognises the process of working hard on that grief to turn it into something beautiful. We had been talking about me having children before, and as T was reading, it struck me that that is what I will do with my children. Turn that unbearable loss into something beautiful, with the support of someone who loves me enough to bear witness to what came before and who is willing to stay with me and work hard with me. If I’m Eric, then T is Surf and my future is the rock pool. What a beautiful book.
What Little Felt
T is the sea. She is beautiful, she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever met and she brings me beautiful things. I love that she comes back when she leaves. She always comes back. It is scary that the sea has gone and it hasn’t come back. I feel sick. It’s gone. Eric is sad and I’m sad I can’t breathe my arms feel numb my tummy hurts. T is here but is she trying to tell me she’s leaving? Right now? Other people help but the sea is still gone and it’s not coming back this book doesn’t have a happy ending it’s not coming back she’s not coming back. She’s trying to tell me it will be okay when she leaves because I will have things to remember her by but it isn’t going to be okay it is never going to be okay I will die without her I’m going to die I’m going to die I’m going to die I can’t breathe I’m going to die.
T realised things weren’t okay and asked me what was happening. I was still present enough to hear her but my body, my mouth, my emotions were all Little’s. I could feel the complete split between loving the book and being totally terrified. T asked me to tell her what was going on… I couldn’t. We sat still, with my forehead pressed against her shoulder and silence around us. My hand found hers and I held on for dear life.
I knew we were near the end and somehow, someone took control enough to start talking and laughing and get us out the door. We left, and that is all I remember.
I haven’t lost time in months. Possibly years, even. When I was eventually safe at home last night I asked my partner when he last remembered it happening…. he thinks it’s been at least 18 months. What a backwards step. I’ve been enjoying the co-consciousness that has been there ever since.
L texted T. Please please please really really don’t leave me no matter what please stay please come back. Familiar pleas, not asked for months. T replied. I am here I am not leaving. I am not the sea. But what about if I was a bit of the pond he created. You create your safety supports. The sea is all that you already lost. You created the pond which is a small image of the sea but it gives you joy. The pond doesn’t leave. I replied, Adult me saw the beauty in that image and read it in that way and loved it. L panicked it was a way to tell her you would leave and that you wouldn’t be back and that she’d be okay but she wouldn’t be. She’d die without you, she’s not okay to be left alone, she’d die without you. You can be Surf and she will sit in the warmth with you. Then she’ll be okay. Sorry. Xxxx
I am not leaving, T replied. I’ve believed her for months. Little has been secure enough to not need to take over for months. I’m not sure what happened yesterday, but…. I don’t believe her anymore. I’m struggling to believe her right now and it feels like I’m drowning.
We spoke this evening. The impact her voice has defies all logic…. it is astronomical. Mostly I just needed to hear that she isn’t going to leave me. That she’s staying. This comes with the unsettling knowledge that someday, T will leave. She’ll retire, or god forbid she’ll die. When the latter happens nobody will even tell me. That feels overwhelming and unbearable. It feels horrendous that the day will come when I, adult me, will be able to leave the regularity of therapy, to drop down to email updates and catch up sessions…. but for Little, that is going to be a further trauma. She’s going to be torn away from her beautiful person, her beautiful sea. Again.
Last night I had an awful dream. I was with my ex (why, I don’t know) and I was telling him about T leaving. He told me that he would make her leave me and never come back unless I let him do what he wanted to me. He put his fingers inside me and I felt the awful, sharp burn of the unwanted stretch. I told him to stop and he did… but told me he would take T away. I was so desperate for her to stay that I lay back, let my knees fall to the sides and told him to carry on. The cold numbness swept through me and then I didn’t feel him anymore, just how much I loved her.
All I’ve got for tonight is to hold onto her reassurances that for now, she isn’t going anywhere. Trying to hold onto the enoughness of last week and the last blog post. Holding on.
This picture popped up on Facebook today, it’s from a Folt Bolt artist called Sigrid Martinez,http://www.momrocks.com.br/o-mundo-infantil-e-nossa-visao-sobre-ele/ I love it – clouds, sea, night sky, and love through it all. I’m holding on.