Breakdown. 

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So, everything fell apart this week. On Tuesday I just knew I could not go back to work. I knew I was done. I knew I needed to stop. 

A few days later (aided by MUCH diazepam…), things are a bit calmer. I managed to leave the house today. I washed, brushed my teeth, ate and dressed and then even managed to relax and enjoy myself for an hour or so this afternoon. Tonight is the first time this week that I have not been able to hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears. 

It’s funny. In a way I am SO much more settled now than I have been in the past. In the past I had months and months of distress and unbalance, but always managed work. I don’t know why I’m generally better, but stress has ruined me this week. Stress won. 

I’ve been sick repeatedly. My tongue hurts. I have ulcers covering my mouth. I have a very unsettled tummy. It’s as if the toxins are trying to get out. 

T is still away. I am worried that we are over. I don’t know how I can ever forgive her for leaving. It is not her fault but it’s not mine either and yet I am suffering without her here. So much is so bad and she is gone. I am worried I won’t be able to forgive such an abandonment. 

I hope a few days rest will help me rebalance. I hope a few days will help me forgive. X

Hate. 

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It’s such an ugly word, isn’t it?

T tells me all the time that I am welcome to bring my anger to her. She tells me that it’s part of the work – that I don’t have to be a good girl with her all the time. She tells me that if I got angry with her, she would still stay. She wouldn’t leave no matter how angry I am. 

When I told her last week that I had felt angry about her abandoning me, she told me I could tell her about it. Then we had a difficult discussion. I don’t want to tell her I’m mad with her because I want her to love me. I know that PROFESSIONALLY she would never leave me no matter what I say. But PERSONALLY? I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want to say something that makes her close the door behind me and be glad I’m gone. I don’t want her to dread seeing me. I don’t want something I do to make her feel anything towards me that isn’t going to help her love me… it is already so hard not to feel that I am fighting against a tide of so many reasons why she wouldn’t love me and I never want to purposefully add something negative to that.

So it feels impossible to tell her I’m angry. But now she is away. AGAIN. And all I have to give is anger. 

I hate that she’s away again after only a week back in work. I hate that she went away anyway even though she had only just got back. I hate that I can’t make her stay. I hate that me needing her to be here isn’t enough. I thought I would die with the pain of the separation at the end of our last session but she let me leave. Of course she did. But I hate that she did. 

I hate that she is away and I am dying without her. Except it’s not dying. It’s almost worse. Because I won’t actually die. I will just feel like I’m dying until she gets back and then I won’t be anymore. Until the next time. 

And I hate that. x

R’s Thank You…

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I am getting married soon. It felt really important to me to be able to thank those who have supported me to this place. This is the first of a few thank you notes…

Dear R,

Hopefully you will open this on the … and I will be getting married today! In amongst all the planning for the day it felt really important to me to be able to thank the people who have made it possible for me to be healthy, secure and happy enough for this day to be happening. So, this is my thank you…

We first met in 2011. Nearly 6 years ago! When I started in therapy with you I was terrified of my life. Everything was a swirling mess of chaos and I was drowning. I knew I needed help to take control but even the options for help themselves were terrifying. Then we met and the first thing I remember about you was how beautifully human you were. Support couldn’t possibly be terrifying when it came with your genuine care and gentle guidance. So many impossible things became possible with you.

Since then, life has become less terrifying and just more and more exciting. It is incredible to look back at the terrified 21 year old and see how different she is from me now. Getting married – being a wife and all that brings too – would have been impossible for her. Now it feels like an incredible adventure. I know that without your support throughout, I would never have grown into a person whole enough to step forward into that.

When we walk along the coastline in …, the slate always fascinates me. The way it is formed, so much pressure over time, and how it comprises of so many layers. I love the contradiction in it’s strength in many ways but also it’s fragility when its edges are knocked or bumped. I love the way it can be beautifully shaped by the sea when it guides and smoothes and supports.

My wedding day is a day for gratitude –  I know that today, because of all your kindness, warmth, energy and honesty, I am blessed. I can often feel the contradictions within myself – the fragility and the strength – but I know that you have been the support and guidance which has helped shape me in spite of that and made it possible for everything to feel so very beautiful.

With much love and gratitude, today and always,

Me.

Some Things Are Forever.

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I’ve just got off the phone to T. I was hyperventilating when I picked up. Terrified she was going to be mad at me for being so selfish when she was gone. Terrified she wasn’t still going to her… that we weren’t still going to be us. 

We are still us. I cried and she coughed (she’s poorly!) through half an hour of me apologising for being such an awful, selfish person… and her saying that it was okay to feel the way I did. That she didn’t think I’d been selfish but actually that I had been thoughtful and kind in my texts to her. 

It was hard to talk through all the crying. I hope we will get into it more in our face to face this week… but for now it feels okay just to have heard her voice and to feel her love. To feel that she’s back and we are still ‘us’. 

She reminded me, when I said that she’d abandoned me to look after her son, that she often prioritises me over other things when I need her. She makes time for me and this was just one of those times that she needed to prioritise herself and her son. She does prioritise me. She’s right. 
She replied to my email on Saturday morning, about my awful dream in which she ripped up the book most important to us. I will never hate you, she wrote. I know that is a huge fear but some things are forever and I will always feel good things about you. And if it doesn’t feel like that because I hear that you are scared that it isn’t like that, then I ask you to trust that underneath I feel so much good to you and I have never hated you.

Tonight reminded me of our foreverness. She’s sick, I was bawling my eyes out, but we are okay. We are still us.

We’ve got a very mixed up few months now. Only one session before she’s on holiday for a week. Then only a few more before I go away, then she goes away before I get back so it’s three weeks apart. I feel anxious that I’m not going to be able to find enough peace in one hour on Thursday to sustain myself the gap. 

Someone with two daughters once described their daughters to me as buckets. One was watertight. One had holes punched in the sides. She told me that, for the watertight daughter, once you’d shown her love and care, she kept it within her. For the other daughter, the one with the holes ripped into her, she had to ensure she always poured in more at the top that poured out at the bottom. It was a constant unbalanced equation – more needed to be poured in or she would run dry. I’m the bucket with the holes. I was empty before tonight…having spoken I’m a little more full but I can already feel the love seeping out the holes. By Thursday’s session I will be empty and know that I will need T to pour enough in the top to sustain me through the next break, so unfairly soon after this most recent unplanned one. 

She might not quite manage it this week because my reserves are so low… but as she said in her email, some things are forever… we’ve got all the time we need to build them back up. We’ve got forever, for as long as I need. x

Ripping Up Us. 

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I’ve woken up in a mess I’ve bitten through the inside of my lip so bled everywhere and I’m soaked with sweat and bits of my arms and legs feel carpet burned from the sheets.

I dreamed that I saw T and she was okayish with me but it didn’t feel quite right… She
felt far away so I asked if she could read the no matter what fox book and she started to read but then her kid came in asking her for paper for papier mache so she ripped the book into tiny pieces to give to him and I couldn’t make a sound but when he’d gone
I started to sob and she was screaming and angry and yelling at me and I wanted to leave but I couldn’t so I hid my head with my hands and with rabbit and she ripped up rabbit and twisted my wrists from my face so so hard and then I woke up 😥 

I know I don’t want to die because I want to my life but this morning I want to die I want to die I want to die. 
People are coming to mine for a party in a few hours. I don’t know how to go from here to there. Now I’m crying and I just don’t want to be this person. I’m meant to have woken up excited. 
Feel like Little needs to come live with R or GP for the weekend so she can be safe with them and not as unhappy as she clearly is with me. I’m sorry. 😦

Up and Down.

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So after 4 days of sitting and waiting and trying not to lose myself to madness entirely, T emailed tonight.

“I just wanted to check in and let you know I was safe because I know you will be wondering. I don’t know whether I will definitely be back for Thursday night but I wondered if we could do a session on the telephone one time that suited you. It isn’t always
easy to know in advance when I am free but I do have some free time and I would be happy to do a telephone session. As soon as I know definitely re Thursday night I will let you know.”

So, it still feels really unsettled to me. She doesn’t know for sure and I think it’s likely to cause more upset if I pin my hopes on a time and then she cancels.

Would this be an okay plan?

1.Speak to R as planned on Thursday.
2. Keep my appointment with GP as planned.
3. Email T back and ask her to speak but around those fixed points. Then if she does cancel on me I’ve kept secure support in place?

I think that sounds okay. Bizarrely having been desperate to hear from her, now I have I don’t quite feel ready to speak to her. A bit too raw, maybe.

That’s insecure attachment though, isn’t it. Screaming and crying to be picked up. Then screaming and crying to be put down.

Xx

P.s. Sass is not impressed. How dare T suggest that she KNOWS we will be thinking about her. Screw that… Sass doesn’t care at all. Oh dear.

Still here. 

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…still no update from T.

Saw R on Thursday to fill in for T. Very lucky that I have people willing and able to do that. People who know how crappy this is. 

R was helpful in reminding me that this will pass and helping me focus enough to make a plan. I could feel an almighty panic bubbling and I started to cry and hyperventilate but her calm voice kept things steady. 

The plan is that I have an option to speak to R or see my (fantastic, understanding GP) next week if I don’t hear from T. I then have my scheduled R session the week after. If we still haven’t heard from T by then, then R will help me to write a tactful email asking for a progress update. The plan is succeeding in making me feel less like killing myself. 

I still feel like a barely contained explosion. I’m a ball of emotions. 

Sad. Poor T. I love her and I don’t want her to be hurting. 

Angry. She’s dropped me to look after her kid. Puts me in my place. I’m not her priority right now. Maybe I never am. 

Jealous. I hate her children and I can’t help it. They get her unconditionally. I get her when she’s not preoccupied with them.

Awkward. What the hell am I going to say to her? Do I take flowers? A card? Do I ask how she is? How am I meant to just start talking about my drama when she’s just experienced a loss? 

Embarrassed. What a big drama over ‘just a therapist’. I can’t tell people at work or even some friends because… well, what a pathetic thing to be so distressed by. She feels like a parent but she isn’t. I’m embarrassed that I feel so much more for her than her job title suggests. 

Worried. My wedding is coming ever closer. She promised to be contactable by phone on the day. But that was before this. What if she isn’t back working by then? Am I going to be without her? 

Frustrated. Her email was very vague and it’s put me in a sort of purgatory. “I’ll be back as soon as I can” is immensely vague. I know after a bereavement it is almost impossible to know time frames etc… but she hasn’t updated me and I am being battered by the waves of uncertainty. 

Selfish. All I want is her… to myself, all the time. Whenever I need her. I don’t want her son to need her. I don’t want her to be dealing with things so difficult she can’t still be mine. I feel immensely selfish for still wanting her even when I know she’s grieving. 

Guilty. I’d texted her every day last week. Every day. Emails too. My attachment insecurities were already high and I needed her intensely. Then this happened and I feel guilty for what I take from her. I feel guilty that I’m still selfishly thinking about myself when I should be caring totally for her. I feel guilty for being jealous of her son. I feel absolutely weighed down with guilt. 

Lost. Little doesn’t know what to do with herself. She’s gone from texting every day to not even knowing if T is in the country. She knows she can’t contact her in any way… but without a countdown to when she can, she’s totally lost. 

In conversations with both R and GP this week, we ultimately reached an acceptance that all I can do is sit and wait. So. I sit, and wait, and try not to do too much damage to myself emotionally or physically in the meantime. 

This sucks. X

Tornado.

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So T just emailed to say someone close to her/her children has died. 

She said she won’t be able to do tomorrow’s session… but then says “it doesn’t mean I am leaving you and I will be back as soon as I can”. 

…..as soon as I can? Does that sound like more than just tomorrow? 

I texted R who is going to see me tomorrow instead. Bless her heart. 

It does sound like longer than just tomorrow, though, doesn’t it.
Supportive words appreciated….. I feel like my insides are a tornado. 

X

Imagining Space.

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Traffic made me late to therapy this week, but when I sat down I was so very grateful to be with T again. This week has been so painful. I felt like we had had some form of contact every single day this week – T disagreed, thought there were at least a few non-contact days, which makes me feel slightly better that I am not driving her insane with my obsessive attachment needs.

None of the contact has been for any crisis reason – just repetitive cries of “please don’t leave me”, “please stay”, “please come back”, “are you still there”… poor T, it’s been months and months since I’ve been this relentlessly pathetic. I was worried that T would be frustrated and worn down by me this week. I asked the night before if she still wanted to see me… “yes I still want you to come,” she replied. “You are welcome whatever mess you feel in.”

I felt quite adult when I started to talk. I talked about the fear I feel when I think that this ‘illness’, the part of me that makes me lose time and feel this awful, relentless agony of attachment insecurity, might ALWAYS be there. I’ve been stable for many months now. In those months, I’ve loved T and missed her sometimes and there has been a lot of upset about her not coming to the wedding, but I haven’t LOST her, or my sense of connection to her. I’ve had a really secure internal belief that she’s there, she’s close by, she loves me too and we’re okay, even when there is a gap. T reminded me that last August we went 6 weeks without seeing each other. 6 WEEKS. I haven’t managed 6 hours without desperately needing her this week.

I talked and talked and mostly didn’t let T speak because I know there are no answers here. The part of me that feels this way is always going to exist because I cannot change the past. Little is a result of the horrendous experiences I had as a child – they cannot be erased, and neither can she. I know there is no answer that would make me feel better – there can be no guarantees that she won’t feel like this again.

This scares me because of how unsafe and vulnerable I am when I am in that place. It worries me that I probably should not trust myself enough to have children – what if I lost time when caring for them? That thought is awful. T reminded me, though, that even in the darkest, most awful times, I have NEVER lost time when responsible for children at work. Even when I’ve been almost totally dissociated around the outside of the working day, when I’ve been the adult in charge, I’ve been okay. She’s right. She’s also right that I know to ask for help when I need it -she said that when I’ve got children, she knows that if the day was rubbish, I would go to a mum’s meet up or spend the day with friends etc… she knows I would do what I needed to be safe. That was reassuring.

We moved on to talking about how my head feels like it is moving at a million miles an hour with all the possible, endless possibilities. What happens when T retires, what happens when T dies, how will I find out if she dies, who will tell me, how will I grieve… I said to T that the feeling this constant, racing, catastrophising thinking leaves me with is the same feeling I get when I try to think too hard about space. You know when you remember that we’re one person, on a planet of billions… and we’re one planet of billions and billions… and that once we reach the end of one space term, like a universe, there’s just an endless expanse on from that… so you keep thinking and thinking and eventually it feels unsettling and makes you feel a little bit sick and dizzy? That’s what I feel like I’m doing with attachment worries about T. I’ve bounced from thoughts about how I will describe her to my children (friend? ‘auntie’? therapist/ex-therapist? None of them are right!), to how I’d find out if she died, to whether I’d be able to tell work I needed time off to grieve……… NONE of those things are ANYWHERE near happening, but that’s the problem with attachment anxiety. It knows no boundaries, it has no finite ends. There are no edges, no sides to the box. It just keeps going forever. It’s like imagining space.

I must have kept saying that there were no answers and T was making some suggestions, like that she would still reply to emails after she retires – but all that was doing was creating a whole other set of expanding questions – “but if you don’t reply then I will find out you’re dead by lack of an email response!”. T eventually gently interrupted my panicked dialogue. “All I know is that all along, all the time we’ve worked together, we’ve gone with what you need,” she said. “Sometimes we’ve spoken every day, sometimes we haven’t seen each other for a month. I’ve always gone with what you need in that time, in that moment. All we can do is trust that, when we get there, I will continue to do my best by you.

I very nearly cried my entire soul out, right there. That promise seemed to cut through so many of the questions, asking for definites and certainties… she’s right. All I can hold on to is that she loves me, and she always has and always will do whatever she feels, whatever we jointly agree is right for me.

Then we needed to end. Usually I have a really good sense of how far through the session we were, but this time it totally threw me – I hadn’t felt like we were much past halfway, but we were – T had even run over to give me the full session even though I was late. “I’m still here, though,” she said. “Even when you’re not here. I’m still here, and the relationship we have here is still the same even when we’re apart. You still remember me and think about me and I still remember you and think about you. I am not leaving and I will be here. Even when the session ends I leave an imprint on you and you leave an imprint on me and the connection continues and I don’t forget you.”

She wrote a very similar response to me this morning, when I emailed her after an awful nightmare where she was drowning and I was trying to swim past every seabased fear I have (sharks, seaweed, the dark…) to save her. I couldn’t reach her but I knew I couldn’t leave her either so eventually I gave up and breathed in sea water and woke up choking. She ended her email with “thinking of you, with love”.

Which made me smile, because I’m thinking of her with love, too. x

Drowning

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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.

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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.

X