I am conflicted again. Ha! What’s new?! What is it this time I hear you ask? Well, it’s about change. I have some serious grown up decisions to make in the next couple of weeks about potentially moving away and having a complete change of scene. Right now I am swinging wildly between ‘yes let’s do this’ and ‘fuck no, let’s stay here forever and ever!’ I am totally unable to work out what to do for the best despite devoting the entirety of Monday’s therapy session to the dilemma.
It’s good to have plenty of choices and options but right now I feel like I have a steady head of steam escaping out my ears. The cogs in my brain are whirring and generating a plethora or possibilities. I seem not to be answering any of my questions, only generating more and more ‘what ifs?’ For once I am not ‘overthinking’ things…in fact my usually annoying trait is actually very proving useful now that I am on the verge of making a life-changing decision for me and my family.
Honestly, even though I am thirty four years old I still feel like a pretend adult and just wing it most of the time. I can’t believe that I am responsible for so much when I feel so haphazard and disorganised! At some point I feel like the bank is going to turn around and say, ‘sorry we made a mistake, you are not a grown up and as such we should not have given you a mortgage’; or social services will rock up and say, ‘you cannot be responsible for two minors, you are still one yourself’; or the police will stop me and say, ‘young lady, get out from behind the wheel of the car, joy-riding is illegal, what is your parents’ phone number?’ I can hardly believe I was let loose in a classroom and taught secondary school kids for years. Surely not!
See, that’s the thing, I do a bloody good show at ‘adult’ to the rest of the world, but really I do feel like I make it up as I go along. I guess it’s something to do with the idea you have as a child that when you are a grown up you will have your shit together…..and I so clearly don’t have my shit together at all and by definition I therefore cannot be a real adult! It doesn’t help that I have some really active little ones running around my head either! A lot of the time lately I have felt like a child running around in a grown up’s body.
So, change…let’s be absolutely clear here, change is not something I am keen on these days. I used to be far more impulsive and adventurous than I am now and would seek out adventures and variety, but since my dad died unexpectedly, having my kids, and getting cancer I find that I am far less inclined to want to change things in my life than I used to be.
I think part of it is that I feel so unsettled in my mind so much of the time that I try and control external factors and keep everything on an even keel where I can. I’ve had so much thrown at me in the last decade that I have been unable to control, or anticipate, that I am now quite rigid in how I approach my existence. I basically have become quite boring.
I used to think I wanted to be really successful and wealthy and yadda, yadda, yawn… But now, all I really want is a quiet life and to be happy…oh and healthy (if possible, but I know that’s not a given these days). I like routine. Do I? Actually I’m not sure about that statement….all I know is that when my routine is disrupted (thinking about therapy sessions here) I get totally thrown off balance.
I guess I just like to know where I am, and how things stand, and so any kind of instability or change can negatively affect me. I like a plan. I want to have all bases covered. I’m sure that some of this aversion to change also stems from needing/wanting to feel safe and secure because as I child I never felt those things. I was always moving around, I had lived in fourteen different houses by the time I left for university and so never felt settled either physically in my environment or emotionally in my relationships.
From what I have just said it seems stupid to even be considering changing things. But then sometimes an opportunity comes along and you have face your fears and wonder if change could be a good thing in the long run.
To cut a long story short my wife came home on Thursday and told me that a job that we ignored, that she didn’t apply for, has been readvertised. It’s quite a specialist role and it is exactly what my wife does now so she’d be a shoe in if she wanted it. It’s not the job that is appealing. It’s the area where the job is based. My dad used to live there and I have spent many many happy weekends as a child escaping the hell that was Monday to Friday with my mum and so feel so at home there.
Whenever we go to visit or go on holiday my wife tells me that I seem so carefree and alive. I feel relaxed – and that is not a feeling I am all that familiar with. I feel like my heart is home when I am there.
So this time around I said, ‘why not let’s have a think about this. I’ll have a look online and see what properties are like in our budget. If we like any we could go down and view some with the kids as it’s half-term week’. So that’s what I did. I stuck in a search on a property website with a ten mile radius of where the job is. First house that came up? My dad’s old house! The place I LOVED when my parents broke up. Is that fate? I know it is ridiculous coincidence.
There are good houses on the market well within our budget. What’s stopping me then? Surely it should be all systems go. Sell up and get moving quick! Well yes. Who wouldn’t want to live beside the sea, be able to walk out their front door and surf every day? The thing I hate most about where I live right now is that despite having loads of great scenery and coastline, it’s a good hour to a surfing beach and so I rarely go surfing these days – it’s such an ordeal packing up the kids and heading to the beach for a wave. This move could change all that. Being by the sea makes me feel calm and grounded. Must be the pisces in me!
Part of me was excited by the news on Thursday, and part of me felt instantly sick. I think you know where this is going! Whilst a huge part of me relishes the idea of ‘going home’ there are several young ones who are absolutely terrified, ‘Plleeeaasseee don’t move us away from Em. We need her’. And there is the big gut-wrenching problem. Moving away would mean I couldn’t see my therapist anymore. Just typing that makes me want to both puke and cry.
On Monday I had meant to go in a talk about trying to feel more connected in session. Em had got the pebbles out ready when I walked in the room but instead I started up about the move and what I was thinking about it all. We spoke a lot about the options and pros and cons of making the move. I turned up on Monday and inhabited my real world persona: together, confident, articulate, rational, sensible and distant/emotionally removed. It must’ve been a relief for her after what’s been going on since the summer break. She commented on how different I was.
Em eventually asked me if I had had any thoughts about the therapy if I moved inviting me to talk about my feelings around what it might mean. This is what I should’ve said:
I am really anxious about moving away because whilst I (adult) know there are loads of positives to this move, there are parts of me (little ones) that cannot see how they could possibly survive without you. I struggle enough getting through the week without having contact with you but at least I get to see you each week in person. Even if the sessions are hard I still get to be in your presence and that in itself is soothing to me. The idea of not seeing you anymore fills me with dread. It feels enormous. I feel it could kill the little ones. I really don’t think I could cope.
Even though it would be me leaving you when I think about it, it somehow feel like an abandonment. Maybe it’s me abandoning myself? But I guess it highlights the reality of the therapeutic relationship to me and that is really painful. To you, I am your client nothing more, nothing less, and as such it makes no odds to you whether I leave or not. You can easily let me go. You’ve done it before. You are not attached to me. BUT to me, you are everything. I can’t just walk away and not look back. I know this because you were on my mind throughout the three year break we had. I always wanted to find a way back to you. I still needed you then and I need you even more now.
I literally feel ill at the thought of not sitting here with you from week to week. I know I am not ready to leave therapy, or you yet, and so whilst the move might be right, the timing just isn’t. I still feel like we have so much to work through together. I feel like we are only just touching the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know what to do. Can I let this opportunity for me and my family go because my childhood trauma and attachment issues are so here in the moment in the therapeutic relationship? By extension can I let what my mum did to me as a kid and the effects of that ruin my happiness now?
There’s definitely a part of me thinks I should go, move away, because being realistic I know that my needs are never going to be met by you. You cannot fill that hole that was forged years ago. I could be throwing money at therapy for the next five years and there is no guarantee that I will be better then. I really hope to be over the attachment stuff and feel more whole but part of me feels like I am chasing rainbows with you right now. I want so much more from you than you will ever be prepared to give me. Maybe I should just walk away now and focus more on my life and less on therapy. Perhaps I can just shut all these feelings down and carry on like I did before.
The truth is what I feel right now is grief. It’s the pain of not having the mother I needed. You won’t tell me you care about me or that you would be affected by me leaving. You will remain distant and detached and let me find my own way which is what you are supposed to do, but part of me needs to hear that the almost 6 years we’ve known each other has meant something to you too.
Thinking of you being gone, well it also reminds me of the loss I felt when my dad died. That huge gaping hole that opened up inside me is right here again. It is scary. I miss you so much now and so how can I possibly survive without you? Right now my little ones want to crawl onto your lap and cuddle in close to you. They need to be held. I need to be held. I don’t know what to do. I love you.
I know. I know. It’s saccharine isn’t it? Feel free to roll your eyes or play your mini violins. I know it’s dramatic… but it is how it feels and that is why I am having so much of an issue trying to work out what the hell to do. Of course, I have been highly aware of those feelings since Thursday night when my stomach fell into my feet, and yet when Em asked about if I had had thoughts about therapy I said, and wait for it:
‘Yeah. It wouldn’t be ideal moving, but…[sigh]… I dunno’
Yep. That was what I said.
FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
Shoot me now!
What the fuck is wrong with me?! I so clearly know what I want/need to say but it’s just too mortifying to even consider saying that aloud in person.
Shame and embarrassment win again, it seems. I really suck at therapy!
Despite my complete inability to engage with the question or show any level of vulnerability Em at least talked to me about what could happen if I move away. She works by Skype so I wouldn’t have to stop therapy, it’d just change. After the session we did by Skype recently it’s not something I would relish doing. I much prefer the face to face experience, but I guess some contact is better than nothing, and hey, if I was 120 miles away from her then I wouldn’t be perpetually feeling hurt about not getting a hug as it wouldn’t be physically possible for that to happen…silver linings!
I really don’t know what to do. It seems so ridiculous that my therapy is the biggest thing standing in my way of moving. Yes, of course there are plenty of other considerations in the mix: leaving my friends, moving the kids’ schools, finding a place to live that feels as much like home as my current house…but the biggest one, if I am being really honest, which I am here, is doubting whether or not I can cope with losing my therapist.
Fortunately, I have an extra session booked in for this Friday. I text her last Friday morning asking if she could see me as I had something big to discuss that was not childhood trauma related but that I didn’t want to lose momentum on that stuff. She got back to me a few hours later, although I wish she’d turn the ‘read’ receipts off as I know she saw the message within minutes of my sending it! I know it may well have been that she wouldn’t have known if she had space available this Friday until she’d seen her clients that day – i.e some may be taking time off due to it being half term…but you know what it’s like, ‘she’s ignoring me. She doesn’t care…fuck her!’
Anyway she eventually text me with a time and asked me to confirm if I wanted it. I did . ‘Yes please. See you on Monday’ (I have to work really hard at business-like text messages in this situation as all I really want to do is splurge heartfelt gush at her!) She responded ‘ok’… which sent me through a loop. ‘Ok’? Is that all? Argh! Would it have killed her to end with ‘Ok. See you next week. Have a good weekend’ or something like it? See this is the bonkers thing: I get wound up over the tiny details of a cold feeling text reply and yet would potentially pass up the chance to walk out my door onto this beach every day (I have a small property here already – my dad left it to me) until we found something more suitable.
What to do?
If anyone has anything to say about this I’d be glad to hear your opinions in the comments.