I should be delighted right now. School’s out for summer and that signals six weeks off from tutoring; no more trying to make packed lunches at 6am only to realise there is nothing to make a packed lunch with in the fridge; no more washing and ironing uniforms (THANK FUCK!); and better still, no more negotiating with pint sized terrorists every morning to ‘pleeaaasseeee darlings just put your shoes on’. I will certainly not miss doing school runs or racing around to get to my teaching. I can, for the next few weeks, sit here at 9am in the comfort of my PJs (TMI?!) and blog if I want to.
It’s all good.
Ok, so anyone with kids knows that the shine of summer holidays wears off about a week (day) in, but right now I am trying to picture myself as calm, together mum who plans nice trips, meets for play dates, bakes, and creates a generally harmonious atmosphere. (Who am I kidding?!) The truth is, before long I will probably be threatening to get out the ‘bin bag’ and throw all the toys away if the floor isn’t cleared before bed time and will be pleading with them to ‘be nice to each other’ and ‘stop snatching’ and ‘can we agree on something you both want to watch on Netflix?’
So, yeah. In my head I am aiming for Mary Poppins but realistically, just gotta hope they are both alive in September (that is a joke by the way!). Using the therapy speak – I’m hoping I do a ‘good enough’ job over the summer with my kids.
Oh, but wait, if school is out for summer then that means therapy is almost done with and the long summer break is coming doesn’t it?…
I’m totally screwed.
Ok, so it’s not like this is new news. I’ve been mentally counting down to the summer therapy break since Easter (I’m fun like that!) and once I had confirmation of the break dates from my therapist could start properly obsessing about how bloody long she is going to be away. She always takes roughly the same holiday and, actually, in real terms it’s only two weeks away for her but because my session falls on a Monday things always feel longer because before she even starts her break on a Monday it’s been a week since I have seen her (I think therapists forget this sometimes). The summer break is particularly crap, too, because there is a bank holiday at the end of August in the UK so I lose another session.
So, basically my last session is on the 30th July and my next face to face is the 3rd September…err that’s 5 weeks… There is a session in the middle on the 20th but I can’t get to it because the kids are off. I could, maybe, Skype but it wouldn’t be all that easy with the monsters causing havoc. I am also a bit reluctant to Skype after essentially three weeks break because I know what I am like, and much as I would like to check in, there’s a real danger of me stonewalling her and us getting nowhere and then there being two more weeks until we can sort it out. I know that is a recipe for disaster. So right now I have to think about what is the lesser of two evils: a long five week break or three weeks and then two weeks break back to back.
I can’t see that either is going to be great. I think it’s going to be about survival (again). I hate that I am like this. I hate that the attachment stuff causes so many problems. I wish I could look at this break as a chance to regroup and enjoy some time with my family but it doesn’t feel like that. Instead it feels like my safety net is being whipped out from underneath me or my anchor has been severed and somehow I just need to hang on and make it to September without something tragic happening. I know, spare the drama right?!
I did think about asking my therapist to write me a note for the break but after all the hell with the pebbles I just don’t think I can face it. I don’t want to create a situation that destabilises me before I even get to the break. But five weeks is a long time isn’t it? Especially when you are unable to hold someone in mind…
I don’t really know what to do.
The weeks between sessions have been getting increasingly more difficult recently and I have been dissociating a lot in my sessions (as well as outside them). I know it’s panic about her going away at the end of the month. The anniversary of my dad dying falling in July doesn’t help matters, either. My mind automatically lurches from the fact that he was meant to be going away for a month on holiday and never came back to the possibility that she may do the same. I can’t deal with that. I know it’s not rational but it is what happens in my mind. I panic. It’s like the grief of the loss of my dad swirls with the idea of losing my therapist and a shit storm starts inside me.
There is some good news in amongst all this doom and gloom, however, that I guess I should share and that is that as of September I will be having two sessions a week. A session time has become available on a Friday and so we are going to trial 6 months of twice weekly sessions and see how it feels. Unfortunately, the time is too early for me to actually get to the session in person (9:30am) as my therapist lives 50 minutes from me and I don’t drop the kids to school until 9. However, it does mean I can come home and Skype. When a better time becomes available I’ll swap into that.
I already know this change in session frequency is going to make a significant difference to how I feel in the week because whenever my therapist has a cancellation and can offer me two sessions in a week things feel way more manageable. We did this a couple of weeks ago and I can’t tell you how much easier things felt having that weight of anxiety lifted from me because I knew I would see my T on Monday and Friday. I didn’t get any of that shitty horrid attachment pain and physical ache that usually wipes me out on a Wednesday. I didn’t feel like I needed to dig deep or hang on tight in order to get through the week. I was able to keep sense of my therapist still being out there – which was refreshing! I knew the child parts were there but they weren’t completely beside themselves. It was so freeing.
This week has been total shit, though, back to one session a week and no in between contact. It’s hit me like a sucker punch – even though it is what is normal for me. Two sessions now remain until the break. My session on Monday this week was ‘meh’. Adult me went in and talked shit for half an hour about ‘non things’ and avoided going to the difficult stuff because I’m in self-preservation mode. But then something suddenly shifted. It was as though the little ones clocked that only twenty minutes remained and they freaked out. They wanted to connect with my therapist but then the shame and embarrassment flooded in and rather than reaching out I started retreating inside myself and started to shut down.
My therapist quickly noticed I was starting to dissociate and tried to hang on to me. I could feel myself slipping but she kept talking to me. She said she could tell something was starting to change because my body had changed and that she has noticed I close my eyes more when I am starting to dissociate. I didn’t know this!
I wasn’t able to tell her why I had started backing away but could tell her how it felt like she was behind glass and that I was alone at the end of a very long tunnel. She asked me what I might need in the tunnel? And I said I didn’t know. I was too lost by that point to express the need for someone to be there with me but she said that she imagined having someone alongside me that I adequately trusted might help. I nodded.
She asked me how old I felt and I quickly answered ‘eight’. She said that that was the age where I had already learnt to cope by myself and not rely on anyone. She was right. As usual. I really wanted to be able to reach out to her, to ask her to sit closer to me, to connect, but I just couldn’t. That glass wall is too thick and the tunnel is so dark and long.
Before long the session was over and it was time to leave again. My therapist has really been talking a lot about how difficult the ends of the sessions feel and is more aware now (I think) that they feel like an abandonment or rejection to me and I seem to hit a very young place at the end, like I look frightened or something. She commented that I seem to feel like because the session is over and I have to leave that it’s automatically ‘out of sight out of mind’ and yet that just isn’t the case. She’s right though. It is how it feels to me. I struggle really hard feeling like she doesn’t care unless I am in the room and that is limited to 50 minutes a week. Because I can’t hold her in mind I feel like it works both ways. I find it really helpful when my therapist says things like this because actually the young parts need reminding that she cares. It really helps.
Although, it clearly doesn’t help enough when a break is coming. I just need to do a massive face palm. I know things are dire when my dreams start getting really vivid and regular. I dream a lot anyway but this last couple of weeks has been horrendous. I’m back into therapy stress dreams 101. The ones where I am vulnerable with my therapist, express a need for her, try and get close to her and she physically pushes me away with force. I hate them and they are occurring so regularly (a couple of times each night) that it’s hard to remember that they are only dreams and not the reality.
There have been times when my therapy dreams affect me so badly that I can’t even talk to my therapist properly – for like a month! I get so shut down and scared that I can’t even tell her anything. I fear the dream will play out in real life. It is utterly horrendous. Of course when I do manage to bring the content to session it’s nothing like the dream but it’s so hard when my mind is telling me one thing over and over and yet I am meant to try and believe that the worst won’t happen and trust in someone I can’t hold in mind. It’s so hard.
I think I’m going to write some stuff down tomorrow or draw some flow charts and take them to session with me. I don’t mean to be deliberately avoidant in sessions. Sometimes I just can’t talk and sometimes I can’t even bloody remember what has been paining me outside the session. Man, that is so frustrating! It’s like some kind of amnesia! haha. Ok, so it’s just a product of dissociation and fragmented parts but either way I think I need to take a map with me on Monday so we don’t get lost.
I think that’s all for now. I don’t really know what to say. Bleurgh. Bloody therapy breaks! I guess it’s almost time to:
I’m so grateful for your blog because you articulate the same shit that I feel. I am having a summer break till September from face to face therapy and instead am having a half hour check in weekly phone call. I know that is far easier than you having zero contact for five weeks but I am still full of dread. Yesterday was my last one and it was all going fine but I was taking bollocks and presenting as capable adult then she started challenging me slightly and I got angry with her and became sullen teenager refusing to look at her. It’s because of the break but I couldn’t say that and the time was ticking away and my emotions just flooded out in the last five minutes. Time was more than up and I couldn’t even say goodbye and I walked out before she had a chance to say anything. I curled up in the back seat of the car and I did a vlog of me crying for my YouTube channel then cried some more hiding in the back seat of the car. I have felt suicidal since. I am aware how ridiculous this sounds but I’m telling you because I know you get it. Thank you for blogging and helping me feel like I’m not the only one. 💟 The vlog is on my studio FB page if you wanna watch it and can tolerate seeing someone having a bit of a breakdown 🙈🙈🙈🙊💛 Thinking of you x
LikeLiked by 2 people
Ah love. It’s all big piles of shit isn’t it? I wish there was an off button for all the attachment stuff. I hate that fronting capable adult bullshit when it’s falling on its arse underneath. Ugh. Your session sounds very hard. Do you think you could tell your T what happened in your check in? I’m sure she’s got a good idea of what’s going on but for you to be able to talk it through with her would be fab. Look you were brave a did the big love gush not all that long ago – you can do this! I’ll check out your vlog when I’m feeling less fragile. Right now I’m really struggling. Dreams suck! 💜
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love your straight talking 🙂 I will write in my journal and may be read it out over the phone. It’s easier for me to talk to her about that when she’s not in front of me I think as I feel more detached. Sorry you’re struggling with those dreams. They sound horrible. I wish you some pain free time ahead. You deserve it. Xx
LikeLiked by 1 person
Something I’m learning (slowly!) in therapy is that dialectics means you can be both excited about the downtime of summer AND simultaneously bummed that yet another therapy break is headed your way. I feel like I’ve said this before, but it seems like there are so many breaks for you! I understand what you mean about wanting to ask for a note from her but not wanting to be disappointed if she can’t deliver. You want, and deserve, something genuine. If you need concrete evidence of her care while she is gone, maybe something you can do in the future is write down some of the things she says to you in session that feel supportive. Not as good as a letter, but maybe it will help?
Plus, I wonder if there is there something you can you during that hour that can be a safe harbor for you during that time. Even if it’s just committing to writing down all the things you would say to her if she was there. I hate when my therapist suggests this, so if you feel the same way just ignore me. Anyway, I’m so sorry that it has been hard to connect during the impending break time. I’m happy to hear that she has at least been a little more in tune with your needs and I hope you can find a way to get out of that dissociative place a little easier. Hugs xx
LikeLiked by 2 people
Therapist vacations SUCK! I hate them! And I know just what you mean about all the anticipatory anxiety. E told me back in April or May about her vacation in September, three damn weeks. And it’s been bothering me all along, but even more now as we get closer to it. It’s going to be a really long time with very little therapy because she leaves at the end of August for three weeks, gets back, we have a week to meet, and then I go to vacation for two weeks. And of course it will be easier to be away from her while I’m on vacation than when I’m home and she’s gone, but all together it means that over almost seven weeks I’ll probably only see her once. I feel a little panicky, and honestly, a little mad at her when I think about it. That’s unfair, okay, but it’s how I feel.
Side note: Another time when E went on a three-week vacation (do they have to be SO LONG??), she wrote me a short note, just three or four sentences, and she gave it to a colleague to drop in the mail to me halfway through her absence. It was so great to receive that note! It was pretty simple, something like she wanted me to know that our connection would stay strong even during her absence. She was gone for a bit, but she’d return refreshed and focused, and she looked forward to our continued good work together. But just the fact that she’d made the effort to write it and have it sent meant a lot to me. I know you are worried because of past experience… but maybe something like this could work?
Oh, and one other thing–my best progress in therapy really began when I started seeing E two times a week. It made it so much easier to go deeper, because then I didn’t have to hang on to all those frightening emotions by myself for a whole week. Such a difference! I hope you will find the same thing.
I feel like I relate to so much of what you wrote here, and I just want to give you a huge hug and say, don’t despair! It’s difficult and can feel hopeless, and that’s an awful feeling. But it’s not hopeless. If I can get better, I swear, anyone can. Give yourself time and lots of love as you struggle through the swamp. xxoo
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ah thanks Q! I have no idea why they have to take such huge breaks. Maybe because they earn so much they don’t need to work so much 😉 Ha…or maybe because people like me sap their life force and they need loads of time to recharge their batteries!
I am feeling a bit shaky about the break but was able to talk to my T about it towards the end of the session ‘I don’t want you to go away’… I couldn’t believe the words came out my mouth. I never say things like that. Anyway, it opened up some really good work and we plan to use the next (last) session trying to work on the connection between us. Who knows what that’ll entail but she said there are ‘things we can do’… watch this space!
I just saw your post about your session. I am sorry it has sent you through a loop. Does E know how much you wobble in the lead up to breaks? I know my T knows breaks a big big problem but I don’t think she realised I literally start dreading them as soon as the last one is over. I can completely understand why you would have been seeking connection and reassurance in session with the breaks so close.
Anyway, thank you for all your support. I suspect there’ll be the usual buoying each other along on WP over the summer as everyone’s T’s head for the hills! x
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, we can all cling to each other during those dread therapy breaks. The thing I love about the community is the way we can be real with each other about what we are feeling, and have it accepted. Generally the therapy room is the only other place that happens. So this is actually a good place to get some support.
LikeLiked by 2 people
It really is. Thank goodness for WP! X