Dreaming About Therapy (again).

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This is certainly not the first (and no doubt won’t be the last) time I have written/will write about dreaming about my therapist/therapy on this blog (see here and here for other posts).

My brain is funny (not haha more… strange) where dreams are concerned; sometimes I go long spells without dreaming at all: well, I know we actually all dream most of the time, what I mean is that there are extended periods of time when I don’t remember my dreams when I wake up. This directly contrasts with the other times when it’s like being in the most vivid drama/horror night after night and it feels like every minute I am asleep I am caught up in heavy duty emotional stuff that I cannot forget when I wake no matter how I try. It all seems so real that I wake up and am not always sure for a minute or two if what’s happened was real or not.

I guess sometimes my brain is more open to processing stuff than others? Or maybe sometimes I’m just so distressed my brain goes on the rampage. I dunno.

When I completed the first 16 months of therapy with my T back in 2013 I had terrible nightmares every single night for six weeks afterwards- and not just one or two, but multiple nightmares every night. They were worse, even, than when my dad died (and they were frigging horrific: dead bodies hanging off light fittings and bodies in bin bags). Why am I not surprised? – losing her felt like a bereavement.

I wasn’t ready for the therapy to end but there was no choice. I was in a bad place and even though my T had managed to get a four month extension to the therapy (was meant to be 12 months time-limited therapy on the NHS) it still wasn’t enough…hence the fact we are now another separate 27 months down the line totalling 43 months of therapy so far! It’s hardly surprising, back then, that without my therapist my brain went into some kind of meltdown throwing up horrors night after night.

Then one night, after all those weeks of stressful sleep and trying to manage the horrible ache of attachment pain (although I didn’t really know what it was at the time) during the days, I dreamt I was swimming, in the dark, in a freezing cold reservoir near where I live. I’d had enough. I was tired. I felt defeated. I decided to put my face down in the water, stop swimming, and drown myself. I couldn’t go on any longer. I wasn’t upset. I just didn’t have any energy to keep swimming or fighting. I felt calm/numb as I stopped swimming and waited to drown (It’s a bit like how I feel when I have self harmed: numb and resigned to the situation rather than bubbling with emotion and angst). Just as I felt myself losing consciousness I was grabbed by someone and pulled up and out of the water and into a boat. The person wrapped a heavy blanket around me and held me close to them, rocking me gently, as I shivered. The person kissed the top of my head and gently said, ‘you don’t need to do this to yourself anymore, you are safe now’, that person was my therapist.

What a dream to end the nightmares!

I didn’t have a single memorable dream for the next three years after that one. I literally went from dream overload to total night time blackout…until I started therapy with her privately in 2016! I still missed my therapist terribly in the intervening period between finishing sessions in 2013 and going back to her in 2016 but at least the nightmares/dreams were gone and that made things a bit more bearable…you know, in amongst having a baby and getting diagnosed with cancer when he was 7 months old! The nightmares had stopped but life became a bit of a frigging nightmare.

When things feel bad, that dream from 2013 sometimes comes to mind (like today!) and I find it really comforting. Yeah, sure, it’s not exactly a ‘having a hot chocolate on the sofa and getting a cuddle’ type dream (like my brain would ever serve me up something like that anyway!!) but I can really physically feel that care and safety when I imagine that scene in the boat – even though it was only a dream and I was basically trying to kill myself beforehand. I think when she asks me to try and imagine a felt sense of safety, in sessions, I perhaps should try and hook into this because I feel so very safe when she is holding me in that part of the dream.

It sounds dumb but this dream has only just come back into my mind and it has never occurred to me to use this as a stimulus before. Ha. Hurrah for blogging and dredging shit up out the recesses of my mind.

Anyway. Dreams! It’s been a while since I have been ‘plagued’ by them and that really is the correct word for it right now. I have one or two memorable dreams about my T every couple of weeks but the dreams that were so rampant and regular last Christmas break have largely settled down.

Sadly, the dreams I have that involve my T, these days, are usually about her rejecting me or physically pushing me away when I try and get close to her which I find really upsetting. I could certainly use another being pulled out the water and held tightly moment!

Since moving from one therapy session per week to two a couple of weeks ago I guess it was to be expected that my brain would fire up again and try and process stuff that’s been activated in the sessions in my sleep.

To be honest I can’t remember a lot of the detail about the sessions this week. Monday was ok-ish, I think, with a big fat bit of dissociation thrown in when she let me about the next set of therapy breaks!!!!!! (We haven’t even talked about – recovered from-  the summer break yet FFS!). After really struggling to talk after the ‘here’s my breaks’ and her handing over of the yellow post-it note (honestly hate fucking yellow post-its now!) with about ten minutes to go I got a really strong memory that I have of being about five years old. It was like I stuck in that moment. I was there. I didn’t speak for quite some time although I know my T was trying to talk to me.

I eventually told her ‘I feel like I am stuck in a field’ and went on to describe a memory of having been sledging with my dad and my mum standing and watching us before having to take my mum to the train so she could go to university for the week. My dad had said we could go back to do more sledging once we’d dropped my mum off as we were having a great time but we couldn’t miss the train. The place we had been sledging was in a valley and in the valley the train tracks ran about two hundred metres away.

I, clear as day, remember standing in the snow with my dad and seeing the train disappear up the track. My mum was on the train. I didn’t cry. I didn’t do anything. I carried on sledging knowing she was now gone for the next five nights. I think most of the goodbyes/being left resulted in me feeling a kind of numbness…but now, as these memories creep back into my consciousness I feel absolutely distraught but also agonisingly empty. Why did she always go? How could she leave every week for six years? Why would you do that?

That young part was having a meltdown about always being left and told T that ‘it’s just too much’ at the end of Monday’s session. She was really kind and validating and said it must have been unbearable being so young and repeatedly being left and that she understood how hard any separation is and even endings (of sessions) can be impossibly difficult. I nodded. The session was up…as it always is just at the time stuff comes up! I didn’t make the link at the time – I was too caught up in the feelings – but on reflection this whole thing/memory was triggered by being told about the next therapy breaks.

Have I mentioned I am not a fan of therapy breaks?!

The week between sessions (thank god it’s only 4 days now) was pretty ropey in that I was feeling both really angry at everyone (grrrr!) but also really emotionally vulnerable and needy. The attachment pain was stuck firmly in my stomach and I felt like I wanted to reach out to my therapist (of course!). I didn’t. And, actually, I’ll say this about the two sessions a week – I feel way more able to hold onto things in the time between sessions than when I had to go a whole week. Don’t get me wrong, Wednesdays are still really really tough (my friend calls them ‘woeful Wednesdays’!) and I have to be really firm with myself in order not to send my T a message.

This week all I wanted to do was text her ‘I love you’. That has been the overriding feeling I have had this week. That young five year old part that came out in session on Monday really just wants her mummy.

Even if mummy doesn’t exist…

Anyway, I had heaps and heaps of dreams during this last week in which I did, in fact, tell my T that I love her only to be met each time with her disgust and rejection. It’s god awful dreaming this stuff because it feels so real. It’s these kinds of dreams that make it feel near impossible to tell my therapist what I am feeling when powerful loving feelings come up. The idea of her being repulsed by my feelings towards her and shaming me, and then rejecting me makes me want to cry.

I literally cannot bear the idea of that becoming a reality and so can never tell her face-to-face exactly what I am burning to say. It was hard enough telling her “I don’t want you to go away”   or ‘I really missed you; five weeks is a really long time’ in session so to say out loud ‘I really care about you and you are important to me – I love you’ feels almost impossible.  I’d like to think I would get there one day – and of course she’s read it in words enough times – but verbally expressing it? …after Friday’s Skype session I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to say it!

I had decided that given how upsetting the dreams had been since Monday I would use the Skype call on Friday to address some of what I was feeling and maybe also talk about how the summer break had been as well as the impact of her telling me the next break dates last session. I dragged my duvet downstairs (I was both freezing cold and in need of some sense of feeling held) and dialled in. I don’t know who the fuck was on the call but it wasn’t me – or at least it was, but the not the one that needs therapy.

It was ridiculous. I just moaned about nothing stuff in my day-to-day life. I could’ve rung a friend to have this conversation. It’s so frustrating when this happens. I don’t know if after the young part being so present on Monday that a kind of protector part stepped up on Friday to stop the vulnerability…whatever the case, I am getting sick of this happening. I don’t want to waste my time with my T and that’s exactly what it is when I do this. I can’t even stop myself from doing it – I just get off the call or finish the session and think ‘What the actual fuck happened there?’

I think the worst thing about these kinds of sessions is how everything starts swirling about afterwards. The young parts feel desperate and then the dreams ramp up another notch. I’ve had some crackers this weekend: sinking boats, forced surgeries in order to see my therapist, physical abuse, but the best of last night was coming face to face with a sodding great orange cobra in the therapy room and not being able to move. Joy! Mind you give me a cobra and shitting my pants over being told to go away and that I’m an embarrassment any day!

I am hoping for a peaceful night tonight – but hey, who knows! As I have said before:

‘To sleep, perchance to dream’…but please, God, not about my therapist!

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Author: rubberbandsandchewinggum

Mid-thirties. Mum of two. Procrastinator. Therapy and mental health blogger.

13 thoughts on “Dreaming About Therapy (again).”

  1. Aha you tweeted about this last night! 😉
    I know that the attachment pain totally sucks and you are frustrated with the protector part, but it’s there for a reason. If you were to talk about all of the trauma and memories at once, you would be totally flooded and re-traumatised. Unfortunately this has to be a slow ish process.
    I’m really proud of you because you wouldn’t have shared that memory six weeks ago. It’s unfortunate that it was triggered by the mention of the breaks again, but you were open and vulnerable. I’m glad that T is validating and supporting you. Ease the ride, who seems to have disappeared, suggested a fidget spinner for the dissociation. I think that messing with putty or something may be a good way to try to keep you present in session. I don’t know if your children have any play-doh that you can take with you. You are making progress, but try to cut yourself some slack in the midst of the frustration. You’re not wasting your sessions. You’re doing brilliantly – small steps. xx

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    1. Yes! I did! That gif was so how I was feeling 😬! Yeah I think something to fiddle with in therapy would be good sometimes but actually I think what I really really need is something to snuggle into- I want to die when my brain says ‘take teddy’ and feel embarrassed as showing up with a fleece blanket but somehow I need to find a way of feeling more physically calm and contained when I’m in there. If she won’t hug me then I need something to feel held. I dunno. I am so desperate for tomorrow but also overwhelmed by how much I need to achieve in the next 48 hours. I’ll come up for air on Wednesday! Take care and thanks for your support xxx

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      1. I think that taking a teddy is a great idea. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. It’s a shame that the physical distance exists at the moment, but T will have reasons for that which will be in your best interest. Maybe in time you will feel able to ask her to sit closer and she will say yes. I hope that today’s session goes okay. I also the next break commences on 24th December! xxx

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  2. The dream from your past makes me both sad for you and happy, sad that your mind takes you to such painful places even in your sleep and happy that you have that connecting dream to go back to. It almost seems as though you are replicating that in sessions. Dissociating, floating in that water, with the young parts hoping to be pulled back into the boat. But the adult lets you float, pretending you’re all right and just out for a nice swim. It’s a stretch as a metaphor, but really I just mean that some part of you is isolating you from that connection because the feelings are too painful, and it must be difficult that she’s trying but can’t quite bring you ashore. I hope that tomorrow you’re able to find a way to tell her some of the things you couldn’t quite before. ❤

    Also, I'm going to say again how annoying it must be that you guys always seem to be on a damn break! How are you ever going to feel settled if she's never there!?

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    1. Yes! That makes loads of sense. It’s definitely something like that. Today she pulled me into the boat but I let her know I was drowning so guess I need to do that to get the support I want 🤦‍♀️… and breaks… well fuck me, I can’t even go there right now!! 😬

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  3. I relate to you on a blog by blog basis. Love. What a terrible word to feel as though it can’t be expressed. Only I did. I didn’t say, ‘I love you,’ I said, is it ok for me to love you? It was met with both gentleness and harshness in the same breath. It was awful. To be fair to her, I caught her completely off guard. She told me that no one had ever asked her that before. She said it felt ok. But in the same breath she said (I’m sure out of panic) I don’t have any intention of staying in your life. This was about 3 months into sessions, and we will be at a year next month, so I survived it, but that shattered my heart. I told her. She apologized. It made me not want to express that anymore and since then I’ve not said ‘I love you’ again. Though I still do. My separation anxiety when she is going to miss a session is incredibly hard, and still I cry every time. I took a big step in session on Thursday, I told her there was something I wanted to say but was afraid to say because I didn’t want to make her mad or have her stop caring about me. She gave her talk on how I need not hold things in for the fear that I’ll make her mad or hurt her feelings. After a few minutes i said I wanted to tell her. I said, I know I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I feel like my soul chose the wrong mom and it should’ve been you. My entire body was trembling as I said this. Fear of rejection was present in a way it has never been. She greeted me with understanding and care. She said, your soul did choose me, maybe not in the way you want, but it did choose me. She said, you think saying that would make me mad or stop caring about you? No, it doesn’t. Talk about relief! So what I’m getting at is this- if you don’t express what’s in your heart, you won’t be able to move through those feelings and meet them head on with her acknowledgment. It’s fucking scary, but I think it’s a good thing!  You can do it! And even if you feel like you can’t, let little you do it- she knows exactly what to do. 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

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  4. I feel you…every word. I relate to your experiences shit loads!! 😉😊 I still don’t feel settled after her therapy break and my younger parts are proper pissed off with her! Told her her shoes were boring….why did she always wear the same shoes 😳😳😳 That told her 😂😜

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