Rage Cycles

So, here I am again sitting in the hospital waiting room waiting to find out if all is still well in my body. I’m always nervous as I wait. I suppose it’s not surprising, really. I have no reason to believe I am not still in remission but then I never imagined I’d have had an enormous tumour growing in my chest at the point I got diagnosed so I’ve learnt to not take anything for granted so far as health goes. You never know what they’ll say.

The stress of these appointments never lessens. As I sit here, in the same waiting area for patients undergoing treatment, I cannot help but be plunged back three years and remember how terrible it was undergoing my own gruelling treatment. Twelve chemotherapies spaced two weeks apart – horrendous…and then the radiotherapy to round things off.

I feel sick, it’s totally psychosomatic of course. It’s not just nerves, it’s that chemo poisoned sick feeling – a nausea that is hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it. I am sure there is an element of PTSD in all this. Health trauma to add onto the various other traumas… ha. You couldn’t make it up.

The longer I sit here (the service is overstretched so there is always a couple of hours delay being seen) the worse the anxiety gets. I get a full body fear and my brain starts on some impressive mental flashbacks. I loop round different points in my treatment having sat in this place waiting for so many things: the shock of initial diagnosis, CT guided biopsy through my rib cage, bone marrow biopsy (oooooouuuuuuucccccchhhhhhh!!!), the first chemo, the middle chemos, the feeling like I was dying, the final chemo… the hair loss, the loss of myself… it’s really horrible.

The staff are lovely but I hate it here. They remember me. Ask about my kids by their names. Ask after my wife. It’s nice to have people that seem to care but actually, I wish I didn’t have to come here at all. I wish that there was no prior relationship with these doctors and nurses. I don’t like being reminded of how bad things were and how precarious things still are. I’m always watching and waiting. Never being sure that things are ok. It can all change so quickly, can’t it? One bad cell mutation and bam off we go again.

It’s especially hard being here today. This time last year my very lovely friend and mother figure died in here, literally thirty metres from where I sit. It’s so upsetting. I cannot believe she’s not here anymore. I feel devastated. Losing her reminds me that nothing is safe. There are treatments but they do not always work. People we love die. The idea that we fight cancer is rubbish. We don’t fight it. Our cells do what they do. The treatment may or may not work. Some of us are lucky. Some of us aren’t.

So not only is today tricky because my darling friend is front of mind and the grief comes in waves; in addition to this my oldest friend has had confirmation that her metastasised breast cancer is spreading further in her bones – it’s not looking at all good – there is no cure for her; they’re just trying to buy time. Another friend is having her third chemo treatment today for breast cancer and will have a mastectomy once the chemo finishes- her waiting area is across the hall and I expect her to walk in soon. I don’t especially want to see another familiar face in here. I wish neither of us needed to be here.

I cannot get away from the disease and know that it is doing its best to take away people I love. I feel guilty for being the one that has survived. It is what it is. I am glad I am alive, of course I am, but I am sad. Deep in my core I feel so much sadness about who and what has been taken from me. I am angry too. Raging in fact. But the rage is getting caught up in feelings of abandonment and rejection and all that shitting shitty shitastic attachment stuff.

What’s going on?

Well, grrrr, I’m fucking furious with my therapist. The session before her break I told her it was coming up to the third anniversary of my chemo finishing and the first anniversary of the death of my friend, and that both these things coincided with my follow up appointment at the hospital in the same ward she died on. It was a triple whammy of grief, anxiety, and fear. We’ve spoked at length over the years about all these things. She acknowledged that there was going to be a lot to contend with and then went on her break…another fucking therapy break. Jeez!

The week rolled by and then it was Monday again and the end of the three session break. I looked at my calendar on my phone and discovered that she’s away again on the 16th. I had no idea. I hadn’t registered it at all. I seem to be on breaks more than in therapy at the minute. This sudden realisation that Em would be gone again really unsettled me. I can’t seem to find my feet at all because she is always gone…or that’s how it feels.

Monday’s session was fine-ish. I couldn’t look at her, though. Every time I glanced her way I looked at her and felt like I had been burned. I’ve written about eye contact in therapy before and how it is for me. I’m not surprised I was finding hard to connect. Things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing in therapy lately. And then I had sent that text after the last session about the heart in the bottle…which she completely ignored.

No change there, then.

I am almost beyond the point of caring about her lack of acknowledgment of anything I send her in email or text. She literally responds with a text ‘ok’ even if it’s about scheduling, there’s no ‘see you then’ or anything borderline warm -it’s one word! She couldn’t be any more ‘bare minimum’ if she tried. I’d love to know how she thinks this kind of communication is helpful to me. How does this help someone with deep attachment wounds forged in childhood? She seems to want to work with the parts and yet she seems to forget that every interaction we have is being felt by many many different parts. Adult Me understands she doesn’t do outside communication…sort of… but the little ones cannot understand it at all.

Anyway, I’m used to that now. BUT. And here’s the big BUT. There are occasions where her lack of engagement with me feels really painful and uncaring. It’s fine (sort of) to not respond to texts and pick it up in a session (most of the time). I get therapy needs to take place in the room. BUT…there’s other times when I actually need tangible, real time, here and now, support. I need her to be there for bigger things. And this week is a big thing. The cancer stuff and the anniversary of my friend dying is a big thing.

I told her I was stressed out on Monday about today’s appointment for the reasons I’ve just mentioned. Usually I would leave a session before a hospital follow up and she’d say ‘I hope Wednesday goes well’ which is, at least, something. She didn’t do that this week, though. I don’t know why. I don’t know whether she just doesn’t hold that stuff in mind or she just couldn’t care less.

The session was really uncomfortable at times. I spoke a lot about work and being overstretched. As I did so, I could feel the young parts getting overwhelmed. It was that whole needing to connect but being unable to. My heart was in the bottle but I couldn’t get it out. She made no reference to that text I’d sent and so the conversation didn’t open up. With about twenty minutes to go I told her about two dreams I’d had that night. I needed her to at least see how much I was struggling even if I couldn’t really connect on the level that I wanted to.

  1. I was heavily pregnant and the waters breaking but nothing happening. I knew there was something wrong and rang the hospital. They said they were busy and disregarded my concerns, telling me to come in when there were regular contractions. I said there were no contractions and that the baby wasn’t moving. They weren’t interested in the slightest. I got increasingly frightened and after three days rang again saying nothing was happening, the baby wasn’t moving, and that I needed to be seen. They reluctantly agreed for me to come in and when I did it was confirmed the baby was dead inside me.
  2. I’d dropped my kids at school, returned home to find the door of my house wide open. As I walked I realised I’d been burgled. Every single room was ransacked. Stuff was all over the floor, broken, but nothing seemed to be missing. I walked from room to room feeling devastated and confused. Why would someone do this to me? What were they looking for? I went into my room, equally as wrecked, and sat trying to think what had been taken but couldn’t discover anything. It was as though someone had just decided to destroy everything but for no reason.

We talked a bit about them. She said that she thinks they’re transformational, that now it’s time to grieve the big losses which is kind of what I was saying in my last blog post. I think, though, that there’s a lot to be said about people not caring enough, not finding time for me, and losing my baby as a result. That literal inner child is dying right now. It’s crap.

Anyway, that’s not why I am sad. I mean it is sad! I get there is mourning to be done. There is a load of grief to wade through. I need to face the mother wound. This is not new news. What is making me feel really sad is that I feel like I am completely on my own, not just with that past stuff but with the big life things in the here and now. I get how I view things today is informed by the lens from the past, so probably feels way worse than it actually is; but I am struggling to understand how, after six years my therapist was unable to wish me well for this week’s appointment. Like is that so very hard?

I also feel sad that she is unable to be human enough to step outside her rigid position and say, ‘look I know this week is incredibly hard for you and I see how much you are struggling. If you would find it helpful you could text me on Wednesday to check in. I hope that it all goes well’. Like is that asking too much? I’m not asking for mummy cuddles here. I’m not about wanting to know she is still out there somewhere. It’s not that attachment stuff in the usual sense. Today I am an adult facing huge stress and could do with a bit of support from someone who is supposed to get it and care about me.

Perhaps I am completely missing the point. I don’t know. It’s at times like these that I doubt myself. Is my anger and upset justified? Perhaps the level of anger is intensified because of my past, or being disregarded by others, but the feelings are still real. I am upset that outside of those 50 minute slots I actually don’t matter to her.

Ugh.

I don’t know if I have explained that very well…but in reality, it doesn’t matter does it? She’s not there for me. I can’t reach out. There is no support and whatever happens today she is not interested.

I want to run away from her. Cut ties. Ditch therapy. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I know she’s not my mum, but I did hope that she was someone who might care a little bit.

I know I was exactly the same last time I was here. I hit the rage. It cycles. It lessened in the end. But man, I cannot keep doing this to myself.

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Author: rubberbandsandchewinggum

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

21 thoughts on “Rage Cycles”

  1. I’m so sorry today is the way it is.
    I totally get that you need your T to be supportive and how you would want her to just be there with you while you wait. Not feeling it would naturally just add to all of the other things.
    Rage tries to mask fear and you are more than right to feel afraid and angry and whatever else you are feeling today.
    Sometimes, the only thing that can be said is that life just sucks and I think for you today would be classified as a super sucky day.
    Thinking of you and hoping that all goes well. xx

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  2. There are no words to make the anxiety around waiting for that type of news easier, so I just want to say that I’m thinking of you and hope everything remains stable. I’m so sorry that it is impacting so many people in your life, and is thus also re-traumatizing you.

    As far as your therapist, it seems sometimes like the number of breaks is disruptive to your process. Additionally, I may have suggested this before, so sorry if I’m repeating myself, but do you think she would she be willing to come up with some stock answers in response to texts that you send her outside of hours? This way she acknowledges and validates quickly without getting into it and doing work. Something like “I received your message and am sorry you’re struggling. We can discuss it on Monday”? Things that you would consider appropriate.

    Sorry you are overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings can just be the worst, especially when the person who should be supporting you doesn’t seem to be meeting your needs. They don’t fit into a box and you deserve to be able to let the young ones speak out from time to time outside of those walls.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment ❤️. I feel much better today. An all clear for four months is a huge weight off. Therapy feels really hard. I just don’t know where I am at with it now. It’s a bit like you with J. Can I find the words to express the anger, disappointment, fear etc and maybe her meet it with compassion and understanding which would feel connecting and healing? My worry is that I take that leap and it isn’t positive. I don’t want to have to start over with someone new. I want to work through the blocks. But at the same time I don’t want to feel hurt and uncared for so often. 🤷‍♀️

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  3. 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 I’m just so sorry that she’s not meeting the needs of the children Or the adult. It isn’t good enough. You deserve so much better. Xxx

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  4. I believe that your feelings of frustration with her ARE justified. From what you’ve said she is quite cold. I know she has to have boundaries but I think the cancer appointment is a HUGE big thing and she seems to be completely ignoring a lot of what you express. I understand you feel neglected and hurt and fully understand why you are pissed off with her. I think I would be too. I’m so gutted that you have this much pain and tough reminders at this time of year, and the breaks in treatment do seem to be very frequent! I feel for you and sometimes I question whether she is the right therapist for you 🙈😔😞 (But that’s only my personal opinion and it’s how you feel that matters). Sending love and understanding 💟 xx

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    1. Thanks love. It’s crazy-making. Like I totally can accept the boundaries around the attachment stuff but to me the cancer stuff is big adult here and now shit. I don’t think acknowledging that struggle is wrong or trying to help once every four months when I’m
      under huge stress with a text would kill her. It feels like a completely different category of stuff, you know? I don’t even want to speak to her tomorrow – I’m fine on my own! Grrr!x

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      1. I’m feeling pretty much done – can’t even be bothered, you know? I’ve hit ‘what’s the point?’ – still loads of other distractions today – like planning a second year A Level revision session on a play I know nothing about 😬

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      2. Omg! That sounds challenging 😳🙈 I understand that not arsed feeling. I hope that you can set aside some reflecting time next week when you’re not as involved with the kids. You’re doing much better than you think you are and your resilience is improving even though the hurt is still there 💛💛💛

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  5. I’m sorry that you’re struggling. I’d like to think that she didn’t deliberately not wish you well for your appointment, but I have no idea if that’s right or not.
    I think that the breaks are probably the main cause of this. There is no consistency or opportunity to open up if you are constantly anticipating the next break. As much as we should speak in sessions, I think that you need T to ask the questions so that you know that it’s safe to open up. It’s shit that she didn’t bring up the text. They’re not perfect, but it’s not to much to ask for them to at least be engaged in a session. Sending love and hope you can find some way through. 💜

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    1. Thanks Hun. I feel less angsty today having got a clean bill of health. I don’t especially want to talk to Em tomorrow. Given she’s gone again in a couple of weeks it just feels too inconsistent. Tomorrow I have to Skype too … so dreading even more distance!

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  6. I read a lot of blogs about therapy, but yours sometimes make me the saddest. I feel so bad as I can feel how hard you are trying… you are trying to engage in therapy and I am sorry but I don’t think your therapist is meeting your half way. I am not sure what’s going on for her but she doesn’t seem so attuned. I remember that phone call where she was completely misattuned. And also, I feel like she takes WAY too many vacations. Like I know that Ts are people, but I think my T would go on 4 maybe 5 vacations a year at most. Yours seems to be on vacation every few weeks and this seems very disruptive to your therapy. I know that you have been with her for a long time, but have you considered maybe seeing another therapist, just to see if this just transference and resistance or maybe you are just not a good match with your T? I think you deserve a little bit more warmth.

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    1. Thanks Vera. Yes. I hear what you’re saying. It’s hard to escape the facts of the absences and the lack of support during them. She’s generally quite attuned but seems distanced. I always struggle to work out if it’s me or her. I find it hard to reach out but agree that recently, when I have it’s not been ideal. I have seen another therapist (last Jan) after the Christmas disaster. I liked her a lot. She was very demonstrative. The idea of losing 3+ years of therapy is hard though. My T knows me. Ugh. I don’t know. Tomorrow is going to be hard as I think I’ve got to have a hard conversation and I’m dreading the response. I think she thinks it’s all about mourning what I didn’t have, and to some extent it is, but it has to feel safe and contained so I don’t fall apart. She’s part of the relationship and it’s meant to be the relationship that heals …. blah blah! Thanks for your comment x

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      1. ahh good luck. I have been there. I was always like is it me or is it her. and trust me my T was very similar to yours in her approach. she was very quiet and not overly validating etc. But she would respond to my emails if I ever needed her help in between. and had a bit more warmth and willing to meet me half way. I know that you have spent 3 years with this T and that seems hard to give up on… are you familiar with the sunk cost fallacy? if not google it, it might ring a bell about your situation. Why I feel bad is that I see how HARD you are trying. you are trying really really hard and I don’t see you T meeting you halfway. I wish you the best.

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      2. Thank you for recognising my effort. I am trying hard. I wish I could relax into therapy and the relationship but it feels really hard to, and I think the word that sticks out is it feels formal and it needs to be less so. I feel like I’m moaning a lot! 🤦‍♀️

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  7. I hope you are doing ok, I have been thinking about you. No great advice here I’m afraid, but struggling with the same rage cycles from time to time. Take care of yourself. Xxx

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