‘And You’ve Washed Your Hands Clean Of This’

 

No. I’m not referencing the Coronavirus with the title of this post, it’s actually a lyric from Alanis Morissette (who I’m going to see in concert in September – yay for my sixteen year old self!) but, either way, I guess handwashing is relevant right now and maybe a some bad humour is needed seeing as the world has gone absolutely fucking mad, stockpiling… bog roll! I mean wtf? It’s not Norovirus! We’re not all going to get struck down with the shits if we contract Coronavirus (as far as I am aware) and when I cough, I don’t tend to soil myself at the same time!

I just don’t get it. Like, seriously, what is wrong with people? People have even been stealing hand-sanitiser from hospital wards – you have to be fucking mental to do that… and you know, on a scale, I would say after the last month or two I am quite high up on ‘crazy’…but I am not about to go raid a hospital so I can sanitise my hands when soap and water is completely adequate and there is a pressing need to hygiene around sick people on ward. Fucking morons.

Anyway, I could go on and on about this but, frankly, I find it so depressing to see how quickly the self-serving ableist bullshit has prevailed, ‘don’t worry, it’s only the elderly or those with compromised immune systems that’ll die’…ah good to know, thanks for that – like we don’t matter or something. Like why do people even voice that? Ugh. Man. Makes me sick but tbh I am not surprised after Brexit and voting in Boris it’s just more of the same isn’t it?

And breathe…let’s bring this back to therapy before I have some kind of global pandemic fuelled panic attack!

Em’s hand hygiene routine seems to have been wholly successful so far as aiding her in moving on. She has washed her hands clean of the shit show that was our therapeutic relationship – but then she never really got her hands dirty to begin with so perhaps it was easier for her. I, on the other hand, am faring less well. I am basically channelling my inner Lady Macbeth here, shouting, ‘Out, damn’d spot!’ as I furiously try and cleanse myself of this horror, but it’s just not working. It’s all in my mind and no matter how much I wash there’s still the stain of what’s happened tormenting me even if it appears that I am free of the problem.

I suppose it’s also helped that Em’s capacity to self-isolate and quarantine herself for the bulk of our relationship has meant she’s largely avoided coming into any significant (emotional) contact with the virus whereas I have laid myself bare and been completely unprotected from harm. I am, after all, one of those poor people with a knackered immune system who is most at risk of complications. I think that’s probably where this analogy should stop! Because I fear I am actually beginning to sound like a traumatised Shakespearean character.

I know it’s really quite early days and it’s going to take a while to move on and recover from what’s happened in my therapy with Em but, honestly, I feel like the trauma has left a stain on more than just my hands. I feel odd even calling it ‘therapy’ now because it’s been far from therapeutic. The more I unpick what’s happened with Anita, the more I am realising just how bad things were. I think I had so badly wanted to believe that Em could help me and cared that I glossed over the evidence to the contrary and believed her narrative that it was me that was the problem and I should just work harder and accept how things were. If she didn’t work in the way I wanted then that was my problem and I had to suck it up.

I’m not really sure what I want to say here – I mean really what more is there to say? I don’t want to be ‘that client’ who demonstrates just how crazy they are by what they write after termination and has everyone giving each other knowing looks and mouthing ‘she’s bonkers, it’s no wonder her therapist couldn’t handle her’. But there is so much whirling in my head and this is one of the places I can think about it out loud. My therapy sessions with Anita are really helpful but I am literally like a broken record- repeating the same stuff over and over.

I am so confused and disorientated by what’s happened with Em. I find myself wondering how on earth it all just disintegrated in no time at all. I feel like I am left her scratching my head and wondering if I really was just a massive handful and couldn’t see it. But genuinely, I don’t think I was. I am honest in what I write here but crikey not much of it made it into the room, a lot of the time, because the shame and embarrassment was so strong and the rejection always felt so huge. But, then, Anita said this is what happens in abusive relationships – the abuser moves on and the victim is left shell-shocked trying to process what happened.

It feels a bit OTT putting it like that, but that run in from Christmas break was pretty horrific and I can’t dress it up, really.

I wish I was able to be pragmatic about this, accept what’s happened and just move on – be less Lady Macbeth and more Elsa – and just ‘let it go’😉.

And I suppose if it was just my adult self that had been in the relationship and affected by the end it then I probably would be able to, but we all know that this ending has body-slammed all the parts of me. I’ve tried to shelter and protect the child parts from the worst of it but when you’ve been living in an emotional shanty town and a category 5 hurricane passes through it’s inevitable that some serious damage is going to take place.

I know my last post here was pretty doom and gloom. That final email from Em really, really hurt me….I mean the time since mid-December has really, really hurt me but I guess that email was the final nail in the coffin. I feel like I have been left for dead. It’s like I’ve been in a hit and run and she’s driven off without even so much as a casual glance in the rear-view mirror. For all she knows I could be in a right mess, injured or dead – and yet she couldn’t care less. It reminds me, a bit, of a fab poem by Simon Armitage called ‘Hitcher’ that I used to teach on the old GCSE syllabus before English got massacred by the Tories and made the kids need to have almost photographic memories rather than insight… God, I’m in a good mood! Apologies!

I am blown away that throughout this ending Em has not once asked me about what plans I might put in place to keep myself safe, offered a referral on, or put any kind of support in place knowing we’ve gone from two sessions a week to none in the way that we have. This wasn’t a well-planned termination of long-term work. There was no gradual winding down or celebration of the work done. It was abrupt and unwanted. So, the lack of safeguarding feels neglectful. There is just a complete lack of professional care. I’m beyond wanting her to have warm fuzzy feelings about me, but surely she has a basic duty of care to safeguard her clients just like I have as a teacher with my students? I mean if nothing else, shouldn’t she have covered her own arse here?!

I guess I am angry because there would have been a time where going this would have ended up in a right fucking mess: self harm, active anorexia, hard to ignore suicidal thoughts…and she knows this. In fact, this week has been really awful because everything really just caught up with me. I was having my craniosacral session with K on Thursday and I felt suddenly like I was plummeting through the darkness, it was a younger part, and in that moment all I wanted to do was take a blade to my arm and cut from wrist to elbow. Fortunately, I was in a safe place, with a safe therapist, and I could move away from it because amazingly, she felt it instantly in my body and asked me about the part that wants to give up and not be here anymore and we processed it. BUT this stuff is right here, just under the surface.

It’s going to take a while to recover from this because this abandonment taps into a lifetime of other abandonments and losses…so thank god I have both K and Anita to help me.

I had really good sessions with both of them this week and whilst I was really in the mire so far as the hard stuff coming up went, I was so supported in the work. K and I ended up having a ninety minute session and she’s told me to check in over the weekend…which I have done. It’s a different kind of therapeutic relationship than regular talk therapy, although we do talk a lot (she is a trained counsellor too) she just works as a craniosacral therapist these days.

The work is really holding and containing and K is awesome at coregulation which is so needed for my system that is so frequently set into flight mode. She sees all the parts and contains them all. She accepts all of me. It’s absolutely mind-blowing having this kind of trusting, warm, caring relationship after so long out in the cold with Em.

Em said I was scared of intimacy – and yet that is not the case at all. If there is trust I can do it. My system just knew something was wrong with Em even though my young parts were so desperately attached – traumatically bonded- to her. K thanks me for trusting her and letting her in. She appreciates what big deal that is for someone that has been so hurt, not just now, but throughout my life to be vulnerable. Being seen is scary but being accepted despite this, is something new and healing. The way she talks reminds of the book by Charlie Mackesy, ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ – if you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a wonderful book of stunning illustrations with really uplifting messages on each page:

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Just to clarify, I haven’t just fallen head over heels in love with K after a couple a few months of work together. Although I guess it must sound that way! It’s not like that at all. We did two years of weekly work in the years before I gave birth to my daughter – when I had my breakdown following my dad’s death. We have remained in loose contact via email and text ever since and caught up every now and then but now we’re back in the thick of it and it’s really nice to be back.

I was able to securely attach to her back then and so picking up the work again now with the new insights I have about myself has been great. She meets me where I am at and is so encouraging. She believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. I feel like I have an ally and despite knowing I can’t be fixed by someone else I have a solid support to help me on my way. We laugh, too, which is great! I think our inner teens could be quite good friends, actually – or a bad influence on each other! I trust that she knows herself well enough, and has done enough of her own work to be able to handle me.

To be honest, given the choice now of Em or K – I’d choose K hands down…because I feel how good she is for me and how much of a healing presence she is. I miss Em – but I don’t miss all the real time anxiety, the between session depression, feeling shit in the room as well as out of it, feeling inadequate, too much, and like I wasn’t doing therapy right. And I certainly don’t miss the high levels of dissociation twice a week!
Crikey – that sounds really bad doesn’t it?!

And then there’s Anita. It’s like the difference between night and day seeing her and Em. I get that we are still early days and I haven’t really attached to her or had any of those transference feelings towards her yet which will likely shake things up a bit when they happen but I do really like her. I have been able to really explore what’s going on for me. She isn’t frightened by my feelings, my distress, or how I have reacted to losing Em. I have been able to cry with her. She has normalised my feelings. She understands. And best of all – she keeps reassuring me that I am not too much for her. A little reassurance goes a long way doesn’t it?!

Because she is so present with me in the room (no still face exercise here), tells me her experience in the room with me (so I don’t have to guess something negative), and keeps checking in with me, it feels really connecting and safe which means I am able to be much more open than I have been in the past with Em. I can tell her about the feelings about self-harm, not wanting to eat, feeling utterly devastated about Em and I don’t feel any shame bubbling up inside me, wanting to gag me. It feels really freeing.

I have been sitting on these feelings for so long with Em and yet rarely finding a way to tell her – hence the notebooks, and occasional (unread) emails, or things I had written and printed out to talk about in session. I always felt so nervous and scared of the reaction – because I so often felt like I was being pathologized for being how I was.

I told her, this week, about the image I have of the pair of us working together in the mud on a building site, laying the foundations so we can build a solid new structure together and compared that to how Em has always been more of a site foreman telling me to work harder at building while she stands in the door of the site office drinking tea. Anita smiled at this and agreed we were in this together. I do think we might be able to forge a good enough relationship with time.

Anyway, this is long and I need to go to the tip! It’s been a busy weekend of trying to clear the garden in preparation for spring (which I am sure wants to come!) so there’s a trailer of stuff to go to the recycling centre…and then I need to write a letter to my estranged grandmother who has written to tell me my grandad died a few days ago…but that’s a story for another time!

Enjoy your Sundays everyone…and please, please, don’t go panic buy toilet roll, it won’t help you!

And remember…

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24 thoughts on “‘And You’ve Washed Your Hands Clean Of This’

  1. Lucy King March 8, 2020 / 9:11 am

    I’m really enjoying seeing your relationship with Anita flourish. You guys are gonna do great things together. And I think as you recover more from the trauma of your work/ending with Em you will find more righteous rage and you’ll possibly want to take things further. You’ll have a chorus of support behind you if and when you do.

    Also… you’re going to see Alanis!!! I’m so jealous! I love her so much. Love all her music, love her podcasts and love her new song so much! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 8, 2020 / 9:24 am

      Thanks L. Yes. I feel very supported by Anita and K so that’s really lucky. I would not be ok at all if it weren’t for the care I’m getting right now. Righteous rage comes in waves. Once I’ve metabolised the grief I’m
      sure I’ll work out a plan. Yes- Alanis in September and Texas in October! X

      Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Ballew March 31, 2020 / 6:34 pm

      I just found your blog after googling “dreaming about your therapist”. And I will have to go back and continue on from the post of 2017 where you explained a lot. You have explained a lot of similar things I went through when I got attracted to my therapist (I am feel, as is she), and taking breaks during the year especially the long break at the end of the year. You had similar reactions to things said, the boundaries, and so forth. It is so fascinating (though I do feel sorry that you had such a hard time with your therapist, sessions and break times) to know that someone actually has dealt with the same things I did. There is nowhere I know to find out that this is the case. I mean therapy sessions are one on one, and unless the client decides to share their experiences, you really don’t know what you don’t know.

      I will be around to read….and comment. If you don’t mind me commenting on older posts, then I will do that. If it is not necessary to rehash some old blog post, I will abide with that too.

      BTW, I am in the US, in the middle of the whole country (near St Louis). Not where the virus has created heaps of problems on the healthcare system. I am sorry that Europe incl the UK is suffering so much.

      Take care.

      Liked by 3 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 31, 2020 / 7:30 pm

        Hi there! I’m glad you found my blog if it resonates 🙂. Go ahead and read through from the beginning if you like – there’s quite a lot of it!! Ha. But something to do in lockdown eh?! I like hearing from readers and commenting on older posts is fine. I look forward to the dialogue. Take care and thanks for reaching out 👍

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy King March 31, 2020 / 11:15 pm

        Lovely to have your comment, you’re welcome here and more than welcome to read and comment on older posts. I know that feeling of being so relieved to read that other people have experienced similar to you. It’s incredibly validating. I’m in Scotland so the stats are still fairly low right now. Though life has changed beyond recognition and we are very worried about the inevitable climb in cases over coming weeks. I’m more active on my instagram page than I am here on WordPress but I look daily so I’m sure I’ll chat to you again 💕 take care 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LovingSummer March 8, 2020 / 10:30 am

    Please don’t apologise for a long post, I drank in every word; you write in such a way as to allow the readers to see what you see and feel what you feel. It’s heartwarming to see how you’re doing and the support you’re receiving – the true support that you deserved.

    On another note – all this talk on WP, BBC News, FB etc, about the needless buying of toilet paper, is making me feel guilty for adding a packet to my normal shopping delivery due today! 😝 To make it look even worse, my normal brand is on offer (so I’d be mad not to buy it) but the only available pack size left is a whopping pack of 24!!!🙈

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 8, 2020 / 8:54 pm

      Ha- was it Cushelle? I was in Sainsbury’s today and they were doing 24 rolls for £9…bargain! haha.

      I’m hanging on in there. It’s not easy but I am soooooo lucky to have found Anita who is so understanding and not in the least bit freaked out by the attachment stuff. And K, well, she’s just bloody solid as a rock. She’s got such a firm grip on my hand that there’s no way I can fall. I am just sad that I had to be plunged off the edge by someone who was meant to help and care. Still, it’s time for some serious growth…. one small step at a time! x

      Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer March 8, 2020 / 9:04 pm

        Haha it actually was! But for an even lower price than that 😜 and I see they’ve sold out today which is ridiculous!

        I think there’s some sweet justice in the fact you’ve got two (really good therapists) for the price of one (that couldn’t do the job needed of her – her lacking; not yours, I hasten to add). It feels, as an onlooker, like it makes up for lost time – in some bazaar way – but it might not feel like that to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. foreverisalooongtime March 8, 2020 / 10:38 am

    I always feel a bit cautious writing a comment like this because I know each person/relationship is different. However I had the same thing happen with my therapist (if you fancy depressing yourself a bit more feel free to read it on my abandoned blog) anyway, what I admire about you is that you have got up and put in place things to help you with Ems shocking treatment. You have Anita and K. But you also have you. I don’t think you realise how amazing you are. When you feel as bad as you do about what’s happened it easy to miss the amazing job you are doing with helping yourself. But I see it as do your other readers. You really do have this!!

    It took me years to come to terms with what happened with my T. It hurt so unbelievably much, I could even walk down the road where her office was. Ultimately it boils down to she’s a bitch 😂 and I’m actually better off without her.

    You’ll get there. It may be a long and messy road but you are a fantastic person and you will do it 💛

    Now, I’m off to try and buy some loo roll! I’ve only got one roll left! My friend told me Tesco’s was completely out yesterday and she’s had to buy kitchen roll to use! Lovely!

    Take care x

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 8, 2020 / 8:59 pm

      Ah thank you for commenting and sharing with me. I had no choice but to put in place support – I knew things felt off last year and that’s why I sought K out again and then I am so glad I contacted Anita in January after the bad Skype first session back. I would be in a complete shit zone if I didn’t have them. Some days it’s survival – and I know you’ll know all about that. The grief is immense isn’t it? I will definitely look at your blog when I get a minute to sit with a cup of tea and see what’s happened. I’m so sorry you have been in this place. I know it’ll take years to recover from this too. Something similar happened when I was 17 with a friend and I have never gotten over it. Ugh. Thank you for being so kind… I am doing my best and I am proud of myself for that. Take care x

      Liked by 2 people

    • JH March 8, 2020 / 9:02 pm

      I read your blog earlier. I hope you are doing ok nowadays x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. JH March 8, 2020 / 12:52 pm

    Wow do you teach English in a secondary school? I tried to learn a bit more about the English syllabus but all the literatures basically had storylines about people going mad, suicide or murdering someone.
    I couldn’t do it myself with PTSD.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 8, 2020 / 9:01 pm

      I private tutor these days after years in secondary school – home school students, that can’t cope in mainstream settings during the day and extra support for school kids some evenings. I wanted a better work life balance and to be able to be more available for my kids who are only little. Yes, the syllabus is basically various forms of brutality! haha. x

      Liked by 2 people

      • JH March 8, 2020 / 9:04 pm

        Me too. I’m exactly the same. I tutor for the same reasons. Maybe we know each other as tutors and don’t realise. We might be in the same Facebook groups?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. slantgirl March 8, 2020 / 8:41 pm

    Beautiful recap of where things are at -I’m amazed at how well you’re doing, and so glad you have K & Anita with you. Also, I spent the day listening to Alanis Morissette because of this post!! 😂😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 8, 2020 / 8:50 pm

      Ah thanks. I am holding it together with my trusty rubber bands and chewing gum and a significant amount of checking in with K. It’s not easy but I will be ok…because I will not let Em destroy me. Ah so glad you had an Alanis revival. I downloaded the back catalogue on iTunes the other day and am working my way forward as let her go in about 2007! X

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Bourbon March 8, 2020 / 11:49 pm

    The complete hand washing might actually be a blessing to be honest.
    With my ex therapist that ended up to be far more toxic than I realised until I got away from her…. There has been no complete hand washing. I’m still able to contact her, and her me. And to be honest it’s not ideal. It means I’m able to return to that unhealthy place if I want to. Which so far has caused nothing but trouble. Plus, Anita and K sound so much better for you. I’m so glad you have them to help you through the complicated emotions of Em. There is some life changing therapy coming up for you now 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  7. lost little fairy March 9, 2020 / 4:44 am

    Sounds like you have come good with A and K, really hope they continue to support you. I’m on the Alanis bandwagon too and have tickets for September. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 3, 2020 / 12:15 pm

      I hope Alanis is possible in September – right now everything feels unlikely. It’s sending me even more nuts than I was before! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. skinnyhobbit April 6, 2020 / 10:36 am

    I love that book. Loaned it to my therapist. Hugs.

    Like

  9. skinnyhobbit April 6, 2020 / 10:37 am

    I’m really glad you have K and Anita and I’m still full on horrified at Em. You’re not the problem, she is.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Eliza April 19, 2020 / 12:49 am

    You haven’t posted in a while… I hope you’re doing okay…
    Thinking of you…
    Love, light and glitter

    Like

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