Haunted

Today would have marked to the four year therapy anniversary of my coming back to work with Em after I’d finished my cancer treatment. It seems daft, really, keeping these dates in my head – especially now therapy with her is finished- but it’s always been a date that I’ve somehow marked, usually with a card and a message reflecting on our time together and thanking her putting up with me.

When we don’t know the actual birthday of our therapists, this date, for many of us, functions as a kind of birthday – I suppose the birth of the therapeutic relationship maybe? Either way, this date is important to lots of us. I wonder if therapists are even aware of this?

Anyway, had I still been with Em, today I had planned to give her a  gift in our session. On reflection, that would have been a terrible idea wouldn’t it?! But this was planned and bought way before Christmas! And I had no idea, then, that we would not be working together now. I’d been told therapy would end when I was ready for it to end, in a planned way- not abruptly.

Some of you probably remember the episode with the pebble a few years ago. For those of you who don’t, basically about a year into this latest phase of the therapy, I was really wobbling and had realised that my object constancy was pretty much non-existent. The time between sessions was hideous and breaks, well, they were an absolute nightmare. It was like the minute I left Em’s house she ceased to exist. I would panic that she had died (a hangover from my dad dying three days into a holiday – and so I always struggled on Wednesdays). I couldn’t picture her in my mind at all and the feeling that she was gone GONE also really tapped into the feelings I had as a child when my mum would be gone from Sunday to Friday. I missed Em so much that it physically hurt. It was awful! I just felt like I was stuck in trauma time whenever I wasn’t in the room with her.

I had read about transitional objects and it made perfect sense to me that we needed to try and help the young parts that were starting to emerge, and that an object or something that she had written might help me to begin to be able to hold her in mind. The young parts of me would really have liked something soft, something comforting to hold, like a little teddy or something but I knew Em would never go for it so never mentioned that idea. When I finally brought up how hard I was finding things after the long summer break she suggested her maybe writing something on a piece of card for me, or said I could bring a card in for her to write on… I should have known right then that it wasn’t going to work!

I still remember how sad I felt when she said that. Like of course I would like her to write me a holding message but why on earth would I want to bring something in for her to write in? The whole point with transitional objects is that it comes from them, it’s a symbol of them. Man it still upsets me!

Anyway, Em lives near the beach and I’ve always collected pebbles from various places I have been and I thought that maybe her writing a message on a pebble from the beach might help ground me when I was spiralling off into attachment abandonment doom. Having something solid to hold but also having some of her words felt like a great idea. In the end it took over six months for her to write on that fucking pebble. And even then I had to give her the words. The whole exercise fell so flat and actually just made things worse. Why was it so hard, after so many years, to simply write a personal message on a fucking rock? I mean I can join the dots now – and I did at the time too!

My Inner Critic had a field day, ‘She doesn’t care about you. There isn’t a relationship. She doesn’t feel any connection to you.’ And do you know what? Maybe I should have listened to that voice back then, and all the times since. Because it turns out it was right, wasn’t it? All the times I have felt like she wasn’t invested, not really, played out. I didn’t want to trust my gut. I wanted to believe that what I was experiencing was just the legacy of a lifetime of trauma and it was just negative transference. If I stuck at it, tried to put that niggling doubt to one side then I’d see it was me and not her.

Anyway, back to the gift that was meant for today! I have a friend who is a stone mason and I noticed he had started working with pebbles as keepsakes. One design he had was hearts in relief. The whole of the surface of the pebble is sanded away (or whatever you do with stone!)  and all that is left is two hearts. Being a lover of metaphor and analogy, it made me think of Em. What I wanted to say was that the hard surface of the stone, the layers of protection have finally gone, and what remains after painstaking work, is the relationship. It’s the relationship that is tough enough to see things through and it is through that strength that the work is able to be done.

I’m just too fucking sentimental for my own good aren’t I?

So, here’s the pebble that will never make it to Em.

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I feel a little bit heartbroken about it really. It’s another of those expressions of love from the youngest parts that feels rejected. I mean all of me feels so rejected right now.

I’ve been struggling to come here and write this post for a couple of weeks. Partly because what’s happened is so painful to even write – I feel a deep ache in my core even thinking about it, but it’s also because there’s a lot of shame and embarrassment floating about too. I almost don’t want to admit to what’s happened because I feel like a fucking idiot that’s walked myself into the jaws of a great white shark and then wondered why I am no longer in possession of a couple of my limbs and am bleeding out. I feel like I’ve brought this on myself and so really have no right to be so upset. I guess I just don’t want to hear, ‘I told you so’ because I have already beat myself up enough already.

But I can’t avoid it forever… so deep breaths.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that after writing the post about The Velveteen Rabbit that I had had a pretty strong internal reaction to it. I guess, finally expressing just how painful the ending with Em had been and how rejecting it had felt with what had happened with the gifts at Christmas kind of crystalised – it was no longer just a bunch of ideas and feelings in my head but actually a tangible, considered document and the reality felt pretty stark.

It felt shit that the one person that I really wanted to hear what I have to say is gone and has no interest in my feelings. It feels so unfair that I have so much to process and yet the person I need to process it with doesn’t want to know. There’s never going to be a repair and so it just feels like another injury that I have to carry only I am really struggling to accept that. You know what I am like – ever hopeful with a strong masochistic streak…

So a week after posting that blog I was really, really struggling. The young parts were fronting and I was at the point where I felt like I would do pretty much anything to be able to speak to Em (regardless of how bad it’s been and how crap the ending was). I felt so unsettled and actually just desperate. So, rather impulsively, I sent her a  text message with a link to the post on Sunday evening – I know. I know. You don’t have to tell me.

It was a pretty long text! I told her that I felt weird and anxious reaching out after what’s happened and asked her if she might read the blog post, that I would pay her to do it, and that it would mean a lot to me if she at least knew about what I had to say because sitting with it hasn’t helped. I thought writing it would help but actually I needed her to hear what I had to say. I acknowledged that she had said she’d never want to read a blog post again after reading the disaster Christmas rupture blog a couple of years ago because she was ‘not that masochistic’. I said that I was sorry if what I had said at the time had hurt her and that we’d never really properly discussed that rupture and how it impacted either one of us. I told her I missed her and that I was struggling to work through all these feelings about our ending without her because I can only imagine what she’d say. I said that I wished I had been able to share more of what was happening for me with her rather than putting it out here on the blog because really so much of what I write here is what needed to make it into the room.

It got a read receipt almost immediately. And then nothing. To be honest. I didn’t expect a reply. I just needed to say what I said. It was okish until Wednesday and then the grief and reality hit in a spectacular way (bloody Wednesday AGAIN! – maybe I should rename it ‘Crisisday’). I was sitting on my bed and not really thinking about anything at all when I noticed my chest was wet. I felt it and realised that the wetness was tears that had been falling. I didn’t even know I was crying – it was just detached water falling from my eyes.

And then whoosh, the floodgates opened. I connected with my body and my feelings and it was I was howling like an injured animal – I wish that was an exaggeration but it’s not. The tears fell in huge big drops, my nose was streaming, I was sobbing, convulsing through my whole body, at times I felt like I could barely breathe. It was absolutely horrific. I felt like I was falling through the black abyss and it felt endless. This must’ve gone on for the best part of forty minutes. The memories started piling in one after the other, Em, the room, the times when it has been good and supportive, and I just felt so much pain, so much loss, so much grief. The young parts wanted to die. Em is not coming back.

It was so overwhelming. I’ve sort of known this was coming for a few weeks – after reaching out to Anita at the end of May when these feelings started to swirl about again. I think on this particular Wednesday it was like a volcanic eruption. Pressure has been building for a long time and it was inevitable that eventually I’d blow spewing emotional lava, ash, and dust everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, Anita has been amazing throughout this. We’ve talked a lot about what’s happened with Em and she has listened with such compassion and care. But she can’t make it better, and these feelings have to come. I need to feel them rather than run from them. It’s just so much harder not being in the therapy room because it’s not as holding online and I don’t feel like I could let this stuff come in this way via a screen – I think in person I could – maybe. So in some ways I feel like my grieving has been on hold. I’ve rationalised it but I haven’t expressed it – got it out my body – felt it. And I really need K for that too! I miss my craniosacral sessions!!

I guess facing up to the reality the Em is really gone – forever – keeps coming in waves. I cried a lot at the beginning, like this  being totally overcome by the feelings and I had no filter – it just came out. The difference then, I think, was that I was also in shock. That extreme crying got less over time. I rarely cry myself to sleep now whereas at the beginning I cried every night for weeks. But I don’t not cry because I am over it – clearly I’m stuck right in it! The feelings still aren’t fully processed. They are not gone. But it’s not quite so fresh. I have to get on with my day to day life but in some way I’m also stuck in limbo. Actually, it’s like being haunted. I can’t fully get away from how bad it feels and I carry this inside me like some kind of negative spectre. A dementor.

I think the idea is that we are meant to internalise our therapists as a positive influence, we are meant to internalise their care, their voice, the way they treat us so that we can then model that for ourselves. It’s like replacing a shit load of negativity with a positive inner parent. Only that’s not what’s happened with me. I now have an additional voice telling me I’m not important and unwanted. It’s fucking agony… and yet I still miss her.

After I came out of my hysterical crying state I text Anita – she must be sick of me texting her by now. I told her I was in a really bad place and asked if she had any time available over the next couple of days so I might bring my Friday session forward. She text me back immediately and said she had a session in half an hour if I wanted it. I took it and then got in the shower and pulled myself back together a bit. Part of me wanted to stay in my PJs and have the session from underneath my duvet but I managed to get washed and dressed and semi-presentable although my puffy eyes showed what a state I was in.

By the time I got online I was much better than I had been- although to be fair it couldn’t have got much worse! I felt sad when we started talking but I wasn’t tearful. I was able to talk around what was going on – feelings of hopelessness and about losing Em etc but I didn’t tell her about the fact that I had sent Em the link and that she hadn’t replied. It was because I felt ashamed, I think. I felt stupid for reaching out. And I guess, in a way, I felt a bit disloyal – like I have Anita now so why am I so desperate to be seen and understood by Em? Why do I hope that I am somehow going to get the ending with her I needed? Why can’t I just let it go?

We talked a lot around how this ending and relationship has really unsettled me. How it is a huge loss etc. And when I finished the session I actually felt really calm. Almost like that morning an almighty storm had battered and drenched me to the skin, but it had moved off and cleared some space inside me and Anita had helped dry my off and patched me up. I felt like I had released a lot of pain and grief and it felt good not to have it all stuck inside me. To be seen and understood when I am in that kind of pain used to terrify me. I felt like it would mean an automatic rejection or abandonment. I would be too much for the other person. But Anita is solid as a rock. I genuinely believe she is going to be there to help me through this.

So, I felt much calmer as the week moved on and I was aware of the upcoming full moon. My best friend bought me Yasmin Boland’s ‘Moonology’ oracle cards for Christmas and they have been one of the best gifts I have ever received. I absolutely love them. The artwork on them is beautiful and I’ve always been drawn to the moon. I have kept pulling the same three or four cards out for months and months on end. Lately I pulled the same card ‘Full Moon In Capricorn (the end of a tough cycle approaches)’ four times in a row in succession (same day) whilst asking the same question …which statistically is absolutely ridiculous!

The general message in all my cards this year has been that the end of a significant period of difficulty and anxiety is about to happen. We were headed into a full moon eclipse on the 5th June and so I decided to do a three card spread for a change, basically asking about the situation with Em – the cards run from left to right, the first signifying the past, the middle the present, and the third the future. Apparently it’s good to do these things at certain moon phases so there was no time like the present!

I pulled these cards for the first time:

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South Node and North Node feel a bit brutal in their bullet messages (stop obsessing about someone or something!) but I think they’re right – especially in the longer note!:

(PRESENT) South Node – Don’t let the past hold you back: The South Node, like the North Node, is a karmic point, but it’s opposite to the North Node and relates to the past, perhaps even to past lives. Whatever you’re going through and whatever you’re asking about, there’s a chance that age-old programming and conditioning is stopping you from achieving all that you might. Do you feel stuck in something? This card will often come as a sign that the situation or relationship you’re asking about has somehow become suffocating, even toxic. It suggests that someone (you, even) need to be released, there’s some kind of addiction going on or an unhealthy attachment that needs to be sorted out.

(FUTURE) North Node – Step out of your comfort zone: There’s a strong feeling when you get this card that it’s time to leave the past behind somehow, because you are headed in the right direction. If you want to be happy and fulfilled, you need to get going towards doing the thing that scares you (within reason!). This card is all about living your life-purpose, which is possibly what you’ve asked about. It’s urging you to do something different with your life and your direction, to take action. So are you willing to follow through and lead the life you incarnated to live? If you finally find the courage to make the leap, there’s a good chance you’ll come to ask yourself, ‘Why did I wait so long?’

So, there I was feeling calm and peaceful, in tune with the moon and then Friday afternoon Em text me!

Fuck.

My zen went straight out the window!

I really hadn’t expected a response at all especially nearly a week later. So it came as a bit of a shock. Obviously, I had hoped she might engage with me but I didn’t hold out much hope and after my big outpouring of grief on the Wednesday I felt less like I needed a reply.

This is what came:

Dear RB,

I have read your blog about the Velveteen Rabbit and there’s no need for you to pay me for this. I would like to acknowledge that I’m aware of how difficult our ending has been for you and I wish you well for the future.

Em

I think I must have stared at the screen for about five minutes.

My fucking impulse control is piss poor and I quickly replied:

Is there really no way of coming back from this? Please can we talk?

Immediate read receipt. Then nothing.

Fair enough. I guess she read the blog, she hasn’t charged me for it, unlike all the other times she’s read something outside the session! Part of me is a bit like, why bother though? Why waste your time on 7000 words if it means nothing now.

I felt a bit unsettled over the weekend. I didn’t expect to hear anything back from Em. She’d seen my message and that was that. She only works Monday and Friday and never communicates on weekends but what was there to say? She wasn’t going to talk to me and so I carried on.

It threw me through a loop, on Sunday, seeing her name flash up on my phone. I was having a barbecue with my family. My mum had come over with her husband and we were all chilling out in the garden. I probably should have ignored the message and waited until later to read it. But I didn’t. I went inside under the guise of needing the loo and read the message.

Fucking sucker punch.

I guess I knew it was coming. I just hoped that perhaps with a bit of distance she might have seen that this is a shit show for me and I need a better end and agreed to talk.

Dear RB.

Thank you for your communication. I have read your blog and had already read ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’.

I am very sorry, but, as I have already explained to you several times, I have gradually come to the clinical decision that I do not have the expertise not training to continue with the therapy. We have done some good work together, but it has slowly emerged that the therapeutic work that I have been able to provide for you has now gone as far as it can go. Therefore there is no possibility of resuming the therapy.

If you wanted to continue to work on yourself and to build on the work we have accomplished, I would suggest that psychoanalysis might be worth considering. I say this because of the nature of the transference within the therapeutic work we have done. Also, psychoanalysis is suggested by the interpretations of ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ in your blog. If you wanted to take this forward, the best website to look for a psychoanalyst would be http://www.bpc.org.uk

I hope I have made myself clear and therefore I hope that you now understand that there is no need nor reason for you to contact me further and I would therefore be grateful if you would not contact me further. I wish you well for your future.

Em.

So yeah, that felt really good – NOT. Still, it is what it is. And I should have known better than to hope she might actually just talk to me about it. Surely, she can’t be happy with the way it ended. It all felt so defensive and triggered back in January. I don’t want to resume therapy really, I just want some closure, some answers, it to feel less bad!

Still, it was not easy going back outside after that and having to pretend like I’d just nipped inside to pee. I felt like the floor had dropped out beneath me again. I didn’t cry. I just felt sick. It was the final paragraph that really hurt… ouch. I know I walked myself right into that rejection, but like I said, I don’t need ‘I told you so’ because I’ve beaten myself up about it enough already! I just wonder what the hell I have been doing for the last 8 years!

Fortunately, I actually have two really patient, attentive, and caring therapists in my life right now and processing this with Anita and K has been as good as it can be. I’ll continue with the fall-out from this in my next post as this is looooonnnnggg already!

‘These feelings won’t go away
They’ve been knockin’ me sideways
I keep thinking in a moment that
Time will take them away
But these feelings won’t go away
These feelings won’t go away’

-Citizen Cope

42 thoughts on “Haunted

  1. easetheride June 20, 2020 / 4:45 pm

    Oh RBCG, there’s really nothing I can say that’s going to make this better for you, is there? This is one painful time and it was so brave of you to share it. I know the pain you’re feeling surrounding Em’s loss have come and gone in waves. Of course you want that better ending – no amount of positive work with A or K will eclipse that because they are separate people. You can super appreciate them and still feel the void of how your last relationship ended. I hope that A and K will help you rewrite that narrative in your head that Em has left you with – it’s needlessly cruel and is telling you lies. An alternative point; while sending Em that text was certainly risky, could it also be viewed as a form of assertiveness? She took all your control from this and you stole it back, trying to make sure you had a chance to say what you needed. And it worked, in a way. I’m honestly shocked that she responded, but she did. Maybe that counts for something. Hang in there, I know this isn’t easy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 8:10 pm

      Thanks hun. Yeah. It’s been a complete shit show really. I don’t really know why she responded or agreed to read my blog post but I suppose maybe I should at least be glad she now knows how much she hurt me. She probably thinks I am a complete basket case but I am not holding all that upset without her being aware of it now which is something. The last paragraph about not contacting her again felt hard to swallow but I guess the reality is, she was a paid for service and the relationship only happens in those parameters. Jeez. What a mess! How are you holding up? xx Sending hugs xx

      Liked by 2 people

      • easetheride June 20, 2020 / 8:13 pm

        It’s hard to think of therapy as a paid service when the stuff that’s shared is so intimate. That would have been hard to swallow for me too, the thought of me never being able to contact J again is utter hell. I’m holding up all right, I have better days and not great days. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping and working on puzzles to avoid real life.

        Liked by 3 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 8:23 pm

        I think just going with your feelings and doing what you need to do to get by makes total sense. Sleep and do as many puzzles as you need! Real life can be such a disappointment so I totally understand the avoidance. It is so hard knowing that these absolutely critical relationships are paid for. I guess though, I am trying to channel Anita ‘you pay me for my time, you don’t pay me to care’… and she says she doesn’t stop caring when therapy ends. I just think Em works very very differently. Clinical. Dentist! How long til you see J? X

        Liked by 2 people

      • easetheride June 20, 2020 / 9:55 pm

        Anita definitely has already shown that she cares so deeply; it’s a relief for me to see you achieve that kind of deserved relationship. I see J (teletherapy) this Wednesday and next. Don’t even get to finish therapy with her in person, it’s really too bad.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 9:59 pm

        Oh god. Hun. That’s just so bloody hard. I still can’t believe it. I hope you get some answers and a good ending so that you can at least get some closure on it. Sometimes it just all feels so fucking unfair doesn’t it? I’m all in with Anita now. At this point I feel like it’s the last chance saloon. If this goes to shit I’m done with talk therapy! Big love to you xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. slantgirl June 20, 2020 / 7:44 pm

    gosh, you know? I didn’t realize it was only year 3 with Em (in this round) when it happened. It feels like you struggled for so long throughout this period, and I feel so sad that you were made to. when I read your blog on WordPress, other posts with similarly tough titles come up. that’s a LOOOOTTTTT of time in strife, a lot to carry over a long period. I know there was lot of good there too, but a lot of rupture mixed in. I am glad that you’ve found the caring and compassion that you need and deserve in Anita. also, the psychoanalysis bit strikes me as odd — the transference piece is a keystone of attachment trauma, which is not well served by psychoanalysis, which discourages any kind of reciprocity or relationship-building with the therapist — and which we all need is so key to healing attachment/relational trauma! your post also reminded of something with my T that I had to work hard to accept — she doesn’t care at all about anniversaries! for her, the end of the calendar year is for reflection, not our moment in June. at the first year mark of our work, I wanted to reflect a bit about how far I’d come — and she was all ‘why? it’s not my thing’. it hurt me so much that I took a 6 week break. Now we sort of joke about it (I am a timeline/anniversary/keeping track kind of person, she isn’t). But I never feel we really resolved it — that regardless how it felt to her, to me it was important and intuitive, and that should have been what mattered. It still hurst 3 years later, even though it s balanced by so many other small moments of both rupture and repair. I hate that Em never really gave you the chance to repair with her – not just this final rupture, but so many other smaller ones. howling on the floor, feeling your feelings, let it all come — that’s brave, brave work/ ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 8:20 pm

      I know. It’s been an epically long amount of time to struggle…feels much longer than it was…but then 3.5 years of agony is long enough, really! I know what you mean about the theme in the titles. There are very few ‘it was good’ moments that’s for sure. I’m so glad I have Anita too. It’s going to take time to build the relationship but it really feels a lot healthier. I agree with you about the psychoanalysis. I do not need even more blank screen. I need relational healing. I need relationship. Her website now is all about psychoanalytical psychotherapy and insight work so it is almost hilarious that she things I need a more extreme version of what I already had. The reading of The Velveteen Rabbit comes more from the fact that I have a MA in English Literature and am and English teacher than being some OTT transferential reading. I’m sorry that your T missed the importance of anniversaries with you, too. It does hurt. The relationship is so important to us and so it makes complete sense that something that marks significant milestones in our therapeutic relationship would feel important. Everyone gets reflected on in December but our date is particular to us. I can completely understand why you would have taken a break when that happened. It’s such a crap feeling when things aren’t properly resolved and the fact that it still hurts now shows it was a big deal….like me with the bastard pebble!!! haha. Yep. I will continue to howl and move forward as best I can. Bloody therapy, man! We pay for this!!! 😉 Big hug x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucy King June 20, 2020 / 9:14 pm

    Shit RB. So many thoughts. I read this earlier but couldn’t comment coz my head was filled with my session. I just wanted to say that the grief you experienced resonates so much with me. The massive sobbing moments. I mean, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I definitely don’t have a problem crying any more!!!! I wanted to hug you when reading through this. It’s so fucking hard.

    I didn’t get her psychoanalysis bit either. I feel like she doesn’t get it at all. Like does she not understand attachment at all….? It makes me feel angry coz does she understand that she was the one who’s limited ability fucked this up? It was never you! Anyway… breatheeeee.

    I just wanted to tell you that you are fucking brave and I admire you so much and I’m so glad you have Anita 💕💕💕

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 9:34 pm

      Thanks L. Yeah – the crying that day was something else. Like it took everything I had and I felt like I was being broken in two. It completely took me by surprise – like how can you not know you’re even crying?! It was total agony once I connected with it. I just wanted Em so much. Not even really to do anything or change anything – I just wanted to be with her, to be able to see her. To think of all the times I avoided eye contact or saying what I needed and now I can’t ever say anything to her again. To know she’s out there and never even wants to hear from me again let alone see me is so painful. Like what is so very wrong with me? What did I do wrong? My child parts just can’t make any sense of it other than I must be ‘bad’ in some way because ‘yet another mummy doesn’t love me’…. fuuuuuuuucccccckkkkkkkkk. It’s just horrendous to think she’ll be taking on new clients, strangers, and yet I’m not welcome in her world any more … I can’t even pay her to see me anymore. It’s just soooo painful. Thank you so much for your support and validation. This grieving place can feel so lonely. I’m glad I have Anita too. She’s been great but ugh … I need face to face!! Hope your session went ok x

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 20, 2020 / 9:40 pm

        Totally. I honestly feel so much for you. It’s not fair. There is nothing unlovable or unbearable about you. She just couldn’t do it. And it’s so not okay that she’s taking on more unsuspecting victims… I mean clients. She’s bound to have done more damage than ‘just’ you.

        Yeah I meant to say I was really taken by how you explained the crying. What an amazing example of dissociation… don’t you think? Then suddenly realising. That’s never happened to me before. And I know there’s still an ocean of grief for me that’s waiting to be expressed. This work is so painful but at least when you’re feeling it you’re feeling it! You know? Nothing. Worse than being numb knowing it’s only a matter of time 🙈 I’m just typing my notes up now. Session was good but hard 💙

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 20, 2020 / 9:54 pm

        Yes! Absolutely. Amazing dissociation!! I am glad I’m finally finding my emotions rather than just carrying that heavy ache inside. I just wish these tears could be expressed with someone else so there could be a degree of holding. I’ve talked a lot to Anita about the lack of holding I’ve had throughout my life. The other day I text her in a bit of a state and she was so affirming and told me she wishes she could hold and comfort that part that’s feeling so much pain and finished it with this emoji 🤱… honestly it was just exactly what I needed. I’ve got more to write because I’m so far behind on the blog!! But I need a bit of recovery time. It was hard even going into my texts to copy out what Em has sent. My whole body tenses and I feel like I’m crying inside just remembering what it says. I know she has caused damage to others. I know she was told her ‘services were no longer required’ in the NHS trust she worked at and has since moved to another but by all accounts other therapists raised concerns about her methods and lack of client progress! Glad your session was good! It’s hard work isn’t it?! 💜

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 20, 2020 / 10:12 pm

        Ahhhh I love that Anita used that emoji! What!?? That’s a dream 😍 it’s complicated though isn’t it coz you maybe don’t feel as deep I Neto the attachment with her but it’s the perfect response. I remember in the early days when Anna would be nurturing it was too much for me but I grew to love it and take it in.

        Wow that’s interesting what you’ve said at the end about Em.

        I meant to say… you described how you got dressed up and ready for your session. When I was in the shock stage after losing Anna I didn’t shower, I stayed in bed in my jammies and put the laptop on my lap. I wanted the tears to be raw and the pain to be uninterrupted. I know we don’t always stay in that state so it’s not always appropriate. But I’d be curious if you would find it more holding if you didn’t interrupt that deep grief and you just turn up as you are? (As I’m writing that I’m sure you’ve done that before). Also I love that Anita answered you immediately and offered session. I don’t have that with Linda and it’s interesting to read your experience because I think I’ll need, at some point, to find that type of attachment work that I still need.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:49 am

        Yeah – the whole message that she sent was so warm and understanding. I am very lucky. K is the same too – doesn’t hold back and is upfront with her feelings and so I feel like I can really trust that. I don’t have to guess or apply my narratives because it’s explicit and so it’s much more containing and feels safer to the young parts. I am learning, slowly to take the care and love in. Yes. The thing with Em and the NHS kind of helps me feel a bit less like it must be just me being a weirdo and maybe her methods aren’t great. Oh, and I think the way I dress for therapy has always been quite interesting. When I feel vulnerable and young parts I have a go to pair of dungarees – I must have worn them 1 in 3 sessions with Em. She probably thought I didn’t own any other clothes and I have two pairs of shoes I like to wear too!… I think Anita wouldn’t mind if I was in PJs and all dishevelled on screen. The other day I accidentally put some of my wife’s stuff in my hair and it ended up looking like I’d slathered my head in Vaseline and I didn’t realise it was a problem until I was drying my hair three minutes before the session… ha! I have a massive dog from IKEA that I hug in some of my sessions – it’s nice being at home in that respect. I guess it’s hard to know how the relationships will develop but the good thing is you are being yourself and saying what you need. I guess time will tell if L can deliver that. Have a good day x

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 21, 2020 / 9:23 am

        Lol the Vaseline look sounds funny. Also interesting observation – what you’re describing about clothes you have worn in therapy.
        Hope you have a nice day ☺️

        Like

  4. LovingSummer June 20, 2020 / 10:21 pm

    This was such a hard read RBCG, and left me feeling heavy hearted on your behalf. She really isn’t fit for purpose, the word callous springs to mind. I’m so sorry this has been your experience. You deserved an Anita right from the start to build with. And once again, you shine in how you’ve been. I know you feel bad about making contact but it says a lot about your willingness to bury the hatchet and leave in peace, which is just another level of you shining brightly 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:53 am

      Yeah, it was really hard to write this post. There is so much pain around what’s happened and I honestly just feel like I have been dumped at the side of the road and told to find my own way home. I am so grateful that I have A and K but it’s not the same. They can’t undo what Em has said and done. And I know Em can’t undo it either but we could have tried to repair it. I feel like I have been in rupture after rupture and so little repair. Thanks for being kind about my bloody idiotic behaviour. I really am shit at letting things go and hold so much hope that people will be what I believe they can be – I need to learn to see them as they are. It’s that child idealisation. I spent a lifetime hoping my mother could be better and be enough if I just behaved … same with Em… only you can’t change other people. And you can’t make them love you no matter how much you wish it. Hope you’re ok x

      Like

      • LovingSummer June 21, 2020 / 9:45 am

        You’re feeling dumped because you have been unceremoniously dumped and you shouldn’t have been. I’m still in disbelief that a therapist could allow themselves to be like this. You’d have hoped she would find resources she preaches all day long to her clients, even with the help of supervision. But, like you say, you can’t change other people, no matter how much you – and your readers – wish it for you.
        I’m doing okay thanks, I’m doing better now I don’t have that awful ride between sessions and have been making a few changes here and there generally all around me. I’ve written a bunch of scheduled posts so it’ll drip through over the next few days! 💛

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:42 pm

        Yeah. I guess I need to notch this up to experience and finally stop looking for pearls when there are only oysters… and I hate oysters! haha. I’m glad your time between sessions is easier. I really struggled for years with time between sessions until I got two sessions a week How do you find time to post so frequently?! I can barely keep my life together let alone write! lol. Take care and thanks for your support through all this crap xx

        Like

      • LovingSummer June 21, 2020 / 8:46 pm

        Haha, yeah it’s becoming untenable really. But I try to write the whole thing in a one-er, and then go back and divide it up into around 1000-1500 long posts. Then I schedule them to randomly post throughout the week until the next session.
        We do also seem to be going through a lot of topics too, which make it easier. When it goes back to staying on one track the whole session, it probably won’t happen so much. I’m thinking of it like a growth spurt! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. lavenderandlevity June 21, 2020 / 5:49 am

    Hugs. You are very brave to put this out here and normalize this pain for others who might be going through it. I am so glad you have Anita, and I hope you won’t beat yourself up for being “impulsive” about reaching out to Em. Her reply was…oof, what the heck was she thinking…but there is nothing “basket case” about just wanting to be seen and matter by someone you care about after a lifetime of invalidation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:57 am

      Thanks hun. I can’t work out whether it’s brave or actually idiotic. I feel quite vulnerable with the blog right now. I hope it helps some people feel less alone because I honestly wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Yeah – Em’s message was hard to read. It’s the most she’s ever written in all the years we worked and it was fairly okish until that end part which felt absolutely brutal. I just feel like the biggest fool for ever hoping that she felt anything for me. I took it to Anita and she was horrified by it. Take care xx

      Like

  6. CB June 21, 2020 / 12:19 pm

    I don’t know what to say and there is nothing I can say to make this better I know, it is sooo tough and you are doing so well. The crying sounds awful, but it kind of feels like maybe it is good it is coming out. It is so painful and I’m sure more so because all the pain of the past 3.5 years is coming out too, when Em wasn’t able to meet you where you were or meet your needs, so it’s all that combined with the actual loss of Em (and then all the hideous #motherwound crap it brings up too – no wonder you’re struggling so much).

    The bit about her not greeting you at the door or speaking till you spoke made me curl up inside in shame and horror – it took me back to when I saw an NHS therapist when I was 22 after a suicide attempt. He would do the same and it was hideous and awful and shaming and scary and of course I stopped going. I read something (think it’s Pete Walker) about how damaging starting sessions like this is for CPTSD clients. I’m so sorry that was your experience every week – you need and deserve a therapist who greets you and shows how pleased she is to see you, and who knows that working with attachment trauma means doing all the little things to make you feel safe and welcome. I think you have that with Anita and I think when you finally get to work in-person with her again it will be amazing!

    My heart hurts for you with that last message in particular, but I truly believe you can reach closure on this through your work with Anita. Like you I’m confused as to why she read your post, but I’m glad she knows how much she hurt you and I hope it leads her to reflect on her actions and think again when a person with such deep wounding from infancy comes to her for help, so she can refer them on straightaway.

    Sorry for the essay! I could probably say loads more but will leave it there! Sending love and a huge hug xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:50 pm

      Hi CB…no one can make it better but it means a lot to have your support and understanding through this. It can feel such a bloody lonely place going through all this and I feel really lucky to have a bunch of people who don’t just sympathise but actually get what this shit is like. I used to hate the start of those sessions. It really really used to unsettle the young parts and really screw the first half hour or so….I’m glad it’s not just me that finds it crap. I get it might work for some people but not people like us with these wounds. I think it’s so archaic. Therapy has moved on in lots of ways and it needed to! Anita was horrified when I told her about it. She’s really warm when she opens the door, smiles, feels welcoming and it really helps me feel safer. That last message from Em was hard to receive. So clinical. But then that’s how she is. I was just another person on the conveyor belt. I wanted to believe there was something unique and special but I was just a bum on a seat for her. And yes, I guess she knows now how much she hurt me…although I suspect if someone came along like me she’d try again…because she believe I was the problem. Ugh! Hope you’re ok xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • CB June 24, 2020 / 9:59 pm

        Apparently that not speaking thing is often intended to provoke the client into getting angry with the T – such an archaic and simplistic way of working with transference. I remember the horrible NHS man saying ‘you’re angry with me aren’t you?’ and even at that age I knew this was a stupid and naive way to work with transference! I am honestly horrified that Em did that at the start of the session every week. The thing Pete Walker says is about how anything but the most benign expression on the Ts face can trigger crippling EFs for complex trauma clients. What a way to start each session. No wonder the young parts struggled and shut down so much. If K moved a chair or a postcard between sessions my young parts got triggered – one time she wore two scarfs and that took a lot of settling time! Well, she can carry on thinking you were the problem, but you really weren’t – your needs are valid and actually surprisingly simple to meet, and you have Anita and hundreds of people on here who know that to be true! xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 26, 2020 / 5:22 pm

        Yeah – it’s right out a Freudian textbook isn’t it. It’s so old fashioned and totally not right for people with the wounds we have. Yes, it made me angry but more often than not it left me feeling abandoned and rejected and uncared for….great combo! Hello dissociation!!! ha. I know what you mean about subtle changes in the room! There was a week where there was a tissue underneath a bookshelf and it was there for three sessions and I hated it! I used to prefer therapy was wearing a particular few outfits but everytime she wore a ghastly pink number with black velvet trousers I felt unsettled!! Hilarious. Things always felt better when she wore pale blue!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • CB June 26, 2020 / 9:39 pm

        That’s so funny! The pink number with black velvet trousers should have sent you running for the hills long ago 😂 it’s so sad that you had that experience and can you imagine being able to maintain that lack of greeting each week for so many years with someone with the wounds we have?! I can’t imagine being able to sustain it even 😕

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 26, 2020 / 9:43 pm

        I know. It’s inhumane! I simply couldn’t be so cold. And to be in a ‘caring profession’, well it really is mind blowing. Adult me is angry and blown away by it… unfortunately, the young parts are traumatised. The laugh is she even referred to herself as ‘an empty cupboard’ just before Christmas … ‘your child parts keep expecting something but I’m an empty cupboard’ fuuuckkkk why did I stay? 😬

        Liked by 1 person

      • CB June 26, 2020 / 9:56 pm

        Jeez, I didn’t know she said that. That’s bonkers! An empty cupboard?! I think you had to stay till it was really bad and impossible not to leave, otherwise the young parts pain would have just kept you there. I really wish she had realised sooner, or spoken to someone, or something!! Anything really!

        Like

  7. behindapaintedsmile30 June 21, 2020 / 1:25 pm

    I’m sorry that Em responded in that way, but I struggle to think of any other way that she would respond. I can totally understand why you have tried to see if there is any other way though. I had a similar relationship with an ex-friend and no matter which way I approached it she just said horrible things to me.
    I find it alarming what you have said about her being dismissed from an NHS trust. I hope it is firm evidence that none of this has anything to do with you being too much. Em seems to have deep issues that she hasn’t worked on. It’s only a matter of time before someone makes a serious complaint about her. She shouldn’t be advertising herself as a trauma therapist that’s for sure.
    I think it’s amazing that you have made progress with Anita. She seems like a great therapist and it’s amazing to see her respond to you in the caring way that you deserve. I hope that you are able to get back to the therapy room soon and this will hurt less as time goes on. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 21, 2020 / 8:57 pm

      Yeah, you’re right. It’s completely true to form – only about three paragraphs longer than anything she’s ever communicated to me before. I guess I just hoped with a bit of distance things might have settled a bit and maybe we could talk and try and get a better end. Obviously that’s me done now. I just have to try and process it from my end and work through it. I’m sorry your ex-friend was mean but I am glad you have moved away from that. I find it a bit comforting to know that she had to move job because it makes me think what happened is not all on me. I’m the one that’s left with the fall out though. Anita is caring and kind but also challenges me too. I guess with time things will start to feel more connected and less ‘new’. I just feel like I invested so much time, money, and emotion into working with Em and I have nothing but heartache to show for it. Hope you’re ok. x

      Like

  8. Kerry June 21, 2020 / 11:59 pm

    Ugh. I read this yesterday but I wasn’t sure what to say. It just sounds so hard and invalidating and total shit. I don’t know what it is, but I sort of just hate Em. Like, it’s been such a struggle and she isn’t even willing to bend on anything. There’s boundaries and then there’s meanness and to me she just sounds mean. In the end I hope it’s better for you because in some ways she feels a bit toxic honestly. And as for the rock, it’s absolutely beautiful and she doesn’t deserve it at all because I don’t really think.she would have appreciated it. It must be so hard some days but I hope one day soon you can look back without the pain and see how far you’ve travelled without her. She’s the one who’s missing out on an amazing journey. Sending big hugs…xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 22, 2020 / 8:53 am

      Ah thanks Kerry. Yeah. It’s been really tough going. Steep learning curve right now about my emotions and what I am going to tolerate for myself going forward. Toxic with Em is about right! I thought it was all me but I’m learning that actually I am not unlikeable or too much…other people stepping up and really emphatically telling me that it’s not the case! I just wish I didn’t care so much about Em and what she thinks! Big hugs back xxx

      Like

  9. Me June 22, 2020 / 1:32 pm

    I cried reading this. So much pain and grief and her reply is so cold. I don’t know how to offer you comfort in such a painful time but sending a virtual hug. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 22, 2020 / 1:38 pm

      Ah thank you for feeling this alongside me. I sometimes wonder if I’m just a complete basket case and react too strongly to things. But it has been so painful. Thanks got the hug 🤗

      Like

      • Me June 22, 2020 / 1:39 pm

        You really aren’t. I give gifts and plan them months in advance. I would have been absolutely devastated by her email response. You aren’t a basket case (or if you are, so am I and all the people who have responded to this too!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 22, 2020 / 4:38 pm

        I think that’s the most painful thing- laying yourself bare, sharing your wounds and vulnerabilities, and then the person you love and trusted with that injures you in exact same way. I so wanted to give her that pebble. It all feels so fucking stupid now. 😕

        Liked by 1 person

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