Reunited (at last!): Relief and Release

I am really aware that have been like a broken record for the last few months here, moaning on about how hard I have found lockdown without any face-to-face therapy and having to conduct my therapeutic relationships online. It’s sad really, that the difference between things in my life feeling manageable – or not – essentially boils down to having contact with a couple of therapists for a few hours each week in person. I guess though, that is the transformative power of therapy, it doesn’t take a lot of time, in the big scheme of things, to help to start shifting the balance in the right direction and helping the various traumatised parts feel a little more stable.

There’s really no good time for a global pandemic to hit (!) but I could cry about how poorly timed this one has been for me and my sense of emotional wellbeing. I mean, the hell that was December to February with Em was really something else, it floored my youngest parts. In fact, I still can’t really express how awful that ending with Em was and how massively impacted I have been by it. But at least I had both Anita and K in my corner helping to drag me through the worst of it. My sessions in February and March were absolute life savers, like strategically placed islands in the stream allowing me to catch my breath before being once more subject to the swirling currents of my feelings ‘outside the room’.

And then lockdown hit and all of a sudden everything stopped. Well, I mean face-to-face therapies. Anita and I started working online and K and I have been in pretty much daily contact throughout on WhatsApp…but it’s not the same [screech in whiny voice!]. At the beginning of lockdown, I could just about satisfy myself with the idea that some contact/therapy was better than none given the fact that it felt as if we were heading into the apocalypse. But, actually, as time has gone on, I’ve struggled more and more with feeling physically isolated, alone, and abandoned. Adult me gets that I have not been ‘left’ and am not ‘untouchable’…but the nature of lockdown has wreaked havoc with the young parts.

As I say, lockdown itself has been fine. I have largely enjoyed being at home, working from home, having a slightly slower pace of life, in a lot of ways not much changed but I have really missed going to see A and K. Especially K. I have really missed the holding that comes from doing the body work in craniosacral therapy. K seems to see me even when I am in hiding. Or maybe that should be ‘feel’ me? So, the longer lockdown has gone on the harder it has been for me to hold the really vulnerable, traumatised parts of myself because usually I get help with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I have given it a really good go (trying to self-care/meet the need of the young parts) but my god it’s been exhausting and pretty useless because when my adult self is AWOL and I am stuck in distressed ‘baby’ there’s nothing to be done. That baby has no idea how to soothe itself. All it knows is that everything is wrong and it is scary spiralling through the black abyss.

So, it’s felt like the level of need/distress has been steadily ramping up week on week until recently I felt as though those young parts were dying to be held. It felt like a whole-body ache…or as my friend described it the other day, like a ‘hunger. It sounds dramatic. I know it does. But she’s right, it’s like the biggest hunger or rather like being slowly starved to death.

Anyway, somehow or other I have got through it but I have felt increasingly like my rope is unravelling and I’m hanging on by the final frayed thread.

My nervous system has been in meltdown!

Honestly, I wish just for a day I could be without this stuff. To not carry this unbelievable weight would just be so freeing!

The last few weeks have felt especially tough. The screaming distress of the child parts has felt almost impossible to manage. Thinking about it, I am not surprised that it has been the last two weeks where the Inner Critic has moved in from the wings and got a bit more vocal. It’s a last resort. Someone needs to get things in order! Only, I am so aware now that following through on the demands of the Critic doesn’t do me any good in the long run. It thinks it’s protective – and sure it helps numb that young agony for a bit – but the thing I have learnt is that I can’t outrun it (that feeling that I am going to be annihilated if I feel and face pain of the youngest parts of me) forever, because when I inevitably crash and burn after a period of self-attack – it’s always there waiting, it never goes away. Ugh.

Sooooooooo you can imagine my absolute delight when a couple of weeks ago K said she was going to be slowly getting back to working face-to-face. Like I did a full on internal happy dance…until I realised that I have two children and a wife that works full time hours and it’s the summer holidays! In the usual run of things, term time, pre-Covid I’d see K on a Thursday at hers…but getting out anywhere alone in working hours is just not on the cards at the moment. Honestly, the realisation that I am not free until September was like a sucker punch. I could have cried.

I explained that I would absolutely love to see K but that I couldn’t because of the children. But you know. The story doesn’t end there. Because K is amazing – that’s no secret – she offered to come to mine to do a session. OMG! My kids have been really good at entertaining themselves when I have had my online tutoring sessions and therapy with so I knew they’d be ok gluing themselves to the TV for a little while.

Because we’ve kept in touch throughout lockdown K knew how it’s been for me, how big of a struggle it’s felt, and has been bombarded with various hug gifs and heart emojis over the last few months. Like it’s basically been four months of ‘I miss you’ and ‘I need a hug’. Bless her she really puts up with a lot from me! To know that I would see her soon, and get a proper hug, not a virtual one was amazing.

So finally, it got to Thursday and yay yay yay! I can’t even put into words how lovely it was to see K in person after so long…it’s only been four months but to the younger parts it’s felt like a lifetime! And to be able to have a hug the minute I saw her was just the best. I mean if there was a scale of hug 0-10 she gives 10s.

We sat outside on my deck, had a cup of tea and a chat and it was just so nice to feel normal-ish again and catch up a bit…and to be able to talk about the stuff that I can’t say to everyday people: like the struggle I’ve been having with online therapy, the disconnect, and other stuff that is sandwiched with shame.

To be back on the couch was brilliant. Almost immediately I could feel my system responding to K. I can’t really explain the sensation of craniosacral therapy on the body because lots of different things happen over the course of a session – but initially, to me, it felt like everything that had been blocked in my system started to flow again. When things start to feel more in tune it feels almost like a tide is running through my system – like a natural rhythm is restored. I know that sounds properly heebie-jeebie but it’s true!

Another thing that happens is a deep sense of coming back into the body, this often takes a good while to happen – especially if I have been hurtling around out in space. It feels a bit like being in an elevator and slowly coming down, down, down, until you land, grounded. I have been so ‘out of my body’ lately that to feel embodied again is amazing but also fucking heavy! Like oh my god I had no idea how exhausted I was! And the hangover from it on Friday was so big that I couldn’t really do anything!

And all that is amazing… but what I didn’t anticipate (you’d think I would know myself by now) was that parts of me were still defended and protected. There’s still this massive hangover from Em and all the stuff with my mum that prevents me from saying exactly what’s going on – but it’s not surprising when what comes up is so overwhelming and the need is so huge. Although, as I said, K seems to understand without me saying anything.

At the beginning on the session she had said that the session was for all the parts of me, however vulnerable, and especially the baby who had been essentially stuck in an incubator (which is a big trauma – 3 days in an incubator when I was born and no contact with my mum) for the last four months…so I guess she must have understood what was going on – to a degree.

Anyway, it was all going well, my body was doing its thing – coming back into itself- when K gently put her hand on my chest – and boom – fuck me it was like all the stuff I have been tightly holding onto for…well…a long time…not just lockdown came up and out. Jesus. There was no gentle tuning into it, or slow bubbling up – it was like a defibrillator shock into feelings that I generally can’t connect to, especially in the presence of someone else. Actually, the only person I get close to expressing these feelings with is K.

I don’t know how it happens, or why, or what gets unblocked but it’s sooooo powerful. All of a sudden though, I felt about two years old, vulnerable, exposed, and just wanted to roll onto my side and cuddle into K and be rocked. It was so young. Ugh. It’s fucking mortifying. Like seriously, the shame around this stuff is just too much to bear sometimes. It’s not lost on me that I am a 37-year-old woman with two children of my own … but sometimes I have a hard job remembering that when this stuff comes up because those young parts take over and it takes an almighty effort from the critic to override that stuff…which is where the shame and self-loathing come in!

Anyway, I have enough of a filter to not do that (thank god!) but it’s so hard then navigating these intense feelings. I’ve been in this place enough times with Em – feeling young and then being faced with the distance and being immersed in the shame and it being so overwhelming that I end up creeping off into dissociation. The positive with a body-based therapy is that there is at least some touch – some contact – and so whilst in the past I might be flooded with that overwhelming need to be held and Em would be half a world away in her chair at least K is actually right there, still.

The young parts settled a little bit as the session went on but, as K reached my head there was part of me that really just wanted to hold her hand. FFS! It feels really embarrassing. But I think it is a bit like what I was saying earlier – it feels like I have been starved of this for the longest time and now I realise just how bloody hungry I am. And you know that thing that happens in sessions when you are mentally aware of the time ticking away? Like sand slipping through your fingers? Well, I know that it’s really common for my younger parts to get panicked – like the anticipation of it all being over and being back on my own makes those parts want to cling on. It’s as though their life depends on it.

OH THE SHAME!!!

The session was so nice (aside from my inner gymnastics). I think the other thing I realised as time was ticking by is that I need to stop fighting whatever it is that’s going on inside because all the while I am trying to keep everyone in check I am missing out on the level of connection I actually need. The shame keeps me isolated. I am certain K could handle me saying, ‘I feel really young right now and I just want to hug you’ like it’s fine…isn’t it?…it’s just feelings. But ugh… I wish I wasn’t so terrified of being rejected or abandoned or left. I wish that what has happened with Em hadn’t have made me even more cautious and guarded. It feels like such an almighty ask of myself to risk those parts coming forward again. I literally cannot bear the same thing happening again and being hurt.

What I have to remember, though is that both K and A are NOT Em…they have the power to hurt me like she did but it doesn’t mean they will.

At the end I said goodbye to K we had another hug and I told her, ‘I’ve really missed you’…it’s so much easier to say that when you can’t be seen and are being held…although there was a part of me that didn’t want to let that out at all! To a ‘normal’ person that would be a pretty simple thing to say wouldn’t it? Like isn’t it normal to say things like, ‘I am so happy to see you’ or ‘I’ve missed you’ or ‘I love you’…but anything like that just feels like I’m some kind of creep. Like it would make the other person feel uncomfortable. That it’s too much. Expressing any kind of emotion – good or bad – is really hard for me and increasingly so since Em’s ‘tick’ comment. I never want to be thought of that way…although clearly, internally, it has stuck.

36 thoughts on “Reunited (at last!): Relief and Release

  1. Lucy King July 27, 2020 / 10:04 am

    That sounds incredibly powerful! What an amazing release of emotions. I’m so glad you were able to see K 💕 I understand the shame but there really is no need for it. Missing someone and wanting to be near them is not shameful💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 11:09 am

      Thanks L. I feel like I am drowning in shame at the minute. Just got off my call with A and it’s just bombed into a protective silence. It’s like the level of need is just overwhelming and I’m trying to protect them from it so they don’t get overwhelmed (and leave) too. In the fucking trenches of doom right now. X

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King July 27, 2020 / 12:47 pm

        😞 it feels never ending doesn’t it. Sending gentle hugs 💕 I hope you can find some peace today. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LovingSummer July 27, 2020 / 1:08 pm

    THIS was SUCH a good read. Really honestly so good! I am so happy for you, now all we need to do is get Anita on board too 😉😋
    Seriously… delighted for you, I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 1:29 pm

      Ah thanks hun. It was sooooo good…but now I feel like I’m back in the desert. That watering can of water was incredible but not enough 😬…. and my session with A just tanked! Shame is my effing nemesis!

      Like

      • LovingSummer July 27, 2020 / 3:01 pm

        Sorry to hear about today’s session with Anita. Therapy is such a roller coaster isn’t it. Hope you’re okay.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer July 27, 2020 / 10:59 pm

        Heyyy… sounds like you need to take it easy with yourself at the moment. Lots coming up and I know when I’m in that kind of place, the tiniest thing touches me (if I’m not dissociating myself into complete oblivion!), so take good care.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 11:09 pm

        Yeah! Thanks LS 💜. I feel like I’m on the cusp of another chapter of big work so my system is having a meltdown! Eek! Buckle up! X

        Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer July 27, 2020 / 11:13 pm

        Scary, I can imagine, but how exciting though. I mean, it’s there buried underneath and the idea of getting it out and dealing with it – that’s got to be a win-win, even if it’s a painful process. And you’ve got some great support there for starters. You’ve also got some good people behind you here on WordPress!

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 11:20 pm

        Agreed! So much support now… which means I need to accept it and start moving through the shit! 😅

        Like

  3. Carol anne July 27, 2020 / 2:03 pm

    I’m with you. I cant wait to be reunited with my therapist. I hate that we’ve had to do everything via zoom. Its just not the same for us. The young parts really miss her and actually I do too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Me July 27, 2020 / 6:30 pm

    Can’t believe you got a hug, I fear I’m months off that if Boris is still saying no contact until November ish 🥺 so glad you got to connect xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 7:35 pm

      It’s all ridiculous- what you ‘can and can’t do’… I’ve been in a pharmacy once and put petrol in my car once since March. It’s seems nuts that you can go to a pub or restaurant or high street shopping in spaces with many people but not get hugged. Economy over mental health though eh?

      Like

      • Me July 27, 2020 / 7:37 pm

        I totally agree. I’ve started to completely lose the plot about it this week, I’m having a baby soon and at this rate I won’t even be able to let T or V hold her (let alone hold me!!!). But that’s okay so long as I can go to the pub or the cinema 🤪

        Did you ask if you could hug in advance? I’m stepping into “if you loved me enough you’d break the rules and hug me anyway” territory, I can feel it coming…

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 8:12 pm

        Oh bless you. Congratulations too. Yeah – I had been banging on about needing a hug for ages and it was agreed beforehand. But I think maybe also because it’s body therapy that there’s not much difference between having a stand up hug and having someone basically cradle you on a massage couch – like touch is an essential part of the therapy. I totally get the ache and the feelings that are coming up for you. This is kind of what I’m experiencing not doing face to face with A. Like young parts can’t understand it. I think it’s definitely worth having some conversations about this stuff before a rupture happens. When’s little one due? X

        Like

  5. CB July 27, 2020 / 9:59 pm

    I’m so glad you had this time and a hug!! Sorry to read in the comments that your session didn’t go well today and left you in the pit of shame though, ugh. Hang in there xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 27, 2020 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks Hun. Yeah, I had a really hard dream about Em and I couldn’t shift out of it. I was embarrassed and ashamed by how upset I felt and didn’t want A to think I’m some kind of obsessed freak and so shut down. There were emails and texts today after session and she has been great but I still just miss Em. Bloody young parts need to move on … but try explaining that to them!

      Liked by 1 person

      • CB July 27, 2020 / 10:50 pm

        Aw, I’m sorry. This stuff is so hard. Have you tried writing to young parts? I sometimes do this and it does sometimes reach and shift things. And then they write back in our parts’ journal and it kind of helps work out what’s going on… It’s horrible when dreams won’t shift – it’s not on the same level but we dreamt about the teacher we were really close to age 11 last night and the grief today of knowing we’ll never see her again or be able to tell her what was going on back then has been huge. If I’d had therapy I would have shut down if I’d tried to tell K how much we miss her. Really hope you sleep better tonight and tomorrow is a better day xx

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  6. Q July 28, 2020 / 6:47 am

    Dear Em, May that fucking “tick” comment haunt you the rest of your life. May you think of it often and be overwhelmed with the degree of unprofessionalism you displayed by letting such cruelty fall out of your ugly mouth. May you be seriously ashamed of yourself. Sincerely, Q.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 28, 2020 / 7:00 am

      Thanks Q. It really has been one of the most hurtful things that’s ever been said to me. It cuts right through on every level to every part.

      Like

      • CB July 28, 2020 / 8:39 am

        Jumping in here but well said Q. It’s the most horrendous thing. As if we don’t have enough stuff like that playing on endless loops from our childhood. Maybe we should all make tick pictures and collages and post them to her for weeks on end to really get the message across and make sure it haunts her. Xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 28, 2020 / 8:54 am

        Do you know what, I’d fucking love that… everybody could email me screen shots and then I could print them out and mail them from my blog friends ‘this is what the mental health community think about your tick comment’

        Liked by 1 person

      • CB July 28, 2020 / 9:11 am

        I’m very happy to do this! She’s bloody lucky you’re not reporting her. A load of ticks in the mail is the least she deserves.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 28, 2020 / 9:31 am

        All our teen parts unite in a protest against awful language in therapy. I really would love this. Save them up and mail them in a job lot. 😊 I hate what she’s left me with. It’s wedged right in my core.

        Liked by 1 person

      • CB July 28, 2020 / 11:55 am

        I honestly can imagine. It’s one of those things you’ll have to revisit over and over again in a healing relationship to discharge the shame. Fucking hideous. Put a shout out for tick images!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Q July 28, 2020 / 8:10 pm

        Of course it does! It’s outrageous, inappropriate and UNTRUE. I really, really hope she is haunted by guilt about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 28, 2020 / 8:13 pm

        She couldn’t even accept it was a problem when I brought it up on three separate occasions. It was ‘a metaphor’ and it’s difficult to talk to me because I am ‘so sensitive and defensive’…there is no guilt or remorse. It’s all on me being mental 😩

        Like

      • Q July 28, 2020 / 8:35 pm

        I know! The defensiveness actually makes it all worse. It reflects very badly on her. A really self-reflective, competent therapist would be able to admit wrong and apologize.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. behindapaintedsmile30 July 28, 2020 / 11:23 am

    I’m glad that you are able to see K again. She seems like an amazing support.
    I don’t know what Em’s problem is but she is dangerous. I’m sorry that your session went south yesterday. It’s not surprising. I understand the shame but if your kids told you felt shame for missing you, I know that you would reassure them that it’s normal. x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rubberbandsandchewinggum July 28, 2020 / 8:17 pm

    Ah thanks Hun. You’re right. I wish I could extend the compassion I have for others towards myself. I just can’t seem to get over Em… and I worry it now looks like I’m a psycho with an obsession. I hate what she did and I hate that I have no recourse. She has shut the door on me. Ugh. Thanks for being understanding x

    Like

  9. Bourbon July 29, 2020 / 4:31 pm

    Hugs. Just the best. I’m so glad you got that with your K too xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 29, 2020 / 7:37 pm

      Yeah it was lovely. I’ve crashed and burned since then though! Almost like the young parts got a bit of what they needed and then have been in free fall since … fun times! Fortunately I’ve got another session tomorrow 😊. Hope you’re doing ok x

      Like

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