It’s been an incredibly tough month – but thank goodness for therapy!…

It’s been over a month since I last posted here which is the longest I have ever gone without blogging. It’s not that there hasn’t been a lot going on – far from it – I could write thousands of words on how it’s been but I simply haven’t had the time or energy to do anything other than survive, lately. It’s been that bad. My anxiety has been off the chart and I feel perpetually on edge (although it’s justified!). I am stuck in flight mode and my nervous system is freaking out big time. I can’t sleep. Eating has been a real battle, at times. It’s just been the biggest uphill struggle for so long now. I can say wholeheartedly that I didn’t think being a grown up would be this hard. Adulting sucks!

I appreciate how doom and gloom that all sounds and it’s hard to go into too much detail about what’s been going on as it’s so specific that it would be easy to identify me from the information if you happened to know me in real life. A broad-brush picture is: the job stuff with my wife took another very nasty turn (really bad!), and since her COVID we’ve discovered that she has an undiagnosed autoimmune disease (the GP missed the markers in the blood tests she had six months ago when she went in pain and with vision problems and since then she’s gone rapidly downhill). We have learnt that lack of intervention has already caused some irreparable damage. This damage could be life-changing and if not got under control soon, career-limiting. This latest revelation has meant that a surgery she had recently has been unsuccessful and another surgery that was planned has had to be postponed to try and get her system under control to make it safe enough to operate. FFS!

And then my grandfather died of COVID (contracted in hospital) earlier in the month. That was really horrible and hard to see. Honestly, to be with someone, unconscious, fighting for every breath despite being pumped with oxygen is something I’ll never forget and it makes me really wonder why there are still people out there who are refusing to wear masks or get the vaccine and think COVID is some kind of hoax to control us all. I wouldn’t wish that kind of death on anyone and it’ll take a long while for the memory of this to fade. I am hospital phobic anyway, so it’s not been great.

There’s been other stuff, too, but essentially (as you can probably see) things haven’t got any better and in terms of health and finances we’re in a really bad spot, still. I could do with the lottery fairies smiling on me!

So, suffice to say life has been very very hard and it’s a long long way from resolving. I keep saying to Anita that it can’t possibly get any worse, this has to be bottom, and then I discover another trapdoor and plunge down through it into another level of hell.

I have to laugh about it or I’d cry. And I do cry, but nowhere near enough because there isn’t time. Having said that I bawled my eyes out watching a webcast of my grandad’s funeral yesterday. So much grief came up and out – and I am sure if wasn’t only about the loss of a lovely man, it tapped into so many other losses: my dad, my wonderful friend, and… Em.

The one good, solid, and reliable thing (silver linings!) through all of this has been Anita’s consistent care and support. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her and I literally thank the universe every single day that I crossed paths with her. Even though it hurt like hell, I am glad that what happened with Em happened last year because I know how bad things would be if I was still working with her. She’s only working online now and has put her fee up by another £15 a session…there’s no way I could have afforded to see her but not only that, I could not have coped with the perpetual stress and anxiety of being in therapy with her. Working with Anita has given me at least some sense of a solid base, or a safe space in my week – and it has been so needed.

Because things have been so much in survival mode, I can’t even really remember what’s been going on in the therapy to recount much here. I can’t really recall very much detail and the chronology feels a bit skewed – my brain has been so overloaded. I have been all over the place. There’s been times when all I have been able to do is cry and cuddle Anita, grabbing onto her like she’s a life raft in a stormy sea.

Fortunately, she is always there to hold me if that’s what I want. I have asked her on a few occasions if she thinks I am weird or too needy or too clingy for needing to be so close to her (young parts freaking out) – she doesn’t even stop to think or take a breath before emphatically answering ‘No! Not at all! You are exactly as anyone would be given all you’ve gone through’. What’s even nicer is that she often follows up with something like ‘you are really so easy to love – what’s happened to you is not your fault and I really want you to hear that and know that’ all the while holding me a little bit more tightly. I can literally feel the love and it is so healing.

After a particularly bad week earlier this month I’d sent a few texts. Not really wordy ones just touching base but kind of needy ‘are you there’ GIF type ones. And then the shame and panic hit a bit and I sent a GIF of a bear repeatedly poking another bear with a carrot and asked the question:

It’s the non-shaming simple responses that I get from Anita that go such a long way to settle my system and build trust for all the parts of me in the relationship with her. Having those young parts allowed to communicate with an emoji or GIF (or longer message/email which rarely happens) has been transformational. It’s not ‘therapy outside the room’ but it is holding and containing enough for me to be able to do the work in the room.

It’s so helpful to be able to give Anita the heads up on the morning of a session and say ‘we need to talk about…’ so that I don’t arrive and chicken out. Again it is rarely necessary but having that freedom to reach out makes such a difference. I can’t believe I struggled for so many years with Em. Feeling bad for sending any kind of message (which only happened very occasionally) and getting the boundary talk and a ‘I didn’t read your text’ was so damaging for the parts that were struggling so much with coming to the room.

Anyway #AnitaRocks

I seem just to be waffling on here and saying not much but honestly, March has been absolutely brutal. When my grandad was dying, the visit meant a 700-mile round trip over two days with my mum (!) to say goodbye to him. I was absolutely battered when I got home, the drive was long, the emotional stress of visiting my grandad was huge, trying to support my mum and make conversation when we have an ‘interesting’ dynamic was ok but exhausting, and to add insult to injury, the person in the room next to me at the hotel decided that it was a good idea to have a 5-hour long row on the phone to their partner. I was so angry and so so tired that I ended up banging on the wall at 3am (this is not like me!). I had also had to reschedule students and condense 5 days of work into 4 (need the money right now!)

It was all a bit too much, and add to that I had also had to cancel my Monday therapy at short notice (I got the call that my grandad was end of life on the Sunday morning and left the house within half an hour in the hope we’d get to see him before he died). You can probably imagine how that set the young parts jangling! The night that I was alone in the hotel I felt so worn out and emotional that the young parts were really on edge even though Anita had been accommodating and understanding and had offered to see me at our usual/occasional Tuesday evening time (if I was not too tired for it). Sometimes an extra day waiting just feels too long when life already feels too much, but at least I didn’t have to hang on until Friday.

I do know how lucky I am to have a therapist who is so flexible with me. It is another benefit of having a therapist that works full time in their own private practice and not 3 days a week in the NHS and 2 days private (like Em). Because Anita works more days there’s always flexibility and opportunity to get a session when I need it or juggle things around if stuff comes up. If there was ever a crisis or something cropped up when working with Em there was never any space (although maybe there was an she just didn’t want to see me?!) and I just had to sit with it. This was especially difficult given that she also didn’t do check-ins or any kind of outside communication.

Sitting here now it’s clear just how bad a fit it was. That aloof, distant style just didn’t work for me AT ALL!

Anyway, despite being knackered on Tuesday I was determined to see Anita that evening. My grandad had died on the Monday evening and I really just needed some time and space to decompress with my safe person. I arrived at Anita’s and after about 10 minutes talking just completely ran out of steam. I think I started to relax and the adrenaline that had been keeping me going disappeared and I was left with the reality.

I felt totally done in.

I asked if we could turn the ‘big’ light off in the room (I was so tired and it felt too bright) and instead put on the salt lamp she has. Then I asked for a hug, cuddled into her, closed my eyes and came very close to falling asleep as I listened to her heart beat. Our breathing synchronised under the orangey pink glow of the lamp and it just felt so containing for all the parts that were struggling. I don’t remember much about what was said but I do remember how calm and safe it felt. I can imagine some people reading this thinking that ‘this is not therapy’ but it works for me. It is healing to me. And after years and years gaining ‘insight’ I just really need to do the relational healing – and that is what’s happening.

Anita sent me this one the other day 🙂

The next week I don’t know what happened but there was a session where I just found it impossible to connect with Anita. Bloody emotional rollercoaster. It was definitely a teen part that had been triggered. I think I (young part) had sent her a text (nothing important – like literally a GIF or something) and she hadn’t responded when she usually would have done. I don’t know if it was shame creeping in round the edges or what – but I couldn’t even look at her when I got to the session. I think when I am operating in overwhelm my hypervigilance goes mad and I panic that something is wrong. Looking back over the messages, I can’t even see why I had got worked up!

Sometimes when we’ve had really connecting, emotionally intimate sessions like that evening one, I almost get a vulnerability hangover and go into myself, I think. Like I saw Anita not replying to my text as a sign that she must now feel like how it had been in the recent amazing holding sessions was really too much for her and now she regretted letting me so close. I was too much. She had finally seen what Em had, and she wanted to get away from the parasitic tick (me).

OH HELP!

When this stuff starts circling in my brain it’s agony. The shame is so huge. I know this is my inner critic doing its best to keep me safe and it’s utter bollocks given how it really is with Anita but for some reason I can’t get out of that state when I am in it. I hate it. I mean honestly, it was such an epic panic and meltdown inside. I know it was a product of being overwhelmed and overtired but it feels so hard for all the other parts of me that long to remain connected and to be safely held when I shut down and keep Anita at arm’s length.

Anyway, on this day Anita was being so warm and lovely and PATIENT. Telling me she was there with me. She held out her hand and asked me if I wanted to take it. She even offered me a hug. But I just couldn’t reach out and refused all her offers of connection. I really wanted to hold her hand and hug her, but it was like my hands were tied behind my back. Anita kept gently reassuring me but nothing was working. She’d told me she had had a migraine and had to cancel clients in the week and had been too ill to look at her phone and realises she’d been less available and responsive. I realised then, that the lack of reply was because she’d been ill in bed. I felt like an epic dickhead.

Anita then said, ‘I know it’s your birthday tomorrow, and I have got you a present but I haven’t had chance to wrap it up or get you a card because I have been stuck in bed with my head’. I was struck dumb by what was being said. Here I was, again, pushing this woman away because I was scared that I was too much for her and thinking that she doesn’t care and wants to be away from me (over an unacknowledged GIF — I do see how mad this is!), and instead here she is telling me that she’s remembered my birthday and not only that, has wanted to give me something as a gift.

I looked at her for the first time, embarrassed, and said, ‘you really didn’t have to do that. That’s so lovely. But you really didn’t have to.’ She replied with, ‘I wanted to. It felt right. It might not happen every year but it feels right now’. She bent down and opened the cupboard in the room and took out a box and gave it to me. It was a Himalayan salt lamp just like the one in the therapy room. I had told her how I really felt relaxed when we were in that evening session and how calming the light felt and she’d not only kept that in mind but bought me one. She told me they were meant to help with sleep and that she knows how much I have been struggling to sleep lately and she hoped it might help me.

I was so blown away by her kindness, again. Like the day she gave me my beating heart necklace when we came back out of the last lockdown and I’d tanked with online sessions and had meltdown after meltdown. I mean it’s incredible. I put the lamp down and gave her the most enormous hug and thanked her and spent the rest of the session snuggled in and talking about all sorts. Little parts had a lot to say – as you can probably imagine!

The lamp is amazing and I love lying in bed listening to podcasts or whatever with the light on. It has a dimmer switch so you can make it really low light to sleep by – like a night light. It’s really helped…but then I also think psychologically it’s like being tucked up in bed by that parent figure. Every time I go to bed I have the reminder of Anita’s care for me. I know it’s intense right now, but I don’t care! For the child parts it’s huge and settling and I feel like holes are being filled in bit by bit inside me and I am moving towards a more healed place – even despite the fact that my life is going down the toilet!

I can see this is getting long so I will end here – even if it’s a bit abrupt.  I have more to write about Mother’s Day (eek!). I know it’s a sore area for a lot of us mother wounded souls but I think it’d be better as another stand alone post…oh and then there’s Easter break coming too!!

I hope you are all hanging in there. Thank you for all the emails from those of you who have checked in. I am sorry I haven’t replied. I have literally been on empty x

37 thoughts on “It’s been an incredibly tough month – but thank goodness for therapy!…

  1. Claire Louise March 28, 2021 / 10:28 am

    Sending you lots of love and hugs. I am so sorry about your Grandad, but also so glad you have Anita, she does rock. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. healing1973 March 28, 2021 / 12:53 pm

    So sorry to hear of the passing of your Grandfather and all of the troubles of the past month. It sounds like quite a struggle! As I was reading your post, I was thinking of how much I can identify with the interaction between the different parts. I totally get it. I too have little parts (under 5) who really crave the attachment. When we are that age, we are wired to connect for survival. That is why attachment feels like life or death to those parts. It sounds like for both of us, they have an anxious attachment style. Then I have some pre-teen/teen parts who have more of an Avoidant style of attachment which is super fun…NOT. This creates what my therapists call a “push-pull” attachment style over all. The little parts want to pull in closer and the older parts want to pull away, leaving adult me thinking WTF is going on here??? Sound familiar lol? I have also discovered with IFS Internal Family Systems (IFS) work that the older ones think they need to protect the littlest ones which means that when the little parts gets the connection they need (in your case with Anita), the older parts charge in like “nooooooo, stop it, connection is dangerous, don’t be attached”, which is when the guilt, confusion, shame, and pushing away comes in. Before I discovered how my parts related to one another as their own little internal family, I had not idea. It has been incredibly helpful to discover so I thought that may help you because your story is so familiar to mine. Also, I do EMDR with the same therapist that is doing the IFS with me and she talks to each on of the parts and then uses EMDR to calm down the biological reactions. It is seriously life changing to realize this is not “mind over matter”. Our bodies are reacting without our permission to patterns that we can’t even recognize or remember. Anyway, I hope some of this is helpful and that the coming month is better than the last!

    Liked by 4 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 4:44 pm

      Thank you 🙂 And yes, the inner dynamics can be quite something can’t they? I got really familiar with my system a few years ago and that made everything much easier to bear and understand. I feel a lot more compassionate towards myself and can see why some things touch certain parts of me and can track the patterns. i.e what triggers a young part can then set off a chain of dominos – teen steps in – doesn’t always get a handle on things – and then critic goes mental. I catch myself much sooner these days and fortunately, because Anita is so good we can really unpick what’s gone on. I really hope this next month is better. I am hanging on by a thread! Take care 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. skinnyhobbit March 28, 2021 / 3:49 pm

    Hugs! Condolences about your grandpa, and we’re really glad you have Anita. ❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LovingSummer March 28, 2021 / 4:08 pm

    I’m so sorry you witnessed this with your grandad. I nursed so many patients in this position (lung cancer) and it is something you NEVER forget. I am so sorry you have experienced this awfulness, it is every bit as horrific as you describe. I really hope you’re okay.

    A bit absolutely rocks and you deserve every bit of what she offers you, without reserve. Just right now I’d like a piece of Anita! I’m so glad you have her.

    Oh, and, I’d strongly contest anyone who says what you have with Anita isn’t therapy: it really is. One hundred percent. And I love that she, as well as you, can recognise that. Good on you! You’re a great team.

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 4:51 pm

      Thank you. I definitely couldn’t be a nurse! A is incredible. I feel so blessed. I think some people would argue that how A and I work is not the norm – and I know it isn’t – but it’s perfectly tailored to what I need right now. I have never felt more seen or held and it really feels like it is strengthening my inner core – you know – to hold myself together better. I’m way behind on blogs. I’ve been dipping in and out but not commenting. I see you have had a lot to contend with too xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer March 28, 2021 / 4:54 pm

        I see it as a bonus that you gain so much from it, even if you think of it as being not the norm. I really understand that, and tried to convey some to this to my own T this past week. So what I’m saying is, I see it! And I value it for you, big time.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 4:58 pm

        I’ve done years and years of therapy with many different therapists who work in different ways from different theory and perspectives. I can hand on heart say that what Anita and I have co-created is the most beneficial and healing experience I’ve had. To have someone genuinely care and be prepared to get deep into the trenches with me is transformative. To be accepted, and not just that but loved just as I am is a game changer! How did T take the voice message? I think you said what’s needed to be said for a long time so well done xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer March 28, 2021 / 5:02 pm

        He didn’t listen to it, and when we were in session today he didn’t want to listen to it then either, so at least I guess it’s not about being paid to listen! He said he’d rather be in the moment and listen to it tomorrow instead.
        Part of me wants to ask him to just delete it and forget about it, but I actually think he would be only too happy to do that! So I don’t know what to think.

        Regarding your situation, your Anita very much reminds me of Lucy and her Mark, and how they work in such a different and very close way, just like you and Anita do. So lovely to hear about it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 9:10 pm

        Oh god. LS! I can imagine it’s not easy waiting on a response. Does T know that it’s a big deal thing that you’ve sent? I suppose it’s good that he’s waiting to listen to it when he has headspace to do it, but surely in session would have been the ideal time – to process it together live. I can understand you wanting to tell him to delete but it’s such important stuff and he needs to know. Take good care xx

        Like

      • LovingSummer March 28, 2021 / 9:53 pm

        You’d think he would have an inkling, he even mentioned our last rupture, saying he doesn’t think this will cause a rupture…
        I recognise he’s had a lot on his plate but actually this week was nothing near what it first looked like it would be for him, so I don’t know. Maybe it’s catch up. Maybe none of us escape the perils of this pandemic. Maybe I’ll never know!

        I DID feel like he needs to know but now I feel like shutting down as an act of self-protection, but you know all about that, I’m sure!
        I’m so glad you’ve got Anita with those brilliant one-liners like that text, wow, what a difference! I’m not dissing T, he’s still a great therapist, just this month I’ve really felt it and today was the final straw! You take good care too ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 30, 2021 / 10:38 am

        Sorry I missed this reply. Has anything happened yet? Hope you’re hanging on in there. Sending hugs and really hope the conversations that follow you being open and vulnerable in that message lead to a further deepening of the relationship and a sense of you being safe and accepted with T with all of your feelings x

        Like

      • LovingSummer March 30, 2021 / 10:45 am

        I wrote a whole thing asking him to delete the message before he listens to it, but by the time I’d finished it and seen the time, I thought it was too late and he was most likely just finishing reading it 🙈
        But if he hasn’t read it then I’m going to ask him to hand over his phone so I can delete it there and then in person!
        Some of my message isn’t even valid anymore because his situation has been much easier for at least 10 days or so, and I was talking about it as though it was really bad for him still (because I didn’t know it had improved already).
        Ah, I’m sure it’ll be okay in the end🤞

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 30, 2021 / 10:49 am

        Oh god… if you can lean into the vulnerable place and tolerate it then I really think you should let T hear this. There’s so much work for you in the attachment zone which you’re skirting round and maybe you could just see if you can dangle the toe in the water. Obv you need to do what feels right and on your time frame. But I think T can handle this and this work is so life changing when it gets done. X

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      • LovingSummer March 30, 2021 / 10:51 am

        I really hope you’re right because it’s too late, I think he HAS heard it! I’m not sure T has had this depth of therapy all that much, he often tells about how much we’re working on a really deep zone, like it’s not commonplace. But we shall see… love the idea that it would lead to some good work though.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. LoseWeightWithAng March 28, 2021 / 5:23 pm

    Oh no 😔 I hope you’re doing well. Therapy has been helpful in the past for me as well. It’s nice to have someone to unravel your thoughts with. But yes, they are expensive. I chose to journal when I stopped going, which gave me a similar result.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 9:12 pm

      Thank you. I’m holding it together loosely and pointing forwards and keeping going… that’s all there is to do. Journaling is good. That’s how I started blogging. Basically my journal became this place!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mac March 28, 2021 / 8:39 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and all the difficult things that have been happening in so many different areas of life. I’m so glad you have Anita now on your side….xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 9:14 pm

      Thank you 😊. It’s been fucking horrific. I just want to hide. It’s so overwhelming. I have therapy tomorrow which is very needed but also dreading a shutdown as o feel so out of sorts. I hope A can see through it and reach me. Hope you’re hanging in there xx

      Like

  7. Lucy King March 28, 2021 / 8:42 pm

    Oh RB… I’m so so sorry to hear about your Grandpa. These things are heartbreaking enough without adding the complications around Covid into the mix. I’m really sorry.

    I haven’t been on very much so I’m sure I’ve missed huge chunks of everyone’s situations and I defo feel that when catching up on this most recent post of yours… I really hope things suddenly take a turn for the better with your wife and I am so grateful you have Anita helping you through this!

    Sending you big hugs, L xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 28, 2021 / 9:16 pm

      Thanks L. Yeah the stuff with my grandad has been really upsetting. I thought I was ok until the funeral and I realised I’d just been doing the usual old thing – suppressing everything so it isn’t felt. Life is really tough right now and I feel perpetually scared. It’s utter crap. I hope you’re doing ok x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy King March 28, 2021 / 9:21 pm

        Funerals are good for that eh… they really thrust it in our faces. I hope that in a way it was cathartic to feel it, though it’s agony… it has to pass through us one way or another. I’m honestly so sorry to hear how shit things are for you. Health and money/work worries are absolutely terrifying. It’s bottom of the pyramid stuff. I’m sending as much positive, life affirming, abundance and prosperity energy your way as I can muster. You guys need a break! I really hope things ease up for you soon xx

        Liked by 1 person

  8. easetheride March 28, 2021 / 10:56 pm

    I’m so sorry about your grandfather, especially with the unexpectedness of it. That type of pain goes so deep and it’s something that can never truly be replaced. Thank goodness you had Anita to get you through the beginning of that grief path. I feel so bad to hear how much crap has been raining down on you that you don’t deserve; I had been wondering where you’d disappeared to, but didn’t want to be a bother. Anyway, how wonderful of a birthday present that was (happy belated!); it always made me happy that J remembered my birthday, like I was special in some way, and this goes even beyond that. She’s truly holding you in her mind outside the therapy space, you have connected that much. I hope some of this mess gets cleaned up soon, let me know if you need someone to come along and provide some support pushing all the garbage out of your life. I’ve always wanted to drive a bulldozer! ; )

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 30, 2021 / 10:35 am

      Thank you lovely. I’d definitely take you up on the bulldozing offer! It’s so bloody tough right now. Anita has been incredible and I’m so glad I have her. The lamp was a lovely gesture. I’m still circling shame zone occasionally – I’ve got stuff to write on that- but largely I feel safe and settled with her. Hope you’re doing ok. Sorry I’ve been awol – I’ll try and catch up on the last month of blogs over Easter 🐣 x

      Like

  9. Sara March 30, 2021 / 4:41 am

    Oh I am so sorry for your loss. You have had an awful lot on your plate lately. I am so relieved for you that you have the care and support from Anita right now. Your work with her continues to sound so incredibly healing. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 30, 2021 / 10:29 am

      Thanks Hun. It’s been absolutely hideous for months now. It’s exhausting! I’m so pleased I have Anita- it’s so healing even when it’s tough. Slightly dreading Easter as there’ll be a bit of a break. Eek. I’m miles behind on reading blogs so I hope you’re ok x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. strangelings March 30, 2021 / 9:39 am

    i’m so sorry it’s been so hard lately. i’m very glad you have Anita- my therapist also will hold (and amusingly has the SAME salt lamp in her office!) and i think it’s been vitally important for us. there’s nothing wrong with attaching and needing reassurence- it’s part of healing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum March 30, 2021 / 10:25 am

      I suspect they’re a therapy room staple but I love the glow- so relaxing. I’m glad you have a supportive therapist who holds you. I totally agree. I think therapy is individual and the best therapy relationship and healing is co-created. Theory and boundaries are important but it’s a frame – one size doesn’t fit all, that’s for sure!

      Like

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