Things Fall Apart: The Teen Is Losing Her Shit Over This Therapy Break!

I am finding this therapy break really, really hard. We’re only 9 days in, still 8 days to go…and it’s like my brain has chosen this holiday to have a complete processing malfunction and fall to pieces. I’ve been having several nightmares each night: graphic stuff around my dad dying, my grandad dying, my estranged relationship with my grandmother, childhood trauma memories coming up, health anxiety stuff, and of course rejections/abandonments by Anita…it goes on and on. I am thoroughly exhausted now, and that’s just the stuff when I am asleep!

Shoot me now!

Waking up with either a jolt and my heart racing or crying in desperate sobs multiple times through the night is just fucking hideous. I mean it really is just bloody awful. My whole system is in chaos and disarray. This weekend I have been getting up when I wake up at dawn and the light is just creeping over the horizon because I can’t bear to be asleep any longer and don’t want to chance another nightmare. To be honest, I would rather have the very scary haunted house nightmares I was complaining about in my last post, than these ‘real life relationship’ horror interactions.

The more exhausted I get and the further into the break it is, the more my system is freaking out. It’s really bad. I feel so unbelievably disconnected from A that I genuinely feel like I won’t go back next week. Or at least that’s how it’s feeling for the teen part that feels like the system has been abandoned and so she just feels like setting everything on fire, running away and then having an enormous rage at Anita via text (so mature…so teen!).

For the youngest parts, it feels Anita has completely disappeared, and it’s really rattled and sent shockwaves through my system. I don’t understand what’s going on – or if there is something wrong. When Anita told me about her holiday weeks ago, she said she had been looking for the right time to tell me about knowing how difficult things were at the time and how hard I find breaks (but acknowledged there’s never really a good time). She told me it would be ok and that we could still have contact and text whilst she was gone. The idea of her going away wasn’t great but the reassurance that it wouldn’t be zero contact and radio silence helped ease things a bit.

Last year when A was on holiday, she texted me several times and sent some photographs of where she had been staying. This really helped to maintain the sense of connection and the photos especially helped me see that whilst she wasn’t ‘here’, she was still ‘somewhere’ and not dead which is what part of me panics about having had my dad die whilst away on holiday (anniversary of that is a few weeks away).

I wasn’t so upset or unsettled by the break last year – we’d literally just returned to the room and had two face-to-face sessions after the loooooooong first lockdown, so I was used to her ‘not being here’ and I was nowhere near as attached to her as I am now. The contact over the break, then, was a real bonus and just steadied everything and so I got on with what I was doing…painting my house! And whilst I missed seeing her, I just looked forward to being back in the room after the holiday. It wasn’t a distressing experience for the parts like this one has been.

Sometimes in the week between sessions or on weekends Anita will send me pictures of where she’s been on her walks, or something in the garden, and even though they aren’t pictures of her (it’s usually the dog or some beautiful scenery or something she’s been making) if feels like she’s letting me into part of her world and it feels like she actually gets how hard it is for the young parts who struggle so much with objects constancy and gives them just enough to hold onto.

On Tuesday evening I sent Anita a GIF which had two clocks on it. One that was standing still and one that was moving at speed. Basically, it said the one that stands still is what happens when we are apart and the one that accelerates is when we are together. Underneath I said, ‘I miss you’. And that was that. I could have written an essay about how shit it’s all felt (but that’s what this blog is for!) but I also really aware that A is on holiday and so there’s no point in burdening her – she needs space and time to rest and recharge.

The next evening A replied with a GIF that had a bear on it gesturing a hug that said ‘sending you a big hug because you are beary special to me!’. I replied with ‘thank you, I really needed that.’

And that’s great, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no…

Like I know loads of you will read this who suffer with the same attachment problems as me and will work with therapists like Em who don’t allow outside contact or whose messages are very clinical/sterile and would love to receive a message like that…but over the course of 9 days separation, that just is not enough for the parts that are struggling so much especially an entire day later.

It’s so hard!! FFS. I can hear how bratty and ungrateful I sound – but it is how the young parts and teen are experiencing things right now and that’s what I am chronicling here today.

I’ve spoken about this stuff (breaks/outside contact) over the years with various friends who have therapy and I think what therapists often don’t get is that for those of us with complex trauma, children who have grown up not knowing whether they are coming or going and never feeling safe, is how important consistency is and how hard change is for us. I’m sure many people (people who don’t experience the issues we do) would think that a two-week holiday is no big deal – but like I said, it’s not actually two weeks.

The therapist might be taking two weeks leave, but the time between sessions our is longer. In my case this time, it’s 17 days between my sessions. When I worked with Em and we were seeing each other once a week it would actually end up being three weeks if she had a two week break. And that is a long time for people like us…or people like me, at least!

The problem is not just about the length of time of breaks, though. It’s about the change in routine. Sure, 17 days isn’t all that long in the big scheme of things (I really get that!), but it equates to four missed therapy sessions and a lot of outside contact that won’t happen. So, if you view breaks through that lens rather than days, it’s a significant amount of lost contact time and that invariably shocks the system.

Let’s be clear, there is a reason I have two sessions a week and have a therapist that allows between session contact…I don’t have this intensity of therapy because I have nothing else to do and love losing two whole mornings a week travelling to and from the sessions. I do it because without that level of intervention I really struggle…so of course breaks are hard for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Anita more than deserves and needs her holiday. BUT I can’t lie. It is very hard when therapy stops and contact becomes minimal because my system is always so alert anyway, looking for signs of change or readying itself for abandonment and rejection.  Breaks do feel like an abandonment and lack of contact feels rejecting – even though they are neither abandoning or rejecting it is how my system experiences it.

I get that this is my issue to work through – THIS IS THE WORK!!! It’s all about attachment – GROAN! I understand I have to do the best I can to hold and contain the young parts over breaks. BUT my system is how it is and that’s not easy. I have ‘insight’ into why I am the way I am and why I react the way I do but that’s not always a whole lot of help when my teen is running rampage and is ready to quit because these last few days is evidence that as she sees it,

Anita only really cares when she’s in the room. She’s spent ages trying to get me and the young ones to trust her, coaxing them out, saying she won’t leave or abandon us. And when, finally, we let the most vulnerable self/selves out and attach to her the reality is the relationship is only ‘real’ (not real!) in that room at a specific time each week.

When it comes down to it, we are just clients. We are disposable. RB doesn’t matter and neither do the rest of us. Anita can just disappear – switch her ‘work brain’ off and leave us behind until she’s ready to become her therapist self again. Meanwhile we’re all left hanging – because this relationship doesn’t have an ON/OFF switch for us.

It’s all great when life is going as it should and the ‘therapy play’ can run as it’s mean to, but throw in an unanticipated lockdown and promises about staying because we ‘need to be face-to-face’ become meaningless. If something happens her end, a session can be cancelled outright despite the fact the she is still working online that day (still not over that one!)…basically – the reality is we don’t matter ‘that much’ and we are just her ‘job’. To think that there’s anything more is completely delusional.

It’s so hard because we are just one of her many ‘clients’ and yet to us her presence in our life is essential. Actually, no – fuck that – the little ones need the therapy and the holding. Adult thinks she needs the therapy. I don’t need anyone and am sick of the others putting me through hell! Why don’t they understand that people are unreliable, and their word means shit?

It’s better being alone.  If you don’t let anyone in no one can hurt you. It’s easier that way.

Soooo….the teen part is in a really good place right now – ha. It’s not funny, though. It’s painful.

I’m going to leave that here because bleurgh… I don’t want to bring the rest of you down with me and I’m sick of my own whining and sadness.

Raise your hand if you’re dreading the holiday season and the mass exodus of your therapist/s over the summer months?!

27 thoughts on “Things Fall Apart: The Teen Is Losing Her Shit Over This Therapy Break!

  1. LovingSummer June 14, 2021 / 11:12 pm

    Got my hand raised high!
    One thing I love about your blog is the honesty you show, and every word you have written here I really get.
    I wish I had the answer and I wish I didn’t have the same problem.
    I had to smile at you saying it’s 3 weeks, because I corrected T last week when he said it was 2 weeks: “you forgot about the ‘normal’ week’s gap we already have between sessions”. Well, okay, not quite a whole week—because I have 2 sessions a week—but that’s not the point!
    Big commiserations to you for what you’re having to endure in those 17 days.❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 15, 2021 / 8:36 am

      Ah I’m glad you could tell T about that. I genuinely don’t think it crosses their minds that breaks are longer than their actual break time! It’s weird here. Part of me wants it to be Monday and part of me just doesn’t want to go at all – so fed up and disconnected 😞

      Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer June 15, 2021 / 8:58 am

        I know… what is it about that thing we do, where we want them so much, we actually DON’T want them! 🙈

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 15, 2021 / 11:04 am

        I think it’s anger about being left and want to show how painful it is… but it’s not like it’d affect her if I didn’t turn up so it’s futile! Young parts want a longer session and cuddles. Ffs!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mac June 15, 2021 / 12:39 am

    17 days….ugggh…that sounds like an eternity. I’m back to feeling like 5 days between sessions is too long and T isn’t even on holiday. It’s literally the worst, isn’t it? Big hugs…xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Claire Louise June 15, 2021 / 8:04 am

    Gosh I can SOOOOOO relate!! I hate breaks, I usually have a panicky melt down the moment my T mentions a break, urgh.
    I know my T is going to be having time off soon, but I’m struggling with it more because she doesn’t know when (she has family abroad so it will depend on when a travel corridor opens up), so confirmation could come last minute. It’s like a slow form of break torture though this not knowing (and its been like this since beginning of May!)
    On a break related topic, I hope you don’t mind me asking a question (and I think I know the answer) – do you ever take a break and not go to a session? My T keeps suggesting I deserve a break, that it won’t change the relationship, that she’ll be there the next week, that I’ve been working so hard… She knows I despise breaks, and I wonder if she actually wants one herself, or if this is actually a common part of the process and that I should be taking one?
    Just seen how long this comment is, I’m so sorry, I feel like I’ve done another ‘me me me’.
    Big hugs ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 15, 2021 / 11:03 am

      No! I never want a break!… only wanted a break with Em when she hurt me so badly with the tick thing and that became a termination.

      I understand the horrible stuff around not knowing when there is the break. Anticipation is yuck. I hope you guys can find helpful ways of getting though it… the washed elephant has helped a lot and stories.

      Big hugs to you x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. JH June 15, 2021 / 6:43 pm

    🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️
    Mine’s going away for a month in August I think. I’d only known online therapy with her until last week when we met face to face for the first time in the building. Seeing her for real has made me more attached than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 15, 2021 / 9:33 pm

      Oh bless you. It’s hard isn’t it? How long do you get with this T? Is it time limited or as long as you need? Let’s hope August stays away a while yet.

      Like

      • JH June 15, 2021 / 9:57 pm

        18 months altogether. I’ve had 6 so far.

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 19, 2021 / 7:41 am

        Ah glad you still have a year 🙂 It’s such a pity the NHS has time limits on therapy. I did sixteen months (was meant to be twelve but got extended). It’s good you like your T too! x

        Liked by 1 person

  5. SunsetCherryBlossom June 16, 2021 / 9:50 pm

    Hand held high over here too. Yes, a two week break is absolutely a three week break in practice! Though I am also aware of when she’s back at work so feel a little more able to contact outside sessions, which I wouldn’t dare do while she was on leave. It does feels long time, but I wouldn’t want her not to have the break either. I’ve just had my once weekly session, spent the whole hour somewhere else in my head (I’m beginning to wonder if this is dissociating) so now it’s a full week til my next one and feel that I haven’t had today’s yet because I wasn’t there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 19, 2021 / 7:44 am

      Everyone put your hands in the air and wave them around like you just don’t care! … Oh god! It’s so shit for us all isn’t it?! It’s good that your T lets you know when she’s away and back as agree it probably feels more ‘ok’ to reach out then. Adult us absolutely knows that T’s need holidays – we all do – but the young parts just don’t understand do they? Like why are they being left? I’m sorry your last session was tough. Dissociation is tough, I hate it when you don’t really know what happened or feel really disconnected. I wonder what it was that made your brain not be able to stay in the room? Take good care xx

      Like

  6. SunsetCherryBlossom June 19, 2021 / 12:05 pm

    And now I have the Cameo song going round in my head! Rereading my comment I’m not sure if I implied we were in a therapy break right now (really wasn’t focussed at all that day!) anyway we are not, but it’s coming and soon. When I knew about it I actually thought it would be good to take an extended break, the whole summer, but now it’s coming close I don’t think so! Two weeks will be long enough (and of course it’s the two weeks that is really three. Yep my small child will find that hard, even though adult me will be perfectly ok with it! My brain upped and left the night before, I was at the wrong end of a drunk, unreasonable and aggressive man. And although the situation there was resolved quickly and safely, my body took me totally by surprise and put me through flashbacks and then dissociation, because of the previous trauma. Getting there now thankfully but I think I just lost a day and a half.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 19, 2021 / 8:11 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear you had a horrible time the night before your session. It sounds awful and clearly triggered some stuff. Your brain was clearly trying to keep you safe in the moment. Hopefully now you’re coming out the other side you’ll be able to process with your T a bit. And yes, adult you will do fine with the break….it’s the child parts that are always the hardest to handle isn’t it?! x

      Like

      • SunsetCherryBlossom June 19, 2021 / 8:53 pm

        Thank you yes I’m doing a lot better. I sent her a message the day after my session and just said I was struggling cos I felt like I’d missed a week, cos I wasn’t there in my head. And she sent back a reply that was just so personal for me, a photo of something I can see in her room (and my inner child has latched on to) on the zoom calls. It was so perfect, she knew exactly what I needed. How many more days now, RBCG, are we nearly there?

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 19, 2021 / 9:31 pm

        Oh I’m so glad your T is responsive like that. It really helps doesn’t it? Two more sleeps … ummm… but ugh… so torn…and disconnected. Little ones are desperate to see her, other parts want to tell her to fuck off. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      • SunsetCherryBlossom June 19, 2021 / 9:46 pm

        She is so responsive, boundaries in place which I need to feel safe, but responds always. And please resist all temptation to FO!! But I know you don’t mean that. It will be great for you to see her. I think my reply is out of sync….

        Like

  7. Sara June 19, 2021 / 6:22 pm

    Ugh! I feel this! It’s exactly as you described…nothing feels real to those parts during a separation…and feelings of complete abandonment run rampant.
    Hang in there! You’re almost there now. 💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 19, 2021 / 8:08 pm

      Thanks Sara…two more sleeps! I am so torn right now. Little ones just need it to be Monday and to spend the entire time reconnecting and cuddling….but the protectors have other ideas and I am worried I might end up cut off and dissociated. FUCK! x

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sara June 19, 2021 / 8:43 pm

        I hear you. My protectors always have other ideas. 🤦‍♀️
        You’ve got this. And Anita will be there to tend to everyone. 💗

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sara June 20, 2021 / 1:15 am

        🤣🤣

        Like

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