It’s Good To Be Back So Let’s Have a Panic Attack!…And False Adult Strikes Again!

So, Monday was the first therapy session back after the break and I only went and had a panic attack within seconds of getting sat down…

A panic attack with Anita??…WTAF?!!

Honestly, you just can’t make it up, can you? But this is me, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I hardly slept on Sunday evening. I was struggling with a strange mix of emotions: part of me was like a kid trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing Santa is coming and just willing the time forward so I could see Anita and put an end to the painful longing of the young parts; then there were other parts who felt sick with ‘back to school’ dread who didn’t want to go to therapy at all.

The anxiety around going back and it, maybe, feeling ‘off’ or something having changed whilst Anita was away, was huge. There was also a lot of anger in the background from the Teen who just feels completely unseen in all this but who suffers so much during breaks – and whilst things mightn’t have changed for Anita some things have changed for some parts and that definitely needs to be given space at some point.

Anyway, when I did dip into sleep, I managed to reward myself with some pretty nasty nightmares so when I woke up on Monday, I was completely done in. I was sooooo tired. Not just physically, but emotionally too. I think sometimes I keep going during breaks (just keep swimming swimming swimming) in an avoidant blind panic…

and it’s not until it’s over that the reality of how much energy it’s taken to hold it all together becomes apparent, and I wasn’t actually ‘waving, but drowning’. I basically crash face first into it all. And that’s how it felt on Monday morning.

Driving to therapy, I was so anxious. I so badly needed to reconnect with Anita but there was a part of me that feared that False Adult would show up and do all the talking and leave the young parts out of Anita’s view. False Adult is so clever. She’s another protector but she’s so close to my actual Adult that it’s hard to tell that she’s a decoy to stop me getting to what really needs working on.

False Adult conceals the young and vulnerable parts but unlike some of the protectors that stonewall Anita and go silent, and rigid, and it’s clear as day that it’s not ‘me’ in the room and so Anita can tell she needs to find a way through to them and towards those behind them; False Adult talks a good game and it’s hard for Anita to know it’s not the me that I want her to see. I don’t know if that makes sense. Basically, Anita wouldn’t know that I’m struggling – EVEN THOUGH I REALLY AM. I don’t even know if I have told A about this part yet.

False Adult goes in and is articulate and funny and talks about stuff…that is hard… life stuff in the here and now, work frustrations, parenting fails, those kinds of things, and so Anita would have no idea that it’s classic avoidance because why would talking about having to call your oncology nurse because of problems with swallowing in the break be a ‘non thing’ or the fact that your best friend from primary school has weeks, maybe months to live and you found out on the break.

These things ARE THINGS but straight after a holiday they are not the most pressing things that need attention when my system has gone into meltdown on the break and my nervous system is jangling. But can you imagine? Anita would sound like a complete dick if she said ‘RB you’ve spent a lot of time talking about these things, but is it what you really want to talk about today?’ Because what therapist in their right mind is going to say that when we are talking about cancer and death???

And this is the problem.

I have so much going on that does also need attention (but maybe next session not these early ones) that it’s easy to overlook what’s ‘really’ going on inside. I might appear together but, actually, it’s like the swan – graceful on the surface but legs going like the clappers beneath the surface. And unless I magically manage to power down False Adult the young parts have no chance of getting free and being with Anita which is so fucking distressing.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know False Adult didn’t come on Monday…but she did turn up and monopolise 45 minutes of Friday’s session which was really shit ☹. I could feel the young parts getting more and more upset as the time slipped away.

I realised afterwards that False Adult often turns up after really vulnerable sessions where the young parts have been really out. She almost acts to try and prove that I am not ‘too needy’ or ‘pathetic’ or ‘childish’. It’s like, “Look, I can do ‘normal’ and talk about things that regular people talk about in therapy. See how I am happy to sit here on my own and give you space…so now you don’t have to get fed up of the young parts and leave me.”


Fuck it.

IT IS SO BLOODY EXHAUSTING BEING IN MY HEAD. Anyone who is lucky enough not to have experience these horrible feelings and their attachment style not be such a fundamental problem area is so lucky. I am so over it all: tying myself in knots, worrying about being left, being too much, waiting to be rejected.

I am sure that Anita wouldn’t be the way she is with me if she didn’t want to be. I don’t get the sense that she is fed up with me. She tells me A LOT that I am not too much and actually on Monday’s session even told me that I am “easy to love” and yet there is a part of me that can’t fully trust in her love and care. Because … well… because there must be a line, right? …where I will be ‘too much’ and she’ll change her mind, I’ll get the ‘boundary talk’ and she’ll just want to get the hell away from me?


Anyway, back to Monday. I could feel my heart racing as I got to Anita’s. I really wanted to just give her a hug when she opened the door, but there was a part of me that was too scared to.

Like what if she didn’t want me to do that? Seems unlikely given she’d sent such a reassuring message the night before and offered to do a longer session…but try telling that to the parts that were freaking out.

As I made it into the room, I could feel things getting really bad inside. It was like all the stuff that I’d been holding, all the distress of those young parts came flooding and the dam burst. I sat down and asked for a hug because I felt like I was going to pass out from the overwhelm. I had a choice, disappear into dissociation, or reach out quick. So, I reached out.

The fact that more often than not I can reach out, now, is a real testament to the work Anita and I have done together – because there were so many years in therapy where dissociation was the only safe place to be. For Anita to have created a safe enough space and build a relationship with me where I can take risks and ask for what I need is massive after what it was like with Em and I am so grateful to her.

I snuggled [read ‘grabbed on tight as if my life depended on it’] into Anita and my whole system was in panic. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and my body was trembling inside. I don’t know if I was shaking externally or not, but inside I felt like I was experiencing an earthquake. I have felt similar to this before – the emotional overwhelm that becomes so physical – but never as bad as on Monday.

I really struggled to regulate my breathing and slow my heart rate. I tried to tune into Anita’s heartbeat which is always so steadying, but my own heartbeat was pulsing in my ears that I couldn’t hear anything for a good while.

Anita was so lovely in that session. She held me for the entire 75 minutes and bit by bit things settled. We didn’t really talk much about how the break felt – other than acknowledging that it’s really hard for me. I had been so dysregulated and really the session was just working on feeling safe and connected again. We talked about places she’d been on her break and all sorts of little things. It felt really nice.

Near the end, a little part, one of the ones that had struggled so much in the first week of the break when it felt like Anita had completely disappeared off the face of the earth asked, “Are you fed up with me?” Anita gently replied, “Not at all. Really, really not. I look forward to seeing you. You are not as demanding as you feel, you know. You’re really important.”

I could feel myself crying (again). Part of me can’t believe she is so nice to me. Like what is it that she sees that I don’t?…that Em didn’t?

I wish it were easier to hold onto the care and the love that I can feel in the sessions when I can’t see A. I’ve said so many times how hard it is to find somewhere inside myself to store the love so that it’s there to draw on when I can’t see her. But it’s like sand slipping through my fingers.

I have a few grains, some tangible reminders that there is something ‘real’ but it’s like a tiny flame compared with the fire that burns usually. This is the fall out of developmental trauma, there are just areas of my brain that just haven’t formed the pathways around safety and object constancy.

I am so lucky that Anita is demonstrative, and I have actual physical reminders of her care that she’s given me over the time we’ve been working together, and these really do help a lot when the Critic is trying to demolish everything. I wore the necklace she gave me every day of the holiday, every night I go to bed and the lamp she bought me for my birthday glows beside my bed, and this time I had elephant, too, that smelled just like her and that was so grounding and soothing…

But it’s hard enough in the week between sessions but this break was so much harder than I imagined it would be. All my fears about being left and abandoned came up. It’s so close to the anniversary of my dad’s death now that I think that all came online too. Sometimes people leave even when they don’t want to…

And that’s hard. Being left because you’re too much is shit but being left even when you are loved is…devastating too.

Anita carried on with her reassurances, holding me tight, “What you really need, and what I want to give you… is love. And it’s really, really easy because you’re so lovable. I think the trouble is, you’ve been surrounded by people who don’t know to do it. And it’s so easy. Because you really, really are lovable and I can’t emphasise it enough. It’s not you…”

And then she went on to tell me something MASSIVE that really helped me feel so much better about what happened last year with Em…but that’s for another post!

I’m really hoping False Adult stays the fuck at home tomorrow. The fall out of her monopolising a session is huge. This weekend the young parts have felt really unsettled and untethered despite getting cuddles for the last fifteen minutes of the session on Friday.

I just need a new brain don’t I?!

27 thoughts on “It’s Good To Be Back So Let’s Have a Panic Attack!…And False Adult Strikes Again!

  1. Lucy King June 27, 2021 / 10:26 pm

    Ahhhh this resonates. My false adult is the most well adapted, high functioning protector and it actually kills me that she gets in the way so expertly, rendering me unable to get my needs met. Every. Damn. Time. The way you articulate it is spot on. I’m so glad Anita can see you so clearly and held you the way she did.

    Oh and ‘And then she went on to tell me something MASSIVE that really helped me feel so much better about what happened last year with Em…but that’s for another post!’ Looking forward to that!

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 28, 2021 / 3:17 pm

      God damn the False Adult! I need to work out exactly what’s going on there but I think it is a defence against vulnerability and being too needy. Bleurgh. I’ll write about the big thing when I get a minute. Take care L! Hope your FA stays away! X

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 28, 2021 / 10:23 pm

        Yeah, FA is very frustrating… does the job of hiding any vulnerable parts perfectly… mine was around for the first 45 mins of todays session and we talked about it extensively… a lot of anger and some realisations on a body level of what it feels to be protected. It’s a long road isn’t it! There’s so much anger in me about all of this. Hope you’re doing okay RB xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 29, 2021 / 1:05 pm

        Ugh. I’m sorry. At least you could talk about it. I need to do that. It’s only really just coming into focus for me what this is. It’s always been there but I need to work out why that part fears being seen so much. Definitely a very long road. It’s like excavating an Egyptian tomb – slow and steady work. I don’t like sand or heat so it’s not great! 😂 thinking of you. I had a horrible time yesterday – another protector and huge disconnect first half. I’m really struggling with 60 min sessions I think. I notice such a huge difference in 75 mins – more time to ground I think. I panic that an hour will go to quick and then I lose time because I don’t connect. Frustrated is not a good enough word for it. X

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy King June 29, 2021 / 3:09 pm

        RB, you talking about it here helped clarify things for me so that when it was happening in the session yday I was able to verbalise it. It was funny coz at one point, 40mins in I said something was frustrating and annoying and M said ‘those are the words of the day aren’t they… a lot of frustration and annoyance, understandably.’ The needy vulnerable parts at constant conflict with the protective parts… I even blocked him saying some lovely stuff to me because I apparently didnt want him ‘feeding the needy parts’…. WTF!?? lol

        I can really understand the whole 60min/75min thing. It makes a huge differnce. I was constantly clock watching yday as well.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 29, 2021 / 4:09 pm

        It’s hard isn’t it? I feel really bummed about the 60/75 mins thing. Now that I have a flat rate each month agreed with Anita I feel like I can’t ask for 75 minute sessions whereas before I would. I feel like I already get so much of her time for ‘free’ that I can’t ask for more. Money shame is huge. But it’s crap because I don’t settle the same in an hour and I feel soooo much better after a longer session.

        Crikey, that protector really was on a mission wasn’t she? “Don’t feed the needy parts.” Those poor little ones inside 😞. Sometimes I wish I had a scrolling word board above my head that said exactly what was going on inside. FA would have a job then!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 29, 2021 / 7:35 pm

        Oh that’s a tricky one. If only there was some way you could still get what you need time wise… without the unnecessary guilt!

        I know, reading that back the way you wrote it kinda broke my heart actually. Such a strong, hateful part in me!

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 29, 2021 / 9:01 pm

        I guess when we realise they’re only trying to protect us from getting hurt then we can feel a level of compassion towards them and ourselves. Smart survival mechanism at some point in our lives even if not fit for purpose now. I said to A once, ‘if my critic is off the chart mean then there’s nothing worse that you can say to me than I’ve already said or thought about myself and so I’m ready for it and will be less hurt if it comes’… thing is having those thoughts confirmed by a T (Em) is just the worst because of course there are parts that are desperate for that narrative to be challenged and discover we are lovable. Fuck it!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy King June 29, 2021 / 9:12 pm

        Yeah that’s the thing, I can’t even fathom the courage it’s taken you to re-enter a therapeutic relationship given the abuse you suffered with Em.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Q June 28, 2021 / 7:20 am

    No, You don’t need a new Brain, dear RB. Yours is funny and brilliant and insightful and protective and traumatized… all of which is okay and acceptable. xxxooo

    Like Lucy, I’m really wanting to know what this MASSIVE thing was!

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 28, 2021 / 3:18 pm

      Ahhh Q! Thank you for this! My brain is a liability at the minute. I just wish I could chill out and not see danger and potential rejection everywhere I look. X

      Liked by 1 person

      • Q June 28, 2021 / 3:28 pm

        That poor frightened part needs a lot of love and reassurance and proof that things are truly different now. 💜 it’s understandably hard to get past its terrible prior experience. I know you want things to feel better NOW, of course, and I want that for you too. I just don’t want us to be impatient or grumpy with the wounded part and then have it feel more unloved…

        I guess I’ve come to believe that our best healing comes when we shift from “I hate this part of myself because it causes me pain or shame” to “I love this difficult panicky irrational part of myself too; it exists for a reason.”

        I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well. So scratch all that and instead just know I’m sending you buckets of affection and good wishes.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 28, 2021 / 5:18 pm

        Ha. Yes. I know exactly what you mean. I don’t hate any of them now. I’m more curious about what triggers them and when/why. It’s clear they’re protecting from something it’s just bloody agony being in that place with my young parts gagged and bound and not being seen. I totally bombed today’s session but fir different protector parts being out (angry, withdrawn, stonewalling one). Ffs! I still have a headache from the stress of it all. A was great but man… this work!!! 🤯

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Clara June 28, 2021 / 10:53 am

    Ooh way to whet the appetite RB!!

    I can relate, I got to therapy last Tuesday and had a massive panic attack, I was almost sick, Ella had to get the waste bin in front of me ready. I still can’t put my finger on what triggered it.

    I’m so glad you could get the cuddle you needed for all the time you needed, but it’s tough that false adult prevented that the following session, protector parts are so hard to negotiate (if that’s the right word) with, they have had to be on their game for so long – I bet your false adult was up front a lot with Em to stop you being hurt and is probably not quite ready to fully step away, especially as if you are like me you are waiting for the catch, for the inevitable that this therapist will do the same. I know I do that with Ella because of what happened with Rita.

    Big hugs xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum June 28, 2021 / 3:21 pm

      Queen of cliffhanger?! So sorry you had a tough time last week. It’s horrid when the panic sets in isn’t it? I am really struggling with feeling alone and cut off at the moment. I dunno what happened today but I felt like I was on another planet to A for a good part of the session. She works so hard with me but sometimes it’s just impossible to cut through. All I wanted to do today was go in and cuddle and read stories but i just ran away instead. 🙁 and yeah – false adult was always there with Em.


  4. skinnyhobbit June 28, 2021 / 11:50 am

    Dang, I think I’m my false adult…! Kudos on asking for your needs, and I’m so thrilled Anita is so giving. Definitely relate to the fears of being “too much”. Considering I’ve a ton of pain over my parents telling me a lot that I’m “difficult to love”, it sounds so very healing that Anita says you’re easy to love. ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rubberbandsandchewinggum June 28, 2021 / 3:22 pm

    Sending lots of love. You’re perfect just the way you are… I’m sorry those who should have loved you let you down so badly xx


  6. easetheride June 28, 2021 / 10:00 pm

    Sorry you have so much going on right now; I’m glad Anita can at least somewhat meet that need, even if sometimes it’s all shit. You asking if she’s fed up reminds me of how I used to ask J that all the time. It’s hard to believe we’re not sucking all the life force out of them sometimes, and hard to see how they could see us in a positive light.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rubberbandsandchewinggum June 29, 2021 / 9:32 pm

    Exactly that – and being called a tick by Em really didn’t help … particularly as I’m so much more needy and demanding with Anita. This week is kicking my arse. Too many sessions of not connecting quickly enough and the young parts are scared as they haven’t yet recovered from the break. Hope you’re holding on ok x


  8. Sara July 1, 2021 / 10:04 pm

    My false adult runs a rampant game of interference as well.
    I love how you so perfectly describe the difficulty with holding onto care between sessions… “it’s like sand slipping through my fingers.” Yes! I even address this issue in my sessions, and we come up with plans for how to hold onto her care, but it’s just like sand. No matter how hard I squeeze onto it it just slips from my fingers. I’ve found recently that if I can write or draw something immediately or shortly after my session it gives me something tangible to try to hold onto until the next time I see her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum July 2, 2021 / 8:51 pm

      Bloody protectors trying to protect us!! 😂 It’s hard isn’t it? Like they’re so slow to update and think they need to wade in and save us from vulnerability. Sand slip is the worst. I’m working on trying to feel the invisible string between A and I. We’ve been looking at the book today. I’ll blog on it eventually. Hope you’re doing ok. My elephant has lost its smell and so young parts aren’t very happy this evening 😞

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sara July 3, 2021 / 4:29 am

        Right?!? Protectors trying to protect!?! What is that all about? 🤣🤣


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