The Runners Ran: First Session Back And I Legged It Out The Room After Five Minutes

PLEASE, someone, come and have words with my system because it is completely losing its shit at the minute!

Honestly, you just can’t make this stuff up… but as always, here’s the reality of life in the therapy room for RBCG. Brace positions!:

So, after my last post, last week, things were kind of limping along internally and then sort of conked out altogether because I had absolutely nothing left in the tank. It was certainly a relief when the weekend arrived because at least the immediate pressure of work was removed, and I could kind of do the ‘three more sleeps thing’ on Friday night counting down to Christmas seeing Anita!

I didn’t do very much at all over the weekend because I had a bit of a reaction to my flu jab and so just lay, wiped out, on the sofa for the entirety of Sunday!  The young parts were upset and unsettled after what felt like an eternity away for A, and soooooo NOISY but I had nothing to give them because I was completely done in. I was literally willing the time away to get to Monday evening to reconnect with Anita and to be able settle things internally.

We’ve all been there, right?

So, imagine my joy (not) on Monday when I woke up and the protectors had come online. The child parts were still absolutely beside themselves but shielding them were the angry parts that didn’t trust Anita and were raging that she’d left me/us at all. Those protectors had been so absent for the duration of the break that it was a bit of a whiplash effect waking up to that internal narrative of A not caring, and what a waste of time therapy is anyway…

I got on with my day but by the afternoon I had a really strong sense of not wanting to go to my session that evening. I mean the child parts needed to be there, but the protectors and runners had other ideas.

FFS.

I text Anita to confirm that we were still on for our evening session time and explained that I wasn’t really wanting to come. Or at least parts of me didn’t want to.

I think, now, what brought the protectors online was actually the need for connection with Anita. I know that sounds utterly bonkers because, actually, those protectors stop connection- but here’s the theory: the need for holding and containment for the child parts was so strong that the protective parts desperately wanted to save the young ones from the disappointment of that maybe not happening.

So often after a therapy break (with Em) the young parts have been so in need of care and love but it wasn’t forthcoming and so it set off that agony inside where it feels like you’re going to die from the pain of it all. Of course my system wants to save me from experiencing that ever again. Getting close to that acute feeling of abandonment and rejection feels like it’s going to annihilate me.

Anita’s responses to my texts were warm … but left me cold, somehow.

I just felt like something was amiss.

And it was me – my stuff – but could I get a way round the edge of it? Could I fuck!

Driving in the dark to therapy I decided to stop panicking and to just go and get what I so badly needed. Anita had indicated that everything was fine, so I just needed to lean into that and trust it. Stop putting obstacles in the way RBCG and just go see your therapist who cares!

As I walked up her driveway, I could feel those young parts soooooo ready for a hug almost launching themselves out of me and towards Anita.

Anita opened the door, greeted me, and smiled. I went on into the therapy room, sat down and that’s when it all started to go wrong.

“I will warn you that I have a cold” Anita said. “I’ve done an LFT and it’s negative, but it’s just a particularly horrible throat…You’ve struggled to come today?”

Sulkily I replied, “I didn’t want to come at all” then whispered, “Can we turn the big light off?” The main room light felt too bright and jarring and I just wanted the low glow of the side lights and to relax into the space with A. Anita got up, turned off the light and put on the softer table lamp.

As she sat back down she said, “I’m keeping my distance because of the cold, as well…”

And that was it. EVERYTHING went mental inside. It was instant. I felt like I was going to burst into tears right there but, of course, externally I looked fine. No reaction at all. Poker face. Don’t let her see how upset you are!

‘Distance’ is triggering at the best of times but after a break it’s the very last thing I need. I can’t recall a session in the last year where Anita and I have not had any physical contact and here I was so desperate to be close to her, to cuddle and she seemed to be saying that it was off the cards. It was just too much for my system to cope with.

So many thoughts were running through my head all at the same time. My body was in a full on panic and I started to tremble. I can’t really explain how awful it was – there aren’t words. But I felt completely devastated. The protectors inside were lacing up their shoes and ready to bolt. I felt so abandoned and rejected in that moment. It was another episode of having my face glued up against the sweet shop window and being told I couldn’t have anything having waited so patiently to be there.

And yes – I know that this is just a cold, and Anita trying to be careful and not a deliberate rejection – but the young parts DID NOT UNDERSTAND that at all. To them it’s another mother who wouldn’t come anywhere near them when they needed her and it’s massively MASSIVELY triggering.

Totally oblivious to what was now happening inside for me, Anita went on, “What do you need from today? What can help you feel more settled?”

My brain was screaming “I need a hug” but instead I replied a barely audible, “I don’t know.”

“What’re your fears?” Anita asked.

It felt like I was being bombarded with questions and we’d only been in the room thirty seconds.

With a hint of anger I said, “Will you just stop talking to me.”

“Yeah, of course” and Anita sat quietly. I could see she was looking at me in the dark but I was staring into the corner of the room, unable to make any kind of eye contact.

The level of overwhelm I was experiencing was off the chart. The room was so gently lit that Anita had no idea that I was shaking. Where usually she’d have noticed and reached out in some way, I was instead left feeling isolated and abandoned.

A tiny child’s voice whimpered, “I want to go home.”

In that moment things felt so bad, the distance between Anita and I felt so great, and knowing I couldn’t get what I needed from her the only option available seemed to be to leave. It was the last thing I wanted but it would be less painful that sitting apart from Anita when I had already been apart for a week.

Anita replied, “You can go home if you want. The choice is yours.”

Wrong answer.

Look, we all know that therapists have to respect our autonomy and all that jazz, but in that situation, it is completely the wrong thing to say (well for me anyway). I might have been seemingly pushing away but actually when I say that kind of thing, it’s really a desperate call for connection. When we’ve not seen each other for ages being told I can leave is … well…it feels like she doesn’t care and it feels abandoning…EVEN THOUGH IT IS NONE OF THOSE THINGS!

Silence.

Anita continued, “I will never force you to be where you don’t want to be.”

More silence.

I could feel myself starting to head down into that tunnel of dissociation. Anita didn’t seem to get it. She had no idea that I had been triggered into such a deep place of doom and all within the first two minutes of being in the room. She had no idea as she sat on the couch beside me that I felt like I was being rejected and pushed away by her.

I could feel everything kicking off internally and I felt like I was going to fall apart. Not just cry but literally lose my fucking mind in there. I had held on so tightly over the week just to get to be with her and it was unravelling at a speed of knots.

“What part of you brought you here today?” Anita wondered at the same time that I repeated more angrily, “I want to go home.” I quickly put my shoes on, grabbed my keys and phone, and headed for the door “I don’t want you to go home…” Anita replied but it was too late, I was already half way out the door.

“I’m going home.”

I was out the room, down the stairs, and out the front door in seven seconds. My runners were channeling Usain Bolt.

Fuck.

This is new, right? Leaving. Never have I ever run out of a session. I’ve always sat and endured that physical agony of the young parts feeling alone and rejected – but I just can’t do it anymore. I cannot be in that place. It’s too triggering.

I can hear on the recording as I get off the driveway and into the dark that I let out this really pained sob as I burst into tears.

It’s awful to hear it back.

My car was parked round the corner from Anita’s house. I was in a right mess. There was no way I could drive in that moment so I just sat in the driver’s seat with my head in my hands and my knees tucked up into my chest. I basically curled up into ball and trembled and cried.

I was devastated.

How could it have gone so badly?

I sat in the dark for about five minutes – although it felt like seconds – I just completely lost time. And then reached for my phone. I felt really stupid but also really really lost and small.

As you can see from the exchange it felt like the universe was conspiring against us this session. Just as I had got back to my car, all the street lights had gone out and there’d been a powercut at Anita’s. I so badly wanted to go back to the house but also just felt completely stuck, like I said in the message, ‘paralysed’. I guess I was in a freeze response.

I just sat there, unable to move. About five minutes after Anita’s last message to me, a torch shone on the path next to my car door that was still wide open. I hadn’t even been able to shut the fucking car I was in such a state! I hadn’t heard the footsteps and yet despite being down a side road in complete darkness I didn’t react…which is unusual as I am so jumpy normally.

I looked up and there she was in the pitch black, and with a concerned but warm expression. I put I looked away and put my head back in my hands. Anita bent down and said something – and I have no idea what that is because the whole next bit of this isn’t recorded and I was so dissociated I can’t really recall much of the detail!

She asked if I wanted to talk and come back with her or maybe sit in the car together? I couldn’t move and told her that she could come in the car. My car is like bona fide special ecosystem of its own right now and I genuinely can’t believe that it had to be that day when this happened, when usually it’s tidy and smells nice and doesn’t look like trash can!

Ah well.

Anita was incredibly soft and calm and reassuring. My head was still in my hands and I was curled up in a ball but I could feel her even if I couldn’t look at her. She reached out and put her hand on my leg and told me that we’d be ok and could I explain what had happened?

I said she didn’t understand. That she’d never understand because she doesn’t have this wounding. That she has no idea how painful it is to feel rejected and abandoned. She said, “So teach me about it.”

I told her how her ‘keeping her distance’ had triggered me because I had missed her sooooooooooo much whilst she was away and that I really just needed a cuddle that night and it felt like she didn’t want me anywhere near her.

Anita was incredible. She refuted that and said that was not the case at all, of course she wanted to be with me and near me. She heard everything I had to say, which wasn’t a lot in terms of words but was enough to explain what had just happened. She said that telling me about the cold was not her telling me I couldn’t be near her and how in the past she’d told me the same and I have said that I didn’t mind, and we still ended up hugging so what was different?

I couldn’t articulate it in the moment, but I thought about it after and wrote it in a message yesterday which I have attached below.

I remember saying that I lose sight of her care and think things have changed and she replied with “RB, I wouldn’t come walking out in the pitch black in a power cut for anyone else.”

I think this really penetrated through to the parts that needed to hear it and Anita said lots of stuff about our relationship and how solid it is. I realised as she sat beside me in the dark that she really is my rabbit that listens. She is there, always, patient and calm waiting for me.

I wish I could remember the detail but I know that time, albeit in a completely random setting really did a lot of good. I was disappointed that I had completely lost my shit and not got what I needed so far as the physical holding goes, but emotionally Anita was right there with me. We are definitely a team!

Anyway, the long and short of it is that it’s all ok. We got me sorted enough to be able to drive and for her to leave. She asked me if I wanted a hug – which is impossible in the car – so I said, yes, got out the car and we had a really long hug in the dark.

Anita said something like, “I’ll look forward to seeing you on Monday and it really is ok” and I didn’t respond. “I’ll see you on Friday?” she repeated. “I don’t know,” I groaned.

There was so much conflict and shame and all kinds of stuff running round my brain. Deep down I knew we were absolutely fine – but there were a lot of parts still having their moment to speak.

The next morning I asked Anita is she had time for a ten minute check in before Friday and she offered me a time that evening:

I had a bit of time over my lunch break to think and I wrote and sent this message:

Hey A,

I’ve been trying to think about what happened last night and why but it’s not straightforward but all comes down to feeling disconnected and rejected and all that stuff.

Adult me tried really hard to stay away and not bother you while you were away on holiday and communicate in a way that wasn’t super needy, or too frequent, despite really feeling rubbish and like things were really not ok. By the middle of the week – woeful Wednesday – it felt really bad. I kept shaking and it was just horrid. If I had texted you what I wanted/felt over the week it would have been more like this, than stuff about IKEA:

  • I miss you and I’m starting to feel like you’re not real.
  • I’ve been having lots nightmares and feel really unsettled and shaky.
  • It feels like it did when I was little, and I’m scared that when you come back it’ll be different or you won’t want to see me anymore and I feel frightened.
  • I really need a cuddle.
  • Are we still ok?
  • Can we read stories on Monday?
  • I’ve been really sick and dizzy feel really clingy and like everything is too much but really want to see you
  • I feel really exhausted from holding all this and feel sad and overwhelmed but hope that we can reconnect when we see each other
  • All…the…feelings…are too much

And so, what I really needed last week was some kind of connection for that young part who worries so much about things going wrong or being forgotten about. Adult me can cope with you being away but the wounded child parts that struggle so much with disruption can’t, and it felt like you didn’t see/remember them. And I really get that this is me being mental because you did send stuff and I can see that now…but…ugh… I just can’t explain it really. I just really struggle with breaks and when it feels that bad it’s hard to hold onto anything positive.

So yesterday felt really high stakes. I really just needed for all that painful young stuff to be seen, held, and contained because I was wobbling really badly. When I haven’t seen you for a while, I struggle to hold onto all the evidence that has gone before that actually you do care, that I am not a massive pain in the arse (eek…think maybe that’s changed!), and that you do want to see me. I know you sent me that text yesterday telling me that you did want to see me and that you could understand how I was feeling but I was so far down my spiral of doom that it kind of bounced off.

When I arrived, I was so tired and so overwrought – it’s like the weight of the last week just caught up with me and I just wanted to be close to you. When you said you were ‘keeping your distance’ it felt instantly like you were pushing me away and it just lit the petrol that sets off that massive fire where everything is about to burn to the ground.

I get that wasn’t what you meant but that young part that is so used to being pushed away or disregarded got really triggered and really fast. I was totally gone into that place that is terrified. I know in the past when you’ve said something similar, I have said that I didn’t care about the cold, but that’s when I am walking into a situation that feels stable and safe…and after a break it just doesn’t feel like that. I am automatically looking for evidence that something has changed or gone wrong, and this seemed to be it. It felt like you wanted to be far away from me.

The internal reaction to what you said was immense. I felt sick and my heart started racing. I don’t think you noticed, but I was shaking. It felt absolutely horrific. Sitting there having a full-on trauma response to you staying away from me was too much. I had to leave. Staying in that situation was too upsetting and that’s why I ran away. I wanted so much to see you and instead it felt like I was being held at arms length and that’s really hard for me.

I know none of this is what was actually happening. I get it. But I couldn’t see that at the time.

I felt so dissociated last night in the car. I don’t remember much of what happened or what was said because I was so physically affected by what had happened. I really really didn’t want to be like that or for that to happen and I am sorry. I am embarrassed, too. I thought that I had a handle on this stuff but lately it seems like I am so easily triggered by small things. I don’t know if it’s progress that I can at least tell you how it is or whether I am just hopeless.

Thank you for coming and sitting with me in the dark.

On Friday even if you are a snot machine please can we have cuddles because I feel like I have been run over by a bus.

I miss you.

x

The conversation we had on Monday night was holding and connecting and so I’ll leave this there because, yet again, it’s an epic length and the editing tool is not working properly on here today! Sometimes I really feel like this 😉

28 thoughts on “The Runners Ran: First Session Back And I Legged It Out The Room After Five Minutes

  1. CB October 21, 2021 / 10:22 am

    Ugh. Fuck. This reminds me of when K made me sit in her sitting room instead of her therapy room at the start of Covid and our chairs were really far apart – I was so distressed that I gouged a hole in my forehead with my nails 😂 there was so much blood and K was like what have you done so I snarled at her that the reason she couldn’t see was because she was so far away 🤣 obviously wasn’t funny at the time but it is now and I cannot imagine having a reaction like that anymore (man, I hope – famous last words!!). I’m so glad she came to the car to get you with her torch 💛

    Liked by 3 people

  2. rubberbandsandchewinggum October 21, 2021 / 12:35 pm

    Ahhh god… yes… definitely in the same realm of experience. I think we need to go through this stuff and express it to then get the healing that part requires. Having gone from never expressing need and being shamed and being told I’m inadequate to expressing a need and having it acknowledged, validated, and met is truly something. Anita is so good for me… even if I get triggered! Lol!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mac October 21, 2021 / 2:21 pm

    I’ve run out of therapy before. T always say ‘it’s up to you, nobody is forcing you to be here’ which translates to ‘I don’t give a flying crap if you’re here or not’. Now the logical part of my brain knows that’s not what he means, but it’s definitely how it feels. It’s so frustrating how our minds totally hijack important/healing relationships. I’m so glad Anita can handle all of this for you. She’s really just wonderful…xx

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Q October 21, 2021 / 2:50 pm

    What a sad, painful session—and how heart-warming that Anita would go looking for you in the dark. ❤️💜❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 21, 2021 / 2:57 pm

      I know. What a metaphor for our relationship- she’s definitely come found me in the dark so many times. Despite it being really a hard session in so many ways it was another really connecting experience. Desperate for tomorrow now!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. skinnyhobbit October 21, 2021 / 5:16 pm

    Huge hugs! I’ve not run out before but I’ve thrown my stuff on the floor (never at her), clawed at my skin and such. 😅

    Glad she came out with the torch. ❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Clara October 21, 2021 / 5:20 pm

    Oh RB, I wish I could come give you a massive cuddle sometimes. I’ve run out of a session (near the end) and in that rupture session I so wanted to but it felt too dangerous. I can picture Anita with her torch. I hope tomorrow goes ok xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 21, 2021 / 5:22 pm

      Thanks Hun. It was really a huge reaction but it tells us a lot about the level of wounding. Anita doesn’t shame me or make out I’m overreacting – she’s just solid and consistent. I really need it to he tomorrow. I need a giant cuddle!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. SunsetCherryBlossom October 21, 2021 / 6:42 pm

    Ah RBCG, this sounds so hard, but I’m so glad that Anita went after you and found you in the dark! I do understand the “you don’t have to be here, you can leave if you want to,” comment but at the same time it does come across as uncaring sometimes. But they don’t mean it like that. I wanted to leave, once, though it was over Zoom! The urge to close the lid down was massive, but she said, firmly, “no, you don’t get to go yet,” and I appreciated that more than she will ever know. You’ve so many parts all trying to fix things in their own way, and they are all clashing, but I know that one day they will all agree and you will find the peace and healing that you are working so hard towards. X x x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 21, 2021 / 8:46 pm

      It was hard, and I have felt wiped out by it, but also realise how lucky I am to have therapist like Anita who is so responsive. She did nothing wrong on Monday or during the break – my reaction was huge from a place of old trauma- to have her go out of her way to help me through that is massive. If anything it’s strengthened our relationship. Poor woman must wonder what more she has to do to get all the parts to feel safe! I slammed the laptop shut on Em when she hurt me about saying she should have refused my Christmas gift. She didn’t try and get me back even though there was twenty minutes left remaining. Your T sounds great x

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Lucy King October 21, 2021 / 9:40 pm

    I bloody love that she came out with her torch! Even just for the beautiful metaphor! These moments are worth their weight in gold 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

      • easetheride October 24, 2021 / 5:31 pm

        I am not well. Struggling with conflictual feelings towards L (attached, but angry for no real reason), dealing with my anxiety and depression. It’s just a nightmare lately.

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 24, 2021 / 5:34 pm

        Oh love. That sounds really hard. I’m sorry. I guess this stuff with L is the work but it certainly isn’t easy. She’s a therapist, I think, from what you’ve said. I hope that when it feels bad you can lean into that. Anxiety and depression … such a battle. Thinking of you x

        Like

  9. LovingSummer October 21, 2021 / 11:47 pm

    She said, “So teach me about it.”

    This jumped off the page at me. THAT is the gold standard, if ever I saw it!

    I can relate to your build up, having held yourself together all that time, waiting for the next session, only to find the hug you’ve been holding out for, isn’t offered. Even if you see the logic (for your well-being, not hers) it doesn’t FEEL that way. I can understand that. I love how you’re able to be so authentic. You don’t want to be there? So you don’t! You go. And I also think it’s great how you respond to Anita’s call for connections back again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 22, 2021 / 6:52 am

      I don’t think it’s gold standard LS. It’s therapy. An inquisitive curious listener who wants to understand and unpick a client’s issues is the basic fundamentals of therapy. They are there to understand us so they can help us learn about ourselves. Anita and I have a solid relationship but my therapy being about me, my needs, and my experiences is … well, what I’m paying for. We have co-created a safe environment for me to express all of my feelings and work through them. There are no repercussions or limitations for this – again this is as it should be. I wish you had this but it’s not a ‘wish’ because it’s a ‘should’- you should be free to bring the whole of you to the room.

      Liked by 3 people

      • LovingSummer October 22, 2021 / 7:08 am

        Oh! It does seem that some therapists are head and shoulders above the rest though. I’ve been to two therapists this week and neither of them were quite right. The BACP person I spoke to about my current situation said how difficult it is to find a good match. But yeah, it is true, it’s a service you pay for. I’m guessing that all hairdressers or chiropractors or childminders aren’t made equal though, so when you find a really expert one at their job, that’s where you want to take your business. It seems like Anita is one such practitioner. I do get what you’re saying here though, especially about the repercussions and limitations for expressing ALL your feelings. I’m taking all of myself to the room again now though. Not sure sure when or if therapy all about me will actually recommence but I do know I’m teaching the end of my endurance.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 22, 2021 / 11:16 am

        Asking the client about their experience is therapy 101. The long running joke/stereotype out therapy is them always saying “so how does that make you feel”. That’s like entry level stuff that even I did on an introduction to counselling skills course! It’s time to take all of yourself to the room. The attachment stuff. Your feelings. Your experience. Therapy is about you and your feelings. The right therapist is out there you just need to find (and dare I say it) her.

        Like

      • LovingSummer October 22, 2021 / 11:22 am

        You think I need to switch gender?! Yeah it is about me, but, in a rupture doesn’t it become a bit more ‘both’ for a short while? It’s hard to know how much feedback on how you’re being experienced is okay or not .

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 22, 2021 / 5:06 pm

        Ummm yeah maybe, but it’s client focused and focusing on your experience not a therapist monopolising the time their own stuff and behaving like a wounded lover and angry parent. What’s going on in your sessions is not therapy LS.

        Like

      • LovingSummer October 22, 2021 / 5:07 pm

        Yeah, I hear you. I didn’t pay for the last session for that reason!

        Like

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