September Sessions And Another Therapy Break.

So, the last blog post was really about how bumpy and unsettled things felt over the summer with therapy sessions all over the place, and lack of touch due to the sweltering heat wave we experienced, and then about returning to the more regular schedule of my Monday and Friday sessions when school started back up. And basically, the fucking meltdowns I experienced! (ARGH!) It’s nuts, really, how delicately balanced things are and how little it takes to throw not just a spanner, but a whole tool kit, in the works where my sense of safety and connection to Anita goes.

Hang on. No. Not quite that. That’s not adult me.  Adult me is fine, and trusts that Anita and I are fine and can get through whatever comes our way…so no, it’s not the whole ‘I’ or ‘Me’- it’s the young parts that really struggled with the frame being wobbled a bit and not getting the physical connection they are so used to. Adult me realises that sessions of long sweaty hugs would be grim, but the child parts don’t care about heat!! They just want mummy cuddles and stories…and to them, Anita is that attachment figure. Any sense of distance in the room sends terror down through the system and panic that something has changed…yeah RB – it’s the weather, the weather has changed…everything else is fine. I am not a big fan of winter but I can tell you I AM SO PLEASED to be entering hoodie and beanie season because that means cuddles are on the cards! (What a loser!)

Anyway, this won’t be a long post (ha! – relief!) because really there’s not all that much to report. Anita and I have continued to navigate the wobbles and now we’re on ANOTHER break. Oh man, I swear breaks and disruption will be the end of me. Summer break, Queen funeral BH, and now another two weeks, alongside a few reschedules…GIVE ME STRENGTH!

I want to get up to speed, here, before Monday as I’d like to be able to get back into posting a bit more regularly and not just these randomly spaced dumps of half-remembered stuff that’s happened. I miss blogging and as winter approaches and the dark and the cold sets in, I need to really up my self-care and part of that, I think, comes in writing. Taking an hour to sit, process, have a cup of tea, and sit by the fire is helpful. Sure, there’s piles of ironing to do and lessons to plan, but I need to take some time back because it’s starting to feel a bit like the balance is off in my life.

My wife has recently started a new job which means she’s away two or three days/nights a week and so everything has fallen to me and frankly I’m finding juggling two kids, clubs, work, the house etc a bit much. It wouldn’t be so bad if a lot of my work wasn’t also in the evenings but it’s a right nightmare trying to get kids fed and into bed around teaching three lessons each evening when they’re home from school. I’m going to have to rejig a bit before something breaks…and that something will be me!

So, what happened since the last post? Lots of talk. Circling the same stuff over and over. Abandonment, rejection, has something changed? Why do I feel so disconnected…on loop. It’s so weird, too. Like one session everything can be fine – cuddles, stories, talking, connection – and then the next it’s like I can’t connect at all and I can’t even see that Anita is the same person she was last session. To say that it’s upsetting is an understatement. But what I have noticed (once I can get a bit of adult online) is that there’s a lot going on for a lot of the different parts right now. It feels like they are all activated and jostling for attention in various ways. Everyone wants to be loved, but as we all know, different parts have different ways of expressing themselves- and the teen is especially good at shutting things down and giving massive ‘fuck off and leave me alone’ vibes when in fact what she wants is A to reach out and take her hand and tell her she’s ok.

Anyway… ha…ha…not funny haha but groan…

So, we were plodding along a few weeks ago and then the wheels just fell off big time. I didn’t know what triggered it at the time. I thought it was probably the hangover from things just not feeling quite settled enough over the last few months and the upcoming break, but actually it turned out I was getting sick…really sick…I have been really unwell for about a month now but at the time things started to shake inside I was just on the verge of getting poorly. I think that on top of the usual stuff just sent things into freefall. You jnow where it you just can’t keep the plates spinning any longer…well it was that.

I am usually pretty together (don’t laugh, it’s true!). I can manage the feelings that come up in the week between sessions. I can tune into the parts and hear what’s going on for them and then try and put things in place to settle things down. But this particular week no amount of cancelling my work, or taking a nap, or giving the littles space to snuggle elephant and feel what was going on helped me. I just needed Anita. You know? Like nothing else was going to cut it. And man, that is a bloody bind because I can’t have her whenever I want!

So, once again I faced a tricky dilemma. Should I reach out? In the past I would have had no qualms at all about asking for a longer session, or a check in, or an extra session in the week but these days I don’t. Part of this stems from feeling like I don’t deserve it and so I feel I shouldn’t ask. Because I pay a fixed monthly fee to Anita, I feel like I can’t ask for more than the usual number of sessions now because it feels like I am already not paying her what she charges so how can I possibly ask for more contact time even if I need it? (I think this is a problem for a lot of us on reduced fees and something that therapists probably aren’t even aware of – but money shame is huge). Another reason that I also struggle to ask for more time with A is because longer sessions were taken off the table in February.

UGH!

I’ve been navigating this weird space where I might ‘want’ her but I don’t necessarily ‘need’ her and have been managing with the odd rupture blowing up here and there as a result of it all. Only what came up that week was different. It was that feeling of crisis where EVERYTHING was wrong, and I felt like I was disintegrating (well I was – my body just gave up!).

And so, after several nightmares on Monday night and as things continued to get worse I decided to ask Anita if we could check in or bring our session forward from Friday on Tuesday morning. I knew that wouldn’t help things later in the week but you know what, in that moment I didn’t even see how I would get to Friday. Of course, Anita was Anita, you know the one I fear doesn’t exist anymore… and offered me a session f2f on the Wednesday which I grabbed with both hands. Despite having that safe space booked in for less than 24 hours ahead, that day was bloody awful. I felt like I was unravelling (I was, but I was getting sick too).

I’ve said a million times that I am not a crier but that night I found myself in bed sobbing my heart out for three hours straight. It just wouldn’t stop. You know, that snotty, convulsive, gives you a headache and makes you feel sick crying? It was just so bad. I felt so sad and lost and little…basically it was an almighty grief dump that seemed to come out of nowhere.

But crying is good, right? No. Not in this instance. On my own it didn’t feel cathartic. It felt overwhelming and I was plunged back into that grey space where the little four-year-old girl is standing with her back to me on the barren wasteland. Oh great. Even though I knew I would see A the next day there was absolutely no consoling the desperately sad, abandoned parts. As I say, I know now that I was starting to get sick and not actually having an epic breakdown  – I just didn’t know it in the moment.

The next day I drove to Anita’s and basically collapsed into her arms and spent the entire session cuddled into her. We had some stories and I really let her in in a way that I probably haven’t for several months. It was really hard but also really necessary. A was incredibly attuned and I felt her right there with me. I asked her if she has always been there like that in recent months and she insisted that she’s been there the whole time waiting for me, trying to connect. That felt hard to hear. I know my defences are strong and easily triggered – but here was A saying that she’s not changed and she still loves me and it’s been hard seeing me suffer so much…

ARGH!!!

It felt so good to feel so connected to her. It’s that feeling I think I am always searching for – and hope one day to feel that connected to myself. But right now I look for it in my relationship with her. To feel totally safe and totally held… it’s like being able to drop all the baggage, take off all the armour, and just be… it’s just great. Only of course sessions are not infinite, and I noticed I started to feel tense when I noticed the clock had five minutes to go. The idea of peeling myself away from A, leaving the safety of her arms and the room. I just wanted to cry…especially as I had forfeited my Friday session in order to see her which meant there was now a five day stretch of no contact ahead.

Imagine my delight then when Anita said to me that she was really, really glad we had had the session that day and how important it had been – but that she had kept my session open on Friday if I wanted to come. I can’t really explain what that did to my system, the system who for months and months felt like I was not as important to A as I had been previously, and that I wasn’t as worthy of her time as before. I asked, “Are you sure?” and she held me close to her and said, “Of course”. I left that session feeling so much better than I did when I arrived and felt so bloody grateful for Anita’s steadiness and care in what has been quite a bumpy few months.

You’d think, then, that that would be the end of the craziness for a while, wouldn’t you? – that things would settle down? But you do know who is writing this right? You know me! I am a magnet for disaster…and so it wasn’t long before the next rupture hit.

Brace yourselves!  

And deep breaths RB. The next session was different from the intensity of Wednesday and the visit down into the deep well of pain and grief. Instead, the session was connected but essentially small talk and stories and cuddles. It was lovely. When I left, I worried that A would think I had been wasting her time that week – having a MASSIVE crisis and then essentially being ‘fine’ by the Friday. Only it wasn’t that. I had needed that Wednesday to be able metabolise things and then be ok on Friday. The Friday session felt like I had finally found that calm space in which to rest away from the trauma and just be connected. I text A afterwards to tell her I hoped she didn’t think it was a wasted session and how nice it was to feel so close after such a long time – she agreed that it was not a waste of time AT ALL.

So, what the hell happened after that?

More disruptions – the Queens funeral day was a BH which unsettled my system – not that I could have gone to my session anyway because I got very sick following the Friday session with what we now think was Flu. I felt like utter dog shit and was not myself at all. I had to cancel work and was basically bedridden. It’s been a pretty ropey month and it’s taken a long while to start to bounce back. It definitely had an impact on the therapy.

Anita was still there (she sent some really kind, caring messages) but I felt so out of myself and so the way I read out communications was through a very distorted lens. I think basically I just really wanted mothering and it was painful to know that she will never be able to do that other than from a distance – it’s lovely having messages telling me to drink lemon and honey and stay warm in bed…but…well… you know…sometimes it would be nice to have actually had someone who would have done that as a child, someone to look after me.

GROAN.

It sometimes feels like a perpetual walking over the things that were missing and then having a meltdown about it in the here and now, despite knowing these things can’t happen and that it’s coming from the past.

I had a session booked in for Wednesday and by the time it arrived I was feeling out of sorts. I text A and said, ‘I am feeling anxious and small. Are we ok?’ To which she replied ‘Of course we are’ with a heart emoji. I don’t know why that wasn’t enough to settle things and the next two sessions felt ‘not good’ and disconnected. Or perhaps not quite connected enough rather than disconnected which basically amount to the same thing to the young parts. I was struggling to connect to Anita and asked if we could read a story. She asked which one and I said I didn’t mind. She started reading it, but I was still on the other side of the sofa. It sent panic further down through the system. Usually, Anita will ask me if I want to snuggle in. But she didn’t. I started to dissociate and felt awful. She had no idea. In her mind she was doing what I had asked for…only for the little parts it felt abandoning. FFS!

I do think that sometimes there is an internal pressure after very connected sessions to be searching for the intensity all the time. It’s not realistic to expect that, but I think a system that has been so deprived for such a long just desperately seeks that feeling of complete safety, and love, and care. Why wouldn’t it? Anita would say she’s the same all the time, but the parts can so easily freak out over perceived small changes and then make them seem like massive problems. I mean, it was literally sitting less than two feet from her having a story on the couch…but man, it sent shock waves. Then the Friday session wasn’t great… (although actually, probably fine!)

I can’t remember the details, but I know that after session I sent this:

Obviously, things felt pretty bad because I clearly felt like we were drifting apart. Or that I wasn’t seen. Or that she didn’t care… Honestly, I wish I had the clarity of mind that I have today in those triggered moments, but I was genuinely so poorly that I was thrown into survival and panic. I like the fact, though, that because we have so much shared experience, I can reference some of the books we read, and she knows what I mean, ‘The Invisible String’ and ‘The Rabbit Listened’ are two of ‘our’ stories in the now massive pile. We have that connection and that means a lot- especially to the young parts that wobble so much.

In another one of my recent ‘everything is falling apart’ moments before the break I drafted a text that was clearly coming from a young place…and I am glad, in a way, I was able to express it and let all that had been brewing come up and out because it’s really demonstrated to me just how bloody sad it is for the young parts to have been so damaged. They say you’re only as needy as your unmet needs and here was an epic list of unmet needs from the mouths of babes.

Adult me can see it for what it is. Anita can too. She isn’t scared by this level of outpouring. She gives it space and we work through it. I know Em would have (and did) run a mile when we came into contact with these parts and this need. Anita, however, realises that the changes to our therapy, the bumpy summer, the disruptions in scheduling, and her upcoming holiday would all have fed into this heightened panic and neediness and allows space for it all and meets me with compassion.

The irony is, in the moment when I was churning out the message it really felt so black and white…but of course when I went back over messages with my sane, untriggered, adult eyes – Anita has been responsive, she has checked in, she has said goodnight sometimes, she has held me close to her, she does tell me she loves me, she does talk to the young parts. It’s not all gone. But in that moment, or in those moments where adult isn’t available and something ‘bad’ has happened it’s really scary for the young parts and it all falls apart.

Tbh I am bored of saying it because it’s embarrassing – but it’s acutely clear that we are really in the thick of working with the ‘stuff’ now. And I am buckling up tight.

We’re on a break now. It’s been two weeks (and three days!). Back tomorrow. Anita has been away, but she sent me a message midway through the first week and then sent me another this week with a video of where she’d been. It’s been ok. I have been staggering my way through being really ill. In the first week I had a massive fever and vomiting. It was like my body just went into shock after so many weeks of having been so poorly with the cough, and sinuses and body aches and and and woe is me! The day after the big sick and fever I couldn’t walk properly. I experience peripheral neuropathy post-chemo, anyway, but it was as though all my nerves were set into a painful jangle in the whole of my body. It wasn’t much fun that’s for sure.

I spent the entire day in bed unable to do anything, dragged myself to pick up kids, and then had to order a pizza as had no energy to cook. We were all in bed by 6:15 that night! My wife was away for work, so it was hopeless. Again it was one of those times where I could really have just done with a mum to come and take over – like so many of my friend’s mums do. Someone who would pick the kids up, sort out dinner, and check I was ok. My mum doesn’t even know I have been ill. We have so little contact…and of course this all feeds into what happens between A and I.

Anyway, there’s not much to say now, more than, I’m glad the break is done. I hope that tomorrow is ok as I feel a bit ‘unsettled’. It’s just that end of break thing where the teen parts come up and get pissed about having been left at all and then want to push back and reject because they feel rejected. Fortunately, adult me knows this pattern. There is enough adult around to gently roll my eyes at myself and tell the teen I’ll make her a hot chocolate and we can watch a movie later. I’ve told the littles I’ll do my best to let them get what they need tomorrow and tell false adult to stay in her box so we can make the most of the hour.

Essentially, tomorrow I am taking elephant with me, and I need to make sure I ask for a hug and stories immediately. Wish me luck…because you never know how it’ll go when the minibus arrives on the doorstep!

22 thoughts on “September Sessions And Another Therapy Break.

  1. SunsetCherryBlossom October 16, 2022 / 2:03 pm

    Hi RB *waves from the ice cream, choc mint while reading your post*
    Laughed a little at “this won’t be a long post”!

    I’m in a similar long term therapy relationship and I’ve noticed over time some of the things she says have changed. She used to say all the time that I was Amazing for instance. She hasn’t said that in years. I’m “strong” now instead. But adult me knows that’s down to a number of things, us growing in the relationship, and also things evolving in time. My own phrases change constantly too, I’m going through a phase where I use the word “cracking!” a lot. I wonder if my students are wondering why I used to call their work “awesome!” and now it’s only “cracking!”, does that mean I don’t think they are doing well?
    But I know that’s always adult talking and not the littles who always pick up on every little change.
    Love to you, squeezes for elephant and chocolate ice cream for the littles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 16, 2022 / 4:56 pm

      Yum. I so need to get some ice cream 🍦! Yeah- it wasn’t meant to be 3500 words… I don’t know where that came from tbh as in the end I rushed through it! 🤣😬 It’s weird how we change but how non things become big things in therapy. Am so ready for tomorrow. Just watched the new minions movie with the kids so my littles are full of sweets and content… but we’re ready for A tomorrow x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Clara October 16, 2022 / 2:52 pm

    Sending super big cuddles to you all, hot chocolate and a film sound fab. I hope you get what you need tomorrow too, I’ll be thinking of you 💜 xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 16, 2022 / 4:57 pm

      Thanks lovely. I’m knackered after the flu and covid boosters yesterday so after a very busy week and mad Saturday I’ve done nothing today. The fire is lit and we’ve watched movies and now strictly on catch up. I’m not a big fan but the music and colours is what the dr ordered. Hope you’re hanging in there xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • SunsetCherryBlossom October 16, 2022 / 5:05 pm

        I’m sure the littles loved that!
        Also I love the visual of a whole minibus pulling up tomorrow!
        Thankfully my lot could all fit in a Mini but still a handful!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Clara October 17, 2022 / 7:45 am

        It sounds like you had a lovely Sunday. I’m so so, will catch you up at some point, just don’t have the motivation to write at the mo. I hope you have a better week and your session gives you what you need today xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 17, 2022 / 8:03 am

        I totally get that having no motivation thing. Procrastination has been my constant companion for months! Fingers crossed for today but not holding out a lot of hope as feel shutdown and sad. Just marvellous! X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. thesilverliningwriter October 16, 2022 / 3:14 pm

    I also laughed at “this won’t be a long post!” And I loved reading every word because my little parts don’t feel alone. I literally melted down after a little part couldn’t talk in session on Friday to let my therapist know the *way* she was holding me wasn’t *right*…. She got it eventually after I barely got out “you have to move” upon her prodding, but GEEZ. And then, when it was right, I IMMEDIATELY settled down. All panic left. It’s just beyond me (adult me) sometimes. I also love that you have transitional objects and books… me too 💛💛💛 I hope both of our next sessions bring inner child safety and connection, and self-compassion if we can’t quite get there. We’re doing the work, and it’s so hard 💙

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 16, 2022 / 5:02 pm

      Lol. Yeah… it was meant to be short but clearly not. Ha. Perhaps if I can get back on a more regular posting schedule I’ll get back to 2000 mark 🤪🤣! Your little parts aren’t alone. There’s a lot of littles out there struggling. It’s so hard isn’t it? To be a functioning adult and yet have small parts that get so upset over such ‘small’ things. When it’s right it’s great isn’t it but when it’s not quite right it can feel like things are disintegrating. I’m glad you have stories and transitional objects – it’s all helpful isn’t it? I’m going to be wearing my heart necklace for next few weeks … I feel like I need all the things! Wishing you a great session and inner safety xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • thesilverliningwriter October 17, 2022 / 10:57 pm

        My therapist and I read your post in my session this morning, and she agreed I could have written it almost word for word. It felt good to have her as a witness to that there is another therapeutic relationship that is incredibly similar to mine. Sort of gave me words for some recent teen and adult parts that keep colliding and for me to see her say things like “oh my goodness this is just like you” and helped me feel heard in a new way. I hope your session went well today 💛

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 18, 2022 / 11:36 am

        Oh wow. I’m glad that the shared experience has helped a bit. I wish it was different for us, and so many like us, but I do find it comforting to know we are not alone. Take good care. And yes… session was good (enough!) x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. maggieintherapy October 16, 2022 / 5:59 pm

    Hi RB, I’ve been reading your blog now for a while and I first wanted to tell you that you’ve given me the courage to start my own. No more lurking in the shadows lol! Your blog always makes me feel like you get it! It truly is amazing since I’m in the US. Hoping you feel better real soon xo Maggie

    Liked by 4 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 16, 2022 / 6:05 pm

      Ah that’s so lovely to hear. I’m glad you’ve taken the leap into blogging. There’s a great crowd here. I’ll follow you 💜

      Liked by 2 people

  5. easetheride October 16, 2022 / 6:41 pm

    Just want you to know that I’m reading and quietly supporting you. It sounds like you’re navigating a lot of feelings. I have trouble knowing what the right thing to say is, but I do support you. Hopefully you can tend to those young parts and feel a sense of comfort soon. I’m glad Anita is a solid rock for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 16, 2022 / 9:32 pm

      Thanks lovely. I don’t think there is any right thing to say- but it means a lot to have your support, especially when things are so tough for you right now. Take care xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. SH October 17, 2022 / 1:13 pm

    I swear I thought I commented but apparently I tabbed over to my email instead, to see if my T has replied to me after an agonising 10 days or so. (She did, I had to text her to tell her directly to please reply.)

    Sending love! The work can be sooooo hard. My system has been in a tizzy because we’re still on the therapy break (because she’s changing clinics) and because we were vulnerable over email and she didn’t reply for so long!

    I forgot if I/we ever told you about our new blog? Did er give you the link? We miss blogging community so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 17, 2022 / 1:58 pm

      Hey lovely. No you didn’t send me new blog. Can you email me on rubberbandsandchewinggum@gmail.com so I can sign up or ask for private link if you’re. Sorry you’ve all been having a tough time. Breaks are bum aren’t they?! Sounds like a lot of change and upheaval. You’ll get through it but I understand the tizzy!! Big hugs to you all xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • SH October 19, 2022 / 2:50 am

        Sure! Have just emailed. We accidentally sent you an email from the wrong email account too. Yikes, Gmail makes it too easy for us to make that mistake

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Q October 19, 2022 / 5:37 am

    I love and appreciate how raw and real you are about your [small parts’] need for A. It took me a long time to get there with E, and even after I got there, I found I couldn’t always let it all out with her because it sometimes seemed to push her away.

    Anyway, it’s brave to be so vulnerable. I think you are awesome. And you’re doing such good work in therapy, just incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum October 20, 2022 / 11:31 am

      Ah thanks Q. That’s so kind of you. I think after what happened with Em having been reserved, quiet, and well-behaved I just be how it is now. Ultimately, hiding it or downplaying still led me to the ending so I figure I may as well be honest and if that ends badly at least I tried to get what I needed. Hope you’re doing ok x

      Like

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