So, it’s been another while since I have posted again… This is mainly because life is so unbelievably busy that I simply haven’t had time to sit and write – but it’s also because really I haven’t found my feet back in therapy since the Christmas break (yes – I know it’s almost March!). It’s felt like there’s been a catalogue of ‘mini-disasters’ in the room with Anita since the holidays which has made it feel difficult to drop into feeling completely safe – or at least safe enough to address some of the lingering murk that always rears its head in the early part of the year – namely the catastrophic end that Em and I went through three years ago … THREE YEARS AGO!!
Because that stuff around Em (and by extension the mother wound) is so huge, and so painful, I have to feel so completely contained and safe in the relationship with Anita to be able to go anywhere near it….and I just haven’t. Parts of me have gone into hiding and it’s not helped things in the room at all. I mean it’s been ok, but just not ok enough for me to get to the parts that are requiring attention and care…and because time is rolling on and those parts are not getting what they need, it’s making it feel crappy inside. I feel abandoned and rejected – and part of that is my doing because I haven’t let Anita in, she doesn’t know what’s going on.
My system is having a bit of a malfunction and it feels really disappointing to be in this place tbh. I am trying not to judge myself and just accept that whatever is coming up is just part of what needs to happen right now – but I can’t lie, I am not enjoying the levels of upset and dissociation that has crept back in. I know that I need to find a way to get properly back to A this coming week because I can feel myself starting to fall down a hole that I haven’t been in for a long while and I know that if I don’t send out an SOS cry then I am going to be…well…I just can’t go there again. I feel really lost. And the young parts – particularly the teen is not ok.
I tend not to write mid ‘crap’ on the blog these days. I prefer to write and process things a bit after whatever was going on has run its course and things have resolved a bit…basically when things feel a bit more together. I want to reflect from my Adult self rather than post in a triggered state – but the rate things are going it could be 2024 before I am able to do that so I guess I’ll just do a quick catch up before this blog dies altogether. I know I keep saying this, but I think I need to carve out some time somewhere for me to be able to write – even if it’s not blogging- because it has been such a helpful tool over the years…I just don’t know where that time will come from!
Anyway, here goes…
It’s clear as day to me that I am swimming (drowning) in the shit infested emotional seas right now. I feel like I am lost. And where in the past I’ve used the analogy of Stevie Smith’s poem, ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ – where people on the shore mistake the drowning swimmer for someone who is waving at them so they don’t respond. However, right now I feel like I am not even trying to get noticed – I couldn’t be mistaken for waving because I’ve almost resigned myself to drowning. Well not that, exactly, but I am not sending up the signal to show that I am not ok because the fact is there is no one standing on the beach watching. There is no one to notice the distress to come and help. There is no one to save me, and so I am trying hard to muster the energy to save myself but it’s not easy when you’re exhausted.
We’ve all been here.
We know we need to do better but sometimes all you can do is just keep treading water until things ease off…but it’s hard. Fortunately, I am a strong swimmer and I have been in choppy waters and rip currents enough to know that the sea will calm and I will find my way out of it…eventually.
I seem to be triggered left, right, and centre- and just as I feel like I am getting my head above water I get hit with something else. I really don’t think perimenopause is helping with this– and that’s not me playing the crazy hormones card, but honestly I am finding that my emotions are very heightened alongside my cycle now. I feel so bonkers around ovulation, and even paranoid at times – so, I am sure that’s an exacerbating factor in all this, too. Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal I can do about that other than up the self-care, be mindful, and take the supplements, eat better, and try and get the sleep in. Ah sleep…that elusive balm. Again, I am sure this is perimenopause. ARGH!!
Anyway, I am struggling a bit and the reality is, the anniversary of mine and Em’s end really hit me hard this year. I don’t know why – you’d think the further I get away from that the easier it would be, but sadly, “like a tick” is stuck deep in my young parts’ psyche and whilst Adult me knows what she said was completely out of order, as we well know, a hurt young part holds onto these negative soundbites like a security blanket confirming why we are unworthy of love and care.
Christmas was especially hard this year, too, when my mum failed to acknowledge me, my wife, or my children. And whilst our relationship is patchy at best these days, it felt like a deliberate and calculated kick in the teeth – a punishment for I have no idea what…?
Let’s be clear – I am in therapy because of my mother wound and whilst events in the here and now aren’t the end of the world (and they really aren’t) what these rejections or abandonments tap into is all the pain I experienced as a child and it seems to pour petrol on the fire. And that’s when it all goes wrong!
So, my mum not really engaging with me anymore is what it is – no worries – I have a wonderful little family unit and we are happy as we are – but to the little parts that are so hurt it just twists the knife again into that wound…and of course that then plays out in my therapy with Anita as I search and scan for evidence that she, too, doesn’t really care and would rather not be around me. And of course, breaks do this. Again, breaks are just breaks to Adult me…but breaks to the young parts…well, it’s not great is it?! #therapybreakhell
I think sometimes as an adult you can really sometimes doubt your childhood experience and wonder if you are just stuck and locked in victim mode and perhaps it wasn’t really that bad. I mean, seriously, I am getting really bored of navigating this emotional territory over and over but I am not doing it on purpose! I am not choosing to be here. I am trying hard to heal this stuff so I don’t keep falling flat on my face…and it’s working…I think. But some weeks are better than others. Today just happens to be part of one of the bad weeks but there have been months of much much better weeks.
Adult is gaining power, but the young parts are obviously still very much part of the system and I think will continue to be. I don’t see the goal as ‘getting rid’ of those younger parts – they are there to give me information about my feelings and need listening to – and dare I say it, are welcome…even the critic! The more I can give them space whilst being able to keep a foot in adult the better.
The biggest difference that I feel now is that where previously the young parts could completely steam roller me and almost take Adult hostage (kind of how it feels this weekend), there is a move towards Adult being able to communicate with those small parts and hold and soothe them to a degree. I mean obviously I am not the preferred Adult/parent but this is a million miles further forward from when I was working with Em. Back then I could see and feel these distressed young parts but I could do absolutely nothing to help them. Because of the work I’ve done with Anita I know what it is to feel held, loved, cared for and can now copy that, sort of.
Anyway, back to actual therapy:
The first session back after the break was 9th of January…which felt like an eternity after Christmas. So, it had been a looooooooong break – not ideal. My mum had been shit – again, not ideal. It was knee deep into the anniversary period of the notoriously bad time when Em and I colossally collapsed – not ideal…and so, yeah, I was very fragile, sensitive, and hypervigilant heading back to A… I was desperate to see her. I mean the little ones were absolutely in need of hugs and stories and reassurance that everything was ok.
It’s been such a long time since those early sessions that I can’t even really remember the details of what happened and I can’t be arsed to go back and listen to see what happened. What I can tell you is that there have been a few hiccups that have meant I haven’t been able to quite settle into the therapy. You’ll laugh when you read this, because I think on their own these things perhaps aren’t a big deal – but cumulatively they’ve felt big enough to stop me doing the work I really need to do. It’s felt like the safe container is a bit of a leaky bucket and so I’ve been waiting, poised in false adult a lot of the time waiting for ‘safe Anita’ to be there consistently.
Tbh I can’t quite remember the chronology of the little things that happened with Anita but I know the first session back she opened the door and her hair was still wet. “Big deal” I hear you say, but what that signalled to me was that she wasn’t quite ready for me, had been rushing, and probably wasn’t in the zone. Perhaps she was not wanting to be back to work and would not on her A game. I know that’s a lot of projection but that’s what we do isn’t it? When we feel vulnerable and uncontained, we really badly need our container (person and space) to be robust and any hint that they may not be sends things off.
The next session her dogs barked loudly for almost the entire session and I just couldn’t relax at all. I was jumpy and stressed out. I’d needed to talk the first session back but it was just filler and False Adult and now it felt like she wasn’t providing a safe, calm therapeutic space. I felt angry that day. I had stuff I really needed to dig into and I was left feeling like she didn’t really care enough to make sure the space was ‘therapeutic’.
In another one I could hear her adult daughter wandering around in the corridor right out outside the room which again made me not be able to relax (I think this is the one that pissed me off the most!).
In another she’d forgotten to put our stories out, which again signalled that she wasn’t really ready – or more over, didn’t have the young parts and me kept in mind. She forgot the books once before a long while back and I went belly up about it. It was a big rupture. This time I didn’t say anything – teen me was just thinking “what’s the point?” because we were traversing this weird not quite right space and quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy for it. But of course, the little parts were upset and disappointed.
In and of themselves these things above don’t seem like that big a deal but as I have said, cumulatively I just felt so off – such a departure from the Anita I used to see. So, False Adult turned up to lots of the sessions because I just did not want a rupture…but inside there was a lot up upset and unrest. The head injury I sustained at Christmas really affected me for most of the month of January too. I felt dissociated but not. My short term memory was awful and I would forget trains of thought and words and….well basically it was a nightmare. There was one session where I just sat there. My mind was completely empty. Peaceful even (Wow!). But it meant that there wasn’t really much therapy. I wasn’t sad about it though because I was so cognitively zoned out. I literally had no fucks to give!
Then anniversary of ending with Em rolled around and I didn’t speak about it despite the fact it was swirling inside. It was mine and Anita’s three-year anniversary but I felt awkward somehow. I gave her a gift, but it just felt a bit…I dunno…strange this year. I think that’s definitely me, not her.
That’s not to say during this period A and I haven’t connected. We have had a few hugs and stories – it’s not been completely distant…but I just haven’t felt quite right. Stuff was building up and up and up and then I had a very bad dissociative day and it hit me afterwards that it was the actual day of ‘tick gate’. The body remembers even if the mind isn’t quite on it!
The next session I was determined to go and talk things through with Anita. You know when it’s just built up to a point where you have to? Avoidance is out. You just need to do the work. You need to take a risk and oftentimes when you do that that’s when things feel most held and connected. Anita is not a mind reader and so if I come in in False Adult I think she can think I am ok…enough. If I actually show her or tell her I am struggling then she’s there. Sometimes I think I don’t give her the opportunity to meet me, but then there’s another part of me that feels like by now she should know me and my patterns well enough to spot when I might be hiding away.
So, that day a few weeks back (the ‘let’s do it’ day) it felt like the internal fog had lifted, the mistrust and crap about not feeling held or contained was gone. Anita and I have been together long enough for me to know that she’s there. She cares. And she’s human. (Am still fucked off about the disruptions though!) But it wasn’t serving me to keep stuff to myself. The child parts needed to be seen and held and to talk through the break and all the feelings of being left and abandoned.
It’s a 45 minute drive to Anita’s and I had just arrived in her town when I got a phone call from my wife telling me she needed to go to hospital urgently but didn’t think she could drive. So, that was therapy out. I text Anita just 15 minutes before my session and cancelled. I was gutted, but obviously my wife’s health and well-being take precedence. When I arrived home, I saw a message from A saying she hoped everything was ok and she was sorry not see me. I spent the day in hospital with my wife and it triggered a lot of the trauma from being young and also when I had to have all the chemo and radiotherapy for cancer- I wasn’t in a very good place and also so sad about not being able to see Anita when I had REALLY needed to and was REALLY ready to let stuff out.
I text Anita in the afternoon explaining what was going on (bad) and asked if she might have time for a quick check in before Friday and…she didn’t reply until the afternoon of the next day. That triggered me. Ugh. But not only that she said she didn’t have any space for me.
I wasn’t asking for a f-2-f session, I literally just wanted a five minute phonecall to touch base and she was too busy.
I was really upset about that. I mean really upset.
The next session was quite shutdown I think until I started crying and told her I had really needed to see her on Monday and then all the stuff about hospital trauma and stuff from being little came out. I thought Anita knew about this part of my story, but I think I must have shared it with Em (this is one thing I really hate about having switched therapists – I feel like so much of my story is held with Em). A responded with lots of love and care but, despite this I wasn’t able to tell her how hurt I felt about not having a check in. She’d brought it up and said she was sorry…but I was hurting a lot and the young parts just felt like she would have made time in the past.
I was due to go on holiday in half-term and so that was creeping ever closer…another break. Another disruption. I was flying on the Friday before half-term and I had asked again in a text if we might be able to check in. Again she said she was full. When I saw her in session she said she was sorry that she had no space in the week. I moodily replied, “I don’t want to see you, I don’t have time this week either, I just wanted to talk to you.” Anita hadn’t realised the check in I was asking for was a phone call and said that she could talk to me on the Wednesday evening before I went. It’s a day she has her grandchildren overnight but once she’d got them in bed we could talk. That sounded good to me.
So I left on the Monday feeling sad that it would be two weeks until I saw A, but grateful that at least we would talk and the child parts would get a bit of reassurance on the Wednesday.
Wednesday evening rolled around…and my phone didn’t ring. There was no text. Nothing. I went to bed upset but also kind of resigned to the fact that she’d not remembered me. On Thursday my phone remained blank. No contact.
By the evening part of me was panicking that something had happened to Anita…but more voices were shouting, “She’s forgotten about you. She doesn’t care. Out of sight, out of mind! You’re just not that important anymore.” – that stuff on a loop. I felt really sad. I went to bed on Thursday ready to fly on Friday and when I woke up at 3am there was a message from Anita on my phone sent at 11pm Thursday night:
I am so sorry about last night. Not only was it children, but our electric kept tripping off on the sockets, so (partner) had to come down to sort it. I hope you have a lovely time away and can fully recharge xx (heart).
I looked at the message and was just really fucking mad. Like, really? Sure things go wrong and perhaps it all got chaotic that evening. But the thing that really hurt me was that she was only acknowledging this more than 24 hours after we were meant to check in. It hurt because the reason I had asked for the check in in the first place was because there was a break coming up and the little parts get so distressed. Anita knew this. And so that message just felt shit on so many levels.
In the past I would have replied to that message and fired something back showing just how hurt and upset I was. But I didn’t. I just didn’t reply at all. I was sick for the first part of my holiday which was a real pisser and I was having nightmares with Anita in them. By Monday evening I was really struggling with the little parts. I sent Anita a message with something from Carolyn Spring about shame and the link to a song, a friend had shared with me by Sia which really encapsulated how I was feeling.
I heard nothing from Anita.
In the past when I have been away and it’s been our session time she’s sent me a text to tell me she’s thinking of me. Not this time.
On Friday she sent me a text wishing me a safe journey home and sending a hug…but by that time I just felt really cut off. Like, really? Can she really not know how upset I am.
Monday ended up a complete shitting disaster. I could barely speak to her and dissociated so badly that it felt like there was literal grey fog in the room. I couldn’t see properly. I was quiet. I was hoping Anita would say something early on about the missed check in but she didn’t and this shut me down even further. I had expected her to say something – surely that text wasn’t adequate and she couldn’t feel like that was the matter closed? The pain inside was intense and A just seemed to leave me in it. She didn’t reach out, ask to hold my hand, see if I wanted a hug, enquire which parts were there. At around the half hour mark she asked if what was going on was due to gap or her not calling on the Wednesday.
I couldn’t speak.
And then she said, “In hindsight, I won’t do that again. I should have said no in the first place.”
With that I got up and said, “I’m so done. That’s not fair.” And walked out.
I was so upset.
Maybe she shouldn’t have offered the check in, and maybe with hindsight it was a mistake but the mistake has been made and surely it’s up to her to try and find a repair and allow the hurt parts to talk about what it felt like to be let down and seemingly forgotten about. Instead, it felt like I was being punished for her cock up. My reaction was making her uncomfortable, obviously another example of being ‘too dependent’, and so rather than look at that, just withdraw yet another thing that helps. We don’t do longer sessions anymore, now check ins are off the cards. I am waiting to see what happens with bank holidays. Previously, we’ve always rescheduled to another time in the week but I am guessing now I’ll just miss the session…that I have paid for.
Oh, and don’t get me started on that. She’s upped her prices too.
So, yeah. It’s all been a bit bumpy to say the least. We have managed to repair things a bit. I went back after walking out and a glimmer of old Anita was there. She had softened a lot and told me she cares, loves me etc etc and held me in tight hug for the remainder of the session…
It feels like we are a long way off base right now.
Part of me is wondering how much of this has been triggered by all the stuff I am carrying emotionally and so I am just being over sensitive. Another part is wondering if I just need to be realistic and adjust my expectations of the therapy. Anita’s capacity has changed. She isn’t the same as she was, but I still get a lot… I dunno. And after all, she is just a therapist.
I guess we’ll see. Apologies that this is just a moaning rant of nothing. I don’t have much reflective capacity right now. I just feel sad. I’ll get through it, though, I always do.
Love to you all x
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