Therapy Breaks…

How many times have I talked about therapy breaks on this blog?! Loads, right? But hey, here we go again! ūüėČ

Last Monday I missed my therapy¬†session because my therapist was away. It wasn’t brilliant but it was ok; I focused on self-care and wrote a blog post when I would usually have had my session and had a slow day before I had to go to work. It was fine. In fact, as I said at the time, not having to drive an hour either side of the session was quite a relief and freed up quite a bit of space for me to just potter and do not much (lie in bed with my cats and drink tea!).

So…that was ok wasn’t it?

I made it through the minor disruption, worked hard all week (sigh), and was more than ready for my session when it got to Thursday. Internally I was pretty much repeating¬†‘one more sleep to go’ to appease the younger parts.

Only guess what happened this week on Thursday evening?

SNOW.

LOTS OF SNOW.

LOTS OF SNOW THAT SETTLED.

LOTS OF SNOW THAT MADE IT UNSAFE TO VENTURE OUT ON THE ROADS.

FUUUUCCCCCKKKKK IT!!!

I live on the edge of a National Park, on high ground, in the S.W of the UK. Basically, despite only being a few miles from¬†a city I¬†live high enough up¬†for snow (and even simply ice) to be problematic. We live in a small village and it doesn’t form part of the network of¬†roads that get¬†gritted so essentially¬†if a couple of inches of snow settles¬†no one is going anywhere¬†until it’s melted.

On Thursday night I could already see that I would not be going to my therapy session as¬†I had had to abandon a tutoring session in the city and cancel another in order¬†to drive back home when my wife text to say if I didn’t leave to come home I may not actually get home because there was so much snow falling.

By¬†the time I got home it looked like something out a Christmas movie;¬†the school had already emailed to say it would be closed on Friday; and my kids were unbelievably excited to be having a snow day. There was an Amber weather warning for the whole country. We don’t get much snow in the S.W and aside from last year’s ‘Beast From The East’ the last time we got snow was on the day I moved into my house in 2010.

As much as I would have liked to have been able to feel pleased about the prospect of snowman building and sledging you can probably imagine what my reaction to knowing I would not be seeing my therapist in person yesterday¬†was…

Child parts had a meltdown!

I felt instantly grumpy and so so sad. I wasn’t able to be pragmatic about it at all. I just felt bloody miserable and hard done by! I feel sorry for my wife and kids as I was such a misery guts.

I know that this reaction was partly due to the fact that I hadn’t had my session on Monday either….so by the time I next see Em it will have been 10 days since I have seen her. That feels like quite a long time especially when it’s been a while since I have really talked. I had a weird session the other week where I got choked by shame and embarrassment about a dream I’d had where she ignored me –¬†I couldn’t connect (or even look at her) or¬†tell her about it. Ugh.¬†Then after that¬†therapy bomb I had¬†a couple of very adult sessions. So there’s stuff we need to come back to but I feel like it has to be in person not via a screen.

Yesterday, I text Em to tell her I was snowed in and asked to Skype. In theory, this shouldn’t have bugged me quite so much as it did- these Friday sessions started out as Skype calls because it’s a 9:30am session and unless my wife is available to take the kids to school I can’t¬†do the school run and still make it to session on time. Lately, however, my¬†wife¬†has been off work¬†and so I have been able to go to my sessions in person. I much prefer this. Skype is ok but it is a very different experience.

So, I dialled in yesterday and to be fair it was¬†a¬†really¬†nice¬†session. Really relaxed. We laughed and it felt easy.¬†My cat kept getting in the camera and interrupting the therapy but it was nice to sit on my couch with a cup of tea and a fur baby and talk. It was nice to see Em too. I think I spend so much of my sessions not looking at her and instead scanning the bookshelves or looking at the door that I don’t really see her much… so in a weird way Skype is good because I can look as much as I like and I don’t feel like a weirdo.

(Oh man I have issues don’t I?!)

It’s a bit of a weird thing then: I prefer to be in the room with Em and yet I hate not being able to look at her without feeling awkward; yet I hate Skype despite the fact I can see her….I guess it’s because I am always locked firmly in my adult via Skype calls and the parts that want to reach out just can’t.

Anyway eventually the conversation came round to the missed session on Monday and how I felt about it.

Adult: ‘Fine’

[meanwhile child parts locked inside adult fortress are screaming ‘NOT FINE!!!’]

Deflecting the question again I said something about looking forward to half-term and a break from my teaching¬†work. Em said that she wasn’t going to be away this half-term (praise be!) but that she would be off the week before Easter as well as Easter itself (groan) and would be taking a little longer in August than this last summer (which was shorter than the one before). Ugh.

Instantly my brain started whirring and thinking about the summer and the young parts definitely came to the surface.

There was a bit of silence.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to dig into how hard breaks have felt. I didn’t want to acknowledge the attachment stuff.

So I glossed over it and started rambling on about something else. Good tactic!

There’s no reason that summer¬†break shouldn’t be ok or even ‘as good as’ Christmas break.¬†¬†The thing is, there are quite a few breaks coming up and lots of bank¬†holidays which means no Monday sessions. Basically, there’s lots and lots of small disruptions and few lengthier ones.¬†I am going away in May half-term for a holiday and so will miss two sessions. Weirdly it feels worse that I might be away and she could still be there working¬†– opening my space up for someone else. It feels less bad if we are both away simultaneously, like last May she was on holiday but so was I….so it was ok. Ugh. At some point I will look at the calendar and see just how many sessions will be missed – I know the time between April and September always feels yuck, though.

Anyway, I now have six and a half months warning about the summer break and this actually makes me laugh¬†a bit. Clearly, Em doesn’t think I’m going anywhere anytime soon….there’s still a lot of work to do and it’s¬†unlikely to be completed by the summer or else why give me this forewarning?!

This got me to wondering just exactly when I will be done with therapy? I know I am making progress and little by little I am working through and processing years and years (a lifetime) of trauma… right now I can’t imagine a time where I wouldn’t be participating in some kind of therapy- that’s not because of the attachment stuff, but actually just because I can’t imagine how my life will ever feel ok enough to not need to touch base with a therapist on a monthly basis.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime I guess I’ll just try and remain calm and not freak out about the summer therapy break! Only 197ish days to go!! x

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A morning of self-care (in lieu of therapy)

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I don’t have therapy today. Em is…. well… I don’t know, actually…she’s not in the therapy room so maybe it’s her birthday, or perhaps she’s on a course, or I dunno it doesn’t really matter does it?‚Ķ wherever she is or whatever she’s up to there is no session by the sea¬†for me today.

As most people who have followed this blog for a bit¬†will know, I don’t do especially well with disruptions to my therapy routine. Missed sessions often (usually!) feel like abandonment¬†and I can end up circling the pit of shame and hell that I associate with the mother wound for a while¬†before spectacularly falling in.

Christmas break bucked the trend somewhat and, unbelievably, I didn’t end up taking a nose dive with my mental health. I have known about this ‘mini break’ (ha unfortuantely¬†not Bridget Jones-esque at all!)¬†since way before Christmas so I’ve been anticipating having¬†a¬†quiet¬†morning off before I go to work in the afternoon for a long while but not knowing how it would feel when it came to it. When Christmas went without a hitch I rather naively thought that future disruptions would feel ok too and so have been kind of ready for today to be ok…

EXCEPT IT ISN’T!

To be fair, I haven’t been very well (physically)¬†for a few weeks with a nasty virus that basically wipes all energy and makes your body feel like it’s encased in lead. As a result of being under the weather I have been getting really very tired doing my job and¬†also basically just¬†struggling to be a¬†functioning, semi-competent human being…oh and a parent of two small people. I’m kind of on the flashing red light that says the power is about to die. I guess it’s unsurprising that I might not be quite as able to cope with my therapist being away when my ability to cope with daily life feels challenged.

This weekend I have been really aware that when I feel like this (tired, ill, stressed) I feel more reliant on my therapist and our therapy hours just to feel ok. Having sessions at the beginning and end of the week gives me something to aim towards in amongst the rush and chaos that is my life. On a Monday I feel like therapy sets me up for the week ahead and the Friday session sort of rounds off the week…it’s containing! lol!

I don’t spend all my sessions moaning about the here and now but it¬†is really¬†nice to have time scheduled¬†in the week¬†that is just for me and my well-being (although I do get how therapy¬†isn’t exactly¬†relaxing!). At the moment I have to be uber adult in my day-to-day life and I feel a bit like my more vulnerable self has been neglected – again, therapy gives a bit of time and space to acknowledge this part of me so I cope a bit better with the everyday existence.

So, today, no session but still work in¬†a bit…¬†I feel a mix of things. The young¬†parts feel a bit confused, like, ‘Where is she? Why are we still at home? We want to see her!!’ The adult is relieved that I haven’t had to¬†drive an hour to get to therapy¬†and at 10:10 am back in bed with a cup of tea and the laptop having blitzed the house once the kids were on their way to school. I know that cleaning the house isn’t really¬†what many would consider self-care but I don’t do very well with mess and feel much happier when the house is clean and tidy, so half an hour running about with the hoover and sorting the kitchen feels good to me.

Earlier in the week I had considered using this time to go and¬†have a run, but being ill…it’s a noooooo! The idea of putting on sports gear and trainers right now makes me feel ugh. I’m definitely in a dressing gown and pjs place! And as well as this¬†‘no to exercise’ place¬†I am definitely in a¬†‘no to¬†people-ing’ place. I have my two cats on the bed with me and that’s basically put me in my happy place! I don’t have much else to say so I think, I am going to go nap….in the day time… before work.

How to self-care: BE MORE CAT! (no fucks given. so what if it’s your bed. sleep.)

Ooooh and I have a Spa day on Sunday with my wife!!

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Why does physical illness always go hand in hand with a mental health crash?

I wrote this in 2017 – scarily it’s pretty much how I feel now.¬† Physical illness REALLY impacts my mental health. I’m an attachment pained mess again…and after all the progress of the last month I feel so disappointed with myself. I have been a snotty, moaning wreck these last few days and now am back in the horrible dreamscape area. Ugh. Therapy¬†dreams are the worst!¬†As a result of all this inner turmoil I’ve basically turned into¬†a depressed mess and feel like I want to self-harm (haven’t¬†self-harmed since January last year btw!)¬†It’s just not even funny that I find myself here. I am too tired to write so am re-blogging this as it’s actually pretty much where I am at!!

Sigh!

Rubber Bands and Chewing Gum

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Look, I apologise in advance for this. It‚Äôs basically an, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm really poorly, am feeling sorry for myself, and I really miss my therapist‚Äô ramble written from under the duvet, on a Friday night, whilst my wife is out at a gig that I am too ill to go to.

My immune system is beyond crap. My blood levels have never fully recovered despite it being nearly two years since I completed my last round of chemo. As a result of depleted lymphocytes, my infection fighting capacity is pretty non-existent. The doctors had hoped that things would’ve improved by now, but unfortunately my body is stubborn and has decided it would rather pick up and fight every bug that is going! I’ve been ill for almost two weeks now with the exhausting cold, cough, chest infection, no voice thing that’s doing the rounds. I’m so so bored of it. I just…

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Not Alone

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Well, firstly, before I get¬†down to the¬†real business of this post I just want to ask this:¬†how on earth is it only January 13th? Has someone been buggering about with the time/space¬†continuum AGAIN??¬†Like, seriously, this the longest freaking month ever. I’ve only been back at work a week and already it feels like there should be a holiday on the horizon because I ache all over and feel utterly exhausted (unfortunately there are still five to go!); but then there’s that other important date that can’t come quickly enough too…payday!!!

Seriously, January is such a bloody¬†depressing month –¬†the twinkly lights and tinsel¬†are both gone; it’s cold, wet,¬†dark, and grey; and notably there’s no¬†bloody money (to be fair there never is any money!)!!¬†Actually, for once, this utter broke and probably eating beans¬†on toast til the end of the month¬†isn’t because I¬†dipped into December’s pay for Christmas gifts (that didn’t happen this year)¬†it’s because thus far January has chosen to shit on me so far as unexpected bills have gone: there’s flights for my wife to go to her grandmother’s funeral as well as an appropriate¬†outfit to wear; a new bedroom carpet for my daughter after a¬†vomit fest; and errrr some car repairs that uncovered more problems that weren’t worth fixing and so now….A NEW CAR! Not quite what I needed.

Anyway, I am sure no one is interested in my financial woes and January depression so I’ll get to it…

Not Alone.

I know that’s probably a bit of a random title but this week I can say that something else has started to shift a bit in me. As an introvert, to be fair, I like being alone. I don’t do well in crowds or at parties, I feel uptight and uncomfortable and like¬†I would rather be at home in bed reading a book. At work I switch on the self that can do social and confident and capable but it does require effort. I’m not really talking about that ‘feeling¬†alone in a group of people thing’, or being slightly distanced or whatever.

Bear with me, I am so tired I can’t really find words…

For the longest time I felt like I was¬†alone with that gaping hole, #motherwound,¬†sadness, misery, depression, eating disorder, self-harm,¬†not feeling good enough… you know, all that lovely soul-destroying stuff… oh and of course, let’s not forget the crazy attachment issues with my therapist ūüėȬ†And I think starting up this blog started to change that a bit. I began writing and sharing the things that I have kept hidden and private, and soon discovered that actually I was far from alone with these feelings and that has been really transformational.

The interactions I have had on here (bar a couple of strange ones!) have been amazing. There is a real sense of community and holding and care from people that I have never met and that in itself has been a massive help on my journey towards healing. I have been lucky enough, too,¬†to have stumbled across a few like-minded people that¬†have become¬†daily fixtures in my life – I think the word I am looking¬†for¬†is ‘friends’ – ha. And then (I’m sorry for this gush peeps) there’s a really significant person who I met here that¬†I¬†actually fondly now¬†call my ‘Straight Wife’ but really I think ‘Soul Sister’ is where it’s at. Without her support over the last 15 months I know I wouldn’t be anywhere like as together as I am right now. It’s pretty unfortunate that we live about 500 miles apart but thank god for WhatApp calling eh?!

My point is, I do not feel alone¬†anymore because I know that there are people who actually accept me as I am, not just a perfected version of me. To be able to be the genuine¬†‘warts and all’ version of myself, which at times means the needy, anxious, stuck one who¬†can’t muster the energy to get dressed or eat¬†is huge…and to be loved despite that is amazing.

I think my blog has been a bit of a training ground in seeing what happens when I am truly myself and allow the vulnerability out. It’s like another form of therapy. I guess it’s easier to write on a screen and have a bit of distance from it – that way whatever the response I am, in someway, protected. Practising the vulnerability on the phone with my friend¬†has been another step. And then I guess this leads me to my therapy…

Therapy is slightly different. The problems I have around trust are huge and go way back. The maternal transference element and the disorganised attachment patterns I have haven’t made therapy easy (no shit!).

Therapy seems to be¬†some complicated dance that I haven’t quite got¬†the hang of (which after all these years is not really very funny!).¬†It’s like I take one step forward and two steps back when I am meant to be waltzing around the room. I am not a natural dancer! Only what I¬†seem to have worked out this¬†last week or so, is that Em is not expecting me to waltz around the room. She’s perfectly¬†ok with the one step forwards and two steps back. It’s me that has put¬†the pressure on myself to be¬†a certain way.¬†Like honestly – big¬†face-palm!

I have been so well defended lately that I have been unable to really connect with Em. I have felt like she hasn’t been trying hard enough, doesn’t care, is disinterested etc and yet when I listen back to my sessions this is anything but the case. Honestly, she really does try and get to me, and often succeeds by the end of the session. However, the feelings I feel when I am shut off or dissociated are horrible and I can’t see or feel her with me. I know the only way out is through but crikey it’s so hard doing something that basically stirs up a whole load of shit and then I am left with it ‘alone’.

Only, I am not alone am I? This week I have allowed myself to let the guard down a little, to look at Em (I haven’t been able to make eye contact for such a long time) and to just see what it feels like being with her. And do you know what? It’s nice. Rather than bracing myself for a feared attack (that will not actually come from my therapist – but hey I have my mum to thank for that) I have wondered what it would be like to lean into my therapist a bit. Rather than long for a specific type of care and then getting angry because what I am met with¬†is not quite what I want (hugs!)¬†I have just tried to be in the moment and feel what is actually there…and what is actually there is really good.

I feel like a right idiot writing this because nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. My therapist is the same but I am not. I¬†know that is what it’s all about – me changing and growing¬†– but it’s weird that it seems to have¬†happened all of a sudden just like a switch has been flicked.

My last session on Friday was hard, we hit some really huge feelings- I accidentally triggered the motherwound landmine by not looking where I was going with fifteen minutes to go- but rather than run and dissociate from them I stayed with them, and in staying with those feelings guess what I noticed? Em was right there staying with them (and me) too.

When I disappear in session¬†I take myself off into my ‘safe’ place¬†(only it’s¬†not safe, it’s isolating and horrid) I am completely alone and whilst I think it’s protecting me, it isn’t. Sure, it’s what I needed to do as a child when I really was alone and under attack but I am not under attack now. Even when those feelings of fear and being threatened trigger a trauma response in the here and now actually what I need now, and needed so badly back then as a kid, was to be connected safely to someone else. There was no safe person when I was growing up but there is one now and I get to see that person twice a week.

I feel like everyone will be doing the biggest eye roll and going ‘well, duh, that’s what therapy is…’ but it’s taken til now for me to actually feel that Em is safe, is there, is with me, wants to help me, and most importantly not only can I see that she cares, I can feel it.

I am not alone.

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New Year…Same Old Me

So, somehow, it’s 2019 and this year I will¬†turn thirty six years old…thirty six years old???…that can never be¬†right!¬†I am actually¬†fairly certain it is only 2004, I am twenty one, still at university,¬†and someone has been fucking about with the time/space continuum for laughs. Perhaps I will wake up in a minute and discover I still have the bulk of my twenties ahead of me only¬†this time will enjoy them and see how bloody amazing it is to be young and¬†free rather than stressing out and never living in the moment!¬†Ha. Hindsight is such a wonderful kick in the teeth!

I sometimes listen to the radio as I drive to therapy; there’s a morning slot on Heart Breakfast¬†called the Time Tunnel where they play a bunch of songs from a particular year and then listeners¬†are encouraged to text or tweet what they think the year is. Sometimes they go ‘old skool’ (basically late nineties stuff) and I am transported back to being a teen, can¬†pinpoint the¬†year¬†immediately, and then¬†can hardly believe twenty years, or more, has passed since¬†I was singing along. Wtf?!

I’m a bit late to the ‘New¬†Year’s¬†Blog Post Party’ so given it’s already the 5th of January¬†am not going to ramble on at length here about what I have learnt in the last year or summarise how things have been. I¬†mean essentially¬†2018 was pretty good. ¬†I’m still here – in remission from my cancer. I am able to work – too much probably.¬†My kids are¬†thriving. I am secure in my¬†marriage. I have some amazing friends.¬†I am¬†reasonably content¬†in¬†my¬†day-to-day¬†life. I’m currently pretty stable (for me) in that I¬†am neither¬†self-harming nor¬†stuck¬†in¬†an anorexic mindset.¬†Therapy is… what it is!…but given I am not doing anything horrible to myself I¬†think¬†is an indicator that¬†something is working!¬†There’s a lot to be grateful for.

If there is a lesson that I will take forward and keep in mind as I navigate my way through this year it’s this:

Being an adult is really a very strange concept indeed. Somehow or other I find myself in an adult body going about an adult life and yet I am still waiting for the day where I feel like a proper grown up and feel as though I have everything together. I¬†kind of thought that¬†when I turned thirty and had left my twenties behind,¬†I might feel like a¬†genuine bona fide adult. I¬†already¬†owned a house, had a career,¬†was married¬†and had¬†started a¬†family but none of those things seemed to make¬†me feel like I¬†was anything¬†but a kid, winging it, and essentially bullshitting¬†my way¬†through life. I don’t think that has anything much to do with the fragmented parts of myself/the structural dissociation, either.

Whenever I speak with my friends we are all pretty much in agreement¬†(and we are fast approaching forty) that being a grown up is just a weird construct designed to make us behave in a certain way. No matter how much we age we are no closer to reaching that holy grail of what we imagined adulthood to be. So, my guess is- it’s a mirage. Everyone is pretending at being an adult! And if that is the case, that the majority of us are just trying our best then frankly that’s more than good enough. I’m going to try and stop feeling like a failure because I don’t have all my ducks lined up. To be honest I am pretty impressed that I have any ducks at all and so what if they are free-styling round the lake?! I’m sure that’s way more fun for them.

Ummm

Soooooo

I have no idea what I am trying to say here today so I apologise for jumping about and not settling on any particular topic. It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. In that time I have had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas (please don’t hate me!) and have sailed through my therapy break.

I honestly don’t know what the fuck happened but somehow or other I got through it with little more than a fleeting thought of my therapist. There were a few bad dreams in the first couple of days but other than that I was miraculously able to hold my therapist in mind. I knew she was out there and that I was safe in the relationship and that we would be seeing each other on the 4th. This is really unheard of for me. As we all know, I am the client that freaks out between sessions and feels disconnected and abandoned all the time so your guess is as good as mine as to what shifted to allow me to not just ‘survive’ the break but actually ‘enjoy’ it.

Perhaps it’s something to do with being tired?

Em noticed a difference in me yesterday. Within five minutes she commented that she could tell I had had a break and didn’t seem exhausted or stressed out and she was right. I am neither exhausted or stressed out (although the idea of work starting on Monday again is beginning to make feel shitty).

The moment I finished work on Friday a couple of weeks ago I felt my whole system relax. The nervous energy and adrenaline went and instead was replaced with a sense of peace. I could finally relax after eight long weeks of rushing about and teaching. I needed it. As I replenished my reserves and slept, I felt much more solid in myself (and less like the out of control Octopus!). I was aware of the younger parts inside but they were all ok. I took my kids to the cinema on Christmas Eve and the various young parts of me really liked it. We played games on Christmas Day and again, the child parts of me loved falling on my arse after getting tangled in Twister.

Christmas was about attending to all the various parts of me and just basically allowing myself time to chill out. I did what I wanted to do. Saw who I wanted to see. It was so refreshing. By no means was everything perfect! My daughter was violently sick between Christmas and New Year which has resulted in a new bedroom carpet for her, my wife’s grandmother died, and there have been¬†a few other things that have happened but on balance it’s been really fine because when my inner landscape is not suffering an earthquake I can generally handle what life throws at me.

Yesterday’s return to therapy was both welcome and not. I have been so ok that I was almost reluctant to go back. I don’t want to be a basketcase that melts down over my therapist refusing to send me a text message of three dots during the week. Going back yesterday I could hardly believe I had got so worked up over that. But I did. And this is why I think there is a link with me being tired and things seemingly falling apart and my sense of attachment to my therapist going awry at these times.

It’s almost like when I am exhausted my youngest parts are most activated. When I am tired, they and I get cranky. You can’t please them. They don’t really know what they want. Any attempt at settling them that isn’t part of their plan sends them into a tailspin. Em might suggest trying something but frankly if it isn’t a hug or agreeing to something else I want then she might as well be talking in a vacuum! I have some really very resistant parts you know!

I am trying to remember what it was like when my kids were toddlers and screaming at me for sweets when they actually needed to eat a proper meal. I think Em knows what she is doing….well adult me does! So whilst I might be tantruming over three dots I have to believe that her consistent and steady approach to my therapy is what is best for me. I trust her. I don’t believe she is trying to hurt me. I do think she is trying to help me heal. I know that when things have been really bad she has been there, consistently. She doesn’t mess me around. She doesn’t get angry with me. She listens. And she cares.

I am so grateful that in all the times I have felt lost in the dark that she has been there holding a candle for me offering to help light the way until I can rekindle my own flame. And I can tell you, that bloody inner-light has a nasty habit of going out so I am very glad I have her.

I am very aware that even though yesterday’s session was fine and we reconnected that by the end the familiar feelings came up in my body. I felt physical pain. It was that thing again where I was back in the room and suddenly all that young need came rushing forward and with it the shame of knowing those needs can’t be fully met. Ugh. The one thing I will say, though, is that I feel able to talk about it with her. I don’t feel like I need to go into hiding or shut down. So… I guess we’ll just see how this new year of therapy goes.

New Year…Same Old Me!

*I am so very sorry for that saccharine gush! I am just fully feeling the love right now!

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And So This Is Christmas (Therapy Break).

Right then, folk, looks like it’s time to buckle up and hold on tight for the next few weeks because it’s that time of year again… oh yes,¬†it’s¬†the time we’ve all been¬†excitedly anticipating – Christmas therapy break!

Oh how I love Christmas: the twinkly lights, the presents, the excitement, the movies…¬†the enforced extended time with family, the building stress levels,¬†¬†the missed therapy¬†sessions, the activation of the attachment pain, the¬†bedding¬†in of the belief that¬†‘my therapist doesn’t¬†care about me’, the mounting anxiety, the feelings of abandonment and rejection, the¬†wading in of the Inner Critic to come add some¬†festive self-hatred into the mix,¬†and the steady¬†descent into breakdown. If¬†things follow this usual pattern then there’ll be¬†a desperate reaching out to therapist which will result in¬†either a)¬†a reply that doesn’t meet the need or b)¬†no reply at all…and voila RUPTURE!!!

Oh it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Look, I have to make light of this right now (#sarcasm and #humour shield)¬†because I am in that terrified denial/manic stage. Basically I am like Denver the dog – forced smile hoping that if I say, ‘I am ok’ enough then I might start to believe it and might just fool those around me and might even avoid a disaster like last year!

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Yesterday was the last session of the year. Without doubt, this has been a really hard year so far as therapy goes. It’s been about staring down the #Motherwound¬†and, in doing so, working through a lot of pain that gets activated in the therapeutic relationship because of this. It’s basically¬†maternal transference 101 in my sessions.¬†It’s so hard.

Those of you that have been following this blog for a while will know that I¬†keep rapidly swinging between two¬†extremes:¬†knowing that Em is there, as my therapist, every single week to try and help me process years of trauma and neglect, that she is safe and trustworthy and that I love and respect her; and then there’s the¬†other side¬†that I’ve been¬†inhabiting lately- the horrible¬†place¬†where I feel¬†she doesn’t care enough, is withholding, is deliberately making me suffer, and is basically retraumatising me. UGH!!!

These feelings are really hard to manage (the doubting the relationship ones).¬†Part of the problem with therapy (but also why I need to be in therapy)¬†lies in the fact that I¬†have so many different parts and they feel and need¬†so many different things –¬†often all at the same time.

I’m more-or-less ok when my Adult Self is online alongside the young parts and I can see what’s going on. I can accept that the feelings I am experiencing come from a young place and are being replayed in the here and now. It’s not comfortable but I’m able to tolerate it. I can feel care and even love¬†towards those younger parts and do¬†try and soothe myself. The real problems happen when my Adult fucks off somewhere and leaves the¬†child parts to run the show. We’ve all seen ‘Home Alone’ right?!

Ages ago I wrote something about structural dissociation and fragmented parts after having read an amazing book by Janina Fisher called, ‘Healing The Fragmented Selves Of Trauma Survivors’. Reading that book was really helpful and gave me a much¬†better insight into what was going on for me. It was a kind of lightbulb moment.¬†Later I read Patricia A. DeYoung’s ‘Understanding Chronic And Treating Chronic¬†Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach’ and that really helped move things on for me too.

Of course, my rational intellectual brain can see all of this therapy break hell¬†for what it is. There’s no problem with being able to see where my issues come from on an intellectual level. It’s the emotional brain that is having such a hard time. It literally has no freaking clue what’s going on and reacts to everything like a child would – and the children vary in age.

Nightmare!

I am aware of a very young baby part, a two year old, a four year old, a seven year old, an eleven year old, a young teen, and an older teen part and so sometimes it gets very noisy inside my head in therapy. I switch about and it is really disconcerting: one minute I can be raging and the next I want to crawl into Em’s lap and fall asleep. Ugh.

I don’t know how¬†Em keeps up with me, to be honest, but she’s really quick to spot when things change in me now, sometimes even¬†before I’ve noticed. I know weird things happen in my body (numbness/heaviness/pain/pins and needles…)¬†and I think I blink a lot/don’t blink at all/close my eyes¬†when things are shifting. I know my breathing goes very shallow and I know that if I am talking my voice goes much quieter. Sometimes I lose time¬†–¬†not for very long – but¬†Em will ask me something and I will have absolutely no idea what she’s just said.¬†I take my hat off to¬†her for seeing what’s going on, working¬†with it¬†and trying to talk to the various parts and bring me back to her.

(Can you see I am trying to hang onto the gratitude and sense of there being consistent ‘good enough’ care today?! – Don’t worry, I’m sure next week it’ll be back to ‘it’s all shit’. LOL)

Anyway, I’m going to try and bring things up to speed quickly before I sign off for the next few days.

It’s been a really hard time these last couple of weeks after the dots thing.¬†

OMG such painful, excruciating conversations about how that all felt punctuated with spells of dissociation.

OUCH.

Everyone turned up on Monday! The Teens were so resistant¬†to talking about the feelings when Em brought the conversation round to what it had been like since she said she couldn’t/wouldn’t do the dots texts. Picture huffy teen, arms folded, snapping ‘what’s the point in talking about this, it won’t change anything?!’ Em stuck with it acknowledging how¬†I might be angry and hurt¬†and did that therapist thing, ‘here we are, in¬†this space to talk about the feelings, give them space, and to let’s¬†try and work out what they mean and where they come from’. There was an actual eye roll on my part and a fuck off big sigh… Em kept pressing gently and then I snapped at her, ‘Why do you keep poking a massive stick in a really sore hole, now?

And there it was.

You’ve hurt me. Massively.

And that opened up a helpful conversation about feeling abandoned and uncared for and about¬†the (god damn) break for and wondering what feeling cared for might feel like. She used the voice…you know the one, the soothing one that makes you feel held and seen and like you aren’t going to die of emotional pain. Sure, I didn’t get what I wanted¬†(texts),¬†but in her not giving me what I wanted we had a healing conversation and I guess that is the work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not happy about it. I still feel anxious that when the shit hits the fan she isn’t going to be there for me…but actually being able to tell her how sad and hurt I felt and for her to hear it, not react negatively or shame me for it was really helpful and I think this also helped open another door for yesterday’s session.

It was a bit of a car crash at the beginning¬†– it was never going to be easy. I’ve been in therapy long enough now to know that¬†sessions are tricky leading into breaks. There were a lot of feelings flying around and as a result a great deal of pained silence. Em kept with me, kept trying to open up¬†conversations and address the break. Part of me was just trying to hold¬†myself together and not disintegrate.¬†I had an image come to me the night before therapy and it hit me again when she asked me how I was feeling.

I know how strange it sounds but I’ll say anyway. I got an image of myself as an octopus in a really rough sea. The octopus was struggling, being battered by the waves. In a calm sea it usually¬†has a reasonable grip on the parts it is trying to hold onto¬†– each part is reasonably well¬†wrapped¬†in a tentacle, still away from the body, but just about held together and safe enough.¬†When the sea is as¬†rough as¬†it is¬†now¬†the grip loosens and all the parts are barely hanging on to the tip of each tentacle. I am scared I can’t hold onto them and they’re going to get washed away¬†and drown. I know it’s weird.¬†But essentially when there’s a storm (the break) adult me feels like I can’t contain all my vulnerable parts….

And so I told Em this. Sure I think this weird stuff all the time, I¬†blog about it,¬†but I don’t always share this¬†kind of thing with her. She thinks that what’s going on¬†right now is another step in the right direction so that’s something. She was able to acknowledge the fear and the panic and tell me that it’s ok. ¬†Then the session was up. Oh god. She said some lovely things about the Christmas card I had given her and said that she knows how hard it’s been recently but that we are getting through.

I left feeling sad and ok.

I immediately missed her.

I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to reach out to her already.

I haven’t.

I can’t guarantee I won’t message her but my aim right now is to write in a book every time I want to contact her and write it down with a time and a date and what’s actually been going on in my day. I know it’s going to be fully cringe but I hope that I will be able to take it all into therapy on the fourth and hand it over and we can start to unpick the feelings and the triggers. I think it might be interesting to see what two weeks of need and fear looks like…‚Ķ.. eeek!!

Oh, and when I decided to try and hold myself a bit closer and breathe through the storm, look what came in my cracker last night….

A sign?!!

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Octopus from a cracker last night!

 

I won’t get chance to post again before Christmas now so I just want to wish everyone a lovely Christmas, to thank you for¬†following me on my¬†journey, and to say to the cheerleading squad (you know¬†who you are)¬†– your support¬†has been amazing¬†this year. I really hope that¬†between us we can¬†find a way of hanging it together with rubberbands and chewing gum and survive the holidays but I¬†know that the reality might more readily¬†be this:

‘Tis the season to be jolly¬†for a rupture fa la la la la la la la la!

xxx

 

Impasse

I’m not sure starting a blog post with ‘FFS’ is necessarily appropriate, but it totally encapsulates where I am at right now with therapy, or rather the therapeutic relationship. I’m angry, frustrated, upset, exasperated,¬†annoyed, sad, hurt, anxious,¬†scared, lonely,¬†not bothered (no fucks given), shutdown, agitated, full of love! I know that is a list of¬† complete contradictions but this is what is so difficult about fragmented parts – every part feels different things and reacts independently so in the end it just becomes an exhausting noisy mess inside.

Part of me is¬†just doing a massive face palm and¬†sighing a huge¬†‘for¬†fuck’s sake!’¬†I haven’t had much free time to post anything here for a bit¬†but actually this weekend when I have had¬†time¬†to think about what’s going on, or what I might post,¬†I really haven’t got a clue what to say. I literally do not know what to write. I don’t know how to explain what is going on right now. There is a part of me, too, that feels like what’s happening in therapy right now is so¬†huge that whilst I’m in the thick of it I can’t really write about it in any detail.

I am all over the shop: one minute I am absolutely raging and wanting to run away from the therapy and the next I want to roll up my sleeves, get my adult front and centre and do some serious advocating for myself and do the work. Em and I have hit a bit of an impasse. We’ve been stuck for a while now but this last couple of sessions has been incredibly hard. I can’t remember if I said this recently but I¬†told her¬†in session the other week that I felt like she didn’t care about me. It’s not just one part that is feeling like this, it’s several. I’ve been struggling to shake the feeling and so it’s been¬†impossible connect. I can’t even look at her at the moment. The trust, that is so fragile anyway, has been steadily eroding since the half-term holiday in October and the empty chair text (which she never brought up).

I know I should bring¬†this stuff up more but as I said recently, often I have ideas of what I want to say and then I get in the room and suddenly I am overcome by shame and switch into¬†a part that is either really fucking annoying (the one who talks confidently about my here and¬†now¬†life so that the ‘real’ feelings don’t come out) or one of the parts that either has no words (v.young child part) or a withholding and silent part¬†(angry teen). I mean it’s more complicated than that and I definitely shift about between different parts A LOT or feel like there are several competing for attention all at once¬†but generally the part I need to go and talk isn’t bloody available. I don’t know where she’s fucked off to, but I suspect she’s sitting drinking a latte peacefully somewhere ‚Ķ but she certainly isn’t in the room! She’s a fucking moron though because it is her that is paying for this circus.

Knowing that this is what’s been happening I sent my last post¬†to Em just before I left the house on Monday morning. I knew I would sit silently and not mention anything if I went to session without it. I’ve still got stuff I wrote weeks ago sitting in my bag and I just can’t get myself to bring it out. SO ANNOYING. I brought it up and asked her to read it. We had a conversation about my sending stuff to her when I know she won’t read it and all that. Ugh. I tried to explain that when I send something an hour before the session, despite writing it days before, it’s about making sure I can’t back out of talking about something that is important – which is what’s been happening a lot.

She read the post. I felt sick. I can’t really remember everything that¬†we talked about in relation to it but she said something about how she¬†had to admit that¬†she had lost sight of the¬†vulnerable young parts lately because what she sees as¬†the ‘high functioning adult part’ (Little Miss ‘I’ve Got My Shit Together’) does such a fantastic job of distracting and hiding what’s really going on. That pissed me off. I know that’s what I do. What I have been doing. BUT I pay Em to see through this crap. I have told her enough what I do and why I do it. When I feel really vulnerable and unsettled I get out the smoke screen.¬† To hear her say she’d lost sight of those who need her most was really painful. Yet again, those parts are not being kept in mind…which is what they are terrified of and why they went into hiding when I was a kid.

I know I did try and talk about how futile it feels when I have things I would like to try and work on/ask for¬†and yet ultimately I know that I can’t have what I want so it just feels really painful. She asked what I meant. I said how I read something recently by another therapist about coping with breaks and how they had mentioned a way to maintain connection that really resonated with me. The idea¬†was for the client to send three dots in a¬†text message and that at some point the therapist would respond in the same way. I liked this idea because there are no words to get hung up on, no chance of misinterpreting the tone, no getting into ‘doing therapy outside the room’… it’s simply a checking in process that says ‘I’m still here’. And for someone that genuinely panics that my therapist is dead on breaks it would be perfect.

I knew, though, that Em wouldn’t go for it and said as much¬†to her¬†but she asked me to explain it anyway. I did. And yep. It was a no. Or should I say another no in a long line of nos. She told me that she couldn’t commit to it or something and that she didn’t think it would be in my best interests and then I just shut down. Like what is the fucking point? I keep reading that relational trauma is healed in relationship and yet I am really really struggling to feel like there is a relationship. I know I should, by now, be able to see that she’s there for all my sessions and that she is consistent in how she operates… but there are parts that just can’t see that as enough. When they are breaking their hearts and panicking on breaks it’s no good saying ‘she’ll be back in x weeks’ the fear and anxiety is real in that moment;¬†if I could rationalise it out there and then I would…but I can’t.

I think, too, that this particular ‘no’ stings so much because it is literally THREE DOTS. It doesn’t require much time. It doesn’t require really any thought at all. BUT it would make such a huge difference to me. What hurts¬†the most¬†is that she is unwilling to do this for me. It’s like I am asking for the smallest fucking concession and she won’t do it. And of course this feeds all that stuff about being unimportant, her not liking me, there being no genuine relationship. It’s horrendous. It’s making me so sad and angry recounting this right¬†now.

Christmas break is approaching and I am absolutely terrified that it is going to be another car crash like last year. The feelings on breaks don’t change. Sometimes I reach out sometimes I don’t. This year I won’t no matter how bad things get, why would I?¬†There’s no point.¬†All that’ll do is fuel the part that is ready to walk away. I contacted another therapist this last week because things feel as though we are heading towards a drop off. I don’t know if we can work through this… I don’t know what to do.

I had to do a Skype session on Friday because I was working ten minutes after the session. So it was Skype in my car. Great. Not!¬†Trying to connect through a tiny iPhone screen that would only show her in one¬†third of my screen…it was like therapy on a postage stamp. Em felt really far away. And, I know I sound like a complete mental case but she just felt really therapisty. The session felt really formulaic. I could almost predict what she was going to ask me. Therapy questions 101. Painting by numbers.¬†On more than one occasion I rolled my eyes when she said stuff and how I didn’t hang up on her I have no idea.

Look, I get it, I am upset and angry and feel like I am not necessarily seeing the wood for the trees which is why I will go to the session tomorrow. But I won’t lie. There is a huge part of me that doesn’t want to go. There’s a part of me that wants to cut and run before the Christmas break. I don’t want to be left with all these massive feelings over the holidays and keep looping back to ‘she doesn’t care’. I don’t want my Inner Critic to get a foothold in my mind and ruin the holidays.

I am really aware of this thing where, yet again, I have to sacrifice a need, ok albeit a childish need (my adult doesn’t need three dots – and is mortified that I need Em at all) in order to fit in with what the other person wants. I have done that my whole life and I don’t know how to get to a place where I can¬†‘accept’ this therapy boundary. I am not ok with the no touch thing but I can sort of accept it. I am not ok with her not responding to my texts but I can sort of accept it. BUT this ‚Ķ three dots… I don’t know if I can. It sounds ridiculous that something as insignificant as ‚Ķ could cause such a huge rupture…but that’s the problem, something so small is so massively significant.

I’m very aware that this is not one of my finer blogging¬†moments and I probably sound like a petulant child who isn’t getting what she wants and is having a meltdown about it…but actually that’s exactly what this is. Adult Me can see this for what it is but the little ones feel utterly rejected.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I’m guessing some anger with a giant¬†dollop of shame! Wish me luck. I really hope that I can break through the shame and the wall and get things moving again. I think the reason this is so hard is because it’s tapping into that core wound again. It’s like these three dots have functioned as a giant cattle prod right into the #motherwound¬†and fuck me – it hurts.

* I had some comments that went to moderation recently (I have this as a setting new¬†readers/comments)¬†that were really nasty and I didn’t ok to go on the post.¬†Please, if you haven’t got something constructive to say just don’t comment at all. These mental health blogs are written by real people who are going through real struggles. I do not need to be told that ‘I am in danger’ and am ‘obsessive’. This obviously isn’t aimed at the merry band of WP warriors¬†who are always sensitive and empathic. x

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Love And Shame In Therapy

The subject of shame has long been a topic¬†in my therapy. In fact I would go so far as to say that my therapist brings up the words ‘feelings of shame and embarrassment’¬†almost weekly. This isn’t the first time I have written about shame¬†on this blog. Over the summer I¬†came across¬†a fantastic book by Patricia A. DeYoung on¬†shame which saw me nodding my head in agreement as I read page after page and I ended up posting something then. I don’t really know what there is to add to the subject now, today,¬†other than to say I seem to be in another of those deep pits of shame and I need to let it out before it eats me alive.

For me, one of the worst things about these horrid soul destroying feelings of shame (and¬†shame is the absolute¬†pits)¬†is that they seem inextricably linked to feelings of love. How very inconvenient!¬†It’s a total nightmare in fact. As Brene Brown suggests ‘shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love’.

True. But. Ouch!

For as long as I can remember I have always felt ‘not quite good enough’ and by extension ‘unlovable’. I am a product of an upbringing that was pretty barren in terms of nurturing love from my mother: #motherwound. She was absent for a lot of the time (Sunday through to Friday when I was 5-11 years old) and then when she was around I felt like I was in the way, too much, a burden…it wasn’t ideal.

I loved my mum in¬†the blind¬†way that young¬†children do. For the longest time I missed her, wanted to be close to her, wanted her to be there, to be kept safe by¬†her, and was incredibly loyal to her. No matter how distant¬†or absent or neglectful she was I kept coming back for more, desperately hoping that¬†having been a¬†good¬†girl all week that¬†she’d¬†want to be with me, spend time with me, learn about me and¬†who¬†I was.

For years I¬†was that well-behaved little girl, then older girl, then young woman. I was a¬†model student,¬†¬†no trouble at¬†home, I never asked for anything and just got on with it. Whilst my friends were acting out and being normal¬†teenagers I watched and wondered how their parents hadn’t killed them yet knowing that I barely had to look at my mum ‘in the wrong way’ and would get either verbal or physical abuse for it! …

And yet,¬†despite all¬†my ‘good girl’ behaviour, it never made an ounce of difference. I could not make me mum love me. I mean I¬†know she does love me, in her own way, but¬†there wasn’t the¬†kind of demonstration¬†of love and¬†care that I needed as¬†a kid, she still doesn’t touch me (at thirteen I reached out to hold her hand crossing the road and she said ‘don’t do that, people will think we’re lesbians’…and there we are…baby dyke was crushed and never reached for her again). After a¬†while I stopped hoping for what I needed and learnt to be self-reliant.

My feelings of love got buried; I shut down. I learnt to not have needs – or at least not to show them. Need and love were bad and dangerous. They just led to heartache. It’s a bloody lonely existence not letting anyone in. It’s the ultimate defence though, if you keep people out they can’t hurt you can they? And my mum really hurt me.

On the outside no one would ever have known there was anything amiss. I have managed over the years to succeed at pretty much whatever I have put my mind to, I have this kind of dogged determination to¬†succeed¬†-but it has come at a cost. I wrote recently about how I now see how damaging the perfectionist streak I have is. It’s done untold damage to me over the years. The stress and the anxiety that surrounds the fear of failure is exhausting. The eating disorder that reared its head when I was sixteen is another product of all that too. Utter. Freaking. Nightmare.

But I’m not here to rehash the stuff from the past. I want to talk about the feelings of shame I am experiencing in the present –¬†undoubtedly this shame is¬†informed by past relationships but it is very real in the here and now.

We all know where this is going don’t we?

I am struggling with shame in my¬†therapy. I’m struggling with love too. Or rather,¬†because I feel love I feel shame.

Fuck.

For the longest time I refused to let myself be seen by my therapist. I used my intellect to deflect anything emotional… in fact I was so out of touch with my emotions it was scary. But, eventually the cracks in my armour appeared and feelings started to come up – attachment/love, call it what you will was¬†suddenly¬†there. And I felt it towards Em. This should have been positive. It should have felt good finally allowing myself to feel. But of course it didn’t work that way because hot on the heels of the loving feelings came the intense and crushing feelings of shame.

I should not have these feelings towards my therapist.

I am pathetic.

Blah blah blah.

And, because this is a therapeutic relationship and there are boundaries to the relationship, every time I smash into one, i.e the no touch boundary, or the no outside contact one, it provides a kind of evidence to that self-hating, critical part that feels that I am ultimately unlovable.¬†That¬†part is angry and sad. It thinks that¬†if she cared about me she would hug me. If I mattered to her¬†she would respond to my messages.¬†If this was actually not just a 50 minute time slot to her then she’d work harder with me on how to make breaks feel better, might consider trying some middle ground like the dots text…or anything really!

The rational adult self can see that the therapeutic framework is what it is and why it is how it is (most of the time!) but that young part that has been so starved of love and care can only see rejection and that I must be too much. That part that is so vulnerable and feels so much love walks into therapy and immediately feels stupid, embarrassed, and ashamed.

I look forward to seeing Em¬†all¬†week and hope that being in the room will¬†somehow make¬†things better, that the part that needs attention and healing will be seen and helped and that the awful feelings that creep in during the week about being unlovable and unimportant will be confirmed to be unfounded.¬†The moment I arrive, though,¬†it hits¬†me so hard¬†that I can’t have any of¬†what I want from her and the fact¬†that I need my therapist in the way that I do fills me with shame and the shame makes it very hard to open up or connect. I want to, but somehow I get convinced that she doesn’t like me and that I am a burden…

Hmmm, familiar pattern??!!

I know she’s not my mum but the maternal transference is massive…and given what I have said about my mum it’s not easy. It feels repeatedly as though I am reexperiencing the feelings of absence, of disconnection, of lack of care…¬†of basically just not really mattering… and it’s really horrible. I don’t really know how much longer I can do it to myself. I understand the need to grieve what I didn’t have as a child, but until I feel safer in therapy, more connected,¬†contained.. I can’t see how I can go there. It doesn’t feel healing or reparative it just feels retraumatising.

I try to bring this stuff up but, oh my god, it’s so hard. Sometimes I make inroads and then something happens and I go into hiding. This last few weeks has been dire, really. I need right brain connection and yet I have been running from Em because part of me still doesn’t trust her. The shame has got so big that I can’t seem to let her in because I am so scared that she will, not shame me exactly (she doesn’t do that), but confirm why I feel ashamed. Like I will tell her how I feel and her response will somehow prove that she doesn’t care. And I can’t cope with that.

It’s really difficult.

I have been in therapy long enough now to know that the only way things get unstuck and shift is to be brave and leap into the hard stuff. But shame, oh god, it’s so suffocating. It’s so hard to find a way out of it. It is so hard to take chances and trust¬†that someone you care for won’t¬†hurt you and reject you¬†because shame is such a horrendous feeling in the first place. To run the risk of more shame being lumped on, or, ultimately to have the feeling that you are unlovable verified by the person that you love…it feels unsurvivable.

The thing is, it is survivable isn’t it? It must¬†be.¬†Because we survived it as children. The mother wound has not killed us….so it seems unlikely that it could do so now. There’s no denying it is painful going through this because it is reliving the pain we experienced as kids again in the therapeutic relationship. The memories and¬†the feelings that are in our bodies are as fresh now as they were then…or rather maybe they are being felt now for the first time because they were too much¬†back then and had to be¬†supressed in order to survive.

I am hopeful that the more I am able to verbalise these feelings of both love and shame something will eventually shift in me. I want my emotional self to catch up with my rational self and to, at a gut level, know that it is ok to feel how I feel and that these feelings won’t annihilate me….

It’s a damn slow process though isn’t it?!

 

 

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Absent

I don’t think I’ve ever gone longer than a week without posting something here but I’ve been AWOL so far as my blog goes for the last couple of weeks now.¬†I’ve decided to just start typing letters on the keyboard and am¬†hoping something¬†will¬†turn up on the page! I¬†don’t think¬†I¬†have much to say… or perhaps I have too much to say? I’m not sure. Whatever it is I feel stuck and lost for words at the moment.

I feel like I need to document what’s going on for me¬†(that’s what the blog¬†was meant to be all about after all)¬†but there’s a part that just can’t be bothered. It all feels like too much effort. I just¬†can’t focus or find motivation. I don’t have any¬†energy.¬†I feel frustrated on many levels.¬†Nothing I say is going to change what I am going through so what’s the point in bothering?

I feel like I need to kick myself up the backside and cheer up…but I can’t. I am fed up. I am fed up of moaning. You know? Like I am properly sick of myself. I am not happy. AT ALL. Depressed? Yeah. Perhaps. There’s definitely some overtiredness feeding my negative feelings and I was lucky enough to get a horrid gastric bug last week so that hasn’t helped the jolly, energised feelings – although it has gone some way to helping me fit back into my favourite jeans. Silver linings and all that!

I am also a bit angry with myself for once again falling into a situation where my inability to say no (or say it loudly enough to be taken seriously) has landed me with a shit load of stress and anxiety. More on that later.

I feel kind of blank and numb¬†but equally know that underneath that top layer of bleurgh and relative calm¬†there’s a big wedge of overwhelm and panic. (That’s the kind of sentence that makes me wonder if I am actually losing my mind!) Well, really what it is is dissociating from the hell that is my adult life. I am trying not to have a breakdown because I simply cannot afford to crash right now.

I’m getting sick of saying how busy and¬†stressed¬†I am. But yes. That’s is how it is. Still. Crazy busy. No time. Where has the week gone again? etc etc. I keep sort of¬†checking in with myself, trying to ground myself, to listen to what’s going on inside, but it’s hard to hear¬†anything much at all over the noise of current¬†life. I know there are some young parts starting towards a serious¬†meltdown but I simply cannot face having to acknowledge that right now. I have too much to do. I can’t cope with upset children on top. I can’t cope with my adult self either…. man!!!!

It all sounds a bit dramatic and not very specific and that’s kind of how it is in my mind. Stuff is going on but I can’t fully zone in on it because I am scared that if I do I will run screaming in the other direction. This is true of the mental health stuff but also the work stuff.

I’ve been steadily getting more and more worked up over the last few weeks as a big work thing approaches. A while back my friend who owns the tutoring company asked me if I would like to deliver a specific¬†course to a small group of 18-24 year olds at a local venue. The information I was given at the time made it sound good and it fitted well with my current¬†timetable. Great.

Steadily, though, more and more details came out the woodwork and the job sounded less and less appealing. Suddenly the 18-24 year olds became 16-24 year olds studying two different courses at five different sublevels (all at the same time in the same room). Ok. I can do that… maybe. Who doesn’t love a bit of differentiation?! Then the next big hit- the 13¬†young people have lots of problems and additional¬†needs. Half of them live in a¬†supported unit.¬†Ok, I can do special¬†needs, but even I am worried about this in one room with no additional support: ADHD x 2. PTSD. Aspergers. 2x people thrown out of educational setting for fighting. 2 x Drug and Alcohol dependency.¬†Depression. One on parole.

12 males and 1 female.

And me.

So yeah… it’s not exactly a walk in the park. In any other setting there would certainly be some support staff. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t written anyone off. I am sure I will build good relationships with the students and we’ll get to the end of the course together. All I am saying is, this is not a job I would have taken on had I have known the¬†full¬†details from the start. I already teach a very challenging child 1:1 for 7 hours a week and it nearly kills me. I do not need to be taking on any more very hard work. I simply do not have the emotional or physical resources to put on the level of performance required to do this. I will have to find something from somewhere…I always do…but at what cost?

And that’s the issue.

The cost is too great. I pay too heavy a price again.

All my life I have bled myself dry. Given more of myself that I should have. Hit burnout….and for what?

Does anyone really care that I push myself so hard to deliver the almost impossible? Does anyone know that I drive myself mad with worry and anxiety about not being ‘good enough’. I don’t think so.¬†I seem to be the only one who sees the potential pitfalls of this situation. I’m meant to be on board with ‘it’ll be fine’ but I can’t see it. I want it to work but I feel like I am going to fall flat on my face with this and that’s hard.

My expectations of myself are high. Too high. I have always been a perfectionist. BUT perfectionism is bad. Perfectionism is damaging. Perfectionism is misery. Perfectionism is ridiculous pressure and the realm of the Inner Critic.

AND I AM DONE WITH THAT SHIT.

Or, at least I thought I was! A part of me is but not a big enough part.

And that’s why I am so annoyed. I have got swept up into a situation of feeling powerless, not being listened to, and now having to perform a fucking miracle ‚Ķ.and I thought that wasn’t going to be me anymore. I thought I was stronger than this. I thought I was able to stand up for myself better than this. I thought, as an adult, my needs were a bit more fucking pressing.¬†I thought after cancer¬†I was¬†a bit more fucking important in my¬†own life.¬†I thought I could be more assertive when it came down to it….but it turns out I am still frightened of upsetting people or disappointing people and so will sacrifice my wellbeing in order to avoid conflict or seemingly letting them down.

The whole thing has been stressing me out. HUGELY. I have spent far too many of my recent therapy sessions discussing the situation and¬†that’s annoyed me, too. Of course I am worried and anxious and it’s tapping every one of my ‘I’m not good enough’ buttons and so it makes sense that I would be bringing it into my therapy, but it pisses me off that I am spending money talking it¬†through with Em. I don’t want to do¬†the job¬†and now I am using what I earn from it to process it in my therapy! NO!!!! That’s never right!!

What’s more is that having been in ‘freaked out teacher’ mode (a technical term) I’ve totally neglected all my other parts and all the other needs that are IMPORTANT to me both in and out of therapy. I’ve been¬†like a bear with a sore head.¬†It’s a fucking great mess and it’s all about to bite me on the arse because now my sessions are also disrupted.

I am furious because I have had to cancel two of my Friday therapy sessions due to last minute timetabling issues. My availability = Wednesday….and so…they have timetabled me for three Fridays in addition to the usual weekly¬†Wednesday session (why????? my availability is WEDNESDAY). This week is not so bad as Em is away anyway so I don’t feel like I am missing out. It was a ‘break’ (fucking breaks!) I knew about but then to discover I have to cancel the 23rd/7th because of this job I am really, really sad…and unsettled.

Now, more than ever I feel like I need the consistent, regular therapy space that I have twice a week and to have to disrupt that because my boundaries have not been respected… well… fuck. And then it’s going to be Christmas break….and ugh I can’t even cope.

I don’t really know what else to say. All I have done is rant like a crazy person – which is hilarious given I had nothing much to say!

I have so much to do tomorrow in order to stand any chance of surviving Friday but having worked most of the day I just have to go to bed and sleep. I have nothing left….

I want my therapist.

I feel so overwhelmed that I just want to curl up on her couch under my blanket and cry. And… I can’t even so much as get close to doing that until Monday….

HEEEEELLLLPPPPPP MEEEEEE!!!

Therapy blog will resume next post ūüėČ

 

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Rage Cycles

So, here I am again sitting in the hospital waiting room waiting to find out if all is still well in my body. I‚Äôm always nervous as I wait. I suppose it‚Äôs not surprising, really. I have no reason to believe I am not still in remission but then I never imagined I‚Äôd have had an enormous tumour growing in my chest at the point I got diagnosed so I‚Äôve learnt to not take anything for granted so far as health goes. You never know what they’ll say.

The stress of these appointments never lessens. As I sit here, in the same waiting area for patients undergoing treatment, I cannot help but be plunged back three years and remember how terrible it was undergoing my own gruelling treatment. Twelve chemotherapies spaced two weeks apart ‚Äď horrendous…and then the radiotherapy to round things off.

I feel sick, it‚Äôs totally psychosomatic of course. It‚Äôs not just nerves, it‚Äôs that chemo poisoned sick feeling ‚Äď a nausea that is hard to describe unless you‚Äôve experienced it. I am sure there is an element of PTSD in all this. Health trauma to add onto the various other traumas‚Ķ ha. You couldn’t make it up.

The longer I sit here (the service is overstretched so there is always a couple of hours delay being seen) the worse the anxiety gets. I get a full body fear and my brain starts on some impressive mental flashbacks. I loop round different points in my treatment having sat in this place waiting for so many things: the shock of initial diagnosis, CT guided biopsy through my rib cage, bone marrow biopsy (oooooouuuuuuucccccchhhhhhh!!!), the first chemo, the middle chemos, the feeling like I was dying, the final chemo… the hair loss, the loss of myself… it’s really horrible.

The staff are lovely but I hate it here. They remember me. Ask about my kids by their names. Ask after my wife. It’s nice to have people that seem to care but actually, I wish I didn’t have to come here at all. I wish that there was no prior relationship with these doctors and nurses. I don’t like being reminded of how bad things were and how precarious things still are. I’m always watching and waiting. Never being sure that things are ok. It can all change so quickly, can’t it? One bad cell mutation and bam off we go again.

It’s especially hard being here today. This time last year my very lovely friend and mother figure died in here, literally thirty metres from where I sit. It’s so upsetting. I cannot believe she’s not here anymore. I feel devastated. Losing her reminds me that nothing is safe. There are treatments but they do not always work. People we love die. The idea that we fight cancer is rubbish. We don’t fight it. Our cells do what they do. The treatment may or may not work. Some of us are lucky. Some of us aren’t.

So not only is today tricky because my darling friend is front of mind and the grief comes in waves; in addition to this my oldest friend has had confirmation that her metastasised breast cancer is spreading further in her bones ‚Äď it‚Äôs not looking at all good ‚Äď there is no cure for her; they‚Äôre just trying to buy time. Another friend is having her third chemo treatment today for breast cancer and will have a mastectomy once the chemo finishes- her waiting area is across the hall and I expect her to walk in soon. I don’t especially want to see another familiar face in here. I wish neither of us needed to be here.

I cannot get away from the disease and know that it is doing its best to take away people I love. I feel guilty for being the one that has survived. It is what it is. I am glad I am alive, of course I am, but I am sad. Deep in my core I feel so much sadness about who and what has been taken from me. I am angry too. Raging in fact. But the rage is getting caught up in feelings of abandonment and rejection and all that shitting shitty shitastic attachment stuff.

What’s going on?

Well, grrrr, I’m fucking furious with my therapist. The session before her break I told her it was coming up to the third anniversary of my chemo finishing and the first anniversary of the death of my friend, and that both these things coincided with my follow up appointment at the hospital in the same ward she died on. It was a triple whammy of grief, anxiety, and fear. We’ve spoked at length over the years about all these things. She acknowledged that there was going to be a lot to contend with and then went on her break…another fucking therapy break. Jeez!

The week rolled by and then it was Monday again and the end of the three session break. I looked at my calendar on my phone and discovered that she’s away again on the 16th. I had no idea. I hadn’t registered it at all. I seem to be on breaks more than in therapy at the minute. This sudden realisation that Em would be gone again really unsettled me. I can’t seem to find my feet at all because she is always gone…or that’s how it feels.

Monday’s session was fine-ish. I couldn’t look at her, though. Every time I glanced her way I looked at her and felt like I had been burned. I’ve written about eye contact in therapy before and how it is for me. I’m not surprised I was finding hard to connect. Things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing in therapy lately. And then I had sent that text after the last session about the heart in the bottle…which she completely ignored.

No change there, then.

I am almost beyond the point of caring about her lack of acknowledgment of anything I send her in email or text. She literally responds with a text ‚Äėok‚Äô even if it‚Äôs about scheduling, there‚Äôs no ‚Äėsee you then‚Äô or anything borderline warm -it‚Äôs one word! She couldn‚Äôt be any more ‚Äėbare minimum‚Äô if she tried. I‚Äôd love to know how she thinks this kind of communication is helpful to me. How does this help someone with deep attachment wounds forged in childhood? She seems to want to work with the parts and yet she seems to forget that every interaction we have is being felt by many many different parts. Adult Me understands she doesn‚Äôt do outside communication‚Ķsort of‚Ķ but the little ones cannot understand it at all.

Anyway, I’m used to that now. BUT. And here’s the big BUT. There are occasions where her lack of engagement with me feels really painful and uncaring. It’s fine (sort of) to not respond to texts and pick it up in a session (most of the time). I get therapy needs to take place in the room. BUT…there’s other times when I actually need tangible, real time, here and now, support. I need her to be there for bigger things. And this week is a big thing. The cancer stuff and the anniversary of my friend dying is a big thing.

I told her I was stressed out on Monday about today‚Äôs appointment for the reasons I‚Äôve just mentioned. Usually I would leave a session before¬†a hospital¬†follow up¬†and she‚Äôd say ‚ÄėI hope Wednesday goes well‚Äô which is, at least, something. She didn‚Äôt do that this week, though. I don’t know why. I don’t know whether she just doesn’t hold that stuff in mind or she just couldn’t care less.

The session was really uncomfortable at times. I spoke a lot about work and being overstretched. As I did so, I could feel the young parts getting overwhelmed. It was that whole needing to connect but being unable to. My heart was in the bottle but I couldn‚Äôt get it out. She made no reference to that text I‚Äôd sent and so the conversation didn‚Äôt open up. With about twenty minutes to go I told her about two dreams I‚Äôd had that night. I needed her to at least see how much I was struggling even if I couldn’t really connect on the level that I wanted to.

  1. I was heavily pregnant and the waters breaking but nothing happening. I knew there was something wrong and rang the hospital. They said they were busy and disregarded my concerns, telling me to come in when there were regular contractions. I said there were no contractions and that the baby wasn’t moving. They weren’t interested in the slightest. I got increasingly frightened and after three days rang again saying nothing was happening, the baby wasn’t moving, and that I needed to be seen. They reluctantly agreed for me to come in and when I did it was confirmed the baby was dead inside me.
  2. I’d dropped my kids at school, returned home to find the door of my house wide open. As I walked I realised I’d been burgled. Every single room was ransacked. Stuff was all over the floor, broken, but nothing seemed to be missing. I walked from room to room feeling devastated and confused. Why would someone do this to me? What were they looking for? I went into my room, equally as wrecked, and sat trying to think what had been taken but couldn’t discover anything. It was as though someone had just decided to destroy everything but for no reason.

We talked a bit about them. She said that she thinks they’re transformational, that now it’s time to grieve the big losses which is kind of what I was saying in my last blog post. I think, though, that there’s a lot to be said about people not caring enough, not finding time for me, and losing my baby as a result. That literal inner child is dying right now. It’s crap.

Anyway, that’s not why I am sad. I mean it is sad! I get there is mourning to be done. There is a load of grief to wade through. I need to face the mother wound. This is not new news. What is making me feel really sad is that I feel like I am completely on my own, not just with that past stuff but with the big life things in the here and now. I get how I view things today is informed by the lens from the past, so probably feels way worse than it actually is; but I am struggling to understand how, after six years my therapist was unable to wish me well for this week’s appointment. Like is that so very hard?

I also feel sad that she is unable to be human enough to step outside her rigid position and say, ‚Äėlook I know this week is incredibly hard for you and I see how much you are struggling. If you would find it helpful you could text me on Wednesday to check in. I hope that it all goes well‚Äô. Like is that asking too much? I‚Äôm not asking for mummy cuddles here. I‚Äôm not about wanting to know she is still out there somewhere. It‚Äôs not that attachment stuff in the usual sense. Today I am an adult facing huge stress and could do with a bit of support from someone who is supposed to get it and care about me.

Perhaps I am completely missing the point. I don’t know. It’s at times like these that I doubt myself. Is my anger and upset justified? Perhaps the level of anger is intensified because of my past, or being disregarded by others, but the feelings are still real. I am upset that outside of those 50 minute slots I actually don’t matter to her.

Ugh.

I don‚Äôt know if I have explained that very well‚Ķbut in reality, it doesn‚Äôt matter¬†does it? She’s not there for me. I can’t reach out.¬†There is no support and whatever happens today she is not interested.

I want to run away from her. Cut ties. Ditch therapy. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I know she’s not my mum, but I did hope that she was someone who might care a little bit.

I know I was exactly the same last time I was here. I hit the rage. It cycles. It lessened in the end. But man, I cannot keep doing this to myself.

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