I feel like the most ridiculous and prolific blogger that ever existed. I think partly I keep writing here because I cannot bear to write in my journal what is actually happening. It will make it too real. I have filled so many notebooks in my lifetime but this is one loss I cannot bear to see written in my own handwriting. I have silenced the parts. I cannot tolerate their pain. My own is enough. When theirs gets too big I switch out. And then I come back and have to face the reality again. I don’t know if that makes sense – structural dissociation is so confusing.
I am really frightened by what is ahead. I felt more settled after my session. Deep, gut-wrenching grief but I felt less smashed and splintered inside. I felt like I could live again one day. But feeling this grief is triggering in itself and I am back in a state of high anxiety. How can I tell myself, and all the parts, that nothing bad is happening and we are safe when actually losing K at this point in our journey is the worst thing ever? We are physically safe, but psychological safety feels very far away.
I do not have words to express the disbelief and shock that is going on in my body and mind. I am switching in and out. Overtaken by parts who then disappear and leave me wondering what on earth happened. The shamed teen part (Phoebe) was triggered earlier (thanks to my friends who talked to her btw, you know who you are) after something my Dad said. I know better than to try and talk to him, but it is so hard sometimes when I just want him to understand. I feel sick by how much I have needed him this week. And I have shared too much and I feel over-exposed. I tried to explain a pain and a process that is incomprehensible to him. A pain he would know if he stopped and looked inside himself. A pain he has passed to me. A pain he cannot bear to face. A pain he has spent his whole life pushing away. I said how triggered I get by people telling me – or implying – that the most special relationship I have ever had is pathological and over-dependent, I said that the only way to heal attachment trauma is through relationship. He said ‘and yes, even if it is not – that’s for you to find out, not for someone else to tell you’. And I know my Dad, I know what he meant – you’re wrong, but I respect your autonomy and will let you find out for yourself. After a lifetime of being invalidated by him, how did I think this would be any different? I hate needing him, even for practical support and help with my daughter. I feel so ashamed and frightened by needing him. I feel as if I have done something really wrong when I have needed anything ‘extra’ from him or when I have tried to tell him how I feel. It is not just my narcissistic mum who was horrifically invalidating.
And yet there is no one else. K and I have talked so many times about his capabilities and how ideally I would see and need a lot less from him (he has my daughter to sleep every Monday so I can recover from therapy and go to choir, and he picks her up from school every Wednesday too and takes her to her swimming lesson) because it is so triggering for me because he is so unpredictable (sometimes he is great and I can feel he cares but other times I feel like one big inconvenience- often he has become frustrated by something he offered to do by the time it comes to doing it) and invalidating. And yet – who else is there? I don’t have a mum. I don’t have any family. I don’t have friends I can ask because asking for help is not something I do. I only have him. I try to accept his limitations, and yet somehow I still end up triggered. He cannot acknowledge my pain because he has to keep pushing away his own. And so I hate worrying him. I just want to be normal. But for me ‘normal’ means having no needs and being entirely, 100% self-sufficient. Not needing anything, practical or emotional, from anybody. I can see this is attachment trauma talking. If I lose all of K’s other words then ‘we are relational beings’ will be the 4 words ingrained in my mind forever. Even though I don’t feel they apply to me, I know that when I want to be entirely self-sufficient it is trauma talking.
An enormous fear I have is that I use people up. I can hear my Mum saying these words – “you take and you take until there is nothing left. You use everybody up. Everyone has had enough. No one wants to know anymore”. I was 14 (although “all you do is take take take” was a common refrain my entire life, right from when I was 4 or 5, maybe even before). and I was crying ALL THE TIME at school, literally all day every day, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why I hurt so much. The day she said those words to me I vowed no one would ever see the real me again, that I would keep my pain hidden and never show anyone how much I hurt inside. Even on my blog, where people don’t have to read if they choose not to, I am scared that I will be hated because I write too much, because I am too much. I am scared of reaching out to people, new and old, at this time and them being horrified by the insatiable pit of need that I am. I used to be so much better at holding my needs and feelings inside. I am so scared of spilling and infecting everyone around me. And I am scared that even expressing these fears themselves will repulse people and make them go away. I am ashamed of my shame. I am scared of taking people up on their offer of being ‘there’ one too many times. I never know what is an ‘acceptable’ amount to reach out to people. How long until they go away?
I would like to think 3 years in therapy would have enabled me to care for myself, but I’ve basically slipped back into anorexic habits. I’ve lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks. A lot of that has been because I’ve been physically unable to eat (activated and then the sickness bug) but I’m not really trying now. In fact I’m not trying at all. There’s some vague sense of not wanting to eat because it will stop K leaving being real. I can see the nonsense in that and yet I can’t stop it. I’d forgotten how easy not eating can be. I’d forgotten how powerful it makes me feel. So I kind of hope that once I’m ‘out the other side’ of therapy this won’t happen anymore and at least grown up parts will prevent the anorexic habits getting out of hand. At the moment I am too caught up in the twisted logic of starving myself to want to eat. I would like a healthy relationship with food and my body, but the parts who don’t want to eat are really running the show and I am merged with them and finding it hard to step back and see that this is not a good way to be.
Tomorrow it is an open evening at the secondary school my daughter will be starting at in September. It is for children from schools not in the catchment area, so they have a chance to get to know other children in the same situation before they have their 3 new intake days at the start of July. She is so excited. I am excited for her. It will be a much-needed fresh start and her school is quite far from where we live currently and in a village we will move to (I hope) in the Spring – cannot wait to be closer to nature and a beautiful forest and more potential for bike rides. K supported me in this choice of school. She helped me sort through all the clutter in my mind about what to do, to filter out the non-supportive implicit messages from my Dad over what I should do (send her to the shit school with no sixth-form 5 minutes from where we currently live) and all the silly reasons (e.g. the type of skirt and colour of jumper!) for other school choices from my daughter. She helped me work out what was right for my daughter and I, moving forwards and thinking ahead to the next 7 years, especially as we build a life away from my Mum. She helped me work out what I needed and wanted in a school for my beautiful, bright, kind and free-spirited daughter. Without her I would have got lost in 10 year old logic and the influence of a man who doesn’t know what I need and value. Speaking to her – everything was clear inside me. See how everything big in my life feels so connected with K? Losing her guidance in parenting is another huge loss – I’ve had no one to show me what is okay and healthy, just poor and damaging examples from both my parents.
And so I don’t want to be a sleep-deprived and triggered mess at this opening evening. I want to be the mum I so usually am and the mum my daughter deserves. But it is 2am and my heart is racing despite diazepam and sleeping tablets, and the waves of grief and abandonment pain just keep coming, even though I must be up in 6 hours to go and see L. I am so ashamed of how much K going away is affecting me. Being with her today was so familiar and comfortable. We were us and I love us. It is not losing her that hurts so much as losing us, what we are together, that special two-way bond that is the most powerful force on earth (‘that stretchy thing that joins us together when we not together’ as my 5 year old part, Miffy, always says). I feel the struggles I have in ‘real’ relationships over how much to share and what is okay, and I wonder how I will ever cope out there in the world away from her, without her to guide me. I wanted to finish this work with her. She knows this, I know this. It makes no difference.
K cannot stay. And I would rather do anything than stay with this reality. And yet every day I am staying with it. Surviving the unsurvivable. We had a big hug at the end of session today and she said “you can do this, you will be okay I know it” and I sobbed that I don’t want to be okay without her. I know I can survive this loss but I don’t want to. I am not ready to reflect on our time together and make a blanket out of the beautiful threads of our work when our work has been cut short by illness. I don’t want to look back on the sacredness that is our relationship and talk about it in the past tense. I don’t want to gather up what is left of us and bundle it into my car and drive away from her. I don’t want her to have been someone who once walked beside me, I want her to be with me on my journey until I am strong enough to stand alone. I want her here to guide me as my daughter turns into a teenager, as I (hopefully) meet a man or woman to share my life with. I want her here when my book gets published (if I ever get it written, work is not so good lately, though being off sick now is so needed) so I can take it to show her, when we move house next year, when I got made permanent and hopefully promoted at work. I want her here for the good things just as much the bad things. Celebrations and pride and recognising the light and good in me has been a vital part of our work.
It all feels too hard. What is ahead seems insurmountable and I feel ridiculous for writing and thinking that. Having to keep it hidden as I begin to leave this bubble (painting my room pink later this week, seeing a non-trauma savvy friend tomorrow if I am up to it). It is hard enough for most people to acknowledge what it is like to have a mum so damaging I cannot see her and stay sane and safe. I rarely tell people as it is still quite raw for me and when I share people tend to brush it off and don’t allow themselves to recognise the enormity of that loss and what must have led to it, or think it’s just a ‘falling out’. So this is hard enough, that the mother wound is seldom acknowledged outside of these circles, but when the person you look to as a mother has to go away too and they are someone you pay – people just turn away from that in horror that you are crying over something that was always going to happen due to the nature of the relationship.
If you’ve made it to the end of this then thanks for reading! I understand my posts are probably very triggering atm as this is pretty much the worst nightmare for all of us in therapy for attachment trauma, thought it is better than a very sudden loss, I understand that. I hope over the next 5 or 6 months to share some of the lighter stuff, as K and I will have a lot of beauty and joy to reflect on and there will be some interesting boxes emptied and the bits in them tied together before being packed away – forever, some of them, I hope.