Today felt more manageable. I started to think about next week and being back at work, hopefully on reduced hours for a while (I see my GP tomorrow morning). I spent time with a friend this morning and this afternoon cycled for 2 hours in beautiful sunshine around the amazing countryside I am so lucky to live near. Most of this time was spent cycling uphill because, as we know, the ascent takes so much longer and requires so much more energy and determination than the time we get to enjoy freewheeling. I thought of K, I remembered what it was like to cycle with her, to watch her pedalling ahead of me, to feel her next to me, to hear young parts chattering to her and teens ranting about the injustices in the world as they found their words cycling along the lanes near her home. I remembered the wonderful bike ride we had at the end of April when she said ‘I really enjoy cycling with you CB’ when we got back, and how it felt to hear her say that because I knew from how she said it that she meant it. She really meant it, and for me it was another memory to hold in my heart, more words to use to plug the holes in me with, a feeling memory to tuck in the box kept for memories of my ‘therapy Mum’. I thought of the amazing trip we had planned before everything went so wrong (we are planning a trip to the ancient woodland still, before we end our work, but not by bike because too much can go wrong) and all the time I thought we had that has suddenly been pulled away from us.
And I thought about loss. I thought about how she will always be another loss to add to the list of losses now. This ending is premature and unplanned and deeply painful. I have no doubt I will learn from it and grow through it, and that in many ways it will make me a better, stronger, wiser person, but that doesn’t transform it into something good. I don’t need any more lessons on loss to help me grow. I need love and care and warmth to help me do the growing I need now. Surely it is my time to learn from these things at last? I am done with learning through loss and pain and trauma. She has said before, when we’ve talked about emotional dysregulation in abused children and the limbic resonance (i.e. the energetic exchange that happens between two people in a caring and safe relationship which stimulates the release of certain neurochemicals in the brain, aka ‘love’) needed to heal, that even when it seems as though we are doing very little real work in the room, I am healing all the time, that there is so much unspoken work going on just by us being together. And I want more of that. She has held me in the darkness, but she has also filled me with so much light and warmth and hope and strength. My brain is rewiring itself through my time with her, though the experience of having someone so attuned to me, to all the parts of me, through being heard and seen and met and contained, and I am not ready to lose that yet. Maybe I would never have been ready, but there have been times when I could foresee not needing therapy the way I do now and instead would just pop back for a check-in every 3 or 4 weeks. This ending feels sudden and brutal and just so badly-timed. I wanted to outgrow therapy with her, not have it snatched away too soon.
Like all survivors of relational or developmental trauma, I have lost so much already. I have lost the chance to grow into a healthy, stable adult able to relate to others and tolerate and regulate their emotional state. I have lost years to chronic, debilitating physical pain. I have missed out on feelings of safety, love, security, stability. I have lost my actual Mum, and I have missed out on being mothered. And I have walked around carrying this loss, which is so huge and so all-encompassing that I have spent most of my time running away from it and attacking myself so as not to feel it, my whole life. And then I found someone at last who not only knew what was wrong with me, but also knew how to help me and was willing to do the work with me to help me heal. And now I am losing her. She is the first person I have ever felt safe with, the first person who has seen and heard me, her home is the place where I sat as feelings of safety crept under my skin and for the first time I knew what it meant to feel safe. It is not fair. It is not fair I had to find this in a therapy relationship which can be taken away. I know that loving means dealing with loss, facing and embracing it. I know that some people are only meant to walk beside us for some of our journey and that this doesn’t make what they give us any less real, but that doesn’t make this any easier. And I know K and I may be able to work together in future and that, in all likelihood, this will happen one day because I know in my heart there is something special there, that we are not done, that the relationship is special just by the nature of the depths we have gone to together.
This evening I was feeling like I might be able to write some words by hand in my journal at last, and then I saw K’s name and the year written in a book she lent me on Monday and I fell apart again. I am so not ready to lose her. Today is Solstice. Last year on this day K and I made a mandala in her garden and I thought about the things I wanted to bring into the light in the coming year. It was the most peaceful and beautiful thing I have ever created, both in time and space. I loved leaving it there in her garden, and in our Friday email 2 days later she said it was still there but that one of her dogs had been interested in it and the wind had blown some of the large leaves around. That evening filled me with warmth and contentment. And now, as always, I want more of that and it feels so painfully lonely to know I must create my own sacred and special things like that now – she will not be my side, but nor will anyone, not really. On Monday, as another wave of grief hit me after I went to choir, I realised this pain isn’t really (or not wholly at least – there is pure grief about the loss of our relationship in there too of course) about losing K; even if she wasn’t going away that pain, those life-or-death feelings, that sense of annihilation is still inside me. Parts still carry it all the time. With her I hoped to transform it into something else, something more manageable, but I will carry that mother wound, and all the losses it represents, with me, in some way, forever.