Today in therapy we were brave and asked some really difficult questions and I think we have decided, as a system, to take next year as a break from therapy and return to work with K in 2020. I want to keep the details of today’s session just for me and the parts – it was emotionally charged and difficult and we covered so much despite losing the first 45 minutes of the double session in a dissociated haze of missing each other behind invisible barriers – but the takeaway headline is that K and I are on the same page about the strength of our therapeutic alliance and the fact that a forever ending probably isn’t what’s best and most healing for my system as a whole at this time.
In the past, even 2 weeks has been a horrifically long time away from her, even with email contact, and yet here I am contemplating going it alone for a whole year! I can’t really believe I can even consider this as an option, but it does feel manageable (daunting, but manageable) and it is testimony to the healing I have done in my work with her so far, and the strength of our therapeutic alliance, that it feels like the option that is best for me and my parts at this time. A year is a long time, but it is not as long as forever.
Although I didn’t know her thoughts on this until tonight, this option as one I feel comfortable with has been settling around me for the past week or so, since she said it would be possible for us to work together again in the future. It started to occur to me that it would give me chance to stabilise without getting my attachment wound triggered every week and would give me time to integrate the work we have done so far and identify the work that needs doing in the future. And after tonight it feels like the best way forward. A year is such a long time that I won’t be able to pine for her the whole time – I will have to get on with things and practice all the coping and self-soothing skills I’ve developed over the years. We talked today about things I can do to hold me during the year’s break, if that’s what I decide to do, one option being working with someone who now does monthly bodywork workshops at the place where K did her training so there would be a sense of a connection to her. There are other things I would like to try, like craniosacral therapy and voice workshops, and I would be able to use the money I would have spent on therapy for these things and also doing fun stuff with Nina like a holiday somewhere hot and sunny and relaxing.
Thinking about this possibility feels very different from the prospect of ending therapy and being shoved into the cold by myself to cope. It would be a chance for my system to really stop and see how far we’ve come, to develop better internal communication and put into practice the steps we need when we are triggered. I like the idea of seeing how I go on my own and coming back to her, and K thinks this is a “fine plan” (which we would obviously discuss face-to-face at the end of her year off to determine if it’s right for me to be back in psychotherapy at that time and so on). She knows so much, she knows my history and everything we discuss about my current life takes place against the backdrop of all the messy and painful stuff that has brought me to where I am today. She totally understands why I don’t want to start all that again with someone else, why I don’t want this (i.e. her and I and everything we are and have done) to be another loss in the long line of losses in my life. Taking the time as a break means she can continue to be my secure base and attachment figure, the person I internalise a sense of safety from, and there will not be massive amounts of shame and pain about using her as a blanket to wrap round myself when things feel scary, or using her voice to remind me what to do when things are difficult – it will be ‘okay’ to try and stay connected to her, and to use that connection to practice steadying myself and holding the parts.
So, we have the details to make clear, and I will need a plan in place for next year to make sure things don’t spiral out of hand like they have the past month, but internally things feel calmer and more settled and young parts feel better knowing K is still there, still safe. And at least I’ve finally figured out a way to make therapy breaks less horrendous – envisage a forever ending and then suddenly a month is nothing and a year is manageable! And I’m kind of glad (cannot believe I’m actually writing this!) that we have a whole month’s break in August as it will be a bit of a ‘trial run’ – if things descend into chaos entirely then I will have to re-think this plan! I have to keep reminding myself I’ve done a lot of very intense work with her over the past 3 years and that I am capable of handling this. I’m not where I was 3 years ago (although the past month has seemed scarily close to this!). And how nice will it be to go back after a year and tell her all we’ve done and how we’ve grown and how we cared for each other, and to know she is proud of us?
Phew, things still feel quite difficult, especially around food, but I feel more alive and hopeful and positive this evening than I have since the rupture 5 weeks ago. Nina and I saw Taylor Swift at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night which was absolutely incredible! Seeing the joy on my beautiful daughter’s face all through the concert and making such special memories together was wonderful . I am so proud of how we, as in my system, got it together to go given how bad things were earlier in the week, and how it ended up being wonderful rather than just something to endure due to flashbacks and attachment pain. It reminded me I am more than complex trauma and dissociation. I am bigger than my past, and I am hopeful that next year I will have the opportunity to grow into the person K is helping me become, safe in the knowledge that there is a definite possibility (because nothing can be certain in life) that we will work together again at the end of it.