In my body live all the places that tell me how much it hurts that you are leaving
Things are difficult. I’ve come out of the crisis I was plunged back into after last Monday’s therapy session, but things are not really okay. I wonder where I am going, where I need to go, if I’ll get to where I want and need to be in life. Ultimately I do want to reach a place where I don’t need therapy anymore, and am able to sustain an intimate relationship and just basically not feel like depersonalised and traumatised shit all the time. And in the meantime I’d like to be living my life in a way that means therapy doesn’t take over. For many, many months last year I think I had reached this place, where therapy was one thing I did, albeit a big thing, and I was living the rest of the time. Sometimes the living was tough, really tough, but there was joy and lightness too. I remember writing in my journal how finally therapy felt ‘enough’ (I was still doing two 90 minute sessions a week plus an email check-in on Fridays, so I wasn’t surviving on the standard 50 or 60 minute session once a week, but for a long time 4, sometimes even 5 hours of therapy a week felt nowhere near enough to contain all that was coming up) and I was able to feel my session space and imagine being there between sessions, some weeks more than others, and that was comforting rather than just being painful because I wasn’t there when I needed to be. Whilst I am doing therapy, I would like that to be how it is, but when the attachment stuff is triggered in a big way (or even a little way) this becomes impossible. And what could be more triggering when doing attachment work in therapy than the therapist you are doing attachment work with going away?
This year feels quite a blur and I feel sad that I am losing the summer, the months I usually feel a little better during, in this dark and difficult place. Christmas was better – Nina and I settled into our own space and the first year with no contact with my Mum at all was easier than I’d expected for her (and me). There was a big crisis and a Saturday phone session after K’s break at the start of January. And then work became extra ridiculous. I also felt able to move from 2 sessions a week to 1 double session and a 30 minute Skype/phone session, and from that to just one double session a week and the email check-in on Fridays. The double session was working great for a while. Work stayed awful. I got sick as soon as I was on annual leave. May was okay, apart from another cold, and we had some wonderful, healing sessions in K’s garden and on our bikes. And then… the rupture, K being ill, me being in hospital with the pain flare triggered by the sickness bug, K’s news about the sabbatical. And now it has been 7 weeks since the rupture and nearly 5 weeks since K’s news and I am struggling. Even when I’m stable-ish, there are undercurrents of suicidality and despair. This is nothing new, but I think maybe it’s that the hope is gone. In the past when tough things were going on, like the fact it was a year since I saw my Mum and brother yesterday, I knew I could take the things to her in therapy and she would help me hold and process them. The crisis after our last session and the level of self-harm since would have been something I would have taken to her. Decisions over other steps I need to take in my life I would have taken to her and she would have helped me tune in to what I want and need and feel in order to gain some clarity over what I need to do. Now though, now the enormous pain is triggered by her going away, talking about losing my Mum reminds me of what I am losing in her, and she can’t help me make a decision over what to do without her because it is just too painful for me to talk about it with her. Even just talking a little about me without her in therapy sends me into horrific flashbacks which mean I can’t even soak her in when I am with her. So now the hope that she will help me move through this painful time has gone. She can’t. Working through this ending with her may help me move through endings better in the future, but it’s never going to feel okay to be ending with her.
I’m starting to suspect that I’m not going to have the composed ending I’ve had in mind, where we each shed a few tears, reflect on our work and our relationship fondly, hand over gifts and cards, hug, and say our goodbyes as we walk away from each other for what may be the last time. I’m starting to see that this ending will be messy until the end. The other therapist I saw, A, encouraged me to work through this ending with K if I possibly can, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do at all. Every option feels filled with pain and I want to do what is best for my future well being but how do I know what that is?
After my last session I drafted an email to K to tell her I needed to work towards an ending by her break at the end of July because I couldn’t keep doing this – it is absolutely wrecking me. At that point it seemed as though even though working through this ending with her could be hugely beneficial, I didn’t have the strength to do it. I was also desperate to email A last Monday evening and tell her I want to move to work with her sooner rather than later. Returning to work through this ending with K past the end of July, even till the end of July, felt intolerable and masochistic and not compassionate towards myself at all. It seemed like something that could be healing, but also something that (particularly as a single parent in a demanding full-time job) I just did not have the strength or resources for. I wondered if part of the lesson I need to learn from this situation is to let go and walk away from something that is hurting me (even though I know K has never intended to hurt me, she is, and in the process is triggering depths of pain I’ve never accessed before).
A few days later and the worst of the emotional flashback had ended, and I wasn’t in that place anymore. I felt more able to sit with the uncertainty again. I had managed to hold off emailing A (need to start giving myself credit for all the small ways in which I am being self-aware and not spilling my process and feelings all over the place), aware that things might settle again and that I don’t want to enter into some kind of push/pull dynamic with her, and/or annoy her and put her off working with me. I thought about asking to book in another couple of one-off sessions to check things out more and discuss timescales, but I’ve already booked in 3 sessions of kinesiology for August when K is away, plus two 121 yoga sessions that month too, and I can’t really afford to be paying for therapy as well now. Ultimately I think I need bodywork AND psychotherapy, it’s not either/or, but I don’t know. Part of me wants to not have therapy for a while, to stop the attachment work for a bit because it HURTS. And I’ve needed to do more bodywork for a while now, to learn to connect with my body and show my mind it is safe to access the feelings and body sensations which are keeping me depersonalised, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to be without a therapist.
So much is swirling around my head. My body-mind is very unsettled too, though I did do yoga and meditate yesterday after not being able to since Monday last week. It’s hard to settle the body-mind when I have no way of knowing if things will be okay. It’s hard to use the breath to anchor myself when connecting to my body through my breath puts me in touch with all the huge feelings of grief and panic and attachment pain and abandonment. It’s hard to reassure myself, and all the parts of me, that everything will be okay when everything inside is screaming that things are not okay, that something very bad and unsafe is happening. It’s hard to hold the parts myself through this – learning to do this is why I’m in therapy after all, but I’m not there yet. The decision over whether to move to another therapist and when is not something I can mull over and make a ‘pros and cons’ list about. It is something that can only be felt with the heart. It is something that will come to me I know, but I do not want to leave things too late and lose my chance to work with A, or put myself through unnecessary pain now and still not get the ending I need with K for grown up me and all the parts.
The difficulty is knowing that I will get triggered into that dark, hopeless, destructive place over and over again during the coming months. It may not be today, but it will happen again. And I can hold my system through a lot of difficult things now, but this – this pain is something else. And she can’t encourage me to ‘lean into the therapy’ during this time, as she has in the past with difficult times, because she is not able to be there to catch me anymore. And soon I will be back at work full-time, and from the end of September the crazy time at work will start again, and I don’t know how I will manage this huge ending, and all that it is bringing up for me with “the mother wound” (ugh), at the same time as all of that. It is hard enough at the moment when it is the quiet time at work, I am very autonomous and most days can just work at home, and am on reduced hours.
So, do I take a break from therapy next year and see how I go? Do I work with K till the end of the year? Do I move to A then, or sooner? Do I plan for a few months of sessions with A to process this ending and then take it from there, with the intention of taking a break from therapy and going back to K? And then if the work feels right with A, and young parts are trusting and beginning to come out, I stay with her? Or do I move to A as soon as possible and just grit my teeth and get on with the grieving the loss of K, and then start wading through the attachment work again? I was prepared to take a break from therapy for a year because I want to finish this work, the attachment work, with K, and I think it is a good chance to integrate the work I’ve done and incorporate some bodywork which I need, and which will help me heal and connect to myself, but the reality is that she can’t say if we will be able to work together after her time off (and neither can I really, even though I’d like to think 100% I would want to and would be able to – it is a long time).
A break means she stays as my attachment figure whilst I try out some things on my own. An ending means I need to find a new therapist to do the attachment work with. It changes everything. It changes what this is. It changes US, the us I carry into the future. I don’t know what to do. It feels impossible to make any kind of decision, especially when things are shifting and swinging so wildly inside and it’s hard to work out what are grown up thoughts and ideas and feelings and which are young parts. It’s hard to hear what everyone is saying, and what is traumatised parts speaking and what is healthy adult needing to protect myself and my system from too much more damage and pain.
These are the things I do know:
- I need some kind of closure with K this year, whenever we finish
- I don’t want a forever ending (and I would like to go back for one or two sessions even if I don’t want/need to be in therapy again in January 2020, just to tell her what has been going on)
- I cannot handle getting triggered like I did on Monday every week until December
- I don’t want another attachment like I have with K ever, I can’t handle it, it is too intense and triggering and painful. I cannot trust that someone else who I’m deep in the attachment work with won’t go away also, because life is unpredictable.
- I cannot keep going like this. I have been in full-blown crisis 33 days in the past 7 weeks. This is not sustainable. It is putting too much strain on my physical body. It is damaging me. There has to be another way through this.
K said on Monday about me trusting the Universe to show and bring me what I need. She said that me, more than anyone she knows, has always reminded her of the importance of trusting the Universe to provide. And I said ‘that means if it’s right for us to work together after the year off then that’s what will happen?’ and she agreed. It’s just hard at the moment not to feel like the Universe is screwing me over massively one last time, by finally bringing me the healing relationship I’ve needed forever, and then snatching it away from me before I get chance to finish the healing I was promised.
And I don’t want to go to my session today. I am fuzzy, achy and really dissociated but I am OK. And I don’t want to be plunged back into where I was last week when I have parent’s evening at Nina’s new school this evening and my last choir rehearsal before the big Sing for Water event we are taking part in with 50 other choirs on Sunday. And this is the time I wonder whether I am done with therapy for now, at this point in my life. Could I go it alone? Or would things just disintegrate spectacularly?