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Clawing back out

I’ve just got home from a really intense therapy session. Such hard work. Such pain. So many tears. And yet somehow so liberating and freeing to allow that pain to come out with K, in a safe space, where it is held and contained and not allowed to sweep us all away. To have that pain over not having a mum who could see or love me for who I am allowed and validated by someone who knows me and my alters so well and has walked beside us all for so long was so healing, more healing than it ever has been. I will hold that memory in my heart and remember feeling safe and heard and seen, even though those feelings seem too much to bear. I remember reading once how part of the work of trauma therapy is to pair those traumatic feelings with a sense of safety, and it so feels like that happened this evening. And I guess it went a little way towards integrating those huge feelings of loss and abandonment and emptiness into the story of who I am, because trauma is the things we keep outside of ourselves and refuse to make part of our story, and yet the healing is in owning that pain and making it part of us.

I filled K in on the week, about how far we fell on Friday evening, about the suicidal place and the need to cut. I told her all we did over the weekend to try and regain some stability and equanimity – the gym, seeing a friend even though we really wanted to cancel and hide in bed, sorting the house, cycling, four baths, regular meals, yoga. She said how lovely it was to hear that I clawed my way back out, even though it sounded so hard to do. I definitely do sense that, with therapy ending perhaps, I am taking more practical steps to pull myself out of that place. It’s hard. Yet here I am.

*** The next paragraph jumps between first person, first person plural and third person but I can’t make sense of it enough to change it, I think it needs to do this because it feels partly like the story and those feelings are not me and partly that they are – towards integration I guess***

At the beginning of the session when we were breathing together and doing our mindful body scan, I was aware of Leia (14) screaming and screaming and stuck in a cave. So in the second half of the session she came out and did some work. She had to pick 10 cards with animal pictures on from K’s set. Nine were pictures of different animals with their Mum’s, and one was of a nest of baby birds with their mouths wide open screeching for food, crying out for their mum to nourish them. The word under the last card was ‘demand’. We talked about the nine creatures with mummies first and Leia sobbed that “it isn’t fair, why didn’t I get that, is it because there’s something wrong with me?” And she wailed that she couldn’t even imagine what it was like to have a Mum. K said it wasn’t her fault, that it’s never a child’s fault when an adult behaves badly. And then we talked about the nest of baby birds, and how there were many times our Mum left us, but that the time that stands out for Leia, the night she split off, is when our Mum left her to drive 250 miles to see a man she used to know because his wife had left him. She did this even though we were really ill and off school because of anorexia and self-harm and needed her. Leia begged her to stay and she yelled how selfish she was and then drove off. My sister found me covered in blood and got her Dad to drive me to my Dad’s. He was enraged but I don’t remember being allowed to feel. It was all about his anger over what my Mum had done. What a fucking mess. K said how frightening it must have been to have been left alone in that state. And she said how great it was that Leia asked her not to go, that she had feelings, that she has feelings now. And we said that it fucking shows the extent of my Mum’s lack of motherly warmth and empathy – we begged her not to go and still she went. She said she’d do anything to help us get better, but she couldn’t. She wasn’t capable.

“And now you’re leaving me too” we wailed. And K nodded and said “but we still have time”. And she is right. We do still have some time. So we made a plan to take our bunnies next week to see her again, which is one of the things on the “list of things to do before we end” and little parts came out and were excited and told K she will not believe how big they are now. And K is excited to see them too. We’ve taken them twice before and both times she has been genuinely so happy to see them. It makes us all love her so much, that she is vegan and loves animals and understands this in us so well.

So I’m here. I’m feeling wobbly because grieving the loss of K and the loss of my actual Mum, and feeling the pain of all I never had and always needed, all at the same time is basically the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. Yet I am facing it. And facing it with K. And it feels better to let this pain out than hold it all inside and let it make me ill. So that is what I am trying to do.

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