If K’s circumstances hadn’t changed we would have ended today. I can’t really get my head around that, around how it would have been and how I would have coped, especially at this time of year which is so dark and difficult for me, and so many others, in so many different ways. And I guess I don’t need to examine too closely the place I was about to get lost in and then suddenly wasn’t. The kaleidoscope turned and my whole life was changed around, and the path ahead promises a deeper kind of healing than the road not taken would have brought I think. K and I are doing very depth work at the moment, but it is not triggering me the way it once would have because I can feel her all around me. Even last week I didn’t self-harm or lose my ability to go to bed or go completely mad in an attempt to squash the pain. And I didn’t get caught in a distressing push/pull dynamic of wanting to reach out to her and then being scared if I did it would make her go away. Not being physically with her when I was experiencing such terrible pain was awful, but I was able to wait it out and I wasn’t hovering in a place of wanting to contact her but at the same time being afraid and ashamed to reach out. I knew I wouldn’t contact her. And I knew she was there even though I felt such pain and despair, that she wouldn’t cut off from me because my feelings were too big, and that made it all a little less distressing and a lot less shameful and chaotic.
Esis (9) had written in our parts’ journal last week that ‘a mummy should make me feel special and loved, not like I’m the worst person in the world. Mummies shouldn’t say they hate you and want you to go away forever and throw things. That’s not what a Mummy is for. K makes me feel special. She holds me tight even when she is far away‘. And when K read it today there was no shame, only a warm feeling inside when she said ‘that’s progress, huh?‘ I used to get so scared of the intensity of the young parts’ feelings for her that it got in the way of the attachment forming in the first place. Older parts would sweep in and pour hot, sticky shame over all of us and young parts would think they were doing something wrong. It made everything such a mess and it was so hard to know what was going on. We didn’t know she would see it as progress that we could feel her all the time, even when things are bad and she is not there, we thought she would say we had let her become too important to us. But the truth is it is progress and it makes her happy too. In allowing her to become important to us we were able to move to a place where she is not so central and we are bigger in our own life. The attachment to her is real, but the feelings she triggered in us for the first three years of working together were about things that have already happened. For now at least, the two feel separate and this is such a relief after so long of feeling we must be bad for being attached to her. Moving through that intense transference has cleared the way for some really profound healing to take place, and I am kind of excited by what is to come in therapy (and my ‘real’ life) next year; even though I know there is big pain ahead with regards #themotherwound, it feels like a pain that is needed and will take me to a better place.
Last week the annihilation pain from when I was an infant hit at the same time as the deep grief of realisation in the here and now over where that pain, and that hole in me, came from. It was the first time I could really see what is inside me and feel the pain over having a mum who is an extreme narcissist. It came over and over again, wild and untamed and raw. It broke me open and smashed my insides up and filled me with a grief I’ve never known before. My attachment wound felt like it had been ripped open and I could really see and feel what is inside me. The full horror of who my Mum is, what she is descended upon me. She will NEVER see me, NEVER know me, NEVER understand why I’ve done this (i.e. estranged myself and Nina from her). I will NEVER have her and I never have had her. Who she is is truly horrifying. It left me feeling sick and wanting to crawl out of my skin to not face it and feel it and see it.
The tidal wave over not having a mum has only really hit me a couple of times ever, because I am so dissociated and split, and those other times I have felt a very real longing for my actual mother. This time there was no longing for my Mum – it was like I was grieving a hole, an actual physical hole inside me and in my life, filled by the terrible and painful absence of someone who was, and still is in many ways, all around me all the time and yet never truly there. That pain was like nothing I’ve ever felt before and it was absolutely horrific, but K is really quite excited that those feelings are beginning to come because on the other side of that pain is less dissociation and less physical pain (we hope). We’ve looked for those feelings for so long and in our session on Friday I talked about how those feelings from the first part of last week are mine now, for the very first time. They are not my Mum’s feelings for having a daughter who cannot bear to see her. They are not feelings of sadness for my Mum whose life has been so devastating and tragic. They are mine. And as I was driving home from K’s, having cried a little but nothing like the feelings inside which I need to her to witness around my Mum and the pain her absence has left me with, I realised that in a lot of the work we’ve done so far about my past I’ve been very focused on understanding what my Mum was doing and now it is time to feel what it did to me and what it was like for me. And we agreed today that in the new year it would be useful to go back to some times in the past and for me to really contact the feelings around what my Mum’s behaviour and actions did to me.
“Step by step we’ll look at that place. Slowly. We’ll get you through Christmas first though” said K. And I am just left feeling bewildered by how I could ever have left her behind and walked away today. We have definitely shifted into a different place in therapy and it is without doubt a safer and more contained place where therapy is not so central in my life nor so triggering and all-consuming (ironically because K is so much more present inside me that I can let her fade into the background of my daily life), but there is still so much work to do and so much healing to be done. I think I know now that if she were ever to take extended time off in the future I would take time out of therapy and return to her. Having got to where I am now in therapy in terms of the transference and attachment work I feel a lot less ashamed and ‘needy’ and, weirdly, this has cleared the way for me being able to say openly that I really do need and want her for as long as possible. There is no shame in wanting and needing that – I see that now. My feelings for her are less intense now and so it is easier to admit how very important she is to me – not in a life or death way, but in a ‘you are my attachment figure and secure base’ kind of way. And I can see that it is actually quite an understandable thing to not want to end with someone who has been so central to everything and who I have worked so deeply and so hard with to build what I *think* is now an earned secure attachment. And I have worked SO HARD in therapy in the past 3 years and 4 months. So fucking hard. I have invested so much time and money and energy into therapy; making the journey to K’s two and sometimes three times a week, paying for extended sessions, trusting in the process even when it literally felt as though it was killing me and when I was so lost I couldn’t see how I would ever get through to the other side.
I deserve to be in this place now where therapy and my relationship with K provide me with (relatively) pure and straightforward safety and stabilisation and comfort and support. And I really get now why it is called an ‘earned’ secure attachment; it is bloody hard work to reach this point. I do still worry that I will slide backwards and find myself back in that intense and murky place over my relationship with her again, but I hope I will be able to stay in this place more often than not as I face the next part of my healing journey with her. Now just to survive Christmas where basically my life and home are invaded by the presence of something that broke me… So glad I am seeing K on Friday again this week.