Therapy today was lovely. Not a sentence I thought I’d ever be writing! I was kind of scared to go today, I think because I was experiencing high levels of anxiety already about things non-therapy related and wasn’t sure how the session would play out after the huge process that took up the first part of last week. As I was driving to K’s after work there were blue skies and sunshine and a feeling of Spring being on it’s way, and I was thinking how it would be nice to go in K’s garden today. As soon as she opened the door she asked if we would like to go in the garden, to see the flowers that are blossoming, and to take in that Spring is nearly here. We took her remaining dog on his lead (3 now live in Portugal) and walked to the bottom of her enormous garden in relative silence and stillness and I just soaked it all in – I never thought I would be in her garden again because we were ending, yet there I was and it was the same. Another Spring of working together – I feel incredibly lucky.
We’ve done some really deep and important work in her garden – made art out of natural things, burnt things on a bonfire, sat drinking tea and eating cake after a gorgeous bike ride along the canal to mark two years of knowing each other, read a story on the birthday of my dear friend Jess who I’ve written about before. And it is where I first voiced that I didn’t think I was going to be able to carry on a relationship with my Mum in any way at all. It is also a really safe and healing place for young parts – we’ve picked fruit to take home, blown bubbles, lit sparklers, and run around playing with K’s dogs, We have talked a lot in her garden too, sitting on yoga mats in the sunshine. Therapy outside is different; the energy shifts and sometimes harder things can be voiced without then hanging in the space around us. It is freeing. And a love of nature, a need to feel connected to the earth, is something K and I share so it is wonderful to have that space to be in together. I took some photographs of the snowdrops and K pointed out a huge patch of them under ‘my’ tree – I never knew before that she thinks of that as my tree because it is where we made a beautiful mandala together on Summer Solstice in 2017. It felt really lovely to hear her say that.
The reassurance I needed last week that our relationship is still strong and real even though we need K less was provided this evening, not through words but through just being together. The bond we have is all around us, unspoken yet nurturing and solid and beautiful, and we know each other so well – there is so much peace and acceptance in our relationship now, so much that doesn’t need to be explained, so much history. Being together is so easy so much of the time now, and it does enable me to really take in what therapy gives me. I know that K must feel this too, I could tell in her voice today how much joy she takes in seeing my growth in the past few months in particular. And parts were calmer today and were therefore able to take in what was being shared and created in the room. Although K has been re-parenting (fostering, she has called it) us for a very long time now, it feels like only very recently that the re-parenting is actually providing us with reparative experiences, rather than just being completely triggering and awful and constantly poking at ‘the mother wound’.
I managed earlier in the session to share some of what was going on after our last session, and how we shouldn’t have to have this kind of relationship with someone who is not our parents. There is always that added layer of difficulty because we only get this healing relationship while things conspire to make it possible, not just the money (although that is a factor of course), it is that our ability to spend that 90 minutes together week in week out is dependent on many things staying as they are now. There are no guarantees. I told K how hard it is sometimes to know that Nina gets me until I die – she doesn’t have to do anything, she gets to just live her life and have me. Early last week there were feelings around K’s children on this point, but things settled and I came back to my own life and they receded, and when I am with K her children are never present. It never even occurs to me to ask about them – in that room only her and I exist. For that period of time there is no one else. She pours her undivided attention and interest and love into me in that space, her children never encroach, and I know they never even go in that room when they are home. It is our space, the first place we felt safe, and the first place the parts spoke and were heard. She hadn’t lived in her house for very long when we started work and so I know we have spent more time in that room with her than any other client, and in our primal need to be the centre of someone’s world, this is important to us, and it is healing to have that knowledge.
We feel so full of love this evening – love for K, of course, but really love for us – her and I and the parts, and what we have created together. I love what we are together, the blanket of safety and authenticity we have woven together over the past 3 and a half years, the deep knowing we have of each other. I trust her and feel safe with her and I take all that into the world with me. I don’t know K in her day-to-day life it is true, but I do know the real her and I know what we have is real, sacred, special, and so important to each of us in different ways. I shared in our session today the post I wrote last week about needing time after therapy now to process and write and just be with whatever comes up for us, and how this probably means going to choir after session is something that is doing myself a disservice at the moment. She commented how much processing and thinking had happened in my post, and how I was feeling into the new shape of therapy and negotiating with how things needed to be as I was writing.
And she commented on the shift that has recently taken place because I don’t go home and go into meltdown now, I go home and reflect (“mostly, apart from on Monday … And the week before”) [LOL]. “And that reflective space feels so healthy, as you say, you need to do it, to digest the session and reflect on it, and reflect on what you need in your life right now”. She’s right, because as I wrote last week, I didn’t used to be able to write after therapy at all, I used to just freeze or numb out in some way, or just feel utterly hideous and wild and completely uncontained. If I did write it was a dissociated jumble of parts and outpourings of how painful everything was and how therapy was making everything worse. It used to be I just needed to get through the time between sessions, and it isn’t like that anymore. I can really take in and process the work from the session throughout the week now, and I really appreciate having space to do that, either through writing or just being, even when it is hard and painful things come up. And if I’m in a really good space after therapy I don’t want to disrupt that either – it is such a new thing for me, feeling better after therapy, feeling okay, feeling safe and snuggled up, feeling held and connected and contained, and when I feel that way I want to hold onto it and be with it and stay safe inside that feeling. And sometimes young parts just want to write about how nice it is at K’s house, because it used to be so awful to be away from her that we couldn’t hold on to what it was like to be with her. It is still sometimes a bit like being kicked when we leave, but then when we stop and notice we realise it’s still with us, everything we get from her. We carry her inside of us and she is always in the space around us too.
It used to hurt to be away from K so much, even when our session had been nice and holding and containing, in fact especially when our sessions had been this way. It feels so different now. K said how great it is that I am evolving into my therapeutic space and how it is enabling me to reflect more, which is a great thing. There did used to be reflection, but mostly about how bad things were, and what a challenge it was being in therapy! She said how now I am managing to fine tune my perception of what’s going on for me, which is a really big deal for me because of my dissociation, and so the benefits of therapy are longer lasting now. And she said it feels as though I am honouring myself with this decision, and that even though choir has been a resource, and will be again and for a long time to come, right now it is not serving me to go after therapy. And we agreed that right now our session time is the only time that works for me because of work and Nina’s swimming training so it is best to work out how to make the best of what is, rather than spend lots of energy trying to work out how to make things different.
I started to really dissociate just as we were leaving and K noticed and called out “don’t disappear” and said “this is not the time to dissociate” [LOL again] and that it would unpick everything I’d just told her about needing to go home and process my session if I let myself dissolve. She told me I didn’t need to leave her by dissociating because she is still here and we are in contact and we have the safety net of half an hour by phone or meeting up on Friday to lean into if needed. I managed to return to the semi-present and tell her that from this session I would take the garden and how safe it is for us. How amazing that she can see me dissociating before I know it is happening.
So this evening I am left with a clear sense that we are growing, me and the parts, and that despite this K is still here and we are stronger than ever. When things feel more-or-less okay inside I can feel how it actually brings us closer together that I am growing, perhaps because that growth is built upon our relationship. I couldn’t be growing away from her without the solid foundation we have built, and so every step I take towards my future is still another step with her, it’s just that I sometimes carry her inside me now instead of needing her right beside me all the time. She is part of me and nothing will ever change that. I remember last year how she said that what we have cannot be broken, and I am starting to really believe her now.