I had reiki this morning which really calmed my system, like everything inside softened away from the surface where I’ve been clinging on for the past few days and I settled and expanded deeper into myself. I text ahead and said I’d been in a huge emotional storm since Monday and was still very activated and that it helped for me to know she knew that before I arrive. The reiki master, Sophia, I’ll call her as I’m sure she’ll come up on here again, is very stabilising and grounding, and it is nice because she doesn’t know my history, only what has been relevant to share, and we are really careful around boundaries because I’m in therapy obviously. The first thing she said was that she imagined I was struggling, like her, as an empath with the amount of fear and anxiety in the world right now. I said yeah, how at work yesterday lots of people were so anxious and it felt more harmful than the threat of the virus. And I spoke a bit about what happened on Monday with K (she was also surprised by the distancing thing but knew that the focus really was on what it created in me) but said I wanted to be careful not to get into talking about my therapy with a third party.
After my session I felt much calmer and more contained and K and I had a phone session planned for as soon as I got back and I felt it was good that I was a little less agitated going in to that. It was a really huge struggle not to reach out to K yesterday because it was her birthday, so I text asking for a phone session at 8.30 and she replied straightaway. (Towards the end of the call she says she’s here for me so just to text and I said how hard we found it not to contact her yesterday so we text as soon as we could this morning, and she laughed and said she had noticed and that she appreciated it).
The call started with breathing and a body scan and I said I felt like I had died and also was about to die, like I was completely broken but also on the edge of an abyss, clinging on so I don’t die, but not in a good place to die in the first place if that makes sense – broken and in agony and then left on the abyss edge. I said ‘I just want to feel like our attachment system isn’t under threat – not a big ask then!!’ and she said it was good because it was clear and showed awareness of what was happening for me. And I managed to tell her that sitting so far from her when I was so upset on Monday and that she didn’t move closer or offer me a hug like last time was absolute agony and she really understood that.
It was kind of awkward when we were talking at first because I talked her through the last few days but didn’t want to open up a debate about Coronavirus. I said it had helped seeing my new friend because she shares the same anger as me at how the media has whipped everyone into a frenzy that was causing more harm than the virus itself. I said I knew that disruption is ahead but that until Monday I was managing to stay present and just see each day that is not disrupted as a gift, which we should do every day anyway. And I said it had helped me to turn the news off and to look at the actual statistics and to remember that the numbers of people infected, even in Italy, are pretty miniscule, and that the fears are mostly over what it will do to the economy. K said it helped hearing my perspective because she’d said she’d thought it likely that I would be totally freaking out about it. She also said she’s not actually worried about her own health but about the elderly and vulnerable people she comes into contact with, and she said she thinks of me as someone who would be very vulnerable to getting very ill from the virus because of my pre-existing conditions. I found that interesting as I had’t put myself in that category at all – I think it’s likely I will have a lot of pain if I get it because my nervous system is over-sensitive, but I’m not systemically unwell – but she had and that was partly why she did what she did on Monday – she had thought I might be relieved she was taking precautions. I do maintain that what she did on Monday was mad and clumsy, but I do think it was well-intentioned, and was in part a way of making sure she can keep working if/when things escalate here.
She said it’s clear we have slightly different perspectives on the Coronavirus, and that this doesn’t matter as our work is to support what it brings up in me. I think that actually we don’t – we agree that there is going to be a big period of disruption ahead, I’m definitely not disputing that, but I don’t think the virus itself is a huge threat compared with everything else going on in the world, and I think the media is being really irresponsible and making it seem a lot worse than it is (there have been 1.1 billion news stories on the Coronavirus (most of them really scraping the barrel for things to write about) since the outbreak started – that is utterly bonkers!). And I also don’t think the level of cases means that plans and behaviours should be changed at the moment – let’s make the most of things being normal while they are. Anyway, this post is not about the Coronavirus and whose perspective is right or wrong – as K said, the outbreak has actually caused a huge disruption for me because of the threat it poses to my therapy, and that is what we need to work together with.
I kind of skirted around stuff and was slightly combative and she asked if I was grown up Charlie and I said ‘yes!’ and then ‘no, there are lots of parts around (clearly a teen part being argumentative and a little supercilious!) and everyone was very noisy and there were definitely little people and then someone little managed to say that we are not scared of anything about the Coronavirus apart from not being able to get to therapy – we can handle ANY disruption apart from that, but that makes us want to die because it is TOO SCARY. And then the screaming and wailing and sobbing started again (though managed to refrain from clawing and digging my face this time!). We were nearly at time so she suggested we worked for 45 minutes instead and she said to let it out and that it was so helpful that I could articulate that fear. I said all of us would rather die than not be able to get to therapy and it really doesn’t feel like an exaggeration. Even though we are not in the thick of the work now, and I am so much more stable and only have one session a week and rarely need extra support between sessions, I really don’t do well at all without therapy and the thought of not being able to get there AT ALL does feel life-threatening.
It’s honestly so completely ridiculous to see it written like that, but that is how it is. I can see from what happened on Monday that when I’m triggered into that place I am completely unable to regulate and it really frightens me that I will be in that space and not able to go and see her. It actually has helped knowing that even if we can’t get there it won’t be an abyss with no contact, it won’t even be a therapy break with planned contact as she will be home and if there’s a crisis (e.g. Mum dies or gets ill) then extra support will be possible. She said she’s seen me in some states about things similar to this before so was expecting that this time, and I pointed out that the terror over climate breakdown and the ecological collapse is, at a basic level, just terror over not being able to get to her. (I do feel a lot of grief over what humanity has done to our home, and a lot of apprehension over what is ahead, but it feels manageable from an adult place, whereas loss of attachment just feels life-threatening). I still don’t feel I could survive without her, particularly if it happened suddenly. She totally understands that, and she knows we’ve never attached to anyone like this before. She knows how scary it is to be that attached to someone and have the fear of them not being there, and she says she’s here to provide as much support as I need over the coming weeks as she thinks this heightened anxiety will last a while as things unfold in the UK.
So anyway, her plan is to keep working throughout the outbreak, just with extra precautions, and the only time that would change is if the government says we are not allowed to leave our houses at all (or one of us has to self-isolate obviously). So this is a big relief as we won’t stop working if schools and universities close, or even if we go into lockdown like Italy, because that would just be to stop lots of people being together and risking infecting lots of people, and there are just two of us. And she says if for any reason I couldn’t get there we would work by phone and probably more often, and that we could try Skype so that we can do cutting and sticking together and things that we might do in the room together. And we will have a big hug as soon as this is over (which I still think is over-cautious for now, I’ve not stopped hugging other people, but my friend says at work today people have been throwing used tea towels into the recycling and wiping down staplers with sanitiser, so I guess there is a lot of fear around and a real need for control that is just not possible for us to have). She also says on Monday I can have something transitional from the room like the Eeyore and little yellow Miffy (who has stayed with her a few times and even went to Portugal with her 3 years ago!) is going to sit close to her (and stay with her too though she doesn’t know that yet, just in case of any sudden changes).
I said that this is the worst attachment storm I’ve had since June 2018 (the ‘I’m taking a year off and we are ending’ debacle) and then we told her we’ve not eaten since Monday and we talked about how it happens in order to try and preserve attachment when we feel unsafe, and she said I do need to eat and take care of myself even more at the moment because of what’s happening. So I have to text her later to tell her I’ve eaten and been out and looked at nature. And then we can work by phone again tomorrow if needed or I can go for an extra session. So I feel very agitated still but also heard and held. We asked K if she feels sick knowing we are attached to her and she said not at all, that it’s a good thing because it’s healing. ‘And we are joined together?’ ‘Yes’. ‘And I am not a limpet?’, ‘No you’re not a limpet.’ It really is such a relief to be able to tell her exactly how bad it feels to not be able to reach her or to worry that we won’t be able to, that it really does feel like a life-or-death situation, because for so long it just felt too terrifying to be that vulnerable with her (though she knew by the constant crises of course). There is so much less shame over that now, although still fear that she will go away because of it, but that’s usually alleviated easily now, and the fact this hasn’t happened for so long when it was basically a weekly occurrence for the first few years of therapy, is testimony to how hard we’ve worked.
I hope other people who are worried about the disruption to therapy because of the stupid virus can get some reassurance from their therapists soon too. And let’s hope this whole thing blows over soon!