Stay stay stay

I’m in the worst attachment crisis I’ve been in for over a year and a half. It is utter hell and because it’s in large part being driven by the disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak it seems impossible to settle it, because it is based on real things that are unfolding and I can’t reassure myself that K and I will be continuing to meet and she isn’t going away because that just isn’t true right now. We don’t know what is happening when or how long the measures will last. We worked by phone again yesterday evening – I’d had an overwhelming day at work as we are moving everything online and so there was loads of stress over how to do it and levels of anxiety among our international students in particular were palpable as they decide whether to fly home and risk not being able to get back here, or not being able to travel on to their home cities once they land. Every adult decision I had to make and thing I needed to do was triggering young parts further and further into attachment panic.

The call was fine but didn’t settle things, which I think K could tell, and then I self-harmed a lot after we spoke not because the call was triggering but because it wasn’t enough and didn’t land and then I was by myself again. I was really feeling as though I needed the crisis team or to go to hospital, so to be honest if cutting helps me manage things a bit then it’s okay – not ideal, but okay. My friend came over and I managed to distract a bit while she was here (didn’t tell her about the cutting because I think it sounds more dramatic than it is, for people who don’t get it) and I slept with diazepam which was a relief.

We text K first thing this morning and said we are basically in constant terror but also already in annihilation flashbacks so it’s like both our worst flashback states together (I can’t even explain but it is like the body memories of total annihilation and death due to loss of attachment whilst being in constant fear of being abandoned whilst feeling that bad) and she said she hears it and she is here. She said on the phone yesterday that she can’t see that anything will stop us meeting on Monday and that we will still work if after that we can’t meet face-to-face, but it’s not the lack of work that bothers me, but that not being able to physically get to her triggers all my attachment stuff and then I cannot seem to ground into my life and connect with all the things that aren’t K that make my life safe and okay. The attachment fear takes over and becomes the only thing that matters. On Thursday she had explained how my attachment system works and why it is only her that can soothe it, and that has helped a little with lessening the shame over not being able to just do other things that are important and helpful to me.

I made it to see one of my oldest and most special friends today – she moved to a city that is 80 miles away a couple of years ago so I drove up there for the day. It was lovely to see her and we had a nice walk in the woods and talked about lots of things and she was so understanding about what this f*cking virus has triggered in me attachment-wise and totally gets that it’s not that K is the only thing in my life, but that when it feels like my time with her is under threat it totally takes over everything. I would honestly rather die than lose her when things are this bad and it means every f*cking thing unfolding globally becomes a trigger for a potential loss of connection with her.

I picked Nina up on the way home and have reassured her that if we end up at home a lot over the holidays and with school closures afterwards we will build a routine and not just sit on our phones all day and that we’ll be fine, but I don’t feel capable of following this advice for myself. I’m scared if I do things to distract I’ll lose K, so I’m basically stuck in this awful place. I’m still not eating, though K has told me I need to and I said I would (‘because you won’t go away if we eat, that’s silly?’ said someone little on the phone yesterday, but I’m not sure they believe it). My mouth is constantly dry with a rancid taste regardless of how much water I drink because of all the toxins. I will probably cut again. I honestly seem unable to stabilise and am scared this crisis will last for months.

I am hoping it will become easier now I’ll be working at home until at least early May and can avoid all the fear and anxiety people at work have been experiencing and also once I’ve seen K face-to-face on Monday, but I am worried I’ll get into a total state again when I see her and especially being in the different room again and with the chairs so far apart. When will it stop being so hard? I really hate that my experiences as a baby have left me with this forever, that I actually feel this way in the present as a result of things that happened so long ago. I am so cross that I feel perfectly capable of handling what this virus is throwing at us and yet it is still triggering the hardest feelings imaginable in me because K is my attachment figure but not my family and however hard she tries, she may not be able to preserve our therapy in the face of what is ahead.

13 thoughts on “Stay stay stay”

  1. 😦 the painful emotions are palpable here- I wish you didn’t have to experience them.

    I was wondering if you’d be open to elaborating on something you said:

    “On Thursday she had explained how my attachment system works and why it is only her that can soothe it, and that has helped a little with lessening the shame over not being able to just do other things that are important and helpful to me.”

    Since you didn’t elaborate on your own, I understand it may be private and I respect that. I’m asking because I feel similarly, and I don’t understand why I am not equally calmed by anyone who is important to me.

    Everything over here is up in the air still- it’s likely that virtual sessions are mandatory starting Monday, and i was internally complaining about that until I learned my insurance very well may not even cover virtual sessions! What a mess this virus is causing for people – disruptions come in all sorts of flavors for people and each suck.

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    1. Oh jeez, I really hope there will be a change to insurance plans based on this and need to keep everyone safe. This must be so scary for you. I’m just praying I get there tomorrow at least. I saw on the news schools here are likely to shut for 16 weeks so I won’t even have privacy for Skype or phone calls. It is hell – I hope someone sets up a helpline for trauma survivors to deal with the ways their support and stability is being affected.

      I can’t entirely remember what she said but I remember it making sense and being like ‘that’s why only you can soothe it when it’s activated’ but I know it was in the context of me/us (definitely multiple all the time at the moment) saying we’d rather die than not get to her and she said ‘yeah, because for you attachment is such a big deal that loss of that feels worse than death, abandonment is more painful than death for you’ (because I flash back to being annihilated and like I’m dead/dying and then left being alone with those intolerable feelings). And she said how she knows me now and how to settle things, and that we know what we are doing after all these years. And it was then someone little said how we’ve never attached to anyone like this before ‘and that’s why we can’t settle this without you’ and it all kind of made a lot of sense and reduced the shame a lot. Not sure if this makes sense!

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  2. I feel your pain. I’m dreading the time coming when Guy stops seeing his clients. He’s already offered Skype if I feel more comfortable with that but I hate the idea of not being in the same room. Maybe it’s because I haven’t tried it yet. But I like to read the whole body of a person, not just their chin upward. Sigh. Hate hate hate the disruption that is coming our way soon… though feel guilty complaining as we are lucky to have no loss of life through it, like some others out there.

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    1. I’m sorry you are dealing with this uncertainty too. I am trying not to feel guilty – in my adult I am very aware of the serious economic impact this will have on millions of people across the globe and that many will lose their livelihoods, and will lose loved ones or be away from them for months on end, and am doing what I can to donate money, drop things round to people who are already isolating due to low immunity, and supporting the students at work who are very anxious. But my attachment trauma means that when I’m triggered it feels worse than death not to be able to get to K and I’m trying to honour that and not beat myself up for it – when I’m in this place I’d genuinely rather die than not be able to get to her. I know it’s dramatic and I’m not always in that state, but right now I am and am trying to acknowledge it’s ok so I can try and get the support I need. Re sessions – I personally didn’t like Skype but I do often find phone calls helpful, especially when I’m in crisis, as K feels close and very attentive and sometimes it’s been easier to tell her hard stuff. I hope you find something that works for you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was thinking phone calls might feel better but unless I use speakerphone then I can’t record it anymore – recording has been invaluable recently. I feel speakerphone makes me want to shout to be heard properly, which creates a barrier, so it’s not a great way of doing it either, the whole thing is just totally blergh 😖
        I’m sorry you feel so bad about it that you’d rather not be alive for that moment in time, but I’m glad you’re not always in that frame of mind and are honouring when you are; but more than that, proactively looking out for the support you need.
        Normally I look forward to the summer and want it to drag on… can’t believe I’ll be wishing this one away!

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      2. I think you can get an app to record phone calls. I am going to look into this because I like having K on my earphones (right in my ears haha!) so I will let you know xx

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  3. i’m so sorry, CB, this is so rough. it think you have a great handle on it, and K is doing a good job of supporting you, but it still fucking sucks. a harm reduction mindset might help — just do thing you can manage that is the least destructive. if right now that’s cutting, shed the shame and guilt, and trust that you’ll stop when things become even a smudge more manageable. i feel like once you’re consistently working from home and online things can regulate a bit.. a routine will help for sure, but maybe incorporating K into your routine in a daily way (a 5 minute good morning Skype?) could be a way to take some of the edge of.. lots of love to you, i hope you get to the other side of this moment soon.

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    1. I really hope so! I was planning to write out a daily schedule for work and self-care this week (bike rides while we’re allowed out) and a plan for longer term so we don’t go mad, but this attachment panic just has me in its grip and I can’t seem to do anything. I think you’re right about the self-harm, it’s not good but it’s understandable and not something to shame myself for when things are so tough. How are things your end? Hugs.

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      1. I’m ok for now. Work was so chaotic on Friday as we shut the university down that I actually needed a rest. I suspect it’s going to get harder as the days drag. Everything around is shutting as my region is very proactive about social distancing … Im trying to stay present and take things day by day so that my anxiety doesn’t spiral. I have an in-person appt with my T tomorrow, I assume it’ll be our last, and am not even sure tomorrow will happen. Not quite sure what I will do about therapy – I might take a break, if I have to be very present with family 24-7 it might be too volatile to engage parts and do serious work by Skype. I think I might come up for a plan for some check ins – I also don’t want to deprive her of income (though that’s not my problem). Just waiting for my attachment trauma to make itself felt. So far so good, but it’s coming.

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      2. Ugh, it’s so tough. I’m glad you were able to take a rest after the work stress. I’m thinking I’m going to have to get signed off for the next two weeks as moving it online has hugely increased my workload and I feel totally incapable of getting it all done (lumping it on other people but reminding myself many are coping far better than me). I get what you mean about Skype and young parts – you don’t want to open things up whilst home with kids in another room. I spoke to K about this earlier as I was freaking out about that as well – we decided she’d have to have my noise cancelling headphones in another room so young parts could still talk – but she’s older and would understand the need for privacy (although doesn’t know about young parts of course) and she knows K is important for me because of not having a mum. Hopefully it won’t be for a while this is needed but who knows?? It’s all changing so fast. I really hope you get your session tomorrow so you can be there prepared it might be the last face to face for a while. You know where I am if the attachment stuff lands xx

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      3. thanks CB ❤ and definitely get signed off! here they are giving us one full week off to get used to the online platform and then i am just creating a very very modified set of assignments for my students to finish. they are stressed and afraid also, i don't really care about them learning what i hoped they would learn. the harder part is dealing with grad students who are on the verge of submitting/defending — trying to facilitate that so everyone can complete their degrees!

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