Out of the woods

Therapy is working again! Something shifted last week after my session and on Tuesday I felt like I’d actually had therapy the previous day, for the first time in three months really. It was as though it had landed somewhere inside me, instead of falling right through me and leaving no trace. I didn’t feel great afterwards. Things had been stirred up, there was some teen anger over some things K said, we felt a bit lost and tearful after the session and the next day, but it was all things that I knew what to do with – writing, self-care, cuddly toys, letting things metabolise and not forcing them – and the main thing was that it reached me, touched me, left an impression on me. As I think I wrote before, I don’t mind feeling sad or difficult feelings after therapy, as long as it feels like I’ve had therapy and can allow the feelings to be there and practice doing the right things when I feel that way.

We did our half hour short session on Wednesday – I sat in the country park near my house and we spoke about some of the things that came up on Monday and then about some of the struggles I’m having parenting a teenage girl at the moment – I mean, it would be tough anyway, but our proximity has increased exponentially at the same time as my window of tolerance seems to have shrunk dramatically, and so it is really bloody tough right now. Talking to her I could really feel how well she knows me, all my stuff, all that gets triggered by Nina’s (normal) behaviour, and that she is going to be here to help me over the coming years – she says these are the hardest days of parenting (she’s not wrong!) and going through them is what led her to train so she could help other parents in that situation. That session was the closest I’ve felt to K since right near the beginning of lockdown – at the end my heart was so full of gratitude and some other feeling I cannot name – a warm glow filling my chest. It was amazing to have reached that place again and to be able to hold onto her too. She said it was lovely to talk to me, and I could tell she really meant it, felt it, that we had found each other again and that I was going to be able to do this work.

I don’t know what led to this shift – having some space around my session without Nina here, doing things differently at the start of the session (we did drawing together instead of a mindful breathing check-in so me and young parts could ground into the connection between us rather than get lost inside ourselves), knowing and accepting it’s not going to be anytime soon that we see her so we are relaxing into what we’ve got for now instead of always pushing to find out when we’ll be meeting, allowing in what she is able to give me instead of being scared if I let it in she will want to work like this forever, discussing why I’ve been far too ashamed to share anything good in my session since we haven’t been meeting – and it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is it feels manageable to work like this.

Sadly, about 3 hours after we spoke last Wednesday I got triggered into horrific emotional flashbacks after the new-ish (9 months in) Head of Department who is a total narcissist (I think I’ve written about him before) humiliated and threatened me in a Teams meeting in front of the whole department for no reason at all. It was really horrible and of course triggered all my childhood stuff. I barely slept that night and on Friday night had panic attacks all night about him and the threat he poses to my career progression and job security. I’m fucking terrified of him, as are a number of other colleagues even without a childhood of narcissistic abuse, and his behaviour is creating a real climate of fear and intimidation where we are all scared to speak in meetings and don’t know who we can trust. It’s disrupted everything. I’ve been to a Speak Out Guardian at work for the second time about him now, but I really don’t think he’s going anywhere at the moment. And of course he’s a true narcissist, so his inner circle are intoxicated by his attention and cannot see his abusive behaviour at all. It really feels a very unsafe place to work, but I am pretty trapped there as moving jobs would require a move to another city and nowhere is hiring for the next year at least in the sector I’m in.

So the weekend was difficult. After Friday and the night of panic attacks I was tired (obviously) on Saturday morning. I had arranged a beach walk with a friend which I was really looking forward to. It was lovely to see her and have a rainy walk, but I kind of collapsed when I get home and was sad to be missing solstice because of the impact the dickhead manager had on me. But I could feel my session with K was there, waiting for me, which just has not been the case for the past few months, and I knew she would help me hold it all and work out if I can manage to stay working there without being in flashbacks for days after every interaction with him.

My session today has also reached me and I just had a beautiful bike ride and feel like I can do this, however long ‘this’ has to go on for. We did drawing again at the start and this really helps little people to settle. It was really helpful to have her support about the work situation, her reminders that I don’t deserve this, and need to not let him push me out of where I work because my career is important. She was pretty angry on my behalf too, and that was so comforting because I know my mum would have told me to watch my step and would have asked if I was sure I wasn’t causing the problem. And K helped me around Nina again as well, because she really gets how hard it is having her here all the time and that lately it is like I’ve lost all the positives of lockdown and got all the worst parts of ‘normal life’ back, with very few of the good bits. I can tell she is more relaxed in our sessions as well now, which I guess is because my sessions are easier to hold again and we are reaching each other. So if this continues I won’t need to take a break, though I have bravely told her my annual leave dates so will have two weeks off therapy at the end of July. and I think I will drop the Wednesday session soon as it is right in the middle of my work day and not very spacious.

I still can’t say I love therapy this way. Far from it. I am still desperate to see her and be back in the therapy space. I’m still not getting the mirroring and holding in the same way. But it is enough to sustain me, and all the parts of me, for now, and seeing her face on the screen and not being physically with her is not breaking my heart the way it was before. And that is a wonderful thing. Life is quite tough at the moment of course (though also beautiful in many ways, and I am grateful to be living where I live, where I can cycle and see the sea and we are relatively untouched by the horrors unfolding across the globe, and I am driving 90 minutes to see my best friend on Saturday – I cannot wait to see her!) and the thought of losing K’s support at this time has really been causing a lot of distress. Now it doesn’t seem as though I will have to, which is a huge relief. Cases are dropping fast in the UK now and those who are shielding can stop doing this from August (provided things keep moving in the right direction) so I am hopeful we will be able to work in-person sooner than January. K is very hopeful that we will get our Christmas film session, and even though that is a while away it feels survivable if remote therapy continues like this. I do hope we can do some in-person therapy before the winter in case there is a second wave, but I am relinquishing control over that and right now just feel grateful I am able to take in therapy enough this way to make it possible to continue and to get K’s support with the things I need support with, and that I have space after my session to let it sink in and stay with me.

15 thoughts on “Out of the woods”

  1. I’m so glad to hear things feel better. I’m also sorry to hear your boss is such a horses ass. Like working remotely isn’t hard enough that you have to deal with him too…ugh
    I hope all continues on this path for you..xx

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    1. Thanks Kerry. I bloody hope so too – it’s been a tough 3 or 4 months! Definitely don’t need a boss like that right now!! Hope you’re hanging in there xx

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  2. I’m glad that therapy is more helpful. It’s good to hear that K is cautiously optimistic about seeing you face to face before the end of the year.
    I’m sorry that you have to work with such a toxic person though. I have worked with people like that and it is very triggering. I have always been advised to keep evidence of incidents, but you seem pretty certain that he would be hard to get rid of.
    I hope seeing your friends gives you a much needed boost. It’s good to see that you have something to look forward to. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It really is so triggering. I was looking for jobs at the weekend, but realistically given what I do it is just not an option. I’m managing to switch off from him so far this week which is good. I’m glad she’s optimistic too and I’m hopeful that once UKCP change their policy she’ll start to consider when it might be, but the main thing is I feel able to cope even if it’s a long time still xx

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  3. I was just thinking of messaging you earlier.
    I’m so happy to read this!!! This really made me smile. I hope and pray it continues getting better. I’m glad… and good luck with work.
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I’m so glad things are shifting with K! I know it’s been months, now, of agony, and I hope you’re in for smoother times. Ugh, also, I hear you on the work toxicity. I was really triggered last week/all weekend by some bullshit in my department. Luckily we’re on summer break so not much is coming up, but it’s so rough when it does. And like you, It’s not easy to up and move, in fact I doubt id find another position ever again as good as this one. I hope something comes of your reporting.

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    1. Sorry you had a triggering time too, it’s really the last thing we need at the moment! I found it even worse that it happened in my home, due to the whole WFH BS. I mean he’s awful in person, but at least I can try and leave it behind at work when that happens. K was trying to get me to think of places where I’d be more able to be myself today (not just because of him but the nature of the institution I’m in) but it just isn’t possible without totally upheaving my life. She said if what we do is done from home more it could work for me to move without physically relocating and I was like NOOOOO I don’t want to work like this, we need to be in-person!!

      I am glad I feel more able to do therapy now, but am struggling today as lockdown is lifted here and there is still nothing about my life that feels ‘normal’ – I think it will be that way till I return to in-person therapy and who knows when that will be?? Have you seen T yet? xx

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      1. Yes! It’s super hard to enact boundaries around work toxicity when it’s happens in your home. I have taken to leaving my laptop in my study and closing the door when I leave. It helps a bit. Two and a bit weeks till I see T – she was cool with me booking a longer sessions the children’s camp is running for the summer so I might go back to every second week through the end of August. Her clinics FB page had pics of her new space and I wa so glad to see the blanket and pillows I always hold in session unpacked and ready, it helped me remember how holding the sessions are. I’ve been fine, but I’ve missed her truly.

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      2. I’m really glad you have a session soon, with familiar things in the new space. And great that summer camp is running also!! x

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  5. What a positive post! Good therapists are hard to find. The one I have now I adore. She gets me and calls me out when I need it. But only a year after we met she had to move 1300 miles away. I wasn’t willing to give her up so she agreed to switch to on line. It’s been about 7 months now. Thankfully she has a sliding scale because she is way out of network. The only thing that is a struggle is that she doesn’t like the fact that she can’t physically see my whole body to see where I might be at with my eating disorder. But so far I’m dead honest with her about how much I weigh and where my head is at.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thanks for reading my blog. I’m glad online therapy is working for you so that you didn’t have to move to a new therapist after finding one who was the right fit 🙂

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