Sad Beautiful Tragic

This time of year is precious to me. Spring marks the end of ‘the busy time’ at work and there is usually more space and a reprieve from just ‘getting through each week’ for around 5 or 6 months. I tend to not need to work evenings and weekends and my energy picks up and my health improves when it’s lighter and sunnier. And because work is less demanding I have more capacity for seeing people and going places. It is strange this year (for everyone obviously, not just for me) because I have a combination of this familiar spaciousness alongside serious limitations and restrictions, but actually so much of what I love to do at this time of year is possible now (bike rides, walks, the sea, yoga in the garden, sitting and watching the bunnies) and I actually have even more time to do it, without driving Nina around to swimming training and competitions all the time. I am also used to working mostly at home from the end of March until mid-September anyway, so it doesn’t feel that different really although I do miss seeing my colleagues on the odd days I am in over the summer, and I miss my lovely office where I could work in peace and quiet (and wasn’t disturbed by a thirteen year old demanding help or having a meltdown about having nothing to wear, sigh, as if it even matters when we are in lockdown and she isn’t seeing anyone anyway!).

So in many ways things aren’t that different from normal for me whilst it is nice weather and we can meet people outside, other than not being able to go camping or see my friends who live further away. And in many ways life is easier and my shredded nervous system is starting to settle away from the forced social interaction and general rushing around doing too much that my life seems to have entailed since Nina was 3 and I started my PhD. So, aside from the general fear, sadness and anxiety over the future and all the suffering in the world presently, which I must and do manage to switch off from, what exactly is missing from my life right now? The obvious answer is therapy, but I am still having therapy, K is still here for me, and we still have contact every week day at the moment, and until the end of June at least. So what is the problem and how do I get past it, so that I can stop feeling like my life is on hold in some way, when in fact in many ways it is moving forward and I am growing hugely during this time?

I was saying to K in our half hour session on Wednesday how much I have missed watching the Spring with her this year, especially as her new home is in such a beautiful area. Her move back in September disturbed me a lot, I was attached to her old house and scared that she was moving so much further away, and then it was a slog driving the 70 mile round trip for therapy each week in the cold and wind and rain over the winter months. She kept saying how much I would appreciate it there when Spring came, that I would see the magic of the place and how special it is. We had plans for things we would do and places we would go when the weather improved. As well as being an easier time of year for me work wise, it’s always been a really special time of year in our work, when things are more spacious and we spend more time outdoors and I need less support with daily life so our work has a different pace and energy. And it is exciting for young parts because they get more time because there is less adult-life fire fighting, and lots of the things we do are healing for them, things that K might have done with us if she’d come and rescued us when we were little in a little body.

Losing this time with her is painful. I actually think I’d be finding it easier to do remote therapy over the winter – which may well happen if our bloody government don’t get testing and tracing sorted – because that is a time I am usually wishing away anyway so another reason to hang in there and wish the time away wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t want to be wishing this time away and then find it is autumn and then winter again and I’ve lost this time and life is hard and I haven’t settled enough over the summer to sustain me through those hard, dark months. I don’t think I am losing it entirely but without the rhythm of my weekly drive to K’s and my two hours with her I feel very untethered at the moment, suspended and floating outside time and space, with nothing to ground me into my weeks. My thoughts are too frequently on K and the future, and I am constantly having to bring myself back to my own life, my body, my experiences, the present moment, and remind myself I am here and I am okay right now.

When I was parking the car earlier after dropping Nina at a friend’s garden (lol) I realised how much I miss driving to K’s and parking outside, feeling that sense of relief to have made it there and to have an undisturbed time with her where I can unpack and unpick my week and settle into the undivided attention she gives me for two hours in my week. My time with her is sacred and of course extends beyond what we talk about in the room – so much healing takes place even when we are sitting in silence together. I also said on Wednesday when we spoke how the journey to her old house, once, twice and sometimes three times a week, for 4 years was a huge part of my week – where she lived before was also beautiful, in a different way, and the drive punctuated my week at the same time as I witnessed the seasons change month-by-month. Nature has always been such an important part of my life and sharing this with K is one of the reasons we all love her so much. It was always lovely to arrive or have her tell me via email about a new arrival or new growth or a special bird she had seen from the window. And every time I got to the lane near her old house I would feel safe, knowing that however terrible I was feeling soon I wouldn’t be on my own with it. It has been huge, the containment that my regular sessions offered me, and it is also huge to have lost that proximity and limbic resonance which is such a big part of learning to feel safe and being able to trust her. I was looking forward to being able to create memories in K’s new house and garden this Spring and Summer, different memories, of a time when therapy didn’t hurt anymore and I could take in what it gave me in a way I never could before.

For years being in the room with her physically hurt me, like salt was being poured on my attachment wounds or my skin was being burnt by her presence. Leaving her felt like I was dying and my abandonment terror set in halfway through every session as I sensed our time ticking away, knowing it would soon be time to leave her and struggle alone again. Sometimes I had to stop the car down the lane after I had left to let young parts scream and sob, before it was safe to drive. It hurt to be with her and anticipate her leaving or one day not being there, it hurt to leave her and not know if I would ever see her again, and the time between sessions was unbearable, even when it was just a few days and we had contact via text or email. It was agony. I counted down in hours some weeks because things were so difficult and time passed so slowly. I remember her saying years ago that she hoped that one day I would be able to exist in the week knowing my space with her was there waiting for me and I wondered what the hell she meant! I didn’t exist without her and she didn’t exist if she wasn’t right in front of me. It was hell and I was a wreck. I am still in awe that we made it through those days. And I am extra sad that we made it through and now the measures against the pandemic are keeping us apart, because I really did reach a place where I could feel my space with her throughout the week and use it to sustain me and comfort my system until I saw her again.

It feels incredibly unfair to have done all that work, endured so much, come so far together, and then not to be able to enjoy sitting in a room with her without it hurting, to not be able to leave her house and feel okay because I know I will be back next week and I can feel her with me even when we are far apart. I think it would almost be easier to have this separation from her before I got to that place, because before it was really tough anyway and I was just surviving in the best way I could. I stopped surviving and started living and it feels as though this is what I am desperately scrabbling to stop myself backsliding into.

When we are working by phone (which I still prefer to video calls) there is too much space around me, she is not there drawing a boundary around ‘my stuff’ so I can see it clearly. It is like my words and emotions are spilling out of me and floating into the air, rather than being processed and reflected back to me in a shape I can contain and understand. I don’t want to keep going if it will be like this indefinitely, but I don’t want to stop either. It is hard. And again and again I wish it didn’t matter. I wish I could take in that she is here, take in what she is giving me still. I think if I didn’t constantly worry that our work is finite I would have more patience to endure. I mean, of course our work is finite, but I am worried we have less time than I was expecting (her health, my finances, other factors), and that this is such a huge and horrible waste of our time working, for it to be second best and not enough and re-activating some kind of painful disorganised attachment dance.

This time of year has been special in K and I’s work, but it’s also special for me and I don’t want to lose it, wishing it away so that K and I can be together again. So much about my life in this moment is okay, despite the spectre of pandemic. I was re-listening to an Elizabeth Gilbert podcast (have I mentioned I have fallen in love with her over the last couple of months?!) from near the start of lockdown and she talks about the difference between empathy and compassion, and how, at this time of empathetic overload, it is really important to distinguish between the two – empathy being where we take on another’s suffering to the point that we are suffering too and cannot help anyone, and compassion being recognition that another is suffering but that we are okay. She talks about the tremendous courage it takes to sit alongside someone and witness their suffering and not get drawn into it, but this is the only way we can be of service. It is definitely something that got me thinking as I tend to completely unravel when I allow myself to acknowledge the scale of the human and non-human animal suffering occurring at any one time and then my grief and overwhelm is so enormous that I am just adding to the suffering and am no help to anyone. It is easy to feel guilty at the moment to have a home, food, a job for at least the next few months, and her words, and that distinction, got me thinking how it really is okay to be okay even though others are most definitely not okay, and that this is the only way we can truly help.

So I am okay a lot of the time, though not all the time of course because… teenager at home full-time, mood swings, irrational anger, constant mess and nagging, and when I am in my adult, K is less prominent in my life – she fades into the background and becomes just someone who knows me (really, really) well and who I look forward to spending time with each week. But when my attachment system is triggered, not seeing her really does feel like life or death – in those moments I would rather die than not see her again. Right now, when I am feeling relatively adult and contained, I am okay with waiting till she is ready to work in-person again. I have to be. I am trying to remind myself it is not about me, actually, but her – her vulnerability, her perspective, her priorities. It is not about her pushing me away and rejecting me and wanting to keep me at arm’s length. I know she hates working like this, so she will not extend it just to make a point or force me to cope in order to build my resilience. At the moment UKCP guidelines say therapists should continue working remotely. Much as I hate knowing other people are meeting with their therapists soon, I have to sit with my lack of control over this and what her regulatory body decides to do when. All I can hope is that K’s therapist friends will start meeting for outside sessions or move back to in-person because their practice can do this safely with distancing and she will follow suit. I can’t control it though, and I don’t want to push her. If she doesn’t feel safe it is not for me to force her or challenge her or refuse to work with her till she changes her mind. It is not for me to make her feel bad and guilty for wanting to keep herself safe or do what her regulatory body are telling her.

What I *think* is my intuition is telling me that I am not going to see K anytime soon. Maybe this isn’t my intuition and is some kind of defence mechanism preparing me for the worst, I don’t know. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. I remember ages ago a part telling her that they were worried we would resume face-to-face and then it would be taken away again. She said ‘what, if there’s a second peak do you mean?’ which I guess suggests she is, or was, planning to return to face-to-face when she can, before the inevitable second peak (because our government is shit), but everything is changing so fast and her thyroid wasn’t pranging out then. I think we all thought cases in the UK would be much lower before lockdown was eased and it means the level of risk isn’t really going to decrease from where it is now. It is K’s decision and not mine what she determines to be the risks for her personally and the people she knows, though of course nothing can change until the UKCP change their guidance…

Anyway, the point is all this is irrelevant; I don’t want to be second-guessing what she will do and when I will see her. It is exhausting and pointless. For now I am committed to continuing to work remotely with her, and if it becomes apparent that this is not ending any time soon then I will think again about whether this is the best use of my money right now. I don’t want to lose the next months, and possibly longer, of my life pining for her, not when I had come so far and she is not actually going away. There is a vague fear that she is going to prepare me for an ending with her soon, but she is only 51 and I’m pretty sure she can’t afford to stop working now, so I hope this is not my intuition. In my heart I can feel we will work in-person again one day, and I am really trying to be patient and hold on to that feeling, and accept things are as they are right now and that I am lucky she is still here. It doesn’t feel like a ‘real relationship’ to me without proximity (I have had two long-distance relationships since I was 19 and I can see now why I struggled so much with them!) but perhaps this is a good opportunity to show my attachment system that people can be constants in our lives even when we don’t see them.

I forgot that you existed

I’ve not written for such a long time, maybe 6 or 7 weeks. I hope all my readers are keeping as well as possible. For the most part I’ve not written because I’ve not needed to and have been okay – in many ways my nervous system has experienced a period of deep settling during lockdown, with no decisions to make, places to go, rushing around taking Nina to swimming training nearly every evening, social interactions, meetings and shops and so on. My brain hasn’t been buzzing, I’ve not felt over-stimulated more than once, and I’ve been sleeping well apart from the odd sleepless, panicky night about the future which I’m sure is the same for most people at the moment, mental illness or not. I’ve also completely cut out gluten and sugar (am already dairy-free as a vegan) which I’ve been meaning to do for ages due to the absolute havoc they wreak on brain chemistry and neurotransmitters and the endocrine system, and their role in causing the chronic inflammation that leads to auto-immune disease (which, touch wood, I’ve been lucky enough not to get yet, despite chronic pain and other physical symptoms but which I’m of course prone to due to chronic developmental trauma). I’ve not had the space to do it properly till now, so I’m hoping over the next few months (a year…?) when I’m mostly at home I will be able to get into good habits with it and find substitutes. It’s going well so far and I can tell my gut and nervous system are benefiting already.

I’ve felt very introvert, but mostly in a good way. Of course there have been some difficult times too – Nina got a recurrence of a kidney infection at the end of April and I ended up having to stay up all night waiting for the out of hours doctor for her. The next day I was an overwhelmed mess and had to speak (howl) on the phone to K from my car. There is worry about my work and if I will have a job next year or if I will be able to afford therapy due to pay cuts, as my sector is expected to be the hardest hit in the long-term by the pandemic. It’s scary times, but I’ve mostly been able to stay present, look after myself, enjoy the reprieve from normal life, and I’ve loved having more time for bike rides and walks and just being at home. A lot of time the difficulties I’m experiencing are because I get this sense of dread over going back to how things were (apart from therapy, obviously) because it wasn’t until this period of enforced slowing down that I saw just how unsustainable what I’ve been holding over the past few years has been.

I’d wanted to write a post about that, about how I’ve grown already through this process, but that is not what I am able to write today. For the past week I’ve really been spiralling. Last weekend was an absolute disaster. The tiniest thing was sending me over the edge, Nina and I had a huge row when I was already exhausted, which was then even more exhausting (though necessary) to repair. Even being able to do a few extra things (walks with a friend, longer bike rides) over the weekend had sent my system into overwhelm. I was struggling with how much there always is to do at home as a solo parent and frustrated beyond belief that Nina has so much free time at the moment (2-3 hours school work a day maximum, most days it’s more like 90 minutes) and I’m trying to work at home full-time in a job that has become even more demanding than usual, and then still doing nearly everything at home.

When K and I spoke on Monday as soon as she answered I realised my brain had erased her. I couldn’t remember her AT ALL. It was like talking to a stranger. She wanted to know what I could see in my room to resonate with before we arrived in the session together and I said I couldn’t tell her anything because I didn’t know her. I had no memories at all. I don’t even know what happened after that, apart from her saying she knows me, all of me, and has tonnes of memories – explicit and implicit – of our time together and she would hold it for both of us. I just ended up sobbing and howling about Nina and work and that I couldn’t relax at home because I felt as though I needed to be ready to sell it in September if I get made redundant (I couldn’t get another job locally that paid anywhere near enough to pay my mortgage – despite having a PhD I’m not trained to do much else than my job without moving to London (not happening!) so it would be nearly impossible to keep my house if I lost my job, but I really don’t think I need to be worrying about this at the moment). Everything felt utterly unmanageable, and not being able to get to her is just more than my system can cope with on top of everything else. She said she thinks my window of tolerance has really shrunk over recent weeks, which makes sense because I’m definitely flipping faster than I’ve ever flipped from ‘completely fine, calm, happy, content, peaceful’ to a complete dysregulated mess. This is shit for Nina to be around, because it makes me snap and roar at her out of nowhere, but it feels utterly out of my control. Obviously since realising what is going on I’ve cut back to doing even less, accepting that at the moment I really need to spend most of the time at home even though we can go out more here now.

I think maybe I settled again but then yesterday at the start of our session K and I had to change our session and contact structure going forward. We have been splitting my double session between Monday and Friday, with brief email contact on Wednesdays. She isn’t working Thursdays or Fridays at the moment though (she’s lost half her work with the pandemic, but she has a fuck off huge house and her partner owns properties in Portugal so I’m sure she’ll weather the lost income just fine) and I didn’t want her to lose her day off because of me as it’s even more important than usual that she looks after her health at the moment – it must be so stressful for therapists holding everyone else’s worries at the moment when they are sharing so many of them in relation to their own lives. I also knew it would be hugely triggering changing the pattern we’ve settled into over the past 10 weeks, especially because making a new plan means we are not going to be meeting in-person any time soon. I suggested doing a longer session (90 mins) on the Monday and then a half an hour check-in later in the week, which I do think is a good idea because hopefully my system will be able to settle more with the extra time (it’s why we’ve done double sessions for so long), and she agreed, but then can only do the half an hour on Wednesday (and has reluctantly agreed I can email on Fridays still till the end of June and then we will review aka she’ll take it away even though we’ve emailed on Fridays for 3 years). I was triggered and yelling about wanting to die, that I couldn’t live with this much pain, and why is there no one who cares about me who I don’t have to pay? It was pretty awful. Eventually she told me that she is really ill at the moment, with a thyroid flare, and that she isn’t sleeping well and is getting fatigue and feeling generally unwell, so that’s why she needs those two days without work. So obviously I felt like a selfish shit, but the feelings I experience are so real and it really is unbearable that we can’t meet in-person and I didn’t know until she said.

It is not helped by the fact that I know other Ts in our county are now resuming face-to-face work because they can maintain safe social distancing at their practice, and some are offering to work outdoors. K could do both these things, but her regulatory body still says to work remotely ‘where possible’ (whether or not it is actually possible for certain types of trauma survivors is a separate issue!) and I’m not sure how much autonomy she has. And of course I’m not sure how much autonomy she wants to have. I know she hates remote working as much as I do, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t think it’s what we need to be doing. I emailed her yesterday afternoon and said that I’ve seen that a number of therapists in our county are now working in-person again, and could she let me know on Monday whether the UKCP have issued any guidelines and what kind of timescale we are looking at – it would help me to know if I need to hold out for weeks, months, or even longer. In the county we are in (around 800,000 people) there honestly couldn’t be a safer time to meet with distancing, especially outside. We have way less cases than when K and I last met in March and only a handful of reported cases in the past week, and if we are worried about safety then it is safer now than in a couple of months when schools go back. I don’t want to push her though. It would be unfair of me to do that. I just want to know – if she’s thinking we can’t meet till we have the elusive, and perhaps impossible, vaccine then I would need to stop working with her because I can’t keep working remotely. It’s only worth doing if it provides me with an experience of constancy during a difficult time and therefore leads to bigger healing. And the government advice is likely to be that those who ‘can’ work from home continue to, indefinitely – what does this mean for therapists? Theoretically they ‘can’ work remotely, but I don’t think they are able to work as effectively. And it is mad that Ikea will be open next week and hairdressers able to start back up over the summer, but people can’t access essential services like therapy in-person.

This isn’t really the problem though. The problem is the descent back into absolute disorganised attachment hell that I am experiencing. I am stuck in the push/pull, move closer and die/step away and die dance again, where my fight/flight response and my attachment response are activated at the same fucking time and I am caught between needing to stop therapy NOW because it is killing me and not being able to stop therapy because that will kill me too. I cannot believe I am back here. I’ve not experienced this since summer 2018 and it is crushing to be in this again. I feel so angry that I had worked so hard in therapy to reach a place where this didn’t happen to me, where I was comfortable to reach out to K when needed without shame and as a result needed her so much less. I had settled into what our relationship was and could be, rather than constantly obsessing over the boundaries and all it wasn’t and couldn’t ever be. Her family didn’t matter, her friends didn’t matter, her other clients didn’t matter, all that mattered was her and I in our two hours together every week. I was finally healing in relationship, having learnt to tolerate the pain of connection and move past the constant terror and panic and body memories of grief that made being around her and away from her both completely unsafe.

Yesterday when Phoebe (15) was yelling about being her job and how unbearable it is that no one really cares, she reminded us all that we’ve been here before, but that is the fucking worst part – we had moved past that place of shame and rage that we have to pay someone to care (and even then couldn’t get what we need), and then it has re-surfaced because of this fucking pandemic. It is like all the progress has trickled out of us over the past 10 weeks – all the trust and connection and safety. We are left feeling fearful, suspicious, ashamed, distrustful, and constantly fucking aware of K having loads of other clients, and then people in her real life that she actually loves and cares about, that we are just one of many like us to her, whereas to us she is our special person; the most important relationship we’ve ever had. I can’t trust it’s real, can’t trust she cares, can’t believe any of it. And the shame is immense – we are feeling poisonous and toxic and damaged and that we need to be kept at arm’s length and shoved in a box so we don’t infect K’s real life. I honestly thought we were past all this the past two years, and for the most part , since K announced she wasn’t taking 2019 off after all, therapy has been such a beautiful thing. Even with K’s house move in September I didn’t lose her, didn’t lose our connection, I trusted it was there and that I would be able to connect to it when it felt safe again. I knew she was there and that we were in it together, that she was there holding our space till I could move into it again. And at the start of the pandemic I was experiencing horrific attachment pain, but it wasn’t disorganised attachment pain – I needed her all the time but it didn’t feel shameful. I wasn’t caught in that awful push/pull of needing to reach out but not feeling able to in case it pushes her away like I am now. I am so disappointed that not meeting face-to-face, with no clear idea of when ‘normal’ therapy will resume, has set me back. It means the thousands I’ve spent on therapy feels totally wasted and I wonder why I bothered if this can still happen to me. What hope is there for me to ever have an intimate relationship when I cannot tolerate this one even after all these years?

I wish I could be someone who benefits in almost the same way from video or phone therapy as in-person, but I just don’t. I need proximity to feel safe. I’m triggered already by not being able to get to her, that in itself is plunging me into flashbacks and causing stress and dissociation, and then when we have a session by phone or video call and I can’t take that in either, it is just fucking agony. We have had some good sessions, definitely, but nothing like what we would have in-person. And they don’t leave me feeling full up and connected and contained. And sometimes the sessions trigger me because I’m relatively fine and then there is the painful reminder of not being able to reach her and not knowing how long this could go on for.

I wish I could take a break and trust she will be there when I come back, but I can’t. I can’t trust any of it. I get worried she’ll make me start back in a different slot, take away the Friday email, stop my discounted fee, or just decide to stop being a therapist. This is of course compounded by the thyroid issues she is having at the moment. She says she is keeping working, but who knows. As many of us will have been painfully reminded recently while reading about the heartbreak of a fellow blogger, our ability to continue the most important relationship of our lives is dependent on so many things that are completely out of our control, even more so at the moment than ever. I don’t know if a break would help anyway. I’m basically just holding out for when we can meet in-person again, but the end doesn’t even seem to be in sight right now, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this. Would I settle without her, as I’ve been able to do so much of the time over the past 8 weeks, or would it trigger an absolute abandonment tidal wave?

And of course this isn’t the only difficult thing in my life right now, obviously, so it doesn’t feel the right time to take away my main source of support for the past almost-five years. The world is free-falling into disaster. Nina is home for at least another 3 and a half months and likely to be only in school part-time for most if not all of the next academic year, my work is going to be super stressful next year if I survive the jobs cull in September, stuff has come up around both my parents that I need to work through (I’m not doing trauma work remotely so we are waiting till we are in the room together to do this work if possible, but stuff still comes up that needs sharing and processing), Nina is fine but also experiencing understandably huge emotional waves I have to help her hold, so I still need K’s support with these things over the coming weeks and months. I just don’t know if I can keep working remotely. I want to but I also want to stop and it is hell being caught between two painful and impossible options. I wish I knew how much longer it would be like this, and whether I will get back to how I was in therapy or whether all that work is lost forever.

Haunted

Last night I got hit by a huge wave of grief and pain and sadness over my mum – being estranged from her, who she is and the life she has had and is living now, memories of happy times together when I was growing up that punctuate the years of chaos and abuse. It’s almost like my brain thought ‘hey, you’re not in crisis anymore, have this instead!’. It didn’t rip me open like it has before, but it is a deep sadness that she is not in my life, as well as an uneasiness that maybe I made a mistake in terms of cutting her out because it can’t have been that bad (that old friend again…). And of course at the moment the spectre of so much death is looming and it is natural to feel drawn towards our primary caregivers and to feel a need to be in a place of peace with those in our lives who may be taken away. It is sad and unnatural not to have those people in our lives and I am trying to just let that pain be there without thinking it needs to be acted upon or that it means I made a mistake by cutting contact with mum. I managed to distract last night and have felt okay today, though aware of young and teen parts crying, and then managed to have a painful, but holding and adult, conversation with K about it and let out some of the sadness that has been building throughout the day.

The past few days things have been quite a bit easier generally. I feel much more settled internally and this makes it easier to stay present and focus on my own life, and to deal with the uncertainty that is manifesting in the external world without getting destabilised and drawn into issues that are sad and scary but that are not directly affecting my well-being at this time. It may not last, but for now I feel okay and am managing self-care and spiritual practices and enjoying the slower pace of life that living under lockdown brings. It is nice to be in a place of stability and to feel at peace with what is happening even though so much is not okay, whilst also accepting that there will be more times on this journey when I feel lost and isolated and like K has abandoned me, and perhaps when people in my life who I care about are directly affected (physically, emotionally, financially) by what is unfolding. I feel quite withdrawn and introspective at the moment too and I am aware how little social interaction I actually need to feel okay, provided it is good quality and nurturing as the phone and video calls, and time with Nina at home, I’ve had over the weekend has been. (I also know I could easily get used to this self-regulating state and need to watch myself that I don’t settle and withdraw from the world too much).

I’m in the middle of another period of extended trauma dreams, where the nights are an endless tangle of past relationships and a parade of people who were once important in my life trek through my mind, their memory haunting me for days afterwards and leaving me struggling to metabolise their emotional presence in my life again. In our session this afternoon K said it is no surprise these past attachments are coming in just as I am also struggling with missing my mum and with the familiar questions over whether things with her were really so bad as to justify this. She says it makes sense for me to be piecing together in my dreams past attachments that, whilst not so important in terms of what we’ve covered in therapy, were really important in my life at different times. I said I find it hard knowing those people will never know why I behaved how I did because at the time I didn’t know why I was how I was. I will always be the crazy, intense, psycho ex-girlfriend who got drunk and angry and cried and self-harmed and tried to throw myself onto train tracks or stormed out in the night telling them never to contact me again (and then, of course, calling them 10 minutes later to make sure they knew just how hurt and angry I was, desperate for them to beg me to return but also desperate to get away and not be hurt again). Speaking to K I realised it’s almost as if my mind is looking for proof of what mum did to me in those past relationships, proof that it was that bad growing up with her as a mum, because it led me to behave in such out of control ways, particularly in intimate relationships.

I linked this also to a book I read over the weekend about a former alcoholic which was, quite by accident, or perhaps synchronicity, really such a good book for me to read at the moment. Life has felt kind of dull and flat, inside and out, this past week and I have felt myself drawn to alcohol and substances to provide some excitement and stimulation. I’ve been sober for 3 and a half years now (see here where I wrote about some of my journey with – and without – alcohol and other drugs) and in many ways it is really only beginning to become apparent just how needed and necessary that sobriety was. With hindsight it has become far, far clearer what a destructive force drinking was in my life and just how out of control it left me. The intense shame that has crippled me all my life was quadrupled by alcohol and it led me to behave in ways that made everything I was going through a hundred million times worse. I can see that turning to alcohol at this time would be dangerous and self-destructive and yet it is calling to me and it is interesting to see how strongly it is there despite how many years have gone by.

Something in me knew it was time to stop drinking back in 2015 and 2016 and I managed a couple of sober periods in those years, usually three months at a time, but they always ended with me getting absolutely horrifyingly drunk and crying on people I barely knew then blacking out, waking up in my own vomit with no idea how I’d got home or where my belongings were. Not ideal. Over the past few years I’ve often thought of my decision to stop drinking completely as something that could have gone either way – I could have chosen to drink more moderately or to not drink alone, to not drink with my partner when I am next in a relationship to avoid angry attachment-fuelled outbursts and crazy, dramatic crying scenes, or to not drink when I am feeling sad or destructive or reckless or already out of control, or not to drink when with people I might get triggered by or might be driven to share too much with, or might end up saying something I regret to. Waking up covered in shame happens all too easily for me when I’ve had a drink, even just one, and so as the years have gone by I’ve become more and more committed to this being a life choice that will stay with me forever. I used to phrase it to inquiring people (colleagues mostly, who are always gobsmacked that I don’t drink, perhaps because they’ve not seen the trail of destruction that follows me whenever I have a drink in my hand) that I had ‘drunk a lot over the past 20 years and was taking some time away to re-evaluate my relationship with it’. That usually quietened them, and it is actually what I’ve ended up doing – re-evaluated my relationship with it and realised I cannot have it in my life in a way that is not toxic and harmful.

The truth is I am not really able to drink. Having it in my life as an option, something I try to be in relationship with and work out how to be around a bit, means there is always the potential for things to go very wrong. The author of the book I read definitely drank more than me, definitely was an alcoholic whereas I would say I was ‘just’ dependent on alcohol (and, later in my life, other drugs), definitely made more of a mess of her life due to alcohol than I ever did. And yet, so much of her story resonated with me. My mum used to worry about the amount I drank. She would warn me to be careful, remind me that alcoholism runs in my family (her dad and her half brother were both alcoholics and both died quite young (my mum lost both her parents by the age of 17) either directly or indirectly as a result of alcohol abuse) and I would laugh and shrug it off because I was in my 20s and early 30s and that’s what people do at that age to have fun. Being able to look back on my drinking from a place of sobriety enables me to see that I was never drinking just because it was fun, there was so much more going on than that, always, and it is this that means that drinking is not a choice I can make if I am serious about healing myself from the past.

Perhaps I was in need of this reframing right now, when I’m sure in many ways a few drinks would bring me comfort and relief, just as it is for hundreds of thousands of others across the globe. I was saying to K how I could see how nice it must be at the moment to be at home with a few drinks and connecting virtually with groups of friends who were also drinking. I miss that. I wish I was part of it, even though I’m sure it is super lonely at the same time. I was also saying how my sister had said we’d have to do some kind of ‘virtual party’ for my birthday in a few weeks and I was thinking how much nicer that would be for me with some drinks (her and her partner were drinking red wine on Saturday evening when we FaceTimed them and it left me desperately longing for the same). I sometimes think the choice I made not to drink is too harsh on myself, ‘too extreme’ (my mum’s favourite phrase to describe most things about me), and that there could be a comfortable middle ground between total abstinence and binge drinking and/or self-medicating with alcohol, if only I let myself embrace it. This book served as a very helpful reminder that for me that middle ground does not exist. Part of AA is the ‘one day at a time’ mantra but also the emphasis on choice – alcoholics cannot ‘choose’ to just have one or two drinks and therefore they cannot drink at all. Whilst I am not, strictly speaking, an alcoholic, I am slowly coming to see that this choice does not exist for me either. The possibility of getting blackout drunk and doing something utterly degrading and humiliating, or self-destructive and shame-provoking, is always there because I find it so, so hard to stop drinking once I’ve started.

I tend to think of ‘stopping drinking’ as something that has not really been a big part of my healing journey, my recovery. It’s something I talk about as incidental and shrug off, perhaps because I am not ready to face just how awful I was at times when drinking was such a huge part of who I was. I often forget what a huge part of my life it was for 20 years and just how much of a storm of destruction it tore through my life. I don’t see how huge it is that we are in the middle of a global pandemic that left me reeling and in a huge attachment crisis and yet I haven’t reached for a bottle of something to help me through. It is huge though. I play it down because it still feels dull and anti-social not to drink, and embarrassing to admit that alcohol had such a grip one me that I now cannot touch it at all, but it is huge that I have gone so long without getting drunk and that I rarely even think of it now. I also know the longing to drink will never leave me completely and so it is important to revisit the reasons I don’t drink and remember just how many fucking horrendous rows and crying, screaming meltdowns I’ve had because of it, how many times I’ve called and texted people I shouldn’t have and said things that never should have been spoken out loud. Occasionally I probably could manage to just have one or two drinks, but the problem is that when that is there as an option for me there is no telling which of those occasions will lead to a time when I drink too much or do something I really regret. I’m really lucky to be alive and not in jail after some of the reckless nights out I’ve had on drink and illegal drugs – K told me earlier about someone she heard of who accidentally killed their boyfriend whilst they were both taking substances, and reminded me that there, but for the grace of God, go I…

So, just for today, I am re-committing to my journey of sobriety and estrangement. The two go hand-in-hand in many ways because both have involved freeing myself from the mental distortions that enabled me to keep going back to people and places that were so destructive and damaging for me. K said the dreams about past relationships and friendships make sense in terms of what I am figuring out and still trying to make sense of about mum and her life and what it did to me. Revisiting those relationships, of which my relationship with alcohol formed such a huge part and was such a huge indicator of how totally fucked up and incapable of true intimacy I was, is part of my subconscious trying to work out what mum did to me and how it caused me to feel and behave in relationships. It’s like I can only see how bad it was to have her as a mum when I see how out of control and borderline psychotic at times I was throughout my life. My behaviour and emotional dysregulation and sensitivity to perceived abandonment, and my attempts to regulate and cope with my feelings and dissociation using substances, are all evidence of how damaging my mum was, something that is still too painful to really hold in awareness for most of the time.

It was nice to do what felt like ‘proper therapy work’ with K, instead of fighting the coronavirus-fuelled attachment panic that descended for so long. It’s strange working by phone, there seems to be less of a narrative, less of a sense of pulling things together and finding our way through and out the other side of things in partnership. It’s like I need a constant reminder that she knows all these things, that she knows my life and what has happened, that she still understands why I don’t see mum, what my childhood was like, what it has left me with. It was horrible sitting on my bed crying over all this, over mum and the past and all that not having her did to me, and being alone in my room instead of safe with K opposite me in her cosy therapy space. It is not good enough. At one point I dissociated and disappeared which is such a strange thing to experience happening when she is so far away. I said how much we hate not being there and she said she hates us not being there too, that she finds it really sad, but that she is still here for us. I think for now knowing she misses us being there and is committed to keeping us close and connected during this time has to be enough, but I hope a day will soon come when we can be with her and that she is right – we will have memories of this time to add to all the other memories we have of being together.

Cruel summer

I think a certain level of acceptance of how long we will be living like this is gradually settling around the country now. I’ve known in my heart for a while [I say a while, it’s probably been a week, time is moving so strangely at the moment and it feels like years have passed every time I sit down to write. It is like this for so many I am sure] that it will be many, many months till K and I resume face-to-face sessions, till Nina returns to school, till life goes back to some semblance of normality. I am constantly having to push away fears that K and I will never see each other again, or if we do it will just be to say goodbye because weekly sessions are no longer feasible long-term. It is always hard to know what could be real. I am trying to trust that we will come through this challenge and our work will go back to normal, because it is all there is to do. It is hard though.

Last night I watched a beautiful sunset from the country park where we live. The sky was wide and open and I felt free for just a few minutes. Life at home is stifling but we are doing okay in some ways. I feel more restless than overwhelmed. Either a calm acceptance or a huge amount of dissociation is engulfing me, who knows. There is a lot of worry that if the bunnies get ill during this time we won’t be able to get them vet treatment. This seems to be where the anxiety is being channeled today. Yesterday it was mostly freaking out that my job really isn’t safe. I text my old Head of Department and asked if our jobs are safe in the medium term. He says many institutions like ours won’t survive this, but that we are among the top and so in a strong position and I don’t need to worry. He knows a lot about how our institution works, and particularly its financial position, and it did reassure me. It’s just hard to shake the sense that this is how our world, here in the UK, will end, that this is just the start of the great unravelling that is well under way in many parts of society and across the globe already.

One of my friends also triggered me last night when I mentioned the fear of redundancies where I am, as she responded that we need Universal Basic Income – of course we do, I know this and I think it is coming, but I don’t think losing my job and having UBI would leave me with enough money to pay for therapy, or for the car I need to run to get to therapy. My mortgage is astronomical. I have zero savings and still more than £6k of debt to pay off. I have spent a TERRIFYING amount on therapy over the past five years, it makes me feel quite sick. I try to tell myself it was needed, still is needed, that probably we would just have a slightly bigger house, a newer car, memories of a few more holidays, had I not spent the money on that. I also try to reassure myself also that had I not done the work I’ve done with K I could (would!) have totally screwed Nina up and possibly even killed us both as this was my plan when I started therapy in August 2015, but it is hard to shake the sense that I have been really stupid spending so much money on that when I could have been saving for the end of the world. To be honest, I don’t really understand how UBI works, I just know that as things were (still are for me, it is important to remember – my job isn’t immediately under threat) I would be out of debt by August next year and able to save a little amount each month and pay for therapy too. I am so careful with money. I just wanted a little time where I didn’t have to be, before the climate crisis sweeps across the UK and life as we know it drastically changes…

K has always said I’m the person who reminds her most often how important it is to trust in the universe, to not have a scarcity mindset that attracts the very thing we are all so fearful of, but it is hard to hold on to this trust when all around us is panic and fear of everything running out and disappearing and no one having enough (loo roll stock-piling really epitomises this dominant mindset!). And at times it feels like such a privileged way to be living, to be able to trust that money will work itself out and to use evidence that despite difficulties during my PhD and the uncertainty of getting a post afterwards, it always has in the past, and that the universe is on my side because once I started to trust it, it has always brought me the right houses at the right time and brought me K, because not everyone has these luxuries I know, but at other times I think a safe home and a therapist who knows how to work with the identity fragmentation that follows childhood abuse and trauma isn’t really a luxury at all. I don’t know. I do want to trust though, that K and I will carry on working during this challenging time and pick up face-to-face sessions when we can.

I feel so angry that this is happening, sad that we are losing the Spring and Summer, fearful for those who are not safe at home due to abuse or neglect. I am angry that China are continuing to lie and have been giving us all false hope. I am apprehensive about how work will be for the next year and how rather than getting less stressful as we enter ‘the quieter time’ it is about to get even more stressful and reactive there. I nearly lose my shit when I see people talking about how living like this, physically distant from each other, will become ‘the new normal’ because it can’t – we are being deprived of the basic necessities of a life worth living. It is vital for now, of course it is, but virtual connection will never be as good. We are relational beings – we need regulation from others, we need companionship, we need community, and we cannot get these things through a screen. They are obviously important to help us manage through this time but they can never replace what we get from each other and being part of the world – natural and man-made, and I do really hope people never get used to this new, and hopefully temporary, way of being. It is not that I want to be surrounded by people all the time, but that I enjoy being part of everything so much, and solitude is something I value highly only because it is such a rarity for me and helps to bring me back to myself.

I have also been wondering what it is about my particular brand of attachment trauma that means that without meeting I don’t feel K is my therapist anymore and I don’t feel we have a real relationship. I am aware on a cognitive level that we do, that what we have endures across time and space and distance, that I am held in mind and in her heart, that she knows me and that won’t stop because she doesn’t physically see us, but at the same time I still feel somewhere deep inside that I am losing her and that as the months of phone and Skype go by she will slip further and further away and that she will let me go. I see others who are struggling with what is happening around us but are able to transition more easily into working remotely, and I am unsure why not being able to physically get to K is such a huge trigger for me and activates my attachment system so extensively. Of course there are concerns that I won’t have privacy for our sessions because Nina will be here, but it is not just that which is causing this.

After crying all afternoon on Friday I reached out to K by text, explaining that I wasn’t going to manage until Monday without contacting her so was doing it before the proper weekend started. We had spoken earlier that day but young parts hadn’t been reached. It is so hard finding time for everyone when life is so utterly crazy. You really know you have a complex dissociative disorder when you have parts getting triggered by not having ‘time with’ your therapist despite a phone call! In our phone session I had told her that the text exchange on Tuesday and Thursday mornings was really helping. She was pleased to hear that and said we would need to review it – we panicked and she said ‘no, not to take it away’, but that I might need more support in a month. This is scary. Every time she mentions the length of time we could be forced to work like this or says the C word we feel jarred and triggered – it makes it all feel much too real, that she is talking about something that really cannot possibly be happening. I asked in my text if we could talk about putting more planned support in place for a while, particularly for young parts, and said that I would look at money…

She said of course we could make a plan. I know she wants to support and hold all of me and to be there for young parts throughout this. More contact time is definitely needed at the moment but I’m not sure in what form or if it would even help. What would be enough right now? I prefer speaking by phone as it feels closer and I know K feels she can listen and hear much better on the phone than with a screen that sometimes freezes and so on, but I think Skype is also needed and I think a time that is dedicated to young parts is needed – when we work in-person young parts are settled just from being with K, but I don’t think they get the benefit of phone contact unless they are being addressed directly. It’s weird, but I think time they know is theirs, to ask questions and have stories and maybe do some ‘remote crafting’ would be helpful.

I feel so conflicted over needing and planning extra support. Part of me is thinking if I have the means to pay for a little extra support and contact during this time I should, and I do have the means for now because obviously some outgoings will reduce for the next six months (refund on tickets for Taylor Swift in Hyde Park, sob). But then there are parts who are fearful that we should be saving money for what comes next, that spending too much on therapy now could mean Nina has to go without food in the future, or that I can’t afford to see K at all. I can’t work out what are adult worries and what are young worries, what is adult caution and what is a young part trying to exert control over something that is ultimately impossible to control. And of course always is the need to balance what I spend on therapy with the fact that for an extended period of time now it has kept me ‘stable enough’ to work. Without therapy during a global pandemic I sense that my ability to work would be severely compromised! I also feel selfish because whilst I’ve donated some money for PPE for NHS staff and will donate money to a food poverty charity tomorrow when I get paid, I could obviously be helping a lot more if I wasn’t spending so much money on therapy.

Every so often I think it would be easier to take a break from therapy, from K, for the whole 6 months or more that this shit show lasts for because it is too triggering to have contact with her and not be able to physically reach her. There is some sense in this, when so much of my overwhelm is due to not being able to reach her. I could forget about her, stabilise somehow, maybe. I don’t think it is the answer though. Too much is coming up, my family situation is too present, my dissociated parts too present, my old unhealthy coping mechanisms too activated, to suddenly plunge us all into a life without K or therapy. So I am left wondering what to do, whether I can afford another half an hour session per week to help contain this crisis, and whether even if I can it is what I should be spending money on…

There, brain dump over! Thanks for making it to the end of this post if you did, and hoping my dear readers are coping as well as possible during these turbulent times.

I know places

****TW mention of suicide****

Last night I saw in the news that a 19 year old girl took her life last week due to fears over the isolation needed because of Coronavirus. She had told her family days before that we should expect the suicide rate to increase as a result of the outbreak and that more needed to be done to support those with existing mental health problems during this time. I found it heart-breaking – I’d already said to a few people that I suspected this would happen, and I highly doubt she will be the last as so many are plunged into uncertain times and losing the support they depend upon. I also read that new research indicates that if a country’s GDP falls below a certain level for a certain period of time there will be more deaths in the medium term as a result of it than there will be due to the virus itself. This poses a clear moral dilemma for any government as they will need to balance harm averted with harm inflicted by the measures and reach a decision that citizens find palatable (whilst also not wanting to risk being voted out at the next election!). People are much better at ignoring threats that are invisible and far enough ahead to not affect daily life (think climate crisis!) and so I suspect most would not agree with the decision to stop measures to prevent the virus, despite knowing this may cause more harm in the longer term… Anyway, let’s just hope testing improves so we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.

I do find it really surprising that more isn’t being done to support those who are already really struggling with mental illness. There is, rightly, a huge amount of support that will be provided by volunteers for the 1.4 million UK citizens who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ to getting hospitalised because of the virus, but it makes me fearful for all those who won’t be on this list but are extremely vulnerable to the impact of having their ordinary support and coping routines disrupted. My GP said on the phone yesterday that whilst almost everyone is struggling at the moment, they are aware that those who are already dealing with things like I am are really having a difficult time. She said they will continue to support me but I just don’t think people without mental illness understand that a 5 minute phone call every two weeks or more really isn’t much support. I am lucky to have such a good GP, who understands the complexity of what I am dealing with, but the idea that this is ‘supporting me through this crisis’ is so far-fetched. K said I needed tell her about the self-harm, suicidal thoughts and research into Cyanide availability, and that I’m not eating, so I did and I told her that my therapist has said she’ll need to speak to her if things don’t improve, but she didn’t seem hugely concerned and I ended up just reassuring her that I would be okay and would get through. I do this so often, such a well-engrained habit of protecting other people from feeling any discomfort because of me.

I also thought last night how hard this is for people with eating disorders, how easy it will be for those with anorexia who have not yet come to the attention of their GP or other services to drop to dangerous levels of food intake and weight because no one will see them for weeks on end. I have lost 9lbs in 16 days and I am aware of the risks of not eating at this time and have been trying to eat protein shakes and porridge and dahl. I was in need of losing a little weight and I also want to be strong enough to cycle, so whilst I can see that things can’t keep going and that even two a half weeks is a long time of barely eating and not good for me, I am not too worried (maybe I also want to act like I’m in control of this and it is not ‘too dangerous’, I see that. I am at least trying not to keep it hidden). There will be so many more who are triggered into old eating disordered behaviours because of this outbreak, or who were already deep in it when it started but no one knew, and it worries me how invisible it could become.

It also makes me feel lucky – some of the support I have been getting isn’t helping and it definitely isn’t enough, but I do know people are there. They may not understand attachment pain and panic and the depth of the work K and I are doing, but there are at least people who know I am struggling. After I wrote on Monday I had my phone session with K and then felt completely bereft and afraid and called the crisis line and spoke to the same person as before but this time she completely triggered me because she wasn’t listening or engaging and was leaving huge silences and was clearly texting or emailing with others whilst we were talking – surely this is something that just shouldn’t be done. It would be better if they are busy just not to answer, or to check if the person is actively suicidal or self-harming at that moment and if they are physically safe to arrange to call back later. It made me feel so pathetic and like I wasn’t in enough need, in enough of a crisis, to have called. She told us to ‘have a bath’ (FFS, this is like the worst mental health crisis advice ever!) and call later if needed but we all felt so triggered and rejected and ashamed that we won’t be calling again. We self-harmed really badly afterwards, loads of cuts that are still sore today, but it did really settle and soothe things. That is the sad reality – it does help when other ways of calming things are unattainable.

It does seem as though K is really the only person who can provide the support we all need at the moment. I do have lots of friends who are definitely helping, but because this is about my fear of K and I being separated she is the only one who can really soothe it. So maybe it is better that it is only her I go to for regular support and then just use other things to distract during this time. When I’m desperate I kind of expect that I might call a helpline who make things worse, but I don’t want to have someone who says they are there to support us all through this then being weird and triggering us all. The between (phone) session contact, especially the morning texts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with K is really helping. Most mornings I wake early in a total panic, dread clutching at my chest and my tummy tight and tense, feeling totally unable to get through this time away from K whilst everything else is so uncertain too. Being able to text her and know a response will come straightaway is really helping to settle things. Last night I was doing better, definitely feeling calmer and more contained and adult, and then got triggered in the evening (see below) and knowing I could text first thing this morning really helped. We text at 8.30 and she replied straightway with the perfect response. It is amazing how one text from her settles everything now, how she always knows the right thing to say, and how everyone inside can take it in now. In response to our worries she said she hears and sees us all as much as ever and that she hopes things can go back to normal as soon as possible (we are worried she’ll decide to work without face-to-face forever, or will give the second half of my double session to someone else so it is not there when we can go back to meeting). She reminded me I can do this and to keep cycling and eating dahl!

Yesterday ended up being a mildly better day. On Monday evening Nina thought she had started her periods but it turned out to be blood from a kidney infection – we ended up at A&E to see the out of hours doctor on Tuesday night as she was feeling very unwell with bad pain above her right kidney. She is doing much better now with antibiotics and having to switch into my adult and be very present on Tuesday evening really helped to ground me, so that was an unexpected benefit of her getting ill. The reason I then got triggered again last night was because I saw on K’s website she is offering reduced online sessions of half an hour for people who are overwhelmed by the Covid crisis and it makes me worried she will take on too much and make herself ill, but I tried to remind myself she has worked in maximum security psychiatric wards and state hospitals before she went into private practice and that she is good at dealing with other people’s crises. She also doesn’t have anyone else at home (her partner returned from Portugal last week with their other 3 dogs but she has sent them to live in the stables building down the lane with a camping stove which makes us all laugh a lot – she’s definitely settled into living alone since he moved abroad and doesn’t want him full time in the house again!) and looks after herself well. I think everyone is worried at the moment about their Ts burning out or getting ill, but I have to trust that she will be careful and would prioritise existing clients if things got too much.

Nina is doing better emotionally since Sunday. It’s possible she was getting ill then which is why everything felt so hard (she had a huge strop when we were out cycling, amongst other times), but also I’m sure she needed space to experience and process her big feelings around her life changing so dramatically. She was in a much better place on Monday and is her usual self again now – at the moment she is in the study (thank goodness we moved house before this outbreak!) doing her school work. Her teachers are emailing work according to the students’ normal timetable and then are available to answer questions about it during the normal lesson time. She took yesterday off due to the kidney infection so she will have lots to do today and that is keeping her busy. Yesterday we read in the garden and watched the bunnies and guinea pigs most of the day. Things felt more spacious and I could tell that Nina will be OK during this time, even if she has understandable dips in mood and frustrations. I am really lucky she doesn’t really have struggles in life as this is making parenting through this crisis easier. The biggest challenge will be not having any space for myself at home, but when she is feeling okay the house feels more spacious and she is respectful of my needs. And luckily her and I really do like each other and laugh a lot, I know this is not the case for all families at this time! My friend who also has CPTSD has a 12 year old daughter who experiences depression and anxiety and is really struggling without her routine and with all the fear and anxiety around generally at the moment. This is making it really hard for my friend who has to support her daughter through multiple meltdowns and provide lots of emotional support and mental stimulation each day despite finding things hard herself, and I really feel for her. Nina is very good at entertaining herself and seems to automatically know to do things that are good for her in a way that has taken me years to develop – eating well, staying active, varying her activities, doing creative projects. Nina’s ability to express her worries and feel her feelings – even if they are a little out of control at times – and then return to baseline during this uncertain and strange time is providing me with more reassurance that she is securely attached and a generally happy and content person.

On Monday I return to work (from home, obviously) after my sick leave. K is not sure I should, she is worried the stress will be too much for me, especially as Nina is on Easter holidays next week so won’t have school work to keep her busy, but I am going to try. I only have a week and then I have a week and a half annual leave, and then when I go back Nina will be ‘back to school’ and being emailed work so we will be able to settle into a routine. I am hoping having work to focus on next week will help me, plus also I don’t want an extended time off because if the institution I work for cannot sustain at its current level without international travel next year and less attending due to a global recession then I don’t want to be one of those who is made redundant. Plus it is about to be the ‘quieter’ six months at work and there will be many days when no one will really notice what I am doing – or not doing – because we have to set our own work and goals around research. I’ll see how it goes anyway, but sometimes my work does help to steady me and provides a clear sense of purpose and fulfilment.

So today I am feeling OK. Not my usual self by any means, but OK. I am going to spend some time outside reading and go on a bike ride again. The house is it’s normal tidy and organised state again which always makes me feel better, and I am going to do a thorough clean of each room when I’m on annual leave after next week. I said to K in our check-in email yesterday (even that moving from Friday to Wednesday feels incredibly unsettling!) that I know I have all the resources and spiritual practices needed to get through this period, I know there is a peaceful place that lives inside of me and enables me to do the right things to care for myself, but it is very hard to do these things and access this place when my attachment system is haywire. It gets to the point where nothing else matters but her but yesterday gave me a small glimpse of that stable and calm space I was so often in before this crisis, where there are other things in my life aside from K. I also feel incredibly lucky that so far I feel connected to her still and able to tell her exactly what I’m experiencing attachment-wise, without shame or fear, and receive what I need in response. Every so often I worry that what I need will be too much for her (which is partly why I asked for daily contact of some sort each week day, because I know this is easier for her than regular crisis support and extra sessions) but I think it is important to remember that now she knows how to support me and what I need and so we are not both activating each other. I don’t feel suspicious or mistrustful of her and I know she misses seeing us all, and that we will see each other as soon as we are able. She said on Monday that we are both in agreement that how we are working is not as good as face-to-face work and this is reassuring. I think it is really important for every single person who is living under lockdown that we don’t get used to not seeing each other and being outside because this is what makes us human and part of this incredible universe. People getting used to this feels like a death sentence and I hold hope that we all survive it and come out the other side remembering how important it is to hug and share food and be together, even when we are not saying anything at all.

If this was a movie

K has suspected Coronavirus. She text to say she has chills, pain, a cough and a mild cold but because we live in the mother-f*cking UK where people in the community aren’t being tested she doesn’t know for sure. She has been advised to self-isolate for 7 days and says we will work by phone tomorrow and make a plan for me to see her dogs (who have just got home from Portugal today and I was expecting to see tomorrow). Obviously this will depend on how she is though as she may not be well enough to work by phone. I also have a tight chest and tickly throat so maybe I am getting it now too, as I saw K on Monday and we did cutting and sticking together, but it could also just be the amount I’ve cried this week. I’m not too worried if I am – I think the general consensus is that most people can only get it once (a few cases of people seemingly getting it twice have been reported, but it doesn’t appear to be a common thing) and so presumably we could meet if we’d both had it and I could also reduce the levels of anxiety over touching things and going to the shops and so on. I am obviously worried about Nina’s asthma, but to be honest getting it sooner rather than later is better for her as it would be before the NHS was totally overloaded if she were to need to go to hospital with exacerbated asthma.

I guess the issue is that because people here are not getting tested unless they are hospitalised we may not know if either of has had it for sure, but K rarely gets ill and has had her winter flu jab so to me it seems likely. I guess we just wait and see. I worry she will get very ill with it because she has underlying health conditions, but is vegan and eats well and takes good care of herself so hopefully she will be fine. She has been sending photos of the dogs this afternoon and says she is okay. The hospitals here aren’t completely over-burdened yet as far as I know, so if she were to develop breathing difficulties she would get the treatment she needs. And she will take care of herself afterwards so that she recovers properly.

It’s interesting how my attachment system reacts. We had a cry when we first got her text, as it is scary for little people when their attachment figure is unwell, but we are relatively calm and okay now and not freaking out about not being able to go tomorrow. I think it is that ever-present fear that we won’t see her that is really difficult to manage. I still feel completely awful and anxious and on edge and cried as soon as I woke up this morning about managing an extended time without seeing K in person and all that brings with it. My GP called earlier and has advised that there is crisis support I can access from 6pm to midnight every night if I need it, so that is good. She says it’s hard because my needs are complex and only my therapist knows how to help really, but that the crisis line is staffed by mental health professionals so should have a good understanding of what is going on for me and therefore are unlikely to trigger me further.

It is awful witnessing how much fear and hardship is unfolding across the globe, I am trying really hard to switch off from it tonight because I really need to get myself in a better place if I am to cope with what is ahead for humanity. Food is still not happening and I don’t know what to do about this. The thought of eating feels very unsafe. We are making cards for K and the dogs to put in the post later as a friend dropped round some stamps earlier. I worry my blog sounds like all I care about is myself and my therapist as this global catastrophe unfolds, but of course that is not true – this is my place to write about what is going on for me emotionally and I am deeply aware of how much suffering and fear there already is, and that it will get worse, and my heart hurts for all that is happening.

 

 

 

 

The last time

K and I agreed during our phone call that we will work via Skype, email and text from Monday. We are meeting for a final face-to-face session (for now I hope!) on Thursday or Monday, depending on when her car is fixed. So unless one of us gets sick before then we have two more hours with her and she is going to lend us lots of books and it is a relief to be going there with the knowledge it is the last time for a while, rather than being cut off suddenly. This feels utterly horrendous but the right thing for both of us. It feels too risky to keep meeting when her and Nina have asthma and K has the thyroid disorder – imagine if she got hit badly by the virus and had a massive health flare. And it means we won’t be on edge every single week wondering if the next session will go ahead. It will be hugely challenging and I have wailed and sobbed a lot this afternoon and felt so unsafe I’ve called my GP to ask about crisis support, but nothing about this current situation is not challenging, for anyone.

We are going to split the double session to do hour long phone sessions on Mondays and Fridays,  with our usual quick email check-in on Wednesdays (we’d both individually thought this would work best) and I’ve asked if at the start I can pay a bit for text check-ins on Tuesdays and Thursdays because I’d rather know that is there then need to be in absolute crisis to get contact on those days. It will be good to know it is there however I am doing. My biggest fear is totally cutting off from her and becoming incredibly dissociated and forgetting who she is. I hope the level of contact will stop this. She also said she would let me know how she is if she got sick, because that would be awful to know she’d caught it and not know how she was with it. I really hope I can start to stabilise, not least because I need to build my immune system up and I’m still not eating. Today I had 3 chick pea rissoles at 6.30 plus a Vitamin C and Zinc drink. This is not enough and is more than I’ve had some days. I am going to try and sort this out tomorrow.

The call was helpful but left me feeling utterly bereft and I’ve struggled a lot this afternoon. It is just too much to think that I won’t see K every week or be in my safe space and there is so much fear from young parts that we won’t be as close, won’t be special, won’t be real anymore, that she won’t see and hear them and hold them. It is really so much to cope with, for all those whose therapy is disrupted – K said it is just so difficult as my work with her has been such a consistent source of support, but she is heavily invested in our work continuing. After we spoke I felt really desperate and rang a friend in floods of tears which I rarely do. She really calmed and soothed me and says she’s really here to help me through this. She really understands my attachment to K and doesn’t judge me for it. It settled me for a while but then I got overwhelmed again and sobbed and wailed and wanted to die. I thought about going to hospital because I felt so unsafe, but obviously that is not ideal at the moment. K has said she thinks I need 24/7 support really and she is very worried about me.I don’t want that on top of everything else she has to deal with. I’ve rang my GP surgery and hopefully my GP will call tomorrow (again! She only rang this morning!) and let me know what crisis support is available. I said to the secretary that I was aware that it is the wrong time to have a crisis but that this is probably the worst my mental health has ever been (I don’t necessarily feel worse than I ever have, but it all feels utterly hopeless) and I need some help. My sister is a counselling psychologist with the NHS and she says there will still be crisis support. I hope so as I genuinely am having a lot of suicidal thoughts and feelings and am scared I’ll get the virus really badly due to all this emotional stress and lack of food.

I am going to take sleeping tablets now and hope I actually sleep tonight because that would definitely help. Nina just said that “day 1” wasn’t too bad and I told her I was struggling because I wouldn’t see K for such a long time – I said it was like if she was told she could only talk to me on the phone for months and perhaps longer (we are 12-18 months from a vaccine) because K is the most important person in my life apart from her and she did understand that. Tough times ahead but I do feel K and I have a good plan in place at least. Love to all who those who are also struggling with these types of issues and thanks for the comments on my last post – too tired to respond now but I will.

 

Hold on

“I know how to hold you all” have to be the most soothing words I’ve ever heard because not only does it mean we are all held, but also that it is safe to be held – K knows what she is doing, it is not an accident that she makes us feel better, it won’t just stop working between us and disappear. Just had (another!) crisis phone session – me sitting in my car in the pouring rain with a cup of tea and my duvet in case Nina woke up whilst we were talking. I meditated this morning and then fell into an absolute panic stricken state again, racing heart and total craziness. I text and said I couldn’t survive this and she offered a phone session but I said no initially because of money, but then got worse because tomorrow feels forever away, so I text back and said could we (let’s face it, none of us are going anywhere or spending much money for a while and this doesn’t seem the time to be worrying about debt (for me personally, I know for others there will be genuine and very frightening financial implications of this outbreak and I am donating money) and we spoke straight after.

It really helped, thank goodness. The panic had been triggered, among other things, by her partner emailing me yesterday to say he was trying to get home (he moved to Portugal with two of their dogs who we are very attached to two and a half years ago, so he’s kept in touch sending photos of them and telling us what they are doing) with the dogs as soon as he’s got their passports (the dogs’!) sorted but that lots of Spain is in lockdown so it’s difficult. It wasn’t a very clear email and was totally triggering (would I still be allowed in the house if he was there (he’s much older than K)? would he have to self-isolate? would he disturb our sessions? would the dogs be home and us not allowed to see them (this was the first fear that came out on the phone!!)?) and I did eventually email him back and say I was triggered and could he explain a bit more (wish people would slow down and be more mindful in their communication, now more than ever that is needed). He said the syntax was that I might be seeing the dogs soon, so it was meant to be a good email!

Just hearing K’s voice helped – she is so calm. I hadn’t wanted to reach out to her about Steve because I didn’t want to make it about me when it’s probably worrying for her, but she says she’s not worried and hadn’t asked him to come (I had visions of her pacing the floor in anguish about never seeing him again, as my mum would be), but he had felt it was right to try. He might not be able to get home as he has to take the ferry because of the dogs and has to wait till Tuesday when their passport requirements are signed off at the vets, and by then most of France and Spain may be in lockdown, but he wants to try. If he gets here then I will still be allowed in the house and to see the dogs, and Steve will go back to Portugal at the end of the summer.

We were honestly hysterical on the phone trying to explain that everything else feels manageable in terms of what is ahead in my own life apart from the fear of loss of attachment, and that this means every single mention of the virus is a huge trigger. I said (sobbed) how in that place I lose sight of everything else in my life, the focus is solely on attachment because it feels threatened, and I said Friday’s call hadn’t helped but Thursday’s had (I think I was in too adult a place having just finished work, so young parts fears didn’t come out properly until after the call so that is important to notice at this time especially). And we talked through that this is because young parts need to come out and connect in order for them to settle enough for adult me to look after us all – if young parts don’t feel connected or visible to K when they are distressed everything falls apart. And I think also they need to talk to her check she is the same to them, and hasn’t forgotten how to be with them, because her not being the same is a big worry and isn’t always resolved by her being the same to adult me. So she said we will support them top down (helping adult me so I can look after them and so they benefit from the support she gives adult me) and bottom up – so she holds them and soothes them and they have time with her being quiet and held. She says how brilliant I am at resourcing, but that I can’t do that when young parts are this distressed and she asked what young parts needed today. I said they need to hear her say about us (K and us) being special and joined together and why we are special and she said how she knows all of us now and that we’ve known each other so long and that she knows how to hold us now. Honestly it was the most soothing thing because she is so right, she really does know how to hold us – I cannot imagine what this outbreak would have done to my system 3 or 4 years ago when contact with K was a lifeline but felt like it was killing me. Back then when a crisis call ended I would be plunged right back into abandonment despair and would be unable to cope because it just wasn’t enough, now mostly I feel better after talking. It has taken so long to get to that point but I am grateful I reached it before this current situation!

I still feel utterly rubbish but less on edge and able to surive until tomorrow afternoon at least. This morning Nina and I are going to buy loads of craft stuff so we can make decoupage animals over the coming weeks (sounds as though schools here will close for SIXTEEN WEEKS, it’s gonna take more than decoupage animals to survive that) and to stock up on pet food. Later on it is my turn to do the 100 mile round trip for swimming training, which I could really do without today but I guess I need to just get on with it.

Sending love to all my readers and hope you are staying strong and well during these uncertain times.

Tentative steps

I think we managed to reach K a teeny tiny bit last night, managed to take in just some of our connection and her presence again. I felt different when I woke up this morning. More settled and less overwhelmed and ready to face the day and all that I knew it would bring. Lighter. More spacious. I felt sad on the way to work, a deep sadness around my Mum and my childhood and the chronic pain and emotional distress I’ve had to learn to live with, but it was from a place of self-compassion and not an overwhelmed “I can’t keep going, this is too hard” sadness. It felt under control and also a needed sadness, if I am ever to release the shame that binds me so tightly inside my harsh internal world where on some deep and primal level I don’t feel I deserve support and understanding because it is my fault how I am. I felt less cut off from myself and K felt just a little closer in time and space. And I was curious to note how those tiny steps back towards her helped me also be in a space where my life isn’t quite so overwhelming. My life is objectively too much for a person with CPTSD and a dissociative disorder and chronic pain, but the feelings of overwhelm and not being able to continue are also attachment-based – without a sense of ground beneath me and safety inside me I lose my way and lose sight of myself in among the chaos so quickly.

I cried early in our session yesterday about the fear of not being able to reach her again, and what it would be like to leave her if that happened , how awful it would be and how it would feel like I was dying again – “you are right there and we can’t reach you” someone whispered. And sometimes it still really helps to hear K explain why this happens; her explanations are so soothing and it releases some of the fear that I am broken for not being able to reach her and for feeling like I don’t know her at all. She said how attachment doesn’t happen overnight, that it comes through trust and deep attunement and empathy and all sorts of modelling of ways that didn’t happen very much for me when I was very little. And she said how at various times in our therapy journey it was very hard for me to be around her, because it was so painful to be around some aspects of the things I missed out on. “And very frightening to be in contact, but it’s also very frightening for you not to be in contact. So we’re holding an incredibly fine line between what it’s like to feel abandoned and really empty and the fear of feeling very close”. And she talked about how for a long time it was like that, but then it settled and we weren’t in that territory so much, but her house move has been a big psychological breakdown in terms of connection so we need to build up trust again, and we can’t rush it and so need to try and be okay with it taking a while longer.

She talked about how her move had brought up profound fear for me, so deep that we didn’t even know it was there, so deep that it was hard to put into words and stirred up things for me on a very different level than the things we talked about in terms of her moving further away and it being a pain to get there. “I’m talking about what it is like for a baby, or a toddler, or a pre-school person to have grossly missed trust and no holding that makes sense. So I think it has stirred up something really deep in your psyche that is hard to even name”. And she said then we throw in the autumn term and the fact I’m a parent at the same time and it’s clear why this is a really difficult time, and ideally we’d be meeting more right now to feel into that trust again but “you’ve got a heinous week full of grim things to do” [LOL so true] so that is not possible. It helped though, just her saying that we need to be meeting more often at the moment, but can’t, because I wish we could and it is just not physically possible but it helps to know my wish is reasonable given the circumstances. And as we approach the worst month of the year for me with my Mum’s birthday and the anniversary of Jess’ suicide on the same day [December 10th] and just as Christmas, season of perpetual triggers and emotional flashbacks, is pulling me into its claustrophobic cage, I wish so much that I could go twice a week to try and further settle things before we reach December. We’ve always met extra in the early part of December but I looked at my work calendar today and it is scary how hard it is going to be to fit it in this year.

It was a really full session. We talked about so much, about the time after my overdose when I was 22 and what was needed back then, about the physical pain that has dominated so much of my life, since I was really very small (and continues to, though never as bad as it was for the decade from when I was 20), about the lengths I go to keep it hidden (consciously and subconsciously), about how on some level it’s because I feel responsible for what happened to me as a young child and, particularly, for the way my body and nervous system responded. There is so much I want to write about because I have gained so many insights and so much self-knowledge in the past few weeks, but I am tired and tonight I really just wanted to write about how by the end of the session, after we’d had a Mog story and made plans for a film night next week to try and feel cosy in the new house, things felt a little more settled. It felt as though a little bit of whatever has been keeping us away from K had dissolved inside me so there was space for a little of what she gives me to reach me too. When she feels near, even when she is far away, everything feels just that little bit more stable, and I really hope we can reach her properly and feel filled up of nice things again soon.

Attachment still hurts

Attachment pain is killing me. It’s not felt like this for months and months, since December last year in fact so nearly 9 months. I can’t even remember what to do with this pain and the gnawing, aching sensations in my chest and tummy. I feel so empty inside, so desperate for something I cannot even articulate. I want to curl up and die, preferably with K right next to me. It hurts so much. When it was time to end our phone call earlier I just wanted to scream and cry. It wasn’t enough time, it feels like it will never be enough time again, even though for all those months therapy hasn’t felt like this at all. It is like K and I are the same but the new house feels so strange and all wrong and we are both floating untethered in the new space. I need longer there, to learn what it is like there, to know I can trust it, to know K and I are the same and everything is still there. It still feels so far away and I can’t work out how our skies match up or where the moon should be.

K continues to be amazing and kind and validating. Monday’s session was not enough to settle this wave, I could feel the abandonment tidal wave threatening to erupt even before I left, as the time trickled away and the week apart stretched ahead. She took me outside before we left, to the special spot in her new garden, a shady space where you can sit under the trees and look across to the rolling hills and the edge of the moors and watch the sun go down. And as we sat there I wanted to beg her not to send me home yet, to let me stay until I’d soaked in enough of her to sustain me again and could feel deep inside that everything is the same and will be okay. I know she can feel my internal disturbances even when I don’t speak them out loud, and she said for now it is like it was when we met and to contact her when I needed to, to not hold back if I need her, to let her know how I am doing. She didn’t used to say those things, although we text most days at the start and often worked by phone, but I think before texting never used to help, and waiting for a reply was agonising, and we just couldn’t take in what she was saying and would end up more triggered, whereas now she knows this is temporary and that her presence helps me. She knows I can support and care for myself in the ordinary course of life now, that I have come so far, and that is why she is offering more, knowing she won’t have to pour this much into me again forever. It is good to remember things are different now, even though the storm feels the same.

Walking to the car I could hear the screaming inside, the pain was so intense, like part of me had been ripped away, like I was being left alone to die. The week ahead, even with phone contact, felt completely impossible to survive on my own. I nearly threw up before I got in the car. I wanted to scream and sob and wail, but feeling those feelings alone is intolerable so I swallowed the screams and I drove home, the pain in my head intensifying as I got nearer home and I pushed the feelings down more and more so I wouldn’t be a mess when I got back to Nina. We text K an hour after getting home. She said it is a big storm that will settle, to resource and rest, that we could work the next day (yesterday) by phone if it would be helpful. I tried to rest but young parts were so disturbed and the head pain was so intense and debilitating. Yesterday I had to work in my office and had meetings and a training and coffee with a friend and mostly I was adult but there was an undercurrent of disturbance all day and at Nina’s bedtime I yelled at her because she had the guinea pigs on her bed and one of them did a wee and so her sheets needed changing at 9.45pm. This was an annoyance, but the rage it triggered in me was clearly disproportionate. I did myself a reiki treatment and that soothed things a bit and I apologised for yelling before she fell asleep. K and I spoke this morning and it helped and hurt at the same time. I can’t even remember really what she said, but it was about attachment and trauma and not feeling safe in relationship, about how we are still working through the imprint of what happened to me as an infant and my attachment system, and that we were both working really hard to contain this wave and would continue to do so. I wish I could remember her words, but they’ve mostly dissolved already and I want to reach out by text but there is nothing she can do and ultimately this pain is not about her. It was so soothing to hear her voice and know how solid she is but it also hurt so much to have her there and to know I would then have to survive until Monday again without her. This feels so ridiculous to be writing, I’ve not struggled between sessions like this for so long.

I told her the huge and really intense dream I had last night about her and my Mum and all the pain I keep hidden. I was shouting a lot in the dream and just so completely broken. The content of the dream is pretty textbook, but as those of us who experience trauma dreams and nightmares will testify, their power and their residue is immense. I had intense knee pain, and other body pains, in the dream (which I have had a lot of lately, and could feel in the night every time I was semi-conscious) and had been carrying on for weeks as though my knee wasn’t hurting, but finally went to have X-Rays. My body was broken in multiple places and when the radiographer showed me my knee images my knee caps were cracked in two. I was told I would need to wear a cast for 3 months and my first thought was practicalities around getting Nina to and from swimming training and getting to work, shortly followed by ‘how will I get to K’s?’. Somehow I managed to get dropped off at the junction of the A-road I come off at to get to her new house, thinking that however much it hurt my knees I would walk the rest of the way, but then every time I went round a corner I was somewhere different than I expected to be and there were still miles to go. I was in so much pain and made it to a telephone box thinking if I called K she would come and get me (which she has said she will do in the landrover if there is ever flooding or snow I can’t get through to get to hers), but she wasn’t bothered and said she’d see me when I was healed and the cast was off. So I called my Mum to come and drive me to K’s and she did. I don’t remember seeing her in the dream though, and the next thing I was at her house, where I grew up, with my sister sitting across from me and when she found out how I’d got to K’s she went crazy at me about what I had done to my Mum and did I not realise the state she’d been in since I cut contact two years ago, and how this would destroy her (i.e. me reaching out to her when nothing has changed). I said it was fine, she knew nothing had changed and this was a one-off, but my sister continued to say angry things to me until I exploded and screamed at her ‘what about what Mum has done to ME?’ and how she broke me, how it is taking years and loads of money in therapy to recover, how for the first 18 months of therapy my plan was to kill Nina and I, so ‘what about ME?’ and if it wasn’t for what she had done I wouldn’t have needed to get to K’s in the first place.

This dream is so obviously about all my system is struggling to process at the moment, about climate breakdown and not being able to get to K’s, about attachment and damage and my dysfunctional family and the impact what I’ve had to do will have had on family members, and about the lengths I go to to conceal my pain, physical and emotional, consciously and unconsciously. And K says it shows us what big things have been coming up around her move and not being able to get to her, and things changing, and then not being able to see my sister at the weekend, for various reasons but in part because of the family mess and the emotions it would bring up. It has stayed with me all day.

I still feel as though I am dying, but I realise what is worse is knowing I won’t actually die between now and Monday, instead I will just have to live with these intolerable feelings and with no one to soothe it for all that time (obviously logically I can see actual death would be worse, but it doesn’t feel that way). I cannot escape this pain. I can’t remember what I did to soothe it, did anything work? I’ve been trying to think about ways this pain is different from before. I don’t feel K and I’s relationship is under threat, only our ability to see each other and work together. I don’t feel caught in the disorganised attachment dance, desperate to reach out to her yet terrified of pushing her away, I am just aware, from an adult space, that I can’t keep texting as there is not really anything she can do other than wait out the storm with me. And I also know now this pain is not about her, and this does leave me feeling like at least we are in this together; it is not about me needing more and her holding back from me, it is not making her angry that I feel this way, it is not making her want to give up on me, she is on my side and doing all she can to help make things better right now. If I text she would reply. She’s said we can work by phone again on Friday (except how much is all this phone time costing me, argh) and that she is solid in us and it doesn’t feel different for her.

I really, really hate feeling this way. I hate having young parts freaking out whilst at the same time I am trying to work. I want someone to hold me but I know if there was someone here it wouldn’t help. I asked K if she would go away if the baby part (Hope, she is called) really screamed with her and she said she thinks that baby did scream with her on Friday and I said “not as loudly as she screams when you’re not there” (because I was aware, even in that state, of holding back and not making too much noise) and she said if you become aware of that baby part coming out tell me and we will find ways to soothe her because it’s not good for babies to be allowed to just scream. And I said ‘but she doesn’t know what it’s like to scream and not be on her own’ and I think K understood this. I know she knows the level of distress, but to have it witnessed in all its intensity before it is soothed feels like something older parts need to witness happening if that makes sense.

This past week or two has been so hard. It is crazy thinking I felt so much worse than this for weeks and weeks on end for such a sustained period of my life. I don’t know how I coped, especially when it truly felt all about K and she couldn’t reach me in it. She thinks this will take a while to settle again, that it is a good reminder for us of how even though things are so much better now that it doesn’t take much to tip the balance again, that it shows why my body is so broken, but it is also really hard knowing these feelings still lurk and are still so life or death in their intensity.

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