Heavy therapy session

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Todays lunch with Cat: homemade butternut squash and sweetcorn soup with marmite, pumpkin seed and parmesan bread.  OM NOM!

Lunch was delicious today but a little rushed unfortunately as I spent the whole of the session first crying my heart out (sometimes just inside but it eventually bubbled outside too).

Through Cats generosity I am beginning to feel what it is like to be a child wholly accepted and loved unconditionally, to be in someones heart 24/7 and in their thoughts hourly, to be wanted, special, and to have my needs respected at all times.  Cat said she sees us as her foster child now (obviously not in the way the social services view ‘foster’ as I am not biologically under 18 nor living with her) and that is all I have ever wanted, is to be fostered.

However, and today this felt like a big however, it is thoroughly true that nothing, absolutely nothing, can take away the huge hole left over from a childhood dictated by all encompassing abuse.  As I blubbered to Cat today “I will never be that child who gets to walk around in pyjamas on a saturday morning, I will never be that child who gets to sleep in mums bed when poorly, I will never be that child who wakes mum up after a nightmare…” The past is never going to change from what it was, I’m never going to be ‘mothered’ in that way, ever.  “This is all I ever had, this is all I will ever have” I said as tears dropped onto a picture of my mother taken at the weekend.

Cat does a lot for me, a heck of a lot, which is probably why she ended up in tears herself.  She said it breaks her heart that no matter what we do she can’t take the past away from me.  She can feed me, hug me, call me everyday, take me out places, come to doctors appointments with me, buy me gifts, and all the rest… but that therapy work that is at the core of our relationship will still be there.  I will still be an adult survivor of child abuse trying to have some sort of relationship with the incredibly dysfunctional family I was raised in.

I am lucky to have a therapist/foster mum/friend (whatever you want to call her) who knows that despite the pain that comes with a set up like this, it works.  I am lucky to have someone who isn’t going to pull back, but who also isn’t going to try and give any more than she is able to.  Yes it probably will always sting when I can hear her kid yelling ‘MUM’ when I’m on the phone.  But I look at my life now and compare it to what it was before Cat came into my life and I know this was the best thing to ever happen to me, no question.

I have been switching lately into a part who typically never fronts.  I have been switching into her so much recently that she has started a blog of her own.
Cat and I think the reason for this switching was to keep me away from the feelings of today.  Whilst this part is around Cat can do no right, we reject her, distrust her, yell at her.  Keeping her at such a distance that I don’t have to love her and deal with all the conflict and confusion that comes along with that.  It was this part who literally stopped us going to our appointment on Friday.

Still, now all of these feelings are finally in my conscious awareness, and whilst it is painful it is indeed bittersweet.  For years I made the same wish secretly to myself “please can I be fostered” and in a way that wish has come true. My tears and pain today though is apparently inevitable for someone who finds themselves with a foster family - I’m grateful to have this, but why am I not worth the full package?

 

 

 

Aside

It bothers me that people think being careful about what you post into the survivor community is about other people being triggered too easily, or not being able to cope with it. Why should we have to cope with it is my question? No replies please, my question is rhetorical as I don’t trust your thoughts.

-Bzz

Dear diary

Everyone who knows me well knows I hate using the phone and avoid it at all costs. This does stunt my friendships unfortunately but it isn’t something I can just fix with the click of my fingers. Typically when forced to use the phone my brain will go blank and I’ll forget what to say, I’ll stutter over words, I’ll make minimal sense…its got a little better since I was a teenager but not much.

What I’m noticing now though is that I’m beginning to really struggle (aka panic) when I have to put the phone down on Cat. We speak on the phone a lot, daily, and I can be a right natter-er now. I feel safest when I’m in my room, on the phone to Cat, huddled in my bed. I feel contained, real, loved. My barriers fade away and my system becomes alive. Other parts of me join in, or at least stand with me.

So putting the phone down is a sharp twist back into reality again. Barriers up. Having to act a certain way. Having to go back to dealing with my own mind and system alone. Its really difficult and spoils the rest of the phone call when all I can think about is the end.

The thing is though, when the phone is down and I have sighed my sigh that is automatic when the system is shutting down, a shift happens. I become that person with the barriers within seconds usually, and I feel fine about it. I think perhaps I need to be reminded of this when I am stalling putting the phone down. I think that would help that transition feel a little less painful.

4 years

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Well, I knew I’d been here at crazyinthecoconut for a while but I didn’t know it had been 4 years! I often reflect on the usefulness of blogging at certain times of the year and coincidentally I was already having these thoughts before WP sent me a happy anniversary trophy today.

I have been keeping myself away from blogs recently, not just because of “the collapse” (that lasted a bit longer than one day) but also because of the abundance of people understandably struggling and sharing memories of ritual abuse this month.

Not many people know this because I don’t like to broadcast it and receive all the hatred but some of the abuse I lived through was very ritualistic in nature.  I share many of the same triggers: (I was going to share what, but I have changed my mind).  For me the abuse was less about particular times of year/dates (I think) and more about my mother being controlled by her own very disturbed internal world. (Of course, with ten years of amnesia apart from snapshots of what very young parts can verbalise, I can never be sure ultimately).

I can’t get away from the fact halloween, where many triggers are thrown into my face, is coming up. Just today I pulled up to go to the pharmacy and ended up parallel to a whole display of halloween affairs. But what I don’t need is to take on other survivors panic and triggered thoughts too.  When I got into blogging publically I was unfortunately one of those bloggers who shared specific memories of abuse, as a way of me trying to make sense of them and process them.  I don’t do that anymore.  There are a lot of puzzles pieces being put together in therapy at the moment that I am keeping well away from my blog.  And friends, even my partner.  No one needs to hear it apart from my therapist.

So, that is where we are.  Plodding along trying to keep myself protected from the horrors of the outside world at the moment as much as possible, but then, that isn’t new ;)

Taking a mental health day

I have been putting so much pressure on myself since starting this intensive voluntary job. But not only that, I am feeling pressure from my parents, some friends, and the lovely society as a whole. I should be doing things faster, better, now now now. I should be playing catch up with myself for the years I have spent incapacitated by mental illness and trauma. Should should should.

All that pressure reached a peak this morning as I lay in bed hiding under the duvet from the gunman who was supposedly outside my bedroom door. I froze as I thought ‘he’s going to make me choose between myself and my dogs’. Images flashed through my head of my choices.

Now I have recovered from that and know that this losing touch with reality is a big sign that I need to STOP I can see just how telling that is. Choose between me or my dogs = choose between me or my voluntary job. I have been choosing the voluntary job so much of the time its been detrimental to me at times, its been hurting me, I know that, Cat knows that, but its that pressure.

I quickly cascaded into the point of passive suicidality. ‘Let that gunman kill me’ = let me kill me. Then I won’t have to choose. Then I won’t have to do any of this painful work anymore. If only.

In reality I am not going anywhere and so the trauma processing dreams will keep coming, the daily challenges will continue, the healing journey will keep pressing on me. My rescue dogs current issues will keep triggering me, and my guilt of not being where I feel I should be will remain close. In reality there is no gunman to kill me easily.

But today – today I need to listen to the waterfall of tears that have been falling from my eyes most of the morning. I need to take every single pressure off. Like Cat said to me “it is okay to collapse”. I’ve collapsed alright. Its taken me nearly 6 hours to get out of bed to get some food and drink. I am back in bed now because I am allowing myself to be. I can’t stand up today. I can’t walk around as normal. I can’t study. I can’t work. I can’t tidy. I can’t.

So I’m doing what I can – the absolute minimum – and I will shake this guilt off my shoulders because I am not the only person on this planet to need mental health days. And that is a need, not a want.

Challenging the anorexia – update

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It has got to be said, Cat is a good cook.  Today we had another wonderful lunch especially made by her and this time, rather amazingly, I was able to sit across from her eating it and engage in conversation at the same time.  Massive progress.

What is incredibly healing though is how she is introducing quick and easy recipes to me that will really help me in the long term with managing my bad relationship with food.  She has put a lot of thought into the food she eats to make sure it is giving her body what it needs.  Whilst she says she is not the perfect model (nobody really is), she is definitely someone I look up to in terms of having a healthy (and yummy!) diet. That is desperately what I needed as I grew up parented by one person who had a history of anorexia themselves and was extremely preoccupied with diets and weights, and another person who was overweight and ate for purely emotional reasons.

Introducing food into our relationship is not all rainbows and butterflies though. Since we began doing this exercise to help me with the anorexia the attachment between us has become a little fraught.  Understandable really.  Because of my background there is fear of being poisoned (accidentally or on purpose), more shame than I can possibly put into words, and confusion.  The confusion is the main one really, that is causing the push-pull dynamic to rear its distressing head.  Its confusion between loving her for giving us what we really needed and being angry because of the same reason.  Still its just more transference to work through and that is the most important part – we do work through it.

Whilst I am still losing weight (surprisingly), having Cat help me out physically and emotionally with daily eating has taken that ‘anorexic pressure’ off considerably.  It’s not the anorexia voice that I am hearing most often now, it is hers.

Forgotten poem

I wrote this “poem” (apparently) about a year ago. I came across it earlier last week and I have absolutely no idea what I am trying to communicate. I don’t remember it, at all. It seems gobblygook to me but it must have meant something at the time – any ideas ;)

Sitting still in steaming cow dung
Is preferable to freezing in ice
There is at least sum/sun warmth

We must cover all our bases now
Like in a game of rounders
No white chalky outline must be without a footprint to mark it’s belonging

No empty squares
No boxes unchecked

Like a school multiple choice questionnaire
Must attempt them all

No stone unturned
Leave your dignity at the door

A cut chest
Spasms of pain
A gentle reminder
Do not cross here

RIP old boy

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Loss touches us all in many different ways. Just hearing about a loss automatically makes us think about our personal experiences. I think that’s what it means to be human and creatures of thought and emotional connections.

A dog (Oldie-not the real name!) at the kennels I volunteer at died and this news has had me feeling v low and burdened today. I am not going to be able to share Oldies story as that would make my place of work too revealed. But what I can say is that as always this dogs life is so relatable to me in many ways and at this point I am thankful that Oldie was able to finally let go and find true peace. RIP old boy.

With everything my system and I are working through at the moment in therapy, and outside of it, I am so conscious of the loss of my very early childhood right now, and how I so wish parts of me could find true peace from that. As my sessions with Cat go on, more and more things are being said that make it all just more and more tragic. Yet this is somehow all sweetened by the fact that as more secrets are shared with Cat we are getting closer than we could have ever imagined.

Parts of me are a bit preoccupied at the moment with the threat of losing Cat (through death). An alter who once said to Cat ‘I will never be on your side’ was so worried yesterday he felt he needed to convince her not to go to sleep. This just goes to show how the attachment to Cat is spreading as more of us come to need her and not be able to imagine life without her.

With everything going on in the world at the moment, in terms of war, it is so easy, as someone with anxiety disorders, to lose myself in those threats too. As much as I try to avoid the news little bits leak through to me eventually and it genuinely terrifies me. I can’t think of the people in the thick of it. I can’t. I do need to keep my sanity and practice self care to some extent. But regardless its a reminder of how fragile life is, and I, and many alters within me, don’t need that reminder because we dwell on it far too much.

Dear diary

Whilst estranged from the parents for two years I was also estranged from my sister. That was more her choice than mine. But I know why she did it. I broke a promise to her. I promised her that I would never challenge our mother again about our upbringing because last time it made her disappear to take her own life. A year later it was me who disappeared and when I came back, another two years later, there I was challenging the mother more forcefully than I’d ever done before.

(I carried around the fear that my mother would try to kill herself again but deep down somewhere I knew she was bluffing otherwise there was no way I’d have stayed away that long. My sister doesn’t have that insight because the majority of our childhood experiences she has blocked out. She has more amnesia than I do. Only she’s not fighting her amnesia like I am. She’s happy to remain in the dark.)

Anyway the point of me bringing this up is because today we broke that estrangement and have been in contact, my sister and I. Conversation has been extremely shallow and light, which is typical of our family. That is simply how they operate. And three against one, my wish to operate another way is drowned out. I don’t really mind though I guess. Its maddening but I learnt a lot when I was out of the family for two years. I’ve managed to gain huge insights into the family dynamics which means I am not longer disappointed when things aren’t the way they need to be to have a healthy family life.

It doesn’t hurt anymore, at least not right now.  Having such a dysfunctional family system. Being the scapegoat of a family of black sheep. Not being known or appreciated for being me.  All these things just are, with no emotions attached. And I never thought I’d say that.

Separation anxiety

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It isn’t unusual for dogs to come home from kennels with separation anxiety (SA).  I was pleasantly surprised upon bringing my rescue dog home that she wasn’t plagued with that particular issue.  Right from go we were able to leave her (in the company of our other dog) for hours at a time.

Last night was the first night she has ever shown classic SA symptoms and we simply could not leave her alone.  It literally had me in bed crying, and waking up in terror attacks for the rest of the night.  I think, rather coincidentally, it is the answer to a question that has been on mine and Cats lips for the last few days: our relationship feels different, why? 

Cat works on a very ‘feeling’ level when it comes to me.  She is so very attuned to me 98% of the time that when she gets a feeling vibe from me, she really uses it to work out what is going on.  Last night when I emailed her really upset about what was going on with my dog she said she felt a very visceral sense of anxiety about abandonment coming from me.  That is where we started in session today.

She likens my progress in … well, life… in terms of my voluntary job at least, as similar to a kid starting school at five years old.  Suddenly, when your age hits a certain digit, you’re legally required to be away from your caregivers for a set number of hours in a day.  For me it is different, I am the one choosing to get up and go to my voluntary job.  But in terms of feelings it is quite similar – I feel pushed out into the world, forgotten, unheld, abandoned.

I am no longer spending my days cocooned in her metaphorical embrace.  When I am at my voluntary job she isn’t able to protect me in the way she used to.  I’m having to deal with the paranoid thoughts I have around people, the anxiety I feel around simply standing up and existing in an organisation, with my own resources.  Sometimes I have no resources so these things get under my skin and pull me down, but that’s for another post.

So whilst in some parts of my life I have aged to 5, it means that in other parts of my life I have become even younger whilst muddling through this SA.  It is not a problem, says Cat, but this does go a long way in explaining what the ‘bump’ has been in our relationship, why the push-pull dynamic is very much present at the moment.  I’m older, but younger, more confident, but more anxious, more grounded, but more afloat.  My self dynamics are tearing me apart at the moment and that’s being reflected in my therapy/support relationship.

I’m feeling acutely the nervousness and pain of being away from Cat, much like our dog last night was feeling acutely the anxiety and desperation of being away from us.  Unfortunately her anxiety is triggering off mine, and perhaps even vice versa, who knows.  This weekend feels like a mountain because our anxieties feel as if they’re bunching up together and I feel engulfed by their magnitude.  I am just hoping so SO much that last night for her was a blip and she will be back on track tonight.

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