Song for today: Reaching Out by Kate Bush.

Yes, another Kate song. Sorry.

I am on holiday, surrounded by beautiful scenery – mountains and glaciers and forests galore (currently also clouds and rain) – this is my current view:

I am, however, additionally on a therapy break. This means that instead of getting heatstroke climbing up a mountain (this holiday has, among the good things, reminded me how unfit I am), I am sat in my little hut after sending my boyfriend away to explore on his own. I can’t sleep properly, I have been having bad and weird dreams for over a week now and I just wanted to hole up and have proper ‘alone time’. Part of this involves writing to my therapist, who I have been avoiding writing to. I write to her a lot but it’s dried up recently, partly because I have been so busy that I have barely had time to stand still let alone put pen to paper. It dried up during last year’s break, too, and I am sort of having to force myself to do it because I think that part of the reason my unconscious is going a bit mad (crazy dreams etc) is because I’m basically ignoring my feelings in favour of, well, not paying any attention to them. I am on holiday, so this isn’t a particularly crazy idea, but being in therapy doesn’t really account for stuff like holidays (at least that’s my experience of it). Not paying attention to my feelings isn’t going to help but on the plus side it does mean that I don’t have to deal with them on my own. But I feel like I need to, so there’s a bit of a Thing going on. Avoidance of feelings —-> different manifestation of them (thanks, unconscious) —-> realisation that they need to be dealt with —-> oh shit I’m alone with them aren’t I —-> avoidance. Not big or clever but pretty much an automatic response. I don’t get to avoid them when I’m sitting across the room from someone once a week with an invisible emotional taser. Now I’m having to taser myself but seriously? Is anyone going to do that, especially without backup? The person who usually tasers me can also help mop up the emotional spillage. I don’t feel equipped enough to do that alone, yet.

So I’m writing but nothing is coming up. Nothing real, anyway. I still feel quite detached. I feel like I need to have a good old cry but I can’t. Perhaps I’m scared to. I have no backup. I sort of do, I have people I love, who love me, who I can reach out to but the key thing is that they aren’t her. Because she’s not here and won’t be until next month. And other people don’t provide me with what I need in relation to these feelings. These feelings are from a place that is so tiny and mostly without words. They undulate and spill out and, actually, she doesn’t often meet the needs from which the feelings arise either. That’s why there are thousands upon thousands of words inked onto stacks of paper, inches high. Because I have to rage and experience and grieve the loss. Alone.

But she meets them enough. She is ‘good enough’. So this is almost crueller than nothing, because I have a comparison now. Good enough stacked up against nothing at all (the here and now). And it’s not nothing at all, she’s still there, right? Part of me believes it and part of me doesn’t. She gave me something to hold onto in her absence and has given me the number of a colleague to call if I need to see someone else. She has been thoughtful. She has thought about me, and about what I might need when she isn’t there to try and offer me it. She might not be thinking about me now (she most probably isn’t) but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t. It doesn’t mean that she won’t. But the space in between is too wide, it hurts and pokes the ants nest so that it starts writhing again. All these feelings. Terror. Jealousy. Not Good Enough. They all come flooding out. And they are numbed in their current state, they are there and I can identify them but they are not alive. I have a new numbing technique. (Or coping mechanism. They are probably both accurate descriptions.)

Backstory: I asked for something tangible from her before she went away, to help me get through the break, because last year was a bit of a disaster and sent me spiralling. I got it, but I thought I should have a backup if she said no (a word which she seems very fond of, haha). And actually, it is good to have backups anyway. I figured something tactile would be good. Perhaps a blanket, in a colour/colours that remind me of her, that I can wrap myself up in when I feel like I need her but she’s not there. Only I can’t knit (have tried multiple times over the years), so I thought I’d teach myself to crochet. Which I have. About a week ago I had never crocheted, ever, so I taught myself to foundation chain. Which was fairly easy.

Aside from a very uneven swatch, this was the first thing I ever crocheted, a few days ago (I restarted about five times before I finished):

I never take the easy route, do I. This was incredibly hard and I nearly cried in frustration. But I am proud of my wonky square, even with all the mistakes (I couldn’t follow the video in the bit where she sped up so I made it up myself, hah). Then followed a scarf, and friendship bracelet, for my beloved companion, Bun:

Which I am also proud of despite the fact that is is fatter by two stitches at the end than at the start. Still not sure how I managed that.

Then I spent a couple of evenings attempting, and mostly managing, a swatch of a ripple blanket:

Done with a fatter hook than necessary and loose stitches so I could see what I was doing (because I still don’t know what I’m doing).

And last night I made a mandala:

Crocheting my emotions since 2014! It’s nice though, to have something ‘real’. And to try at something, and sort of succeed. So much of my life is spent feeling like a failure. And it’s been good for me to try something and ‘fail’ at it and persevere until it’s good enough. And to appreciate any wonkiness. And to actually keep trying at something that is hard and that makes me feel rubbish and stupid, rather than give up at the first hurdle, which I so often do because feeling stupid is one of my biggest triggers.

The hardest thing about the break, to get back to the point of this post, is not being able to reach out. To have to cope with the feelings on my own, even if I can’t actually feel them for whatever reason. To be properly ‘alone’ with them. It reminds me that no matter what happens, even inside the room, I still won’t be getting what I need or want, that I will never get what I didn’t have (as she reminded me a couple of weeks ago during a phone call – I sort of laughed through my tears because she missed the mark sooooo wide if she was trying to be comforting, but she was trying to help in some weird way, so I couldn’t hate her for it). That without time and space being punctuated by the weekly fifty minutes where I have her alongside me, perhaps not helping me, but just being there with me, it makes that reminder more real. It is easier – sometimes harder, actually, but never easy – to cope with that reminder when I have her there, as a bit of a guiding light, as some vague comfort. When she’s not around, I feel as though I have been abandoned all over again and that I am shut out. And that I deserve it. That is the worst. It replays everything, it starts the churning of Not Good Enough and Undeserving Of Good Things and other similarly lovely stuff. It feels as though the little that I have been given to try and patch up this mess, the little that I have finally been allocated, that even that has been taken away from me and that I am not allowed it anymore.

Part of me feels reassured and placated enough by her thoughtfulness and her generosity, despite the fact that she is still gone. I don’t know how, but I feel as though I have come to a point where I can sort of understand the cruelty (as AG describes so well in this post, with her typically beautiful-yet-painful accuracy). I always understood it, but on an intellectual level which is completely separate from the deeper understanding that comes from emotional resonance, of emotionally connecting the dots. I feel – somehow – as though I am more able than before to take in that she is still there. There is still so much of me that can’t, though, and I think that’s what I’m scared of brushing up against, even though it is inside me in its frozen state and not something I can realistically avoid for long. It is not something that I can escape even when I misguidedly think that I am holding it at arms length. It is wound up tightly, coiled up inside me like a tapeworm in intestines and no amount of avoidance, no amount of me feeling like I am clever enough to hold it at bay can make it a reality instead of an illusion. You can only hold something at arms length for so long before it defeats you. This is the same. The thing is, I’m really trying not to do it but I still can’t get ‘there’. I still can’t taser myself. Even if I think I am trying to, I guess it’s half-hearted. Because I’m scared and because she’s not there to help me. I know that it won’t help in the long run though, and I am trying to be kind to myself about it but most of me is just like FFS! Break down already! It’s going to happen and needs to happen so do it now so that you can properly enjoy your fricking, well-deserved holiday and get some proper sleep!

This is a song that has helped me a lot in the past, with regards to therapy. Reaching out is something that I have found extremely hard to do, especially with her. It has been one of my biggest lessons and one of the steepest hills to climb. Having the ability to reach out taken away from me scares me so much. I have only finally been able to do so in the last few months and so the contrast of that with the loss of it is crushing. Or at least it will be when I finally feel it rather than intellectualise it. It popped into my head again today. I love the lyrics:

See how the child reaches out instinctively
To feel how fire will feel.

See how the man reaches out instinctively
For what he cannot have.

The pull and the push of it all.

Reaching out for the hand.
Reaching out for the hand that smacked.
Reaching out for that hand to hold.
Reaching out for the Star.
Reaching out for the Star that explodes.
Reaching out for Mama.

See how the flower leans instinctively
Toward the light.

See how the heart reaches out instinctively
For no reason but to touch.

The pull and the push of it all.

Reaching out for the hand
Reaching out for the hand that smacked
Reaching out for that hand to hold.
Reaching out for the Star.
Reaching out for the Star that explodes.
Reaching out for Mama.

(Can’t we see…)

Reaching out for Mama.

The pull and push of it all describes therapy so well, my relationship with her. The way my emotions wax and wane, as I go through the unknown, re-experiencing the past with all the emotions that brings up.

The video made me giggle because Kate does have a bit of Resting Bitch Face going on, doesn’t she? Love her. As usual she manages to really capture my emotions and experiences. I am sure she MUST have been through therapy. Anyway. Here we go:

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2 thoughts on “Song for today: Reaching Out by Kate Bush.

  1. Thank you for linking back to me. I could have written this. I especially loved the description of the cycle of avoiding our emotions, have circumnavigated that path thousands of times. :) You may be away from therapy just now, but you’re working very hard. I am glad that you are listening enough to your needs to stop and write. I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation and time passes swiftly until you see your therapist again. :) ~ AG

    1. You’re most welcome! Your blog has helped me countless times – usually when I am RAGING (I know you know that feeling because you describe it so well!), and it’s such a comfort to know that other people relate to the feelings that are often so difficult and overwhelming. Thanks for your comment. I do feel like I’m working hard – and for once like I’m actually getting somewhere, even though it’s difficult. :) I hope your own break passes equally as swiftly! xxx

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