I feel like I need to write.
I can’t stop crying. I cried in my lectures on Friday. In the evening on Friday, I cried at how much I love Nick, at the US legalising gay marriage, at the Tunisia shootings, at Glastonbury coverage. I cried at a wedding on Saturday. I can’t remember if I cried on Sunday. I cried at the Minions film on Monday. And today: today I have cried almost non-stop since this afternoon. I cried for the whole hour of my phone appointment with my mentor. There is a mounting pile of tissues on the bed. I am crying now. I can’t even describe it but I feel like I need to try.
Loss. Huge, never-ending loss. It probably does have an end. But right now I can’t feel it. It feels like it is filling me up and tearing me apart; these big, throbbing spheres of pain in my throat, in my chest, in my head. It is all about connection.
My therapist’s on holiday this week. We’ve been working on separation and loss, being separate, for a while now. I don’t understand how to be separate. I am understanding more but it’s not something that I have ever really understood because of a lack of boundaries in my childhood. Not knowing what it is like to be my own person. Being left fills me with terror. It took a while for one of the most amazing things she’s ever said to me to sink in. “I think that it’s very difficult for you to understand that we can be separate but that we are still attached to each other, that we are still connected”. It is difficult. It was. I think I understand, now. But to feel it brings up all sorts.
I think I do believe it now. That you can be separate but that the connection doesn’t go. That – weirdly – the attachment goes both ways. Not in the same way. But that if I am attached to her, then by default, she is attached to me. Not in the same way. But that we are attached to each other.
Things have been moving on for a while. She said that, too, that we have been working on this for a long time. She is, as I’ve mentioned, on a break, but it’s not when it normally is. And that ‘small’ thing, that ‘minor’ change, has thrown me completely off. Stirred up all kinds of stuff that I wasn’t expecting. I can do breaks, right? I can do long breaks, even! But this…this has shattered all that. No, I’m not over it. I am not over it at all, even if it’s for a week. The time, the length doesn’t matter. It’s not about that. So I realised I was panicking but also not (I recognised it but I was so detached, like it was happening to someone else) and booked in two extra sessions, which helped me understand it a bit more. That is an understatement. It was immensely helpful, despite all the feelings it brought up (being a narky teenager, mostly). It helped me realise that to get through the breaks, the separation, the separation of me from her, I have made them into ‘our’ breaks. When ‘we’ break. Christmas, Easter, Summer. Making us not separate again. And this is her going, er, no. I am separate from you and I am taking a break here. Cue major freakout.
Last week I had this dream and wrote about it on Friday:
The dream I had the other night. A female voice, one I didn’t recognise. “You are alone.” And a visual, but also not. I don’t know what it was, it was more felt, but also seen. But rising, as in a helicopter, looking down. There was a blob, a shape, and that was it. Nothing else around. I was alone.
And as it rose further and further, and the shape became smaller and smaller, I woke up. And in my head I kept telling myself: you are connected. You are connected. You are connected. You are connected. You are connected. Like a mantra. Not just for reassurance. To counteract the ‘you are alone’. But also because it’s true. I am connected.
And then I realised. In the same vein, on the same level that I cannot understand how you can be separate and connected. I realised that, to me, separate and alone are synonymous.
That is why separation is so difficult for me. Because it is not separation. It is alone. Me, alone.
And alone means to not know who I am. How to exist. If I only exist for others and can only get a sense of myself when others are around, how can I be without them?
But alone and separate aren’t the same. Or, maybe they are. But it doesn’t feel as scary anymore. Because now I know, I feel, that I am connected.
It was so powerful, that feeling. Feeling alone and then realising that I wasn’t. I keep hearing those words, “still attached to each other”. They have been really reassuring, if a bit bonkers. I realised that I had progressed the other day when I was talking about feeling like I wanted to not come (so, basically, to act out) and how that feeling was so strong. But that I realised that it wouldn’t make a difference, because we would still be connected. I wanted to sever it, but I can’t. The only way to do that would be to turn the clock back and make it never happen (something that I did apparently want, a lot, a couple of weeks ago). And I smiled when I said that we would still be connected, because this realisation was in the middle of a panic about not being connected.
It is interesting, all of this. This loss. I think I know what it is, because we talked about just before she went away. I didn’t understand – I couldn’t understand – how I would want her gone. I want her there all the time, at least I feel like I do. I had had this dream. In it, we were talking about the break, and she’d said in the dream, casual as anything, “You know I’m leaving next year, so you’ll have to deal with this break”. And dream me was like, WTF?! So of course I brought it up in my session. Which then led to her saying that I wanted her gone and me doing the whole NNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHH I DON’T UNDERSTAND! *head in hands* PLEASE EXPLAIN! I NEED TO UNDERSTAND! thing. Don’t know if anyone else does this. But, yes. I want her gone because. She is not perfect. I want her gone to maintain the illusion of perfect. That someone perfect will come along and make everything better. “I think you still have some hope that the perfect person is still out there and you keep looking for her, and that if I am gone you will find her, but she doesn’t exist.” Which, again, has filtered through and I’m guessing has probably caused all this. There is no perfect person. She is not perfect. I totally get that. But parts of me don’t (“Why? Why am I still not understanding this?” “Because you had too much, too young. You had too much bad, too young”.) And I am grieving for that.
Oh, god. Grief. We went over that, too. With me actually almost screaming-groaning in frustration and throwing my hands in the air. More? MORE?! I have done so much, I have worked through so much, I have had breakthrough after sodding breakthrough with me realising that she is not perfect etc etc, feeling all these deep wells of pain etc etc, having those amazing moments when it feels like everything is crystal clear and I finally understand, and there is MORE?! I said to her, I thought it would get easier, and she actually sort of winced and said, no. Cue more screaming-groaning, I don’t know when I have ever made that noise other than in therapy to be perfectly honest. Like. seriously. What the fuck? How? How can this keep getting harder, or if at least not harder, then being equally as shit?
Because it is different stuff, I am realising. Perhaps the same wound but either deeper in it or a different part. This time…this is different from the last. As the last was different from the one before that. They are all different, and no easier, and yet…I don’t know. I can’t say that I’m dealing with them better, because they are so hard. But perhaps there is slightly more acceptance that this is just what has to happen. And it has to happen at its own pace. I cannot force it.
This time is different in that I know it has been prompted, triggered by the break. But it has nothing to do with her. Instead of the usual, “this is about HER”, I am in total understanding that it is not. It is not about her at all. It is about me. My mentor talked about it being about her, Nick talked about it being about her, and for once I am like…no. It’s about me. I can so clearly see how this is related to my past and how my feelings about her and her absence are triggering all that. It’s so weird. I might get back in it, right back in all the feelings that it’s her when I see her again, but for now it’s all me.
She won’t let it be anything else. Something I admire about her so much. I think I was kicking off about her going away and basically being a brat, and we were talking about it in the next session a few days later. She knows it’s not about her. She said something interesting, something along the lines of going away can make you feel guilty or concerned because you are leaving someone, but that you still have to do it. And that if she got defensive about going away, if she reacted to my tantrum and brought that in, then she couldn’t sit alongside me and help me work with my stuff, because her stuff would be obscuring mine. And then it would be about her, not me. Which made me realise that aside from once, I think (at least that I can remember), once in just over four years, she has never done that. Despite my feelings of her being like cardboard, like a robot. She isn’t at all, but it can feel like that because there ISN’T anything of her in there. Of course there is, but not what I’m used to, and that can feel so cold and dismissive. It’s not. It’s what I need. The parts of her that I need are there. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know her favourite colour or how she takes her coffee or where she goes on holiday. Even if it does feel excruciatingly painful sometimes. It just doesn’t matter. I still know her, not in the way that I want to, but in the way that I need to in order to work through things.
I had a really, really awful session about a month ago. One of the worst. Silence massively triggers me and she was silent and I basically went…dunno where. I described it later as a vortex because that was the only thing I could imagine, but it wasn’t something I could verbalise, really, at the time (she thinks it’s pre-verbal which makes sense). Being sucked back fast into suffocating black. At the time she said, in a slightly concerned voice, “What’s going on?” and that’s what I said – vortex. “Can you say any more?” just got met with a shake of my head while I held my face in my hands. It was horrible. And then, like that, it went, and it felt like the floor had come up to meet me again and the room had righted itself. We talked about it. How horrible it was. “But you got through it”. “Great, do I get a fucking medal?” Laughter from us both. But it hurt. And I didn’t want to go back. It was so strong. I wasn’t safe. I wasn’t. I was, but I didn’t feel it. She didn’t rescue me. And I was livid with her for it. Terrified that she would cause that again. We talked about it, of course. It is getting slightly easier to talk about it now. About how I feel like I am being ‘done to’ instead of things just being. That things will just be. That she won’t respond in the way I want or that something will happen that I’m not prepared for. That THAT’S not about me, and how hard that is. That I cannot control someone else: their responses to things, their thoughts, their feelings, their actions.
I also, about a week later, after feeling like she was clearly just shit for not helping me out of it, felt this huge surge again. Another breakthrough. She is just a person. She is just a person. With feelings, with a heart, just like me. And she is sitting in a chair watching all this, feeling all this – she basically said that, said that it was so visceral and powerful – doing ‘nothing’. Her nothing felt like an abandonment until I realised that it wasn’t. She was still there. It felt so cruel at the time. I remember saying that to her, afterwards, when I’d realised (this post came to life, again – endless thanks as usual AG!). That I had felt it was so mean but that actually it wasn’t at all. It was the opposite, it isn’t mean at all. And she held my eyes with hers and said, it really, really isn’t.
There isn’t a rescuer. I am the rescuer. She can help me. And she does. But it is never about her. Last time I thanked her for seeing me again, because it had really helped. She wouldn’t accept it. You booked the session, she said. I will always see you if I have the space, to help you figure things out. But you booked it. So I said, well, thank you for having the space, then. We sort of laughed but she stayed really serious. It was down to me that I was there. I had booked it, I had been the one to realise that I needed some extra space to understand things, I had got myself there and done it. “I really think it’s important for you to hold onto that, that it was you.”
Maybe it is, and maybe it’s also what this is all about. There is no perfect person. But it came to me soon after that dream: that if there was, she would be me. I am the closest person to perfect that I am ever going to get. That is both terrifying and comforting.
The other night I imagined myself holding myself as a baby, mothering myself. It is, essentially, what I am doing. It is fucking weird, as usual, but it is working. Even if it feels like I am going backwards half the time. “Remember, backwards in therapy is progress!” <3