As usual, I can sort of get there, and it sort of all comes at once. At least I can get there. Perhaps I can’t connect my emotions together immediately like a “normal” person, but I can figure them out eventually. Phew.
One of the things I realised last night after I posted was…well. I imagined being that vulnerable, having to say certain things, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with them, coming out of my mouth and being real and in the room, and not being responded to in the way my child self needs, and in my fantasy/daydream thing I began to need to hurt myself. And then it came to me: hurting myself was a self-soothing strategy. Again with the knowing vs. feeling stuff. I know it, duh, of course I do. I’ve been reading about it since I was a teenager. But it was the first time that I really understood that that was often what it meant for me. And that made me feel sad for myself, that one of the only ways I know to calm myself down when I am that distressed, is to hurt myself. That it still comes back to that when it all gets too much. God. That’s pretty heavy. I haven’t self-harmed for probably over 10 years now, but it is still my ultimate go-to in my head.
Then today, I was thinking again about the vulnerability and about the not being able to go there. Well, I can’t because of my history. There was no being vulnerable, because nobody could hold it. I get told time and again that she is safe, both implicitly (through her still being there and being steady) and explicitly, and that she can contain whatever I bring. But I can’t let her, because even though it has been a long time now, it is not long compared to what went down before, when I tried and it went wrong, or got abandoned, or got it thrown back at me, or used against me. I still do not have that safe blueprint for allowing someone else to be with me when I am like that, in a safe way, because I have never experienced it. Not really. So no wonder I can’t go there. I am filled with that sense of, not exactly relief, but understanding I guess. I can’t go there and it’s ok. I don’t have to go there. (I do, but I don’t have to push it, and I don’t have to go there just yet). The problem is because I want to, I want to be able to trust so much, to let go, so much. I want to lean into it and have someone (metaphorically) hold me through it, because I never had that. But I can’t trust to that extent yet, so I will just have to talk about it until I do feel safe enough to do so. Perhaps she can tolerate it, but I can’t. I can’t, it is too much.
The weird thing is that I went through almost this exact same thing in the summer. The same understanding and compassion towards myself. Giving myself space instead of beating myself up for not moving faster. Realising that I can’t go anywhere near it when I’m triggered, because at that point I’m in it, and it’s only when I’m out of it that I can deal with it. But when I’m triggered is when I need the closeness and the being held the most, so it becomes like some sort of farcical, bitter circle: when I need it the most, I can’t have it, because I cannot bear it, I can only bear it when I am strong enough not to need it that much. When I am an adult, and not a child. But the child is still there even when I am adult me, so perhaps it is helping, but it is slow, very very slow progress. But I know it’s progress because although I feel sick with anxiety about my session tonight, and don’t even know where to start, I know that I can do it and that I can let her try and help me through it, even if I have to keep her at arm’s length (a phrase which I find sort of laughable considering she is always sitting slightly more than arm’s length away from me…).