2016: Year in Review.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

  • Finished a degree! This was huge for me, I’m 33 now and had first gone to uni when I was 18 and dropped out twice, so to finally get through a course was such a monumental moment for me!
  • I therefore graduated! It was such a lovely day with some cherished friends and family there. I rocked the mortar board, too. I still can’t believe it some days. I am a graduate! FINALLY!
  • Qualified in my profession. I now have a professional title, and a professional identity, which is odd.
  • Was pivotal in literally saving some people’s lives. It is a very, very weird feeling, to do that. Sort of cool though. Definitely a privilege.
  • Loads of work related stuff…
  • Probably other stuff that I can’t remember.
  • Just felt more…whole.

 

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I cannot remember if I made any! I think they are relatively the same though. I want to cook more and exercise more and generally have a better work/life balance, because I end up working then dreaming about work then being tired from work and not doing anything etc etc… I definitely want to continue being creative, practice meditation more and see friends more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! One of my best friends from school. He’s a beaut.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

I don’t think so? I guess that means no?

5. What countries did you visit?

Quite a few, haha. Scotland in January, France in June, Denmark in October, India in November and Spain in December. I also did quite a few weekends away and spent around a week in Devon in August. I would like to travel a little bit less in 2017 and enjoy where I live more.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

*deep breath* A baby. Big stuff! I’m scared that my ovaries will be dried up and also scared that I will be a shit mum but also mostly aware that I think I can be a good enough mum. In addition to that, a good living situation, these cats (that we look after, not ours!) are fucking me off and I want to be able to just sit on my yellow sofa and have it be yellow and not covered with rubbish throws to prevent scratching/mud/cat wee. I would also like to not live up a massive hill far away from town and my friends. And would like to be able live somewhere more easily accessible to cycling.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I can’t remember literal dates, but:

  • Edinburgh weekend is up there because it was so much fun.
  • Last lectures at Uni where we all went out and got drunk.
  • When I found out I got a First.
  • Graduation!
  • The time in Devon where I had that massive breakthrough and just felt so connected, to myself and everything. Most amazing feeling. Also a lot of that week, the inadvertent 14 mile walks and discovering the most beautiful countryside and beaches and being mostly alone.
  • First day at work.
  • My last session of the year. It was just really, really special and I felt really connected.
  • Boxing Day. It was really perfect.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing my degree, getting a First, starting work. All things that say, 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have even thought possible. It’s pretty amazing. And staying relatively sane throughout it! I’ve not had one day off work related to mental health stuff (of course it means my days off weren’t exactly always bundles of laughs) and my job is one of the most stressful out there. So probably that. AND continuing to connect to myself and learn more about my needs and how to meet them (despite also not wanting t0).

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don’t know. I don’t think much has been a failure? I’ve done really well with what I’ve had. I haven’t maintained relationships that well, but I’m working on that. Everything else, I’m still working on too. I don’t see it as a failure. Even stuff like, “I should have done X sooner”, it’s all a learning curve isn’t it?

Oh yeah going to bed early. Like, now. FFS!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

2 asthma exacerbations, some D&V, minimal migraines (maybe 2 or 3?), a couple of alcohol voms. Other than that, not really. Migraines have become a lot less prevalent the more I have worked through trauma stuff.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought so much stuff but I can’t remember. Perhaps my Kindle? Also a book my therapist recommended to me was pretty good. I bought stuff like storage for my make-up. Dresses! Boots! It was so nice to have money again after so long without! I guess best stuff was really things like travel tickets or accommodation.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Loads of people. Nick’s for being just completely amazing (mostly). He has been unbelievably supportive, through the course, through the amount of times I have been headmashed after sessions, not wanting to go out, etc. He’s so brilliant. My friends have also been brilliant. They have helped carry me through not just this year but the years preceding it.  I wouldn’t be here without them. My family were actually pretty great too, at points, like when my sister, mum and granddad all clubbed together for me to go away after my course and get pampered. That was so lovely and unexpected. And my therapist continues to be fantastic too and has helped me work through a lot of stuff this year, remaining steady while I rage and despair and the usual.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Sometimes my family. Sometimes Nick but ONLY with the house stuff (he doesn’t want to move, I do, we argue, nothing changes…yet).

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, travel, PRETTY THINGS FINALLY, food. I have spent so much money this year :|

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Seeing friends. Therapy, sometimes. Going away on my various jaunts. Christmas! I got really excited about Christmas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

As usual, there is never one song. This is me. So, in no particular order (most of them aren’t even new!):

  • Let Go – Frou Frou (weird rediscovery, based on getting the line “beauty in the breakdown” in my head in Devon).
  • almost the whole of Angel Olsen’s new album, but particularly “Not Gonna Kill You”, which was pivotal when I went through a very bad patch in October and was very close to cutting for the first time in a long time and basically just had to sit with the feelings and it was hard. Harder than hard.
  • Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips. It reminds me of when I feel like me, and when I feel safe in therapy.
  • Owen Pallet’s cover of Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars. One of my favourite songs anyway, but I listened to it when I was in a (different) bad place, it reflected very very young feelings that I wasn’t able to articulate and was comforting.
  • Ministry of Defence and Community of Hope by PJ Harvey. Finally got to see her live and she was mesmerising and these songs were highlights.
  • Disappointing by John Grant. A weirdly touching love song.
  • Feliz Navidad!
  • Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack, particularly the Finale: When Love is Found/It Feels Like Christmas. Probably now in my top songs ever. It sounds like what love feels like. And it makes me happy and bouncy and dance in a very silly way.
  • Too Cool by Rudimental. A bit of a WTF for me but I LOVE IT!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier! I don’t have a dissertation or any academic stress!

b) thinner or fatter?

Probably fatter? Not sure I care though.

c) richer or poorer?

Richer! I am still in a lot of debt but I am at least earning now.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Seen friends, cooked, exercised, the usual…

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stress. Faff around. I am so good at faffing. Hating myself. Being scared. Eating beige food. STAYING UP LATE!

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with Nick at home, after working Christmas Eve and spending the remainder of that evening with my best friend and her boyfriend which was fun! And on Boxing Day we had our usual traditions that we have made ours that was so lovely – much better than Christmas Day! We watched a lot of films and ate a lot and it was really nice.

21. How will you be spending New Year?

I was in bed by 10.30 because I had to work the next day. :( But before that I had had dinner with friends and we exchanged thoughtful and meaningful and lovely gifts which was again really nice! I am very lucky (despite having to work).

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?

No, just loved more. A lot more.

23. How many one-night stands?

None.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. I still have moments of hate every now and then, but I think those are really young feelings and I try and just ride it out.

25. What was your favourite restaurant of 2016?

I’m not sure! I didn’t eat out much. Probably this tapas place in Barcelona where I had the most amazing beef cheek and also these aubergines with honey and lime which I am literally salivating about now as I write. Also probably D’Raj in Goa where we ate like proper royalty for about £10 each night while we played Travel Scrabble.

26. What were your favourite TV programs?

Holby… GBBO I guess… Gilmore Girls revival was ok. Not really sure. Planet Earth II was pretty bloody great.

27. What was the best book you read?

I started reading again! Mosquitoland was very enjoyable, as was Only Ever Yours. I really enjoyed Susie Orbach’s In Therapy too, because I love her writing style and her insights into psychoanalysis. Others that I enjoyed were We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, A Little Life, The Examined Life, Olive Kitteridge, All My Puny Sorrows… I read quite a lot this year.

28. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

Not sure I particularly discovered anyone new this year…not that I properly fell in love with, or remember off the top of my head, anyway.

29. What were your favourite films of this year?

I can’t remember! I went to the cinema a couple of times but again don’t remember loving it. I, Daniel Blake was bloody great but I felt like I’d been hit by a bus when I came out of the cinema.

30. What did you want and get?

A First! Good(ish) at my job. A nice team to work with. A yellow sofa!

31. What did you want and not get?

The usual, really. The life I should have had and will never get, etc… nothing too big haha. It’s still hard sometimes though (and when it’s hard, it’s overwhelmingly hard, and then it feels like it’s always hard). Also an easier job, but that’s probably my fault really, and that’s something I might need to sort this year.

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 33, and I met my BFF for coffee and cake and then had therapy, which was surprisingly nice, then went and got massively triggered on the way home and ended up having d&v later that night. Nice!

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Better living situation and more staff at work (can’t choose).

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Relatively nice? Boots and dresses and cardigans or boots and jeans and cardigans. Bit more smart than before.

35. What kept you sane?

TV, writing in my diary, listening to podcasts, listening to the same songs over and over and over again as usual…same stuff really.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

God, I try not to watch/read too much news because it’s all a bit dark isn’t it? And I deal with dark every day. Pretty much everything though, and GOD the American Election GOD GOD GOD that orange twat WTF…

37. Who did you miss?

My friends and family. And my therapist a lot, and in new ways (not just grasping small person ways). I miss her right now. And also myself when I wasn’t available.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Gabi probably, but also a lot of people at work.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:

I am ok, and I am enough, and I always have been.

A little haiku I wrote while away this summer:

Realising that

whatever I need is now

inside me, somewhere

Which is nice to finally learn, and realise, and truly feel.

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Back to normal (ish).

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…).

I don’t know how to be vulnerable.

 

I don’t know what to write. Or even why I’m writing. But I need to write, because inside there is a lot going on. I don’t know what is going on, though, hence the needing to write. Perhaps writing will help me figure it out.

I feel as though I have pinged straight back into some sort of child mode again, and that is – I wanted to say distressing, but that’s not really the word. What are the words? So many. Disappointing is one of them. Two steps forward and twenty five back, is what it feels like. When I had that moment, recently, of knowing that I needed more sessions, and that absolute conviction that I knew I had to have the stability to work on all this, I felt so adult. I put them in place and told my therapist that I needed them and she said what a big step it was. I guess it was. Now I am not even sure what I am working on. I mean, I know, I know. It’s all the mum stuff, the attachment stuff. I am so much better now in all areas of my life and am able to mostly assert myself and look after myself etc etc. However, that is still a massive sticking point. It is my sticking point. I was so ready and courageous and had my big girl pants on and everything. And now I can’t do it. And I know why, because I am triggered into a more child-like place and my adult feels like it has disappeared. Me. I feel like I have disappeared. I know that I haven’t, but when I feel like this, with a tornado whirling inside me, it is difficult to feel that ‘I’ am still here. I know this is trauma, this is what trauma does, but in the main there are no more flashbacks and there is barely any dissociation. I am more and more present, and so much more stable now. But I am still cut off from these feelings, and they are so scary. Because I sort of don’t know what they are, and I try to access them and either panic or can’t get there, or get there but can only go so far. I am so scared, I am so scared, I don’t know how to deal with this.

There is a break coming up and I find breaks incredibly difficult. Partly because of what they bring up, but also the history of the breaks, and how I have felt during them. I know that this one will be different, because I have Christmas off and it will be the first Christmas in however many years where I won’t be working, or have an assignment to do. Which is pretty amazing, really. But there have been breaks where I have broken, really. Where I have spent a good amount of time trying not to kill myself (even though I knew I wouldn’t – I wish I could explain it but I can’t, it was like having a suicidal toddler and having to continually yank on the reins).

What am I writing. What am I doing. Why is this so hard? I feel blank and yet full to the brim, and I cannot differentiate between the feelings. Sensations. My stomach is where the action is. I feel both tight and empty. I am not right. I am not me. I am many other versions of me. That is what it feels like. Which still is me, but not the me that I feel that I am, the proper me, the in control me, the real me, these are all spectres of me and I feel cheated that ‘I’ am being obscured by these other mes, that they are distracting me, not letting me forge ahead like I should be and just dealing with this shit.

Because it is shit. I remember her saying, so long ago, that I had too much too young, and I did. Or too little, really. Both. Hence the feelings of being too much and not enough, always. Not always. Sometimes. Less now, but when it feels like this it feels like always.

I am in agony and I don’t know why. I feel my throat closing up again just writing, so I know this is traumatic. I am trying to be gentle with myself and I am so much better at that now (if I wasn’t after almost 6 years of therapy I’d be a bit worried I guess) but it is still hard. I feel like I should have this, like I should have my back and yet I don’t. I do, but I also can’t cope with so much, so it feels like I abandon myself. It is hard to feel that I abandon myself, but sometimes I have to I guess, just to stay alive, just to function. But I have been abandoned so much already and that is why this is so bad, why this hurts so much. Because also when I abandon myself, I can’t let anyone else in either.

I am crying now. I had this thought, earlier, and I can’t quite remember it – I keep having these moments of great insight and then they disappear almost as instantly as they come, like glimpses of scenery from a fast-moving vehicle. But it was something along the lines of – I am the only one who can make this better now. I am the only one who can help me. Oh, of course she can help me, she helps me a lot. But I guess what I mean, what I felt, is that I am the only one that can be there, that can really be there for all of this. My mum should have been there and wasn’t. I have no substitute, I can have a sort of parental substitute through therapy, helping me learn how to be and how to treat myself, but I am the only one that can really be there with me through all this. I can have someone kind, caring and skilled to help me navigate it and be a witness to it, but only I can journey it.

And therein lies the main problem. I cannot cope with that, still. I don’t want that to be the case. The parts of me that are clamouring now, I know even though I can’t quite get there, that there is rage and desperation and anguish that I can’t have what I needed. What I need. I need it – I need it so much. I feel as though I am bursting with the need. I know that I am enough, though, that I will have to be, because I am ultimately all there is. But I don’t want to be. I want a saviour. I want to go back in time. I want a proper mum, and a proper family, one that can be attuned to me and be there for me and not abuse me and use me for their own needs. I want my needs to come first. And I am the only one, now, who can put my needs first. But it’s painful. It means fighting against the parts of myself that want someone else to do it, that can’t quite believe that I can’t ever get what I missed out on. It means fighting against my family, when they unconsciously put their needs onto me time and time again and I have to extricate myself or push against them in ways that sometimes hurt them, and therefore me. I have to fight against myself as I am now, because I am tired, I am tired and I am sad and I am scared, I am so sad, I am so, SO fucking sad, I wish I could explain how sad, but I feel so bleak because I am all I have and I know that I will be enough, that I already am enough, but I am so tired of fighting. I am tired and yet in order to get to where I want to be, where I need to be, in order to get what I need and what I deserve, I need to fight. I just don’t feel like I have any fight left. I am sad, and tired and want a mum that I can never have. My throat is almost all closed up now. This is too much, it is too much, I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to look at what I need to without dying, because I feel like I am dying just approaching it.

The grief is so immense and it just keeps coming and as soon as I am in the room the fortress re-emerges and I cannot even go there. The only way I can get here, be here is on my own, but that is part of the problem. There is an Angel Olsen lyric that really resonates with me regarding therapy: “whenever you’re beside me, a part of me is dying”. I don’t know how to be that vulnerable. I think about what it looks like, what it might look like, but I don’t know what it would feel like, because I can’t go there, because even trying is too painful. I don’t know what it would feel like to actually let someone be with me when I am feeling like this, when I am desperate and desolate and lost and feeling broken. Someone that I push all of that need onto, how can I let them in when the part of me that needs a mum is dying because they can’t be it, nobody can be it and I can feel myself curling up and dying every single time I even try and go near it. I don’t know if this makes sense, I don’t want to go back and re-read it, but I needed to write it. I need to write so that it won’t be inside me anymore and I won’t be alone with it, because I will have got it out so that I can be there with it, instead of it festering inside, unheard. How am I supposed to do this in therapy when I can only get there with music and being alone and candles and dark, and time, how am I supposed to get there in a brightly lit room where I am with someone else where we are essentially shoving me, parts of me, under a giant microscope? I don’t know how to do it. I just don’t. I know that I do good work, that we do, together, that we are working on this whether I can get ‘there’ or not. But I want to be vulnerable and I just can’t be. It hurts too much, it is too much to have someone else there with me. To have her there with me while I basically die. To have someone there while I am dying and not rescuing me, not helping me, just fucking sitting there and being there with me, because there is no rescue, there is just this. How am I supposed to be ok with this? How can I be ok with it?

I keep having the little voice coming up inside me, saying, “I don’t know what I have done to deserve this.” And I know it was nothing. I have done nothing. It was just bad luck, bad timing. I didn’t get what I needed. But that is the hardest to cope with, because it means I missed out, that I don’t get it. I can’t get it. It’s gone, disappeared. It never existed, for me, it was never a real thing. So now I have a substitute that sometimes confuses me and that I want to grasp onto, try so hard to hold onto, but is really just a hologram. It’s not real. I know the relationship is real, but it’s not real in the way that I want it to be. And I feel so messed up inside, so fucked up, and it doesn’t really matter whether it was my fault or not. If it was my fault I could change it, and I can’t. I still feel myself trying. Those moments where I know without a doubt that if I looked a certain way, behaved a certain way, that I would get it. I know it’s not real but it is so potent when it happens, it feels within reach and then it disappears again. I just have me. I am enough, as I am. But what I had wasn’t enough, it fell so short of enough, and the loss of that, what I didn’t get, is so deep that I feel like I am never going to get ‘better’, that I will never get over this, because I feel like this cavernous wound is just going to get bigger and bigger and devour me altogether. Right now I am all wound, and the pain is unbelievable.

Separation, attachment and connection.

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

Night time breakthroughs.

I have just had a major breakthrough, while on a night shift. The previous breakthrough I had, a week ago, was after a night shift. I had possibly the biggest breakthrough of my life after a run of night shifts over Christmas, and the first breakthrough I ever had was when I’d been up all night. I’ve written about some of them before on here and it seems to follow a theme: always at night. So weird. I’ve been meaning to post last week’s since I had it, but didn’t get round to it. Now I can add two! Both are those huuuuuuge, life changing, seismic experiences that I have only ever had while in therapy. I also might post the Christmas one at some point because that seemed to really shift something major. The one tonight was prompted, I think, by having an unusually quiet night in which I hadn’t brought a book and therefore was reading over years worth of notes I had made about therapy, purely in order to stay awake, and saw just how far I have come (although in other ways, I’m still going round and round in circles!) and how the ‘process’ has worked. Really fascinating.

5/4/15

So many thoughts.

I find it so difficult to accept that there is a part of me that actively wants to humiliate and torture. Because there is, and I do, and it’s primarily 99.9% towards myself, and it hasn’t been acted out on anyone else for a long time…but it exists. The trouble I am having is with its existence. I just had dream after dream after dream, or more accurately nightmare, and the themes were all the same. Dark, can’t escape the bad. But I just woke up with that sense that I need to write, because I need to process, because I feel like I understand, like I am starting to understand, and it will probably be one of those things where I go back and forth on it until it really sticks, and denial will reign supreme once again despite the ‘breakthrough’. Because that is the pattern. But for now there is just the overwhelming sense, the need, to acknowledge that that is there because that is what was done to me, and it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t held down and physically tortured. I was held down and tortured emotionally by being constantly humiliated for having needs and being denied access to them, and there is a part of me that wants to fight that statement but there is a part of me that is stronger, and that is the part that is writing this and that is saying, NO, it was not ok. I know that there wouldn’t be this part of me if I hadn’t been shown it, if I hadn’t felt it, and it is such a strong part of me that I know it wasn’t a one off, or something that happened sporadically. It was sporadic to a certain extent, but it was a constant undercurrent. It was a constant threat. I know it was because I can feel it now, I can see it even in the times when it wasn’t directly to me, like when my dad held E [stepmum] down, sat on her so that she physically couldn’t move and was forcing these raw mushrooms into her mouth, and laughing, sneering at her choking on them, and I remember it being so shocking but also strangely not, and feeling like if I explained it to anyone they wouldn’t understand. But I understood because even though I wasn’t held down and force fed I knew to my core what that felt like because I had it with my parents, with their needs, and there was no room for mine. I was force fed their needs until there was no room for mine. And I continue the cycle on myself, sometimes without realising but always without really knowing how to stop it. No wonder it has taken me YEARS in therapy to deal with my needs (recognise they exist, that they are there, recognise what they are, accept what they are, accept that they are important, etc etc etc. Still dealing with the idea that I don’t have to deal with someone else’s first, because I feel like I literally – and this is not hyperbole – don’t know how).

And this is where it just keeps coming and coming, and of course I don’t know how to stop it because I had nobody to stop it. I am a shit mum to myself because I had a shit mum, god love her but she was shit because as Nick said the other day when I got so badly triggered, “you had a cold, distant mum who didn’t protect you”. There are reasons for that and I don’t have to forgive them but I think that I need to, and I want to. I am so damaged, I know I am, not in a self-pitying way, or in a punitive way, but just in an acknowledging way. Sometimes it feels like denial when I am told that there is nothing wrong with me, because there is, and I’m not talking now about my self, or my core being or whatever you want to call it, but just the whole of me, the parts that should be healthy and functioning and not trying to constantly kill or sabotage me, because that ISN’T normal and I think recognition of that for me is actually a key to me being able to heal. To just be able to recognise that it wasn’t ok or normal but that actually even though I am not normal I also am in a way, because that is what you do, that is how you grow, you grow up to internalise what is around you, what you see, what is done to you, and fine, there might not have been rape or beatings or whatever but there is a whole lot of fucked up that I have just sucked in. Years and years, generations and generations of unmet needs and the denial of them. And I wasn’t protected, I should have been but I wasn’t, and so that is why I feel SO damaged, because if I had had all that but with some protection it might have been ok, but it wasn’t because essentially what I had is the fucked up bit from one parent paired up with the fucked up bit from another, both ensuring that their needs came before mine. I MIGHT have been ok if my dad hadn’t been the way he was, but I did still have a distant mother, one who I couldn’t connect to because she is so shut down that I can’t connect to the bit that I need to connect to – I know I have acknowledged that before. It wasn’t all bad and I know she loves me and was loving towards me but I was left without knowing how to really connect to it and feel it and I know that’s true because I can’t connect to myself and it is an ongoing battle. There was no security guard standing at the entrance to turn away what shouldn’t have come in. I had no security guard. I had no security. And so even without the dad I feel like I would have been fucked up because I didn’t know how to put myself first. And then maybe I would have still be damaged by my dad if I had had a secure attachment to my mum, but there were still the endless, constantly changing mind games and the feeling crazy and all the ways in which I was just chucked onto a heap. That is how I feel and again, part of me is really fighting that and I can feel that familiar narrative, it is constant, a simple repetition of, it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that bad, and it is SO HARD to acknowledge that it was. That if it hadn’t been then there wouldn’t even BE nightmares about consistent invasion despite trying to protect myself, about home not being safe, about people that I love changing into something else that will harm me, about not being able to escape, about having to constantly think on my feet about the best way to avoid being killed. To not be murdered. To be able to hold onto my self. Because it was something that I wasn’t allowed to do, and I wasn’t allowed it from either parent.

I can even feel it in simple things. Like now, when I am feeling ill and woozy, hot with the lump in my throat, the “proper ill” as I feel it. And Nick had just left the bedroom after trying to wake me up, so I called down after him but there was no response, and the feeling that accompanies that is immense, and yet again, I know that that isn’t normal, that feeling of, oh my god he can’t hear me he can’t hear me and I am all alone, I am alone and nobody can hear me and nobody will come. And now it is different, I can get up and go to him, and recognise that I am not alone, but only now I am starting to acknowledge that there were times when I couldn’t and THAT IS WHY, damn it! Why has it taken so long to sink in? That is why I have these intense, I want to say emotional flashbacks, because they are not based in reality but they literally wash over everything in reality at that point, dousing it with cold, icy past. That feeling of being alone and that nobody will come is so overwhelming and intense and when I think about why I feel so sad. For me. For her, the little girl who was never rescued from it. No wonder it hurts so much and is triggered so intensely by people not being there, by people leaving, in whatever sense. I needed to be rescued from it and I wasn’t and that is pretty much the entire theme of my life and why I struggle so, so much because how can I rescue myself if I was never shown how to? And that is why I get frozen and can’t call out for help and feel as though I can’t get what I need because I am stuck in a place where I couldn’t do that.

And then we come on to being so frustrated with myself that I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW, and that buys into the feelings again that I am a failure, that I am worthless, that I can’t even look after myself. That I am stupid. And with this unexpected uber-clarity outfit on I can see again how EXACTLY that relates to my parents. Because I was supposed to take care of their needs (unconsciously, I think, although in the case of my dad perhaps not?) and I couldn’t do that, either, and I was berated for that either subtly or not so subtly, with threats of violence, with literal threats of death, with threats of abandonment, with actual abandonment, with the closing of doors and the shutting out my needs and being shown so clearly that I am too much, that I am not enough, that nothing is mine. The key is in the threat, isn’t it, it wasn’t like I had been a typical teenager and acted out and had my phone taken away for a bit, these were threats of, like, hierarchy of needs level. You will lose your home. You won’t be able to eat (and this did actually get acted out in my teenage years, when I couldn’t ‘save’ my dad and I lived in a house of mushrooms in the bathroom, of mouldy/no food in the fridge, of the threats of rent not being able to be paid). You will lose my love, you will lose your life, you will lose the lives of those around you, you will lose your independence, you will lose your privacy (never had any, hence fantasy/music I guess), you will lose sleep (what a big one…), you will lose you will lose you will lose, that was the running theme. I will always lose and I had to fight not to lose, not realising that I had already lost, or rather that I didn’t already have. You can’t lose security if you never really had it, you can’t lose acceptance if you never really had it, you can’t lose autonomy if you never really had it. And I fought so hard, all the time, not to ‘lose’ all this. So sad. And now I am fighting so hard to get them, to have them in myself, to feel it in myself instead of being someone who is terrified all the time because they are not there and I don’t know how to get them. I have spent my entire life (and still do!) trying to get them from other people, and I need to get them from myself, and that is where the war is, because I have dad-style Judgement of Doom and feel so, SO useless and worthless for not being able to just do it, to magically know how to do something I was never taught. Let alone having to deal with the fact, that, oh yeah! I’ve also missed out on having it taught in the way that it should have been, so there is constant loss to bash up against, when I can feel it, when I am not pushing it away because even without the pain aspect there is the part of me that is so insistent, in denial, no no no I can’t have missed it, which then turns into, I am bad I’m sorry I’m bad I’m bad I can be better I can be better I promise, like my ability to get it is based on my worth and that if I could just make it better, if I could be better then it would all float down from the skies and cover me in soft, sparkly, rainbow-coloured petals and then everything will be alright and I will magically have what I need(ed). And that’s the grief cycle right there, isn’t it, at least the model I am most familiar with, the denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. The denial is obvious but the bargaining is in the trying to make it better because if I could just do it, attain whatever level I feel like I need to attain then it would all be fine. That is what I spent my entire childhood doing and what has spilled over into adulthood and continues to steer me, unconsciously, a lot of the time. Anger and depression again obvious, and acceptance is more readily available to me now as I work through things, but is still difficult to achieve when there is so much denial. And there is, and there will continue to be, and I need to be ok with it because it is there and it is there for a reason and that doesn’t make me bad either but it is so difficult to believe that the bad in me won’t push people away when it feels like that is what was always shown to me, that was always the message I got and I don’t know how to stop that from being overwhelming and REAL even though I am starting to know fundamentally that it is not. But again, maybe that is something that I can’t control and of course that is a massive trigger in itself, that I can’t control things. I can’t control some of the times when I get triggered, I can’t control whether people will love me or not, I can’t control when new ways of trying to control pop up unbeknownst to me, I can’t even control myself, the parts that I am not connected to, I can just work with them and try to understand them and that is something that is hard to understand, because again I am suddenly hit with that cold, hard feeling of, that is what parents do, isn’t it, and I never had it. And yet that comes with it an amazing realisation that I will be an ok parent because I am already learning how to be an ok parent by learning how to parent myself, and that is something that my parents never had or did.

[An aside: this breakthrough was directly to do with the fact that the week before I’d got massively, massively triggered by watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a programme about a girl who was kidnapped and held in a bunker for 15 years, then comes out and has to navigate the world with PTSD and not really knowing how to fit in with ‘normal’ people. To the point where I was cringing because she reminded me so much of me in so many ways – Nick kept going, “That is so you!” And I went all self-hating and didn’t get why I was triggered by it…but. Yeah.]

———

12/4/15 (today’s – much shorter!)

Just had another realisation, as you do when you’re sitting in a chair all night, while someone else sleeps… Of course I want [my therapist] to look after me, to care for me. Why wouldn’t I? I never got looked after in the way I needed. I never felt properly cared for. I never got the whole “attention on me” need met until therapy, I never ever had to not give anything back until then so of course it was like a magnet back to frozen child and hope and ‘I can be saved’.

But more importantly, that it’s not wrong for me to feel that. That I’m not wrong. That it doesn’t make me bad, or sick, or depraved, as I remember writing once and have felt so many times. Wrong to want. Wrong to need. Bad bad bad. It is OK. It is OK to feel it, to want it, even if I will never get it. Just because I will never get it doesn’t make me bad for still wanting it. I think that this is the first time I have ever, ever know this (in a felt sense). I feel immensely sad and wish I wasn’t at work so I could cry…but I also feel freer and like something has shifted in me, and lifted. I am not bad for wanting. It is normal to want. Especially when you wanted and never got and then tried to pretend that you never did because the pain of not getting is too much for you to bear. Poor, sweet little me. I’m sorry. You are OK and you always have been.

———

I realised that the reason it wasn’t ok previously (conversation in my head: “why wasn’t it ok?” “well..because it wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t”…GO ME!) was because it was communicated to me, loud and clear, in a myriad of different ways by my parents. To them it wasn’t ok because they didn’t have the capacity to properly care or look after me, and therefore I picked up on that because I wasn’t mirrored/attuned to and decided that because I needed/wanted it, it must be a Bad Thing.

Seriously. Therapy is the shit. It’s still so hard, but progress, my god. Progress. I am immensely proud of myself and overwhelmed with gratitude to my therapist for guiding me here.

2014 in review.

This was written ages ago, at the beginning of Jan. So I thought I’d share it instead of squirrelling it away.

2014 end of the year quiz! It’s gone so fast, it feels like a blur. But here we go…I always find doing these useful (if I can remember what I did).

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Probably the biggest one of these is crochet. It feels like it’s saved my life on a number of occasions. Other than that, been to the French Alps I guess. Seen loads of bands that I hadn’t seen before. OH YEAH KATE BUSH! I saw Kate Bush. Lots of work stuff.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

So I didn’t keep them up apart from be more creative. I guess I have procrastinated less (although, not much less). I am walking more. But other than that…I don’t know if I will make more for next year other than to keep going to therapy and to just keep going, to keep trying to be open to what I am experiencing and to be kind to myself. That is the hardest thing of all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes :) I haven’t met him yet though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. My best friend’s mum died though. And I experienced death with patients which was hard.

5. What countries did you visit?

France. And Scotland. :)

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More connection to myself. And some more energy.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31st May. We celebrated our first new anniversary and went and painted plates and it was wonderful.

November in general was horrible again. Ugh.

Not sure otherwise. Probably should. Want to say 6th June? Think that was my exam. And of course 31st December! Last day of the old year, spend with some of my favourite people.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting another first overall for the year. Staying relatively stable despite that being through hermitising myself almost completely. Joining up more dots and becoming more aware of myself. Staying in therapy, it is so hard. Staying in therapy while staying on my course! Managing the two of them, in addition to working and having a vague social life.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Having to let pretty much all my relationships aside from the very closest slide. I don’t have the energy. I find it so difficult with placement (going to another team three times a year, having to integrate, having to get the balance between being assertive enough to get stuff signed off and being flexible to what they want, having to learn skills related to that placement while also in general having academic work and other things to plan around…) and the course in general. I KNOW that this is ridiculous and not a failure, but for me it was very very difficult to get my first mark on this course under 70. 69. BUT STILL.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

General low level malaise, more migraines, three horrible colds, bad period pain, asthma stuff, nothing that bad. Apart from being madly suicidal in November. Also the same time of year as last time. What is it with November?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

YARN.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Nick’s. As usual. He is unchanging and that, for me, is bliss (although hard). R. Even though I get fantastically angry over the stupidest things and compare her to cardboard. She is so challenging but it is working and I am so grateful. My mentors on this placement, and the whole team, for almost giving me a reparative family experience (group of people! supportive! I am allowed to be vulnerable because they are too and it’s not a bad thing to show! they help me through my shit without making me help them through theirs! IMAGINE!). My friends, who haven’t left me (I am guessing) even though I have pretty much dropped off the face of the earth.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Mine. Letting agents and landlords in general. My family. The guy who lived upstairs in my old old place (seriously, have lived in three places this year so no wonder I am fucking pushed to the point of exhaustion) who basically had a crack den and scared me.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Moving. Hah. In the past year or so I have spent £600 that I will never get back on letting agents fees and guarantor fees. So depressing. Other than that, rent, travel, food, the usual. Yarn I guess.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Crocheting. Seeing Nick and Lauren and Sofie :) KATE BUSH! Leg ulcers. I turned a corner! (I am sad.) Going to placement. Getting 85% for one of my papers.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

As usual, songs, not song. Working backwards: Kristin Hersh – Like You, and Cathedral Heat. Sharon Van Etten – Your Love is Killing Me. Fiona Apple – To Your Love. Kate Bush – Snowflake, and Jig of Life. Hava Nagila :) Throwing Muses – Film. Tiny Ruins – Straw into Gold. John Grant – GMF. alt-J – Dissolve Me. St. Vincent – Digital Witness. ABBA – The Visitors. OMD – Electricity.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier. More tired, but definitely happier.

b) thinner or fatter?

I want to say fatter but I don’t think I am. I had lost weight but I think I have worked myself back up again.

c) richer or poorer?

Poorer. I have just done a row of nights but other than that have barely been able to work because it’s just too much for me on top of everything else at the moment.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Keeping in touch with people, seeing people, but when I can I do.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Ruminating. Procrastinating. Obsessing. Comfort eating.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with Nick, at home, and we went to the beach and ate ice cream and then cooked at home. Boxing day was spent with our tradition of watching The Room while eating Christmas Day leftovers pizza (which was YUM).

21. How will you be spending New Year?

My best friend’s house with a bunch of lovely people, setting off sparkers and spending HOURS with a hula hoop. I haven’t had that much fun for AGES.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Rekindled love for Gillian Anderson. But otherwise no, just stayed boringly in love with Nick, happy with brief flashes of OMGPLEASEDON’TLEAVEMEEEEEEE.

23. How many one-night stands?

None.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, but I have felt quite bitter and hateful in general. Hateful is wrong, I am not hateful, but I am finding it very very hard to have all these people graduating and getting amazing jobs and getting married or engaged or pregnant or buying a house or giving birth all under my nose. Partly why I haven’t Facebooked much because every time I go on it seems to be ENGAGED! PREGNANT! ENGAGED! in a row and NO THANK YOU. It taps straight into a massive sense of loss for me and I think that is partly why I have hidden away from it. Sometimes it is way too much for me to have to deal with. Which makes me feel not very nice but there you go. I also have that sometimes when walking around town and seeing families or even just a parent with a child. OWWWWW. But I am feeling slightly better about it at the moment (possibly because I have worked through/am working through some of the loss) which is a nice feeling.

25. What was your favourite restaurant of 2014?

Probs still Pho. Good memories there, good people, good food. Also thai place. And Modelo’s, where you can sit for hours and nobody gives a shit.

26. What were your favourite TV programs?

Holby, GBBO, The Apprentice, The Fall. Gilmore Girls, still. The Kate Bush documentary. Frasier also pretty much saved me in December.

27. What was the best book you read?

I don’t think I read any novels *shame*.

28. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

Um. John Grant! I love him. alt-J even though it’s really only certain songs. OMD even though I knew them before, but they’ve been a major focal point of my year! Helen Money, who supported Mono. She’s this intense cellist who makes dark, beautiful music.

29. What were your favourite films of this year?

Saw Submarine which I liked, but not really a film person. Fahrenheit 451 was pretty enjoyable too (if depressing, because OMG it’s NOW only, even more depressingly, their screens are smaller than the ones we have now).

30. What did you want and get?

Good marks. Good placements. Good mentors. A dissertation question (haven’t finalised it, but pretty sure). More insight.

31. What did you want and not get?

Marriage, a baby, a house, money, a nice family, a time machine to go and reverse my shitty childhood, someone to adopt me. But that’s getting a bit better…

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had lectures on bowel care. Yay? I was 31. Can’t remember what else I did. I think I went for dinner and then watched Alpha Papa on the beach.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More money. As usual. I know money doesn’t make you happy blah blah blah, but come off it. The housing situation is ridiculous and I just want to not have to worry ALL THE TIME. Stable home life (as in houses).

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Jeans and a top and boots. Because that is it.

35. What kept you sane?

Crochet, repeats of comfort TV, rice, Nick and my friends.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

NHS crap again. ARGH.

37. Who did you miss?

So many of my friends. Two of my very closest friends don’t live anywhere near me and Skype hasn’t happened for multitudes of reasons. I really miss feeling connected to them (even though I still do…but you know).

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Any of my new team, along with the specialist palliative care nurse who helped me get through a very difficult time.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:

Most of the stuff that bothers me really isn’t that bothersome, but it’s how I make sense of it because of what has gone before. When I look back on the whole doorbell thing, for example, if I’d been able to hold onto myself more then it wouldn’t have been that bad. Because it wasn’t that bad. It really wasn’t, and it didn’t mean what it felt it meant. It just dredged up so much shit, which sent me into a dark, dark place. So trying to stay separate from the old shit is the most important thing but also the hardest. I have been able to do that slightly more recently and that means I am able to work through stuff more when it gets triggered. Trying to stay open, not to close my mind, not to judge. That is the most valuable lesson and it’s just learning how to do that. I am very much at the beginning of the path.

It’s about responsibility, too. Taking responsibility and knowing what is mine, and being aware of it. There are so many times this year where I have relinquished or denied responsibility for so many things and for so many reasons. I still am now, but I am learning, and that’s the most important thing, that I’m learning from it.

In a nutshell: Happiness is an inside job. And I also love this quote by Tori Amos:

“The big lesson in this whole year has been that there isn’t a resolve for many things. Life isn’t about, well, if I just get to this mountain peak, it’s over. There are like 5,000 peaks in the distance.” <—-True, dat.

Song for today: Spark by Tori Amos.

I haven’t written for so long. In general. There used to be sheets and sheets of paper, or multiple email drafts. There are still some email drafts now, but nowhere near as many. Today I feel compelled, though, because I feel as though I need to work things through, to get them out, instead of having them stagnating inside.

I am sitting/lying here on my (tiny) sofa, where I have been for most of the day. My water bottle by my side, untouched. (Having trouble drinking, again.) Listening to my favourite Spotify playlists, with melodies and lyrics that reflect where I am and what I am feeling so that they can swaddle me, cocoon me with their notes. My comfort shawl, that I crocheted myself to try and help me feel safe when it doesn’t feel so, is draped over my shoulders, covering me up, the fluffy sparkles and blue/grey colour trying to maintain connection. My crochet project (a blanket for my friend’s baby) has allowed me to keep busy in a gentle way while I’m off ‘sick’ (head sick). And some of my best allies are here; Bri is behind me but Bun and Bev have been keeping me company all day:

IMG_20150225_161553

The last few days have been brutal, and I’m not sure why. I’m trying to figure it out. But I have gone from being motivated, wanting to do my course, enjoying it, being excited about my life etc etc etc, to being, as I described it on Monday, like I am vacuum-packed. Shrink-wrapped. So stuck that I cannot move, left or right, forward or back. I am squashed into a tiny space. Suspended. (“I know you didn’t mean it like this, but when you said suspended, I thought of a suspended bus stop – you know, when they’ve got the tape all over them. And it’s thinking, oh god, but I’m a bus stop! I can’t be out of action, I have to serve the buses! And it panics because it can’t do what it’s supposed to.” –paraphrased from therapy yesterday, god love her. I couldn’t stop grinning.)

And even though I didn’t mean that, it’s also true. I feel like I am suspended in the air, but also that I am out of action and feel panicky about it but can’t do anything about it because I am stuck there – here – with tape all over me and I can’t move. Although…despite being stuck, I am also whirling, spinning, like a tornado. I can’t stay with one thing. I don’t know who I am because I keep changing and I don’t know how I’m feeling. I feel as though I have gone from being ‘me’, cruising along, driving my car wherever I want to, mostly in control, to being hijacked and driven somewhere completely different. Like I have been taken over, like an alien invasion. I know that this is also me, and that’s where it is so confusing, exhausting and, at times, excruciating. So…the one causing me all this trouble is me, then. Great!

I got pissed off on Monday and showed it. Managed to keep talking, even though I was angry. I can’t even remember what I was angry about. Oh yeah, I do, but it’s too long to write about and it was one of those moments where I had to shrug and say, “yeah, you’re right, and I know you are because my initial reaction was to tell you to fuck off.” And there was also the, “WHY?! Why do I have to sort it out myself?” “Because it’s your life.” She looked at me, I looked back, and then scowled.  “Yeah but it’s not FAIR!” “No, it’s not. But that’s the way it is.”

When I got home on Monday I felt as though I wasn’t done. I kept running through everything we had talked about…my family, my feelings and my actions at the moment, the whole feeling/being ‘weird’ thing, and how even though it’s twisted as a bad thing it makes me special so I don’t want to let go of it (“I think on one level, you’re scared that if you’re not this weird person, that if you lose that then I won’t be interested in you anymore”), my running back to what is ‘safe’ even though it’s not and is harmful to me… She described it as a security blanket, one that’s all manky and soiled, one that she’s trying to yank off me and one that I won’t let her take away. “We can see it in the room, when you run back to it.” It felt like it had brought up so much, and I wanted to talk more. So despite my fears of being too much, I texted on Tuesday morning and asked if I could speak to her, or see her. And she had a free session, so I went and thrashed it out some more. There is so much in there, so much about being terrified to have people care for me, I don’t know how to do it and I resist it so much but of course, it’s what I want. I just have a mountain of defences in there.

And it was another really amazing session and I still wasn’t done. So with ALL my courage I emailed and asked if I could see her AGAIN this week, because I really wanted to. It felt different this time – not like I was desperate and would die if I didn’t see her, but that I just really wanted to. I acknowledged that it might not be possible so asked if could I speak to her briefly if I couldn’t have another session, and that either way it was fine, but if she couldn’t then to please be nice about it because even though I had been able to it ask was still monumentally difficult. And she emailed back, nicely (of course, because she is nice – but often her Rigid Boundaries of Doom don’t feel nice, reminding me of an exchange with Nick where I showed him an email from her that I thought was really warm, for her, and he called her the Ice Maiden, haha), saying that it seems positive to her that I was able to articulate my needs to myself, and to her. She didn’t have any free sessions but I did speak to her at 4pm, just for 8 minutes. I told her that I’d been snuggled up with my comfort things in an effort to feel safe. And I explained about this song.

Last night as I was trying to sleep, the line, “you say you don’t want it, again and again, but you don’t really mean it” popped into my head and kept playing over and over, like a mantra. I was confused for a while and didn’t really understand, although it felt perfect, like it was able to articulate things in a way that I hadn’t been able to. I am so resistant to everything and it’s just a defence. I played the song over in my head from the beginning. “She’s addicted to nicotine patches.” In yesterday’s session, she talked about me being addicted to her, to therapy. How beautiful as a metaphor. Nicotine patches are what you use when you can’t, for whatever reason, have cigarettes. They are a substitute, they provide the substance but not in the way that the person really wants. They’re not cigarettes, are they? They’re not quite real. She’s not quite real. She’s a nicotine patch, therapy is a nicotine patch for the real cigarettes that I really fucking well want to smoke. Knowing that they don’t exist and that it isn’t possible doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Then: “she’s afraid of the light in the dark.” I have always loved that line, but now it takes on new meaning. She is the light, therapy is. I am used to it being dark, and I’m scared of the light, I’m scared of it taking the dark away, in the same way that I get pissed off, angry and ultimately terrified when she tries to contradict everything that I have ever known and felt about myself.

This used to be my favourite song, for years, starting when I was…16? 17? It was written about a miscarriage but it has always made sense to me. It has been a fixture in my life for a long, long time, and despite not having listened to it in months, possibly years, it came back when I needed it. There are more lines in the song which are resonant but I can’t go into them right now because I am exhausted and need to stop writing now. But, lastly, the single and album covers:

spark

 

spark2

 

FromTheChoirgirl

 

Photocopied, not a representative version of herself. Stuck, between glass, looking as though she’s vacuum-packed. Exactly how I am feeling now. I really thought it was beautiful, the way it came up and ended up being such a mirror of my current self. I feel less alone now.

Lyrics:

she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s afraid of the light in the dark
6.58 are you sure where my spark is
here, here, here

she’s convinced she could hold back a glacier
(between cotton balls and xylophones)
but she couldn’t keep Baby alive
(I’m getting old)
doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere
here, here, here
you say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

if the Divine master plan is perfection
(swing low)
maybe next I’ll give Judas a try
(swing low, sweet chariot)
trusting my soul to the ice cream assassin
here, here, here
you say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

how many fates turn around in the overtime
ballerinas that have fins that you’ll never find
you thought that you were the bomb yeah well so did I
say you don’t want it
say you don’t want it
say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s afraid of the light in the dark
6.58 are you sure where my spark is
here, here, here

Video (which itself has incredible imagery):

Uncomfortable realisations.

I should go to bed but I need to get this down.

I am going through ‘classic’ stuff at the moment. Proper disintegration feelings, prompted, I think, by feeling secure. It all seems to come back to the core, the core of shame and hurt and anger and evil. Maybe not evil. But it feels like it. Really bad things. Like not letting me drink. Keeping me up all night. You know, preventing the most basic of needs from being fulfilled. What I need to keep me alive and sane. That core is like, NO! You can’t come in! And rejects all the good stuff. I am starting to internalise it, but I think it is SO threatening to that part of me. Which I am having real trouble trying to get my head around. Because right now, ‘I’ am like, DUDE! Get over it! I want nice things! But then later on, I guess I get it. Because then I am the rejecting part and I don’t recognise the other bit (me, as I am now). But how scary is that. I don’t like being different versions of me. I feel really mad.

I was reading about annihilation anxiety and what I got from it was that I can’t get let go of all this bad stuff because otherwise I am left with nothing, and obviously that is terrifying. My core was built from my volatile experiences as a child and therefore I am comprised of instability and chaos rather than security and butterflies and fucking rainbows. The bad overshadowed and overtook the good, and so I internalised that. But I cannot believe that and I cannot understand it. Firstly, nothing that bad happened. Secondly, I don’t want to be that person. I keep coming back to that. I don’t want to be that person and I am and I don’t want to be in text books and articles and fit diagnoses. I just want to be a normal person who lives a normal life and it feels like, no matter how hard I try, no matter how far I get, no matter how well I do, no matter how normal I become and how normal I feel, it doesn’t matter because I am ALWAYS there to fuck it up for myself, in one way or another, consciously (not anymore, thankfully) or unconsciously (the most frustrating thing of all because I can’t start to control it until it becomes conscious).

I just want to be a normal person who doesn’t spend their Sunday ridiculously sleep deprived, trying to force their own mouth open so that they can drink and not go into kidney failure, because another part of themselves is trying to force it shut and deny them basic nourishment. A normal person, who I was, a few days ago. It is amazing, this slippery slope. I described it as snakes and ladders, the other day. It feels like I have climbed so far and got almost to the top but now I am right back at the bottom. I got triggered and slithered right back to the start. I am so tired of all of this.

Song for today: Psycho Killer by Talking Heads.

I am not doing too well today. Or last night. Other than that, things have been pretty good. I mean, they’re still insanely busy and I am still living a super-duper stressful life, but in general…I am ok. I don’t have that sort of vibrating energy that I used to have. That is gone. I didn’t know it was there until it had gone. The underlying current of Not Being Ok. It all started off the night I had the breakthrough, the very first one, I can’t remember what tipped it over the edge but I think it was the last episode of the second series of My Mad Fat Diary. Really powerful stuff. I really relate to it for lots of reasons (mainly, fat, previously hospitalised, self-loathing teenager who cuts a lot, binge eats and lashes out – that was my adolescence) but something about that series was so powerful. I did a lot of grieving that night, was triggered into this hugely powerful experience. And that was the first moment in my life that I had ever experienced such great, intense sorrow with knowing that it was ok. That I was, that I would be. I had never felt so calm. I felt like the sea when it is still and reflective and just there. It was the first moment that I realised what my therapist had talked about, when she said that I’d know when I was done with therapy, because she would “become defunct”. I laughed at it before. I didn’t get it. And that night, for a smidgen, I did.

And life since then has followed on in the same vein. More breakthroughs, each one seeming to release more calm in me, until I am almost all calm now. Aside from the mad moments obviously, but even then I deal with them well and move on rather than get bogged down in them. I have been feeling really sad recently because I can feel therapy coming to an end (not NOW. Not even in the near future. But I know it has an end whereas before I couldn’t envisage it at all). And also because I know that despite the mostly-being-calm thing, there is still the Core. The bad bit. I haven’t been pushing it away as such, but it hasn’t been triggered properly in a long time, because my level of tolerance has gone up so much. And it really has. I never really understood ‘integration’ before but I totally do now. Like so much before it, it was a concept, and now it’s real. But this part of me (or parts, maybe, because it feels like there are more than one) are really deep down. So whereas before they would have just emerged for any old reason, like a comment or a look or whatever, I have to be really triggered for it to come out. And actually, this triggering has been made up of lots of small moments like comments or moments when I realise just how unfair things have been/are. Alone, I was able to tolerate them. Together, they feel unbearable and I cannot carry the weight of them any longer.

So I have gone from feeling normal to completely mental again. I spent my last session saying things like, “Actually,I don’t care what you think. Not in a bad way. I just don’t” (seriously! after thinking that I wanted to know what she thought and then backtracking. I meant it – I didn’t need her opinion, I could deal with it myself), and her commenting that I was talking about some really big things, like growing up and the change and loss that it brings. I felt secure and valued and valuing and just…fine. And now, I feel like a tiny child who is also beating herself with a massive iron rod. I am so, so vulnerable, and so, so punishing. I just don’t know how to be anything else in these moments. I asked her to call me even though I felt so ashamed for doing so, because I’ve been doing ‘well’, because I ‘shouldn’t’ need her when I have been making progress. But also because I realise, I realise now that she can’t take it away, she can’t take any of it away and so I also feel stupid for reaching out when nothing will ever get better. But just because she can’t take it away it doesn’t mean that she can’t help in the moment. And she did, she mostly always does, I still don’t get how all this stuff can just fall out of her mouth. I love how her brain works, she’s amazing, even if she’s also really annoying because sometimes I don’t want to hear it.

We talked about this song a while ago, back in one of my sessions. I think it was just under a year ago, now. Or maybe at the beginning of the year. Anyway. I had it going round and round my head after a particularly insane bit of attempted self-sabotage (possible psychosis, at least that’s what it felt like to me). Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better/Run run run run run run run away. It was yet another song that took on a different meaning when looked through a different lens, after having a different experience. Far better to run away than have to deal with something. Far better to kill it off rather than face up to it. It reminded me of all those many, many conversations we’ve had about cutting off parts of myself and it not working and not being able to tolerate them when they pop back up and are all like OH HAI! I’M STILL HERE! YOU CAN’T GET RID OF ME!

And there are less parts cut off now. I’m less cut off. But there are still these moments, these moments where it’s too painful or I get too angry and hate myself so much. And I just don’t know what to do. How to feel. I feel as though I have learned nothing and then it comes back to – it will always be like this. I will. I don’t deserve to live, deserve good things. Etc etc. And there is a small part of me that is fighting back but when I’m in it, like I am now, the force is too big and it’s overwhelming. I know it will pass but right now it is excruciating. I was wimpering like a wounded animal last night because I couldn’t make noises properly because my throat had been cut off (that happens when I’m really distressed, I lost my voice) and it was the only sound I could make. I couldn’t even cry properly. Silent tears streaming down my face with the odd squeal escaping. Those moments where pain is all you are and you can’t remember anything else ever existing.

I am so tired. I just want it to go back to normal. I’m trying just to feel everything as it comes but when it is this painful of course I want it gone. It is pretty unbearable.

 I can’t seem to face up to the facts/I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax…