Holy epiphany, Batman

I feel like an evangelical nutter writing this but I have to get it down because it feels too important not to. I am writing this in the dark without my glasses on, nose inches from the screen, it’s THAT important.

The connection doesn’t have to stop just because she isn’t there. Just because she’s not around, it doesn’t mean that the connection doesn’t exist. That it hasn’t existed. That our connection, our relationship, has ceased to be.

Is it really that fucking simple? Didn’t I know that already? I feel as though I have just stumbled across some sort of holy light, only it’s been staring me in the face for years, in the form of basic yet unintelligible words.

The connection still exists even when she’s not there. 

How can something so simple be so profound? What the actual fucking fuck?

(I finally had my crying meltdown, and lo, it was good. Snotface extraordinare. Which has led onto this ‘revelation’. I know it’s 4am but – WHAT. THE. HELL. Bed now. But OMG.)

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Song for today: Reaching Out by Kate Bush.

Yes, another Kate song. Sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And last night I made a mandala:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pull and the push of it all.

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

See how the flower leans instinctively
Toward the light.

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

The pull and the push of it all.

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

(Can’t we see…)

Reaching out for Mama.

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

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

Song for today: Dissolve Me by Alt-J.

I have been absent. I am going through incredibly hard therapy stuff and life is also kicking me. There is good stuff but as ever the more difficult stuff is the stuff that feels more potent…emotionally and intellectually challenging course, not having any money, having to work on top of a full time degree to afford things like electricity and rent rather than haircuts and new glasses, not really having a social life because I have no energy for interaction other than with those closest to me thanks to all the above demands, moving house AGAIN because I was semi-forced to… It is not all woe is me by any means, there is a lot of joy and love in my life but it is very, very hard. And running along side that, interwoven with all of it, is therapy. Therapy is one long mindfuck, an excruciating but occasionally beautiful journey into the depths of abandonment, loss, anger and sadness. If you’re in ‘proper’ therapy, you’ll get it. Like, psychodynamic attachment stuff with transference and all the other bollocks. Not to demean people who don’t have attachment and trauma issues but christ, is it bad. Attachment is the foundation for EVERYTHING. For life. And I am knocking down terrible foundations and laying new ones and believe me, that ain’t no picnic. It is the hardest thing I have ever, ever done and it just keeps on getting harder.

I have been through several breakthroughs recently, each one more painful than the last. It feels like it cannot get anymore painful..and then it does. It is truly unbelievable in those times, it literally takes my breath away with the force of all this unprocessed, raw pain. I am getting some of my needs met but I am not getting others met and putting me in touch with any of them is difficult, but when you are faced with ones that nobody can ever meet, the ones that probably only you yourself can get closest to…it is unimaginable loss. It feels unimaginable because of the pain of it but it is not unimaginable, of course. It happened. It exists, it is just cut off, split off because it was so traumatic that I couldn’t bear it. And that is why it feels unbearable now, and why sometimes I really cannot bear it now, because I couldn’t bear it then.

And yet…I can feel integration happening. Very, very slowly; cautiously, tiptoeing around. Like it might not be real. Because how do you know if it is real, if you’ve never been integrated? If all you have been is slightly bodged together parts, some of which you can’t even recognise because they are so small and so hidden?

Tonight I had the weirdest experience. It comes off the back of some very, very intense work with my therapist which follows a rupture in therapy that was so painful that I ended up dissociating so badly in the room that I thought she was going to squash me with her foot, because I was so small and insignificant (I literally felt that, for people who haven’t ever experienced it and think I might be exaggerating. That’s trauma for you). It has been bad for a long time, if I think about it, really since the summer break last year when I felt so abandoned. And it hasn’t been the same since. But most of it happened around January and it was BAD. It has just started getting on track, sort of. Again, small, slow steps, backwards and forwards and sideways; oh, so much sideways. :) I really didn’t feel heard or acknowledged with something and I had to try and make her hear it. And I wanted something from her. What happened was that she did mostly hear me and I did feel pretty much, mostly validated and accepted and heard. But I didn’t get the something. And that brought about one of the strangest experiences of my life.

I felt so safe but also angry. I felt pissed off that she still hadn’t heard me but then confused because she had. Then there was the gratitude, which felt immense; that after months of not being heard, she managed to hear enough for it to make a difference. And it all came back to confusion. It was like a very fast game of ping pong, going from anxiety at not being heard to feeling like I had so then feeling angry because I didn’t get what I asked for followed by that gratitude, so big that I felt tearful and like I was swelling up with love. Love. I have never used that word in regards to her before, really, because I never felt it. I wanted it from her, but I didn’t feel it towards her. I really never understood why I would (don’t get me wrong, I had all the intense feelings and whatnot but not LOVE). Now I do. I feel like…just like, I love her. As a person, as a human being. (Vomworthy but true – and if you get the quote, you are awesome.)

But anyway, as usual it is taking me approximately for fucking ever to get to the actual point. So what I am feeling now, what I have been through tonight, is literally the five stages of grief. In one night. I have gone through some of the most intense loss and I have had a massive breakthrough in connecting her behaviour to my mum’s and how that is repeating a behaviour, how even if she can validate me MOSTLY she is still not seeing this other part of me, and because it is the bit that is the most painful, the bit that needs to be seen the most, I fucking hate her for it, for repeating the cycle, for making it happen again. She is validating its existence but she can’t SEE it, she doesn’t get it. But for some reason I feel ok with it. (Now. I have obviously spent hours raging, because you can’t do the whole cycle without a mega fuckton of anger). I am still angry with her, actually. I really am. I am angry that she can’t see it, but you know what? She can’t. She just can’t, for whatever reason. And I still love her. And I don’t know why. And instead of ping pong, it is just a ball, lying there. Maybe not completely enmeshed, the anger and the hate and the love and the gratitude, they are still very distinct, but instead of I HATE YOU! I LOVE YOU! AAAAAAAAAARGH! It is just more like, christ alive, I fucking love you and hate you all at once and you are infurating but awesome and you’re just so human. You are just a person sitting in a chair, like I am.

And there is no way that this is IT, that I am done with therapy, because I feel like there is so much more to work through and with stuff like this, you can be fine and then have something else hit you, like yesterday when I just felt confused and then ok and then today all the rage got me. I couldn’t get to the depression, though, without the denial and the bargaining and the rage, and that’s why she is so infuriating. Because her failure is helping me heal. Fucking therapy. And it’s still not ok, don’t get me wrong. It’s not ok at all. Just because I am feeling sort of ok with it doesn’t make it all fine and dandy. It is shit. It is unequivocally shit. But it will always be shit. It will always be shit because it was shit and nothing can change it. And that’s where the acceptance comes in. She can’t make it better. She can’t make it go away. And it is painful but to sound like a really annoying cliche, it is what it is. That is how it is, and how it will always be. I am never going to get what I needed, and that’s SHIT. How can it not be? But it can be bearable. I can make it bearable. I can bear it. (FYI, I have NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER TO INFINITY AND BEYOND thought that before. This is a new thing, this is the breakthrough. And I am sure at some point tomorrow I will go dude, WTF, only she can save you, but for now this is it.)

I know that I am slowly healing because I had a moment of stillness a few weeks ago, and a very small moment of knowing what it would feel like not to need her anymore (when she “becomes defunct”, in her words). And I have that again tonight. I feel calm and still. I don’t feel happy, or sad. But I’m not cut off either. I can’t explain it but it has only happened to me twice, I think, possibly three times. So tiny, tiny steps. But this feels forward, and it is terrifying. Because it is into something unknown, and ultimately, away from her. And that’s how I know I’m not ready yet, because that still feels BAD and WRONG and like I want to run back to her and say, “Please, don’t leave me!” That’s what happens, though, with children. No wonder it feels strange. I am growing up as a child inside an adult, and all the rules are weird.

This song mirrors that somewhat. It came on the radio this morning and I started bopping along to it, because it is a boppy song. I was also completely enraptured with it, it’s one of those songs that is so beautiful but not in a sad way. It is soothing but also has a great beat and this lovely melody that runs right through it, repeating over and over. It reminds me of therapy and of her, and how sometimes it really does feel like you’re dissolving. And the fricking cover of the album!

Image

Feeling flooded with emotions, slowly, penetrating through the cracks, reaching far away bits that were long forgotten. Nourishment. It also reminds me of anastomosis, which again reminded me of therapy, of the process. I thought of it as emotional anastomosis (anastomosis being the reconnection of two previously diverted structures). There are more than two structures, but in some ways there aren’t. There is adult and child, and although ‘child’ is split into lots of different types, it is about bringing them together. It made a lot of sense to me, anyway.

She makes the sound, the sound the sea makes, to calm me down. Beautiful.

 

Song for 27th April 2014 [Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes (live)]

A great post from a friend about music, what it means, the effect it can have and the perception of it changing over time (something I fully relate to). Wonderful.

Sequinned Mannequin

I think it is probably not a good sign that I have been listening a lot to the music I listened to when I was a desperately depressed late-teenager. I’ve been meaning to write a post about the Tori story for a long while now, and now is still not the right time, but suffice to say I discovered Tori Amos when I was 14 and it changed my life in a variety of ways. It was the first time I really understood what music could do, how it could speak, the power of someone articulating all the things I hardly even knew I was trying to say. Along with the music came the community – at a time when I’m sure Tori fans made up at least 50% of internet-users, the online world was a very different place and a safe haven (mostly) for the types of melancholy, damaged…

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Unseen, unheard.

And so it starts again. Sitting on the bus, thoughts peppering into me as I tiredly slump against the window. Thinking about what to get for dinner. Maybe something from the shops. And then, suddenly, as clear as anything: I don’t need food. I need love. Your love. I don’t want the love of anyone else but you. Nobody else can fill that hole, nobody else will do, I have people to fill it but I know it’s not enough. It’s not the right shape. Nobody else has a key to unlock it. And that makes me tremendously sad. I keep thinking, I am not being honest. I can’t be honest. All these words spilling out of me, all the time, to you; thousands upon thousands of words, and I can’t actually say any of them to you, to your face, because I am terrified. Frozen.

I even went to the chapel tonight after work. I read about it in the work magazine and remembered that I’d seen signs for it before but that I’d never gone. It’s beautiful. A lovely, calming, welcoming space. Warm and scented, from the candles burning. I felt so at peace and a little emotional. Reading the notices that people had put up. Feeling bad but unable to hold back sniggers at someone writing about ‘Uncle Boob’. Welling up at some of them, especially the one by a child written to their nan, hoping that she was enjoying heaven. I felt moved.

I prayed. Twice. Not to god, as such. I don’t believe in god. Maybe I prayed to myself. Maybe I prayed to you. It was a prayer, though. I asked for everything to be ok. “Please let everything be ok”. I even wrote it down afterwards and stuck it up on the notice board, alongside Uncle Boob and the dead nan. I needed it to be heard. Heard, but not seen; I tucked it under another prayer. I also held a stone and said it, putting the stone into the pile afterwards. I guess that means I prayed three times. When I held the stone, I also asked if I could be brave. “Please let me be brave”. I know I need to talk about this. I don’t feel able. I don’t feel brave. I feel mute: silent and unable to speak.

I wonder if it’s difficult to hear something if you can’t see it. I think it must be. I think that’s maybe what part of the problem is, was. That day (‘that day’, I can’t refer to it as anything else). I remember we touched upon it very briefly afterwards. I can’t remember much because I think that might have been the session where I couldn’t be there. But I remember you saying something like only being able to see one part of me. And I wonder, then, if because you could only see that part, that you couldn’t hear me. I didn’t feel heard at all. That’s where all this anxiety comes from. Not that you didn’t hear me as such; there have been plenty of times that you haven’t heard me, haven’t understood me, and they haven’t been as damning. This does feel damning. I felt damned. Like that is how you saw me but I felt like I was more and you couldn’t see me, as a whole, you couldn’t see the other parts. That’s like, rejection on a whole new level, isn’t it? You almost predicted how I would respond, before we even had a chance to properly talk about it. And then…well, you predicted it right, I guess. Your initial prediction, that was wrong, but that dominoed into this. Slightly. It’s not the same as originally. I haven’t erased all the good with the bad. Rather there is nothing now. I can’t feel any of it. I can’t let myself because it feels like when it goes wrong it is so agonising, so devastating, and the pain is so intense that I have to shut down. And I know that’s the wrong response. That I need to just be brave and talk about it. I try…and then when I am there, when you are there in front of me, that’s it. It’s automatic, it’s an automatic function and I don’t know how to override it. It’s like there’s a switch that I can’t access, it’s being activated and I don’t know how to flick it back, back to what it used to be. When I could be honest, and open. When I could talk. I think, I think that it took me so much to talk that day. It took a lot of courage to say those things. That for you then not to hear them, to almost deny them…it was too much for me to cope with.

Recently, I am constantly fluctuating between thinking you are not good enough, that actually you have no idea. No fucking clue. That you have let me down so much, so severely, that that’s it now, that I am done, or at least I will be as soon as I can speak again to let you know it. And then I think that maybe you are good enough, that I just need to try you again, but that seems impossible. A gargantuan task, an amalgamation of stupidity and futility with a side order of AS IF. I feel like I did try you and it was the most epic fail ever, so much so that I could have made a stupid internet meme out of it, if I’d just had a picture of the two of us that day, ready to emblazon EPIC FAIL across.

I am tired. I am tired of this, going on in my head. I am tired of not being able to talk, because the only way out of this is to talk, and I don’t know how anymore. I am tired of missing you, of feeling like you aren’t there anymore, that what we had doesn’t exist anymore and that maybe it never did if it could be broken this easily. I am tired of feeling like I broke it, that it is my fault, and tired of then reversing into HULKSMASH mode and feeling like you are the one who has picked it up, hurled it at a rock and shattered it beyond recognition. I am tired of feeling like I don’t understand what happened. I am tired of feeling like I need to know why it did. I am tired of everything, of having to struggle so hard all the time, when I didn’t used to have to struggle this hard with you, so at least I had that. And now we’ve had this epic struggle, this locking of horns, that I still do not understand, it feels like I can’t struggle anymore and so I have just shut down. I am so scared, I am so, so scared that whatever I say now will be challenged, fought against, and I can’t bear it. I can’t bear anymore cliched psychoanalytical interpretations. I can’t bear any more sitting in silence, or forced, fake conversation, when all I want to say is, I’m scared. I want you to be gentle with me and I’m scared you can’t be anymore. And if you can’t be then that’s it, I feel so fragile that any further knocks feel like they will damage me beyond repair. I feel like I can’t take that risk, and yet I know that I have to, that I need to. I don’t know how to get to a place where I do that, though. And your comment keeps coming into my head, floating in like a malevolent ghost, when you said that maybe I wanted you to change. Maybe I do want you to change. What then? What if you can’t? What if you can’t be flexible and be gentle with me when I need it, because it’s not what you think I need, or what you think is right? And then when does it start becoming about you rather than me?

Song for today: November by Max Richter.

As quoted in this article: “There’s a clever little optical illusion included on 2002’s memoryhouse, being that if you listen once to ‘November’ then look at yourself in the mirror you appear to be a complete stranger. No kidding. It is heavy, heavy shit.”

I love it. The sentiment, and the piece of music. It is terrifying and yet unquestionably beautiful. Max Richter’s musical language is steeped in nuance and emotion, and I understand it implicitly. November is the perfect musical representation of internal chaos and imbalance. You can almost feel the notes leaping off the strings as they are played, because they translate desperation so exquisitely and with such precision. It feels like it was scored especially to accompany those moments of repetitive, circular agony that occur when we are entrenched in something so difficult, unable to find an exit. When we spin and spin around trying to find meaning, trying to find answers, trying to come to any conclusion that will bring us a sense of peace. But nothing does, and nothing can. No saviour is unearthed. Instead, violins frantically hum with dissonance, urgently repeating melodies, layers increasing in both number and ferocity until they reach their final crescendo, discordant and ever-so-slightly out of tune. Powerful but fragile all at once.

Dad.

So, I thought that I should write. Because I’m feeling crazy and sometimes things that seem crazy aren’t. At least that’s how I was brought up. It was wrong though. The crazy was crazy, I was just denied it being that and instead completely gaslighted into thinking that I was crazy. So when crazy things happen now I automatically assume that it’s either my fault or that I’ve read the situation wrong.

The other day after therapy – ugh, it was such a hard session, I was a rigid board throughout – I came out of the door and started to call Nick to let him know I’m coming over. Walking down the road, it’s dark and I nearly get to the end and see a man in the shadows, by a car, smoking. Under the streetlight I can see his silhouette: his build, his facial features, his glasses. And he looks, he looks exactly like my dad. I am convinced he is my dad. So I do the only thing I can do, stop dead in my tracks and turn on my heel and walk as fast as I can without attracting attention, until I feel like I’m far enough away and just run. And then, when I turn the corner I walk a bit further and almost throw up on the pavement. The sense of panic awash over me in that moment was full on FLIGHT MODE – i.e. GET OUT NOW. It ran through my entire body like an army of electricity telling me to get the hell away. I felt like I was going to die. Like something terrible was about to happen. Yes, therapy isn’t going too well at the moment. But up until right now I felt safe there and now my fucking DAD is outside? Bad timing.

It probably wasn’t him. But reassurance won’t really help because when you do have a crazy, narcissistic, self-centred, no-boundaried parent who reads your diaries (even when you make up your own code, which he then deciphers, casually dropping into conversation, at the dinner table, which symbols are which), who stalks you and your family (most notably by leaving me and my sister in the house as kids, in the middle of the night, to go and make sure my mum wasn’t having a life), who has no problem treating other people’s belongings as theirs, then I sort of feel, well, maybe it was him. Right? This is the man that turned up out of the blue when I said I didn’t want to talk. So because I don’t want to talk you turn up without any notice and try and guilt trip me into meeting you? Yeah, that’s fucking normal. And I’m the crazy one. I’M the crazy one?!

But he has pulled a blinder, he’s played it so well, because now I do feel crazy. Have I been stalked? Has he somehow hacked into my email and found my emails to my counsellor, googled her and found out where she works? Did I let enough information out before, innocent to me, “no, I have counselling on Monday night”, that would eventually work against me? He used to speak to my old counsellor, and she was taken in by him too. What if he’s wormed his way back into my life in the worst way possible? Seriously? Am I crazy or am I normal? I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. I never have done and I never will because I can never trust anyone and I sure as hell can’t trust myself.

He had no fucking boundaries. Always making me feel physically uncomfortable around him, making damn sure he was the only male in my life and basically groomed me to worship him, even though he was so horrible to me. And I did. I worshipped him and thought he was amazing and clever and good looking and that he had never done anything wrong, really, that anything he did do wrong wasnt even his fault, it was because other people were crap and didn’t know how to behave properly. How he did that even though he behaved like a complete shit is amazing. He would hold my hand and hug me all the time and call me Dada’s Princess and other vomitworthy things even when I was older and it made me feel very uncomfortable. And my friends would notice and take the piss and then that was yet another thing that would make me different that I would have to try and explain or laugh off. I can’t explain it, but it just felt kind of…wrong. When I tried to tell him, or ask him not to do it in front of my friends, he would get really, really mad, as if I was accusing him of being a pervert for wanting to be close to his daughter, and then I would end up apologising and comforting him, like I often did. And then he would do it even more in front of people and laugh at me when he could see me squirming. He would treat me like a princess in certain ways, like shower me with gifts occasionally, tell me that I was pretty and clever and better – more beautiful – than anyone else, or give me money (and give my friends money, somtimes), but then relay to me how broke he was, and act depressed and sad so that I would offer the money back and feel guilty that he was spending money on me. Which in turn would make him angry, and then it would go down the whole “it’s all your fault, you don’t respect me, you’re fat and stupid and ugly, you’re just like your mother” route which would lead to me apologising and comforting him, again. So clever, and SO wrong.

I can’t believe that the one place that I thought was safe might not be, and in an entirely different way than it was before. This has made me feel like a fucking off-the-charts lunatic.

Song for today: Big My Secret by Michael Nyman.

I am exhausted and need to sleep in order to get up early tomorrow. I’ve had a really heavy few days and a couple of really intense therapy sessions, I managed to stay present tonight but on Friday barely could and it was a constant battle to do so, I kept almost flipping over and did so very briefly a few times. I don’t want to be there anymore, it’s not safe, and every single conscious part of me is having to fight against my unconscious to go. Even when I’m there I don’t feel safe, tonight I described feeling like a sausage that hadn’t been pricked, and later on like my arms were made out of hornets. Angry, buzzing.

Everything feels like an intense battle at the moment. Relentless, bloody, no winners. Everything feels a bit bleak and intensely sad. There are no words, really, for how I feel. So instead, a song which comes closest to it, really, at the moment. A piece of music I used to play a lot when I was younger. It popped into my head earlier and fits, somehow.

I just wish that it would get a little bit easier, and that I didn’t feel so smashed, so devastated, so fragmented, so disconnected. So alone.

2013 in review.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

(not in chronological order)

*started my degree

*lots of things related to the above

*went to Budapest

*went mental in lots of new ways

*got assessed for and awarded Disabled Students Allowance thanks to the above

*got straight A grades (so far, anyway). Me. Imagine.

*some unmentionable things

*watched The Princess Bride (yes, really)

*drew a bit. I don’t draw. I can’t draw. But I did!

*went to Beacons festival (barely got there in one piece after being abandoned by the coach driver at Leeds. With all our bags on the coach. And my cardie – which I left to save my seat hahahahahaHA. Meanwhile I’m in a low cut sleeveless top and it starts raining…it was so bad it was funny, so we did the only thing you can do in that situation, pop out the hipflask and thank the fact you’ve got friends and mango vodka to share the pain with)

*discovered lots of awesome music (I do this all the time but new people! Yay!)

*really, the biggest one is ask for help. Lots of help, and frequently. Anyone who knows me well will know that I don’t do that.

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

I didn’t make any, but I do have some vague ones for this year. Get back into cooking, sort my bloody procrastination out and actually do timetabling and stuff, don’t get so behind with work, go swimming, walk more. Be more creative, whatever that means. Oh, and I also bought a diary to keep by my bed so that every night I can write down things about the day, whatever comes to mind really, just a summary I guess. Good stuff, bad stuff, how I’m feeling. There have been so many times this year when I’ve wanted to look back and see what was happening and most of the time I have no idea. I want to staple or glue gig tickets and things in as well to remind me of actual activities too.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, oh god…my best friend from high school. He is adorable. Haven’t met him yet but hopefully this month. :) And a friend from work.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. The wife of a friend of mine died though and I think about him and how he’s doing every day.

5. What countries did you visit?

Hungary. I went on my own and it was challenging and brilliant.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A little bit more stability in the old mental department. A bit more of an insight into what the hell goes on in my head.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31st May. I got back together with Nick and just…yeah. I am so happy. (With the relationship. Not in general. Just in case anyone was confused after all the WOE IS ME, hand-stapled-to-my-forehead posts recently.)

20th July. I felt so let down by my mum and I think then, or just before then, really, was when things started to go a bit wrong.

And 4th February! When I started my course. Amazing to think it’s almost been a year.

Oh and another…5th August. When I got the keys to my little flat :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Asking for help, which feels like something I am doing constantly. It’s really, really hard for me. And getting through my course, thanks to the aforementioned help. I would have dropped out of yet another degree if I hadn’t and it would have shattered me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don’t really know. I guess just not having much control over my life but there are reasons for that and there’s been lots of stuff going on. Maybe in the earlier part of the year with Nick, thinking we could be friends and we blatantly couldn’t and dicking around again not really knowing what the hell I was doing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I can’t remember now. Other than the mental health thing, not much actually. The odd cold here and there. Although, my asthma’s been quite bad this year and I feel like my lungs are constantly full of mucus (unless I cough it up, which is equally bad, and more gross). I also had a period so bad that I almost passed out which hasn’t happened for quite a while.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Stuff for my flat. Er…can’t think of much else. Wish I could say my laptop, since it cleared out my savings, but so far it’s been a bit of a pain.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Nick’s. He has been an absolute rock, I can’t even imagine anyone else doing what he has done. Without complaint, with love, with kindness, with consistency. He has been there for me in a way I have never had before. And my therapist, of course, because she’s awesome. I feel like she’s really listened to me and taken on board some of what I’ve said. She doesn’t get it right all the time but when she does she gets it really right and it’s like sunbathing, only without the fear of seagulls pooing on your head.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

My own. My dad, for turning up unannounced after I’d told him I didn’t want to talk (thankfully I’d moved house, but what a dick move) and generally still being an emotionally manipulative dickhead. (He is actually now listed in my phone as Dickhead.) Because it’s therapy, my therapist. There were things that she did that crushed me and that I absolutely hated her for, and although I know they weren’t done out of malice, they had a brutal affect on me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone (or at least remembered feeling so). My family in various ways. I don’t think I will ever be over it, really. I feel so sad that I can’t have the family that I want. And the person I made the complaint about. I am still not happy about what happened, I think they behaved appallingly. I just hope they realised what they did wrong.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, bills, travel, festivals, eating out and a fair amount on taxis when I didn’t feel able to leave the house but absolutely had to.

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

Beacons! Seeing my friends. My birthday (before it all went wrong). Going to the sheep centre! Seeing Owen Pallett, who I have loved for years. He was every bit as great as I’d hoped.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Pfffffft, like I can pick one. In no particular order: Savages – She Will, Django Django – Default, Julia Holter – Goddess Eyes I, Tsar – Calling All Destroyers, E is for Estranged – Owen Pallett, Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, Drew – Goldfrapp, Psychokiller – Talking Heads.

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

a) happier or sadder?

Both. Oh, this crazy life.

b) thinner or fatter?

FATTER OMG GARGANTUAN

c) richer or poorer?

LOL, I’m doing a degree and barely working, I’m poorer than poor (but still refuse to give up President butter)

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

Having fun, but that wasn’t possible, really. I have fought so hard this year and I don’t think I could have changed much. Working normally and not doing my stupid last minute madness thing. Cooking.

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

Just being so depressed, dissociative and self-hating. But again, I did everything I could at the time. Eating beige food. Cheese toasties, sandwiches, crisps, pasta. Noodles. Easy peasy, nutritionally devoid rubbish.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with Nick at his house, with an open fire, way too much food and lots of Christmas telly. I managed not to cry during Muppets Christmas Carol this year, although it was close. It was the best Christmas I remember having and I feel so lucky. I might do a separate post on that actually because it was so awesome.

21. How will you be spending New Year?

I spent most of it working because I am an unrealistic, procrastinating idiot who had no idea it would take so long to finish my assignment. But I managed to take a few hours off and stopped working when my friends came over. And had a really amazing night watching my very drunk friends do brilliant things like fall over in the pub and give lapdances :) We also had a bit of a moment twerking to Milkshake by Kelis, basically very similar to the scene in Orange is the New Black. It was so much fun :)

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Not really. I was already in love. I never stopped loving Nick and when I managed to just…I can’t explain it. When I’d stopped cutting it off it just came back, like blood flow after accidentally sitting on your arm. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think something went wrong that was with me and not us, if that makes sense, and so when we got back together it was basically just the same in terms of feelings, although we’d both changed since we’d been apart.And of course I did my usual thing of falling in love with stuff!

23. How many one-night stands?

None. I wanted some earlier in the year because being single and horny sucks, but they didn’t happen.

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

No. I hate less people because I have become less hateful. HOWEVER, I do have bad feelings towards some people, just because some people are just a bit shit.

25. What was your favourite restaurant of 2013?

This Indonesian place that we went to for Carry’s birthday that Nina and I ended up going to loads. I even went there on my own. Twice. And dragged other people there. And I love Pho just because it reminds me of me and Lauren meeting up and saying, “Shall we? No, we can’t. We’re both broke. No…we can’t.” And then ALWAYS ending up in laughter and going anyway. <3 It’s our ‘date’ place, and we pretty much always get the same thing.

26. What were your favourite TV programs?

HOLBYYYYYY. Great British Bake Off! Best one yet. BREAKING BAD OMG OMG OMG THE END! Nurse Jackie, I’ve got really into it, it’s brilliant. Orange is the New Black! And It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which Nick and I have spent many hours sniggering over.

27. What was the best book you read?

Oh lord. Didn’t read much this year, despite being in a book group, haha. Er, possibly Dark Eden? *tumbleweed noises as I try to remember what I’ve read*

28. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

Django Django! I finally got to see them live after queueing for them TWICE at the Great Escape in 2012 and missing out. Julia Holter, I will never forget that moment when we were in that tiny tent and after all the faff with the sound checks she finally played and it was like sinking into a warm, alluring musical bubble bath. Ólafur Arnalds, I knew of him before but never really listened, and then seeing him in a church in December was absolutely magical. It felt holy. Absolutely beautiful. Savages I guess, they’re not my favourite band or anything but had one of the best moments of my year (possibly my life) watching them in the summer, it was sweaty, intense and one of those moments where you feel like you might pass out because you’re dancing so hard and having so much fun.

29. What were your favourite films of this year?

I don’t do films, really. I did go to the cinema a few times though.

30. What did you want and get?

Nick. :) Friends at uni. My festival ticket! (my friend paid for it for my birthday) MY FLAT!

31. What did you want and not get?

More mental health stability, for my therapist to adopt me, lots of money! And a properly good mentor on placement.

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

I was thirty and can’t remember! How bad is that?! Things weren’t great around my birthday. I am genuinely having trouble remembering what I did. Sad. I know that I went out and celebrated the week after but cannot for the life of me remember what I did on the day.

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

Again with the mental health thing. It’s been a really gruelling year and has barely let up. And more time seeing people I missed. And I don’t know about satisfying, but I really wanted to record my sessions so that I could listen to my therapist’s voice when I felt really low and she wouldn’t let me. I still feel like it would help, but…not to be.

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

Earlier in the year I guess smart student, now Jeremy Kyle guest. I have stopped making any effort whatsoever and it’s a bit pants. Not exactly a priority though. Plus I’ve outgrown all my clothes.

35. What kept you sane?

Nick and my friends. They are the best, the very very best, from holding me when I cry to making me laugh to buying me little presents and surprising me with their endless thoughtfulness and generosity. Also music, and DVDs of shows watched so many times that they’re almost cellular (Gilmore Girls, of course). And therapy, although it also made me mental. Swings and roundabouts.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Demise of the NHS and other healthcare issues. Benefits stuff, the government just being absolute fucking arses and screwing over the most needy. Same sex marriage, as usual, but with a more positive outcome this time :) Abortion, again as usual. General patriarchy bullshit.

37. Who did you miss?

Friends and family that I don’t get to see often, especially Sofie, and Lauren now that she’s moved. My therapist, when I left the room, which I don’t think had ever happened before this year. Sometimes it was only like an hour afterwards. This year has been HARD, have I mentioned that?

38. Who was the best new person you met?

So many people on my course, and some of my lecturers.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

Sometimes your brain plays horrible tricks on you. Sometimes things seem real when they’re not. Sometimes you have to ask for help, but it’s ok, as my therapist said on the phone the other day (when I had to cave in and ask her to ring me because I was feeling so terrible). I said that I felt so guilty for asking her to call me even though she’d said it was ok, and she said, “It is, it really, REALLY is ok”. And I’m holding onto that because it was a pivotal point for me that I hope I can keep with me for a long time.

Mum.

It’s nearly 2am, so the obvious thing to do would be to start a blog post, rather than get some sleep. Some things will never change, no matter how many resolutions get made. Sometimes I wonder if my brain will ever stop whirring, or if I’m destined to always feel the urge to spill my thoughts when it’s time to wind down and shut off.

I was thinking, earlier, about my family, and how I feel so sad that they are not what I want. What I need. Nick and I have been talking about weddings in the last couple of weeks (because everyone in the entire world is getting engaged or married, not because we’re planning) and we both agreed but felt sad about the fact that when we get married, we probably won’t invite our families. I might invite my sister, but otherwise? It’s a day I want to enjoy, a special day that I want to love and look back on and think, wow, I’m marrying the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I feel so happy to be sharing it with all these amazing people. I don’t want to experience the day as one of feeling bad because someone said something hurtful, or worry about people getting on, or behaving. My whole family is like a massive trigger at the moment so maybe it won’t always be like that but to be honest, both of our families are so bloody dysfunctional and carry so much weight that it would be nice to escape that on a day that is supposed to be about celebration and love, rather than feeling resentful. Because I do, and would, feel resentful.

I do feel sad that when I think about my wedding day, I think about a small group of close friends rather than my family. But that is my family now. When you have a dysfunctional family you either go without or you make your own, and I chose the latter. It’s not the same, of course it isn’t, and it never will be, but I’ve never felt as supported and loved by my real family as I have by my chosen family. To be honest it’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve felt like I have people that I can really be myself around, that I can open up to and rely on without the fear of rejection. No wonder I’ve always felt so lost.

I don’t want an unconventional wedding, even though I am unconventional. I want a big wedding with my family, and my dad walking me down the aisle (although the feminist in me probably wouldn’t do that anyway), and my mum helping me get ready, and feeling a part of Nick’s family too. I want that because it’s the preparation for the marriage, the merging of two people and their families. And even if I didn’t want that, I’d like the option of having it, so that it would be my choice to reject it. There is no way that will happen, though, because it doesn’t exist. Yet another thing to mourn. *hauls violin out of its case for the 9434658976th time*

All that led me to think about my mum. As I was walking towards the sink to brush my teeth before bed, my brain just splurged out of nowhere:

…I don’t have a mum

as if I were a comic book character, the words suspended in an enormous, inescapable cloud above my head, three little stepping-stone bubbles attempting to cushion the blow. My mum doesn’t feel like a mum to me, she doesn’t feel like my mum. And it made me feel so sad; not tearful, or hysterical, more deep, pit of your stomach hollowness. The sad thing is that I know that she wants to be my mum. She loves me, I know that she does, and I love her, but something is missing. The connection is faulty. She wants to give me what I need but she doesn’t know what I need because she wasn’t there to find out. And I want her to give me what I need but she can’t, and it’s not something that I can explain because I’m still trying to figure it out, but it’s something that should just be there and in this case it’s not. She says that she just wants me to be happy and that she’ll always love me, and I know she means that. But I don’t feel it. I don’t feel unconditional love and acceptance, no matter how much of it comes out of her mouth. The words are immaterial. I need to feel it. And I just don’t. I don’t know if I ever have.

She has really failed me. And she’s failed my sister, too, although I don’t know if it’s the same for her. But my mum…she can’t be a mum, not a proper one, not like my friends with their kids. I see them, I see that connection; it’s live, it’s warm. It’s there whether they’re sat on the sofa watching television or out shopping, or even arguing. My mum doesn’t know how to connect, I don’t even think she knows how to connect to herself. And I feel so sad, because that means, then, that I don’t have a mum. She doesn’t exist.

I knew this, of course, and I have done for years. It’s in every stony glance she gives me. In every icy, clipped conversation, when she doesn’t know what to say. When I overwhelm her. I make her sound cold, and she’s not. She’s warm. But only on the surface. Where I need her to be warm, inside, so that I can connect to her – that doesn’t exist. The warmth only goes so far, she can only go so far before she becomes shut off, before she shuts me out, before I’m able to realise that I can’t go any further. She is cut off from the bit that I need to reach, and so no wonder I can’t reach it. I keep on reaching, an automatic response that has diminished in recent years to intermittent, sporadic attempts. Reaching and failing to win, over and over. It’s like trying to hook a duck that’s constantly bobbing out of reach. There’s no way to get it. Maybe I wanted it so badly that I couldn’t see that I was never going to get the prize. I feel like the quintessential thirsty traveller, plodding along in the desert, thinking that the oasis must be within reach because it’s right there. The mirage fooled me.

I’ve tried for years, though. Of course I have. She’s my mum. I need her, and I’ve carried on trying, trying to see if there is some way I can make her be what I need her to be, someone I can really connect with. Of course, I mostly did that by trying to make myself someone I thought she might need me to be, as if I could provoke the change, as if I could somehow devise a strategy to finally hook the duck. I can’t, though, because she can’t give it to me. The will is there, I think, but not the capability. Although now I really think about it I don’t know if the will is there either, which adds an extra, tear-sodden square to the patchwork quilt of Rejected Child. I don’t have a mum. And I’ve said the words myself before, albeit in different guises: each time in a different hat, or with a monocle, or a wig. Now I really understand it, I really feel it. I really feel the lack of mum. The lack of mothering. The loneliness, and the loss.