Tomorrow

I am going to read my letter to myself to A tomorrow.

I am accepting this need to grieve and to mother myself, to mother little me.

I tried reading it out loud tonight and writing it out and I practiced feeling the emotions and broke down crying.

I still want to share it with her but man is it ever going to be exhausting. 

I shouldn’t have to mother myself. And I am letting myself be mad about that. 

A is for Amazing

A is amazing.

Not like I didn’t know that already. 

I told her about the blog and she said all the perfect things. Like I don’t think it could have been handled in a more perfect way. 

She talked about how while she is bounded and can’t tell our story that I am free to tell whatever story I want. How I have every right to tell this story and to include her – that she appreciates I am choosing to protect her. And she appreciated that I thought enough about our relationship and the space we’ve made to check in with her but reiterated it would have been okay if I didn’t, too.

That I never need to feel guilty about writing about her or our time together. And then she took interest in it. She asked about all of you and she asked what I get from it and how it makes me feel and she told me that ethically she can never go looking for it (and would not violate my privacy that way) but that I am always welcome to share. 

I asked how she was feeling and she said she was so happy and honoured that our space had made me feel so safe that I felt I could be creative and share and make something out of it. That I was opening up in ways outside of her office and finding community.

And to think that I was worried. 

I also got to tell her about my coworker and what happened there and explore some of those emotions about it. She didn’t make me feel anything but reassured.

She did grab on to the idea of me feeling like I am out to sabotage our relationship – she called me out on it. She was like “PD, every time you almost haven’t come or have pushed or wanted to kick me out of your life – I haven’t done anything but help make a space where it is safe for you to choose whatever you want, within established rules. You are the one choosing to show up and be here. You are the one doing the work. You are free to leave any time, and I think if you truly wanted to sabotage this that you would. You are putting in so much effort.

These stories you tell yourself about who you are. I think they are narratives from the past. You are either not those stories, or I am very bad at reading people. And I’m not the one doing the work here but I do think I am good at reading people.”

We then talked about my OCD which kicks into HIGH gear when I live alone. I’m not quite ready to blog about that yet, it is a vulnerable place for me to go. But I did go there with her today. 

I feel so safe with her. I have two more sessions before I leave for MO and then 2 phone calls in the time I’m there. And I see her the day after I return. 

My goodness. She is taking really good care of me and our space. I’m so grateful.

Things I learned on A’s Vacation

Before you read this post, you should read the story of our first rupture for context. This is a list of things I learned when A was gone. We haven’t had chance to go over any of these – and it is a lot of random snippets – but it is my hope that after my wedding, and when things settle down, I’ll be able to go over some of this with her.

For now, it’s actually really helped to tell my story of that first rupture – its brought me emotionally closer to trusting A.

Things I’ve Learned

  • connection doesn’t end because of separation
  • needing someone else is scary. I need A, and that’s terrifying
  • but depending on someone for healing is necessary
  • expressing my feelings doesn’t always go well (or didn’t)
  • I hate that I wish she was my Mom
  • I feel safest when I am alone
  • By not opening up to A, I’ll prevent her from leaving me
  • The closer I get to painful feelings the more I want to run. But the more I want to run, the more I feel like I need to be ‘good’ and open up to A
  • I don’t ask for things or try things unless I’m positive they will go my way. By not asking for what I need, I protect myself from ‘no’. By not trying, I protect myself from not being ‘good enough’
  • This may take years
  • ^ that sucks
  • Will A stay for years?
  • I feel very strongly I should have saved him/them. I should have fixed it.
  • It’s terrifying to not be given a therapeutic direction or timeline
  • But its good, because all I would think about is sticking to it and being perfect
  • A goes where I lead her – and doesn’t lead me
  • No matter what I bring A – sadness, grief, anger, fear, any and all volatile emotions – she is calm and meets me with unwavering acceptance. I don’t believe it, but its laid out in front of me every single week.
  • Resolving childhood trauma feels like its going to kill you because when you experienced it, you literally did not have the physical resources to deal – so when you packed it away, the fear was packed away with it – and thats why it feels like death
  • I don’t want to accept the nevers.

I’m never going to get the time back that I lost. I am never going to be able to undo the lies. I am never going to be able to completely fix this. I can never go back. I’m never going to have these needs met how I needed. I am never going to get what I need from my family of origin. They are not capable of it.

I understand, cognitively, most of the nevers. Just like I cognitively ‘trust’ A. But understanding or knowledge, or rational cognition, is different from acceptance and the emotional battle we take every single time we are in therapy.

Nobody ever told me my emotions were valid, before A did. And the things I need to do to heal – to move closer to A, to become vulnerable, to allow myself and my feelings, all of me, to be ‘seen’ – are the very things that I expect to hurt.

Maybe, maybe, my worth to A, isn’t dependent on being perfect. Maybe she loves me for me.

The first rupture

Before I started blogging, A and I had our first major rupture. I have alluded to it on this blog but never really written about it.

I started seeing A in late April/early May. I had been seeing her 2x a week at this point for 3 hours total each week, as our sessions are 90 minutes long.

She informed me when I started with her that she was going on vacation for 3 weeks in July. She would be back for 3 days, and then gone again for another week. At the time I was like “ya cool sounds good” all pretending to be chill. But after attaching myself to a new therapist, showing up, doing the work, and after quite a few highly emotional sessions where I would frequently disassociate, I was about to miss 9 therapy hours in a row.

Fuck.

Last time before this when my counsellor had gone on vacation, she STAYED and didn’t come back. So needless to say, I was anxious. The conversation we had about it was me saying “what if I freak out when you’re gone?” And she said “well, that could happen.” But that was literally the entire conversation. And that was frustrating and it was still too new for me to say anything in the moment.

All of a sudden, she was gone, and I thought I would be okay but I passed a triggering anniversary and had to miss work and I realized that she had not left me with a plan.

This excerpt from my journal gives you the best indication of how I was feeling right then: “Fuck A for leaving. I’m just going to ignore rational and be super fucking pissed right now with her.” So I emailed her. For the first time in my life I emailed something angry at a therapist. Since its a relatively private thing, I have redacted a lot and only put some of it below – but you’ll get the idea.

I find myself wondering if this is okay but also really not caring. I feel like concrete clarification about whether or not emailing you while you were on vacation would have been okay. Remember that two sentence conversation we had about you leaving? It has been incredibly unhelpful. 

I am at a real loss of what to do. And to be honest (whether or not its entirely fair and I assume some of it is irrational but some of it IS legitimate), that has made me quite angry with you.

(I replaced the word frustrated with angry at the last moment. She ended up being proud of me for using the word angry – therapists, am I right? They are the only ones who are like yea! you found angry!)

Let’s be clear that I don’t expect to have access to you in any way. Let’s be super clear on that. But having a plan in place, or a crisis number, or another therapist to talk to would be pretty damn helpful right about now. And instead, I’m just left on my own, no plan, no answers. I’m really upset that it wasn’t something we addressed.

She emailed me back, told me she was glad I reached out. She said the two women she normally referred clients to had moved out of town and that it was an oversight of hers. That she had made a mistake. She offered a phone session while she was away and gave me the number to the crisis line. I emailed her back that I felt guilty. She said, “PD, All is well.” and scheduled that phone conversation with me.

I was really happy that she recognized that I needed her and took that time out of her vacation to be there. I remember parts of that conversation but mostly the feeling. Of being loved and valued. The most important verbal part went something like this:

A: What did it feel like to get mad at me. You were mad at me.
Me: Scary. Terrifying. And yes, I was mad at you. Partly for a good reason and partly because I felt really let down, and afraid you weren’t coming home.
A: You had every right to be mad at me. And I want to thank you for telling me. Because I can’t see when I’ve missed something, unless somebody has pointed it out. I am human. I am going to miss things.
Me: So you aren’t mad at me? 
A: No, in fact, I think this is really important that we are having this conversation right now. Important relationships are going to have moments like this.
Me: I know you deserve the time off, and I wasn’t trying to take away from that. You come to every session with your whole being – and that must be exhausting. I just didn’t know what to do.

She reiterated how important I was to her, how important our relationship was to her, and how much she appreciated me reaching out.

The next day I wrote this:

I feel so safe this morning and secure. Like I’ve been held and cocooned with love and understanding – although nobody has touched me. I don’t want it to go away. To be angry, to have my feelings validated and heard. To have a conversation about them. To acknowledge the importance of this relationship to me and my healing and have it echoed in return.  I feel safe. I’m refusing to feel beyond that right now & the greater implications. While she’s gone I’m just going to bask in the feeling I am held and secure and can go out in the world and last with someone there to catch me if I fall. Connection doesn’t end because of separation…. But she can come back now.

And that is the story of our first rupture. I went on to learn a lot in her absence, which I’ll share in my next post cause this one is getting a little long — but most importantly I think I learned I can trust her to take ownership of her part in this relationship, and that is something I’ve relied on immensely since her return.

I feel seen.

I have finally figured out what is bothering me about the past week and a bit, especially since my fiancé left. 

I feel seen.

This is a completely foreign concept to me. Outside of Lu and my fiancé, I don’t usually feel seen. I definitely don’t feel seen by my family, basically ever.

Yet, in the last week I have had my needs heard and met by A, by Owner1, by my coworker. I am saying what I need, encouraged and backed by the promise that A is there if I need her, and I’m being heard. And validated. And allowed to express my feelings. And nobody is expecting me to be Wonder Woman and deal with this shit on my own. 

You all reading and being here too – I feel seen. 

I was somewhat uncomfortable out at a party on Saturday night by strangers genuine interest in me as a human being. 

I feel seen. More importantly, I’m allowing myself to be seen. 

And wow, is that completely disorienting. 

Why Isn’t There More Time?

I spent most of this weekend with other people. With some co-workers on Friday night, and with Lu yesterday into today. I also slept until 11am on Saturday.

It was honestly super fun, and I think I needed it after last weeks mess. When I sat down to think about it there was something every day that required some serious mental gymnastics to get through. Monday was Owner1 and the Facebook fiasco, Tuesday was the resolution to that, Wednesday was the client from hell screaming at me and counselling, Thursday was being all anxious about my coworker seeing my counselor, Friday was the resolution to that. Saturday was social time.

I haven’t just sat and felt shit in a while. . . and its messy. What’s emerging is messy. I am living alone right now, as mentioned before, while my fiance travels. I’ll go join him in 11 days, but even then will only see him for 1 day before he comes back and I stay gone.

I’m tired. I need to do the dishes. I need to food prep. I need to clean by my desk. I need to eat dinner. I need to finish the laundry and sweep. I need to make sure I’m heading into this week with a clean environment. I also need to tend to my freelance clients because I won’t be able to most night this coming week. But I’m also alone, which generally puts me into this cycle of wanting to do nothing.

At some point today I couldn’t wait to be alone, too much social for me in two days. Then when I am alone, I would prefer to just sleep. I don’t necessarily want other people, but I don’t want my brain around either. Too much happened last week to actively process. While I am proud of how I handled all of them I think I’m nearing the end of my mental rope.

Plus, I think I’m getting sick. So there’s that.

My intention for tonight is to do what I can to keep myself sane, what is going to serve me best. I’m going to get that freelance work done. I’m going to make myself a nice, healthy dinner and do the dishes. Pack my lunch for tomorrow. I am going to do a bedtime yoga practice, and I’m going to try to be in bed so I get 7 hours of sleep. I am going to finish my laundry and plan out my week. I may spend some time free writing too, getting out whatever it is is driving me nuts from within. If I don’t end up cleaning by my desk tonight – oh well.

I have three hours with A this week. There’s so much that I want to discuss, and so much that should be discussed. Blogging has given me a great tool to keep what I need to talk about close to me in the times I don’t have her around.

Want To Discuss

  • letter to Little PD, the girl on the stairs
  • the whole “you can’t see my counselor too” situation
  • why I’ve suddenly swung from super passive to super aggressive and what that really means
  • that I finally was present for an entire phone call with my parents (I’ve been disassociating through them)
  • half of what I’ve written in the last week

Need To Discuss

  • the whole “you can’t see my counselor too” situation
  • the blogging – I need to address it with her because its been something I wanted to say for a while. I really don’t know how to approach it though. Hey, I’ve been writing about our relationship and want to make sure you’re okay with it? Which is true, but also not, because I know I’ll keep blogging regardless of her opinion because I’m not putting her in any jeopardy or sharing anything about her that I feel is too much but also I want to respect her feelings so this is a really scary one for me.
  • Probably the most important, I need a crisis plan for where I’m going, which frustrates me. But the crisis line is different and the response is different because I can’t see A within 48 hours of a crisis if one happens there. There’s also a time change and different groups of safe people. I also need to talk about coping mechanisms and mindfulness techniques to replace the autopilot I go on when I’m at my birth home, which I have decided to refer to as MO so it doesn’t get confused with my home home, which I love.

The last one frustrates me because there is so much deeper work I want to start doing before I chicken out from starting it. There is a lot that we need to get to. And this stupid trip to MO and the immediacy of my needs surrounding it are taking away from the harder, deeper work that I want to be doing.

A would argue that getting into that deeper stuff and then going to MO has the potential to be re-traumatizing and so we should focus on the here and now, but its just like… ugh. Little PD and teen PD and all the other past PD’s hate that answer – they want to deal with their shit, not adult PD’s shit. As far as they are concerned adult PD is an idiot for scheduling a trip back. At this moment, adult PD is inclined to agree with them. Although, it is a great way to practice skills and it is necessary to get through the wedding in one piece. After October, we won’t head back until Christmas of 2017.

I always do this. Schedule a trip to MO and then feel unable to handle it. Then, when I go to leave to come back to where I consider my real home, I don’t want to leave there. Old habits die hard.

I know that realistically my time is best spent discussing ways to keep me safe and me practicing them before being there. So when its 3 or 4pm and my parents start drinking, and the stuff that they say frustrates me, instead of joining them because its easier I need “xyz” to cope. I can’t leave for too long or that becomes a fight. Saying no the first time will be hard enough. As they get drunker and worse to talk to and say more ridiculous shit I’ll need something to help me get through. Something that isn’t also being drunk because then they are less ridiculous and my reactions are dulled.

A said to me “We have to get you through this one in one piece, because then you’re back for less than a month and go again. If you are going to fall apart, it needs to be after trip #2. Logistically speaking, we need to work on the immediacy of your trip to MO.”

She’s right, which means the surface stuff, and the coping mechanisms for seeing my family and the everyday are what I need to work on right now…

Why isn’t there more time?

All of the things

There is a lot that I want to write about, but I can’t seem to get the thoughts coherent enough or in order enough or pick what is most important enough. So I’ve basically decided, well, I’m going to write about everything. Cause this is my blog and I can.

An Email From A
I got an email from A this morning. I try not to check my email when I’m feeling pretty emotional because for some reason I’m terrified of my reaction to a bad email. It’s actually interesting. I freelance and do work for a number of personal clients outside of my full time job, and I’m actually scared of reading those emails. That’s something to explore.

I got an email from A this morning and immediately panicked. In the split second it was taking to load I’m pretty sure I went “OMG she’s emailing me, she’s not supposed to email me. Emailing me isn’t allowed except for rescheduling. OMG SHES RESCHEDULING. No, she’s cancelling. She must be cancelling. I’m the worst and she doesn’t want me.” 

She was asking to move my appointment time 15 minutes later on Tuesday. This is why I don’t email with my therapists. Everything would be so emotionally reactive, and it wouldn’t be helpful.

Talking to the parents
I talked to my parents for an hour on the phone this morning. And it didn’t suck. It doesn’t always. It was one of those conversations that made me feel guilty for ever feeling anything negative about them (because they are so nice and so normal and I must be the crazy one). My Mom answered with a delighted “It’s our daughter!” – so happy to hear from me.

It’s funny because last week I didn’t hear from them at all, and I told my fiance that weirded me out and he was like “they’re respecting your boundaries, PD.” And I was like, “What’s the catch” and he rolled his eyes in a they are literally doing what you want so if this doesn’t make you happy then what will make you happy kind of way. Loving, but still. I mean, he’s not wrong. But nothing is consistent with them, which is literally the problem of my entire life. Ambivalent attachment at its best.

I even managed to tell my Mom she was wrong about something that upset me, and she listened to me. Which is weird. The whole thing was weird. Really nice, really really nice. But weird. I don’t like when I can’t predict them and it actually worries me. Normal and nice worries me. It’s as if they are plotting (which they aren’t, I don’t think. They don’t really plot, they don’t meant to be mean or to have caused all these problems, thats what makes it so damn difficult).

I’ve been overly assertive
That phone call leads me to this fact… because I can’t tell you the last time I just blatantly told my Mom she was wrong with no regards to the consequences of those words.

Not to mention this week was full of me standing up for myself with either no thought to the consequences or a very fact-based approach to the consequences. I don’t know what this means. I mean, its not necessarily like you guys know either but it is rare for me to stand up for myself and I did it four times this week.

Usually, I would rather suffer internally than risk being rejected because I stood up for myself. I am usually generally just someone who bends to the will of other people because standing up for myself has never been a priority, or safe, really.

So I’m not sure what this means. I think its good. But its definitely weird and totally not normal for me (although it must look that way)

Travelling to the birth home soon
It is so weird to go home and be around people who have no idea who I really am. People I grew up with and who saw me grow up and who matter to me in very real ways but who honestly could not tell you true facts about me or my personality now. It’s so disorienting.

And I don’t really feel like letting them in. Two of my bridesmaids have been reaching out seeing if I need help with anything and its so loving of them and kind but I’m like – you think the biggest thing on my mind is the wedding. That is the person I used to be.

It’s like, they haven’t grown with me, they live back where my birth home is, they don’t live here, so I’m growing and all they have of me is snapshots in time.

Alcohol
It’s a thing and it could quickly become a problem again. I can drink without the watchful eye of my fiance. A thinks its best if I don’t drink at all at my birth home and while I would love for that to be a thing I don’t think that’s even remotely feasible. So I talked to Lu about it earlier this week:

Me: It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to put pressure on myself to be completely alcohol free and perfect. It’s way too engrained a habit that keeps me sane. So I’ll ask A for some coping and mindfulness techniques, and commit to trying those first, and if they fail, I will choose alcohol over self harm any day.

Lu: Yup, good call

Me: If I put too much pressure on myself to not drink at all, then I’ll fail really fast. Plus, like, I think I need a little mini questionnaire before drinking

Lu: Make a check in system.

And this is what I came up with:

  1. Are you alone? (yes = no drink, no = step 2)
  2. Are you happy? (yes = step 3, no = no drink)
  3. Are you with supportive people? (yes = step 4, no = no drink)
  4. Are you using alcohol as a coping mechanism? (yes = no drink, no = step 5)
  5. Have you had more than three? (yes = stop drinking, no = drink on!)

So that’s something that I can be comfortable with right now. It’s not a perfect plan but it at least brings my relationship with alcohol to the forefront and is something I can be mindful of. And its not panic inducing, like the idea of completely removing it from my life.