I had a breakthrough.
I feel so different. And I feel lighter. Also very cautious and wary and tired. And it wasn’t easy but after five months of trying so hard to avoid feelings – today I broke down with A.
It wasn’t immediate. I started by telling her about yoga and the feelings it brought up and the whole experience. I told her I felt really vulnerable – and I told her about my eyes leaking, cause that’s what it felt like. And she told me she thought that was beautiful – even though I insisted that vulnerability wasn’t good. She insisted the opposite.
I told her about losing that connection to myself yesterday night and today – about being really angry today – and the whole time I am talking about it my centre is just on fire. I tell her I wasn’t able to access it, that when N (the yoga therapist) suggested I touch the part of me that I consider to be the centre, I couldn’t.
I told her about the images that followed my tears on Monday. I had a really hard time talking about the fortress and the baby animal… eventually I decided to read from my blog. I felt ridiculous, and she closed her eyes to try to picture it better and I really appreciated that… because I think she knew it was easier for me to share then. And afterwards, I told her I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust myself to protect me. The fortress is meant to keep everyone out and everyone away from little me, including myself.
She asked me if she could go in.
I told her that she wouldn’t want to. That it’s ugly, dank, foul. It’s where the worst parts of me live. I told her nobody makes it out of there. She responded with “right now PD, nobody makes it in.”
We get into the emotions – she is using my name more as I drift away, and she is talking a bit more, and I am regretting telling her that those things work to keep me grounded. I tell her I am afraid of how ugly those emotions are – how I was told for so long they were the worst part of me. I tell her I am afraid to let them out and that she will think I’m ugly and horrible and never let me come back.
I am afraid to let them out because I don’t think little me can take anything else. Yes I was resilient and strong and got here, but I don’t think one more misstep is survivable. And how awful if I was the one to get me here only to be the cause of my own demise.
She is reassuring and calm and at one point I throw out “Fuck you brain, I’m so angry right now, and I need you to take us away and you won’t and the part that wants to feel is winning. And I don’t want to feel but I do and it’s overwhelming. I feel like running. I feel like fighting. I have so much adrenaline.” I am literally shaking, trying to prevent these emotions from surfacing.
And she asks if she can move her chair closer to me. I nod. She asks if how close she is is okay and I nod again, silent tears have started to fall. I am not sure it is okay that she is that close – 49% of me is saying “get out and don’t come back. This isn’t safe. This is a trap. Tell her to move” – but I don’t, because that extra 1% has shifted to the side that is currently (barely) winning. The side that wants to participate, and is tired of living trapped. The side that gets us to counselling week after week and to yoga. The side that shows up is winning. And I’m trying to get away from the emotion and I’m trying to get out but for the first time I am unable to drift away into numb and nothing – I can’t disassociate and this is terrifying me and she’s sitting and waiting and looking at me even though I am not looking at her and I go “I am so terrified and so so angry”
And she goes, “where is the anger living, PD, where is it” and I say “where it always lives” and she says “can you show me? Can you put your hand there?” I had told her earlier it wasn’t a possibility for me in yoga cause I didn’t feel safe enough yet with N.
I shook my head no. “It’s okay, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want, just try when you’re ready PD.” She puts her clipboard with notes and her pen on the floor and I can tell she knows I’m losing the battle to disassociate and that if I am ever going to experience these emotions and let them out, for the first time, because there will be many times, it is going to be now. She knows how close I am to letting go.
At some point something in me decides it is now or never and I put my hand on my sternum and say “it’s here. It’s right here”
I start to cry, in earnest, but silently, and my god it hurts. She’s like “that’s so good PD, thank you for sharing.” She’s less than a foot away from me now.
Have you ever turned on the tv or radio and someone has left it on really loud? It felt like someone had dialled up my emotions to 50 and left it that way and I can’t find the dial down button. I can’t turn them off. Like the pressure that has been building in my chest for twenty plus years is about to explode out like a volcano.
I choke out “I am going to die. This is going to kill me” – I am panicking, and I am literally choking on my tears.
She says “PD my hand is right here if you want it” and I grab it and hold on like my life depends on it, because it feels like it does, and she holds back and then the tears come and I actually let out an incredibly loud series of sobs and she goes “you are safe. You are not in danger” and says things like that throughout my tears, “you are okay. I am right here. There is no danger. I am here with you PD as long as you need me.” and I’m starting to hyperventilate and saying “it hurts so much” and she is going “PD I know it hurts, I need you to breathe. This is just a wave of emotion – I know it feels like you’re dying but you’re not. You are okay. I promise. It will end. It will end soon, it is survivable. I won’t let harm come to you right now.” I am still crying, harder than I have ever cried in my life. She is alternating gentle shhhs with soothing phrases and telling me she is right there. I’m thinking about what a mess I am and at the exact right moment she goes “no matter what emotion you let out right now, I will still care for you. I will still love you. I will still be here. But you have to breathe.” That last part comes out as in her command voice, the firm one I imagine she uses with her children, and I respond to it as the chaos starts to wash away.
I begin to breathe, she’s still being encouraging and gentle and breathing with me. My sobs eventually slow, then stop, I grab a Kleenex with my one hand. She gently drops my other one at an appropriate time – once she feels I have my emotions back under control and I am clearly no longer in the throes of it.
And my god, did it hurt. I literally thought I was going to die. It reads so quickly here but I was desperately sobbing for a good twenty minutes. It was the most painful thing I have ever been through.
But it was worth it.
She leans back in her chair but is still pretty close to me. I didn’t look at her the whole time. I’m still not looking at her. After a few minutes I go “stop being over there all proud of me” and we both laugh… And then I go “hey, A” and she goes “yes PD” and I go “did you know emotions won’t actually kill you?” And she chuckled again and goes “I did. I thought they would kill me once too.”
I briefly picture A crying with a T she loves years earlier and think what a beautiful way to take tragedy and move it forward. That now I have made it past a major hurdle because she made it past her hurdles.
I look at her, I smile weakly. I go “I am exhausted”. She goes “I bet.” And then she says “how else do you feel?” And I said “I wish I had words for it. Exhausted. Worn. But also proud. And as much as I don’t want to admit it because I resisted it for so long – I feel lighter and like everything is sharper. Like I’m suddenly living in an Instagram filter.” She chuckled and said “yes, yes PD. That’s it. It’s new. And that’s going to feel a little scary, and that’s okay”.
“I also feel empowered and hopeful and super human.. like I could leap buildings in a single bound.”
“That isn’t the last time that will happen, is it? I am going to have to do this again.” I asked her – and she got solemn, “no, PD, this will probably keep happening… but hopefully as you trust it and me and this process it gets less painful, and less difficult, over time. And at the end, you have this. This moment of raw connection and beauty. Of letting your emotions have the air they deserve and nothing bad happening because of it. There is something different about you right now. You won’t be able to bottle this feeling, but this is an incredibly healing moment.”
I told her she needs Pom-Poms because she’s so excited now that she knows I’m okay she’s waving her hands around. This is a hilarious image if you know A – she is a tomboy and has short hair and wears men’s shoes and used to be a wildfire firefighter out in the wilderness. And the image of her with bright pink Pom-Poms has us laughing. She says she should keep them under her chair for moments like this.
I had a moment soon after where I was ashamed of my tears and my outburst and she quickly shut that down – literally saying that these moments are a sign of such growth. That these moments are why she does what she does. I believe her.
We have another ten minutes and I tell her I am afraid to leave. I feel new – I don’t know how to be this me out there. I mean I know I haven’t changed on the outside but on the inside, I let a part of that ball of emotion go — and there is this space. And I feel like I don’t know what to do. And she says “PD, what you will do is go out there and discover more space and more life and more moments. And then you will come back and no matter what happens I will be here on Friday.”
I thanked her for holding my hand and she said “thank you for trusting me and taking it“. Part of me is worried she will see that as a mistake at some point and I so hope she doesn’t. It was perfect. I needed it. It was not too much, and she let go at the perfect time. I also told her the words she were saying were so helpful. I needed to know she was there, and I needed to be reminded I was safe. I did not feel safe. She told me she was glad they were helpful. I told her I was incredibly grateful for her.
She has decided to actively refer N to her clients which I thought was a really nice professional nod of sorts, some respect for the yoga therapy side of things. I imagine some professionals wouldn’t see the benefits of a movement based therapy – instead seeing it as new age and hipster or a fad, so that was really quite nice. I plan on telling N next session.
As I (reluctantly) left and we hugged she said “amazing work today” and I told her I was taking two handfuls of MnMs. And I did.
I went to the NHL game with my fiancé but we left after period two. And I didn’t drink. I know that I am feeling okay right now but I also know there is going to be an aftermath. I am too calm and a bit numb. Also though, in that empty space there is an ache, and some quiet happiness. I don’t know what the aftermath looks like yet, but this is new so I am going to tread carefully and put myself first.
But I am amazed, in awe of myself, and so grateful for A. I lived through a defining moment today. I let go.