I came home last night really raw and present in the moment. I decided not to drink and actually stuck with that. Finally ate a full meal (first since Saturday), had a bath, watched Survivor, and went to bed early.
When I was lying in bed, I decided to let the centre part of me that had been pulsing and kind of raw since seeing A and finally grounding, have some air. I tried asking it what it needed. Everytime I got close to it, I hyperventilated. But it all came down to one word: connection. It needed connection (Sidebar: when I told A that today in session she said “Awesome, just awesome. PD, in every sense of the word that is awesome.” And did her proud therapist thing).
I’m not close to being able to hold that part of me myself yet. I know that’s the ultimate goal. For now though, awareness of its existence and not automatically disassociating will have to do.
So I arrived at A’s office this morning in that same state of raw. We only had 50 minutes instead of our usual 80… so I knew we would have to move kind of quickly and I couldn’t take 45 minutes to connect.
“How are you feeling about being here?”
“Good, but all the awful feelings too… like anxiety and frustration… fear.”
She nodded. She gets it. I came in today specifically to mine out these feelings and it still feels like a risk. It still feels painful. She got me to open up my body language as much as possible and to breathe with her… I kept slipping in and out and either hyperventilating or holding my breath.
We were getting closer though. She has so much patience. She kept bringing me back around and walking me through it. And I know I am getting close to revealing my true emotions – the full bucket in the centre of my chest – when the following three things happen.
First, I want to run. But I can’t run. I want to escape, but I can’t escape. I flight/freeze and get tense and cold. Once I’ve moved through that stage the critical voice jumps in. Convinces me burying the feelings would be better, that A is full of crap, that I’m awful at this, etc. And if that doesn’t work and I manage to stay connected with A through all of that – the thoughts of self harm as a means of escape emerge.
I tell her this. I tell her that thoughts of self harm are coming up. And I grab a pillow and I stare out the little piece of window in between the curtains that she draws before I sit down each time.
And I’m there and connected but almost hyper sensitive. And I start rambling on about emotions and tears and scientific facts about them…. and she goes “PD, can you bring yourself back here?” And I go “no, I can’t. It hurts. It’s like someone stabbing me in the chest, A.”
This is when she tells me it’s okay. That it’s okay if we don’t actually touch the emotion, and it’s okay if I don’t cry and it’s okay as long as I stay connected – and I am connected. She knows this cause I’m (direct quote) “resisting the shit” out of her. She says “I am not worried about you when you are present. You are doing so well. You are observing the cycle you go through, you are telling me how you are feeling. Instead of just doing it, you’re walking through it… I applaud that, and you.”
I tell her I get frustrated because I feel like I should be done this and not care and not angry and she says “bullshit, PD. You know that it’s only natural you care and feel this way. You’re undoing years of generational trauma.”
I tell her I’ve decided to correct the critical voice when it is tells me I am crying like a baby – instead I shoot back with “I am crying like a healthy adult.” She likes this.
There is a storm outside – I’m in the Pacific Northwest and it’s absolutely hammering the windows at this point. And I am still quite upset and losing my connection to her and this is when she reads me Rumi, the poem from my last post.
And right after that, I self advocate because we are running out of time – I ask for the longer session and mentally rearrange my day. She says it is still available. I put down the pillow, put my feet on the ground, and I really try to be present. I am hyperventilating and A encourages me to slow my breathing and tells me she’s so proud of me and I say “I can’t. I can’t. It hurts.”
“I know it hurts but you can. This is the one thing you can control, you are in full control of your body right now.”
Eventually I cry. I cry about my wedding day – how my dead grandmother is the only person in the world I ever wanted there on that day, how she was the person who deserved to be there, and how she wasn’t. How the picture of her in my locket on my bouquet wasn’t enough. I cried about the perfection of my parents and how they somehow got everything right that day but where were they all the other days. I cried, and I kept crying.
And I felt better. I legitimately felt better.
Until the critical voice came. As soon as I openly, out loud, and especially to A say anything negative about my parents that combines with letting out emotion it slams down on me. It was loud and angry and yelling at me from inside my own head and I had my eyes closed and was hyperventilating to the point of panic, and an asthma attack was imminent. I am an asthmatic and not enough air is a problem.
A walked me through it. She asked me to open my eyes, to be present – which I didn’t do. I opened my eyes once my body let out the alarm bells that something was wrong and gasped out “I’m gonna give myself an asthma attack” and she put on her rarely used commanding voice and got me through it. It is the opposite of her inviting and calm voice and usually comes with a direction. It worked.
After I could breathe I told her what happened. I told her what I had felt and as soon as I mentioned my parents the guilt slammed down on me and really caught me off guard.
We left on a good note and I felt much better. I took the MnMs today, which I didn’t yesterday… I think the body shame had the best of me. I haven’t drank since being home because I don’t feel the need to separate from my emotions. And when I left, it wasn’t raining anymore. It felt like the sky and I let our emotions fall simultaneously. I got through my work day and got home.
I watched a movie with my husband tonight, it was really funny, a few lines caught me off guard. I laughed so hard and then all of a sudden that laugh turned to incredible tears, sobbing, hysterical tears. My poor husband was so worried about me… but I knew it was simply another release. I rode it out.
I got a surprising and lovely email from A tonight, with a link to the poem she read me and another link to an old post on hyperbole and a half – one that had me laugh crying again, but in the best way. The email – although short – felt warm and connecting.
And I feel more hopeful about making it back here in one piece again for November. There’s a lot of work to be done still, but for now, at least briefly, I am feeling pretty at peace with myself.
I have noticed only want to drink when I am sad or overwhelmed or sometimes when I am incredibly numb. There are three unopened bottles of my favourite wine on the counter right now. And I didn’t even consider them. When my husband had a drink I looked at them and thought, “nah”. And I figure this is directly related to that expression of feelings I got to have earlier today. It feels good to make this connection, between the stored up centre part and alcohol. It feels important. It feels like I can use that as a signal – reaching for the bottle = being unbalanced and needing release.
I have yoga therapy tomorrow which will hopefully keep the connected feeling I have going strong.