I need a bridge

I’ve had a rough time after therapy this week. Ive needed Ativan. I don’t know what it was, and I can’t put my finger on it, I just feel like we kept… missing each other some how. Im willing to own it. There is nothing specific I can point to – most of that was likely on me, the fact that I’m so… unable to communicate sometimes. That voice. The shame, and the need to compulsively clean, and to starve myself, and to count by 3’s to 300. They are exhausting. And I am really bad at communicating to you in those moments that I’m overwhelmed. Why is it so hard for me to indicate to you that I need a moment or am getting overwhelmed (because you’re who I’m connected to and being connected doesn’t feel safe and I know that’s why, but I also need to be able to tell you in those moments and right now that’s not possible). I want to be able to communicate my overwhelm, that maybe I need a few minutes to take some deep breaths, and then approach everything again. And I know you would give me that, so the issue really is that I can’t tell you that’s what is going on. 

I need a way to tell you that, if I see it happening or when I get there. I need a way to indicate that I need a breather, five minutes or so, and then a redirect. I suck at cueing you when I’m in that place. It feels SO unsafe to ask for anything. I need flash cards or something. A red yellow green light system. A visual indicator. Like a child (see, shame). Because verbally I lose the ability to tell you. And I see you lost and I see you working so hard to figure out where I am and I want to communicate but struggle and then I just feel like a bad client because you tell me that it’s so much easier for you when we’re connected and I know that so I try to do that and then end up overwhelming myself.. (I think that was the problem last week. As soon as you said that it’s easier for you when we communicate and are connected my focus became doing that. And only that. Hence the complete shut down). I wonder if exploring a non verbal form of communication in those moments would help. Becuase I intellectualize, which is all the communication I can do, and then you redirect, as you’re supposed to, and then my next reaction is to just shut up. And it’s not helpful, and I know I do it, but maybe if I had another way to tell you what was going on. If I can get over how kindergarten it feels (but really, isn’t it? I don’t know how to communicate overwhelm because when I tried nobody was there so I learned silence and counting was the best way to get through life, so in some ways it is a kindergarten level skill I’ve got going on).

I don’t know if any of this makes sense. I think some of it is that I’m really tired of feeling this way. I’m really tired of being tired. And now that I (mostly) have the relationships with my family controlled, and my daily life scheduled, and no alcohol – there is nowhere to run to. No ‘safe’ topic that deals with the present. Short of lying to you, I’ve got one set of things to talk about. Because I’m okay in the every day. And it’s the trauma work that needs to happen. And I want that work to happen. But that is so hard. And it’s so painful. And it feels like I can’t even breathe.

It helps when you sit closer. I’m always too ashamed in the moment to ask you to do it. But it does help. It also helps when you ask me simple questions, or use my name – that always helps me. Part of me doesn’t want you to know these things, but at the end of the day this is a therapeutic alliance, and we work together. And this is me trying to help (my shame wants to call it pathetic).

The… September incident. I still feel like it’s my fault. More so now, than then. I can’t get over the fact that what I lied about happened… and the shame – I can’t even bring it into the room. I don’t write about it, I don’t talk about it… I pretend it doesn’t exist until it does – like when I go for a pap… or when I have sex. It’s not something I want to talk about and I haven’t brought it to session on purpose. I guess I also wanted to see if you would ask about it. It really isn’t anything. It’s not like I can change what happened… but I’m still sorry for not bringing it up with you. It’s not that I don’t trust this, I do, I just, there is so much shame and guilt that I’ve shut it out of my life completely, until I’m forced to think about it due to circumstances.

Anyways. These are some ideas I have to help, because we seem to be in the cycle of emotion, discussion, me silent, you confused, and me unable to be like “I’m taking a moment,” or “I’m overwhelmed”. And I know the more I communicate with you the more you’re able to help. I’m just in need of assistance with how to communicate that those big things are happening, because going silent isn’t helpful, but I don’t have an immediate alternative ATM. I need a bridge between silence and talking – but I don’t know what that is yet. Can we come up with something together? 



5 thoughts on “I need a bridge

  1. It makes sense that communication about deep feelings, fears, and shame would be incredibly difficult. If you don’t have a history of secure attachment, you don’t have a lot of experience articulating your needs within a relationship. You probably weren’t given space to tell your family, “I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed; can we slow things down a bit?”

    It’s such a good idea to propose maybe a non-verbal way of indicating you need a break. It doesn’t sound childish to me at all. It’s just a scaffold, a support, something you use temporarily as you build the confidence and skills to be able to do the same thing verbally. People do that all the time when they are developing their skills. I know you feel shame about it, but from the outside, it doesn’t seem like there needs to be shame around not being comfortable communicating in a way that would never have been permitted in your family anyway. After all, we aren’t born knowing how to communicate. We learn it all in the social settings we grow up in. Just like you don’t know Chinese (I’m assuming. Do you know Chinese?) because it wasn’t used in your home, you don’t know how to communicate your feelings or needs because that wasn’t permitted in your home. You could learn Chinese if you wanted to and worked at it. You can enrich your communication skills if you want, and even if it’s awkward at first, it will still be easier than learning Chinese.

    (Okay, I admit, probably a bad analogy…)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That last part, asking to do it together, I think will be make it so much more meaningful than if one of you came up with it on your own. You’re making this a partnership, in finding this way to communicate, and that is what this relationship truly is.

    Liked by 1 person

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