On Being Held 

A while ago, A and I talked about the possibility of her holding me being something that could be an option, after I vocalized a desire to just be held and let cry one day – and she said it was an option. I explored that in some other posts (that I’ll link to when I’m not on my phone). It happened yesterday, and this is the story of that.

…………..………………………………………

I got to counseling and my wall was already up, I wasn’t sure why but I knew it would be – a combination of med withdrawal, a dream I had about being abandoned by her at a time I needed her, and just not feeling connected – maybe her upcoming holiday? And I yawned a few times and she asked if I was tired. I said yes, and I explained about not having the pills and the withdrawal symptoms I started to have on Sunday. We talked a bit about that, and then there was some silence and she said “I can’t tell if you’re just fatigued or if there’s something you’re not telling me but want to, maybe. Can you help me?”

And then I was sitting there and was like “I also have really bad cramps. I get them really badly, like I can’t move or go to work or get up really.” And she said “I am so sorry” and I said “why?” And she kept trying to explain empathy and I was like “but it’s not your fault, you didn’t do it.” And she kept trying and I was like “no, this makes no sense. I’m like the confused baby animal again” (I often use the look a puppy will give you when it is seeing something new for the first time as an example) – “this doesn’t make sense. It’s like, I’m seeing this reaction, but it doesn’t fit. Why are you sorry I’m in pain?”

So she asked me to sit with being cared for and attuned to, and I was on and off and then she was like “you’re safe, I am right here with you, and there’s no wrong way to sit with feelings, nothing bad is going to happen” and I started to cry. And I can’t really remember what happened afterwards, but she was trying to get me to sit with the tears and I was like “I hate crying” and she was like “I know, I know, but your body is so wise, it needs this. You don’t have to talk or know why but stay connected with me.” 

And I was choking out “my mom… you know… she tries, but she’s not capable. She isn’t capable” and I’m sobbing and A asked a question and I started trying to tell her about last week and a fight I had with my mom, and this genuine, heart-felt email I wrote her and the all consuming grief I felt when I realized she isn’t capable of receiving it the way I needed her to. I need my Mom to be a part of this and she is not capable of it. A repeated her question and I said “I don’t want to answer that I was going to tell you something important!” And so she was like “okay, okay, PD, tell me.” And I did and threw in there the dream where she leaves me and how it brings up all these things. And the she was like “I feel really compelled to come over there and hold you, is that okay with you?” 

And earlier when I was sobbing I kept thinking “don’t say yes if she asks to hold you because you’ll be too much for her. It isn’t fair, she didn’t do anything.” 

But I said yes and she came and I fell into her (a bit awkwardly) but she was holding me and I was holding her and she was like “you okay? How do you feel?” and I couldn’t answer and she tried to pull away a bit to check and I held tighter and she chuckled lightly and was like “okay, I’m here. And I want you to know I find it delightful, I’m very happy to be holding you, you are not doing anything wrong” and I thought I would cry more but I actually felt really calm, and safe. She asked if I was okay and how it was and I said I felt calmer and she said “ok let’s just stay here for a while, is that ok?” And I said yes and she just held me. I kept reminding myself she wouldn’t offer if she wasn’t ok with it, and that she wouldn’t cross any boundaries. And then I could actually relax. And then some time passed (I felt so safe and relaxed like I could fall asleep) and she said “I’m going to let go now and go back to my chair, and we are going to talk about this, okay?” And I said “ok”.

And she went back over and asked me how I was and how it felt and I said calm, and safe. And she said what about when I first approached you and I said terrified because it’s never really been a thing – being held when I’m sad. I’m always pulling away first because then I’m not rejected. I’ve always been told “that’s enough, get it together now.” And I am also terrified of being too much for someone, I told her I even considered saying no because I did not want to ‘force her’ to deal with my emotions.

And I also have been taught it’s taboo for a therapist to hold their client. And it reminds me of everything I can’t have in our relationship, which we talked about. And then she shared how it felt for her – she said she felt a very natural instinct to come hold me, that she wanted to be there and felt it was received and that she didn’t get to it and feel like it was a poor choice, that it felt good for her to have me let her in. Which I think was really important upon reflection, because had she not told me that I would have wondered all day if I did something wrong and I would have imagined how she felt. 

And I said it was like instead of the foundation of my wall being between us it was around both of us in that moment.

I was quite exhausted and got home, laid on a heating pad, and did nothing for most of the rest of the day. I see her Monday and Thursday and then she’s gone for two weeks.

I am glad I let her hold me. But a part of me is still so wary and I think it’s both because I was never really held when I needed to be (only when my Mother was capable) but also because society and life has taught me that contact like that is reserved for lovers and that intimacy and connection can’t be between friends or (gasp) a therapist and client. But this is challenging that, and I’m glad it is. 

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24 thoughts on “On Being Held 

    • Please don’t feel bad Q, I felt identical the 50-100 times I read of someone else’s therapist doing the same. I am grateful we are close enough you can share that with me.

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  1. O my gosh i felt like i was right there with you being held by her. That is so incredible that she did that for you and that you felt safe in allowing her to. What a beautiful story thank you so much for sharing it. I havent even thought about how badly i just need to be held until i read this and i think i need to be held a million times to make up for all of the times i wasnt

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    • Thank you for thanking me, I’m so glad it resonated with you. It felt right and safe and I was so worried. So worried. It still feels okay, actually, which surprises me a bit.

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      • New things make me shaky. Allowing my self to feel makes me feel shaky. Allowing myself to feel comforted is just new. I hope it settles and you can really connect wtih that feeling that everyone deserves. It makes me think of every time that you or I or anyone just needed to be held and told, it’s ok I’ve got you. How healed we all would be. You are just one step closer.

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  2. I’m glad you had this experience PD. I would give anything for a moment like that with my therapist. Knowing that I’ll never have that, breaks my heart over and over again. But you deserve that beautiful, tender care. 🙂 ❤ xx

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  3. Oh wow this was lovely to read – I am so glad she did that and that you found it so calming and safe. I’m also a little jealous as my T has never mentioned hugs. Good for you! I hope you can use that memory when you need it until next time xx

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  4. I love this story so much. A is so special. And intuitive! I can totally understand your residual wariness still. I think when we are offered something new and good, and receive it (even cautiously), there are still those leftover feelings of “I shouldn’t need this” “I’m too needy” “what if she regrets this” “I don’t want to lose this again” and other types of similar self and moment defeating thoughts. It’s like we have a natural inclination to resist so as to still self protect even though we know we are safe in this new moment. I have experiences like that with my therapist too. One day he genuinely was upset and teary eyed about my life. He was sad for me. He was hurting with me. And I was like a deer in headlights. I had never encountered that before. I had no idea how to receive or accept it so I defaulted to shame and feeling like I was too much. It’s so great that you found the courage and strength inside of you to accept this new type of caring, to melt into it, and hold on to it. Don’t second guess it and “ruin” it, do what A said in session again now that you are home….sit with it and keep holding on to it. You description says it was a beautiful moment for you, and I’m so happy for you.

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    • She is. Both special and intuitive. Fuck, I’m so glad I found her and sometimes can’t believe it. And you’re so right about those residual feelings – resistance has always equalled protection. I NEVER know what to do when A gets sad or cries – I was sobbing and before she offered to hold me she was so sad… the biggest frown. And I couldn’t take it. So I kept looking away.

      I will do my best to not second guess this.

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    • I’m glad to hear that. I felt fat, actually the whole time. I kept thinking about my body. And she’s so skinny. It was awkward, but really good too. I’m glad it gets less awkward with time.

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