Running Up That Hill

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And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get Her to swap our places
I’d be running up that road
Be running up that hill
~ With no problems..’

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I’m not sure what Kate Bush had in mind when she wrote that song, those lyrics, but they really speak to me. I feel I’ve been running up that hill forever now, getting nowhere. It isn’t getting any easier, and I really wish there was a way to swap places, to make that deal. I’ve been running up that road for so many years, but nothing has changed. Lots has happened, but nothing has changed.

Last night was the 21st anniversary of the very first time I tried to end my life. I was seventeen and I didn’t know how to make the abuse stop, didn’t dare communicate what was going on – what had been going on for as long as I could remember, because I didn’t know what would happen if I did. So, at the very end of my mother’s 50th birthday I swallowed a cocktail of random anti-depressants, mood stabilisers, sleeping tablets and painkillers. This was before the internet, before you could google your way to the perfect concoction to put an end to your misery, and as a consequence I survived.

I woke up to a whole new world. One where – in a flurry of activity – suddenly lots of people knew about the abuse. Social services got called in. I remember so well how the head of social services – who just happened to be a close friend of the family – told me that ‘No one is allowed to make you do anything that you don’t want to do. Ever.’ Except, of course, that I would have to talk to the police and I would have to go to court, whether or not I wanted to, because those were not things I had the choice to opt out of.. You see where I’m going with this? Something happened, but nothing changed.

I’ve been in therapy for years and years and years by now, and although I firmly believe that talking about what happened – in a safe environment with a therapist sensitive to my needs [as opposed to at a police station or in a court room] – is key to ultimately reducing the traumatic re-experiencing of abuse that I am faced with every time I have a flashback, it feels as if that day is very very far away. Hardly even a blip on a distant horizon.

I know that if I manage to find a way to keep running up that hill – because, trust me, therapy can be such an uphill run – my day to day life could be greatly improved, in terms of the amount of flashbacks I suffer, in terms of being able to make and keep plans, in terms of feeling more in charge of my life. And that would be great. It really would.

But then there is that other thing. The Not Having Children.
No amount of therapy can change that. I could do therapy every day for the next two thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years, and that fact would simply not change. People are forever telling me that ‘No, that wouldn’t change. But, you might change. You might feel differently about it.’

Only I know that I won’t.

This is a wound that cannot heal. There are constant reminders to keep that wound open and bleeding. Three people in my life are currently pregnant, due at various points next year – so I already know that 2015 will be another year of Everyone Else having children. Another year of tears burning my skin as they roll down my face. Of a pain so sharp it shreds my soul from the inside..

And the problem is that every year is going to be A Year Like That. Until it turns into endless years of Everyone Else Having Grandchildren. And I can’t face a life like that. I just can’t.

Even if I managed to somehow accept that I won’t have children, I just can’t accept a life without them.

I will try, as I have been trying. But, I know that one day, soon, I’ll run out of steam. And I’ll stop running.

It is sad.
But it is what it is.

xx

Running Up That Hill [A Deal With God] Copyright © 1985 Kate Bush

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Twenty-fourteen – A Year Of Changes & Challenges

I thought I’d make one final push to get an update out before the end of the year. I’m not in a great place, hence radio silence on most channels, but sometimes that’s when the best blog posts come out, so let’s hope for the best. Could be nothing, could be something.

It’s been a rough year. There are no two ways about it. At the beginning of the year I ended with my therapist of five years and started over with a new one. It’s a big transition, moving from A. to P., and a huge emotional undertaking. It’s a bit like being asked to switch out your parents. Sure, your parents might not always get you, might be unfair, might make mistakes, might be downright unsuitable to parent anyone, but at least you know them, right? You know their habits, their triggers, their blind spots and you know how they react to the things you say and do. And you also know how you react to the things they say and do. It’s that comfortable – if often less-than-ideal – Familiar versus the scarily unpredictable Unknown that I’ve written about so many times in the past.

That was pretty much what I was going through with A. at the beginning of the year, as we slowly neared and then reached The Ending. Things had been running along the heading-for-an-irreparable-relationship-breakdown route for some time – probably for far longer than I was ready to admit to you, or myself, at the time – but at least I knew what to expect, knew when odds were that my words would be met with silence, knew when there was potential for disappointment. I also knew what not to say and what not to do to keep the status quo, to keep us from falling off the edge. In addition, I was standing on the bedrock of our previous years together, all the times we had communicated really well, spoken a similar emotional language. I had a good sense of where we had one another, of how big or small the distance between us was at any given time, how close we could get, how much trust there was and where the boundaries of our relationship were; all those things that had made our work together so meaningful and fruitful for such a long time. So, it was with a lot of sadness that I had to accept that the time for us to part ways had come.

I had met P. only once before we actually started our joint therapeutic journey. Fifty shared minutes during an initial consultation to decide whether or not we could be A Match. I left that first meeting in December last year feeling that, yes, she could potentially be someone I could learn to trust, given enough time and space to Thoroughly Test what sort of stuff she was made of. But, apart from that gut feeling I didn’t know much about her [or attachment-based therapy] when I went for my first real session in February. I knew that there was something about the way she actively sought to make eye contact in that first meeting that both scared me beyond reason and made me feel that she genuinely wanted to get to know the real me. Actually, let me rephrase that: the way she actively sought to make eye contact with me scared me beyond reason, because she so clearly wanted to get to know the Real Me. Not just the Me she could glean or guess at from the polite introductory phrases or the bullet pointing of my fragmented, chequered and often painful past during this initial meeting, but the Real Me hiding behind all that – the Me that only comes out after the Thorough Testing has been done. The Me that even A., after nearly five years, was only just beginning to get to know.

I took the plunge, and it turned out that the water was far more calm and warm than I had expected. As K. put it only the other day: ‘When you finished with A. I didn’t think you’d ever be able to build a relationship with another therapist. I thought the trust had been shattered for good. I’m amazed at how quickly your relationship with P. has developed.’ I get exactly what K. meant, because it was what I, myself, was thinking at the time. How would I be able to trust? Why should I?

I suppose the answer to that lies in the way P. is, really. I wasn’t at all ready to trust, and P. was able to accept that completely, without any expectation that this would change. Was able to meet me where I was at. She was able to accept that I simply didn’t know if I really wanted to go on with therapy, or even with life. The exact thing that had ultimately caused the breakdown with A. The very thing A. had made clear she couldn’t accept; that I may not only feel that life wasn’t for me, but that I might actually act on it. P. made me, almost immediately – without the Thorough Testing – feel that this was a part of me she could accept. She in no way gave me license to act, but she simply accepted that this could be one of the paths our journey might take.

Then, of course, only a few months later this was put to the test. A splash of a toxic chemical on my tongue, the swallowing of some tricyclics – which I still to this day don’t remember taking – an ambulance ride from the women’s crisis centre to A&E and eleven hours in a coma.

Some might say this was part of my Thorough Testing. I’m not going to argue for or against. All I know is that we survived it: P. didn’t break, didn’t conclude that the reality of acting out was so different from the theory and phantasy of it that she could no longer work with me.

And our relationship grew a little stronger.

The aftermath of this overdose – along with a previous, more serious, intake of that same ototoxic chemical – was the loss of most of what remained of my already damaged hearing. Another big thing to deal with; the knowledge that my actions would have a lifelong effect – near deafness. But, also, in a backwards kind of way, the realisation that even when I mess up it is still within my power to do something about it; the decision to hop on the not-so-joyful steroid ride, the slight but miraculous recovery of some hearing, the sorting out of hearing aids [even though it at times makes me feel I’m ninety-something rather than thirty-something].

And all year long this journey has of course been fenced in and intercepted by flashbacks, by horrendous memories of a past that is never really in the past and by nightmares that don’t go away just because I wake up. Post but-never-quite-over traumatic stress disorder. The stuff that makes day to day life all but impossible to plan. The never knowing if a day will be a 40, 100 or near continuos flashback day. Making plans, cancelling plans, scheduling and rescheduling – because I simply can’t know in advance if any given day will be one where I can leave my house without putting myself at risk.

At the moment it seems worse than usual, more 100-a-day days than 40s. I went to visit my father for the first time in two and a half years at the end of November. That may have something to do with it. I don’t know. It might be related to the fact that both P. and K. have now gone on their respective Chrismukkah breaks, leaving Little S. feeling sad, scared and abandoned, and Adult Me struggling to cope in their absence. Or it might be chance. But, whatever the reason, it’s not so easy to deal with.

Anyway, I want to take the time to thank all of you who have faithfully stuck with me through the ups and downs of this year, in spite the updates being few and far between. It does make such a difference to me. It touches me deeply every single time one of you takes the time to post a comment or write me an email to share a bit of your Selfs with me. I know that is how most of my replies to your communications begin, but it is for a good reason: it’s the truth. I am very grateful for your support.

So, wherever you are in your lives, whatever is going on for you right now, good or bad, I do wish you all the very best.

xx

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At The Beginning Of A Brand New Year

So I’ve walked into the year 2013. And, thus far, it’s been quite good. But then, it’s only been three days. Still plenty of time for disasters, minor and major. But, let’s not be negative. For every risk of disaster, there is also a potential for good fortune.

I’ve spent the last few weeks, like many of you, I’m sure, summing up the past year. The good, the bad, and all the stuff in between. I can’t say I’m sad to see the back of 2012. It’s not been particularly friendly to me. But there are some things which I’m glad of, and which I wrote about in my previous entry.

This year I am hoping for major change. And I mean major. As in life-altering. Of course there is no way of knowing if the changes will be the ones I’m hoping for, but they could be. Right?

In my last pre-break session with A., I was talking about how I worry already now about having to go home next December, for my mother’s 70th, an occasion where, whether I like it or not, most probably my oldest brother will be present. But then I caught myself, and recognised that in a year’s time things could have changed radically, and there is no way of knowing if the prospect of going home is actually going to feel so bad, or be quite so anxiety provoking. Things change. This might, too.

I’ve been living in the UK for almost exactly ten years now. It seems a long time, and yet it also seems like only yesterday. So many things have changed in that time; me, most of all – and there is no reason to think that I won’t continue changing. Growing.

I think there are parts of me that will always stay the same; the core of who I am, the backbone of my being. What makes me me. But I think how I respond to things may change, as may my focus. What seemed important ten years ago, seem a lot less important now. What seemed to matter not much at all, seems to be what I desperately want now.

And then, of course, there are those things I’ve always wanted, those things that will likely never cease to be important to me, no matter how much I or the world around me changes.

And maybe, just maybe, I may have them yet.

xx

Flashbacks, Therapy & Change – An Entry About Finding My Way Back To Life

I had an email from someone who has clearly been following my blog for some time the other day. He [or she – could be a she] asked “What happened to your real blog? The one about your life? I mean it’s interesting to read about Reform Judaism and all that, but I kind of miss the real updates. Like, what happened after you left Drayton Park? How have you been doing? What’s happening with your therapy?”

Now, firstly, I would like to point out that to me the posts about Judaism, and my conversion in particular, are every bit as real as any of my other updates. Being Jewish is part of who I am, and a big part, at that. But, I do take the emailer’s point: it has been a while since I’ve written about what’s going on with me. And it’s not by chance. I’ve simply needed some time to reflect without sharing, rather than reflecting while sharing, if that makes sense.

About two months have passed since I left the Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre. And it’s taken me all this time to slowly, slowly get back to myself. In fact I’m still not there yet. I still have days that are very very difficult, have days when I just don’t make it out of bed at all. But I also have days when things seem a little bit better.

The flashbacks still come, but usually it’s a case of having maybe one flashback every few days, and as horrible as it is to have them, it doesn’t compare with the torrential flashbacks I was suffering from a few months back. They still disrupt my life, still make me feel like absolute crap, because being thrust back into an abuse situation without warning is just never going to be a pleasant experience, but on some level they are manageable in the sense that there is enough space between them to be able to look at them and think about why they are happening.

Mostly, they tend to be about things I remember happening, and I think the key in these flashbacks lie within the feelings they evoke, not necessarily the content. I try to allow those feelings to surface, and to – hard as it can be – accept that there is a lot of fear and shame. My conscious memory of the abuse, particularly the abuse my brother subjected me to, doesn’t really conjure up images of myself as a very small, powerless and frightened little girl, but through the flashbacks I can tell that I must have been, even if I at the time was too cut off from my own emotions to recognise this. So I guess what I am doing now is to acknowledge this side of me, this truth which I have kept under wraps for a long long time. To allow Little S space to truly exist.

Therapy is going well, feels helpful. It’s my space to just think out loud. That said, the other session I talked about how when I really get going, when I feel I’m on to something, I often drift off – almost as if I forget that I’m supposed to share my thought process along the way. I just grow silent and still and think inside my head, and I’m sure this must be frustrating for A. at times, but I guess it’s just the way I work. Also, the fact that I am aware of it, that I’ve been able to talk to A. about this tendency to just go quiet, means that I can work on it. And it’s given me the opportunity to talk about why I think I do this, what it is I find so frightening about sharing thoughts that aren’t fully formed, what it is I might be trying to protect or prevent from happening, through leaving A. [and others] out.

While I was at Drayton Park, A. told me something I already knew, but had not wanted to think about; she’s pregnant. I knew this even before going home this summer, but because A. hadn’t said anything about it, I essentially buried it, chose not to think about it. But now that it’s out in the open, well, naturally, it has an immediate effect on my therapy, both in the here and now; the themes that come up in my sessions, and the more practical side to it: that there will be a major break in my therapy in a not too distant future.

There is no getting away from it: there are absolutely days when it is really really hard to come to session and see A. sitting there looking oh-so-very-pregnant, when all I’ve ever wanted for myself is to have a child, feeling very aware that time is slipping away from me and my worst fear; that I may never get to be a mother, forms an icy shell around my heart. There are moments when I feel insanely jealous of her, her baby, her life. But there are also times when I feel genuinely through-and-through happy for her, excited about this amazing little miracle growing inside of her, and noticing subtle changes in the way she responds to the things I talk about – a soft gentleness in her tone, especially when I talk about that frightened little child I was back then.

So, there is progress in my therapy and in my life in general. Tiny tiny steps forward, towards a better understanding of myself, of who I am, of how I relate to others, and how others relate to me. And I feel I’m on the right track. Feel I’m getting somewhere.

But it’s not easy.

And it isn’t over.

There is much to be done.

Be kind to yourselves,

xx

A tiny musical gem; Janet Devlin singing Adele’s Someone Like You

Stepping Into The Future; Moving Physically & Emotionally

Not long to go now until The Big Move. Two more days and I’m off into the future.

Got the keys to my new room and swung by it earlier today and I saw both things that I did like and things I didn’t like. The Didn’t Likes include the general condition of the shared spaces; kitchen and bathroom. Pretty unpleasant, if I’m brutally honest, and this is despite the fact that there is a cleaner who comes every week. So, not too keen on that, but as with all places once you’ve lived there for a while you get a bit blind to things, so hopefully I’ll get used to it. Also I emailed my landlord about a few things that I think need to be looked at, so hopefully he’ll sort those things out. Apparently when the person who had my room before me moved in there was a problem with the washing machine and after she pointed it out he went out and bought a new one, so I guess that’s a good sign.

Under the heading of Did Like I’ve got the most important thing: my room. I felt good, stepping into my room. Yes, it is small, but not quite as small as I had begun to imagine. The previous tenant hadn’t done much by way of cleaning the room, found a fair few bits and bobs when pulling out the bed and the desk, and I had to start with some serious hoovering. The desk, by the way, came apart when I pulled it out, and in all honesty I’m sort of glad it did, because I had already told the landlord I’d want to use my own desk, and as this one self-destructed I didn’t feel too bad about hauling it up to the top floor where there is a small space for storage. Although the desk is pretty rickety even after I re-assembled it, the drawers can be used for extra storage I suppose. Other Likes was the fact that there is actually quite a lot more storage in the room than I thought, and there’s a small wardrobe I hadn’t noticed when I went to view the room, and a small space to keep books at the head of my bed.

Anyway, enough about the practical side of the move. Let’s think a little about the emotional side..

So, I’ve spent a little over two years at The House, the therapeutic community, and in some ways I think it’s been time for me to leave for a while now. I don’t feel I fit in particularly well here, the communal living doesn’t really suit me. I don’t mind shared living, but communal, not so much. I was never going to be one to suggest having mandatory meals together on a regular basis or buying our food together as a group. I think I’m just a little too independent for that sort of life. [I’m not implying that the other house mates aren’t independent, they just seem to have more of a wish for those sorts of things].

And as far as the therapeutic side of The House goes, again, it’s not really worked for me. I’ve never really been able to entirely engage in the process of sharing in the meetings. To me it just seems so strange to be sharing my thoughts and feelings in a group, with people who I don’t feel particularly close to or have all that much in common with. They’re all good people, it’s just that it’s always made much more sense to me to chat with my friends or pick up the phone and ring my sisters when things get too much, just as they – both my friends and my sisters – will turn to me when things are hard.

That said, I think it’s really good that this place exists, and I genuinely hope that they’ll be able to find people to move into The House who are more up for this way of life. I can absolutely see how I’ve played a part in making this place be less of a community than it could be, through not lending myself entirely to the experience. Having been one of four housemates for a large part of my stay here, of course my way of doing things has had a direct impact on what sort of house this has been, and I do hope that the people who end up moving in here will be more able than I have been to throw themselves into making this place the community that it may have been meant to be.

Of course, as different as I have often felt, moving away from here is still a pretty major step. One of the things that is good about The House is that everyone knows that everyone else has their reasons for being here, and have some understanding for how life can sometimes feel all too impossible to cope with, and how working on your own difficulties is as hard a job as any other 9-5 job.

Will I regret moving out? I don’t know. I feel that it’s time for me to go. To try to take the next step. Push myself a little. I do expect to dip a bit after I’ve moved; it’s a big change going from a house where – whether I speak to people or not – there is nearly always someone around and there is always the option to knock on someone’s door if things feel too hard, to a place where people lead altogether separate lives and don’t seem to interact at all.

I am trying to keep in mind that this room I’m moving into is not the place I’ll be staying forever. It’s a step into the future, a stepping stone on the way to getting back on track. I don’t think I’ll be staying there for very long, in all honesty – but I thought making a move from The House was needed, and this will be my intermediary dwelling place until I can find something s bit nicer and with a more of a permanent feel to it in about six months’ time. Perhaps a share which is a real share without being too communal.

So here’s to change and stepping into the future!

All the best and more,

xx

Bin Laden, Reflections & The Value of Human Life

This morning I woke up to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. My initial reaction was that of disbelief, but as the same piece of news seemed to be reported on all fronts reality began to sink in.

As I switched on my computer to watch some live news I was struck by the scenes of celebrations being broadcast, and I have to admit that I found it rather shocking. Whilst I have little sympathy for what Bin Laden chose to do with his life and what his network of terrorists stand for, it seemed to me somewhat obscene to be rejoicing at the news of his death.

In my mind, celebrating the death of another person, even if it is your enemy, is NOT cool. It’s taking it that one step too far.

This is a time for reflection, not a time for celebration.

Someone I follow on Twitter offered an update along these lines: “Spurred on by the successful termination of Bin Laden, the U.S. announce plans to kill another million people, one of which may be Gaddafi.” The words, of course, drip with sarcasm, and urges us to ponder how many lives are worth sacrificing in the pursuit of the death of a single person.

I am not a forgive and forget kind of person; some wounds cut too deep for me to be able to afford the inflictor this generosity, some actions too painful for me to grant this ultimate charity. That said, I do still believe that despite those actions, at the basic level of being human, all of our lives have the same God given value, and therefore celebrating the loss of a human life is wrong. So, whilst I may not necessarily mourn Bin Laden’s death, I will not stoop so low as to celebrate the loss of his life.

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In other news: A. is back tomorrow.
Well, in fairness, she was probably back today, but tomorrow is the first time I will see her after the break.

I’m not sure really what to say about this break.

In some ways it’s been OK. To a large degree it’s been a lot less difficult than some other breaks. At the same time, some days – or nights, rather – have been very very hard. I had a few flashbacks last week, and as always it sent me into this blind panic that I’m going to spiral out of control, that I won’t be able to cope.

So far that hasn’t happened. As I said, it’s been very very hard at times, but I think I did manage to not get entirely swept away by my own fears. Instead I texted the Samaritans. Just so I wouldn’t get to that stage where things get so bad that I turn to self-harm. I talked to them about this fear, about not entirely trusting myself to not fall back to my old ways, and that in itself seems to have been enough to keep me from acting out.

I think this has been a good and very valuable experience. To realise that having a few flashbacks doesn’t automatically mean I’ll resort to destructive behaviour or that I won’t be able to cope. It just means that I’m having a few flashbacks.

Of course, in the moment, while having those flashbacks, any thoughts of coping strategies are blown completely out of mind, but – and this is important – coming out of them, feeling as sick and frightened as I was, I was still able to quite quickly recognise that I had come through it, and that there were more than one way for me to deal with the fear of further flashbacks. Ways that didn’t involve scalpels or choke-chords.

Clearly, something has changed.
Something which makes it possible for me to make good choices, even during therapy breaks.

So.. here’s to change!

All the very best,

xx

TAUK6H2RJ2R8

Anchorlessness, Flashbacks & Change

It’s been nearly a month since my last entry. A few pretty difficult weeks have gone by. Went through a phase of feeling completely anchorless – like there was nothing but nothing holding me down, in terms of who I am and where I come from. And that’s a lot to deal with. That feeling of not knowing anything about my heritage.

I’ve spent the best part of my life trying to desperately tell myself that it really doesn’t matter, that I’m not interested in who my parents are. And, in some ways, I still hold true to that; this journey into Who Am I isn’t really about knowing who my parents were. What it is about, however, is which parts of them are recognisable in me? What qualities, good and bad, did I get from them? Or even those people who came before them. What has been passed down through the generations? Things that most other people have the luxury of knowing.

Another crucial aspect of this search for who I am is, of course, that just as the ups and sometimes very severe downs of my childhood has shaped the person I am today, so, too, have the choices my parents made. No matter which angle you look at it, the bottom line is that – as hard as it may have been – my mother did decide to give me up. Yes, there may very well have been reasons – good reasons – for this decisions; I’m  fairly sure that no mother would easily give their child up.

But that doesn’t change that simple fact; that that decisionwas made.

And it’s had a huge effect on me.

Having struggled with these questions, and the feelings they stir, spending a lot of time talking about it in session, I think I got to a point where I couldn’t quite handle it any more. This constant drumming of I have no idea where I come from, it got too much. And I think I needed to distance myself from it.

The issue didn’t come up naturally in therapy; it was introduced. And although I know that this is absolutely something I need to be dealing with, need to work through, I think it was a little too much a little too soon. I don’t think I was ready to work all the way through it just yet. I know that, with time, I will eventually make my way through all of these huge and existentially fundamental questions. But, for now, I think I just needed a break.

Unfortunately a break from one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that everything goes back to being nice and neat. There is always a bit of an emotional hang-over.

Also, in the last two weeks I’ve started having flashbacks again. It hasn’t gone into a full-blown, all-consuming and seemingly endless period of flashbacks, but I have had a few evenings where there has been quite a lot of them, and it makes things difficult, because – apart from the flashbacks in themselves being pretty horrendous – it makes it very hard to commit to things. And so these last two weeks I’ve had to miss out on things that I’d really wanted to do, because having a flashback in public isn’t really ideal.

I do believe that these flashbacks happen for a reason; maybe as a sign that I’m psychologically more ready to look at what actually happened when I was a child. I mean, as far as the abuse goes, I haven’t really got any repressed memories; I remember pretty much all of it – but the flashbacks brings them to life in a way that memories don’t. Firstly you have absolutely no control over when a flashback will happen, and therefore you also have no way of shielding yourself from the impact of the experience. It’s like – for a moment – existing in complete simultaneous reality. [To see a drawing I made last year trying to illustrate what that’s like, check out my entry What Words Can’t Express – A Visual Explanation of Flashbacks].

I have been able to talk about the flashbacks in detail with A., and I think that’s a really big step. Some of the incidents that have come up as flashbacks have been some of the most difficult memories of the abuse. Some of them I have talked about before in therapy. But, as I was explaining to A. the other day, even though I’ve talked about a specific incident before, each time feels like the first time, because in between each time I’ve become more able to stay connected emotionally with the memory. The first times I talked about it; in the police interview and in court it was easy; I was completely and utterly emotionally detached from it, and therefore I could retell things in graphic detail without skipping a beat. The first time I talked about it in therapy I was still switching off emotionally to a degree, and although it wasn’t by any means easy to talk about it, I could do it, because the emotional impact was limited.

This time around I feel that I have been able to stay much more connected. It’s a pretty big deal for me, seeing as my chief defence mechanism has always been the ability to switch off all feelings at will. I still fall into that trap every now and then, but I do work hard at noticing when I’m doing it, and trying to find my way back to that emotional place, because, painful as it is –that’s where change happens.

Anyway, good people of the blog-reading world, I’d best stop there. Time for evening prayers and settling down time.

Be good to your Selfs.

xx

In Treatment, Richard Long & Fear of Real Emotion

It’s reasonably early morning. And once again anxiety has me up and about. Well, about is a bit of a stretch, but up, at the very least.

Been spending a lot of time writing in my journal this past week. It seems the best way to control this rising anxiety, this fear of all the emotions that are bouncing around inside of me. That and distracting.

I know I wrote in a post not long ago about trying to stay with the emotions, to allow them to break through my defences. And I was. But now, suddenly, it feels too much. So I distract. But, since a big part of me wants to feel, I do it through watching In Treatment, this American version of an Israeli show which rarely fails to get me to respond emotionally. It follows a therapist and his clients through the weeks, and also the therapist’s own therapy/supervision/marriage counselling sessions. The last part is, well, a bit unclear, really. As the therapist/supervisor/friend/colleague Gina frequently says:“Some lines have been blurred”. Understatement of the century! Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

Those who know me and my family background will probably understand why this show really gets to me, why it’s the show of choice for conjuring up a controlled emotional response. Anyway, maybe the reason for my choosing this particular show over other shows is of lesser importance than the fact that I choose to watch a show at all. Instead of allowing my real feelings room to roam I distract, so that I can – not switch off entirely – but can experience emotions once removed, if that makes sense. It reminds me of going to see the Richard Long exhibition at the Tate last year. How I felt that looking at photographs – beautiful as they were – were still merely watered down versions of these amazing works of arts, which he had created on a large scale in nature. In that particular case, it felt like it was lacking in flavour, left me wanting something stronger – but in the case of In Treatment, well, I think it provides me with just about the amount of emotion I can handle right now.

That said, I do hope – and also believe – that sometime soon, I’ll feel able to return to experiencing the real feelings in the moment, rather than half-way-but-not-quite retreating to something which feels safer.

I stand firm in the belief that true emotion is what brings about change. But, for now – maybe this way of feeling is an adequate apéritif? A taster of what is to come.

Enjoy your day.

xx

Question Marks & Exclamation Points

A. is moving. And though I’ve known ever since she initially told me about the move that I’ll be moving with her, it’s still stressing me out. I know it doesn’t quite make sense, but even that tiny change is rather unsettling to me. The last few sessions the pile of moving boxes in the narrow hallway has grown, and something about it really gets to me. I guess it creates something of a dent in the constant that I want therapy to be.

Adult Me knows that going to a new place won’t really change the therapy or my relationship with A., and that in a few sessions’ time at the new place, it will be absolutely fine. And yet Little S is reacting to this change as were it the onset of the apocalypse.

And I wonder why.

I have a few layman’s theories. Or, two, at least.
The first is that this could be a perceived echo of the fear I may have experienced as a baby, being brought from India to Sweden at the age of six months. A sort of non-accessible memory or fear being triggered by A.’s move. The second theory is also childhood related. It goes as follows: Despite the fact that as a child I was fortunate enough to to grow up in a single home, for a variety of reasons I didn’t form strong enough attachments to my parents to feel that the ties to them were secure, safe and permanent. (Or, as A. typically puts it: I didn’t experience the relationship to my parents as being unconditional.) Therefore it follows that since I, even in a reasonably constant home environment, felt that important relationships could easily break down or even be destroyed, the prospect of an actual move (as is the case with A.) becomes all the more frightening. And I panic.

Of course it’s impossible to know for sure why we react in a certain way, but I do find it helpful to at least consider the different possible reasons. Trying to understand how past experiences may influence us in the here-and-now might not actually change the way we react, but if we can see some sort of underlying reason, it may make it easier to accept the way we feel as something natural. (As opposed to telling ourselves that we ought to be able to control ourselves and our emotional responses, something which tends to be neither helpful nor productive).

Also, I have to admit that I generally find it easier to live with exclamation points than question marks. Even if the exclamation points are somewhat crooked..

All the very best and more,

xx

PS. Winter Olympics rocks. Why can’t people in this silly country getthat? Ice-hockey, figure skating, half-pipe, ski cross, Super G. Ultra-funky stuff. Sincerely.

Change – Extension of Self

There are many big thoughts in my head at the moment. And I am struggling to find a way to express them. I think those close to me will have, by now, noticed that there is something big happening in my life, in how I view myself and the world. But it feels almost impossible to talk or write about it. Somehow it all seems too big to be put into words.

I guess that at the bottom of it all is fear. I am afraid how others might react, if they will, on any level, be able to appreciate how important these things are to me. How much they matter. Even in therapy I have felt utterly unable to verbalise these thoughts and feelings. Some of the reasons for this seem quite obvious to me, others leave me questioning my own judgement. Not – of course – in terms of the things going on, those things I feel absolutely certain about, but how valid – how reality-based – my fears are. How much of this fear of rejection is really in my head, rather than something that would actually manifest itself, were I to share all these things with people?

There have been one or two people with whom I have felt able to talk at least a little about these things. But they have been people who I, in all honesty, haven’t known all that long – and although they are absolutely fantastic people, and I feel blessed and honoured to have them in my life – they have no real reference point in terms of the immense change I feel I’m undergoing. Although they may, to some extent, be able to see how these are really big things, they can’t possibly be able to gauge the enormity of the change, because they don’t know what I was like before. To them, I’m guessing, it’s a case of complete acceptance, because to them, this is how I am. They’ve not known me to be different.

I have been thinking about my family a lot lately. My parents, especially – trying to somehow guess how they might react, only to realise that I don’t really have a clue. The only thing I know is that a huge reaction would be as bad as no reaction at all. And so, in some ways, I feel I am setting myself up for a lose-lose situation.

And yet.. yet.. I have no doubts about this.. Because I know that this is an incredibly good change. In fact, to call it a change (yes, I know I’m contradicting myself here) might not be the right way to put it. What it is, is a very positive, and powerful, extension of something I have known for a long long time. An extension of my very self. The difference, the change– lies in now feeling ready to actually do it, rather than just know it.

Because it feels right.

And it’s the only way forward for me.

xx

PS. For those of you who are desperately trying to decipher what I’m on about – it’s not to do with my sexuality. Scroll back a number of years, and you’ll see that that’s been in the open for some time! :)

ABOUT COMMENTS:
Just wanted to point out that this is NOT a guessing game. And as I have not – as mentioned in my blog – yet talked this through with those closest to me, I would really appreciate it, if you took that into consideration when posting comments.

That said, thank you all for your really sweet and supportive comments!

xx