Gravitation, Psychotherapy & Letting Go Of Control

Those in the know claim that gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces [interactions], proven by the fact that even a very small magnet can pick up a paperclip, and thereby out-power gravity. I’m not sure, but maybe this is why I sometimes feel like I’m falling off the face of earth the second I let go of even a little bit of control.

In most instances I’m actually not much of a control freak. But when it comes to being in charge of feelings, boy do I keep my cards close to my chest!

This is, naturally, something I am trying to challenge in my therapy. Allowing myself to feel the full force of my emotions, and also letting A. catch a glimpse of it every once in a while.

It’s hard work, letting go of control. It’s frightening and draining and sometimes excruciatingly painful. But, you know what they say; no pain no gain!

So, lately, this has been my objective in session. To try not to fight whatever emotion is roused within, but to let it come, if not quite to the open, at least very close to the surface.

And, I think I’m doing reasonably well. I mean, I’ve yet to cry in session – but I am getting much better at sitting with my feelings and trying to dress them in words. Also, I am trying to bring all of me to session. By that I mean that rather than sharing some things with some people, and other things with other people [thus spreading the risk of over-burdening any one person], I am trying to be as open as I possibly can with A.

That said, there is still one area which I am very much struggling to talk about in session, but I think I am nudging closer to perhaps daring to share it with her.

You see, the thing with therapy is that it’s not a 12-step program, going from A to B to C; it’s a process, and as such you’re allowed to take your time, to test the water. Dip your toe before taking the plunge.

In the last few sessions I have got really close to just go for it – to take a deep breath and let go and trust that A. will catch me. I feel like I’m at the very edge of my fear, and any session now it will happen.

Hopefully.

I leave you with this Swedish track: “Gravitation” by Kent.
(Be a bit patient with the commercial at the beginning of the clip).

Back? Home? Or ‘back home’?

So, I’m back in the UK. Big trip home over and done.
Or maybe this is just the beginning? I don’t know. It feels as if I haven’t yet absorbed or processed my trip yet. Like whatever feelings I have about it are hidden under a very thin coat of ice. Only that protective layer is slowly, but surely, beginning to melt. Or is that ‘cracking up’?

I don’t feel very in control at the moment. I’m feeling distinctly low. And this is despite the fact that there isn’t really anything concrete to feel low about. On a surface level the trip went basically ok. Not fantastic, nor a disaster; it was ok.

So, why am I feeling so low? Why do I feel like I’m going to crack open at any moment and a torrent of emotion will come flooding through?

People have, naturally, asked me how my trip was. And all I’ve said is that I don’t really know, that I need to wait a bit to answer that question.

For some reason the lines “..you can always go home, but you can never go back..” keep playing in my mind.

A. is still off, so no therapy for me this week. Doesn’t feel too great. But it’s just how it is. Soak it up, Champ.

In the last session before the break, before my trip home, I talked quite a lot about how worried I was about how I’d be able to cope with this week between me coming back to the UK and A. returning to work. A. said at the very end of session, just as I was leaving, that if I need to contact her in that week I can. We’ve never really established any clear rules around out-of-session contact, so for her to tell me this, it means a lot to me.

Only I know that I will always hold myself back from using that ‘lifeline’. This fear I have of intruding on A.’s off time, I can’t overcome it. I think that even if things got really desperate I wouldn’t pick up the phone.

Anyway, I think I’m going to keep this entry short. I don’t want to get too stuck in my own worries.

Be well,

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

Ruins, Emotion & Change – Learning How To Feel

Had my first session at A.’s new place yesterday. Owing to my negative sense of direction I gave myself a ridiculous amount of time to find the place. As it turns out it was both needed and not needed. Went down the wrong road twice (not great when you’ve got a knee injury which is making every step agony) – but I still found the road well in time for session, meaning I ended up loitering on a side street for some thirty minutes. Luckily someone in the area had an open internet connection so I filled the time randomly browsing the interweb. Also it gave me the time to read another chapter of Dr Maroda’s book. (See previous post).

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blog offerings anxiety levels have been on a steady upward curve for the last couple of weeks, since I found out about A.’s move. Things, big things, are stirring inside of me. I do realise this is not all to do with A.’s move; the effect is far in excess of the cause. Admittedly, there are a number of things happening in my life, all of which have an effect – but this still feels different, disconnected somehow, to present events. It feels like a change on a much, much deeper level – outside of specific causes; on a basic human level.

Last Thursday I suddenly felt absolutely overwhelmed by emotions. I happened to be on the phone with my sisters at the time, but even that didn’t help. It was a tsunami-like wave of feelings that completely swept me off my feet, made me loose my grip. So I hung up on my sisters to try to deal with this. My initial feeling – or actually it was more of a self-protective instinct – was to try to shut down. Only I couldn’t. Next this very intense urge to cut hit me, wanting desperately to reach for those scalpels. But even at the height of intensity, in the middle of the urge, I knew that I wasn’t going to resort to that. Instead I tried to just stay in the moment – allow those feelings to be. To not fight them, even though every cell in my body was preparing for flight mode. I ended up curled up in bed, foetal position, unable to do anything but just breathe. In and out, through the experience. Just breathing. That was all I could cope with.

Getting a scalpel out would have been the easy option, but I knew that something big was happening, and that I had to find a way to let it. I had one single thought in my head that I can consciously remember: I need to find a way to bring this experience to session on Tuesday.

So this session, the first one at The New Place, was, at least for me, very different to other sessions. I’m not sure if it was noticeable to A., but I was very consciously allowing myself to just go quiet every time a feeling came over me. I didn’t really try to verbalise it much, because for me, even just allowing the feelings to exist (as opposed to immediately, and by any means necessary, control them) is pretty big. I don’t know if it showed on my face or not; it’s possible that to the outside world it would not have been possible to discern this difference in me. But, to me, this was a huge step. To allow myself to fully feel. And in the presence of another person.

At one stage in the session, having tried to explain what happened on Thursday (and has been happening – albeit in smaller doses – since then) to A. I asked if maybe this is me regressing. I posed it as a question, but, really I suppose what I was doing was trying to tell A. that this is what I believe is happening.

Later A. asked what I was regressing to, and also commented that I seem unsure as to whether I’m going backwards or forwards. I explained that I don’t really think of it as regressing backwards in a real sense, but more about somehow allowing myself to feel the things I should have felt a long time ago. Acknowledging these feelings.

As I said that a song popped into my head, so I quoted part of it to A.:

“..I will crawl through my past
over stones blood and glass
in the ruins

Reaching under the fence
as I try to make sense
in the ruins..

But if I am to heal
I must first learn to feel
in the ruins..”

Now, I’m not convinced about the need to be crawling over stones, blood or glass, nor am I sure that it is possible to make sense of the ruins or the damage done – some things are simply senseless – but I do think that there is a need to explore the past. Not necessarily through recounting and re-visiting every single memory in graphically verbalised detail – but rather through a true acceptance of the feelings attached to those memories.

“..if I am to heal, I must first learn to feel..”

So, frightening and painful as this experience is, I am absolutely sure that without allowing these emotions to play out you can’t bring about real change. Yes, you can change things on the surface. Of course you can. But not on a real lasting and deep level. For that you need to accept yourself as a vulnerable, feeling human being.

xx

PS. I was going to post a link to a YouTube clip of Melissa Etheridge performing Ruins – but I couldn’t find one that matched in emotion what the lyrics are saying. They all seemed too “showy”. Instead I recommend you listen to the studio version, which can be found on ME’s 1993 Yes, I Am-album.

Thinking And Logic vs Feeling

It’s been a while, I know. Just stuff going on, which have stopped me from feeling able to sit down to write.

But, I’m still around.
Please don’t worry.

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately. Only I’m not sure if thinking really is the right word. Maybe it’s more that I’ve done a lot of feeling. And it’s made me realise a few things. Big things. Important things. And in time I will be sharing it with you all, I’m sure – or else it will eventually become self-evident.

But really, what I wanted to get to is that whole thing about thinking and logic, versus feeling. I think that, although I often apply active thinking and logic to work things out, when it comes to those really big and important things, I’ve always operated on gut instinct. If something feels right, I generally trust that it is. People may ask me for a more specific definition of what exactly it is that makes it feel right, and more often than not, I’m unable to give a real answer – because all I know is that it feels right.

So there you go.
Even though there are big things on the horizon for me, for now, I think I’ll keep them to myself.

Because, it feels right.

Still – before I forget..
For those of you who – and let’s face it, this would be the vast majority – were planning on buying me great big expensive luxury Christmas prezzies, I just want to say that you’re off the hook. I’ve made a conscious decision not to celebrate Christmas. This is on the basis that I’m not a Christian, and it feels wrong to celebrate something I don’t believe in. Especially since I actually believe in something different.

If you still feel a burning wish to spend your hard-earned money, maybe you could donate a quid or two to one of the charities listed in the “Tikkun Olam – Healing The World”-section to the right? That’s what I’ll be doing. Those of you who know me know that this is what I usually do, anyway, instead of sending out seasonal greetings cards, left, right and centre.

I’m not dissing Christmas or cards – if that’s what feels right to you, then you should be doing all that. It’s just that, for me, I feel better not going down that route.

All the very best and more,

be good to your Selves,

xx