Progress And Pain – Parenting My Inner Child

It’s been a long time. It’s been too long, really. I suppose that I just needed a proper break from things. Or, rather, I needed to use what little energy I could muster to deal with the bare essentials, hence largely withdrawing from the world, both online and in my day-to-day interactions with family and friends.

It has been, and still is, a very rough ride. Since the beginning of the year I have had three rounds of crisis team intervention and one admission to Drayton Park, all with that burning hopeless feeling that ‘It’s pointless, it won’t make a difference’. Except, from an external point of view it has; I am still here now. I might not have been.

Therapy is the one thing that I feel is actually going well. But, as is so often the case when it comes to therapy, ‘going well’ involves a decent sized chunk of dizzying pain. The therapeutic process has never been heralded as a ‘free from unwanted side effects’ type of medication..

I continue to build my relationship with P., doing this quirky little two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance, putting my most deep seated fears and trust issues through their paces. Progress is slow, but at least we are moving. Those of you who have been in therapy will know exactly what I am talking about; one session and – almost out of nowhere – you find the courage of a lioness and take a giant leap forward, right across the abyss – the next two sessions; withdrawing and giving in to age-old fears of being let down, needing to test and re-test your therapist, to check that they really are for real, that those encouraging words won’t turn out to just be empty promises.

My need for emotional hand-holding and reassurance has known no limits in these last months and weeks, and consequently P. has had to work darn hard for the pennies.. She tells me that she knew what she was signing up for when she decided to take me on, I argue that she can’t possibly have known – because she didn’t know me – she then agrees that this is true, but reassures me that she has a very strong sense of what she can cope with, and that I really really really am not too much for her. And we take another tiny step forward.

As I have said many times before, I don’t think therapy is meant to be easy, I think it’s meant to be worth it.

Right now we are standing at the door of a two week therapy break, so – predictably – all of Little S.’s abandonment fears are awakened and hyper aroused. Adult Me works hard to try to explain that it will be OK, that we have been through – and have survived – many, many breaks before, and that we will get through this one, too, but Little S. clamps her hands firmly over her little ears, certain that this is the end of the safety and pseudo-mothering we have enjoyed from P.

What it boils down to is that my inner child, just like any other child, has no real understanding of time, and so a separation from P. is not a temporary state, but is permanent and absolute. And, again like most children, when the caregiver goes away, she assumes that this must be because of something she has done. This, in turn, makes Little S., go back and forth between putting unrealistic pressure on herself to be ‘all good’ [because, if she is very very good, maybe P. won’t leave her] and needing to self-punish [because she must have been bad, to make P. go away]. Adult Me works very hard to try to help regulate the extremes, but parenting your own inner child is not an easy task, especially when so many of Little S.’s thought patterns and beliefs still live on in Adult Me.

I still have three sessions left before the commencement of this two-week-bordering-on-eternity break, so there is time to talk this through with P., time to get another shot of reassurance injected, and hopefully that will alleviate at least some of Little S.’s [and Adult Me’s] anxiety.

We’ll see..

Anyway, take good care of your Selves, and thank you all so much for sticking with me through this hiatus, of sorts.

xx

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Rough, Rougher, The Roughest

Another week gone by. On the whole it’s been a good week. Training, work, therapy and.. well.. those other things I do. Seems like a winning concept to me.

Had a rough session on Friday, though. Possibly the roughest one yet. Especially in contrast to the one I had on Tuesday, which was essentially me faffing about completely random things. [A. pointed out that they weren’t necessarily irrelevant things, but, honestly – to some degree they were].

On to the Friday session. I could feel it the second I walked through the door. It hit me straight off. In fact I struggled to say anything at all at the beginning of session. It happens sometimes. My mind goes blank. But this time the silence wasn’t down to a mental blankness. I could feel something very heavily in my head, and an almost physical gag over my mouth, stopping me from speaking.

Eventually, I did manage to speak. At first about something trivial: I had forgot to put my ring on, the one my parents gave me years and years ago, and which I go through periods of wearing. So, not wearing it, I felt naked. Felt like something was missing. Like there was nothing to hide behind. I often fiddle with that ring in session. A nervous habit. But it works.

And then I launched into the Real Stuff. Which lead on to even more Real Stuff, and ended with me actually talking about The Abuse. Something I haven’t really ever done, apart from during the court hearing years and years ago, and that – as I pointed out to A. later in the session – is very different, because it’s essentially presenting facts, it’s not really talking about anything. [Which is probably why, at the time, I was able to do it – I was just completely emotionlessly describing situations of abuse, without even properly reflecting on what I was talking about, or even that it was me I was talking about.]

So, yes, this was different. It was rough. Seriously rough. But, amazingly, somehow I did manage to talk about some things. Not through the use of pictures [as I did in that session months ago, talking about flashbacks], but through actual words. There were times when I stumbled, and other times when I felt like I was going to be sick, but somehow I still did talk about some of the things that happened. The extent of it. Even managed to talk a little about the feelings attached to talking about it.

At the end of it I felt completely emotionally exhausted, and, glancing over at A. I could see that she seemed to be in a similar place, which, in a way, was strangely reassuring. Felt like a real connection. Some sort of meeting.

Left feeling a combination of lightheadedness and nausea. Headed straight for the nearest shop to get chocolate. After-therapy comfort-eating. [Not that I actually ate it – I still have it here now].

Since FriSat is Special Day for me, I put all of the worries about the consequences of this session out of my head for the time being. But now that Special Day is over, well, those worries are re-emerging. I’ve got this fear lurking once again; Will A. be able to cope with this? What if I pushed too hard? What if I’ve broken her?

Please, hold your “It’s her job, she’ll find a way”s [and any variations on that theme]. The point here is not really how reasonable or not this reaction to sharing difficult stuff is. I can see as well as the next person that this is a reaction based on experience of how other people in my life have felt unable to cope with hearing my story. I know this. And I also know that A. is not them. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling this way. That doesn’t stop the What ifs. What if it turns out that this actually is too much? What if she really can’t cope?

Reality-based or not, this is how I feel. And so it is valid.

Hm. I really need to work on this whole I-know-how-people-will-respond-and-judge-thing. Yeah, yeah, I know.

But that’s a whole nother session.
Or ten.

Be well.

xx

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back – An Entry About Slow But Steady Progress

As you’ve probably noticed reading my blog, I have been increasingly struggling with some very dark thoughts of self-harm and suicide. I’ve been doing my very best to be able to contain myself, to keep myself safe and to not act on my impulses. I’ve been calling various helplines at all hours of the day and night and using tens of different distraction techniques. Basically, I’ve given it my all to make it through, to hold it together, until D. comes back and I’ll once again have the space and the guidance I so desperately need.

But sometimes, as hard as you try, it’s just not enough. Lately I have felt myself seriously slipping and losing my focus, forgetting altogether what it is that I want to achieve.

So, I decided to do something for me drastically different. I decided that rather than tell people I need help by acting on my impulses, drinking anti-freeze and suchlike, I would simply reach out and ask for it. I spoke to a very close friend of mine who called up the Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre to start a referral. There were a few ifs and buts, but the sum total is that I am back at the centre now for one week, to give me the chance to re-discover what the real me is like. I remember reading Freud’s metaphor for regression where he likened the phenomenon to that of an army retreating to the last safe stronghold. Much in the same way have I now retreated to the last place I felt I could get the help and support I need. This is not in any way criticism towards any of the many wonderful people I have in my life, who have all been worried and tried to help to the best of their ability – but merely stating a fact; The last time I felt really safe and able to express my fears was at Drayton Park – at my sessions with D. and also during my residence there earlier in the year.

I have been allocated two key workers – both of whom I have not worked much with in the past, but I have also had one-to-ones with one of my main workers from my last stay, and I think the combination of new input and ideas and talking to someone who knows me reasonably well is very helpful for me.

I have changed a lot since my last stay there, and also my stay this time around will, as I mentioned before, be decidedly shorter; one week compared to the five weeks of my previous stay. So, it’s different. It’s different also because there are different women staying there at the moment. However, there are two people there from my last stay, and that’s really nice – it means I don’t get as shy as I normally get around people I don’t know very well, and it helps me challenge myself to interact with the people I don’t yet know.

Another change, and one of the really major changes within is how I really feel about myself. I suppose that it goes hand in hand with starting to allow myself to feel things about the actual abuse; it alters the way I feel about myself. And although some may argue that I’ve always had a somewhat weak self-image this somehow feels different now. Whereas I may previously have disliked aspects of myself I now genuinely loathe everything that I am, and I feel absolutely disgusted by myself.

I am aware that this is an enormously common way for abuse survivors to feel; in fact I talked about this this very morning with my previous key worker. That in order to overcome and heal I need to acknowledge, in the true sense of the word, the fact that what happened really was abuse, and much like how people mourning go through a series of comparatively predictive phases, so do people who have experienced abuse, often starting with questioning their own role in it, feeling as if they haven’t done what they could have to make it stop and so on and so on – ending up where I am now: sheer self-hatred.

But as much as I can intellectualise and analyse this, it doesn’t help one bit when it comes to dealing with the actual feeling. And that is where the asking for help comes in. I need someone to put things into perspective, to in a sense hold my hand. Help me chop things up to bite-size portions, rather than biting off so much that I end up choking on it.

So, to sum up; although it doesn’t change how I feel about myself or where I’m at right now, I’m glad that I did decide to ask for help before I got to the stage where I forget that I can.

Anyway, dear friends and random readers; I’m going to leave you now – I’m only home for a bit and I want to go cuddle Dev. Thank you all for your lovely and encouraging text messages. They mean a lot to me.

All the world has to offer and more,

xx