Another hug, a break and a memory (Sept 2020)

On arrival for session I was anxious, it was the last session before the three week break and I was feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t have many words so I showed her a drawing that represented how I felt things were too much.

Ella asked if there was anything she could do to help and I said something like “wave a magic wand and make it go away”, and commented that things kept happening and so more boxes were being filled, and that no one would believe me. She asked who was it important that believed me and I said a couple of people including her. Ella asked if there was anything she could do differently or to reassure me, and then asked if I thought she believed me. I whispered I didn’t know. She replied “I promise I believe you. I know it’s only words but it’s importamt that I say it” and that she felt the struggles and behaviours I had were evidence for her to believe. She accepted that I might not believe her yet and that was OK. 

Ella then asked what had happened that week to trigger this and I completely shut down. I can remember hearing her but just not being able to move or speak, like I was a ghost almost. Ella picked up on this, saying she felt like she’d lost me somewhere and I wasn’t in the room with her for a few minutes. She got me to open my eyes and come back into the room and asked me again to tell her what had happened and I shook my head. She asked if there was a reason I didn’t want to share it and I said it was too much. 

I went ‘ghost’ like again and I remember Ella trying to coax me back. I said something about worrying about her not coming back from her break and she reassured me she would, and would I promise her I’d come back. She asked what I needed and I couldn’t speak, so she asked if she could sit next to me and see if that helped. I nodded and she moved next to me and said she was there for me and nothing I could say would change how she felt about me.
I whispered that I wished I could say it and Ella asked what was stopping me. I said fear. Ella asked what that fear was of and I said quietly you’ll go. Ella talked gently about how she wasn’t going to leave and she’d be back after her break, but she understood that I didn’t know her enough to trust her yet or have that faith in her. I said I wanted to (inside I was churning, I felt like this big insecurity was being exposed). She shared she was worried that she was going to be leaving me holding something massive and that she would be worried about me for three weeks and could I try telling her. I knew I wouldn’t be able to say the words but offered to try and write it. 

Ella got me some paper and a pen and we sat in silence (Ella back across the room and me desperately wanting to tell her to come back but not daring to) as I tried to write the words to share what had happened. I was able to get one sentence out and handed it to Ella, she asked if I wanted to tell her a bit more, I was shaking and couldn’t speak, Ella handed back the paper and said to write it down. She reassured me it was OK and she wouldn’t judge me. 
I wrote another sentence and Ella was quiet for a few minutes after reading it and then used that voice of hers promising she was there for me and didn’t feel badly of me. She asked some questions about the event I’d shared, responding really empatheticly and compassionately, and talked through things to keep me safe. She mentioned the police but I physically reacted to this and she didn’t push further. She said she was rooting for me and wanted to do everything she could to stop me being hurt again, and that I was dripping with self loathing. I asked “why don’t you hate me?” Ella asked why would she, I had done nothing to hate, that she hated the people who had hurt me but she could never hate me. Ella asked about self harm and suicide and we talked about the thoughts and if I could stay safe until I saw her again. I said I could try getting rid of the tools bit by bit. Ella said again she was rooting for me.

Ella repeated that she would be there in three weeks but asked would I. I nodded yes and Ella whispered promise. And I whispered back I promise. 

I knew we were coming to the end of the session and the start of a three weeks break and in a now or never moment I asked for a hug, and I got one. I initially felt shocked, I’d asked but had expected a no with all the covid restrictions (we have only hugged once before and it was more a goodbye one when I wasn’t in a mess). She didn’t just say yes, she said it would be her pleasure. She then came over and said about taking her shoes off so she could climb into the settee and I kinda froze because I thought “she’s really going to hug me she doesn’t think I’m dirty” and she took me into her arms and held me to her. I was still hugging the cushion and didn’t really hug her back but put one around her arm and held her close. I remember stroking her arm with my hand and she was just squeezing me and whispering that I was worth so much more and she wanted me to feel her warmth and belief. Once I got over the shocked numbness of actually being hugged I just felt this soothing calmness. It’s hard to describe really, I guess it’s what safe feels like . The hug lasted about a minute and then when she pulled away she stroked my hair and arm. It was then time to leave. I wished her a nice holiday and slowly left the room. 

The break was really tough. I was still trying to deal with everything that was going on, and because my focus in sessions had been on that we hadn’t actually discussed how I’d manage the break. Contact in the break had never been mentioned so I make the decision to not email at all. I felt all the feelings of abandonment and rejection and overwhelm. At the end of the first week I read about a crash and that someone had been killed and I was convinced it was her and was so distressed. I started writing letters everytime I wanted to reach out, and I took these to my next session. 

On arrival at the session Ella asked how I’d been, and I gave her the letters to read. In them I’d shared some things I’d done to get through the break and things I’d thought about in terms of sessions and the relationship, and my worries about her not coming back, that I was the one making her tired. I also wrote a list of things and was it OK to ask for them, this including her sitting close to me, hand holds, blankets, a hug and that I was unsure what was OK and not and what the boundaries were. Ella responded to these points saying all were OK things to ask for and she was pleased I had been able to articulate them in writing. Ella said she’d expected an email from me and I said that we’d not agreed it and how horrible it had been, how disconnected I felt and that I had worried I had fucked up. We discussed my ongoing fears that she would end the relationship, Ella shared conversations she’d had with supervisor and that there wasn’t anything she could do to prove she was in it for the long haul apart from keeping turning up and proving herself and that one day I would believe. 

I shared that one of the things I’d struggled with was a trigger from reading a book and that I had wrote the memory in my journal for Ella to read. Just acknowledging it made me start to feel sick and shaky, and I shared how scared I was of sharing it, because it would make it real and because I was told never to tell. Ella reminded me I was safe and that she wouldn’t judge. She tried turning her chair round as I said I wanted to hide. The feelings got too much and I started to feel like I was actually there in the memory and I managed to say this to Ella, I could hear Ella encouraging me to open my eyes and come back into the room, pointing out things in the room and asking me to say what I could see. I’d manage one then stop and she’d gently push me to say another, saying “good girl” after every couple. We then moved onto things I could feel but I was struggling, Ella telling me to stay in the room and open my eyes. She got me to move my body and this helped, so she gave me some things to hold and feel and describe the sensations of. As I was doing this Ella read the memory from my journal. Ella asked if we wanted to try a rewind which we did, but I couldn’t do it as I ended up back in the memory. Ella gave lots of reassurance and reminded me I was safe. I said I didn’t think I could do it and could we do it another week instead which Ella agreed, but said she didn’t want me to panic that I had failed and that she’d be thinking less of me. 

We ended the session with Ella checking in that I wasn’t in the memory anymore and how I could stay present and safe. Ella encouraged me to reach out when I needed to. 

It was so good to have her back.  

The consequences of setting boundaries and break breakdowns (Aug 2020)

You may remember, a few weeks previously I’d shared with Ella that I’d said no to a friend/ex colleague, putting myself first and how I felt that showed progress. Just after the last session I’d recieved a message from the mum of that person saying they wanted to let me know that she had taken an overdose, was in ICU and wasn’t expected to survive. I’d reached out to Ella immediately in a massive state of distress, she supported me in the moment and got me to promise to attend session.

On arrival at session I handed Ella a letter of all the thoughts and feelings I was having, that work were questioning me in why I’d said no to her and that being such an awful person Ella should dump me, it was the punishment I deserved. Ella finished reading and said “nice try but I’m not going anywhere”. I was feeling so overwhelmed and ended up with a cushion snuggled to me and my head down almost hidden throughout the session. Ella tried to reassure me that it wasn’t my fault and I had made the right decision, that people had and were treating me badly and that her heart was breaking for me. She said that it was clear to her that I always felt things were my fault and had done throughout my life. 

After some silence Ella asked what was going on “in there”, and I said in a whisper I felt I was being punished for saying no. I felt myself start to shake as if I was going to cry and hid further in the cushion, but even though Ella noticed and said it was safe and to let it go I pushed it down until I felt numb again,I was convinced this situation was all my fault and I didn’t deserve Ella’s kindness. Ella asked me a question and I answered but it was muffled due to talking into the cushion and she said “I can’t hear you sweetie” and so I came out a little bit. Ella said I was worthy and deserving of support and it wasn’t my fault. 

After more silence Ella softly said she’d never seen me so broken. After a minute or so I whispered back “I’m sorry” which Ella responded to, her voice caring and gentle saying no, that there was no need to be sorry it wasn’t a criticism just an observation and that she could feel the pain coming from me. She shared she so wanted to help and didn’t want to do the wrong thing or do something unhelpful. I could feel the compassion that I had been bouncing back all session, but this somehow got through a little and I whispered “you really don’t think it’s my fault” and Ella went through all the reasons it wasn’t and that putting myself first had been the right thing to do. I said I didn’t want to feel like this anymore 

In my letter I had alluded to not coping and hurting and punishing myself. Ella asked what form this was taking but I didn’t answer so she asked if there was anything life threatening going on. I shook my head. She asked if I was feeling suicidal and I said yes “but I wont do it”. Ella gently asked what was stopping me and I replied “I don’t want to put people through this and I deserve to suffer. “ Ella disagreed and we discussed ways I could stay safe. 

At the end of the session Ella said she was glad I had emailed her, I said it was the only way I was going to come back, Ella referred to the end of my note, that she was here for as long as I needed and wanted her. She reinforced I deserved so much more and so much better in my life, and she was optimistic one day my feelings would change. 

Ella rounding up the session, saying we were nearly at the end and “I’m worried about you”. I replied “I’m fine you don’t need to be”. I was anything but, but I didn’t want Ella to worry. She made me promise I’d come back.

Between this and the next session I’d found out that my (now former) friend had not been in ICU at all and instead had been sending the messages herself pretending to be her mum. I went through so many feelings that I eventually numbed because it was too much. This incident had put me into a really bad place in terms of suicidal thoughts. (I still struggle with it now trying to understand why I deserved that).

The next session with Ella opened talking about this awareness, and the feelings I was having, and how it triggered feelings and experiences from my past. Ella said “you seem to be functioning” and I acknowledged that that is what I portray, wearing a mask and being OK. 

I confessed to Ella that I had been gathering tools to end my life, that I thought I was going to be responsible for someone’s death, and I wouldn’t be able to live with the pain of it, and whilst I now knew that the friend thing was bollocks I hadn’t been able to let go of the plan or get rid of the tools. I confessed that I felt stuck in this dark place and could see no other alternative. Ella asked what she could do and what I needed and I said I don’t know, that I am so out of tune with my needs having never had them met. Ella stated that I was to reach out to her anytime I needed to between sessions, that they weren’t a crisis service but she would be there for me and respond as soon as she could. 

I said I didn’t want to die but didn’t want to be here feeling the pain either, that I was exhausted. I shared that I was jealous that my friend had been brave enough to do that and wondered how could that be an acceptable feeling, it was so wrong, but Ella validated this. Ella said she was weighing up telling me to go home and chuck the lot, but recognised that would take away my autonomy and take away the comfort of an escape route. Ella said she wanted to keep me safe, to give me hope and shared that she would miss me, and her voice shook saying how upset and angry she was that this had happened. 

I shared with Ella a picture I had drawn, that I felt like I was in a pit of despair, that I had just started to feel worthy of her time and of getting better and this had been taken away.

We went though all the things that I could use to try and stay safe, including contacting friends and I shared that I felt I only had four actual true friends and why they counted. 

We moved on to talk about work and career, and Ella shared that it was common for trauma survivors to move into roles in the caring professions. I said I felt like a lot of my worth was tied up in what I do for other people. 

Towards the end of the session we returned to feelings and how I was numb and I said this was safer, and if I was to feel I worried I’d feel everything and it would completely overwhelm me and break me. Ella reminded me to reach out if I needed it. She then said did I want to add a week of my own to the break and not come in next week, as I was working so hard and also deserved a break. It was the wrong thing to say, I mean why would I want a break with all this shit going on!  I immediately said no and that when she says that it makes me think she wants the break as I was too much, that I’d said in session how important this time time was. Ella apologised but we couldn’t explore this as it was over time to go. 

Afterwards I felt really misunderstood and unheard in terms of that aspect of the relationship – that I tell her how important the sessions are, how much I need them to share the weight of my stuff and put it down a bit, how it’s the only safe place I have, and she then asks if I want a break next week. What the actual fuck?! Why?! It hurt, maybe because I’m so attached it feels massive. I emailed saying I really didn’t want a break, how important the sessions were but if she needed the extra week because I was a burden just to take it. Ella replied saying I wasn’t a burden and she didn’t need the extra break and that the feed back was helpful. 

Dreamt of my therapist last night…

I’m interrupting scheduled posting to share something real time, as its shaken me a bit. I dreamt about Ella last night. I should have had a session yesterday, so we are now just over half way through the break. This is only the fourth dream I’ve had (the first two I think I’ve shared already – one where Ella pushes me, crying, out the office and slams the door, and the other where Ella is taking care of me when I’m poorly, the third was one where she said she hated me and slammed the door on me). 

Therapy dream:
I’m having a phone session with Ella and about 30 mins in my sister comes into the room and sits down. I’m signalling to her to move but she’s refusing so eventually I say to Ella that sisters come in and I need to get her out, Ella was in the middle of telling me something and says OK. I keep the phone line open and I’m begging my sister to leave and starting to panic that she won’t and that Ella can hear all this, but eventually she gets up and goes stamping upstairs. I go to talk to Ella and the panic is affecting my breathing and I’m coughing. Ella’s not there  but the line seems open so I wait and am saying “are you there are you there please come back please come back”. The line eventually goes dead and I try to phone Ella back but her phone is off. I go to my email to tell her to ring me as we still have ten minutes of the session left and there is already an email from Ella saying that she’s sorry sister interrupted the session, and that she didn’t think we had time to talk and that sister shouldn’t have been able to interrupt and Ella is unhappy I let her. She then has written and attached a guide book to the place she is visiting. I immediately email back “please come back we have ten minutes I can’t not speak to you for two weeks you know sister is trying to sabotage this therapy please come back” but I get an out of office reply. I start crying and rocking and I’m saying over and over “please come back please come back please come back” and I’m willing the phone to ring and the time of the end of my session is getting closer and closer and I can hear my sister upstairs stomping and angry and I’m thinking I’ve made her mad for nothing. Ella doesn’t call back and the session is over and I fall apart and my breathing gets worse as I start having an asthma attack. That’s when I woke up. 

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to identify the theme and fear of this dream does it…

Its really shaken me and I’m getting into that panic state and crying. I desperately want to reach out but can’t bear the wait for a response (Ella changed her mind and didn’t take her phone with her, will write about that when I catch up session wise). I am not 100% sure when she is back so am going to have to sit with the pain, fear and rejection – and I feel just like I was in my dream I will be begging please come back. 

Whistles, lists and our first hug (August 2020)

Another month another session. I brought Ella a card as it was our six month anniversary. I was strongly attached by this point, Ella felt like the most important person in my life, who had heard some of my stuff and still seemed to like me, and the space felt safe and somewhere I could remove the mask. 

Inside the card I wrote “in Feb this year I came to my first appointment with you broken, exhausted, desperate and ashamed. Six months later I’ve taken tiny steps in starting to pick up the pieces and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you. I have felt heard, held, safe and understood. Your empathy, kindness and compassion has allowed me to finally give voice to my story. I still have a long road ahead and I know its going to be super tough but we will be travelling that road together and the pieces that we pick up along the way will one day make something beautiful”. 

Ella thanked me and said it meant a lot.

I started to talk about covid and the impact it was having and that I noticed that I was getting mad at people (I had emailed Ella in a panic during the week that I might not be able to come due to the introduction of local lockdowns). I said last time I felt this anger at people I had compulsions to hurt myself, instincts such as jumping in front of lorries or off bridges. Ella asked me what had stopped me and I said I didn’t want to hurt others but it was what I thought I was worth. Ella said I needed to be able hear her voice saying I was worth more, and I likened her to Jimmeny Cricket on my shoulder. 

As I was about to hand my journal to Ella I heard a wolf whistle from the office next door and was completely overcome with panic, pain, and sensations. Whistling was a massive trigger for me, and Ella immediately recognised it, remembered it from last time and talked me through grounding, so I stayed present in the room. She asked me did I want to talk about it, and I said no, instead thrusting the journal at her. In my head I was thinking I’ve come to talk about my journal writing, and I tried to ignore everything else that was going on, including the memories the whistling had triggered. 

Ella finished reading and commented on something I wrote when the whistle happened again. I physically recoiled and shrank in my seat and Ella immediately said she was going to go and have words and would I be OK for a minute. She came back and said that she had spoken to the people next door who had said it wasn’t them which she said “was really fucking annoying” and that she was “so so sorry”. Ella said she’d try and get to the bottom of it before the next session. I said it’s my fault, and Ella said no it’s not your fault “none of this is your fault, and it’s never been your fault”, referring back to what I wrote.

Ella asked me what I needed right in that moment and I wanted a hug so badly but knew after last session I wouldn’t get one so I kept quiet. Ella asked if there was anything she could do and I said I don’t know. She waited a moment then said “look at me” and after a minute or so I raised my eyes for the briefest of moments before the shame took hold again, and I looked down. Ella said again “it wasn’t your fault”. I could hardly speak, Ella shared her thoughts on what she had read in terms of feeling and hearing the pain and confusion and that my feelings were OK. I was able to say I felt sadness and what this was about. I went quiet again, there was another whistle, and Ella asked me to tell her what was going on for me. I said I was really dizzy and after more silence said that I wanted to look at her before I left. I apologised for being such a mess and Ella replied that I wasn’t a mess, that there was just so much going on and I’d carried so much for so long. She reminded me that this was the perfect place to talk about whatever I needed to. 

Ella checked to make sure I was OK before I left. I said I was feeling wobbly and Ella said she wasn’t surprised. She asked what would help, again I wanted to say a hug, but I replied “I don’t know what options I have” so Ella did a quick exercise to wake up my senses. We put a plan in place for my journey home and the evening. Ella reinforced needing to make time for me as “you are worth it, you are enough, I have faith in you”. 

Just as I was about to leave Ella said she was going to be having a break in a few weeks and that I could add a week of my own if I wanted, this made me panic straight away but I shoved it down, Ella’s next client would be waiting and I had to leave. All I had going round my head was that I couldn’t cope without Ella. 

Between the sessions I had a dream about Ella, it was only second one I’d ever had. I was poorly, and lying on a sofa in this huge apartment with wooden floors and a view over a city and river. Ella came in and saw me and immediately came over, rubbing my back, holding my hand and covering me with a blanket. She then went off to make me tea and I just lay there feeling safe and cared for. No words were exchanged in the dream it was completely silent. 

On arrival for the next session Ella updated me on the whistling, that she’d asked the next office again but they’d said it wasn’t them even though they weren’t in today and there had been no whistling. Ella said she had been worrying about me and apologised again saying how mortified she was. 

I had brought a list with me about why I thought Ella would abandon me, saying I felt stupid but she’d said to bring stuff like that up in session and I felt that it had been triggered by talk of the break and that I was worried she wouldn’t come back . Ella said it wasn’t stupid. This list included things like “she decides therapy isn’t helping, if I piss her off, if I don’t work hard enough, your supervisor tells you to end, you move away, you realise I am draining/needy/too attached/too much to deal with, if I trigger you, I push you away, I don’t change quickly enough, I say sorry too much, I ask for too much reassurance, you get repulsed by a memory, you see me the way I see me”. 

Ella went though each. She explained her training experience and self care, and her supervisor working relationship. Ella became a little tearful talking about the break, saying she was struggling a bit, that she had not had a break because of covid and her other job and was tired, and the break was not about me and she would return. I found myself wanted to reach out and comfort Ella, and felt bad I’d raised the break as she clearly was in need of it. 

Ella said she felt a sense of responsibility towards her clients and she understood how difficult the process was and wouldn’t abandon me. Ella continued that she had no expectations of me, that I do what I want to do and when and that she understood that there was a lot. Ella said she didn’t find me draining or needy, that she was happy with the boundaries of the email contact and that I was “so worth her time”. Ella commented she wouldn’t have gone into this type of work if she felt stuff would come up for her and prevent her working, and that she was fully committed to the relationship. Ella said that the worries and insecurities I brought were all stuff she could work with and that she was happy to give reassurance. She reassured that she has never seen me the way I see me “never have and never will”, and she reminded me the repulsive things weren’t my fault and she would never judge me for others behaviours.

I shared with Ella this was the first time I had felt safe with someone and somewhere and the terror of losing that was overwhelming, like I had had a taste of something (care) I wasn’t use to and the fear of losing it was horrible. Ella thanked me and shared how meaningful it was for me to say that and she took it as a compliment, and she would continue proving herself. 

I changed track and pulled out some photos I’d brought of myself and my family, childhood photos, to share some of the history of my family, and some of the losses I’d experienced over time. I talked about the losses of my dad and mum, but how I was the adult and parenting them and my sister a long time before they died, probably from being a child. 

At the end Ella commented that the session had gone fast and thanked me again for bringing the list . We made a little small talk about my dog and Ella made a joke and started laughing, then saying sorry. I joked back that the session had gone so well till then. Ella laughed “I can have my fun can’t I” and I joked I might not come back and as I stood up I said I wanted to give her a hug. Ella had been heading to the door, she paused for a moment, turned round, opened her arms and said “come here darling”, and we had our first hug. It was only about ten seconds but oh gosh. She rubbed my back and said that I was so brave, amazing and fabulous and doing so well and I just squeezed her back unable to say anything. We pulled apart and I just smiled, thanked Ella and said she was amazing too, and she opened the door for me and I left, feeling like I was the brave person Ella had got to know. 

Rupture repair, saying no, and a letter

I was really struggling following the last session in which I’d not received a note or letter. I felt hurt, rejected, overwhelmed and exhausted. I spoke to a friend, asking her if I was just being ridiculous and she suggested I should email Ella. This is what I ended up sending, panicking in doing so that I would end up being terminated.

“We talked last session about how I feel like a burden and how I don’t communicate my needs or when I’ve been hurt. At the end you asked me if there was anything that you’d said that I had struggled with and I said no but I held back. It wasn’t something said, it was an expectation I had (possibly wrongly) that wasn’t met.  

I asked you for something the session before last, a little note of reassurance for my box that I could read when the worry that you will go hits. To be fair we didn’t say a timescale that it would be done (I should have clarified that). So it might be you just haven’t got round to it. But I had an expectation that you’d give it to me on Tuesday. I just couldn’t say this at the time because of those things we talked about – that I feel too needy, feel a burden, feel too much, not wanting to upset you, not wanting to risk the relationship, feeling like I was expecting too much and shouldn’t have asked for writing in the first place. On top of that I then wondered if you’d changed your mind about writing it because you didn’t want to commit to that anymore. Or that you’d simply forgotten. And feeling forgotten hurts, part of me equates forgotten with not mattering, not being important enough, not being worthy. 

I know I should say something at the time and I am so so sorry I didn’t, it is just so hard when you have all that going on. I feel ashamed to have needs, fear the rejection, being ignored or humiliated, and I would always rather put my need away than cause even the smallest amount of upset to you or risk you not working with me anymore. But this conflicts with what you’ve told me to do so I’m sending this. I have shared such personal things and you’ve been nothing but kind, you’ve proved I can trust you but it’s me who fails in not being able to communicate because the fear wins every damn time.  

As I’m writing this I haven’t decided if I’m going to come in on Tuesday or if I’ll chicken out and ask for a phone appointment. If you haven’t heard from me I guess I’m trying the brave thing. I hope you believe that I do want to get better and that I will work my hardest to change this behaviour.”

I was so worried, and my beliefs about her were running wild, that she dreads the sessions, that she sits in the room and has to push herself to see me and would love it if I quit. I wondered if she regrets taking me on, I guess therapists don’t get a choice, and are just landed with who ever turns up. Not getting the message had been so painful though, and it proved my point that I was unworthy of it. 

A few hours before the session I received an email from Ella:

Hi Clara

I am so sorry that I didn’t write you a note for your box. It was an oversight, but this is no excuse.

I have written one which you could collect today, should you decide to come in.

FYI – my notes state that you promised to attend the next session 😉

I do hope to see you later.


I had forgotten that I’d said that promise, so whilst I was reassured I also felt like there was a bit of pressure too, though not intended I’m sure by Ella. 

On sitting down in the room Ella immediately apologised. I was feeling scared that my email could lead to termination so automatically apologised back, saying don’t worry I overreacted. Ella clocked this and said that she wasn’t accepting that, the hurt in my email was palpable, that she needs to write things down as she can be forgetful and that was what had happened.

We did a follow up on the rewind technique (again I’ll talk about this in another post). At one point I said I thought maybe I had worked on the wrong memory first, that I should have chosen a different one. Ella said something like “it wouldn’t be like Clara to blame herself for something not working”. And I just went “oh fuck off” not in an aggressive way, but just in a ‘I know that’s what I do’ way. Ella laughed and I changed the subject to talking about how I’d been able to say no to a friend and ex work colleague who wanted me to support her in her appeal against dismissal, that I’d put my needs first. I was so proud of myself for this as I’d done the right thing for me which Ella loved. 

I said I wanted to share this as progress “just in case”, Ella questioned what this meant, and I said “you end sessions”, she responded off course and then said she loved it that I could tell her to fuck off, that it said something about the relationship. I talked about my fear of abandonment which Ella reassured me on before returning to talking about my ex colleague and saying no and we explored this in terms of how it felt to say no and what might happen next, either she’d accept the no and we could stay in touch, or she wouldn’t but that would be her stuff (this person will reappear in a big way in a later session). Ella said she was proud of me, and then said how could she help me believe in her and that her forgetting to do things when she said she would “isn’t helping”. Ella said she wanted to be the best she can be for me but that she is not perfect and would forget things. I said she might not be perfect but I wouldn’t just walk away based on something like this, Ella was cheeky and laughed saying that wasn’t what you were thinking before (referring to my email) to which I replied that I was going to tell her to fuck off again and Ella said “do” whilst laughing. Ella reassured again that we were OK and that it was OK to feedback, Ella said she was starting to understand me and my triggers and apologied again for hurting me. She said she could be clumsy and use the wrong words, and forget, but her intentions were good, and she wanted to learn from me and get better. I said I worried I was too much and Ella reassured that I wasn’t. 

We moved on to talked about what I do as a job, and I shared that I’d always worked in helping professions and that I’d had a big career change a few years before. This triggered something big for me and I retreated inside, silent, and Ella had to coax me out. She asked what I was thinking, I said “thinking about the loss of something I never had” and when pushed said “loss of a future I thought I’d have back then”. Ella picked up on the word loss but didn’t push, she did comment on how uncomfortable I had felt with the silence and I said I had gone somewhere dark so we discussed how to manage this in future. 
Ella gave me the letter she had written for me:

“Clara, you are enough. You are worthy of kindness and respect. You did not deserve the poor behaviour you have experienced from others in the past and it is not a reflection on who you are. I respect your resilience, your bravery and the way you work so hard during and between sessions. Without taking away your autonomy to choose to come to sessions or not, I would miss you if you choose not to return. When I think of you I feel warmth and respect. With admiration, Ella.”

I said it was very kind, Ella wouldn’t accept this, she said it was honest and was how she felt, and it wasn’t about being kind and whilst she gets it wrong sometimes she doesn’t bullshit. Ella asked me if there was anything that didn’t read well or jarred and I said no. I thanked Ella and said it would be useful. We talked about worthiness and that I still felt worried she would go, and that my email was too much. Ella reassured and said it was honest, and that she knew it was hard for me to send. I acknowledged this and said I was here for the long haul “if you’ll have me”, Ella immediately responded “yes and yes. I believe in you and if I can help that makes me very happy”. Ella asked me to promise to come back which I did, and encouraged me to email her if something she had said worried me in anyway. As the session ended I found myself saying “I’d hug you if I could” which Ella acknowledged, saying sometimes all she wanted to do was give me a hug but as health care professionals we had to stick to the rules. I understood but inside it felt awful and I left the session trying not to cry, and instead had a weep on the bus on the way home. 

Back in the therapy room, and another rupture

July 2020, I can’t believe these sessions are a year old!

So the first sesson in July heralded a return to in person therapy. Ella had said it might be possible the previous session and I’d said I wasn’t sure if I felt ready, but when I recieved the email saying I could return I decided to try. I knew how lucky I was to be able to do this, but it didn’t stop me feeling scared. I had only been going in person a few weeks before the lockdown, had only just started to feel safe in the space, so it was going to take time getting back into that rhythm. 

We opened the session discussing how strange things felt being back, and my journey in (the first journey in four months on public transport, wearing masks). Ella went over the new guidance and therapy contract (it had also been emailed to me prior to the session). Things like not coming in with covid symptoms, track and trace, no drinks, no access to writing or colouring materials, no opening the door, and staying six feet distance at all times (so no hugs, not that I knew Ella’s hug policy at this point or would have asked, a hug was just something I longed for and knew I couldn’t have).

I said I felt a little uncomfortable as Ella knew much more about me now than she did the last time we sat here facing each other. I kept shuffling in my seat and was very fidgety. We talked a little about progress I had made in the time away from the room, and we discussed things that we could utilise now we were back together and in the space. At one point Ella said it was a pleasure working with me, and I replied “but I’m a mess”. It still seemed so foreign to me that someone could like me and like working with me. Ella said that she understood me not believing her yet and inside I had a panic that I’d hurt her in suggesting that. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure what the future held for me, and Ella talked about hope, I replied that she needed to hold it for both of us, which she said she could do. Ella said it spoke volumes to her that I was there and so willing to do the work. 

I shared that I was putting my all into therapy and not quitting as I knew that the other path would lead to suicide. I said that when I’d met the mental health nurse at my GP surgury she had said “no-one wants your death on their conscience” when I went in frustrated and distressed that no-one would help me. Ella said “I would miss you, I’d be very sad. I would miss you” which I felt deep inside me, a painful bolt of something.

At the end Ella asked me how I was feeling being back and I shared that being seen was impacting me, and that I was just trying to reclimatise to being back. Ella said she could sense tentativeness but that she understood as the intensity had changed. 

The following session I took with me my journal and a memory I wanted to share. Ella read this to herself, then thanked me for sharing it. She said her heart was full of “love and compassion” for that little girl and also her heart was full of “compassion” for me (I clocked not love, feeling a wave of sadness that I was not worthy of that). She gave me a minute or two then asked how I was. I said I was fighting the urge to run away, Ella asked if from the memory or her and I said both. I went silent and Ella asked if I was in the room, checking I was OK. She then helped me explore the feelings associated with sharing and the memory itself, accepting and validating them. She then said well done and said I was immensely brave. I checked that it didn’t change what she thought of me, she said only in making her heart open wider to me, in wanting to help and be there. 

I raised that I was feeling upset and frustrated in myself for not believing fully in her yet, and that I was wondering whether I should stop asking for reassurance, that I’d been upset during the week worrying I’d upset her even when there was no reason. I said that she hadn’t given me any reason to doubt her but there was all these what ifs and a wondering if whether I should “jump before being pushed” . Ella reassured she wasn’t upset, and if she did get upset it was hers to manage but that it had not happened. She said she would rather I keep asking for the reassurance, or feeding back when things land wrong because “you deserve the best”. 

Ella brought the session to a close checking in that nothing she had said was sitting uncomfortably, and reinforced her commitment to the relationship, acknowledging it was a constant fear I had that she would leave. I said “you need to write something down for my box”. Ella said she’d be happy to do this if it would be helpful and she would bring it next week.

Onto session three of July. I was looking forward to seeing Ella and getting her writing piece to help me manage my anxiety about the relationship. On arrival Ella handed me a piece of paper but it was another contract to sign as there had been further covid changes which she explained. 

We then did the rewind technique for trauma memories (I’ll describe this technique in another post). 

I shared something that had happened at work that had been difficult to manage, around hearing I’d been an unfair burden to a colleague when I had approached them for help during a mental health crisis. I talked about how we display all the posters, do mental health awareness weeks and suicide awareness days, but it was obviously all shit and reinforced that I was a burden and an unfair one at that. I said I often feel like I’m screaming inside that all I’ve every experienced has been unfair. Ella said I looked physically deflated. 

We moved onto talk about needs and how my needs come after/below everybody else’s, that I felt I was even concieved to meet the needs of others. I shared my needs have been ignored, fotgotten or rejected, so I shove then away and I rarely ask for things. In my head I was thinking of the note Ella was meant to write, thinking I bet she hasn’t done it and wondering if to say it but I got a wave of shame so didn’t, instead saying I felt like I’d had enough and it was a choice of giving up or fighting harder. Ella asked directly if I was talking about suicide. I shared that the thoughts were there and we explored this and I promised Ella I’d be back so she didn’t worry. 

Ella checked in at end of the session if there was anything she’d said that had hurt or upset me that I wanted to talk about before I left. It was a perfect in for mentioning the note but I couldn’t do it. So I just left, feeling like the session had illustrated perfectly why I don’t share my needs as they don’t get met, even by my therapist. 

Getting in touch with feelings, and the last of the phone sessions (June 2020)

The second session in June opened with Ella checking up on how I was following last session and my disclosure. I shared some of the things I’d put in place to keep myself safe and that I had put my emergency box together.

I had emailed Ella a memory that had been troubling me and said that I wanted to try and talk about that. I then went silent, filled with shame, fear and doubt. Ella shared her initial thoughts on the memory and tried to reassure me, but I was still struggling, saying how disgusting I was. Ella shared something from Carolyn Spring about how abusers put their shame onto the child, and would I describe a child disgusting, and when I said no said in her soft voice “that little girl is you, it wasn’t her fault in the same way it wasn’t and isn’t your fault.”, and that we deserved hugs and love and protection.

Ella was starting to break through, I could feel my defences slipping, my body shaking, pain in my eyes, my thoughts were trying to process it all. My voice shook as I said I was confused and couldn’t get my head round it all. Ella reassured me again, and again reiterated that what happened wasn’t my fault.

I started to cry, Ella waited a little while, before asking what I was feeling. I said “it feels like grief” and that I was overwhelmed with it. Ella validated my feelings. I tried to say that I felt like I’d lost control but I was properly crying now and Ella said “I’m sorry my darling, I didn’t hear that” and encouraged me to try saying it again which I did after a couple of minutes. Ella said that what I’d said was a huge change, but that looking at things in a new way after all these years must be very painful and difficult.

After another period of silence Ella asked me to tell her what I was thinking. I eventually managed to say “it wasn’t my fault”. Ella agreed that it wasn’t but said she appreciated the pain and the hurt was all still there. I was then able to say “it was his fault” and Ella said “yeah, say it again for me” which I did. Ella acknowledged that this brought its own stuff but I was making a start by putting the blame where it belongs. I was still crying quietly and not saying anything, I was feeling alsorts, my mind and body whiring. After a few minutes Ella said “I’m so proud of you”. I replied that I wished she could give me a hug, Ella said a hug was what I needed and deserved and she’d have given me one if she could, and it’s been what I have deserved for a long time. Ella rounded up the session saying that she was in awe of me and that I was amazing, and I showed my gratitude to her.

This session felt massive, afterwards I just sat for ages in a bit of a daze trying to process. It felt like the sands had shifted again and that I needed to just stay still for a bit, watch, wait, find my footing again. 

The following session seemed less intense, something had happened in the week leading to the session and I held back, afraid to open myself up to the depth of pain and feelings. I was quite detached. 

We opened up by talking a little bit about my fears that Ella would end the relationship based on a disclosure. Ella gave some reassurance and said she would prove herself one day, I still felt wary though. Inside it was like there were lots of voices arguing as to whether Ella could be trusted.

I shared an unpleasant experience I’d had with a friend, Ella said she wasn’t sure she should share her feeling about it but then said she was angry at my friend. I talked about my mixed feelings and the impact. I then talked about how I come across to others as “fine” when I’m anything but, and that I squash down my feelings. I was even doing it in the session, Ella’s anger had triggered fear in me but I couldn’t say it. 

I said there was something I wanted to share but I was worried. Ella reassured me it was OK to share but she wouldn’t force me. After a few minutes gathering my thoughts I was able to share it, and apologising for not being honest when she’d asked in an earlier session. Ella was compassionate and didn’t seem to judge me, she talked about different responses in the brain and why things happen. I said I was in avoidance mode and that maybe she’d be better off finding someone who could be helped and who she wouldn’t be disappointed with. Ella said it might surprise me that she disagreed, and she shared her thoughts about what I’d shared and how it linked back to previous trauma. She said I was doing well and making progress, and whilst I was having set backs it was OK. Ella went on to say “I could never be disappointed in you.” We were able to talk a little more about this and how I was coping.

Ella ended the session by saying that I’d done really well and thanked me for sharing what I had.

The following session I was struggling with hayfever and just before the call I had a massive sneezing fit and so was feeling quite grotty and snotty!

I talked about work and that I was going to be home another month and I’ve now been home for three months (ha ha writing that and I am still predominantly at home nearly 18 months later). I quickly moved on to talked about my new self care routines, and how I was looking at my acquaintances and examining them as I felt I’d be letting people go, that those friends I did have were few. 

I’d shared via email some behaviours of mine that I felt were “bad” and we discussed these in relation to the consequences of trauma. I’d also sent a couple of childhood photos and I talked about some of my feelings around these, how I felt very separate from her (me) and she was a child who didn’t get to be a child and what she deserved to be. Ella tried to bring it back to us being the same person. I said that when she said that I could feel body sensations like a weight on my shoulders and a kick in the tummy, and like I couldn’t breathe.

I said to Ella that I felt like the abuse I experienced stole my humanity and that my abusers didn’t see me as a person but as a thing, and that I’ve stayed ‘thing me’ that wears a mask to look like I belong and is deserving of good things, but I’ve never felt it because of what’s happened. I said coming into therapy had made me want to live life on my terms now, rather than on others terms, and make my own choices based in what I want. I said I recognised there was a good person in me because I did good for others, but had not been good or accepted good for myself because I’d believed I’d not retained the humanness that would make me worthy of it. I said it was about time I let go of all I needed to in order to be me, whoever that me was, as my abusers had taken enough. I shared I was scared, that there was so much to do, that I needed to learn how to use my own voice, but my life was going to be mine as I am a worthy person who one day would not be ashamed of her story. Ella said she was so happy for me, but we both acknowledged that whilst I felt stronger today I may be very low again tomorrow. 

The last session in June turned out to be the last phone session for a while (not that I knew it at the time!) 

I had emailed Ella before the session as I’d had an awful week, therefore at the start of the call Ella immediately checked in on how I was and was I safe. I started crying (and didn’t stop pretty much all session) and Ella talked to me, reassuring me as well as giving space to my feelings and letting me know she was there. I was really struggling to talk so Ella led the session, asking some questions and encouraging me to share what I could. At one point I said I’d emailed her to get her to dump me, as I didn’t think i deserved her. Ella said in that voice of hers that she knew I believed that but that it wasn’t true. 

We talked through my email and Ella helped me share some difficult things, showing empathy, I felt like she really cared. I said I was scared of sharing the bad bad things that happened as I didn’t want it to upset her or be too much. Ella said she couldn’t promise not to be upset, that to not be affected would mean she wouldnt have empathy, she reassured it was OK for her to be upset though as she had ways to manage that. She also reassured she wasn’t going anywhere, that I could trust her to stay with me through this, and that it was OK if it took a long time. She said this stuff wasn’t stuff that could be resolved quickly, that it was going to be a long process and she was with me every step of the way. 

I asked Ella if she thought I’d deserved what had happened to me that week. She replied that no I hadn’t deserved it “and a million times no”, that I hadn’t deserved any if the treatment I had experienced from being a young child. She said the shame and guilt was not mine to carry. I asked Ella if I was a bad person, she said no, you have just been treated very badly. She said she knew this was probably an alien concept to me and was understandable that I felt the way I did. I said in a quiet voice “please don’t leave me” and Ella reassured me that she wasn’t going anywhere. 

At the end Ella asked me how I was, and was I going to be safe. I said I felt exhausted and what I’d do to keep safe. I apologised, and Ella said I had nothing to be sorry for and it was really important that I knew that. 

It turned out that was the last of the phone sessions (at least for a while). Overall, reflecting back I think I did some good work in therapy over this time, and that the relationship between me and Ella had grown in trust and respect, but it wasn’t the deep work of therapy. That was still to come. 

Thank you for reading ♥ 

WordPress Help!

Just a quick question – how do I add the months/ number (eg June (5) July (12) to the bottom of my posts? As I add more blogs I’d like the blog to be easier to navigate but I can’t find how/what to do!

I’m still planning to get all the historic sessions posted before Ella is back from her break, but that’s a lot of sessions and a lot of posts, so anything I can do to make the blog better for my readers I would love to do!

I’m also open to feedback about how I’ve been combining sessions into one post, if people find that too much then let me know and I will break them down.

Thanks again for all the time you have given following along and the support, I have so much gratitude for it, I’ve felt so alone for so long and now I feel part of the most wonderful community, I’m very lucky ♥

Back in time – when life gets too much and how to stay safe

This post will cover my last May 2020 session , and the first June one. 

**Trigger warning – I talk about suicide attempts and self harm in these sessions**

First the May 2020 session, I’d emailed prior to session as I had been panicking I had hurt Ella with my feedback the previous week, and that she would end the relationship due to it, so this session started of with Ella saying I didn’t need to apologise, that the apology was hers. She reassured me but said she understood that I may not believe her.

I raised that I had been fighting the urge to quit sessions as I was finding the process hard, struggling with a lot of life stuff and I wanted to run away. I shared I’d had a flashback and a new memory and this was really difficult to deal with. Ella empathised how troubling this must be. I said forcing it back down (I likened it to putting things into boxes) seemed a better option, denial vs facing the pain. Ella reminded me of a conversation we had in an earlier session where I’d said if I ever say I want to quit try and stop me, and said whilst she is person centred and its my choice she wanted to be realistic that those things won’t just disappear and how would I cope without a weekly outlet. I said sometimes I see the logic but other times it feels so hard and the pain takes over. Ella was really supportive and we agreed I’d keep attending and raise this again if needed. 

I also had asked in my email about putting together a crisis plan and an emergency box due to the increasing struggle and suicidal thoughts, and we spent some time discussing the green, amber and red zones of nervous system responses (from Carolyn Spring), fight/flight/freeze, and what things I might want to include in my box. (I will do a separate post on this and what’s now in my box). I talked a little about my previous suicide attempt and some of the feelings that have come since then. 

At the end of the session Ella checked in and asked how I was. I said I was OK, and felt a bit more hopeful and that “we could do this” to which Ella said “yes we can”. 

This session felt like quite a surface level practical one considering the subject matter. I think I had numbed some of the feelings, I was doing the ‘pretend you are OK, that you are better than you are’ functioning me and not letting Ella know how distressed and close to the edge I really was. When talking I could have been talking someone else’s story, I was so disconnected. Had I been more honest with Ella I may not have gone as far in something I did the weekend after this session. 

The first session in June opened with me talking about the state of the world and how things felt very heavy, not just virus stuff but everything else that was going on (racism, free school meals etc). Ella thanked me for saying this, saying she had been feeling anxious too and how shit it all was, and she felt validated by me. I shared some of the things I’d seen and conversations I’d had and the impact, and that all this fed into existing feelings of being unsafe and that things had come to a bit of a head at the weekend. 

Ella asked me if I’d like to talk about that. I thought for a moment and asked her policy on sharing information, and whether she would have to report me to my GP/others. Ella talked about her threshold for breaking confidentiality and said it was based on whether I was safe now, and whatever had happened has passed. I reassured Ella that I was safe in that moment, but it had scared me what I had done. I then shared with Ella what had happened (I took an overdose of alcohol and pain medication, before pretty much straight away vomiting it all up). 

I said I was feeling stupid and ashamed about what I had done and Ella asked me what I was ashamed about. I could feel myself getting upset, my body felt shaky and heavy, and I wasn’t able to answer straight away, eventually managing to say “nearly giving up”. I said that I’ve been saying I wouldn’t do that and so I was ashamed and was so weak and pathetic, and “what that would have done to people” which made my voice wobble. Ella said she felt the opposite, that I’d been fighting for so long, and that when you are in that place you can’t always think logically. She said it wasn’t her place to tell me how to feel but she didn’t think i should feel ashamed. 

Ella asked me how I was feeling now I had told her all that stuff. I whispered “really sad” and after a few moments silence said it had all got too much and I started crying. Ella talked to me and used her words to soothe and reassure me, showing empathy and care. She said that what I had told her would remain confidential. I cried for a little while longer, Ella broke the silence to check in and validate my feelings. I apologised for being such a mess, Ella said no apology was needed and she wanted to help get me through and make sure I was OK. 

I said I felt like I was switching between being different Clara’s. Functioning kind Clara who can do a good job and be a good friend, angry fucked off Clara who sees whats going on in the world and with peers, and then there is really distessed doesn’t want to live anymore Clara. Ella said kind Clara and fucked up Clara at least I was safe, and kind Clara was putting things in place that when distressed Clara comes out she’d get thought it and be safe. Ella said she liked the recognition of kindness in myself, and I said I do it for others I don’t tend to do it for myself. Ella said “bingo” and she loved that I volunteered that, and that I deserved kindness. I was quiet processing this which Ella acknowledged and after another moment quiet I said we had talked about this before and it felt really uncomfortable, and this time it felt less uncomfortable. Ella got really happy, she said “love it” and thanked me for sharing it and that she had a big smile. 

We went through the rest of the session talking about safety planning and at the end Ella thanked me for my honesty and said well done for getting through. I said I was glad she wasn’t telling anyone, Ella said it was about my safety and I was putting things in place, that she had a high threshold before reporting and that she didn’t want to lose my trust. 

I felt a little better after the session, and that I could trust Ella and that she cares for me. I hoped that would help banish some of the dark thoughts and give me reason to hold on. 

Thank you for reading ♥ 

Back in time – a rupture over not doing the work, and doing the work to repair the rupture

**My therapy break has now started 😢 I had a pretty intense session yesterday, but rather than interupt the flow of my older sessions I am going to write all them up and then when up to date do my most recent ones. Thanks again for all the support, it means so much.**

Back to May 2020 and follow up from the session which Ella had said I’d not done much work. I was left so overwhelmed and confused and went through a range of responses. My biggest fear was I hadn’t done the work, Ella was right and I would lose her so I sent a grovelling email agreeing I hadn’t done much work and asking to switch back to phone sessions going forward and that I’d do better. 

Following that email I seemed to move through fight and flight. Ella emailed me some more trauma education materials and ended her message “cheers” and something inside made me want to email back and tell her to fuck off and then quit sessions. But then fawn kicked in and I replied apologising thinking I had done the work but maybe I didn’t recognise the work and could she let me know. Ella replied that no apologies were necessary, that the session is about what I want to bring and that may change depending on how I felt. She ended with “I just don’t feel that I would be doing my job properly if I hadn’t mentioned it at the end of the session. You are doing such fantastic work; I would hate for you to feel criticised, or feel that you needed to meet anyone’s expectations but your own”.

This left me feeling worse (I didn’t think that was possible) – the comment in the session and email just seemed to contradict previous reassurance! Like Ella’s saying we will work at my pace but she’ll point out when I’ve not done much work! That the work is fantastic but also not much. Nothing made sense and I was getting so worked up over it. 

I knew I was going to have to email Ella and let her know what was going on. It took hours to draft and with some trepidation I sent it a few hours before the session. It’s quite long (poor Ella):

“I came into last session with a goal in mind. I was going to say the word. I’ve never been able to say it aloud, ever. That word seemed to represent such power and horror and in saying it, accepting it as something that happened to me I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to cope. I was willing to take the risk though. It took everything I had to request a Skype, saying it aloud was one thing, being witnessed when all I’d want to do was hide was on another level. But it felt important to do so. 

I didn’t go into depth in anything else in the session as my full focus was on saying that one word. You’d think it’s just a word, how hard can it be to say it. You said it yourself in the session before I did, when talking about court cases. I clocked you saying it so casually and felt sick with anxiety that I still hadn’t said it, and envious of you for the ease in which you did. 

And then the moment arrived, in the space of a second I said the word that had crushed me with its weight for so many years. I was raped. A second later I said it again. I was overcome with shame. I fought the terror of being punished and the fear of not being believed and how dirty and disgusting I felt. I had said it though, I had named the thing that was done to me. 

I’d had so many what ifs going through my mind “what if Ella doesn’t believe me, what if she thinks it wasn’t rape, what if she blames me for not fighting back, what if she thinks I deserved it, what if she is so disgusted she doesn’t want to work with me anymore”. I never even considered “what if she says you haven’t done much work this session”. Why would it have? So the comment knocked me. My initial reaction was “shit, I might have done something wrong here, agree as that’s safer, avoid getting abandoned”. Since the session I’ve yo yo’d through responses from fight (I want to argue, disagree, I did do the work, apart from the awkwardness of first Skype what was the difference), flight (I’ve blown it, might as well quit, I’m not working hard enough but I don’t have much more to give so how will I ever get better, Ella should see someone more deserving of her time) to fawn (agree I didn’t do the work, say what you need to so she doesn’t abandon or punish you, promise to do better, beg for another chance, my feelings don’t have to matter). 

I try so hard in every session and between sessions, it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. But I’m starting to wonder if I even recognise what the work is or isn’t, and I’m questioning my own experience of sessions. I feel so confused. You tell me I’m doing good, I can go at my pace, I can choose what to talk about, and also conflictingly it feels, will judge and point out when I’ve not done or said much. I never thought I’d have to be having to try and understand what work I didn’t do, whilst the work I did do in the session and between now feels minimised and not good enough”. 

I was really anxious waiting for the call, I could feel great big boulders rolling round my tummy, and my face was hurting. It took me longer than usual to answer, I was so shaky. Ella was immediately doing her ‘softer’ voice (it’s hard to describe but you know the one, the soothing therapist one!), she asked me how I was, I said I was struggling and it’s been a tough week. Ella said she had read my email and that she owed me a massive apology, that she hadn’t appreciated the big thing going on for me in that session. I felt a smidgen of relief, the boulders got a little lighter, but the dread feeling was mostly still there. She encouraged me to tell her in the moment when things like that happened but also said she knew how difficult that would be and that it might not happen.

Ella asked me about some things around work, and I tried to talk about it but I wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling relieved that Ella didn’t seem to hate me, but the hurt of it all was lingering and I was quite tearful and talked down about myself, and that I didn’t deserve support as I was a bad person and did bad things. Ella could hear I was crying and talked in her soothing caring voice she does, and called me darling as she tried to explain trauma responses and reassure me the shame wasn’t mine to carry but I was still struggling. 

I said I felt like I was getting everything wrong and Ella said she thought her response last session had fed into these feelings, and how sorry she was. I talked about what I’d had to endure in 2019 in trying to get help and Ella said “off course off course” like she got it and I said I was fearing her going and that I’d let her down. Ella said “and I’ve come blundering in and reinforced that”, thanked me for my honesty and apologised again and said “you could not let me down”.

I was able to share how fearful I was about getting terminated, how important the relationship was and that I was expecting her to cancel. Ella then shared something personal of hers from her supervision relationship. She said there was nothing she could say to make me believe because I’ve been let down so many times, but to give her time and she’d prove herself in the end. Ella said she promised she would try not to make mistakes as she had clearly “messed up” in the last session. I found myself wanting to rescue Ella here, I said maybe I could have said something at the time, and Ella said she understands that I feel the relationship is fragile and it wouldn’t take much for her to end it so off course I wouldn’t say something in the moment, but one day I will be able to do it even if that was a long time off.

I was able to share an experience involving a bully at work and how speaking up made things worse and that staying silent is so ingrained.

About five minutes before the end of the session I said “I’m sorry about the memory I sent” linking back to something I’d emailed previously but not yet been able to talk about. Ella replied “there is nothing to be sorry for, I genuinely mean that”. I talked about how I was coping and my self harm then blurted out “you do believe me don’t you”. Ella said in that soft voice of hers “of course I do. It’s why I’m very upset with myself for knocking you back. I feel like you’ve taken a step back which is my fault” and that she felt guilty. I said to Ella please don’t feel guilty, then said I know I can’t tell you how to feel they are your feelings, which made Ella laugh. Ella said she wanted to do the right thing by me as I’d been so badly treated by so many and I deserved the best and she was striving to be the best for me. I could hear Ella’s voice breaking and she said she had tears in her eyes and we both had a little cry together. Ella ended the session by thanking me for my honesty and apologising again.

I was still a little shaky when I got of the phone, the session had felt very intense and I lay down on my bed for a while not moving, just trying to process. The session must have really drained me as I woke up a couple of hours later, feeling a little better. Ella had seemed genuinely sorry and that was massive for me, I don’t often get apologised to for being hurt. 

Thanks for reading ♥ 

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