Following on from my post about maternal longing, I went to my most recent session with a plan to read out what I had written here. There were lots of things that I could have talked about, my upcoming sick note review and whether I was ready to return to work, thoughts and feelings about recent UK news/events, an update on some previous session topics…. But I was brave, and with all my WordPress people in my pocket I decided to do the tough thing. I’m glad I did, as I feel I was finally able to fully repair the rupture and let that awful August session go.
Unfortunately things didn’t start too well, I’d had a bit of a mare getting to session, I had a pharmacy flu jab appointment booked and they ran late, which caused massive anxiety (along with also being needle anxious too) so I had to make a mad dash across the city centre to get to therapy. Normally I like to get there about ten minutes early, gives me time to visit the loo and then acclimatise in the waiting room, get my thoughts in order and in the right mindset. This didn’t happen, I arrived 30 seconds before my appointment, a sweaty breathless mess. I was in no state to read anything out, and knew it would take up time to wait. So I asked if Ella would read it, explained how difficult and painful it was to be sharing and said that I was sorry. Ella asked what I was sorry for and I said she would know when she had read it. I shared that I wanted to hide, but that I was so out of breath and had already been triggered that day with the mask waring at the pharmacy. Ella said to hold the cushion and I could hide that way without covering my face, which I did, and that she wouldn’t look if I didn’t want her to. She then read my post.
On finishing reading she said in her soft, gentle Ella voice that she could find nothing that would require me to be sorry, and she thanked me for my honesty. She asked how I was feeling now. I was able to say that I was shaky and getting flashing lights and tunnel vision and I was fighting to stay in the room. We discussed some of the thoughts and feelings I had, I shared where and how I was feeling the sadness in my body. I spoke of my confusion around my mum and the conflicting feelings, and the shame. Ella responded compassionately to this, and validated it. I was feeling really heard, and whilst the pain inside was intense, it wasn’t overwhelming me and Ella was right there with me in it. I talked about how I blame myself and Ella said she was keen to help me shift this blame, not necessarily on to others as that might not be helpful, but to not be holding on so tight to it. I could feel myself getting vulnerable, a young part was here and was scared.
Whistling is a massive trigger, and whilst I have worked on it, just as a young part had come out it happened. Someone walked down the corridor past the door and started to whistle a tune. And me and my parts were gone, back to the past and the pantry and the abuser whistling as he came to get us.
I could vaguely hear Ella trying to get us back, trying to ground us in the present, moving into my field of vision. I heard her say “can you hear me darling, can you hear me sweetheart” and I could but she seemed so far away and I was frozen and couldn’t let her know. She said she was going to touch me and I felt her reach out and hold and gently squeeze my arm, and slowly I came back into the room and started to shake and tremble.
Ella asked me to name things I could see in the room. All I could focus on was the lamp, but I couldn’t say lamp, I was trying to vocalise but I had no voice. I started to shake more, panicking now that I could not speak. Ella continued to reassure that she was with me and I was safe. She then moved and reached for the pine cone, the transitional object I use for breaks. She held it in front of me and with lots of encouragement (as I was still trapped in frozen fear and didn’t want to move) I reached out and took it, and squeezed it in my hand. Ella asked if a drink would help, it took me ages to think and then answer, I was eventually able to say in a barely audible whisper “water”. Ella asked in such a caring voice if I would be ok for 30 seconds and I nodded. She came back and helped me take a drink, saying good girl and that she wanted to help me get my senses back online and try and slow my breathing down.
We tried again naming five things I could see, and I could do it this time, mostly in a quiet voice and much slower than I normally speak. Ella then asked me about what I could feel and got me to notice the feeling of the floor under my feet, the feeling of the sofa I was sitting on. I also was able to share the feeling of the pine cone. Ella asked if I’d like to smell something lovely and she got out some room spray, it’s a smell I associate with Ella and really helped me with the grounding and feeling safe, but then being fully present again set off a massive shame response and I started apologising. Ella reassured I had nothing to be sorry for. I asked for a hug and Ella sat back, opened her arms and allowed me to snuggle in and she held me and said how well I was doing and I had nothing to be sorry for.
I don’t know what it was, maybe being held and comforted, or feeling safe with the room and the smell, but I shared all the things I’d left unsaid about the rupture, and that I wondered if Ella wanted me to do better so she felt less pressure. Ella said I was doing great, that there was no better or worse, and said all the things I’d needed to hear about the relationship and the therapy process/journey. I held on tighter and listened to her heart beat as Ella told me how brave I was and that “we’d got this”.
It was during this cuddle that I finally felt like Ella and me were really OK. The session and rupture two months ago had convinced me that Ella didn’t care, yet here, in this session (and probably in previous ones) was clear evidence that she did. She hadn’t run away from the maternal transference I had shared, she hadn’t run away from the intensity of my attachment to her, she hadn’t run away from my triggered state, she hadn’t run away from my feedback. She was there with me, literally and figuratively, holding me, holding my pain. Her words and touch had been tender and warm, her heart clearly was in the work and I could feel it, the love she has for me and my parts. I felt so held and so safe and had started to fall asleep but Ella gently roused me as it would soon be time to go. She gave more reassurance, more encouragement and whilst I didn’t want to leave this safe bubble I knew I must so I pulled away, looking Ella in the eyes and holding her gaze for longer than I have before, and again seeing the same evidence.
And then it was time to go. We made more small talk about jabs and James Bond, and I left, and inside I was agreeing with Ella, we have got this.
Thank you WordPress friends, I don’t think I would have shared my writing without your encouragement, and I don’t think I’d have been this honest without having shared the writing. That’s why I love it here and love you all xx