A Lifeline

Last week my therapist cancelled our session due to a personal loss.

My heart went out to her.

It was a strange experience. Usually a cancellation would trigger my abandonment issues. But this time all I could think and feel was an intense sadness for her. What this cancellation means to me didn’t even enter my mind (at least not consciously). For the rest of that week I carried on with life as normal.

Of course, I thought about my therapist often, and experienced those same feelings of sadness for her situation. Along with a deep sense of care, and hoping for comfort for her.

Something inside me shifted on Monday. Certain frustrations in my life intensified, and I received some bad news regarding my emigration (a new plan has since been made however). I was feeling extra intense pressure from my dad and everything starting going haywire inside my head. I felt overwhelmed. To the extent where I just wanted to end it all, just wanted to make it stop.

And then the panic set in. The desperation. I wanted my therapist. She would understand. She always does. She was the only one I feel safe with emotionally. Our session was a couple of days away, but what if she cancels again? What if she doesn’t come back? What if our relationship changes due to her loss? Yes, now the attachment demon had arrived. Now it was about me again.

I felt ashamed by these new thoughts and feelings. How could I be so selfish? That’s when the self-hatred kicked in.

On Tuesday came the message I feared. My therapist was cancelling our session this week too. This brought back the memory of another attachment figure, my OT, cancelling two of our sessions back to back, and then sending an email weeks later terminating our work. The reason for the new cancellation was also a trigger. The memorial service was on the day my session was supposed to be. My therapist had said that she would be back in the office this week. So the thought that she was going to be seeing some other clients this week, but not me, felt devastating.

In panic mode all I wanted to do was beg her for a time, any time this week, even just a 10 minute call, which we had done before. I wanted her to know how badly I was taking this. The effect it was having on me. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff since the previous day, and now I was slipping. But despite the frame of mind I was in, I resisted my urges. Because I didn’t want to make things harder for her than they already were. Because I care about her.

But I knew I needed to do something because at that moment I didn’t trust myself with myself. I knew I needed to talk to someone. A professional. I thought of the therapist who I had two sessions with when my therapist was on leave. While I had been comfortable with her, I wasn’t comfortable enough in this situation. I didn’t want anyone that was even remotely connected to my therapist. I wanted A. Other than my current therapist, A knows me best and knows how to work (and deal) with me. We worked together for more than two years after all.

I reached out to her and asked whether we could schedule an appointment for sometime this week. I was worried that she wouldn’t have time available. But thankfully, she did. So we scheduled a video session for the next day. And even though I was in a horrible place for the rest of that day and evening, there was that little sliver of hope peeking through. Keeping me going. Keeping me safe.

Still, leading up to our session, fears that she would cancel as well, kept showing up. But she didn’t cancel. She showed up. It was like coming up for air.

We’ve had contact since we stopped working together when I moved over to my current therapist in 2018, but they were just text messages here and there. She still reads my blog. This has all been enough to keep our connection strong.

I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time of not seeing her. I thought I’d be nervous. That it might be weird. But it wasn’t. It was as though no time had passed. It felt familiar. Comfortable.

For some reason, my distress of the past few days and hours fizzled out as soon as I saw her. We caught up a bit. Some nice moments.

It was easy to open up about everything going on. And it felt so good to be able to talk to someone about this situation with my therapist. Especially with someone who is a therapist herself, and at the same time, knows me well. She provided different perspectives. Possibilities. Got me to list the evidence for why I can trust my therapist and know she cares about me. This exercise was extremely helpful, and not something I had been able to do, or see, in my distressed state.

What was also helpful was when A told that I’ve grown since we worked together, and pointed some of it out. It helped because I’d been feeling like a failure. A therapy and personal failure. Like I had regressed completely. It also felt really good when she said that it was nice to see me again. A much-needed boost to my self-esteem.

Ever the ethical professional, she asked whether I would be okay with her contacting my therapist to let her know that we had a “emergency” session. I actually really appreciated this because like she said, she doesn’t want to interfere in my work with my current therapist. Feeling protective though, I asked her to rather send her that message next Monday. I want to give therapist some “space” this week. She doesn’t need to be thinking of me right now. I’m seeing her on Monday (still struggling with the fear of yet another cancellation), so then we can discuss it as well.

This session was exactly what I needed. It felt like a warm, comforting hug. It was as though I had been stuck in a pit of despair and negativity, but had been pulled out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. I’m still struggling. But I’m coping.

We do what we have to in order to survive.

Someone Isn’t Me

I hadn’t realized that the clock had struck twelve until I heard the first fireworks go off in the distance.

Alone, I had been in my own world again.

That, exploring the universe in my mind, has marked the so-called holiday season and new year for me. There were two video calls with family during that time, but I still felt disconnected. It’s been a strange time. As though the world outside my room didn’t exist. It was just me, here, alone. Everything else was just a dream. I had thought I was maybe depressed. But I’m not sure what I was. Or am.

My first therapy session back last week, it was as though I had just woken up. Emotions and thoughts I hadn’t thought much about during my solitude spilled out. I was shocked at all these feelings and words coming out of me in that room. Had I been so disconnected, even from myself?

Sitting there, I had to resist the urge to get up and throw my arms around my therapist. I just wanted to feel physically close to her. A deep longing that made me want to curl up in a ball and die, knowing it wasn’t going to happen.

After the session, everything just stopped again. As though a door in my mind slammed shut.

There are hardly any emotions, yet every now and then I feel this wave of “death is clarity and peace” sweep over me. It’s in my dreams. It’s in the air.

Sorry to my unknown.

2020, Can’t Wait to Say Goodbye to You

I’m so ready for this year to just be over, and everyone I’ve spoken with seems to feel the same way. Although why things will be different just because it’s a new year, has crossed my mind. It’s a new year after all, not a new life, or a new world. But telling myself, “it’s almost over” does seem to alleviate the burden somewhat.

It’s been a week from hell with things going wrong at every turn. A stroke of bad luck I guess. What is up with the universe? The thing I’m struggling with the most right now is that my car is no longer road-worthy. And with my dad having canceled the insurance a couple of months ago (Murphy’s Law) it’s just been one thing after the other. I had no idea that it had been canceled until I called him to find out the details of the insurance after that accident. I was pissed off! But it is what it is, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. My heart is broken though. I’ve had that car for over 15 years. I know it’s just a “thing”, but we get attached to things, don’t we? To my car, thank you for all the years you’ve given me, the escape I needed at times, the important events you got me to.

So Uber will be my main method of transport from now on, and that fills me with anxiety. My ex and I used to take Uber’s when I was too anxious to drive my car in the city. I didn’t like it, but it was managable having her with me. I have fears around being in a car with someone else driving, and add in a complete stranger, it’s doubled. Not to mention it’s expensive. But as long as I’m able to get to my therapy appointments, I’m happy.

My plans for Christmas with a friend have also been canceled, and there’s no one else, and no where to go. But I don’t really celebrate the day anyway, so I guess it’s not a big deal. I will watch my favourite movies and eat an entire peppermint tart by myself. I’m actually quite looking forward to that. In this time of Covid, no one can judge those of us who spend the holiday alone. It’s even the responsible thing to do, shock!

Stay safe everyone. ❤

On Accidents, Trauma, and Fighting for a Better Future

In over 15 years of driving, I’d never had an accident.

Sure, I’d been in a few with other people driving. But this time I was the one behind the wheel.

It was after threapy and I had just taken my car for a desperately needed wash, so was feeling pretty good. It happened so fast, and yet, in a single moment time seemed to slow down considerably. The traffic light was green, and while I always slow down somewhat before crossing an intersection, it wasn’t enough this time.

A car running a red light came speeding towards me. Within the space of a second, my brain had me realizing that if I braked too hard, or tried to swerve, I would either hit another car, or take an impact right on my side. And I suddenly felt myself relax into it, knowing it was inevitable that we were going to collide. It always amazes me how at times the brain seems to have superpowers, such as in this instance, while other times it feels as though it’s not doing it’s job.

The sound of metal hitting metal drills down deep inside your head and bones. And then, just like that, it was over. I pulled over to the side of the road, and turned off the ignition, an eery calm settling over me. Two guys had also pulled off and came to see whether I was okay. I was. They were surprised by both my calmness and the fact that my car withstood that much force with minimal damage. They gave me their names and phone number in case I needed witnesses.

I went over to the lady who had hit me, and tried to calm her down enough to have a sane conversation. Her car had the most damage, but thankfully only to the back door and side, nowhere near her. The police station was just a few minutes away, so she followed me there. We were there for almost two hours before I could finally go home.

Once I was back in the safety and comfort of my room, exhaustion set in. And the loneliness. While at the police station, the lady was almost constantly on her phone, telling family or friends what had happened. I didn’t call anyone. An old habit. Withdrawing within myself. When the loneliness set in though, I desperately wanted to call my therapist. It took every ounce of strength I had left to resist the urge. So I wrote her a letter the next day instead, one that went unsent. I’ll share part of that letter in my next post.

The days following the accident were miserable. I was exhausted, my body ached, and I just generally didn’t feel well. I had eventually told a few people what had happened, and was both grateful, and sad, that for a week my phone was silent. Grateful, because part of me didn’t have the energy to talk or explain. And sad, well, for obvious reasons.

It’s been about 3 weeks now, and I’m finally able to drive without going into panic mode when certain sounds and sights occur that remind me of that day.

On Trauma

Like so many of you, my past was traumatic. It has subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, affected my life in negative ways. It would be easy to just give up on having a good future. And there are times when I do. Days where I just give in to what I see as my fate of a crap life forever. But I know deep down, that the past, and our current circumstances, aren’t guarenteed to lead us down bad roads. There’s no such thing as fate. And I certainly don’t believe in “everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes bad shit just happens. Trying to find a reason for why something happend, the silver lining, while good in certain situations, can also cause more turmoil, and take us away from truly dealing with it. From choosing how to respond to it, and ultimately, move forward in a positive direction.

This minor accident brought up a lot of old trauma, and the days following it were a challenge to get through. That’s the thing with the long-lasting effects of trauma. It isn’t always logical. It can get tangled up in little things we do, in minor things that happen.

I’m still dealing with a lot of my demons. Depression and anxiety show up regularly. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t fight and strive for a better future.

And So, I Fight

I have to fight. Against the desire to die that is a regular foe. The pull of the darkness. It’s real. It’s not some mere concept. I’ve learned the hard way that just because a person has escaped that pull over and over again, doesn’t guarentees someone will always come out alive.

Of course, there have been beautiful patches of light throughout my years, and I try to hold onto those when the darkness is suffocating. And when I’m at my lowest and feel like I just can’t fight anymore, I made a list the other day to help guide me:

  • Stop pressuring yourself to “just get over it”. It’s okay not to be okay.
  • Allow the emotions, all the emotions, to be felt, heard, and understood.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Rest, take it easy.
  • You’ve been here before. You got through it then. And you’ll get through it again.

I’m slowly learning to love myself. At least the deep self-hatred is gone. I’m finding my voice. It’s the voice of a survivor. A warrior. And as long as I have breath, I will fight for a brighter future.

I hope you will too.

In Two Minds

I’ve never really cared about politics. At least not international politics.

That changed as soon as Trump became president of the US. It just never sat right with me. His attitude and disturbing personality grated at me. The way he treated people. Not caring about the environment (something I’m deeply passionate about). And yes, even though he wasn’t my president, the US affects other countries too. I absolutely hated the man. I still do.

Election week saw my anxiety increase to unbearable levels. Think insomnia, waking up at random times to check the status of the results and presidency. It was in one word, agony. And I don’t even live there!

Finally, it’s over. But is it really? There’s still too much crap going on, and a part of me feels like I can only relax come January 20th. I’ve learned valuable lessons as well. People can become unpredictable and down right nasty when it comes to politics. Stay away from social media, and don’t talk to anyone else about it. It doesn’t always end well, especially if you’re on opposite sides of the fence.

But anyway. This post isn’t really about politics.

Things are slowly moving ahead with regards to my emigration. I still don’t have a set date, and the process can still take a couple of months. During that election week, I was so obsessed with what was going on in the US that I didn’t even think of my move. Not once. But once it was over, and I received a simple email the next day regarding the emigration, I was overcome with the most intense rage. Not at the email, at least I don’t think so. I’m still not sure where the rage came from or what it was about. A few minutes later, I just collapsed into a sobbing heap.

It was then that I realized I had partly been using the election as a way to distract myself from the move. And now that it was over, I was once again forced to face it head on.

I don’t know what I want. My entire life I wanted to leave this “Third World” country. That was until I moved to my current city. While I still don’t like the country I was born and raised in, I do like this specific part of it. It’s beautiful here. Yes, our politics is a mess, and of course it’s still part of this place, but it feels a tiny bit better here. Besides, all my friends are here. My therapist is here.

I have people telling me that this move will be a positive and good thing for me. A better future. And for someone with a trauma history, living in such a violent and scary country doesn’t help matters. But it’s what I know. I don’t know what it’s like to not be scared every time I leave the house. To not sleep with a weapon in the bed next to me. In my defense, growing up, we had a few break-in’s and one while we were in the house, sleeping. Also, a close call when I was still living with M. So yeah, I feel better knowing I have my trusty Tazer next to me.

Then there are a couple of people, like my mom and best friend, who agree that while I’ll have a better and safer life on the other side of the world, they don’t want me to move. I feel that pressure to stay. But of course, I can’t.

So I’m in two minds. Part of me longs to just get out of this country. The other part is terrified, and doesn’t want to leave this beautiful place. It’s a war zone in my head. And I guess that’s why it’s easier to latch onto things that distract me from having to think about it. It doesn’t help though when the distraction also causes so much anxiety.

Life is a confusing mess at the moment. They say that we need to look toward the future. But what if you’re not able to? What if it’s all just one big, dark mass? I can only hope that there will come a time when I will look back and see this as having been a stepping stone to a better life and but another chapter in my story.

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