I’ve been meaning to write this post for the past week, but other things kept coming up. I need to hold onto the good right now, so it’s time.
It was about 3 weeks ago. I had gone to DBT group, and was happy when I saw that my favourite OT (Occupational Therapist) was leading the group that night. I know her from my time at the clinic. She was the first person to come in and sit with me that day, as she had to do some intake interview. She was so gentle with me, which made me feel less alone and overwhelmed. I was very emotional that day, as you already know from a previous post. After that day, every time I’d see her around, I’d remember how much her presence had meant to me that first day. She even gave me a hug the day I left the clinic.
I don’t like receiving and giving hugs to random people that I don’t know well, or trust. Touch is my heart’s way of communication and connection. It soothes me. But touch can also send me into a panic when it suddenly comes out of nowhere, especially in a crowded place, or from behind. PTSD symptoms become activated. Being as hyper vigilant as I am though, that rarely happens. My friends know me well enough to know not to sneak up on me. I long for touch, more than anything else. But at the same time, it terrifies me. Growing up, touch mostly hurt. It definitely wasn’t the caring and soothing type. And maybe that’s why I’ve always craved it so much.
During group that night, we were talking about the emotional waves. It was an interesting topic. Knowing that it’s okay to not fight against our emotions. Which is what I’ve always done, and still do. It’s draining. Sometime during group, I had to get up and leave for a while, as I felt a panic attack coming on. When I had come back, I apologized to the OT, and she was really nice about it. Going back I had been worried that she’d be angry with me for just standing up and walking out. But she wasn’t. Relief. During the break, she told me that she notices that I don’t breathe properly, which is true. I tend to hold my breath when I’m anxious or nervous, or take shallow breaths. I’m sure a lot of us do this. She told me that when I breathe, to imagine a balloon in my stomach, inflating with each in breath, and deflating with each out breath. I know about the whole “breathing properly” thing, but I struggle with that. But when she told me about the balloon, it finally clicked into place, and now I find it so much easier to do and maintain. I need that type of imagery. She makes the concepts easy to understand. It’s like she speaks my language.
After group, we spoke for a little while. She seems so genuine and caring. She’s very gentle with me too, which is what I need. Therapist is more like “mommy”, firm and “tough love” sometimes. It’s rare, but it happens. It scares me a little during those moments, but I understand where it’s coming from. Her intentions are pure. My OT knows that I see my therapist over Skype, and said that she wants me to have someone I can see in person as well. So she offered to work with me, and for me to see her every week. That I don’t have to worry about payment. At first I felt guilty, undeserving of such kindness. Then I heard my therapists voice tell me that when people offer something, it’s because they can, and want to. So I didn’t feel that bad about it anymore. Although I still feel like I don’t really deserve it. It means so much to me that she wants to help. She does DBT with me, which is something I need individual help with. Sometimes the skills I’m meant to learn in group can be a little too advanced for me, and I struggle.
And yes, I’m attached. She knows this. When I told her that I’m already attached to her, she told me that she knows. I don’t know how she knew that, but she did. From what I’ve seen and heard so far, she’s very perceptive.
The last time I had an attachment with someone before my therapist, was when I was in high school. I think I mentioned her here before… One of my teachers.
I would go to her house and help her with her arts and crafts. I loved every second of it. She’d even take me out for coffee. I loved spending time with her. Then back at school, in the classroom, she was “teacher” again. I found it easy to separate her into the two different roles. In class she wouldn’t treat me any differently to the rest of the students. I’d still sometimes fail to do my homework, and she wouldn’t let me get away with it. I preferred it that way. Even though I wrote her a letter before she left (she moved away) thanking her for everything, she’ll never know just how much she meant to me. How she ‘saved’ me when I’d get to a really dark place even years after she had left. I’d just have to think of her, and the memories would give me strength to keep going. Unfortunately, that connection that I had held onto, and that had helped me so much, has dissipated over the years. She’ll always hold a special place in my heart though. I was heartbroken when she left. My safe person was gone. I’ll forever be grateful for all she did for me. All her kindness and love. It’s the tiny bits of love that have saved me throughout my life.
I’m so grateful that people like my OT, therapist, and teacher exist. The world needs more of these souls.