Going Back To The Old Me

Before starting therapy, I pretty much kept to myself. My feelings, my thoughts. They belonged only to me, and I didn’t share them with anyone. I was always the shy and reserved one. It protected me. It worked for me. Yet at the same time, it didn’t really work. It might have sheltered me from rejection, but it also ate me up inside. I tried to open up a few times, but just ended up getting hurt. Further reinforcing that it wasn’t safe to reveal the deepest parts of myself.

Even in primary school, I was a shadow. When I tried to make friends, and join the other children, I’d just get mocked, teased and called horrible names. So eventually I stopped trying. What was the point. I still remember the day I got my first friend. I was eating my lunch on a step, overlooking some children playing. A girl came to sit next to me and asked my name. We shared my lunch, and from that day we became best friends. I think she was the first friend I ever had. I was never allowed to go visit her at home though (my dad was very controlling- “only protecting me” in his words- when I actually needed to be protected from him). Then we moved to a new city again, and I never heard from her, or saw her again. I didn’t want to get attached to anyone again after that, and I don’t know if I ever did, as I can’t remember the next year or two.

I went to go watch the sunset on the beach today. It’s one of my favourite self-soothing practices. Usually it makes me feel better. It brings me peace. I feel at one with nature, and like I’m not alone in this world. But tonight I just felt this deep sadness the entire time. At first I didn’t understand why, and just tried to push it away. To be mindful of the beauty surrounding me. And then it came. Memories of the same way I felt so often throughout my life. Memories of moments where I felt so alone, with so much sadness buried deep, but that I couldn’t express or verbalize. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to show emotions. Both my dad and then step-mother hated any display of emotion, other than happiness. But I was hardly ever happy, so I had to pretend that I was. When I went to my biological mom every second weekend, I watched my step-dad hurt her, and occasionally my little sisters as well. I couldn’t show my fear and hatred toward him. I couldn’t protect them. I was scared he would hurt them even more, and that he’d hurt me too. But he never did. I think he was scared of my dad. He was very cruel to me though. Men (monsters) like him, usually are. He also hated displays of emotion. It was a trigger for him. So there were many tears left uncried. So much hurt with nowhere to go. So many secrets with no one to tell. That pattern has followed me ever since.

It was only when I started therapy in March last year, that the pattern got interrupted. Opening up to my therapist felt amazing. She didn’t judge, she didn’t tell me to “stop being a baby”, or get angry with me for expressing my feelings. She didn’t punish me. I felt safe with her. Since then, I’ve become more open to more people. Only to a certain extent though. I knew what to share, and what to keep hidden. Every now and then though, I’d become brave and say more than I should.

In group on Tuesday, I was in a bit of a manic state (I had been in that state for a few days already). We had the usual “check in”. I was a bit late, as I had to go pick up a friend, so when I got back to group, the check in was already underway. Other than the usual check in, we also had to pick an animal that represents us, and tell the others why we chose that animal. When it was my turn, and started sharing, I got interrupted by one of the guys. He argued with me about the correct name for the animal I had chosen. I was so embarrassed and just wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to make it known though how I really felt in that moment, so I argued back. And then I just shut down and let the next person share. It’s taken me a while to start opening up in group. But now with this, I feel it’s not okay to do that anymore. I’ll still connect to the few people I’ve really grown to care about, before group, during the break, and afterward. But I don’t want to open up during the group anymore.

Jasmine and I spent the day together yesterday. Usually when I’m with her, we speak openly about our thoughts and feelings as they come up. But this time I couldn’t. I pretended that everything was okay the whole time, that I was happy. I have to pretend with the dad and current step-mother anyway, so it’s easy. Easy to pretend, difficult to deal with internally.

I just don’t want to be vulnerable anymore. My blog is my space to be open, but in the offline world, I want to stay away from that. I had a great therapy session on Wednesday. But then on Thursday, my manic phase was over, and I went straight down into the depths. And since then I’ve been feeling this need to protect myself from the world.

My younger parts, especially, have been struggling. They need me to take care of them, protect, and love them. They can be vulnerable with the adult me. They only need me. This song is my message to them. It just seems to fit.

A Year

I don’t go onto Facebook often. A few hours ago, I did. Right at the top of my news feed I saw a post from my aunt, that knocked the breath right out of me. It felt as though someone had just stabbed me through the heart. The post was “Dearest brother, it’s been a year since you left us. We still miss you every day, and you’ll forever live on in our hearts.”

It’s been a year since one of my uncles ended his life. Right now it seems like just yesterday. I haven’t thought about him much since then, and the moments I did, I’d feel a sharp stab of pain that would only last a few minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grieve, but my mind didn’t want that. It would just shut down. Exactly one year later, it’s finally hit me in full force. I’ve been crying for what feels like hours. The pain is unbearable, but I have no choice but to bear it.

I didn’t even go to his funeral. It was in another city and I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. A part of me also didn’t want to go. But now I regret it. I wish I could have said goodbye.

A few years ago, he started drinking heavily. Every time he would phone me, he was so drunk I could barely make out what he was saying.

The last time I saw him, I didn’t even recognize him. He didn’t look at all like the uncle I had known. Where was the strong man who used to make me laugh with his silly antics? The man who always called me his “little monkey”. I was angry with him that day. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d ever see him.

A week before he succeeded, he had attempted suicide, but his ex-wife found him in time. After that, I just had this feeling in my gut that he would try again. And I was right. The evening before that day, he phoned me. But I didn’t answer. And I don’t even know why. What if he was reaching out, and answering that phone call would have made a difference? Instead, I just ignored him. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think about it much this past year. Guilt. Once again, I had let someone I loved, down. And once again, I failed at being there for someone I loved, in their last moments.

I wish I could go back in time. But I can’t. And no amount of wishing can change that.

So tonight I’m feeling what I haven’t allowed myself to feel.

I miss him, and wish he was still here.

First Love

Lonely tonight.

I had her.
I lost her.
She let me go.
She broke my heart.
My first love.
A love I never experienced before or since.
There were others I thought I was in love with.
I wasn’t.
I was just infatuated for a short while.
I had been fooling myself.
But with her it was real.
Unexplainable.
Painful.
Beautiful.
What if she was the one?
My only shot at true love.
My last.
Now meant to be alone.
Forever.

Love heals? No, love destroys.

A Long, Hard Week

On Monday morning, after my step grandparents left, I was still in my Sunday good mood. I sent my therapist a text telling her that I’m looking forward to our session on Thursday. That I’m having a good day and have high hopes for the week.

Later that afternoon, I went to get something from the store. When I got home I found a note from my younger step brother, with the words “I’m sorry”. I ran through the house, and outside, calling him. But he was gone.

So many thoughts rushed through my mind at that moment. What did that “I’m sorry” mean? “I’m sorry, but I’m running away” or “I’m sorry, but I’m going to jump in front of a bus”? I was panicking. We phoned all of his friends, everyone we could think of, but no one knew where he was. I was terrified.

For a little background, I don’t see him as a step brother. To me, he’s just my little brother. I love him to bits. He’s very quiet and keeps to himself at home. I’m the only one he opens up to. He’s cried to me (he never cries in front of anyone- always appears calm and strong), he’s told me things that he’s never told anyone. He lets me into his heart. So we have a very close relationship. I’m very protective over him. In our session on Thursday, my therapist said that he is my most significant connection, other than ours. And that’s the truth.

When I realized that he wasn’t there, I was heartbroken and confused. Why didn’t he tell me? He’s told me before that he often thinks about running away, and I told him that he should tell me when and if he does. I know I’m not able to change his mind, that I can’t force him to stay. But I would want to know anyway. I would support him any way I could. Such as bringing him clean clothes when he needs them, etc.

I also felt guilty. If I had just come back from the store sooner, or hadn’t left, could I have done something to stop him? Or at least tell him to let me know every day that he’s safe? I could have asked him where he was going, and told him that I wouldn’t tell my dad. I was so angry with myself, but more so, my dad. They say we shouldn’t blame people for things, but I do blame him. He treats my brother like crap, while he puts my step sister up on a golden pedestal. He left because he hates my dad, and I don’t blame him. I wanted to run away so often while growing up (at least the parts of my childhood that I remember).

I just kept thinking what if something happens to him? What if he’s not okay or safe? I wouldn’t even know about it. Would I ever see him again? This situation was made worse due to a previous experience I had. My first step sister who had been in my life for 13 years also ran away from home. And she never came back. I can’t remember if she had left a note. I can’t actually remember anything about that time, other than one moment where I was walking from one classroom to the next at school, and hoping I would see her at school that day. A while after she left, my step mom also left. And I was scared that my current step mother would take her daughter and also disappear. So this all hit a little too close to home. It triggered me. Flashbacks, old emotions, all rushing to the surface, along with all the current feelings. In other words, a huge mess.

During this time, I found myself becoming protective of my step mom and sister. I focused all my attention on them. Doing things for them, being there for whatever they needed and wanted. Which is a pattern in my life. I push myself and my emotions to the side, in order to take care of others. My OT has a good theory about this, which I’ll mention later in this post.

I didn’t want to go to my session with her on Tuesday, and I didn’t want to attend group either. But I decided that it would be better if I do. Even if it was just to get out of the house and away from the heavy, dark energy. I ended up telling my OT about the situation, even though I initially didn’t want to. She was compassionate and supportive. Let me experience the emotions. She told me that my reactions and emotions were valid. She held space for me. She was everything that I needed someone to be during that time.

I told her how I was trying to be as supportive as possible toward my step family. Obviously I can’t remember every word she said, but it came down to this. She said that she was wondering whether my need to take care of others, and be attentive to their needs and emotions, wasn’t because I don’t want to deal with my own emotions. So I take on others emotions, as it’s easier than dealing with my own. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and looking at previous times in my life where I did the same thing. It makes so much sense, and I think she hit the nail on the head with that one.

After our session, I had a few minutes before group was due to start, and I wondered whether I should stay for it. I figured I was already there, so I might as well. When I saw my roommate from my clinic stay was there, I knew I wanted to stay.

I don’t really open up much in group. When we do the emotional check-ins, I usually just say it’s been an okay week, or not good, but that I don’t want to talk about it, or I just don’t elaborate. But I did this time. I was so emotionally exhausted by that point, that I felt numb. So that made it easier.

A few of the group members came up to me during the break, telling me that it was nice to have me open up. We have a two-week break from group, and I don’t feel too good about that. It’s my time every week to get away from home and meet up with others who “get it”.

Finally, on Wednesday we heard from my brother. He said that he was coming home on Friday. I was worried that he might not come back on Friday. What if he had just said that? But he did come home. When I saw him, I gave him the biggest hug I’ve ever given anyone, and I didn’t want to let go. He looked so happy to see me too, and hugged me again when I finally let go. When everyone was downstairs, he told me what he’d been up to. And while I wasn’t too happy about some of the things (nothing serious), it’s not my job to parent him. He’s his own person. I obviously didn’t show or let him know that I didn’t approve. All I want is to continue being supportive, and someone he can trust and open up to about anything.

I still feel some after effects of the situation. I guess I’m still a little shaken up about it, even though I’m trying to just let it go. It seems my body hasn’t yet gotten the message that everything is okay. I felt very suicidal on Sunday evening. More than I have in months. To the point that I considered going to the hospital. But I made it through. I’m also experiencing the pain of losing my first step family all those years ago. This whole weekend I felt exhausted. No matter how much I slept, my days were spent feeling in a half asleep state. Even today, I feel like night of the walking dead. Today I spent a few hours with Jasmine (which isn’t awkward anymore- thank goodness), and she commented on how tired I look. Usually people can’t see that, so that’s when you know that it’s bad.

I’m really glad that my little brother is back and safe.

It’s The Connection

For the past two weeks, I’ve been so fixated on the thought of not being able to afford to have therapy sessions, that I failed to see what’s been right in front of me this entire time. I was reading through some of my posts on being afraid of losing connection with my therapist, and that’s when it hit me.

I think I finally get what my therapist told me. That she doesn’t want me to become dependent on therapy. I get defensive when she says that and tell her that I’m not dependent on therapy. She counters that by telling me that she didn’t say I am. I realized it’s not the therapy I’m dependent on. It’s the connection with my therapist. The attachment. I’ve never felt a connection like this with anyone. Not even with my grandmother, who was my favourite person in the world. At this point in my life, and for the sake of healing, I need this stable relationship. Especially for those younger parts. They’ve had a hard week without her. I think one of the ways of healing those childhood wounds, and working on integrating the parts, is through a healthy, secure attachment.

The way I see it, is that there’s still plenty of time to focus on the work in therapy. But the relationship needs to be there. And going more than a week without some form of communication is the thing that’s hard for me. I’m not ready to go a full week without hearing from her. It feels like I lose that connection, and it’s agony. I still need to be able to keep that connection with my therapist alive.

I have my weekly group and DBT sessions with my OT, which is part of my journey toward healing. It will help me improve my functioning, and provides me with the tools I need to better navigate this world and my life.

I can have therapy once a month and I’ll be fine. If that’s the way it has to be until I get a job, then there’s nothing I can do about it. All I want is to be able to speak to Therapist and hear her voice once a week or every two weeks, with texts or emails the weeks I can’t call her. A 5-10 minute conversation is all I need. When I think of the situation this way, I feel a sense of relief. We’ll obviously need to talk about this in our next session, and work something out.

The Little One’s Letter To Therapist

I was a little embarrassed when the thought of posting this letter on my blog popped into my head. Until I remembered that my original purpose for starting it was for me to process my thoughts and feelings after my break up and move to a new city. So I’ve decided that it’s okay to post this, since this blog is my space to just let it all out and examine my inner world. I need to do this. For me.

In my previous post I mentioned that I felt very young last night. I’ve been feeling that way for most of today as well. I’ve tried to ignore that little voice inside, and the feelings it brought up. But then I decided that I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. So I listened. I listened to the little one’s fears. I acknowledged her sadness. I cried those tears. She wanted to write a letter to Therapist, so I let her. Which I’ll only be able to show to her at our next session. She told me to use my non dominant hand when writing from that little part. So that’s what I did. And this is the result:

2017-03-21 21.05.59

I have been trying to figure out why this is coming up now. And why it feels so hard. In my session with my OT yesterday, I mentioned to her that my medical aid benefits are almost depleted. The clinic stay took away from my benefits. I told her that after next week’s session with my therapist, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see her again as I just can’t afford it. She’s away this week, otherwise I would have rescheduled to sometime this week since I’m missing her so damn much.

When I told this to my OT, I think it hit me right then and there just how scared and panicked I actually feel about the situation. I shoved it down quickly though. But the uncertainty is killing me. I need routine, so I feel unsettled.

Yes, I’ll survive. But why should I have to? Haven’t I already survived enough shit? The teen in me feels that it’s fucking unfair. But I blame myself for most of what happened in my life. For being in the place I’m at right now. For my part in it. Sometimes even for the roles that others have played in my life. If only I had been better. Done better.

The little one knows, but doesn’t understand why it has to be this way. She thinks the connection will be broken and she’ll be alone. She has me, but she doesn’t just want me. She wants Therapist. She feels that her main attachment figure will be taken away from her again. The way she was taken away from her mother that day. The moving further and further away from her attachment figure, watching her fade away.

And that’s my biggest fear right now. I’m scared that our connection, the bond I have with her, will break. That my therapist will fade away into the distance.