On Connection, And Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was my last full day in the clinic. All that was left for me to do was to see my psychiatrist and the psychologist I’ve been seeing here this morning.

I woke up late yesterday morning, and felt somewhat disconnected from everyone and everything the entire day. My stomach had also been giving me issues, so didn’t feel too great physically either.

My time there was filled with anger, tears, anxiety, frustration, melt downs (both mine and some others), hard work, and drama. But it was also filled with care, support, friendship, connection, laughter, and silly fun. I learned a lot, and feel as though I have grown.

Coming into the clinic I didn’t want to connect with anyone. I had this almost defiant attitude. I was tired of connecting, attaching, loving, then losing. Of course, that intention didn’t last. When you spend so much time with people in an intimate and healing setting, you can’t help forming bonds with some people. Besides, it was exhausting trying to keep up that “distance” attitude.

The intensity of my connection to these people isn’t as intense as my connections usually are. I think I managed to strike a good balance. I made sure to spend time alone and give myself space from time to time, instead of my pattern of sticking way too close to a person or group of people, afraid that I’ll be rejected or forgotten about if I’m not with them the entire time. There are a couple of people I’ve met here, like my two roommates for example, who I hope to stay in contact with. I’d like to continue building these relationships. But I’m not as emotionally invested in it as I usually would be. Meaning, I know it might not happen. That we might lose touch. That it might not work out. But even though that wouldn’t feel good, I’m actually okay with that too.

Over this past week, I was hit with a revelation. It’s nothing I haven’t known before, but until this week it had just been head knowledge. People are going to come into my life. It’s okay to connect. It’s okay to form attachments. It’s a beautiful part of life. It’s also okay if things don’t work out. Yes, it hurts when people leave and relationships end. But I’ve been through enough “abandonment” and endings to know that I’ll survive. Boycotting connection is even more harmful. As humans, we thrive on connection. We’re built for it. It’s a basic human need.

I felt good when I woke up this morning. I was ready to leave and come back home. The goodbye’s were sad, but I also felt so grateful to these people who have been a part of my life over these past two weeks. I took a piece of each of them away with me. They inspired me.

It’s strange being back at home. I don’t quite feel like I belong here. I miss the clinic, but not too much either. I feel a little lost, but I guess that’s normal. I have to adjust to life outside that sheltered and safe place again. I’m not entirely sure how I feel. How I’ve felt since I left the clinic. But that’s okay. I’m going to read a chapter of a novel I’m busy reading, and make it an early night.

It’s the best thing I can do for myself right now.

It’s Different

Last night’s group session was nice. I was in good spirits going in. Saw the OT I used to have sessions with, and it was so nice seeing her again. I went up to her and gave her a hug. I can’t believe I did that! But I’m glad I did. The attachment is still there. Dammit. I miss her. I didn’t know just how much until I saw her.

For the check-in’s, we did something a little different. We split up into two groups of five, and did the check-in with those in our group. That suited me well. There were two new girls in the group and they happened to be in mine. So when I shared, I was still terrified. But I managed to overcome it and actually shared something that I wouldn’t have mentioned if we had done the check-in’s as usual with the whole group. And I managed to say everything that was on my mind regarding that, and felt I communicated it pretty well. Go me! With only four other people I had to share with, it was the perfect balance between stepping out of my comfort zone, without it being too overwhelming. The therapist leading the group asked how we found it doing things this way. It seems I was the only one who preferred the split groups. I hope we can do it this way again though. Maybe after enough of those, and becoming more comfortable with it, I’ll slowly start being able to open up to more and more people at once.

Something else also came up last night. But first, a little back story. In a comment on one of my posts regarding my attachment to D, someone said I should try opening up to her and telling her how I feel. So, after about a week of giving it some thought, I decided that even though I’m scared to do it, I’m going to anyway. Life is short, right? So I reached out and opened up to her through an email. Then, at last’s week’s group I asked her whether she had received my email. She had, but said that she wanted to read it through completely before responding. Cool stuff.

It’s been more than a week now, and I haven’t heard anything back from her yet. Obviously, my paranoid and insecure self doesn’t like that very much. I found myself thinking “stupid, stupid girl, you shouldn’t have sent that fucking email”. But fuck that. I sent it, it’s done, and there’s nothing I can do about it now. So I allowed that thought to just float on by, and away it went. Sure, it crops up from time to time again, but I know how to better deal with it. After all, for all I know, she might just have been really busy, on leave, etc… There could be a lot of reasons for not having received a response.

Back to last night though. Sometime during the last part of group one of the other ladies was talking about some meditations that D had emailed to her. I had also asked her to send it to me. But she didn’t. So when that lady mentioned that she had gotten that email, I felt this stab of pain. I brushed it aside and tried to focus on what she was saying instead. There was no way in hell I was going to allow myself to think about that and feel that emotion right then. Hurt? Confusion? Embarrassment? Shame? All of the above. Dissociation, my friend… Welcome.

The rest of the evening I kept telling myself it’s okay. I kept trying to deny those feelings. Because they were from the young part. I’m an adult, I’m healing. I can’t still be struggling with this inner child thing. But I’m fed up with denying things that demand to be out in the open. So I let it out. You know that look on a young child’s face when they get hurt, and you can see they want to cry, but they’re trying to be brave? That’s the image that came into my mind… That little girl was me. And I just cried, from that very young place. The adult me understands (well, sort of), but that little one’s heart is hurting, wondering whether she was bad and that’s why she doesn’t want her. That little one will latch onto anyone. She’s so trusting. She keeps reaching out. D seems to satisfy some deep need and longing. The adult me is content and secure in my relationship with my therapist. But for some reason, my inner child is drawn to D. I wish I could figure out why. Because if I know the reason, then maybe I can deal with it somehow.

As an adult I know things aren’t always what they seem. There’s probably a good reason she hasn’t sent me those things, or replied (Of course I was hoping for a reply, but not expecting one). But the little one doesn’t understand. She can’t make sense of things the way the adult me can. She can’t rationalize. So when I’m in that young mode, the adult doesn’t exist. It literally feels like a completely separate part. And I can switch so quickly between the two sometimes that I don’t even realize the switch has happened.

I’ve been dealing with feelings of rejection and abandonment by two significant connections, so I’ve already been in a vulnerable place. So this one just compounds the issue.

Somehow though, I’ve been dealing with it pretty well. I say that because usually I’d be a complete mess. These situations cloud my perceptions of every other relationship in my life, intensifying the fear of abandonment, and making me want to push everyone away. It ramps up my paranoia. But for some reason, this time, these situations haven’t been able to spill over into my relationships with Elizabeth and my therapist. I feel very secure and content in these two relationships. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I had a moment where I felt disconnected from my therapist. After writing that post, I sent her a text letting her know how I feel. She sent me a lovely text back, and I felt secure again. All it took was one little text. My relationship with Elizabeth is progressing at a comfortable, steady pace. Which is so very different from my previous relationships. It’s wonderful.

In our session today, my therapist said that I don’t give myself enough credit for things. That I give other people and things the credit. Something to that effect. And that’s true. So, I’m not saying that it’s entirely because of these two relationships that I’m handling all of this so well this time. I have grown and changed. I have made progress. I am doing well. But having these two strong and stable connections is also contributing to my ability to deal better with this situation. Connection is powerful, and definitely helps us cope better with life.

So I was hurting last night, and still don’t feel good about it, but I’m not obsessing about it the way I would have in the past. It’s different this time.

The World In Colour

Today,
The world is bathed in vivid, splendid colour
Colours I have never seen before
But want to see forever

Powerless against this force
I get lost in the beauty all around
My heart fills with life energy
Every part of me overflowing

The ocean understands my soul
She feels as I feel
She breathes and flows
With sheer power and intensity

The intensity of these feelings
Just might kill me, and if it does
I can’t think of a better way
For my life to end

To the one who stole my heart…
Thank you for colouring my world.

 

“That little kiss you stole
It held my heart and soul
And like a ghost in the silence I disappear”

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Connection When Needed Most

Tuesday was group night again.

I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want anyone to see me. To even look in my direction. I’ve been feeling horribly depressed. I barely ate, barely slept. I was tired of people. Isolating, because I’ve been in that “don’t trust anyone” place.

There were reasons for not wanting anyone near me. For wanting to disconnect from everyone. I’m not going to go into detail, as I already spoke to my therapist about it in yesterday’s session, and don’t want to get into it again. In short, I’ve been feeling abandoned and rejected by my uncle (the one who used to live with us- a significant attachment for me) for a while now already. I also lost two friends over the course of the month, all because I practiced my “no” and they didn’t like it.

Therapist told me that it’s a pattern with me. I tend to surround myself with the wrong people. The problem is, I attach too quickly. I’m so hungry for connection and intimacy that I jump in prematurely, and end up getting hurt. She said that I take on the helper role, which is true… I like the protector role too. I’ll do anything to make someone happy, to help them however I can. But the minute I’m unable to deliver what they ask for, or I need them (it’s hard enough for me to ask as it is), they disappear out of my life. I don’t know how else to do it though. I want to help others. I want to be there for them. I want to be reliable. I want to protect and save everybody (as if I’m a superhero and can actually do that). But it often comes at the expense of myself. I haven’t quite figured out how to balance it. It’s easy for me to give. But not easy to receive. It’s easy to give someone a hug. It’s hard to accept one. The list goes on.

I told Therapist that I genuinely feel like there’s something wrong with me. That people leave because I’m doing something wrong. She asked whether I’ve ever thought that maybe it’s not me, but rather something to do with them? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last long and I revert back to blaming myself. I’ve been slacking in the self-compassion department lately as well. But I guess it’s bound to happen from time to time.

Back to Tuesday evening. I ended up dragging myself to group. I knew it would be good for me. But I determined to keep my walls up. Sure, greet everyone and throw in a few smiles here and there, but not allow any deeper interactions. Well, that was the plan anyway. I can’t remember anything from arriving at the clinic and leading up to the start of group. Next thing I know I’m sitting in the chair next to D’s (the OT leading the group that night). As I’ve mentioned before, sitting next to her gives me a sense of comfort. She’s my “safe person”. But that night I didn’t want to feel the attachment and connection. So why was I sitting there? Maybe subconsciously I really actually wanted to feel it.

From the beginning, D seemed tuned into me. While I was trying to withdraw, it was like she was having none of that. Instead, she drew me closer. And little by little, my defenses came down. I felt a very strong connection with her that evening. She broke through. She connected. And I couldn’t help getting drawn in. She made me feel comfortable and secure letting her into my personal space. That’s extremely rare for me. I don’t want to write the details here, it’s stored safely inside. In case you didn’t know, in my previous post where I said that there was only one other person I’d allow close to me in the state I had been in, I was talking about D. It seems she really can reach me where others may not be able to. That night, she picked me up off the cold concrete floor and wrapped me in a warm blanket. And I knew. She cares.

Yesterday’s therapy session was an emotional one, but I’m so glad that I had that session. It was very good timing. Therapist is amazing, and she was so good with me. Thankfully, during this bad time, I had been able to keep our connection open. When I didn’t want to let anyone in, she was the only one that I still held onto and didn’t want to close myself off to. Being allowed to send her texts and emails between sessions really helps. It’s basically just “checking in” sometime during the week, or when I see an image that I think she’d like. I don’t tell her about anything that’s going on, or my emotional state (most of the time at least). I keep that for our sessions. Now it’s 11 days (excluding weekends) until I get to see her again. Why do I still count down the days?

Therapist is the healthiest attachment I’ve ever had. She doesn’t give up on me. She has my best interests at heart. She helps me fight when I feel I just can’t fight anymore. But most of all… She believes in me, even when I don’t.

Connection. Terrifying. But worth it.

Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

Now this is an awkward topic, right? Which is why I haven’t written about it yet. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to start. After the in-person session I had with my therapist last week Monday, I feel the time is right. There’s nothing strange with what I’m writing about, it’s just that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic as I am. I get it. I was there too. In fact, even though it’s so much easier for me to explore this these days, I still feel a little vulnerable. But that’s why I love my blog space. I can be as open and honest as I want without anyone seeing the different shades of red spreading across my face when I share certain things. “Red suits you”, one of my friends recently said after she kissed me on the cheek. In my defense, we’ve been friends for over 21 years, and she’s never done anything like that. She’s one of those “anti-touch” people.

So. I love my therapist. She knows this, as I’ve told her a couple of times in the past. I once asked her whether that was okay. Trust me when I tell you, it’s okay. I haven’t said those words to her since last year, but there have been a few times where I’ve almost blurted out again “I love you”, but didn’t. I wasn’t quite on the “knowing what I actually mean” path yet.

The love I felt for her has taken on different meanings throughout the first year of working with her. The “in what way?” question had been a source of confusion during much of that time. A few sessions into our first couple of months working together, I had a little bit of a crush on her. Okay, maybe a big one. There was also a time where I thought I might actually be in love with her, or getting there. I told you…Awkward. Plenty of times, I thought that loving her is wrong. That I’m not supposed to. Not allowed to. That it’s inappropriate. The natural consequence of those thoughts was shame. And a lot of it.

Sometime last year, I went through a stage where I had a few intimate dreams of her. They confused me. I told her about one or two of them, but never went into detail of course. It’s intimidating and so scary to bring these kinds of dreams and feelings to our therapists. Wondering what’s wrong with us, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. Those feelings can be so big sometimes, and it’s important to talk about it. I’m guilty of not always having spoken to her about some of those feelings. But I know I’ll be able to if something ever comes up again. After all, I need to practice what I preach, right?

I once told my therapist that I love her as a person. A fellow human being. But that’s very broad isn’t it? After all, I only get to see the professional Clinical Psychologist side of her (with little bits of self-disclosure thrown into the mix every now and then). But, it’s still her. Maybe I don’t get to see the other roles she plays outside the therapy room, such as that of wife, daughter, friend, etc. But I also get to see her in her role as therapist, which they don’t get to see.

“I love coffee.”
“I love my friends.”
“I love my parents.”
“I love my partner.”
“I love my children.”
“I love my pet/s.”

Love. One word to represent different forms of it. So I’m going to call this form “therapy love”.

I feel like I’ve grown in the love I feel for her. I’m finally in a comfortable, secure place, where it just makes perfect sense. It’s not the kind of love shared between partners, parents, children or friends. It’s a love of its own. But it’s not less than those other forms. The therapeutic relationship is unique and not the typical kind of relationship, but it’s still a relationship. And the same is true of the love that we feel inside that relationship. I know a lot of you love your therapists this way too.

Then there’s the love that the youngest parts feel. I think it comes out of how children might feel about their main attachment figure? I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I felt anything about my earliest attachment to my mom. The earliest memories I have of her is when I was about 3 or 4 I think. But I also don’t remember much from those years and those after. Just little (and big) things here and there. But the love for my therapist that comes from those little parts feels different. Attachment love maybe?

Seeing my therapist again last Monday was amazing. When she came to get me, the minute I saw her face, it felt as though my heart just lit up. It was so nice being back in her office. It was familiar, with that “home” feeling. I like the fact that she has couches, and not just chairs. Like with my psychiatrist and OT, it felt a little awkward sitting in those chairs. I also find it intimidating because you have someone sitting right in front of you, whereas the way my therapist’s couches are arranged, you don’t get that “she’s staring me down” vibes. It’s comfortable and makes the space feel less clinical, and more welcoming.

I brought a lot to her that session. Way too much. I was emotional and jumped from one topic to the next. I was extremely ungrounded. So I gave her too much to work with, or too little. But at least now I understand (after she explained it to me), how the way I want therapy to work won’t provide long-term benefits. I might feel better for a few hours afterward, but that’s not the goal. I’ve always felt that maybe I’m doing therapy wrong. But there isn’t a wrong. It’s a learning journey as well. And now I understand her view better, and it makes so much more sense. Now I know better how to approach our sessions. Strangely, I feel more in control, like there’s a clear structure to work with. I’ve always tried to squeeze as much into a session as possible, because it feels time pressured due to the fact that I don’t see her every week. I feel like our most productive sessions have been when we’ve stuck with one topic though, and I know she feels the same way about this. I prefer it that way, so will give up on the “time pressure”.

Sometime during the session, my therapist asked “what do you want?”. In that moment, every part of me wanted to say “can you please come sit next to me? Hug me?” Of course I didn’t ask that. I’m very aware of boundaries these days, and I especially don’t want to cross any of her personal boundaries.

Near the end of the session, I wanted to show my therapist some of the pictures that I had taken while visiting with my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. By that time I was feeling much more grounded. I like how she always seems so interested in seeing the pictures that I take. Last year, during one of the sessions we had when I was still living in the same city as her, I also showed her a picture (of me when I was a little girl- moody as hell), but I just handed her the phone where she was sitting. This time though, she actually moved to the furthest end of her couch, so she was close to mine. That surprised me (in a good way of course). One of the other reasons why I didn’t ask her whether she could come sit by me, was because I was also holding onto shame (so what else is new dammit), and therefore felt untouchable, unlovable and hideous. Why would she want to sit close to me? Why would anyone? Stupid inner voice. That one little action, of her moving closer, made a world of difference. It felt as though she broke through another one of my defenses. I have so many, I don’t even know all of them. Most are (probably) subconscious.

At some point I had the urge to draw, colour in, paint, etc. Why, I have no idea. My therapist let me borrow some paper and her pencil, and I got to it. It was so small, just took up a little space in the corner. I drew one thing on top of the other. No one would have been able to decipher that and know what the hell I had just drawn. But I know, so that’s what matters.

At the end of our session, I started to feel a little emotional again. I didn’t want to leave. But of course, I had to. Don’t you just hate that? As we were walking out, I wanted to ask my therapist whether I could hug her, but felt too shy to ask. But I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably regret it for a long, long time, and beat myself up over it. And then without thinking about it any further, I just came out and asked if I can give her a hug. She said “of course” and when she said it that way, I knew she was comfortable with it then, and I felt relieved. And my favourite part was when she said “I’ll give you one”. I loved that! It was the most special, meaningful hug I’ve ever had. A hug from the person that I never thought I’d ever get to be that close to.

It feels like my connection to her, that bond, has deepened. Which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt loved and valued. She really cares about me. And that’s such an amazing, warm, and soothing feeling.

So…

I love my therapist.