I started off good.
Then came the panic.
The fear happened. And they say fear isn’t the truth.
Now I realize I’m not important.
I don’t deserve the light after all. The love.
I’m not good.
My therapist went on leave for two weeks. I knew about this for two weeks before her break, and during that time, I didn’t think much about it. More importantly, I didn’t know how I felt about it. Like I told her in our session two weeks ago, I’m happy that she’s making time for herself, and taking this break. In Thursday’s session, she brought up her leave again, and asked me whether I want to discuss it and how I feel about it. I can’t really remember what I answered. It’s like a chunk of my memory has been erased (I’m so tired of this happening). So I don’t know what I had said. But I appreciate that she always discusses this topic, and tries to make it easier for me. She doesn’t just throw me into the deep end.
We have this special emoticon that represents a hug (not the traditional hug one). We made a deal to only use that one for us, not for anyone else. That little symbol comforts my soul, and brings a smile to my face every time she uses it. I sent her a text on Friday, as it was the last day I’d be able to until she gets back. I asked for one of our special hugs, and she sent me one. I hold onto that one simple little thing. A simple thing that means so much.
I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the contributing factors of my recent surge in abandonment fear, is due to me knowing that she’s going to be away. Even though, like I said, I didn’t give too much thought to it, I think it was stored in my subconscious instead.
It’s not about not seeing her for a session. I wouldn’t have been able to see her for a session in that time anyway. The weeks when we don’t have therapy, I’m perfectly fine with our contact between sessions. Some weeks it will only be one text or email. It’s more when I have something to say, or am feeling insecure. Sometimes I initiate it, other times, she does. Checking in. So that’s what makes her going away hard… We won’t have any contact. I miss her. And I’m sad that she left me alone (that’s what it feels like anyway). There are moments where I think that I don’t know if I ever want to speak to her again. Then other moments where I just want her to come back. I’m being selfish. And this feeds into the emotion I’ve been struggling with for the past while, which I’ll write about in my next post.
I once got asked by a friend of mine, who went to therapy for a year herself, why and how I can be so attached to a therapist. She understands attachment, but not between a therapist and client. I realized that no matter how you explain it, a lot of people won’t truly “get it”, unless they’re in the same boat. Almost all of you who have BPD have this same attachment to your therapists. I always relate to your posts on this topic. So I know I’m not the only one who gets upset and chaotic when our therapists go on vacation or take leave. Counting the days down until they return. Days that feel like weeks. It’s hard. And others don’t understand why we struggle so much with this. But they don’t need to understand it.
The words “she’s gone forever” came into my mind when I woke up this morning. I know it didn’t come from my adult self, but from the little part.
I know it’s not true though. She’s not gone forever. But why does it still feel like she is?
I lashed out at you when you were three minutes late for our session. I know it’s not an excuse, but I wasn’t in a very good place, so those three minutes felt a lot longer. Thank you for validating that it’s a big deal for me, and for your apology. I know you’re only human, and these things happen. You’ve been consistent since the very beginning, so I feel a little embarrassed for being so upset today. I’m so sorry.
I remember what you told me. That whenever I apologize the way I did today (over and over again), that you feel as though I regress to a younger age, expecting that I’m going to be in trouble. I didn’t realize until now how big that statement actually is.
When you said that I’m lashing out at you, and I thought that you were getting upset, I panicked. I panicked because I was so afraid that I would lose you. I backtrack so quickly, and apologize as soon as I suspect that you’re getting mad. Because I feel myself flinching on the inside. Like a child who knows what’s coming. Who feels like she’s about to get hit. But I know that’s what happened in the past. That it’s not what’s happening today. I only realized after our session that this is what happens to me in these moments.
There are two reasons that I usually apologize. The first is that I genuinely don’t want to upset you, because I care so much for you. The other is due to fear of abandonment. I get so mad at myself, because you’ve proven time and time again that you won’t abandon me. And I feel that I should stop worrying about that. Yet it still happens from time to time.
Sometimes I feel that I need to act out to a safe person, because I can’t do it with anyone else, so I bottle up those intense feelings, that rage I may be experiencing. And it just sits there. Or I take it out on myself.
I don’t do it on purpose, or to upset you and cause a conflict. In my mind, I’m not lashing out at you, but rather to you. I feel a little upset now. Therapy is supposed to be a safe space, but I feel I have to contain myself in sessions as well. I’m not sure who I’m mad at. You or myself? Or both of us? I also feel that I don’t have the right to be feeling mad about this. It doesn’t serve any purpose.
Thank you for being here for me yesterday. I really appreciate you, and everything you do. I value this special relationship.
On Thursday morning I was reading something on the internet, when I started to feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, that feeling erupted in a full on trigger. I immediately turned into a mess. I became that 14-year-old who had just been broken by someone she had looked up to and trusted. Images and emotions consumed my mind and my body. The emotions were far more powerful and painful than the images themselves. I felt like I was dying.
I wanted to phone my therapist right then and there. There was a huge battle going on inside me. Trying my hardest not to give into that desire to call her. We only had an appointment for Tuesday (yesterday). Then, I don’t know why, but the thought came into my head to phone a psychiatrist (I’ve been wanting to go to one for a while now). So I picked one of the two that was recommended, and phoned her office in a state. I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist, so why I felt the need in that moment to call her, I can’t tell you. She was so nice to me. I wanted to find out what her fees were, and instead she asked me whether I was on a medical aid. I am, so she suggested that I book myself into the psychiatric clinic where she works, and then I won’t have to worry about paying anything. I could see her first thing in the morning. I was so upset that I agreed. Psychiatrist had to keep reminding me to breathe.
So early the next morning, I packed my bag and made my way to the clinic. I can’t remember much about that morning. I remember seeing my psychiatrist, and being a nervous wreck. All I know is that I was so scared. Not even scared. Terrified.
I’d never been in a psychiatric ward before. Later that day, I would feel ashamed that at my age, after having avoided it for all this time, I was now in the very place that I never thought I’d find myself. But shit happens, and now, in hindsight, I’m glad I went in. I was in the general ward, so it was voluntary and I could be discharged whenever I wanted to. But Psychiatrist recommended that I at least stay a few days.
The next thing I remember is lying on the bed in the room I would be sharing with two other women during my time there. I don’t even remember how I ended up in the room. I have no memory between sitting with Psychiatrist (even that is a blur), and finding myself on my bed. I had even unpacked my bag during that time. What the hell? Dissociation, that’s what the hell. I was curled up like a baby, unable to stop crying. Feeling disoriented, confused, and terrified. I didn’t know what was going on. Could I leave? Or was I trapped there forever?
Lying on that bed, I just wanted Therapist. I felt like a five-year old wanting her mommy after waking up from a horrible nightmare. As I mentioned earlier, I had fought against the desire to call her on Thursday, and plenty of times in the course of our relationship. But this time I couldn’t fight it. I wasn’t in touch with reality. I phoned her. So you must know the extent of my distress for me to have done that. The phone call is a blur as well. I can’t really remember what I told her, and what she said. But I can remember the feelings. How soothing and comforting her voice was. It felt like she was holding me. After our call, I continued crying. Partly because I felt like Therapist really cares, and I could feel that care. I guess it was tears of relief? I don’t actually know what it was. I was also still crying from the overwhelming feelings I had been having since going in that morning, and the day before. A little while after that, I started to feel more calm. Slowly coming back to reality.
This might sound really strange… Even though I am glad I had gone in and my experience had been pretty good, I still feel traumatized from Friday. I’m not even sure why. But I know that speaking to Therapist that day, made it a little less traumatic.
In the next post I’ll write about my experiences in the clinic, and what I’ve learned from it.