Therapy today: Failed avoidance

I keep opening this page up, but only in my mind. When I do, I draw a blank because so much has happened I don’t know where to start. And that’s only since my last post on Thursday. That was an easy one to write because I was sat in a conference hall being bored to tears by work stuff.

It’s been a while since I wrote about therapy. In fact the last I wrote about seeing J, it was to tell you guys that I’d cancelled seeing her. Today was different, I was almost counting the hours until my session. As I was travelling last week, it had been a longer gap than usual for the weekend. And last time I saw her I was in a hell of a state.

Last Wednesday I was in full hibernation mode. I didn’t go to the office. I didn’t even call to tell them I wasn’t going in. I went to therapy unwashed and in my PJs. That might sound fairly normal for someone as dysfunctional as me, but even on my worst days I am pretty good at personal hygiene.

Anyway, today I had been to work, so at least I was clean and dressed. I had so much I needed to share with J that I was a ball of anxiety all morning. Primarily, I wanted to tell her about a conversation I had with my mum at the weekend. It wasn’t an average sort of chat, it was a full-on, brutally honest levelling with one another.

I’ve been deliberately distant from my family over the past year. There has been too much tied up in the emotions that swirl around our shared history, I haven’t been able to be near them. Inevitably, they anger me, they disappoint me, and they leave me feeling like a wretched, worthless human being. I carry so much guilt, rightly or wrongly, around the abuse I experienced as a child and its impact on them.

That’s all come to the forefront since my brother was questioned by the police last week. Finally they are being shaken, not at all willingly, from their decades of denial. My mum in particular seems to be actually starting to acknowledge that her son is a paedophile. I explained to her, unreservedly, what it was like for me – from when he started grooming me, right through to the fear I felt at living with him for four more years after he was found out. I detailed the shame, the disgust at myself, and the sense of having had my childhood taken from me. That last part was especially hard for her to understand.

Reflecting on this conversation as I arrived at J’s today, I was suddenly afraid of talking about it. I don’t know exactly why. But I skirted around giving any detail, instead talking about the more day-to-day events of my weekend. She questioned why I was avoiding it, and I couldn’t give an answer. It just suddenly felt pointless talking again about my family, because it doesn’t matter how much I bludgeon them with the truth, they still don’t really understand me.

I didn’t want to go into it with her. I suppose one reason was because I don’t know how I feel about it really, and I knew that’s what she’d ask. Thinking back on it now, I guess I also just assumed she would put up some defence on my mum’s behalf, and I didn’t want to hear that. I decided early last week that I was furious with all of my family. That was a horrible, but simple feeling, and I wasn’t ready to hear a balanced view on the situation.

I wanted to sit in silence and seethe. I am so full of awful feelings at the moment, that I feel as though shoving them all under an umbrella of anger is easier. I can just about manage it then. But J wanted to know about the family stuff. And I understand why. She reminded me that she needs to know what happens outside of our sessions, otherwise I am distancing myself from her yet again. I know I do that, and I know she’s right. We’re not going to get anywhere unless she knows about the important stuff that happens in my life.

The problem is that we always seem to be fire fighting. No sooner have I talked about one ‘live’ situation, than another emerges or an existing one mutates into something even more sinister. So sometimes I just feel like there is no point opening yet another can of worms.

Somehow, this turned into a conversation about my vulnerability and how active my child ego state is when there are family issues around. I wasn’t entirely sure how we got there. J did a bit of talking but I couldn’t quite grasp her words. I kept phasing out and disappearing into a blank space. I could sense vaguely what she was trying to get across, but I wasn’t able to give much of a response when she asked for my impression on what she’d said.

We ended the session discussing how to ensure I feel like my vulnerable child state is protected when I am outside of that room, outside of being with J. I couldn’t think of anything useful. The truth is that while I feel safe there, as soon as I leave I am defenceless again. Beneath my performance of capability, the convincing act of being a fully functional adult, I am so small. It is only a frail veneer that shelters me, it offers me very little protection from how much life hurts right now.

Photo: Pablo Villalba, Creative Commons.



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