The breaks don’t get any easier

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I’m a week in and struggling with the therapy break. Yeah, I know, shocker right? They’re usually a breeze… I always end up hoping each time that it might get easier. So far, after 3 years, I can’t say it has. It’s definitely different, but it still feels like an endurance test every time.

In the past week I’ve noticed that I haven’t necessarily missed seeing J. But my life is not how it was the last time she went away. Since moving onto the boat, my days are much busier. Not in the sense that I’m rushing around, but there is always something that needs to be done – and those things always end up taking longer than I expect. Even just getting water took me 3 hours and involved about a 5 mile walk the other day.

That means I don’t have the time to sit and stew on my feelings like I did before. In some ways, this is a good thing. But it’s also leaving me unsure of how I feel and what I think. I really don’t have a grasp on what’s happening internally at the moment. I’m struggling to write anything on this blog, because I don’t feel like I know myself.

It’s like in order to cope with the huge changes and challenges in adapting to my new life, I have managed to shut off a lot of what was going on for me a few months ago. I know however, that because I’m not spending all my time thinking about it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t all still there. What seems to happen now is that it sneaks up on me. I’ll be busying and ignoring and forcing it all away and then suddenly a black mood comes from nowhere and for what seems like no reason at all, I want to kill myself.

I know that J being on holiday has stirred up a lot of really difficult feelings. That’s the struggle this time around. It’s not missing my sessions with her, it’s trying to manage the feelings I’m having about her while she’s gone.

We set up email contact before the break, but I knew things weren’t going well for me when I noticed I was delaying sending her a message. She’d given me some transitional objects to help me feel connected while she’s away, and I didn’t want to look at them or hold them. I’ve got a note from her to open when I need it, like we always do during breaks, but I haven’t thought about opening it yet.

What’s coming up is this nasty feeling of anger and resentment. It comes with an urge to lash out. Simplistically, I suppose it’s some part of me being protective. The little parts feel abandoned because she’s left us for a while, and some bigger part is saying ‘fuck her, we can do abandonment too’. I guess it’s the angry teenage part. That’s usually where this kind of stuff comes from. And that part really doesn’t have much affection for J anyway. That part says she doesn’t really care, she sees me as a sick person, and in our sessions she isn’t authentic – just regurgitates what she’s read in books.

I don’t want to give in to that part, because the little ones need to feel attached to J and the adult part of me knows she cares. But it’s a powerful force, that teenager. It’s the most stubborn part of me for sure. Every time I wanted to write an email, that part shut me down. Eventually, I managed to just write a short message to tell her where I am and attached a photo of the place we’d moored at.

The reply came, and J had noticed I had only told her how the boat was – not how I was. My first reaction was anger. It had taken a lot to write that email, even though it was just superficial. And again, the teenager kicked off, telling me I shouldn’t let her know how I feel and urging me to just ignore her message.

This came just as I was dealing with an avalanche of feelings about my family. At the time, I didn’t realise they were connected with that, but on reflection it makes sense. I won’t go into the boring details, but my interactions with them have been more challenging than usual recently. My mum is having a hard time and being emotionally dependent on me again, and she and my sister are making me feel incredibly guilty for not being a ‘good enough’ daughter / sister / aunt to my niece.

I disappointed them by not doing something they’d asked of me, and that triggered all these overwhelming feelings of worthlessness. Not so much when it was all happening, but days later. The feelings just caught up with me and punched me in the face. I was floored. I wanted to erase myself from existence. I loathed everything about myself. And I’ve struggled to shake it off since.

So I was contending with all of this, and my conflicted feelings about J. It was extremely difficult. I wanted, more than anything, to go and get incredibly drunk. I messaged a friend who also finds it hard to manage when her therapist is away, and told her I didn’t want to explain to J how I was. She gave me a little push to just ‘tell it how it is’ and reminded me that J genuinely wants to know. I was grateful to have that encouragement from someone who completely understands what this feels like.

It wasn’t easy to contend with the teenager, but I actually did just allow myself to completely honestly write how I feel. And I knew I wouldn’t send it if I re-read it. So it was this very rash, impulsive thing. I splurged a paragraph about how worthless and crap I felt and hit send straight away.

Then I felt massively regretful and wished I hadn’t. I thought it just made me even more worthless that I’d sent that to J while she was having a break. I didn’t feel like I even deserved her taking the time to read it. She responded to say she was glad I could tell her how I was really feeling. That settled some of those thoughts down. But now I feel like I need to ‘fix’ it. I need to send a really upbeat message to say I’m fine now and everything is OK. And still the teenage part is telling me to ignore her.

Why can’t this just be easy? Why can’t I simply allow myself the contact J has offered to me? Contact I know, truthfully wouldn’t be offered if J didn’t care and wasn’t authentic. It’s so frustrating.

I will try to email her again today, and make what I say reflect the truth of at least one of the parts. And I’ll try to let in some of the goodness of this sunshine and the beautiful place I am in. For now, that’s all I can really do.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. DV says:

    I can sooo relate to ‘we can do abandonment too’. I think that withholding ourselves often feels like the only real way to punish our therapists, and while they may understand that behaviour on a ‘therapist’ level, I think that unless they have experienced having love and care and attention withheld themselves, as a child, they don’t quite get it. It really doesn’t hurt them in the same way as it does us. It’s like trying to hit someone who’s wearing armour. I’m really glad that you did finally send an email saying how you really felt. It is enormously difficult to be honest if that has been punished in the past, and I guess it will take many many repetitions of not getting punished for it now, before it feels safe.

    Does this post and photos mean you’re back on the water now? With hot water and electricity?

    Like

    1. Laura says:

      Thanks for identifying. It sounds so childish and kind of ungrateful or unfair, but thats the feeling. It’s hard to admit feeling resentful of someone who is so kind to you taking some time off!

      Yes we are back out on the canal. We’ve had a few days cruising short distances and it’s been really warm. Thunderstorms tonight though 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

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