Play therapy

“You are never too old for a rope swing” a passer by commented as we played. Truly played.

Which is exactly what I needed in our therapy session after the morning. The gruelling morning.

I’m still having visual flashbacks today from having to relay part of my trauma yesterday, but having fun with K has gone a long way to helping me find safety in the world regardless.

So I’m particularly buoyant today. Tired, but buoyant.

“Will you take our contact away at some point” I asked K when we had returned back to the room. Having daily text contact with her is massively helping and I’m just all too aware that at some point that needs to change.

“No” she said. Continuing to massage my hand.

“Why not? We can’t be like this forever. There must come a time where you ask me to stop?”

“No there won’t” she replied.

I was puzzled. K is all for moving forwards, things changing, I couldn’t understand why she was saying that. But knowing K as I do I quickly figured it out.

“Cos it’ll just fade naturally won’t it?”

“Yes” she said. “If we are still like this in 10 years I might be concerned but we are exactly where we need to be right now. I know that at some point our contact will lessen because you’ll have others you’ll turn to instead”.

“But I do chat to others now” I said.

“A significant other” she clarified. That twinkle in her eye.

I’m in the midst of getting to know someone from the dating world quite closely. It’s exciting and I feel a little spark in my stomach when I think about her. We have so much in common it’s quite amazing.

K turned her serious face on then.

“But I really think you need someone who is stable” she said. “You have enough trouble with people as it is, you don’t need someone who isn’t genuine, who doesn’t say what they mean”.

I know exactly what she means. I attract the wrong “type” of person. I always have done. I really am finding so much joy and fun in life and I need someone who can share that with me. Who won’t be under clouds and clouds of shit. I know everyone has their difficulties but basically I don’t need someone like me…. who has a history of drowning in those difficulties.

It might be too much to ask. But I hope not. I really think I deserve my shot at happiness now.

“That was fun” K said. When we walked away from the swing. “If you want to do that again, we can”.

Bless her. She was terrified. But she still did it.

“Now you know what my morning was like” I smiled.

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Right

Tomorrow someone is coming to my house and I have to talk about absolutely everything that is wrong with me. Everything that still has me in chains.

To counter that, tonight I want to write about everything that is right with me. Everything that gets me going in my life.

1. My friends. One of my best friends said this afternoon “I think you’re in the best place with your friendships at the moment than I’ve ever seen you”. Spot on. I am. This friend has known me an extremely long time. She’s been there through a lot of friendships that have come and gone. Many she’s not massively been keen on from the start I believe. Perceptive lady.

At the moment I have some absolutely fantastic friendships. Friends who know me, appreciate me, ask me for help, and encourage me to ask them for help also. I’m grateful for them all.

2. My boss. This might be a bit weird. My boss is essentially my friend so technically is covered by point 1. But she’s more than a friend. She’s someone who has acted as a cheer leader for me for a really long time now. She’s been a mentor, and now a really close colleague and confidant. I’m so lucky to have ever met her as her dedication to me has transformed my life. Our connection is one of a kind. I am who I am today because of her belief and commitment to me. It feels good now that I can repay the favour more. Just today she dropped some work on my doorstep that she was stuck with. I’m so glad I can now help her out as she had been me for so long.

3. C & K. I’ve been physically and mentally all over the place today. I’ve been gagging my way through the day, and crying. C put some time aside from preparing for her holiday to send me some distant healing, and K has been present as always, her usual consistent and calm self. Todays support by C, K & friends has made it a heck of a lot easier to cope with all the stress, distorted thinking and attachment turmoil. I’m so very lucky to have the professionals in my life I do.

4. A new blossoming friendship with someone from the dating app. It’s an exciting time really. I’m hopeful with where this is going. Not necessarily in terms of relationship, but in terms of friendship at least. We have so much in common I think this will bring something to both of our lives, regardless of how far it goes.

I’m too tired to continue. Maybe tomorrow I will continue. Before they arrive.

Fear of attachments

It doesn’t take much for me to lose my confidence in the outside world. Or is it losing confidence in myself?

I’ve had a good morning. I’ve felt SO positive and confident this morning it kept me from my work that I do from home. I didn’t want to get my head stuck in the books, I wanted to be out the home doing stuff, seeing people. But work is work, it’s got to be done. So following an hour of work I am now indoors, with the back door shut, wondering how on earth I am going to get myself to my therapy appointment in half an hour.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take much either for me to regain that confidence. Generally it just takes a deep breath and a plunge back into the world. A small car ride can often do it. A reminder of what is REALLY outside these four walls – not what my mind believes to be outside these walls emotionally. I think the difficultly lies in how difficult it is for me to take that deep breath and do it. It takes a tonne of courage, each and every time.

It isn’t that I sit here and think “I can’t go out there, I might get hurt”. It isn’t that I ruminate over what bad things could happen out there. This isn’t thought based at all. It’s entirely emotional. It’s just an overwhelming FEELING of THAT ISN’T SAFE. And truth be told it doesn’t make a load of sense.

Every single trauma that has happened to me, bar one incident, happened in a house. Surely from that you’d assume that being at home is where I’d struggle to be? Surely from that you’d assume that actually being outside is where I feel safe?

But I guess every single trauma that has happened to me has happened at the hands of a person. It is the people I am unsettled by. I have locks on my doors to keep people out. I don’t have that luxury in the outside world. But like I said I don’t ruminate over what people can do to me. Every single trauma has happened to me, bar one, in the thick of an attachment with someone. Not just a stranger. Only on one occasion have I been hurt by a stranger. So whilst I plan to do self defence the question is – how much will that even help?

Worrying about attachments isn’t about being physically hurt. I generally don’t go to my therapist worried she is going to pull a weapon out on me. Only a few occasions have I worried she’s going to lash out and that’s absolutely my own flashbacks, nothing else. I feel pathetic wondering if I get so anxious and uptight leaving the house to see a main attachment because I’m worried about EMOTIONAL hurt. But that is what it feels like. Because once I’ve spoken to my therapist on the phone for 10 minutes generally I’m able to leave the house without even needing to take a deep breath. Leaving the house becomes just the small step it should be.

It’s unfortunate because it keeps me in a stressed state. Twice a week I have to go through this agony of “I want to see my therapist but I can’t leave the house”. And now I will have it with C also, when she is due to come. The level of feeling saturates my body with adrenaline and cortisol and I can’t stand the way it makes me feel. I can’t stand the way it lingers and true relaxation is never achieved because the effects of the little buggers are never far away. Just a sneeze from someone, even a dog, can set my heart racing again.

Unfortunately I don’t know what the answer is. I have always been like this. Through all the special attachments I’ve had. And now I need to take that deep breath and leave the house. And I’m sick of this cycle.

Session 2

I am learning a lot talking to C about reiki informed stuff. We were only meant to meet today for 15 minutes as per my request but 15 minutes turned into over an hour I think. For how nervous I was building up to her coming, that quickly melted away when she was actually in my house.

After my email to her, she has a greater understanding of what I hope to achieve from reiki and what brings me to it. This means we can talk in more specific terms. She has a few ideas bubbling up in how to work with me specifically. One is particularly intruiging for me…

Cutting cords that run from me to certain people who continue to have a negative effect on me. Who continue to feed their negative energy into me even when they are not around me. The relationship that flagged up mostly here in my mind is the one with my sister. I would quite like those cords to be cut so that it stops feeling quite so painful that she’s turned me into the devil of the family.

When C was talking about cord cutting I felt a gentle tugging on my heart pulling outwards. “I think some of my cords are ready to be cut” I observed. It won’t just be my sister. I have many relationships that could really do with losing some of their ties to me. I will admit to feeling some hope about that aspect of healing.

We had been chatting for about 45 minutes I think before we even moved into doing any reiki. Reiki is all about trust and she totally understands that. “Reiki can make you feel quite vulnerable” she offered. Yes, yes it really really does. Especially when you’ve got a trauma history of being spiritually messed with. It presses buttons on levels of vulnerability that I haven’t felt since pushing every single thought of anything that isn’t complete science out of my life. It’s starting to welcome “power” back into my life that I had to completely reject to maintain any sense of sanity.

I do trust her, and that’s happened alarmingly fast. I think watching her work on my senior dog is making all the difference. I’m watching her hands. I’m watching her body. I’m watching everything. In doing so I’m learning about C in my ever observant ways. The way her head and upper body gently circles as she works with my dog sometimes. The way she takes deep breaths now and then but other than that doesn’t appear to be breathing. The way she sits bolt upright further accentuating the flick of her hair at the back of her head.

I watch. I observe. I soak up like a sponge. It’s how I feel safe.

Todays experience for me was different to last week. I was emotionally tugged, but this time from my heart, rather than the pit of my belly. A bit like when you have really sore muscles so you massage them. It hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It felt just like that, except with my heart. It was relieving but also painful. Very strange.

I practiced today taking myself away from what was going on in my body. I would sit with the heart massage for as long as I could, but then I would disconnect. I would then return when I felt I wanted some more. I ran this by C and she said that my own energy will be protecting me and if I disconnect then it’s my energy making that decision. But actually, I don’t want to agree with that.

I need to feel in control of this process to some degree. It makes sense, to me, that I can pull my mind away from something that is going on within me. That’s essentially how I got through my childhood so it makes no sense to deprive myself of that power now. I want to feel in control of my reiki experience. If I want to shut it down I need to feel like I can. My experience today tells me that I can.

As a result I feel less overwhelmed by it. My biggest need is to feel in control. And if I can dip in and out of the healing power as and when I want to in sessions then that’s ideal for me.

My brain lit up as well when C said the first step to reiki is grounding and stability. These foundations are more important to me now than anything. I don’t want to develop any sort of attachment with anyone or anything unless those foundations are there.

I identified feeling empowered once todays session was over which is a far cry from how I felt less week. She had said we are going to work on my solar plexus chakra. With an important work event upcoming I need the extra confidence and personal power that this will bring. The fact that chakra is yellow and I’m very much drawn to yellow things at the moment, including my stunning sunflowers in my garden, is empowering me to start to appreciate how healing is not just about words you speak. It’s about colour, silence, physiological emotion and guided meditation.

Which reminds me. I need to do this guided meditation.

Hope

It’s not been an easy day, it hasn’t been an easy few days though I’ve made the most of what I can.

I wrote a long email to C today to let her know that I cannot continue with reiki weekly. It’s too much for many reasons. She wrote such a lovely email back and we have decided to meet once a fortnight for a much shorter time slot. The fact she is dedicated to me in that way is really helping me build that all important trust with her. I just need to take it slow. My PTSD needs me to take it slow.

I had therapy with K today as well which began with me on the phone to her crying my eyes out in complete despair and ended with me sat next to her showing her my holiday pictures. Never a dull moment in therapy with me… what will happen next? Who on earth knows!

K and I have formulated a plan to help me through this slight funk I’ve fallen into. It feels really encouraging that there is something concrete I can do to try and help myself. Something that I KNOW has worked before but stopped being a habit and needs to be picked up again. It feels really encouraging that whilst I was already thinking it, K was the person who spoke it out loud. I don’t think there is a better more validating feeling than being understood by your therapist to the point they KNOW you inside out, back to front and can determine what is needed. I know I’ve said before that K relies heavily on me finding my own answers… this shows me that when shit really hits the fan she will be proactive and offer a ladder down for me to climb up. That is a comforting feeling. It certainly helped my tears dry up.

I gave K a DVD to watch. Completely out of the blue and I have no idea if she will actually watch it but it would be cool if she did. It’s called “what about Bob?” and is a film not to be taken too seriously. It’s about a client and psychiatrist relationship and just depicts me so well, in a very exaggerated form. It gives me a giggle every time I watch it. A strange ‘knowing’ giggle. I am that neurotic, I’m just better at keeping it contained……. most the time.

When I got into the room with K and was finding it less difficult to imagine continuing to exist, she asked me about my progress in chatting to fellow gays. I told her that it had stopped progressing at all, it always dries up when my mental health takes a nose dive. “…but one day I hope I can share a holiday like I’ve just had with someone of my own…” I said.

K had been at the exact spot one of my holiday pictures were taken. I only found out today but strangely when I was there at the weekend it suddenly hit me: K might have been here with her family. It was a painful thought, one that I brushed away as quickly as I could. How strange that it turns out yes, she in fact has been in that exact spot.

So one day I do hope to be able to go there with someone I love. Not sure about the kid part, but I’ll settle for someone I love. Out the corner of my eye I saw K beam when I said that.

“It might not happen” I added.

“But you have hope” she said, clenching her fists up to her face seemingly in absolute joy.

That is what I love about K. Her expressions of positivity makes my heart melt. They are so real, so true. I can feel like a lost cause but by the end of an hour with her there will be a smile on my face from just watching her continue to root for me.

Headache

Dear K,

I apologise. It isn’t that I think you’re not strong enough. It isn’t that I think you aren’t “up for the job”. You’re right, I do have this pervading belief that I am going to be too much for you, that I am going to overwhelm you, that I am going to cause you to have to run away for your life. I know you will understand that is about me and my blueprints rather than any judgement about you.

We are well into our second year now and you’ve either seen or been told of some of the most disturbed bits about me. Yet you’re still here. I think that is something I can’t quite comprehend. In the past I’ve been run away from by therapists because of a.) my anger b.) my diagnosis and c.) my emotional crashes. You’ve been around all three of those to some degree and you’ve not once faltered.

I keep thinking I hear faltering in your voice but I’m starting to understand that silence is actually you leaving me to take the lead. It’s you not taking a running jump to try and “fix” everything, but instead just giving me the space to work it out for myself. It is hard work but I know how important it is.

That phone call today was exceptionally hard work. I had so many conflicting needs and views in my head (which is the essence of DID – when I’m under emotional strain the inside ‘world’ gets very messy) and I struggled to really express any of it. But I knew I had to, if I wanted to be understood and get my need for that phone-call met. I knew I couldn’t just allow the dissociation to take me entirely because then I’d be empty handed tonight which is always, always, ALWAYS a recipe for disaster.

I almost wanted to shout “please meet me half way!” and by that I meant please offer some sort of solution to how I was feeling, please tell me what you think I need and what I need to do to feel better. I knew that wasn’t the answer though. I don’t think your job is to meet me half way, I think it’s more complicated than that. If you meet me half way and offer solutions etc then that disempowers me.

Your job is to actually only meet me half way when I’ve travelled to you about 75% of the way. Today could have looked very different. If you’d done my job for me in that phone call I’d be feeling tonight “well thank god K is here in my life, I couldn’t have got through that without her”. Instead I’m feeling “well, I got myself through that, go me” which has then empowered me to get some of my to do list ticked off, which has empowered me even further.

I know you will see that as a giant success.

I’m learning that you remaining quiet in the face of my emotional crises is not you becoming overwhelmed and lost in it all. The pattern of the phone call today was as follows:

  • I ground myself and offer you something that drives me 75% of the way towards our connection
  • You receive it and offer me anything from 25% to 50% of the connection back to meet what I’m saying and/or provide some overlap.

It’s actually very clever and I’m fascinated with how your mind works. If I didn’t offer that 75% you didn’t offer me the 25% to 50%. Simple. You weren’t going to do the work for me. But you were very receptive when I did the work for myself. That was powerful.

I love sussing you out. I love trying to ascertain what you’re doing and why. Only because then it really helps me to do it with myself also. It helps me to then realise I need to find that 75% and keep that learned helplessness at bay.

This therapy isn’t just about this attachment. My last therapy was. Everything was about how close I could get. How accepted I could get. Everything was about me, and her. This therapy isn’t and I’m so very aware of that. This therapy is about my LIFE. Learned helplessness isn’t going to give me life. Yes it would be “nice” if you swooped in with answers that make me feel lifted, but what if you then aren’t there? What you do is for the greater good of ME, not this attachment. There is a huge difference in that I’ve never appreciated before. There is a huge difference in that I am so grateful for.

You saying you will “wave [me] off” tomorrow has given me a dose of that comfort that I desired all along. But that only came because I dragged myself through an hour of hard work on the phone. That only came because I said to myself: enough is enough, stop poking and prodding her and then turning your back. That comfort is my reward for sorting my shit out, basically. That is how it feels.

Thank you for coming into my life and showing me what I didn’t even know I needed. I hope it is okay to reflect back on what I think you’re doing – feel free to tell me it’s wrong!

Reiki

I am very skeptical of Reiki. At least, I was. What I experienced this evening blew my mind.

C has been trying to get me to have some Reiki done for months and months. There’s something about C that has drawn me to her and not just left me muttering “yeah maybe” and vowing to never bump into her again.

C is the spitting image of my “mum” alter. The. Spitting. Image. It’s uncanny how similar they are. I think that means automatically I trust her somewhat implicitly. I feel safe with her (ish) already. I go into that annoying jibber-jabber state when I talk to her because I want to … I’m not sure … Impress? Mean something? Leave a mark? Please her? I don’t know to be honest.

I let her in my home to do Reiki on my eldest dog. I will do anything to keep my senior dog going for as long as possible. Anything. C obviously whole heartedly believes she can have positive influences on a dogs life otherwise she wouldn’t do it. So I watched eagerly as she started to gauge my dog, and work on her.

When my dog had settled into it, all that was left was a big space for my own mind to fill. The music, watching C put her everything into what she was doing, using the time to practice mindfulness… I didn’t expect, at all, to be so overcome by emotion.

It kept bubbling up in me. I’d had a good day. A positive experience with my mother (I know, shock horror), followed by a positive work job. So I didn’t expect to feel bowled over by tearfulness that gripped my heart and squeezed. C’s eyes were shut so she had no idea my eyes were brimming.

After she’d finished with my dog we came together again for a chat. And what she said really really shocked me.

“I connected to you part way through” she said “and I was overcome with sadness, I was shocked at the extent of what I was feeling, so much so a tear fell”. She started crying then. Or at least, her eyes started leaking. Not full on crying, but a definite expression of emotion that truly reflected how I was feeling. I was gobsmacked.

I couldn’t help it then I balled. I balled and I had no idea why. There were absolutely no thoughts connected to it. I just allowed the tears to finally spill over.

“Don’t block it”, she said, aware that I was trying to pull myself together. We will break off bits, bit by bit, she started explaining. We won’t overload you. But it’s clear to me how much you’ve repressed. It’s clear to me how much you have to let go of.

Now, she doesn’t know much about me. She’s starting to know more and more but that word ‘repressed’ is spot on and there’s no way she would have known that I’ve spent my entire life repressing things.

“I’ve been in therapy on and off for 15 years”, I said. “But this is something I’ve never felt before. This goes beyond words. This is just pure emotion”.

She explained how Reiki is from the heart, reiki is all about love. She explained that part way through working on my dog, she purposefully connected to me and absolutely flooded me with love and protection. Ordinarily I’d be scoffing at the sheer idea of this sort of healing but now I’ve felt it. I can’t deny what I’ve felt so powerfully.

Before she left she gave me a hug. I am exhausted tonight. I feel lucky to have been let into the beauty that is C. She left me with two grounding techniques and a full heart. My dog responded to her really well also which always helps. Dogs know who is there to bring positivity and life and my senior certainly made her mind up a lot faster than she usually does!