Therapy (152) Pt II

It feels like there could be a lot of parts to this one…heck we could probably turn it into a book between the two of us.  I’m only in my mid twenties, I’m young, and I’ve no doubt got decades of on and off therapy ahead of me, but I want to start this post off with remembering a bit about where this therapy stuff started.

So I come from the kind of family where the idea of therapy and talking to someone is entirely ridiculous. The silly phrase that actually pops into my head on a pretty regular basis about this and stuff like this is from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Vernon Dudley’s sister in the film says good. i wont have this namby pamby wishy washy nonsense about not beating people who deserve it. It just sums up entirely how my parents are about emotions and feelings and talking about them – basically, you don’t. That’s for weaklings, for pathetic people, people to be mocked. I won’t have this namby pamby wishy washy nonsense about talking about feelings. And so of course the idea of therapy was totally ridiculous to me.

But I went to university…I felt isolated by the fact that I never wanted to have sex and I was terrified of relationships, as well as simply men a lot of the time. One of my housemates was talking to me about a friend on her course who was struggling with anorexia and was seeing a counsellor at the uni about it. And that kind of sparked the idea in my head. I think I was already on a forum just before that (I didn’t get on well there – it wasn’t where I met pocketcanadian), and I had read about plenty of people being in therapy, I just had never thought that maybe I could even have that.

So I looked into it, and I started with emailing a woman called B. It was too terrifying to see somebody face to face. It started by having to fill out a questionnaire to assess me – hilariously looking at it now her response was the good news is your risk factors registered as zero and your functioning was well within the range we’d want it to be! Hmmm, don’t think I was completely honest in that first questionnaire. She asked me to tell her a little bit about what I wanted us to work on and I said okay, so when I was about 7-8 I was sexually abused on and off for a year or two. I’ve always considered that I’d gotten over it but I can never seem to get into a relationship with someone – it’s like I just automatically say no even if I want to. [a little bit about how I had read about counselling in a book and just thought I’d try it]. I think that’s about it. Thanks, pocketbrit

It seems comical to me now rereading that. Oh well i was sexually abused (and make it out to be shorter than it was) but I don’t know what my problem is, think that’s about it. cheers, bye. *eyeroll*. B emailed me back, told me I was brave and asked me to share some more. I built up trust with her, aided by the fact that it was behind a screen and not face to face. Rereading the emails now I feel a mixture of sadness at how I was struggling but not wanting to admit it, pride that I gave it a go and found the courage to reach out and begin to speak about these things, and also a bit ashamed of how young I sound. It was a good few years ago now, but I sound so young and naive, and then that brings me back around to sad, because I was so sure I was making a big deal out of nothing, so sure I didn’t deserve this woman’s time. She didn’t have any experience in trauma, she was a counsellor rather than a therapist, but she listened, and she was gentle and kind. She was exactly the introduction into it that I needed.  There was a bit she wrote that I used to reread a lot – you are not the problem here, all families are systems and yours hasn’t worked for you. While I’m sure your parents did the best they could at the time and this is in no way meant as a criticism of them, something made them consciously or unconsciously turn a blind eye and it is in that darkness that abuse happens. You are not in the dark anymore, nor should it follow you around like a shadow. I don’t know why but I felt her and I believed her, and I hung onto it like an anchor at the time. She suggested we meet in person and I did, and then she mentioned that the head of counselling did EMDR and that she wondered if I would be able to give it a go, the extra scary part being that he was a man (though a kind and gentle small Irishman, as she put it). I freaked out and said no, and then came around to the idea.

Seeing A for EMDR was terrifying. I’m proud of myself for going and trying. I don’t think it really helped – I refused to tell him any details to begin, and was only just beginning to open up and trust him as our time was coming to an end. But I began to really like him. She was right, he was gentle and kind, and quite fatherly. He didn’t push me but also wasn’t scared or shocked when I did tell him bits. He was steady, never wavered. What seeing him really did was build up my confidence. He really tried to impress on me that I should make sure that if I went to therapy in the future I saw a trauma specialist. That’s what he was, a senior accredited with personal interest in trauma. I kind of wish I could have carried on seeing him, but I wasn’t living there anymore, and even if I was I wouldn’t have been able to pay for it.

So then I didn’t see anyone for a bit. But I went back to uni (a different city) to do a postgrad, and looked up their wellbeing services. I started seeing a young woman there – no counselling or therapy experience, but a fun woman, a good listener that I just really liked. She was a good listener and kind, even though I was a pain in the arse and spent most of my time staring at the clock not knowing what to say. Sometimes we would draw or play gamed, not even really talk. She was not helpful for the trauma, but very helpful for the loneliness, for having somebody.

And then we come to sonja and today. And I’m going to leave that for Therapy Pt III I think – that’s more than enough nonsense from me for tonight…

Receptive (323)

Safe to say, I am absolutely not a receptive person. Actually, perhaps that isn’t quite accurate – I’m absolutely not a receptive person when it comes to suggestions regarding myself. I am not receptive to things that could be done to “improve” the way I do things. Every suggestion feels like a slight, like a comment on what is wrong with me. It is taken on board as something to prove all of those voices that tell me I am inherently wrong because of X, Y and Z. And queue the instant shame. This of course isn’t something that I am happy with and want to maintain. I don’t think it would go down too well with future employers if I wrote I am a very receptive person provided the suggestions for improvement are not regarding myself. I suspect this is part of my trauma….the monumental shame, the way that a simple suggestion of something that might make something better/easier turns into a personal slight. A this is why you’re awful, see nobody likes you, nobody wants you here, you’re just wrong down to your core.  A spiral that happens fairly regularly actually, about all sorts of things.

The first thing that I thought of when I saw today’s word was being receptive to help. I’ve had the first therapy session after a 3 week break, and I finally went back and was receptive to the idea of seeking other outside help. Not wholly receptive – it’s totally making me panic tonight, and yet it’s an option. I’ve allowed it to be an option that we are going to look into. But for reference, this option was suggested to me over a month ago, and when it was I got extremely angry about it, rejected it, refused help, and was full of loud mixed feelings. I refused to even think about the possibility of accepting help. No effing way. Somebody internally screaming THIS IS NOT SAFE. THIS IS NOT SAFE. THIS IS NOT SAFE. Yes, that loud, and yes, with that much panic. It was a week or two full of panic.

I’m generally not receptive to anything ‘good’. It is a part of being closed off and holding myself in tight and staying safe. It took me a long time to come around to the idea of therapy or seeing somebody to talk to. A lot of calming parts that wanted to blare a red siren because our safety was being compromised by allowing somebody else into our world. And part of my attachment hurts mean that this crops up frequently. I haven’t actually had normal once a week on the designated day therapy with my therapist for several months. As soon as we get back into the swing of a couple of good sessions something goes wrong inside and I panic and it becomes unsafe. I spiral into this isn’t safe, she doesn’t care, who are you kidding, she wouldn’t care if you were even alive, she thinks you’re an idiot, she thinks you are making a big deal out of nothing, who the hell are you kidding?! And so hey presto, get ready for a session (or the next 4) of being closed off, refusing to talk, getting really angry and refusing to be receptive to care or help. Its not a fun cycle.

Something that is extra making me panic tonight about receiving outside help is that it will be free – on the NHS. And I don’t like that because that makes it feel all the more unsafe. I don’t know exactly why, maybe because it feels like they won’t be as conscious of confidentiality, maybe because they will be more likely to be annoyed and think that I’m there for no reason and that I’m making a big deal out of nothing. ugh.

Loving (276)

We’ve had a heavy list of words these last few days…the kind where you read them and thing ugh, fuck, I don’t want to write about that. And so I’ve been reading them and then ignoring them, waiting for something easier to come along. But hey ho, that doesn’t seem to happening so I’m just going to get back into it before my list of words that I haven’t done piles up even more.

I want loving people in my life. Um, duh, pocketbrit, who doesn’t?!? But I’m actually kind of embarrassingly desperate to have loving people in my life. I used to wish something terrible would happen to my parents (which I would’ve been devastated about – it wasn’t that I didn’t love them) in the hope that somebody else would come into my life who would be so gentle and loving and caring, and really look after me. Not just physical me, but emotional me. And I don’t just mean I wished it once, I mean I wished it a lot of the time. As a kid I was drawn to books with orphans in them, or kids that have had a really crappy time only to be taken in by somebody, to finally have that loving paternal relationship where they are finally safe. I would obsess over those adult characters that became loving guardians, and in my own inner world, I used to pretend somebody was coming for me, it was just a case of waiting it out.

Here’s the part that really hurts my inner parts: I’m an adult now. Nobody is coming. It’s too late. They might be little, but this body is not.

Lately things have been terrible with my therapist. Something she keeps bringing up is my problem with attachment. She’s said before that she doesn’t think I have ever truly felt safe. And now she has repeatedly mentioned how as soon as I start to like somebody (and feel more relaxed, more safe), I panic, and then I push them away. It’s not safe to me. The phobia of attachment, and the phobia of attachment loss.

Lately I’ve been pushing her really hard. Though honestly I’ve routinely been pushing her away since I started with her a year and a half ago. I’ve threatened (and tried to) quit countless times. It’s so difficult because I’m desperate to have her love me and care for me, but the moment we have a really good session, or she’s feeling caring and attuned and attached and I feel a little safer, let my guard down a little, it’s like sirens go off in my head. Guaranteed the next session she will say something that I take the wrong way (because I’m subconsciously on high alert for clues that she’s actually not safe, that I need to leave), and it all turns to shit.

I don’t have many loving relationships in my life at all. The friendship that I have with pocketcanadian is the biggest exception. And that’s surprising, because there is truly a lot of love. Even though this one too is fraught with regular pushing from both of us, it’s still standing and it’s still strong, and that surprises me and also doesn’t surprise me. I think we work hard at it, I think there’s a lot of common ground and understanding and leeway given. My therapist and I have talked before about how it’s been different with pocketcanadian, how I’ve managed to let her in, and not leave when I start to panic…what we came up with is that the friendship of ours took place without the direct contact of a normal relationship. There was almost this barrier to hide behind. We knew the most intimate details of the other, without even knowing the other’s name at the beginning. It was backward, and it kept a physical distance between us that allowed me to gain an emotional closeness without panicking. Of course as the emotional bond got stronger, the more I loved her, the more I relied on her, the more panicked I would get. But the amazing thing is this….we both love each other, and we both already understand, already expect it, and we both fight to overcome that flight response. Every single time. Something about the physical distance, and the anonymity leading to very deep truthtelling between us, meant that this friendship could become the most genuine and loving one in my life. That I have ever, and I’m certain will ever, have.

In contrast, I very recently told my other closest friend something that I was terrified to. And, that there was more I want to tell her. This is a friend that I have known for the majority of my life – a best friend that I see fairly regularly, that I used to spend all of my time with. I have never told her any of this part of my life because I have always been too scared, despite her sharing similar with me. But her response to the little that I told her? Extremely loving. I balled my eyes out for an hour and a half afterwards. But after the crying settled, I wanted to run. I still want to run. Every time I think about it I feel a swell of panic in my belly. And i keep telling myself that despite her loving response so far, she’s going to not believe me or be so disgusted when I tell her about my brother. In fact I convince myself that that will happen. And so I tell myself I won’t ever see her again, I’ll remove her from my life.

It’s crazy this attachment shit. It’s crazy how I desperately long for a loving relationship, and then panic and destroy the relationship as soon as it begins become loving. I know this is my trauma playing out, that it’s not my fault, but it’s also just so shameful.


Trapped (262)

The very first thing that came to my mind was being physically trapped by my brother. In a room with a locked door, in a room without a locked door even. It’s amazing how you don’t a concrete physical inability to escape, to be trapped. Verbal threats, the position of a hand around a throat, held tight around your wrist, a glare even will do it. A look that says you are not leaving here, don’t even try. Similarly in those situations, how your own body freezes and traps you there, forcing you to just endure it. How your brain may shout at you to leave, or your eyes might focus on the door, but you just cannot manage to get your body to move out of the fear and through that door.


I don’t like siting still in one place where I am not comfortable and at home. I currently do a job where I am on my feet all day, walking around and doing things… I like that, the ability to move around. I don’t like feeling stuck in a room and unable to move. I have trained to go into a profession which will be an office job, but part of the reason I haven’t done it is that I don’t want to feel trapped in a room at a desk all day.


This week I went back to t after several weeks of not going after a really bad session. I didn’t realise I was doing it but I never sat back in the chair for the entire time I was there. I hovered on the edge of it, and right over on the side that put more distance between my therapist and me, and less distance between me and the door. I think I was ready to get up and walk out – I didn’t want to be trapped there, forced to stay if she hurt me.

one hundred & eighty five: terminate

what a forceful word.

i was all over the place with the word, thought of everything from terminating a pregnancy to terminating a contract to arnold schwarzenegger movies.

i guess what i hope i’m doing is terminating the cycle of my parents, and my ancestors…of abuse. of violence. of silence, and suffering in isolation.

i know it is still in me, all the rot…all of the horrors of my grandparents, and their parents. i am certain that there was incest in my parents’ families of origin; there was certainly alcoholism and domestic violence and mental illness aplenty, some kept subterranean, some more flamboyant. there is a quickness to my anger that scares me, that flashes and flares with a suddenness that is overwhelming and deeply triggering. the pull of addiction is strong in my blood, and i’ve been flying my cuckoo flag high for years.

i guess we’ll find out in another decade or so, when our kid is in full-fledged therapy, as to how successful i’ve been in terminating the unsavoury parts of my lineage. it’s like a really fun, suspenseful game of roulette…will it be the things i’ve anticipated that have fucked her up, or something that flew entirely under the radar?

Avoidance (177)

I think I might just avoid this one….

Ugh, I wish. I’m a big avoider. It’s something I do pretty well.

This always reminds me of way back when I did EMDR with the man who was head of counselling at my university. When I got there the first day he asked me to fill out a bunch of questionnaires/forms. I can’t remember the name of one of them, and I can’t find it online, but there were a load of pretty odd questions. He scored it and then explained the questionnaire to me at the end. It was testing trauma, maybe PTSD, I can’t remember, but there were three categories that you were scored in; hypervigilance (I scored mid range I think), dissociation (my response – “that stuffs bonkers”. I scored low. lol), and avoidance….where I scored extremely extremely high, high enough that on that section alone I would have been put in the PTSD bracket. (Not that the point of any of it was diagnosis, but just for him to get some background before we could begin the EMDR).

Back then my avoidance was absolutely huge. I had yet to find the forum where I met PC (or maybe i had just found it, I can’t remember, it was around about the same time – I think the forum was just after). I hadn’t told a single person about my childhood. Hadn’t confronted any family, hadn’t told a single friend, and was very much trying to continue avoiding the whole thing even in my own head. Because I had done that for years, and it had worked remarkably well; it got me here. But then relationships were becoming difficult, I was starting to have it confronting me when conversations between 20 year old female friends turned to stuff like sex, when I tried dating and freaked out when things progressed too far, when I started drinking a lot more because all of a sudden my brain was refusing to ignore it all and instead decided to bombard me with a fucking running background commentary on all of it. And I’d ignored it for years, for my whole life that far. But something to do with living away, having space from my family, and having it very obvious to me how differently I felt, and how withheld and scared I was, by being there as my friends relationships unfolded, made it somehow impossible to ignore. Avoidance totally failed.

That’s not to say that I don’t still avoid – I absolutely do. Last week I sent an email to my t that I wanted to talk to her about some stuff. This week I avoided going into it, and I likely will next week, and the week after, until forever lol. I’m good at being an idiot like that.

Also, a huge difficulty (I wrote part of my problem just then before changing it – that’s what it feels like, but I’m trying to be just a tiny bit nicer to myself), is what I’ve written on here about before, which is a phobia of inner experience, or easier put; I’m a wimp and scared of feeling the feelings, so I avoid doing that a lot. I could go into that tonight (it ties into my saying fine all the time too acutally…), but I think I’ve written enough nonsense for one night.

Affirmation (159)

People who have grown up in abusive families tend to have missed out on these growing up, I think. Maybe they totally clung to them whenever they received positive affirmations from people, or maybe they dismissed them, refused to let them in, shrugged them off as not truthful, they are only saying that because they don’t really understand, they don’t understand all the reasons you’re actually just terrible. Some people do both; I did. Both clung to any slight positive affirmation thrown my way, and refused to truly let it in. Voices inside my head citing off every single reason that the person was wrong to say what they did, backed up with the data of every single time everybody else said something bad to you, or wasn’t there.

Now, particularly when I’m young, I need (too) many of these from people that I have let in. (Which is not very many people – only pocketcanadian and my therapist). Sometimes my shame surrounding this feels crippling…because to me asking for affirmations – that I’m not alone, that my hurt is justified, that I’m not bad, that I’m loved, or even just that I matter, my hurt matters; all of it feels needy. It feels weak.

In both mine and pc’s circumstances, our parents are acting like nothing is really wrong. It is crazy-making. Like truly *crazy* making. I’m sure there are unfortunately so many out there that know exactly what I mean, and I can’t begin to sufficiently express how insane it makes you feel when your family are carrying on as though everything is just dandy. In my case having no doubt as to the abuse actually having taken place (after all, I didn’t tell them, they merely asked me to confirm it), but nonetheless having a family dinner complete with my abuser, as though we are one happy family. Most of the time I know that they are the crazy ones, but sometimes i start to truly question my sanity…have I lost it? Did I tell them? Am I imagining all of it taking place? Or are they right, is this just not a big deal but I’m making it into one?
This is maybe the most hurtful part of it all.

And so, my point to that last paragraph, was that having somebody by your side, rooting you on, confirming that yes, that really did happen, and yes they really are doing what they’re doing, and no my love, you are not the crazy one, they are the crazy ones, the crazy is theirs, not yours…Having those affirmations, is invaluable, and without it I don’t think I would be here. It feels like when you take the stabilizers off your bike for the first time and you have somebody running alongside you as you cycle…you’re still so scared, still unsure, you still don’t feel totally safe, but you know there’s someone right with you, keeping you going, there ready for when you fall, reassuring you.

Boundaries (97)

First thing this made me think of was a blog called Tales of a Boundary Ninja that pocketcanadian told me about a couple of years ago now. The blog doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but I know I found it helpful and pc even more so. Definitely so worth a read to anyone who hasn’t heard of it.

And as does that blog talk about boundaries in relation to the authors therapist, this word makes me think of mine.

My t has very strict boundaries, and I completely hate them. I have been so jealous of other peoples relationships with their therapists. When my friend talks about their t checking in, texts that tell her she loves her or is thinking about her, when I hear about contact during the Christmas break, I am so full of ugly jealousy. Even worse, when I read about and hear about people having their therapist come over to sit next to them during a tough session, when they rest their head on their therapists lap or against their chest, when a therapist will read children’s books or stroke their hair…. All I can think is what is wrong with me? Why won’t my t ever do that? And ugh, the jealousy, the anger, the self hated. All because of boundaries.

And her reasons are the same bullshit thats always given… Its so important to have boundaries to keep it safe, that it’s a total lack of boundaries that has hurt me so much in my life, and it’s essential that she models good boundaries.

But fuck that. It isn’t boundaries that hurt me back then, it was violent, abusive arseholes. And how can it be safe for some therapists to do these things and not her? And I bet she does it with other clients. I bet she just doesn’t want my crazy rubbing off on her. Well fuck her.

And, where did these bullshit boundaries come into play when her husband came into my place of work on Christmas eve? Yes we are a business open to the general public, but he knew who I was, I could tell, and that’s fine, I go to his house every week and sometimes we see each other, but he shouldn’t fucking come to my place of work. That sounds like bullshit boundaries that are there how and when she wants them.

eighty-four: small

this word stings.

if i had to summarize what i’m doing these days in therapy, it would be that i’m grieving. without any overt plans to do so, i’ve been in touch with a lot of the things little me felt, during the time that the abuse happened.

time and time again, i’ve thought i might die from the hurt of it. the knowledge that i, as a small child, felt terror and panic and fear and disgust and shame and self-loathing in even a fraction of the degree i’ve felt lately, brings me to my knees. imagining that any child, me, my own daughter, pocketbrit, anyone, feeling so alone…oh.

coz really, how did we do it? where do little kids put all of that stuff? how did we make sense of it then? and how on earth do we make sense of it now?


more so than ever before, i have been granted access to how i felt when i was small. (i say ‘granted access’ coz it’s not like something i asked for or planned or even wanted, it’s just what’s happened. like something’s been unlocked, or come undone). and the experience is not of uncovering a memory of a specific event, or being submerged in body sensations (though there have been those times, too), it’s more that i am flooded with really strong emotions, and i start to feel so, so small. my therapist has referred to it as a feeling flashback. which means that sometimes, i will find myself so so sad…unable to stop crying, and i won’t even know quite why. or i’ll be completely terrified. or edgy, or unsettled, but without the words to explain why. or sometimes, delighted (unfortunately this is less common). but the way my body feels…the thoughts that are in my head…the words i have at my disposal…belong to that of a much smaller person. it is unnerving and amazing and horrible all at once.

in the past, it has been really hard to allow myself to feel the needs of this small, young part. there has been so much shame in permitting her space in my life. but lately, like i just said, it’s like i can’t even help it: she’s there, and then i’m her. sometimes i fight it…the shame gets loud, and i feel ridiculous, and i tell myself i am being indulgent and stupid and idiotic but all that does is defer her takeover and make it even more marked and inconvenient.

being small is awful when i’m trying to parent. coz all of it hurts: our daughter’s anger, impatience, or even her normal everyday complaints, all of them feel like daggers, personal and critical and sharp. and if she is hurt or sad, her pain overwhelms me. and it is similarly awful when i am trying to be a professional, or to be an equal, adult partner to my wife, when all i want is to hide under the covers or cower under my desk; to have  people speak quietly and slowly. when i just want to be hugged and cuddled and rocked and sang to.


today was awful. i had been bottling up all my smallness, all my neediness, and i planned to let it out in therapy. i would let her out, and my therapist could help me to hold her, and contain her, and help her. i couldn’t do it alone and i felt so so ashamed and tired of asking pocketbrit and my wife to help me. not coz they weren’t good at it, but because they were…but because the giving/taking ratio has been so, so unbalanced this month. and, they have their own shit, their own hurt, their own pain.

and then, due to a family emergency, my therapist cancelled my appointment today. and that was that.

i spun out. fully. i was so angry, because i was reminded of how unimportant i was in her life, how pathetic i was to be so dependent on a person i paid to be present, when she had no problems dropping me with zero notice. i was ashamed of how upset i was, at how instantly tears sprung to my eyes, at how convinced i was that i couldn’t hold on (it will be three weeks until i next see her). i was terrified at having to do it alone; i have always done it alone, except now i know the sweet sweet relief of not, and i’ve come to depend on it.

and the small one could not be contained anymore. she lashed out at everyone in sight; shoved everyone away, and then when they complied, felt so incredibly bereft. the small one was panicking and the adult part of me was ashamed that i couldn’t reign her in. she needed soothing and i couldn’t, i just couldn’t, because i was furious and sad and impatient and ashamed. oh god, the shame.

i nearly let it get the best of me.

i told my wife to leave me alone, which she did, for a short while. i shoved pocketbrit far, far away. i told her ‘don’t’ when she was saying kind things, and to leave me be. despite wanting exactly the opposite of that. (honestly, no one can win when i’m like that…there pretty much is no right thing to do, ugh.) i didn’t answer when she called and i rejected her love and i ignored her. the small one wanted her so badly, but i couldn’t let her.

except then i did.

and we asked her to read.

and she did.

but not only did she read, she asked if we wanted her to read on video, and we could hardly speak to answer yes (because the answer to that is always yes). and i had to press the mute button on my end, because as she read, i was taking raggedy horrible sobbing breaths, eyes and nose streaming, i couldn’t even believe she did it never mind so easily, i don’t even know how she could, except she did.

the small one felt it, and i did too, and we were soothed. and i could hold her, because i was being held, because i was being loved, because i wasn’t left alone, despite being convinced that i should be.

and so, my gratitude for today is the opposite of small. it’s gigantic as the sea, as the night sky, as the love in my heart.