Breath/breathe/breathless

Free associations today:

  • The way that my kitten or my pups curl up on my chest, their little heads under my chin, and as I breathe the air passing through my nose hits the tops of their ears, and it makes them twitch all adorable, and then every now and again they’ll shake their heads. I try to move my head so that I’m not exhaling on them, but it’s not always possible. And, despite how it’s clearly bugging them, they really don’t want to move, so just put up with it. Sweet little twitchy ears.
  • Breathing in the air late at night. Walking out into the crisp cold wonders air and breathing it in. Wood chimney smoke, the smell of the cold cold air. And, the sweet summer nights. Saltiness from the sea, sweet mellow flowers, warmth, and a day well spent outside.
  • Running and running and running until you can run no more. Sprinting as fast as you can, and feeling the air burning through your lungs. There’s some sort of satisfaction and comfort in that.
  • Sufocating; my biggest fear. Being held underwater, hands over mouths and nose, things in your mouth that shouldn’t be there.
  • My grandmother in the hospital. Already dead if not for the life machines technically allowing the basic functions to continue as that of a living person. But body only, not brain. Saying goodbye. The machine pumping her lungs full of air. Its roughness, the forceful way her body moved with the oxygen. The loud harsh noise of it. Not at all gentle like the actual breathing of my dear nan. Saying goodbye to the body of somebody already dead but being made to look alive in the most grotesque way. She wouldn’t have liked it one bit.
  • The way therapists have always made a note of my lack of breathing. The way I hold it all in. One therapist once told me it made him think of tiny little baby birds opening their mouths for their mums to feed them to survive. My body was the birds and I was starving it of life by refusing to breathe. That not breathing is a way of holding all emotion in.
  • The way my flute teacher in my very first lesson made me lie on the floor and asked if he could put his hand on my stomach to try to explain how I was breathing wrong, and how to do it better to maximise the air I was taking into my body. How scared I was, but how I did it despite every bone in my body screaming at me not to. How I never looked back, how I adored this man.
  • How my t told me today to sit with my kitten and notice his breathing and then go back and notice my own for as long as I could, until I find it too much, and then to go back to my cat again. How I’m trying to do that right now as I write this.

Jealousy

This one isn’t pretty. I wish I didn’t, but I absolutely do get jealous. Regularly. And I bloody hate it. Like I said, it’s never pretty. Anyone who has (and really, isn’t that everyone?) will know the horrible, stomach clenching, seething anger and jealousy that starts in your belly and just gets noisier and noisier until it’s completely unbearable roaring for attention. I hate the fact that even when you know its illogical, when your brain knows you aren’t being fair, or that its dumb, you can’t align thoughts and feelings…you can’t just switch it off with understanding that there is no need to be jealous.

What I’ve really been thinking about is the things I get jealous of… I’ve been thinking about how I used to get so, so mad and jealous when pocketcanadian and I would be talking and then she would have to leave because her family needed her. Or how I would sometimes hate hearing about her having a good time with her friends. I would go crazy, and it has been the cause of an argument multiple times. I would tell her I didn’t matter, I could never actually matter, because I was over here, in the UK and she was in Canada, and I’m not actually in her real life. Oh god I would tell her that all the time. That she doesn’t actually care, that I don’t count, that she tells me that stuff to pacify me but doesn’t actually mean it. That she wouldn’t want to ever meet me in real life. And even though she told me I mattered so much and that she cared and loved me, I would still get so jealous of the people that got to physically see her all the time. I would try hard not to lose my shit a lot of the time, but I couldn’t always help it. I’m better about this stuff these days, because I’m more secure in knowing that I actually am important to her, I really am. But still, it crops up, and when it does, just ugh, so so much ugh.

The other people I get jealous of frequently, and they aren’t even specific people, is anyone with a loving family. It makes me enraged, to see loving parents and kids, and to not have that myself. Sometimes it makes me smile to see, sometimes (most of the time) it hurts my heart, and sometimes I’m really just jealous. How dare they get that? What was wrong with me, what did they do that I didn’t, for them to be loved and supported like that, and for me not to? How is that fair? And, I hate them, just because they got what I want and never got. (I don’t actually, that’s just the jealousy talking.) How come my therapists son got to have her for a mum? How come he gets someone that will give him freedom, but love him no matter what, and support him (in a career in art – something that would never have been allowed for me)? How come he gets a mum that will be attuned, that will care and be gentle, and be present? I hate it. I hate the jealousy, and I hate the anger. Because it’s not rational, and yet it’s still totally there. And, even though I have no real clue about her other clients, I’m jealous of them too… I bet she prefers them, I bet they get more of her time and more of her care. I bet shes really gentle with some of them. I wonder if she ever sits next to them on the sofa, or hugs them, or holds their hand? She would never do any of those things with me. And, following on from that, I’m jealous of other people’s therapists. I hear about pc’s therapist and I get so fucking jealous. I read about peoples on here, and I think, fuck, I can’t even pay someone to want to do any of those things for/with me. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Finally, the last thing I’ve been thinking of is how people judge other people for being jealous. How they’re seen as bad, (and they can be if they act it out badly), but normally really are just hurting people. People wishing for something they don’t have, which hurts them. Normally jealousy isn’t really acted out, or the person tries so hard not to. It’s kept in, not given space unless it pummels its way through, and the part that annoys me is that people seem to be so quick to forget that it feels fucking awful to be jealous. Nobody wants to feel like that. It’s not an emotion that you choose…”oh hey, you know what I feel like feeling today…that bottomless, constricting, raging, jealousy. That sounds like fun”. I wish jealousy could be met with a little more gentleness. But also I know that’s so hard; the very last thing I feel like being with myself when I’m like that is gentle.

Control

This is maybe the most obvious factor that’s played out in abusive situations and then subsequently by the abused person in the rest of their life. I wish I could say I was different, but well, I’m not.

Abuse involves a lack of control. Always. A child being raped has no control over the situation and yet tries to claw at it in any possible way. I recently read the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and in it the author gives an example of one of his clients, who during a time of sexual abuse by one of her mothers’ boyfriends, would go and find him when he was drinking and act provocatively. What she was doing was simply trying to gain some form of control over the situation. By doing that she could dictate when it would happen, and she wouldn’t have to be anxious and awake all night, waiting for it to happen. It likely increased the number of times he assaulted her, but at least she had some control over when it would happen.

I did something different, and yet similar, and have always hated myself more than anything for it. I have been disgusted right to my core at myself, called myself a prostitute, a disgusting little whore, and could never hear anybodys attempts at compassion for the child I was, gaining control over the situation in any way I could. I still hate myself. When I first read that chapter in the book something clicked and I suddenly felt sad, but that has long since dissipated.

But even in the everyday, normal things, I am, and for as long as I can remember have been, a massive (and extremely annoying) control freak.

I’ve never cared if it meant I’d be doing all the work, so long as I was the one in control and doing it. My best friends used to laugh at me for it frequently… It was just one of those things about me. And actually not something I’ve ever really wanted to change about myself (aside from getting a bit better at relinquishing control over really unimportant things, which I have done).

But the thing is, I still do it to my detriment far too often in my life.

Several weeks ago I got really mad at my therapist… I took a book with me that she had given me, that we were working on, and when I got mad I told her that I only brought the book with me because I was giving it back to her. I wouldn’t do the work, didn’t want to, and there was no point in me having it. (my version of a ‘fuck you’ – you’ve disappointed me so have it back. I’m in control here, and I’m not doing anything you tell me to).

And I had refused to commit to doing the work up to that point too. I’d read the chapters a lot of the time, but refused to do any of the homework or exercises in it that she told me she wanted me to.

Then, a few weeks after giving her the book back, I went to therapy and at the end of my session asked if I could get it back (petulant child? Oh yes). That was just two sessions ago…I got it back (I think she was pleased I wanted it back), and I went home and read a few chapters and did a few of the exercises. Because this time I was in control, it was on my terms, not hers. And I went back last week with the book in my hand, full of bits that I’d written in it.

And then (I promise we’re coming towards the end of this boring story, sorry), I was panicky and young and scared last week, and I told her I quit.

I was done with therapy. Didn’t need it, was a waste of money, there is nothing wrong with me and I’m just being stupid. Really, I was just feeling all out of control of my life. My best friend was wanting to kill herself, and I realised I couldn’t help her or stop her, no matter how desperately I wanted to. My other best friend is having a terrible time with her family and yet is in the beginnings of what will be a successful career, in a long term relationship with the man I have no doubts she will marry and have kids with, and doing all of this with her own background of trauma. And then I’m here, entirely alone, unable to work out what I want to do, unable to move away, unable to feel in control of my life. I have an ex(not boyfriend, don’t know what to call him) who is pestering me to see him and that’s really just one 6 year long mess. I’ve got a family that I don’t know what to do with because I can’t seem to stop myself loving them even though i know they won’t ever be who I need or want. My brothers fiancé is talking about them having kids, which just makes me want to hurl. And I just completed a chapter in a book on dissociative disorders that terrifies me and that I had refused to do up until that point but somehow I wrote stuff and now it’s out there for somebody to read, even if that somebody is my therapist, and that scares the crap out of me.

So I quit. Because that was something I finally had effing control over. I could say, no more. I could say I was done…Except I signed a contract stating we’d have 2 finishing sessions in the event of terminating therapy (fuck it).

So I handed her the book, told her to rub all the stuff I’d written in it out (to which she said the book was mine to keep, that I mattered, and that my thinking she would just erase me from her life made her sad and brought tears to her eyes). But she took the book, swapped it out for another one that I could read this week while she reads what I wrote in the first one. And then, tomorrow, she’ll let me leave and not come back, without fulfilling the requirement of two final sessions, if this is what I want.

And now I don’t know what I want.

Going there tomorrow and saying goodbye, refusing to let her in, makes me feel in control.

Going there tomorrow and saying I’ve changed my mind, I want to carry on, feels weak. It feels very much not in control. It feels exposed and vulnerable and like I want to push anyone that comes near my heart far away.

It feels like something that I can finally do to say fuck you, I don’t need anybody, I decide what I do, and nobody gets to hurt me.

What a bloody mess, this need for control. I’m not sure how much sense this makes, it’s now 2.45am, and I’m going to take something to try to sleep, so I’m ending it here regardless…