Abstracting

Just loving the beginnings of my most recent project.

And I have several pieces going up for sale soon 😊

Here’s a little peek

A video of this one… it’s so sparkly and magical 🌟🌟🌟

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What now?

Here’s a question (s).

What need led you into long term therapy?

What need did you have that you thought could only be met by a therapist/therapy? Were you even aware of what was motivating you into a therapy relationship?

What were your expectations of it versus the reality?

These are questions I’m asking myself right now. And many more questions!

I’m interested in what core need people had within them that drove them to seek therapy.

When I started on this therapy journey 7 years ago, my presenting issue was depression. I wanted to die so badly.

My expectation of therapy at the time was what I’d seen in films. I didn’t know of anyone else who’d had therapy. It’s not as huge a thing in the U.K. as it is in America.

I’m not sure I knew or could have admitted to myself at the time, but what I really wanted was to feel loved. I wanted to feel parental care.

My core need was for a mother, I suppose.

And I think I also wanted a rescuer. Someone to save me from myself. I wanted to be rescued now, in the present in a way I hadn’t been rescued as a child.

I had become my own worst abuser. And part of me wanted to live but the abuser part of me was determined to die. I knew that part was going to kill me- That part who constantly called me names and cut my skin and took mini overdoses and class A drugs… tempting death to take me.

I wanted a mother and a rescuer. I can say that with only slight shame now. In the beginning I couldn’t even admit that to myself never mind anyone else. I thought is was the most ugly and desperate and pathetic of needs. It was so taboo that even I didn’t let myself see that that’s what I wanted.

I was 31 years old and I genuinely didn’t know that I had needs. I didn’t know I was allowed to have them. Or ask people to meet them. I recoiled inside with squirming embarrassment when my first therapist talked about needs. I couldn’t even say the word “needs”.

I thought you only got to have needs as a small child.

I knew I’ve felt need in my adult life but I was always very secretive about that, as if needing was a mortal sin. The flames of shame would scorch me as we talked in therapy about what I might need.

I’ve come a long way since then.

But now I am re-evaluating what I need from therapy? Is there something I get there that I really couldn’t find elsewhere?

The therapy relationship no longer feels enough for me.

I appreciate this has been brought about by the rupture. So perhaps it could be argued that my feeling like that relationship is not enough is just some sort of defence to the anger and hurt and fear I feel.

Our relationship as it was is broken. Maybe I’m seeing things from a less enmeshed place now. I see it’s limitations and it isn’t enough for me and it makes me not want to invest in it anymore. It’s like a spell has broken and I am no longer enchanted by my therapist or the imaginary promise of a mother and rescuer.

I feel like “If I can’t have that, then what’s the point?”

Maybe that’s the young child parts talking. I don’t know.

I think in the beginning of therapy I wanted someone to know me. I wanted to be known and seen by at least someone in the world.

And I can say that with Sienna I’ve achieved that. She does know me. She sees me.

But everything else just feels fake now. The construct of the “safe therapeutic relationship” has been blown out the water. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and trust me- the illusion (delusion?) Is much better than the paltry reality.

And it leaves me wondering what’s left for me there?

Is there room for growth? Do I really want to pay to sit in a room with someone who isn’t as invested in me as I am in them?

Shouldn’t I be going out into the world and finding people who can make me feel like Sienna does at times but who do so freely and because I’m wanted?

Questions questions questions….

Session 1.

I sat down to listen to my session from Monday and write a proper blog post about it aaaand it didn’t save! I must have pressed delete instead of save. Shit. ☹

So now I have to rely on my rather crappy memory.

As we walked up the stairs with Sienna to the room, I felt both excited to see her and awkward.

I excused myself to the bathroom first – something I always do, not sure why, I think it’s nerves.

The minute I walked into the office, Sienna was seated but she immediately said “ It’s really good to see you. Really good!”

I smiled. It was a nice surprise to hear that.

I sat down. I knew I needed to stay in my adult ego state. Which is quite hard for me.

Sienna asked if I wanted to keep things light tonight? I said yes.

She agreed that it was a good idea. That we should take things very slowly.

I told her that I’d been thinking a lot lately about how to proceed. And that I really felt like we need a “bottom-up approach” meaning working with the body first and talking/intellectualising second. I told her how aware I’d become of just how triggered I become simply from being in that room with her.

I told her how I’d been reading up on the “Window of Tolerance” stuff, which I knew about but hadn’t thought about for a long time and it made me realise how “hypo-aroused” I became in sessions, the signs being very still (freeze response), unable to speak, flat affect etc.

Sienna nodded. She told me that there’s a child part who turns up who can’t speak and can’t reach out for her hand and is very distressed. She said she’d taken that child to supervision a few times to work out how to calm her but she was very aware that I’ve said before that I don’t like being touched so she’s always kept back a bit in case it’s that part who doesn’t like to be touched. Sienna said that part is very hard to calm down, it’s like she’s frozen in time, immobilised.

I suggested to Sienna that we try movement when I’m like that. I explained that it’s literally painful to move when I am that frozen, it physically hurts. But maybe we could start with getting me to move my fingers or toes? I also suggested that at the start of sessions we take a few minutes to check in with what my body is doing. We used to do a body scan meditation thing at the beginning of sessions, but we stopped. So maybe we should do something like that again, but only at the beginning, not the end because when we did a body scan at the end of sessions, it kept me in a dissociative state, the relaxation let me drift further into myself and away from reality.

I asked her if at the end of sessions we take some time to bring me back to the present. That I would like to write on paper things I want to leave behind, like feelings or subjects. I said that I thought writing would change my brain from the emotions right side back to the more cognitive left side. And I asked her if while I was doing that if she would write me something that I could take away with me to read during the week (of not contact), something hopeful or kind or something related to our session. I told her these things would help me with containment.

Sienna agreed to everything I was suggesting we try and made some suggestions of her own. The energy between us felt vibrant and flowing and exciting, like we had a new and fresh purpose, a lease of life. I don’t think either of us have experienced that for a long time.

 

I told her that I’d sold some paintings recently and she legit burst out crying. She said “ Oh, Sirena! To manage that whilst all this was going on is amazing. I am SO proud of you!!”

It was such a warm and lovely moment. She was so emotional, I’ve not really seen her quite so teary before.

At one point we touched briefly on what had happened and some things she’d talked about it supervision. She said that it would be good for us at some point to process things and understand the dynamics of what happened between us.

I said “ I am really interested in all of that, I really want to hear it. But right now it’s likely to trigger me, so is it okay if we don’t talk about it just now?”

Sienna said of course that was fine. I told her “ it might be a long while before I can hear it though?”

Sienna reassured me that we’d only do it when I was ready.

She said she was really relieved and happy that I’d chosen to come back to therapy. I was surprised. I told her “ I thought it was you who wanted rid of me and didn’t want to work with me!” I laughed lightly.

She said “ I never wanted rid of you. I was always going to work with you. No, I’d have been distraught if you hadn’t come back.”

She said it in a light tone. I don’t know if the word “distraught” was her being melodramatic for effect. But the sentiment was lovely. That I matter to her. That it would have affected her if I hadn’t returned.

At the end of the session, for the first time in a long while, Sienna walked me out to the stairwell!

It was something I’d noted that for months, she’s just left me at her office door, almost desperate to get away. And a symptom and sign that something wasn’t right between us. She always used to walk me to the stairs and it had stopped for some time.

So the significance of her wanting to walk with me once again was huge. She probably hasn’t even noticed that little detail herself. But I noticed. I notice everything.

My heart smiled as I realised she was going to walk me out to the stairs.

I turned around and hugged her. As I pulled away, she held me to her once more and looked in my eyes and said reassuring me and smiling “ you’re going to be okay.”

I nodded. Thinking to myself as I walked away “ I hope so. I really hope so.”

This week, the first week of the no contact rule, has been okay. Not easy, but okay. I’ve had a lot of moments of feeling unsure, scared, upset, alone….. But I’ve managed to cope.

I am scared though. I have watched my process this week, observed my feelings as they ebb and flow. I have watched how my brain can tear apart even the nicest of sessions and find things to be worried about. And it makes me wonder how I am going to cope with a bad session, if even a good session brings up so much for me?

I honestly don’t believe in my own capacity to cope. I honestly don’t think I am going to be able to do this. And I don’t know what to do about that. I desperately want my therapy and my therapist. But if I get so distressed that I can’t cope with therapy, I’ll have to leave.

I know I am strong. And determined. And brave at times. But sometimes all those things aren’t enough. I want them to be.

I know things are going to get really hard. I know all our problems still exist. Even though the relief of being reunited has magically made them disappear – for now!

I know I am deeply traumatised and bereft at what happened between us. I know I am also furious at Sienna and have lost trust in her, in her ability.

And all those feelings are going to have to be processed at some point. I just don’t know when or how.

It feels like everything is on hold right now while we try to find some stability.

So that’s where we are at. I really wish the session had been recorded. I am truly gutted that it wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st session after rupture.

Just a brief update as I know people are waiting to hear.

My session felt pretty successful on Monday night. It went as well as it possibly could have and we were both excited and happy to see each other.

The energy between us felt vibrant again, like something had shifted and things were flowing once more.

We kept things pretty light and surface. It feels safer that way.

There was a sense of relief for both of us I think that we’ve found our way back into that room together.

I am going to write a proper blog post about the session soon. For now I’m just trying to keep myself steady as we start the no outside contact thing.

I know we have some tough work ahead of us and I’m very apprehensive and to be honest, doubtful that I can cope with far less input. I wish I was better at that.

I feel sad and a bit ashamed that I need such a lot from people. I guess I feel a bit like a failure.

But I will try. All I can do is try.

Sirena and Sienna, back.

With all the upheaval of my cat being sick, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write about therapy.

On Monday night, I unexpectedly received and email from Sienna. Before I even opened it I felt my heart quicken and my mind race, not knowing if it was good news or bad news but suspecting that it was probably bad.

As I opened the email and read the first sentence, I had the strangest experience- I felt all this burning heat move up my body and travel down both arms. I checked my skin but there was no sign of this, no redness or rash. But the fire was intense; the best way I can describe it is like the feeling of acid reflux, a burning, nipping, constriction, except it was on the outside of me, on my skin and under the first layer of skin.

I had to stop reading and breathe.

I thought “ this is a sorry but…” letter. A termination by email.

Sienna wrote a long and compassionate letter which I don’t want to publicise. It felt sort of confused and in one paragraph is sounded like she was saying we couldn’t do this work anymore, or she couldn’t…. and in the next it seemed to reiterate that she still wanted to work with me but simply could no longer do any outside contact.

In my panic, I really thought it was a termination letter, even though it explicitly said in parts that she does want to work with me. I sent Sienna a text asking if she could speak to me about what she’d just sent.

I let my husband read it. I let my friends read it. And all agreed that she was not terminating me, but rather just letting me know where she is in all of this, and giving me the option to leave if her current capacity is not enough for me or if I don’t feel I can do therapy with her anymore.

As my husband read it, I felt panic and agitation. I cried. He had to go through it with me line by line and tell me what it meant. My brain just couldn’t process anything.

I called my mum in desperate panic and fear. And we spoke for a while. Whilst on the phone to her, I noticed one of my hands feeling itchy and hot and a hives like white line raised up. I said to her “ my hands got a weird rash, I think it’s hives.” I felt confused about what my body was doing. And my mum said it was a stress response.

When I got off the phone to my mum, I showed my hand to my husband and said “ Look, my hands came out in hives or something.”

He said “ no, it’s scratches. You did it to yourself a little while ago.”

I had no memory of that.

I said confused “ What? I scratched myself? What did I do?”

And he made an agitated scratching motion on his hand.

I said “ Did you see me do it?”

He nodded.

To this day, I have no memory of that. But the next day I found some more scratches on my shoulder too.

I have no idea how I did it, because I’ve recently cut my nails really short!

Anyway, I finally heard from Sienna at 9pm. She said she’d just seen my text and she’d check her diary tomorrow to see when she had some space to speak to me.

I was pissed off!!! Angry that she’d saddled me with a letter of that magnitude, essentially offloaded her thoughts onto me and then not created space for me to respond or be reassured. She must know by now that stuff like that has huge consequences for me?

I know she probably meant it to be reassuring or connecting or something….. but it had the opposite effect. Personally I would rather she’d let me know she was sending the email during the time that should have been our session time, and created space for me to call her or email her back with a response.

The next morning, my cat collapsed. So it was a stressful day. In the afternoon Sienna replied with two times she’s be available that day. I took her up on the first one available. By that time I’d been reassured enough by friends and family that she wasn’t terminating me but I still had a tiny bit of doubt.

I knew that I wanted to work with her still. I miss her so much. And I feel like I am willing to work with under whatever terms are needed if it means I can keep her in my life.

We spoke for 10-15 minutes. She sounded like her old self again. I told her I missed her and she said she’d missed me too and she’d been lost on Monday evenings at 6!

It was the warmest, most positive interaction we’ve had in a long time it seems. It felt like we were both happy to hear from each other, there was an excitement and a sort of heartfelt warmth and care for one another. She asked “ So, are you going to come on Monday then?”

I said yes. I told her I agreed to the no contact, that I can see why it’s important.

So, tomorrow is my session.

I am really nervous and scared about how things might go. I know she probably is too.

I know that the same issues and problems are still there. Yet we’ve both been changed by recent events. We’ve both had a big scare, we are both a little (or a lot) fragile.

I am not sure either two of us have the answers to our issues.

What I do know is this…. I want to work with her. I want us to succeed. I now have huge issues with trust (even more that before), I have anger and fear and hurt all built up because she left me for weeks and I have no idea how to process all that, I don’t know if our relationship can take it right now?

I know that I don’t feel ready to do any deep therapy work with her. I don’t feel ready to do any therapy work in fact. I don’t know how I am going to cope without the confidence of having the option to reach out to her. I am not sure I am capable and that scares me so much. What if I can’t do this? What if I find out that I can’t do it and I need to leave?

Part of me feels safety in the no outside contact.

I know that for the foreseeable future, I just want to sit in her company. I just want to talk about present life things.

I know that on Monday, I don’t want to hear her explanations or plans for how this therapy thing should go, or what work she’s being doing in supervision or any advice she’s been given or any suggestion on how we progress. I don’t want to hear it! I can’t… it risks me being hugely triggered.

I need very simple interactions. For a while anyway.

I really hope this does not fall on its arse tomorrow! Fingers crossed.

 

 

Black Cat for luck.

What a week.

I still have my beloved black cat. I am utterly amazed he’s still here given how close we were to choosing to put him to sleep. He literally had hours to spare to find his legs again.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with such dread in my heart. I felt in shock that today was the day that I take him to be put to sleep. Just awful. I did have a sense he wasn’t ready to go the day before, I couldn’t feel that he was done, yet without being able to walk or eat or drink, it wasn’t fair to prolong his suffering.

I walked through to the living room without much hope at any improvement. But by some miracle he was walking- very unstably to his food bowl.

We’ve had him at the vets 4 times this week, just for check-ups. She’s happy to leave him as he is with no intervention. He isn’t in pain and he’s back to his old routines.

Watching him walk is painful because he’s weakened now. And I know that I probably won’t have him for much longer. It might be weeks or a few months if we are lucky. All I can feel right now it joy and utter disbelief that I still have him to cuddle and spoil.

He’s never been a cuddly cat. He’s a spoilt and cantankerous old man, he likes his routines and he very much likes his own space. He likes his meals and certain times and comes to remind me. He likes to take a short walk out to the front door and he lies on my neighbours mat for a while. IF he hears the kettle being boiled, he comes through for his obligatory plate of milk. If we piss him off somehow, he will let us know by pissing in a shoe or something! Ha! Sometimes he wants the seat we happen to be sitting in and will miaow and stare at us until we move and like any whipped cat owner, we eventually move and he settles down for a nice sleep.

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He hates getting his nails cut. He protests loudly and you’d think he was being murdered. Yet he never bites or scratches or even hisses. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever bit or scratched me. He’s so mellow and well behaved…. Apart from the pissing on shoes thing! (that is fairly anti-social.)

If I go to cuddle him or stroke him, he purrs. But only for so long and then he gets up to move away. He doesn’t like being picked up, but tolerates it for about 3 minutes.

It’s been really hard when I thought he was dying because I’ve just wanted to hold him and love on him and keep him close and he has just wanted his space, to be left alone. But he has been a bit more cuddly this week, perhaps needing extra reassurance. He has come looking for strokes. And when he was really ill and not moving much he chose to sleep in the living room where we were.

I’ve had him since I was 20 years old. I’ve had him longer than I’ve had my husband!! He’s been my constant companion for so many years. I love him so much.

All I can do is love him and spend time with him when he allows it and just treasure the time that is left.

All this heartache makes me wonder why I put myself through being a pet owner? But I know just fine that I will never be without animals, they bring too much happiness and peace and joy in their lives.

I can’t believe how quickly things turned around this week. I’m a bit shell-shocked.

I love my boy.

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