Trying to fix this.

I sent an email this morning to Sienna. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to have done or whether I should just have left it. Sometimes I don’t know if giving her space is better.

And it feels risky to have been so vulnerable. If she rejects this email and either ignores it or says that she’s not engaging with me today, then it’s going to be bad. I am putting my faith in her today. I don’t even know if she’s capable of being there for me today.

 

 

Dear Sienna,

I have woken up calmer this morning and with a clearer head. I still feel the pain in the pit of my stomach. And I think I could still be quite easily triggered so I am trying to avoid that whilst still desperately wanting to fix this mess we are in.

I don’t have any answers to this. It feels like a no-win situation for me.

I think the main problem is that both our needs are incompatible because you need space and predictability and I need proximity and access to you in quite an uncontained way, because I never predict when I will need you, so open access feels safest to me.

Someone has to lose out of this and it’s going to be me.

I realise now what you were saying on the phone yesterday about having more of a discussion about it and seeing how we can find a safe compromise. I realise it wasn’t about taking texts away totally but trying to find something that meets both our needs.

But what I was hearing at the time was totally different. I instantly became triggered and stopped hearing you. And this trigger is such a deep wound within me that I lose touch with what’s really being said to me.

Yesterday for the entire day, I lost touch with reality. I was plunged into another reality and the rage and the terror and confusion and the feelings that I was being abandoned were so real and so huge that I couldn’t even think straight.

There was no part of me which knew everything would be okay. There was no sensible adult part who could take over for me.

Something about taking texts away is so terrifying that I lose touch with the real world. It is so powerful and overwhelming that I have no capacity to listen or to reason. I don’t know why, because texting isn’t that important to me. Especially if we can agree that I can ask for a quick check in if I have the nightmares.

This week has hit every single serious trigger I have; Taking something away from me, creating distance from me, attachment, feeling abandoned and boundaries.

I don’t have the answer to why this is. I don’t know why those things can literally make me lose touch with reality. But they do.

And the mistake perhaps we’ve both made is trying to work through the trigger, talk about it, process it, find a solution, all while I am still in a triggered state. And it all adds to the fear and the power of it all and nudges me further and further into a non-reality state.

I am unable to process or be reasonable when I am terrified and fighting for me life. I am unable to hear you. It doesn’t matter that you’re not actually abandoning me, if I am in the middle of a flashback to real abandonment, if I am re-experiencing the original abandonment, then I am not really here, I am back there. And everything you say is filtered through my 10 year old brain.

I don’t think any of us has realised that I’ve been smack-bang in the middle of a flashback since Thursday, maybe even slightly before that. And we’ve tried to work in the present when I haven’t been available in the present.

I still don’t know how much damage has been done this weekend. I still can’t get a sense of how bad things are. What is real?

I am writing this because I have a strong sense that even though I am literally terrified of this mess, I do want to help sort it. I really feel like I can’t leave therapy even though the fear makes me want to so much. I want to leave first rather than experience anymore abandonment, any more changes, anymore bad things. I literally can’t face the space that open up inside me when I hear that something is being taken away from me.

But I also don’t know how to find my way back.

Something really deep is being triggered inside of me. And it’s not over yet. Even though I am more in touch with reality this morning, I know I am on the edge of it. So, I am not ready to have any discussions with you about solutions or changing things or boundaries, or any of that.

But I have a strong feeling deep in my soul that I just want to reconnect with you. I want to feel your presence and be calmed by it. I want to know that we are going to be okay, no matter what happens.

I am asking that we stop trying to process or talk so much and that we don’t try to find a solution until once you are back from your training. Hopefully I will be more present and more able to process by then.

I really badly need somatic things. I need to hear your voice, I need reassurance, I need a hug. I need my whole system to be calmed down and contained. I really need to reconnect with you in a meaningful way.

Those things will help bring me out this flashback. Those things will bring me into the safety of the presence. Words aren’t good right now. I need to feel literal containment.

I am begging you to please not try to talk about what’s happened this week or try to find solutions. It will send me back into this flashback.

I am not avoiding, I know we need to sort it, I know we need solutions. But I am not capable of it right now.

Please help me with this. I need to feel you are still with me. I need to feel that something catastrophic hasn’t happened. I need to hear your voice say “ I am still here. We will work this out. You are safe.”

That’s all I need. Safe things. Not words. I need to feel safe.

It feels like a very big risk to send this to you, because I know you don’t want to talk to me. And I know how easily I am triggered just now. But I am trying to trust the relationship and that is really hard right now. But I am relying on all the things you’ve told me in the past about you not leaving.

Please don’t make any-more distance, I’m already so far away. I understand it feel like nothing you say helps and in fact makes it worse. But that’s because we haven’t recognised that I am in a flashback and no able to hear anything safe in your words.

Everything was making it worse because we were trying to treat it with words and thinking and I really can’t handle that right now. I need you, just you. An admission that yeah things feel rubbish but we can fix it, but for now let’s just be together and let things be for now.

I just need to feel “home” right now. I need my secure base. I am trying to find my way back to you.

Sirena, Sofia and Keira.

 

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Trying to fix this.

  1. Paper Doll says:

    I think this was a very skillful email. I think it outlines where you are, acknowledges what it is she said, and asks for what you need. I am hoping so much for you that the response is what you need.

    • Sirena says:

      thanks. I hope so too but I am currently losing hope in her. We were supposed to be having a phone check in this morning, but after yesterday I am not even certain she’s allowing it. I just don’t know what’s happening.

      • Paper Doll says:

        That must feel so hard. I completely understand why you are losing hope in her. I’m thinking of you, and full of admiration for your strength.

  2. plf1990 says:

    What a beautiful email. I feel like it accurately addresses everything you wanted and needed to say.

    I am keeping everything crossed for you that she will respond in the way you need her to xxx

  3. behindapaintedsmile30 says:

    You might not like this but I’m going to say it anyway.
    I don’t see any reason why Sienna can’t continue to be your therapist. As long as she has accesses her own sources of help. I don’t that one discussion with her supervisor is enough. But I also think she needs some temporary space. Daily contact seems to be muddying the waters. She may be changing the boundaries based on how she feels each day because of what she feels able to do on that day.
    I understand that the idea of having space feels like losing her but it isn’t. I’m not disregarding her humanness but she needs better self care whilst she is working. Maxing herself out and then being so desperate for a break is not good. Disconnecting does not prepare clients for therapy breaks it confuses them. But she may be so emotionally exhausted that to disconnect is easier than dealing with the guilt of not being there.
    I understand how scary space is but you can’t fix Sienna. It’s all on her. I would probably do and feel the same as you. The fear of being left is huge. That’s why you quit so that you can leave before they do. Been there, done that. You may have to temporarily sacrifice your needs from her to get Sienna back as the attuned therapist she is capable of being.
    I hope you can see that I’m not judging Sienna in any of this. I’m just looking from the outside somewhat. I have also made it sound simple and it’s a huge mix of fear and uncertainty. x

    • Sirena says:

      I can see you’re not judging her. And I agree with what you’ve said. There is something in the background with Sienna I think that is causing her all this transference, something in her history that causes her to retreat mentally. She is taking it to her own therapy and supervision. But she isn’t telling me exactly what it is and I would LOVE to know, just so that I could have a fuller picture of what’s happening, But I feel like I’m probably not allowed to know.
      You’re right, disconnecting does not prepare clients for a break. I think I need to tell her that. I think I have. But maybe it needs reiterating. I’m the one making all the noise about it, but I bet there’s other clients who feel it but are too scared to say it. It can’t just be me who feels it.
      Maxing herself out isn’t good either. I don’t know why this happens. I honestly have a feeling that her energy levels have diminushed quite a bit since we started working together 2 years ago. She yawns often in my sessions. I feel like she’s getting older (though not old) and maybe she just can’t work so hard and cram so much into her life as she used to and she isn’t recognising that, so she’s getting tired more easily.

  4. Individual Medley says:

    Your email is perfect. I hope she responds, I know that the anxiety will be building until she does. But from your posts the last couple of days it sounds like she is struggling and it wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t check her email until Monday. I only say that to try to help you contain the thoughts that she is rejecting your email/you. Thinking of you and sending virtual hugs. Xxx

  5. twinkletoes2017 says:

    Wow incredible email. It’s not aggressive or defensive at all – it sets out very clearly how you feel and what you need from her – reassurance and connection, safety. I think being this vulnerable is a huge sign of your strength after everything that’s happened. It shows that you are still able to keep faith, even if your natural response would be to quit, to run, to leave and I think you are wonderful for that.

    I have every faith she will give you what you need once she has read this. I hope I am right.

    I am reading everything you’re writing by the way, I’ve just felt pretty helpless at what to say sometimes so please know that I am here with you in spirit and I am totally gunning for you.

    Hugs xx

  6. metimeonline says:

    Sienna im sure is grateful that you are so conscious of what you need at times like this. It sounds like for whatever reason she’s a bit all over the place and having been here a lot all I can say is, it will end. You will both find stability again and your relationship will be stronger for it. I too am following along with what has been happening and what a whirlwind. It sounds like there is likely something going on in her personal life at the moment which is affecting her work stability. I remember so clearly that when my T’s aunt died it caused things to get very “odd” with us – lots of situations like that. Difference is my t told me so I wasn’t left panicking it was just about our relationship. Hold tight. This rough patch won’t last forever.

  7. Blooming Lily says:

    Sirena this is incredibly powerful. It was very moving for me to read, and the fact that being in an emotional flashback makes it impossible to process logic was a good reminder for me in terms of my own therapy now. It’s very brave of you to write this, to be so vulnerable, to reach out borrowing from past trust and knowledge even when it doesn’t feel safe at the moment. But sending it?!?!? That is incredibly brave. What strikes me is that you’ve come to this point and grown enough with Sienna that you could write and send this. I hope she realizes that too, sees the vulnerability in this email as something beautiful and a sign of progress, changes her approach, and responds with kindness and warmth. 💜

  8. Kate says:

    I agree with all of the above comments. I loved your email. It was straight from your heart and you clearly stated your needs. I am also suspecting that there MUST be something going on in her personal life and it definitely seems to be interfering with her work. You may want to ask her. This work you’ve done with her seems to have abruptly taken a turn and you deserve to know why. If there IS something going on in her personal life I would hope she could share that with you. There definitely needs to be repair work done. I SO feel your pain and I’m here every step of the way for you. If you can, try to understand how much these therapists take on in their work. I imagine the work can be quite taxing on them and they need self care and breaks. I, too, would not be surprised if she does not respond until Monday. Try to keep yourself busy and try to help someone in need. It may change your focus maybe just for one day.

    • Sirena says:

      I’m not sure, I think if there was something going on in her life that made her think it was impacting my therapy she’d tell me that. But I also feel like asking is intrusive or something.
      THanks for all your support Kate.

  9. Andi says:

    This is a well-articulated email and I hope it brings you two closer to repair. I do want to caution that she may respond with the intention you’ve asked for, but not in the precise way you’ve imagined it. I say that because I worry that if she does not reply exactly as you’ve outlined, you may then feel particularly upset and like she blatantly rejected your request for safety and containment. I am sure she will want to meet those needs, but she may need some leeway to do so in a manner that makes sense for her as well. Thinking of you both.

    • Sirena says:

      You make a good point, it was a huge risk because there’s been many times she hasn’t replied in the way I asked her to or needed.

  10. Cd says:

    I just wanted to praise you for your strength and vulnerability to not only write the email but to send it. *Hugs* take care of yourself.

  11. Anonymous Ph.D. says:

    I am still debating the wisdom of posting this, as (a) I’m a stranger, (b) I don’t have BPD, and (c) I haven’t read your blog for long. But it’s the internet, so I suppose I will.
    I don’t have BPD *but* I was married for a decade to someone that does. And when I reached a very difficult stretch in ability to cope with our life, I drew some temporary (intended for just a few days) boundaries and that I hoped would protect all involved and just perhaps encourage her to finally re-enter and continue in therapy. I wanted our relationship very much, wanted her, wanted things to work out. I was trying desperately to navigate complex waters in an emotionally healthy, loving way. But BPD did what BPD does, to both of us in the end, and the result was not good at all. In fact, it was catastrophic. I wasn’t rejecting her, abandoning her, or trying to cause any of the things that ultimately ensued. I was—as always—trying (as one does) on a daily basis to find the right and good, for both of us.
    I got here from Life in a Bind, another BPD blog. Since all of this happened in our lives (we no longer have much contact, for various reasons) it has become something of an emotionally healing hobby to read at least about others’ BPD therapy journeys, to vicariously wish for what might have been in my own life, in another reality, and to see people struggling but often doing well and making progress.
    As a non-BPD sufferer, reading your recent posts makes me want to be reassuring, though again I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Forgive me and apologies in advance if it isn’t.
    Thing is, as you know BPD tends to lead sufferers to cast things in black and white—either your relationship is “on” or you’re “off,” either she’s “there” or she’s “not,” etc., with everything measured in the now, in the immediate moment. Totally on or totally off, totally loving or totally ruined, and the only reality is today, or even this hour or this minute.
    But of course, as you probably know having been in therapy, this isn’t the way non-BPD sufferers experience the world and it’s hard for us to make sense of it and figure out what is right at any given moment. I imagine it’s hard even for therapists, whose job is to help BPD patients to come to at least understand the way that non-BPD human relationships work—that “slightly off” or “a bad couple of days” or “gosh, I just don’t want to talk to you right now, can we talk in an hour” is not at all the same thing as “we broke up” or “you’ve betrayed and abandoned me” or “we can never talk again and it’s all ugly and ruined.”
    I guess—try not to panic. Try not to let panic set in. The thing that most characterizes BPD for me, as an outsider, is panic—the sense that it is a dire emergency and something must be done right now, no matter the costs or risks.
    I wouldn’t presume to guess whether your therapist’s moves are the result of professional judgment about therapeutic steps or simply about the fact that she’s human and has to manage her own emotional life. And I do realize that *patience* in emotional life and intimacy is probably the most difficult, impossible, painful thing on earth for BPD sufferers. But if you can get to “Okay, I’ll try my very best; it hurts like hell but I’ll grind my teeth to a pulp and do what you say and let’s talk in a few days and see where we are,” You may find that this is not her abandoning you, but either a part of the therapeutic process or even just an example of the non-emergency, natural natural ebb and flow of long-term intimate relationships of all kinds and that if you can manage it for a bit, all will be well in the end.
    I suppose I know in some sense that this is unhelpful to someone with BPD, that it’s not that easy, that it’s all very easy for me to sit here and say as someone who doesn’t suffer from this debilitating condition, and that I may well have made things worse. But somehow I feel compelled to say it anyway. I hope you’ll forgive me.
    But I would wager that seeing you distraught is tough on her, and not because she hates you or is scared of you or wants away from you, but precisely because she cares and in fact has
    no intention of any kind of long-term change in the relationship, so long as it doesn’t seem as though it’s damaging to either of you. All of the little details in relationships of any kind are always temporary (one of the other things that I realize it is hard for BPD sufferers to survive with). Relationships and the particular “things we do and say with one another” evolve, week by week and month by month, as circumstances dictate, in normal relationships of most kinds.
    What doesn’t change is the regard that people have for one another, their desires and wishes for each other, and their level of commitment to one another, so long as that commitment doesn’t become terribly destructive. At the root of things, those tend to stay the same. The tragedy of BPD is that BPD sufferers tend to mistake the month by day by day changes in little details for catastrophic changes in how people feel about one another—so that what were intended to be little things, if they were even thought about at all, lead to the kinds of circumstances that cause non-BPD sufferers, in shock and surprise, to say, “Gosh, I think this is becoming frighteningly destructive, for both of us…” when all that was really called for was patience (yes, remembering once again that patience is not at all easy for BPD sufferers).
    Anyway—hang in there. Don’t write her off just yet if you can help it. And even though it’s hard, try to see these few days as a drop in the bucket in relation to entire seasons or years. A few days of this or that, even if it’s hard for you to cope, doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship that both people prefer to continue. Putting pressure on things when what’s really needed is a few hours or days of “whew!” cooling off time is probably the one and only thing that can make it go wrong when a relationship has been otherwise good.
    I’ll stop now because I’m speaking out of my depth. After years of watching someone suffer, I realize that I’m probably not helping.
    I hope you can find a way to be well, both in the short term and in the long term, and I hope that your relationship in this instance can ultimately continue, since my impression from the outside is that you both would really prefer that it does.

    • Sirena says:

      Thank you for your lovely comments. I am actually not BPD. Although I have traits of it and you can be forgiven for thinking I do because when I am in a flashback like I have been, I guess it looks very BPD.
      BPD and D.I.D and complex trauma and attachment trauma are all very similar and sort of merge into one another at times. They are all trauma and attachment based and include heavily dissociated episodes.
      I am not always like this. This has been a particular huge reaction.
      It’s really nice to hear from someone who talks so compassionately about BPD people.

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