I shared some memories in my session last night that all had a common theme. Times where I received the following messages:
you’re too much
you’re too needy
you’re not lovable
you’re not wanted here
One memory is of my mother pulling my arms from around her thighs and saying, ‘you want too many hugs!’
Another is of a time she told me, ‘you’ll never meet a man who wants as many hugs as you do…’
The times she literally said the words, ‘you’re too needy I don’t have the time/space for this’
All the times she moved away from me if I sat next to her.
The times she didn’t run her fingers through my hair like she did with my brother.
The times she wouldn’t let me play with her hair like she let my brother.
The times I was locked in my room so I wouldn’t bother them.
The times I was sent outside so they could be alone.
The times I was sent to my room in the evening as they sat in the living room while my brother fell asleep on the sofa.
She never wanted to hold my hand.
The emotions attached to these memories were somewhat suspended out of reach, dangling just in front of me last night. Or maybe the feelings were heavy inside my body but I was floating behind myself again. Unable to feel them.
But the feelings are slowly sweeping into my awareness now as I type this.
The grief I feel for that little girl who kept asking, kept reaching, kept seeking.
The pain for the little girl who stopped asking, who knew in her heart that rejection was so much worse than just never asking.
The anger about how god damn easy it is to hug a child and to love a child. To fucking hold their hand. To stroke their hair. To say, ‘of course you’ll always be loved because you are so very loveable just the way you are.’
Anna, eyes wet with empathy, attempted to hold my gaze for longer than I could bear while boldly stating, ‘Well, I think you can never have too many hugs and the best hugs are ones we don’t give reasons for or feel the need to explain, we just know we need a hug, we ask for one and we get it. How wonderful is that!?’ I slowly let go of the breath I’ve been holding and a small voice from within whispers, ‘I wish she was my mummy.’
It aches so much in my chest as I recall her open, joyful proclamation. As if it doesn’t carry the heaviest weight. I told her I feel like it’s too late. ‘I wish we could go back, like the ghost of Christmas past, and you could work with the little girl I was back then. It’s too late now.’ Anna asked too late for what and I thought for a long time before quietly saying, ‘I’m too broken. It’s too late to fix these parts of me, they’re set in stone now where before they were molten. I wish you could work with that child.’ She nodded and acknowledged how broken I feel and how helpless it all seems and said, ‘I am working with her, right now, we’re listening to her. She feels broken but she’s not, she’s just in a lot of pain. But she’s slowly learning how to get her needs met in here. It will always hurt a bit, especially when you’re unexpectedly triggered, but you will be able to tolerate it more and more as we work this out.’
I talked about the terrifying fights they’d have. The times they split up and got back together. Then the time he left and never came back. The glass door smashed and both of them gone. The fear and aloneness. Me clearing up and looking after everyone.
I shared memories of times when my mum and dad would hug and kiss or even just when they’d talk to each other without me. I’d especially hate it if they were talking to each other in a room I wasn’t in. And the times when I’d lie in bed and hear them talking, laughing or having sex. ‘It made me want to claw my skin off I fucking couldn’t stand it. I’d put my radio on to drown out the noise. I was so jealous and I’m so ashamed of that. I don’t know why I’d be jealous of them. I was put between them so many times in their explosive arguments with each of them talked to me endlessly about their problems so you’d think I’d be happy if they were getting on but I hated it so much!’ Anna asked if I had an idea about where my anger and hatred of them being affectionate came from and I went back and forth with ideas of me wanting them to hurt like they made me hurt or me feeling used because one minute I’d be their emotional dumping ground and the next they’d dump me for each other again. She wondered aloud that perhaps them being intimate and affectionate with each other was very painful for me because they could do it with each other but not with me. It felt like a tidal wave grew over the back of my head and drowned me in that instant. I managed a small nod and looked at the plant in the corner. ‘And that’s where the shame pours in Lucy,’ she said. ‘They can be loving with each other, they can be loving with Daniel, so something must be wrong with me. I want something I don’t deserve. I’m unlovable. I’m the problem.’
As the session came to an end I asked her (tentatively as I always fear the ‘no’), ‘please can I have a hug.’ And just as she always does, she moved forwards and embraced me. And I feel my heart calm, I feel my blood settle, I feel my skin and all that’s beneath it relax. I felt a small part of me crying deep inside. When we step back from the hug I can see on my periphery that she’s looking at my face as she always does after a hug but I look at the floor and thank her as I always do. As if what I’ve just done is shameful and undeserving. Frightened I’ll see the disgust on her face. We walk out her room and I force myself to look at her face before I leave, to say goodbye and look in the eyes. All of me wants to stay, it hurts so much to leave.
As I sit here and type this, I am so overwhelmed with the desire to be near her again. I want to drive to her office and crawl into her lap like a small child. I want her to hold me as I cry uncontrollably like I’ve never done with another human being. I want her to stroke my hair and tell me she loves me. I can hardly stand the want in me. It feels like a betrayal that my heart keeps beating. Surely this pain should have killed me.