Strengthening the Adult

Our Emergency Phone Session

After my post 90 minute session meltdown I text Anna asking for a phone session, expecting her to gently refuse… however she agreed and we arranged the call. I have no privacy at home with two young kids and a small house so just before 6pm I got in my car in the dark wearing four woolly jumpers and a scarf to keep warm, drove somewhere quiet and parked up under the night sky and almost full moon.

The phone rang and I answered. She immediately asked how I was doing and I thanked her for agreeing to the phone session. My hypervigilance kicked in and I asked her if she was annoyed that I’d asked for the call. She said she wasn’t annoyed but she was curious about why I had changed my mind because the last time we talked I seemed happy enough that we would have a little weeks break. I laughed and so did she and I started to explain. In a very anxious roundabout way I said, ‘I think the session on Saturday had a big impact on me and I’ve really struggled with the feelings it brought up and I was just so sad and crying all the time and… uh… god now it just sounds so pathetic I can’t even explain properly, it feels like an overreaction asking for this session coz I’m still fucking here so I survived!’ Anna said, ‘it sounds like the session brought a lot up for you and what I would encourage you to do is have compassion rather than belittling your experience, do you have a sense of what it was that felt so overwhelming, what you were crying about?’ I said, ‘it felt so young… the crying…’ Anna replied, ‘hmmm… what age were you?’ It always makes my heart skip a beat when she asks that, I don’t know if it’s because it makes me feel really seen which makes that part of me panic a bit… I said, ‘you know how we were talking about when we moved house and you’d said about it being like my childhood ending then and well… seven… I was seven. I felt seven.’ Anna said, ‘you were seven, and what was the crying about?’ I said, ‘it all just felt suddenly so real, that I really felt like I lost my childhood then, it was awful I felt like I was going mad Anna, like I couldn’t think straight, proper sobbing from the pit of me.’ She said, ‘it can feel like we’re going mad when we tap into these pains that we have never allowed ourselves to feel before, and as much as it feels like torture I want you to know this is really a very good thing that you’re feeling it now, this shows a lot of progress, it’s a massive grief and grief comes in waves as we all know.’ There was a pause and then she continued, ‘What would you say to someone if they just lost somebody close to them and they were crying?’ I said, ‘I’d be with them and I’d let them cry.’ She said, ‘why?’ and I said, ‘because they obviously need to feel the feelings and express them and it’s important to let it all out.’ She said, ‘are you listening to yourself?’ I said, ‘yes and I’m smiling… I hear what I’m saying!’ I continued, ‘but I’m just so used to invalidating myself, it feels like – what’s wrong with you, this was so long ago and it’s really not that big a deal – this psychological grieving, it’s harder to validate and empathise than if someone has died, then it’s understandable that someone would be pouring their heart out…’ Anna said, ‘the example I gave was of loss, someone losing someone, not necessarily death, you lost that little girl… it is a real loss and a real grief.’

I said, ‘but it’s so hard coz I can hear myself talking about this and I just think what must Anna be thinking, she must think this is ridiculous, like *eye roll* when you see a text from me, don’t you think this is nothing compared to what some people have to go through! She replied saying, ‘I know that it’s important to you what I think, but what’s important is that we don’t compare ourselves to other people and that you tune in to what you think and feel, I don’t say this lightly, you know I’m in my own therapy and so I know how hard this is and that naturally we care very much about what our therapists think of us but it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and not invalidate them…. What is important is what you think, not what I think.’ There was a bit of a pause (possibly a big sigh from me) then she said, ‘what’s coming up for you now?’ I said, ‘well you didn’t answer my question, that’s like a classic politician response… so I’m still left thinking…’ she talked over me and said, ‘you want to know if I think you were overreacting and making a big deal out of nothing?’ I said, ‘yeah’ and she said, ‘I believe what you’re telling me, Lucy. I felt it all in the session, that you’d left that part of yourself when you had to leave your home and it was a huge grief for you. A real loss there. That small child, boxed up and kept hidden, forgotten, left behind and then you had to create a new Lucy who learned how to cope with her new life and all of the things you had to bear that you should never have been exposed to. She had to be created to help you cope with it all. You opened the door to that wounded 7 year old girl in your mind and it fucking hurts like hell coz you’re grieving losing her. I was there on Saturday, witnessing, I saw her and I was grieving her with you. It’s such an honour that you’re allowing me to share this experience with you, Lucy. I am so so proud of you because this is bloody hard work and you are doing the work.’ Silence. ‘Does that help?’ She said. I was silently tearful and just about managed a, ‘mmuhu’. I then took a breath and thanked her and said that made me feel much better about it all. I said, ‘there’s always a worry that you’re going to feel overwhelmed by me and there will be this one thing that pushes you over the edge and you’ll be gone but talking to you now I can hear that you are secure and you will keep yourself safe and that this is boundaried and you wouldn’t have accepted this session if you felt burdened and it is paid for and contracted and I’m not asking too much… am I , is that right?’ She said, ‘yes that’s right, sometimes I won’t be able to speak to you exactly when you want and we will arrange for another time, I could have arranged something else this evening but I hadn’t so I’m glad I was able to speak with you… and no, it’s not too much.’

I said, ‘the last time I took time off work when I was feeling like this you said something about how it’s not ideal for me to take time off work every time I feel like this and although you meant it in a supportive way, I felt bad about it, you know?’ She said, ‘did you take yesterday off work?’ and I said, ‘I’ve been off this week yeah…’ Again she talked about working out ways that we can ensure that I will be able to contain what comes up for me so I don’t need to take time off. She said I have responsibilities, at the very least I need to work so that I can pay for therapy (we both laughed) and yes people rely on my… she said, ‘you can’t let the child run the roost!’ She gave analogies about work and about home, that I can let the kids have a mad ten minutes going mental but then I need to reign it in again and be in charge. She asked how I was receiving this, how did I feel and I said, ‘I hear you and it makes sense to me but it feels shamey and like I’m being told off. Like you’re saying it’s bad that I took time off work.’

I said, ‘but I don’t want you to change how we’re doing things, I don’t want you to take that away from me, I don’t regret what I shared with you I’m glad I shared all that… but you know two things came up that I’ve never talked about before and it was two big things you know but I needed to talk about it and I don’t want to not talk about things now.’ She said, ‘it’s just the way therapy works though isn’t it, you never know what’s going to come up.’ I said, ‘but it was good and needed to be shared and I feel like you’re going to say we shouldn’t have gone that deeply into stuff and that makes me not want to tell you when I’ve been affected by it coz it feels like a punishment and I’ve only just started sharing and only just started feeling and I don’t want you to tell me to stop and…’ she interrupted my frantic ranting with a slightly firmer voice (but still with a kind edge) and said, ‘well Lucy, now I am going to tell you off. That’s not what I said. That’s what it feels like and you’re panicking about how you’ve interpreted what I said but I’m not asking you to stop sharing with me and I am not asking you to stop feeling. It’s important that you hear exactly what I’m saying here… you have not been in touch with these feelings for so long, your whole life really, ever in fact, and it feels overwhelming now because the door is open and it’s right there taking you by surprise when you least expect it, so it’s important when we are together that we work TOGETHER on making sure that you are aware of the skills you already have to contain this. I’m not suggesting that you should stop feeling, but rather it’s about that strengthened adult part talking to your inner child in that very calm and caring way that you talk to your own children and saying ‘I know this feels absolutely shit, I know you want to cry all day and stay in bed, it feels like the world is ending… I am here for you now and I’m not going to abandon you, we have to go to work today but we can take ten minutes just now…’ then you cry your eyes out, feel it all, let her tell you everything she’s feeling, then take a big deep breath, you wash your face and reapply your make up and then you get yourself to work. You say to your inner child, ‘I’m here for you, I understand you want to hide under the covers all day’ – and maybe you need to go upstairs in that moment and punch the fuck out your pillows or scream and sob into them… but then you continue, you say ‘we will be able to do something soothing at the end of the day…’ and then you leave for work. You switch your mind to work. It’s not about avoiding the feelings, it’s about not letting them consume you in that moment. You’re not ignoring or supressing, you are saying ‘not now, later’ and then your child will learn to trust that you will come back to it. And if it feels too much to deal with then you remind yourself that you can bring it to me and we can tackle it together.’ She asked me how all this sounded, did it still feel punishing? I said it was good to hear, that it felt more understanding and doable and like we were in this together and she was helping me remember that I can do this.

I suddenly had a realisation and said, ‘oh my god this is a re-enactment. This is proper 7 year old me possessing my body. After we’d moved, I hated school so much I didn’t fit in and I was so sad… fuck I had forgotten this – I wouldn’t even really have to try very hard but I’d beg mum to let me stay home and she’d let me. She’d let me lay on the sofa with the cover all day… it felt like love, I had one on one time with her… I don’t even think she sat with me but it felt better being at home with her… staying home… this tummy pain is what I’d feel… shit!’ Anna said, ‘okay that’s good so you’ve noticed it’s a re-enactment, it’s body memories… emotional flashbacks… your child is communicating this with you. And where-as your mum wasn’t a strong adult in your life, she let the child rule in that moment which is actually quite frightening for a child and it felt like love to you but that complete lack of boundaries and structure is not actually the most loving thing you could do for a child. What would you do if it was your kids?’ I talked through what I would do, that I’d build my kids up emotionally, I’d know it was because they didn’t like school and I’d open that dialogue, I’d let them cry, we’d hug it out, I’d fill them with affirming words and tell them I believe in them then I’d send them to school with the promise of hot chocolate and cuddles when we get home. Anna reassured me that this would be a great thing to do, that it reinforces that they have inner strength and resilience, that I believe in their ability to contain how they’re feeling until it’s time to come home and let it all out. She said, ‘and I believe in your ability to contain this and look after yourself. I know you have the strength to hold this and you have the patience and compassion to meet the needs of your child parts.’

At one point I think I was a bit quiet, although there were far less quite moments than when we’re in the room together because I was hyper aware that she couldn’t see me and I didn’t want to freak her out by going silent. She broke the mini silence and said, ‘I’m really proud of you, you know. I know this is really hard for you Lucy. I really do understand how hard this is. You’re working really hard and you’re doing so well, I want you to know that. Think about where you were two years ago when we first started working together, you have made so many changes. It’s honestly been such a privilege to watch you grow on your journey.’ I said, ‘thank you’ and she said, ‘you’re welcome!’ I said, ‘but really though, really thank you… I don’t know if you know how much of a big deal all of this is. I’ve literally never, ever felt safe enough to talk about this stuff with anyone, never trusted that I could, and now I am with you, and I just… thank you so much for being patient and helping me through all this and for believing in me and sticking around.’ Anna said, ‘I know how much this means to you, I’m honoured that you trust me with it all.’ I said, ‘I really do.’

I noticed we had about 25 minutes left so I went further in to my experience of the ‘kickback’. I said, ‘Two big things came up in the session, the 7 stuff and the 16/17 stuff… the suicide stuff…’ Anna made a sort of kind listening noise and I continued, ‘And I definitely don’t regret talking about it because it felt right and I felt way less self-conscious than I’ve felt before and I did want to share that stuff with you…’ She said, ‘yeah I have noticed that you’re far less self-conscious these days, the shame isn’t overwhelming you as much,’ I agreed and said, ‘remember the drawing I showed you of that corridor in my mind, with all the doors… so two of the doors got opened on Saturday and it’s hard, overwhelming to try to deal with it all. Coz now 7 and 17 are kicking about, flooding me with their feelings and memories and thoughts… so I feel small and helpless and lost and left behind and desperately empty and also rageful and suicidal and self-destructive and…’ She interjected, ‘How about we let the children know that for the time being we’re going to close those doors over.’ In that instant I felt a bit panicky and somehow she sensed my panic in that millisecond and said, ‘We’re not locking the doors. We’re not throwing away the key. The doors are just gently closed over and we’re saying that for now they’re to stay in their rooms so that adult Lucy can get on with life until we see Anna again then we can open the doors and they can come back out. How does that sound?’ I felt a bit emotional, like it felt so holding and so secure to be firmly and gently looked after like that, it felt like a calming of the chaos inside – instantly. I said it felt really good and she said, ‘It’s about strengthening adult Lucy… you have the resources you just need to be reminded of them… So I believe you are now aware of when your child or children are around… a bit like when I give a ten or fifteen minute warning at the end of a session when I notice that your child is still about, depending on what’s been spoken about, so that I can make sure adult Lucy drives home. We wouldn’t give a baby the wheel and let them drive home. I need to make sure that adult Lucy is back in charge. So that’s what you’re going to do. You let them have their mad moment of wild and then you regain control and put them in their rooms… then when we are together, they can be fully seen and they’ll have all the validation and space and compassion they need… how does that sound?’ I said, ‘yeah I really like the sound of that. I like the sound of letting them come back out when I’m with you.’

Towards the end of the call I said I was really angry with myself coz I’d binged the day before. I have worked really hard to form a healthy relationship with food and be kinder to my body, I had lost weight and was feeling stronger and healthier and I fucked it up by eating so much… I said, ‘I’m scared I’ll lose all control and put everything back on and then at the weekend when I was having a clear out my husband basically told me not to throw all my bigger clothes out ‘just in case’ and I felt like he thought I was definitely going to fail and I just felt awful.’ Anna said, ‘what I’m hearing is that he is being the practical husband who knows that we all fluctuate and that it might be sensible to keep a variety of sizes to save money but what you heard is ‘you’re a failure, I don’t believe in you, you’re going to put it all back on again,’ which is not what he said.’ I said, ‘yeah I hear that…’ she said, ‘I want to say well done for finding a short term fix to fill that hole. I know we’ve talked about that hole before, the polo mint affect… that hole in your chest… You were massively triggered to a young place and could have easily cut yourself, instead you ate. You survived, you got through and now you can go back to loving your body by feeding it what it needs.’ I loved that reframe. She said, ‘we all binge every so often, that family size bar of chocolate and full fat coke… we just get back to healthy eating the next day.’ I wish this self-forgiveness and self-compassion came as naturally to me as it seems to effortlessly come to her. But maybe that just shows how much work she’s done. I read today that ‘effortless takes a huge amount of effort to get to’… that’s probably true here.

I told her I slept on and off all day and that I actually felt so lazy and guilty for not going to work. Anna said, ‘I’m so pleased you were able to listen to your body, the emotional exhaustion needed to be met with kindness, you gave your body what it needed. Next week you will find a way to get back to work by containing the feelings and meeting them at more appropriate times but for now you needed the comfort and security of your blankets.’ Again… compassion. I went on to say that I have cancelled things this week, turned down catch ups with friends, zoned out from interactions within my family… I feel neglectful and selfish. Anna said, ‘I’m so proud of you for putting your needs first. You are always thinking of what other people need so it shows a lot of growth that you didn’t do that this time round. You reduced the energy you were putting into other people’s needs, gave yourself time to recharge and limited stimulus. Well done for giving yourself peace and quiet.’

She then said, ‘how about you type up a list, sometimes when we are seriously activated or in a very young place we don’t have the ability to think clearly about what we need… it’s like being in a house that’s on fire and you’re running around mental trying to figure out what to do and you’ve ran past the front door ten times… so let’s set up a ritual… a list of things you can do to tend to the child parts and bring your adult on board, typed up in small font, printed and laminated and put it in your purse so that each time you’re feeling lost you can reach for that list and you’ll probably get to the point where even though you know that list inside out, just the act of going to your bag, to your purse to get the list out will bring you to a calmer place…’ I was listening very carefully and uhu-ing as she went on to give some really great examples of things to put on the list. Towards the end of the list of ideas she said, ‘text Anna and ask for a ten minute call.’ I love that she offered that. She has consistently offered a call and I’ve asked just a few times for one. Only twice she has suggested that it would be good to save the conversation for when we are together. The other times she agreed to a call… I need to remember that she has never pushed me away. She has always willingly offered me more. Offered me hugs, offered me calls, offered longer sessions, additional sessions. There is no evidence that she is sick of me.

At the end I thanked her and she said, ‘I’m really pleased that I could give you this call. I feel it’s gone really well, it’s been really useful. Do you feel it’s worked out well… did it feel easier to talk because we were on the phone?’ It made me wonder if she doubted how it might go with me on the phone, I wondered if she was worried about my tendency to dissociate and how she could contain that while not being with me, or maybe this was the first time she has done a phone session and just couldn’t imagine how it would pan out. I said, ‘I don’t know if it was easier but it was more intimate having you right in my ear! Haha… it was great to have this talk I feel so much better… thank you so much!’ We exchanged some more pleasantries and then said, ‘see you next week’ and that was the end of the call. Bang on 60 minutes. Consistent. Reliable. Trustworthy. Boundaried.

I’ve reflected on this recently and talked it through with a friend and I’m left noticing a fundamental element of my relationship with Anna that I didn’t have with Paul. She has complete faith in me. she believes in my ability to help myself. She doesn’t want to save me she wants to constantly show me that I can save myself. She consistently points me back to myself. Whereas Paul happily saved me time and again. With Paul he gave endlessly and pushed out with the boundaries countless times, I thought that was love, but actually what Anna is doing, strengthening me, taking herself out of the picture where possible and reminding me of my inner capacity for healing, my innate ability to survive… she is constantly reminding me that I am doing this – I CAN DO THIS – that’s real love.

A Letter to my Mum

…from 17

I tried so hard to help you.

I tried so hard.

I did everything in my power to save you.

I loved you with my entire heart and body.

Everything I had I gave to you.

I tried so very hard to help you.

I gave you time, I gave you space… whatever you asked for I gave without question and never asked for anything in return.

I thought about you all the time… the birth of my preoccupied attachment… you flooded me. Every thought led back to you.

I worshiped you. I thought you were the perfect example of a mother/woman. I absorbed your words and spouted them back to you and out to the world – look at this mother of mine, isn’t she perfect? So much more than any other. She is cooler, more beautiful, more perfect. I buried my doubts so deep that I forgot they were even there. The sprouts would push at the soil and I mistook them for evidence of my own flaws. But they were never flaws.. they were resilient buds of intuition that I hacked at and squashed beneath the surface. I needed to believe that you were perfect and that all of these things were not your fault. I listened to your stories of your childhood. I listened to your stories of how unlucky you’ve been in relationships. Your words expanded and multiplied like the sponge of a rising cake in the oven so that there was never any space for my own words, my own thoughts.

I ignored your flaws. I minimised your mistakes, the pain. I turned my back on the truth – denied the abuse and fully embodied the role of your number one fan and supporter.

I tried so hard to help you. I searched for answers, I found self help books for you, highlighted bits, tore out pages and stuck them round the house. Wrote inspirational quotes on the fridge for you to find. Wrote you love notes and left them on your pillow. I told you that you were great, I willed you to believe me. I used study time at the library to look up answers on the internet for reasons why you might be struggling and ways you could get help. I took you to the doctor, sheets printed out about mental health issues, disorders that sounded like word for word descriptions of you. I put you first, every single time. I turned down invitations. I looked after my brother so you could have time to yourself. I filled you with compliments and showered you with praise.

I listened. I listened and worked so very hard to understand you. I listened to your adult woes and tried to understand them and give you validation and love and empathy. You would tell me I was so wise, an old head on young shoulders you said. You needed me. How did I create such a wonderful daughter you would say.

Then when the weight of you got too much for me… and even in my dreams I would imagine my legs buckling under the pressure so that I could no longer walk… I would ask you to stop, I would plead with you to find someone else to help you. Your rage would explode and you would batter me with disgust and spite – how could I have created such a selfish child you would cry. After all I have done for you this is how you repay me, you would scream.

It was never enough for you mum. No matter what I did, it was never enough. Your needs were a burden that I should never have been forced to carry. They were so heavy, they crushed me. I am an empty shell because I dedicated my whole life to filling you up.

You are too much for me. I am overwhelmed by you. I don’t know how to help you. I cut my skin to blead you out of me. I took the pills to kill all the parts of you that infested me. It was all too much for me…

One day I will leave. I will find all the small parts of myself that have been pushed into the corners of my shell and I will nourish those parts.

One day I will purge myself of you and then there will be space for me.

Trust the process

Even when it feels like everything is falling apart.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, some of my posts are copied here, sorry for the repetition. I’ve been journaling and trying to make sense of my experience this week and I thought I’d post about it here…

Two days ago I wrote in my journal that things were feeling good after my last session (the 90 minute session). I posted this on Instagram…

After my initial meeting with Anna (over two years ago) she gave me a questionnaire to fill in for our next session. One of the questions was, ‘How do you think you can help yourself in this process?’ And I wrote, ‘Commit to regular therapy sessions. Be open and self-aware. Be willing to listen, learn and make difficult changes. Trust the process. Maintain any between session work or think critically and carefully about previous / next sessions.’ I knew what I was talking about back then! TRUST THE PROCESS! Trust the damn process. Everything that happens in session, between sessions, as a result of sessions…. within the therapeutic relationship – everything is part of the process. Trust it. Everything can be worked on. Everything is worth working on.

Things are feeling quite good at the moment. Though the work is hard and the grieving is so painful, I feel positive that I am on the right track, that I am making progress and that Anna is able to help me. I do trust her and I do trust the process. I think this relaxing into the process and letting go of the need for control is one of the reasons why things are feeling better. More hopeful.

Whenever I start to doubt it, which I’m sure I will in time… someone please remind me to TRUST THE PROCESS!

Then the very next day it felt like the rug had been pulled from beneath me. I posted this…

All things must pass.
It always amazes me how quickly things can change. Nothing lasts. Nothing stays the same for very long. Ride the waves, Lucy… ride the fucking waves and trust that this raging ocean is wild and furious for a reason.

So I guess this is when I need to trust the process… not when all is going good, but exactly now… when things feel delicate and fragile and like they may break. I’m experiencing a massive kickback today. Emotional flooding. Body memories. This is hard. I wish I was seeing Anna tomorrow. It absolutely sucks that our session had to be cancelled and having an extra long session on Saturday didn’t detract from the longing I feel now. I feel so vulnerable, I have a sore tummy and I can’t stop crying. I had to take today off work. I feel like a failure but I also know this is what I need. This is a day for ‘7’ to just be and cry if she needs to, sleep if she needs to… this is the process. But I miss Anna and I want a hug from her so much. I want to smell her perfume and see her kind eyes.

I really wish I just *knew* Anna in ‘real life’. I want to be able to call her up now and cry down the phone with her. I feel so heart broken. I wonder if this is some sort of abandonment ‘flashback’ – after everything I told her on Saturday, to then not be able to see her for 10 days. I wonder if ‘7’ feels rejected and abandoned because of what I shared (does Anna need to protect herself from me?) oh this is hard. There’s such a strong desire to let Anna know that I didn’t make it into work today and that I’ve been crying on and off for the past two hours. But there’s no need really. She wouldn’t reply, she can’t do anything, she’s got her own life to live and I need to deal with this by myself.
Trust the process. It’s all I can do.

And then I posted this…

Sometimes the past won’t stay in the past. I experienced a massive kick back from Saturday’s session, from bringing certain things out into the light that have stayed hidden for decades. Today has been really hard. A lot of emotional overwhelm. When your trauma is relational, developmental… when you’ve been betrayed and violated by people who were meant to protect and care for you… when you believed time and time again that you could trust, that maybe today you’d be safe, maybe today you’ll be seen and looked after… and then again you’re let down, again you’re abandoned, again you’re rejected and again you’re hurt… it leaves some pretty deep scars.

I find close attachments with people a generation above me very triggering. I also find it very hard to trust myself. I’m hyper vigilant in these relationships. I assume I will be hurt. I predict the pain. I await the rejection and abandonment. I look for the hidden agenda behind seemingly kind actions. It is physically alive in my body. It’s not in the past. My brain may know that I am safe with Anna but my body believes this relationship is threatening. I’ve worked very hard to get to the point where I feel like I can trust her when we’re in the room. When she is in front of me, I feel she is being authentic and real with me. But it’s very hard for me to hold on to that feeling. Right now I am panicking, it feels like she’s forgotten about me or is glad she doesn’t HAVE to see me this week. I couldn’t handle the feelings earlier today and texted her asking for a call this week. I expect she’ll say no and maintain her boundaries. Her silence feels like a message to me that she’s sick of me, frustrated that the 90 minute session just a few days ago wasn’t enough for me. I always want more, it’s never enough. I’m too needy. I’m too much. She needs a break from me… hello inner critic! You’re also a very alive resident that’s hung around since the past.

I’ve managed to regulate as best I can today. I’ve looked after myself and taken it easy. But it is so hard. So hard.

Finally I shared this…

Ask and you shall receive… or something like that. I was brave. I asked for a phone session… or a short call that I’d happily pay for. I fully expected to receive a very considered, firm ‘no’ like I have in the past. Because Anna knows that boundaries are very important to me and she has experienced first hand the total devastation that can happen if she steps outside her boundary (even just slightly). Like the time I sent her an unclear message that sounded like I was at risk of harming myself so she phoned me. Her breaking her rules in that moment nearly sent me over the edge. We both learned very valuable lessons from that incident.

Boundaries, clear rules, consistency, clarity… these things feel safe and predictable. I need them.
I am learning though that boundaries can be flexible and that (as a good friend reminded me the other day) a ‘no’ can just mean a ‘not yet’ or an ‘here’s an alternative’. Also I am learning that as you build trust in an attachment, a boundary can be reassessed and changed slightly, safely, with consent.

So I sent a very adult text to Anna asking if we could have a phone session because the only reason today’s session was cancelled is because of maintenance taking place in the office. To my surprise she agreed. She has given me a time, confirmed the price and let me know that she will phone me. I actually can’t believe it. I nearly said ‘thanks but no thanks’ because I feel quite reassured that she’s okay with giving me the call… she wouldn’t have offered it if she was sick of me. She wouldn’t begrudgingly give me the call… she’s careful about keeping herself safe, she wouldn’t push herself to the point of being sick of me… I hope!

Ironically I’m not even sure what to talk about tonight. I’m going to have to drive somewhere quiet so I can give the session as much holding and containment as possible. I will need privacy and I will need to feel safe. How much can we get into on the phone? I’m in a very different place to where I was yesterday. I wish I could step back into those overwhelming emotions so I could share them with her in real time.

I guess I need to just TRUST THE PROCESS!

And that’s exactly what I did. I got in my car in the dark wearing four woolly jumpers and a scarf to keep warm, drove to a quiet beautiful space near where I live and watched the almost full moon hang in the night sky, reflected on the oil like black water below while I waited for her to call me.

I’ll write about that phone session in a new post.