Notes from today’s session 25.01.20

At the start of the session I said I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about, ‘I was in a rush because I had such a busy morning and so I grabbed Luna, my art folder and photos and figured I could just see what felt right…’ Anna said, ‘I think the fact that you brought Luna today is really important even if she just stays in your bag, we know she’s here… maybe she could come along to every session?’ I said, ‘it really fascinates me how positive and encouraging you are about her… last session you were sort of excited at the idea that I bring her back in,’ Anna said, ‘hmm yeah, she is special. I think Luna represents that small part of you. That’s massive. I remember you talking about buying her, deliberating over the cost, was it worth it, was it selfish, is it silly for a 36 year old woman to want to buy a stuffed toy, you bought her for yourself, you allowed yourself to have her. How did you feel when she arrived?’ I said, ‘I was excited… then sad.’ I thought about Luna sitting beside me on the floor in my bag, covered with my scarf. Anna said, ‘yeah, I know… the sadness is there, grief.’ I said, ‘I remember when I was about 8 or 9 I helped run a bring and buy stall, when I was setting the tables up one of the things that caught my eye was a little stuffed bear. I basically stole that bear from the stall and put it in my school bag. I had to hide it because obviously people would ask where I’d got it so I hid it under my bed and any time I hid under there, she was there with me… I just really loved that bear and I didn’t really have any other stuffed toys, my brother had them. Why wouldn’t she buy me…?’ I tailed off. Anna said, ‘perhaps your mum needed you to not be a child.’ Oh that hurt. I said, ‘why am I so ashamed of Luna?’ Anna said, ‘my take is that you were shamed for being a child when you were a child so now you’re ashamed that you still have these needs… but it’s okay to want to have toys or to play or cuddle stuffed animals… whatever you want at any age!’ I nodded, acknowledging that the shame was stopping me from even bringing Luna out my bag. I said, ‘it feels scary, vulnerable,’ Anna finished my sentence, ‘exposing.’

‘Last session when I was huffy and teenagery, I’ve been thinking about how you responded to me. You didn’t take any of it personally, you laughed actually. Were you amused by me being so moody?’ Anna smiled, ‘hmmm it was interesting…’ I wish I’d asked her more about that but I just continued talking, ‘I was never allowed to express those feelings as a teenager.’ Anna asked, ‘what would have happened if you had shown those feelings?’ I explained that my mum would probably have got angry with me, said I was adding to her problems. She’d say, ‘what’s wrong with you? Grow up! Snap out of it… why are you doing this to me?’ ‘It was actually really powerful telling you that I felt like I wanted to hurt myself. I think I was reluctant for you to praise me at the time because I knew I was still in the middle of wanting to do it and so I felt like I might still go home and do it, then what?’ Anna said, ‘I was praising you for looking after yourself despite feeling like you wanted to hurt yourself.’ I interrupted, ‘yes but I still wanted to do it so it felt like you were pressuring me. You were saying, ‘well done,’ but what if I went home and did it that night? What’s the opposite to praise… disappointment?’ she spoke over me and said with total sincerity, ‘concern.’ I seriously love the way she thinks. I just looked it up, the opposite of praise is condemnation and criticism but I love that for HER the response to me looking after myself is genuine warmth and praise and the response to me harming myself would be concern and care. She has never criticised or condemned me. I looked at her for a while and smiled. She said, ‘I’m sorry you felt pressured by me praising you. I was proud of you and glad you could find ways to look after yourself. If you had hurt yourself I would have been concerned that you were so distressed. I would want to explore that with you without judgement.’ I said, ‘There were so many times when I was a teenager and I wasn’t able to tell anyone how I felt, no one helped me make sense of how I was feeling.’ She said, ‘Thats why it’s vital that those parts of you that were rejected and exiled in childhood are now witnessed, seen and validated.’

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