Shame, connection and coming home…

Three excerpts from the session on Sat 29th Feb.

I said, ‘the perfume thing blows my mind. That I just needed to ask once and you gladly gave it to me… it directly relates to my mum. I know that. She was always going out at night and used to give my brother one of her tops with her perfume on to help him sleep. I really longed for that but I would just sneak it, I’d take it from her drawer you know, like having to steal these crumbs of connection from her…’ Anna said, ‘why wouldn’t she give you a top?’ I said ‘I just don’t think she saw me as a child. Maybe I never asked, maybe I knew she’d say no and the rejection was too painful.’ Anna talked about this innate sense I had that she wouldn’t give me what I needed, that this comes from learning these lessons very early on, ‘it’s a preverbal knowing,’ she said, ‘despite knowing that she would turn you away, you still craved the closeness. No wonder you have these moments of frozen stuckness when you want to be close to me. You want connection but you anticipate rejection. You learned to find ways to feel connected from a safe distance.’ I said, ‘Exactly! I had a lot of nightmares but I knew I couldn’t wake her. I would crawl silently into their bedroom and go to sleep under her side of the bed. I remember it was very cold but I could hear her breathing and smell her.’ Anna said, ‘oh Lucy,’ in a heartfelt way, ‘Did you ever wake her? Would you have wanted her to let you in her bed?’ I started to say, ‘I think yes but also no, um it felt weird to be close to her,’ Anna asked me to explain ‘weird’ further and I started to feel floaty. I told her I felt spacey and she encouraged me to ground myself. I put my head in my hands and tried to breath, took a drink of water. Told her I didn’t have words for it. Told her it felt yucky and that I didn’t want her to touch me. ‘I didn’t want to feel our bodies touching. It never felt like a motherly touch, it felt bad. She didn’t know how to touch me the way a mother touches her child.’ Anna asked if I had a sense of what it felt like to imagine being in her bed next to her body and I whispered, ‘not safe…’ and I was gone again. I started to feel anchored to the room when I felt Anna’s hand on my arm. That felt safe.

I couldn’t continue with the memory we’d unintentionally fallen into. I described it as if I was watching an old VHS that suddenly got jammed in the machine and now it was just grey and black fuzzy lines and white noise. I let out a gasp of frustration and told her I was really angry with myself. She asked me to stay with the feeling that was behind the anger. So I sat there in it. I fumbled and scrambled around for ways to describe what it felt like. Anna reminded me, ‘it doesn’t need to be sentences, it doesn’t need to make sense. Anything that comes up for you – words, senses.’ And so a garbled mess tumbled out. ‘its like humiliated but from inside me… shame? Like I’m rotten inside? Dirty… I’m ashamed… but… but why am I ashamed?’ Anna said, ‘yes, it was never your shame to hold, earlier you described her as shameless. She was shameless Lucy because she made you carry it all. That’s the blackness inside you, it’s her shame. Talking about it is how we get it out.’ I said, ‘but I had to, it was the only way I could make her love me.’ Anna said, ‘she betrayed you massively Lucy. You were a child. You had no choice. It was not your fault. What you did and how you adapted was exactly what you needed to do to survive.’ There was quite a lot of quiet and we were coming to the end of the session which filled me with sadness. Anna said with a really peaceful open expression, ‘I am so proud of that young part who just told me all of that. I want her to listen as I say this… I understand. I know that it felt scary and she had to stop telling me her memory. That’s okay. I’m glad she stopped when it started to feel unsafe. It’s okay that she doesn’t trust me. I’m not going to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do and I’m not going to try to make her trust me. You keep bringing her here and I will keep being here with you. I’m not going anywhere. I want to earn her trust. Slowly I believe she will feel like she can trust me but I’m in no rush. And if she feels like she wants to test me – THATS OKAY! I really want her to hear that. It’s okay for her to test me in any way she feels she wants to! That’s how she will learn she can trust me.’

Anna said, ‘you might find that different needs are met by each of your pandas, so you have Luna, Baby and Suki,’ she looked at me and I smiled, it’s so cool she makes a point of calling them by their names even when I am too ashamed to. She continued, ‘maybe Suki stays in your handbag for when you’re at work and if you’re not able to take her out, just putting your hand in your bag and feeling him or smelling my perfume on your hand would help…’ (I already do this which blows my mind and makes me wonder if she has experienced this process from where I’m sitting). ‘You might find that Baby is there for those pre-verbal moments when there are no words, maybe Luna is there for every day connection, for bedtime, you’ll really get to know yourself through getting to know them…’ I said that was exactly what I’ve been experiencing. I said, ‘when I come home from work and they’re sitting on the wee chair in my room… I smile when I see them, it feels like I’m coming home to my inner child and I am actually glad to see her…’ Anna said, ‘which is so great to hear, not long ago you didn’t want anything to do with her, you didn’t even want her in this room.’ I nodded, ‘I feel so bad about that, how rejecting and punishing I was of her… when she’d done nothing wrong.’ Anna pressed her lips together and nodded with sad eyes. She said, ‘that was very important to feel and work through and it might come back now and then but you are feeling something for her you’ve never felt before, your heart is opening to her. You’re doing so well. I know how hard this is.’ I thought about the fact that I feel a responsibility for my inner child/ren now and that makes it very hard to imagine ever hurting myself again because it would be like inflicting pain onto a child and just now I’m thinking, that’s what I do when I let the inner critic win, I’m letting someone viciously bully this defenceless child. But there’s a shakiness in admitting that. I’m frightened of what my mother used to say, ‘pride before a fall’… I don’t want to foolishly say I can’t imagine ever self harming again only to find myself triggered into hurting myself. I guess that is the not linear part of healing.

14 thoughts on “Shame, connection and coming home…

  1. slantgirl

    such a beautiful post! it’s beautiful to think that you’re learning to be able to embrace your inner child as a valued part of yourself, and so great that Luna, Suki & baby are helping with that too. I struggle with this so much, though it makes it easier to think of my inner children as deserving of the love and acceptance i try to offer my real life children.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually feel really grateful that this is happening because I never thought it possible. I can feel a softening and opening in my heart. Yes imagining it with our own kids is a good way to make it seem doable!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate to this sense of shame so deeply…. it all makes so much sense.. I fear and long for connection too…its so hard to ask for what you just expect and fear will never come.. but I know my Mum endured exactly the same… she just passed it on…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can understand that but that was a different generation… I am not excusing it and the anger is a necessary stage. I have moved past mine it was not helping me to fully grieve but feeling it also woke me up to my need to be more assertive about what I need, not that I always manage it…


      2. My therapists are both in my parents generation. I really believe they could have done better and that their generation weren’t in complete darkness about these things. In fact both my parents talked about how their parents messed them up but never thought to check they weren’t messing us up. They are just very selfish unaware people.

        I agree anger and grief are intertwined for sure.


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