You have to feel it to heal it

The day after we said goodbye
…sharing my grief with Linda.

I already had a session with Linda for the Wednesday. Anna knew this which is why I think she chose Tuesday to let me know the news. She knew I would have some support.

I stayed up almost the whole of Tuesday night writing the email to Anna and sent it at 11.30am. I was sure my session with Linda was 2pm but noticed an email with a zoom link a few minutes to 12 and suddenly realised I had messed the timings up. I was a total mess. I hadn’t showered. I’d fallen asleep at 4am and woken a few hours later and immediately started crying again. I phoned the doctor and sobbed down the phone at her that my therapist had died and I needed something to help me function. She got the prescription to me later that afternoon.

These are my notes that I quickly typed on my phone after my session before falling asleep.

20.05.20

This grief is the worst emotional pain I have ever felt. I got the time wrong for the session. To be honest I didn’t even know what day it was this morning. I quickly clicked on to the session and had to text Adam to ask him to bring me water and the headphones for my laptop and tissues. I told Linda I’d got confused with the time and sorry I was late (by five minutes) and she said that was completely understandable considering what was going on for me. Fucking hell it’s such a relief to not have to explain everything to her. She’d spoken to Anna. She knew and she was ready to hold space for me.

She has a really kind voice. She said, ‘how you doing Lucy?’ in such a grounded tone. I said I was completely shit and started to cry. I didn’t even hide my face I openly cried. Tears soaking my face. She made some compassionate noises. I said, ‘I miss her so much I don’t think I can survive this.’ Linda said, ‘I know. It’s massive. Lucy, I really am so sorry this has happened. It really is so hard and just so shit.’

I told her Anna had text me in the morning and I knew in my heart that she was going to tell me goodbye. I cant believe its over just like that. Such an open and beautiful connection… now walled up. ‘it’s not fair… she has all the power. She can just walk away. This is agony for me.’ Linda gently said, ‘I don’t think it was easy for her to walk away Lucy.’

Linda sort of took a breath and seemed to want to say something important, she said, ‘I just want to say that I think it’s amazing you’re here talking to me right now. Lucy, it happened 24 hours ago and you’re here talking to me. I just think that’s amazing, that’s the progress right there I mean, wow!’ I said, ‘I don’t feel like I have a choice, you’re the only person in my life that I can talk to about this, no one else understands. Adam doesn’t get it. I can’t even, there are no words…’ (more crying). Linda said, ‘You’ve said that a few times and it’s really struck me that you feel you don’t have the sort of relationship with Adam that you can be vulnerable and emotional with him. I’m sorry you can’t reach out to him… I’m glad you’re talking to me.’

I told her, ‘I’m sad because there was so much I wanted to do and work on with Anna… it’s not fair.’ Linda said, ‘I know, it’s not fair.’ I said, ‘I had things that we were going to go back to you know, like things where I had started it and then we would say we’ll come back to it another time, drawings that I had wanted to show her but never did, memories that I’d started and couldn’t finish… fuck.’ I had a catalogue of topics we’d shelved flashing through my mind like the flickering scenes of an old black and white film. One after the other. Waves of grief followed.

I said, ‘I feel like she’s doing this so she can stop working with me… she is saying she’s closing then in a few months when I’ve attached to someone else she’ll start afresh and she’ll tell me it’s a conflict of interest and she can’t work with me any more.’ Linda had her head slightly bowed slowly shaking her head, ‘She has stopped working Lucy, she’s not working any more. It’s not you.’

I kept saying, ‘I don’t understand why.’

I whispered, ‘I hope she knew how important she was to me. How much I love her.’ Linda left some space then quietly said with certainty, ‘She knew how much she meant to you Lucy and you mean so much to her too.’

I said, ‘and now you’re stuck with me… you never chose to work with you and you said it was short term and…’ Linda said, ‘Yes you’ve mentioned that a few time’s… saying things like ‘when I work with another therapist’ and obviously in your email you said about feeling like I’m stuck with you. That’s not coming up for me at all Lucy. I don’t feel stuck with you at all. We’re working together and if you think about it and you want to continue working with me then I’m okay with that.’ I said, ‘It’s because I don’t want you to feel burdened by me. Stuck with me. Like you didn’t choose to work with me and you said last session this is short term and now I have nowhere else to go. It’s like my mum dying, only that would be less of a loss… she was my therapy mum and I don’t have her any more…’

There were lots of moments of me crying whenever it came up.

I said, ‘I knew this was going to happen. I’m really intuitive I know that sounds stupid but when Paul’s wife was pregnant, I knew before he told me, I had a dream about it, I don’t know, I’m not saying I’m psychic but I maybe pick up on things… and I knew, I knew in March that I would never sit with Anna again. I just felt it…’ I cried some more and she quietly repeated back to me, ‘you knew… and Lucy it doesn’t sound stupid, you can trust your intuition, you had a strong feeling this would happen.’

At one point I said, ‘I just feel like I’m cycling back and forth you know so some moments I just feel like I can’t cope with this, I just don’t know how to get through this and like my go to in my head is to think about dying, like I just can’t see any way out of this… then other moments I think, yeah I’m totally fine, maybe I don’t need therapy ever again I can just focus on my life and family and you know… everything’s great! Then it hits me in my chest and I can’t breathe for crying and I want to end it all…’ Linda said that was a perfectly understandable response to the shock and that it makes sense I feel like that.

I said, ‘She held the hope. Knowing I had Anna made me feel like there was always hope. I would think of her whenever I had something overwhelming happen or I was really struggling I would think – it’s okay, I can get through the next couple of days and I will take this to Anna… and now I don’t have that I feel like I’ve lost all the hope and I don’t know what to do anymore. Having her made me feel like I was worthy and good… like if I felt shit about myself I could say to myself, it’s okay coz Anna said I are okay or Anna said I’m a good person so I must be… you know, Anna said I’m a good mum or whatever… now I don’t have her I just feel like I’m a piece of crap. Just this shitty useless….not okay thing.’ Linda said, ‘and just listen to how you’re talking about yourself I mean god Lucy, it’s just so cruel, so unkind… I’m really so aware that actually, YOU were the one that held the hope. You held on for each session and you’re holding the hope right now. You’ve brought yourself to this session and you are bringing all of your feelings here, hoping that it will help… that takes real strength.’

I told her that the kids had noticed something was wrong so I told them that my friend Anna wasn’t well and I was never going to be able to see her again and I was sad about that. Gracie said she was sad for me and they both hugged me and then Reuben gave me his top and said it was his Reuben top to make me feel better because mummy tops always make him feel better. I started to cry and my whole body felt like it was crying. Linda said, ‘Aww that’s just so sweet, because he loves you, they love you, you’re their mummy.’ And I was sobbing and saying, ‘I don’t want it, I don’t want them, I don’t want any of that… I just want her, it makes me want to not be alive anymore. I can’t stand this I want to end it. I can’t sleep, I haven’t eaten since our phone call… nothing feels right in my body I don’t want to keep going.’

There was some quiet and Linda said, ‘Please don’t do that Lucy. Please don’t hurt yourself.’ It stole my breathe and I looked up and just started at her face and she was looking at me in this silent care. She said it again and I said I wouldn’t do anything permanent. I said, ‘I don’t think anyones ever said that to me before… Anna would ask me if I can look after myself between now and the next session.’ Linda said, ‘to be fair I have said that before too, I just felt compelled in that moment to ask you not to hurt yourself.’ I said, ‘it’s not the right time for this, 4 minutes to go… but I already… well it’s been hard to to avoid old coping strategies and I have since the last time I saw you.’ Linda said, ‘alright, okay. You’ve self harmed.’ I sort of laughed and said, ‘much more succinctly expressed…’ she said, ‘well you know I don’t beat around the bush Lucy, I say it as it is.’ I nodded and said, ‘normally I’m pretty straight talking, the shame steals that from me.’ She said, ‘if you want to we can talk about the self harm next time.’ I nodded and said that would be good.

She checked that I can make 11.30 on Saturday because she has more birthdays this weekend and I said that was fine. She said, ‘Okay, look after yourself, please Lucy. And go eat something. Your body needs fuel okay, like a car. You can’t do anything without fuel… it’s the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you know, basic needs… look after yourself alright?’

I clicked off and got into the shower. Crying the whole time. I imagined never being able to stop crying.

I fell asleep for hours then got up in the late afternoon, went down stairs and had some toast, collected my prescription and let the meds ease it all.

17 thoughts on “You have to feel it to heal it

  1. LovingSummer

    It is quite uncanny that you just knew you’d never work with Anna again, some sort of sixth sense or something.

    So glad you have Linda, that was so amazingly timely the way it all worked out for her to come along and work with you, and for you to have even wondered about ever working with Anna again.

    You’re so brave to keep it real with Linda the way you are doing. You can see it’s who you are and how you do business, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it right now but it’s a sign of your personal strength that you can do that so naturally.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much LS. I really feel like i am in some sort of transition through this crisis and I just want to shed the shame drenched hesitations and run out into the world of therapy with it all laid bare… there really is no guarantee and we just must not sit back and think it’s all laid out for us. I need to grab each moment, right now. That’s how it’s feeling right now. And it is such a beautiful parting gift from Anna, that she connected me to Linda. If this had to happen, it is happening in a way that I can just about hold on to some hope.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. LovingSummer

        How lovely to think of it as Anna’s parting gift. It’s really evident that she loved you too Lucy, I don’t know if telling you that makes it better or worse so I hope it’s not the latter 🤗

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reminds me so much of my grief of my senior dog last year. You feel like it’s just going to drown you. I’m so sorry this has happened. I’ve been thinking of you since I read it all earlier. You will get through this incredibly tough time of thick thick grief, even though I know it really doesn’t feel like it right now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. Today already feels easier, more manageable. Grief is so powerful. It is the culmination of all the toughest emotions… sadness, hopelessness, fear, loss, emptiness, anger, regret… they’re all there… and even the joyful feelings are intensely painful through the filter of grief. I’m writing about today’s session just now. I am definitely in an easier head space today. Thanks for commenting and letting me know you were thinking of me.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I have missed Anna so much today that I could barely walk earlier. Just keep remembering all the things we were half way through and this dread and sense of having to start over again. I need something more than just two 50 minute sessions a week… I miss texting A so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s going to be a huge transition for you and processing this loss is going to be hard and take time. I guess all you can do is keep showing up and be honest with L what your needs are. Does she allow between session contact? Hang on in there xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah. If you don’t ask you don’t know what the rules are. I’ve found with Anita that although she is fine with me texting her I rarely do. It’s knowing I can that takes the edge off things like because she isn’t ‘trying to keep me at a distance’ I don’t feel the need to close it. Because Em was no contact it made me feel rejected all the time and ended up with me seeking out reassurance.

        Liked by 1 person

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