Processing the work without words

I haven’t been able to type up yesterday’s session. Not because it’s too painful to revisit or because I’m too dissociated… I think it’s because it feels unnecessary – which is completely new to me! I have typed up every single session I’ve ever had since my first one with Paul in February 2013… there have been a handful of sessions over the years that took maybe a day or so to type up or ones I could only manage bullet points or a drawing, but every session was recorded in black and white one way or another. I have only met with Mark 7 times… but these sessions have been on another level. After the sessions I have felt the intense need to sleep, something that Mark and I discussed yesterday and we pondered perhaps my body felt the need to enter a dream cycle or at least a deep sleep in order to process the more unconsious, developmental trauma we’ve been focusing on. The past few sessions I have used my recordings to help me type the sessions up after I’ve slept. This time however, I slept and then relaxed in the evening. No typing, no journaling… just spent the evening on the sofa watching tv with Adam. Today I listened to the full session again and gained some deeper insights from carefully listening to the themes of what came up for me and the responses Mark gave me. It felt like I could register things shifting inside me. I wasn’t sitting for hours on end, in my head typing words on my laptop, I was feeling and listening deeply and really considering things on a body level, a felt sense. Processing… inside my body. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before and because of my history of disconnection from emotions and my body, because of my habitual intelletualising and inability to feel, it seems really significant that I’m noticing this shift and important that I pay attention to it.

I’ve been reflecting on how journaling, writing full notes of the sessions, blogging publicly and uploading my session notes on my therapy Instagram page serve me. What do I gain from doing this? Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is the community. After a lifetime of hiding this part of me, finally I found something to help me feel less alone. The conversations, the ‘me too’s’… this has all been so healing and a constant source of comfort and affirmation for me. I still gain so much from this. But it feels like there’s another level to it. I have journaled, since my early teens. And even as a young child I would write in a diary. It makes sense I would write, I had no one to talk to. The page was my only way of externalising my thoughts. Thoughts that would stay deep inside my inner world until they were unlocked and expressed on the page. I think it’s always been part of my process. In fact Paul told me that he thought writing was part of my process when I worked with him and I never fully understood what he meant at the time. I used to email him long therapy reflections after every session that he would then give lovely long thoughtful responses to. Sometimes we would go back and forth a few times, in conversation, about both of our thoughts on my therapy work. With Anna I would write almost every day, often bringing notes to the sessions for her to read and eventually when I got brave enough, I’d read them to her. Of course there were also my drawings and my own journal notes. The work I’m doing with Mark is the deepest and most emotionally intense therapy I have ever done. It’s the work I imagined I’d be able to do with Anna in a year or so… I mean, we were just beginning to scratch the surface of those deeper layers. In the last few sessions with Anna face to face before the lockdown, I felt parts of me coming out of hiding in the room with her for the first time. It felt like we were getting there. As Mark said recently, the lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. We had just opened the door and then Anna left and the door was left wide open and all of the grief and love and attachment pain poured in and out in rampant abundance. I thought it could easily have taken a year, maybe a few years to peel back all the layers slowly and gently in sessions with Anna, in order for me to feel the feelings… but that journey has been accelerated because of the deep grief that broke my heart open when she left… no longer numb I now am able to connect quickly and intensely to all of the feelings that were walled off before losing her. I never imagined getting to this point. I remember asking people on wordpress, ‘how do you cry in sessions?’ I just couldn’t do it. Well I’ve been doing it, over and over. It’s agony but it’s also healing.

I am finding that even in these early days as I go deeper into the somatic work with Mark, I am more connected to my body and less in my head. I talked to Mark about my journey back to my body. He said it sounds like I have taken some very painful, purposeful and brave leaps of faith over the years. When I started my therapy journey I was in my late 20’s. I was very numb and didn’t know how to tune in to my feelings. Due to my automatic reflex of ‘shut down’, I just never developed ways of making sense of things inside of me. I focused so heavily on the telling of the stories. The words. I told Paul everything I could think of in an attempt to pour all of the toxic narrative from my brain into his. I felt almost like if he knew everything that had ever happened to me then he could fix me. Being CBT and mindfulness focused he was happy with this cognitive approach. Along with this, he seemed to be an intellectualiser like me. We got on really well and often had lengthy conversations about theories we had read and analysed. Maybe if I worked with him now he would do deeper work with me, perhaps he was just ‘meeting me where I was at’, going as deep as I was able. Or maybe that just was the style of work he did. I do remember him telling me he didn’t see the point in lifelong ‘navel gazing’ and I was his longest standing client. He favoured the quick fix. I always knew I needed more than that.

When I began work with Anna, I attempted to follow the same pattern of intellectualising. She worked hard to move me into my body which I found incredibly difficult but desperately wanted to do. It felt like the right direction to take things in and more in alignment with my belief that there really are no quick fixes for attachment wounding and developmental trauma. But it was so hard to internalise our work. When I wrote about the sessions it felt like it made them real. I could remind myself of the things Anna said that brought me comfort or a deeper understanding of things. And then as I shared them online, people commenting and messaging me helped solidify this process for me. Other people were able to share reflections that helped me understand what I was working through. When I wasn’t in my body, the only way I could hold on to the sessions and prove to myself the sessions even happened, was to have them written in black and white. Working with Linda, this intensified. Along with my need to read up on psychological theories. Especially around developmental trauma work… researching the areas I needed to focus on and the areas she struggled to support me with.

Working with Mark I can feel a distinct relaxing of that hyper cognitive part. There’s a sense that I can figuratively put the books down. I do still enjoy reading but I don’t feel like I’m preparing for a degree in psychology in order to fill the gaps in my own therapy. Now I am feeling more in my body, I can feel the presence of the moving emotions and the healing that’s taking place inside me. It doesn’t need to be spelled out on a page, I can literally feel it shifting inside. If writing, for me, was how I processed… now it feels like I am processing inside my body with less of a need to write the process into being. And having the recordings means I can revisit specific bits of the sessions that felt pivotal and relive them, as they happened, rather than using my contorted memory of it. This has been amazing for being able to feel a connection with Mark and has also helped silence the inner critic. When I start to worry that Mark hates me I can play back parts of the session where he literally says he is enjoying getting to know me. When I worry that he thinks I’m making a big thing out of nothing I can listen to the bit where he says my childhood sounds like the drip drip drip of neglect and abuse that conjures up the notion of ‘death by a thousand cuts’. And when I worry about him feeling like I’m too much I can listen to one of the many times he’s willingly told me, ‘you’re not too much for me, I want to do this deep work with you,’ something very real and very profound is happening right now… very different to anything I’ve experienced before. Every day I worked with Linda, from the 19th May when Anna phoned me to tell me she was closing her practice, I felt deeply that Anna she was the only one who could help me and if she contacted me I would go back to her ‘in a heartbeat’. Now though, I’m not sure. I think I would definitely go to her for some ending sessions, but I can see that my journey has taken a different turn, and I’m doing great work here that I possibly couldn’t have done with Anna. That might just be because she knew the version of Lucy I was 3 years ago… Mark is meeting me now, with no preconceived ideas of who I am… I am a very different person to the one who could not speak in sessions with Anna. And I wonder if she would forever have handled me with kid gloves because she saw me like that.

I don’t think that these reflections mean I am suddenly going to decide to stop blogging. But it does feel like I won’t be sharing huge long transcripts of my sessions anymore, as it doesn’t feel like I need that for my process anymore… I’m fully aware I may change my mind, but these are this weeks thoughts. Maybe I will share parts of the sessions… maybe just reflections… maybe I will end up deciding to move away entirely from documenting my therapy publicly. I’m not sure.  I know how much I have gained and continue to gain from reading other therapy blogs and how much I have gained and continue to gain from people reading and interacting with mine… this is an undecided, fence sitting conclusion to my reflections today. All I know is that as I consider sharing what happened in yesterdays session, I struggle to put it into words. There aren’t the words to express what is awakening inside me. And it feels a bit like bringing a newborn into the world… too much exposure feels uneasy. This is delicate and new and beyond my cognitive ability to articulate. And I guess the newborn analogy makes sense. I have never felt feelings this deeply before, it is all brand new and there just aren’t the words.

12 thoughts on “Processing the work without words

  1. slantgirl

    Lucy, it’s been such a gift to read your long renderings of sessions, which are always beautifully recorded and full of value to your readers. but it’s also nice to read this too! and I am so happy for this shift to a new phase — how wonderful! enjoy it. don’t worry about what this space will become – it will change as you do, and one day it will cease. and that’s fine! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It does seem to be the next, natural step, from what I can gather. Do you remember Amber? I seem to recall she said a similar thing and then disappeared to spend her time and energy on real life, not needing to come here anymore. You write so beautifully and with such meaning and it’s been great to read a few of your sessions with Mark, to get an idea of this new therapy you are experiencing now. You will be sorely missed, but I’m really glad I found your blog because you’ve been a gold-mine! You have such a way with words and write in such a way as for the reader to comfortably and easily read and ‘feel’ their way through your journey with you. Like slantgirl said, it’s been such a gift! And I am so happy for you that you’ve reached a new stage in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve been hugely committed to your writing! What a lot of energy to write up every single session! It makes sense that you’re transitioning into something different. I used to blog after most sessions – almost immediately. And now it’s more sporadic. Just do what works for you. Sometimes it feels good to write sometimes it’s unnecessary or even a burden. I also found that My writing sometimes stopped me taking stuff Tj session – but not surprising given how Em was! I needed to vent and get support from somewhere! So pleased your sessions are going well. You deserve it x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny coz it’s not until you get off the treadmill they you realise you’ve been pushing yourself too hard… of that makes sense. Writing so much all the time was adding a whole other element to the work of therapy that exhausted me. And Anna tried many times to get me to slow that down but I could not see her point of view. I see it now though. I was running myself into the ground. The kickback to less stuff being posted is less interaction with the people I value connecting with on here and insta but I just need to find a balance. Thanks for your encouragement 💕

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah. Writing is great if it’s a release but when it’s another thing on the ‘to do’ list it can be a bind. You can always write shorter summaries rather than whole session transcripts if you feel like you want to keep regular posts. X

        Liked by 1 person

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