For the first time in 6 months I actually feel like myself. I feel grounded and alive and awake and like life can be smooth and easy. For the first time since Anna left, I feel truly hopeful. For the past few days, since Friday’s session, I have felt light, energised, capable and joyful. I have tidied the whole house… for the first time in 6 months. I have played with my kids. I’ve tasted my food. I’ve felt in my body. I’ve moved in my skin with more care and kindness. I’ve stretched and I’ve rested. I’ve planned a strategy to get me ready to return to work… not immediately but soon. It feels possible now.
Nothing monumental has changed and yet I do feel a change. ‘A seismic shift,’ as Mark reflected today… a shift in my internal landscape. One I am aware of.
Today’s session was very adult. We stayed with the ‘good’ feelings, we explored what it means to feel like this from the inside and we processed where I’ve been the past few weeks and the intensity of the last session and the powerful awareness I had of his presence and holding when I was very upset. We revisited Mark’s exclamation from Friday that my childhood was, ‘pretty fucking bad.’ We talked about the fallacy of ‘it wasn’t that bad’ and how that narrative has followed me around my whole life. We talked about the powerful impact validation has on me and how I can feel myself breaking free from the minimising lies surrounding what happened to me. We talked about the fact that my body tells the story… my struggles with coming into relationship tells the story. There is a wordless energy here that doesn’t need to be proved. I said, ‘Me constantly telling myself it wasn’t that bad… what is that? Denial? It’s probably a good thing to loosen my grip on that?’ Mark said, ‘Yes exactly, I think denial is really the only truly pathological defense because it stops you acknowledging what’s actually happening to you which is usually not a good idea for very long.’ There is a safety in seeing things for how they really are. You can’t protect yourself from things you deny the existence of.
I told Mark that I trust him and that it blows my mind. That I feel an ease with him and that I trust he won’t shame me. That there’s a trust in me… an ability to let go and feel things and cry with him and let him witness and be with me. I said, ‘For so long I didn’t think I would ever be able to cry in the company of someone else, or even by myself! It’s fucking huge that I can cry with you… massive! I’m actually excited about it. And I’ve realised it’s so much more painful to feel the feelings and not cry.’ We explored my history of self-harm and how short lived the relief would be when I would cut myself, compared to the real relief of crying with someone with me. I said, ‘There’s a new road, a new option… one that doesn’t carry the shame or guilt that self-harm harbours.’ Mark gently reflected on the ebb and flow of these connections I’m making, that the old habits often present themselves to us and that sometimes we will be aware of the other options, other times we won’t.
I told him, ‘I feel your authenticity. I think that helps with the trust… I don’t feel any games… I don’t feel like you’re having to ‘switch on’ your therapist mode for me, I feel like this is genuinely who you are, that it is threaded through you, the way you are being with me… in relationship with you I feel an ease that I’ve never felt, even with Anna.’ Mark said, ‘That’s good to hear, we’ve got to somewhere really important here. There is an ease. A trust. I imagine you’ve got a pretty good radar for when people have any agenda or are game playing. Your history will have given you the ability to read people. It’s delightful to hear that you feel your hyper-vigilance relaxing and a trust growing with me. And you know you can check things out with me, ask if you feel that something isn’t quite right.’ I said, ‘With other therapists, I would sense an effort sometimes, that they were having to work at it… I don’t feel that from you, I feel like you enjoy this work and that it’s not a huge effort for you to sit with me through this.’ Mark brightly replied, ‘Yeah, I think you have seen me quite clearly there, it’s important… I’m here with you… very here with you. It’s quite lovely, you’re very astute. It’s delightful that you can pick up on my enjoyment of working with you.’ This felt so nice to acknowledge. It made me smile.
We spent some time sharing the qualities we enjoy in each other and then Mark suddenly realised the time and said, ‘Oh, we’re coming up to time! I was so engaged in what you were saying I forgot to do my job!’ This also felt nice and he noted that he feels an authenticity from me and that the way I am makes it easy for him to be himself around me.
I told Mark to remind me of all of today’s reflections when I’m back in the pit of despair and he said, ‘that’s the beauty of life, we go round the loop repeatedly… and we learn as we go… what do you feel towards that part of you that will come back at some point…?’ and I searched inside and found two strong feelings. One was a desire to push that part away.. to ask her to never come back because it is too painful. The other feeling was of compassion for those dark and tortured places inside me. I marveled at these two feelings and then we said goodbye.
I’ve been aware of a slight sense that younger parts may have felt spoken about but not spoken with today. There’s a feeling of talking over the heads of the children. By listening back to the session I have reassured those parts that although the session didn’t feel as intensely intimate as Friday’s… we were still there, sitting together, talking and feeling together. And these thoughts and feelings will be welcome whenever I feel compelled to bring them to session.
I spent some time reflecting on all of this today. I’ve done some more tidying. I journaled a little. I filled the house with music and I did some online Christmas shopping. I am very aware that nothing is permanent. Just as the darkness passes in time, this light will also fade. So I am making the most of it while it’s here. Taking a breath. Holding this spacious ease with gratitude and bringing mindful awareness to things as they are.
I went to my husband for a cuddle in the kitchen yesterday afternoon and as I rested my head on his chest he said to me in a gentle voice, ‘you’re back…’ I smiled and asked what he meant. He told me that nearly 20 years of living with me has taught him that often I go away, slip into darkness and fog but I always come back and he was glad to have me back. I told this to Mark and he said, ‘how wonderful that he could see you and welcome you so warmly and how wonderful that you allowed him to share this with you.’