First in-person session…

On Monday this week I had my first in person session with Mark and it was massively triggering, though I didn’t realise it at the time. We talked about his new plants and the commute and my day at work and we briefly touched on the past year and how crazy life has been and how ‘great’ it is to finally meet in person. I repeatedly said things like, ‘this is so weird’ and ‘I can’t believe you’re actually in the room with me,’ but other than that, it was the least in-depth session I’ve ever had with him… by a mile. On the drive home I could feel my whole body tingling and I was noticing the familiar city buildings around me as if seeing them for the first time and I suddenly realised I was coming back into my body. For the whole session I had been numb and dissociated. I began to realise how disconnected, cold and impersonal it felt and there was this huge grief… like I had lost him as well as Anna. I couldn’t get the adult rational part of my brain on board who clearly knows that this was inevitable and of course we would just have a light ‘hello’ style session in the beginning. I was distraught. Seeing Mark in person, after 60 video sessions filled with deep and powerfully connecting work, felt open and exposing and abandoning to the young parts of me. They felt as though I’d betrayed them, shared their personal secrets over the past 8 months and then thrust them into his room with no protective walls… no wonder they/I escaped through the power of dissociation. It was the weirdest experience. Small differences felt enormous to the younger parts of me. The slight difference in the tone of his voice compared to the ever so slightly more tinny tone on the zoom calls, the more three dimensional experience of sitting in a room with him and seeing his whole body rather than just his head and shoulders, the fact that he could see my body, the air in the room, everything… a part of me was noticing everything. I was super hyper-vigilant – looking at every detail in his room. And at the same time I was noticing nothing.

After the session my thoughts and feelings spiraled through the rest of the day to the point of sending an uncharacteristically unedited block of text in an email to Mark that evening telling him that I was scared that we would never find our way back to each other, that it didn’t even feel like it was him in the room with me, that I’m sure he doesn’t want to keep working with me and that everything feels different. I sent two more distressed emails yesterday morning and freaked out for most of the day. I told Mark that I felt far away from him, that he was too quiet and distant in the session. His room is truly beautiful but it’s just so powerfully ‘him’ and there was something so painfully confronting about that. I felt so ‘on the outside’ of it all. Separate from him and his life, separate from him and his group of clients-who-worked-in-person-with-him-pre-pandemic… isolated and ostracised from everything.

Through the day, I spoke to a friend and I spoke to my brother. Both massively helpful conversations! (Even the fact that I can reach out to people now is such a big difference to what I used to be like… as Mark said recently ‘the repression is lifting’… I no longer keep everything under lock and key, hidden from everyone… these days I talk pretty openly with a few trusted people about these very personal, vulnerable places in me which is so liberating and such a relief).

Thanks to these conversations I was reminded of a number of reasons why this first in-person session would inevitably trigger big feelings. For a start, today is the one year anniversary from the day Anna phoned me to tell me she was closing her practice. Today, a year ago, I heard Anna’s voice for the last time. That’s obviously bringing some feelings up! Then there’s the fact that I haven’t driven into the city since losing Anna… the anniversary of losing her and the body memories of that journey being so closely linked to her was bound to bring stuff up. Also, it’s a big change going from only meeting him on a screen in my livingroom to suddenly being in person in his office – the young parts would understandably be confused and scared shitless and feel overexposed… hence the dissociation. AAANNNNDDDD Mark’s office is in the exact same building that my very first therapist used to work from 8 years ago. I haven’t been back there since he left me in 2015… there’s a whole load of unprocessed grief wrapped up in that one too! And lastly, as I realised late yesterday afternoon, visiting Mark’s office in the city took me right back to the time when my dad left and I visited his new flat in the city… where there was nothing familiar to me, where I felt like we didn’t know each other anymore and that he’d be glad if I never came back.

I sent this revelation in a brief forth email to Mark. I also told him that I like that I can clearly see his face up close on the laptop, that I feel safer and more connected to him on video and that I don’t want it to be that way forever but that’s the truth of things right now.

Mark replied not long after my final email with, ‘well done you, Lucy… I will be there to help you through this on Friday.’ annnnd breathe.

Interestingly when I listened back to the recording initially I found it triggering again because it was still so unclear to me why I felt how I felt but listening back a second time I can hear lots of little points of connection, many moments where Mark reached towards me. I can hear me touching on a topic I haven’t delved into yet that will need to be worked on… that I haven’t yet processed the way my life was turned upside down by the pandemic because I was too busy trying to survive the loss of Anna… I can hear Mark saying what a joy it is to meet me in person… none of that went in when I was there in front of him! I’m actually looking forward to teasing all this out with him on Friday, which thankfully will be a video session.

What a crazy ride this is!

22 thoughts on “First in-person session…

  1. LovingSummer

    Oh my goodness Lucy, I thought it might be a huge adjustment for you to actually be in the same room. I think, apart from all the other connections you made, I’d have felt as though online Mark is almost like a special genie in my pocket (screen) and to meet him in person is to actually out him in real live skin, in the same room, which is sooooo completely different! I can see why it might freak you out a bit! I am sure it won’t be long before everything settles and you much prefer it though. And in typical Lucy style you’re facing it head on and working through this, good on you 👍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah you’re so right! And the friend I spoke to yesterday said she expected it to go this way! I didn’t quite have that clarity before the session. But you described that so well… and there’s an idealisation there with Mark being this perfectly attuned, all eyes on me, therapist on my screen… now I have to adjust to him being a real life human being!! And I’m gonna need to do it slowly because I’m gaining something new, I’m losing something I had become quite attached to! Ouch.

      Also thank you for that lovely little affirmation at the end there 💕

      Liked by 2 people

      1. LovingSummer

        I feel a bit like that with T, it’s slightly different but I have a bit of conflict between… loving the outdoor walking. T feels like a different person, he when LOOKS different and I feel much more comfortable and myself outdoors when we’re walking. But when we’re indoors I like that I can concentrate on JUST the words and thoughts, rather than leaping over puddles or avoiding uneven ground tripping me up! I also miss T scribbling his notes for some reason, though I don’t know who. I think on some unconscious level it made me feel he was really rising in my every word and understanding it all perfectly; in a different kind of a way. Yet, even though it was forced eye to eye contact sitting opposite (which walking is not), it felt much closer outdoors when we didn’t look at each other! It’s so different, it’s really hard to explain. But I get that it can feel unsettling because it genuinely can feel like a different person doing therapy with you! I wonder if it’s the same for them too?! Must ask T, if I remember.

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      2. Oh I really feel understood in this, which is such a lovely feeling that k you LS. I thought of you actually and was so tempted to ask Mark if he’d do walking therapy instead of in his room!! 🙈 I guess I just need to adjust and make space for there to be new things… so hard though when it feels like I’m a 3 year old who’s mother just got 4 inches cut off her hair and she looks like a stranger now 🤣🙈

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      3. Oh and on your last point, I’d be curious to hear what T says. Mark said it was very weird for him too and an adjustment for him going from knowing me only on a screen… but I don’t think he had a mental breakdown like I did 🤷🏽‍♀️

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      4. LovingSummer

        I’m having a mental breakdown right now as today got cancelled! There’s an offer of rescheduling later but it’s looking like it might not work out. Man… it’s had enough going away and then half term, but I was really wanting this session first. I wish I didn’t need it.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I’m so sorry things are so hard right now. It’s like everything’s happening at once and you soooo need this session! Could you have some sort of contact when you’re away? Even a phone session?

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      6. LovingSummer

        Possibly but I don’t know if I will get any time some at all the whole time I’m away. I think there’ll always be somebody in the house, or we’ll all be out in a cafe or activity with the kids etc. They children are all still a bit too young to be left to their own devices unless it’s at our own property really. And even then, it’s a case of sitting in the car in the driveway! Otherwise that might have been of help. I guess I wanted to get topped up before going away.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. LovingSummer

        Thank you Lucy. I asked about the therapist’s view, by the way, and I’m not sure I worked it properly because I was applying it to our work, which is predominantly walking therapy how. He said it really works for us, but it’s ‘horses for courses’ and he’s able to do some really good online stuff too. I wanted to come at it more from the angle of: if you do both with the one client, does it feel like a different person because of the change of setting? His main thing was that he recognises I’m such a nature lover… he was even trying to work around a way of bringing EMDR work outdoors on some director chairs when the weather allows, so I don’t actually have to go indoors if I don’t want to! 😂

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  2. Lucy, I just discovered this new post. I have been seeing my therapist for a year now, half the time online and half in person. But because of an impasse only online for 3 weeks now. The first 2 weeks online with her camera on and mine off. I couldn’t bear for her to see me. This week I finally was able to turn my camera on. You have made me think so much. I am so hypervigilent as well and notice everything. Being on screen feels so much safer to me as well. Next Monday will be my first time seeing her in person in quite awhile. I do understand how exposing this feels. All your feelings are reasonable for even one of the many things you listed. Together they must seem insurmountable. I think this will not only take time, but definitely bring up new things to work through. Mark is the same wonderful person… you just can’t take it in yet fully. Be kind and patient with all your younger vulnerable parts. We do know that you can do this, but it is reasonable that it may take time. Change is very frightening for wounded parts. Lots of love and hugs to you! 💙

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It absolutely goes take time you’re right. And I didn’t fully grasp it until after we got it wrong. We did so much exploration in yesterday’s session. I’m going to try to write it out in a post. I realised through the session that I felt quite let down and abandoned by Mark on Monday. These things are never straight forward are they. Sending love to you Blue 💙

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ouch! “Feeling quite let down and abandoned by Mark…” These words feel so powerful for real life in person therapy. There is so much in all that you said. I look forward to your post on sorting this out with Mark. This really highlights how fragile therapy is and why it evokes so much conflict and misunderstandings that threaten the relationship. This is powerful stuff!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah I’m glad we were able to process it together. Things still feel a little shaken but I’m hoping tomorrow’s in person session is a bit better because of everything we’ve talked about. The relationship in therapy is very fragile at times and so powerful, you’re right.

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  3. Sounds like a big session L. I’m not surprised it was a lot to process and left you feeling unsettled. I hope that as you get more familiar with the space and being seen in person that everything quickly falls back into the safe rhythm that you guys have established online. Thinking of you xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw thank you RB… just finished processing the follow up session and uploading the journal notes – this stuff is harrrd work eh! Agonising! I just saw you uploaded and I can see the first sentence. Hugs to you! If I don’t read tonight I’ll catch up tomorrow. Big love xx

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  4. Pingback: The long and winding road… back to each other. – Finding Lucy King

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