Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges.

Sometimes, this is what therapy feels like, after

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under the coversI come through the door, therapy-wiped-out, and head for the bathroom. Afterwards, I manage to pull my tights up only half way, and proceed to climb the stairs with them still around my knees. I fall into bed and pull the covers right over me, where it is dark and warm. I remember shivering with sobs, not cold, earlier. But now I am cold.

I just want to be hugged tightly, so tightly. I wish I had carried on crying when I was with you, because now I want to cry, but I can’t. When I was with you I felt I should be talking, not crying the time away. And yet I wasn’t finished with the crying, and now it feels too late, and what if it stays unfinished? When I was with you, I felt I had to stop. It was a hard, un-pretty sort of crying, and I didn’t want you to see. My jacket was too small to cover me and there was nowhere to hide and so I stopped the thoughts that were causing the pain that was causing the tears.

Under the covers, the sound is like the soft hissing of a shell held up to your ear. Every part of me feels alone – from the end of my toes to the tear suspended on the edge of my eyelashes. It is as if my body is covered by ‘loss buttons’ and every one has been pressed. And now, to stop the sense that I am dissolving, I try to stay very still. I feel the indentation that I make against the mattress, and it feels almost impossible to move. I may not be leaking tears, but it feels as though something is leaving me, seeping out slowly into the dark. If I curl up tight, and stay very still, perhaps I will stay contained. Perhaps that sense of alone-ness will not spread – but where is there for it to go? We are full of emptiness already, the house and I.

Now that I’m still, that convulsing feeling in my stomach has stopped. It’s where I feel emotional pain. I bend and fold, but with a force that comes from within and twists and pulls at my insides. I don’t mind – it lets me know that my pain is real and undeniable – even by me. Especially by me. Sometimes I wonder how much you notice other things apart from words – the contorted shapes of our faces when we cry; of our bodies when we hurt.

Once, I make it out from under the covers and sit on the edge of the bed, and take those half-way-up tights, down, and off. But then I go right back under the duvet, even further, holding on  – to myself – even tighter. It reminds me of playing under the covers when I was twelve or thirteen and everyone thought I was asleep. I created and inhabited stories: I was a mermaid under the sea; I was hiding in a cave; I was a baby being born.

What did I imagine that was like? I wish I could remember. I don’t suppose I thought it hurt, like this hurts. But being born must be a type of loss as well. You probably think it will always feel like this – surrounded, warm, held in her presence – until the cold light of day intrudes; and the separation of physical distance.

When I think about seeing you, you have no idea how much I often long to just sit on the floor next to your chair. To close the three foot gap by two foot. To close my eyes and to be able to feel your presence in the silence. My eyes are closed but my own presence in this silence is too singular and although I want to stay still forever there is an impetus inside that pushes me to move. MOVE.

And so I move. I pull the covers back, and put my tights back on. My sixty minutes in bed are up; and now, so am I. I hug my ‘therapy jacket’* – and I get to work.

 

 

[My ‘therapy jacket’ is one that I bought during the Easter therapy break, on the day of the first ‘missed session’. It’s soft and warm and it became an immediate transitional object to help me get through the break. It has continued that function since then, and it lives on my bed when I am not wearing it. During a particular period when therapy was very tough, it stayed under the covers with me, where I could embrace it. When I came back from holiday during the summer, one of the first things I did was hold it tightly. The thought of ever losing it makes me feel panic.]

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18 thoughts on “Sometimes, this is what therapy feels like, after

  1. Loss- worst.feeling.ever.
    Hope you feel better soon x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much – yes, I’m beginning to think that there are so many different feelings/experiences that in essence can be boiled down to ‘loss’, and it’s one of the major things we have to try and live with in life; the fact that loss is integral to our experience of it. Definitely one of the worst feelings…take care xx

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  2. I can relate to this a lot. Sometimes therapy feels harder than any physical work I’ve ever done. Actually, a lot of the time it feels that way.

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  3. Yes, that feeling of total body exhaustion after therapy. Or during the week after a trigger. I relate to this. It is very hard to get up and move. To keep going.

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  4. Reblogged this on Marci, Mental Health, & More and commented:
    I feel like this similarly after sessions.
    “I just want to be hugged tightly, so tightly. I wish I had carried on crying when I was with you, because now I want to cry, but I can’t. When I was with you I felt I should be talking, not crying the time away. And yet I wasn’t finished with the crying, and now it feels too late, and what if it stays unfinished?”

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  5. I know the feeling of aloneness and curling up in my bed trying to seek comfort as I reflect on how I must have appeared throughout my session which only makes me want to hide even more.
    Your therapy jacket is a great idea. My yoga clothes are as such and always smell of lavender and kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, lavender…..my therapist’s front garden was full of lavender this summer. I wanted to ask her if I could take a cutting and try growing it in my own garden – I bottled out of that one, maybe next year…. 🙂 I’m glad you have something similar to my jacket – there is something about clothes being a ‘transitional object’ that is lovely because you can wear them and so they are a bit like an actual embrace, as well as a reminder. They can actually keep you warm and help you feel comforted, which is what you wish for from the person they remind you of…..I’m sorry you have been there too, with that feeling of alone-ness, and I hope things are a bit better right now. Thank you for reading and commenting, take care x

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  6. Your ability to describe this from the inside is extraordinary. I will wish it didn’t cost some much pain. If there are any active therapists following your writing, I imagine you are enlightening them. Be well.

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    • Thank you – your words mean a very great deal. It is definitely sometimes very painful – but you may guess that I wouldn’t change it if it meant giving up on working with her, and ultimately I think it is incredibly worth it. Thank you for really seeing how painful it is – you are always able to convey a sense that you know what this feels like, and you are, in a way, there with me in these emotions.
      I think there may be one or two active therapists following 🙂 And although I really really want to be able to help others who are in the same boat or who are family members, at the same time I also have a small hope (which feels a bit ‘arrogant’ sometimes) that what I write about might be helpful for ‘professionals’ as well. And so your words are gratefully received, and I hope that what you say might be the case 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a powerful post and really depicts the emotional turmoil of going through therapy. I hope it gets easier for you, and in the meantime, keep clutching on to your therapy jacket. Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your support and your comments – it’s lovely hearing from you. I hope to be able to explain at some point a little bit more about what was actually going on last week, but I’m still at the point of feeling (or trying not to!) rather than thinking and processing. I will definitely keep clutching onto that jacket 🙂 x

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  8. I also have a “therapy jacket”, it’s more of a hoodie actually. I wore it for the very first time the day I had a session, and my therapist commented that I looked cozy. One day I was feeling really lonely and desperately wanting my therapist, and I put the hoodie on and instantly felt like she had just given me the biggest hug of my life. Since then I wear it, or hold onto it whenever missing her is overwhelming.

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  9. Pingback: Memory Monday – “Sometimes, this is what therapy feels like, after” | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

  10. Reblogged this on Life in a Bind – BPD and me and commented:

    ….and sometimes, it feels like walking around with an open wound, knowing it will be a very, very long time, before it starts to close.

    I wrote this post more than two years ago, after a very distressing session in which we talked about the end of therapy and the fact that my therapist will move to a different part of the country, eventually, and we briefly talked about death – her death.

    Today we talked about the end of therapy again, and what the ‘after’ might look like. There is still no concrete date, she doesn’t know exactly when she will retire, the discussion wasn’t prompted by any ‘announcement’ on her part. But the anticipatory grief of that ending follows me constantly, and I do not know how to shake it, and so it seemed that it was something we should talk about.

    I didn’t cry very much, though I was digging my fingers into my arms, and at the end of session when her doorbell rang, I didn’t hear it.

    When I got home I lay in bed for a short time, hugging a soft toy that I have named after her. At least when you cry at home, in private, you can cry loudly. Moans, wails, stepping-on-cat-tails noises escaping from my body – too embarrassing to voice my pain in anything but words and water, in front of her.

    I cannot cope with the thought of losing her, and of losing the best adult relationship of my life. I cannot cope with losing the only person in my life who feels like a parent. I know she understands loss, but I don’t know if she understands what this loss feels like to me.

    Here’s the difference, I think, between the two of us. She may mourn, for a little while, but ultimately will be content to remember me occasionally, through the things that were important to us and that remind her of me. She will keep me alive in those ways, and she will continue to feel connected to me in those moments – and that will be okay, and enough for her, in a way that it would never be okay or enough if that was the basis of her future relationship with her biological daughters. I’m not family to her – but she’s the closest thing to adult family, for me.

    She has told me ‘once a mother, always a mother’, and I believe her. I know she will always be my therapy mother, but ultimately that is a particular type of mother-daughter relationship in which leaving home is more like being bereaved than moving out. Mother lives on, but only internally. And as for being a mother (rather than a therapy-mother) – when you have a child you might look forward to a bit more time, independence or adult interaction when they are older, but there is no wish or desire ever to be ‘relieved of duty’, as it were, whether your children are physically present, or not.

    Our therapists may care for us, remember us, even love us, but I guess they have to leave us behind. There are too many of us – clients – and too many other facets of our therapists’ lives. They carry us attentively and lovingly, sometimes for years, but at some point they have to be ‘relieved of duty’. I don’t say that because I think that somehow my therapist’s care for me is just a ‘duty’ of her profession – it is genuine. Neither do I think that her care of me is a burden (or at least, not most of the time!). But I think I need to be careful that it does not become so, after we have finished.

    You go through therapy trying to sideline the massive inequality between you, which you know is there but is too painful to think about. You build genuine, caring, deeply trusting relationship – and still you try to turn aside from the knowledge that for perfectly legitimate, necessary, and ‘nobody’s fault’ reasons, you are not loved in quite the way that you love. And you try very very hard to be okay with the way in which you are loved, because it is still the best way that you have ever experienced, and you are very very grateful.

    But the elephant in the room is never bigger than when it draws itself up in fear, at the prospect of eviction. I don’t know how to handle it other than by trying to bury the worst bits of it again. But even when I’m not talking about it session, feelings of sadness and prospective loss follow me everywhere – which is why I was talking about it in session in the first place. I hate that it is taking away from the otherwise wonderful feelings of connection and closeness I’m experiencing in sessions (and between them) these days. But what can I do? The loss is coming, I simply cannot – unlike my therapist’s doorbell – not hear it anymore.

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