A couple of days ago a reader posted an interesting question in response to my post “Separation anxiety – BPD and emotional development”, which can be found here:
The question was: “…. just read this ‘old post’… and was wondering how you would feel if you read it today. Did things change for you concerning the ‘therapy bubble’?….”
So I went back and read the post, and it seemed to fit so well with some of the things I’m thinking about at the moment in relation to therapy, that by way of answering the question I thought it would be appropriate to share it as a ‘Memory Monday’ post.
How do I feel, reading the original post now? I think I feel that I can still relate very closely to everything described in it – while at the same time recognising that some things have changed. I still find it very difficult to leave my ‘therapy bubble’ – particularly when, as has been happening recently, sessions have involved talking about painful and distressing material and have left me feeling regressed and child-like. At those times I hate leaving, and I hate the thought of coping by myself with those emotions. The need for comfort, for my therapist, is intense. As well as a desire not to leave the therapy bubble, it’s also a fear of staying in the place that therapy has taken me, but without her presence to contain me.
I think I do still feel guilt over the time and mental energy that therapy takes – or rather over the time it ‘takes away’ from my family life. My thoughts are so often absorbed by it – either directly, or because I’m ‘processing’ something – when I should be more present with my children. However, I now often remind myself of an incredibly valuable comment that someone made to me a few months ago. I mentioned that sometimes I feel guilty because if I wasn’t spending money on therapy I could take my children to Disneyland. She said that she only wished her own parents had spent money on therapy, rather than Disneyland. And that made so much sense (and I shared the same wish – not that I went to Disneyland as a child!), that it helps me to feel a little less guilty and to more fully appreciate that in trying to change myself, I am also making things better for mine and my children’s current and future relationship. And that change will, hopefully, trickle down through the generations, into the ways that they parent their own children.
As for emotional development and the weight of being an adult – I think that my recent ability to identify ‘parts’ of myself and to relate to them almost as separate entities, and to observe their thoughts and feelings, has helped me to not get completely taken over by them, and to stay in a ‘more adult’ frame of mind more often than I used to be able to. It’s a very great struggle, and my mind and heart are still often battlefields in which wars of words and emotions take place – but it’s a question of ‘who’ is uppermost and in control, even if the ship is very difficult to steer, or even if it’s only just possible to keep my ‘adult head’ above water.
Separation is still incredibly difficult – but I think I am better able to cope and I fight hard to try and retain a sense of my therapist’s constancy and my connectedness to her. It is often a fight – against myself, as described in a recent post – and it is far from automatic. But I am managing it more often, and as well as this being a function of the therapeutic relationship and the closeness and trust I am discovering over time; I think it is also at least partly due to the fact that I am on a more even keel because other areas in my life are slowly improving. My husband may still feel that there is little improvement in our marriage – but at least now he says that I am a much better flatmate! For me, this is a key first step – and it also means that there are fewer huge rows and triggers for my suicidal ideation.
At the end of the original post I wrote: “Perhaps when the separation becomes a bit more bearable, I’ll know that there is a bit less growing up to do“. I think there now is a bit less growing up to do – though the thought of it, and of the eventual ending of therapy, is as terrifying as ever. In that sense, I am still clinging, desperately, to my ‘bubble’ and the thought that it will burst eventually, is still heartbreaking. But for now, I am making the most of being metaphorically ‘held’ inside that bubble during session itself, and trying to remember that I am ‘held in mind’ when I am outside it.
If my reader is still reading in a year’s time, perhaps they will be kind enough to ask me the same question again? I wonder what my response will be….. 🙂
June 20, 2016 at 11:37 am
I too feel very raw when I leave my sessions after crying and bringing forward the emotions that were just below the surface. I hate leaving like that but more often than not, I do (especially now since my therapist is still away). Most of my sessions now are just grieving the loss of her and her of her son. There have been some hints that she may be back in September (so the end is a bit more predictable I guess).
I also frequently ask my therapist (both replacement and one away), how much longer they will have to put up with me and me put up with myself? I get tired of being a negative, depressed person who relies on others and who freezes at the mention of vacation plans by my therapist. Surely to god I am “too attached”? How can it be good to be so attached that you worry and spend time thinking about them?
Since my therapist has been away since Feb 3, I still feel like I am in a holding pattern on my work in healing but I have looked at this “opportunity” as just that, and opportunity to learn from the separation. Learn about letting go, grieving and just how much I have yet to learn.
When I am around her I still feel very childlike and actually am so afraid that I will just through myself into her arms when she comes back and wail!!! It is a comforting image in my mind but it will probably scare the crap out of her since we are no longer allowing for hugs.
I was asked by the replacement therapist if I wanted to switch to another therapist (since I was worried I was too attached and it was not healthy). I said no partly because it terrified me but also because I don’t really want to start over with the trusting/history taking and getting attached again.
Very complex to try to explain to anyone who has not been in the “therapy bubble”.
Thanks for listening.
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July 19, 2017 at 5:31 pm
Its exactly a year and a month since this post. So this is me posing the same question to you again: how do you feel reading this today and how have things changed yet again? 🙂
July 19, 2017 at 5:32 pm
Oh 😦 the website is saying its the 19th, but its the 20th here lol. Must be in a different time zone to me 🙂
August 6, 2017 at 8:23 pm
Firstly, thank you SO much for still being a reader, a year later 🙂 And secondly, thank you for being kind enough to remember my suggestion, and for raising the question, a year on! Apologies it has taken me a little while to respond – in some ways, a feature of how things have changed yet again, both in life in general, and also in relation to therapy. I will try and write another Memory Monday post about it, in the not too distant future 🙂 In summary, it’s been a mixed year – the substantial progress I talked about this time last year opened up another chapter in my therapy, but that tends to mean a certain amount of ‘regression’ and encountering of new difficulties. I have lost, not sure where I was traveling to, and feeling as though I was simply going through some of the same issues, thoughts, and behaviours I thought I’d dealt with. The biggest change, which is the recent ceasing of email contact outside of sessions, is both a marker of the fact I’m doing better and can better survive outside the therapy bubble, but it is also a massive change that is leaving me once again struggling with object constancy, security, openness and trust. The difference this time is that somewhere deep inside I have that bedrock of everything that has been built up so far, and even if I can’t access it, part of me still knows it’s there…..I’m still terrified of therapy ending, and the longer I’m in therapy the closer that time gets (as my therapist is due to retire soon-ish – I’m hoping soonish is 3-5 years away, but it could be as little as a year away…..). Thank you again for raising the question – I would love to write another post on this, but one of the changes that has happened and one of the effects of ceasing email contact, has been that I’m really struggling to write at the moment! Can I be cheeky and say that if you’re still reading in a year’s time, I’d welcome the same question again? 🙂 Take care x