When I returned to therapy last month after a short one week break, it was with a sense of excitement to be able to talk to my therapist about how things had been, and a sense of safety and relief at being ‘home’ again. I’m returning to therapy in a couple of days, after my therapist’s four week summer break, and it’s with the knowledge that this has been the worst break for a while. I’m nervous, afraid, in need of reassurance, low and sad – in that sense, we will be picking up from how things were for several weeks leading up to the break. It was a tough summer of sessions, with a horrendous ‘muddle’ (as my therapist called it – rupture, in other words) back in June. I muddled through after that, but I don’t think I fully recovered. And my big worry, of course, is that in some sense, perhaps neither did she, or our relationship.
In these last few days before I go back, I’ve been trying hard to ‘give myself a talking to’, to clear my head of all the scare-mongering, worrying, and self-critical thinking, and to remind myself of the good sessions that we had in the run up to the break, and the close moments; but much more than that, of the fact that this is a four year relationship with a history and a solid basis , with deep trust and genuine caring, that doesn’t just get wiped out or set back by a few difficult months, or the seemingly real fears in my head. It’s what I should have been doing for the last four weeks, not just the last four days. But I didn’t. And I was in a bad place. And I can put part of the blame on lots of things, some of them external, and others also external but more within my control. But I did not exercise control – over what I read, or allowed to influence my thoughts. I made poor choices, or no choices. I didn’t feel very much, because I was completely overwhelmed by feeling too much – too much filthy, contaminating, miring, all-consuming unhappiness and hopelessness; unhappiness that covered so much ground it ate up everything else. Unhappiness born of being unreconciled – to myself, and to my past, present, and future.
‘There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient’ – this was by far the most challenging thing I read during the break. There were many more that were far more depressing, but even this challenge, rather than becoming an inspiration, turned into a self-judgment – a pinnacle I couldn’t scale, a personal quality I was too flawed to possess. In a book full of challenging passages on humility, forgiveness, vulnerability – this was the one that hit me hardest at the time. There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life; yet during the last four weeks only one of them seemed sufficient – my children.
I think what I have learned during the last four weeks, from a range of different sources, is that it’s hard to be reconciled – to yourself, to others, and to your circumstances – when you are under judgment – your own, and the perceived judgment of others. If you pray – as autumn approaches, pray for me that like the trees, I will be able to let things go. I don’t want to be or to feel under judgment. I want to be reconciled – I want to feel at home.
[Quote is from ‘Gilead’, by Marilynne Robinson, the first book in a trilogy, with the other two being ‘Home’ and ‘Lila’.]