Part II – Mostly Just Sad

I don’t know why it’s been so hard to write about the second half of the session with Anna. I suppose I’ve been holding onto it for myself.

We sat quietly for a moment, letting the repair settle, then she asked tentatively “Do you want to have a shot at telling me about the guilt [over calling child protection]?”

I did, but it looked like we were teetering off the tracks again. I couldn’t find the words, or maybe wasn’t ready to share them, and she offered some suggestions but none of them were right. I kept saying “It’s not about that“, but I didn’t know what it was about either.

Anna gave me some time to sit quietly, head down, and tears started slipping down my face. I was feeling alone and angry that my mother had again been unable to handle the situation and left me to step up and deal with it by myself, but mostly I was feeling deep regret for not having the courage to reach out to my cousin earlier and push her to get help, even though that would have meant risking rejection. And then I realised why it was so hard to talk about guilt: because really, that wasn’t at the heart of what I was feeling.

I’m mostly just sad,” I said. The words were honest, but my tone was still calm, almost flat.

Sad for your nephew?” she asked, and I shook my head. “Sad for your cousin?” I shook my head again. “Sad for you?

A swell of emotion came over me, and the tears fell faster as I nodded, eyes still fixed on my knees. This was the first time she’d ever seen me cry, and she didn’t leave me to sit with it by myself.

All right, it’s okay,” she murmured, crossing the room to pull out a tissue, and coming to kneel beside me. I was so inward – focused that I didn’t realise she was reaching out to wipe my nose until she was almost touching me, and I jerked away abruptly, reflexively giving her a sideways look.

I still find this kind of a weird thing to do – I’m 25, not 5, and that is definitely not what I meant when I said I need her to be more nurturing. But at the same time, I feel warm and a little nervous that she wanted to take care of me in a tangible way, and that she is obviously taking our conversation about needing to be more than a case manager seriously.

Sorry,” she said softly, pulling back and handing me the tissue.

Are you okay if I’m here?” she asked, still crouched beside me, and I paused for a moment, but nodded. I was sitting on the floor, and at the start of the session she’d said she wanted to be on my level and asked if she could sit on the floor too. I’d been willing to try it, and she’d pushed her chair back so there was more room between us before shifting down, but I immediately felt uncomfortable and panicky that she was too close and I’d asked her to go back up to her chair. Further away. Safer. But sitting side by side where I didn’t have to see her face felt okay.

Can I sit here?” she checked, and I nodded.

Can I put my hand on your shoulder?” she asked, and I immediately shook my head vehemently. I’m sure I also tensed, and probably leant away from her a little.

Okay, I’ll just stay here then,” she said gently.

I’m surprised by how strong my reaction was. It’s something I’ve thought about before – Jen and my GP both touch me a lot, not only for work-related reasons but in a comforting way, and I love it. Jen will hold my hand or lay a hand on my stomach or my shoulder or my forehead when I’m upset, and my GP will rub my back or playfully bump my shoulder. Aisha is more limited given that she is on the other end of a computer screen, but will send me a big hug when she knows I’m struggling. All of this makes me feel cared for and protected. When I’ve thought about Anna touching me I’ve always felt uncomfortable, but there’s also part of me that really wants that comfort, so I’m surprised I wasn’t torn. I’m glad I said no, but I’m afraid she won’t offer again.

We ended up going over by 45 minutes. She encouraged me to tell her more about the sadness, but I was just crying quietly, and she ended up spending most of the time talking to me.

It was a relief when I managed to gather myself enough to tell her I was flying home the next day to see my cousin and her kids, and I was scared about it. She asked me not to go and told me it was putting me at risk; the kids knew I was coming and I had to go, but it was nice to have someone recognise how big it was. When I hit the end of my words, she asked me to text to her, and she got her phone and we sat side by side while I typed out the things I couldn’t say out loud.

We weren’t suddenly in perfect sync. She wasn’t getting the depth of how much I love my cousin and how desperate I’ve been to keep my relationship with her, and was making comments about how I would have said something to her if I’d thought there was any chance she was going to change, and that just isn’t true. Towards the end, she commented “Okay, I’ve lost something here. I feel like I’ve misattuned or something. I haven’t got something. I’m searching, but I’m not getting something. I wish I could know what I’m not getting.

But she was trying, and there was connection between us. She was reaching out again, physically and metaphorically, asking me to touch base with her after I’d been with my cousin so she could offer support.

Right now, I’m feeling disconnected from her again. But I can hold on to that memory, and know that it doesn’t have to stay this way.

Part II – Mostly Just Sad

6 thoughts on “Part II – Mostly Just Sad

  1. This sounds like a really intense session, I can understand why it would be hard to write about. And the touch, that would be very stimulating for me, too. Lately I’ve been wondering if I want to talk about adding some kind of therapeutic touch to my therapy, but it scares me too much. You’re brave. I hope you two can continue to re-connect, and you can continue to feel heard.


    1. The touch scares you, or the idea of asking for it? I’m a very tactile person and am happy to touch or hug pretty much anyone, but I think with Anna I feel like if she gets that close she’ll somehow end up being disgusted by me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Both. I am quite the opposite, did not grow up with positive touch nor fall into having contact with friends, etc. So the thought of my therapist doing it triggers me, but also it might be reparative. And asking for anything scares me.
        That makes sense, that is sort of how I feel too. That she wouldn’t want to touch me because I am too repulsive.
        I know those are your feelings, but I also know Anna doesn’t feel disgusted by you.


      2. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about you, it’s that you’re awesome at doing scary things! But this is scary on so many levels and I get why you’d be reluctant. So often in therapy it feels like there are a hundred ways for something to go wrong and only one way for it to go right.

        I think I can relate to the idea of it being reparative, though in a different way. For months I’ve been having recurring flashes of Anna hurting me in a specific way that involves holding my wrist, and for a while I toyed with the idea of asking her to hold my wrist in the same way so I could “prove” to myself that she wasn’t going to hurt me. But then I decided that was probably overdramatic and dumb and not a healthy way to deal with it anyway so I decided not to. That’s the problem with not talking to our therapists about this stuff – Anna would probably have more insight than I do about whether it’s likely to be helpful/reparative or not, but I suspect I wouldn’t want to actually do it after talking about it so I just go round and round in circles.

        For me, I think the easiest way to bring it up would be “I was thinking about asking you to do x, but I’m worried that….”. Feels a bit safer to talk about talking about it. At some point, maybe that could be a way for you to slowly introduce the idea and start to get more comfortable with the thought of exploring it?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well that is sweet of you to say! So interesting about the wrist hurting.. sometimes that exposure and a different experience is really reparative. I also take the same approach sometimes – ‘something I have been thinking about..” or “I feel vulnerable bringing this up..” “I am not sure if this is okay/a possibility/if I should ask..” Prefacing scary content does help make it less scary.. agh! I don’t know. We shall see. I’m sure it will come up whether I want it to or not 🙂 That seems to be the nature of my therapy. Ready or not, here it comes! Thanks for your support.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. So true! Things have a way of coming out. Sometimes when I’m trying to hide things in therapy I feel like a toddler playing hide and seek with a blanket over my head – I can’t see Anna, but she can sure as hell see me.

        Liked by 1 person

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