This morning was a huge step for me. It was also hugely emotional, hugely gratifying, and hugely empowering:
After being back home in London for a number of weeks, I decided I finally felt ready to brave a return to one of my old treatment centres. This specific centre was not just a fleeting intervention or short-term solution for me, but a consistent and continual provider of care (residential, intensive outpatient, day patient, after-care), since the age of 18. It is a place I formed so many connections with, not just to the residence and program itself, but most invaluably – with the people. Specifically for me, it was my relationships with the members of staff who work there, especially my therapists, that has been of such significance.
When I first joined in 2011, I worked with a therapist ‘H’ who I quickly became incredibly attached to. After just under a year of working together, she had to leave to take maternity leave, and my world fell apart. It was an excruciatingly painful time for me and I remained in a place of loss, sadness, anger and abandonment for a long time following her departure. Luckily, I was blessed with my second therapist ‘S’, who continued to work with (and put up with!) me, until just before I went to Boston for the specialised treatment we both knew I needed.
To cut a long story short, I had a turbulent ride bother internally and inter-personally with both H and S. After H left, it wasn’t long before I was experiencing the same attachment difficulties with S and feeling the same type and depth of pain. I felt suffocated by the extent of my loneliness, jealousy, yearning and need for their constant attention, and yet I was so ashamed for feeling this way. I honestly thought I would remain stuck in a state of utter desperation, needy manipulation and pained deficiency for ever. The only time I felt okay was when I was being tangibly and entirely cared for by one of them. I wanted them to take me home with them, adopt me and look after me for eternity. I was emotionally akin to a new-born baby, and to me H and S were my Mothers.
These feelings are ones which I have struggled with in numerous relationships (always with mother/authority/care-giver figures) over the last decade of my life, and ones I could not envision a future for myself without battling. For example, usually just seeing H after her return from maternity-leave would trigger a surge of these debilitating emotions in me and I could remain taken over by my distress for days. It was as though I was in a constant state of complex trauma. However the ways I went about receiving what I thought I needed in order to fill the gaping void within me from these care-givers, and the internal and external consequences of this, were often further traumatising in themselves. I set those around me up to fail time and time again, and I set myself up only to perpetuate my suffering.
This morning, however, I headed back to that treatment centre to see both H and S, for the first time since being back from Boston.
I shocked myself at how I dealt with it and what a positive experience it was for me. Something within me just knew it was right, and I’m so glad that for once I listened to that inner instinct.
I admit that as I left the building and hugged H and S gooodbye, I did feel a familiar pang inside of me – and that it was that same ache I used to feel before Boston relating to my attachments – of loss and yearning and pain. However it hit me only to a tenth of the extent, and lasted a relatively short amount of time. In the past I would never have coped in a situation like today, and I would have felt overwhelmed with painful feelings lasting at least hours, if not days. Today I felt so differently to anything I have ever felt before with respect to this same situation.
I may have felt nostalgic, and sad, and slightly pained. I may have been tearful and shed a few, and I may even have had to take a moment to catch my breath and do some grounding. However, I also felt immensely happy, touched, grateful, empowered, and proud of myself for everything I’ve overcome in terms of these past difficulties.
Seeing H and S was the best thing I could have done for myself at this point in my recovery. It filled me with joy to tell them how well I am doing, what I am up to, and how things are going for me, especially as before Boston they only ever saw me in such a state of perpetual misery and crisis.
Today marks the start of something new. It marks a step towards the freedom I hope to fully achieve from the confines of emotionally relying so heavily on a select few people to keep me afloat, in the way I have done for years.
Maybe it’s because I am finally able to be a rock in my own life, instead of the limpet attached to those around me, that I am letting go of the hold these attachments previously had over me. I don’t know exactly what, but if I coped this well after this morning, I must be doing something right ☺