an uninvited guest (that I finally invited)

Untitled (016)

I have a problem. And if I’m being totally honest, I would have to say that I don’t just have one problem, but more like a herd of them. It’s definitely some giant obstacles preventing me from getting places sometimes.

I’m referring to elephants. In particular, the elephants that often join me in my therapy sessions. There have been the rare instances that I’ve invited them to come along with me. Most of the time though, they show up completely uninvited, daring me to make them visible. I’m pretty sure T knows they are there, but he never pressures them to come out of hiding.

Lately in sessions T has been talking about holidays (his in particular) because at the end of June they start and while I don’t know his exact dates yet, if they are anything like last year, it’ll be one week in the office and one week away. This means, that if he is away the week before I go away and then he is away the week after I go away, we might be looking at three weeks between sessions (GAH!!!).

Now normally, the moment T even mentions he is going to be away I am forced into emergency shutdown mode. I’ll tell him it’s fine, I don’t care, I’ll totally be okay when he is away and leave it at that. It’s all lies of course. I’m not fine, I totally care and I do not feel like things will be okay when he is away. :/

Last week though, I decided to be brave when T brought up his holidays at the end of the month again. It seems like this summer is going to feel particularly hard. One of my closest friends (inside and outside of work) is taking leave for 9 weeks this summer (while I’m happy for her because she totally deserves it, I’m panicking inside) and Judy (who I saw when T was away for extended periods) got a new job and is no longer in private practice. Cue the internal panic of feeling absolutely abandoned.

Instead of pretending it doesn’t matter what is going on, I decided to write about one particular elephant that shows up all of the time and has a very nasty habit of bringing therapy to an absolute standstill. I drew an elephant (similar to the one I’ve drawn above) and wrote a letter explaining all of my thoughts and feelings regarding time between sessions and holidays. I brought it with me and read it to T.

I wrote about how I feel like there have been too many bad days lately and I feel like I’ve run out of courage. I told him that when he is gone, it’s hard to feel safe. Time and space change for me and it’s hard to feel like anything is real. I told him that it’s hard to talk about it because it’s embarrassing admitting that parts of me simply cannot cope when he is gone. I explained that I absolutely hate feeling the way that I do.

To feel so sad and alone or angry and just not giving a shit because your therapist has gone on vacation feels absolutely childish and pathetic. It’s hard to sleep, it’s hard to stay calm and it just feels completely overwhelming.

I told him that surviving the time between Friday and Wednesday sessions is hard enough. Making it through anything other than a few days is not much fun at all. Most weeks, by the time Monday afternoon comes, I’m starting to feel like I’m on the edge of a  ravine, willing myself to jump. Three days and the ‘he hasn’t just left–he’s ended and is forever gone‘ feelings start to creep in. It is literally panic and grief that he has permanently left and I will never see him again. It physically aches because he is gone. Once those feelings start, one of two things usually happens:

  1. I will contact him to make sure he is still there and will immediately feel like I’m bothering him. I imagine that as he writes me back he is rolling his eyes and wishing that I would just get my shit together for once. I become certain that at the very next session he is going to tell me that he has changed his number and will not be giving it to me. Outside contact will be banished from therapy.
  2. I feel angry. I feel like I hate him. I pretty much hate everyone. I feel like the entire therapy relationship is a lie and he only pretends to be nice to me because it’s his job. I am convinced that he has left because he needs a break from me. I feel like I will never get my needs met and am completely pathetic. Everything shuts down and I am often on the verge of some form of self-harm.

Three whole days before I start to dissolve into some messy, pathetic child. It’s mortifying. It’s so stupid that as a grown adult, even after all of these years, I can still feel so unsafe and scared. Anything longer and I start to fall apart in a big way.

I shared all of these things with T and tried my hardest not to burst into tears. I could hear him sigh a few times, especially when I talked about how it feels as though he only puts up with me because it’s his job, but he didn’t get mad at me. Afterwards, he talked for a bit. He told me that it’s okay to feel exactly how I feel and it isn’t my fault. T said that even though it hurts and it’s shitty and it makes me want to run away, there is absolutely no way I could feel any different.

Just before it was time to go, T said ‘but you still haven’t told me what we’re going to do when I go away on vacation‘.


That just feels like a whole other elephant……

5 thoughts on “an uninvited guest (that I finally invited)

  1. I’m so glad you were able to start this conversation. One of my young parts asked K to take something of ours on holiday with her and she now takes the same thing every time she goes away. It helped because then we know she doesn’t WANT to forget us when she is on holiday (just take a break from our emotional state haha). Is this a possibility? I found it much more reassuring than having my own transitional object xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Charlie, Great idea about giving K something. I’m having a hard time believing T is still there with the object he gave me, so maybe I can try it the other way around. It’s so sucky!!
      I hope you’re feeling better today. xx


      • I am thanks. Still off work but loads better than sunday at least. It is sucky! K took photos of the thing we gave her in different places on her holiday – I think this has really helped future breaks too, knowing she cared enough to do that even when on holiday – like a lomg-term investment!! Hope T goes for it x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s