Evidently I’m Human


Just a quick update so as not to leave anyone in suspense. I saw the Boundary Ninja yesterday and it helped immensely, although I am now aware that I am grieving. So much for numbness.  I walked in and pretty much exploded all over his office and covered the emotional spectrum: love, hate, pity, grief, compassion, anger, sadness, hurt. You name it, I think I felt it. As it was with my father, losing male members of my family seems to be the perfect definition of ambivalence. From the way I exploded once I knew I was with BN (I started sobbing at the beginning and couldn’t manage to talk for at least several minutes) I think I needed to really feel safe, the kind of safe I really only feel in BN’s office in order to allow myself to feel.

Interestingly enough, near the very beginning of the session, I told BN that it felt like I wasn’t entitled to have any of my feelings. It also turned out that in five years of rather intensive work together, I had never really spoken about my brother. So I spent a bit of time giving him the background and timeline of our relationship (he hasn’t taken that many notes in a session in a long time). He listened and asked the occasional question but he mainly just made it clear that anything I said, felt or did was acceptable. Digging through all of my feelings led me to two major realizations.

The first was that no matter how much you tell yourself hope is gone in terms of repairing a relationship or finally having the relationship you longed for, you don’t really let go of it while both of you are living. I haven’t been in regular touch with my brother in longer than I can remember and haven’t had any contact at all for a couple of years. Yet, one of the things I was feeling was the loss of hope. Hope that we could acknowledge and repair what was between us. That died along with my brother.

The second, which was tough to get to, was tied into my sense of self. I found myself wanting to ask BN if I was ok? Was I still ok with him? The feelings were coming from a very young place. When I told him I was feeling that way, he asked if I could tell him more about that. I started talking about how I had been treated by both my father and my brother, as something they could use. What was wrong with me, that the men in my family treated me that way? (Just for the record, NOTHING… my treatment by them says very little about me except that I was young and vulnerable.) What I finally managed to work my way through to saying (tremendous amount of shame surrounding all this) is that I had so badly longed for my father and brother to be the men I thought they were. My brother was seven years older than I and I was in awe of him as a child. So there was a long time where I saw my father and brother as an ideal,  men who deserved to be looked up to and admired, whom I could trust to love and protect me. And neither of them turned out to be that. They had not cared for me as I deserved and I had been anything but protected. BN asked how I felt about having said that. And I told him sad, but also freeing. Accepting that a loss is a loss can make such a difference.

The more I expressed, the more grief I was able to feel. There is compassion mixed in. At one point, BN asked what my brother’s relationship was with my father. I don’t remember much, but what I do remember wasn’t good. My brother may have been another one of my abusers, but he was also another one of my father’s victims. I told BN that my family was like a war zone and no one got out alive. And that in some ways, I’m struggling with survivor’s guilt, that I was able to heal but my brother never did. And now his life was over and he never would.

Near the end of the appointment, when I was struggling to calm down so I could leave, BN returned to something I had said early on in the session  about how losing my MIL was painful and hurt but was simple. I loved her, she loved me, I missed her. BN told me that coming from a situation like mine did make it very complicated and then very gently said to me “you’re human, AG and these are all human feelings.” Then he told me this was a good time to practice a lot of self-compassion.  And being the wonderful man he is, he told me not to hesitate to call if I needed to. Which is good, because I’m feeling very small and may need to run home.  I am, as (almost :)) always, grateful for BN. He cannot make the loss disappear but gives me a safe place to acknowledge and mourn it. He has also taught me what my father and brother should have been like.

So I am sad and feeling worn, but I am at least now present. Complicated grief is even more tiring than the straightforward stuff, but I know I’m going to be ok. Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and words, it’s helped more than I can express to have people who understand and who care so much despite never having met me.

  1. Izzy
    September 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I’m so glad you found some clarity and release. It sounds like you really got in touch with your feelings, however complicated, and are navigating your way toward peace, however distant. Also, every time you write about BN, my faith in humanity is restored just a little. Because of your honesty and willingness to share your experience, I think the impact of that relationship you have with him goes far beyond the realm of the room. It helps me look at my own T with more trust and is a good reminder that there are many people who are safe. This whole post just reinforced that. Thank you and best wishes for further healing, understanding, and acceptance.

    Like

    • September 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Izzy,
      Thank you so very much, it meant so much to read this. I love the thought that the work BN has done with me is going forth and begetting more life. I owe him such a debt of gratitude for his role in my healing, and having that healing go out and help other people seems like the only way to even start to pay that debt. I am so very grateful that you can read what I write and have more trust for your T, it’s such a hard lesson to learn. You also have my best wishes for your healing. AG

      Like

  2. September 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I’m so glad you have BN to help you work through the very complicated feelings surrounding this. The safety you feel in his office and with him speaks to how powerful a relationship the two of you have. Warm hugs to you as you deal with this complicated grief. xx

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    • September 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      (((Kashley)) Thank you, I know that you understand just how powerful that relationship can be because of your own therapist. I really appreciate the support, it helps so much in facing the loss. AG

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  3. Ren
    September 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I’ve only just see your earlier post (not up to much computer-ing at present) – I’m glad that you had such a good session.

    “no matter how much you tell yourself hope is gone in terms of repairing a relationship or finally having the relationship you longed for, you don’t really let go of it while both of you are living”

    This resonates with me very much. x

    Like

    • September 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      ((Ren)) Welcome! Thank you for commenting, its so kind of you, especially knowing your limited resources right now. Ah, I am both encouraged and saddened that what I said resonated with you. Encouraged because I feel less alone but sad because you’ve had the experiences which would allow you to understand. Take good care of yourself. AG

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  4. Bourbon
    September 6, 2012 at 4:39 am

    I don’t know why but this has made me tear up. I am so glad you have BN as a safe place to go to and that you recognise that you may need to return to him more as you deal with this incredibly difficult time. Seriously I want you to know, I am sending all my warm thoughts your way right now. I … don’t know. ((hugs)) xx

    Like

    • September 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      (((Bourbon))) Thank you so much, your care means more than you can know. It helps so much to know I am not alone in this and that people understand. ~ AG

      Like

  5. Starrynights
    September 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Dear AG,
    “no matter how much you tell yourself hope is gone in terms of repairing a relationship or finally having the relationship you longed for, you don’t really let go of it while both of you are living.”

    So true… I think there’s a part of us that just doesn’t want to let go of hope, even in the face of great odds. Maybe we’re still longing for a miracle. But there is a finality to death that, even for those of us who believe life goes on after this one, it feels like a door has just been shut upon us.

    I do believe that life goes on, and that healing continues – that death is more of a comma than a period, but still… for now at least, that door being shut can really hurt. For whatever reason!

    Thank you so much for helping others through and even by your grieving….

    Love and hugs,
    Starry

    Like

    • September 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      (((Starry)))
      Thank you, I loved “that death is more of a comma than a period.” I do believe that life goes on, I just think that my brother’s death is in some ways, forcing me to accept the loss in this life. I take comfort in the words of Sir Thomas More “Earth has no sorrow, that Heaven cannot heal.” But I am also grateful that there is healing here, so I don’t have to wait until then. Thank you, as always, for your understanding, and encouragement. love, AG

      Like

      • Starrynights
        September 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

        ((((((AG))))))

        Like

  6. cat's meow
    September 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Oh, AG, I am so sorry that you have this grief to go through. The grief that goes with the loss of relationship with a family member is bad enough, but then to lose that final bit of hope that somehow, some day, things might be a bit better, well, my heart cries for you…

    In some ways, it would be easier if we could just hate the people who have hurt us, but I think that by only hating, we would lose an essential part of ourselves. And I suspect that it is that part that has allowed you to heal. While it hurts to love and to have hope in the face of such dysfunction, the empathy and heart that you have has allowed you to connect with healthier others and get out of your original family system.

    Gosh, I hope that this isn’t too presumptuous to say, because I only know you through your writing…

    Like

    • September 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Cat’s Meow,
      Not presumptuous at all, I really appreciated your understanding and encouragement. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said about hatred, I think it carries too high a cost. The truth is, that nothing, especially our family of origin, is ever that clear cut. I appreciated the reminder of the positive side of the sensitivity. Sorry it has taken so long to reply, I got sidelined by dealing with my feelings and then was away on a company retreat and had no access to the Internet. ~ AG

      Like

  7. September 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Sucks to be human sometimes, doesn’t it? (((AG)))

    Like

    • September 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      LOL! It really does! But I suppose the alternative would be worse? OK, unless I could manage to pull off becoming a cat or dog. 🙂 ~AG

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