Had another very intense session with BN today who remains, thank heaven, completely unflappable. I’m starting to feel this insane impulse to just keep stepping up my behavior to find the breaking point; then I realize, I just don’t know where I would go. 🙂 Life just keeps throwing curve balls recently, and I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that I seem to react consistently, with shame. I joke, but I have been very triggered as of late, so that many feelings from when I am young have surfaced. I have recently experienced some difficulties that when viewed through an adult lens, I can clearly see are not my fault and even have nothing to do with me. I’m just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But my emotional reaction? It’s a deep reaction of shame, a small voice asking “what is wrong with me?” “what am I doing that I am treated this way?” “Please tell me what I am doing wrong so I can fix it and get this to stop because it’s too scary!” The voice of the powerless child, desperately trying to exert control over an impossible to handle situation.
I did something in session I have literally never done before. I had forgotten my blanket, so when I came through the door, I asked BN if I could borrow his. Now normally, I just wrap myself in it. The sense of being held, helps me feel contained and safer. But this time I found myself, ranting along, anger pouring out about a situation, the intensity climbing, when suddenly, I pulled the blanket totally over my head, and completely covered in the blanket, I melted down. BN gave me a few minutes, and I connected. I came back out from under the blanket and said “that’s why I’m trying to stay angry, this is really about shame. I’ve never done that before, have I, covered my head?” and BN told me I had never done that before. And that’s when I connected to the deep sense of shame, of something being terribly wrong with me coming up. Which brings me to the quotes.
BN asked if I could describe what I was feeling when I was under the blanket, and I apologized for the grossness of the metaphor, and then proceeded to say what was, I think, the most disgusting metaphor I have ever used in therapy:
It’s like my core is just a huge pustule of shame.
As we discussed the shame, I also connected to how unsafe I was feeling. That part of being triggered was my focusing only on the pain that relationships bring, rather than the good things that come from them. I shared how I had been struggling with the limits of our relationship but in thinking it through had realized it was no different from any other relationship, I would eventually lose them all. We were discussing how the death of my brother has evoked a deep awareness of the impermanence of all relationships, at which point BN came out with an absolute gem:
If the only way to have a safe relationship was to have one with an immortal being, we’re all screwed.
He was so very clear that I was doing what I needed to do, bringing my shame into the light, talking about the feelings, connecting despite the shame. He talked about how well I was doing and then referred to our session before, when he had mentioned my progress and then said some patients (specifically me in the past :)) would have heard that as “you’re done, move it along!” at which point, I interrupted and, to my shock, heard this coming out of my mouth:
Are you f$%^ing crazy, I am not going to stop coming now!
So there you go, on the positive side, I have evidently become more comfortable with going to therapy. 🙂
He returned to talking about my progress and how he knew I was frustrated with how I was feeling, but I was really working through these things, at which point, we had this exchange:
AG: (wearily) I feel like the world’s slowest therapy patient
BN: That is the voice of your shame speaking
AG: I wish my shame would shut the f&*@ up!
Best quote of all?
I’m here. Call if you need to. You’re going to be ok.
I love that man. Within the boundaries of course, but I love him. Having a secure base makes such a crucial difference.
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