I am never sure when to put a trigger warning, but just be warned, this blog post isn't all about my holidays.
So it's Monday evening here in my part of the world...nearly nine o'clock to be more precise. Tomorrow is my last day of work and then I set off on Wednesday with my hubbie on a huge adventure. We are going to be travelling to a variety of countries but the main stay will be in New Zealand, where I've ALWAYS wanted to go. It's pretty exciting for me now. Last weekend was the first I actually felt excited about it. Up until then I was 'saying' it was exciting but my main feelings about it were fear of how I will cope. I have been away before and coped really well, even though things went wrong at times, but I've also been away and not coped well. Last year we only went camping for our holiday and I was a mess. I couldn't wait to get home because I was such a scatter head.
I've been working hard trying to get my house all tidied. My house, as you may know, generally looks like one you might see on 'hoarders' or 'how clean is your house' ie like a bomb has hit it. So it has been no small task to get it looking half decent. I am proud to say that aside from three large boxes of junk in the hallway that need sorted, it now looks like a house that might belong to someone who isn't too house proud but in a ''I've got standards but I'm not Monica'' kind of way and less of the ''I have severe mental health issues and keeping my house tidy is an impossible task for me'' kinda way.
Now, instead of writing to you, I should be upstairs getting all my stuff together that I need to pack but I am feeling as Jane Austen would have called it: 'undone'. Modern speaking people might prefer knackered/drained/shattered... none of these quite hit the spot so I made up my own word to describe it: "Flmphd". If you want to add this to your own dictionary, make note of how to use it in a sentence: "I've lost my flmph", "I haven't got any flmph". (Pronounced like 'umph', but with a 'fl' at the start. Let me know if it catches on.
Anyway I digress.
Why have I lost my flmph? Yesterday I was on top of the world. Well maybe not on top of the world but, standing upright someplace mentally anyway. Today I had my last therapy session before I head on my trip though. I went with the expectation that we would be trying to discuss coping strategies and practical ways to look after myself and my parts while I'm away (which has been the aim of the last few sessions however dissociation had prevented much progress on this in previous weeks as I was so anxious at any thought of the future) and which was the aim my T had in mind too for today... but I found myself going down a completely different and new road today. I found myself talking about things I didn't imagine I would be telling T any time never mind the day before I leave on a two month long trip. I don't know how we got onto it and I felt surprised at what was going on myself but I was there, telling her about physical and emotional reactions I get when triggered by certain things: an internal image (some might say 'flashbacks', I call them images as to some parts they don't seem to be memories), something on the news, a touch, a word, something else... something insignificant like the half eaten banana on my plate at lunch time today.
She asked me a lot about what the reactions were like and I found myself talking through: a panic, a pain, feeling sick, fear, gagging, a stomach ache, sometimes nothing. I wasn't able to say what the triggers are but I was able to talk about how they affect me and how often they happen. I told her about how I get scared at night and feel like a child part is crying and feeling like she is being forced down onto the bed even though there's no one there. I have never been able to tell her these things before. I have shown her pictures drawn by child parts which have given her a lot of information but in the years I've been there could never verbalise anything about it. Then there was a lot of the actual 'feeling' these things in the session which I guess might be expected if one is going to think about those things too.
But although it was hard, I cried a lot and I'm exhausted now and my head hurts, in some way I feel relief. I didn't realise at the time but I think this experience was a good thing. T asked me, what were the positives of the session today. I couldn't think of anything at the time and said: "tissues". I feel sorry for her now because a positive was that I went through those feelings with someone who understood and cared and I was able to share just a tiny amount of something that has been wanting to come out for a long time. T took it all so seriously too, which I know may seem like a silly thing to say, but is always a fear in me: will I be believed?
Having said all that, I am aware that the above is a one sided view of the session. I felt another part who was so perplexed by what I was saying and couldn't understand why I was having the emotional reaction to what I was saying because they have always believed that the other part has just made things up for attention. It was difficult for them to justify their belief that nothing bad has happened when they could see that the part that was talking was feeling every word in a physical way. This is causing me some confusion and it's hard for me, as more of an observer, to know what to believe because each part is so convincing.
T said she was convinced that this is very real and that it is memories held by one part and not shared with the part that doesn't believe anything bad has ever happened. From an impartial view, I can see that the evidence is pretty conclusive to say that she is right, but when the non believing part takes over, it is clear that this is all a huge mistake and it's completely absurd to think anything like that could have ever happened to me. At those times I am CONVINCED that I made it all up. During the session I could feel a lot of switching between parts but interestingly, I think it has put a seed of doubt in one part's mind. How could something cause such physical and emotional chaos in a person if they are lying?
I have a lot to think about.
I reflected that the session hadn't gone the way I'd planned. T felt that maybe there was a part that felt they could allow these things to be spoken about because they knew I wouldn't be back for two months. I'm not sure about this but she could be right. Actually, my brain hurts now but it's something to think about anyway, once I gather a bit more energy together. T said the next few days might be difficult. In a way I think a long flight journey is just what I need: a chance to do nothing and let everything process a bit.
For now, I need to get a move on and do some packing or I will be travelling very light.