therapy

I miss him

Have you ever loved someone so much it physically hurt? Well, five years ago I started hurting like that, and I’m still hurting now.

It hurts most late at night when I can’t sleep.

I am hurting because I lost him. Losing him was just unimaginably painful, even though I knew all along we couldn’t be together. I cut him completely out of my life when I lost him because even though I could see him around, the pain of seeing him would be too much.

I lost a lot of friends at the same time because I feel I can’t see anyone connected to him.

I actually fell apart over this. I’m trying really hard to put my life back together but I miss him. I talk to him when I go to bed. I cling to a handful of memories and replay them in my head, over and over and over.

I avoid everywhere I might see him. I try to think of him as dead, to get some closure… but of course, he isn’t dead. He’s very much alive and living not even half a mile from me.

When I asked him years ago if we could meet, to end it all properly, he told me he couldn’t give me closure. Why did he tell me that? Did he want to keep me as a future option in case his marriage didn’t work out? Was he actually in love with me? I will never know. We never even slept together. We did the right thing for many months, seeing each other as friends (albeit friends who admitted they had feelings), and then he nearly died, was in hospital, and it all had to stop.

I am told, in therapy, that I fell for him because I wasn’t loved as a child. I didn’t get what I needed, so I projected all my needs onto him. I’ve been hurt by men, so an infatuation that was unreciprocated was safe.

I don’t know so much. It feels like I fell in love with a man who was, for a time, a kindred spirit, a lost soul, an angry and confused person just like me.

It feels like I grew up when I fell in love. So how can that be me being a child? What if he wasn’t some reenactment of everything I never had?

What if he was just the love of my life?

 

daily life

Out of sorts

There are too many days where I feel at odds with the world.

When you are out of sorts, you end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy: ‘I’m going to have a shit day’ turns into exactly that. People react well to good humour and a relaxed nature, less so to someone who is irritable, snappy, hyped up and aggressive, even (on a really bad day).

What is hard to get across is that if you have a mood disorder or PTSD it is really hard to know how you are going to wake up, or how things are going to pan out after that. Often you are also sleep-deprived, or the sleep you get is really poor quality.

It’s not so easy to cheer up, or snap out of it, or make an effort, or any of the other things non-depressed and non-traumatised people tell us to do.

No, a walk won’t fix it. No, I don’t want to go for coffee with a friend. Listening to music won’t fix it either, or going to see a film because both of those can clutter up an already cluttered head.

Those days where I feel at odds with the world, I stumble through not quite knowing what to do to make it better. I feel wound up and extremely anxious, overwhelmed and like seeing people is the last thing I want. I wonder whether I should avoid everyone altogether.

I was told recently that the avoidant behaviours that go with PTSD can be much harder to treat than the flashbacks, involuntary memories and dreams.

Is this true? It seems hard to believe. I always thought that as my flashbacks aren’t all the time, or nearly as severe as other people’s, that I was less severe in general.

But at a recent asssessment for non-NHS treatment (I’m weighing up whether or not to go for specific, targeted trauma work rather than the analytical psychotherapy I’m getting at the moment) I was told that I scored very high for phobic traits.

I avoid all the people and all the places to do with a relationship that ended in trauma. Unfortunately, that’s all my local places and many of my former friends. I don’t even go to my local supermarket. I feel like I haven’t been living where I live… it’s like I mentally moved out four years ago. This leaves me very isolated and unhappy. It’s also very hard to talk about with a therapist.

I suppose avoidant behaviour is learned, and as such is difficult to unlearn.

My attempts to manage my condition(s) do feel pretty ingrained. I have a ‘way of living’ rather than a life.

I really want to get my life back, and the person who went with it. She wasn’t perfect, but she was nothing like the distrustful, antisocial, exhausted and miserable old woman I seem to have become. And I’m not even that old!

 

therapy

Working through grief

When it hits you just how much you’ve lost in life, it hits hard.

Many people who end up in therapy arrive there because their coping mechanisms have broken down. They  may have been super-efficient types masking a lifetime of pain, or people who were broken by a particular incident and stayed broken.

I tried very, very hard in the early months of psychotherapy to present the face I normally show the world. I held it together, as I did through work and through life for many years. I was unemotional and articulate, when all the time my therapist was observing how disconnected I was from my feelings.

It’s true. I switched my feelings off a long time ago. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but being numb and distanced became my protection.

The more stressed I became, the more rigid my protective structure felt. I started building it in childhood when I was being abused. It grew increasingly toughened during my teens, through rape and on through an unhappy relationship, the death of my father, the loss of two babies… and the eventual loss of my health.

I have to say at this point that life hasn’t been all bad. I have a beautiful son. I have friends I love, but I haven’t been seeing them lately. I’ve not felt up to it.

The final retreat came a few years ago when I was emerging from a not very happy relationship. This man was the love of my life, but I presented to him the same face I present everyone else, and he too had layers and layers of pain hidden away. We met at the wrong time.

When I found that I couldn’t get over him, I sought help. Now, having heard myself talk empty words over many sessions, I am starting to experience feelings.

I am wondering, several months into therapy, whether I am not only grieving for him… I am mourning all my losses.