Warning: f-bombs ahead!
I had therapy this evening.
Sometimes therapy rocks; sometimes it’s really, really, hard.
Other times, like today, it’s really fucking weird.
Today we worked on a paranoia that’s here and has been here really strongly, the last few days. It’s a paranoia that feels so tightly linked in with my critic, that to distinguish a form of solid ground, stability, softness or roots to a land where all those things exist, feels—and seemingly is—almost impossible.
You see, there’s a part of me that thinks I’m fucked. That thinks because of all I’ve been through, because of what I’ve experienced, what l I’ve seen and witnessed, done and had to do, I’m screwed.
To this part of me, my future is shattered and shadowed with broken dreams, broken promises and a broken me.
To this part of me, my future is destitute. I’m destined to live in a dumpster and live in a shadow of the person I could be.
You see, this part of me stops me talking about things. She has this theory that to talk about things, about my experiences, about what’s happened to me, will fuck me up even more than (according to my critic, and her) I already am.
To this part, to begin to open myself up to those around me and share and tell my story how it is, is to lead myself down a path of destruction and despair.
To her, sharing is dangerous.
To her, sharing is the reason I overdosed.
You see, I overdosed a couple of years ago. I sat down and swallowed so many pills that I’m lucky to be alive.
I sat down and wrote a note as though it would be the last thing I would ever read and the last thing I’d ever write (thank fuck it wasn’t, thank fuck it didn’t work, and thank fuck I called the ambulance when I did).
When I sat down, I sat down after having and doing and being in four months of therapy. I sat down after spending two or three of those four months of therapy in turmoil. A new kind of turmoil. An Inner turmoil I’d never experienced before.
Inside me lay a swamp. My riverbank had burst and my internal river, my story, my trauma, my memories, had spilled out onto the grassy bank that lay inside of me. Water was seemingly all I could see.
The thing is, I hadn’t learnt to swim yet.
All that I knew was beginning to disappear, and all that I’d hid was beginning to surface.
By talking, this surfaced more. But by talking, I’d done what I’d longed to do for fucking years. And I was doing what I’d needed to do for all those years, too.
I was talking.
I was telling my story.
I was doing what my younger self, my older self, my current self (then) needed to do.
I was telling someone I felt was safe, my story—all the things that had happened to me and that I had to do growing up, all the things I’d witnessed and experienced as an early adult.
I was telling this person, a woman I trusted, of all my heartache and all my sorrow. I was speaking from a place within me that I didn’t know existed. Or perhaps I had always known it existed, I just hadn’t been able to access it. I hadn’t felt safe enough to do it.
Those four months were like medicine, but to this worried and fearing part of me, they were also destruction.
To this part of me here now—the part that believes talking is unsafe—those four months of talking and talking and talking were what lead me to overdose. To her, it was those words that I shared, and that safety I felt and the attachment that came from this, that caused the overdose to happen.
To her, those words and that sharing and that sense of safety and attachment, caused everything to spill out and for my riverbank to burst and for me to become overloaded, flooded, to seemingly drown within it. And my critic is yelling over her shoulder, telling her that this messiness and this crumble, this flooding that continued for months following the overdose, was wrong. It wasn’t okay.
It was far from okay as something to experience, but it wasn’t wrong.
This part of me forgets that’s here now, forgets—or perhaps cannot see—that the overdose happened because I spoke to my mum two days before I wrote what I did and took what I did. She cannot see that it was this trauma that sparked off the disconnection and desperation inside of me, that took me there—to that place of doing what I did.
She believes it was her not doing her job.
Her failing at her job of keeping me safe, so now the sandbags are piled high along my inner riverbank to make sure it doesn’t burst again.
She believes that this openness and holding, safety and connection, sharing and talking, that I experienced and was having, caused me to feel so raw, so helpless and unable to cope with the trauma came after I spoke to my mum.
She believes that without this rawness I would have been able to handle it—the trauma, the call—so I wouldn’t have tried to kill myself. I wouldn’t have been so triggered, so unable to see anything but the need to end it all.
This part of me doesn’t do philosophy.
She holds resistance like a burning fire against the theory that perhaps the overdose would have happened anyway. That perhaps it was a culmination of all that I’d experienced before then, and that perhaps I needed it to allow me to step into the next stage of my life, of me.
To this part of me, her theory is fact and the only truth.
Don’t fuck around trying to tell her otherwise. And don’t fuck around trying to help.
Don’t try to introduce a new theory—it will be thrown out the window, along with the love for herself.
Because this part of me is hurting.
She’s in agony because she believes she failed that day, and those months previous.
She let her guard down and she let someone in.
She allowed me to feel safe and she allowed me to feel at home—two things I had never fully experienced, until then.
She believes she’s on her own and (until then, until now) she always has been, and so she believes always will be.
She’s isolated and she’s strong.
She’s isolated but she’s connected to her own four walls of protection.
She’s witnessed the way in which she needs to do it, to do life—she’s learnt from my mum. She’s learnt that the way to live is to live in turmoil and in silence, or blinding and bursting rage that lands on others closest as abuse.
She witnessed what no child should ever witness, but from what she witnessed, she grew and she took this experience with her, into her adulthood as proof that shit gets fucked up and people hurt you, let you down.
She took the things she saw, she took the things she borrowed from those years, and has published them as truth in her mind.
The truth that she’s alone and it needs to be that way.
The truth that she has no home, that she has no place to go to. And that if she did, bad things will happen, because when she had one, bad things did.
You see, she had a safe place—a place that increasingly felt like home. A place that were four walls of protection not inside herself. They were four walls of protection that for the hour or the hour and a half she was there, were held by someone else.
For those moments, she was safe and she was protected. Something she had never been.
During the months before the overdose she had a space she could go, somewhere she felt safe, somewhere that became home for her to be authentic and for her river to burst its banks and run free.
But to her now, all that talking and that safety and that home was what brought me danger of the desperation I felt that day, and the trauma that followed.
So to talk now—to feel safe and at home and attached—would be leading me that way, too.
It would be asking my riverbank to burst again and never repair.
To talk now would be opening up those old wounds from that time—the wounds that remain here, untouched and unbroken, tight and within—and let them be heard, spoken, released.
To talk would be to challenge her inner theories of destruction and to sit beside them with theories or experiences of love and warmth.
To talk would be to allow myself the freedom that I, and she, so desperately needs and deserves to feel.
To talk would be to allow myself to be authentic and to reach out, and connect, from that place.
To talk would be to ignore the broken record of my critic, or the tight-knit script of my perfectionist.
To talk would be to show this part of me that I can heal, that we can heal.
And that talking, sharing, love, and connection, is safe.
Because there’s a part of me here now, that was never a part I was able to connect with so strongly, or at all, before.
The part that keeps me safe amongst it all. The part that sets boundaries and listens to my limits. The part that holds an ear to my heart to listen to what she says.
The part of me that knows the difference between story and truth.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Jim Jimenez; Emily Buck