So here I am, two years and two months of therapy later. Three days a week, 24/7 support system, with a team of dedicated psychotherapists and other members later. As is the tradition of a therapeutic community we write a review at points along the way. This is my final one, which has required editing to preserve confidentiality. It is not the end of the blogs but it is the end of an era and therapy as I know it. The end of old beginnings.
Name: Sarah Attendance: Great. Medication: None
Contracts with self: Unbelievably none.
Date of joining: Moons ago
Original problems joining tc: Unable to identify or feel emotions. Bpd triats. Anxiety.Paranoia.ocd. Harming tendencies. Suicide idealisations. No self worth. Behaviours that put me at risk.
Short term goals: let people in and show emotions.
Long term goals:to manage my feelings and emotions and find a way to make life manageable.
For a phoenix to rise it first has to burn, over the past two years I have sat and wondered if tc was actually aging and setting people on fire in order to have them rise again from the ashes. Well I can definitely say it’s aging, I have never looked or felt as old as I do now (feeling 35 years of your life will definitely spring a wrinkle) however they don’t set you on fire, instead they give you the fuel and lighter to do that yourself. Ironically I stopped harming by burning somewhere along the way.
My journey at tc has been a winding pathway. I spent most of the beginning in a revolving door of suspensions, quiet and unable to talk and only able to communicate by acting out,and acting out I did. I did not trust anyone and I was always astounded when people left claiming to be ready for the real world. Others gave me hope and inside hope was all I had left. Slowly I trusted a few, those who were consistent and those who had shared the same hours, days, months and in some cases, years with me. I learnt that even through my fort of protection eventually those that care will see me as if my fort was made of glass. Whilst staring out the peep hole I have very much seen others and feel truly blessed with the people I have had along the way, with the relationships that have been built, some of which I keep although more than not I don’t, but I will always be internally grateful for each and every one. Not feeling alone in the struggles is the gift of feeling less crazy, because surely true madness would be having no one nodding alongside you.
I never expected a cure, I imagine it similar to the fight against cancer, you can treat it, attack it, and win against it but you will live with a permanent shadow of its return, you will spend a life time checking for symptoms, you will never forget the pits of the fight and you will never imgaine life without a grey cloud again,even when the sun is shining. So whilst no cure is available I do believe, and did believe, that I could be armed with a nato amount of ammunition. I feel I have this, maybe not a nato amount, maybe a Russian amount, I think some grenades have been left out too.
More than ever I feel confident that whilst I can’t feel ordinarily I can work back quicker and trust that what ever started the feeling in my body is worthy of my emotion. I may not trust my reaction totally but I trust it more and suppress it alot less. I can acknowledge when shame is binding me together, I can identify when different ego states appear, I can recognise projection at its finest and I can for the first time in my life think ” what about me”. I recognise that intimacy is something I struggle with, it keeps me isolated and in places I don’t like, I definitely missed a grenade here because I can’t beat this one as much as I can know it is attacking my mind.
My life outside tc is a lonely one, I don’t trust anyone and I have no confidence to believe that I should. Amongst friends and loved ones I still feel like I am loved for the vacant managing me that they get. I doubt very much anyone would love or like the non managing me I am inside on alot of days. It’s all very well wondering what about me, when the me I know isn’t a nice one. The non managing appearance never slips, the facade I have built has been unbreakable. Whilst this is good in many ways it makes me unreachable and also stops me from ever reaching out.
I have more anger in me than I have felt for many years, I am livid at the life I have been forced to live. If living is a what one would call this. I am livid that at times in life people have stepped aside their responsibilities and allowed me to be washed over with trauma and impact. I am beyond livid and sad that until now at the age of 35 no one has ever stopped and seen the wretch, rot and residue I feel I am saturated by. It is sad that not a parent, not an adult, not someone that claims to have loved me has ever scrapped away a layer, cared to scrape away a layer and see what is beneath and its equally sad that if they ever tried I would plaster it up.
Do I feel unfixable? Yes. Do I feel broken? Yes. But i am leaving with more hope and more faith. I never imagined a day when burning, sleeping with abusive men and suicide idealisation did not happen. Yet here I am. I still have urges daily and daily I tell myself ” not today”. Suicide has changed from an impulsive urge into a thought of “aw that would be nice but your not that lucky, keep going”. As if in itself suicide is something I grieve for. As for the men, I still like to keep a couple on a piece of string for back up but the string is kept at an unreachable height.
My relationship with my Duck is world’s away from the relationship we have had during my tc journey. I now look back and see everything as clearly as you all had. With astonishment as to why I kept it going. Fortunately for now I did, I think I met someone who was as desperate in different ways, and somehow I think the therapy touched his heart whilst it touched mine. I learned more about myself worth and boundaries, what I wanted and needed, over time slowly addressing these had a ricochet effect. He is clean, never harmful towards me or himself, thoughtful and until recently was still apologising for his past behaviours. I have trouble trusting this and him, and regularly wonder when it will all come to a screeching halt. I believe tc saved me from allowing the relationship as it was and the impact of this awareness saved me, my children and duck from something that could and would have escalated further. I now know that from any romantic relationship I want someone to care, to atleast try to see me and who will meet the few needs I have and recognise, who knows maybe even more. My expectations before were shockingly low and why wouldn’t they be, if the self hate is high enough any thing more can be seen as generous.
I worry about my future and that of my childrens. I always wanted to end the pain of living but could not bare the idea of leaving them behind to a life I could not protect them from. There was no one I could trust to meet their needs and protect them the way I do. I don’t want the world near them and influencing them in ways that will harm them, once I thought that their world was me and I was the one that would harm and see them in therapy. I truly believed and occasionally still it slips in that I am the truest form of worst mother there is. So what becomes the options when life is unbearable and there is no one better at being a mum than you yet you are the one throwing them the poison? It used to be that taking them with me was the only logical way of protecting them from a world that harmed me, one I lost a fight with and for them i would be an additional trauma on top of a painful and brutal world. Tc has scrapped me back from this belief, I feel certain I am definitely the best thing for my children and certain that my seeing them and need to protect is, whilst somewhat smothering, is not damaging them to the extent I once had believed ( occasionally still do) I now look forward to watching them grow and am reeping the rewards of my conscious behaviour changes. Between them they have had seven birthdays since I joined tc and when you think of it like that, that’s an amazing achievement from the place I was in just before I joined.
I do still worry about being alone with them with no support, no one helps with the bathing, bedding, dinners, financial strains, the fights, hormones, homework, and the guiding of their minds. No one offers to babysit, or helps juggle their appointments nor asks how I’m feeling about this or that regarding my children and nor does anyone care to hear. Not because anyone is mean but because no one loves your children like you do. It’s just me and I struggle to do these things for myself. I worry the loneliness and responsibility overwhelms me too much one day and I open up the graves of past thoughts. I worry that I stop keeping my self check. It keeps me in a constant of anxiety. I comfort myself with motherhood is meant to be difficult and if killing them was never a thought I may actually never be normal.
So how does it feel to be leaving. Terrifying and sad. I will never forget the therapists who have dedicated years now of their life and work to me, never have I been made to feel like I was beyond anything and whilst I may not have liked the suspensions, discharge procedure and sometimes harsh truths and questions it actually began to feel like finally someone cared enough to stop me in my tracks. I have learnt caring is occasionally saying enough now and having someone think about it all alongside you. A skill I never had as a mother until now. I am sad that the end is the end where these relationships are concerned, but I know your voices are now etched in to my parent ego voice that was once non existant. So technically your coming with me. I couldn’t have had nicer members to see me through my therapy time and shall forever laugh at some of the memories and treasure the love and raw care experienced here. For those members going into other therapies my advice would be, do it with all you have because you have nothing to lose and tons to gain, you absolutely get out what you put in and whilst there may be no cure you aquire a stock pile of ammunition to make life easier and more enjoyable. Who likes perfect people anyway?
I nearly forgot to thank my mum and dad with whom without I would never have been here and all of this would never have been possible.
Relationships with my group.
- you may actually be the funniest person I have met in a long time. Your so honest,kind, thoughtful and proactive when your here and extremely funny, that I find you brilliant company to be around. You do alot of therapy alone and some times I wonder what would happen if you just let it flow to you as apposed to you dragging a boat against the tide. I have loved working with you and having your ways and laughter around the social spaces. I think you have a pure heart and I hope you learn to cherish it and not hand it to others to darken, your worth alot and you deserve to have people in your life that recognise this. I really hope that further therapy will help you to continue to grow and flourish in a way that preserves something unique and innocent.
- I feel miles away from the you that joined and unintentionally ruffled feathers, your quiet and seem fearful but actually when I sat to write I realised how different you have become and how different the relationships here with you have become. You seem more confident giving feedback and much less defensive when receiving it. I think you have opened up more and wear your heart on your sleeve no matter the vocal range you adopt. I believe having you as chair did exactly what it’s almost designed to do,it brings out the voice in everyone. I remember my first time well, probably required some therapy over that situation that day actually. Recently I have noticed how I can relate to you with regards the lack of recognising emotions and the feeling of being unable to display them.I hope further therapy helps you to continue building on what you have received here, hold on to the relationships that you have built and remember even the tough ones can be overcome and can have a gooey inside. I wish you all the very best I truly do.
- Instantly I start laughing when I thought about you, why I don’t know, it’s a nice laugh. I remember feeling extremely cautious of you for a while, I almost felt like you came in and a tornado of theatre came with. The Tracey malarkey, Paul, medication suspensions I could go on. You have a gift for bringing everyone together and quickly and confidently had us all doing things we probably wouldn’t have done for anyone else, I’m thinking of the drama games. Any caution or hesitation I had soon began to melt away. I remember when you felt no one rang you and for some time you have been one of the first for many. Your caring and I love and envy how in touch you can be with your own emotions and ability to share and show them. I can only but imgaine it probably doesn’t feel good but I think it’s a wonderful thing. The new group is going to be lucky to have you, any group would be lucky to have you. I think you will do well from here on in and think of us as maybe a super intense prep group, with the run up you feel you had needed. I will hear all about it I presume whilst sat watching the book of mormons with you in what.. Three months.
- This is breaking my heart to even think about and I don’t know where to start. You are like a younger brother or something. Maybe God forbid a male friend I don’t fancy and can’t shag. A true friend for who I feel protective of and deep care for. You brought so much life and noise into this community and it was exactly the awakening it needed. Your extremely wise beyond your year’s in many ways and I have learnt more about politics from you than I did in a two year module. You for me are exactly what the word integrity was made for. You embraced everything tc and some and despite the pain you may feel at the moment the difference in you is hugely apparent. When you harm or let others harm you it pains me, deeply, because I know that place well and I know how pain can meet pleasure, I also know that it leaves a mental scar,scars that are hard to cover. I don’t want that for you. You don’t deserve it and nothing you have or can do would ever warrant it. Living is finding joy in just being you and you bring joy to those around you so take some for yourself. You have offered me so much grit in my therapy and I wish we had had longer together. Your honest and even when that lands badly for others I’m glad you have released it instead of letting it fester. You will get so much from further therapies and they will gain so much from you. I am going to miss you stupidly and can’t wait for a night out and a few drinks/I mean coffees with you.
- I was sooooo worried about liking you, I think anisha left some huge boots to fill which would not have been an easy job. I think you have done extremely well coming in at this stage and made those boots your own. Your feedback is always useful and I find it easy to see when you care and are concerned. I enjoy your company in social spaces and find you easy to talk to and laugh with. Exactly the mix of therapist I like. Thank you.
- it’s your cheekbones. Remember once I said I couldn’t stop staring at your face? Well it’s your cheek bones and your inability to age. Both of which I need and would like. Over time I have lost memory of the you that I found strict and provoking, since moving buildings I have found you to actually be really funny. You are really funny. I think provoking may have a negative connotation, actually you provoke thoughts and responses extremely appropriate to the therapy. Your feedback is always with thought and somehow you remember things long gone and it’s relevant. I am thankful for having you throughout my journey and you have become a part of that parent ego I was on about.
- For about a year you would never have got me to behave in art never mind seen me with a paintbrush in my hand. Here I am with a whole folder of art work. Once I started and gave up the fight I realised actually for someone that finds getting in touch with emotions difficult this is exactly what i needed to be doing. Kicking myself I didn’t utilise this earlier. You have always seemed to have a firmer stance with me and once I took it as dislike but now I think that it kept me in check because i didn’t know where i stood. I think you have always been fair towards me and especially my earlier behaviours. The larger groups of gstultz helped me tremendously and I think was a moment when a light bulb appeared to alot of my behaviours nd thoughts. I am truly grateful to have had you as a therapist and know alot of the work done with you I shall carry with me.
- Now I understand why people get sad. I don’t know what to say and know no matter what I say it won’t feel enough. It took me soooo long to look at you, then to hold conversation, then not to shut down. I have no idea why and presume it was fear of being seen. But I did it. It’s horrible being seen but you have made it bearable and allowed it to feel comfortable most of the time. Your care for this group is so much so I cant find the words and I have seen you genuinely care for every member within it. You have made the hardest things most of us have to overcome doable. Touchable. Trusting someone, feeling worth and importance, not crazy. I think these are the hardest things for almost all of us. Definitely for me. You offer us this. You offered me this. You become that one parent or adult that should have always been there and should have had us at heart. It’s a gorgeous thing to be able to do naturally and it’s a hard thing to accept but a great thing once you do. I am so very grateful for everything, I could name things but I would not stop writing so everything has to cover it. I feel you and tc changed my life and actually the lives of those I love the very most. I say you and tc, because it becomes one of the same, don’t just impact on the people who walk through the door you impact on their world and the people in it. You will forever be the mother ship in that parent ego state.
- Throughout writing my review I wondered why people got emotional when writing them. Until I got to you and… Probably why you guys come last in these things. I remember the first time I had you as a small group therapist, I was pissed off and worried about it. Wellll. I walked out thinking ” Well didn’t she show me” . You swiped the rug from right under my feet. You were a fantastic small group therapist, if there was a therapist made for me at times you were it. You challenge and don’t accept any therapy conclusions we may come to by ourselves. You say the needed and in a manner that is acceptable and yet has your head spinning off all at once. In social spaces I found a friend and to be able to switch it back to therapist/patient role is a gift. You keep roles where they should be and it brings a certain something extra. I am so thankful vicky for everything. Every question, every challenge, everytbing. I will miss you and when my parent brain switches on there you will be, probably going.. Really? Really. No.