Things were so much improved on Thursday from what they had been the week before. I think C’s mood and / or attitude was better than it had been, and I was feeling considerably more sane than I have of late, so between the two of us, the whole session felt a lot more productive. I, in fact, felt respected and – dare I say it – I felt a lot of the warmth from him that I had felt to be characteristic of him before all the bollocks about the cessation of therapy began.
The discussion commenced, perhaps unsurprisingly, with C picking up where we’d left off the previous week with reference to the dodgy Diazepam that I’ve (hopefully) purchased. Under the caveat that he of course doesn’t approve of the purchase at all, he wanted to talk about ways that I could protect myself from taking the whole dose if I go mental some time, whilst at the same time taking responsibility for their ownership and the fact that I made the decision to buy them.
Writing it back now, it sounds very DBT-ish, but at the time it didn’t seem particularly condescending; if anything, I felt that he gave enough of a toss that he didn’t want me to do myself in (that it wasn’t just about covering his arse), but that simultaneously he didn’t want to patronise me by telling me I had to bin them all or give them all away.
A discussion ensued about putting a few of them in my care, and giving guardianship of the rest of them to A. As long as I have access to some of them at any given time, I honestly don’t give a toss about someone else having them, but C didn’t seem to really think that all of me was content with it. I admitted that because I was in a relatively stable frame of mind that I couldn’t see what other ‘parts’ of me might think, but I did concede that I have a rebellious streak that may manifest at some point and take offence at not being allowed to have all of the tablets in my possession.
C said, “what would you say to that side to persuade her that this is a sensible course of action?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “I’d just tell her to fuck off.”
He laughed, and said that he didn’t think the rebellious streak would feel particularly validated or disciplined by that. I nodded, accepting that such a confrontational stance may only wind ‘her’ up further, and make her more determined to claim ownership of the Valium.
The conversation advanced in an unexpected way. C said, “Imagine I’m you and you’re the therapist, trying to persuade me that putting the Dizaepam in someone else’s temporary care is a good idea. What would you say?”
“Well, I’d probably say something like…”
“No no no,” he interrupted. “I don’t want you to just tell me what you’d say…I want you to actually say it, as if you’re me.”
“Like a role-play?” I checked, aghast.
I didn’t really fancy this idea, but I took a deep breath and decided to play along.
I don’t remember what I said, but I got to the point where C – as ‘me’ – was about to reply, when I bottled it.
“OK, C, sorry – this is just too weird,” I interjected, waving my hands embarrassedly.
He smiled and said that he had no wish to make me uncomfortable, but after dithering a bit he asked if I would be willing to try the exercise again. I heard myself agreeing to this.
C: They’re my tablets, I’ll do what I want with them.
SI: But I’m not proposing that you get rid of them entirely, just that you take some of them out of your hands for a bit.
C: [waving hand dismissively] Nah. Why should I?
SI: Because it’s for your own good. [wincing] Think of it like this – it’s kind of like the tablets are under lock and key, as they would be in a pharmacy or something. You don’t have immeadiate access to the key, but access becomes yours as your own small stash depletes.
C: [pauses, apparently ruminating on what I said] OK, so what you’re saying is this stuff is still mine, but access to it can only be granted in bursts.
SI: [incredulous] Obviously, yes…
C: But why shouldn’t I just take them all anyway? I hate my life.
SI: I can’t let you do that…it would be unprofessional…
C: Why can’t you? You don’t care about me!
SI: No, but I have a professional responsibility to stop you.
He laughed at my “no, I don’t care about you,” and signaled that we could desist from continuing in this vein. He said, “I really liked your lock and key analogy, that was very good.”
I was astonished. “That was patronising bollocks,” I declared.
“I don’t think it was. Parts of you may think so, but I also think it’s a simple but effective way of communicating to those ‘rebellious’ parts that they are being protected whilst at the same time being afforded some responsibility.”
He paused for a moment, then continued by saying, “I know you have that book on schema therapy in BPD. Do you recall that, according to it, there’s a detached protector, and several child parts?”
“Perhaps the detached protector, the healthy adult even – they may find something like what you’ve just said ‘patronising’ – but don’t you think it’s really the angry or frightened children that most need to be protected? And if so, then this is clear, effective language that they can understand.”
I fought the urge to protest that I had been a precocious child. I had been, and these ‘child parts’ still are, but even I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a decent immediate comeback to my stupid ‘lock and key’ analogy.
I finally said that I would keep 25 of the tablets and give the remaining lot to A, to act as my dispensing pharmacist as and when the 25 were depleted. C furrowed his brow.
“What strength are the tablets?” he asked.
He winced, causing me to protest that 25 of the things couldn’t kill you. “One gram, the whole lot, wouldn’t kill you unless you were very (un)lucky. I’ve researched this.” (My research consists of reading a pro-choice suicide newsgroup, a seemingly dubious source, but actually, the members thereof are very well informed.)
He continued to look concerned. “I know you’re well informed about this, but do these types of medications not slow the heart rate? Surely ‘even’ 250mg could induce heart failure?”
I don’t think so, but I was not against the idea of meeting him half way, so I advised that if it would ease his mind, I would retain ownership of only ten tablets.
He was unhappy with that too, of course, believing that I believed that he had invalidated my sense of responsibility and coerced me into retaining the lower amount.
“Look, C, it’s fine. Honestly. I am not displeased with the idea of only keeping 10 of them. I don’t use them frequently anyway, and even as I do, I have no doubt that A will give me the next ten when necessary. I don’t feel treated like a kid or anything like that. Really.”
The entire discussion may be moot anyway, since the bastarding things have not arrived yet. C did acknowledge the possibility, as do I, that the whole transaction might be a scam. I hope not though, because my GP’s surgery is being difficult regarding the prescription of Valium, which is the only thing that calms me down in certain circumstances.
This led C to talk about his silly breathing exercises. I told him that I didn’t think they were totally useless, but stole a quote from W, and said that they were akin to throwing a bottle of water on a massive Australian bush fire – ie, something that may help in a minuscule way which is totally inadquate.
To my surprise, C’s first reaction was to say that he saw my point; however, he then went on that even if that bottle of water is totally inadequate at putting out the entire fire, it might enable a little bit of the fire to dissapate, in turn enabling further work to be done to put out the rest of the fire.
I hadn’t thought of it like that, although I’m smart enough that I probably should have done. I do genuinely think that the breathing exercises in and of themselves are mostly wank, especially when one is going really mental. Nevertheless, for mild anxiety attacks, I suppose they have something of a place before taking actual, tangible measures of self-protection, such as removing yourself from the anxious situation.
There was a lull in the discussion then, a contemplative silence which I eventually broke by admitting to C that I had found the last few weeks in therapy really challenging and frustrating. I told him that I had found him defensive and un-empathetic, though I acknowledged openly that I hadn’t been much use myself.
I don’t recall his phraseology, but he admitted to his defensiveness, though carefully suggested that it was a mutual thing. I agreed and said things in my world had been really difficult since Christmas / New Year, so he had gotten to see me at my most mental.
I lamented this further by saying that I wished I had been referred to the psychiatrist before seeing him, as I felt that becoming more stable thanks to medication could have helped me to use therapy in a more productive manner.
He reflected on this, and for the first time in the whole year or so that I’ve known him made (an admittedly oblique) reference to the fact that he sees more people in his line of work than just me. “I think you’ve made an important point,” he told me, “and in future I’ll consider that, maybe telling GPs that in some cases psychiatric referrals would be better in the first instance than referrals to me. However, here we are – I hope we have nevertheless been and will be able to do something valuable together.”
I nodded, and told him that just because I felt the referrals were the wrong way round did not mean that I believed our relationship had been valueless.
“And if you’re thinking of the frustrations of last week,” he continued, “I think our discussion hitherto has followed on from that – to that end I don’t think it was actually a wasted session at all.”
I suppose, horrible as it had been, that it had indeed provided some impetus for this session. Furthermore, as I told him, it is probably a good thing that he sees me in all my moods, even the most mental thereof.
Another brief lull ensued. Eventually C reminded me that we had, a few weeks ago, discussed the fact that I was reading a self-help book. He asked how I was getting on with it.
I said that I hadn’t finished it (read: haven’t read any more), but gave him a brief overview of it. “There’s plenty of wank in it, but the parts that it does well, it does very well.”
He asked again what it was called and I said that its name was Getting Through the Day: Strategies for Adults Hurt as Children.
“Obviously it’s designed for victims of real abuse,” I mused, “but I can make it apply to myself in some ways.”
I regretted these thoughtless words as soon as they were out of my mouth. At least, I did at a visceral level; I didn’t want him to defend me on the grounds that my ‘abuse’ was real. Not only would that mean facing that stuff, it would mean having to confront my default position that it was of my own doing. Intellectually, of course, I know this needs to be addressed.
C said, “you don’t think your abuse was real? But there was sexual abuse by…”
This was the first and only thing that annoyed me in this session. He said, “…there was sexual abuse by your…grandfather? Uncle?”
So you remember that I have the book on fucking schema therapy but you don’t remember the identity of my rapist? Thanks C. Thanks very fucking much.
I confirmed that it was the latter.
He asked me how I felt about going into greater detail about this subject over future weeks. I told him that to say I wanted to do so would be absolutely untrue, but I did say that I believed it was a possible necessity.
He said that it isn’t always necessary to explore such matters down to their very minutiae, the implication being that the memories in some people’s minds are not always unprocessed and unresolved. “But,” he went on, “I think your instinct is that this is something important, and to that end we probably should look at it more.”
I winced. I don’t want to do that. The images haunt my consciousness on a fairly frequent basis as it is. Detailing it with him, actually going into specifics, is bound to make that worse, even though the idea is to make the memories less vivid and cumbersome in the long-term. But I’m not stupid; I know I shoudn’t avoid it, much as the temptation to do so is strong. I told C that I wanted to go ahead with it.
So that is something that will presumably come up tomorrow, especially in light of my little outburst of self-blaming sluttery at the weekend.
I’m not sure to what extent I have conveyed it by detailing the dialogue, but I did get a sense of respect and care from C in this session, something that I had desperately needed from him in the last few weeks. On the other side of the coin, I did not, for once, enter the session in a confrontational frame of mind, but instead was also extending an olive branch of respect and, insofar as it is possible in the therapeutic sense, friendship. Our mutual stances paid dividends, I think, and I can only hope that that will continue.
I drove back to my mother’s, as I usually do after seeing C, to find a cross-generational gaggle of McFs (MMcF, Sarah, Suzanne and Marcus) inhabiting the living room. Occasionally they come to see my mother during the week, as Suzanne (the only driver amongst the females of that dynasty) only works three days a week, and in any case is now on maternity leave as her second kid’s birth is due to take place in the next few weeks. I am never glad to see them, of course, but I prefer these occasions much more than having to end up in their house, bored out of my fucking skull and having to rely on Paedo of all people for some slightly-better-than-completely-desultory conversation.
Anyway, the interaction went as non-shitly as these things tend to do – for a while. Eventually one of the McFs brought up the fact that their neighbour is regularly leaving his insolent five year old daughter at the McF’s house, whilst he fucks off to the pub or the gym or something. Apparently Paedo keeps acquiescing to this, then dumps the kid on Sarah, MrsCMcF or whatever human of the female persuasion happens to be about that day. Which I suppose is a good thing because it means he’s not fucking raping the child.
Apparently on one day that this happened the wee girl had disobeyed the McFs and went to one of the bedrooms and started jumping on the bed. S was concerned not just for the child’s welfare had she fallen, but for that of the McFs. She claims that social services have been involved in the child’s life at times, and was worried that if the girl had fallen and sustained injuries, that the McFs would be assumed to be beating her up or something and get done.
It was my mother that said it. My mother, who knows – or has chosen not to know – about my history with Paedo. Fucking bitch. She said, “you’ll have to stop this practice [the girl coming round to be babysat] altogether. As well as her hurting herself, what if she starts making stories up about Paedo…you know…?” I am convinced she shot a sideways glance at me as she said this. She did not need to complete her sentence to be understood.
Suzanne nodded. “And mud sticks,” she sighed.
Oh fucking does it really. Apparently not with my mother. I told her he raped me. I told her he regularly touched me in inappropriate ways. I told her, and she refused to believe me. So actually yeah, maybe the mud does stick – but it sticks in the sense that she still believes I’m a malicious fucking liar.
Who lies about being sexually abused as a child?! Who does that? How fucking dare she not only not believe me and accuse me of lying, but then make unsubtle digs showing me that she hasn’t forgotten my alleged ‘lies’? How. Dare. She?!!!
Yesterday she dragged me to the other aunt still residing in Northern Ireland, the Aunt of Boredom, Maureen. I was zombified by anti-psychotics, and even if I hadn’t been, the conversation centred around whether or not you should have a fence or a hedge at the perimeter of your property, and thus was insurmountably boring. After lunch, Maureen was heard to say to my mother than I was being very quiet. Well, I wonder why that might be, Auntie Dearest. It is because I couldn’t give a sideways fuck about fences or hedges. However, my mother was then heard to respond not by saying that I was bored, but instead that she was “very worried” about me. The two old biddies subsequently closed the kitchen door and started discussing my mentalism in hushed tones. And then Maureen was allowed to cross-examine me on the finer points of my madness. I felt like somebody’s lab rat.
Can I just say that my mother’s behaviour of late has been un-fucking-acceptable. Since before my BPD diagnosis in June, I’ve done a lot of reading on the possible causes of the illness. I now believe that it was not just the abandonment of me by my father nor the sex abuse that brought the hibernating insanity out in me. It was, surely, my mother’s frequent invalidation of me too, not to mention some of the borderline-abusive behaviour to which she subjected me during my teens. She too has obviously been traumatised, in her case by her relationship with my father (as C has recognised). It seems to me that that has led to difficulty in her interactions with me. Or so says SI the armchair psychologist.
No parents are perfect, and we are probably all mental in our own idiosyncratic ways. My mother is a good and decent woman who has had a horrible life. But I still deserve better than this from her.