I tried to break up with my therapist today.
We’d had a two-week holiday over the Christmas period that was sweet relief.
Although I’ve developed some semblance of trust over the course of our 7-month relationship – a patchy relationship at best given my inability to commit to consistent weekly sessions, and my appalling time-keeping which cuts the ones I do make it to in half– I’ve never managed to really allow myself to build the trust necessary to be open and honest with her.
For me, being face-to-face and talking honestly don’t work so well. I squirm with discomfort during long periods of silence staring at the wall, or my hands, or anywhere but at my therapist.
Unless I’m fuelled with the inhibitions of booze, as I discovered during a rare enjoyable session when I’d accidentally gone straight from an unplanned and sleepless night out in London and thought I’d have a beer on the midday train home to help me ‘power through’.
It feels shameful admitting that to the world.
That’s why writing works for me.
Anyway, I digress. Plenty of time later to tackle my other unhealthy relationship.
I’d been doing some thinking over the holiday and had made the bold decision to break up with my therapist.
I’d decided that there’s only so far talking and digging up the past could get me. Especially as the talking vs. silence ratio is pretty unequal and there’s not a lot of my past I remember, which makes the whole process a little tricky.
I’d realised after the chaos of a Christmas period spent in ED hell that I need something more specifically targeted towards eating disorder recovery. And that I wanted to see an ED specialist.
Ending relationships has never been a strong point of mine. Running away to avoid confronting the truth of my feelings tends to be my specialty.
Whenever there seems to be signs of cracks, or a bit of a break, or things start to get a little too intense and god forbid I might be forced to feel something deeply, I end it.
And everything in me wanted to just run away today. I’d even been contemplating the unforgivable act of breaking up over text.
But I must have moved forward in some respects because I decided to be the adult I supposedly am and actually confront the fear and face the thing head on.
So before my session I went to a yoga class. It’s a lovely class, one of my favourites. Yoga and meditation.
Our teacher is so gentle and nurturing and she really holds you. I thought meditating through asana would help me to prepare, to release the fear and all the other feelings I hold inside me which I can’t even name.
That’s another thing I struggle with – identifying how the hell I am feeling.
What I didn’t count on was just how hard I would find that class.
I haven’t been practicing yoga or really any pranayama – that’s the Sanskrit word for the practice of controlling the breath – whilst I was back with my family for Christmas. It’s too busy there and the space isn’t mine so I couldn’t settle into doing something to nourish myself.
It was therefore, a playground of mind games for the Gremlin.
I also found that the yoga I had been practicing before Christmas had been building towards bringing deeply buried, difficult emotions to the surface, and I decided it was best to put a hold on that while I was surrounded by the people and places of a traumatic past.
Anyway, I found that yoga class really hard. Physically challenging, but especially emotionally challenging.
Sometimes when you hold a pose in yoga some parts of your body tremble, or shake, or you can feel physically nauseous. This is part of the process of letting go of the tension we are holding in our bodies, the negative emotions which our mind is trying to cling onto with all its might.
It feels like a fight between body and mind, so it’s about coming back to the breath, listening, backing off if necessary, and allowing yourself to let go. We humans struggle with that.
Well my whole body was shaking like crazy and I wanted to get the hell off my mat.
I realised how much emotion I had been holding in my body, trying to get through the Christmas period, which is always difficult. This year surpassed all others and I felt like I’d been through a war by the end of it.
And I was not the winner.
Self-destruction and intense bulimia characterised my Christmas this year and I’ve been wading through the trenches I dug, trying to find the other side, ever since.
I’m still somewhere in the mud, but my way of trying to recover from the chaos has been to sink more deeply back into anorexic behaviours, restriction knowing no bounds. It makes it hard for me to lift my legs from out of the trench.
I’ve only really realised this since being with myself on my yoga mat today.
And since trying to break up with my therapist.
So the conversation didn’t go exactly as planned. She threw some complications into the mix.
She told me the last time she had a two-week holiday I returned with exactly the same break-up speech, telling her it wasn’t working for me and I thought our time had come to an end.
She reminded me that last time I actually went as far as cheating on her, and went to see another therapist.
So the session culminated in an agreement to go next week. I wasn’t really sure how that happened, and I was berating myself for not being strong or assertive enough to follow through with my intention.
I then sat in my car, rain pounding the windows, smoking and staring into space (I’m getting really good at this) and feeling utterly…desolate.
I had to cancel my plans to catch up with a friend. I needed to go home and get out my journal and process.
I was feeling a little lost.
I really felt like I was initiating a break up and it was so much harder than I’d anticipated.
In hindsight that’s probably why I wanted to send a text, so I wouldn’t have to feel those feelings.
So I finally managed to get myself home, where I lay on my bed and stared some more, empty and numb.
I have this little book called A Dhammapada for Contemplation.
My wise and beautiful-souled older sister gave it to me back in 2007 and it’s full of little sayings, the wisdom and truth offered by the Buddha.
It’s been getting dusty on my bookshelf for some time, but today I turned to it in the hope it would offer me some wisdom.
Here is where I opened it:
I am no disciple of the Buddha. Far from it.
But it got me thinking this little verse.
It got me thinking about the wonders of this body we have been given, and the abuse I am inflicting on mine. My body doesn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it.
It made me sit up and start to be truthful with myself.
It made me reflect on the real reasons I want to end my therapy and hop to someone new. I have always been a serial therapist-hopper, and I’ve always told myself it’s because of my therapist, not me.
A lot like I’ve been with my boyfriends.
I’ve been letting my ED get the better of me these last few weeks.
As I’ve avoided my yoga mat and inner work the Gremlin has grown and therapy doesn’t really work for him to thrive…and oh myyyy he’s been thriving.
I’ve kind of noticed this but the Gremlin has helped me ignore it. I’ve not wanted to do the things I need to do to quieten him.
Instead I’ve wanted a quick fix, to take the easy way, get knocked down with ALL the trauma therapy, feel ALL the pain, then pick myself up and move on. Get on with my life.
And I’ve wanted someone to fix it for me.
I need to get real.
I’m the only one who can fix me, and it ain’t gonna be quick, that’s for sure. I know ‘fix’ is the wrong word to use. It’s about finding, and maintaining, strength and balance.
But I do still believe that there’s only so far talking can get me.
Eating disorders are complicated, their symptoms wrapped up in dealing with deep-seated trauma.
It’s not actually about the food or the weight when it really comes down to it. Although that’s what we get obsessed with, lost in, so then we don’t have to deal with the trauma.
I’ve recently read about a specialist treatment centre that is starting to see this – one specialist centre in the whole of the UK for the most dangerous and difficult to treat mental illness!!!
For too long eating disorder treatment has been about the food, restoring weight, and doesn’t even touch on what might lead someone to starve themselves. Which is why the rate of relapse is so high.
But this place has found appropriate and creative methods to help people get behind the behaviours and the obsessions to face the trauma that drives their ED.
So I do think that I need to access this kind of trauma-informed treatment.
Because I realised today that yes, recovery comes down to choice. But I am way beyond the point where I can just choose to sit down and eat a normal meal.
I am too deep into my eating disorder now.
But I still want to climb out of its clutches, which is a positive choice I guess, because it’s a step in the right direction.
So I need help getting there, by people who have real, extensive and specialist experience.
I need help to make that choice to eat, and to maintain it.
So, I have agreed to see my therapist again next week, and I have started to process the fact that our relationship will likely end. But it will be a healthy ending. For a change.
And that I will still have to work, and work hard, with whoever I see for treatment.
Because there is no quick fix.
I feel calmer now, lighter. My brain and my body don’t hurt so much. I’ve allowed myself to rest, to sit with the discomfort and the difficult feelings after so much time spent filling every hour of every day, rushing around, running away.
I’ve been kind to myself for the first time in weeks.
And I think it’s because I returned to my yoga mat today, and I found some stillness, and I released. And I wrote in my journal.
And instead of burying my head, texting my therapist, and never going back, I faced the fear.
I opened myself up and I started to try and find my truth.
And in being truthful, I suppose I am one step closer to recovery.