Allison is useless! She doesn’t understand, and doesn’t want to. She says she cares, but they’re just hollow words.
These are the phrases that I’ve been repeating to myself since the beginning of the Rugby World Cup last year, if not for longer. They were easy to believe… she tried to normalise things which I consider abnormal; and seemed to be buying into the stereotypical dissociative construct, rather than trying to understand my experience and symptoms. It became easy to write her off as of being no help. In fact, it became necessary to write her off… if I didn’t, I’d be opening myself up for more hurt.
I realise now, that these were all of my defence mechanisms coming into play – don’t let anyone get too close; only give one chance before putting up a wall; look for any hint that the person isn’t able to cope with what I’m presenting, and needs to be protected in some way. In the dysfunctional realms of coping, this is my default position… it’s a form of protection born from early experiences; but I now realise that it is creating problems in my daily life. It becomes easier to walk away, rather than let anyone get too close… and anyone who does dare to get close, is sometimes treated cruelly with the aim of encouraging them to leave – as part of a self-fulfilling prophecy that everyone leaves.
Considering how long I’d been sticking with the “Allison is useless” refrain, it’s interesting that I continued to see her. Although I’m notoriously bad for ending any sort of relationship (professional or personal); I have been able to end things when they clearly aren’t working. But, I think part of me knew that a huge part of the problem was me. I used the excuse that if I stopped seeing Allison, no other therapist would see me… which does have some basis in reality, but is also a convenient excuse. An excuse which would continue the testing of Allison, and punishment of myself…
Allison became the target for my cruel behaviour and disdain. It became worse as the stress in my life increased, and as she began to show signs of understanding and caring. A year ago, I was convinced that she didn’t believe anything I said regarding my self-injury… this year, she’s wanted to address it, and was expecting more personal responsibility and accountability. But, I wasn’t really picking up on the changes; I was stuck in the “Allison is useless” mode of thinking.
Although, if I think about it, I possibly did notice the change in her understanding and awareness… which only frightened me more. There is one thing more terrifying than no one believing me; and that’s having someone believe me. It threatens the world of denial that I regularly envelope myself in, and means that I would have to face the emotional fall-out created by my life. That possibility is beyond frightening. Unpacking the boxes of hell that I keep within my head… nope, too much. There were remembered threats from my childhood – if you tell anyone, then you’ll be locked up for lying… as well as perceived threats to ways of coping – what do I do if I can’t hurt?
It all became very messy… In order to stomp out the threat; the war against Allison took on new levels. As the chaos that surrounds the month of February enveloped me; I lashed out like a wild, wounded, caged animal. I don’t remember any of the therapy sessions that I’ve been to this year, beyond a few snippets of information; but Allison told me last week that I’d been nasty, and that it needed to change. As for the snippets of the sessions that I do have… well, they’re all of the times Allison has made a mistake. She is human, so is going to make mistakes; but in order to maintain the “Allison is useless” viewpoint, I needed ammunition… so, I found it.
But the one thing that seems to have seeped through my anger and dysfunction, is that Allison works from a place of caring. She has a busy practice, so has no need to keep me as a client; yet, she continues to see me. She’s even given me specific examples of the improvements that I’ve made over the last year… hardly the actions of someone who is as disinterested as I’ve led myself to believe.
In keeping with my defensive reactions to anyone caring; I think this realisation upped the ante, so to speak. It threatened my continual need for invisibility, and added to my stress, rather than reducing it. I don’t have a positive framework to put someone caring about me into. All I have is dysfunction and abuse. Allison and I have talked about this before… as soon as someone mentions that they “care” about me, I wonder what they want from me. The two concepts are so tangled from my past, that I find it impossible to see what healthy caring looks like. It’s for this reason that I avoid relationships of any sort. I find online friendships easier to maintain… because I use the argument that someone online only sees what I allow them to see; and more importantly, they can’t physically see me.
So, where has all of this led me… well, it’s led me to the edge of my safety zone, and is pushing me into new territory. It’s a place where I might have to accept that people can care without an agenda; and where I have to turn to face the skeletons of my past and present. To say that I’m scared, would be an understatement. I’m terrified. Yet, I know that I have to take that leap into what seems like a huge void… They say healing and change is uncomfortable… that’s the understatement of the century.