I practically made S run out of his office to meet me today. I feel embarrassed to say that I not only had a walk-in session today before my group therapy session, but that I also had group therapy, AND I also requested to see S.
I moved last night. My entire life here in the States was summed up by 10 12″ x 16″ boxes, 5 12″ x 12″ boxes and miscellaneous bags. It was difficult but the Ex was so gracious to have helped me move everything for me and even set up my bed and work desk. At 9pm though, he’d said to me, “Well, I’m going to call it a night…” and my whole world crashed down on me. I was so upset.
He was leaving, I’d thought. This is it. We’re done. I’m all alone. I’ll be all alone from now…
I bawled as he hugged me goodbye. I couldn’t stop crying. I was unstable for the rest of the night and I didn’t sleep until 4am when I finally just collapsed on exhaustion.
So this morning, I told myself that I needed to go to CAPS. And I got the walk in session I’d requested. However, after group therapy, and I was walking out of CAPS to leave, I caught a glimpse of S and the child freaked out.
I walked up to the reception desk.
“I have a question…” I said to D, the receptionist.
“Is it… Is it okay if… Can I speak to S?”
Maybe it was written all over my face. Maybe I was extremely distressed and D saw it. But the next thing I knew, S rushed out of his office. He looked alarmed.
“Hey Jules!” He said as he gave me a once over. “What’s up?”
I wondered what D said to him.
When I saw him, I could barely contain my tears. I stuttered as he led me to his office. We walked very quickly. The floodgates opened when he closed his door and I sat down. I didn’t even take my backpack off or anything. I just collapsed on his sofa and started bawling.
“What’s up?” S asked again. He was very insistent.
“I don’t… I just… I can’t…” I blubbered for a little while.
I’m sure it was a pitiful sight but S sure didn’t react like it was one. Instead, he was warm and wonderfully caring. He listened to me, and offered his comfort and support.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re busy… I know that… And I’m sorry for doing this…” I said while sobbing.
“It’s ok. Let’s not focus about that right now… Let’s focus on how we can get you through the weekend,” S said.
“I sent you that email…” I said, talking about the email that I had sent him the night before. I had told him in the email how hopeless I felt and how I wanted to kill myself.
“Yeah, and it’s got to be really hard, being moved out… Adjusting to a new place…” S said.
“Yeah…” I said, as I sobbed some more.
We then talked about the feelings of abandonment that I feel so intensely (even if that wasn’t what was going on, I can’t help how I feel), the fears I have, the child’s vulnerabilities, the triggers I’ve been experiencing, as well as all the anger and bitterness.
I kept flip flopping between utter despair and a more stable mindset through the 38 minutes that we’d talked. I didn’t mean for us to talk as long as we did. I was supposed to go in just to check with S. I just needed a quick “pep talk” of sorts from S – at least that’s what I thought. It ended up being more of a regular session with a stronger crisis intervention aspect to it.
“Do you think you can allow yourself to be sad and grieve for what is a genuine loss without the feelings of hopelessness and meaninglessness that’s coming up?” S had asked.
“I’m going to have to do that…”
“You’ve got so much to offer. You’re in a program that you seem to be succeeding at. You could a lot of amazing things in the field of computer science. Seems like more and more, you’re making connections with people easily. Even though, I know you don’t alway feel it, but you’re able to connect and build support” S said.
I agreed with him. Then as I did, my mind snapped back to the more negative side of things.
“When I walked by your office earlier, I wanted to ask or my knife back. I want it back!” I said, as I slipped back into hopelessness.
“Do you want to end your life right now?” S asked.
“Um… Yes and no…” I said. “There is a part of me that doesn’t, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t… And there’s just that other part that’s just panicking. That’s the thing, it’s like, in the middle of all the distress yesterday, there was a sudden thought that I had that kinda calmed me down a little bit. And the thought was, ‘What if this is the reset that I’ve always asked from God? I’ve asked him to be able to relive my life and change things.”
“Do things differently?” S asked.
“Yeah… And I think about how, what if that’s this?”
“Yeah, I can see that” S said.
“Yeah, I never had the opportunity to live for myself…” I said.
“And you’re starting to do that…” S said.
“Yeah but then there’s the other part that cried out, ‘Why did it have to be this way?'” I said, as I sobbed more. The pain I was feeling was unbearable.
“Do you think… Would you have gotten to the point on your own, where you’d have said, ‘We just need to end this?’ because of the conflicts between you and the Ex, your sexuality…?” S asked, trying to shift my perspective.
“Probably not…” I said. I realized that he was right. I don’t think I would have allowed myself to believe that it was possible that the Ex and I were just incompatible in more than one way. I was in denial for so many years and drug this relationship out past its due. “I think I would have just kept going. I think I would’ve been fine with the way things are and as much as it sucked, I think I would’ve been fine with that… I just kept getting more bitter and angry. I think that’s just what I can’t get over, it’s that bitterness and anger that I feel. I’m so bitter at my life…”
“It sounds like some of the anger is anger at God too,” S noted.
“Yeah. I told him that my life has been nothing but a series of disappointments. And uh, I think I believe that. And I can’t stop thinking all the things that just never worked out.”
“It’s easy to get weighed down by all that,” S said.
“Yeah… But yeah, I’m angry. Especially when I am reminded that I had something good but now I don’t. I completely took it for granted and now I’ve lost it. Now she’s his perfect choice. It’s just not fair,” I said, my bitterness crept in.
“That is very black and white – ‘perfect’,” S said, pointing out the fact that I often jump to very concrete conclusions when it’s not always so simple.
“Yeah… I get stuck. I get stuck and I don’t know where to go. And just hurt myself. So it was a good thing you took the knife away,” I said.
“Good. I kinda figured it would be…” S said seriously.
“Yesterday I was opening the boxes and I kinda wished that I had my knife to open them with…” I said, noting my difficulty in getting all the boxes opened.
S chuckled, “That was less helpful!”
“It was… But I think, I think I would’ve done something…” I said.
S then tried to shift my attention to how I felt about being in my new place. I told him that I haven’t decided but that I felt grateful that the Ex had helped me move all my stuff as well as get a few things set up for me. I told him also that I see that the Ex really does still care about me, albeit in a different capacity, but that I am in so much pain that it’s hard for me to see that he cares sometimes because sometimes all I can feel is the dreadful feeling of abandonment.
“A part of me wants to go to the hospital but the other part’s like not wanting to,” I said.
“Do you think you’re in real danger?” S asked.
I had to think about it for a few moments. “I don’t think so. I think I just want to escape in any way I can. But I know I can’t do that.”
“It sounds like you want to escape completely from everything. It’s just not possible. If you went to Hawaii or something, it might help but it sounds like you still will be dealing with this loss,” S said.
We then shifted our focus to the child. The one throwing the tantrums, hurting myself, and the one who doesn’t want to keep going.
“It sounds like if you did all these coping strategies yourself, that somehow you’ll be separated from feeling like people care,” S said.
“Yeah… It’s infuriating! The thing is, I know a part of me knows that I didn’t need to talk to you today. I could have been fine. But then, the other part just is driving me nuts! And I was like, ‘You know, what could it hurt?’ but it’s like, I know, I know that things will be better. I know that. I don’t know why I just can’t feel that or believe that or trust it or something. I don’t know why I keep hurting myself. I keep looking for ways to do all these things…”
“It’s like self-sabotage almost,” S noted.
“Yeah, all the time!” I said. “It makes me angry!”
“At that part of yourself?”
“Yeah, I want to say ‘I know you can do this! I know I can do this! Why won’t I let myself do it?'”
“That’s a good question,” S said.
“Yeah. I know a lot of it is just, the desperate need for attention…” I said.
“Is it really just attention?” S asked.
“Sometimes. Talking to you helps because you’re giving me your attention. It sounds pathetic!”
“Just being present here, that someone is listening to you, being here with you…”
“Yeah, someone I know who cares giving me their attention seems really important to me for some reason. So it’s not the same when other people do it”
“Would it help if I said… I know you’ve talked a couple of times about your fears that I would discontinue therapy for some reason. Would it help if I just said, until a semester after you graduate, whenever that is, that’s not going to happen. You could be doing as awesome and phenomenal, but if you said that you wanted to come in and talk to me, that I would be here. I mean it doesn’t matter if you have straight A’s, or active social life, working three jobs and doing amazing… You can still come talk to me,” S said.
“Yeah, I think there is that fear. I don’t know why, but there is that fear. That I need to have a reason I guess… That it’s not okay just to talk to someone because I want to.”
“Mmhmm…” S said, “There’s the self-validation again. The need for that. You can’t just talk to someone just because you want to…”
“Yeah, I think that’s why the child hurts me. Because I think she feels like you need to see some evidence of why we need to talk,” I said with realization that this is the large part of why I self-harm. “I think it’s becoming clearer to me what just happened. As I was leaving CAPS, I caught a glimpse of you, and I think the child panicked. And was like, ‘I can’t wait another 5 days!’ And I think that’s when I went to D and asked if it was okay that I talk to you. I think the child wanted to do something serious to get that attention…”
“Mmhmm…” S said, gently. “The child misunderstands that there are other ways of getting attention”
“Yeah” I concurred.
“Jules, I think you have the tools to get lots of positive attention. J commented that he felt that you had a great rapport, that he felt really connected to you. And I remember you said that you met your roommate, you guys clicked right away. I feel like I hear that from you quite a bit. And I know you have some social anxiety and worry about how people see you, but you do have a natural charisma, an ability to really connect with people.”
“Yeah… Yeah I think so too,” I said, for once agreeing with him because I was finally accepting that I am able to make good, lasting connections with people. This felt like a big step for me because I was never able to accept that I was good at anything. So for me to agree with S is a big deal.
We paused for a few moments.
“I’m definitely much calmer than I was. I think the child is finally calm”
“Good!” S said, I could hear the relief in his voice.
“I think the adult is back in control…” I said. “I think she (the child) just freaked out”
“Good,” S said again. “Would it help for the adult to say to the child that ‘We’ll still connect to people, we’ll still have plenty of attention. You don’t need to be so scared in order to get that…’?”
“Yeah…” I said, and after a few moments I forced a smile on my face. “I’m sorry if I alarmed you”
“Well, I had been worried since I know there’s a lot happening right now,” S said. It felt really good to hear that. It felt good to know that he thought about me.
I then promised him that if the child freaks out again, that I’ll take myself to the hospital. I also told him that I might have to get rid of some things that I have – especially the paracord bracelet that I have. When unraveled, the bracelet would provide me about 10 feet of rope. I had contemplated hanging myself with that. I told S that it was a tempting notion. I hesitated to tell him that though.
“I don’t suppose you have that with you now?” S asked. I knew he would ask, and I knew that if I had it, he would have asked me to turn it in to him for safekeeping. “The promise still stands right?” S asked, renewing my promise to him that I won’t do anything to harm or kill myself.
“Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it,” I said, as I gathered myself. It was a productive and comforting session. I was glad that S had time to see me and I was glad that he was so concerned for me that he dropped everything to come to my aid.
It felt really good to know that I have this connection with him. At this point in time, he’s the most dependable person I have and any little gesture counts. Although I know that there are other people who care about me, it doesn’t quite feel the same and somehow, feeling the warmth and care from S is more important than anything else. The child wants it from him, and nothing else suffices. Hopefully, someday, I can let go of the attachment I have for S and be able to stronger in myself. For now, it feels good to have him.