To Tom

I found the first text I ever saved from you today. This text as I recall (and you probably don’t) was sent sometime in the gap between our fourth and fifth therapy sessions. I got drunk, and went to Morrison’s and shoplifted.

Then I went and sat in the shed in the rain and smoked. I messaged you and asked if you would call me, and was enormously surprised when you actually did. You had no idea, then.

You said strangely reassuring things on the phone, that first ever phonecall between us, and I was bewildered and seduced by the whole thing in equal measure. Something in me did not trust you one bit, and some brave part of me messaged you to ask whether you would write down what you said on the phone so I could remember it (more like so I could have proof of it, and store it as evidence for the inevitable moment when you eventually did leave me, as everyone does in the end.)

Last weekend we went to the Freud Museum.

We consulted with a portrait of Freud over whether it was OK for us to be there or not, and though I must admit Freud himself looked rather intensely disapproving, I feel strongly in my heart that it was OK. That it was more than OK. We had done an hour of therapy before going and I cried and cried, but I didn’t cry at the museum.

I kept close to you, and you told me some interesting anecdotes from the long ago past as we read the captions on the exhibits, and afterwards we sat and decompressed. There was so much more to the day than this, but of course you know all of it, and I am too tired to tell.

Tonight, some 16 months later, you told me:

And someone might say, “oh, a therapist shouldn’t say I promise. How can he promise it will work?”

But Tom, you and I have found hope not only to be alluring, but to be quite a curative force in and of itself. You spoonfeed me hope sometimes, when I am slightly suicidal and starving. And I sip it down slowly, until I can steady my limbs and stand again.

Tom, you are the hat that fits. Thanks for promising to be a centre of gravity, and sticking to it. The only person who will ever know what I have put you through is you. But you did stay. You do stay. And that is the hat.

I told you I was going to sleep, and I will. I hope one day I will have a centre that isn’t you, and I know you hope that too, you tell me all the time. But for now – thank you for lending yourself to me. Thank you for letting me grip you and steady. Thank you for not letting me slide back into the vortex I was in, back when I got drunk and went to Morrison’s and shoplifted.

I will accept you whatever you tell me, you said, in September 2016.

And how true it was. And how healing it was.

Goodnight x

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Ghost By Ghost

[T: mention of rape]

I very rarely dissociate (at least I think that’s what you’d call it, maybe it was derealisation or depersonalisation, honestly I’m not totally sure of the label) but I felt it happening this evening. I went back to work, and I had a good day there. Someone called me assertive, and I felt glad, because I am, but I have been held back from being assertive by my trauma and my emotional issues my whole life. But. I am assertive.

But there was a hot loneliness in my stomach that I haven’t felt in a while.

When I got home, I lay down. I thought about Tom and I felt even lonelier. I love our relationship but I do find it so painfully hard to be close sometimes. There are gaps in close. Inherently there is a gap.

Then I thought about when I was raped and how numb I felt. And then I felt numb. Totally and completely numb. But it wasn’t a nice numb. It was a detached drifting numb that made me feel like an alien.

Me and Tom have been doing some extremely deep work lately. I have been strong enough to take it, so we have gone in. But it takes its toll. I have to appreciate that revisiting early childhood trauma in the extent that we are the moment takes its toll. I trust Tom and our work. But it takes its toll.

I messaged Tom, and I wasn’t myself at all. Not at all. Not. At. All.

I am really really broken and dead inside, I said.

People think you must have been raped and tortured to be as fucked up as me. Well, I have been held down and raped and I promise you it wasn’t as scary as how I feel in my stomach… it wasn’t scary at all compared to that and truthfully I am a very broken person and it made sense to me that someone would rape me…

I truly wish I could rewind and bring myself to life inside and make someone come. And then I could show you who I really am and who I mean to be.

I do try and try and try to change but I can’t shake this broken empty dead person feeling and it makes me a menace to know. I try and outrun it but it finds me everytime.

She just kept writing and I let her. It was my 17 year old self.

I can’t believe there is something so deeply broken inside me I really feel like an alien sitting here writing this like I will probably just float away altogether.

I really think I could have been a nice girl and wife and done some good in this world. I really think I could I can feel I have good traits but they drown in the deadness inside.

Tom, I think, sensed it wasn’t me. Not the me I am now. I’m pretty solid these days. Pretty rational.

It’s still early days. But we will do this – together. Try to remain optimistic about that – ok?

I felt like he wanted a response. So I told him:

I’m so so floaty and I don’t feel like myself at all Tom. I was thinking about you then I was thinking about being rapred and now I feel so so so so so so floating. I was going to be sick and now I feel nothing at all but a bad dead nothing. do you think that makes sense I would feel like that I don’t feel normal at all. it’s weird cos I always want to switch my feelings off but I feel like a floating alien now

And then

I hope you don’t think I am dirty for telling you that because I really care about your opinion

Tom said:

You will feel more grounded soon. It won’t last. And no, I NEVER think you are dirty. You are lovely, talented Amber who is getting better and better. Not always in a linear way – but on an upward trajectory.

I said,

I will feel more grounded and real when I go to work so doesn’t matter if it’s just one bad evening

And he said,

Absolutely 🙂 You had a good day today, right? Tomorrow can be the same.

And I said,

I think we have opened a chest of ghosts in my tummy who all come to march out now. the baby who screams and no one comes. The 9 year old who everybody hates. The 14 year old serial cutter. The numb 17 year old who got raped. But the ghosts have to come out to go away don’t they. It’s a horrifying procession but you are the one who told me that a monster is not scary if you can put your hand through it.

Tom said,

An exorcism is a scary process. But it gets the evil out. Having it in is far worse.

I said,

yes having it in has been the dead feeling hasn’t it. I feel like I am dreaming these texts from you but they are helping me. I don’t want anymore evil inside of me. I am not evil.

Tom said,

Listen, you are not evil. This is good you are getting these feelings and thoughts out. But rest now. Get some sleep and tomorrow is another day.

So I put my pyjamas on and got my teddy and got into bed and wrote this post.

And I do still feel detached and floaty. But I also felt happy and understood because it was the first time I ever felt that way and it was also the first time me and Tom ever texted that way. So it made me feel like he understood. And he was there.

And Now I have to go to sleep.

I am always doing well at the moment but there are still lots of ghosts floating up and around, demanding to be laid to rest. I think the difference is I am not so terrified of them now. And I am not so terrified of letting Tom in either, or trusting him. And piece by piece and ghost by ghost it’s getting better.