Category: Lullaby Series – A Safe Place

Lullaby (5) – Makes my heart smile, to know that you give love so freely

I met my friend and her new baby B. today. She is perfect, beautiful, adorable, cuddly, with inquisitive eyes (when she woke up!), rosy little cheeks and already crowned with lots of soft black hair that loves to stick straight up and you can tell will soon make cute little bunches on top of her head.

There is something very special about the rush of love that fills me when I hold a little child. Much as I fear having my own children and fear I would not know what to do, would not know how to be gentle enough or how to keep my patience when they cry and cry or do not sleep the night for months, or how to know what they need, holding B. today the perfect trust she showed as she cooed and nestled in to me and went to sleep soundly, as though she had found a “safe place” of her own, pulled at my heart with protective love.  As she laid on my chest I knew it was a privilege to be loved by her unconditionally and to protect and adore her and wish to give her everything good.

And B. is not my child – how much more must those feelings be as a mother!

B’s mother, who has encountered with varying degrees of proximity many distressing family and childhood situations, including ill treatment and abuse, said that she has asked herself how inconceivable it is that anyone could ever do a child harm.

Part of me would long for my own family and I have been touched by love for and delight in my friends’ children, including my godchildren. Equally I am stunned that my friends did choose me as a godmother, being so sure myself that I do not have anything good to give and if only they knew how very bad inside and dangerous I really am. I even won’t go to spend time with my friend if her boys will be there, sometimes, because I am so afraid I might do something that hurt them – either unconsciously, in a dissociative state, or because I’m just bad really – or that I would only upset them. If I were a mother I’d be afraid I had no idea how to raise a child, what to give them, how to teach them, and that my patience would run out.

My fears intensified when I was babysitting years ago and the child I was caring for was in the midst of a tantrum and the voices in my head started telling me that I was going to hit her. I was terrified. So terrified that I shut the child in her room and myself into another room and left her alone crying because I thought that was safer than what I was going to do. I was very disturbed afterwards and starved myself in the following days as punishment. I have never babysat since. It was all the proof I needed how the evil was going to erupt from me.

Today B. slept in my arms. Today she just wanted cuddles and love. Today the love cast out some of the fear, whilst I held her. It really touched me that I had been open with my friend about some of the awful things going on in my head – my BPD, my hallucinations and obsessional thoughts – and still she wanted to come to see me and let me hold her child and trusted me.

“For perfect love casts out fear,” the Gospels say. In the moments that little baby melted the fear in my heart, I began to understand.

There’s a fight in my heart and my head right now because as soon as I left my friend and baby B., the anxiety grabbed at me and I’m terrified again; something cold and horrible is clutching at my chest. It’s as though all the knowledge that I’m bad and fears of the evil in me are redoubling their efforts to break me, so as to punish me for loving and trusting and being happy with B. Tonight’s going to be a very hard and scary night. I’m going to try to keep loving.

Ginny xx

This song by Vienna Teng, “Anna Rose”, speaks very much to me of the tender love between a parent and child and the delight children’s non-judgemental acceptance and trust gives us.

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Lullaby for a stormy night #4 – Nana’s

I’m continuing my “Lullaby” series on finding places of safety, after something of an intermission – sorry.

The place I felt safest as a child was at my (maternal) grandmother’s – Nana’s. She was the only relative other than my parents with whom I had contact in my childhood, with the exception of a great aunt and her son who I saw on a couple of occasions, and a handful of more distant relatives on my mother’s side who I met at my grandmother’s funeral.

There is a photograph of me aged about 3 or 4, standing on the steps of our house, ready to go to Nana’s for my first night away from home. I am not sure how many times a year I would go to stay at Nana’s, but it was every so often, and until my mother’s first hospital admissions, I believe it was pretty much my only experience of a night away from home without my parents, with the exception of a rare couple of sleepovers at a playmate’s. I did not go to school at the normal age so did not experience school trips and the like.

When I was born, Nana lived in the countryside, but soon moved into a nearby town, and I clearly remember her bungalow, with its grass in the front, the driveway leading down to the neatly kept garden at the back, with flowers and a tiny vegetable plot tucked away in the corner, where she grew mint. I’m sure she grew plenty else but for some reason it’s the mint I remember. Perhaps that’s because when she was boiling new potatoes she’d let me run out to pluck a sprig to flavour them. I remember where she would hide the spare key (there was a rotation of useful plant pots and garden ornaments). I remember ringing the bell at the dark reddish wooden door and looking up and being intrigued by the cowls spinning on top of the roof and the fact that she didn’t have a chimney pot like ours. It’s strange the details that stay with you.

As I got a little older, I would spend two or three nights with her. The routine and stability was comforting and so different from home. I knew we would wake up a little before eight o’clock. I’d jump out of the big bed where I slept and run to “wake” Nana, who would be waiting for me. We’d make plans for the day, then I would help her to set out the table for breakfast with the delicate blue and white crockery, the toast rack, the Rowntrees lime marmalade, the Bran Flakes, the milk jug. I would have Bran Flakes then toast and marmalade. Nana would have Allbran, a banana, then toast and marmalade. Then the great decision had to be made as to whether we’d have our main meal for lunch or supper time.

We’d always wash up before we went out. (To this day I often remember her advice – you should always wash up before you go out. Otherwise if your house got broken in to and the police had to come round, it would look terribly messy. I think that if your house got broken into, it would probably look terribly messy anyway. Nevertheless, good habit I think!)

We’d go out and walk into the town.  This was a completely different experience from going into town with my mother. With my mother, it was preceded by a lengthy preparation of exactly where we would go, who we would see, what we (I) must say, what I must be careful to do and not to do in case anyone was watching; it was followed by an analysis of what had happened, what had been said, in particular my behaviour and numerous comments on how strange things or people we had seen were. With Nana it was fun and free of requirements and consequences. We would often stop to chat to people she knew, from her lawn bowls club, Church, or the hairdresser. Looking back she was clearly warmly thought of and much liked, and known in the local shops like the butcher’s, the optician, the grocer, the market. Even in one of the two supermarkets we frequented, many of the assistants would smile and greet her cheerily.

Often we’d go to the swimming pool (the Lido in the summer, where I learnt to swim, or the fantastic indoor pool in the winter, which had two huge water slides that were too scary for me to ride but fun to watch, a wave machine, a shallow end with bubbles for babies in armbands to bounce through, and the most enjoyable way of entering the pool, by walking down a sloping floor with painted tiles to reach the deeper water, rather as if you were walking into the sea. This was certainly much more fun than just climbing down a ladder and sliding in, as we did when I went with Dad to the pool near home.

Or we’d go to the park. Sometimes it would be the big park where there were plenty of ducks to feed (this was long before the signs telling us how bad bread is for ducks!), paths to follow, pine cones to collect, weeping willows to play under and a play park with a big silver slide. Sometimes it would be the amusement park nearer the bowling green, where there were swings and a see-saw.

We’d talk and chat constantly. She was so very patient and loving with me. I must have exhausted her as I really did chatter a lot as I relaxed and found her also relaxed and happy to listen. She must have been shattered when I went back home! How totally unaware of it I was at the time.

Sometimes I’d tell her about what I had been learning, but without the gripping fear of getting something wrong, at least unless she discussed things with my mother afterwards. Then I knew that there would be another of my mother’s analyses of everything I had said, questions and probing and why hadn’t I done this or said that, why had I given the impression I couldn’t do x, why was I pretending to be stupid…

We’d see the Warden who kept an eye on all the residents in the complex of retirement bungalows. Most mornings she would pop in for a chat and a cup of tea with Nana. The Warden had a sweet little dog called Pepper and we would take her for a walk sometimes. She was about the only dog I was not afraid of at that age. Pepper loved bouncing along on her lead but she thought she was a baby too and would let you hold her on her back in your arms and tickle her tummy.

Nana would tell me about everything from funny things that had happened when she was out shopping or at her bowls club, to what she had done when she was a medical volunteer in the War. We’d water the garden, do the housework and do the cooking (my mother always said that Nana was a bad cook but actually I think she was rather good). In the evenings we’d often watch some TV or one of Nana’s video tapes. The Sound of Music was my first introduction to musicals, and my favourite, closely followed by My Fair Lady. Poor Nana must have been quite fed up of playing those every time I came round, but in the tape went and we’d watch whilst we had a piece of fruitcake or a couple of digestive biscuits and a cup of tea.

Often I’d draw her pictures, or show her my ballet, dancing round the room to one of the cassette tapes she’d play. We’d look at her beautiful glass paperweights and treasures in her display cabinet. A pottery model of an elegant lady in a blue dress and yellow shawl fascinated me. When I was too young to pick it up myself, I’d ask Nana to show it to me, and she always would. There was a brass statue of a dancer which had once turned round and round when you wound up the base, although it had stopped working. I wanted to dance my ballet like that dancer. But Nana would look sad when I asked her about it and I dimly remember her saying that yes, it had got broken a long time ago, but it was very very special. I wonder who gave it to her.

Nana had lost many very dear people in her life, including a brother, a husband and two very close friends. She had suffered serious illness during the War years and nearly died. Just sometimes, when we were together I would glimpse something I did not understand and puzzled at, which I would now say were glimpses of hurt and loss. I do not recall her ever speaking in anger or frustration and very rarely did any sadness show. She was so warm and so calm all the time and in such contrast to my mother. I can only begin to think what I did not know about and what she very rarely ever let on. I don’t think she had surviving siblings (though we had so little contact with the rest of the family that this could be wrong) and I rarely recall her having conversation in depth with my mother, her only child, at least not without that desperate tension building up so quickly. She was there for me. I wonder who was there for her. She did clearly have many friends who were delighted to see her and I hope that she found good support.

Nana and I developed our own play world of make-believe. I’d make up stories to tell her and she loved to listen. I had a very strong imagination (I think it was more than an imagination, but that is for another post). I made up a family for myself, consisting of about five children for me to look after, giving them all names and personalities. Most of them I can’t clearly remember, though I do recall the eldest was called Amanda. She was well behaved and helped me look after her younger sisters.  I’d tell Nana stories about my made up “family” and often write them and draw pictures. Nana would listen so patiently again and really seemed interested and happy to hear about my stories. They’d make her laugh sometimes. I knew very well that it was all make-believe but I revelled in the fantasy play. From visit to visit we’d continue the story where we left off the last time and the “children” I invented would grow steadily older and change. It was a precious thing that I shared with her alone and never told my parents about. It served as a way to explore the ideas of family and children and caring roles and to play out some of the relationships I did not encounter in my real home life. I wonder where I got several of the ideas about caring for my “children”, because I wove into the stories many aspects that did not exist in my own home life, especially structure, security, routine and companionship. Perhaps I learnt a lot of it from Nana.

It was our world only. When Nana died, my mother found a lot of the pictures that I had drawn for her and stories I had written. I remember coming into Nana’s bedroom and finding my mother sitting on the side of her bed, going through the sheets of paper, reading every single one. I was hurt and angry beyond what I can explain. It was not for her. It was for Nana. It was our make believe. Desperately I did not want my mother to see it. I think I feared what would happen because she had. (And yes, it turned out I was right to – though she didn’t say anything to me at the time she did use it as more ammunition against me, a few weeks or months later, to claim that I was pretending and lying and punishing her.)

Looking back I am so touched that Nana cared enough to keep every one of the silly little stories and drawings. I’m astounded she cared that much to keep every one I gave her.

I am so very thankful for what we shared together and that I had this escape to the safety of her house for the few days at a time I would spend with her. I could be a child there. I was not bad there. I was not dangerous. I could please her and not do harm. I could trust her. I could speak. We could hold on to what we shared together and keep it special and I knew that I would find it again the next time that I went to be with her.

I sensed early on that my mother often did not get on well with her mother. Though there were barely ever big arguments between them, at least not in my presence, looking back I can tell that there was a massive amount of tension and I think I sensed this as a child also.

For reasons I still do not fully understand, my mother disliked more and more me going to stay at Nana’s. She was more and more tense, watching harder on the times when she was around at our house (which were becoming rarer still) or when I spoke to her on the telephone. She would quiz me deeper about what she had said, what I had said and why. She talked more and more about how she thought it was not good for me to go to stay with Nana and how she knew that really I did not like it and that it was okay to feel that and that I ought to go to stay with her much less and we’d cut right down the number of times I saw her.

I was terribly confused. I did like it! I loved it! I loved her! I wanted to go and stay with her and I wanted to stay longer and longer and it hurt more and more as I got older when it was time to come away. Because, the terrible thing inside me was that I did not want to come away. I did not want to go back to my mother. When I was older, I felt sick inside when I knew the end of my stay at Nana’s was coming, frightened and dreading returning to my mother. I learned to hide it although a couple of times I couldn’t and I cried and cried. I wanted to be at Nana’s. Not at home. Nana’s was safe. I was full of guilt. Now here was Mother saying that she knew I did not really want to go there and how much better it would be once I stopped having so much contact with her. Then it would all stop, wouldn’t it, and things would be okay again between us, she’d say. What was I to say?

I could not identify at the time the abuse that I was experiencing almost daily, much less tell anyone, or ask for help. All I knew was that it was me. My fault. I was the bad one really. Everyone else would think it was my mother, if anyone ever found out, if anyone ever saw, or heard. Nobody would think a child could be doing what I was. But really, she would know and I would know that it was me. She and my dad would be taken away and it would be all because of me really. What I was doing to her, how I was “demonstrating that I was damaged”, how I was “getting her back” and “punishing” her, she said… Oh yes, I was bad, I knew that clearly. When was it going to happen next? How could I stop it? And look, just in case I doubted how bad I was, I did not even want to be with my mother.

She said everything would stop if I agreed not to go to stay at Nana’s. So, I agreed. Because it seemed to be what I had to do to keep my mother safe, to stop the evil. I regret it so so so much that I ever agreed. With all the love that I had for Nana, everything she did for me, the protection that she gave me, how could I agree that? How could I have agreed that I would see her less? Pretend to agree that I did not want to go to stay? My mother’s control over me and my need to do what she wanted and please her and agree that her version of the world was true, was absolute. In no way does this take away my guilt. I still said it. I still agreed.

Looking back, I think Nana was often perplexed by things my mother did or said, or by what I reported to her she had done or said, or by things my mother said about me to her. In the same way as my father found a way to contain things and hold things down, I think she found her own way of relating to my mother to hold some kind of peace and prevent conflicts and try to repair and fill in the expanding cracks as my mother’s illness fragmented her world more and more away from reality.

I think Mother knew that the cracks were widening in the isolating insulation that she built around us in her illness. I think she knew Nana was realising and that instead of filling them in and papering them over, Nana would no longer accept at all the world my mother built, and it would collide hard with reality and it might crumble.

I wonder what would have happened if I had told Nana. I wonder what would have happened if I’d told Nana that Mother had said that but really, I wanted to be with her and didn’t want to leave. If I had kept telling her the things my mother said to me and did, the things that I think I realised even then, Nana was starting to realise were bizarre and wrong.  On the few occasions I was met with Nana’s confused questions about why Mother had done or said this or that I’d say that oh I must have got it wrong and yes it can’t have been like that. If I had spoken honestly instead of giving in, I wonder what would have happened and whether Mother would have got help sooner and whether my father would have been saved many, many years of pain and whether my relationship with Nana would have grown and I’d have been able to continue to love her and be with her and thank her, eventually, for every safety and security and love she gave to me.

 

I did not speak. I accepted my mother’s world only, and only her view of who and what I was. I agreed with what she wanted.

My idea of time is foggy then. Her illness intensified, stranger and more frightening things happened, she went into hospital… she would be absorbed for hours with paperwork and rather than the constant watching, she did not interact with me at all for large parts of the day… time stretched and slipped and my fantasy world grew stronger.

So I am not sure exactly, whether it was weeks or months or a year, but it was not very long after then that Nana died. I was taken to see her at the funeral home. I remember kissing a white rose to be laid with her so that it would take her my love. I remember looking at her and seeing that young as I was, it was not frightening at all, though I was shocked by the cold in the room.

It hurt so much.

Yet thinking back I think it seemed she was content, ready, and at peace. Though I could not have articulated it at the time, I think I knew that.

It hurt over and over through the very long period it took for her things to be sorted through and her bungalow to be got ready to be sold.  I remember crying alone and trying not to be found upset (though this clearly didn’t work) unable to share what I was feeling with my dad or even less my mother and the hurt and loss being mixed heavily with guilt. I was distraught at the loss all over again whilst very slowly the bungalow was emptied and when I left it for the last time. A part of the safe place and a part of what Nana gave me and what we had shared between the two of us, had remained there to the very end.

In my church, today is All Saints Day, when we remember and give thanks for our loved ones who have passed on ahead of us in the mercy and peace of God and are Saints in Heaven. We pray and give thanks for them and ask for their prayers for us, just as we may ask friends with us on earth to pray for us, since enjoying as they do the fullness of the peace and glory and unity with God in Heaven, all the stronger their prayers will be to assist us. So it is particularly fitting that I remember and thank Nana today. In fact, she was the first person who took me to a church and I vividly recall sitting beside her, singing the hymns, going up to the altar when she received Communion and the Priest blessing me. What I experienced receiving that blessing stays with me, a loving Presence, thought I cannot describe it properly. I believe that the first seeds of love were planted there which would later draw me safe to the Church and our loving Jesus.

I’m praying for everyone who has lost a loved one, who is hurting and in need of comfort and company, and for everyone who struggles with regrets. I’m praying you be encouraged and that hope can be held somewhere that it will be well.

Ginny xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lullaby 3 – what I can never share

Warning – this post contains some of the thoughts that I have when I am pushed to self-harming or suicidal plans. It contains mention of some of the ways in which I self-harm.  If this may be distressing for you, you may not wish to read further.

There is nowhere I fit.

The rare times I felt any safety as a child were:

  • Talking to Dad about what had happened just before Mother went into hospital, when her behaviour had become so wildly bizarre it could no longer be ignored.  At last I was heard.  My fears were heard.  This was short-lived.  As soon as she was back home, the admission of the strangeness was lost, explained away, forgotten… her world returned again, her world consumed ours.
  • When I had some academic success. Did well in a test, or an essay, or an exam. Got good marks.

Now, perhaps, it’s also “safe” if I’m “recovering” at the pace and in the way my family want.  For a while, it’s as if a bridge of some kind of expression or understanding can be built.  Sometimes they startle me with understanding and acceptance and support and encouragement and say they are there any time I want to talk.  But it’s laced with fear because as soon as I can’t keep up the progression, keep “moving forwards” – so just when I’ve started trusting, and just when I most need help (maybe I’m distressed, anxious, the voices are worse again, something has gone really wrong in my life) – they pull away, they are angry, they limit contact, I’m the problem, I just have to make more effort and try harder, I have to realise how impossible I am to be around, I’m a spoilt brat, everyone says how rude I am, on and on and on. Shift into a different gear, we don’t know anyone else who’s done as little as you, reaffirming the embarrassment and failure I am.

So the only way to cope, to avoid yet more pain of starting to trust and then yet again failing, hurting – others, and myself – is to only have contact when I can act how they want me to, present what’s acceptable and what they want to see.  That won’t be rejected.  The rest I’ll hide, and when I cannot hide, I’ll make sure I’m alone.

I do not fit in their world and I do not think I will ever be a part of it.  Constantly I am too much to cope with.  “Why isn’t it enough for you? Look what everyone has done for you! It isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to make you feel better. Look what I’ve done. It would be nice if you responded.  It would be enough for most people.  Why isn’t it enough for you?”

I hear the voices joining in the chorus and the guilt settling like a weight crushing my shoulders, fighting with the anger rising within me, mixing to a block of lead in my chest.

Why isn’t it enough for you? You didn’t say sorry! You didn’t say sorry enough!

I don’t know. I don’t know why it isn’t enough. I don’t know how to say sorry enough for the failure and rubbish and disgusting thing I am.  Some part of me wanted to show you the razor marks then, the cuts down my arm, they still weren’t enough, but that was how sorry I was – though I still couldn’t do it well enough, I was too weak.

I don’t know why it isn’t enough. But there’s this weight on my heart and on my brain, there’s a noise in my head, the voices, screaming, white noise, sucking me back into flashbacks and memories of pain and fear and disgust and hurt and desperately, desperately wanting someone to protect me and see.

I don’t know why it isn’t enough.  But I did try to tell you, and I did really want you to see my fear, back then.  But all you could see was her, and she was perfect, and I was the problem, the one that had to change, that was acting weirdly, not trying hard enough. I did try to tell you and you were there, but now you say I didn’t speak and you didn’t see.

I don’t know why it isn’t enough. But inside every part of me is breaking and crying and I’m fighting the urge to run away and not stop, hope I will freeze or collapse or die, lie down and sleep to get away, because I am so, so tired, of what the voices say to me, of being so weak I can’t do what they say, when they tell me to pour the boiling water from the kettle over my hands, to cut deeper, to take the handfuls of pills not just look at them, to actually step on the train tracks this time, it would be so so easy, you vile disgusting selfish pig, why don’t you do it? You’re ugly, you’re dirt, you can’t ever get rid of the evil thing in you, everyone will see in the end, everyone knows you’re evil. Go on, do it, cut, starve, throw up, you disgusting bitch, what right do you have to this…

I don’t know why it isn’t enough. No matter how much I wash or cut or starve, it can’t be sure to get out the evil in me, that errupts dangerously and contaminates and hurts everyone around, and I don’t ever know when it’s next going to happen, that someone gets hurt. Mother told me for long enough that I was punishing her, plotting against her, deceiving, greedy, fat, selfish, getting my own way, hurting her repeatedly, driving her to suicide, driving her away from the family, going to have them sent to prison, and nobody would ever know it was really my fault, they’d think it was hers, but really deep down I’d know it was me, and so would she. So whatever they say, I know it’s me that’s evil really.

I don’t know why it isn’t enough.

Lullaby for a Stormy Night – 2

I thought that the title of this series required some explanation – why Lullaby? “Lullaby for a Stormy Night” is a song by Vienna Teng, to which I have posted a link below.  I was very moved when I first heard it, the gentle piano music and the words promising the child acceptance, empathy, love and never to be left, seeming to answer a fundamental need for this safety that I think we all have – and showing a love that I hope I would be able to give to any child I should ever care for.

Here is a link to “Lullaby”, with thanks [please note this video is not mine, I am simply gratefully sharing]:

I very much like several of Vienna Teng’s songs and identify with the lyrics – if you like the above I think it’s worth listening to “Anna Rose” and “Harbor”, in particular.

Lullaby for a Stormy Night – 1

In therapy yesterday, we talked about having a “safe place”.  Someone asked me what mine was.  This thought has prompted me to write a series of reflections on this theme.  I think there will be 5 or 6 in total but this may change.  This introductory post to the series is poorly written, for which I apologise.  It’s hard to form these thoughts into words.

The short answer is I don’t think I have a “safe place”, certainly not an actual physical place as I’ve heard other people with personality disorder speak of, and I don’t think I really did, bar one period of my early life which I’ll talk about in one of the subsequent reflections.

Over the past couple of years, with varying degrees of strength, I have felt a longing for a home, a stable home, although I didn’t necessarily term it “safety” in my mind.  I’m not sure if I have ever actually felt safety.  That sounds ridiculous.  Yet if things were not physically dangerous there was a terrifying uncertainty and need to prevent disaster through the years of living with mother’s illness and behaviour, then – still now – the need to prevent everything I fear in myself getting out to other people.  I was in danger, and I was the danger.

I did want a home.  I felt that more and more raw longing.  I felt it when my childhood family home was sold in my parents’ divorce, even though I had not lived there for many years and it had by no means ever been safe, it was still a wrenching goodbye and a loss of something. I don’t know what. Perhaps it wasn’t a loss if it had never been there in the first place, but an absence. Absence of home.  Longing for it I tried to stay with my dad and stepmum, and what happened in that time hurt beyond belief and still feels as though it greatly damaged this family further.

***

Now I am trying to create a home and a safe place in my flat.  I am incredibly grateful to have a place that is my own, to have had support through the council to get to this stage, where I can make a flat my own rather than renting a room as a lodger in someone else’s house or in a shared property.  I never thought this would come.  It is actually remarkably hard to make this flat a real home.  Partly because I am getting used to the responsibilities of having a home – a greater number of bills, repairing things, upkeep and so on, which is all new to me although it is very late in my life for this to be new! Partly because I am so unused to knowing how to create something of my own.

***

As a child, whilst I did not have a feeling of safety, I created places in an internal world and escaped.  Now this world comes unbidden and stronger than I expect.  I have been told in therapy that it’s unusual that there are so many relationships in my internal world, rather than it just providing an escape to numbness.  I don’t know how yet, but it is connected to feelings of having different personalities and of detaching from what is happening around me.

A counsellor I saw at school towards the end of my time there understood my escapes, I think.  She realised how little, until I went to school, the outside world existed to our family and how little it crossed with mine (or rather, mother’s).  The counsellor saw clearly how she taught me at home to keep me there for her, in her world, because she couldn’t cope with going outside it, magnifying school to be a terrible threat because she couldn’t cope with me going.  And the counsellor said to me that to be able to live as I did, I must have found some way to escape and rebel.  I was surprised at the question and could not answer it, though I could begin to see what she was touching on.  I’ve returned to it at various times and now I think that perhaps my alternative worlds were how I escaped.  (Also, so perhaps was schoolwork and so was my eating disorder.)

It feels sad to realise the absence of such a place now, and it is sad to realise the efficacy and strength of the alternative worlds then, and of my dissociations now.

***

Would I even know how to live if it were safe? How do I even begin to cope with the risks involved in becoming closer to those I most care about? When so much in me is, in so far as I can really believe, dangerous, repulsive, unacceptable, a disappointment, something people close to me really cannot cope with in the end and have to limit contact with?