Wolf Pack Part II

On my way out of this session, I kept repeating, “why would God let that happen?” Despite the way it might look if I am being judged solely on my words from this blog, I am actually a very optimistic person and am usually the first in a group to recognize something good from shit. So I tried to help myself by finding the good, but in that moment I could not come up with anything and became angry with God. I needed my anger to go somewhere.

God didn’t “let” that incident happen. Humans make mistakes, make their own choices, and are not perfect. But He did give all of us an opportunity.

My wolf pack came out Tuesday and Wednesday. Unexpected validation came to my text and direct messages. I am loved and am so lucky to have protection that literally lunged for me as soon as humanly possible. It felt like God was gently but adamantly nudging my pack, “show her! Show her your force!” And they did show me and I only want to keep trusting all of them. And myself.

Several silver linings became clear to me yesterday; lessons abound from Tuesday for everyone involved. I think knowing that makes it easier to move on quickly from it. I am not willing to give up all of my hard work in therapy. I can and will work hard to regain safety so I can keep showing up for myself.

Maybe God knows my skills and support are strong enough to withstand trials and the lesson in this for me is to trust. Trust God. Trust myself. Trust my wolf pack. 🐾❤️

Wolf Pack

“For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” -Rudyard Kipling

When I walked down into the woods in 2007, I didn’t have a pack. When I walked away from the woods I needed a pack more than I knew.

Can I have just a little bit of grace for myself right now? Depression has been all-consuming. I haven’t given up, though I’ve wanted to, it has just been very hard to continue to even get up in the morning. But I have. Gotten up, that is.

Depression makes it almost impossible to break down my walls. I throw them up for protection, and in some ways feel like I have to stay in the depths of it partly out of punishment and partly out of self-preservation. If I come out of it, what will I see? What hard things will I have to talk about to move on? What will I realize I’ve been missing, and feel guilty over? I don’t trust myself in this place anymore. I am too impulsive and exhausted.

But I do trust the wolf pack I have now. I want to push the entire pack away when I’m feeling despairingly low. I need them, though, the most in these times. I need to let them surround me. Maybe even though I feel like I can’t lean in, I can just be and let them help. I don’t have to always arrive in recovery-mode (I am not always in recovery-mode). And I don’t have to judge myself for it. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing, just part of my process.

I want to intentionally take a step back from the ledge I’ve been standing on. I want to let my wolf pack create a barrier at the edge of the cliff. I don’t actually want to jump. At least right now. But I think I have to work super hard when I don’t want to jump, in order to be able to reach out with ease when that urge comes around again. Honestly, though I don’t feel as heavy as I did the last 2 weeks, I still feel it kind of hovering. I’ve been getting wrapped up in trying to contain my depression to the 7-10 days everyone has come to expect leading up to menstruation. I tell myself it’s ok to feel sad then, but not at other times when I should be experiencing relief and happiness. But that’s not healing. That’s pretending.

We are meeting in the woods, because that is a piece of what fuels rock bottom. I want to meet there, because I have a pack and it is strong and grounded in God and we can move through it together.

I want to let my wolf pack love me. In the end that is what I need most of the time. To know I’m loved because it’s difficult for me to offer that to myself.

Just let them in. I can show up exactly as I am. Always.

Therapeutic Alliance

Walks, talks, feels like a fracture. It’s a rupture that wasn’t her (or my) fault.

“…alliance ruptures are defined as increased tension or conflict between the respective wants or needs of the therapist and the patient, and can include disagreement on the tasks of therapy and a strain in the patient–therapist emotional bond.” [source: https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/rupture-repair-psychotherapy%5D

It’s depressing. It’s laced with anger. It’s simmering, hurt-filled sadness.

A part of me is tragically unsure if trusting is actually the safest option. Anxiety is radiating through every cell in my body and eating is terrifically hard because I keep getting a very physical reaction to everything I put in my body that is quite unpleasant. Temptation to let the eating disorder take hold of this situation exists in the greatest sense but I haven’t tagged that part of me in, yet.

No “disagreement on the tasks of therapy” exist. It’s a safety and trust issue, which feels so odd to be fractured because I still completely trust my therapist. What I (the little parts) don’t trust is everything else. Everything else none of us can control. I never had a sense that I needed to care about anything else. It was beginning to feel like as long as I trusted her, I was safe, especially in her office, end of story. A rupture of the air we’re breathing; perhaps a more accurate explanation of how I’m feeling about the state of my therapy process.

The anxiety is my little parts wanting to return to safety but feeling so scared.

The thought of quitting or switching therapists or even taking a long break brings up a huge wave of sadness. If I think about it for too long tears will come. I’ve worked too hard to get to this point and I don’t actually want that but I am fighting depressing thoughts like if you could stop being dramatic, this wouldn’t be an issue. Maybe this is a sign that you need to be done. Maybe you don’t deserve safety. Somehow, this is your fault and you need to fix this, or walk away from it and stop letting it own you.

My body is in full blown fight or flight. I’ve done everything except take medication to try to self-care myself back to balance. Nothing is working and it’s because I have to release it with her but I can’t release it with her until I feel safe enough. But I don’t know when that is going to happen and I’m afraid I can’t stay in this fight or flight much longer. It’s so hard on my body and thoughts. This automatic survival isn’t conducive to starting school tomorrow. It’s hard to parent like this, and it’s hard to be present –in fact, I am not. I am in space. All the spaces except the space of my own body. I hate this. THE THING THAT WORKS TO SURVIVE OUT OF THIS IS MY EATING DISORDER.

I believe my therapeutic alliance is incredibly strong. As in, stronger than most because BOTH of us have worked insanely hard to build it this strong. The wolf pack is strong, the pups are ferociously looked after. The pack feeds the good wolf. We will get through this. But while we we’re trying to work through it, I don’t have very much faith in my own capability to take on this emotional turmoil and flight or fight response without spiraling.

Last night, for the first time in a couple months, my thoughts were filled with my own demise. It’s like depression filled my house and I couldn’t move around it without it choking me. I couldn’t hide under my weighted blanket from it, and I couldn’t wish it away or pray it away, it loomed over me giving me just enough oxygen to lay down in a sea of demoralizing suicide ideation.

I feel swallowed up by fear.

Childhood Closet

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A tiny space with old carpet, filled with clothes and shoes and stuff I can’t remember. I put a hole through a shoe box and locked it with a padlock. All my thoughts went in there. Various things to write with and a skinny white memo pad, with another hole punched through and a lock to secure the pages from prying eyes filled the shoe box. I had a blanket, my favorite stuffed animal: a pink and white bunny, a reading lamp, some books. Sometimes special toys made their way into the secret space or a pillow, or bed sheet to create a tent. I went there whenever I felt strong emotions. I went there to hide. I went to play. I went there to cry. I went to pray. It was my safe space.

When I was questioned, it was my “secret hideout to play spy.” Which made perfect sense since I loved reading Harriet the Spy, Boxcar Children, Amelia’s Notebook, and Matilda; stories of escaping and trying to find ways to feel understood. I couldn’t stop reading when I was little. I read the most books (and did the most book reports) in 1st grade. I was able to get so lost inside a book I think it served as a way to cope until I suddenly had too much anxiety for it to work anymore.

I remember when that started happening around 6th grade. I felt frustrated when I’d go to read a book I’d enthusiastically picked out from the library or purchased from those Scholastic Fair flyers and couldn’t focus. I remember feeling something was wrong deep within my soul as I returned half-read chapter books, mourning the lose of connection to those pages I thought I’d have. I remember fearing something was wrong with my brain. When the book-escape stopped working, the eating disorder started.

That closet was filled with every single one of my coping mechanisms. Read, write, hug/touch/squeeze blankets and stuffed animals as if they would come alive to provide concrete protection from everything that felt unsafe.

But when my body and my brain realized much of my coping utilized my imagination, and I became an age that it was harder to allow my imagination to run wild, chaos ensued.

The closet was where I went when roaring voices echoed off the southwestern tile filling the hallway. When the decibel level boomed off the walls. When I was old enough to work a tape player, I added that to my space to drown out the yelling. Headphones followed. Never loud enough for anyone else to hear and quiet enough that if I were called I could slam my notebook shut, lock my shoe box up and obey the orders of the caller, pretending like I was never scared.

Today we did therapy in the closet. It had enough of the items and space to feel like I was in my childhood closet. At first I felt a little embarrassed. But little-me was eager to squeeze in under my blanket, inches away from my therapist. I immediately felt comfortable and less anxious. I felt cautiously curious.

I felt ready to push away my protective parts–but it was much harder than I was prepared for. Every time I thought I was good to continue, my anxiety crept back in sometimes so stealthily I wasn’t truly aware until it was brought to my attention. Eventually, little-me took over. Somehow enough anxiety came down for me to feel exactly like I did sometimes in my childhood closet. Fearful, frightened, worried–and needing my mom to provide safety, comfort, love, care, words of affirmation, prayer, anything…something…

My therapist came. She pulled me in, and did all of those things and I can’t help but get teary recalling right now because it felt like little pieces of my soul were coming back together. Broken pieces I never thought could find their way back. It felt overwhelmingly loving. It felt brave. That little girl got to feel what she needed 25 years ago.

I know it’s not a one-and-done experience. I have to keep being brave. I have to keep seeking compassion for the protective parts of me that want badly to shut all of this down and at the same time I have to keep sending them on their way. They are not needed anymore. I have an incredibly loving yet ferocious wolf pack to protect me.

Time in-between Therapy

This kind of sad (the kind that feels like I’m trapped under a boulder) makes it so hard to get through the time between when I can be safe again.

I’m letting go of all the judgements coming in: you are so weak. You just saw her Tuesday morning. Get your shit together. Why can’t you use other skills? You’re embarrassing and needy. Toughen up. You are annoying. You aren’t even worth her time.

Letting them go. Goodbye judgements.

I am so sad, and I just want my safe space to be in. To be accepted as I am, to be loved, to let the 4-year-old in me be met with compassion and embrace. And that’s ok.

I am so sad and there isn’t anything wrong with wishing for safety.

Depression has taken over every cell in my body (thanks to that time of month) and it’s ok that I want or need (or both) help. It’s totally fucking ok! Even though depression tells me I’m not worth a second of anyone’s time, I still exist somewhere and I can reach out. I am strong enough to talk back even for a split second to reach out so my therapist can talk back for me.

It feels intolerable to be this sad. But I have a wolf pack that wants to help and it’s ok to be with them.

Support Team Love

I tried to help myself in these ways (SCOPE) in the last couple weeks. It’s helpful for me to continually be reminded how much my nervous system runs the show. It makes it easier to come to terms with really feeling like I need a hug, stat, and not judging it too much. It is simply a tool that truly helps my nervous system regulate, feel safe in my own body, and feel connected, when I can’t quite get there myself.

Over 6 hours in therapy this week, and almost 2 with my dietitian makes roughly 8 hours of showing up. And you know what, I am proud of that. In the beginning of the week I felt a bit untrusting. A bit hurt. A bit angry. And a lot certain I felt these things because I wasn’t worthy of love. I definitely was not proud of myself. I felt like an extremely angsty teenager–in fact, I felt like myself exactly as I felt when I was a teenager.

We worked through that Monday, and again Tuesday, and I left therapy Tuesday feeling like I could trust her even more than I could before the subtle rupture that took place days prior.

I never thought it wouldn’t be repaired, as soon as possible (and it was), but I thought it was completely my emotional-teenager fault and I did not think the outcome would be for me to feel like the relationship is stronger than before. I’m now grateful all of that happened. I can confidently say as a teenager I never experienced a positive outcome from letting anger or hurt be known. It was sort of like a re-do: coming out the other side of anger, with a stronger relationship. I like that my therapist said, “I am learning as much as you are.” It gave me the opportunity to appreciate how much she invests in working with me and meeting me wherever I am at–even if it means more work for her.

It’s been extra hard to consume adequate meals this week. My initial way of dealing with all the hurt I was feeling was to restrict my food intake. The teenager in me felt so angry and I couldn’t deal with it and maintain my everyday responsibilities so I let my eating disorder take control.

It’s still very much in control. It’s taking up the majority of my thoughts. And at first, I wanted it to. I was surviving.

But now that I feel so supported and loved, I want it to go away…only…I can’t just let it go so easily. It’s beyond frustrating to be in this position. Why can’t it be as easy as “hey, eating disorder, I need you just for a minute, but once I feel ok again, you can leave.”

It’s been so hard to eat anything at some meals —which I previously conquered and had even become comfortable with—that I needed to go back to “surviving” with my one no-fail safe food: Orgain protein shakes. The problem was that it wasn’t easy to obtain them and I (or, the eating disorder) soon stopped caring all together whether or not I had them and thus had a solid way to survive.

Orgain magically appeared last night via a member of my support team. I have said thank you a handful of times since but it still doesn’t express how grateful I am. There was so much support packed into that act of kindness that I had a hard time accepting someone (outside of my family) would care that much. What a blow to my eating disorder: I couldn’t tell myself I had no way to easily care for myself. And I couldn’t tell myself no one cared anyway. Being on the recipient end of that made me feel so loved. Between that and the little bundle of dried creosote I received, I feel more loved from so many different directions and more understood than I have in a long time. Funny how a gift or act can stir up so much love, and gift-giving isn’t even my primary love language.

This week, showing up for myself allowed for so much genuine healing. Even greater healing: the ways my therapist and dietitian have showed up for me. My heart feels tenderly and authentically held. Little-me feels genuinely secure. And for the first time I can ever recall, all of me feels heard, and that it’s ok for all parts of me to exist and have space.

That is remarkable.

I am staggeringly grateful.