My favorite part of getting on an airplane, when it is cloudy, is the moment when the plane emerges from the thick blanket of clouds that enshrouds you and you are greeted by the sun and clear skies. You can then look down upon the sea of clouds below, and enjoy the view.
Once when I was travelling to Southeast Asia, we were flying above the clouds for most of the trip, and the views of the tops of the clouds, with their varying mountains and valleys, was nothing short of exquisite. Another amazing aspect to that trip westbound was that we were, quite literally, following the sun. The sun didn’t set for the nearly twenty-three hour trip, since we were travelling in the same direction the sun was. Well technically the sun doesn’t travel, but you know what I mean! I remember being awed and inspired by this, and the Beatles song, I’ll Follow The Sun, played in a loop in my mind for most of the plane ride. I’d like to share it with you if you aren’t familiar with it:
This feeling, of freshly emerging from the clouds, is parallel in many ways to what is occurring in my life right now. I am at the tail end of a year wrought with emotional upheaval and crises, and I finally feel like I’m finally rising above the clouds.
One year ago, I was in therapy with someone – let’s call her S. Little did I know at the time, but my therapeutic relationship with S was toxic to the nth degree. I’m hesitant to even call it a “therapeutic relationship,” since it was far from it.
S claimed that in order to heal from my “broken attachments” that occurred with my parents at a young age, that we must develop an open, trusting relationship and that through our relationship, these past attachment wounds would be healed. A nice thought, however it turned out to be disastrous.
There were little to no boundaries. We began talking on the phone, texting, and emailing on a daily basis. She would spend hours on the phone with me, every time I was having an inkling of a hard time, and would never charge me for it. She was fostering total and utter dependence on her for my own emotional well-being. And I think she enjoyed being my “everything” person. She would call me back when I specifically asked for her not to. She would respond to my emails when I very clearly stated that I didn’t need a response. There was no space in the relationship. It was co-dependent to its very core.
I began getting worse. I was in a heightened triggered state nearly all the time. I told her repeatedly that I was just getting worse, and her response was always, “It gets worse before it gets better. Hang in there.” I got to where I was barely able to function. She was forcing the DID diagnosis down my throat, even though I had my questions and doubts about it. I felt like I needed to be the client she was expecting me to be by going along with everything she was saying and everything she was doing (very much like I felt I needed to be the “perfect daughter” with my parents). But things only got worse.
She would get overly emotional during our sessions. She would cry when I told her of past hurts (while I was sitting there numb and unfeeling). She would get extremely angry and hostile when I talked about how my family treated me. She even said, at one point, she didn’t think she could ever be in the same room as my mother knowing what she knew about her.
I began developing a strong fear of her abandoning me. It took over my being. And despite all of her reassurances that she never would, I was stuck in this fear. And this made me reach out more. And this only fostered the co-dependence.
During a rare moment of clarity, I was able to recognize our relationship for what it was: unhealthy and re-traumatizing. I tried bringing these issues up, and emphasizing the need to set boundaries in our therapy together. She responded by severing ties completely. Not only that, but in her final email to me, she went as far as to claim that she didn’t think I had DID after all, but rather Borderline Personality Disorder. Rubbing salt into the fresh wound.
That was last September. It has taken me many, many months to come out of that triggered space that that relationship left me in. Immediately following the ending of the therapy relationship with S, I entered into another triggering relationship (an online friendship) where I clung to the person, just as I had clung to S. I was acting (and reacting) from that triggered and fear-based state. After much turbulence, the relationship ended. I needed to end it for myself in order to get myself back. I didn’t want to continue the cycle that I was finding myself in.
I feel like I am now, finally, returning to a place where I feel like myself again. I am not living every day in a hyper-triggered state. I have finally emerged from the clouds and can see the sun and clear skies. And for this I am very, very grateful.