Heather’s #MadCovidDiaries 20.11.2020
TW: Sexual abuse
I’m sat in a wood with David Attenborough. We first got to know each other when I was 5 years old. David ended one of his dinosaur programmes by concluding sadly that we’d never know what colour the dinosaurs were. I didn’t want David to be sad and since I *knew* the dinosaurs were pink and purple and orange and green, I drew him a picture. I pestered my mum to send it to him so she posted it to the BBC HQ. A year later, in 1989, he wrote me a handwritten reply. He’d been in the jungles of South America, and apologised for the delay. Dave had not forgotten me.
I’m sat with Dave in this wood because he is my Ideal Nurturer and this wood is in my imagination. My therapist has asked me to imagine a non judgmental figure, someone warm and kind and safe. ‘I can see Dave’ I report from behind closed eyes. My therapist finds it hard to call Sir David ‘Dave’. It feels too familiar, but they go with it.
Technically, I am sat in my bedroom, my therapist is sat in their home study and we’re talking via a laptop. My therapists soft voice snags for a minute or two. That’s Accurx, I tell David. It’s the web software for video therapy. Sometimes the picture lags behind the sound, as if my therapists face is a simply pirated DVD film. David nods serenely. He knowsall about sound tech problems.
I’m four sessions into this therapy. I said yes to Accurx sessions because I’d been on the psychological therapy waiting list for 2 years and I couldn’t wait anymore. The only place I get good phone signal is sat in bed, which is the least optimal place on planet earth to talk about childhood sexual abuse. So my therapist and I went for video calling instead of phone calls. My therapist is conscientious about scheduling and turning up on time, but they have a nomadic existence – one week they’re in the office, the next they are at home. Dave filmed in jungles, under the sea, in the Arctic, so he is used to this kind of work. Me and my therapist are adjusting.
Everything about this therapy is hard, we’ve got to the point in my decades of treatment where there is nowhere to travel but into the centre of the trauma. I’ve slogged through DBT, poorly conducted psychoanalytic therapy from a therapist who abruptly quit on me, practicing generic coping skills. This time around, we need to talk about the bad stuff.
My therapist and I, we are finding some safety around the edges of the trauma and David will join me as I start to talk through the horror. He’ll be the adult my little girl self feels safe with, a kind voice to counter my own harsh self blame. I won’t have the in-person bond with my therapist I could have benefitted from. I’ll miss that face to face attunement of their body calming to calm mine. Instead it’s as if my therapist has a string that they unspool via Accurx, that I clasp in my hands and tug when I feel unsure to remind myself, my therapist is here. We travel inward together, me, therapist and Dave.
I show David the tapping and breathing thing that calms me. Left to right. Tap tap. Inhale and exhale. Pink and purple and orange and green. I’m so incredibly sad it hurts my whole body, Dave. Everything aches now. Dave can see it, he watches on with love. Dave has seen a lot of suffering and he can bear it with me. We sit together a little bit longer. The laptop syncs again and therapists voice resumes, now I’m back in my bedroom, holding the thread of todays session. Time to get to work.
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