My DBT one-to-one with Monica was intense this week. Lots of stuff but I think, dare I say hope (?), that she is edging closer to glimpsing what I live with: the monster and the ghost.
Monica saw the monster.
She was pressing me about goals and the future. I felt the conversation was a game of cat and mouse. Do I give the ‘right’ answers for an easy life or be an honest, if devilish, little mouse? I went with honesty. The dialogue burned out and she sat back in her chair, looked thoughtful and fixed her eyes on me. “How angry are you right now, from 0 to 5?” I raised my eyes from the floor and paused to consider it. I tuned in to my body and I could feel the anger inside me. I really wanted to smash the room up. Hmmmm. Outwardly I was calm. I wasn’t flexing my fists, or clenching my jaws or any of that. It was like my outside and inside were completely detached. I finally answered “4? Actually no, maybe a 5. Yes, a 5. I’m actually really angry”. My tone was calm and conversational. She smiled a little victory smile (which I was cool with. )
She told me that she sensed it. I felt a whoosh of fear (the monster!). She told me that whenever she sensed this from me that she wanted to pull back from me and this was a therapy interfering behaviour. I felt tears of shame and horror. I asked her why she wanted to pull back from me and I reassured her that I would never harm her or anyone. She agreed. She knew that, but still…she tried to explain but couldn’t quite. Indeed there hadn’t been any outward signs but there was something…she couldn’t name or describe it. Ha! Yeah, welcome to my world love. I was sobbing now. The voice in my head my repeating oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no. The monster. It’s escaping. Oh no, the monster.
Somehow I told her about my mum – that she did the same thing. That this was my fear. That I tried to contain this monster but I’m so scared of it escaping. Unlike Monica I could explain how it made me felt: I didn’t know what I had done that was wrong but you’d better believe it was bad. Don’t poke the tiger.”Yes!” she said “That’s it!”. Well, of course I could explain it, I’d had a whole lifetime of it. Her excitement was equalled by my despair. I thought I could contain it. Fool. To find out that it did escape, despite my best efforts, was the worst news. My children – what about them? They must see the monster too. Internally I was panicking. What should I do? Killing myself (and therefore the monster) seemed the obvious answer but I knew that would cause the children emotional harm. So I asked Monica, in between sobs, what should I do? She told me that I was very different to my mum. The relationship I have with my children is good and secure. My son can ask about depression and talk to me about it without fear or judgement. My children do not live in fear. That helped.
It still leaves me with a monster. The monster within. Now she’s seen it too so she can perhaps begin to understand. I hope so. I don’t know if the monster is a product of nurture, nature, or both. I don’t know if I can ever get rid of the monster and that is terrifying. I’m trying not to think about it. The positive thing is though that Monica saw the monster. She knows it is real. She knows how hard it is to articulate. She knows that she has only seen the smallest little bit of the monster and perhaps now she can begin to understand my exhaustion and distress. She doesn’t like the monster either. Really? She wants to try living with it, with borderline personality disorder.
Anyway, with the monster revealed the ghost then decided to appear too. That’s for the next post.