The last couple of weeks have been challenging, to say the least, which is why I’ve not blogged in a while. I’ve maintained my journal through this time although at times that’s been too hard to do. Sometimes it’s just way too painful to admit even to yourself how much you’re hurting. That’s certainly been the case at times for me recently.
It was two weeks ago on Friday 7th October 2011 that I went along to what I thought would be an ordinary appointment with my CPN “K”. It turned out to be anything but ordinary. I didn’t see that steam roller coming at all. I walked into the room to sit down with her and before I’d even sat down I knew bad news was coming my way. I could sense it from how “K” was with me and because she wouldn’t tell me what was up till I sat down. That made me give her a searching glance with availed no information except hurry up and sit down, so I did, looking at her fearfully wondering what could have made her look so serious. “K” is usually very relaxed with a disarming friendly manner, there was something very different in how she was looking at me.
I tried to lighten the atmosphere and ease the tension I was feeling by cracking a joke as I sat down but both of us knew that was more about coping with the impending bad news that was coming rather than because I felt like being humorous.
“K” looked straight at me and gently said “I have to tell you that my job is changing. After a year of working on both teams I’m being moved to the Wellbeing and Access team, any time after the end of October, more likely to be the beginning of November.”
I looked at her in disbelief and was left in no doubt as to the truth of what she was saying by what I saw in her eyes. She said “I have no choice, my boss is moving me away from longer term Recovery work, I don’t want to but I have to, I’m sorry.”
“K” waited for a response from me but I couldn’t find any words so I looked at her and said “I haven’t any words.” She said “that’s ok, just sit and absorb the news.” Problem was I couldn’t absorb it. I sat there numb, I remember shaking my head a lot and thinking how ironic it is that only about 6 weeks ago I was moved off the Wellbeing and Access team on to the Recovery team. The Wellbeing and Access team is about short term work, turning clients around fast. The NHS priorities are in short term work where it’s easy to meet targets and there’s a high turnover of clients.
I couldn’t take the news in as I sat there. I remember there was a book case in the room opposite to my chair. I remember looking at that book case a lot. I realised close to the end of the appointment that I spent a lot of that hour staring the books and the names of the spines. I also realised I did that in much the same way that as a child I used to stare at the books on the bookshelves at home while I was being abused and count them up, read the titles and group them together in my mind. It helped take my mind off what was being done to me. I’d fallen back into that old coping mechanism without even realising it.
During that hour “K” and I talked about what I was thinking and feeling although much of what I was saying was bits and pieces here and there interspersed with a lot of head shaking.
“K” told me that she had no idea who her replacement would be but that it would only be a temporary person. I remember saying “how the f*** am I supposed to do life changing long term work with temporary people? It takes so long to build trust. You can’t just move from person to person just like that.” I remember “K” empathising with my frustration.
The only words that came to mind kept going round and round my head till eventually I said to “K” all I can say is “I knew it was too good to last.” Those words were very much echoes from a childhood where if anything good happened or was given to me it was taken away from me very swiftly or there was always a price to pay for something nice happening.
I left our session still shaking my head in disbelief struggling to absorb the news and headed down to my tree for some healing time before heading home. I remember how I sat under my tree for 2 hours, my head down. Usually I’m looking around with camera in hand but this day I just sat there frozen in shock and disbelief. I knew I had the weekend ahead of me and wondered how on earth I was going to cope with it.
The weekend passed in a daze. I coped by distracting myself all weekend with the TV on all the time, watching sport and DVD’s. That was ok till until Sunday evening came and my thoughts turned to the following day when I had an appointment booked to see my mental health recovery worker “D” at Rethink. I knew I was going to have to face the pain I was feeling and tell her. That was when the hurt really hit me and it hit me hard. So hard in fact that I came very close to slitting my wrists. Instead I slashed my arms really bad. That gave expression to the pain I was feeling inside but couldn’t find any other outlet for. It was not ideal but that kept me alive.
Monday morning came and I dragged myself to my appointment with “D” feeling terrible and not knowing how I was going to tell “D” and hold together. I still have a really big thing about not letting other people, even the safe helpers in my life, see how hurt I am.
Imagine my disbelief when right at the start of our appointment “D” looked at me and said “I’m sorry I have to tell you that I’m leaving Rethink and will be leaving in 2 weeks or so.” I stared at her unable to take in what I was hearing and heard myself say emphatically “I don’t believe this.” It was “D’s” turn to stare at me in shock at my response so I said “what you don’t know is that on Friday “K” told me that she’s leaving at the end of October, so I’m being hit by a double whammy.” “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know” was “D”’s response as I sat there in silence next to her feeling a mixture of hurt, disappointment, shock, disbelief and anger. Then the tears began. It was like a dam burst as the tears poured and poured. There was nothing I could do except sit and cry. I felt totally broken and abandoned. It was a horrible feeling.
A new worker called “J” has recently joined the team at Rethink, the only problem is he is male, I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s a nice enough chap although I froze when I had to work with him at the drop in the previous week. I’d been feeling bad ever since then about how I couldn’t work with him, I thought I’d come further than it turns out I have. Yes I have come a long way but I have a hell of a long way to go yet. Well “D” started talking about “J” and how she wanted to pass me over to him to work with. She said “the support’s not going away just the person is changing and you and “J” could do some good work together.” I told her what happened at the drop in and that I’m just not ready to work with a male worker yet. I was shocked that “D” and Rethink had not grasped how deep my issues concerning males are. “D” was being very persuasive saying how much she hoped I’d say “yes”. I knew that what she was asking was not do-able and refused to allow “J” into our session. I was bad enough that I was broken like that in front of “D”. There was no way I was letting a man I hardly know see me in such a broken state. Our session ended with me not making any commitment about what I was going to do about “J” except I knew I there was no way that I was going to be able to work with a male . I felt I was being given an ultimatum of “the support is going to be there, if you want it, but this is what it will look like, and it will be a man.” I couldn’t accept what it looked like but didn’t know what to do about it.
In the end I phoned “K” and talked it through with her. She was shocked at the news and said she would phone Rethink and talk to them about it.
On the Tuesday I had an appointment booked with my counsellor “T”. I remember thinking on Tuesday that I really couldn’t take any more bad news and feeling really scared that “T” would do a runner on me too. I went to that appointment feeling really sick and apprehensive. What was good was that I was able to tell “T” how I was feeling and share my fears with her. She in turn was able to reassure me that she hasn’t got any bad news and isn’t planning on going anywhere in the foreseeable future. It was amazing that I was able to be so open with her. It was also amazing that I was able to hear, receive and absorb her gentle reassurance. That reassurance comforted me at a place deep inside which had been feeling very vulnerable and exposed.
On the Wednesday I had a phone call from “A” Rethink. She began by explaining why they though it would be good for me to work with “J”. I said it wasn’t possible for me to take that step and said “I’m having enough changes forced on me please don’t force a male worker on to me.” “A” said “as you feel so strongly about it you have the option of a female worker, we won’t force you to work with a male worker.” I thought I should have had that option from the start, they know my history so why make such an issue about it? I heard “A” say “I’ll arrange for “H” to be at your last appointment with “D” in two weeks”.
That was a huge relief.
Earlier this week I had another appointment with “K” in which I was able to express some of the betrayal, hurt, sadness, anger, frustration and fear I’ve been feeling during the last 2 weeks. I told her that having to deal with both at once is too much. “K” said to me “I don’t want to stop working with you but I have no choice.” It was so good and so helpful to hear her words, hearing her say that made a huge difference to me.
“K” explained that she has managed to arrange for a very experienced sexual abuse worker to begin therapy with me early in November and that she plans to introduce her to me in a couple of weeks. She also said her boss is due back off leave next week and she hopes to get a clear timescale from her so she can help me transition to the new worker before she switches team. “K” is obviously trying to work in such a way to make it as easy as possible for me, which is something!
The next step for me is meeting with “D” at Rethink for the last time on Tuesday. It will also be my first meeting with her replacement “H”. Don’t think that meeting is going to be at all comfortable!