Safety

Today I told L that I need 3 more sessions, and then I will finish therapy. Suddenly I feel as if I have agreed to go skydiving, and the plane is flying higher and higher. I remember that feeling in my stomach: “What am I doing? What have I agreed to?” and the gasp of my breath as I jumped out of the plane, tandem skydive instructor attached to my back. But skydiving was one of the best things I have ever done, so: time to leap out into the wide open air, and fall.

When I hugged L goodbye today, I didn’t want to let go. I just wanted to lay my head on her shoulder forever, and to just breathe. When I am close to her I feel so safe. My feeling of security with her is something that I have never really felt in my life, except with M. I realised as I stood close to her, that even the smell of her skin is safety to me. My mother was a heavy smoker for my entire childhood, and when she hugged me I always felt a sense of unease, a desire to escape, a push-pull feeling of needing comfort from her, and not feeling comforted by being close to her. She often smelled like cigarettes, a harsh and somehow painful smell, and it permeated everything: her clothes, her hair, her breath. I didn’t like it, it made me feel sick.

With L, I feel safe in her gaze, in her presence, in her arms. I feel so strange when I realise that I feel safer with her than I ever did with any parent. I know that it is one of the many gifts of therapy and her work, but it is also more than that. How can it be so physical, how can I feel so safe with her body, when I never felt that with my own mother, whose body I grew within? It astounds me, the difference.

What does it mean, to begin to walk away from that safety?

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