At this point, I believe I have seen my therapist for 202 sessions. That’s a lot. In all of those sessions, I have never asked her for any sort of transitional object. Partly because I’m afraid to ask and partly because I wouldn’t know what to ask for.
She has a very plain office, void of almost anything personal. I often sneak a glance at her bookshelf to see the titles, but I believe it’s entirely professional texts and nonfiction selections.
She also has maybe five tchotchke type items and I never pick them up or ask about them. And she has a single stuffed animal, a gray mouse, that made a mysterious appearance in her office several months ago. The mouse is generally resting in various positions nestled on or between the three pillows she keeps on top of an ottoman. I have laid down on the floor a couple of times and when I do that, I usually grab a pillow to place my head on.But otherwise I’m too afraid to touch anything else. I don’t want to be intrusive or get called out for being “nosy”.
Until today. Today I was in “rare form” (as my parents would say) and I felt curious about everything. I think it may have partially been a way to distract from myself and what was going on with me, but I also just felt an uninhibited curiosity that I wanted to explore. So I picked one item up at a time, brought it back to my chair, held it and played with it, and asked her about it. There wasn’t much to say, but she was kind and forthcoming with the conversation. I think she was curious herself, about my strange behavior.
Finally, I allowed myself to reach for the gray mouse. Or, Gray Mouse, as Anna (our 7 year old part) formally calls him. I’ve never actually touched him myself. I usually avoid looking at the toy because it activates that child inside and it distracts me. I don’t like feeling connected to the young parts. Their vulnerability and insatiable needs are frightening to me. But I grabbed him and held him close to my heart for about half of the session.
It was an interesting session. I felt dissociated from almost everything, which allowed me to speak in the kind of open and honest manner that I normally only wish for. I shared some things I’ve been holding onto for a long time. I asked my therapist some simple (and somewhat “personal”) questions I’ve been wondering about more or less since I met her.
It was nice, but also quite raw and painful. I can tell that we are at a crucial point right now. I am incredibly emotionally vulnerable for myriad reasons, including the nature of our current relational work and the possible transitional state of my self-destrutive impulses (from restricting back to cutting, drinking, using, etc).
As our session wrapped up, I could tell she sensed how intense I was feeling. She asked about my plans for this evening and the weekend, most likely checking in for safety and stability purposes. But then she said,
“This might seem like a strange question, but do you want to take Gray Mouse home with you and take care of him this weekend?”
I felt that little girl inside of me absolutely squeal with delight. I let out this sound that I cannot even describe and said, “Really?! You would let me take him for the weekend?!!”
I was damn near hysterical with joy. I looked up and saw my therapist beginning to become misty-eyed. I’m not sure what she expected in response, but I think she was somehow very touched by the moment.
“Yes. But you have to take care of him and make sure he doesn’t get hurt. You have to take care of each other.”
I squeezed that mouse with everything I had and told her I would take excellent care of him before stashing him gently in my bag. I don’t really feel much of anything right now, but I’m hoping I can “unthaw” a bit and pull out of this dissociated state some more so that I can really use this object to feel connected to my therapist throughout the weekend.
I really, really need that.