To my fellow abuse survivors, this post is filled with random sex questions and statements, and while it does not speak directly about abuse, it could still be triggering. There is just too much material, and it jumps around too much for me to put it in italics, so please, read with caution, and be safe.
“I really just want to run away.” It’s the end of my session, and I’ve run over, as usual, but Bea seems to be okay with this. She has said before that she is the time keeper, I don’t need to worry about it. I’m tucked in my corner of the couch, my shoes have fallen off my feet, I forgot to get the silly putty, and I’m picking my fingers to the point that they are bloody and hurting. I say this quietly, shyly, like I am scared that Bea is going to make fun of me for feeling this way.
She nods. “Yeah,” she agrees.
A realization hits me. “I would, ” my voice cracks, and it’s a struggle to get the words outs. I don’t want to think these words, this thought. It’s awful, and isolating. I try again, anyway. “I would normally run away to my parents. I can’t go there now.” I start to cry. I look at Bea.
“I don’t have anywhere to go.” And then the sobs start. Oh boy. The damn sobs start. Bea hands me Kleenex, and I don’t flinch when she sets them down near me. She say all the right things, she is understanding of how badly I want to run away and how I have no where to go. She suggest that I had similar feelings as a child. I cry harder.
Earlier in session 7:58am
I walk into Bea’s office, coffee in hand. I make sure when I set my coffee down that I set it behind her small clock, instead of in front of it. I never paid attention, until Kat’s last session to where I set my coffee. I’m sure there are some shrinks out there who would have a field day with the fact that I always set my coffee in front of the clock. The fact is, though, the table is small, and I set my coffee near the couch, so it is in easy reach— which places it in front of the clock. Today I ask Bea if I can move the clock so that my coffee isn’t blocking it. She says no problem, and we move the clock. I’m feeling really disconnected from her, from everything really. I didn’t sleep last night, and the little sleep I did have was filled with night mares.
I curl into the couch, in what has become my default therapy position; my legs curled up, kind of “princess style” my hands curled into loose fists, arms wrapped around eachother. I’m tense, but not overly so. I sit, looking at my hands, the floor, my shoes, Bea’s shoes, the rug, the pillows, the floor, the toys, the dollhouse. I have a silly urge to play with the blocks and the markers. I don’t say anything, and the silence is starting to make me nervous.
“What comes to mind? A word? A thought? What you had for breakfast? Something that you did this weekend?” Bea asks.
I don’t answer out loud. bad.What’s it like to be normal? Nothing, I don’t eat breakfast. This weekend I had anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, had a breakdown in front of the BCBA and was triggered by my kid. I’m a terrible parent and someone should probably lock me up.
Finally, I tell her about a “fight” that hubby and I had. It was more of a disagreement, and it was about me talking too much. He claimed I spoke a “block of text” at him when I told him a story using 4 sentences. I was upset, and hurt. It also made me feel like I could never tell him the story of my past because that is a story that will be more than a few sentences.
Bea and I talk about telling Hubby my past. I know that at some point, he needs to be told. On some level I want him to know because I think it will make things better. Talking about telling him is making me nervous. I curl up into myself, scooting back as far as I can away from Bea. I’m almost sitting on the back of the couch.
“He won’t believe me.” I say. It comes out quite, hard to hear, but Bea hears it anyway.
She is quiet for a minute, processing it. I don’t look at her. I can’t look at her.
“Why do you say that?” She asks.
I can’t answer. I don’t know why I say that, it’s just a feeling , it’s just what seems like he will think.
After a while I say, “Because I didn’t tell him sooner. Because I don’t have the details. I don’t know. It’s just a feeling.”
Bea sighs. “To me, that sounds like something a child might think. I feel like it’s a thought, a feeling coming from your child-self. I think he will believe you.”
I bring up another fear, “what if he believes me and he is mad at my parents?”
Bea asks what that will mean to me.
I shrink farther into myself. I’m feeling really scared. I don’t like “mad”. I tell her that I don’t know what it will mean, I shake my head, and finally I whisper that I would have to choose. Bea doesn’t hear me, I say it so softly. I repeat it, “I would have to choose between them of he was mad at my parents.”
She nods, and looks really intrigued. “That is interesting on so many levels. I can’t imagine you defending your parents for not protecting you when your husband is mad at them for not keeping you safe.” She says. “Does it feel good, on some level, to think of hubby being mad on your behalf and keeping you safe now?” She questions me.
“No….no.” I shake my head.
Bea continues, explainimg, “Many people say you can’t have anger without love, and anger that is protective comes from a place of love.”
I shake my head harder. “No! I don’t like mad. Mad is scary. No. No.” I tell her. I’m shaking, and I’m scared. I am hiding my face. In this moment, I hate therapy. I want to run for the door. I’m frozen where I am, though.
Bea lightens the mood, quickly, by talking about how hubby has failed the tests I have given him. She reminds me that those tests weren’t really related to my past, and so I can’t truly judge how telling him will go.
We circle back around to talking about telling him, and I tell her I have a whole list of reasons to tell him/not tell him in the therapy room, because I’m pretty sure I want to tell him in therapy. We talk about one of my big fears, which is that after I tell him in therapy, then I still have to be with him outside of therapy. It’s awkward and makes me anxious.
“Is he the kind of guy who will just hold you and comfort you?” She ask me. “Or can’t you accept that?”
I’m instantly drawn back into myself, looking down at my knees. As I pull my knees up, my shoes fall off, but I’m top frozen to move enough to reach down and get them. I can’t speak. I can’t explain this. What will she think? I’m so ashamed. I’m so screwed up. My marriage is a mess. Nothing is right. I share at my toes, the big one at the one next to it. I can see them between my knees. My head is resting on my knees. I’m attacking my fingers. If I had eaten something, anything, I would probably vault for the toilet and vomit. That is what I want to do. Everything is a mess. I’m thinking of my childhood, the boyfriend, my marriage, my kid, my parents, so many things, so much I can’t do anything right.
But it’s okay, it’s okay because I’m not really here. My toes are hazy, I can’t feel them, I’m okay. Bea is talking, I can’t really hear her. I’m okay, I’m okay. I do need to focus on Bea though, what is she saying?
“I’m sensing that you are feeling really alone right now.”
Okay. She’s right. I struggle to get the words out, to find them, but I finally manage to do so. “I’m always really alone, even when people are around. It doesn’t matter.”
Bea nods, and tells me that’s been true for a long time. “You kept your secret for a long time. You were alone for a long time. It’s not true anymore. You told me, you let me in. The more you tell, the more light you let into the dark and twisty parts of you, and the less alone you are. When you tell hubby, it will open the part even more, and let in even more light, then you will be even less alone.”
I’m listening to her, but I’m far away. I don’t think she really gets it. Even though people might know, I’m still alone. I’m alone because it’s safer that way. A small piece of me will always stay alone, just in case.
She returns to the original question that sent me away. “When you tell him, after you leave here, is he the type of guy that will hold you? He is really comforting and calming and cuddling with Kat, does he do that for you? Can you let him do that for you?”
I can’t tell her. I can’t say it. I can’t speak the words. “Do you have paper?” I ask.
Even without explanation, Bea knows. She gets me paper, and a pen. I ask her if she is a fast reader as she gets the paper. I am afraid of sitting and waiting a long time while she reads. “Pretty fast,” she says.
I write. I’m shaking, and nervous, and I feel really, really stupid. I don’t want to talk about this. I tell Bea, “can you read this, and then we not talk about this?”
Bea laughs a little and says, “how about no guarentees?”
I strike a bargain, “how about you can talk, but I don’t have to?”
“Okay.” She says.
There is no cuddle of snuggles without it turning into sex or sexual touch. I don’t say no. I don’t know how to say no. So I just go along with it.
It’s okay. I go away, in my head, far away. Then he is happy, and I’m okay. But I try to stay away from cuddles and hugs and touch because those things mean sex.
I sit there, holding the pad of paper, not really sure I want to give it to Bea. I’m not sure it’s a good idea. I’m not sure I want her to know this about me. I’m afraid she will misunderstand and think hubby has done something wrong. I’m afraid she will think I’m bad for not saying no when I don’t want to have sex. I’m afraid of a million things, and I can’t name half of them. I feel broken, exposed. I finally reach my hand out, and pass the paper and the pen over to her.
As soon as Bea has the pad of paper, I hide my face. She reads, and then she says, “okay. This is, what do they say, is it men or women who think of sex as love?”
I shake my head, mumble, “I dunno.” I really don’t. What is she talking about? Sex as love? Has Bea lost her mind? I seriously hope she hasn’t, because I really don’t want to have to find a new shrink.
“Okay,” she says, again, “women, we usually need to feel like we love the other person and that they love us before we can have sex. So we need love shown to us before we have sex. Men, they see having sex as the way to show love. So, we see sex really differently. But this is another reason to tell him. So that he can know that you need touch that isn’t sexual.”
I don’t say anything. I’m pretty sure Bea has lost her mind. I’m starting to dissociate, because this conversation is too hard, and I really don’t want my shrink to be crazy.
“Is that confusing to you?” She is questioning me.
“It’s…its…always about…sex.” I say. I feel so embarrassed.
“What is?” She asks.
“When you touch Kat, when friend hugs you, when you hug a grandparent, none of that is about sex. Touch is not always about sex. It doesn’t always have to be about sex in a marriage, either. Touch and sex can and should be seperate. You, and hubby, need to learn that they are seperate.” She pauses, letting that sink in.
She’s kind when she asks her next question, but it’s a hard one, “Have you always dissociated during sex with hubby?”
I don’t answer right away. I’m ashamed. Finally, I manage to get the words past the gate keeper, and I say to Bea, “Anytime I ever had sex, I’m always gone……….but I have to stay just there just enough that I can fake my way through it.”
I’m shaking now, although I’m mostly unaware of it. I’m sick, and ashamed at having admitted to this, and I feel like a child trapped in a woman’s body. Bea assures me that hundreds, probably millions of woman are doing the same thing everyday.
“I feel so dumb. Why can’t I just say no? Why don’t I know how to say no? What is wrong with me that I don’t know how to say no? I’m such an idiot!” I’m raging against myself now, and when I stop speaking and am silent, I know that Bea can see all that anger is still turned inward at myself.
She thinks for a minute. I know she is weighing her words, and that she is being careful what she says now. “Well. I think you were almost trained in childhood not to say no to sexual things. You were taught to go along, to,say yes. And you learned to dissociate when you didn’t want to go along. So it’s all you ever really have known.”
“I hate this. I hate this person I am, I hate this person I pretend I am. I hate it all,” I whisper.
“It’s hard.” Bea tells me.
“I just really want to run away,” I say.