Hubby knows. He knows about the sexual abuse from childhood, and he knows about my abusive relationship in college. He doesn’t know about the eating disorders, the cutting, the aftermath. But he knows about a major part of my history. And, he still loves me. Let me say that one more time. In his own words, Nothing about how I view you has changed, except I maybe have more respect for you. I still love you.
Shall we rewind, and start at the top, as they say?
I walk into Bea’s office, nerves flying around. She had emailed me the night before, in response to my email stating that I wanted to cancel the appointment we had set to tell hubby. I sat on the couch in my customary position; as far back as I could, knees drawn up to chest, curled into myself.
She didn’t waste much time, she said good morning, and then, “We need to meet with Hubby. We need to keep that appointment, Alice.”
I sighed. I hid my face. I counted in my head. I picked my fingers. I looked up. “I’m not ready. I don’t want to do this.”
“He needs to know. It’s not fair for him to not know, he’s left in the dark. He needs an explanation. What is going to make you feel ready?”
I don’t answer. Nothing will make me feel ready. I’ve held this secret inside for so long, that letting it out seemed wrong. Letting it out to Bea, however, was fairly safe, the secret was still contained. Letting it out to hubby was a whole different can of worms.
Finally Bea sighs. She looks sad. “I really didn’t want to be this direct. I spoke with Marge. Hubby indicated to her that he didn’t want to stay in the relationship if things didn’t change.” She’s looking at me with so much empathy that I can’t stand it, I hide my face.
My heart feels frozen. I think it might break, if it weren’t froze. I think I might feel hurt, pain, maybe mad, confusion, fear, I feel abandoned. He wants to leave. I knew It. I can’t speak. There is a lump in my throat, and words can’t get past.
“That’s hard, isn’t it?” Bea says. I nod. “That’s why we need to keep the appointment.”
I find my voice, although it cracks. “I…I am not…not telling him if he is leaving.”
“I don’t think he wants to leave,” she says,”I see love, when I see him with you. I think he is really confused by some of your behaviors.”
We talk, and because I had not yet told hubby I wasn’t going with him to see Marge, I send him a text message that reads:
Bea and Marge talked and decided it would be better if we meet with Bea first. Would Tuesday at 4:30 work?
Hubby responds with “ok”.
The rest of my session was spent on my mom. (That will have to be a whole separate post).
After therapy, I went to the park, and spent some time in the quiet, writing a letter to hubby. I told him all the reasons I was afraid to tell him my trauma. I also began to think about how far away Tuesday was. The more I thought, the more I didn’t want to wait. I finally sent Bea a text. One thing led to another, and the next I thing I knew, the appointment was moved to 5:30pm that night.
4:45pm Thursday night
I’m not sure what hubby is thinking about the session we are on our way to, or what he thinks we will be doing there. I haven’t said a thing about it all afternoon, and on the drive there, I keep dissociating. I’m fighting to remain grounded, but it’s hard. We chat off and on during the drive there, and I send several panicked text messages to Bea, as well.
Once we get there, my stomach begins to feel like I am on a free falling elevator. Heading upstairs, I lead the way. Bea greets us with a smile, and she gives me a reassuring look. I sit down in my usual spot and curl up like I normally do. Hubby sits next to me, but not too close. It’s almost as if he is aware of the walls I have around me. I am half hiding my face, not looking at hubby or Bea. Hubby must have given Bea a look regarding how I was sitting — he had never seen me like that– because she said, “This is really hard.” Hubby replied that he could see that.
Bea asked me if I had said anything about tonight’s session, and I shook my head. She said okay. I felt a little bit like I was the “naughty child” who had neglected to do what she was supposed to do, but Bea seemed to be calm about it. I said I had written a letter, and I got the letter out. I had hubby go out to the waiting room to read it.
While he read the letter, I had a mini freak out. Bea asked about the letter. I told her it referenced trauma in general, and that I had tried to explain my reasons for being afraid of this comversation. She reassured me things would be okay, and I was about to practice saying my two sentences, when hubby let himself back in.
He sat back down, and started off by saying that he was really glad I brought him to Bea’s with me, and that if I couldn’t or wasn’t ready to say more, he was okay with that. He could see how hard this was. I ended up back in my hiding position, with my face down, and picking at my fingers. The three of us sat like that for a few minutes.
Bea finally broke the ice by beginning to speak about trauma, and childhood trauma specifically. She talked about how as a child the trauma is usually done by someone bigger, stronger, and is usually a secret. She told hubby that even as an adult, it’s so hard to tell anyone about childhood trauma because a part of the adult still feels like that child, and it feels wrong to be telling that secret. She told him that from the outside they can see I did nothing wrong, but from the inside, there is a lot of shame and blame and fear and anger at the self. She talked then about PTSD and dissociation, telling hubby how I might just seem not really there, or might seem a little “out of it”, or how I might seem to be there but I might not really remember events like he would expect me to. She asked me then if I wanted to talk, and explained to Hubby that I had two sentences to say– if I could, because it was hard.
I shook my head. I couldn’t do it. I think if I had told him to go back out and been able to say those words with Bea, alone first, I might have been able to. Those are serious words. And scary. I think it might be important to say them, one day. But last night was not that day.
Bea said them for me, as she had assured me she would, when I was going around in “what if I can’t say it” circles. Hubby reacted the way you would want a person to. Shocked, but not too shocked. Sad, but not so sad they need you to support them. Supportive, and loving. He just wants me to be okay. My big fear is that he may not realize that “okay” could take a long time. Bea told him healing takes a long time. She told him the college relationship is bad, but it is the childhood piece that really forms people and is so hard to heal from.
He finally asked how old I was, and how long? Bea looked at me, and I nodded, so she explained about hazy memories, and dissociation as a defense and how it really is something learned in childhood. It’s why hubby’s version of “checking out” and mine are the same, but different. She told him the best guess we have at this point is age 5 to maybe 10. She also made sure to explain to him that I don’t typically talk about this, she has learned more from email, and then we might circle around it in a therapy session.
They discussed the fact that until I told Bea, in a round-a-bout type way, I had never told, so no adult had been informed when I was a kid. She told him I thought my mom maybe had suspicions at one point, and that caused a lot of anger on my part recently. They talked about how alone I had to have felt, and they both cried a little over that (I feel guilty over that). They talked about how he can help, what I might need on therapy days. I stayed quiet. Bea made suggestions of things he could ask, and did a lot of explaining about random reactions to trauma. In short, I am slowly learning that most of what I do or feel or worry about can be seem as a normal reaction to trauma.
I’m glad Hubby knows. It’s a little weird, but I feel free, lighter. I feel like I don’t have to hide in my own home, in my own life anymore.