I decided to split this post up. Thursday’s therapy session ended up being very extra long, and a lot of things got talked about. The first half is covered in this post. The second half will be covered in the next post.
I walk in, unsettled, anxious. Why did I send Bea that list? The list saying I had a flashback?
“Hi,” she says, looking up from her chair as I sit down and curl up.
“Hi,” I say it, and I’m okay, I can talk.
“I got your list,” Bea tells me, “Was there something you maybe wanted to start with?”
I shake my head, quickly. I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s too much. I have no idea.
“Well, I’m really curious about your homework, and that you found a memory,” she tells me.
And so I tell her about rolling down the hill, but how I don’t really have a memory of it, I just know I rolled down the hill; I remember but I don’t. Like all my other memories. It’s so frusterating. But, we laugh together about the day my family had rolling down the hill, and how I showed Kat what to do, and what a good day that was.
“You might not remember rolling down a hill, but your body clearly remembers rolling down a hill. You even went so far as to tell your daughter to do so, then show her how, and it felt how you expected, right down to the silly dizzy sensation and the giggles. That is a memory. And more so, you have another memory now, a really good memory, of your whole family rolling down hill. It sounds like you were wholly present during that time,” Bea says.
“Yeah, yeah, I was,” I’m smiling, remembering. It also feels wonderful to be told my not-memory is a memory. A little voice in the back of my mind whispers that’s it’s Bea’s job to tell me these things, even if it’s not true, but I “shush” the voice.
“It sounds like you don’t have memories of that kind of physical play with your parents,” Bea says.
I pause. I try to remember, to think. I shake my head. I don’t. I just don’t. I have memories of wrestling with my uncle Bryan, and of sobbing on my aunt Bethany’s shoulder. But I don’t have memories of those things with my parents.
“It seems most natural to talk about your mom because we are talking about family stuff. Do you still want to talk about your mom?” Bea asks.
I nod. She waits. She never has, but I have a feeling that she could wait a very long time if needed.
“Yeah. I wrote a letter. Not to send. Just…..I don’t know…..” I trail off. I don’t know what to say.
“I think that’s good, really good. Unsent letters can be really therapeutic,” she pauses for a minute, and then, “if you brought your letter, you could read it in session, if you felt comfortable. Something about hearing your words spoken aloud can be healing. So healing.”
“Maybe. Not today. Not right now,” I’m quickly defensive, on alert, ready to make excuses.
“No, not today. Not right now. One day, when you feel ready. It can be helpful,” Bea tells me.
“Did writing that letter bring up a lot of feelings for you?” Bea asks.
I have a hard time answering, but finally say, “things I’m upset over I didn’t know I was.”
“Ahhhh,” Bea says.
“It might not have been intentional, but it doesn’t seem fair that they put that on me, that I had to be perfect to be loved.”
“It wasn’t fair,” Bea says, “I’m sad for that little girl who felt like she had to earn the right to be accepted.”
I’m quiet, but I’m crying, silently. I always cry at therapy theses days. When will the tears be over?
“What about when you got older? As a teen, when things fell apart?” Bea asks, “How did they act then?”
I shrink into myself, pull away. I don’t want to reexamine this time in my life. I had put it on the list, thinking that it was stuff that should be talked about. It doesn’t mean I want to do it. I just think Bea should know how sick and not okay I really was.
“What about when you were in the hospital, after you cut your wrists? How did your mom or dad act, treat you?”
“My mom always said and did the right thing when people were around.”
“What about later, when people weren’t around?” Bea asks me.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I know you said things always went back to normal, but how did they react to your behavior, immediately?” She asks.
My head is down, I can’t face her. I can’t tell her how much my parents hated me when I messed up, I can’t tell her just how screwed up I was, how badly I failed and see the look on her face.
“I don’t know. They took away my phone. The car when I had my lisence. It was always about me ruining my life. I don’t know.” I mumble it.
“Ohhh,” Bea makes a sympathetic sound, she sounds sad for me. “Did you mom ever just hug you, let you cry?”
My first instinct is to laugh, ask her what kind of question is that. To say “Huh? For why?” But instead I say, “No.” My voice turns up on the end, I’m curious why she would ask that.
“I don’t think she could do that for you. I don’t think she could handle your emotions, handle your pain, take that on, it would have been too much. She couldn’t even handle her own,” Bea offers an explanation, a reason.
I shrug. I don’t know. It doesn’t much matter anyways. I think I’m making too much out of nothing. I had a “charmed childhood.” My parents were well-off. I lived in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, I had everything I could ever want. Every toy, every class, every extra. I never wanted for anything. Who do I think I am, to be complaining? Boo hoo, poor little rich girl.
“Bea?” My voice wavers, I’m uncertain and scared.
“I…am I …..am I being a drama queen?” I ask.
“No. No, I don’t think so. That’s probably a message you got from your parents,” she says gentley.
“They always called me that. Anyway time I was upset,” I say slowly.
“Yeah.” It’s like a nod, except my head is down, so Bea has to speak her “nods.”
“So I’m not being a drama queen?”
“No, not at all, not in my opinion. This, just this, would be enough to put someone in therapy, to isolate them and make it hard to trust people. Add in the sexual abuse, the fact that you felt unprotected by your mom, that just makes it a lot. A whole lot more to deal with. It’s not being a drama queen.”
I shake me head, unsure. I can’t figure out if I’m making a big deal out of nothing, or if I have stuff that is a big deal.
“Alice, you aren’t a drama queen. Not in anyway,” Bea says again.