Dissociated talk

Possible trigger warning, I talk about touch in this post, between Hubby and myself, as this is something we are working on.

I’ve been silent for a few minutes, and Bea has waited me out. There is more I want to say, but I can’t bring myself to get the words out. That’s how it always is for me. Maybe Bea is right, and it is a trust thing. Maybe I should explore that at some point.

“Is there anything else you want to talk about before we wrap up?” She finally prompts me, seeming to know there is more.

I’m silent for a while, wrestling with my thoughts. There is something, but I’m afraid to talk about it out loud. I don’t know if I can. But I really need to. I’m not sure it’s okay to talk about though. Crap. “Hubby.” All I get out is one word, just one word.

“Ahhh, yes. Hubby,” Bea says. I wonder if she knew this was coming. “This is really hard. I don’t think he needs to know everything. But you feel like he should know more, now?”

“Maybe.” It seems like the babysitter story isn’t enough anymore, like he should know how bad this really has messed with me, like he should know that it wasn’t a once in a while thing that happened, but a frequent thing. I’m not sure what I say out loud and what I think in my head, I’m pretty dissociated. I’m afraid of this conversation.

Bea says something about sex being complicated, and reiterates about how initiating sex can feel very powerful, and make a person feel in control. I think she says something about when a person is abused and sexual feelings are introduced too early, it makes sex more complicated. I think she says that there is no “normal” sex, anything between two consenting adults that they are both okay with is normal and okay. I’m not really sure everything she says, because I’m gone, floaty, blurry, her voice is far away and I have to really focus to hear her.

“I’m afraid…when it ends, and I’m not…..what am I going to tell him? He’s going to wonder. I’m going to end up making him hurt.” I am only able to say this because I’m so dissociated. If I was truly present, this conversation would not be happening. I’m referring to the fact that I have been initiating sex with Hubby, but eventually the need to do so, the compulsion will disappear. I know this, because it has happened before. I didn’t know before why I was doing it, or what was happening, but it always ends abruptly. In the past, I never have given a reason, I just go back to the no touching, antisexual wife. Now, I want to explain something to him. I’m trying to make my marriage better, not damage it further.

“You could always blame it on hormones,” Bea says, and then she chuckles. “That’s really not s good answer. You could always say that you are having trouble with some memories and need to take a break.”

Okay, I think. Maybe I say it to her, I’m not sure. I can do that.

“You might not be able to answer this, but at what point do you go away?” She asks.

I freeze inside. I know the answer, I thought I had said it in my email. When I think back, though, it’s not very clear in my email, and I think she is looking for a more detailed answer. Trying to answer sends me into a weird collage of memories, a mix of Hubby and the college boyfriend, and Kenny. I’m so far away when I answer, my mouth feels like cotton and tastes like metal. The words feel heavy as I speak them, and they come out a whisper. “When he touches me.”

“When he touches you.” Bea must have been wondering if I was even going to talk, because it took me a long time to say those four little words. “I talked to Hubby about this when he came in, and you and I have talked about this, too; I really believe the way to get through this is for you to experience non-sexual touch with him. For touch to not turn into sex. Does that happen? Is there times he touches you and it doesn’t turn into sex? Has he been doing that?”

I want to say no, that all touch turns into sex. But that’s not the truth. I perceive that all touch is him wanting sex. But it doesn’t always turn into sex. We’ve gone from not touching at all to sometimes touching, and kissing goodbye and goodnight. And, of course, the weird unpredictable sexual pattern I have put us in. “Yes.”

“Is there any touching where you don’t have to go away?” Bea asks. I have a feeling she will be talking about this again with me, and even if I don’t remember this conversation, she will.

“He holds my hand.” Getting the words out is hard, making my mouth work takes excess concentration for some reason.

“That’s good. He holds your hands. Hand holding is suggested as one of the easiest ways to touch and stay grounded because you use your hands to touch, so it can feel like you are more in control.” What she says makes sense. Very rarely do I dissociate when we hold hands.

Bea doesn’t say anything more, and neither do I. I just stay in my soft floaty place. It’s a mix between memories and comfort, and I have to work to stay with the good part of being not here, while we talk about this.

“Does he ever hold you? Just put his arms around you, and hold you?”

My first thought is when he tries to cuddle in bed. “You mean like a hug?”

“Yes, there is a name for that! A hug. Does he ever hug you, and can you stay present for a hug?” Bea laughs at herself.

“Yes he hugs me.”

“Can you stay present?” She persists with her question.

“It depends. Sometimes.” If I’m the one to ask for the hug, if it’s not too tight, if his lower body isn’t pressed against me, if we are standing up– not in bed, if he doesn’t try to grab my behind…..then I don’t have to go away. Of course, hubby doesn’t know all these internal rules, because I’m afraid it would only hurt him.

“Mmmhmmhmm,” Bea says. It’s like a nod, an acknowledgment she heard me, but I not looking at her so she has to speak.

“He rubs my back.” This comes out in a tiny voice, scared.

“Do you go away when he does that?” She asks.

I nod my head, it’s all I can do.

“I’m not surprised. We’ve talked about Kenny rubbing your back. That would be a big trigger.” She understands, her voice is full of empathy. She gets how hard this is. I don’t know what else she says, though, because I’m gone. I’ve reached my limit for talking about this.

“I think you are very brave to talk about this, to be willing to look at this and want to change it and work through it. It’s another tough thing to look at. And you are facing it head on, trying to understand it, work through it, get something back. That’s amazing.” Bea speaks softly, but firmly, so that I hear her, even in this state. I don’t know why she thinks this, but it is nice to hear. I wonder if she feels like she has to say something nice to me. I try to push that thought out of my head, and tell myself she really does think I’m brave and inspiring to be doing this. “This work is hard. So many people never do it, they can’t face it. They suffer for it, but this work is painful, too. It’s brave what you are doing, confronting all of this now, at this stage of your life. I really do believe it will make your life better.”

I nod at her. I think I should say thank you, but I’m too far away to speak.

“I think we better start wrapping up now,” she says, “I want you to try to come back, okay?”

“Okay.” My voice is hollow, empty. I wonder if it sounds that way to Bea when I’m this dissociated, or if it only sounds that way to me when I’m far away.

“I can tell you a funny story about a new client mix up if you want to hear it.”

“Yes, okay.” That’s good, that will help. Bea knows that normal conversation will ground me faster than anything else. Yoga might work, but getting myself unfrozen would take a lot of time, so having someone talk to me is the optimal thing right now. At some point, yoga and breathing would be preferable because I could do it on my own.

“So, I had a new client at 2:30 yesterday. I wrapped up with my previous family, and walked the, out. A young woman came out of the bathroom, and says to me ‘I used your bathroom.’ I just assumed she was my 2:30, so I tell her that’s fine and ask her into the office. She heads into the waiting room, looking at Nathaniel asking ‘what is this animal?’ I’m thinking oh my gosh, this girl is insane.” Nathaniel is a rabbit. A very fluffy adorable rabbit. “So she admires Nathaniel and then I direct her into the office, and she stands in the doorway, looking around, and asks ‘what is this place?’ I tell her it’s my office and I’m thinking, she is really out to lunch, and invite her to have a seat. So she sits down, and I shut the doors, and sit down. She looks at me and says ‘what do we do here?’ So I explain how we do therapy here, thinking my goodness, this is not the same person I spoke with on the phone a few days ago. And she says ‘well, I can’t do therapy right now, my ride is waiting.’ So I finally ask if she is my 2:30, and she says ‘no’! I apologized for practically kidnapping her, and told her if she ever needs a therapist, she knows where to find me. She said she thinks she is going to need therapy soon, took my card gave me a really big hug and ran out the door.” Bea is laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing. “10 minutes later, my 2:30 shows up. It turns out she got lost.”

I’m laughing, too. “Only in this city. I can’t believe she just followed along with you. And she hugged you! I can’t believe she just hugged you.” For some reason I am appalled. If a stranger hugged me like that, I would freak.

“She had to be high, or psychotic, or both. And she seemed to really need that hug. So I hugged her back.” Bea shrugs. It’s no big deal to her.

I shake my head, completely sit up, plant my feet on the floor. “Only in this city. Did I ever tell you about the girl who thought hair color had seeped into her brain? And I had to deal with her?” I ask.

Bea shakes her head. “No. What happened? She thought color was in her brain!?”

“It was when I was director of the color department. She had come in, and asked to speak with a colorist, so she was out with our newest colorist, who had really no backbone, got anxious so fast. I mean, nicest girl, but no artistic vision, she was good at highlights, you know? She got flustered easily.” Bea nods, she knows the type of person I mean. “So she is stuck talking to this woman, and I just happen to be walking by, and I notice she is getting all flustered. I stop and stand behind a station and listen. This new colorist believed the woman, and starts questioning her about this this happened, and is stressing out, looking for open cuts in the woman’s head. I walk over and take over. I spend the better part of an hour, straight faced, discussing how color seeped into this woman’s brain. I try explaining how your skull, thick bone is between your skin and your brain, and color doesn’t penetrate that. I tried everything I could think of. Finally, I referred her to the ER, telling her how great the doctors were, and how this wasn’t something I was equipped to deal with.”

“That was the very best thing you could have done,” Bea tells me. “Really. People with delusions like that need very really help. That’s the best thing you could have done.”

“It was just strange, as she was so normal in every other way. Well, I mean, I was only seeing a small glimpse of her, but if she hadn’t been talking about color seeped into her brain, I would have called her normal.”

“That’s one of the hardest things about some psychotic personalities.” Bea stands up, too.

“Well, she wasn’t the worst thing I dealt with. I always got the hardest people. In the time I was there, we banned 9 of my clients, which was the record at the time. Before that I think the record was 3.” I grab my bag, and giggle. It’s kind of amazing, really.

“We could look at that as you were able to stand up for yourself,” Bea says. I think she thinks I feel badly about this. I don’t. I’m a little proud of the record, in a weird way.

“Well, I always got the most difficult people. If someone called and was clearly going to be difficult, they got put on my books. If a mistake was done, I was the one who corrected it. I’ve had color bowls thrown at me, I’ve been cussed out, I’ve had a client lock them self in the bathroom, I’ve had people who needed extra time scheduled because they always needed to be able to tell their hair horror story, to make sure I remembered their hair trauma and didn’t repeat it. I could deal with them. But that’s why so many for banned too.”

“You had something in you that allowed you to handle the difficult stuff.” Bea says.

“I was nice,” I say, shrugging it off.

I head out the door, wishing Bea a happy new year.

“Yes, you too. I guess for a lot of people this is a time of reflection, or maybe I’m just speaking for me. I guess for a lot of people this is a night to go out and party,” Bea says.

I think about that. New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection in my mind, too. It also brings to mind resolutions, namely the lose weight, and do things more perfect type of resolutions. “I always think of resolutions, I guess, too.”

“Oh, yes. Do you make resolutions?” She grabs her purple coat out of the closet.

“Oh, no. No, I don’t!” I say it quickly, not wanting to get into a conversation about resolutions. I have always made a resolution to lose weight– even if I didn’t need to– and to do somethings better. That doesn’t sound terrible, but for my personality, it really is.

“Will you go out tonight?” Bea asks me, as I head out the door.

“No, I don’t like the crowds. We stay in. Have news years eve happen at like 5pm for Kat, haha.”

Bea smiles, because it’s a cute idea. “We’ll have fun. Enjoy your night.”

“You too. And be safe if you guys go out,” I call, as I walk down the stairs.

“We don’t go out either, we stay in, so you don’t have to worry!” Cheerfully, Bea follows me down the stairs, as she locks up.

“Well, happy new year,” I say.

“Happy New Year, Alice,” Bea says, smiling.

Driving home, I can’t help but wonder what 2015 will bring about.


10 thoughts on “Dissociated talk

  1. There was a long period of time where I could not handle any touch. I was afraid to share it with my husband because I did not want to hurt him. Eventually, he came to a session with my therapist and we talked about my need to not be touched for a while as I deal with the complications of sex. My husband was so understanding. It was a difficult time but things really do get better. Now I love touch and we make sure that touch does not always have to be sexual. You are very courageous to do what you are doing and there is a great freedom that comes as you move through it. It takes a good deal of time but it is so worth it. My life is forever changed because I faced my history. Now I know what I know and feel what I feel. I will be thinking about you as you continue your process to greater freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To know what you know and feel what you feel….that is amazing. Thank you for sharing your experience; I know that marriage and touch can be a very private subject, and it really means so much to know I’m not the only one who feels/felt this way. It gives me hope to keep trying when I hear that things are so much better and that it was worth it for you to go through this. Thank you. ❤️


      • I am going through the same issues with touch and I don’t even have a history of sexual abuse – not that I’m aware of anyway – so, I know how hard this work is and what it means to “go away.”


      • I’m sorry you are dealing with this, and that you know what “going away” means. Touch is such a hard thing to work through, because it feels so deeply personal on both sides. I hope you are able to work through it and feel comfortable with touch one day again. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Touch with my husband is something that has gone back and forth. At its worst, I couldn’t tolerate being touched on my arm in a completely non sexual way and public context (that was before I started this whole journey). At its best, we had a very satisfying and comfortable sex life, with my rarely being triggered. At the moment, because I am working with such intense abuse memories and I have so many traumatized parts close to the surface, sexualized touch is not going well at all.

    However, I now know that I enjoy and value that part of our relationship when I am not being triggered. It helps knowing that it is something that I want for myself, not just to make him happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like you have run the gamut of feelings about touch….I am sorry you are struggling now, espesially when you do know that you enjoy ans value that part of your marriage. I think its significant that you point out its something you want for yourself. That seems important to me. I am more in the “I’m married, this needs to happen, I need to fix this, this isnt fair to him” mindframe. Hmmmm….maybe yet another uncomfortable discussion to have with Bea– sex is something that i feel is a “duty” or “obligation” or “responsibliity” because I am a wife. Ugh.
      Thank you for sharing your experience with me, and making me think, yet again. 😊


  3. Julia says:


    I’ve found your blog by accident and i just wanted to say thank you.
    Because just a few days ago, i tried to explain to my husband what touching and hugs feel like and that i just have to get away because it feels so wrong and scary

    Thank you for making me feel less alone and crazy.


    • Hi Julia. You aren’t crazy, and you aren’t alone. This is really hard stuff to be dealing with, and trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it is like trying to speak another language.


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