Trigger warning for references to child sexual abuse. I don’t write about any specific details of the abuse, but please be safe reading.
………………Continued from “showing up” post
“I feel like we are in a good place right now. We could wrap things up now, unless there is anything more you wanted to talk about,” Bea says.
After thinking about it, I say, “I’m 50/50 about it.”
“What is the 50% that wants to talk about something more thinking?” Bea asks me kindly.
“Um, well. I’ve been thinking, while we were talking….I’ve been thinking….what makes it so awful that you read the thing. It’s…..”
“It’s?” Bea says encouragingly, when I stop talking suddenly.
“I’m sorry. I’m trying to get this out.”
“No sorrys. You’re doing fine. You’re doing very good talking today.” Bea tells me.
I hug my knees tighter to me. “It’s not just what it is about, but that….well, it’s not um, edited. I can’t think of the right word.”
“It’s raw, everything is right there,” Bea suggests. That lets me know she gets what I am trying to say.
“I would normally make it make sense, make sentences, get rid of details. You talk about my filter, well this was totally unfiltered.” My voice sounds fairly strong to me, and I’m surprised I can say this.
“Do you want my impression?” Bea asks me.
“I don’t know. Is it….I mean….this is going to make me sound crazy.” I’m afraid to know her impressions, afraid that if she tells me it will reveal that she is disgusted and horrified by me.
“I don’t mind crazy,” Bea says lightly, and I’m sure she is smiling. I’m always afraid of sounding crazy.
“I don’t….I mean, I know what I wrote about, I know the memory. But the details, I don’t…I don’t really remember, I don’t know. You know more than I do about what I remember right now.”
“I only read it once. I put it up, it’s in a safe place, no one can read it, and I will never tell anyone about it. And I won’t read it again or do anything with it, until you tell me what you want to do with it.” Bea doesn’t tell me I am crazy, and she doesn’t sound like she is taking this lightly at all.
“Okay. What is your impression?” I ask.
“I think I told you a lot of this on Thursday,” Bea starts off.
“I don’t really remember Thursday,” I interrupt her.
“Ahhh, I imagine you might not. You really needed to protect yourself on Thursday,” Bea tells me. She talks about how she was sorry she was jumping around a lot in session, and how she had really wanted a way for me to communicate and not feel so alone.
“I don’t remember that. I just remember feeling horrible, awful.”
“What else do you remember about Thursday?” Bea asks me.
“Ummm …..well, I was just seeing pictures in my head.” I hate admitting this. I’m very afraid that Bea thinks I’m nuts.
“Of this memory?”
“Yeah…just the same part over and over.” I whisper it. And I have to fight to not go back to the scary place in my head where the memory lives.
“That makes sense, it’s right on the surface, and writing it down maybe made it more real.”
“Because you know, it’s more real.” I say. I hate this.
“Ahhhh. Me knowing makes it feel more real. Why?” Bea asks, but she does it in such a way that makes it sound as though my crazy makes sense to her.
“Because I can’t hide it now.” I answer without thinking.
“Yeah.” Bea nods. It makes sense to her.
“What was your impression?” I ask again, circling back to the beginning of this conversation.
“It was raw and messy, but it really wasn’t until the end, at the r word, that your handwriting got very messy, and you were really dissociated. I was sad for you, and scared for you, that you felt all of this. I think we’ve talked about before, sexual abuse with penetration seems to be even worse, more painful to remember, even more of a violation. And that’s where you seem to get extremely dissociated.” Bea tells me what she thinks, and I’m very glad she is honest.
I don’t say anything, I just concentrate on breathing and think about what Bea has said. After a while I say, “You really don’t think I’m disgusting?”
“Not at all,” Bea tells me. She says something about this being out of my control, not my fault.
“Why did I do that? What was wrong with me?”
“I want to hear what you think. In your words,” Bea says.
I’m thrown off by her question. I hadn’t put it into words for myself, aside from thinking ‘I’m bad.’ I finally say, “I don’t know. I think I just wanted…him to touch me, to feel not alone, to feel better. I wanted to not think. I was sad. I don’t know.”
“You wanted to not think. You wanted comfort. Your mom was sick, you were feeling guilty, and mad at her for leaving,” Bea says. She is able to paint a picture with her words of how alone and guilty I had been feeling.
“I….thought…I just wanted…” I cut myself off, not even sure how to say what I was going to say.
“You wanted?” Bea repeats my words softly, prompting me to keep speaking.
“I wanted to go home. I just wanted to go home.” My voice cracks, and I can feel the sting of old tears behind my eyes.
Luckily, Bea knows what I’m talking about. “Of course you did. You were missing your mom. No one would talk to you about her, you were worried.”
“Everyone just patted me on the head, saying my mom was fine. It was like ‘she’s fine’, pat my head and I’m supposed to run along.” I say.
“Yes, that’s how adults treat kids sometimes. They try to protect them. It can be really hard to be a kid, and not be told what is really going on,” Bea says,
“Kenny talked to me, though. Really talked to me.”
“Yes, he told you that she loved you and the that the doctors were making her better,” Bea says. A part of me that is still in the present is surprised that she remembers. I never think that anything I say is important enough to be remembered.
“I asked her to go to my house, but she wouldn’t let me go alone. It’s right next door. It’s stupid. She asks him to take me.” I shake my head. I wasn’t a baby! I was capable of walking next door alone.
“She didn’t protect you, either.” Bea knows who the she refers to– Mrs. Smith– and she says this in a sad voice.
“It’s okay at first, we talked about my mom some more…..I’m looking at my clothes, in my dresser. He’s being so silly. He spins me around, messing around.”
“He’s being goofy with you. Joking around,” Bea echoes what I’ve said; I’m sure she is thinking of what she knows about this memory.
“Yeah. He spins me, drops me on my bed. Silly.” I tell her. I can’t go any farther in this story, it’s too terrifying and huge in my mind to say out loud.
“That was part of his plan, to knock down your defenses…to be fun, and silly,” Bea says.
I shrug. “I don’t know if he even…even planned, would have…I mean, if I hadn’t….” I stumble with what I’m saying.
“Given what we know of other situations, and what has already happened earlier, I think we can assume that he would have, regardless of what you did or didn’t do,” Bea tells me.
I sigh. I’m surprisingly okay, talking about this, like this. “I um…I thought I was…I mean I think I wanted to….well I think I thought I was going to marry him.” My voice gets quieter as I confess this, and I curl more into myself. This far, I have avoided any mention of liking him in this way, and even when Bea has brought it up, I avoid mentioning it.
“I’m not surprised. Little girls do have these fantasies of Prince Charming about older boys. He was Prince Charming, your knight in shining armor. He was fun, and comforting, and was grown up. He was exciting. That’s really a natural way to feel.” There is no judgement or shock or disgust in Bea’s voice. After a pause, she continues, “Do you know when you stopped thinking like this?”
I nod my head. I know. “When I was 11.”
“After the church sex education? When you realized what it was?” Bea asks.
“Yeah.” I leave out the fact that for a minute I wondered if I could marry him and it would fix my sin. “I knew I was going to hell.” I whisper this, afraid to even say it out loud, as it is still one of my deepest held beliefs.
I’m not sure what Bea says, I’m pretty trapped in my own head at the moment. But then she says that we don’t need to open another can of worms today, not when we are trying to keep things feeling safe.
I smile at that, saying, “I only need one can open at a time.”
Bea laughs, too. We both know there are always multiple cans open at a time, but there is also no reason to borrow trouble and bring up memories I hadn’t even been thinking about.
I still haven’t looked at Bea. It’s as she answers my question of “You really don’t think I am disgusting?” that I peek at her very quickly. She isn’t looking directly at me, instead sitting so she is facing a little bit away from me. It takes me a few minutes, but I’m finally able to look up and uncover my face.
It’s not until I’m leaving that I actually manage to look Bea in the face. I’m surprised when I do; all I see is kindness and caring, and compassion. She’s looking at me the same way she always has. Nothing has changed for her. She wasn’t lying. She really doesn’t think I’m this awful person.
“I think I believe you,” I say.
Bea smiles and says, “I’m glad.”
It feels like something has shifted today; choosing to trust Bea with my worst secret, and seeing that nothing bad has happened, and that she hasn’t abandoned me because she is disgusted has begun to change something in me. I’m not sure what it is, but I do know I believe Bea that she isn’t judging me as harshly as I judge myself.