Smorgasbord of triggers discussed

I had this plan, to hand Bea my notebook right away when I got to therapy. I thought if she scanned through my notebook, read the list in it, then it would help us talk about the things in my head; the things I usually struggle to bring up. Unfortunately, I didn’t give her my notebook. We still talked through a lot, though.

Of course the first thing on everyone’s minds was Monday and the nanny trigger. “How are you doing with all of that?” Bea asks.

“Ummm….better than Monday. I just….I mean, I don’t know. I talked to Jasmine, Monday night, or maybe it was Tuesday. I can’t remember now. But she just seems so certain that nothing happened, and that there are thing going on with her daughter that are causing her to make these accusations, but they are untrue. And she is really beating herself up. She’s just so hard on herself, and I feel so bad for her. She is a good mom, she has reactions because she is human. I mean…geesh. I don’t know.” I shake my head, thinking about Jasmine. I really feel for her, and how mean she is to herself. It’s not fair, or right. She is such a good person, I just wish she could see that.

“Hmmmm…” Bea says, and she has this knowing smile on her face. Just as quick as its there, it’s gone. “I do think the accusations are untrue. I went over it and over with the other therapist. We looked at everything, talked about the families, what has happened in the past, I gave my impression of your nanny from the times I have met her. And we both felt that nothing had happened.”

I nod. “And I trust you. But it’s still hard. It’s all mixed up. I don’t know.”

“Of course it is. This is a huge trigger. We’ve been here before when the other situation happened with Kat.” Bea says.

I wonder if her comment about being here before means she is tired of talking about this nonsense, if she is annoyed with me. I should ask, say something. Instead, I say, “I am sorry about Monday.”

Bea shakes her head at me. “Not at all. Those were huge triggers. When I called you, it was like a little girl had answered the phone. I could tell how triggered you were. I was glad that hubby was there and staying home.”

“Yeah. I was really triggered. He saw it, and stayed with me.”

We talk through how Hubby was able to do some concrete things: order a nanny cam, stay home from work, get my teddy bear, and how doing concrete things always feels good to guys. We talk about my reaction, how I just hid in bed with my teddy bear, flashbacks and dissociating off and on. She says this isn’t a crazy reaction based on my history.

“You know, I was reading back through your email, and there was another thing that was maybe extra triggering. What Jasmine told you her daughter said about the Barbie doll?” Bea says. I guess she isn’t annoyed to be talking about all this, she is bringing up more of it.

I nod my head. I can’t really get many words out.

“Are you still having flashbacks with Kat?” She asks me gently.

“Yeah…well, no…I mean, I have been avoiding things that set me off as much as I can. Which makes Kat really upset with me. I don’t know.” I blink back tears, and feel so much anger at myself. I hate that I have had to stop playing any kind of character play with her. I just get so triggered by it all.

“Is it Kat or the play or the toys that triggers you? Do you know?”

“I think it’s…both. The play and the toys. But Kat, too. I don’t know.” I shake my head, trying to clear it, to find something that makes sense.

“What happens when you get triggered?” Bea asks. She’s never asked me something like this, so direct, before. It makes me feel anxious and worried.

“I feel crazy.” I mumble it, and Bea has to ask me to repeat myself. It’s a perfect excuse to get mad, to shove her away, but I don’t. I repeat what I said. “It’s…there’s….I’ll be holding a doll, a mini princess, or mini Blythe, and then it’s not..and there is a quick in my head of the barbies…and then just as quick another pops in there and it me…and him…but it’s quick, blurry and distorted and not in time or order and they jump from one to the next and I feel like I’m insane.”

“No, not at all. You aren’t at all insane. It’s a flashback. That’s a flashback.” Bea says calmly.

“It’s too much. And then I shout at Kat…I don’t know. I act like a 5 year old and shut down the play as quick as I can. But I’m not 5. And poor Kat.”

“Well, no, you aren’t 5, but I would guess the little girl is triggered by all this and she’s the one running the show when this all happens, and she is scared. So she reacts, just like a 5 year old. Because she is stuck there.” Bea tells me. How is it that she can just accept these crazy things about me? And act like they aren’t insane?

I don’t say anything, just listen and think. I hate these flashbacks. They are some of the more disturbing one I’ve had.

“I wonder what would happen if you tried to use the flashback protocol when this happened. Maybe even having your character name 5 things she sees, hears, smells. Have your character state your age, where you live. All of that. Work it right into the play.” Bea suggests.

“I’ll try.” And I will try. I’ll try anything if it can give me part of my life back that was working so wonderfully. It makes me so angry that this poison has touched a special part of my life– Kat and mine play rituals. It’s not fair.

“Okay. Let me know how it works, if it helps, okay?”

I nod. Okay. “I hate that I can’t play how she wants right now. I hate how I am so…ugh. I feel like I’m damaging her.”

“You aren’t. It’s okay for her to not always choose the play. You get a turn, too.”

I sigh. “She’s so used to me…playing with our little dolls was kind of our thing. I worked so hard to get her to play with me. And now she can, and I’m avoiding her. I’m awful. I feel like a failure. Like I’m hurting her. What’s wrong with me?” I rant about my awfulness as a mother and how I am destroying Kat’s life.

“No…not at all. You are not destroying Kat’s life. Remember what you said about Jasmine earlier? Now it’s time to give yourself a break.” Bea tells me. It’s a little like saying I told you so, except her voice is full off kindness, and so it’s okay.

I shake my head and groan at her. But I get what she is saying.

We sit in silence for a few minutes. Kind of abruptly, I say, “I had a breakdown at yoga on Tuesday.” My face feel hot, I am sure it would be beet red if I was looking at Bea.

“Did something come up? What happened?”

I tell Bea how Kris knew something was off, that I wasn’t present, and how she asked after Kat to try to help ground me before we got started.

“Ahhh, yes. Talking about Kat is helpful for you, except for when it isn’t.”

I tell her how I told Kris what was going on, and how I had fallen apart after sitting back in the chair. How Kris dealt with my falling apart.

“As horrible as that felt, it was good. You’ve really allowed yourself to become more vulnerable with people lately. Me. Hubby. Kris. This is good, so good.”

“If it is so good, then why does it feel so absolutely horrid?” I ask her.

I imagine she smiled at my question. “Well. It’s because right now all that vulnerability is new to you, and so you feel really raw. And it’s painful. Some of that will go away, and it gets less raw to be authentic and vulnerable.” Bea answers.

I groan at her answer. It’s not what I want to hear, that it’s always a little painful to be vulnerable. But Bea doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, she tells me the truth. Which is better. It means I can trust her. We talk about vulnerability and being open and scared.

As my session is ending and I’m getting ready to leave, Bea makes a comment about how being perfect hasn’t seemed like such an important need for me lately.

I’m caught off guard. “Well, that. I don’t know..I mean. I just. Well. If I figure out how to explain it, I’ll email you. Okay?”

“Great. That would be good,” Bea says.

I tell her I’ll see her tomorrow for Kat’s session, and then in a week from today. I hate that it’s going to be so long. There is so much in my head. But I have hubby and Kris, I remind myself.

“Yes. I wouldn’t be missing next week except I have that conference, I have to go to it.” Bea tells me.

I remember this. She really isn’t excited about the conference.

“Just try to find one good thing about it, and focus on that. It will make the whole thing easier,” I suggest as I head down the stairs. It’s not like she needs my advice, but I can’t help offering it up.

“I suppose the one good thing is there is this brewery near there, my one therapist friend says we have to go,” Bea says.

I turn back around at the name of the brewery. “Hubby like a beer made by them. It’s really popular, actually. I don’t like beer, but a lot of my female friends do like this beer, too.” I tell her the name of the beer.

“I’ll have to try it, then. If I’m going to have a drink, I like beer. Most of my friends like wine, and I’ve just never really cared for wine that much,” she tells me, laughing a little.

I smile. “You should do a few wine tastings. I’m a firm believer there is a wine out there for everyone. Tastings are good because you try everything from the very dry reds all the way up to the dessert wines. Even I, who used to only like dessert wines, have found a red wine I love, and several whites.”

“Hmmm. I should do that then.” She laughs.

We chat for a moment more about times we have drank too much wine, and now neither of us drinks more than a glass of anything these days. The. We say our goodbyes, have a good days.

I head home, thinking about vulnerability and about being perfect. The two are linked in a way. I just need to think about how to explain it.


7 thoughts on “Smorgasbord of triggers discussed

  1. It must feel so hard to feel that you are harming your daughter because of the flashbacks, or to even be triggered by her. I can only imagine how tough that would be, because you love her so much and on some level know it isn’t about her. But you can’t help that, and I am really glad you have Bea to remind you of that. You’re doing such good work in therapy Alice! I really enjoy hearing about your sessions and insights, and am learning about myself in the process too.


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