Journaling and ruminating

I started this last night, and finished it just a little bit ago. It’s more journal entry than anything, not my usual posting. But I have been ruminating about what is going on with me, and this is what I got this weekend.

I’m tired, but hyped up. I’m not sure sleep is something that is going to happen, although it’s almost 1:00am. We drove out to my parent’s today. I’ve spent the day faking okay, smiling, laughing, talking, going through the motions. But I wasn’t really there. While I could tell you the things we did today, I can’t really tell you how I was feeling about those things, or the conversations that were had. In truth, I probably would leave out a few of the more minor things we did. That’s how gone I was.

What is it about being around my parents that sends me far away? I just don’t get it. Out of everyone on this earth, I should feel most comfortable being present, here and authentic, around my parents. They are the people who are supposed to always love you for you, be proud of you, like you, want to be around you, and they are not supposed to leave you (even if leaving is just emotionally leaving you). But that’s not what my parents did. On the surface, sure. It’s exactly they did. But….they really weren’t there. They didn’t give a message that they would love me just for me, or believe I was perfect just as I am. They sent the message I had to be perfect– smart, talented, happy, good, likable– if I wanted their love. So, I was those things. I worked hard at it. I’m very good at being perfect; or at least my mom and dad’s definition of perfect. I hid away, dissociated, was here but not here, all in order to be that perfect little girl. The habit is so learned, so ingrained in me, that I think I just automatically do it now when I’m with them

Why did they need perfect? Did I read the message they sent me correctly? I must have. I told Bea I remember being in second grade, and trying desperately to figure out how to change one of my marks on my report card before giving it to them, because I knew it wouldn’t be good enough. I told her I remember that same year, thinking my mom would rather me be thin and pretty like my cousin. The funny thing is, when I look back at picture of my cousin and I, we are the same size. So all of this, the crazy nonsense in my head, it started so young. Before I even knew who I was. It’s no wonder I’m still trying to figure it out, and it’s no wonder that it is all confusing and hard.

But…..on the other hand, I do have this determination, this sense of myself, somewhere deep down, that I do always somehow come back to. So my parents did a lot of things right, too. And I think my grandma and grandpa helped with that part of me. They wanted the real me, they loved just me. I knew that even as a kid. I know certain things about myself, like what I believe, what I’m afraid of, things I like. So I do have that sense. I think it’s a strange dichotomy, to have both those extremes given me from my parents. Most kids, I assume, would somehow fall into this grey space, a middle ground between being lost and knowing, believing in themselves. But not me. Oh no. I had to just split the two things apart, black and white, no grey space here.

I’m jumpy tonight. I don’t want to sleep in this room. I feel very….my head is achy and foggy. My chest hurts, I feel like I’m trying to breathe in air that is so thick you could scoop it up. My stomach hurts….like that feeling you get when a movie follows the main character from a cheerful scene to a dark road, and you know something bad is about to happen, but you don’t know when and so you are waiting, unsure when or if, and it’s a fun feeling when it’s a movie, but not so great when it’s a feeling that won’t leave you.

I emailed Bea again, trying to explain broken better, and to tell her I really feel like she isn’t getting it. Her response was probably kind and empathetic, but I only can find fault. I see and hear criticisms and frustration and a wish for me to go away and stop whining in most of what she wrote. I know, rationally, I know this is me projecting my own feelings into her words. Or maybe it’s the child part of me expecting that Bea will behave like every adult in my life always behaves. She did say that broken to her means fixable, and when the special vase in her office got broken a few weeks ago, she didn’t hesitate to take the time and the effort to fix it; that with time and effort, I will be fixed, too. I think she is saying that I matter enough for her to take the time and effort to fix. Or, on the other hand maybe she is saying I am taking too much time and effort to fix? This is what my mind does. It flips between thoughts like this, black and white. At this point, I can’t even reframe things to get them to the grey space.

I told Bea how I drew a picture for my first grade teacher in the last email. It was of a girl hiding in a closet, monsters on and under the bed. I can remember drawing it, and giving it her. I remember her asking me about it, and that scared, nervous, relieved feeling that washed over me at her words. I remember telling her that sometimes scary things happen at night. I don’t remember anything else. Obviously, nothing came of it. But I think I believed that if she only knew everything, she could stop it, she could fix it. She was the first grown up, outside of my family or my parents circle, that I really, truly believed in. On some level, I wanted to be saved. She didn’t save me though. It wasn’t until fifth grade, when she taught my class again, that I had another adult in my life I felt was trustworthy. I allowed her to catch me throwing up. I claimed I was sick. She never questioned further, but again, I think at least a part of me wanted someone to stop me. To care enough to stop me. I didn’t find another grown up to trust until I was in 7th grade. My small group leader at church, her name was Jen, was the next person I reached out to. She didn’t catch the secrets I was trying to tell, without telling. If there was anyone after that, I don’t remember them.

So, adults failed me all my life. The ones who were supposed to protect me, see me, love me for being me, couldn’t do that. The ones who were in my life– family, friends, doctors, teachers, coaches– they didn’t see what was happening, they didn’t see any sign something was wrong. And, finally, the adults I did reach out, even if it was a coded not direct message, missed the message. So, adults have always failed me. I think in some ways I am replaying this with Bea. Even though I am an adult, I don’t feel like a grown up. Bea says I’m getting more grown up and when all these pieces of me are integrated and not running the show, I will feel more grown up. But anyways, as I do with everyone my age (and sometimes with people younger) and older, I view Bea as the grown up. And I’ve reached out to her in a somewhat hidden message kind of way (instead of being very blunt and saying I’m hitting crisis point and I really need her to step on and help) and she is failing me. I did try a second time, and was more clear, and it still feels like she is failing me. I wanted someone, a grown up because grown ups can do things and have all the power, to fix it, to stop it, to save me. To make things better. Is that what I’m wanting from Bea? Because even I know she can’t do that.

If I’m honest, I can even see this scenario playing out in my marriage, and in my friendship with Kay. The thing about Kay is she has fixed me before, and she has saved me from myself. So she has done exactly what I wanted and needed. Hubby…well, he plays the role of the grown up very well. He takes care of me, and he would save me, fix me, if he could. But he is so very, very unaware of things, he misses the coded messages I send to him.

I’m not exactly sure where this is all going, I’m just trying to get out some thoughts I’ve been having since getting to my parents.

I’m trying to understand why they trusted him. I’m trying to see what it is that made my parents feel it was safe for me to be around him. Was it because he was charming? Or because he was kind, had this good boy, super helpful, super friendly kind of vibe? Bea once said– like months ago– she would be interested in Kay’s thoughts about Kenny. I asked Kay. She said he was funny, a jokester but in a good fun friendly way. That he was always very helpful towards any adult he was around, she didn’t like that, as a kid. She said she remembers thinking, and hearing from her parents, that the whole family was weird, but she couldn’t put her finger on what it was exactly. He was weird, she thought, because he didn’t have a lot of friends in his own grade. And, it was weird that while the rest of us were free to ride bikes around the neighborhood, and run down to the park and whatever else, Jackie was always accompanied by Kenny. He was supposed to keep an eye on her. Kay said it was odd how strict the smiths were with their two younger children, while Mandy did what she wanted, when she wanted and ran wild. I asked Kay how Mandy was wild. She said there had been rumors of a teen pregnancy and abortion. I don’t know if I believe that. Mrs. Smith is not the type to allow for an abortion. And then, Mandy had her first child without being married and she was young– just out of high school. So there was a lot of talk about her.

I thought Kenny was so cool and so awful all at the same time. He was fun, he played, when he came with us we could ride our bikes down to the little corner store and get a candy bar or cookie. But it was a busy road, so we weren’t allowed to go alone. I don’t know. I liked him. I had a crush on him. I wanted him to never be around me. I wanted him to babysit. I wanted to stay somewhere else and not have him babysit. I thought I loved him, I wanted to marry him. I hated him. I don’t know. He had a fun game he played with me, only after a long while, it wasn’t fun anymore. But I was older by that time and it wasn’t….,I don’t know. It was confusing. Hard, I don’t know. I liked him, thought he was my friend, and couldn’t do anything about the game not being fun anymore. And I had been involved, made a choice to play his games, and likes his games. So I was stuck. I don’t know. It all gets twisted in my head.

Bea says having nightmares about the boyfriend is on par with the present happenings, even though it may seem silly that it would be that important. I don’t even know what that means.

I’m wishing now I hadn’t written that email to her, that I had just gone with pretending it all away. Now I am going to have to face her, and I’m afraid. I feel like I’m going to be walking into…..something scary. Like I’m in trouble. Or going to be shamed. Or she is not going to be happy with me. I don’t know. I also feel numb and my feelings are hurt by her last email. No matter how many ways I look at it, I can’t find her usual warmth and understanding. Even though I know it’s there, that it is the headspace I am in. I don’t know.

We went to hubby’s family get together thing today. I can’t stand his mom, and she was crowding me a good portion of the day. I realize it was becasue Kat was clinging to me, and she wanted to be around Kat, but she kept saying all these comments like “I’m so jealous mommy gets to hold you. I don’t have any babies to hold anymore, my kids grew up and left me all alone.” I finally snapped at her. She got the message and backed off. Then, Kat misplaced her shoes. Everyone was supposed to be out getting pictures taken, which Kat wasn’t going to pose for anyway, and she was perseverating on her shoes. I took her back inside to look for them, and as we were walking away from the group, hubby’s mom yelled that we were supposed to stay out there and get pictures taken. I had to stop and explain the entire situation to her, the whole group hearing it, many of them with no context for anything because hubby’s mom doesn’t want extended family knowing Kat’s autistic. Ugh. It just makes me so mad. So I was very snippy about it with her. Then, after pictures, hubby’s dad kept trying to take extra pictures of me. His mom wanted a picture of hubby and I together for her Christmas letter (which I can not stand) because I was (and I quote) “actually looking thin today.” So I moved away from th camera, thinking that should have sent the message. So then I got stuck having to actually yell and state I was done with pictures, didn’t want my picture taken anymore. Which meant hubby and I got into, ending with me saying me that “if some asshole can’t see and respect the fact I don’t want my picture taken, that’s not my problem.” Ugh. So, yeah. It was not the best of days.

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4 thoughts on “Journaling and ruminating

  1. Good for you for standing up for yourself! When you are under less stress, you will be able to do it more gracefully, but it is good that you listened to what you needed for your boundaries to be and didn’t try to just make everyone happy, even if you had to do it in an emphatic way today.

    I can’t tell you how many emails I sent to my therapist that I regretted immediately afterwards because I was afraid of being rejected/ judged/ misunderstood/ dismissed/ whatever. I actually sent emails to her soon afterwards asking her to not read two of them, and she respected my requests and deleted them. If you haven’t already made it clear to Bea just how difficult it can be for you to share and what your fears are, I’d recommend that you do so, as you are able to. It was a huge help for me when MB understood just how much I needed to be reassured that she wasn’t going to judge or abandon me, because she could then watch out for all those time when it needed to be addressed. Very rarely will she just reassure me, mostly she helps me talk about my fears and then helps me to test whether they are accurate or not.

    I used to find MB’s insistence on getting me to refocus on my current day assets and strengths annoying when I was so very, very stuck in trauma land. It felt dismissive in some way or like she just wasn’t getting how bad it was for me. Afterwards I understood that she was getting how bad it was for me and she was very, very concerned, but it was important for one of us to remain calm, confident, and unafraid. She understood that my climbing out of trauma land wouldn’t lie in my putting more attention there, but rather in my finding more safety in the now.

    As I have been able to do that more and remain more balanced more of the time, she actually has been able to respond in ways that feel better to me in those times when I contact her because I am in crisis. For instance, yesterday I had a series of flashbacks in short succession that just left me blown away. They involved someone who I don’t trust, who I think knew about and ignored that my grandfather was abusing me, and who I don’t believe was good for me, but whom I did not remember sexually abusing me. (Upon further reflection, it’s possible that there were some things that were boundary violations and the rest of the memories reflected my fears of what might happen, but when it all came out in a confused but intense, terrified, and painful mess at first, I simply was in shock.) I texted her and asked her to call me and when she called back I was calmed down enough to talk. As I slowly shared enough with her for her understand the enormity of what I was dealing with and how fresh it was, she realized that while I was asking for help present orienting, I also simply needed for someone to understand how profoundly in shock I was. Part of my present orienting involved getting what I didn’t get as a child, understanding, acceptance, and compassion. She clearly told me that if I was worried about her response, it simply was that this clearly was something that I would need to talk about more with her and she would be there for me. I wasn’t to the point of worrying about her response, yet, but her anticipating those worries and addressing them upfront made this terribly difficult situation easier. However, the reason that she knew to do this was because we have talked about these issues a lot and she knows how embedded and automatic they are for me. She understood that giving me the things now that I didn’t get as a child help me to orient to a safer present because I recently told her just that. As we work together and I am able to be more open and transparent with her, she is better able to understand me and give me what I need.

    I really suspect that the same thing will happen with you and Bea. You are at the point where you are making yourself more open and vulnerable, which is scary and feels really dangerous. Bea is learning about you and what you need, but just doesn’t have the time with you yet to be as attuned as you yearn for. There is nothing wrong with yearning for that level of attunement. You are realistic enough to realize that you aren’t going to get as much of it as you would like, because you probably are responding to a young developmental need. But as Bea comes to know you even better, I would bet that the two of you will have more of those healing experiences. It sounds like you have already had some of them.

    Sorry, it’s late and I’m just blathering. I just want to add one point. When I am experiencing some real need for connection with MB, if I only try to get it through email or text, then I am not satisfied. From my end, the connection doesn’t happen. If I talk to her in there somewhere and establish the connection over the phone, I can continue it via written form. The younger the distressed parts are that I am dealing with, the more that they need to actually hear her voice.

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  2. No, i havent told Bea just how stressful and anxiety making admitting even what seems to be small stuff is. I guess admitting to how hard it is feels like being even more open and vulnerable and i am really resisiting that right now– well, probably most of my life i have resisited that, but I am veey aware of it now. There have been a lot of healing moments, and times i have felt so understood and safe with Bea. Maybe thats why this feels so hard, I don’t know. I haven’t felt broken like this before with her, so this is “new” to Bea, and new to me to talk about it or tell someone other than Kay. Maybe she doesn’t know exactly how to react to broken. I don’t know. I think maybe it is some younger parts and some teen me parts, too that are feeling and reacting— they are the ones being triggered and running the show, and any time a teen or preteen part is involved I feel alone and like no one gets it. So its hard for anyone to connect with me. Maybe you are right and her voice would have helped, but even with permission, i still feel like i cant call. For some reason, i have this rule in my head that i can not call her unless it is about/for Kat or a true emergency.

    I guess you are right, i did set boundaries and hold them– albeit not gracefully. I didn’t even reconize that i had set a boundary– i think anytime i set a boundary and hold it, instead of doing whatever is going to make people habppy, i feel like i am being bad and mean and that i have done something wrong. Maybe i get pissy to others when i hold a boundary because i expect them to be angry and it is easier to be mad first. I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud, now.

    I think i just need to be less “coded” and more open right now. Bea needs to know that there are specfic memories bothering (more than bothering really, sending me over the edge, making me crazy…ext, ext) me and that i need to know she is hearing and listening and seeing that BEFORE i can listen and talk about stuff that is upsetting in the present and the present stuff doesnt feel like i have any right to be upset, so i have not allowed myself to feel any upset. Does that make any sesne at all?

    Anyways, thank you for this. And please, feel free to “blather” away anytime. It doesn’t bother me any! 😊xoxo

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  3. Two things that stick out for me are that like me, you “try to tell” others what you need. But either since you don’t know how you feel you get stuck, you feel so ashamed that the words just don’t come out so you get stuck, or you just want to be so perfect that what you have to say doesn’t fit and you get stuck. No matter what it’s all frustrating and anxiety provoking and the words don’t come out and stay in your mind and ruminate. Like the swirling wind inside of me I try to describe.
    And my T tells me that I don’t need “fixed”. That nothing is really broken. I don’t know how to explain that because I’m not certain I get it. Maybe it’s just the judgment thing and the point is not to judge yourself so harshly. To be kind and compassionate to Alice throughout this healing journey. To know that some days, weeks and maybe longer will be difficult and you will struggle and feel spacey but you are going to heal. Learning from each day and just accepting where you are at in this moment. 💜 have a good session this morning and I am thinking about you.

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  4. This. This top paragraph is it. I try to tell but dont know what i need or feel ahsamed and like i should not need it or i try too hard to be perfect and so i dont get the words out or i say the wrong words. Will this ever change, do you think? Sometimes i can see i have changed already– just seeing and admitting i have needs and feelings is huge. And that took a year to be able to do.

    I get it, kind of. Nothing is broken, its just where ever you are right now is where you are, and its okay.

    I’m having some anxiety about therapy this morning, expecting a lecture and for her to behave like past therapists or people i trusted always do. Ugh. I can feel that teenager part of me getting mad and stand offish and ready to just not care. So we shall see. Thank you for thinking of me. Xoxo

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