Not alone this time

It was another blurry session today. I spent much of the session fighting within myself to let out all the yuck inside me but miss perfect won out, and things stayed pretty even keeled. But it was the end of session that really mattered.

Bea looked at me. I was sitting on the couch, holding Hagrid, and facing her. We had been discussing Kat’s ABA techs; the new tech, I’ll call her Tanya, already has good boundaries with Kat, and seems like she can handle things. The other tech, who has been with us quite a while, Nala, has an interesting relationship with Kat. They go back and forth, fighting like peers. So, Bea and I had been psychoanalyzing Nala; I have a theory of why she behaves the way she does around Kat, and it makes it really hard for me to be angry with her. Luckily, our BCBA also has her LMSW (social work degree) and worked with women who had PTSD prior to going back to school for her BCBA. So, she is very on top of the situation, and has been working with Nala to help her not be so triggered by Kat’s behavior. But anyway.

We are having this fairly light conversation, and Bea looks me. “I am aware that this is another session where we have stayed on the surface.” She says it kindly, in the same voice the entire conversation has been in.

I still hide my face, right away. I feel like I am in trouble. I’m wasting her time. I am just going to session after session, twice a week, talking about nothing, wasting time. Bea has better things to do. I’m terrible. What’s wrong with me? Selfish, drama queen, attention seeker. That’s me. I need to stop this, now. She’s going to fire me. I feel like I can’t breathe. “I know. I know,” I mumble into my hands. “I’m sorry.” The last is almost a whisper. I’m so ashamed of wasting her time like this, I can barely apologize.

“I just wanted to put it out there; give you a reality check and let you know I am aware that you need to stay on the surface right now. And that’s okay. There is a lot going on, a lot of changes. It’s okay with me if you don’t want to stay at the surface, and it’s okay if you do. It’s about what you need right now.” Bea continues, calm, grounded.

I breathe. Right. I asked her to tell me, when I am being miss perfect, that she is aware of it. Because I usually believe I am fooling her, and then it’s really hard to go back to the yuck stuff, or even harder to say that I am struggling or whatever. I don’t know.

“I do think we did some important work today; we figured out Nala, and we figured out exactly what it is about Nala and Kat together that triggers you, and we came up with something you can try to help change the situation,” Bea tells me.

I nod. Right. We did do all that. And we talked, albeit surfacly, about Kat and school and schedules and all of that. Which was good.

“So, Thursday, 9:30. And if you want surface talk, that’s good, and if you want something else, that’s good. Okay?”

“Okay,” I say. I grab my bag, my coffee, clip Hagrid’s leash back on him. We say our goodbyes, and I head out for the day.

Hagrid and I end up going for a walk, which is nice. I walk him almost everyday, and he loves his walks. It’s on my walk that I realize how great it feels to know Bea is aware that I’m having to stay on the surface of everything to keep from falling into pieces. It’s like even though I haven’t talked to her about what is going on in my head– and I am not even sure, because I can not allow myself to be still enough to hear those deeper thoughts– or how I am feeling–and I don’t know, I’ve detached to the point that I can’t feel enough to even put a name to my emotions, but I know they are big and overwhelming– I am not as alone with it all as I think I am. I am no longer 14, being forced to pretend everything is okay and completely alone. I am choosing to pretend and stay very much task oriented, and I am not alone.

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11 thoughts on “Not alone this time

  1. Such good work, Alice! Your last sentence sums it up beautifully “I am choosing to pretend and stay very much task oriented, and I am not alone.” It is completely okay for you to stay surface, and when you are ready, you’ll take it somewhere else. I am so inspired at your self-care and self-awareness here. Well done.

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  2. Perhaps it’s not pretending or being perfect, but taking a well deserved rest and pacing yourself. Your’re work is draining, and your instinct to work on smaller, yet significant issues, was both productive and self-preserving. (as well as a nice walk afterwards)
    That tendency of wanting things just so, or perfect is so understandable.That longing for control is attainable sometimes but not always. And maybe your ideal session in one where heavy stuff is dealt with each and every time. But going with your healthful instinct of a lighter session, offered recoup time and was just as valuable and necessary. So great you honored your needs and instinct… : )

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    • Thank you for saying that the small stuff in therapy is just as valuable and needed, that it is maybe a form of self care and okay to do. I think you are right, i have this idea in my head that every session has to be heavy stuff and work; or i am not working hard enough, Bea will decide that i don’t need to see her twice a week, or at all, or I don’t know. Something bad will happen, becasue i will be being a “bad” therapy client. Rationally, i can see this isn’t true, but i have this big fear. So thank you for all your words pointing out that it is really okay. I need that. Xx

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      • Yes, I so understand that ‘being bad’ feeling. So support from others shores me up and is so valuable, to be reminded that I’m not BAD!
        I don’t believe Bea would ever insist that go less or stop therapy though my feel at some you think about it. But you are in control and it’s up to you. But that doesn’t help that feeling of fear for it. I know that feeling too well. Maybe it goes back to, Keep the secret if you want to keep a family… Be quiet, or else.
        So it’s a child’s fear, but as a grown woman, paying the bills, it’s your call.
        Very often it’s the ‘small’ stuff that matters the most, is grounding, and safe.

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  3. My therapist always reminds me that the only place I need to be is exactly where I am, whatever that means to me on that day. You are certainly not wasting Bea’s time. Needing space to talk and be heard about more superficial issues is also important, and perhaps an act of self-preservation that you need right now. However it is also lovely that Bea reminds you that the space is always open to go deeper. I know I would benefit from such prompting.

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    • Bea says that, too. That I’m right where i need to be in the process. Well, unless I am doing something self harming, then she says that is a communcation that we need to work on safety. Sometimes I think i need space to talk about “nothing” because i wasnt heard as a child, even when i was just chattering on about my day; my parents constantly were saying i talked too much. I don’t know. And yes, i need the reminder that its okay to go deeper; i get in this completely illogical thought pattern of “i am wasting her time by talking about nothing. I can not talk anout ugly or serious stuff, she thinks i am fine now, she does not want to hear all the ugly stuff.” It makes no sense, the two thoughts contradict eachother, but there it is. Xx

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  4. It seems so easy doesn’t it?! To,stay present for just an hour maybe two. And focus and work through feelings and thoughts that are years old and know that it doesn’t matter. But it does matter and it does feel so overwhelming and alone. However, you are right we aren’t alone and it’s okay to be whoever we are in our healing being it is right where we need to be.

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