I think I need a map

Bea wrote me back. She was kind, and reminded me that even though the little girl feels threatened and scared, she is safe now, Kat is safe now, everyone is currently safe now.

She also said this:

It’s not this story OR that story, this family OR that family; it’s this story AND that story, this family AND that family.

Which got me thinking…….

When I read this, it makes so much sense. When you say every version, every story has truth in it, and they all are connected, it makes sense. But it makes a kind of sense in a broad, generalized way. It makes sense in a “this is how the world works, many layers, all with their own truth but that truth doesn’t take away the truth in a different layer of the story” kind of way. When I apply it to my life, it’s too messy. Maybe I don’t like multifaceted stories when the story is MY story. Things are much simpler when it is 1 OR 2, not 1 AND 2. I don’t know how to fit both stories together. It scares me.

As long as I can say that I am the only one saying things weren’t okay, weren’t perfect, as long as I am the only one saying there was a lot of ugly and my family did all they could to hide the ugly under the rug….I don’t know. It meant I could be wrong. It meant that maybe I really was crazy, or lying or just being a drama queen over normal life events. It meant that nothing was as bad as I feel. It meant that things probably were perfect and maybe I just never was good enough; I was too sensitive, too emotional, a drama queen.

But now….now my mom is talking and telling a different sort of story. And that changes everything. Because it means I’m not crazy. It means I’m not making things up. It means that it’s all real; everything I have said and felt and thought about them hiding truths and burying ugly stuff and being unable to deal with bad emotions. It’s all true. And even though I’ve had some conversations with my mom in the past year that felt like she was telling me in a round about way– through saying we were doing the right things with our kid, and teaching her to feel all her feelings and validating them and always striving to be honest and transparent with her– and that she wishes she could have a do over and raise my brother and I that way…well, this is different. She’s being very straight forward. I don’t know how to respond or feel. In truth, I feel frozen when she is being so honest. It scares me. If everything I felt about my family is true, and being validated now…it means that I didn’t make up what happened with Kenny. It means it wasn’t just a silly game, and a silly crush, like I told myself for years. It means it all happened and it really was that bad.

I feel like I need a map to understand all of this, some sort of paper with everything laid out and all the puzzle pieces fitted together. It’s all swimming around in my head in choppy waters. I can’t sort it. And as soon as I think I am getting it sorted, it all breaks apart. I need a timeline, a map, something. I don’t know. I need to actually SEE both stories put together. I need to see how that works, what it looks like. Then maybe I can understand what it means. Maybe then I can make sense of it all. Or maybe that is a silly idea, and will never work, because how do you map a life, map a history of not just one person, but of their family history, just to combine it all together and figure out how that person got here? Is that even possible?

Maybe I should show up to therapy on Thursday with one of those giant rolls of paper and my colored pencils and sharpie markers. Maybe it’s time to make an “art project” in therapy. I’m sure Bea would say okay, and be fine with that. But can I really make a map? And can I really show up and be that directive in therapy? I don’t know.

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14 thoughts on “I think I need a map

  1. I’ll bet that Bea would be thrilled for yoy to show up with an art project to do. I know that eventually, I needed to take over my healing process. I go to therapy and I tell my MT what we are going to work on for the session. I usually need MT’s navigational skills to guide me through whatever it is and I need her help to deal with the feelings,that arise.

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    • I get that… I need Bea to help contain all the scary stuff, to help me feel safe enough to willingly go there. I ended up emailing her the idea of making a map on thrursday and she said it was a good idea to have a visual representation. So, you were right. She is all for it. 😊

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  2. Yes, you can. I think that the question is whether you are ready to do it yet. But the fact that you are so strong, have come so far, keep on facing your fears, and some part of you wants to do it means that you can do it.

    I’m sorry that it’s being so disruptive to be faced with confirmation that your family really was one with real problems. I do the same thing, although I recover more quickly now than I used to.

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    • Thank you for this…for saying i have come so far. Sometimes, i am not sure if i have, so it really is nice to hear.

      I don’t know if i really am ready to do this. There is a part of me that feels like doing an art project with my therapist is very vulnerable. I won’t be curled up and hiding on her sofa. I will be sitting on the floor, drawing, mapping things out. Which feels very young to me. It feels like the 5 year old part and maybe the teenager are the parts that want to make a visual. The grown up part of me feels like this is silly and no good. Ugh.

      I am sorry you do the same thing, but glad you are able to recover more quickly. I have noticed that in your writings. Its hopeful. Xx

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  3. Yes! Love the idea of a map! I am a big believer in when something comes to you that you need in such a strong voice, and that’s what I read in this post, you need to honour it. And “art” can be extremely therapeutic. Taking what we can’t make sense of in our heads and putting it on paper, whether it’s writing, drawing, painting, etc. can be part of the healing process.

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    • Thank you for validating that this is a good idea. There is a part of me that feels strongly that this is what i need. But it also feels very vulnerable; maybe similar to when i hand my joirnal over to Bea. I did email her the idea and she thinks it is a good one. I am already having anxiety that she will judge me for how many times i redo things. Even simple things— like a quick behavior chart i made for Kat, i have redone it 4 times now. I need stuff as close to perfect as i can get it.

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  4. I think an art project may be exactly what you need right now. And what a great idea! This is just so much to even begin to digest. I can relate to this very deeply. All I ever wanted was to not be the crazy one – for someone to acknowledge that things were not okay and bad things happened. But once I had that confirmation, it opened up a whole new set of complicated emotions. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you navigate through this xx

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    • Thank you for sharing this. I womder if, in wishing to not be the crazy one, in wishing for validdation that it was the family who was crazy, that we somehow keep ourselves in the role of bad and crazy….like a comtrol thing? I don’t know. Just a ramdom thought.

      I am glad you got validation that you were not rhe crazy one. Becasue you weren’t. They were wrong, not you. All these feelings and thoughts are complicated and comfusing. Thank you for getting it. Xx

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      • I definitely think it’s possible. The therapist often says that it is safer for me to believe I am crazy than to truly grasp how awful things were for me and how neglectful and abusive the people in my life were towards me. I think she has a good point.

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  5. Hi Alice. I’ve recently started reading your blog and am finding it very inspiring. I am both a visual and verbal thinker, and I’ve found that expressing myself in artworks in addition to writing is very valuable – it provides a different sort of grasp on what’s going on than writing does.

    I’m aware that I’m reading a post from a year ago now, so by the time I’ve caught up you will probably already have worked through the idea of art as therapy one way or another, but I thought it might still be worth sharing one of the ones I did and what it meant to me (and still means – I look at it every day on my wall)

    https://dangerousvoyage.wordpress.com/truth-lies-and-history/

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    • Thank you for sharing this! I still doodle or sometimes sketch for therapy, and use coloring as a way to be more grounded. I totally agree that art provides a different grasp of what is going on than speaking— and for me, writing provides another view, too.

      Thank you for reading, and for saying my blog is inspiring. That’s really sweet of you and it means a lot to me. Xx💟

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  6. I realised after I wrote this that your map is something slightly different again, but it’s such a clever idea that I think I will try it for one of the problems that’s bugging me at the moment that has so many threads feeding into it that’s hard to untangle.

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    • Oh thank you for saying it’s clever. I read your blog, and I think that mapping out this particular problem would be really helpful, because it does seem to have so many pieces to it. I hope it helps you get a clearer picture, or a fresh look at the problem. Xx

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