Maybe laughter is the best medicine…..

I wasn’t sure what I was going to say or do when I got to therapy today. I couldn’t be sure if I would talk, and tell Bea how disconnected and not on the same page as her I’m feeling, how afraid I am that something bad is happening in the relationship, that she is leaving me alone, even if it is just in feeling supported and understood, or if I would chatter and waste a session on surface stuff. We said good morning as always, and Bea sat in her normal chair on the blue rug as always, and I took my usual spot on the couch. 
There is a strange feeling, one of anxiety and….uncertainty. One that makes me want to hide; to actually grab one of the blankets she has in her office for kids to makes forts, and hide under it. I know it’s partly the fear of being honest and being seen, but it feels so big, I can’t be sure. So, instead of looking down at the floor, avoiding Bea’s gaze and curling up in a ball, I sit criss cross applesauce, look at Bea, and smile. “Kat’s IEP meeting is on Tuesday,” I say. I continue talking IEPs, teachers, education, rules….all of if. Bea listens and responds. 
Finally, Bea looks at the clock. “We’ve spent a lot of time on Kat, but I wonder how Alice is doing. It is important we talk about Kat, but I want to hear the other stuff, too”  
My face feels hot, she called me out, catching on to my avoidance. “Fine. I’m fine.” 
“There was a lot in your email. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond,” she says. She had apologized in email already, but she says it again, anyway. 
I shrug. “It was fine. No worries.” Except it wasn’t fine at all, and I should be saying so. I wonder if she knows it wasn’t fine, I don’t know. 
“I’d like to talk about your email, go through it,” she tells me. 
“Okay.” I shrug. I can’t do this. I thought I could, but I can’t. 
“Can I get it out, to just go through it, is that okay?” 
“Sure.” I’ve pulled my knees up to my chest, hidden my hands inside my sweater sleeves. 
Bea gets my email and starts going through it. She reiterates that she sees this split, this put it in a box over the summer and deal with it later but still being aware it was there, this feeling numb and separated from my feelings, is a coping state. That she sees it as a skill, and that now when things are falling apart, I can return back to this coping state instead of being in the bubble or severely dissociating. She talks about how of course it is okay to be not okay, but now I’m more capable of containing things. She says, just as she said in email, that the stress of the lat few weeks was very, very real; something she could feel from me. She says it all makes sense to her, nothing I’ve written is crazy or out of there.  
I’m barely listening. It’s like the baby edges of me are listening, like hearing her talk through this email is an after thought, or something. It like I can’t breathe. There’s too much feelings…and they all go back to feeling, once again, that she is leaving or not really here, that I’m alone. 
She asks about sleep, about my dreams being worse when I don’t have the outlet of talking. I shake my head, clarify, “No….sometimes they are worse when we are talking and it’s all right there. But it seemed…I don’t know. Like things might have been better had I not been ignoring it…some of them got pretty bad, and I felt like if I were talking through it, maybe they wouldn’t be so bad.” 
I’m looking down, covering my face by now, so I can’t see her facial expression when she asks, “Is there a particular dream you can think of right now, from this summer?” 
There’s several, but I shake my head. “No. I don’t know.” After a moment of silence, I sign. “Maybe I just don’t want to talk about it.” It’s the first thing I’ve said out loud, that might give her a clue that I feel too alone to trust her that much right now. 
“Okay. That’s fair. I can understand that,” Bea says. Her voice sounds carefully neutral, but underneath I think I sense annoyance, or confusion, maybe both. Or maybe I am imagining that. 
She continues on, reaching the list. It’s ordered so that the most recent journal entries/notes/emails are first. She brings up my grandpa. I answer what she asks, but I feel very wooden and far away; the longer this session goes on, the more distance I feel between her and I. 
We end up on a track about my mom and being perfect, expecting perfection, and I say softly, “I’m afraid I’m no different than she was.” 
“Why do you say that?” Bea asks. 
“Because…no matter how hard I tried…I tried, I really really tried…not to pass on this need for perfection to Kat, I did. I tried so hard, I said I would never be like her…and I’m doing the same things.” 
“Some of that, the need for perfection, it’s a personality trait. It’s not something you did,” Bea tells me. 
I shake my head at her. No. She is wrong. “Kat knows…she knows how much I’m needing to be perfect, even though I tried so hard to hide that. She’ll make a mistake and then ask me if I still like her.” I sigh, stuff down tears, panicked feelings. 
“Ahh, I see,” Bea says, as though this is making more sense. “Would you have ever asked your mom that?”
Quickly, without thinking or filtering, the words pop out of my mouth. “Oh God no. Not ever in a million years.” 
“Yeah,” she says softly. “You have created an environment where it is safe to ask that question. You’ve created an environment of open communication. That’s not the same. You are doing the best you can, with how you were raised. You’ve changed things, you are doing things differently. And the more you can have self compassion and let go of the need to be perfect– your moms version of perfect– the better this will all be…..” She is still talking, but I’m not really listening any longer. 
I nod, eventually, when I realize that it has been silent for a moment. “Yeah, okay.” I voice my agreement.
“The truth is, if you can accept that you are perfect, right now, in this moment, just as you are…because you are perfect, just like you are, in the be scheme of the universe, you are exactly as you should be….”
I cut her off. “I do NOT believe that.” 
She says something about how she wishes I could, and knowing how hard it is for me to hear I’m perfect as I am. 
I look up, at her. “It’s fine. But I’m NOT perfect. I do NOT believe that.” My words are firm, bordering on anger. What I want to do is yell and scream at her to stop talking, just shut up, I’m not perfect, I am a giant freaking mess. 
She listens to my unspoken plea to sop talking about this, and we switch back to talking about Kat. There’s only a few minutes left of session, anyway. 
I’m fuzzy on the details, but I say something to her about the organizing and the paperwork and the advocating and the figuring out behavior plans and working with Kat and her challenges being the easy part. 
Bea laughs. “And that just tells you how hard trauma is. Because none of what you just said is easy, by any means. It would be perfectly valid and acceptable for someone to come to therapy for help dealing with their feelings and the stress of caring for a child like Kat.”
I get this; in a logical way. I get that a person growing up with just the emotional detachments I experienced as a child, separate from trauma, would have a valid reason for going to therapy. I get that a person with a child like Kat, and the stress that creates, would have a reason for going to therapy. But, it doesn’t seem like enough. Sometimes, the trauma doesn’t seem enough either. It’s like I have this idea that I being a drama queen and don’t have a right to be in therapy. I don’t know.s
After we say goodbye, see you later’s, I have Bea hold Hagrid while I pop into the restroom. I can hear him whining as I exit. 
Bea looks up at me, saying jokingly, “Hagrid and I were working on his separation anxiety.” 
I give a theatrical sigh. “Well, great. I’m in therapy. My kid is in therapy. Even my dog is in therapy. What, exactly, does that say about me?” Although I am working hard to sound serious, a giggle escapes. 
Bea just laughs. “That you are going to be okay.” 
We are both still chuckling as I head out the door. 
I can’t seem to really connect with anyone these days; maybe sharing a laugh is the best medicine. Maybe laughter is a way to connect, even for a moment. Because, in that one instant, I felt connection, I felt we were on the same wavelength, giggling about my family, even my dog, being in therapy. It might be some thing to build on.

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8 thoughts on “Maybe laughter is the best medicine…..

    • I think it is helpful, too. Bea is easy to joke with, and she likes to laugh. Usually Kat stories are kind of my pressure reliever in therapy, because she does some silly stuff. 😊 I’m glad you get laughs in during therapy, too.

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  1. Sirena says:

    Your dog has separation anxiety, yet he is perfect as he is, he is an amazingly attuned little guy with tremendous capacity for compassion and patience and healing. He’s not perfect, yet perfect anyway…. just like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely think humor can be an incredible tool for therapeutic work. Especially when used with such a highly attuned therapist like Bea. I think the talk about perfectionism would have had a similar effect on me. I probably would feel like a fraud if someone said that and I would also feel a lot of pressure to keep living up to their expectations.

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    • Yes, that is it exactly. I feel like a fraud, like I fooled her somehow, and then start to fear I won’t actually be good enough. Ugh. That is exactly it. I’m glad I’m not alone in finding perfectionism talk so uncomfortable. Ugh. Xx

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  3. Your wisecrack made me laugh too. I hope you can see how hard you are working, even when you aren’t able to open up in the way you tell yourself you ‘should.’ It will definitely happen when its the right time. You’ll just know.

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  4. I’m glad I made you laugh. 😊 And again, you hit the nail on the head…it’s all about how I think I “should” feel, what I “should” be doing. I hope I will know when the right time is. I guess this is where I have to “trust th process.” Xx

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