Being Brave

This post could have some triggery stuff in it. Please just be careful. Xx
 Hagrid comes with me to therapy today, and so we stop outside Bea’s office while he sniffs out the perfect potty spot. I love the tree lined sidewalks with their burnt orange and red and gold leaves. I love the houses and business side by side, the coffee shops and bookstores. I love the hustle and bustle of all the students rushing by to get to class. I love the feeling of being downtown. 

After getting upstairs and getting settled in Bea’s office, Hagrid walks over to her and she scratches his head. We maybe do the chit chat thing, but she stops me from getting too comfortable in chit chat mode. 
“Should I bring out your email? I thought there was a lot of really good stuff there. I wondered what you thought about what I said? I don’t think you wrote back, so I don’t know what your thoughts were,” Bea says. She has one leg bent under her, resting on the chair, and she is leaned back, relaxed. She’s not upset I didn’t write back, but it seems it would have been okay to send another email. 

“I did….I mean, I wrote back. But it was really late– or early this morning– and it seemed silly to send it when I was seeing you in just a couple of hours.” I tell her. In truth, I didn’t email my response because I wasn’t sure she would email back when we would be having a session in just a few hours, and I knew if she didn’t email back my feelings would be hurt. So I chose to bring my response with me. 

“Do you want to share it now? Start there?” Bea shifts in her seat, leans towards me, just a little bit. 
I nod, and reach in to my hunter green bottomless pit of a purse. I pull out my iPad and hand Bea my response. 

She takes it from me and begins to read. I slowly bury my face. “Mmmhmmm……uh-huh, yep…..this makes so much sense. I hear you saying you just need to put the hubby stuff on the table for now. I don’t expect you to do anything, but I think I do sometimes feel like I should temper your feelings with some reality. And I don’t want to see you end up so far away from hubby that you feel you can’t go back. That’s why I feel I need to advocate you talking to him. But you are right, you do know this and I don’t have to keep reminding you. We can table that for now.” 

I don’t respond, but I listen to her words. I’ve pulled my knees to my chest, and my cheek is resting on my knees, my head turned away from Bea. I have this love-hate relationship with allowing people to read my words. I’m more honest in my writing than anywhere, and while it feels so validating to have those words seen and acknowledged, it is also terrifying. 

I know when she reads my response to her suggesting that expressing my thoughts and feelings to hubby mattered. She had written, ‘Somehow it still seems important that you convey your thoughts and feelings to him. Either you express them, or they are just logs on your internal fire that pushes him away.’

I responded with: ‘Maybe I just need to be angry and push him away right now. As long as everything stays on the surface and I can stay distant, it’s fine. I can’t express my thoughts or feelings to him. He is not interested. And every time I do, I end up hurt and regretting it. No more. I can’t take anymore.’ 

“I’m thinking that maybe we need to work on being able to express feelings to hubby with no expectations, to be able to express thoughts and feelings for yourself, so they aren’t stuck inside hurting.” Bea says slowly. 

I shake my head. “No….its not….I mean, I don’t even expect anything from him anymore. I can’t.” I sound sad. I feel sad. 

Bea says how hard that must feel, and that it’s not uncommon for this to happen when one person has been in therapy and is growing; a disconnect happens. “Some women manage to compartmentalize their relationships, to get what they need connection wise from friendships instead of their marriage.” She pauses for a minute, then continues, “You have Kay, and other friends. Maybe for a while you can get connection from that, until things feel better with hubby.” 

We talk about how he has the capacity to connect, and how he has the capacity to be present and there in the way I need. I think Bea doesn’t want me to give up. She says how his defense is to turn off feeling, to be distant. Its sort of like dissociating, but not exactly. 

“I’ve lived this before! Turning off things, not being there, changing stories. I’ve done this. He is just like my parents. I can’t do this again. I can’t live that again!” Anger laces my every word, but it’s sort of hidden and underneath the words. 

“I can hear your resolve that you don’t want to pretend things away. Monday you were feeling a lot of sadness. This sounds like anger. Which, as I am sure you know, is another part of grief. This all feels like needing to grieve to me.” 

“I just…I can’t. And I don’t…I can’t do this.” 

“I know,” Bea says, and in those two words I feel so much understanding and compassion. 
I’m silent again, and so Bea goes back to reading:
(Me) He hates me. He is tolerating me, waiting for the old me to come back. But that me is never ever coming back. She is gone, she was never real. That girl was made up– by me, by my parents, she was living the perfect story about a perfect life we all created. And that is who he loves. This– him waiting for old me to come back– is what makes me want to scream the whole story, every ugly thing that ever happened, that I ever did, at him. So he can see that she is not coming back, and why. And then he can get it over with, admit he hates me and leave. 

(Bea) I believe you are projecting a lot of your own thoughts, beliefs, and feelings here. It feels very Alice to me. I don’t know where hubby really is in this.

(Me) Maybe my own thoughts, but I believe they are his, too. He is waiting for the old me to come back. He might not say it exactly like that, but its always “when you are back to feeling like yourself” or something. Doesn’t he get it? I wasn’t feeling much of anything then!

“Ahhhh. He is trying to fix things. But I wonder……he hasn’t grieved. This…there is something for you to both grieve, you need to grieve together.” 

“I’m not….no. Not with him. I can not let him…no feeling with him. It’s too much.” I whisper. 

“Well, you are already grieving. But it seems he needs to grieve, too. I haven’t thought of this before, but how would you feel if he came in and I talked to him about connection and grieving, needing to be present…….” Her voice fades away from my reality as I drift away. I don’t know what it is, but this idea doesn’t feel safe. 

“I don’t know,” I say slowly. 

“It’s just something to think about.” Bea’s voice is neutral; it really doesn’t matter to her what I choose to do.

“I just….it…something.” Words are getting twisted, and I am afraid to say what I am really thinking. 

“What comes to mind right now?” 

“I…it just….I’m not sure I want him here….I don’t know.” I feel so ashamed. 

“It would take a lot of trust to allow him to come and allow us to talk. I wouldn’t talk about any of the specifics of what you are feeling or working through. It would be about him and his needing to do some processing. But it would take a lot of trust. I get that.” 

“I just can’t.” I hate myself for not being able to let him come here and talk to Bea, for not having enough trust. It just feels like if they get together, they will end up discussing how awful I am, what a terrible person I am. 

“That’s okay. It was just something I had really thought of before, so I wanted to put it out there.” 
We somehow shift to talking about all these bad feelings. Bea asks me something about them, but I don’t really hear her. Then she says, “Are they feelings only, or are there flashbacks, memories?” 

I can only nod. 

“Flashbacks?” She asks me again. 

I nod. “Yeah.” I whisper it, so quiet I’m really unsure if I spoke out loud or only in my head. No matter, either way, Bea knows what I am saying. 

“Ohhh,” she sounds a little sad, I don’t understand why. “Is there a specific memory?” 

I don’t know, the answer is so complicated. Yes and no. There are several. Too much. It’s all too much. 

“Does it feel like the boyfriend stuff?” She presses gently. 

I nod. “More.” I’m so far away, it seems impossible to speak. These things scare me, the memories, the feelings, and what will happen if I do share them. 

Bea is quiet for a minute, and then she says, “Do you think you need to come back a little bit?” 

I shake my head. No. I do not want to feel more present. It’s too much.

“These feelings are so close here. I am noticing your hand making a fist. What is coming up?” Bea says softly. 

I freeze inside. I go from being far away and blurry to somehow far away but on alert. This isnt okay. This feels threatening. She said it was my choice, I was in control if anything changes and she is changing it anyway. My head is spinning. I finally notice that she is right, I do have my hand fisted. I close my fist tighter, dig my nails further into my palm. 

“You made a fist….maybe this memory makes you feel like fighting?” Bea says more, but I don’t really hear. She’s wrong, and with that wrong guess I feel so alone. She doesn’t get it. “Is that right?” She continues, checking with me. 

I shake my head. No. 

“Okay. That wasn’t right. Do you want to tell me about it?” 

“No. I…no. I don’t want to.” I tell her sadly. I made a fist to dig my nails into my hand, to hurt. Who does that? I can’t say it, can not explain it. 

“Okay. That’s okay,” she is trying to reassure me. “You know, we were going to talk about the boyfriend before, but we didn’t. It’s no wonder this is all so confusing and hard right now with hubby. The boyfriend stuff seems to be getting mixed into it all.” 

“I’m afraid.” I tell her. 

“Those memories feel very real right now,” Bea validates.

“No…well, yes. But it’s more. I’m afraid because it…I don’t know.”

“All these feelings and memories feel very much like they are right now. It is so hard, and it does feel very scary.” 

“I…stayed.” I can’t say more than that. It’s the most I can explain, I’m far enough away that words are really hard to get out. It feels like it takes too much energy to explain. 

“What was that?” Bea asks. I think she might have actually heard me, but is trying to make sense of the two words I mumbled in relation to what we are talking about. 

I shake my head, whisper again, “Stayed. I stayed.”

“Ohhh. You stayed with him? Is that what you are thinking?” 

I nod. “Yeah.” 

“Well, we know….from the Kenny stuff, you were set up to be in a relationship that was hurtful. Trauma bonds are very strong.” Bea says more about trauma bonds, but I have trouble being present enough to hear her. She talks about repetition compulsion and how this wasn’t my fault. But she knows that being too teacherly can make her lose me, so she says, “But that is all logic, and logic doesn’t change feelings. Those feelings speak differently to this.” 

I nod. “I’ve been thinking about the…you know. After I left.”

“The pregnancy?” 

“What I did….” I say sadly. 

“The abortion.” She says. 

I nod. We don’t say much more. There is so much I have running through my mind. 

“I know you know from your yoga, how we sit and move can effect our feelings. I wonder what would happen if you sat up, lifted your head and straightened your spine? If you would feel more powerful, stronger? I would turn my chair around so I wouldn’t be looking at you.” Bea suggests. 

  I can’t believe she is doing this. No. I don’t want to move, that doesn’t feel okay. How can she change things like this? She said it was up to me. Oh my God, she can’t turn her back on me. It would be like she was leaving. No. No. This is not okay. A million thoughts run through my head. And then I start judging myself. Don’t be so stupid. Stop being a drama queen. Just sit up. 

“You don’t have to do anything. This is about going inside yourself, seeing what feels right for you,” Bea says. “Maybe you need to be curled up inside yourself. Maybe sitting up feels right.”

Argh. Why is she doing this? I hate this. 

“What’s coming up for you right now?” She asks. 

Don’t answer that, don’t be dumb. And I can not tell her how her offer to turn around feels. That is too vulnerable. And silly. Just sit up so she stops. Sit up and you can get out of here.
But I can’t sit up. So I finally say, feeling very far away and like it is not really me talking, “I feel uncomfortable.” 

“Okay. Thank you for telling me.” Bea says more, but I don’t know what. 

Bea is talking, and all of a sudden I start sobbing. Quiet cries that grow louder. I was so scared. I am so scared. She is going to hate me. Everything is wrong. Everyone is changing. I can’t do this. He raped me. Both of them, Kenny and the boyfriend. I’m lost and alone. I’m bad. Awful. My parents only loved me because I was perfect. But that isn’t true anymore. I don’t know what’s true. I ruin everything. I hurt people. I’m selfish and mean. Everyone is better off without me. They all hate me, anyway. 

The feelings come up and out and threaten to overwhelm me. I cry and cry. “I don’t even know why I’m crying. I am so dumb.” 

“Because so much hurts. All the feelings. Speaking up when you were so scared, that is hard and scary. There is just so much coming up.” 

Eventually, I just can’t keep crying, and I go away again so I can function. “I’m okay, I’m fine,” I tell Bea, wiping at my face and lifting my head. I can’t look at her. I gather up my things, hug Hagrid. 

“I don’t have anyone coming next. Take a few minutes, get grounded. I’m just going to bustle around here, okay?” Bea says gently. 

I nod. Okay. So I sit, holding Hagrid, while she checks messages and makes tea. She makes small talk with me, telling me about the dog her daughter wants. After a few minutes, I tell her good bye. Bea smiles, and says she will see me tomorrow at Kat’s appointment. I nod. 

Later, at home, I write out answers to all her questions, and then, trying to be brave, I email them. 



9 thoughts on “Being Brave

  1. You are very brave, Alice.

    By the way, I have been known to do the same thing with clenching my fists. I have found that I almost always do it when I am angry with my therapist and can’t bear to admit it. It gives me a way of directing the anger at myself instead. Not my most healthy response…. But I actually shouted at her and slammed my mug on the coffee table to make her stop a couple of weeks ago. She told me that she was impressed at how clearly I did anger, when I finally did it. Twerp! Therapists are weird creatures that like for you to get angry with them and tell them to stop.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Me too! (the deliberately turning frustration and anger with my therapist in on myself). I also agree that Bea would probably welcome you saying, “I don’t want you to turn away.” She’d congratulate you for telling her what you do/do not want.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Therapists are also human, so it’s probably possible to catch any of them at a bad time and surprise them with the anger. However, when they have their good therapist hat on, they can certainly deal with anger. Even strong anger. My therapist jokes that I just can’t throw her out the window, but she can deal with just about anything less than that. Of course she knows that there isn’t the slightest chance that I would actually do something to hurt her, so it is safe to make such a sweeping statement.

        A few weeks back, she was pushing me about something and I felt the urge to throw my cup of tea at her, which shocked me. I admitted it, which then led to a discussion about how thoughts are different from actions and she did thank me for not throwing it at her. I think that she said something about preferring that I throw something softer and cooler at her. But she did take it all in stride.


      • Wow. I’m so impressed that you admitted it. There are times where I’ve wanted to throw something. I like hearing about others letting out anger, because it makes me feel less wrong, less bad, for having my own angry feelings. Thank you. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You really are brave, Alice. This is all such tough stuff you’re working through and it’s a big deal that you’re sticking it out as much as you can. You’re doing wonderfully.


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