This week has been full of spaciness, choppy and hard. I’ve been as unfiltered as I can be with the 3 most important people in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time zoned out and hiding in the room in my head. So much feeling has come out, and I can’t handle it all at once. It’s too much. And so the Miss perfect part of me has come out, taking over, making sure things were okay. I don’t remember all of this week, as a consequence, but there were big important moments, when I was real and at least partly there. I’ve written what I remember.
Monday, I saw Bea.
“Should we look at your email? Should I pull that up?” Bea asks.
“I don’t know. I guess.” I feel exposed. I’m afraid she is angry with me for my snarkiness.
“Well, I’ll pull it up. I didn’t find teenage you all that snarky,” she says in that forthright way she has.
I shrug. Maybe I am embarrassed that I made such a big to do. “I certainty felt very snarky.”
“Well, yes.” She makes a reference to what she had said in her emailed response to the snarkiness. It’s something about this being different, not like my parents, the experience not being like my teen years of not being accepted.
“I was just….I was upset. I don’t know. But you weren’t mad. You listened.” I think about how she admitted to things I accused her of, when I was right.
Bea says something, I don’t remember what, and I tell her that I feel like replying in a quite snarky way; that the teenage part was feeling very sassy and argumentative.
“Would you have said something like that to your mother?”
“Oh no. Not ever. That….well, My parents took my door once, for being just a bit snarky.” I laugh, although it may not be so funny.
I pull my iPad out, and hand it to her. “I wrote this, too. It’s about the teenage stuff…the body stuff. I don’t know.” I hide my face.
We talk, but much of that is gone from my memory. I just know she was still there and not upset that teen me had rebelled a bit and tested her boundaries.
Later, she shifts in her seat. “Well, let’s maybe look at it like this. If I had handed you all the information on these classes, and you had been able to study and research sensorimotor therapy, would you have told me to take the classes? Or maybe a better thing to ask is what would the grown up, the teenager, and the little girl all think about this?”
“The grown up would say take the classes.” I state it matter of factly. It’s true.
“And the little girl?” She asks softly.
I take a minute to think, to look inside myself, wait for an answer to her question. “Well….she says no.”
“Just no? Is there more to that?”
“Ummm….it’s like..the little girl……” I bury my face in my knees. I need to hide. “I’m scared.”
“What is feeling so scary?”
“I don’t want things to change.” I whisper. I’m far away now. Maybe too far away.
“What would have to change?”
“I…you. There’s…..you listen to me………but if….I mean, if I can’t….do what you want, I’ll um….you’ll leave. Everything will change.”
“Ahhhhh. Nothing has to change. I’m not leaving, even if you never want anything to do with sensorimotor stuff. I’m not leaving.” I’m peeking through my fingers, and she is leaning forward a little bit. “I am curious though, why is change a bad thing?”
“Because things are okay like this. I’m not alone. I have someone listening to me finally after I waited so long. I don’t want to be alone again.” The answer just pops out. I don’t have a minute to filter it.
“That makes sense. Nothing has to change, even with me learning new tools. I’m very aware of the little girl, of keeping her and you safe.” She reassures me. It’s quiet for a minute. “What about the teenager?”
“She says no.”
“I’m not surprised.” Bea says.
“She doesn’t want anything to do with body stuff.”
“I understand. It makes sense, she’s had a lot of scary things happen in her body.”
“She’d want….she would want you to do…I mean, go anyway. Even though she says no.” I admit.
“She would want me to do what was best for her, even if she disagreed.” Bea is nodding, agreeing with what I am saying and showing me she understands what I am saying.
We agree we will discuss sensorimotor stuff, but that there is no expectation of me to agree.
“Thank you, for really looking and seeng that asking me to sit up was from the sensorimotor stuff. I felt a little crazy, being so sure and you…..I don’t know. And I was so sure you were mad, frustrated with me, for not doing what I’m supposed to. And you kept saying you weren’t mad.” She had admired she was frustrated that she had what seemed the perfect tool, and couldn’t figure out how to make it safe to use. But she had been very clear that she wasn’t frustrated with me, she almost never gets mad with people who have trauma histories because she understands there is a reason for behavior. She had said she gets frustrated when parents use their child, or when she is put on the middle of divorce cases and feels used.
“Well, I didn’t want to admit it! But you deserved to hear the truth. I had to really look at it.” She says softly.
I nod. I get it.
We switch to the list of teenage upsets, and she suggests that having a more in depth discussion of the boyfriends “list” might be helpful. I agree to try and write one. She invited me to email it, and reminds me that she is here.
After session with Bea, Hagrid and I make our way to my best friend’s house. We have a nice morning, chatting and drinking coffee. She fills me in on the big and small things in her life right now. After all, two weeks ago we met for coffee, kept things light. Before that, I hadn’t seen her for months. Now, after she catches me up, she turns to me, and looks at me, really looks.
“We need to talk about this.” She gestures to the space between us, implying the relationship. “You push me away, avoid me for months. I know this scares you. But I love you. Those aren’t just words, they are my feelings, how I feel about you. You are my family. It makes me sad when you push me away.”
She talks about attachment, and fears. She talks to me about how we matter to each other. I admit to her that she matters. I tell her that she was the first person in my life who to see me, to hear me, and to stay. She was the first person to see all the ugly and accept that, love me anyway.
“Well, yes. Because you are my family. That is what it means to be family.”
“Not in my family. My parents weren’t abusive, they loved me, but things were never like this.”
“Not abusive is debatable. But no, things were not like that in your family.”
“I think…I wish, I mean, I know that I can’t expect my marriage to be the same as us. But I wish I could be attached to hubby like I am to you.” I tell her sadly.
“I think you can. I think you should have the same safety in marriage as you do with me. You deserve that. Hubby is capable of that. You won’t always talk to him about the same things we talk about, but you have the right to have the same safety and attachment.”
This ends up with me letting down the wall around my anger. I scream and rant and rave at her; the venom and hurt in my voice is so evident. I scream about hubby, his mom, my parents. All of it. And K listens. She hears it all, validates a lot of it, says I have the right to be angry about all of this and more. She’s the only person I have ever fully showed my rage to and believed she could still see me as good and love me.
The conversation lasts an hour or so, but it ends with her saying, “You need to talk to hubby. You are hurt and have the right, but not talking to him is a disservice to you both. You are not even giving him a chance to prove you wrong. Pass the baton to him. You trust me. I trust that hubby is capable. You’re growing apart. If you don’t talk to him your marriage will be ruined. I can say those things because I’m not your shrink.” She tells me she loves me and is here, and that I can call or text anytime, that she is not going anywhere.
Later in the day, I try to write to Bea, but I can’t. It’s too much. I email her that I can’t do it. She tells me not to worry, that it might be too much right now and that’s ok.
I’ve been allowing this teenage part of me to run the show. Which means initiating things with hubby and being willing to do sexual things I would not normally do. Monday night, We are in the middle of intimate acts when I fall apart. Hubby moves, instantly. I roll to my side, face down in my pillow and sob. Wracking, pain filled sobs. Hubby asks me what is wrong, what happened? I’m dissociated enough that I answer; the answer comes much later, when I can talk. But I tell him about how hard the fall is for me. I tell him how much I hurt sometimes. I tell him that “he” (as in Kenny, or maybe the boyfriend) raped me. I tell him I am afraid he (hubby) will leave me. I tell him how triggering it is to have my parents change, how I tried to overdose when I was 14. I tell him so much, in that spacey disconnected way. I even tell him about Bea and her sensorimotor therapy and how threatening that is to me. Eventually, we both go back to sleep.
On Tuesday, I email Bea. I’m afraid that hubby will change his mind about me. I’m afraid that he will decide I’m horrible and that he is going to leave. She emails with me most of the day, short messages, validating that this is scary and that I am okay.
When hubby comes home, things are okay. We don’t discuss a lot, but he is present with me. We have a movie night with Kat, and we have retro movie night– watching ninja turtles– after she goes to bed.
There is an odd relief in that it is up to hubby now, that I passed the baton to him. He is failing, and that hurts, but it is not unexpected, and so it feels somewhat ok, and i managed to tell him how he said one thing and didn’t follow through and that upset me, without yelling (which prompts a discussion of how he is free to respond as he wishes, regardless of my requests or making needs known, in therapy)
I see Bea for the Kat’s appointment, which gives me some safety, even though I’m a little extra spacey, just to be in her office, and hear her playing with Kat. Sometimes, it feels like getting a peek into what my past would have been like if she, or someone like her had seen me as a child. Bea later emails that I had a relieved sense about me so she was going to leave well enough alone. This feels uncaring at first but then I see my distorted thinking, and realize she cared enough to see how I was feeling, reach out to me, and let me know she was looking forward to talking about this tomorrow, but that she was confident in my abilities to know what I needed.
Thursday morning, I arrive at Bea’s, a little nervous over how vulnerable and unfiltered this week.
“So, a lot happened this week,” Bea says as I sit down.
“I…well, yeah. I guess so.” I pull Hagrid onto my lap.
“It seemed like telling hubby needed to happen, even though that felt so unsafe. How has it been now?” She asks.
“Well, I didn’t mean to tell him. I just….I wasn’t really there. I mean, I was talking, but it was spacey, choppy. I just…..I don’t know.”
“Yeah, it was hard to tell him, so scary to feel that vulnerable. How did he react?”
I shrug. “I’m not….I’m not sure. He says he was glad I told him. That he isn’t leaving. But….I, well…I don’t remember what, how exactly he reacted.”
“That’s okay. It sounded like K had something to do with you talking to him. That her words were in your head.” Bea says.
“Well, yes. She just….she said that she can say things to me that you won’t because you are my therapist. She said my marriage would be over if we grew too far apart, that I needed to give him a chance. She said…it wasn’t fair to him.” I shrug.
Bea smiles. “She’s right, she said what I couldn’t. Why do I get the feeling she’s on my side?”
“Oh, she’s very much on your side. The one time I was ready to quit, she convinced me to call you and ask to see you on an extra day. She said she would hog tie me and drag me here…..she stayed on the phone that day, texting or talking to me. I believe she didn’t say good bye until I got in your office. In here, I mean. But she would say that her side is my side, even when I don’t think she is on my side.”
Bea nods. “Yeah, she is right. The only side is being on your side.”
“I know that. Even when I don’t feel it, I know. It’s why I keep talking through things with you, when I’ve never done it before, except with Kay.” I smile, thinking I am changing and growing even though it is slow.
“So, Kay was talking to you about your relationship, and relationships, feelings. She talked about and you admitted how you feel, how was that?”
“She said….she said that she already knew how important she was to me, and me saying so didn’t change anything.” I sigh. This conversation is really uncomfortable to me. I’m drifting away. “She said…..she said people aren’t as bad as I think. That I need to give them a chance. That if I drop the perfect facade, let people in, they will surprise me. She said she likes me better this way.”
“Are you feeling too far away right now?” She asks, noticing the spaciness in me. I don’t answer, so she continues, “I know we’ve tried different things to help you ground. But maybe looking around, finding 3 of your favorite things in this room. If you like, if you feel too far away. It’s another option, but it’s your choice to use it.”
We sit quiet for a minute. I don’t want to be more present. I can’t help but listen to her, though, notice some of my favorite things in the room.
“Did Kay talk about how she feels about you?”
I freeze. The way Kay feels is at odds with my perceptions. It’s complicated because I trust Kay, yet I can’t fully believe her. I tell Bea what Kay said.
“Wow. I don’t know that I have ever had a friend like that, one who feels like that about me. I’ve never had a friend talk like that to me. How was that?”
“I…..its just Kay. It’s who she is. I don’t know. But…it was hard, I guess.” I hide my face in Hagrid’s fur.
“Yes, I imagine it was so hard to hear those things.”
When just a few minutes are left, I tell her that I have written about the boyfriend. She asks if I want her to read it now, but I’m not sure. I finally decide that no, I don’t want to have her read it because she won’t be able to respond or talk to me about it. We agree that I will type it and email it, if I’m able to. Bea tells me she does like seeing handwritten things because she likes to see the handwriting changes, which signal state changes. We talk about how she has seen big changes in my handwriting before, changes that match with my voice changes. We flip through what I’ve written, noting that the handwriting doesn’t change. I tell her I will do my very best to type it all unfiltered.
As I’m leaving, I tell her that it’s okay if she is geeked about what she learns this weekend, that I’m okay with it and understand. She had told me via email she hoped she didn’t come back so geeked up this time. We agree that she will tell me about what she learned, and I will be able to choose if I want to talk more about it or stop and change the subject. She tells me about the aspects of the class that are hard for her, how each therapist in the class has to existence being therapist and client. So she does know what it’s like to be on my side of things, at least a little.
Late Thursday night, early Friday morning, I type the horrible truth of the boyfriend. When I wake Friday morning, Bea has already emailed back. It means a lot that she emailed back so early, first thing. What I told her mattered.