My thoughts are so scattered right now. After Monday’s session, of which I remember very little, I feel like there is so much I want to say, but I am so unsure about any of it. I don’t know what I am allowed to talk about, I don’t know what is off limits. And while a part of me realizes that nothing is off limits, and that Bea had told the little girl there was nothing off limits, I am worried. I told her on Monday that the little girl was afraid to talk because she was so sure that she couldn’t stay in “Bea’s window” and she was sure she would be stopped. Bea responded by saying if there was something the little girl needed to talk about, then we would talk about it, and if she needed us to not worry about the damn window, then we would forget the window. She talked about how she only wants to keep the little girl safer, that is all she is doing,this isn’t punishment. I remember telling her that I felt like she thought there was something wrong with how we had done therapy in the past, and how that felt bad to me. That if she had focused on safety and grounding and not allowed me to talk because memories were just slamming me left and right, I would have left; I would have quit therapy and never gone back. She told me she knew that, and she didn’t think there was anything wrong with our old methods, just that now she has a way to keep me safer and more present and able to integrate everything better. That is what I remember. The rest of the session, I have no idea what we talked about.
So, Thursday, I’m driving into therapy, and I’m feeling like there is so much under the surface that I can’t name, but that I want to talk about. So I arrived and had no idea what I wanted to to talk about. I spent 75 minutes talking about Kat and then hubby and how angry I am feeling with hubby. And, then, something changed. Bea asked a question.
“I suppose I should have asked this sooner, but with the holiday coming up….are there fears about Kenny showing up at your parents? Or running into him?”
I can literally feel the change in me, I go from being more engaged and able to look at Bea, to staring at the floor. I want to hide. I do not want to think about this. “No…I…well, that day….it was Easter, he was bringing, dropping off carrot cake…..his mom….she always makes cake…It’s legendary…—.it is really good—” I interject the bit about the cake actually being really good as if it is a separate part of the story, almost as if maybe a different part of me is chiming in. “But she was bringing it to work and my mom didn’t work that day…so he was dropping it off…..it was a fluke.”
“I see. He doesn’t normally drop by?”
I shake my head. No, not exactly.
“He doesn’t still live in [that town], does he?” She asks me.
“Well…yeah. Not in my parents’ neighborhood, but in town. Yeah.”
I don’t remember what she said after that. I know we talk about how I could run into him. She asks me if I was worried, before, about seeing him. If I remember being scared or even excited about the idea of seeing him. My head is really fuzzy, and I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how to explain.
“I…well…I’d see him, before….before Kat, because I went home a lot….like…at church and stuff. I’d see him. It just was…..I didn’t think…..he was just my parents’ best friends’ son……..I don’t know.”
“I think you are leaving my window,” Bea says quietly.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I tell her. I feel confused.
“Well, I think that we had both agreed you were out of the window if it was hard to talk. And I know you are trying to figure out how to explain, to find the right words, but I don’t think that is all of it. And I called it my window, sort of joking, because you said it wasn’t your window and named it Bea’s Window.” She tells me. I wonder if it is ever annoying to have to explain things like this– things that should not require an explanation– to me. She doesn’t sound annoyed.
“Oh. Yes. It’s not my window.” I say, sort of joking, but serious.
“I know. But I’m hoping that one day it can be our window.”
I shake my head, laugh, tell her, “Hey, at least I am allowing you to have your window. That’s real progress.”
I’m not sure, but I imagine Bea to be surprised by my bluntness, but maybe proud, and smiling, when she agrees with me. “It is progress. And it can be just my window.”
There is silence while we pause for a few minutes, and then I try to explain how things were with Kenny. “I….it didn’t bother me, to see him….before I had told. But then…after, it was different.”
“What made it different?” Bea is curious.
“I….well….it…um…well, it was real then.” I have something I want to explain, but I am afraid that I will sound crazy. “I… I know how to explain it, but I am afraid it won’t make sense.”
“Why don’t you try it, and find out?” Bea suggests, softly. She sounds kind, like it is okay to not make sense and to sound crazy.
I’ve been trying to be less filtered lately, so I start to speak. “It’s like, if I was at church, or around people, or anywhere, really, mostly, I was my parents’ perfect daughter. So that never happened. Because it just didn’t. Like…it couldn’t have. So…I don’t know. But when I was alone, and had a….you would have said flashback, but I wouldn’t have called it that…a memory, a quick picture, I don’t know…or a nightmare…well, I would know what happened. But it wasn’t allowed. To know. Because then I wouldn’t be prefect. I’d yell at myself, to not be upset over stupid things, to stop lying, to….I don’t know. It wasn’t allowed. So, I would just put it away, and be perfect again. Because..I don’t know. I had to. But then, sometimes, you know, I think if I had been out with friends and someone mentioned him babysitting me, I would have said no, that never happened. Because it was so separate, it didn’t exist. It couldn’t. I had to be the perfect one….or my parents, they wouldn’t love me….and I needed them. So I had to be perfect. And Kenny…that does not happen to perfect girls.”
“It makes sense, it’s not crazy. You had to have it separated, or you wouldn’t have been able to function. And you did need your parents….it’s really no wonder them changing is so hard.” She pauses for a minute, and then asks, “Have we talked about the idea of a false self?”
I nod. Yes, we talked about it, and it had resonated with me, at least in part.
“This…it is like that, maybe, in some ways. But it doesn’t feel false to me, more like a separate personality you created to survive. Because you really were that perfect daughter for a long time. And part of you maybe felt it wasn’t the real you, but she is real, too.”
“I didn’t think about it. I just…I don’t know. It’s confusing. But it was fine, really, I was able to be perfect and keep this, I don’t know, keep everything separated, but I wasn’t thinking about it. Except for when I did remember. And then…I would force it all away. But…not like I blame her…but having a baby….”
“Having a baby probably stirred all kinds of things up,” Bea agrees.
“…….and Kat being Kat….something broke. I couldn’t…perfect me couldn’t put everything away. And it…something broke.”
“Or whatever was keeping you from being aware of your own truth, of the other parts of you, was fixed.”
I feel a little smile on my face. Leave it to Bea to see broken as being fixed. “No…it felt like something broke.”
“Okay, then, maybe that needed to happen. Something needs to be broken before you can heal it.” She says softly.
I nod. “Okay then.”
“What kinds of things would you yell at yourself, to put everything away?”
I sigh. I know, I know exactly what I would yell. But I am too embarrassed to say it. “Nothing nice.”
“Would you call yourself bad names?” Bea asks. She asks other things, too, but I don’t remember.
I nod. “Maybe. Probably.”
“Who was yelling at who?”
“The perfect one. She does the yelling.” I think how absolutely insane this conversation must sound.
“Who was she yelling at?” Bea is talking quietly, and I don’t hear any indication in her voice that she thinks I’m crazy. But I wonder. I wonder if my being so unfiltered has made her reevaluate everything and if she thinks I am crazy, after all.
“I don’t know.” I whisper.
“Maybe the little girl, trying to have a voice? Needing her secrets told? Or the teenager, being belligerent and refusing to follow the rules?” Bea suggests.
I think how either could be right, but I really just don’t know.
Bea says something about dissociation and the idea that maybe one day I would want to be able to choose to go away or not.
I think about it for a moment, but finally tell her, truthfully, “I can’t honestly think of a situation where I would want to stop myself from going away.”
“Well, I suppose it might seem impossible, but….well, okay. When I was at class this weekend, I discovered I can’t do a lot of the movements in a big group. I really couldn’t move my arms. I know I’ve told you about my social anxiety, not liking being part of a big group?”
“Yeah. But that just surprises me. I don’t know why.”
“Well, so I could move my arms when we broke off into pairs. But in the group, I couldn’t. So I needed to be present and aware of what was going on for myself, so I could work towards not being stuck and frozen in a big group.” (I think she actually explained that better than I just wrote, but I was having trouble focusing, so that is what I pretty much heard.)
“Well…..that wouldn’t be a problem, though. For me. I would go away. And move. Follow the exercise. And I might not be able to tell you much about it afterward but I would have done it, exactly, and no one would have known I was gone.” I tell her softly.
“That’s true. Because you can go away like that. I don’t have that talent, so I have to stay present and work through it. But the point of the exercise is to be able to feel. To be aware of what is happening.”
“But I….for all appearances I would have done it. So it would be okay.”
“Do you remember the boundary exercise I told you about?” She asks.
I nod. Yes, I remember. The idea is to figure out your personal space, your boundaries, and then a partner crosses your boundary line and you push them out. Or something like that.
“Well, let’s say you got to a point where you wanted to try that. So we were doing the exercise. How would you find your boundaries or push me out, and really experience pushing someone out of your space, if you went away?” Her words scare the crap out of me. To be that present, and aware, to not go hide? The idea of feeling so much, it makes me feel cold inside. I can’t do it. I’m not so strong.
“But I…. I would have to go away. But I’d…I mean, if I though you expected me to do the exercise, I’d agree, but then I’d go away. I don’t know.”
“I know. I know. I don’t expect you to do anything. You don’t have to do anything.”
I sigh. “It’s…I like to know what people want, expect. And then I do it. Then it is simple. I don’t know.”
“I know. But I don’t expect anything, I don’t want anything, except for you to be you. To do what you want, what you need.” I peek through my fingers at her, and see that she does mean it. But I really don’t understand. In my world, I matter, people keep me around, because I can be what they need. If I can’t do those things, then what is the point? Why would anyone want me around?
“I don’t know what I need.” I tell her. It feels like I need to know what the people who matter to me need, so I can be that, and everything will be okay.
“But you do. You need me to own the window. You needed to know you were still allowed to talk. You need hubby to stop being disengaged. You know some of what you need.” She reminds me.
Later, I ask Bea, “Do you ever feel like…maybe….well, sometimes when I am here, and we are talking, it’s like I get this glimpse of all the pieces and everything makes sense. And then it disappears. And I forget how it made sense.”
“Yes, I get that. What is it like, when you have that glimpse?”
“I….like I needed it to last longer.” I could have said it feels like everything will be okay, like I am on the right path. That it feels quiet, peaceful. But I felt too seen to say that.
“I think you will. I think talking and working through things and integrating it, well, all of that will lead to longer glimpses.” She says softly, but seriously.
I shrug. We circle around, talking about hubby and Kat. When I leave, I’m not super foggy anymore. I just feel like I have a lot to think about. It feels like something has shifted, and it’s neither good or bad. Just that something has shifted, and it is a result of Bea’s classes, my attempts to be less filtered, and maybe something else. I don’t know.