This post may be triggering. I had a lot happen this past weekend. I need to write and work through some things, and many of those things could be triggering to others. Please be careful, and as always, take care of yourselves. Xx
It’s been a rough weekend. By Tuesday morning, as I am driving into the city to Bea’s office, I’m so highly triggered that I am numb. I had emailed her late last night, filling her in on some of it, knowing I wouldn’t be able to talk about it all. I wrote that I needed to talk, and not focus on safety and grounding, because I felt as if there was a hurricane, tornado and blizzard tearing through my mind. I was so afraid that being so triggered would send Bea into a grounding and safety model of therapy, and I just really felt this need to talk. She wrote back in the morning, assuring me that we would make as much space to talk as I needed.
I walk in, carrying Hagrid. Bea smiles at me, a slightly sad smile, one that says she knows how hard this is. “How’s he doing today?” She asks me.
I blink back tears, and settle Hagrid on my lap as I sit down. “He’s okay. He can’t be jumping up or down or do stairs right now. And I feel like he looks really sad, even though hubby keeps telling me he always looks like this.” Over the weekend, Hagrid had strained a muscle in his back. Thankfully, it was a Sunday, so I only had to wait a day to bring him to our vet. Our vet does have emergency hours, and will meet you at the office during times when the office is closed, but Hagrid was walking, using the bathroom, and eating and drinking, and only crying or showing signs of pain when he jumped on or off furniture, so hubby had decided we could wait until Monday morning. The vet had said he pulled or strained a muscle, and gave him a laser therapy treatment, designed to reduce inflammation and speed healing.
“He does look sad, just sort of shut down,” Bea agrees with me. She is really looking at him, and her face is full of empathy. She looks as if she would like nothing better than to make Hagrid feel better. “You know, animals know how to listen to their bodies much better than we do. Hagrid is listening to his body, resting so he can heal. It is a good thing. He’s okay.”
I nod. It’s so hard seeing him hurting, and I feel so terrible. While my vet had assured me that we had done nothing wrong, and this is a common injury for dachshunds, I can’t help feeling as though I should have been able to prevent it.
“You know,” Bea says, “If my dog was hurt, and my child had jumped and almost hurt him more, I would have yelled, too. I really would have.” Part of my breakdown this weekend had been because Hagrid was hurt, and Kat had jumped onto the couch where he was sitting– after just being told no jumping or bouncing around the dog– and I had screamed at her, like another child throwing a temper tantrum.
“Thank you,” I whisper, grateful that Bea understands and is willing to share these kinds of things with me.
“So your mom…….?” Bea prompts, letting her unspoken question hang in the air.
“My mom,” I say. “I don’t know what to say. She just…..she was okay.” On Monday, after he had seen the vet, and hubby had left for work, Kat and I were sitting with him on the couch, when he let out the worst cry I have ever heard from a dog. I was so scared, and could hardly think. I had called hubby, asking him to come home because I was scared and worried and needed him. He responded very shortly with me, telling me to act like an adult and call the vet. I had called the vet (and gone back, had X-rays taken, and seen that his back, his spine, was just a bad strain), and then I had called my mom. I’d been so upset when I called her I couldn’t breathe or speak, just sob. And she had been amazing; calm and contained, and not backing away from my pain.
“She really could handle you being so upset.”
I nod. “She really could. I even told her, later, that I almost didn’t call because I didn’t want to upset her, and she said she could handle it, and it was her problem if she got upset, not my problem. It was….strange. I don’t know. Not like her. She was…..not my mom.”
“She wasn’t the mom you were used to,” Bea says.
“It’s funny. Last year, I was so anxious about thanksgiving and I didn’t want to go. This year, I am just so….it’s like I just have to make it through to Wednesday when I can leave, go to my parents’. I just…things have changed so much.”
“So you are still going, then?” Bea asks.
“Yeah. Hubby and Kat are going to his mom’s, so it is just me. I’m……I’m okay with that,” I say slowly.
“A break will be good for you, I think.” Bea agrees.
We talk about Kat, and some of the things that are concerning me. When at school, Kat is the picture of well adjusted. Yes, she needs some extra supports, and we’ve had to make accommodations for her, but it has all gone much more smoothly than I was anticipating. Of course, we had begun working towards Kat attending school this year last spring, so she was well prepared. Anyway, at home, Kat talks about school, and is sad. She had told me this weekend that her heart was broken by school, and she was very sad that she has to go there. It sparked a huge amount of concern for me, and I was very stressed and upset by her words.
Bea talks about how much Kat has had to change to attend school, and how anytime we change, there is grief involved. She suggests that may be part of Kat’s broken heart feeling. She acknowledges how hard it must to hear that, but assures me that everything in Kat’s play is becoming more pro social, and is very healthy, even with things she needs help working through. As she is speaking, she looks at me, and tells me, “You are a good mother. You’ve had a lot of affirmation about this lately, the BCBA telling you that you are spot on in how to help Kat say goodbye to the tech that is leaving, Kat’s teacher telling you that you are her favorite kind of parent to work with because you get it, the other ABA tech telling you are her favorite family to work with because you are open and real and involved. But these things surprise you. You don’t believe them. When you first brought Kat here, I was amazed at how attuned you were to her. You were right there, with her and with me, doing therapy. For me, I had never worked with a parent so in tune to what was going on. It was like having another therapist in the room.”
I’m shocked by her words. I shake my head at her. “I just…it’s like I somehow have you fooled, too. Even though I shouldn’t be able to fool you.” I sigh, and shake my head. She is my shrink. I’ve been so upfront with her about the times I have yelled at Kat, or ignored her, or fallen short of being a good mom.
Bea laughs. “I don’t think you have me fooled. I think you are a good mom. But you just don’t see it, even when others tell you so.”
“I don’t know. It’s like….they are fooled by me, or they are being nice.”
“I wonder where this message came from? I don’t think it’s an old message, from the past.” She questions.
“I don’t know. I really don’t. It just…is.” But now that she has asked the question, my mind is spinning, wondering, searching for answers.
“There is….it’s not uncommon for successful people to feel as though they are a fake. It’s known as imposter syndrome.” As Bea explains what it is, I mentally nod my head in agreement. That is how I feel. But where she is explaining it as one area of a person’s life, I feel as though that is my life. I don’t respond, and we sit in silence for a few moments. Bea breaks the silence, saying, “I don’t want us to run out of time and not have talked about everything you wanted to talk about.”
I nod. “I just…I wanted space to talk, but I don’t even know what to say.”
“Was there one thing that is in your mind, more than anything else?” She asks. When I shake m head, she suggests she could get my email, but I shake my head at that, too.
“I….it’s like this whole weekend was one big trigger.” I’ve been aware, the whole time Bea and I have been speaking, that I’m wound very tight, on edge, just holding it together.
“Okay,” she says, “So it was Sunday when Hagrid got hurt. That was the start?”
“No….I think……Friday was the start.” I reach down, pull my notebook out of my bag. “I wrote…I was going to type it, email it. But then…I just didn’t.”
“Do you want me to read it now?” He voice is soft and kind.
I open the notebook, not really looking at it. “I don’t…I was going to edit it before I emailed it.”
“I don’t care about editing, or something being typed,” she tells me softly.
I scan the words I had written, barely remembering them. A good portion of it reads as though the little girl wrote it. “I think…I mean….not just grammar or punctuation. Not really edit, I guess. Revise. I mean revise.”
“Ahhh, I see,” Bea says carefully.
I start to read what I’d written, stop, and flip the page. I’m reading silently, trying to decide if there is any part of it that I can have her read. I finally slam the notebook shut, and throw it on the floor as if it is a snake that bit me.
Bea has been watching all of this, but I’m not certain what she has seen, what conclusions she has drawn from my behavior. Softly, as if she is speaking to a scared child, she says, “Whatever is written in there is clearly very upsetting.”
I nod. I can’t speak for a minute, and when I finally do, my voice is so quiet it’s barely there. I have my face covered with my hands. I can’t look at her. “I…we were playing uno. On Friday. Kat loves uno. So we were playing, after dinner. I…we always played. When I was a kid…when we would go camping, summer…I don’t know.”
“Is there a memory associated with playing this game?” She gently asks.
I shake my head. “No….I…maybe, sort of. Not really bad. Just….I was…it’s small things. But it…playing a game, so often played when I was a kid….I….well….maybe I was more in a little girl headspace?” The last part comes out as a question, although it wasn’t intended that way.
“Mmmmhmmm, that makes sense.” Bea encourages me to continue.
“So….I…after Kat was in bed…maybe….I was still in that headspace. And maybe hubby was…maybe he….I mean….we….you know.” I can’t get the words out. Why is it so impossible for me to say the words? We had sex. Three little words, but I can’t get them out.
“I know,” Bea says quickly, quietly.
I breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have to say it for her to know, and continue. “I was…it was like…everything…just..flashbacks. And he didn’t see.” My voice breaks, and a few tears fall. “I…then Saturday…I was…..numb, gone. I don’t know. I don’t really remember a lot of Saturday.” What I do remember about Saturday is that I slept with my husband again, that night (but I can’t remember if I actually told Bea that, or not).
“And Saturday is when you wrote in your notebook?” She guesses.
“Yeah. I…I just needed…I don’t know. Everything was too much. And then Sunday, Hagrid was hurt, and I just…I don’t know. And then I was watching a show before bed, and…..it…well, it was you know…and nightmares, and then hubby woke me up Monday morning, yelling at me and…..there was that mess…and I just was frozen. And everything felt so bad. I wanted…….to…..go away…..disappear……I just….” I break off from the story, not even sure what else to say.
It’s a good thing I had emailed this part of the weekend to Bea. Sunday night, the show I had DVRed and was watching, the main character had an abortion. It wasn’t a main part of the storyline, but looking back, maybe I should have realized what the story was leading up to. I don’t know. And it wasn’t a long scene, but it was enough to put me on the crazy train. Then, sometime during the night, I had started my period, and woke up to a literal mess on Monday morning. My wake up came from hubby, screaming at me about mail I had left in the car, and he had found. I don’t know when I even got the mail, I never get the mail, but I had gotten it, and it had ended up buried under all the crap in my car. He has found it when he drove Kat to school, and it included a bill that he had needed. Then there was Hagrid being hurt, and the vet visit, and then hubby telling me to act like an adult to take the dog back to the vet on my own, and me yelling at Kat, and Kat being upset about school, and the Friday night little girl headspace. I was a mess by Monday afternoon; and a part of me was feeling extremely self destructive and as though all I ever do is ruin everything and hurt people around me. I felt as though everyone would be happier if I just disappeared. I almost called Bea. But, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I called my mom instead, needing to not be alone. And my mother surprised me by being the mom I had needed my entire life, that she was unable to be until now.
“It was a lot. A lot to deal with, and a lot of triggers.” Bea is still speaking very softly, gently. “You were really triggered. It’s…when we get so triggered like that, and have these feelings that don’t fit with our present, daily lives, it feels very crazy. But you aren’t crazy. It’s as if you are being hijacked by old feelings. And we can work on that, so things don’t feel this much out of control. We have all the time in the world to work on this.”
I nod, slowly. I wonder what she means by ‘all the time in the world’, but it feels like she means that we have as much time as I need, that she isn’t going anywhere. And for once, I don’t feel the need to question her, or worry over it. She’s not going anywhere, and I’m going to my parents on Wednesday for the weekend, where my mom will take care of me. Even though nothing feels okay, everything will be okay. I have all the time in the world to make it so.