“And you? I’m curious how you are feeling now, if you still are feeling sad? It sounds like it was a really tough week.” Bea turns to me, changes the conversation from Kat and the school meeting and everyday things to me and how I am feeling and the email I had sent.
I go from engaged and mostly present– or at least the normal, okay, functioning part of me was present– to feeling small and silly and ashamed. I can literally feel hot pin pricks of shame or embarrassment or something burn through my chest, my neck, my face, as Bea turns her focus on me. I shut down, looking down at the floor, wanting to hide. “I don’t know,” I mumble.
“Is the sadness…do you know what it’s from?” She asks softly.
I shake my head, mumble a response.
“There are lots of reasons to feel sad. Kay, your mom, the situation with the doctor and facing your identity as a survivor. Lots of reasons. It makes sense to me that you would feel sad.”
I sit, curled up and floaty, my hands over my face, not wanting to have this conversation. “I feel like everyone has left, or is leaving or will leave.” It’s a whisper, quiet and barely there.
My words don’t manage to cross the space between us, and Bea says, “What was that?”
I’m annoyed. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to have to repeat myself, but I do.
Bea doesn’t respond right away. When she does, she is honest in her response. “My first instinct is to say I’m not leaving. To reassure you that I’m not going anywhere. But of course I can’t guarantee that. I don’t know the future. I can promise you that I have no plans to go anywhere. Kay did leave, and that is really sad. She’s not giving you space to have your feelings, she shut you out. And that hurts. Your mom, not being able to be there emotionally, that feels like she’s left you again, but I really do believe this is part of her process, her journey. That she will be back. You know as well as anyone that healing isn’t a straight path. I don’t see hubby or Rory leaving, they are here. Not everyone is leaving.”
“I know. I know that healing isn’t a straight path.” The words sound like snapping in my head, angry and annoyed. They come out mumbled and quiet.
“We talk about patterns of emotion, getting sort of stuck in feeling, and those aren’t helpful feelings. They aren’t authentic, healing expressions of emotion. Does this feel like sadness….like when you cry and it hurts but then you also feel lighter, and better in a way? Or does it feel like a pattern?”
I don’t know what she is talking about, but it feels like she is saying I don’t really feel sad, or upset, or something, like she thinks it is a habit, like I just need to choose to be okay. I don’t know. I feel myself shutting down, closing her out, feeling upset and hurt. “I don’t know.” I whisper the words, because it seems there is an expectation that I respond, and I’m nothing if a not a good girl who does what is expected. And then I add, “You forget the last part. Everyone will leave.”
She says something about everyone realizing at some point that they are alone, that it’s like this existential crisis or something. I don’t know. She talks, and I don’t listen.
Finally, I say, “Let’s just talk about the doctor letter.”
Bea laughs softly. “Nothing like contemplating why we are here, feeling all alone, talking about existential crisis to make the doctor letter feel like a good topic.”
I shrug. I don’t have a response. Nothing feels like a good topic. I’m ready to go. I don’t want to be here.
“I think we should be more grounded before we talk about this,” she says. When I don’t respond, she offers up suggestions for being more present. “Do you want to color while we talk? Do you want to look around the room and name colors you see?”
I don’t want to do anything. I want to leave. “I’m okay. I’m fine,” I tell her.
She doesn’t say anything right away. Then she says, “Okay.” But it doesn’t sound like she believes it. It sounds more like she has chosen to pick her battles, and she is isn’t going to push this right now.
“Both letters are good,” Bea starts off the conversation. “You know your doctor and you know how she will respond to each.”
“She isn’t…I don’t know. She’s just real. Like you are real, Kay…Kay was real.”
“And you said she runs late a lot, right? Because she takes the time people need?”
I nod. It’s true. I chose this doctor a long time ago because she’s real, she’s very caring and real. She’s also really smart, but not in a way that she talks down to people. She has always behaved like we are equals, until I behaved like a child. Ugh.
“My doctor, I would be very boundaried and clinical with her. She’s not warm and fuzzy, she’s a ‘just the facts’ kind of person. But, my old doctor, I would have told her more, she was warm and it would have felt safe to give her more information.”
“I don’t want to tell anyone anything!” The words slip out.
“I know. I know. The choice is to find a new doctor, or tell this doctor something.” Bea says matter of factly.
We circle around, and around. I feel myself getting angrier and angrier. I’m mad at Bea. I want her to shut up, to stop talking to just leave it alone. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I tell her. I mean that I don’t know why I am reacting this way, why I am feeling so mad at her when all I want is to feel close to her, to feel not alone.
“What do you mean?” She asks me.
“Nothing. I don’t know.”
At one point she tells me I can tell my doctor what I need. I mumble that what I need is for this to not be real, for no one to make me talk to anyone, for this to not have happened. She doesn’t hear me, and so she asks me what I said.
“It doesn’t matter,” I say.
“I think it does matter.”
I shake my head. “It’s not important, never mind.”
“I think it is important,” Bea argues.
I don’t say anything and she lets it go. I don’t know if I wanted her to push and fight with me that it is important, or if I wanted her to let it go. I have a thought running through my head, and it takes everything in me to say it out loud. I’m not sure I want to say it; the grown up part of me doesn’t want to say it, but the teen is fighting to get her words out. The teen ends up winning. “If I say I’ll send the email, can we just be done with this?”
Bea busts up laughing, but it’s kind laughter. “That is such a teenager response,” she tells me, still chuckling. She is enjoying my snarkiness. She is not angry or defensive over it, and she’s not telling me I can’t behave like that. It’s not a response I’m used to. “We can be done talking about this,” she says, a smile in her voice.
I don’t remember how we ended things. I do remember going home, and in a fit of anger, sending an email to my doctor. It was a very teenage feeling, a “I’ll show you, I’ll make you leave me alone” feeling. So, I send the email. Pressing the send button is like sticking a pin in a ballon– the big angry feeling deflates immediately, and I once again feel scared and alone.