I am seen

This post may be triggering. I wrote about sexual abuse, self harm, eating disordered behaviors. Please be careful when you are reading it. 

This hasn’t been a good week. In all honesty, things haven’t been good since that bad doctor appointment. It’s been a sort of steady decline since then, of me getting more and more overwhelmed. Bea had a thing Monday morning that couldn’t be done any other time, so I saw Tuesday instead. We kept in touch via email over the weekend; mostly it was me writing how gone I was, how alone I feel, and checking that she was still there. She offered up grounding ideas, and reassurance that she was still there, and that she sees me and is still listening. 

I emailed her that I was afraid, that the last time I was feeling and acting like this my husband emailed her. I told her these memories are similar to the ones the last winter, when I lost it. I told her I was lost and confused. I said that I thought it didn’t matter anymore, I had to find a way to fix it, to work through it, to get over it, so I’d try whatever she threw at me, I’d try it. Because I don’t want to be this person, and I’m not sure how much longer I can be okay when I feel like this. 

I spent the weekend baking. I made french macarons. I made many, many macarons. My kitchen, freezer, and fridge are full of macarons. I used to bake cupcakes. I used to make fancy, creative flavors, and fancy beautiful frosting. Cupcakes are simple, now, though. I can make them without thinking, I can make them completely dissociated and falling apart, and they don’t distract me anymore. Macarons, on the other hand, take attention, careful attention. They can be made in all kinds of crazy, creative flavors. They are small and cute and different. And they offer a small distraction, they aren’t mindless. 

I need a distraction. I’m so lost in hurt and mess and memories I can’t breathe. I’m lost and scared, and being dissociative doesn’t offer any relief because it feels unsafe to be so far away. It feels unsafe to be far away, and it feels unsafe to be here. I want to spend every minute of everyday cutting, throwing up. Those things stop me from hurting. They numb all the fear. So, instead I’ve been baking and I will continue to bake, and bake and bake.

I’ve all but lost Tuesday’s session. Its fuzzy. The last few weeks are fuzzy. I drive there in a daze, a fog. I take Hagrid with me, and he offers me some comfort. He always does, and I’m so glad I have him with me. I love this dog. 

Bea greets us with a smile, and we settle onto her sofa. I don’t think she let me get away with much distracting small talk. Or maybe I was too far away to make small talk. 

“Did hubby ever talk to you?” Bea asks. She was referring to an email I sent her about a fight– or rather a me screaming at him thing– in which I told hubby I wasn’t Polly-fucking-Anna. I’d told him I try to be, I want to be, and that was who he met, married and fell in love with, but no one listens to Polly-Fucking-Anna. I screamed that he wanted whatever “this”– meaning the issues between us are– was to be my fault, to be because my of PTSD, my triggers, my issues, but it is about us, the both of us, it’s him, too. I told him that this issue was going to remain until he dealt with his stuff. And he said nothing in response. Not one word. 

I shook my head. “He doesn’t….he doesn’t see me. And I yelled. I mean, I swore. I don’t swear. It’s not…..I just…ugh. He had me so upset, I was swearing. I just….I don’t know.”

“Well, you had a voice, you expressed something you have needed to for a long time, and that’s important.” Bea says. 

“Ummmmm…….I’m not so sure. I just screamed and screamed and he didn’t say a word. So what was the point? I don’t know. He needs therapy.” Hagrid nudges me with his nose, and I run my fingers through his ears. 

“I wasn’t trying to be discouraging in my email; I think asking him to go to therapy is good, it’s great, but I think people have to go to therapy for themselves, and choose it for themselves to really heal.” She’d written: People have to want to work on their stuff in order to change, so if he’s not motivated to go to therapy for himself I’m not sure how much work would actually get done. (if you convinced him to go). Most people change best when they are in pain, which makes sense I guess. That’s not encouraging in a situation like yours, of course, but still it’s worth continuing to encourage him to go. 

“I didn’t think that,” I say honestly. “And I know. I just wish he would go. Did you think I was right though? About us being good, and him seeing me when I was Polly-Anna, and now all this PTSD stuff coming out has triggered something in him, it triggers his stuff and makes him shut down, which only triggers me more because I feel not listened to and that triggers his stuff more, and it’s just this bad cycle we are in. Is that right? Am I right about that?”

I had explained it more throughly via email and asked if what I said was right, and she had responded in a way that told me she agreed, but she hadn’t explicitly said I was right. “Yes, it’s right, it makes sense. It’s good to understand the cycle that you are in, what is happening.” She tells me.

“I just…I don’t know.” I cover my face, and stop talking. I don’t want to talk about hubby anymore. 

It seems we sit in silence for a long time. Or, at least there is a big blank in my mind. I’m really not sure where the conversation went from there. 

“What happens when you get snappy with hubby?” Bea asks. I had told her that I was snappy all week, and that was what led to our fight.

“It’s anyone. I mean…..it’s…I’m in this far away place. I don’t…..it’s not okay, I don’t…..it’s not this safe feeling…..it’s not okay here, but then…..it’s….I’m…….anything that interrupts me, that distracts me lit of the far away, I snap.” I shake my head. It’s really hard to explain this. I don’t have the words to explain my internal world, my reactions, my feelings, any of it. 

“Do you feel irritable?” She asked more, described it better, but I don’t remember what her words were. Maybe she talked about being short tempered, snapping before you can think, feeling slightly out of control. 

Her words make me feel really understood. I hate this part of myself, but she says it all so kindly, so full of empathy and just curiosity but it doesn’t sound like she is hating this part of me. I nod my head, but then realize that because I’ve curled up and hidden my face in my knees, Bea probably can’t see me, so I say, “Yeah.” 

We talk about the far away, and Bea tells me that the here and now is safe, that I am Grown up and safe. 

“It’s too much,” I tell her. Our session is near the end, but I need her to hear this, to get it. “It’s like….I’m on this tightrope. Trying to balance. And I can’t. I’m falling, and I have to balance. If I don’t….I…..I’m falling and I have to balance. If I fall, there’s no one there to catch me.” My voice catches and I start to cry. 

“Ahhh. You are feeling really alone.” She says softly. “What would happen if you fell?” 

“No one would catch me. I….all this….it would be right there. And then….I don’t know. I don’t know what would happen.” 

“These memories that are so real lately. They really have you feeling so alone and scared. Have any of them connected or have you been able to put words to it?” She asks me. 

“No…it’s just pieces.” Really bad pieces. I don’t know. I can’t.” There’s so much about these memories I am afraid to say. They are pieces, little ransoms pieces that don’t fit together. They are body memories, images, sounds, smells, thoughts. I’m scared and ashamed of them. It literally like being attacked all day and night. 

“Could you write them down, and we could look at them and see how they fit together?” She asks me. 

“Maybe.” I blink back tears. “Maybe. I can try.” 

“Okay. That’s good. Trying is good.” Her voice is kind. 

When I do sit up, and get ready to leave, she tells me she is here, I’m not alone, that she sees me. I leave her office with the message that I’m seen and my voice, my story matters. My voice is heard, and my story matters. I am seen. 

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13 thoughts on “I am seen

  1. That is such a crucial message to leave with, that your story matters. Bea doesn’t want you to sweep it away and pretend everything is fine. She can tolerate and validate the not-okayness of it all. She’s a good therapist and she cares a lot about you. I’m glad you were able to feel it in this session.

    You’ve had so much to deal with lately, ever since that doctor’s visit. I keep wishing I could think of a way to offer to you a little breathing space, a little peace of mind. That’s what I would put in a box for you, if I could. Then I’d wrap it in beautiful paper with a ribbon on it and send it to you with a vase of flowers from my garden.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Q. You are so caring and kind.

      I love how you put this– Bea doesn’t want me to sweep it away and pretend it’s fine. It’s such a different experience. I think I’m slowly finding some breathing space, even if it’s small moments. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The baking is smart. Baking does require a significant amount of precision, and attention. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so awful. My heart goes to you, it feels so terrifying to be in that self-harm-urge place, for such a long period of time, and then to have your husband not see you (or himself, really). So painful. Which is why I am very glad Bea said what she said; she is wonderful. I know you’ll find your way through these painful emotions, I really do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I never thought of baking as smart, but I guess it is. I always am looking for precise recipes to work on and perfect. 🙂

      You are right on— hubby doesn’t see himself. You can’t see others if you can’t see yourself. I’m feeling calmer today. Not great, and the self harm urge is very big still, but I feel calmer and stronger and less alone. 💟

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think there’s something very important in what you wrote – being seen is a good thing, a healing thing now. You don’t have to be afraid of being seen or “found out”. To me, that sounds like a lot of growth and change, though it probably just feels like pain right now. I echo Q’s sentiment – if I could, I would send you a bottle of the air from the front verandah of my grandparents farm, where it looks out over the paddocks and the trees, so you could breathe in some calm and peace (and a touch of cow manure).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I don’t have to be afraid of being “found out”. I wasn’t seeing it as growth, and if Bea pointed it out and tried to reframe, I’d balk, but this, you are right.

      I feel special to be getting all these gifts. 🙂 the little girl is feeling like a princess. I love farm fresh air. Thank you.

      Like

    • Thank you. It was a good session. Things with Bea have been good. If I could send you macarons, I would! My new project is to make croquembouche. I practiced making the cream puffs today. They turned out good!

      (And I will follow you– I though I had followed you a while ago….sorry!)

      Liked by 1 person

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