This might be triggering; I talk about details of specific memory pieces. Please just be careful. Xx
Therapy Monday. I’m sitting in my usual place, with Bea across from me. We’re still discussing the memories, images, physical sensations, feelings. “I don’t know. I…..it’s just a stupid thing,” I tell her.
“If it’s there, and bothering you, it’s important. Maybe it needs to be said.” Bea is calm, always so calm. I gave her my notebook to read earlier in the session. I’d written that I didn’t understand how she could go over and over the same questions, constantly reassuring me, responding to the same worries and fears. She said it was okay, that she would reassure me and answer the same questions as long as I needed to ask them.
“I…..it’s just….in my head…..I see……it’s….” I stop, try to slow my breathing, calm down. “I like to sleep on my stomach.” I start over, from the beginning.
“Okay. You like to sleep on your stomach,” Bea echoes.
“I sleep on my side when he’s here. So I can see the door. I have to watch the door.” My breathing is faster now, I’m full of anxiety, and it feels like I’m there, waiting for him to come back into my room. I’m 5 years old again.
“You need to watch the door. Yes, you were trying to keep yourself safe. You are kind of on your side right now. Can you feel that?”
“Yeah…I’m on my side…..I…..I have to see the door. My room…all my furniture is cream and rose gold. My mom painted the walls that dusty pink color. I hated it.” It’s helping me to tell her about my room, what it looked like then. It’s important to the story, but it’s helping.
“Mmmmhmmm.” Bea lets me know she hears me. My head is down, so I can’t see her. She makes these verbal nods.
“My bed, it’s a day bed. The bed posts are round.”
“Are they rose gold, or cream?” Bea asks.
“Gold. My bed is cream. And you know how the sides….they slope on a day bed…so the posts are more level with your head…” I stop talking. I can’t breathe.
“I see some shaking, and it looks like you are very scared right now. Let’s go back to your knees. Can you feel them? That they are strong?”
“Now. They are strong now. Then…..but now they are strong and won’t move.” I whisper the words through tears that are falling now.
“Yes. Then you couldn’t stop it. But now, now they are strong, and no one can move them.” She reiterates.
I nod. “Okay. So….I have to watch the door. I have to see the door. So when he comes in my room, I know right away. And when…..when he’s closer….I…..those bed posts, they make a reflection like a mirror. But….it’s round…so it’s….like a funhouse mirror.”
“Yes. Distorted. So….I can see him…..smiling….but it’s…distorted….he’s happy. I’m not happy.” I sob the words out.
“Your whole life was distorted,” she tells me sadly.
“I was so scared.”
“Can you see how your body is feeling? Is there anything you want to do?” She asks me.
I shake my head at first. I’m unsure. “I don’t know. I can’t…I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
“That’s okay. It’s okay not to know.” She reassures me.
We sit with the feeling of not knowing for a while. Sitting there, feeling scared, and unsure, feeling like a 5 year old. And then, I know. “I want to push his hands off me. I want to push and kick his hands away.”
“You want to push his hands away. Do you want to try an experiment? Try pushing?” She asks softly, carefully.
“I….I’m scared.” I tell her.
“I…okay. I’ll try.” The words are choppy, and uncertain.
“Okay. Do you want to push with hands or feet?”
I shake my head. I don’t know.
“Your right foot is pushing a little bit on your left foot. Do you want to push with your feet? I could put my hand under your foot, and you could push against it.”
“Feet…..I don’t like my feet touched.” I tell her that, and it’s like something in my head clicks, and it makes sense why I have always hated having my feet touched.
“Okay. If I put a blanket under your foot, would that feel safer?”
“No….hands are safer than feet. Not feet.” I whisper.
“Okay. That’s something we know, now. That’s good. Do you want to try pushing with hands?” She asks carefully.
I nod. “Okay. With hands.”
“I’m going to move nearer to you, okay?” Bea is keeping her voice gentle.
“Okay. Okay,” I say. I try to breathe. I don’t look up, but I feel her moving closer. For a moment, I panic inside. It’s near impossible to stay in this place of two realities; the 5 year old who was scared and hurt and alone, and the grown up who is strong, and not alone. I have to work to remind myself that I’m in Bea’s office, I’m safe, it’s Bea next to me, not him.
“I’m going to put my hand right near yours, and when your ready, you can push. If you want more or less pressure to push against, you can tell me. And if I’m too close, you can tell me to move. You are the one in control here, this rime.”
“I can’t. I can’t. It’s not…I can’t.” I’m starting to freak out.
“Nothing bad will happen. You are strong. Feel your knees. No one can move them. No one can open them. Your feet are strong, grounded. No one can move them.” She says.
I unclench my fist, so my hand is open. I can’t do more than that, though.
“You aren’t pushing me away. You’re pushing, but it’s not pushing me away. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.” She says.
I place my hand against hers.
“It’s okay. You aren’t alone now. And you can push his hands away now.” She tells me, speaking softly.
I push against her hand. I don’t push hard, I don’t apply barely any pressure. But I push against her hand. Part of me knows she is moving her hand back, allowing me to push her away. But another part of me feels like I am strong, and that I pushed hands away.
“You did it!” Bea’s voice is full of happiness, but she keeps it quiet and somehow still calm.
“I did it.” My voice is a little hollow, and far away sounding. It feels like a dream; I did it.
“You did it. And nothing bad happened.”
“Nothing bad happened…..?” It’s part question, part statement.
“No, nothing bad happened. I’m still here, and nothing bad happened.” She repeats.
It’s quiet, for a bit. Then she asks if I want to try again. I nod my head, and push her hand away again. Then we switch hands, and I use my left to push her away. Each time, it takes me a while, and I’m terrified to push those hands away. I’m still partly there, in the then, in a time when I couldn’t push hands away, or keep my knees pushes together, a time when I had to sleep on my side to watch the door. A part of me is in the now, though, and so I’m able to use my new somatic resources and realize that I’m safe and strong.
“If anyone put their hands on you, you can push their hands away,” Bea tells me.
I nod. “Yes. I can push their hands away. No one can move my knees or feet.” I push my knees together, and push my feet into the sofa.
“I can push the hands away.” My voice is stronger.
“You did good work today. Really good work. I know it’s hard, really hard, but you are doing it. This was good work,” she tells me as she we wrap things up.
I’m exhausted, when I get home, I want nothing more than to take a nap. I end up taking a nap, a very long nap in the afternoon. I feel like I ran a marathon. This is hard work. I think it’s worth it, I have to believe it’s worth it.
I feel calmer, in a way that feels very deep internally, like its there to stay. It’s like there is a pool of cool blue water, with orchids surrounding it, deep inside me. Like I have a place to go to feel calm. I have a place inside myself that is safe, safer than any closet I could ever hide in. Things feel scary and hard, and I’m surrounded by feelings and physical sensation, and I’m sad and things are messy, but deep inside I feel like I have a safe place. I think I’m going to be okay.