Session from Wednesday September 14. I cut the writing short because it is being posted so late, but I think it’s okay. Anyway…..the Wednesday before my brother’s wedding……
Today. Wednesday. It’s 7:35am, and I don’t want to sit in the parking lot outside Bea’s office drinking coffee and checking emails anymore. I can’t think enough to form a coherent reply anyway. I get out of the car, grab coffee and my purse and head up to her office. I am 10 minutes early but I don’t think Bea will be upset with me. And if she is finishing up her own emails, or vacuuming or whatever else she likes to do in the morning (yes, we have discussed our morning routines), I’m fine with waiting. I just want to be in her office, where I feel safe, and where maybe, just maybe, this manager part can let go a little and let me run things for an hour or so. I have so much I need to get out.
Bea smiles when I walk in. “Hi,” she says.
“Hi,” I say, “It feels like fall today.” And my voice is clear and strong and if you didn’t know me, you might believe everything is perfectly fine. The manager or Miss Perfect is running the ship right now, or maybe they are running it together. And they are both very good at their jobs. I think the manager doesn’t care as much about things being perfect as Miss Perfect does, and the manager also is less concerned about holding feelings in than with just not letting them exist to begin with. The manager keeps everything running fine and things looking normal when I am in public, or when people are coming over, ext. That’s different than Miss Perfect, because she will do things perfectly even if no one will ever know about it. The manager could care less if I spend all day in bed zoning out, as long as no feelings are coming out and I’m not breaking down. Miss perfect would see spending the day in bed as a waste, a failure, and would never allow it.
Anyway. I answer and I sound fine. But Bea knows me really well by now, and she isn’t fooled. So she nods and says, “I made sure that we have until 9:30 today, so we have plenty of time to talk about anything you want to or need to talk about.” The last few weeks, she has had to schedule someone at 9:00, which is unusual because my appointments go from 8 until 9:30. But with school schedules and Bea’s trainings and vacations messing things up, she has needed to put someone into that time spot, but she had explained that to me and had promised it would be back to normal in October and we had been meeting at 7:45am, so I was really okay with that. But it was really nice of her to make sure we had until our normal time, and this gave me extra time because we had been starting 15 minutes early on Wednesdays to compensate for ending 1/2 hour early.
I nod. Okay. I’m not sure what she wants me to say. I feel like I should talk but I’m at a loss. Nothing seems like the right thing to say. I end up telling her about Kat’s doctor appointment and how that went horribly wrong, but it was sort of good because hubby had taken her so he saw that I wasn’t just crazy and that I do things a certain way with Kat for a reason. Talking about hubby reminds Bea about the couples therapist.
“I forgot to ask on Monday, did you talk to shrink#2?” (And yes, we really do call her shrink#2)
I nod. “Yeah, actually, I had called her on Wednesday like we talked about, and then she called back, um…..Thursday night, I think it was, and I couldn’t really get it because hubby was home. So I called her back Friday morning, and she called back Monday after I had left here– I was on my way home from here, actually.”
“So, when is the appointment with her? Or is there an appointment with her?” Bea’s voice is curious, and it has that tone to it that says she really wants to know.
“In October. We go in October. The 6th, or something like that. It’s a Thursday. She might end up being able to do Mondays, and then maybe we could get in sooner. But for now, that’s when we have it set. So, yeah…….” My voice trails off. I’m unsure what to say from there.
“Were you able to talk to her?” Bea sits forward a bit, leaning towards me. “I’m guessing you must have gotten something worked out, or you wouldn’t have an appointment still scheduled.”
“Yeah. So I um, well. You know, I had to change the appointment because hubby’s work schedule changed. So we did that first. And then I said that I would like to talk to her if she had a few minutes because I felt like there were things she should know before I walked into a session, things I need her to know, and I had talked with you, and you thought I needed to have a voice and advocate for myself and this was a really perfect time for me to practice that, but you had helped me write out what I wanted to say, so I was just going to read it if that was okay, and that I had the other therapist tell me I wasn’t allowed to talk over the phone so it was going f to be twice as hard to say any of this because I was feeling even more scared.”
“And what did she say?” Bea prompts me when I stop talking and drift off into space.
“Oh, she said that she very much wanted to hear what I had to say, and it sounded like it was really important information. And I just really couldn’t get the words out, so,I said I was just going to read what was written if that was okay, and I apologized and said I wasn’t as much as a space cadet as I sounded. But I guess maybe I am sometimes……but anyway, she said I was doing great and I wasn’t being a space cadet at all. So I read the thing to her.”
Bea’s whole face breaks out into this huge smile. “Alice! That huge! You read all of that, the trigger list and everything to her?”
“Yeah.” I shrug.
“I think it can be really hard to read things we write, even harder than talking, it can feel really exposing. That is amazing. I’m really proud of you. You did really good.”
I shake my head at Bea. “No. Because reading something over the phone, I wasn’t even there at all. It’s the face to face reading that is vulnerable or having to find words. But reading off a page over the phone? That’s easy.”
“How did she seem to feel about the dissociation and the triggers?” Bea asks me. I think she is feeling protective again.
“She seemed okay, like that was all fine and normal in her world. She seemed like, yeah, okay, it’s okay that you don’t have words sometimes. I had said, remember it said that sometimes I can be really dissociative but am good at faking being present even though I’m not here at all? (Bea nods) Well, she asked what if she asked me if I was far away during a session, would I be able to answer? And I was like ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t know. That didn’t seem to bother her. I told her that hubby doesn’t know like anything, that I’ve kept him out of the loop. And she seemed to get that, I mean like how that happens. I don’t know.”
“Did she ask anything else?” Bea questions.
I shrug. “I’m not sure…..I wasn’t really there. I’m not really here. I don’t know.”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised. I think you needed to be far away enough to call shrink#2 to feel safe, but also I think you’ve started to be far away just as a way of being for right now, until this weekend is past.” Bea tells me.
“Yeah. I think that started last week.” I say, and I’m far away enough it’s not a big deal to be admitting that, and Bea nods, agreeing with me.
I’m not sure who speaks next or what is said, but I end up folding my arms across the pillow of I’m leaning against, and burying my face in them. “I’m so far away,” I say to Bea and I’m crying.
“Being in the far away doesn’t always feel good,” she says.
I cry for a while. Maybe a little while, maybe a longer while. I not sure. Time doesn’t really move the same here. But then I choke out, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” The tears come harder now.
“Here-here, or the far away here?” Bea clarifies what I mean. I realize, or rather, the part in charge of editing everything realizes that Bea is probably trying to figure out if I am meaning ‘I don’t want to be here’ in the same way as ‘I just want to disappear’, or any of my other euphemisms for suicide or if I just mean that I simply don’t like being in the far away because being so disconnected is hard. I’m kicking myself for trusting her and for giving her unedited writings with how bad I feel at times in them, because now she has to clarify what I meant, and I hate that, I really do. I don’t want her worrying about me like that. Or wondering. Or anything else. But Im honest when I say, “Mostly the far away here.”
“Can you come and go from the far away? So you can get a break from being there? Or are you pretty much just there now?”
“I’m stuck in the far away. I can’t come and go. It’s not safe to go. All the feelings are on the other side of the far away. No. I don’t want to be here, but I don’t want to be there either.” I can’t stop crying. I hate crying like this.
“You are safe now,” Bea says to me quietly.
“I don’t feel safe.” I tell her.
“No, I know. Your body doesn’t feel safe because it feels like the past is now, and your head, your head thinks the past and the present are scary, and not safe, so your head doesn’t feel safe. So being in the far away, it is a defense to keep you safe. Even if it feel uncomfortable.”
“I feel like nothing is real.”
Bea says something soothing and encouraging, and so I continue talking, “It’s like….nothing is real, and I’m stuck in the far away, and I’m not going to be able to come back……I just…never mind.” I can’t even pick my head up to look at her. I feel like such an idiot.
Bea gets it though. “It’s hard, when you are in the far away, to remember that there are things that are real and waiting for you, or to remember that something besides the far away exists.”
I nod. “Yeah. I keep telling myself that I have a real life to come back to, but it…..I just…..I feel like I’m going to get trapped there and I just…..my real life feels made up. Like there’s just no way I had that life.” I sniffle, and fight back more tears, but they come anyway and I sob and sob.
“You do, you absolutely have a real life to come back to. It’s hard to hold onto that when things feel so not real, though, I know. But you will come back and go to yoga, and go to school meetings, and yell the IEP team, and walk Hagrid, and hang out at your beach, and you’ll get your sewing stuff out. You are going to come back to your real life.” Bea says the last bit with this extra firmness in her voice.
I nod, trying to agree. “Okay. I’ll try to remember.”
“If you need a reminder, you can always text me.” She says. And then I remember. On Monday, she said that yes I was going back to my hometown and that yes I was going to have to see HIM, but that things weren’t the same anymore, and I was safe and it wasn’t a secret anymore and I could text her, or call her this weekend if I needed a reminder of that.
“That’s annoying,” I tell her.
“What is?” She asks, sounding genuinely confused and as if she can’t figure out where our conversation is being picked up from.
“Me. Texting you. I don’t want to annoy you. I’m afraid I will annoy you. You will be annoyed and like, ugh if I am too needy and then….it’s just not good.” I shake my head. I don’t want to have this conversation.
“Oh, no. It’s not annoying. If I was going to be annoyed by something I wouldn’t offer it. It’s okay. I want you to have support this weekend. I think that you, and the little girl, and maybe other parts too, could really use some extra support this weekend. You aren’t alone now, right? That’s the point, why you told me the secret, so you didn’t have to be alone. And you aren’t alone. So, text. Or email. Or call. Or don’t if you don’t need to, but I’m not expecting you to just paste a smile on your face and be okay and if at some point, you want to talk to someone, or not be alone with it, or you need a reminder of your real life, or that this is not a secret, then, you text me okay? Because it’s not annoying and you aren’t needy and I’m not going anywhere. Okay?”
I sniffle. “Okay.” And I sorta believe her. At least enough that I let myself remember and count on being able to text Bea if I need to.
“I do want you to know that if I could keep him from going, or make it okay for you not to go, I would. Because I don’t think it’s okay to send you back to this situation or to allow you to feel so retraumatized. But this is where you are at, and that is okay. I do want to find some things to give you some power back though, okay? Can we do that?”
“Okay…..” I am hesitant because I don’t know what she means, and I’m a little afraid she is going to mean some sensorimotor therapy thing because she use got back from a training this weekend, and I just can’t do that right now.
But she doesn’t. Sometimes, Bea will ask me to come up with ideas, or to think of choices. Other times, she knows my brain is way too offline to do that, and she does it for me. I really love that about her. “Well, like you are wearing pink when everyone else in the family is wearing grey or navy. That’s you. That is your voice. And you can make sure you aren’t sitting by him at the ceremony. You aren’t sitting by him at the reception and you can hang out with and focus on your moms family that you really like seeing. Is Hagrid’s Dad going to be there?”
“Yeah, he’ll be there. I can hang out with him and hubby. He’s a shrink, did I tell you that?”
“No, no you didn’t tell me that,” she says, sounding a little surprised.
“Yep. So I’ll just hang with my shrink cousin,” I say in this self depreciating voice, shaking my head.
Bea laughs a little because I’m being funny, playing on the fact that I tend to call therapists shrinks when I don’t like them or don’t know them. She says he is a good person for me to spend time with at the wedding because he is safe and I enjoy talking to him.
I agree. I don’t tell her that last summer, I had a flashback and I think he recognized it for what it was. I claimed migraine to the rest of the family, but he had followed me and asked if I needed anything and made a point that he was there if I didn’t want to be alone right then or if I needed to talk. By then I was in that here but not here place, and so I had smiled and said thank you but that I just needed to lie down and let my migraine meds kick in.
Bea smiles and continues with a few more ideas of ways I am in control.
“It’s worse…..you know….it’s harder…. because…….I just….” I start to talk, mumble, stop talking, scrunch my body up into a a smaller ball, and then bury my face even more.
“Going back there? Going to the wedding? It’s harder because why?”
“Seeing him. It’s harder………worse because of……..I……I can’t even say it. I just…I can’t say it. It’s that bad. A memory…the memory….” I’m really going even farther away now and I dig my nails into palms, making my hands into fists.
“Is it the memory with Jackie? With the three of you up north?” She asks gently. She is matter of fact and there is no judgement in her voice, but there is harsh judgement in my mind.
I nod my head. Yes.
“That memory is popping back up, huh?”
“It never left.” I say the words. But that’s not exactly right. Yes, the memory is very here and alive, but it’s more than that. It’s this feeling of being out of control, of not making any choices, of being so alone, of having no one to go to, of feeling so disgusted and hurt and just broken. Of feeling betrayed. I wasn’t special. I did not matter. None of this stuff, the secret game, the things that made me feel icky and excited and scared and good and bad and happy and awful all at once, they weren’t just because I was so special he couldn’t help himself, it wasn’t because he loved me and wanted to be with me. I was just there, a thing, a toy, something he could use. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t special and he did not love me and it was all bad and wrong and everything hurts. But I don’t say any of that, because it’s too many words to have to get out right now.
I end up in a little girl place, crying to Bea, asking her to not make me go back there. She tells me that can stay right here, until I’m ready, and that on Monday I will be back here, with her, in her office. She says I can always “get sick” at the wedding and leave, that it’s okay. She talks, soothing the little girl, and I cry. When I do leave, she reminds me to reach out and text her if I need to, and to stay around the people who are safe to me, like Hagrid’s dad, and my grandma. I agree. It will be okay.
10 thoughts on “Wednesday before the wedding ”
That is great news that you’ve found a couples therapist who sounds promising. And I’m glad you’ve made it through the wedding and are safely back home.
Thank you! I’m nervous about couples therapy but glad I found someone to test out. 🙂
Hooray for finding a couples therapist who seems to have a clue about trauma and who sounds workable with!
I get what you mean about the whole not really here thing so you don’t have to feel. That’s where I’ve been lately and I don’t have a wedding that I have to go to. I think that you have done a marvelous job in a miserably horrible situation and am impressed at how you managed to keep things open and the discussion going with Bea, even though every instinct was probably telling you to curl up into a ball and disappear.
You really have come a long way to get to this point, Alice!
Thanks Cat. I’m sorry you have been in the here not here place. It’s a hard place to be, but it’s also oh so safe. Thanks for saying I’ve come a long way– I feel like I have, too.
One question, when your daughter was younger, or even now, and you were dissociated and in that here not here place, do you think she “felt” that difference? And do you think she was maybe more whiny or clingy or loud when you were here-not-here? I feel like Kat gets louder and clinger and whinier when I’m here not here and she’s trying to get me back present to fully be with her but all it does is annoy me because I don’t really want to leave here not here. Does that make any sense????
I actually took a therapy break in terms of trauma work that started before I got pregnant (we had moved away from my therapist) until my daughter was 7. I did do some therapy when I moved back to my town when I was pregnant, through my daughter’s first year, but it was all about becoming a parent, dealing with a risky pregnancy, dealing with post parting depression, and other practical matters.
At that point I had done extensive work on the abuse I experienced with my grandfather but hadn’t admitted to myself that my dad could have abused me, so I was in a place where I could keep everything pretty well closed up and function semi normally, most of the time. So my daughter didn’t have to deal with super dissociative mama much at all
Ahhh….I think I did know that! I’m glad you were able to keep things closed up and functionable when she was little– it also seems like you maybe needed that break time. 🙂
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Yes, I am very, very glad that I was able to keep myself more functional while she was little!
MB and I talk about how I can avoid the fact that she has been and will be impacted by how I was harmed by the abuse and neglect, however I have broken the cycle with her and she hasn’t been abused or neglected. She will be healthy enough to do even better with any child of hers.
Your cousin sounds good – I like that he reached out to offer you support, but respected you when you decided not to confide in him. And I’m with Bea – I think reading to the shrink, even over the phone, was a huge deal. Especially after your experience with the first one.
My cousin– technically my mom’s cousin– is really great. He rescued me again, at the wedding. I’ll write about it eventually. But I think he knows there’s something not okay. 😕
Thank Rea. Reading over the phone…it’s not easy, but it’s fairly easy to completely disconnect so none of the fear or anxiety is there…it’s so much easier to do that over the phone than in person. But thank you. I’m really nervous for that first appointment. Like, enough so that I may ask Bea to call her anyway.
It feels vulnerable and exposing and not okay to have somebody figure out things that you weren’t ready to share with them. You really do deserve support, though, and it sounds like there’s maybe not a lot of it coming from other family members. You don’t have to be ashamed.
Is there anything you can take with you to the appointment to hold onto when you feel scared? When I have to do something tough I always wear a necklace my grandmother gave me for my 13th birthday.