This is the second half of a post, “Things we never talked about”. Bea and I had been discussing the fact that parts of me were so separated, I truly didn’t know why I had tried to commit suicide.
“I thought I was crazy. So did the shrink my parents had found. They found one that agreed with them, one that they liked.”
“Did you like him? Did he try to connect with you?” Bea is curious. I’ve never talked much about this shrink.
“No. I didn’t like him…..he couldn’t…He was a guy. I was scared…I didn’t like being alone in that room with the door shut with him.”
“Did you think anything about that?”
“I think I just thought I was weird. There was no reason to be afraid of him. I don’t know.” I feel like I sound sort of monotone, numb.
“Your parts really were so split. That’s why you didn’t know why you were scared. But you weren’t weird.”
“Did he do any drawing or anything like that with you?” She asks.
I shake my head. “I can see how hard it would be to deal with a teen who wouldn’t talk to you at all.”
Bea says, “Nope, it’s. It hard. You start wherever they are, that’s all. It’s simple, really.”
I shrug again. “He thought I was crazy. He told my parents I was throwing a temper tantrum and trying to get attention.”
“Ahhhhh,” Bea says. “So they took your door so you couldn’t throw another tantrum?”
“I really don’t understand how you don’t even try to understand why your patient tried to kill herself. How you don’t start where she is! Ugh!” Bea is angry with him for not looking into why I cut my wrists, for saying it was a tantrum, a fit, a bid for attention.
“He didn’t ….he label me….lots of things people don’t like….Defiant….but that’s not the word. What’s the shrinky word for someone not following directions, not cooperating?” I ask her.
“Resistant?” She says.
“Yup. Resistant and borderline. That’s what he called me. Labeled me.”
“Oh….oh yuck. Did you know then that is what he labeled you?” She asks.
I nod. Then I remember she can’t see me. “Yes. He explained it to me. It wasn’t….what was wrong with me, my behavior, it was me. It was part of my personality. I was broken.” My voice cracks.
Bea’s voice is firm, maybe firmer than I’ve heard her before, “You weren’t broken. You aren’t broken. There is nothing wrong with you except you experienced some serious trauma.”
Time is almost up, but she talks to me a few more minutes. She wants to make sure I know that she doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with my personality, with who I am as a person. She tells me that It makes sense to her now, how that therapist and other professionals treated me, it’s all because of how he labeled me and the stigma attached to it. All my behaviors that were from trauma were easily explained away as me being borderline.
“Bea?” I say, after a silence. I’ve pulled the blanket off my head and am holding it in my lap.
I pull the blanket over my face, peek out at her. I feel really vulnerable, but I need to say this. “Thank you for starting where I was at. For not forcing me to talk and putting up with emailing and silence. Thank you for still not making me talk and just reading my notebook.”
“I wasn’t putting up with you. I was glad to start where you were. It’s really not hard. You did all the hard work. We just had to find our way to what would make you feel safe enough to open up to me. If that email, I was happy to email with you and to do the talking in session.”
“I talk a lot now, considering, huh?” I say.
“You’ve grown a lot and gotten braver. And I’m glad to hear your voice in session, but reading your words is no problem.”
“Well…..I just……thank you.” I say again. I know how lucky I am to have Bea, but when I think about some therapists of the past, well, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I have her in my life.