Connection in the midst of living a nightmare

I’m home alone, and it’s time for therapy. I get situated and log on.

“Hey there,” Bea says as she logs on.

“Hi,” I say. My voice is quiet and uncertain.

“Hey! I can hear you today. Yay!” Bea does a little cheer.

I feel relieved, but I don’t say anything.

“How are things today?” She asks.

I shrug. “I don’t know.”

Bea waits, and I finally whisper, “Yesterday was a bad night and a bad morning and I really wanted to tell you.”

“Do you still want to tell me? I’m ready to listen to whatever you want to talk about.”

“Yes, okay. I want to talk to you.” Why does it feel embarrassing to admit that Bea is the one I want to talk to? She’s my therapist, and more than that, she is one of my attachment relationships. It’s normal for me to want to talk to her, it shouldn’t feel embarrassing or like I’m broken for wanting to talk to her.

“Do you want to talk about why it was a bad night and a bad morning?” Bea’s voice is careful, cautious. I think maybe she doesn’t want to make me feel pushed into talking.

“I had a scary dream,” I tell her.

“Yeah, that can set us up for a rough day, can’t it?”

I nod. “It was the dream….it was bad. Scary. It’s funny, because I don’t think I was scared when things happened. I don’t remember scared back then. Scared happens now, when I dream or when I remember when I’m awake. That’s strange, right? Crazy?” I’m a bit scattered and messy today.

“No, it’s not strange. I think you couldn’t feel the scared back then, it was too big and too much, and your family didn’t really believe in emotions, so you had to seperate it away. But now, it’s safe to really feel the scared feelings. I think you are feeling the feelings you would have felt then. Does that make sense? I hope it does. You aren’t crazy.”

“I guess. So I had the scary dream and then, I was awake, and I really like to go upstairs and turn on all the lights and look in the mirror and see that I am grown up and I just couldn’t. I was too stuck, so I was in bed and just there and hubby got up early for this meeting and then….it was not good. Not a good morning.” I pull my blanket over my head, not even thinking about it. It seems a little silly to hide like this over a screen, but I feel safer, and I don’t have to go so far away, which is good.

“That dream must have made it really hard to be in the present. Maybe you were still stuck in the past, feeling scared and hurt?” Bea says softly.

“Yes. I was. I was scared. Hubby scared me. He leaned over me to say goodbye and I hid under my blanket and yelled at him to go away.” I start to cry softly. I feel so much shame for how I acted.

“I can see how that would happen. It was probably very scary.”

“It was bad.” I hide my face, even though I am under the blanket.

“Things have been so real and alive for you right now, it is probably very hard to seperate things out.” Bea tells me.

“We don’t talk about this dream.” I feel really far away when I tell Bea this.

“Why not?”

“Because it is….we can’t talk about it. I can’t say it. So we don’t talk about it.”

“Is it something new, or just something we haven’t talked about?” Bea asks.

“Not new,” I whisper.

“But not something we talk about?”

“No…we don’t talk about this. And it’s so…ugh. I can’t, because….I see these things in my head and it’s so real and awful but then, it’s…I mean, it’s crazy because there’s no way that is what happened. It doesn’t make sense, you know?” I’m rambling but I can’t stop it.

Bea is confused, I can hear it in her voice. “Your dreams are usually more of a trauma dream, a flashback, so they are very real. Sometimes having dreams that are the regular kind, with all the crazy stuff that happens in them can feel really weird.”

“No, no, no. It’s not like that!” I’m so frusterated she isn’t getting it.

“Okay, I hear that. Can you tell me what is crazy in the nightmare?”

“No. I….it’s… you remember when I was talking about what happened with him before I hid my underwear under my bed and got in trouble?” I ask.

“Yes, I remember.”

“Not like we just mentioned it but I was telling you what happened, the first time I told you all of it? A long time ago?” It wasn’t a long time ago, not really. It was maybe two or three years ago. But that feels like a long time ago right now.

“I do remember. It was one of the hardest memories for you to talk about.” Bea reassures me.

“Yeah….and I was talking about what happened but it was really….the little girl’s story….it was her… know, how she saw things?” I’m talking slow, and I feel hollow and numb.

“Yes, it was a child’s veiwpoint, it was all from the little girl’s perspective,” Bea agrees. She does remember and she is getting this, at least.

“So then….you said….you called it….that word. You know.”

“Yes, I called it a word you don’t like.” Her voice is soft and reassuring. She’s not judging me.

“Say it,” I direct her.

“Rape. He raped you.” Bea says slowly. Her voice is this careful neutral tone.

“Yes. But I couldn’t… didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t make sense to me that my memory was that word. It just….it didn’t seem like that was right. It felt crazy.”

“Yes, I remember. It was really hard to sort of blend the child’s perspective with the adult’s understanding of what happened. There were some things that the child believed to help make sense of it all at the time, and you had to really rearrange your thinking around all of it. That was a lot of hard work on your part to be able to do that. But you did it.”

“I think…..I think this might be like that. But it’s not making sense and I just can’t…..and it’s so….I’m so….I can’t…I don’t know.” I hope she understands. I desperately need her to understand.

“That makes sense. I get that. We can work on helping it make sense and be less confusing.”

“But I can’t talk about it.” The shame is that great. Once, years ago, Bea asked a question about this, kind of a *did this ever happen* question, and I answered yes, but refused to really discuss it, or acknowledge it.

“Have we ever talked about it?” She asks. “You don’t have to tell me, and you don’t have to talk about it.”

“I….yes. But not….we don’t talk about it.” I’m not sure if the we is me and Bea or if the we is grown up Alice and the parts. It just doesn’t seem correct to say that I don’t talk about it.

“Okay. I have maybe an idea of what it is.” Bea says this slowly and carefully, and I still hear no judgement or worry in her voice.

“What?” I ask.

“Well….I don’t know if I want to say it, because I don’t want to make you feel upset or scared or worried. I don’t want you to feel like you have to talk about this. I want you to be able to talk about this when you choose, at your own pace.”

I think for a minute. “No, it’s okay. I just need to know what you think it is, even if I can’t say any words right now.”

“The (blank blank blank thing because I’m not ready to share it, even here.)” Bea speaks clearly and again with no judgement.

“Yes, that. And something else. But that.” I start to sob as I say the words.

We spend the rest of my session with me crying, and Bea reassuring me she is here and not leaving. She says I don’t have to talk until I am ready, and that it’s okay. I calm down enough to say goodbye, but I stay hidden under my blanket.

I might be living a nightmare over and over in my head, but it’s not the same as when I was a little girl. I’m not alone. Bea is here, and she isn’t leaving me. I’m not alone.

14 thoughts on “Connection in the midst of living a nightmare

  1. LovingSummer says:

    Bea sounds like the perfect therapist for you. I love how you wrote this session up, it clearly shows every look, observation, tone of voice, not just the words spoken between you.
    I’m sorry there are deep things you can’t yet speak of. I’m sure in time you will get the voice but I can see how it sometimes has to sometimes be taken every so slowly, inch by inch.


    • She is really great. She is the first therapist I ever felt safe with. I felt like she saw me from the very beginning. I think this thing, this nightmare, is going to take a long time to get out and work through. It’s messy and ugly, and it brings up a lot of very messy feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LovingSummer says:

        Yes and I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope it will lead you to experiencing a real and lasting healing.


      • In my moments of feeling sane, I do think that working through this will be worth it in the end. It’s just the getting through it part that’s hard. Thankfully, Bea is very good with the idea of talking about talking. 💗

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It makes me teary to hear what you went through. (and enraged towards that bastard. I’ll spare you what I’d like to do to him)
    Our psyche’s won’t allow anything up we can’t handle. That’s my belief, but also my own experience. Mine won’t allow up the rape by Danny, though it occurred as I remember all the peripheral details. But I do remember all else which was vile and unwanted.
    You are going to be OK. If that part of your survival system is allowing it up then you are strong enough to handle it. Not easy, not fun, but if it’s coming you are OK. That tool of looking in the mirror to see you are a grown woman sounds very useful. What other anchors would be helpful? A doll, a smooth stone in your pocket, a pet to hold?
    I always hoped the memory might come thinking it would cure my issues of PTSD which seem to be nightmares daytime while awake. Like Samuel coming in from the garage yesterday holding the doorknob at the exact time I turned it. I screamed full throttle, so much it hurt my throat. That kind of thing happens a lot.
    But if the memory came out fully, I think I’m still stuck with an overactive startle response to sudden things. But there would benefits, that of everything out not in. That must offer more peace and calm.
    It will be OK. You’re OK.


    • Isn’t it strange how we can remember some things and not others? Or how some memories are just little pieces— enough to to know what happened but not enough to tell a story, beginning to end? I even have memories that are more about these weird details that have nothing to do with the trauma taking place. Our brains are amazing and weird.

      I have similar triggers, things that startle me or make me feel like I’m back there, and that my past is the real reality. It’s awful. I’m so sorry you still struggle with that, too.

      When things are really bad, I like to make really strong black coffee (the smell and flavor help ground me), cuddle my dachshund, look in the mirror to know I’m an adult, turn on every light in the house. Sometimes I go down to the lake, if leaving the house feels safe. There is something about the water that seems to help reset my nervous system.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. CB says:

    I’m so happy to read that you could feel Bea is with you and that you are not alone despite the challenges of working online, and that the connection (in both senses of the word) was better this time. It sounds like you are doing so well with this situation with Kat and all it has brought up for you at the same time and I’m glad you have Bea and that she is there for you x


    • Thank you CB. I hated online therapy until I was a triggered mess and suddenly connecting with Bea felt more important than the how, and online therapy was all of a sudden a good thing. I’m trying to be good at being mom to a tween girl. It’s really hard. The only modeling I have of parenting a tween is Bea and her relationship with the teen part of me. She’s a pretty great role model but this feels harder than parenting Kat when she was just a little girl. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

      • CB says:

        I said to K before this break that I would actually find online therapy helpful and supportive if I was in crisis and a total mess every week, it’s the longer-term, ongoing work that is too painful or impossible to do that way. At the start of lockdown when I was a mess it definitely soothed me (which is reassuring because it means if things get difficult I can go back I guess). I am so with you on how hard it is parenting girls without a role model from our own parents – I have only had K to show and tell me what is okay also and I doubt myself often (and get so triggered!). From what you’ve written you’re doing a great job, especially when Kat’s experiences trigger your own. My daughter is now 13 and I have never been more triggered by parenting than I have been this past year, I wasn’t prepared for teen parts getting triggered and escalating conflicts and wanting to scream and cry about it all! I definitely will be needing K again when things change for my daughter to help me navigate the next stage/s!


      • I hate that you are experiencing triggers from parenting a daughter, too, but I am so thankful to you for sharing that you struggle like I do. Knowing others experience this makes me feel less crazy, and less guilt for being triggered by my daughter. 💗

        Liked by 1 person

      • CB says:

        It’s horrible being triggered when we love them so much. You’re not alone in this at all and certainly not crazy – it makes perfect sense this happens for us 😔

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m really glad you have Bea, and agree the client- therapist relationship is an attachment relationship. And, a very important one. I really like that you can see that while these hurts can feel real in the present, they happened in the past. I would say this is excellent work. It takes time to walk through all of the many layers and nuances of trauma work. I appreciate that you write and share your journey. ❤️


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