When the editor stops the words…..

I haven’t talked to Bea for a week. I haven’t emailed, or texted or had a session. Well, okay, not a full week because we had a session on Thursday and it’s Wednesday.

I have so much written in my journal and I wish we could be in her office so I could hand her my notebook and go from there. But we aren’t, and I can’t, so I log into therapy feeling slightly annoyed.

A strange thing happens when Bea logs on and says hello. It’s like a switch gets flipped in my brain and I’m suddenly behaving like everything is okay. It’s not adult Alice running the show, and it’s not Ms. Perfect. Bea and I named this part *the editor* a long time ago. The editor filters everything, and literally stops other parts from sharing ugly, bad things. So, I’m suddenly smiling and saying hello like all is right in my world.

“It’s been a whole week since we have talked! What did I miss, how are things going?” Bea asks.

I prattle on about the beach and seeing Kay and Kat playing with kids in the neighborhood. I want to tell her this nightmare is ruining my life and making me crazy. I want to tell her these pieces of this memory are awful, and make me feel bad and wrong and like I don’t deserve anything good. I want to say that these memories are ugly and I don’t know how to talk about things that are mixed up and crazy. Instead, I say, “Guess what? Kat’s friend got her period, so that opened a door for us to talk and I did it. I had the period talk with her.”

“Wow, that’s huge! I know how scared you were to have to have that talk, how triggering and uncomfortable it was for you. How did it go?” Bea is smiling this huge smile and she looks proud of me.

“Well, I had actually just talked to Kay about it and we had been going back and forth about me not knowing if I could do it, and Kay saying it was okay to outsource and ask a trusted adult to talk to Kat for me, that it was still me doing my job as a mom, and that was okay. Kay was totally willing to talk to Kat for me, but she also was really advocating for me to just be honest and tell Kat that I was uncomfortable and not sure how to have this talk because my mom never did it so I don’t have a role model to follow on how to do this. So then I asked Kay to tell me how she would have the talk, to give me a kind of template to follow and she did and then, well, I just did it and it was okay.” I realize as I say this how many times Bea had modeled for me how to parent my child. I’m thankful I have her in my life.

“This is amazing. I’m really proud of you! How did Kat handle it?”

“Well, she has decided she is going to opt put,” I laugh as I say the words. Bea laughs, too. “Actually, she was pretty funny. She asked me if you only get one period, and I explained that you only get one a month. So she says, like for a year? And I say, no, you get one a month until you are like grandma’s age. And Kat just looks at me and goes, What the hell? That’s bullshit. I didn’t even address the swearing because she’s not wrong. And then when I told her the options like pads, tampons, diva cup, period underwear, and showed them to her and explained how they work, she just looked at me and said, What man came up with this shitty fucking system? I had to work really hard not to laugh at that.” I’m laughing as I tell the story.

“Oh my gosh. That is such a Kat response. So funny,” Bea gasps out between laughs.

When we stop laughing, Bea points out that Kat’s good friend having her period before Kat will help a lot. I sort of drift a bit far away, and tell Bea that I never had that, I didn’t talk to my friends about periods, there wasn’t a social aspect of it for me, so I didn’t think about that, but it makes sense, and it is good.

“Why do you think you never talked with your friends about it?” Bea asks.

“I don’t know. Maybe because I got mine late? I was almost 16. Maybe……I think I didn’t like to think about anything to do with……stuff down there.” Why is it that I can use the correct terminology with my daughter, but in regards to myself, my past, the best I can say is *down there* or *you know* or *well….that word I don’t like for body parts*? Ugh. This is so frustrating.

“I’m sure thinking about reproductive organs, felt very, very threatening.”

“I…..it was really…..I don’t know, upsetting…..I remember periods being really, really, upsetting.” I’m looking down at my fingers as I say this, feeling a little far away, a little embarrassed, and something else I cannot identify.

“That doesn’t surprise me. You probably needed to keep things very, very, separate, and even with keeping it separate I am sure that you still had triggers and memories that were just so buried. All that could be seen were the trauma reactions.” Bea tells me.

“I just thought everyone felt like that. I don’t know.” I shrug.

“Yeah, of course. How would you know any different?” Her question normalizes my feeling, and it reminds me of when I first started therapy and thought that when author’s described emotions as feelings in a character’s body, they were making stuff up. Feelings as a body sensation was fiction to me. I didn’t know that was a real thing and how most emotions is felt. I learned that in therapy.

“I told my neighbor about the boy and Kat,” I blurt out.

“You did?” Bea sounds excited.

I nod. “She came over to ask me about having all the little girls in the neighborhood over for a garden tea party, and we were talking about kids playing outside and I said that we had a problem with the boy, and she asked what happened and I told her, and she said that was awful that that happened, but that hubby and I did everything right and we were such good parents. She said it was bad what happened but Kat is okay. And she said she would watch for the boy, too, to make sure he is staying away from the little girls in the neighborhood.”

“That’s great, and she reacted so great to what happened and really validated everything for you. And it’s not a secret, which has to feel so much safer for the little girl. I think this is really wonderful.” Bea is so proud and happy.

I look down at my fingers again. I want so badly to tell her that there was a lot of ugly stuff, too, but the editor won’t let the words out. When I open my mouth to tell her I am not just scared and confused by this memory, but also terrified of telling it, of what will happen what actually comes out is, “It was good. There was a lot of good stuff this week.” Ugh! Why does this happen to me? Why can’t I just say what I want to say?

I’m so busy being in my head, I don’t really hear Bea talking. I know she is saying something about my having grown and coping skills being so much stronger now.

I open my mouth to tell her that is triggering and makes me afraid that she will only want the good parts of Alice, but instead I tell her how Kay had pointed out the many differences between this *broken Alice* (after the thing happened with Kat and the boy) and *broken Alice* 6 years ago. I tell her how J has said that she knew something was not okay back then, and could see how hurt and vulnerable and not present I was, but now I’m so much stronger and it shows. “I have grown,” I tell Bea, “Therapy has helped me so much, I’ve changed a lot.”

“You really have,” she agrees.

I sigh. Inside, I’m cringing, and all the parts that are less than perfect feel like they have to scramble to bury the mess, because now, only the good parts are wanted. Ugh. Why does this happen every time Bea points out strength or growth? Why does this happen every time she focuses on the good things? I hate therapy today. I hate the editor. I can’t be perfect and good all the time, and my messy parts need Bea’s help. I’m so afraid that she doesn’t want to deal with the difficult and ugly now.

6 thoughts on “When the editor stops the words…..

  1. slantgirl says:

    Do you work with the internal family systems modality at all? The editor is totally the manager in that system! I hate mine, I have to fight her all the time.

    I want to echo what J and Bea and your neighbour have said – this has been a fucking terrible and impossible situation, and you have done EVERYTHING right. and you’ve had to do it from scratch, from intuition, from adult brain and not from what’s organic to you. THAT IS AMAZING!

    I was moved to tears the other day by your post about the sunflowers, where your mom finally rubbed your back having failed to do that kind of caring for you as a kid. My mom is the same — but she won’t ever rub mine. It’s not that she doesn’t want to, I think she would love to help me, but I will never trust her enough put myself in the position where I am vulnerable enough for her to offer me care. You and I are working at a double-bind with these things — it hits us as mothers when our children, and it hist us as wounded children who also don’t feel safe. You are doing a WONDERFUL job!

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  2. Thank you. It is really hard to be mom sometimes in these situations. My mom…it’s weird. She acted how I always needed her to, but then never said a word about in the morning. That hurt a bit.

    We don’t use IFS in therapy per say, but Bea had me do some reading about it to help understand parts when age introduced the idea of parts having developed because of trauma and dissociation to me a few years ago. It definitely helped me to see that parts have roles and reasons for existing.

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  3. I/we feel- threatened and dismissed sometimes when people point out the positive things- it feels like they’re denying/not seeing how much we need help/how bad things are. is that similar?

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    • Yes, it is very similar! I think I spent so long being Ms. Perfect with no one seeing the hurt and fear and the needing help that I get very scared when people point out the good. It feels like they are ignoring the bad, or wanting Ms. Perfect and not me.

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  4. Q says:

    I can feel scared or even a bit angry when E points out how well I’m doing, how strong I am. It’s frightening to think she believes I’m fine now and don’t or shouldn’t need her. And then if I DO show her my need, I’m worried I’ve let her down.

    It’s confusing sometimes to truly be a lot better but sometimes not be okay at all.

    I hope your editor will soon decide it’s safe to step aside and give some space to the so-called messy parts. They definitely deserve Bea’s time too, and I’m quite certain from everything I’ve read that Bea will be happy to make space for them. 💕

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    • Yes, this. All of this. I worry so much about disappointing Bea, or not living up to her expectations. Being so much better and a mess at the same time is really confusing. It’s almost like I don’t know how to act. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be. 💗

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