“I can’t do this by myself.” I whisper the words, a barely there ghost like whisper.
“You don’t have to. I am here,” Bea says firmly. When I’m silent, she asks, “Do you feel anymore like you aren’t alone? Can you feel me here at all?”
I think about it. I’m not sure. “Maybe…..not like I feel it but I know it….sort of logical, maybe? I don’t know. Talking with you, and you listening and then when you get it, I know that would make me feel like you are really, really here. I just don’t feel it. So I guess so it’s sort of better.”
“That makes sense. I’m glad you can at least know I’m here, even if you can’t really feel it. You don’t have to be alone now. You were hurt so bad and so alone and not protected. You don’t have to be alone or hurt anymore. You deserve to feel protected and cared for.”
“Bea?” This comes out as a question, in the way kids will say *Mom* as a question.
“If he….if before was because I mattered, then why….that night when he…..why would…I mean….why did he if I didn’t matter and he didn’t love me and I’m not special, why did he do it?” I’m tripping over my words, my thoughts and my questions tumbling together in my head.
Bea is quiet for what feels like a long time. “Well,” she finally says, speaking slowly, carefully. “Well, I don’t think any of this, before or after was about love for him. He knew, sometimes bad guys know that kids need to feel like they matter, and he used that to get what he wanted. I think that all of this was about what he wanted and his pleasure. It was about power and doing what he wanted, and he used whatever he could to get you to go along with him.” She sounds so, so sad as she is saying this.
“Oh. It was mean,” I say.
“Yes, it was very, very mean.” Bea’s voice sounds funny.
“Are you okay? Did I do something wrong?” There’s a worry there about upsetting Bea, but it’s sort of dulled down from how it would normally feel.
“Yes, yes I am okay. I just wasn’t sure how to answer your question. I didn’t want to make you feel bad. Sometimes answering questions that…the answer might hurt, it feels wrong to me. I will always answer your questions and I won’t lie to you. I just…I feel very protective of you and of all the parts, and I was feeling some….like I didn’t want to tell the Little Girl about Bad people existing. I was feeling, am feeling protective over her.”
“I know monsters are real. They don’t look scary though. Just regular.”
“Yes, you do know that, don’t you? You’ve known that for a long time.” Bea breathes, and it’s the kind of breathing you do when you are trying not to cry.
“It’s okay. I’m not really upset,” I tell her.
“No, you are too far away to feel upset right now, aren’t you?”
“Yeah…..I wish I never wanted to be special, though.”
Bea won’t let that belief stand. “You did nothing wrong. Everyone wants to feel special and like they matter. Everyone wants to feel loved. He was wrong! He preyed on that need, he was a monster. You didn’t deserve to feel hurt then, and you don’t deserve it now. It makes me so mad that he is out there free, living his life and you are still hurting because of what he did, because he was selfish and mean and used you.” Bea stops talking, and then says more gently, “That longing to matter? That is that attachment seeking system, and it is a good thing. It’s okay, it is a good thing to want to attach, to want to matter to someone. Okay? I want you to know that.”
I feel like Bea speaking about attachment and needing to matter to others in this caring voice is very, very dangerous. The walls start to feel as though they are softening. “Stop, no, no, no. Just no. Stop. please, please, no.” I shake my head, cover my eyes even though I am still hiding under my blanket.
“Okay. Okay. I know that’s hard to hear right now. We can talk about something else.”
The walls harden back into place, and I slowly peek out from under my blanket. “Did you ever play that computer game where you click on the boxes and you are trying to avoid hitting the landmines? I can’t think of what it’s called.”
Bea shakes her head. “I don’t think so, no.”
“Oh. Well, there are lots of bombs and you click on the boxes and try not to hit them. That’s what my head feels like right now.”
“I can see that. I’ll try very hard not to hit any landmines, okay?”
I shrug. “I don’t know where they are. But it seems I keep bumping into them anyway. I hate this.”
“I know. What would it mean if a landmine was triggered?” Bea asks curiously.
“I….I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
“Okay,” Bea agrees.
We talk about how my being able to tell her in an email that I was upset is a big change. When I say that it’s different than what would have happened two years ago, maybe even a year ago, Bea smiles. “What is different do you think?”
“Well, before, I might have been hurt but I would have seen you not noticing under the surface stuff as you not caring, maybe a sign you were leaving me, or somehting and I would have been so hurt and so upset about it that I would have emailed but probably not been very nice about it.”
“Yes, maybe so. This time, though, you just said like *hey, this really hurt when I felt like you didn’t see how badly I am feeling and how not okay I am.* That wasn’t mean at all, but it was good sticking up for yourself, it is important to be able to tell people how they have hurt us.”
“I never wanted to be mean before, it’s just so much would spin out of control, I would be so triggered and panicked and scared. Relationships really terrified me, you know.”
“I know, the very idea of any relationship, any attachment was very, very threatening to you.” Bea says. She sounds proud of me.
“It’s still a little scary, sometimes,” I say.
“Well, yeah, of course it is. You were hurt in relationships, by attachment figures, by people who were supposed to care for you and love you and keep you safe. It’s always going to be a little scary to let people in after that. But you can choose now to let them in anyway, when you know they are safe, right?”
“Right. I choose now. Mostly.” I smile at Bea. I am so grateful to her. I worked hard, but I never would have gotten to this place without her.
“Reminder. Leave in 5 minutes to pick up Kat.” Every Amazon Echo in the house blares the reminder. We’ve run way over my hour.
“I’m sorry, I made us run over,” I apologize.
“Don’t be sorry. I had the time, and I think you needed it. I’m glad we had some time to talk today.” Bea smiles.
“Are you okay to go get Kat?” Bea asks.
“Yeah. I’m okay to go get her.”
“Okay. I’ll see you and Kat on Thursday, then.”
I nod my head. I hate that Wednesday is cancelled, but I’m glad she was able to see me today.
“Bye,” we say in unison, and I log out of teletherapy.