Boundaries and my mama 

I’m behind on posts, I still have the last week or so to post about, so this is going to be out of order. 
My mother…..well, she managed to hurt me yet again. I emailed Bea, and she emailed back. 



Dear Bea, 

I need to talk….email…whatever. Just please please write me back. I need to tell trough this and I can’t hold it until Monday and I have so much I have to do this weekend and I can’t think right now and I’m so hurt and so sad and I don’t even know why I am upset because really, this is just par for the course with “new mommy”.

I’m just….ugh! Speechless. Angry. Sad. Hurt. Frustrated. I don’t even know. I’m just….my mother. My mother. She texts me tonight, about an older friend of hers from her new women’s group she now goes to, the woman’s husband committed suicide earlier this week. I don’t know the woman, but my heart goes out to her. I can’t imagine the pain she had to be feeling. I said as much to my mom. And she texts back “and to think you almost put me on the same position, more than once.” I wrote “sorry” even though I’m not sure I am, exactly. I mean, I just didn’t know what to say. She kinda hurt my feelings, although exactly why I can’t explain. Anyway, then she says “I’m thankful everyday that you never succeeded in any of your attempts. What upset you so much, so many times? I wish you had been able to talk to me, that you had felt you could come to me instead of attempting suicide. That’s never the answer, it solves nothing.” I just responded, echoing “no, it never solves anything.” And then she says “So you aren’t going to talk to me about it now either? Am I that awful of a mother?” I just said it wasn’t a good time. 

WHAT?!? Why does she think it’s okay to bring this up? I can’t. Just can’t. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Why is she doing this? I can’t talk to her. I will NOT talk to her. I just….UGH. My issues aren’t about HER, and even before I’ve shared a single thing she’s already made it all about her and about how I screw up everything. I can’t fix this for her, or make it a nice story about how great she was, because she WASN’T great. I feel sick. And hurt. So, so hurt. I can’t handle this right now. 

She wasn’t there! She was NEVER there. She was always mad at me for “over reacting” “throwing a temper tantrum” or “ruining your life” anytime there was a suicide attempt. Those are acutely verbatim things she said to me. Yet somehow I’m to blame for not talking yo her?!?!?! I mean, this is crazy, right? She doesn’t get to do this. She doesn’t just get to try to talk to me about all this now, like it’s no big deal and I should share it all with her now, because you know, we are supposed to share everything and be super close and I can’t be my own person and my mistakes reflect on her and just Ugh! 

Okay. I’m sending this now. My head is all spinny and I’ve gone sort of numb in one way but all anxious and spazzy in another way. I hope you get this soon. 

Alice, 

Whoa! This came out of left field, and no wonder you are a bit freaked out. You have the choice to set whatever boundary you want with her–that’s the important thing to remember. You have control now, and you can respond as you wish. Let this sit for a day or so and the activation will settle. Then you can reply from your “wise mind” and not your “emotion mind.” Just trust that somewhere in you you will know how to best deal with this. You really will. But it needs some time to settle first.
I’m sorry she made it about you “doing this” to her. Ugh:(

I just can’t Bea. Boundaries. Ugh. I know, I know I can set whatever boundary I need to, but there is a part of me that is very strong and very adamant that “that is not allowed” and that “I’m going to ruin things and hurt her if I don’t respond how she NEEDS and then easter will be ruined and it will all be my fault and I always ruin everything.” And then I think these things, and some part of me is like “oh my gosh, didn’t I JUST go through this with Bea?” These things, these beliefs really are so ingrained. I’m not sure I ever noticed them before. Then I think “And didn’t I learn it is okay to not have the same thoughts and it is okay to set boundaries and that it doesn’t mean people aren’t on the same side or that they don’t care”? But then……that’s different. That was with you. This is about my mother. It’s not the same. She can’t handle boundaries being set that don’t align with her rules. I don’t what to reply at all. Anything I can think to say is hurtful. Ugh. And you know, anything I did was never about “doing something to her”. You know that right? Because it wasn’t, and it really hurts that she sees my pain and my hurts like that. 🙁


Well, not responding, or telling her it wasn’t a good time actually are boundaries, right? So you actually did set one reasonable one already. And I honestly still think you need to let this settle. You have to trust your gut–just like with Kristen’s shower. You ended up “knowing” what felt right to do. That’s the place to respond from, if you choose to respond.

I know that you never did anything to do something to her. It was about unbearable pain caused by years of sexual abuse. That’s clear.


My mother. She makes my head spin. She has the unique ability to bring up old hurts, and hopes and make them current again. I’m lost. I wish I could believe she really wanted to know why I attempted to die multiple times as a teen. I wish I believed she wanted to know me, really know me, and comfort me if I still needed that. I wish she had cared to know the answers to these questions years ago. I wish I believed this was about me and not about her needing to feel better about herself, not about her wanting, needing to be told she was a good mom. It’s all confusing. Anyway. That was Thursday night. It’s Saturday evening now, and I’m sick with the stomach flu. Being sick isn’t helping me to think rationally or let these things with my mother settle. Being sick like this makes me feel even more vulnerable, even more confused. 

Maybe I quit

Things have been…..well, not great. I’ve been functioning thanks to the perfect part of me. I had therapy today, after a week and a half break. It wasn’t good. I’m thinking of quitting. It was awful. I shouldn’t have gone. I never ever should have shown up. 

I talked about nothing, surface stuff, a monologue designed to keep Bea from talking about serious stuff. 

She eventually brought up the last week and when I emailed and felt like her email back was shrinky and gone. She said how we’ve just always had contact and that maybe it would be more fair to me to have no contact unless it’s an emergency, so I wouldn’t have to do this contact her, feel like she’s gone, be hurt, and shut down thing. She said maybe she should set a no outside contact boundary. That she can imagine it is painful to feel like she’s gone or not responding in the was I need, that clearly I had a need she wasn’t meeting that last week, but that she thought about it and maybe it was an opportunity for growth for me. So now she doesn’t even want to email with me. Which is where most of my talking comes out– in writing. I just shut down. I wanted to cry, walk out, hurt myself. Instead I went far away to that quiet fuzzy floaty place in my head. I like it there. 
TRIGGER WARNING!!!

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She asked how I moved from needing something from her to being okay, what was that like for me, what was my process? She said it was okay if I was mad at her. Nothing, I said. I’m fine, I’m not mad at you, everything is okay. She says it’s okay if it’s not fine, but it sounds hollow. I don’t believe her this time. And my process? I cut when the feelings get out of control, when I’m too far away, when I’m not numb enough. I stuff food on top of the feelings, the memories, the pain. If I put enough food on top of it, I can bury it awhile. Then I feel gross, dirty for shoving food in my mouth and I go throw it up. That helps too. It fixes everything for a while. So there. That’s my process. 

💥💥💥END TRIGGER 💥💥💥

I can’t do this. I really can’t. I can’t tell her how much she is hurting me. I can’t talk to her. And it’s only getting worse, going today made it worse. And now I don’t see her for a whole week. I waht to disappear. I want to not exist right now. It’s all too much. I’m not sure I can fake my way through this. I’m going to try. But going to see Bea today was a horrible stupid awful thing. Kat has an appointment on Wednesday in the afternoon (I go in the morning usually but Bea has an appointment) and I don’t think I can take Kat. I’m not sure I can face Bea right now. I don’t know what I feel towards her, but it’s a lot of painful hurt feelings, frustration that she wouldn’t just let me have my happy surface monologue, anger over this past month of December, this painful feeling of needing her and not being able to talk to her, and more things mixed up. I don’t even know what to do now. 

I ended up writing and email, and I sent it. Of course, I haven’t heard back and I’m unsure if I will……….

Bea, 

I’m not even sure it’s okay to email right now. So I’m sorry. I’m definitely not going to talk about this right now. Sooooo, writing is all I have……….

I wrote this last night, to give you today. Obviously I didn’t give it to you….


So. I’m here. And I’m probably not talking, or I’ve spoken an entire monologue about nothing. I don’t want to be here today. I do NOT want to talk about things. I don’t even know what to write to you here. I have a journal, letter, something….writing…that I’ve been writing since the beginning of December— December 5, I think, I started it after that really bad last week of November– and I feel like I can’t give it to you to read. I’m stuck and lost and this is silly. I’m wasting your time and I am sorry. I don’t know what to do now. 

That was something I had written to give you today. And I couldn’t even do that. I don’t know what to say. Today made things feel worse, so much worse. I wish you would have just let me keep the happy-everything-is-fine-on the surface monologue. I really really needed to stay on the surface. I’m kicking myself for not just cancelling. Because I knew it wouldn’t be good. I just can’t handle this. 

Honestly, right now, my instinct is to quit therapy. To hide out in this nice bubble and to have everything be okay, and just fine; to stop everything, thinking and feeling and talking and being more than a facade of perfect, because I can’t do this. My instinct is to quit, and to have Kat take a break for a few weeks. I feel like my entire life is spinning out of control, with the bottom dropped out from under me, and I have no one to talk to. Absolutely no one. I don’t want to talk about this relationship. I’m not mad at you. I’m something but it’s all these things twisted together and I can not, will not, make myself so vulnerable to talk about this, to talk to you about you mattering to me, about you hurting my feels myself. No. I won’t. I can’t. 

So now want? Because I’m lost, and afraid and alone and the only thing my map is telling me to do is to run away. 
Alice 

I couldn’t stop it (11/30/16)

I walk into therapy, and right away, as I’m getting settled, I talk about Kat and school and our first Girl Scout meeting. I’m desperately trying to pretend away this sense of dread, and feeling of panic I have. I tell Bea how amazing Kat is doing, and great is was to see her interacting socially with girls she had never met before. I tell her how it was, being the troop leader. I’ve never done anything like that before, but I had a blast. 
Thankfully, I have a co-leader, who seems very comfortable when it comes to dealing with the parents. That was the one thing I was unsure about— I don’t ever feel comfortable taking a position of authority or being the “expert” over my peers. Mostly because I often feel like a 5 year or a teen, I don’t feel as if my peers are really my peers. I’m much more comfortable with kids; the little girl part of me connects with them really well. 

Today Bea won’t let me spend the entire session talking about surface stuff. I’d sent a series of emails Monday and Tuesday, and had spent the last 36 hours in a hypervigilant, panicky feeling state. 

“Okay, I’m going to find your email and just read through it really quick to get back in that headspace.” Bea transitions us to talking through the email I had sent the day before.

“Sorry….I’m sorry.” I mumble, covering my face with my hands. 

“Why sorry? Nothing to be sorry about. Needing that transition time, that’s why we have 90 minute sessions. We have time built in.” It’s no big deal, she’s saying. 

“Because I won’t stop talking.” I bury my face, mortified.

“No that’s not it at all! We have the time because that time is important for building safety, for helping you feel safe enough to drop some of those defenses you need to get through your day to day life.” She corrects me and sounds firm, as if she wants to make sure I don’t start thinking badly of myself for needing that extra time. 
Bea begins to go through my email, reading it to herself, and responding as she reads. 

“I wondered– as I was saying that about the feeling impatient, annoyed— in the back of my mind, I wondered how that was sounding to you. I wasn’t talking about you, I have never felt that towards you. I do check in with myself, see how I am feeling, but it never has come up with you. Even at times when you are stuck, or avoiding things, it’s so obvious to me why you would be stuck or why your defenses would be needed at those times. You work hard in therapy and this is hard stuff. You can’t stay raw and open all the time. It would be way too much. I was talking more about people….it’s maybe people who……. they are in therapy because they know something is wrong, but maybe aren’t even sure what, and they are so defended, there is no getting through the walls they have built up, when I check in with myself and notice I am feeling impatient or annoyed with that person, then I know that maybe it is time to push against some of those walls, to challenge some of those defenses.”

“Okay.” 

“This is interesting. You say you didn’t notice anything, that there is nothing to notice, but then you noticed a whole bunch!” 

I think, maybe it’s that I have this idea that anything I’m noticing isn’t ‘right’ it isn’t what you are supposed to notice and get out of this exercise. 

“Even right away, when you are saying how you just kept thinking that it’s no big deal……..just a phone or a coffee cup you are thinking about picking up, those are your defenses, the it’s no big deal, this is silly. That is you using your mind to distract yourself.”

We talk about how reaching out is very, very hard for me. 

“And here you are looking at this reaching and touching from hubby’s point of view. When he grabs your hand, or puts an arm around you, how triggering is that? Is it triggering like distract yourself, or triggering like heart pounding, or triggering like go away?”

“I don’t know.” It comes out automatically. 

“I’m just wondering because knowing how triggering it is will help us to know where we might want to start with this, or what things we might want to try.” 

I sigh. “It’s……maybe it depends.” 

We sit in silence for a bit, and Bea finally asks if I can say more about that. She wonders what is it like when hubby holds my hand at the doctors office. “Maybe that isn’t so scary. You’ve had good touches in your life, too, so maybe that is a time when you remember your mom or dad holding your hand and comforting you at the doctors office. Do you have other times you can remember good touch, like cuddling with your mom?”

“No…..my parents aren’t touchy feely. My mom thinks it’s weird that I would snuggle up with Kat to watch movies or let her sleep in my bed. She’s good with babies, really little kids, being cuddly, but not so much with anything else.” 

“So maybe there isn’t a lot of memory there. What happens when hubby holds your hand? What is going on then?”

“It….if we are like, out walking and he grabs my hand, it’s just….I just distract myself. It’s not a big deal. But if like….I’m at the counter cooking and he comes up and hugs me or thinks he will run my shoulders it’s like……triggered in my head. Heart racing….like want to run away…..but of course I can’t do that. So I go away instead.” 

“So maybe when you are out for a walk, and hubby holds your hand you can notice how you are safe. And other times you could use the four steps to freedom— reminding yourself you are safe, that this is a reaction from a long time ago, that you are having a flashback, that sort of thing? Or maybe it’s too triggering to even do that. It’s just some things to play around with. To see what you notice, what helps or doesn’t help.” 

We talk about couples therapy and how that could have been helpful, and how hubby just hasn’t bothered to call and schedule and how I had asked twice so I’m done begging him to do things to help our marriage be better. 

“Okay, here you are talking about sending the email to me. You noticed you physically pulled back from the iPad and it was making you have that anxious sick feeling and that you had to go away to press send. You really feel very vulnerable reaching out. It’s hard for you to reach out.”

I nod. 

“But then you did reach out. You were able to send me the email.” She says.

“Yes. I just….have to pretend it doesn’t matter to me.” The interesting thing is, I have a great imagination, and can pretend away a lot of stuff. 

“I’m glad you sent it. I know it’s hard to reach out. Interesting that words are needed to feel not alone, that having no words means alone, when for so long you kept this secret and had no words. It’s a little confusing to me. I wonder if it means that in the last few years you have learned that using words and telling your story means someone can hear and understand? That it means someone can be there for you and that you have learned telling your story and being heard feels less alone to you?” Bea asks.  

“No……it’s like……words for anything. It’s like I need words to connect at all…..like hubby would be happy and feel connected if we were sitting next to each other watching a movie or each doing our own thing, but next to each other and that is like…..nothing to me. I need to talk.” I try to explain, but I’m not sure I’m doing a good enough job of making sense. 

“Ohhhhh….okay. I hear that from a lot of women. I think that is pretty normal.”

“Well…..it’s like a simple example I could think of. Like even when I was a kid, I needed to talk, I needed to talk and be heard. I would talk about anything and get in trouble for talking too much.” I say, trying to clarify it more. 

“Yes, okay, so talking was how you connected. It’s not trauma relayed, it’s attachment based, it’s how you feel secure in the world, by being heard.”

I nod. 

“So, I’m thinking attachment, and what are other ways we can communicate and connect? What are ways I see kids connect? Touch is one of the more obvious ones, I guess. But then I also see kids, they look up to see if their attachment person is paying attention. Some kids will act out, to get seen.” 

“That was never me,” I say. 

“No, I wouldn’t think so. Some kids go the other way, and might be very clever or very well behaved, to get noticed that way.” 

I nod. Maybe me. That’s more me than anything else. 

“All of the ways we use to get our attachment needs met as kids, well, I’d imagine they would be similar when we are adults. So, when you are needing words, maybe we can try other ways to connect, you can ask yourself how else you can get your needs met, or what it is you are needing that you aren’t getting because you have no words.” 

My first thought is that there is nothing if I don’t have words. Even though Bea has literally just listed out several other ways, that belief is so automatic I have to remind myself that she has listed out other ways. 

“The more I think about just how vital words can be, how they really can keep an anxious kid feeling connected, how much having words is an inherent part of who you are, the idea that you held that secret for so long is even more horrible. It’s no wonder everything bombarded you when you broke that silence.” 

I don’t say anything, but I think that maybe she does get it, my need for words. I’ve been upset and feeling overwhelmed for weeks, but it’s all come to a point where I can barely handle it. These last two weeks I’ve just wanted Bea to fix it. The little girl has been very much in control, and she has been wanting a grown up to make it better, to make all the hurt stop, to just fix it. I know, rationally, that Bea can’t just fix it, but that doesn’t stop me from being frustrated with myself for having no words, and with Bea for not being able to make it all better. I have this urge to just scream at her *Just help me. Help me.*

“Am I right that there is a lot going on internally, so much so that it is very overwhelming feeling, and it’s more than usually is going on, that there just aren’t words to go with what is happening?” She asks. 

I nod my head, just a little. 

“Okay. Can we try to define what type of things are going on internally? Feelings? Images? Emotions? Thoughts?” 
As Bea speaks, I let go of the breath I had been holding. She is trying to help me. She’s not abandoning me, leaving me alone in this. It’s not Bea on the outside, waiting for me to have words and connect with her, she is right here with me, trying to help me find the words I so desperately need.  “I don’t know.” 

“No words can be communication, too. If I was having lot of stuff going on internally but had no words, to me that would mean the things happening were too horrible, too scary, maybe too overwhelming, too sad, to put into words. Could having no words mean something for you?” 

I shrug. Maybe. I don’t know. 

“Try to focus on those feelings, if you can. See if anything comes up, if we can categorize these things,” Bea encourages. 

As we have been talking– or rather as Bea has been reading my words and talking– all the internal chaos has been stirred up, and I’ve gone from sitting upright, to curled up, knees bent princess style, my head down, resting on my arms. I try to sit with all the feelings, and I try to check in, to see if I can’t categorize this mess. 

After a while, I think, ‘it’s all of it.’ It’s emotions so strong I can’t sit with them, and so it’s hard to name them. It’s pictures, and thoughts, and I can hear his voice. I can feel things in my body. I want to tell Bea, to say that it’s all of it all rolled up together in a big giant bowling ball that is going to knock me down. I’m not sure if I manage to tell her anything at all. I’m really far away, so far away that I don’t even realize how far I’ve gone until much, much later. 

I’m crying and shaking my head, and it’s hard to breathe. 

“You’re really closed off. You really need to feel safe and protected right now.” Bea comments. “I wonder….when kids build walls, they build them for different reasons. Sometimes to keep something scary out, and sometimes to keep things in. I wonder which one your wall is for?”

I could build the tallest, biggest wall, and it still wouldn’t keep him out. I try and try, but nothing stops him. “It doesn’t matter,” I say. The words are disjointed, out of context, although they make sense in a way. 

“What doesn’t matter?” Bea asks softly.

Maybe I’m trying to keep the horror in my head inside. Maybe my walls are for keeping this awful stuff inside. Nobody needs to hear these things, or know them. Maybe my walls are to keep everyone out. People can’t hurt you if they can’t get inside the wall. Maybe my wall is to keep the little girl as safe as she can be. Maybe there is no such thing as safe. Maybe there never was. Maybe none of it matters. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants and there is nothing I can do to stop it or change it. 

“What is ‘It’?” Bea questions gently. I’d forgotten she was there, and her voice makes me jump.

“Nothing. Nothing. There is nothing I can do. I’m doing everything wrong and it doesn’t matter.” I blurt the thoughts out before I can stop myself. 

Bea might be talking, I’m not sure. She might be asking me what it is that I can do nothing about, or she might be reassuring me I’m not doing anything wrong; she might be telling me that it is an old belief. 

Her voice breaks through the fog in my head eventually. “You are really needing to feel safe and protected, to be far away. Are you far away in a safe space? I can see how tight you are holding onto everything, to keep yourself safe.” 

“No! It’s not a nice place. It’s not a nice place at all,” and I begin to cry. 

“It’s not a nice place. It doesn’t feel good to be where you are,” she echoes. “Can you focus on your hands, on the fists they have made? They are holding on really, really tight.” 

I don’t say anything, but I’m listening. It doesn’t truly matter what Bea is saying, her voice equals safety to me, and it’s like having a rope to grasp onto. 

“Can relax some of the tension in your arms and shoulders? You are holding on so tight. I wonder what would happen if you just let go a little bit?” 

I shake my head. “Can’t.” 

“Because your frozen or because it doesn’t feel safe?” 

I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m really frozen in the way I usually am, but everything in me is screaming that I can’t let go, I can’t move, it’s not okay. Finally I whisper, “It’s not okay.”

“What about making things even tighter? Sometimes that can be a way to get some movement back, too. To go with what is already happening.” 

“No,” I say, and I sound like a stubborn toddler.

“Okay. That’s okay,” she is speaking in that soothing voice, the one I use with Kat when she is really hurt and upset. “Can you stay with the feeling in your shoulders? See if anything comes up or if your arms or hands want to do anything? Maybe an image or a thought will come up.” 

If I weren’t so far away, I’d probably be annoyed that Bea was bring SP into this, but as it stands, I’m not upset with her at all. (And a day later, I’m still okay with it. Having no words and being so far away, SP was maybe the only tool that was going to be of any use. And Bea felt like Bea, not like a shrink, which made all the difference.) So, I tried to pay attention to how my shoulders, arms and hands felt. I was surprised to feel my hands in fits, and how tensed up and locked my shoulders and arms were. I hadn’t noticed. 

“I can’t do this, I can not do this. I can’t do anything. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.” I’m whispering, talking fast, my voice blurred by tears and punctuated by gasps. 

“That begs the question, why?” 

“Why?” I’m incredulous. Shouldn’t she know? Isn’t it obvious? “Why doesn’t it matter?”

“Yes,” she responds simply. Or maybe she says more, and the words don’t register because I’m lost in this maze in my head and I can’t find my way out and he is going to come and there is nothing I am do, it doesn’t matter.

“Because! Because I can’t do anything to change it or stop it! I can’t stop it!” Oh my God, I can’t breathe, nothing is okay, there is no such thing as safe, why isn’t my mom here, I wish my mom would come save me, no one cares, I’m all alone, he is going to hurt me, oh my God, please just make it all stop. 

“You can’t stop it,” she says carefully, and then adds firmly, “You couldn’t stop it THEN. This is now. You are safe now. You survived and you are safe.” 

“No! Stop it! I’m not safe. I’m not okay. He’s just going to do whatever he wants. He can do whatever he wants and it doesn’t matter what I do, there is no such thing as keeping the scary out, he can do whatever he wants! I can’t do anything. It doesn’t matter. He is going to do whatever he wants and I can’t stop it!” I practically scream the words at Bea. Why isn’t she getting this? Why doesn’t she see? I’m terrified and he’s going to hurt me and she is not getting it and I’m so mad at her right now, if she would just get it, she could fix it, she could stop it. Why isn’t she getting it? Why won’t she stop it? 

“Yes! Yes! You found words!” Bea shouts back, but her voice is…..well, happy isn’t the right word, exactly…..maybe excited or proud? “You are safe and you have a voice! And you aren’t alone. You did it! You did it and you are safe. You’re safe now. It was awful, and scary and nothing you should have had to live through, but you did live through it, you survived and you are okay. You are here, in my office, with me, and you aren’t alone.” 

Bea’s voice somehow registers enough that I know it’s okay to let go and melt down, and so I do. I curl into the smallest ball I can manage, and sob. I’m shaking and crying, and I feel wildly out of control, and very, very young and very, very afraid. “He does what he wants and he’s hurting me and it doesn’t matter I can’t hide and I can’t stop him and I can’t do anything at all.” 

“It’s over now. You are safe. You’re safe now. You aren’t alone, and you have words, and I am here. You are safe now. It’s all over. It’s not happening now, no matter how much it feels like it is.” Her voice is a quiet comfort, soft and gentle. “Can I move my chair closer to you?” 

“Why? Why?” I feel as though I almost shriek the words. I’m freaked out. Why does she want to be near me? What does she want? 

“So you aren’t alone, so that I’m not so far away. It’s totally your choice. I just want you to know I am here.” She’s matter-of-fact about it, and I believe her that she just wanted to make sure I don’t feel alone. 

“O-okay,” I say, and my voice is shaky. I’m still crying, and hyperventilating off and on, trying to catch my breath.

Bea moves her chair next to me, and the moment I feel her nearer, I have this urge to sort of shout, ‘don’t touch me!’ My filter is still enough in place that I check myself, and hold the words in. A moment after the urge passes, I realize it’s silly. Bea has never just touched me, or sat nearer to me, without asking. Even at times when she has maybe thought holding my hand would help me feel less alone, she has only offered, and let me know that if I ever ask her to do so, she will hold my hand. 
I start to feel as though I’ve let go of a horrible, awful secret, like my biggest fear has been revealed, and the world didn’t end. My tears slow, and I manage to catch my breath. Bea talks softly, about nothing, just soothing words, letting me know I’m not alone, giving me that verbal connection I need in order to feel safe in the world. 

“I’m scared,” I whisper. 

“I know,” she says. “That was very scary to let go of.”

“I’m so, so scared.” 

“I know. It’s a really scary thing, to feel how little control you had. It’s very, very scary.” 

“I didn’t want it to be true,” I confide. 

“You really didn’t want it to be true. It was really important to you that it wasn’t true, it was so hard, and so scary to let go of the idea that it was just a fun game. I know how badly you didn’t want it to be true. I wish for you it wasn’t true.” Her voice sounds sad, I hear tears in it. Her tears somehow make mine more acceptable; it’s okay to be full grief over this, it’s emotional and it’s a lot. 

Eventually she gently tells me I need to come back to the room, that I’ve gone really deep into things, and it’s time to come back. She reminds me of my busy day, and talks about what she sees in the room. When she has the sense I’m back here, or at least in that here but not here place, where I can function, she says, “I’m going to move my chair back, so I’m not in your face when you sit up.” 

When I do sit up, I can’t look at her, and I wonder about what she had said earlier, how looking a child will look at their parents to see if they are looking at the child, to get attachment needs met. I wonder then, why looking at Bea and having her look back at me feels like being ripped open, like everything in me is being spread out for her to see. I stare at the floor, slipping on my shoes and grabbing my bag. I heard the downstairs door a few minutes ago, which means Bea’s next appointment is here. 

“This was a lot. I want to make sure you feel safe, that you know you are safe and not alone.” Bea says. 

I nod. “I’m fine,” I say. I’m always fine. 

“I wish we had a little more time; my ten o’clock is here,” she confirms what I had already been thinking. She doesn’t want me to leave here and not be safe, but she doesn’t sound scared or panicked, just caring. “If you need to talk more, you can email or call. Okay?” 

I nod. Fine, okay. I’m fine. 

“This is a day for self care. Be gentle with yourself today, okay? Go get a coffee, relax. If you want you can sit out in the other room, as long as you need, okay?” 

“Okay. I’m okay.” 

“I’ll see you later today, okay? With Kat,” she reminds me. 

“I’ll see you later,” I echo, as I walk out the door. I’ve managed not to look at her at all, and in a fog, I walk to my car. 
Wednesdays are busy. It’s not a bad day to have tough things come out in therapy, because after i leave Bea’s, I have non-stop distractions until I bring Kat back for therapy. Then I can hide in Bea’s waiting room, back in h safe space, knowing she is right there, and begin to sort through the crap that came out during my morning session. 

“They’ll have to go through me” (11/7/16) 

I talk about nonsense– the morning and traffic and how foggy it is outside. 

We slowly go into talking about hubby’s hunting trip, and how he had lessened the days he will be gone. Bea says, “It was good you discussed it in therapy, how was that, to talk something like that through in therapy?”

I correct her, “No, we didn’t go last week because Kat was sick and I just acted like a brat to prove my point (snarky teen really helped with that) and hubby cancelled therapy but never rescheduled and we can really only see Kim once in December and not in November now at all and that seems like too much space between appointments, but whatever.”

 “Did you feel relieved or upset to miss therapy? Was it like, oh good, I don’t have to go deal with this today? Or maybe more like, you had psyched yourself up to go, and now had to cancel?” 

“Neither. Both. I don’t know.” I’m really unsure exactly. “I’m more upset that we are missing so many appointments and that hubby never rescheduled.”

“That makes sense. For you, it’s going to be about the relationship. And a lot of time between appointments can feel like you are starting over at each appointment.” Bea agrees. 

“She made me so mad one appointment…..she was saying that all the feeling words and labeling feelings and staying with feelings is hard for hubby, it’s hard for men, and when I said I didn’t grow up like that either, she said that it was easier for women. That isn’t fair. She doesn’t know me. It’s not fair to make this generalization. I said, no, not really, and that I learned in therapy.” 

“And what did she say?” Bea asks. 

“I don’t know. I was already too far away by that point to know.” I shrug. 

“That’s okay. It’s okay. I’m glad you were able to correct the assumption she made. Too be honest, I’m sure I’ve made similar assumptions. It really isn’t fair, is it? We sort of coddle men around that in couples therapy, and it is unfair. It’s male privilege, assuming they need more help with feelings, or that women don’t need to,work just as hard.” Bea says.
 
“Thank you! I mean…..It’s like, you know, I couldn’t even label my feelings except to say happy or bad or I would say I was feeling like I wanted to go for a walk, or feeling like I needed to go to bed when I started seeing you. I couldn’t stay with my feelings, and there was any number of feelings I wouldn’t even admit existed. I didn’t know how to be present. And I couldn’t feel my body at all, unless I was in some kind of extreme pain.” 

Bea nods. “That’s right. I forget how far we have come. I forgot about all the work we did with the kimochis around naming feelings and with working to feel even little bits of your body and to sit with your feelings. You’ve come a long way with feelings.”  

“I feel like hubby and I are on equal playing fields now, because…..like, he might have trouble with feelings, but when he is present he is able to label them and handle them. Not great, but you know…..better than I could before I started therapy. And his mom didn’t have issues with feelings existing, her feelings were just really big. Always, these huge feelings.” 

“Hmmmm……….and maybe that is part of his discomfort with big feelings.” Bea says. 

We talk about that for a bit, and then she says, “I want to make sure we have time to dig into your stuff a little before our time is up today. Is there anything coming up for you, anything you want to talk about?” Bea looks at the clock and says we have 40 minutes left. I wonder how I used up almost an hour. Oops. 

I shrug. I feel myself going away, just a little. I force myself to stay sitting up, I don’t want her to get shrinky about me curling up. 

“Maybe we need a checklist, like eating and sleeping, feeling grounded or dissociated, that kind of thing. We could use it to start sessions, to sort of guide us.” 

I think that she wants a damn plan because SP says we need a plan and so I had told her things I needed to talk about and told her to put them in her plan, but then she ruined that by being shrinky and now I can not talk to her about what was in the plan because it feels too scary to really trust that she is there and present and not gone and I’m too closed down to feel if she is or isn’t there. 

“I was glad the little girl reached out on Wednesday night. I wonder how the little girl has been feeling since then, how you are feeling?”

 I feel tears behind my eyes. ‘Go away, Bea. Just shut up,’ I think. 

She eventually throws out ideas, “Is she still feeling alone? Is she angry? Maybe you are annoyed with her for emailing me? What is the feeling that first made made it okay to email me?”

When I don’t answer her, she lands on the fact we had talked about finding a middle— somewhere between on the surface and present and talking about deeper things and far, far away. She asks if the dream I’d written about (the one we were supposed to work through on Wednesday but didn’t) would be a middle place? The reaction is instant. I cover my face, as I feel hot and cold in my body, my heart pounds, I feel tears falling down my cheeks and I am frozen. I shake my head. No, no it is most certainly not a middle place. 

“Have you still been having the dream?”  
It take me a minute, or longer, to work through the fog. Slowly, I nod, and then silent tears turn to sobs. 

“I don’t think I have a copy of the dream,” Bea says. 

It feels like a long time before I eventually sit up, pull my blanket scarf over my face, find the dream on my iPad,, and hand the iPad to her. 

And my dream. I’ve been trying to write it out, but I can’t. I feel sort of silly writing it out, because there is this very much hazy weird dreamy, it’s not real quality to it, but I’m so scared and upset when I wake for it, that I can’t really shake that feeling when I’m thinking about it either. It’s more of a fuzzy thing as opposed to my usual nightmares that are so crisp and clear. 

It always starts out the same. I think I’m me, like just regular me-me and I’m with hubby. We’re playing at the park I used to play at when I was a kid, even though I’m pretty sure we aren’t really kids but I’m happy and the sun is shiny and it’s a good day. And then someone asks hubby something, and he says okay. Suddenly he’s gone, and I’m not really me, I’m actually a Barbie sized doll, so it’s just my mind that is there, really, because the rest of me is a doll, and I’m being picked up and carried away. And then things get really messy and scary. For a lot of the dream I’m made to do things I don’t want to do, wear clothes I don’t like, ext, ext……think of a child playing with a doll. It’s like that. Except it’s not a kid playing. I don’t know who it is, but he isn’t nice. The dream jumps around a lot, from place to place, or maybe *scene* to *scene*. At some point in the dream, I get passed around, like kids do with dolls, and then I’m thrown in the bottom of a toy bin and forgotten about. There’s more specifics, and sometimes it’s different, but that’s the general overview. Crazy and weird. And so absurd, it’s silly, and I feel seriously ridiculous for being afraid of this dream, for waking up scared out of my mind from it. I mean, seriously?!?! I have nightmares that are like flashbacks, replicas of my memories and they are so real and terrifying. It is silly that this dream is bothering me. But I’ve been having it for weeks now, always more or less the same, and it’s not going anywhere. 

She reads, and I try to stay sitting up. When she says it is a very scary dream, I’m okay. But when she asks me about it, and talks about why it would be so scary, I can’t stay here, and I bury my face again, sitting princess style, my legs tucked under me knees bent and to the right, with my upper body turned to the left, arms encircling the pillows I’d buried my face in. 

“This dream is very scary. It’s a lot. You don’t usually have more symbolic trauma dreams, but those can feel just as real as the reality based ones, and even scarier sometimes because what you are left with are all these very big feelings.” 

I can’t talk about this, it’s too much, I change my mind. I don’t know. “It really scares me,” I tell Bea.

“I can see why! You know…..when kids play out trauma here, they always start their play with ‘it was a normal day’ or ‘it was a good day’. And that’s really speaking to the heart of trauma, right? Scary things don’t happen when we are expecting them to happen, they can happen anytime time, and even on a good day or a normal day. That is part of what makes trauma so scary.” 

“I didn’t know that was how kids play.” The words are whispered. It’s interesting to me that this is how kids start off their play, and that this dream feels very much like a dream a child would have. It just doesn’t feel very adult to me. 

“There is so much here that this dream speaks to. The wedding, even, and hubby saying yes to you dancing with Kenny. Feeling so abandoned by that, and even more so, how it parallels your mom leaving you and you feeling helpless to stop it as a child. It speaks to you being frozen and it speaks to your having to be that perfect girl, having to act how your mom needed you to act, as if you were a doll.”

I’m trying so hard not to cry, but I don’t succeed. 

“Can we try something?” Bea asks. 

“Maybe.” I don’t quite trust her not to try to mix in some SP stuff, or not to turn shrinky. 

“Can the doll in the dream move?”

I shake my head. “She’s a doll. She can’t do anything.” 

“Hmmm. Okay. Can we pretend she can move?” 

“I guess.” 

“If the doll could move, what would she want to do in the dream?” Bea asks me. 

I don’t answer right away. The words are in my head, they are just hard to get out. “She’d run away and hide.” 

“Yeah, she would run away and hide. Where would she hide?” Bea’s voice is soft, it’s the voice she uses when the little girl is running the ship.

“I don’t know. Somewhere really good.”

“What about somewhere in my office? Could the doll hide in my office?” She suggests. 

I nod my head; I like that idea. 

“Where would she hide here? She’s tiny, which is lucky because she has lots of places to hide.” 

“Behind something big and heavy. So no one could move it and make her come out.” I’m being very serious, this is serious business to the little girl. 

“Maybe behind the couch?” I shake my head no. 

“Maybe behind the toy shelf?” She gestures behind her, and I shake my head no again. 

“Maybe in my messy closer, behind the shelf in there?” Bea suggests. 

“Maybe,” I say. 

Bea gets up and opens the door to the closet, so I can see. 

“Yes. The doll could hide behind the big shelf in your closet.” I agree. 

Bea shuts the door and sits back down. We talk about the doll hiding a little bit more, and how she is safe now and then we wrap things up. “If you wake up from bad dreams tonight, remind yourself the doll can get away, and she can hide behind the big shelf, in the closet, in my office. And anyone who wants to hurt the doll will have to get through me first,” Bea says. 

I nod, feeling a little bit embarrassed, because the little girl isn’t running things anymore, and grown up me is embarrassed to have acted like such a child. I won’t admit it to Bea, but it is comforting to think of someone having to go through her to get to the doll. It means I’m safe. 

Aside

Breaking the silence 

I’m going to take a risk, even if it might not seem like a risk at all. I’m going to post what I’ve been writing about, therapy wise. The little girl has been running things a lot lately. That makes reaching out even scarier for me. Anyway. It’s a lot of posts, but I’ve decided to just post them all at one time in order. It’s a lot to read, so I don’t expect anyone to read all of it. The last post is where the little girl tells the secret with the painful truth. So……yeah. Okay then. And, I’m thankful you guys are all still here. 💟

Rupture and repair (11/2/16)

I walk into therapy, anxious and uncertain. 

After writing on my blog about the SP stuff and feeling like Bea was being shrinky, I realized that I needed to tell her how I was feeling, or things would just get worse. So I emailed her. I sent one email, telling her how afraid I was to email or talk to her about Monday, but that I felt like I needed to because Monday felt bad to me. I said that I was having really strong negative feelings about SP and I was afraid to talk to her. She replied back that it was okay, that I didn’t need to be worried about hating SP or about liking things she liked. She said she thought I should send the other email so that she would know what was going on before we met the next day. So, I sent it. Bea replied and everything she said was understanding and caring. She explained somethings, telling me what she had been thinking, what her experience of things on Monday was. I wrote a response I didn’t intend to send, but when I got up at 4 am for the day, I decided to send it. 

So, there were a lot of nervous, worried and scared feelings as I walked into her office. Bea is sitting in her chair, on the blue rug, just like always. She’s looking at two decks of cards, but when I walk in the doorway, she looks up at me and smiles. 
“Hi,” she says softly, as I walk in and sit in my spot on the couch. “I was just looking at these meditation cards I just got. I got them for kids but I think they could be helpful for adults, too. But I was looking at them, and thinking about how I have been using them this last week. I’ve only pulled them out if they make sense for what the kid I’m with is playing out, or working through. I wouldn’t just stop a child in the middle of their play to do one a random mediation activity.” 

I nod. I’m a little afraid she’s going to suggest we do one of the cards, but she doesn’t. 

“I guess I was thinking about this today, and I’m talking about it now, because it is like the SP stuff. I shouldn’t be bringing it up or adding it in when it doesn’t make sense for what you are talking about or working through.” 

“Okay…..” I whisper slowly. 

After a pause, Bea gets up, put the cards away, and then sits back down. “We can start wherever you want to start today,” she tells me. 

When I don’t say anything, she sits forward in her chair and looks at me. My gaze has been more towards the floor than anything since I got here, but I know she is looking at me because I can feel it. 
“I wanted to give you a chance to start with whatever you need to talk about. I’m thinking we should talk about the relationship, about me feeling shrinky and distant last week.” 

I feel tears start to form, and so I go even farther away than I was upon walking into the office. I want to leave. Maybe I should leave. I can not talk about this because I’m terrified she is going to get shrinky. I cover my face with my hands, and think that she is probably shrinking that movement right now. I just can’t handle this. I curl up, bury my face, and wrap my arms around legs, using my hands to cover my head.

“It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling,” Bea reminds me. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m not going to turn into an SP therapist. I know it has to feel scary to be here today and to talk to me when things felt so off on Monday, when you really experienced me as gone. I know it’s going to be really hard to trust that I’m here today, and that’s okay. I’m not worried, because I know we can work through this together.” 

I don’t say anything. Her words barely penetrate through the fog around me. I don’t believe her that she’s here, although her words tell me she is understanding exactly where I’m at right now. All I can think is that at least she knows she ruined everything. 

“I’m glad you were able to email me. Should I get your emails or can we try to just talk now?” 

I shrug. I don’t care. Just do whatever you want, I think. 

“Why don’t we try to talk?” When I don’t respond, she continues, “I was wondering how things were feeling after we emailed, if you had anything more you wanted to say?” 

I don’t say anything at all. I don’t know what else to say. She got shrinky, and I was afraid to tell her in the moment so I just shut down because nothing felt safe, and then later when I could think about it more, I realized how unsafe it all felt and how distant Bea seemed even after the fact and now scared I was she was going to be shrinky or that she didn’t really care and that this was all a clinical job to her and she was just really good at pretending to care and be there and that everything with her was all fake anyway, and I didn’t feel like I could dive into trauma stuff with her as things stood, and I couldn’t really go pretend things were fine, and everything was royally screwed up. But I didn’t need to say any of that, because it was all in my very long emails. So I just stayed silent. 

“Do you know what you are feeling right now?” She asks gently. 

It takes everything I have in me to come back a little bit from the far away, and to breathe and try to feel what I’m feeling. “Uncomfortable.” 

“Uncomfortable. Yeah, I can see that this is feeling really uncomfortable to you. Do you know what part of this is the most uncomfortable?” 

I’m silent, and so is Bea. I get the feeling she is going to wait me out this time. I sigh. I try to figure out what I am feeling. “It’s…relationships. Feelings. Attachment. Being alone. Trust. And SP and shrinky stuff. All rolled into one big ball. A big ball of yuck…..of uncomfortable that is smushing me.” 

“That does sound uncomfortable. It’s all the things that are really hard for you to talk about.” 

“I………..I think it’s not SP that I hate. Not really. It could be anything……..it’s change and you turning shrinky.” 

“Ah-ha!” She says softly. “That makes a lot of sense. Change is very scary, and change that makes me feel far away and not there is really, really scary.” 

“Shrinky,” I say. I am not going to let her make it sound less awful. Shrinky is the very worst thing a therapist can be. I want her to call it what it is. 

“Shrinky,” she agrees. “Having me feel shrinky is really scary.” 

I shrug. I can’t even admit to that, it’s too risky. 

“I was thinking about this, and I think, usually, I am using the feeling part of my brain in therapy. The SP stuff, especially because it is new and I am still learning it, puts me very solidly in the thinking part of my brain. And it is really hard to connect with another person when you are only in the thinking part of your brain. I think that is where the misattunement with SP happens.” 

That’s why there is such a noticeable difference when she is talking about SP, I think. It is also why she was the first therapist I felt like I could trust and really talk to; it’s because she is usually so focused on feeling with me, and being with me, and that is a right brain to right brain connection, and that wasn’t something I had felt before in my life, I didn’t get that type of attunement growing up. It’s why I felt such a difference when I told Bea my secrets. I can’t deal with this, though, the attachment talk, and attunement and care, I can’t do it. 

I end up panicking, and wanting to run away. It’s too much. “I feel like I should just quit. That’s all I was thinking on Monday and it’s all I’m thinking now. I should just quit. You are going to turn into a shrinky SP therapist and I should just quit. I can’t dot it, I can’t. And you are going to be doing SP and I will get fired because I can’t do it. I should quit. I should just leave.” 

“I’m not going to turn into an SP therapist. I know the body stuff is scary, I know having me feel shrinky is scary, I know this is hard. But I am not changing into an SP therapist. Just like you said, certain parts of the theory of SP don’t work for me. The idea that a transformation must happen every session, that doesn’t sit with me. That’s asking a lot of someone with a lot of trauma, with a lot to work through. Just like we talked about in email, all therapies have structure, and I like to take what works, leave what doesn’t and mush it all into one big Bea-style of therapy. And that means I do therapy different with each person.” 

“I don’t like all the rules and expectations of SP! That makes it shrinky! I hate it, I just hate it!” I blurt out. 

“The structure and theory feel shrinky and scary. All therapy has theories behind it. What we were doing before, that had theory behind it too. We just never talked about it.” 

“I know, I know. I don’t want to talk about it!” It’s too painful. Talking theory turns people shrinky, and while I am okay with that in my friendships, and on my blog, I can not handle it from Bea.

“Okay. We don’t have to talk about it,” she says softly. 

“Before worked.” I feel stubborn and hurt and sad. “It’s like you are saying everything before SP was bad. But before worked. And you keep saying you like SP because it is so non-pathlogizing, and then I wonder what that means for me. Because I NEVER experienced you as pathologizing before. So was it just pretend? Did you really think I was bad and crazy and every thing I was terrified of when I told you my secrets? And you were surprised when I said that before. So is it because you really thought I was crazy and you didn’t care and you were just pretending?” I’m crying, and it’s not pretty crying. It’s snotty, red faced sobs. I’m blurting everything out because I’m half gone, so far away it is like I am watching this session from behind myself. And it doesn’t matter, because the part of me that is numb and gone, she doesn’t care anymore and she is sure I am quitting, that this is it, that I’m never coming back. And so I need to know. I need to know if she ever even cared at all. 

“Gosh no, I never pathologized you. I was surprised, I guess, because it’s hard for me to see myself objectively, and I guess I wasn’t sure if you were able to feel that from me. But no, I never pathologized you, Alice. Alice, I cared. I cared then, and I care now. I’m always doing what I do because I care. Yes, I have a responsibility to you because I am your therapist but I take that responsibility very seriously because I care. You are feeling This misattunement when I am talking about SP, and that is scary, but it is my job to fix that. And I believe it can be fixed.” Bea speaks slowly and carefully, and her voice is full of emotion. What, I’m not sure. I’m too far away to be able to figure it out. 

“I don’t want therapy to be this system of rules and steps that you as my therapist have to follow!! I don’t like that. It’s clinical and fake and I can’t. I just can’t. I liked you as a therapist because you were real. It always felt like you were following what, I don’t know, what your heart said I needed, not what a theory of therapy said you should do. I can’t do this if you are just following rules. I can’t.” 

“I get what you are saying, I hear you. And you are right. I’ve always been more intuitive as a therapist, not following a set system, even thought I do have a lot of different theories of therapy to draw from. The SP talk really derailed that. I’m not intuitive with the SP stuff yet. Its too new, and I have to think about it to know what to do. What’s missing with SP right now is attunement, is me being emotionally present. That is what you need from me, that is the most important thing. Being tunes into you is what is most important,” Bea says. 

“Maybe. Maybe it can be okay,” I say softly. I’m calmer, because she heard me, but I’m still wary. Maybe I won’t quit right now. Maybe I’ll wait and see. 

“It feels scary to trust me now, after feeling me turn shrinky the last time we met. That’s okay. I’m here, and I’m not leaving.” She sounds firm when she tells me this, and I feel a little bit safer, hearing that she is getting it. 

I leave feeling sad and unsure, but better than I felt walking into her office. I’m not quitting today. Bea is maybe not going to turn shrinky. It might be okay. 

Trusting that someone will really be there is a challenge….

Where we left off: I had tearfully asked Bea,”Don’t be shrinky,” and she had replied that she wouldn’t be, that she didn’t want to be be shrinky. After that, no one said anything for a minute. 

Bea breaks the silence, saying, “I feel like a mom with an infant, a mom who really wants to know her baby, but then she can’t figure out what the baby needs or how to help the baby, but she cares so much about and wants to protect and help her baby, so she keeps trying to find what can help. I think that is why I keep going back to SP, or art, or other things we can try. But maybe the baby doesn’t know what she needs right now, and that is okay. Just like a mother who loves her infant, I’m going to patiently sit here with you and try to help you figure it out. We can make sense of all of this together. I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to turn into a shrinky shrink. I’m right here, and I’m still me.” 

I don’t reply because I’m too far away to talk. There are a million thoughts running through my mind, but I can’t seem to form any of them into words, or conversation. 

“I sometimes wonder……….. we got in the habit of just allowing you to collapse in on yourself and hide, so that you could talk…….. if that was the best thing. There is an SP exercise……you go from eye contact and connection to curling into yourself and hiding. It’s really hard to know someone is there for you when you are shut down and hiding. It’s amazing how making eye contact and having that connection really allows you to know that someone is there for you.” 

Bea is still talking and I’m freaking out inside. I can not do this. I don’t want to do this. It is not okay. I like hiding. I NEED to hide. Why is she talking about SP stuff again? I hate SP. 

“This isn’t anything I am expecting you to do. I know it wouldn’t feel safe to do an exercise like this right now. I’m telling you about it more so you might notice your experience right now. Maybe notice if it is hard to know I’m here, when you are so far away and closed off, when you can’t see me.” She talks about how it’s hard for me to reach out, to trust that someone is there, and how maybe it would be easier to reach out if I could see that she was physically there. 

At some point, something Bea says reminds me of couples therapy and I tell her that Kim wants me to talk to hubby. 

“In what way?” She asks. “About what?” 

“She said….if I can ask him or tell him what I need.” 

“Okay, so that is a good thing, because there is someone on your side, helping hubby to respond in ways that will make it safer for you to keep talking to him.” 

I shake my head. “I don’t think she is on my side.” I’m not sure whose side she is on, maybe on the side of my marriage being more than a surface relationship. I tell Bea “It’s is better to not ask for something than to ask for it and not…..be heard.” 

“That is an old belief. A really old belief, I think. At some point it became safer to not ask than risk being hurt.” 

“It’s hard to believe anyone is there. Because no one ever is. Everyone leaves.” The words are so silent, there is no weight to them at all, yet somehow they float between Bea and I and she hears them. 

“It is hard to believe someone is there for you. It’s hard to believe that when you reach out, someone will hear you and see you when you told adults in your life with everything but words what was happening with Kenny and no one was there, no one heard. You reached and no one was there. More fundamentally than that even, you couldn’t trust that the adults in your life would keep me safe. You didn’t get to have that safety in knowing someone was there and would keep you safe. Even developmentally, you learned that you couldn’t trust your mother to be there for you, you didn’t know if she would accept your feelings or fears or needs, or if she would reject them. That is a lot. It is no wonder it is hard for you to trust, to know that someone is there.”  

It makes sense, what she is saying. And I feel sad, that this is what my story is, that this is why it’s so hard for me to make connections and hold them, why it’s so hard for me to trust someone will be there. “That’s so much.” This time the weightless words don’t have enough substance to make it to Bea’s ears, and that is okay with me. I don’t repeat myself. 

Bea suggests that maybe we need to work on it being safe for me to really experience safety with another person. “Not just safety in talking to me, while you hide but safety in being able to reach for me and maintain the connection to really feel and know that I am here. Maybe we need to help establish safety in seeing me, while we talk about more uncomfortable things. I think you need to experience that, being able to see and deeply know someone is there for you.” 

I don’t love this idea, it feels very….vulnerable making. Not okay. I don’t say anything. I know this is probably some attachment stuff that needs working on. And that is uncomfortable for me. I hate attachment stuff. Hiding, not looking at someone when I talk, or sharing via email, it’s safer. It’s like that way if the person doesn’t respond, or isn’t there, it doesn’t hurt as much because I wasn’t really there either. On the flip side, that connection, seeing a person respond positively to me and really be there is just as scary. I don’t want to trust it, because as soon as I do, I have that much more to lose, there is that much more which can crush me. 

We go back to talking about couples therapy, and how all of this links back to that and the difficulty in me asking hubby for what I need or want. Bea asks questions and I answer them, haltingly. It’s a lot of starts and stops. Eventually I end up grabbing my iPad and pulling up what I had written about couples therapy (previously posted on the blog). In addition to that, I had written about the dream, but I told Bea I wasn’t sure I wanted her to read that part. 

She reads what I wrote about couple’s therapy. “You aren’t failing couples therapy!” And “it is a lot of risk for you to tell hubby what you need.” “Mmmmhmmm….so she did see that you maybe weren’t ready.” 

“Either that or she said it because I wasn’t talking.” 

Bea laughs, but it’s in that nice way she has, and she says, “I like to think she realized you weren’t ready. And it is okay that you aren’t ready. It is really okay.” 

“They both just think it’s so easy. But it’s not!” I shake my head and sigh. 

“I don’t think, well, I hope the therapist doesn’t think it’s so easy. I’d hope it would be obvious that if you are struggling with that, it isn’t easy for you. It is hard. And look at why. All the times you reached for help with the Kenny stuff and no one saw…..your mom stuff…..not being able to just trust that adults would keep you safe, how could you know that anyone was there? Right? It’s hard for you to even trust that I’m here, that I won’t leave, or turn shrinky, or just not be there.”

“It is hard to know that anyone is there.” I whisper. 

“I know. And so now we have this information that we didn’t have before. Now we know that really reaching for connection, and trusting that another will be there, is a big trigger. It triggered some trauma stuff, but also some developmental stuff, too. So that’s something we can work on– together, and slowly, at your pace.” Bea says.  

I shrug, and whisper, “Maybe.” 

“That’s a good place to start,” Bea says. “And I’m right here with you, even if you can’t see me right now.” 

(I’m going to write about the dream stuff in a separate post. We didn’t talk a lot about the dream, but agreed we could (maybe) start there on Wednesday.)