Not  hiding anymore 

I honestly don’t know where to start. I’ve been away from really sitting down to write for so long that typing on the screen of the iPad feels foreign. I have this feeling, like I keep trying to get my life together, so I can live a full, whole life, but then I always drop the ball some how, and I never quite get to the point of having my life truly “together”. Maybe, just maybe, this is what life really is, maybe this messiness and mistakes and confusion and emotions and feelings and ups and downs is LIFE. I’m not striving for perfect anymore. Perfect…..well, perfect does not exist, can not exist, in my world. But I still want….structure, maybe. Yes, structure, that is a good way of putting it. I need a routine, some structure, some constants in my life. 

Things have been okay, and not okay, and really good. Bea is okay. We are okay. I’ve noticed in myself that even when I worry about her being upset or leaving or whatever, I trust her enough to bring it up to her and talk about it (okay, I write, she talks. But still, it’s progress). Hubby is, well, okay. We are at this sort of standstill. Things between us are very surfacey, but not fake, not exactly. I refuse to give up the realness I’ve discovered within myself, I refuse to shut off my feelings or be quiet just because it would make his life simpler. I do allow him to keep our relationship on the surface, and that’s been okay. I’m able to enjoy small things like a boat ride, or a family cookout, or a walk through the local nature center. I can simply be present during those things and enjoy them with hubby. So hubby and I, we work again, for now. Kat is great, she’s amazing. I’m so full of love and pride in her every time I look at her. Lest this post b gain to sound like a cheesy fake Christmas letter written by my mother in law, let me add that Kat has also become extremely annoying because she is going through a phase of perseverating on repeating herself and wanting me to acknowledge what she is saying even though she has just said it 50 times already in that two minute time period. Small things set her off lately, and I’m hoping it’s because of the end of the school year chaos. All the end of the year stuff is great fun, but it’s also stressful for her. I’m ready for school to be over. I have a fun summer planned for her, and I’m excited for that. 

Mother’s Day, and the week or so leading up to it, was rough. I didn’t go see my mom, and hubby and I kept things low key with a nature walk and boat ride. I’ve been having dreams that are very memory like, and they all involve me telling my mother something about a secret game I share with Kenny, and she ignores my words completely. At first, I refused to entertain the thought of the dream as real, but then as it continued to show up, night after night, for weeks on end, and the other parts of the dream are things I know are real, well……..it’s real. I sort of, indirectly, told my mother, and while I didn’t say what the game was, and I was acting snotty, she still should have questioned what I was telling her. But she didn’t, she simply sent me off to play because she was ‘all played out today’. That happened. I told, and no one heard. I told and my mother didn’t hear. 

(I wrote Bea a note in my notebook during this time, and I felt like it was a lot of growth for me….I wrote to her that I was so pissed off my mother couldn’t be what I needed then, that she didn’t hear me, that she didn’t protect me, and that I knew how lucky I was to have a therapist who did hear me, who did see me, who likes me for me and not miss perfect. I said I knew what a gift it was to have a therapist who didn’t break when I was mad, who could deal with me and my messiness, and who is willing to show her own feelings and be protective of the little girl and me, even if it’s just telling me she is having protective feelings that she can’t act on, or what she would like to do in her perfect world. I told her I wasn’t negating all of that, but I was so angry my mother couldn’t do that, be that for me, then or now. And then, when Bea read it, and acknowledged it, I let her talk about what I’d written. And she got what I was saying. And it was okay.)

So. There’s been a lot of grief, and anger, hurt and rage, tears and harsh words stuck in my throat. A lot of confusion, and grappling with this idea of being full of anger and rage at my mother for not being what I needed is okay, that I am allowed to be mad at her. And I haven’t wanted to think about those things, or to feel them, to even acknowledge the feelings and thoughts. It hurts. So I haven’t been writing, not here, not privately, not even in my notebook to Bea. I’ve fallen into old patterns of avoidance; eating disordered behavior, self injury, zoning out with book after book, trying to control everything, plan everything, and hiding in movies and TV shows. Anything so I don’t have to think, to feel. But that’s not me. It’s not who I am anymore. Hiding so much, shoving so much down and trying to lock it away doesn’t feel good. It feels terrible. So, I’m going to start writing again. It might be messier than my typical posts, it might be dissociative and disjointed, but I’m done hiding from myself. 

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. 

The wedding and the aftermath 

Monday morning after the wedding, I walked into Bea’s office, and I was rather, well, closed off. I was in shutdown mode. I know I told her about the wedding, but it was done rather woodenly, and I don’t have a lot of recollection of our session. I wasn’t really there. I think the manager was running things, in this very strict, very closed down, very harsh boundaried way. My clearest memory is of Bea suggesting I may have felt some things on Saturday, and her telling me that would be okay and wouldn’t make me bad, and the little girl becoming extremely enraged at Bea not only for saying those things, but for knowing them. 

Right now, I’ve been in this very up and down place, of either needing to be completely closed off and following a scheduled written out to the minute, or I’m in this falling apart, not in control, really scared, wanting to die to make it all stop, unable to even find words or function, child part. And it’s scary. Really, really scary to be in that head space. So I am working very hard to follow my schedule. It’s literally written out on paper, with days and times and everything is scheduled from when to wake up, and doing dishes, packing Kat’s lunch, to letting the dogs out to potty, to doing laundry, dusting, sweeping, checking email, doing yoga, taking a shower, giving Kat a bath, going to the grocery. I know it’s rigid and awful. But I can’t function otherwise. Not right now. And that scares me too. So, here is Saturday’s story, as I told it to Bea:

We got to the country club early, to double check finishing touches on decorations, and get dressed and then do some photos before the wedding. When we got there, I could see the wedding planner hadn’t set up the entry way correctly, and she didn’t have the isle runner covered in rose petals either. I busied myself with those tasks, and then just continued on with decorating as it appeared the decorator and wedding planner were really behind. 

Almost an hour or so into decorating and fixing what the decorator had done, my mother stormed up the stairs and yelled at me for not being dressed, and for getting messy. No thank you for fixing the disasters the decorator keeps making, just a good old fashioned berating for not being dressed yet. Later, when the assistant director met me, we shared a laugh over the fact she had fought I was maybe 6 or 7 by the way my mother had been hollering at me to get dressed— she never would have guessed I was 32 years old. It’s not really funny, but well, you know. Family 😕

Once pictures were done and wedding o’clock rolled around, we headed outside to our seats. Hubby and I sat down, and then noticed the decorator was still putting roses in the arch, and she did not have the runner secured so it was blowing all over the place. I set hubby to work with putting roses in the arch and standing on one end of the runner to hold it in place. I sent my dad to stand on the other end, and then I spent the next 25 (good thing my brother and his bride always run late!) minutes running around looking for a staple gun or duct tape. Neither of which could be found. I ended up using saucers to hold the runner down, spacing them along the edges. By this point, the wedding still hadn’t started, and guests had been sitting in the hot sun for over 30 minutes. I went to the bar to get pesticides cups and pitchers of ice water, and set those out, having people pass them around. I didn’t want anyone getting dehydrated. 

The wedding finally started, and it was beautiful ceremony. After, was cocktail hour with champagne punch and hors d’oeuvres. My grandma’s boy friend, who I don’t even want to name for my blog right now, was in line behind hubby and I. He is a horrible man, who is always telling dirty jokes and making innuendoes. He said something about me and my dress, and my chest and my behind, and hubby laughed and agreed. I know I had strong feelings about that, and became angry with hubby because I left the cocktail hour and headed to the club’s bar. I remember telling hubby to just stay faraway from me, and I went and bought a glass of wine. It was a friend of my mom’s who came and sat with me, and let me vent a bit to her. I calmed down and went back to the cocktail hour. 

When we moved into the reception room, I discovered my table– with my mom, dad, grandma, her boy friend, HIS parents, my mom’s sister and her husband, and hubby and I– was right next to HIS table because of how the numbers worked and he was almost sitting next to hubby. I wanted to vomit. I ran to the bathroom and texted Bea in a panic. She told me to leave the table as soon as I could and talk to people far away from him, and then made suggestions for whom I might want to talk to. I don’t really remember dinner. I had a vegetarian dish, and my mother had a moment about the cheese on my noodles, and I felt horribly ashamed and guilty and like I wanted to crawl under the table and hide. 

After dinner I got up, moved around, talked to people. It was okay. I danced a lot. Hubby danced with me, but a lot of my uncles and mom’s cousins and dad’s cousins and my cousins, too, danced with me. Which was good, it kept me away from him. Until. Until he approached hubby as we were dancing and asked hubby’s permission to dance with me. And hubby said yes. 

I froze. I blanked out. I don’t know what happened. I just disappeared. And then the next thing I know, the thing in my memory, is HIM, a hand on my back, and a hand holding my hand, whirling me around the dance floor. Because if you grew up where we did, you know how to dance. And I followed. I followed because it’s the thing you do when you dance, you follow and dance and move, and it’s easy and mindless muscle memory, I followed because I was frozen, and had no idea what else to do. So, I followed and danced. And then the song was over, and he kissed my cheek and thanked me for the dance and left the dance floor. I presume I was meant to follow, but I didn’t. Instead I ended up standing there, in the middle of the dance floor, half frozen, as the next song played. 

I don’t know how long I stood there, but Hagrid’s dad saw me, and came to dance with me. He spun me around a few times, and then, before the song was even over, walked me off the dance floor, out of the reception hall, and to the club’s bar. He ordered two glasses of good white wine, and asked if I was okay. I nodded, yes, of course, I’m fine. He maybe wasn’t convinced but let it go, only saying I could talk to him if I ever needed to. And then he sat with me until I was ready to go back inside. Later, I was embarrassed because it was the little girl talking to him, and he was behaving towards me much more like a care taker or protector than just my mom’s smart cousin whom I have many intellectual discussions with. This means that he saw something was wrong, and as a shrink, he may have even realized I was not there, that something had triggered me, that I wasn’t okay. It means that the central though I didn’t tell, even though I followed the family rule as best I could of putting on the show that all is fine, I sort of told, because Hagrid’s dad realized something was wrong. So, I broke the rules after all. I don’t know. 

(Side note– Bea told me that she really liked that Hagrid’s Dad rescued me, that it sit seemed fitting and right. She also said that if I ever do get to the point of wanting to tell, then maybe he would be a good first person to tell; that he is far enough removed from immediate family, but close enough to see the dynamics, and that while he is going to be sad about what happened because he is my family, that he will understand it as a therapist, but also know the family well enough to know all those nuances and be able to help me break the story to my mother and father. I understand what she is saying, and can even agree with her. I just wasn’t hearing it the day she said it, and I have no plans to tell anyone in the family anything at all ever.)

So, after that, back at the wedding reception, I just drank a lot of wine. Like, a bottle and a half at least. Way more than I ever drink. And I was really drunk. I texted Bea, freaking out and wanting to go home. I think the little girl parts wanted her to come rescue them, I don’t know. In the end, even though she suggested I go back to my parents and go to sleep, I insisted hubby take me home. I didn’t want to sleep in my childhood home. I didn’t want to be in that house where everything about me is wrong. I didn’t want to have to fake anything anymore, for even one more day. So. I insisted on being taken home, and at some point, hubby gave up arguing and agreed to do so. 

Since then, I’ve seen Bea 3 times, and aside from that first Monday where I told her the above story, I’ve more or less avoided talking about myself. I’m in the middle of dealing with a bunch of crazy business from my daughter’s school, and possibly looking for a new school. So those things have needed discussing. And the teachers/administration at Kat’s current school all behave as if I’m crazy to say she is on the spectrum, or to think she needs these extra supports, or anything else. So that dynamic is very triggering as well, to the point where I’m feeling anxiety every time I take Kat to school or pick her up. 

I finally did give me Bea my journal at yesterday’s session, and that was probably a good thing because now she is aware how screwy the inside of my head is, and how some parts of me are on a scary ledge, and how I’m holding it all together by having this very set schedule but that isn’t going to be able to last long, simply because the crud is leaking out in places and I’m struggling in ways I refuse to admit. And I’m terrified of the couple’s therapy session that is set on October. As I told Bea, I’m afraid because I’m the one saying I can’t have a superficial marriage for the rest of my life, but I am also the one who is too afraid and too damaged to go deeper. Bea says that is fine, that the therapist should start where we are at, and it’s okay. 

So, now Bea knows how screwed up my head is right now. She asked me if I could continue with my schedule for another two days until I see her again, and I said yes. She said on Wednesday, maybe we need to start unpacking all that yuck, little by little and we could do it however I wanted, talking, coloring, writing, sensorimotor, a combo of all three. So, the lan is on Wednesday to titrate the mess and just deal with tiny pieces that won’t overwhelm me to the point of the suicidal parts or the little girl running the ship. I’m sort of scared, because well, it all feels overwhelming if I let even some out– which is why I’ve kept it very locked down and separate from me. 

Wednesday before the wedding 

Session from Wednesday September 14. I cut the writing short because it is being posted so late, but I think it’s okay. Anyway…..the Wednesday before my brother’s wedding……

Today. Wednesday. It’s 7:35am, and I don’t want to sit in the parking lot outside Bea’s office drinking coffee and checking emails anymore. I can’t think enough to form a coherent reply anyway. I get out of the car, grab coffee and my purse and head up to her office. I am 10 minutes early but I don’t think Bea will be upset with me. And if she is finishing up her own emails, or vacuuming or whatever else she likes to do in the morning (yes, we have discussed our morning routines), I’m fine with waiting. I just want to be in her office, where I feel safe, and where maybe, just maybe, this manager part can let go a little and let me run things for an hour or so. I have so much I need to get out. 

Bea smiles when I walk in. “Hi,” she says. 

“Hi,” I say, “It feels like fall today.” And my voice is clear and strong and if you didn’t know me, you might believe everything is perfectly fine. The manager or Miss Perfect is running the ship right now, or maybe they are running it together. And they are both very good at their jobs. I think the manager doesn’t care as much about things being perfect as Miss Perfect does, and the manager also is less concerned about holding feelings in than with just not letting them exist to begin with. The manager keeps everything running fine and things looking normal when I am in public, or when people are coming over, ext. That’s different than Miss Perfect, because she will do things perfectly even if no one will ever know about it. The manager could care less if I spend all day in bed zoning out, as long as no feelings are coming out and I’m not breaking down. Miss perfect would see spending the day in bed as a waste, a failure, and would never allow it. 

Anyway. I answer and I sound fine. But Bea knows me really well by now, and she isn’t fooled. So she nods and says, “I made sure that we have until 9:30 today, so we have plenty of time to talk about anything you want to or need to talk about.” The last few weeks, she has had to schedule someone at 9:00, which is unusual because my appointments go from 8 until 9:30. But with school schedules and Bea’s trainings and vacations messing things up, she has needed to put someone into that time spot, but she had explained that to me and had promised it would be back to normal in October and we had been meeting at 7:45am, so I was really okay with that. But it was really nice of her to make sure we had until our normal time, and this gave me extra time because we had been starting 15 minutes early on Wednesdays to compensate for ending 1/2 hour early. 

I nod. Okay. I’m not sure what she wants me to say. I feel like I should talk but I’m at a loss. Nothing seems like the right thing to say. I end up telling her about Kat’s doctor appointment and how that went horribly wrong, but it was sort of good because hubby had taken her so he saw that I wasn’t just crazy and that I do things a certain way with Kat for a reason. Talking about hubby reminds Bea about the couples therapist. 

“I forgot to ask on Monday, did you talk to shrink#2?” (And yes, we really do call her shrink#2) 

I nod. “Yeah, actually, I had called her on Wednesday like we talked about, and then she called back, um…..Thursday night, I think it was, and I couldn’t really get it because hubby was home. So I called her back Friday morning, and she called back Monday after I had left here– I was on my way home from here, actually.” 

“So, when is the appointment with her? Or is there an appointment with her?” Bea’s voice is curious, and it has that tone to it that says she really wants to know. 

“In October. We go in October. The 6th, or something like that. It’s a Thursday. She might end up being able to do Mondays, and then maybe we could get in sooner. But for now, that’s when we have it set. So, yeah…….” My voice trails off. I’m unsure what to say from there. 

“Were you able to talk to her?” Bea sits forward a bit, leaning towards me. “I’m guessing you must have gotten something worked out, or you wouldn’t have an appointment still scheduled.”

“Yeah. So I um, well. You know, I had to change the appointment because hubby’s work schedule changed. So we did that first. And then I said that I would like to talk to her if she had a few minutes because I felt like there were things she should know before I walked into a session, things I need her to know, and I had talked with you, and you thought I needed to have a voice and advocate for myself and this was a really perfect time for me to practice that, but you had helped me write out what I wanted to say, so I was just going to read it if that was okay, and that I had the other therapist tell me I wasn’t allowed to talk over the phone so it was going f to be twice as hard to say any of this because I was feeling even more scared.”

“And what did she say?” Bea prompts me when I stop talking and drift off into space. 

“Oh, she said that she very much wanted to hear what I had to say, and it sounded like it was really important information. And I just really couldn’t get the words out, so,I said I was just going to read what was written if that was okay, and I apologized and said I wasn’t as much as a space cadet as I sounded. But I guess maybe I am sometimes……but anyway, she said I was doing great and I wasn’t being a space cadet at all. So I read the thing to her.” 

Bea’s whole face breaks out into this huge smile. “Alice! That huge! You read all of that, the trigger list and everything to her?” 

“Yeah.” I shrug. 

“I think it can be really hard to read things we write, even harder than talking, it can feel really exposing. That is amazing. I’m really proud of you. You did really good.” 

I shake my head at Bea. “No. Because reading something over the phone, I wasn’t even there at all. It’s the face to face reading that is vulnerable or having to find words. But reading off a page over the phone? That’s easy.” 

“How did she seem to feel about the dissociation and the triggers?” Bea asks me. I think she is feeling protective again. 

“She seemed okay, like that was all fine and normal in her world. She seemed like, yeah, okay, it’s okay that you don’t have words sometimes. I had said, remember it said that sometimes I can be really dissociative but am good at faking being present even though I’m not here at all? (Bea nods) Well, she asked what if she asked me if I was far away during a session, would I be able to answer? And I was like ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t know. That didn’t seem to bother her. I told her that hubby doesn’t know like anything, that I’ve kept him out of the loop. And she seemed to get that, I mean like how that happens. I don’t know.” 

“Did she ask anything else?” Bea questions. 

I shrug. “I’m not sure…..I wasn’t really there. I’m not really here. I don’t know.” 

“Yeah, I’m not surprised. I think you needed to be far away enough to call shrink#2 to feel safe, but also I think you’ve started to be far away just as a way of being for right now, until this weekend is past.” Bea tells me. 

“Yeah. I think that started last week.” I say, and I’m far away enough it’s not a big deal to be admitting that, and Bea nods, agreeing with me. 

I’m not sure who speaks next or what is said, but I end up folding my arms across the pillow of I’m leaning against, and burying my face in them. “I’m so far away,” I say to Bea and I’m crying.

“Being in the far away doesn’t always feel good,” she says. 

I cry for a while. Maybe a little while, maybe a longer while. I not sure. Time doesn’t really move the same here. But then I choke out, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” The tears come harder now. 

“Here-here, or the far away here?” Bea clarifies what I mean. I realize, or rather, the part in charge of editing everything realizes that Bea is probably trying to figure out if I am meaning ‘I don’t want to be here’ in the same way as ‘I just want to disappear’, or any of my other euphemisms for suicide or if I just mean that I simply don’t like being in the far away because being so disconnected is hard. I’m kicking myself for trusting her and for giving her unedited writings with how bad I feel at times in them, because now she has to clarify what I meant, and I hate that, I really do. I don’t want her worrying about me like that. Or wondering. Or anything else. But Im honest when I say, “Mostly the far away here.”

“Can you come and go from the far away? So you can get a break from being there? Or are you pretty much just there now?” 

“I’m stuck in the far away. I can’t come and go. It’s not safe to go. All the feelings are on the other side of the far away. No. I don’t want to be here, but I don’t want to be there either.” I can’t stop crying. I hate crying like this. 

“You are safe now,” Bea says to me quietly. 

“I don’t feel safe.” I tell her. 

“No, I know. Your body doesn’t feel safe because it feels like the past is now, and your head, your head thinks the past and the present are scary, and not safe, so your head doesn’t feel safe. So being in the far away, it is a defense to keep you safe. Even if it feel uncomfortable.” 

“I feel like nothing is real.” 

Bea says something soothing and encouraging, and so I continue talking, “It’s like….nothing is real, and I’m stuck in the far away, and I’m not going to be able to come back……I just…never mind.” I can’t even pick my head up to look at her. I feel like such an idiot. 

Bea gets it though. “It’s hard, when you are in the far away, to remember that there are things that are real and waiting for you, or to remember that something besides the far away exists.” 

I nod. “Yeah. I keep telling myself that I have a real life to come back to, but it…..I just…..I feel like I’m going to get trapped there and I just…..my real life feels made up. Like there’s just no way I had that life.” I sniffle, and fight back more tears, but they come anyway and I sob and sob.

“You do, you absolutely have a real life to come back to. It’s hard to hold onto that when things feel so not real, though, I know. But you will come back and go to yoga, and go to school meetings, and yell the IEP team, and walk Hagrid, and hang out at your beach, and you’ll get your sewing stuff out. You are going to come back to your real life.” Bea says the last bit with this extra firmness in her voice. 

I nod, trying to agree. “Okay. I’ll try to remember.” 

“If you need a reminder, you can always text me.” She says. And then I remember. On Monday, she said that yes I was going back to my hometown and that yes I was going to have to see HIM, but that things weren’t the same anymore, and I was safe and it wasn’t a secret anymore and I could text her, or call her this weekend if I needed a reminder of that. 

“That’s annoying,” I tell her. 

“What is?” She asks, sounding genuinely confused and as if she can’t figure out where our conversation is being picked up from. 

“Me. Texting you. I don’t want to annoy you. I’m afraid I will annoy you. You will be annoyed and like, ugh if I am too needy and then….it’s just not good.” I shake my head. I don’t want to have this conversation.

“Oh, no. It’s not annoying. If I was going to be annoyed by something I wouldn’t offer it. It’s okay. I want you to have support this weekend. I think that you, and the little girl, and maybe other parts too, could really use some extra support this weekend. You aren’t alone now, right? That’s the point, why you told me the secret, so you didn’t have to be alone. And you aren’t alone. So, text. Or email. Or call. Or don’t if you don’t need to, but I’m not expecting you to just paste a smile on your face and be okay and if at some point, you want to talk to someone, or not be alone with it, or you need a reminder of your real life, or that this is not a secret, then, you text me okay? Because it’s not annoying and you aren’t needy and I’m not going anywhere. Okay?” 

I sniffle. “Okay.” And I sorta believe her. At least enough that I let myself remember and count on being able to text Bea if I need to. 

“I do want you to know that if I could keep him from going, or make it okay for you not to go, I would. Because I don’t think it’s okay to send you back to this situation or to allow you to feel so retraumatized. But this is where you are at, and that is okay. I do want to find some things to give you some power back though, okay? Can we do that?” 

“Okay…..” I am hesitant because I don’t know what she means, and I’m a little afraid she is going to mean some sensorimotor therapy thing because she use got back from a training this weekend, and I just can’t do that right now. 

But she doesn’t. Sometimes, Bea will ask me to come up with ideas, or to think of choices. Other times, she knows my brain is way too offline to do that, and she does it for me. I really love that about her. “Well, like you are wearing pink when everyone else in the family is wearing grey or navy. That’s you. That is your voice. And you can make sure you aren’t sitting by him at the ceremony. You aren’t sitting by him at the reception and you can hang out with and focus on your moms family that you really like seeing. Is Hagrid’s Dad going to be there?”

“Yeah, he’ll be there. I can hang out with him and hubby. He’s a shrink, did I tell you that?” 

“No, no you didn’t tell me that,” she says, sounding a little surprised. 

“Yep. So I’ll just hang with my shrink cousin,” I say in this self depreciating voice, shaking my head. 

Bea laughs a little because I’m being funny, playing on the fact that I tend to call therapists shrinks when I don’t like them or don’t know them. She says he is a good person for me to spend time with at the wedding because he is safe and I enjoy talking to him. 

I agree. I don’t tell her that last summer, I had a flashback and I think he recognized it for what it was. I claimed migraine to the rest of the family, but he had followed me and asked if I needed anything and made a point that he was there if I didn’t want to be alone right then or if I needed to talk. By then I was in that here but not here place, and so I had smiled and said thank you but that I just needed to lie down and let my migraine meds kick in.

Bea smiles and continues with a few more ideas of ways I am in control.

“It’s worse…..you know….it’s harder…. because…….I just….” I start to talk, mumble, stop talking, scrunch my body up into a a smaller ball, and then bury my face even more. 

“Going back there? Going to the wedding? It’s harder because why?” 

“Seeing him. It’s harder………worse because of……..I……I can’t even say it. I just…I can’t say it. It’s that bad. A memory…the memory….” I’m really going even farther away now and I dig my nails into palms, making my hands into fists.

“Is it the memory with Jackie? With the three of you up north?” She asks gently. She is matter of fact and there is no judgement in her voice, but there is harsh judgement in my mind.

I nod my head. Yes. 

“That memory is popping back up, huh?”   

“It never left.” I say the words. But that’s not exactly right. Yes, the memory is very here and alive, but it’s more than that. It’s this feeling of being out of control, of not making any choices, of being so alone, of having no one to go to, of feeling so disgusted and hurt and just broken. Of feeling betrayed. I wasn’t special. I did not matter. None of this stuff, the secret game, the things that made me feel icky and excited and scared and good and bad and happy and awful all at once, they weren’t just because I was so special he couldn’t help himself, it wasn’t because he loved me and wanted to be with me. I was just there, a thing, a toy, something he could use. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t special and he did not love me and it was all bad and wrong and everything hurts. But I don’t say any of that, because it’s too many words to have to get out right now. 

I end up in a little girl place, crying to Bea, asking her to not make me go back there. She tells me that can stay right here, until I’m ready, and that on Monday I will be back here, with her, in her office. She says I can always “get sick” at the wedding and leave, that it’s okay. She talks, soothing the little girl, and I cry. When I do leave, she reminds me to reach out and text her if I need to, and to stay around the people who are safe to me, like Hagrid’s dad, and my grandma. I agree. It will be okay. 

My dancin’ shoes

So I’m okay today. I had a freak out last night and made hubby bring me home– all the way home, like hours of driving home. My mom may or may not be speaking to me. I’m not sure at this point. I feel raw, ripped open, spilt in two. I feel numb and as of I’m going to be swallowed whole by these bad feelings, as if the anxiety and thetoo real feelings, terrified, sick feelings might kill me. But I’m home. I texted Bea last night, and she was there, just like she said she would be. She was really there.  I read the comments on my blog, too, throughout the night, going to the restroom and taking a breath. All of your combined voices encouraging me and standing behind me helped. 

So, as promised, a picture of my shoes, and one of my dress as well. The picture of me might come down after today, just because I don’t know if I can feel safe leaving it up. But I wanted you guys to see my pretty pink dress. Even though I don’t love that everything always has to be this designer label, this thing back in country club land, I sure do love this dress. It really is beautiful. And, it has pockets! I know right?!?! How awesome is that? 

the very pink dress I wore to my brother’s wedding


the not designer, not fancy, not perfect shoes I wore to my brother’s wedding

Journaling through the weekend 

I didn’t send a response back to Bea’s email. I did write though. The weekend was hard. I wanted to write to her. I wanted to write and have her respond and feel not alone. I wanted to feel like my feelings and fears and confusion mattered to someone. I wanted to know that someone was here. That all just seemed too impossible. Instead, I journaled and wrote with the intention of giving it to her on Monday. 
 
3/31

Basically it’s about the okay part and the not okay part. The okay part has thrived because it avoids the not okay part at all costs.  

This. This is how I was okay for so many years. This is how I “hid” the bad scary things from myself. Ugh. I know this, I’ve tried to write it, explain, make sense of it. But never in this simple, not-wordy way. This does help.

When stuff like the doctor happens the okay part is forced to share space with its foe. This is scary and confusing and not okay.  

Again, this. The okay part of me does not want the not okay parts to even exist. That’s why I fight to keep things secret, it’s why I when I am hurting and triggered and upset, I just want to run, and hide, and disappear, it’s why I just want this all to stop. I don’t know. The okay part feels like she is doing enough, by allowing the not okay parts to have a voice, in therapy, in writing. They are being acknowledged, so really, how dare the not okay parts intrude on “real/public” life? The not okay parts are not allowed there. It is very scary when they have to share space and confront each other. The okay part feels like a really bad thing happened, not only on having to deal with memories or feelings that pop up because of it, but also because it’s not allowed for those not okay parts to be seen. And the not okay parts….maybe they feel like a failure compared to the okay parts. Like they can never live up to the perfect okayness of the okay part. And they do feel ashamed for showing up, for making a mess of things, for needing something, for wanting to be seen. 

No wonder your identity feels messed up.  

Okay. Really, this makes sense. Of course it feels messed up, when part of me– the part I show everyone, the part that has mostly lived my life– does everything in her power to avoid the not okay parts. But ugh. This just feels insurmountable right now. People are supposed to form their identity in childhood, and then again as teens/young adults. And here I am, just lost. I think I get defensive, defiant, when the idea of identity comes up because I don’t know who I am, and it’s so much easier to be defiant than to admit that I don’t know. I’m only admitting it now because I’m lost and tired and too sad, overwhelmed, triggered, upset to filter and edit. Of course, the flip side of all that is that all those things mean it is hard to think and find words. Writing is easier. It’s always easier.  

As we work through these things, however, they become less separate and unintegrated. You move towards health. We are on the right track with what we are doing. We may have more parts to touch base with is all

Ugh. Not more parts. Ugh. The little girl, the teen. I don’t know. I’m sure I could really break it down, and label all sorts of “parts”. Because I’m good at that, it would be a list, and I can do lists. But. Ugh. More parts? Aren’t the little girl and the teen causing enough havoc in my life? Ugh. 

There is a “fight” part. It wouldn’t necessarily feel directed at someone–just your defensive reaction to being activated.

Blah. Great. I’m assuming activated means triggered? So this is the part that snaps at my husband, yells at my kid, and gets angry for no reason. Right? Ugh. I mean like the times I snap at him when I’m feeling upset over a bad dream, or am feeling too vulnerable, so I snap. Because I am triggered. Or when I am playing with her, or she says or does something that triggers me and I become way more frustrated and short tempered than I would be normally. Ugh. This sucks. My behaviors are my responsibility, I’m not making excuses, but this sort of means that it’s not fully in my control, either. Is that right? So how do I fix this? How do I stop being triggered and having this fight part show up? I don’t like it. It sucks. 

I think it’s good that you want that–to be held and to be comforted. That is the “attachment cry” part. Attachment is an important resource. 

Okay. So on one hand, you know I believe attachment is so, so important because of how I parent– or at least try to parent. But my instinct is to shake my head, and stomp my feet and scream that it is not important for me, that it is not an important resource for me, and that I am just fine on my own. I don’t want it to be important, I don’t want it to matter, and I don’t want to need or want it. 

I wish you could have that with your mom too. I’ll bet you will get some sense of it this weekend in your interactions with her, even if not as much as you are craving.

It doesn’t matter. And I can’t. I have to go there with walls up and being really, really, okay. Because if I’m not….I don’t know. My mom being different, more real will just be…it hurts too much right now. Because I can’t reconcile the two very different moms, and I can’t deal with the “new” mom when all it does is highlight what the “old” mom wasn’t. And it sucks. It hurts and it sucks and I don’t want to deal with it right now. And I can’t have a crying breakdown with her, because even the “new” mom isn’t capable of being whatever it is I want or need. So. I’ll go, and I’ll be sweet and happy and I’ll hold it all together. Because I can’t do anything else. 

Understandable! Parts all riled up. Hopefully you will talk to each of them and remind them that there is a grownup running the show and they need to simmer down!

So, I have these two very different responses to this. One is to say, I am not talking to them. Nope, not happening, no way. Not doing that. The other is to say, okay, I think that might be a good idea, it can’t hurt, even if it feels a little silly, okay, I’ll try it. Ugh. 

4/1
I keep trying to write that letter, and I just can’t. It’s too triggering. I can’t seem to separate writing a simple letter from what happened, and what it felt like was happening. And I sort of need to explain this to my doctor. I think it’s a combination of maybe needing to explain because I have this need to make people understand where I’m coming from, maybe a part of me feels like I “owe” her an explanation, but even more so, I really need her to get it. Because after I reacted like that, how is she ever going to view me as a competent adult again? Maybe she won’t. Maybe, even just a little piece of her will wonder if I shouldn’t have my husband there to make decisions for me. Maybe she will be afraid I’m going to freak out again. I’m afraid I’m going to freak out again. 
I can’t think today. My brain literally feels like sludge. Ugh. I’m so tired. And sad. More than sad. I can’t make it all stop, and I want someone to make it stop for me. But no one can. And that just feels sort of heartbreaking. I’m stuck right now. Stuck with all this mess. And I have no idea how to clean it up. No idea at all. 

4/2
I don’t want to go to my parents today. I don’t have the desire or energy to smile and be okay. I will. Of course I will, because what else is there to do? But I don’t want to. I want to hide in my closet, blanket over my head and cry. But I can’t do that. I’m expected to be at my parents and visit and be nice. So. 

—-I’m at my parents now. I’ve been really dissociated and not here. I just can’t. And Kat is being very possessive of my mom, and doesn’t want hubby or I playing with them. So. I don’t know. I’m allowing it, because in one way it’s good that she is being more independent from me. And, I’m glad because I don’t have to smile and pretend. Hubby is watching tv– ugh– and I’m listening to a book, writing emails to ABA staff and trying to come up with a list for the school meeting. I don’t know. I don’t want to be here today. 
And she told me that my aunt Debbie– my dad’s sister– is really, really sick. She had a brain scan, and it looks like either a tumor or MS. She goes back this week. I tried to talk to my mom about it, because I needed something. But she said that she refused to even think about it. I’m really upset. I can’t hardly feel it yet. I just can’t…its just more I don’t want to be real. It’s another thing I want to stop. 

3/4
Rory called…she is having all these issues with her boyfriend. I’m out of things to tell her, out of energy to validate her feelings and what is happening. I texted her, told her I had a migraine and couldn’t really talk, but would text with her if she wanted. She told me what was going on, and sent me a letter she was planning on sending to him. I thought what she wrote was good in that she was clear about her feelings and worries. But I also thought she was maybe a little harsh, and was really….I don’t know, almost bossy in telling him what he was doing wrong, and why she thought he was doing it. I wanted to tell her that it might be a good idea to rephrase some things in her letter. But I couldn’t. The last time I said how I felt, how I really thought, I lost a friend. So I told her what I knew she wanted to hear. And I feel terrible about it. But too scared to say what I really thought. Ugh. I’m just too tired and afraid. 
Yesterday, it wasn’t a bad visit, but it wasn’t good. I don’t know. Things were odd….I just felt so closed off. And my mom seemed really….I don’t know. Surface like again. It was jarring. She seemed like her old self. It was easy, I know how to behave when people are surfacey. So it was fine, simple, easy. But I think….I don’t know. It set me on edge, too. I don’t know. This messy here but not here, on edge feeling. It was hard. It was a hard day in some ways. And we went to dinner, at this place, fire and ice– pizza and ice cream. So not okay. I don’t know. I ate pizza, ate ice cream. Wanted to go throw up but couldn’t get away. And when I did, the bathroom was crowded. Ugh. Panic. It was uncomfortable and not okay. And the weather was bad, and scary, and hubby decided we would drive home anyway. I was really scared. Maybe it was about not being in control of the drive. I told hubby I was scared, and worried about the roads, and asked if he was okay to be driving, or too tired. He was just like “it will probably be fine”. I ended up snappy and irritated with him. I needed him to tell me it was okay, he was awake and the roads weren’t so bad. I don’t know. When I said something later, driving in a whiteout, he joked and laughed at me over it. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. 

I’ve tried and tried to come up with a list of parts…I don’t know…this is what I have…..

Parts…….

–the grown up part
She’s…I don’t know, exactly. She is the rational one. The one that can always see all sides in an argument. She’s the one who can be present and grounded. I think she’s kind of new to me. She’s the part that wants to be vulnerable and open and authentic. She’s okay with messy, but likes some semblance of order. She’s more of an introvert. She’s happy just being at home with her family and having a few friends, and she wants to have those few friendships be less surfacey and more real. She likes yoga, and taking Hagrid for walks– either in more nature areas and downtown in busier areas. She likes to swim. She likes to sew, and be creative and bake. She likes helping people and making people feel good about themselves– she’s the one who likes doing little things to makes people feel special. This is the part that wants to be healthy. She’s the one that stops me from quitting therapy, that says even when things get messy or there is a rupture, it’s worth it to try to fix it. She’s usually the one writing, journaling and emailing. She wants to connect and she wants to be honest and she wants to be healthy. 

the little girl
scared, vulnerable, alone, feels like she did something bad, afraid to not be good enough, needs approval from everyone around her, feels like she has to be perfect to be loved, she’s needy and clingy and is always afraid “her people” aren’t really there. 

the 9 year old (the angry one)
Alone, feels left– abandoned, believes her mom knows what she did and that mom hates her for it –and she hates her mom for knowing and not fixing it– and that she made her mom sick and that she will never be good enough to fix it. She is angry, there is so much mad here, but it’s not allowed, it’s not okay, so she hides it and pretends there is no anger. She is mad that she has to be the good girl, that she can’t afford to mess things up again. She’s very afraid of disappointing her parents, and she feels a lot of pressure to be perfect, to be good enough. And she is mad that she constantly feels like she comes up short. Really big mad feelings, but they are scary feelings, too. This mad cause this heart in your throat, can’t breathe, stomach dropping anxiety feeling. It doesn’t feel good or okay

the teen
Defiant, sassy and snarky, scared, feels like she has to be perfect to be loved/needed/wanted, feels like she needs to do things on her own, doesn’t trust anyone, won’t allow herself to need anyone, feels like all she does is fail and screw everything up, feels dirty and bad, believes she is going to hell. She can be really mean, and then turn around and fall apart crying and hurting a second later. She’s afraid of vulnerability. She doesn’t like change, and fights against it, but sometimes secretly wishes someone would push her to change. She’s afraid if she admits to needing someone, they will leave. If I were to label bad coping skills to parts, she would the one that cuts for all kinds of reasons, and she is definitely the one with bulimic behaviors. 

Miss Perfect
She’s the part that is…..I don’t know, the facade, the happy, perfect, has it together, is okay, is always fine part of me. She’s the okay part. Only it’s this almost intense need to be okay, and have everyone around her be okay, and have everyone around her believe she is okay. If those things can’t or don’t happen, she falls apart. She demands perfection, and will beat herself up over any perceived mistake, even the smallest thing is cause for being upset. She’s very much a type A personality and is pretty OCD. Messy is not allowed. She thinks if she wants something done, she needs do it herself, and she doesn’t want to need anyone. She is more of an extrovert, can be very outgoing and can talk to anyone, in pretty much any situation. Shes the part with that amazing filter. If I had to assign bad coping skills to the parts, she is the one who likes to restrict food and she will cut if things feel out of control or those pesky feelings show up. She’s more of a “grown up” but deep down, secretly feels like she is a little kid pretending to be a grown up. But I would say she ran the ship for years. She’s the one my parents raised, taught me to be. She’s all about hiding anything negative, even if secrets and lies are needed to do so. I don’t really think she is actually a healthy part, but I’d guess she is the okay part that can’t tolerate any of the not okay parts. 

–the fight part
Really big mad feelings, but they are scary feelings, too. This mad cause this heart in your throat, can’t breathe, stomach dropping anxiety feeling. It doesn’t feel good or okay. Shows up when triggered, and causes big reactions that do not fit the situation. 

–the slutty one 
This is the one that slept with random guys after leaving the boyfriend. I don’t even have real memories of that time. I couldn’t tell you who, or where, or how many. I can’t even say if I was okay, or if I freaked out, or anything at all really. There’s just not much there. And, she is the one that instigates things with Ryan. I think she equates sex with being loved and wanted. I think she is young. Maybe 12, 13. It feels similar to when I kissed Kenny at the cabin, instigated things with him there. I don’t know. 

What if????

“So, how was the rest of the day on Thursday?” Bea asks me. We’ve talked about nothing major, and now she’s turning the conversation back to me, and my stuff. 

I’m sitting criss cross applesauce on the couch. Just before she asked this, I’d been looking at her, and talking like a normal person. Now, I look down. Why does answering something so simple embarrass me? “I don’t know…..I just…I was….” I shrug. The odd thing is, my answer is more positive than usual, but that scares me. I’m thinking about things differently, and that is this giant frightening thing. 

“I think it’s important that we touch base on how things felt, how the weekend was for you. Did things come up, were the nightmares of that particular memory gone, less, more? Did you feel more upset, less upset?” 

I shake my head. “I…I got sick this weekend. Sinus crap, headache, sore throat. So I was……I don’t know. The worst thing about being sick is you can’t do anything. I mean, there is no distractions. And tv, movies…those just don’t work. I mean, not like hubby. He can’t stand to turn a show off in the middle of it. But me, I don’t really care. I just, I don’t know. I can stop a movie half way through and not come back to it for weeks. So it’s not like being sick, watching tv…….it just….I don’t. I keep thinking.”

“TV doesn’t distract you, or occupy your mind very easily. It seems like a lot of the time when we don’t feel good, that is when our minds start going.” Bea states. 

“Yes, that’s….I was thinking. So I just…I was thinking.” 

“What were you thinking about?” 

“I…just stuff. I mean…Thursday, I was okay. It….I didn’t feel like hiding. I mean, like usually I would maybe want to go hide. And I didn’t feel like hiding. I was sad. But okay.” I stumble through trying to explain this to her, trying to get the words in my head, those perfectly put together and competent sounding words in my head to come out of my mouth and make sense. 

“That’s good. Okay is good.” Bea’s voice sounds like she is smiling. 

I nod. It is good. She’s right, it is good. 

“Do you want me to tell you what I thought on Thursday?” She asks. I nod my head, and so she continues. “I felt like you were more here than usual when discussing a memory. I felt like you were able to answer questions, and talk more easily. I mean, I know we didn’t talk about the actual rape, but everything with that memory is so awful, so traumatizing, and the mom stuff is big. It just feels like to me that this is one of the worst memories for so many reasons, so many layers of hurt. I mean, they are your memories, and they are all painful, and I don’t know if this memory feels worse than others to you, so maybe I shouldn’t say that. But it feels like this is a memory that took things to a whole different level. It made the traumas that much more hurtful. You really had to dissociate to be okay.” 

“It’s…it’s one that always….it just won’t go away. Even before…it’s been one of those nightmares that I’ve had a long time.” I take a drink of my vanilla chai, and peek at Bea from the corner of my eye. 

“So you felt okay on Thursday?” She brings me back to what we had been talking about. 

I nod. “Yeah. I was thinking…..I mean, I just you said something. And you’ve said it before I’m sure, but it just stuck with me this time. And I was thinking about that. I…..you were saying how I was afraid to get in trouble for………and how crazy that is.” 

“Well, people can’t hear things until they are ready to listen. And you are ready now, to hear that. So you were thinking how mind boggling that concept of being in trouble for being raped is?”

“Well….I was thinking about it. And then, my parents.” I pull my knees to my chest, and wrap my arms around them. 

“Your parents. Usually, you say your mom. This makes me wonder if you are including your dad in this? Because we don’t talk about him a lot.” 

“No….I mean, in general, yes. I was thinking about them in general, is all. And…well, you know. Thinking what if? What if they hadn’t needed perfect and I wasn’t so afraid of getting in trouble? Maybe I would have told. But…..I couldn’t get in trouble because then I wouldn’t be perfect and I have to be perfect for them to love me. Or what if they had done feelings? What if they hadn’t given me this message I was too much? What if I hadn’t felt so alone and unloveable? What is I hadn’t felt bad and not good enough and never perfect? What if they had been able to really see me? What if……i don’t know. I blame them sometimes.” I whisper the last part, feeling like this ungrateful brat of a daughter. 

“Well, yes. Of course a part of you blames them. Parents are supposed to protect their children, and they didn’t protect you. It’s okay to blame them, to be mad. It’s okay to feel that.” She sounds so calm, so sure of this, that it’s okay to blame them. It’s hard to listen to her and take that in. 

“But then I think….they were so young. And I….I was almost 30 when I had Kat, and it’s hard for me. Right? But they were 10 years younger. So, I mean….well. It’s just, they were young. And so much was not okay for them. She had an eating disorder. That didn’t just happen. Something wasn’t okay. So how can I blame them, when I get it?” 

“It can be both. You can understand it, and still blame them and be angry. That’s okay.” 

“I just…I needed a lot. And I must have known, somehow picked up on that. That I was too much for them.” I sigh, and squeeze my hands into fists, digging my nails into my palm. I feel so anxious and wrong to be talking about this. 

“I don’t believe you needed too much, or were too much. You were a child. We talk about parents and kids being a good fit. You and Kat, you are a good fit. But some people, they could have the easiest child in the world, and feel like they have a hard child. And others, they get a hard child and feel like it’s easy. It’s all about personality and fit. I’m not sure any child would have been a good fit for your mom at that age, with everything going on for her. She had her own stuff to deal with, right?” 

I nod. “Yes. I guess so. It’s just hard.” 

“I know. It is hard to hold both idea. But things aren’t black or white. They are grey. And grey is okay.” Bea loves grey. She sees the both sides and accepts that. She can recognize that my parents didn’t keep me safe and are to blame, and also that they had their own stuff and it’s not their fault. I don’t know how she can do that….I feel one way, but understand the reasonings, and they don’t match up. I don’t like grey, yet. Maybe this is progress though, to be able to discuss the black and white and actually hear the option for grey. 

“And I was thinking……” I drift off, unsure. 

After a moment Bea says, “Whatever you were thinking, it’s making it hard to stay here.” 

I nod, and we sit in quiet for a minute. 

“Are you having trouble finding words?” She asks me. 

I shake my head. “I have words….in my head….I just….” I drift off again, floating away. I’m afraid to say it, to make the thought real. I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about this. 

“Is it a more of the memory? Or new things in this memory? Feelings?” Bea speaks softly, trying to find a place to start. 

“No….I…it’s…..” I pick at my fingers, and even though I can’t hurt myself like this with my nails done, the act is still slightly soothing. “It’s not even a big deal. I’m being….dumb.”

“I don’t think so. Anything that send you this far away is a big deal.” It helps to hear her say it is a big deal in her mind. It feels validating, comforting, but I still can’t say anything. When I don’t respond, Bea asks, “What can I do to help you feel safe right now?” 

I don’t know. I want to tell her that just the fact she is asking, willing to do something to help me feel safe, just that alone does help. But I can’t say the words, because something about them feels too vulnerable and scary. “I don’t know. I really don’t.”

“Can I check in with the little girl? See how she felt about Thursday? I’d like to know if she felt listened to and supported. I want her to feel safe, too.” 

Her questions touch something in me, and I feel cared for. It’s sort of an uncomfortable feeling. “I….I think she feels better. It’s okay, I think.” The little girl wants to cry and say that she felt listened to and not alone and that she is so grateful to Bea for fixing things, for not letting the relationship be ruined and broken. I can’t let her say all that, though. It’s too much. 

“I’m glad. I’m so glad she talked to me last time, and that she is feeling a little bit better. She can talk whenever she wants to. I think it’s important that we check in with things after a session when we processed a memory. It’s good to compare now with how it was before, and to find a way to see if we are making progress. I think the way to do that is to compare how things are, where you are at.” Bea sounds…..I’m not sure the word, but it’s good. Maybe proud, or content…she sounds like she really feels glad that the little girl reached out and is feeling better.  

“Okay.” The word is a ghost of a whisper, barely there. I’m feeling overwhelmed with emotions and with my thoughts. I don’t like this progress talk. Does she want to get rid of me, is she trying to say I’m better and need to go away? Or does she think I’ve made no progress and she is mad at me, frusterated that I’m not making progress or doing things as quickly as I should be?

“I wonder if the little girl would like to color while we keep talking? If that would help or if that would feel bad?” 

I think about it for a minute and then slowly, quietly tell her that we can try it. Bea gets the little table and the coloring books and pencils, setting them all down between us. She picks up her page and starts to color. It takes me longer, but I finally lift my head and grab my picture. 

“We didn’t….I didn’t tell you….the actual…I mean…when he….what happened.” I’m trying to tell her that I didn’t tell her about the memory of the rape. “It’s not…I don’t…it’s spacey. I don’t know. But I didn’t tell you.” 

“That’s okay. It’s okay that you didn’t tell me. We talked about a lot of hard stuff last time. And we can keep talking, as long as you need to.” 

I select a yellow colored pencil, and start coloring a flower. I watch the yellow on the page, and surprisingly, as I focus on the flower being colored yellow, I start to feel less floaty. I stop coloring. I’m not sure I want to be more here. “I think….talking around it….what happened after….that was easier…..it’s…it was easier.” 

“Yes, I think so, too. I still think there is a lot of hurt and fear in the after, and it was hard work to talk about and start to process. But I do think talking around it is easier sometimes.” It feels good to hear that she doesn’t think the after of the memory is easy, or something to be brushed off. 

“I……maybe…not now, not today. But I might….the little girl…she maybe wants to tell what happened. During.” I’m afraid Bea is going to say no, that it’s too much to ask her to listen to what happened during, that I’m disgusting for wanting to talk about it. 

“She can tell me whatever she wants, when she is ready. Your window is getting bigger. They say as you process trauma, when you first start to, the window is very small, but as you go on, it gets bigger. That’s what the resourcing is all about. Being able to have a bigger window, and being able to come back if you get too pulled in. Because you have to be somewhat far away and uncomfortable, you have to be in the state you were in then to really access that memory, but we want to stay on the the edge, so you don’t get too pulled in. And it is a really powerful thing, to be able to control how far away you are, to be in control on coming back before you get retraumatized.” 

I think about that, about the experience I just had while coloring. Maybe I am able to be more in control of this than I thought, and maybe it’s not a dangerous thing. Maybe it’s okay. 

Bea says something about how she feels regret that I spent many sessions really deep in a memory and then hiding and feeling triggered and messed up when we first started working together. She says something about how where I am now is a better place for processing memories because I have so many more resources and can tolerate emotions better now. I don’t remember exactly how she said it, but it was kind. 

I shake my head, disagreeing slightly. “I think….I needed to tell someone. It didn’t matter if I talked or not, I was still hiding in my closet, hurting and scared and messy. Talking didn’t make things worse. I was already hurting. And at least with telling you, I wasn’t alone, and I had someone to talk to when I was in my closet scared. I never had that before. It wasn’t a bad thing. And I needed to talk. I couldn’t be alone with it all anymore.” 

She nods, thinking about my words. I can see her really listening, and hearing me. “You did need someone to hear you, you needed to know you weren’t alone anymore. You spent so much time, so very alone, isolated. I’m glad I was able to help you feel not alone.” 

“If you hadn’t let me talk….if you had made me work on resources….I wouldn’t be here. I’d have left. I wouldn’t have been able to be okay here.” 

“Hmmmm….you really needed to let those secrets out. Do you really think you would have left therapy though, if we had focused on resourcing first?” She sounds very curious, and maybe a little bit surprised. 

I nod my head. “Yeah, I do.” I want to explain that after the last few months of feeling like she didn’t want the little girl to talk, like she didn’t want to listen, that if I had felt that at the beginning of therapy, I would have left. Instead, when I met Bea, she was open and honest, authentic and real; everything about her said that she wanted to listen, to help, and that she cared. That is what I needed then. I needed to know someone wanted to be there. 

We talk about how things happen the way the need to, and that she had been what I needed then. She tells me that she thinks we are at the same place we would have been if she had insisted on focusing on resources and coping skills first. We talk about how I am allowed to talk about things already discussed, and how it’s okay to bring something up again and again. She says that now I can really start to process and work through it all. 

After that, we are both silent for a few minutes, focusing on our pictures. Bea suddenly sets her picture down, and looks at me. “Are you feeling as though I’m not listening to you because I’m coloring? Is that making it hard for you to say what you were thinking?” 

I shake my head. “No….you can color. That’s not…that’s not why it’s hard to talk right now.” It’s almost easier, in a way, because she isn’t looking at me when she is coloring. I just can’t get the words out. 

“Okay. I just wanted to be sure. Because I am listening, and I do want to hear what you have to say,” she says gently. 

“Okay.” I focus on coloring again, this time with a bright orange pencil. “I just…I can’t say it right now.” 

“That’s okay. We have lots of time. You’ll say it when you are ready.” She is so reassuring, so calm and confident that things will be okay. And, for the first time, I think I believe her. 

We wrap things up, and I tell her that maybe I will write it down, or talk about it on Thursday. She tells me she is listening, and here, whenever I’m ready.

When I’m in my car, I think about it. The idea, the thought just won’t stop running through my mind. I blame myself, I blame my parents, I’m hurt that no adult in my life noticed, but I can’t put any of the blame on him. Why is that? I’m afraid that if I let myself blame him, even a little bit, a massive amount of anger and rage and hurt and pain and tears will be unleashed. I’m afraid I will have to face the fact that I had no control, and that terrifies me. I think I will drown in the anger and hurt, and the loss of control will kill me. I can’t say the thought out loud because then it will be real, and I’ll have to examine it and wonder about it and talk about it. And I’m afraid Bea will be happy I’m thinking these things, thinking in this new way, and she will want me to face all of it. I can’t do it. I just can’t do. And still, I think, what if? What if I could put some of the blame on him? What if?