Somehow I made it through until Wednesday morning. At 3:00am, I ended up emailing Bea. I wrote to her that I was afraid she was assuming I was okay because she had not gotten any emails from me, but actually, I wasn’t okay, nothing was okay. I needed her to know that the little girl was feeling unseen, and triggered and needed to be seen. I needed her to know I was struggling with believing she was back, really truly back, before I even set foot in her office. I gritted my teeth, wrote the email, detached and numbed myself out enough to send it.
It wasn’t until I was in my car, driving to her office, I felt so anxious I thought I might throw up. Walking into the little house that Bea’s office is in, I feel massive amounts of apprehension. I’m so worried she is going to be mad at me for walking out. This past week, I’ve been able to pretend it didn’t happen, detach from it all, and now it all comes rushing back to me.
I walk in with my head down, unable to look at Bea. She’s sitting in her chair. “Hi?” I whisper.
“Hey,” she says easily, smiling up at me.
I nod my head at her, but I can’t get words out. I sit on my spot on the sofa, throwing my coral orange colored bag down next to me. It is holding all my writing from this week.
“So,” Bea says slowly. “I got your email, I’m glad to have gotten it. I wasn’t thinking that you were okay. I was checking my email, watching for any mail from you. And I did wonder how you were. Because things were left really not settled. So I was worried about you, and I did think about you. But I won’t usually email people. Because if I had emailed you when I was feeling worried and was wondering about how you were…..it just, it might have been more about my needs, and not yours. I just, I think contact needs to come from you, not be initiated from me. Of course, you know, it’s not to say I won’t email or be the first to contact, I just think therapists really need to let their clients initiate contact. But I really never thought things were okay. And I was thinking and worrying about you and hoping you were okay.” Everything she says is said in a gentle way, in this caring and careful way.
“How was your vacation?” I ask her, smiling. It’s as if she hasn’t said a word at all about me not feeling okay at all. Miss Perfect— this part of me is so determined to pretend things are okay and normal and fine and to smile and behave within the realm of the social niceties I grew up with.
Bea plays along for a minute. She’s says she had a good time, and tells me a quick silly story about her trip. Then, she is back to business. “I wondered if you wanted to start by looking at your journals or anything you had written this week, or if there was something else you wanted to start with.”
“I….I just…….I don’t know.” I sigh. I dig my journal and loose sheets of paper out of my bag.
“Alice, I want to make sure that the little girl knows she is being seen today, that she isn’t alone. So whatever you need today, okay? I’m here.” Bea says softly.
I shake my head. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I need.” In truth, I’m not sure I trust her enough in this moment. If she’s not back, and I hand over everything I wrote and felt and struggled with this week…..well, it won’t end well for me.
“I’m back. I’m here. I feel very here and very present and I just want to follow your lead.” Bea says firmly.
I sit there for a while. I’m holding my journal tight in my arms, and I’m unsure if I can hand it over. Finally, I whisper, very softly and cautiously, “Are you really back?”
“I am. I’m really back.” She says. She sounds present and here.
I’m still unsure, and so we sit in silence again, until in a small voice, I ask, “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m very sure. I’m here.” She says seriously.
I stretch my arm out, holding out the loose leaf papers and then my journal when she had taken the papers.
Bea begins to read, and I bury my face in my knees. I can’t look at her. I’m too afraid, too ashamed.
“Mmmhmmm. Yeah, everything is flipped. There is a lot of shame, but the little girl did nothing wrong,” she says as she reads, commenting on my words. “The teen was protecting the little girl, I think. The teen wasn’t sure I could be trusted to be present when I was gone, and so she took care of the little girl. That’s okay. I can see what the teen wouldn’t trust me, why that would be hard to think of trusting me again.” And then, “I know you won’t like this, but I’m sort of dancing in my chair right now, that you could hate me. I’m glad you had a place to put those very bad feelings. You were mad. And that’s okay. I’m glad you could hate me, that you could,let yourself hate me. That’s a good thing, as strange as that might sound.” She really is sounding okay, upbeat…..not in this way that she isn’t taking my feelings seriously, but that she is actually seeing it as a good thing I could hate her. Bea reads through pages and pages of writing, some of what I have already posted in part 1, 2, 3. She acknowledges how badly I was feeling, and how the little girl was really running things and how it feels to be fighting with hubby.
In all honesty, most of the session after that point is pretty blurry. A lot of it was focused on the little girl, and shame and bad, scared feelings. We will have to talk through it all again, when I’m more present, but until then what I do know is Bea was quite adamant the little girl was not to blame. She was understanding and sympathetic to the confusion and fear and revulsion I had been feeling. She acknowledged that things feel very out of control and told me it was okay, and understandable.
And then, I get the feeling I just couldn’t continue having this conversation, and the adult me took over things. From that point forward, we talk about hubby and our fight.
“We just keep circling…..ugh. It’s like the same fight, over and over.”
“I know. I know it really feels that way. Do you think that there is anyway to talk to him about this? I know that’s not what you want to hear, and I am on your side, but I feel like in order to be on your side, I have to push a little.” Bea says.
“I can’t. I don’t know. Anything I say, I’ll just be accused of putting words in his mouth, or he won’t listen anyway or who knows what else?” I snap back at her.
“Okay. What if we stepped back and tried to draw out what happens between you?” She asks. “So you can show him, say that you identified what keeps happening?”
“No. No-no.” I mumble. I’m too not here, and I don’t want to be more present than I am.
Bea attempts a few more times to get me to act, to try something, to get a bit more here. And I refuse. I just can’t.
“Have you given more thought to couples therapy?” Bea asks me.
I shake my head. “I’m afraid. And I don’t…I just…I’m afraid.”
“I think that if you found someone who understood trauma and who is comfortable working with couples, it could be a really helpful thing.” She says. I know it’s coming from a place of caring and wanting to help, but I’m annoyed.
“Just stop. Stop it. I can’t do therapy with him! Didn’t you see that whole list of why I don’t trust him?”
Bea nods. “I did. And I believe that those are all valid reasons to feel vulnerable and afraid to trust. But you know that in relationships if we don’t give people chance, if we don’t test those things that feel unsafe, it’s really hard to find trust and safety. We have to give people a chance.”
“I don’t wanna talk about this. About relationships. I’ll think on it,” I say.
Bea nods. “Okay.”
We wrap things up rather awkwardly, but it’s okay. Nothing feels resolved or fixed, but it’s okay. Bea is back. She’s home. And she’s really back. Like really, truly, back. So, I’m not upset. I feel okay. Things are okay now. It’s okay. Bea is home.