Email of random thoughts Β 

I emailed with Bea again this week. We discussed a lot of things via email that carried over to Thursday’s session. Please take care when reading this, as I did write about sex, self harm, and some abuse details. XxπŸ’Ÿ



I was worried when you said something on Monday about finding a way to track or check to see if I’m making progress. …………….. She is worried that you don’t think I’ve changed at all, or gotten any better because it’s all too small. I don’t know.

No, no, not any of that! I think there’s been a lot of change, and the window is getting bigger!  

Thank you–I’m glad it’s not any of that. I feel like a lot has changed. I should probably make a list of what feels different, on what I think has changed and we should look at it. It’s a good thing, and you should know that I do feel like things are better. I just worry that you are going to be irritated at some point because it takes me so long to do or change anything. I mean part of me knows that isn’t true, that it is okay. But part of me worries. 


I think for me it’s just needing feedback about whether or not something we’ve done is effective. I thought last Thursday’s session was real good, that much was integrated and you were in the window, but I was looking for confirmation of that from afterward to know if it really was effective.
It was good. The little girl felt very seen and listened to after the emails we sent last week and then Thursday’s session, and everything feels more….I don’t know the right word. She feel less disconnected than she did, less alone. She feels like maybe you really do want to listen to her, and like maybe– maybe– the sensorimotor stuff might be okay, and like working on resources by coloring is okay. She’s okay with coloring now. She doesn’t know about the game you were talking about, but she doesn’t feel so afraid that you are going to be angry if she says no, or upset if she tries and isn’t okay with it after all. 

Coloring on Monday while we talked was good. I know I didn’t end up saying the thing I was thinking about, but it was good. I was really far away, but then when I was coloring and sort of focusing on coloring in the flowers with yellow, I actually did start to feel more here. So it does give me some control. I’m just not sure….it doesn’t feel comfortable to me yet, I guess. Maybe because it’s hard to focus on anything when I’m that far away, and it feels almost intrusive to try to focus on something outside of the far away. But it just is new and strange and I’m not sure about it. And a part of me is afraid that telling you this is a bad idea because you will think we can add things to coloring now, and I’m not ready for that yet. But I’m getting more comfortable with intentionally being more here. It’s just in very tiny little bits at a time. 

If you had told me you hid in the closet, cut a bunch, and had more nightmares I would have reconsidered what we had done! If we can collaborate about what seems to work and what doesn’t that seems like an ideal plan.
Okay. That makes sense. I can always tell you (or give you my notebook) how things were after we talk. I probably wouldn’t come right out and tell you that I cut a bunch, though. You’d have to just ask. I still feel like my not so great coping methods are bad and I’m going to be in trouble or something. I don’t know. But I didn’t cut on Thursday, or on the weekend. And I didn’t hide. I was sad, but that was really it. I did have a nightmare Friday night, but it wasn’t exactly the same as it was before. It was more the actual…..what happened……and the after wasn’t as…..I don’t know……it wasn’t as frightening or panic making or something…Because usually, in my dream, there’s the after, and I’m so scared that something is really, really wrong with me, that I’m really sick or maybe even dying because of the bleeding. But it wasn’t as terrifying in my dream now. And I don’t feel the same panic I used to when I would think about it. It’s more….I don’t know, removed from me or something. Like, I know I was scared, and I remember being so afraid to fall asleep because I was scared I might not wake up, but it feels more like I remember how it felt to be scared, not like I’m actually scared because of the bleeding right now in this moment. Does that make sense? I’m not so sure how to explain it. But it feels different. 
I was thinking about what I said on Monday, about maybe one day wanting to talk about what actually happened, and not just talk around it. I’m not ready to do that right now, but a part of me just doesn’t want to be afraid to talk about all of it anymore. The thing is, though, right now, I am afraid. I’m afraid to really face it, because even if I’m reliving it in my dreams and memories, and flashbacks, talking about it is different. I get afraid of feeling the way I do after I wake from a dream, or when something send me into a tailspin in the middle of my day. I’m afraid of the words, too. You can’t really talk about what actually happened without using….i don’t know, I guess, for lack of a better description, the “sex words”. That alone makes me want to cringe, to go throw up. I just…ugh. The words themselves are triggering and make me feel disgusting. How can I explain what happened, tell you what happened, what happens in my nightmare, what he did, what I did, what I feel, what i think, when it’s disgusting? When I’m disgusting? Because then you will think I’m disgusting and revolting and wrong. It feels wrong to take these sickening memories and put them into someone else’s head. And if I ever manage to get over my issue with the words and talk at all about the actual…well, then how will you ever not see me as repulsive and gross and perverted? Because what kind of person has these images, these feelings in her head? Ugh. I honestly just want to go throw up now.


I would imagine that there are probably repulsive, gross, and perverted things in most people’s heads. It’s probably fair to say that most of us censor those things and don’t like them.

Okay, I get that most everyone censors things….I mean, it’s not like people just talk about sex in everyday conversation. Well, I do have friends who are pretty open about that stuff, but they learned a long time ago that I don’t have conversations and get really uncomfortable if they bring that stuff up. So, it’s not even conversation that comes up in my friendships. Or my marriage. I hated that part of getting married…the only thing I hated about getting married……the whole honeymoon, you are getting married, let’s go shopping for wedding night things, ext, ext. Oh my gosh I found it all embarrassing and awful. I don’t know. 


I think you have to try not to pass judgement on yourself for these things happening and being in your head.  

It’s just not that easy. I hate the things in my head. If I could magically erase them, I would. Its awful. Really, too see and feel…ugh. I’m going to be sick. 


As we’ve talked about before, sex is a really complicated thing even without abuse thrown in. I think most people who’ve been abused want it to go away, but have a strange relationship with it at the same time.  

Strange…..I wouldn’t say strange. Confusing, messy, awful, a jumbled revolting mess. I just want it all to go away. 


Maybe it’s about learning to tolerate it without being so triggered? In that way talking about it and saying the words might help. 

I don’t know if I can. I really don’t. I have memories of things that happened, and it’s like the girl in them doesn’t have words, because she doesn’t know….any words she has are words he used. But now, I’m an adult, so I do know the words, or can figure out words to explain what is happening in the flashbacks and memories and dreams. But I can’t say them, write them, think them. It’s this instant sick feeling, and seeing it in my head and going as far away as I can. And then I’m overwhelmed and want to hide and throw up and cut. 



On Thursday, I felt like I really just want hubby  to hug me, to hold me. Well, maybe it was more the little girl part that was wanting a hug. She was feeling so sad. I don’t usually have this desire to reach out like that, especially when I’m dealing with nightmares and memories. But I did feel like I wanted to. I couldn’t though, because I was beyond terrified that it would turn into something more

If you could just get the hugs…. I wish you could express that need to him. It is the place to start.

I know I should just tell him. But it feels so complicated. I’m so afraid that he wants more, and I’m afraid to say I don’t because he might get mad or hurt or something and leave. I don’t think the little girl trusts him. And, I mess it up because sometimes that part of me just wants a hug, but as soon as hubby is holding me, there is a part of me that thinks I have to instigate something before he does, or before he gets upset, or I need to instigate something so that he will still love me. I hate that part, and the little girl does not trust that part at all. So….i don’t know. But it’s not all hubby. It’s my messed up head. And hugs aren’t safe. But I think hubby is reaching his limit of me being distant and gone and not touching or hugging at all. I think he is jealous or mad or upset or I don’t know what that I will snuggle with Hagrid at night in bed, and not with hubby. But Hagrid is safe. It sounds so impossibly stupid, but I know Hagrid is just going to snuggle and be there. hubby….I don’t know what he will do. Or what I will do. So I can’t. And hubby will put his hand on my shoulder, or rub my back, or whatever — even if it’s the middle of the day, not at night, I feel like this frozen statue person, stuck inside myself not daring to breathe just waiting, wishing, hoping he will stop touching me, but unable to say anything about it. 


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I wrote this a long time ago. When we first were discussing sex, and Ryan, and my feelings. I’m pretty sure that I never actually emailed it or gave it to you because well, i don’t know why exactly maybe because it seemed like too much to tell you. But I think it’s okay now. And my feelings haven’t changed. 


You said—–“I’m sure the sexuality piece is confusing and will take time to work through. I think it’s kind of like the eating in some way–both involve appetites, and how much or how little, and all sorts of feelings that really aren’t part of the actual human drive for either. I really think the most helpful “secure base” definition about what is “normal” in terms of sex is when people say “anything between two consenting adults is okay.” I think repeating that definition when you’re wondering if something is “normal” is really helpful.”

I think I’m not even talking about the act of sex when I say I don’t know what is normal. I think I mean the feelings, or thoughts, or beliefs about sex. I don’t know how to explain this without being way more open than I really am. Ugh. And I don’t know how to order this, or make it make sense, so it’s just going to be messy. 
I think the basic fact is, in my mind, sex is bad. Liking sex, wanting sex, having sex is bad, dirty, wrong. So if I initiate things with hubby, it’s dirty and wrong. If I go along with him, it’s bad. Even though I’m consenting, I really don’t want to. I hate myself for not saying no, or for initiating something I never should have.  
I can’t say no. Like, I physically can not make myself say no to sex, even when I want to. If hubby tries to start things, and inside I’m screaming that I don’t want this, I can’t tell him no. All I can do is go along, and go away. I’ve never said no. After the boyfriend, I slept around. I acted like a slut. But the thing is, even though I consented, there were times when I would have said no, but I just couldn’t. I never told the boyfriend no, either. I want to be able to say no. And realistically, I should be able to tell my husband no. hubby is a safe person. So why can’t I tell him no? 
After…um, I don’t know how to say this….when it’s over, I always feel like crying. I feel like a very bad thing just happened, like I messed up, like I’m not okay. I feel like showering. And not being touched at all. A lot of times, I cut. 
Sex is something I go along with for hubby, because I’m afraid if I don’t, he won’t be happy. I’m afraid he won’t love me. And I can’t say no. It’s something to get over with, to make it through. To just survive. 
Ugh. I don’t know that this is ever getting shared. But I don’t know how to resolve any of this. Or make it better. I just wish that sex wasn’t a thing, that it could magically disappear. I hate it. I feel dirty and gross and like slut. I wish I could never ever have to have sex again. Ever. I want nothing to do with it. There is a reason I read books written for teenagers and refuse to watch certain shows or movies. I leave the room of there is even a hint of a sex scene. It makes me sick and shameful feeling. I just can’t deal with it. 



πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œThe next group of emails on this topic went like this…….πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ



I was going going to write back, but even logistically it seemed too complicated! Would it be okay if we went over this on Thursday–you don’t have to talk about sex at all–there are more general things I want to say?

I think healing the sexual part of yourself has to be a slow process that kind of parallels healing the trauma. It seems like you have to start with touch that doesn’t lead to sex, so you would have to be able to have open communication with hubby about that.
There is a lot to talk about here–important things covering a lot of areas, not just sex. But if and when you feel like you want to talk about any of the sex stuff we can.

We can go over it on Thursday, that is okay. I have to tell you that it makes me nervous, though. I usually write the things I want to talk about but am too afraid to just say or talk about face to face. But you can talk about all of it, I just can’t promise to talk back (maybe I will use that whiteboard……). 

And, I just need to double check that everything is okay; that I just brought up too much to reply to by writing and it feels easier to you to discuss it in person. Is that right? It’s not that I wrote something wrong or whatever. Right? πŸ’œ{πŸ’œ[***I was feeling really proud of myself, because I would not usually allow these worries to be voiced. But since the big rupture, when the little girl didn’t feel listened to, or like she could talk, I’m trying to allow her space to speak and sometimes that means asking questions the grown up me finds silly***πŸ’œ]πŸ’œ}


Everything is okay! I just felt like there were a lot of things that needed a lot of words–too much to write. You did not bring up anything “wrong”–in fact you brought up great stuff! πŸ’œ{πŸ’œ[***And with that response, the little girl was reassured, and I was able to get some sleep***]πŸ’œ}πŸ’œ

The bad night and the dentist

Tuesday night was a bad, bad night. Hubby wanted to watch a show we have been watching together, and he was in the mood to cuddle. I’d been pretty cold and distant and giving off a “no touch” vibe the last few months, and was feeling guilty about this. So, I cuddled up to him, and promptly zoned out. This thing happens, whenever someone touches me; I feel frozen, as if my whole body is tense, my mind goes blank, and I feel like I am on the edge of waiting for something really bad to happen. I’ve found away to fix that particular problem, though. I simply instigate things, and get it over with. Which is exactly what I did Tuesday night. 

Things did not go well. Instead of going far, far away, and staying there, I was alternating between being far away and feeling very present in my body. Those moments of being present led to a freak-out of epic proportions, and ended with me buried under blankets and my pillow, curled into a ball on my stomach in bed, frozen and crying, scared out of my mind. I was in that place of no words, and I was not this 32 year old grown up woman in bed with her husband. I was 9 years old, with HIM. 

Hubby, for his part, tried to handle this situation as calmly as possible. But I wouldn’t talk, and based on the fact that he questioned if he had done something, I’m going to go ahead and assume he was upset, worried, feeling badly, and anxious that he couldn’t fix it. At one point, he asked if he should call Bea. That panicked me enough that I managed to shout “No. Do not call her,” at him. 

I didn’t really sleep, and ended up getting up around 4am, cutting and then going on with my day. I cut, and was able to gain some control, some feeling of safety, something I don’t know how to put into words. But it “fixed” me enough that I was able to get on with my day. I set about cleaning the kitchen, getting Kat’s things for school together, and then relaxed with a cup of coffee.  

The morning after, once hubby got up, was awkward. Neither of us mentioned the freak-out. He did, however, have a surprise for me. He informed me that I had a dentist appointment that morning, to meet a new dentist. We had discussed that he needed to set up appointments and take me. So, I wasn’t surprised, exactly, but after the night I’d had, I felt blind sided. 

“I don’t want to go. Let’s cancel today,” I told him. 

“We are going, I’m taking you, it will be fine. This is a female dentist and the office was very nice on the phone. We are going to go meet her today.”

I continued arguing, and finally gave in. “Okay. We’ll go meet her.”

“It’s no big deal. She’s just going to talk with us, and maybe do a quick exam and some X-rays if they need them,” hubby informed me. 

What? Exam?! X-rays?! No. No. I agreed to meet her and talk to her. Ugh! “I just want to talk. Okay?” 

“She’s just going to do a quick exam. No big deal.” Hubby attempted to reassure me. 

I repeated a few times that I only wanted to talk, I didn’t even want to go today, but he remained firm in his position that it was no big deal, and I would be fine. I gave up talking to him and emailed Bea. She responded almost right away, with the perfect thing. She validated how scary this was for me, reassured me I was not crazy, and then offered up some suggestions to stay grounded and gave me a mini mantra to repeat to myself. Her words gave me courage, and I felt like I wasn’t alone in this. 

With the feeling of validation and reassurance that I was acting perfectly normal given my history, I went back to hubby. “You aren’t hearing me. You haven’t been listening to what I am saying. I don’t even want to go to the dentist today. I will go, but I only want to talk. I do not want to be touched today, and I do not want anyone in my personal space. Last night was a bad night, and I am feeling very triggered. So, I will go and talk, but that is all that is happening today.” I spoke calmly and clearly. I wasn’t yelling, or freaking out at him, or being over reactive. This is new for me; to stand up for myself like this, and not be in emotional flashback-crazy girl-over reactive mode. 

He looked shocked, and didn’t speak for a full minute. Then he said, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to not listen. We’ll just go and talk. That’s fine. I’m sorry.” 

Before we left, I wrote a note about having PTSD and really needing a dentist who could be patient, kind, and understanding with me because there are so many things at the dentist that trigger me. I gave it to hubby, and we agreed that if I liked the new dentist, he would share what I’d written. 

An hour later. I sat in the dentist’s office, in an exam room. I’d chosen to sit in a real chair, leaving hubby to sit in the dental chair. I wasn’t going to even risk being in that chair. When the dentist walked in, she smiled, and introduced herself as Dr. R. She was confused for a minute about who she was seeing, due to hubby being in the chair, but when he corrected her that I was the patient, she rolled with it. Hubby informed her that I only wanted to talk today, and not have my mouth looked at. If she was annoyed or found that weird, she didn’t show it. And I’m hypersensitive to those things (to the point of seeing them when they don’t exist), so I believe I would have picked up on it. 

We discussed my general anxiety, my being terminated as a patient by several dentist due to my constant canceling of appointments, and she told us a little about herself. It turns out, she is the only one in the practice– she does it all, from teeth cleaning to dental work like root canals and cavities. I liked this about her; only having to see one person at the dentist office will give me more opportunities to build a relationship and foster trust. This also means the office is very quiet, with no one walking around behind me in the hallway, or walking into the exam room to ask questions. She was very soft spoken, but confident. 

I liked her, and after talking for about 30 minutes, she asked if I was feeling open to having a quick exam, or if I would be more comfortable waiting until another appointment. I slowly nodded, “I think it would be okay today.” Then I looked at hubby at said, “You can tell her.” I wanted her to know about the PTSD before she did any type of exam. Bea had said that telling my dentist would help them understand some of the fear I have. I trust Bea, and I liked Dr. R, and so I decided to tell her about the true nature of my anxiety.

Hubby told her, explaining that I was showing a lot of trust in her right now, and that he hoped that if Dr. R was aware of my PTSD, it would help her understand me a little better. She listened and then she turned to me. “We can work with this. I can handle this. After my dental schooling, I did some more training, working with veterans, and most of them had PTSD. A lot of times, abused or traumatized women were referred to me, too. I spent 2 years in that program, and most of it was working with traumatized people. So, we can do this together.” 

I was stunned. Hubby had not known her background, he had simply been looking for a dentist that took our insurance and was female. I nodded at her. “Okay.” 

“Can I ask some questions about things that are common triggers? So I can have an idea of what is hard for you?” She asked. I nodded, and she ran down a list of things, ranging from having things in your mouth, to having the chair laying back, to not being able to speak. I loved that she listed out things that may be triggering, as opposed to dentists I have seen in the past who simply ask me what gives me the most anxiety. That type of open ended question is very hard to answer. She brought up things I wouldn’t have even thought about, but once she mentioned them, I could easily see a connection between my fear and that trigger. 

“I also want to bring up the medication you typically have been prescribed for the dentist. I’m okay with giving you that option, but I believe that the twilight medications may make dental fears worse, especially for those with PTSD. If you can’t remember the appointment, that feels safe in the moment, but it doesn’t give you a memory of an experience that wasn’t scary. I’d like to prescribe something for anxiety, like a Valium, and maybe have you take that for a cleaning appointment. We could have the twilight medication on hand, in case you need it, but trying to have some positive experiences that you can remember may be helpful.”

I listened, but only shrugged. 

“We don’t have to decide today. You can even decide the day of the appointment, because I can prescribe both medications.” She assured me. 

At that point, I climbed, hesitantly into the dental chair. I was sitting upright, and very rigid. 

“I’m not going to do anything until you are ready, and when you are, I’m going to use my mirror–” she held a small mirror dental tool out to me– “and my fingers to look at the tooth that still needs a crown. That’s all I’m going to do today.” 

“Will you stop right away if I need you to?” I whispered the question, very much back in the little girl mindset. Usually, I feel incredibly embarrassed when the little girl starts to run the ship while I am around people who don’t really know me– dentists, doctors, my daughter’s teachers– but this time, I felt okay. I knew Dr. R understood PTSD, and so it was okay. 

“Right away. I like to give people a way to communicate. So if you hold up your hand, at anytime, that means stop. And I’ll stop and step back right away. If you hold up one finger, that means yes. If you hold up two fingers, that means no. Does that sound okay?”

I nodded, and then feeling brave, asked, “Can I stay sitting up?” 

She nodded, and informed me that she would try to always have me sit up, unless she needed me laying back in order to get to a spot in my mouth. When I gave the okay, she started a quick exam. And I froze. Then, I gagged, and my breathing changed from normal to hyperventilating. Tears leaked out of my eyes. She stopped what she was doing right away, without me asking. And then, she did something more. “Alice, can you look at my wallpaper? Can you see the wall and wallpaper, straight ahead? What colors do you see in the wallpaper?” Dr. R’s voice had that gentle tone, the one Bea uses when she is talking to the little girl, but she also sounded firm, like she expected me to follow her directions.

So, I looked at the wallpaper. There were vertical stripes, separating it into wide panels. Every other panel had a flower pattern running through it, flowers on a vertical vine. Green and yellow, red, orange, pink. I started to feel calmer. “Okay. I’m okay,” I told her. “You can finish.”

She gave me another few minutes, and then resumed the exam. While she looked at my tooth, she asked me about the pictures I saw on the walls, and told me how she had chosen each of them. There were 3 pictures, paintings, all Victorian garden scenes. It fit well with the office, which is located in an old Victorian home, and decorated to match. Which I love. Growing up, my favorite doll was the American girl doll, Samantha. She was the girly Victorian doll. I’ve always loved that era.

By the time we left, I had 3 appointments set up. The first is a cleaning, and we are going to try using Valium to see if I can begin to build some good dentist experiences. After the way Dr. R handled my freak-out, I feel pretty comfortable with her. The second is to finish the cleaning (we decided to split it up to make it easier on me) and to make a mold for the crown, if I feel okay about doing it that day. The last is to put the crown into place. 

I was so excited about this positive dental experience, and the little girl really wanted to tell Bea all about it. I don’t usually email her positive things, because I don’t want to take more time from her, or something. And it seems silly to email something I don’t need support for, especially when I was seeing her the next day. But the little girl part really, really wanted Bea to know right now. So, I emailed, and told her I was so excited that I could t wait to share this. She emailed back, just a quick note, saying she was excited, too. The little girl was oddly settled the rest of the day, and I felt fairly calm, too, even if not all there. 

Aside

Choices and perspectivesΒ 

I wanted to thank all of you for your supportive words these last few days. I feel like so many of you have been very protective of me and my feelings and reactions to this situation. It is such a warm and fuzzy feeling. That being said, I didn’t realize there would be so many strong opinions and feelings over this. I appreciate everyone’s perspective, and– maybe for the first time in my life– have seen how it is okay for people to see things differently, and discuss it in a kind manner. I truly hope that when I have disagreed with anyone on this that I have done the same, and that everyone can continue to disagree in a respectful and kind way. 

I wanted to explain my perspective on things, where I stand as of now. I have been emailing with Bea this weekend, and it has helped a lot. I still feel very shaky where she is concerned, and hurt, betrayed, angry, sad. Even with all that, I do get the sense she is still here and not going anywhere. This sucks, and I wish it hadn’t happened, I wish I could erase it all. Or at least, erase knowing what happened. But I can’t do that, and either can Bea. 

The way I see it, I have four choices:

One–I can pretend everything is fine, and continue in therapy as if nothing happened. That is an old response; one I have used often, if I didn’t want to lose the person who hurt my feelings, and it is something I learned in childhood, but it is not healthy. 

Two— I can throw my hands up, run away and never look back. This, too, is an old response. I run from conflict, and I run from tough feelings in relationships. I don’t want to do this anymore. A while ago, I said I wanted to work on understanding relationships and not being so frightened of them. 

Three— I can talk to her, confront her, face it and then leave, having had some closure. This wouldn’t be an unhealthy choice, by any means. But it doesn’t feel right to me, at this moment. 

And finally, there is option number Four— I can confront her, talk it through and hope that things can be repaired. This is where I am at. It feels healthy to me, and as if there is a lot of potential for growth. I have never– honestly never– told someone they have hurt my feelings and then saw it through. Last year, in October, Bea hurt my feelings. I never directly told her, but she knew, by the things I said. She attempted to discuss it with me, and I refused. I completely shut her down. I pretended I wasn’t hurt, and that hurt was buried fairly easily. That is how I have always dealt with conflict and hurt feelings if I still wanted that person in my life. This, now, is an opportunity to do something different. It’s a chance to confront the hurt feelings, the person who hurt them, and allow that person to repair it. And, it’s a chance to do so with a safe person. Because even though I don’t feel like she is really safe right now, in this moment, a part of me recognizes that she hasn’t changed, and somewhere, deep down, I still believe she is safe. 

It’s extremely vulnerable making to do this, and so much harder than I ever would have thought. There are a lot of old feelings coming up, a lot of old fears. I grew up in a household where conflict was avoided at all costs, and if not avoided apologies were accepted no matter what your feelings really were, and the issue never brought up again. The idea that it is okay to bring this up again and again, week after week, in session or email or a phone call, is overwhelming to me. It feels like it can not be true. It’s not something I have experienced, and a big part of me wants to experience being able to talk about the same thing as many times as I need to.  

I know at some point, I am will need to talk about hubby’s words. Right now, I’m too shamed by them and hurt. I’m not sure what to believe about him anymore, and I feel very lost and out to sea without an anchor. I am confused and hurt. The things he wrote are so different from the things he says to me. I don’t know what is the real hubby anymore, or where my marriage really stands. There is obviously work to do there, in my own therapy to work through my feelings about this and maybe in therapy with him, at some point. I just don’t know right now. The only thing I can do right now, is to have perfect Alice run the ship when it comes to my marriage. There is a distance between us, and I’m not sure if it is me, or him, but it makes me very sad. 

I know many of my readers disagree with me, and see things from a different perspective. That is okay, and in my opinion it is a good thing. We need other’s perspectives. It’s part of what allows us to see all sides of an issue and make informed choices. I know many of you would make a different choice than I am, and that’s okay, too. I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice in this situation. 

Unfiltered weekΒ 

This week has been full of spaciness, choppy and hard. I’ve been as unfiltered as I can be with the 3 most important people in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time zoned out and hiding in the room in my head. So much feeling has come out, and I can’t handle it all at once. It’s too much. And so the Miss perfect part of me has come out, taking over, making sure things were okay. I don’t remember all of this week, as a consequence, but there were big important moments, when I was real and at least partly there. I’ve written what I remember. 

Monday, I saw Bea. 

“Should we look at your email? Should I pull that up?” Bea asks. 

“I don’t know. I guess.” I feel exposed. I’m afraid she is angry with me for my snarkiness. 

“Well, I’ll pull it up. I didn’t find teenage you all that snarky,” she says in that forthright way she has. 

I shrug. Maybe I am embarrassed that I made such a big to do. “I certainty felt very snarky.” 

“Well, yes.” She makes a reference to what she had said in her emailed response to the snarkiness. It’s something about this being different, not like my parents, the experience not being like my teen years of not being accepted. 

“I was just….I was upset. I don’t know. But you weren’t mad. You listened.” I think about how she admitted to things I accused her of, when I was right. 

Bea says something, I don’t remember what, and I tell her that I feel like replying in a quite snarky way; that the teenage part was feeling very sassy and argumentative. 

“Would you have said something like that to your mother?”

“Oh no. Not ever. That….well, My parents took my door once, for being just a bit snarky.” I laugh, although it may not be so funny. 

I pull my iPad out, and hand it to her. “I wrote this, too. It’s about the teenage stuff…the body stuff. I don’t know.” I hide my face. 

We talk, but much of that is gone from my memory. I just know she was still there and not upset that teen me had rebelled a bit and tested her boundaries.

 Later, she shifts in her seat. “Well, let’s maybe look at it like this. If I had handed you all the information on these classes, and you had been able to study and research sensorimotor therapy, would you have told me to take the classes? Or maybe a better thing to ask is what would the grown up, the teenager, and the little girl all think about this?” 

“The grown up would say take the classes.” I state it matter of factly. It’s true. 

“And the little girl?” She asks softly. 

I take a minute to think, to look inside myself, wait for an answer to her question. “Well….she says no.”  

“Just no? Is there more to that?”

“Ummm….it’s like..the little girl……” I bury my face in my knees. I need to hide. “I’m scared.” 

“What is feeling so scary?” 

“I don’t want things to change.” I whisper. I’m far away now. Maybe too far away. 

“What would have to change?” 

“I…you. There’s…..you listen to me………but if….I mean, if I can’t….do what you want, I’ll um….you’ll leave. Everything will change.” 

“Ahhhhh. Nothing has to change. I’m not leaving, even if you never want anything to do with sensorimotor stuff. I’m not leaving.” I’m peeking through my fingers, and she is leaning forward a little bit. “I am curious though, why is change a bad thing?”

“Because things are okay like this. I’m not alone. I have someone listening to me finally after I waited so long. I don’t want to be alone again.” The answer just pops out. I don’t have a minute to filter it. 

“That makes sense. Nothing has to change, even with me learning new tools. I’m very aware of the little girl, of keeping her and you safe.” She reassures me. It’s quiet for a minute. “What about the teenager?” 

“She says no.” 

“I’m not surprised.” Bea says. 

“She doesn’t want anything to do with body stuff.”

“I understand. It makes sense, she’s had a lot of scary things happen in her body.” 

“She’d want….she would want you to do…I mean, go anyway. Even though she says no.” I admit. 

“She would want me to do what was best for her, even if she disagreed.” Bea is nodding, agreeing with what I am saying and showing me she understands what I am saying.  

We agree we will discuss sensorimotor stuff, but that there is no expectation of me to agree. 

“Thank you, for really looking and seeng that asking me to sit up was from the sensorimotor stuff. I felt a little crazy, being so sure and you…..I don’t know. And I was so sure you were mad, frustrated with me, for not doing what I’m supposed to. And you kept saying you weren’t mad.” She had admired she was frustrated that she had what seemed the perfect tool, and couldn’t figure out how to make it safe to use. But she had been very clear that she wasn’t frustrated with me, she almost never gets mad with people who have trauma histories because she understands there is a reason for behavior. She had said she gets frustrated when parents use their child, or when she is put on the middle of divorce cases and feels used.  

“Well, I didn’t want to admit it! But you deserved to hear the truth. I had to really look at it.” She says softly. 

I nod. I get it. 

We switch to the list of teenage upsets, and she suggests that having a more in depth discussion of the boyfriends “list” might be helpful. I agree to try and write one. She invited me to email it, and reminds me that she is here. 

After session with Bea, Hagrid and I make our way to my best friend’s house. We have a nice morning, chatting and drinking coffee. She fills me in on the big and small things in her life right now. After all, two weeks ago we met for coffee, kept things light. Before that, I hadn’t seen her for months. Now, after she catches me up, she turns to me, and looks at me, really looks. 

“We need to talk about this.” She gestures to the space between us, implying the relationship. “You push me away, avoid me for months. I know this scares you. But I love you. Those aren’t just words, they are my feelings, how I feel about you. You are my family. It makes me sad when you push me away.” 

She talks about attachment, and fears. She talks to me about how we matter to each other. I admit to her that she matters. I tell her that she was the first person in my life who to see me, to hear me, and to stay. She was the first person to see all the ugly and accept that, love me anyway. 

“Well, yes. Because you are my family. That is what it means to be family.”

“Not in my family. My parents weren’t abusive, they loved me, but things were never like this.” 

“Not abusive is debatable. But no, things were not like that in your family.”

“I think…I wish, I mean, I know that I can’t expect my marriage to be the same as us. But I wish I could be attached to hubby like I am to you.” I tell her sadly. 

“I think you can. I think you should have the same safety in marriage as you do with me. You deserve that. Hubby is capable of that. You won’t always talk to him about the same things we talk about, but you have the right to have the same safety and attachment.” 

This ends up with me letting down the wall around my anger. I scream and rant and rave at her; the venom and hurt in my voice is so evident. I scream about hubby, his mom, my parents. All of it. And K listens. She hears it all, validates a lot of it, says I have the right to be angry about all of this and more. She’s the only person I have ever fully showed my rage to and believed she could still see me as good and love me. 

The conversation lasts an hour or so, but it ends with her saying, “You need to talk to hubby. You are hurt and have the right, but not talking to him is a disservice to you both. You are not even giving him a chance to prove you wrong. Pass the baton to him. You trust me. I trust that hubby is capable. You’re growing apart. If you don’t talk to him your marriage will be ruined. I can say those things because I’m not your shrink.” She tells me she loves me and is here, and that I can call or text anytime, that she is not going anywhere. 

Later in the day, I try to write to Bea, but I can’t. It’s too much. I email her that I can’t do it. She tells me not to worry, that it might be too much right now and that’s ok. 

I’ve been allowing this teenage part of me to run the show. Which means initiating things with hubby and being willing to do sexual things I would not normally do. Monday night, We are in the middle of intimate acts when I fall apart. Hubby moves, instantly. I roll to my side, face down in my pillow and sob. Wracking, pain filled sobs. Hubby asks me what is wrong, what happened? I’m dissociated enough that I answer; the answer comes much later, when I can talk. But I tell him about how hard the fall is for me. I tell him how much I hurt sometimes. I tell him that “he” (as in Kenny, or maybe the boyfriend) raped me. I tell him I am afraid he (hubby) will leave me. I tell him how triggering it is to have my parents change, how I tried to overdose when I was 14. I tell him so much, in that spacey disconnected way. I even tell him about Bea and her sensorimotor therapy and how threatening that is to me. Eventually, we both go back to sleep.     

On Tuesday, I email Bea. I’m afraid that hubby will change his mind about me. I’m afraid that he will decide I’m horrible and that he is going to leave. She emails with me most of the day, short messages, validating that this is scary and that I am okay. 

When hubby comes home, things are okay. We don’t discuss a lot, but he is present with me. We have a movie night with Kat, and we have retro movie night– watching ninja turtles– after she goes to bed. 

There is an odd relief in that it is up to hubby now, that I passed the baton to him. He is failing, and that hurts, but it is not unexpected, and so it feels somewhat ok, and i managed to tell him how he said one thing and didn’t follow through and that upset me, without yelling (which prompts a discussion of how he is free to respond as he wishes, regardless of my requests or making needs known, in therapy)
I see Bea for the Kat’s appointment, which gives me some safety, even though I’m a little extra spacey, just to be in her office, and hear her playing with Kat. Sometimes, it feels like getting a peek into what my past would have been like if she, or someone like her had seen me as a child. Bea later emails that I had a relieved sense about me so she was going to leave well enough alone. This feels uncaring at first but then I see my distorted thinking, and realize she cared enough to see how I was feeling, reach out to me, and let me know she was looking forward to talking about this tomorrow, but that she was confident in my abilities to know what I needed.  

Thursday morning, I arrive at Bea’s, a little nervous over how vulnerable and unfiltered this week. 

“So, a lot happened this week,” Bea says as I sit down. 

“I…well, yeah. I guess so.” I pull Hagrid onto my lap. 

“It seemed like telling hubby needed to happen, even though that felt so unsafe. How has it been now?” She asks. 

“Well, I didn’t mean to tell him. I just….I wasn’t really there. I mean, I was talking, but it was spacey, choppy. I just…..I don’t know.” 

“Yeah, it was hard to tell him, so scary to feel that vulnerable. How did he react?” 

I shrug. “I’m not….I’m not sure. He says he was glad I told him. That he isn’t leaving. But….I, well…I don’t remember what, how exactly he reacted.” 

“That’s okay. It sounded like K had something to do with you talking to him. That her words were in your head.” Bea says. 

“Well, yes. She just….she said that she can say things to me that you won’t because you are my therapist. She said my marriage would be over if we grew too far apart, that I needed to give him a chance. She said…it wasn’t fair to him.” I shrug. 

Bea smiles. “She’s right, she said what I couldn’t. Why do I get the feeling she’s on my side?”

“Oh, she’s very much on your side. The one time I was ready to quit, she convinced me to call you and ask to see you on an extra day. She said she would hog tie me and drag me here…..she stayed on the phone that day, texting or talking to me. I believe she didn’t say good bye until I got in your office. In here, I mean. But she would say that her side is my side, even when I don’t think she is on my side.” 

Bea nods. “Yeah, she is right. The only side is being on your side.”

“I know that. Even when I don’t feel it, I know. It’s why I keep talking through things with you, when I’ve never done it before, except with Kay.” I smile, thinking I am changing and growing even though it is slow. 

“So, Kay was talking to you about your relationship, and relationships, feelings. She talked about and you admitted how you feel, how was that?”

“She said….she said that she already knew how important she was to me, and me saying so didn’t change anything.” I sigh. This conversation is really uncomfortable to me. I’m drifting away. “She said…..she said people aren’t as bad as I think. That I need to give them a chance. That if I drop the perfect facade, let people in, they will surprise me. She said she likes me better this way.” 

“Are you feeling too far away right now?” She asks, noticing the spaciness in me. I don’t answer, so she continues, “I know we’ve tried different things to help you ground. But maybe looking around, finding 3 of your favorite things in this room. If you like, if you feel too far away. It’s another option, but it’s your choice to use it.” 

We sit quiet for a minute. I don’t want to be more present. I can’t help but listen to her, though, notice some of my favorite things in the room. 

“Did Kay talk about how she feels about you?”

I freeze. The way Kay feels is at odds with my perceptions. It’s complicated because I trust Kay, yet I can’t fully believe her. I tell Bea what Kay said. 

“Wow. I don’t know that I have ever had a friend like that, one who feels like that about me. I’ve never had a friend talk like that to me. How was that?”

“I…..its just Kay. It’s who she is. I don’t know. But…it was hard, I guess.” I hide my face in Hagrid’s fur. 

“Yes, I imagine it was so hard to hear those things.” 

When just a few minutes are left, I tell her that I have written about the boyfriend. She asks if I want her to read it now, but I’m not sure. I finally decide that no, I don’t want to have her read it because she won’t be able to respond or talk to me about it. We agree that I will type it and email it, if I’m able to. Bea tells me she does like seeing handwritten things because she likes to see the handwriting changes, which signal state changes. We talk about how she has seen big changes in my handwriting before, changes that match with my voice changes. We flip through what I’ve written, noting that the handwriting doesn’t change. I tell her I will do my very best to type it all unfiltered. 

As I’m leaving, I tell her that it’s okay if she is geeked about what she learns this weekend, that I’m okay with it and understand. She had told me via email she hoped she didn’t come back so geeked up this time. We agree that she will tell me about what she learned, and I will be able to choose if I want to talk more about it or stop and change the subject. She tells me about the aspects of the class that are hard for her, how each therapist in the class has to existence being therapist and client. So she does know what it’s like to be on my side of things, at least a little. 

Late Thursday night, early Friday morning, I type the horrible truth of the boyfriend. When I wake Friday morning, Bea has already emailed back. It means a lot that she emailed back so early, first thing. What I told her mattered. 

Being Brave

This post could have some triggery stuff in it. Please just be careful. Xx
 Hagrid comes with me to therapy today, and so we stop outside Bea’s office while he sniffs out the perfect potty spot. I love the tree lined sidewalks with their burnt orange and red and gold leaves. I love the houses and business side by side, the coffee shops and bookstores. I love the hustle and bustle of all the students rushing by to get to class. I love the feeling of being downtown. 

After getting upstairs and getting settled in Bea’s office, Hagrid walks over to her and she scratches his head. We maybe do the chit chat thing, but she stops me from getting too comfortable in chit chat mode. 
“Should I bring out your email? I thought there was a lot of really good stuff there. I wondered what you thought about what I said? I don’t think you wrote back, so I don’t know what your thoughts were,” Bea says. She has one leg bent under her, resting on the chair, and she is leaned back, relaxed. She’s not upset I didn’t write back, but it seems it would have been okay to send another email. 

“I did….I mean, I wrote back. But it was really late– or early this morning– and it seemed silly to send it when I was seeing you in just a couple of hours.” I tell her. In truth, I didn’t email my response because I wasn’t sure she would email back when we would be having a session in just a few hours, and I knew if she didn’t email back my feelings would be hurt. So I chose to bring my response with me. 

“Do you want to share it now? Start there?” Bea shifts in her seat, leans towards me, just a little bit. 
I nod, and reach in to my hunter green bottomless pit of a purse. I pull out my iPad and hand Bea my response. 

She takes it from me and begins to read. I slowly bury my face. “Mmmhmmm……uh-huh, yep…..this makes so much sense. I hear you saying you just need to put the hubby stuff on the table for now. I don’t expect you to do anything, but I think I do sometimes feel like I should temper your feelings with some reality. And I don’t want to see you end up so far away from hubby that you feel you can’t go back. That’s why I feel I need to advocate you talking to him. But you are right, you do know this and I don’t have to keep reminding you. We can table that for now.” 

I don’t respond, but I listen to her words. I’ve pulled my knees to my chest, and my cheek is resting on my knees, my head turned away from Bea. I have this love-hate relationship with allowing people to read my words. I’m more honest in my writing than anywhere, and while it feels so validating to have those words seen and acknowledged, it is also terrifying. 

I know when she reads my response to her suggesting that expressing my thoughts and feelings to hubby mattered. She had written, ‘Somehow it still seems important that you convey your thoughts and feelings to him. Either you express them, or they are just logs on your internal fire that pushes him away.’

I responded with: ‘Maybe I just need to be angry and push him away right now. As long as everything stays on the surface and I can stay distant, it’s fine. I can’t express my thoughts or feelings to him. He is not interested. And every time I do, I end up hurt and regretting it. No more. I can’t take anymore.’ 




“I’m thinking that maybe we need to work on being able to express feelings to hubby with no expectations, to be able to express thoughts and feelings for yourself, so they aren’t stuck inside hurting.” Bea says slowly. 

I shake my head. “No….its not….I mean, I don’t even expect anything from him anymore. I can’t.” I sound sad. I feel sad. 

Bea says how hard that must feel, and that it’s not uncommon for this to happen when one person has been in therapy and is growing; a disconnect happens. “Some women manage to compartmentalize their relationships, to get what they need connection wise from friendships instead of their marriage.” She pauses for a minute, then continues, “You have Kay, and other friends. Maybe for a while you can get connection from that, until things feel better with hubby.” 

We talk about how he has the capacity to connect, and how he has the capacity to be present and there in the way I need. I think Bea doesn’t want me to give up. She says how his defense is to turn off feeling, to be distant. Its sort of like dissociating, but not exactly. 

“I’ve lived this before! Turning off things, not being there, changing stories. I’ve done this. He is just like my parents. I can’t do this again. I can’t live that again!” Anger laces my every word, but it’s sort of hidden and underneath the words. 

“I can hear your resolve that you don’t want to pretend things away. Monday you were feeling a lot of sadness. This sounds like anger. Which, as I am sure you know, is another part of grief. This all feels like needing to grieve to me.” 

“I just…I can’t. And I don’t…I can’t do this.” 

“I know,” Bea says, and in those two words I feel so much understanding and compassion. 
I’m silent again, and so Bea goes back to reading:
(Me) He hates me. He is tolerating me, waiting for the old me to come back. But that me is never ever coming back. She is gone, she was never real. That girl was made up– by me, by my parents, she was living the perfect story about a perfect life we all created. And that is who he loves. This– him waiting for old me to come back– is what makes me want to scream the whole story, every ugly thing that ever happened, that I ever did, at him. So he can see that she is not coming back, and why. And then he can get it over with, admit he hates me and leave. 



(Bea) I believe you are projecting a lot of your own thoughts, beliefs, and feelings here. It feels very Alice to me. I don’t know where hubby really is in this.



(Me) Maybe my own thoughts, but I believe they are his, too. He is waiting for the old me to come back. He might not say it exactly like that, but its always “when you are back to feeling like yourself” or something. Doesn’t he get it? I wasn’t feeling much of anything then!




“Ahhhh. He is trying to fix things. But I wonder……he hasn’t grieved. This…there is something for you to both grieve, you need to grieve together.” 

“I’m not….no. Not with him. I can not let him…no feeling with him. It’s too much.” I whisper. 

“Well, you are already grieving. But it seems he needs to grieve, too. I haven’t thought of this before, but how would you feel if he came in and I talked to him about connection and grieving, needing to be present…….” Her voice fades away from my reality as I drift away. I don’t know what it is, but this idea doesn’t feel safe. 

“I don’t know,” I say slowly. 

“It’s just something to think about.” Bea’s voice is neutral; it really doesn’t matter to her what I choose to do.

“I just….it…something.” Words are getting twisted, and I am afraid to say what I am really thinking. 

“What comes to mind right now?” 

“I…it just….I’m not sure I want him here….I don’t know.” I feel so ashamed. 

“It would take a lot of trust to allow him to come and allow us to talk. I wouldn’t talk about any of the specifics of what you are feeling or working through. It would be about him and his needing to do some processing. But it would take a lot of trust. I get that.” 

“I just can’t.” I hate myself for not being able to let him come here and talk to Bea, for not having enough trust. It just feels like if they get together, they will end up discussing how awful I am, what a terrible person I am. 

“That’s okay. It was just something I had really thought of before, so I wanted to put it out there.” 
We somehow shift to talking about all these bad feelings. Bea asks me something about them, but I don’t really hear her. Then she says, “Are they feelings only, or are there flashbacks, memories?” 

I can only nod. 

“Flashbacks?” She asks me again. 

I nod. “Yeah.” I whisper it, so quiet I’m really unsure if I spoke out loud or only in my head. No matter, either way, Bea knows what I am saying. 

“Ohhh,” she sounds a little sad, I don’t understand why. “Is there a specific memory?” 

I don’t know, the answer is so complicated. Yes and no. There are several. Too much. It’s all too much. 

“Does it feel like the boyfriend stuff?” She presses gently. 

I nod. “More.” I’m so far away, it seems impossible to speak. These things scare me, the memories, the feelings, and what will happen if I do share them. 

Bea is quiet for a minute, and then she says, “Do you think you need to come back a little bit?” 

I shake my head. No. I do not want to feel more present. It’s too much.

“These feelings are so close here. I am noticing your hand making a fist. What is coming up?” Bea says softly. 

I freeze inside. I go from being far away and blurry to somehow far away but on alert. This isnt okay. This feels threatening. She said it was my choice, I was in control if anything changes and she is changing it anyway. My head is spinning. I finally notice that she is right, I do have my hand fisted. I close my fist tighter, dig my nails further into my palm. 

“You made a fist….maybe this memory makes you feel like fighting?” Bea says more, but I don’t really hear. She’s wrong, and with that wrong guess I feel so alone. She doesn’t get it. “Is that right?” She continues, checking with me. 

I shake my head. No. 

“Okay. That wasn’t right. Do you want to tell me about it?” 

“No. I…no. I don’t want to.” I tell her sadly. I made a fist to dig my nails into my hand, to hurt. Who does that? I can’t say it, can not explain it. 

“Okay. That’s okay,” she is trying to reassure me. “You know, we were going to talk about the boyfriend before, but we didn’t. It’s no wonder this is all so confusing and hard right now with hubby. The boyfriend stuff seems to be getting mixed into it all.” 

“I’m afraid.” I tell her. 

“Those memories feel very real right now,” Bea validates.

“No…well, yes. But it’s more. I’m afraid because it…I don’t know.”

“All these feelings and memories feel very much like they are right now. It is so hard, and it does feel very scary.” 

“I…stayed.” I can’t say more than that. It’s the most I can explain, I’m far enough away that words are really hard to get out. It feels like it takes too much energy to explain. 

“What was that?” Bea asks. I think she might have actually heard me, but is trying to make sense of the two words I mumbled in relation to what we are talking about. 

I shake my head, whisper again, “Stayed. I stayed.”

“Ohhh. You stayed with him? Is that what you are thinking?” 

I nod. “Yeah.” 

“Well, we know….from the Kenny stuff, you were set up to be in a relationship that was hurtful. Trauma bonds are very strong.” Bea says more about trauma bonds, but I have trouble being present enough to hear her. She talks about repetition compulsion and how this wasn’t my fault. But she knows that being too teacherly can make her lose me, so she says, “But that is all logic, and logic doesn’t change feelings. Those feelings speak differently to this.” 

I nod. “I’ve been thinking about the…you know. After I left.”

“The pregnancy?” 

“What I did….” I say sadly. 

“The abortion.” She says. 

I nod. We don’t say much more. There is so much I have running through my mind. 

“I know you know from your yoga, how we sit and move can effect our feelings. I wonder what would happen if you sat up, lifted your head and straightened your spine? If you would feel more powerful, stronger? I would turn my chair around so I wouldn’t be looking at you.” Bea suggests. 

  I can’t believe she is doing this. No. I don’t want to move, that doesn’t feel okay. How can she change things like this? She said it was up to me. Oh my God, she can’t turn her back on me. It would be like she was leaving. No. No. This is not okay. A million thoughts run through my head. And then I start judging myself. Don’t be so stupid. Stop being a drama queen. Just sit up. 




“You don’t have to do anything. This is about going inside yourself, seeing what feels right for you,” Bea says. “Maybe you need to be curled up inside yourself. Maybe sitting up feels right.”


Argh. Why is she doing this? I hate this. 




“What’s coming up for you right now?” She asks. 


Don’t answer that, don’t be dumb. And I can not tell her how her offer to turn around feels. That is too vulnerable. And silly. Just sit up so she stops. Sit up and you can get out of here.
But I can’t sit up. So I finally say, feeling very far away and like it is not really me talking, “I feel uncomfortable.” 

“Okay. Thank you for telling me.” Bea says more, but I don’t know what. 

Bea is talking, and all of a sudden I start sobbing. Quiet cries that grow louder. I was so scared. I am so scared. She is going to hate me. Everything is wrong. Everyone is changing. I can’t do this. He raped me. Both of them, Kenny and the boyfriend. I’m lost and alone. I’m bad. Awful. My parents only loved me because I was perfect. But that isn’t true anymore. I don’t know what’s true. I ruin everything. I hurt people. I’m selfish and mean. Everyone is better off without me. They all hate me, anyway. 




The feelings come up and out and threaten to overwhelm me. I cry and cry. “I don’t even know why I’m crying. I am so dumb.” 

“Because so much hurts. All the feelings. Speaking up when you were so scared, that is hard and scary. There is just so much coming up.” 

Eventually, I just can’t keep crying, and I go away again so I can function. “I’m okay, I’m fine,” I tell Bea, wiping at my face and lifting my head. I can’t look at her. I gather up my things, hug Hagrid. 

“I don’t have anyone coming next. Take a few minutes, get grounded. I’m just going to bustle around here, okay?” Bea says gently. 

I nod. Okay. So I sit, holding Hagrid, while she checks messages and makes tea. She makes small talk with me, telling me about the dog her daughter wants. After a few minutes, I tell her good bye. Bea smiles, and says she will see me tomorrow at Kat’s appointment. I nod. 

Later, at home, I write out answers to all her questions, and then, trying to be brave, I email them. 

  

Choppy therapy……

Therapy on Monday was random and choppy. I’m having a difficult time recalling much of anything discussed. We didn’t go very deep into anything. I talked about Halloween Weekend, I talked about my Mom, and Bea asked me if the weekend got better after Kat and I left on Thursday. 

“So you and Kat took a walk and had a snack and lunch after leaving here. You were really upset before going to get Kat, and after it felt like you were dissociated and upset at the same time. Did getting out and walking help?” Bea asks. She’s sort of curled up in her chair today, comfortable. Bea is always comfortable and approachable. I love that about her. 

I shrug. I felt like I was in survival mode; just get through one thing to move onto the next until I could hide in bed. “Not so much. It was just….fine. I was fine.” 

“Did you and hubby get a chance to talk?” She pushes a little. 

“Nope. He didn’t talk to me.” I tell her.

“You were feeling very upset about the relationship on Thursday, as if he didn’t care about you anymore. I believe your exact words were ‘he hates me’.” She’s not going to let this go. Why does she always push me when it comes to my marriage! 

I did say on Thursday that hubby hates me. It was the end of the session, and I told her how he had yelled at me over the alarm clock. And how angry he was. How he hates me for screwing everything up. And then I sort of freaked out and listed all the ways in which I was going to screw things up that day. 

I finally say, “Yes, I feel like that. But we did not talk. And what difference does it make? He is just going to say whatever to appease me, and then turn around and do something different. It doesn’t matter. He never does what he says. He does what makes the person around him happy.” I’m curled up, alternating between feeling so far away everything is fuzzy and I feel floaty, to be much more present, yet removed and numb from the conversation.

Bea tries to convince me that I should bring him to therapy for some couples sessions. I honestly want nothing to do with that, and I turn a little snarky. 

“Why? So he can sit here and smile and nod and go along with what you are telling him? He’ll agree with you, no problem. He will act and say he can follow through. But then he won’t because it will be too hard. He needs to figure out his own shit first.” 

We say good bye not long after that. I leave feeling disconnected. I know Bea is there, and a part of me believes she isn’t going anywhere, so it is better than it has been in the past. But it sucks to end a session like this. 

Relationships: He can’t win

“So, I guess that’s really it. I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to talk about Kat stuff the whole time. But I did say I could spend a whole session on this.” I sigh. I’ve just spent 60 minutes talking about Kat. I really didn’t mean to take so much time. On the way here, I’d felt like I needed to talk about Kat stuff, but also that I wanted to talk about my stuff and not “waste” my time with Bea.

 

It felt good, though, to tell her how our BCBA validated my feelings about the school psych, and to hear that my ‘read’ of everyone at the school meeting matched up to hers. I don’t trust how i feel about people, I’m always unsure if my ‘read’ of them is crazy. If felt good to tell Bea how i met with Kat’s teachers and we are working on more ideas to help Kat be able to function at school, but also not be a mess when she comes home. It felt good to tell her how I had emailed (he called me back while I was in her office!) the super intendant to offer help with campaigning to get a millage for special needs funding passed.

 

She had been impressed that I had reached out like that. “You know, we are always looking for ways to allow you to turn your mind off, and this is a great way for you to do that. As we are digging back into to therapy and these scary places, we need to keep finding things that help you to get a break so you can function.”

 

I had agreed. “Research and having a cause gets my full attention. I like that sort of thing.”

 

“You’re good at it,” Bea had said in such a straight forward way, I was able to believe her.

 

Now, though, I’m out of Kat stuff to talk about, and I realize that I had needed someone to bounce ideas off of, and to talk things through with. I think this is the kind of stuff hubby used to be willing to talk through with me, even if I needed to repeat it a million times. Now, I am using my therapy sessions for this.

 

“Was there anything on your mind you were really wanting to talk about?” Bea asks.

 

I shake my head, slowly. I can feel that sort of change that always happens to me in therapy when we switch to discussing me and my stuff. Its like one minute I’m ‘Miss Perfect’; confident and chatty, animated and present– but its like just that surface perfect piece of me is present, the rest of me is in the room in my head, watching, so things don’t feel quite real. It really is hard to explain this internal experience. Even worse, I feel like my explanation makes me sound truly crazy. But now, we have switched to talking about me, and I look down, curl info myself, I mumble when I talk, and I struggle to think of words. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I was driving here thinking I needed to talk about my stuff, but I needed to talk about Kat, but i didn’t want to use all my time to talk about her. And then I did. But it needed to be talked about.”

 

“It was important to talk about. We still have a half an hour. I guess the question is how do we switch gears?” Bea leans back in her chair, looks at me.

 

I shrug. I don’t know. I’m sort of lost in this giant abyss of having too much to talk about.

 

“It felt, to me, that the most distressing thing for you, out of everything you wrote and we talked about Monday, was the way things are with hubby.” Bea says softly. I know she likes to see what comes up for me, but I am glad she is willing to give me some direction.

 

“I just…its…I am just done.” I say.

 

“I know. I think you have a lot of anger– rightfully so– and that this is very complicated and difficult.” Bea says.

 

I sigh. I’m so tired of this conversation. I feel like we have if all the time. “Well, he doesn’t listen. He doesn’t care.” I follow that with stories of him not listening, stories of me being sarcastic, rude, snappy. I look down, and trying not to cry say, “You know he never even asked how dinner with my grandma was?”

 

“Did you bring it up to him? There’s nothing wrong with saying that you need to tell him about dinner, that you want to share that with him.” Bea says.

 

I ignore her. Nope. Not doing that.

 

“Sometimes….with his personality type, he may just keep his mind on work, where he has control and things are easy. As long as you are in your corner, telling him you are okay, he’s not going to look too closely.” Bea suggests.

 

I snap at her. “Thats not true. He has time to think about hunting and fishing, he should have time for his family.”

 

“Thats very true. But you’re real, and you upset that balance of okayness in his life if he looks too closely.”

 

“Well. I’m sick of it. I’m done trying. He hurts my feelings all the time. It’s his turn. I wish I could stop caring at all. I don’t like how I’m being, I don’t like feeling mean, I don’t like any of this.”

 

“Then you need to tell him that it is now on him and that you need him to fix it. I know that feels kind of like telling a person what to buy you for your birthday, but it really would be good if you could let him know.” Bea says softly. Why won’t she back off about this? I don’t want to talk to him.

 

“Maybe he just needs to stay in his corner. I don’t want him to come out of his corner right now.” I say it quietly, but clearly. The thought escapes before I can think to stop it.

 

“Ahhh. Tell me more about that; about wanting him to stay in his corner.” Bea sounds intrigued.

 

I stare at blue rug on the floor. Hagrid isn’t with me today, he refused to get out of bed this morning, and stayed with hubby. The traitor. “I don’t know. I just think he should stay there.”

 

“Well, I have some ideas about how this feels, but what I really want is to hear your experience of it.” Bea’s voice is gentle, and honest. I am reminded of what she said on Monday– ‘I want to hear your stories.’

 

I try to figure it out. “If he stays there…its just….well……he….I…..it’s not…..I don’t know…….” I stop and start about a billion times. Finally, I have it. “I won’t have to talk to him if he stays there.”

 

“Yes. It’s safer if he stays in his corner.” Bea agrees.

 

I am having so much trouble putting this into words. If I had my iPad journal or my notebook in front of me, I might be able to find the words. But right now, I am at a loss. So I try something different. I ask Bea, “Why?”

 

“Well, it is safe because you don’t have to be vulnerable. You don’t have to risk being hurt. If he stays in his corner, and believes things are okay, you each go about your daily lives and you don’t have to be vulnerable.” She answers. I love that she takes me seriously, and attempts to answer my questions. I was a kid who asked a lot of questions, I wanted to know what made people tick, how things worked, what made the world turn? No one really took my questions seriously. They were annoying after a while, I’m sure. Mu grandpa always tried to help me find answers. He took me seriously. So did Kenny. But…ugh. Anyway, it means a lot that she always answers questions and that she is digging for answers with me.

 

“And afraid. I don’t have to feel afraid.” I can’t explain it; maybe it’s fear of connection, maybe it’s fear of being vulnerable.

 

“Yes. If he stays in his corner, you don’t have to be afraid.”

 

“I need him to change it.” I say softly.

 

“I feel that you guys have been in places like this one before. It seems to cycle. Can you think of what you have done before to get out of it?” She asks.

 

“We don’t get out of it, not really. I give up, act happy, perfect wife like he wants, and then he pays more attention to me, when I am happy, and so everything seems better.” I say. The thing of it is, though, its not better. Its not exactly pretend, at least not on his part, but I am going through the motions, not feeling much and eventually I reach a point where I can’t pretend anymore, and this happens. That is why there is a cycle.

 

“So you pretend to be happy, and he pays more attention to you?” She clarifies.

 

I nod my head yes, and realize that once he is paying more attention to me, I might even truly feel happier and more content. Because the underlying issues– not trusting him enough to be vulnerable and connect– are still there, never having been dealt with, I end up packing away hurts and things I wish I could share with him until the small box can not hold anymore and i start to snap, and make sarcastic remarks, and feel angry and alone. And my husband does not like the angry, sad, broken, hurting part of me. He tolerates it, but avoids that part and it is very clear he does not accept her. He wants and accepts the cheerful, positive part of me.

 

“This is an important clue about him, and what is going on for him.”

 

“I don’t get it. And I just…I’m so tired of being hurt.”

 

“I know….” Bea says. “Can you ask him for things, concrete things, like letting Hagrid outside? Can you say ‘I need you to let Hagrid out’?”

 

I think about it. “Well, I might ask him to get me a glass of water of I was in bed and he was up.”

 

“So it’s the emotional vulnerability that scares you. Other stuff is okay?” Bea asks.

 

I don’t know. I really have never thought about it. (Now, while writing this out, I think it is complicated. I’m not as afraid to ask for concrete things, however, I usually won’t ask if I am not already fairly sure of the answer. I’ve been like that as long as I can remember; some people may say I am spoiled and always get what I want. It’s more that I only ask when I know the answer. Being told no, feels like rejection to me. I’m very hyperaware of any sign of rejection or what feels like being rejected.) “Well, I wouldn’t ask if he wasn’t up already. Like if we were both in bed, I would just get up. ” I finally say. Its not exactly an answer, but it is the best I can so.

 

“I think it helps to practice asking for small daily needs, so when the big stuff comes up it isn’t this hard.” Bea is still pushing for me to talk.

 

“I don’t…I mean….I’m not even sure what needs come up daily, but it doesn’t matter. I am not doing that.”

 

“I can’t think of any, either, right now,” she admits, “You wouldn’t have to ask for anything. Just stating, ‘I am feeling really upset right now that I haven’t gotten to talk to you about dinner with my Grandma.’ Its just a statement, nothing directed at him and all about how you are feeling.”

 

“No. No, no.” I hate this conversation. It is making me sick. My head hurts. “It’s all BIG. Anything that is what I need is BIG stuff. It’s all BIG and scary.”

 

“Mhmmmhm,” Bea does her verbal nod. She says something else, but I’ve disappeared, and the world has that fake, not real quality to it.

 

“He can’t win. No matter what, I won’t let him win. He can’t win right now.” I don’t mean to share my thoughts out loud.

 

“Can we talk more about that?” Bea asks, carefully.

 

“Well…I’m terrible, mean. He can’t win right now……… Too stubborn for my own good. I…even if he did exactly what I wanted, what I needed, if he listened and whatever else, did everything, I wouldn’t believe it. I would think it was a lie, fake. I don’t know.” I’ve buried my face in my knees. I can’t look at her right now. I don’t want to be seen right now.

 

“You need to have the upper hand right now. It feels safer. Although I wonder if the not believing it if he did everything you needed is more about how you are feeling about yourself at the moment?” She questions.

 

I ignore the question– although i am thinking about it now– and say, “Having the upper hand, acting like this, feeling like this about him, I don’t like it. I tried to even give him the answers, telling him things like ‘this fight over this small thing isn’t really about this at all’ and whatever. I tried. I told him that he would have to ask me questions, convince me to talk, I tried to give him the answers, but he didn’t freaking listen.” The words burst out, unthought and unclear until I speak them. This is not how I do therapy; I filter everything, think about it, I rehearse it in my mind.

 

“Maybe he likes that you need to be asked, maybe that is safe for him, knowing he doesn’t have to be vulnerable: he can keep that door closed.”

 

I nod. I get it.

 

“Of course, we can’t know for sure what is going on with him because he isn’t here.” Bea says.

 

“I can’t…I don’t think therapy with him would work, anyway. I figured out when we are a ‘we’ and it is always for Kat stuff, or in public. So we would go, and be a ‘we’ and smile and fake it and say and do all the right things and the shrink would wonder why we were even there.” I’ve raised my head, and am glancing at Bea. I am expecting her to disagree, to push me towards therapy with my husband.

 

Bea surprises me. “I’m not sure couple’s therapy is the answer. I can’t speak for hubby, but I don’t believe– at this point– you would be able to feel safe enough to let the real you out. So you’re right, the fake you would go to therapy, and fool the therapist and nothing would be worked out.”

 

I feel very validated in this moment. I feel seen. Its wonderful, like a warm, safe hug, but at the same time, its uncomfortable. I look away. Rub my nails between my pointer finger and thumb– my new alternative to picking because my polish dulls the sharpness and i can’t pick.

 

“I wish you could tell him everything you just told me. Or even the part about him not being able to win right now.” Bea says softly.

 

I shake my head at her. “I can’t. Especially can not tell him he can’t win. That’s not….fair….what….I mean….I can’t.”

 

“It’s very honest. And it would put things on him, and he would know its on him.”

 

“But I said he can’t win. How do I put it on him, when he can’t win?”

 

“You said he can’t win right now. But you didn’t say forever. You said you don’t like feeling this way, being this way.” Bea counters.

 

“I am afraid.” I whisper.

 

“It would be very vulnerable.”

 

We sit together for a minute, quiet. The whole session since we started talking about hubby has had a very choppy, stop….start…push…pull feel to it.

 

“He would leave me.” I whisper. I don’t even want to voice the fear, I don’t want it to be real.

 

“Thats a real fear,” Bea speaks just as softly. She’s careful as she continues to talk. “I still see the two of you as together, as a couple who will fight to be together. I think you have a lot of affection for him. And he cares about you. I think you guys…you’re at the age where you should be solidifying your individuality, figuring out who you are. It would be nice if you could share part of that journey. If you could grow together. In marriage, theres going to be highs and lows, ups and downs, times where you grow closer and times where you are farther apart. You just want to be careful you don’t grow so far apart you can’t find each other again.”

 

I don’t say anything, but I am afraid that we have grown too far apart to fix anything.

 

“What you guys need is a weekend away together. To reconnect. They always say if a couple is struggling to find each other, to go away together. And if you can reconnect when you are away from daily life, you can fix it.”

 

Bea is talking, but I’m doing my best to hide a small panic attack. My very first thought is that going away means having sex; he will expect sex. “No. Not going away.”

 

“It doesn’t feel like a good idea when you are feeling very unsure and unsafe about being vulnerable with him.”

 

I shake my head, try to organize my thoughts. “I….well…no. It wouldn’t work. First off, I’m not sure if I want him out of the corner.” Then i think to myself that we would need longer. It would take me a weekend just to build some trust. I finally voice that, too. Then I try to say my first scary thougt. “And, well, if…the very first thing I thought was..that if we go away….its…a weekend away….I…umm…well…I can’t say it right now.”

 

Bea lets me try to get it out, but when its very obvious I just can’t, she steps in. “The intimacy part?”

 

I feel myself blush while the rest of my body freezes. I nod my head and choke out, “Yes.”

 

“It is one thing people think about when going away, even if the point is to reconnect emotionally.” Bea notices that I’m struggling to hold it together and says light heartedly, “Too bad theres not a place you can stay with separate dormitories for men and women.”

 

I’m able to easily add to her train of thought. “A catholic college, maybe?”

 

Bea laughs. “Here honey, I found this great retreat. We get to stay in separate rooms. It’s a catholic couples retreat.”

 

I laugh, too. “He’d be like never in a million years.”

 

“Do you want to go hunting?” She asks me.

 

“No. I don’t even eat meat! I’m not killing anything. I can shoot, though. Targets only.”

 

Bea smiles. “I was joking. I didn’t really expect you to go hunting.”

 

We giggle; the image of me hunting is truly ridiculous.

 

Before I leave, Bea comments on the ‘offness’ of our session today. “Things felt a little off, hard to find a rhythm today. I know you felt it too.”

 

I feel like I am ice cold all over, but at the same time I’m burning up. I frown. “I think it was me. Because I did and didn’t want to talk about this. So it was push-pull.” And I’m hyper aware of everything, and was afraid she was frustrated that i just won’t talk to my husband, or more on his side, or whatever.

 

“It was us,” she says firmly, gesturing at herself and me. I feel nauseous. Why are we talking about this?

 

“I’ve never been perfect, so you get all my flaws and messiness and imperfectness. And when you aren’t hiding, you bring all yours, too. And that is part of a relationship. It might not be perfect connection every time, but we are okay.” She says, making her point. (Which i may not have all of it, or the exactness of it. I was pretty anxious and gone at this point.)

 

Bea notices the anxiety and switches things back to a more playful tone with a goofy story. We wrap things up with some more silly stories, and light hearted jokes.

 

Monday: part three, Marriage and Relationships

And I think Kay comes up as the deepest relationship because she is always there. But her friendship came later, I was already moved out and in college when we got close, and I can’t say that I felt a connection at first. Not exactly. But it wasn’t that glass wall feeling either. More like she had cracked the glass, maybe. It was more on her end, Kristin doesn’t have surface friendships. Seriously. She won’t waste her time. I don’t know. And she really proved to me, no matter what I do, if I’m mean, or ignore her or scream at her to go away, no matter how awful my behavior has been over the years– and she dealt with a lot from me after the boyfriend– she is just always there, and still loves me, still cares about me, still thinks I am worth that. I don’t know. I really don’t know. She’s safe.

Bea has been reading, and giving me feedback as she reads. “This is what you need. To feel safe, to have safe people in your life and to be able to believe they are safe. You and Kay went through a lot together. She proved, over and over that she is safe.” 

Bea has taken everything I have written so calmly, like it’s all normal and fine. I feel sort of dumb now for not just emailing this to her earlier, but it is a lot, and I am still afraid and anxious about everything that I have written. It’s just….so much of what I wrote is really….ME, my feelings, those deep inner feelings in that core part of me. So it’s scary, to have her reading this. 

 I trust her to just be there. Honestly, I don’t think it is realistic to think that you can have every friendship or relationship be like that. I’m not sure that most people even get one relationship like that. 

“I think you’re right, not every relationship, not even every friendship can be that deep. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile friendship or that it’s not important. But not every relationship, even ones where you allow a connection will be like the one you have with Kay.” 

I do wish I could have some of that with hubby. But..I don’t know. 

“I think that the relationship we have with our spouse is very different than other relationships, so it’s very hard to compare it to those. No matter how close a friendship is, the relationship with our spouse is the closest attachment relationship we have as adults. This is the relationship that is going to bring up old fears. Trigger old hurts. It’s why, when hubby doesn’t see you, it really hurts, because it brings up every time you felt unseen and unheard by your mom. And for you, some of those times you were asking to be protected, and she didn’t see or hear you, so when hubby doesn’t see you or hear you, or really triggers a lot of old hurts.” Bea says. 

“He’s just….gone. I don’t know.” I sigh. I’m so tired. “I’m just so done. I can’t…I just can’t keep trying.”

Bea asks me if it would be fair to agree that a part of me is feeling something, versus all of me. Maybe it’s that a part of me is done, or a part of me feels distant and gone from him, too separated to fix anything, I’m sort of floaty and not all there, and feeling sort of defensive, so I’m not sure what she asks. 

“No.” I say the word. It sounds like a pouty two year old. I can’t help but laugh at myself. “I can see your point,” I relent, “but I just want to be stubborn right now. So, no.”

I can hear a smile in Bea’s voice when she says, “Okay. You can be stubborn.” We both know I’m fairly self aware, although the things I’ve managed to hide from myself still scare me. 

I can look back now and see that maybe, I “tested” Kay in a lot of ways before I decided I could really depend and trust her to care about me and be there no matter what I did. And hubby..I think I’ve thrown several tests his way from the beginning of our relationship. He passed enough of them that I felt safe with him, that I knew as long as things stayed on the surface they would be fine. 

“I think we all do this, to a point– test the people we are in relationships with. You might test a bit more, or be more on the lookout for signs of failure, or passing because you really need to know it’s safe, but everyone tests in some way or or another.” Bea tells me. She makes it okay, and not crazy behavior. 

But now? The last year, year and a half, I think I’ve given him tests and he fails them left and right. He fails them miserably. I mean, so much of this wasn’t really conscious, it wasn’t anything I was thinking about it. But therapy made me think about it, and I can see where I have “tested” hubby. The thing is, though, knowing now that I do this, I have tried to explain to him, give him warning, help him. Because I want him to pass. But he doesn’t listen. And he fails. Ugh. I don’t know. I hate that it’s like this with him. But I really can’t keep trying, either. I want something more, but it’s so painful, I don’t even have words, to keep reaching out and not being heard or seen. I can’t keep doing it. And it makes me regret telling him anything more than the surface stuff. I hate that he knows about Kenny, about the boyfriend– even if it’s not details, even if it’s not much that he knows– I hate that he knows any of it. It’s like having a stranger know my secrets. I don’t know. It sucks. I don’t like it, I hate that I told him and I wish I could take it back. 

“I can see how bad this would feel, to have him know these things and feel so far away. Of course you wish you hadn’t told him. But that wouldn’t really make things better, either.”

“Yes, it would. I was stupid to think it could be more. To talk. It would have been better to not have ever said a thing!” I snap at her. I’m so angry. I hate that I told him. I really am regretting it right now, and I can think of several other times I have regretted it. 

“It doesn’t feel good, to have someone so distant know these really personal things. It doesn’t feel good to have them know these things and act as though they don’t know it…….” Bea is still talking, validating my feelings, maybe explaining why it is good he knows. I don’t know. I’m hiding in the room in my head, curtains pulled, doors shut. I’m gone, only vaguely aware of anything. 

I go back and forth between wanting to fix things, to somehow find enough courage to be vulnerable enough to tell him how absolutely alone and ignored I feel, and how angry that makes me, and how hurtful that is to just wanting to live on the surface and be the most perfect happy wife and not upset his inner peace and just be…whatever. Numb to it all. Gone but here. Because that part of me is just so done. Angry and tired. I don’t know. It’s my own fault, in so many ways. Hubby was safe. I loved him because he was safe. He didn’t dig for more than the surface, and I like that. He was safe, and I had fun with him, and we could talk for hours and laugh and I don’t know. It was just enough connection to love him. But not so much it felt unsafe and scary. So I married him. I don’t think I was aware of all that then. I can see it now, so clearly. And now I am asking for more. What right do I have to do that? I thought he wanted more, I thought that was the whole thing with him ready to leave last year and then I told him the ugly secret, and I thought we were going to do better than hide things and pretend. But it’s all he wants to do– pretend everything is perfect. Ugh. I don’t know. I’m so angry with him. I feel like I spend half our time together sort of baiting him, trying to get a reaction, any reaction. I just want to have some sort of reaction from him, see that he is paying attention, that he cares enough to respond, even if it is to yell or get mad back. But he doesn’t. He mostly ignores me or talks to me in that monotone “you are crazy” voice and tells me to “knock it off”. So what’s the point? Nothing I do matters anyway

“Ahhh. He’s really in hot water lately, isn’t he? This is hard. I do think you have the right to ask for more. I can see, of course, this isn’t what he expected, what he– or you!– planned when you married, but marriage is about being there for your partner. If you can support your partner, can’t be there for them, care for them, the what is the point? You are growing, have been doing a lot of growing this whole past year. He needs to grow, too, so your marriage can grow.” 

“He can’t grow. He can’t do it. He won’t!” I snap at her. 

“Ahhh. But, look how hard you’ve worked to grow. It hasn’t been easy, has it?” Bea asks. 

“No. So why do it? What’s the point?” I mumble. I sort of mean it. I started therapy because I wanted to be normal. I wanted to not have the freak outs I had, the meltdowns and crying jags, the anxiety attacks and the flashbacks (it was the boyfriend stuff I brought to therapy first). So, now….I don’t know. I feel lost. 

“I believe we are always working towards health. That we are always working towards being better versions of ourselves. Why does a plant keep growing? You’re like a flower, just bursting out from underground in the dark soil towards the sunlight so you can blossom. That’s why. Because it’s in our nature, it’s our drive to keep growing and being better versions of is.” She answers. She means every word, and while the words could sound cheesy or fake, coming from Bea and laced with authenticity, they are real. “But hubby has to want that for himself. You can’t force it.”

“I know. I really thought….when he asked…the shrinks…I made that list…but he never…and I stopped asking him about it.” I realize I am speaking in really chopped up not even sentences, but it’s all I can get out. I’ve been hunched over pillow Bea has against the arm rest of the couch, face buried, sitting princess style, Hagrid in my lap, sobbing off and on. It’s too much. My marriage feels like it is falling apart.  

“I know it feels like you are far apart now, but you guys always seem like you are together when it counts. I know he isn’t, hasn’t been, there and present for you, but he is capable of it. We’ve seen him do that here, more than once. But I don’t think either of you coils tolerate that deeper connection on a daily basis at this point in your lives. I think it would be nice if he could tell you instead of using his defense– to say, ‘I’m not really in a place where I can connect and talk right now. Can we do this tomorrow?’ Would that be better?” Bea is thinking out loud, putting her ideas and thoughts, feelings into the space between us. I like that she does this; it feels safe to me, transparent on some level, to hear what she is thinking. 

“No…I mean. We are together because we both can act the part, the image…I don’t know.” I shrug. I don’t know how to say what I’m trying to say. 

“Even from the first time I met you, you guys really has this sense of ‘we’ did this, and ‘we’ are in this together.” 

“Well yeah…but no…I mean…that first day? I yelled at him half of the way here, then sat and had this super hidden, invisible silent anxiety attack. He thought I was getting a migraine. I was mad out because I hadn’t had time to change into my ‘grown up’ clothes and it was his fault.” I laugh, a little. 

Bea laughs, too. “And now you know me and realize I don’t care about clothes.” She laughs more. She says she is fashion hopeless. I actually think she dresses cute, and comfy and she looks like Bea– which is safe to me, and it’s…I don’t know. She dresses real. Its not like my mom who dresses for what others think. 

“I was freaking out, having anxiety…because we were meeting a shrink. I was sure you would realize I was crazy, that I should be seeing a shrink myself. I was really freaked because I didn’t have a long sleeve shirt on, and I was so sure you would notice the scars on my wrists. Or picking my fingers.” My face is hot with shame. Even though Bea knows the where and why of the scars, it’s still shameful and hard to bring up.

“I’ve never noticed them. I definitely didn’t that day. Some shrink I am, huh?” She laughs at herself; she isn’t technically a shrink, she is a social worker, a therapist. 

I laugh, too, then turn serious. “We just can be a team in public. I don’t know.” (It’s only now, writing this, that I realize we are a team, and I usually have a sense of ‘we’ when it comes to parenting things. It’s the other stuff– marriage, us, just being friends, that I don’t feel anything but a glass wall.)

Bea asks of I can try to remember that sense of connection, of we. She asks if I can maybe try talking to hubby, telling him how alone and just left I am feeling. 

“No. No. Don’t you get it?” I want to shout at her. “I can’t. I keep trying, I can’t anymore. At this point, he is going to have to reach out to me and just really prove he wants to connect.”

Bea is silent for a minute. “I can understand that. You’ve been trying and trying. It’s a lot. I do think that if you are needing him to reach out, if you are putting this in his corner, it’s only fair to tell him.”

“No. I can’t.” 

“Alice. You articulate yourself very well. Write it if you don’t want to say it.” Bea pushes me a little bit. Why is she always pushing me I’m things with hubby? 

“No. I’m not explaining myself well.” I pause, and Bea waits giving me space to find words. “This is so hard. So damn hard to say….” 

“It’s okay. I’m not going to judge you. I’ve never judged you or thought anything bad about you.” Bea offers some reassurance, almost like she is reading my mind. 

“Ugh…I just…you really might this time. It’s so…you might.” 

She doesn’t say anything, and I find that more comforting than if she has insisted she wouldn’t. Because she ‘might’. She ‘could’. She is only human. So…the silence, for once, feels safer than words. 

“I just…if I tell him, then he will say something just to fix the problem. Which means nothing, except he is doing something because I told him to. Not because he cares or wanted to. Or he will shut me down really quick. Either way, I get hurt. And I can’t. So, he loses. There is no winning in this if you are my husband. That’s how terrible I am. That’s the kind of person I am.” I say the words, and my voice is harsh and cold. I’m angry. With hubby, with myself. Maybe with Bea. I don’t know. 

“Ahhh. That makes sense. It all makes sense. You aren’t terrible. You are hurt. You were hurt. You are struggling with trust and connection, and you are seeking it even though it scares you. That’s what this is. It’s okay. This is okay. If you can, tell hubby all of that, right down to not being able to win. You aren’t bad. You’re hurt.” Bea says softly. She speaks slow, and quiet. I listen and her words sink in, a little. Maybe. Maybe I am hurt. But if all this is from trauma and hurt, how the hell do I undo it? It’s not fair. 

This whole relationship stuff is hard. I barely understand if. I feel like a little kid playing in a grown up world. Where almost everyone else knows the rules and how it works and I’m lost, just pretending I know what I’m doing but terrified. I don’t know. I remember, maybe last year, you said in an email that this relationship between you and I was important, and I said it wasn’t. You said something about the fact that you wouldn’t lie to me and say it wasn’t because it was, but that you understood it was uncomfortable. It’s a little funny to me, now, how adamant I was that it wasn’t important, when clearly, it was. But, even then, I would have said what mattered was that I got along with you, that you were nice, that you didn’t make me sit in silence freaking out, that you didn’t act all shrinky; I knew to a point it mattered, but it was more surface. I didn’t feel like Ryan– that all I needed to know was you were bound by laws and ethics to keep my secrets and do your job, but I really was so sure relationships were not as important as you were making them out to be. I can admit I was wrong about that. Clearly, the relationship matters an awful lot to me. It’s why I was so afraid when I was mad at you for popping the bubble. It’s why I’m always afraid that the next thing I share is going to be the thing that is too much and makes you leave. (Side note, maybe that is part of why talking about the eating stuff is scary. I’m afraid all of that plus my trauma mess will be too much and you will give up on me, or be mad or be annoyed or something and leave). I just don’t want it to matter. I don’t want it to be important. I don’t like feeling so afraid all because of another person. I don’t like it at all. I can’t explain it, exactly, but it is terrifying and everything in me really just freezes at the idea of willingly putting myself in the position to be so afraid all because of another person.

Bea, thankfully, is attuned enough to me to be aware that she can’t bring up anything I’ve written here, and so she doesn’t. The only thing she says is something about how it is very hard, very vulnerable making to allow another person that kind of power over you. I realize I never thought about it like that. It is control, power over emotions that needing someone else gives that person over you. I wonder if this is why I struggle so much with letting my husband in. I’ve already been in two ‘relationships’ where a boy or man had the power physically and emotionally. Now I’m terrified to do anything at all to let go of what control I have. I don’t know. To be continued………(because yes, there is more!!)

Being heard

Monday, after I wake up late and rush to Bea’s office, I walk in fairly calm, Hagrid in tow. It’s my last session before her vacation. She’s going to be gone for 3 sessions.

“Good morning,” I say, after my usual knock on the door followed by poking my head into the office.

Bea is sitting in her chair, waiting for me. She smiles, waves me in. “Good morning. I was just reading some of those funny things people put of facebook. This one was a fake study that proves children behave 200% worse for their mothers. It says the bad behavior includes kicking, whining, forgetting how to walk, crying, yelling, not knowing how to feed oneself, and so on.”

I smile, and try to laugh, but I can’t quite get a laugh out. I’ve sat on my usual spot, but I’ve opted to sit criss cross applesauce, with Hagrid on my lap. I can’t find any words, and so I just look at her.

After a moment, Bea takes a drink of her tea and says, “I was thinking today we could go through all the hard things on that list from last time, and do our best to sort through and contain them.”

I shrug a little. “Okay.” I give her a quick run down of the weekend; meeting my mom, feeling so separate from Hubby.

“Did your mom say anything about what happened?”

“No…she just…I don’t know.” I shake my head. “She said she just couldn’t deal with my Fad anymore, and his depression.”

This is news to Bea. I’m not 100% convinced my Dad is depressed, but there is something. I tell her my Dad’s history as best I know it; how my Grandpa had a nervous breakdown and ended up in the hospital, how his mother was not a good mother and would leave the kids locked out of the house while she entertained her boyfriends. I tell Bea how his mother was very narcissistic and emotionally cruel, that she has been married maybe 8 or 9 times now. I tell her how my Grandpa divorced the woman and married my Grandma, that each of the kids– all 4 of them– chose to live full time with grandpa and grandma as soon as they were old enough. I tell her how my uncle had a breakdown after my aunt left him. I tell her that mental illness seems to run in the family. I don’t tell her that my aunt– my dad’s older sister– was molested by one of the boyfriends, or that their mother believed the boyfriend over her daughter. I don’t tell her that their mother used to babysit my one cousin and that my cousin told her parents that grandma was hurting her– but she could never say how. I don’t tell her that the diagnosis that run in my family are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I’m not sure why, exactly. The best I can explain is that I am afraid she will decide everything I have ever told her might not be true, and maybe I really am just sick. But I give her a pretty compressive background, considering that no one talks of these things and it’s taken me my whole life to put even that much together.

“This, this all explains a lot. It gives me a 3-D picture of your Dad. Before, he was always off on the sidelines, just there, because we focused much more on your mom, but this fills in a lot.” Bea shifts positions in her seat, and reaches down to pet Hagrid.

I’m honestly not sure of everything we talked about after that. I’ve been existing in this fuzzy state, where it is hard to form memories.

Before the session ends, Bea brings up Hubby. “I think one of the things that is so sad to me is he could be such a support to you right now, but he feels too distant for you to talk to him.”

I sigh. “Please don’t try to convince me to talk to him. He can’t be that person.” There is so much I want to say about Hubby, I could fill many sessions with it all. “I just…he needs do be on the surface. I don’t know if it’s because of the stuff with his mom, or what. But I can not keep opening up to him, and ending up hurt. I don’t know. I’m done.” I look up, right at Bea and say again, “I’m done. I can’t keep doing this.” As soon as the words are out, I feel so fatigued, as if I could sleep a month.

“It’s hard when we are vulnerable and we aren’t heard or seen,” Bea tells me.

“He doesn’t get it. It’s like…layers. Before, when we first met, got married, even a year ago, if I told him xyz and he didn’t listen, I was fine with being mad and him apologizing. That was surface stuff. But now, I want him to understand it’s not about him not doing xyz, it’s about being hurt that he didn’t listen, and I want to talk about that, about the hurt of not feeling seen by him and why he is being so distant. But that’s not something he can do. So. It’s surface stuff, that’s what he can do.”

Bea says something; I don’t know what, but I think it must have been understanding.

I stumble over words and sentences get trapped in my throat. “I…ug…well…..I don’t know….what changed…but I…expect…no…need more.” I shake my head. In the course of this last year, I’ve gone from someone who needs to hide everything, remain detached and numb no matter what, someone who can not do emotions or handle anything deeper than the veryI surface stuff to a person who wants to look beneath the surface, who wants a real connection, who wants to talk through the feelings. Something changed. Maybe this is the result of “the process”, I’m not sure. I only know I’m not the same person who married Hubby. “We always end up back here. Don’t we?! With hubby unable and me tired of it? I can’t keep pushing him to do something he can not do, to be what he can’t be. So, it’s surface with him, I’m done.”

Bea points out all the ways hubby has worked to connect with me, add that there are ups and downs in marriage; like all relationships there is an ebb and flow.

I shake my head at her. “This is different. It’s what we always come back to. And I can’t keep getting hurt, banging my head on a brick wall.” I ask her again if she sees this is what hubby and I seem to always come back to.

She nods, and says something about not giving up, they being vulnerable is what lets us make connections.

“He just can’t be that person,” I tell her. I feel sad, saying that.

“Not until he does his own work,” she agrees.

“Yes. He needs a shrink. I know it seems silly, for me to want my husband in therapy but be upset my parents are in therapy.”

“Not at all. Those are two different things. Just remember though, people change. Your parents are different people now than when you were growing up.”

I nod. I know. I feel listened to, heard, seen. Finally. It’s what I have needed all weekend; what I have needed for weeks. The ironic thing is, you can’t feel heard and seen without being vulnerable first which is so counter intuitive to how I want to be seen but yet feel this giant need to hide all the vulnerable parts of myself. There is a voice in my head that says it is not safe to show these parts of myself no matter how much I want to be seen.

I think we talked about why it feels so frightening that my parents are in therapy, but I can not be sure.

At the end of session, Bea tells me she would send a picture and a message on Friday for Kat, and that she felt bad that this trip was such bad timing with all the changes in Kat’s life and with the loss of her nanny causing Kat to worry other people will leave. I smile, and say “It is what is is. You can’t change your vacation over it. She’ll be okay, and a message will help. It’s not like you can plan around every little thing that might come up.”

Bea nods and we talk about Kat for a minute. “You can email me. Or text or call of you need to.”

I shake my head at her. “It’s your vacation, I won’t bother you.”

Bea looks at me, and it seems like she is debating something with herself. Finally she says, “I don’t like leaving you when so much is going on. I want you to know I am here, and you can email or call or text. It’s okay. I’ll have time for you.”

I look away from her. It’s uncomfortable, being told so directly that even on vacation she is still here. It makes me feel safe and like she is supporting me even when she isn’t here. It’s silent in the office for what feels like a long time. Finally I say, “Okay.”

After that, it’s time to get ready to go. I wish Bea a good vacation and double check when our next appointment is. She wishes me a good week, and reminds me that she is here. I don’t feel as panicked as I did the first time she went away and we missed one session. I’ve never missed 3 sessions before, but right now I feel okay about it. Maybe it’s because I really do trust that she will respond to an email, answer a text or talk on the phone if I need her to. I finally believe she isn’t leaving me, or going to quit me I trust that she will be here while she is on vacation and that she will come back. I think I really do trust her when she says that she is on this journey with me.

Choppy

Session was a blur, random and choppy today. I was detached in that “I have to be okay and not break down” kind of way. It’s different than the typical dissociated flashback trauma memory therapy sessions. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s trying to stay on the surface while Bea pushes a little and I resist. It’s a piece of me trying to break through the shell of okayness, a part of me wanting to do nothing more but sob and scream and fall apart in the safety of her office, of Bea’s presence, but the part of me that controls the okayness is stronger and always wins. That perfect me part has been in control for so much longer than anything else, she has been “me” for most of my life, and she is so strong, I fall back on her all the time, whenever I am afraid I won’t be able to function if I face my feelings, face my reality. So….yeah. Session was choppy because perfect me was running the show.

I walked in and said hello, sat down. We talked about Hagrid not having his walk. I had brought a treaty bone for him, and showed her how I had filled it with treats. “I fill this with his food, too. It slows down his eating. This is the bone thing I was telling you might work for your dog.” We had been discussing those expensive slow feeder dog bowls one day, at the end of session. Bea has a dog that eats it’s food way too fast, too.

“That’s great. He’s too cute eating his treats that way,” she smiles.

I nod. He is cute.

I don’t remember conversation after that. Maybe it was small talk for a few minutes. I’m not sure. After a while, she asks me about our nanny, if I had been feeling any different or talked to her or noticed anything with her feelings.

I sighed. “She did text me and say she felt like she was losing everyone. I told her I will always be here for her. I said that I am not going anywhere, I’m just a phone call or text away. Did I tell you that already?” I can’t remember if I had told Bea this or not. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t know what I’ve told someone or not. It makes me feel crazy.

“We talked a little about it. You are a secure base for her, in some ways, I think.”

“I don’t know. It’s not like we are parents to her. But..well, we aren’t old enough to be her parents. But she calls us when her car breaks down. She called me when her boyfriend broke up with her. She called hubby when she got in trouble at a party that had alcohol. Her parents aren’t very…I don’t know…very parent like.”

“How old was she when she started working for you?”

“She was 17. Just out of highschool.”

“You really are in a secure base role. It’s almost like at the same time Kat is stepping out and separating from you, going off to explore, so is the nanny. She’s growing.” Bea says thoughtfully.

I think about this, let it sink in. “Yeah. Maybe. Does that mean I shouldn’t call her after her last day with us?”

“No, not at all. I think you can check in. Just be mindful. If she tells you how great things are, how excited she is about stuff, then she is in exploration phase. If she is telling you how stressed she is, or how hard stuff is, then she really might be needing her secure base.”

I nod. “Okay.”

Then…it gets blurry again. I think perfect me took over for a bit, and I detached to keep from crying and falling apart.

I don’t know how much later, I tell Bea, “Hubby talked to his mom a few days ago.” I almost whisper it, and I am pretty sure I say it out of the blue. But maybe Bea is used to that: me being scattered and saying things randomly. I don’t know.

“I was wondering. We never did finish talking about that last week, and what happened.”

“Well, he talked to her like, 3 days ago, and even though he had all morning yesterday, most of the morning the day before, to talk to me about it, he conveniently forgot.”

“It does seem like it would be hard to forget about, because it was such a big thing last week,” Bea agrees.

“I think he just didn’t want to deal with it, deal with me and my feelings about it. I don’t know.” I shrug.

“That makes sense. He is trying to be the compromiser, it’s his personality to make everyone happy and avoid confrontations,” Bea gently reminds me.

“I know.” I say it stubbornly, like a kid who is mad that that that they have to admit they know the adult is right.

“What did they talk about?”

“I don’t know all of it. But I guess he told her if she is to see Kat at all, there is not going to be any pretend play, they will sit at a table and do worksheets and hubby will sit there with them.”

“And she agreed to this?” Bea asks, surprise in her voice.

“Well, I doubt it. But he said she said ‘ok.’ He said his dad must have knocked some sense into her.” I shake my head, just bewildered with the entire situation.

“So did he talk to his dad?”

“No. I don’t think so. So who knows what really happened. But I told hubby that I wanted the time limited to a half hour every other week. And he said no, an hour every week I told him if it was an hour every week, I wanted the visits recorded. I told him I didn’t want to bring this up, I didn’t want to kick him when he was down, to pick on him when things were bad but he was forcing my hand, that he had told me two months ago he was supervising visits with his mom and now I learn he was hanging in the garage with his dad. So how am I supposed to trust that he will actually supervise this time? Or contain the situation?”
I don’t remember what Bea said. I was fighting within myself to show my “perfect me” or this angry teenager me that hubby’s mom seems to bring out. I know I felt like Bea got it, and was on my side. I know that she talked about compromise, and told me it didn’t feel like the decision was resolved yet. I know she said she could see why didn’t trust that he could contain the situation with his mom.

“Maybe you could let things come to a natural end? Say that you would like to aim for play dates to be a half hour but if things are going well, let it come to a natural end? Follow Kat’s lead?” Bea suggests.

I nod. “Ok. I can ask hubby if that would work.”

“The worksheet idea…that concerns me, because it is like punishment for Kat, too, not just Oma.”

“I know. I told him that. I think he wants to keep, no to force Oma to stay in a grown up mindset, and also he wants Kat to think of Oma as not fun. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“I agree that pretend play isn’t a safe thing to do with Oma, but what making a list of things that are safe?”

I sit for a minute, feeling kind of blank, unable to think of anything. “Could you make a list?” I ask finally.

“What about games? That would be good for Kat, not allow too much time for Oma to get into trouble, and be fun.”

I nod. “Ok.” I think for a minute. “Puzzles?”

“Yes. Puzzles would be good too, although that may allow more time for Oma to talk.”

Some time passes, and I am not sure what we talk about. Maybe about Hubby not having a secure base in his mom any more, or about nanny separating from me or Kat being in the exploration phase and separating from me. I don’t know. Then Bea says it seems like I might be in need of a secure base myself right now. I think that I do feel like I am in a free fall, lost and alone.

“Have you talked to your Grandma?”

I tell her no, and some tears fall.

“Have your parents talked to her?” Bea pushes, just a little.

“I don’t know. I haven’t asked.”

Miss perfect takes over pretty quick and stops the tears. I can’t do this. I can’t break down right now.

We circle back to hubby’s mom, and Kat visiting her.

Bea gives her opinion again. “I think if you can say visits should be between a half hour and hour, coming to a natural end, following Kat’s lead that would be a good compromise. I think of you can let two or three visits happen and watch Kat’s behavior, and if it is affected then ask Hubby to record visits based upon what you are noticing, that is more than fair. And I think if you can have the activity at the play date be a game or puzzle, and allow Oma to choose the game, give her a fraction of control, that will give you the best results.”

I stare at her. “She doesn’t deserve to even see Kat! She’s not a safe person! She’s not nice or good! She is horrible. She doesn’t have the right to make any choices, or have any control over any of this. No. No. No. What should happen is she never ever sees Kat again. Ever. She is lucky she is even being allowed a half hour every other week. And you think I should allow her some control? No. No way.” I shake my head. I’m so angry. So much anger, and hurt. How can Bea think this? It is not fair.

Bea takes a breath, and starts to talk. Then she stops herself. “I almost gave you Bea the person answer, but I need to give you the therapist answer,” she says. “I’m only giving you an outside opinion on the situation. You are really emotionally invested in this, and how could you not be? But if Kat is going to see Oma, we need to think about what is going to make the visits have the best possible outcome for Kat, right? Oma is clearly emotionally, mentally unstable. So giving her some form of control, in a way that we are controlling, is a safe thing to do and will make her more willing to cooperate and be positive during her visits with Kat.”

I breathe, and listen to what Bea is saying. Then I sigh. “I know you are right. I know that. But I want to scream and say no way. I want to just keep Kat away from her. She isn’t a safe person. She’s terrible.” I shake my head.

“I’m not ‘right’.” Bea laughs. “I’m giving an opinion.”

“No….it may be an opinion, but it is right.” Her opinion is clear, Kat-focused, and not cluttered with anger and hurt and trying to control everything. Her opinion is about making the visits safe and positive for Kat, and trying to contain the situation as best as possible. So, at least in my mind, she is right. “I’ll tell hubby. I’ll suggest these things to him.”

“That’s good,” Bea says. “Now. I don’t think you ever need to see her, speak to her, have contact with her again. The things she said about you and the way she has treated you…well, you don’t deserve that, and none of those things are true. And you don’t have to forgive her or like her, and she doesn’t deserve anything from you anymore.”

“That what makes me even more angry. I still…ugh. As much as I never liked her..she was so fake, from the beginning, I tried so hard to like her, and I would notice little things she might like, remember them for birthday gifts, whatever. I still find myself noticing things like that. Even yesterday, I was out for a walk and saw a carved stone in someone’s garden and I thought that she would like it. And that makes me even angrier. It’s like I failed. I don’t know. Ugh.”

“It’s going to take some time to sort this all out. You have every reason to be angry.” Bea says something more, and I think she gets what I am saying. And she tells me that she sees there is no forgiving the things that this woman has said about me.

I shake my head. “I forgave her that, and more, before, she’s said awful things before. I remember….the memory is so clear, sitting in my moms kitchen, at the table, holding my laptop, and staring at this email she sent me about how one day when I marry her son I will carry his children which will hold her blood so i will be forever bonded to her and basically have to follow her orders because this is God’s will. And my mom was at the counter, it’s L- shaped, stirring something, and we were talking. I was trying to decide if I could marry hubby because I would be stuck with this woman. And it was maybe 3 weeks before my wedding. And my mom helped me decided that no one should stop me from being with the love of my life, my best friend for the rest of my life. And then, on my wedding day, I remember getting out of the limo, and my dad standing there, ready to walk me down the isle, and he says, ‘if you change your mind because of that crazy bitch, the truck is right there, and we can go. It’s okay.’ And I said that I was getting married today. And he okay, and walked me down the isle. But how sad is that? His question had nothing to do with hubby. My parents love him. It had everything to do with his mom. And I never knew mother in laws could be evil. My mom’s mother in law, my grandma, is like a mom to her. My grandpa, my grandma, my dads whole family is like a family to my mom. She never calls anyone in-laws. She introduced people as ‘my sister, my brother’. I didn’t go into marriage expecting anything different.” I finally take a breath.

Bea shakes her head. “I would never think you went into marriage expecting anything different than having a second family. That’s not who you are.” And I feel seen and heard and good, because she has seen me mad and mean and crying and broken an happy and in control and crazy and everything in between so she does know who I am, and her validation that I would not go into marriage expecting anything but a good relationship with my husband’s family means a lot.

I tell her about the fight when I was 5 months pregnant, how my mother in law called me a fat cow, and told me my parents didn’t love me (it was her rationalization for her bad behavior at my bridal shower) along with other terrible things. And, I forgave her saying those things and more and tried to like her, tried to get along with her and be okay, for hubby, for Kat. I tried.

“You forgave a lot. I would have been done at fat cow. My gosh. You were 5 months pregnant! Talk about hitting someone where it hurts.” Bea says.

“She always knows exactly where to hit. What people’s weaknesses are. She’s…ugh. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“Well, you never have to see her again. It’s not good or healthy for you to be around her, and it’s not good for you to keep forgiving things like that when she isn’t sorry or changing her behavior towards her. It’s not healthy. And it’s not good for Kat to see that between you and Oma, either. So, you really need not see her again.”

I snuggle Hagrid to me, hug him. “Yeah. I know.”

We wrap things up, and Hagrid and I head out. He didn’t get his walk this morning, and he runs to the sidewalk.

Bea laughs as she watches us walk out. “He is ready for his walk!”

“He really is!” I call back to her, smiling.
“Have a good day,” she says.

“You, too,” I say.