Chicken Pox

I know I’ve been MIA the last week. Some crazy person scheduled all of my school obligations (book fair, holiday shop, leading meetings, planning get togethers) to happen in the same 2 week time frame. Who does that?!?! (Me, that’s who. 😑)

Then on Friday, Kat complained about a rash in her armpit. Bug bites, I said. That looked like mosquito bites. But hope. It’s chicken pox. When more spots popped up on Saturday, I sent a picture to my mom, thinking it was a weird rash.

It’s Chicken pox, she wrote back.

No, no way! She had the vaccine, and the booster.

Breakthrough varicella, she said.

Ummm, no, Mom. I had chicken pox. I know what Chicken pox looks like. This isn’t that.

It’s the vaccinated chicken pox. There’s not a lot of spots. It doesn’t look like chicken pox used to look.


So then I sent messages to all my friends whose kids had been around Kat, just in case. Because you know, that’s the responsible thing to do.

And the pediatrician confirmed it. We have chicken pox. So I may be MIA for a bit longer. Stupid chicken pox.

****As a side note, the filter is still off, and it’s still not my fault and it’s all still messy and painful and new and strange.

Changes……PART ONE: school

So. I’m not really sure where to begin. So much has changed, again, and in such a short time, I’m still wrapping my head around everything. 

Perhaps the biggest change is with Kat’s school. Things finally came to a head with the local public school– as I had been predicting they would for some time. The special education case manager for my daughter this year was awful. She was dismissive, rude, condescending, and belittling. A few weeks ago, I began calling, interviewing, visiting, and adding Kat’s name to the wait list of schools I liked. There isn’t a huge selection of charter schools in my immediate town, but in the “bigger city” (where Bea’s office is, and where hubby works) there is a lot more choice. Even then, my choices were limited because I wasn’t going to take Kat out of a known situation for an unknown situation that wouldn’t be better. I added her name to a few wait lists, and assumed we would end up homeschooling before the year was out. 

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. I received a call from a school I had loved the moment I walked in the door, that Kat was at the top of the wait list and a student in the primary level was moving. I visited one more time, with more specific questions, loved the atmosphere even more, and Kat started two days later. 

I wish I could put into words how perfect this school is. First, the classrooms are multi-age classrooms, which means Kat isn’t in a room with 30 other grade K students. She is in a room with 25 other students, and there are a mix of K, first and second grade (primary level). She will stay in that classroom with the same teacher until intermediate level (3, 4, 5 grades), and then the last level is senior (6,7,8). Each of the three levels, they stay with the same teacher, and same class. 

The belief in this school is that nurturing and caring for the individual is important; that belief begins at the top level with the superintendent all the way down to the school receptionist.The school is full of emotionally attuned people, and that includes the other parents. I don’t feel like I’m wrong or annoying or anything else bad at this school when I request things for my daughter. At first I did– out old school really fed into my already negative feelings about having needs– and everyone there kept telling me I had no reason to apologize, I was advocating for my daughter. They complimented me on being intune with my kid, and they complimented me on being there for her and meeting her needs when I asked to stay at the school for Kat’s first few days. These people welcome parents. Seriously welcome them. There are parents in and out of the school all the time. A lot of them come to visit at lunch or recess, and no one views this as weird or annoying. They want parents to be involved, and they want parents input.

As for how the teachers are with the kids, it’s amazing. They respect the kids and listen to them, are genuinely interested in the things the kids want to talk about. I saw a teacher change her lesson plan because my daughter was afraid of the book that was going to be read. I’ve seen teachers sit and breathe with an upset child, and I’ve seen kids reprimanded so gently and quietly that you wouldn’t know it was happening if you weren’t watching carefully. I’ve heard a teacher admit mistakes and apologize to a child. This place is just so amazing, guys. It’s not perfect, but they don’t pretend to be. The school is perfect because they don’t hide the imperfect things. They are real and open and honest and want to be a team. 

I feel like I can breathe again, at least where school is concerned. Now, moving schools has meant I lost my rigid routine that was holding me together (not so awesome) and I am struggling to find a new routine, but maybe not so rigid. School now starts an hour earlier for us, and is an extra 30 minute drive. So things are interesting in the mornings, for sure. I used to get up around 5, do yoga, write, check social media/Wordpress/emails, and then get dressed, get Kat up, have her eat and watch a show while I packed lunch and whatever we needed for the day, and then I’d get her dressed. After that we would drive 10 minutes to school, I’d drop her off and come back home, or run errands, or go to yoga class, until I had to pick her up. Now, I get up at 5:30, get dressed (hair, make up, clothes), then pack up the car, make coffee, make Kat hot coco, get breakfast set in Kat’s travel tray, get everything in the car ready to go, wake Kat, get her dressed, put her in the car, and she eats breakfast and watches a show on the iPad while we drive to school. It’s a busier, crazier morning. Then, if I go home, I have about 2 hours at home before I have to leave and go back to school for lunch. It’s a more tiring day, and I’m not used to that right now. Afternoons have been rough– I somehow keep napping instead of doing yoga, or cleaning, or anything else, but I’ve not been sleeping great at night, so the nap is needed. 

Today I was real

The weekend has been weird. I spent a lot of time feeling very defensive towards Bea. I read her email from a screwed perspective, feeling as though she was done with this doctor stuff and wanted me to stop acting like this. I’m struggling with her, and unsure of what she wants from me. Not knowing what she wants, or thinks that I should be doing, or what direction she thinks I should be heading, or what she wants me to talk about now, is frustrating. I NEED to know what people want or need or expect from me, and when I don’t know those things and can behave the way I’m supposed to, I feel as though I will lose that person’s care and positive feelings towards me. I’ve already lost Kay, and my mom is back to being not here, and hubby isn’t really ever here. 

Hubby and I planned a “family date” for Saturday. We took Kat to the pool. It was nice. I haven’t been to the pool, or to a yoga class for that matter, for months. I think the last time I went to pool was maybe early January. But going today, being back in the water was good. It grounded me. I forgot how free I feel, how much I feel like me, whole and okay, when I’m in the water. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pool or a lake or a beach in Jamaica. I love the water. 

My mind clears, anxieties melt away, my body feels safe, calmer somehow. I can breathe. So, I swam a few laps today, and played with Kat, and sat in the hot tub. For a few hours I forgot about feeling alone, and being sad. I forgot about the doctor, and my secrets and the shame I feel. For a few hours, I felt like the okay part of me was running things, like I was grounded and grown up and as if things were going to be okay. 

After the pool, we went out to dinner and then to the movies. We ate and chatted and laughed at dinner. Kat has had food allergies since she was born, and this past winter, her allergies were tested again, and she was cleared to eat whatever she wants– no more allergies. Taking her out to dinner has always been fun, but now it’s almost a game of introducing her to foods she has never been able to eat before. 

We saw Zootopia after dinner. I really liked the movie. Kat and hubby did, too. We sat together, curled up and munching on popcorn. It was nice, cozy. 

Saturday showed me I need to get back to the gym. I need to start swimming again, and i need to go back to yoga. I need to start walking Hagrid again in the mornings. As much as I instinctively want to curl up in bed and hide, and do nothing, I need to remember that swimming and walking and yoga are the things that ground me. Hiding in bed is okay, and sometimes it’s something I need to do, and it can be healing and feel safe, but I also need to be able to feel calm and grounded. I need to get back to eating regularly, and being healthy. I’m capable, at times, of eating regular meals and not starving or purging, but only if I’m being very controlled and scheduled. Maybe that’s the way it starts, and if I can find a way to eat better, even if it’s controlled and regimented and I have to follow my crazy food rules, maybe that’s something that can be built on to learn to eat normal. If I can manage to not starve and not purge, maybe I can learn to be normal. After all, I found exercise that I can do without overdoing and being crazy. Maybe this can get better, too. Being together as a family, feeling grounded from being in the water, gave me a feeling of connection, of love. Things felt authentic and real today. I felt whole. Today, I was real.

I don’t see this being fixable

I emailed Bea, and told her I was not wanting to bring Kat to therapy. I didn’t want to have to go see her, and feel her being so far away, and have to try to act like things are okay so that Kat doesn’t know things aren’t okay, and then end up feeling worse. She wrote me back, and said that she was okay, and back to normal, and to rest assured that she would be there for both Kat and I today. 

I wasn’t sure about it, but I got Kat ready, and we piled into the car, and drove to Bea’s. We some how arrive early, and so we sit in the car for about 10 minutes. I sit, looking at Bea’s building, and feel tears in my eyes. Shutting down my feelings, I tell Kat we can head inside.

Bea says hello to both of us, and I can’t look at her. I try, but I can’t. I feel myself shutting down, and freaking out. I tell Kat that mom is going to go hang in the waiting room because I have some emails to write. Kat immediately whines that she doesn’t want me to go, and climbs onto my lap, clinging to me. I finally look at Bea, wanting her to tell me what to do, to help me leave. I can’t be here. 

We somehow convince Kat that mom will stay and help her and Bea do a craft, and then mom is going to go write her emails. The three of us sit on the floor, and start crafting a turtle out of a sock. I can’t look at Bea, and I feel stiff and uncomfortable. She says something to me about being okay now, being back to herself, assuring me she is really here for me and Kat. I smile a small smile, but I can’t respond. Maybe she is back to herself. I don’t know. I’m too shut down to be able to feel anything. I’m hurt. I’m confused. Why couldn’t she be what I needed? I want to move past this, but how? I was already in this state of not being able to trust anything, feeling floaty, anchorless, and alone. I needed Bea to be extra here, to be really open, to be very here, to be a very strong secure base. It’s not fair, but after everything that has happened with Kay, I needed Bea to prove to me that she won’t leave and that she will not judge me for anything, or be disgusted with me or mad at me. And she did the opposite. She left. I realize her vacation was planned prior to to the mess my life turned into, but she promised to be there via email, and she didn’t feel like she was there. She promised she would come back, but she didn’t really come back.  How can I ever trust that she is really here now? I can’t lift the bubble, I can’t risk the vulnerability, if I do and Bea still feels shut down, I won’t survive that. This relationship won’t survive that. And if the relationship doesn’t make it, I really won’t be okay. Without Bea and without Kay, I can’t do this; I can’t work to heal, I can’t be me. The me I am learning to be won’t survive. Miss Perfect will come back and take over, the bubble will be permanent and everything will be shoved down. I won’t be okay. 

As soon as the turtle is crafted, I practically run out of her office. I can hear Kat protesting, and Bea distracting her by asking her how they will decorate turtle. 

I sit on the floor in the waiting room, pull my knees to my chest, bury my face in my knees, and cry. I cry for maybe 20 minutes and then I force myself to shut it down. I end up just sitting there, dissociated and hurting and sad. I want Bea to be herself. This hurts. Seeing her, and feeling things are so wrong, hurts. 

When Kat’s session is over, I ask if they need help cleaning up. Bea smiles, and says they got everything cleaned up already. I help Kat gather her things, and she tells Bea bye. I don’t say anything, just follow Kat down the stairs. Normally, I stand at the top of the stairs, chatting with Bea while she makes tea, or straightens up. I hear her saying something, but it’s muffled. I call goodbye up the stairs, and she makes a surprised noise, and says goodbye. 

Things aren’t right, they aren’t okay. And I don’t see how this can be fixed. 

Monday: part one, the messy list 

Between Saturday Friday when I sent Bea the email about relationships, and Monday when I saw her, I did more thinking, and a lot more writing. It’s like as though I can not turn my brain off. I didn’t much sleep on Sunday night; really the whole weekend. I’m having nightmares again and I’m in this agitated, sort of hyper active afraid to sleep state. 

I arrive at Bea’s early, and take Hagrid for a walk. I don’t feel like walking, I don’t feel like doing much of anything but hiding, or maybe crying or sleeping. So it’s a good thing that I’m forced to take Hagrid for his walk this morning. After his walk, he runs up the stairs to her office, and she is waiting, as usual for us. 

I say hi, and sit down. I feel antsy, like there is too much to say and not enough time; there is this pressure to talk right now, as though if I don’t I will never have time again to get it all out. I try to take a deep breath and tell myself that isn’t true, but the feeling won’t dissipate. And that feeling of no time makes me freeze inside, and I’m unable to talk at all. I sit in a sort of criss cross applesauce, with one knew bent up right, Hagrid in my lap, and I bury my face in his fur. 

I’m thankful that Bea knows me pretty well by now. She takes one look at me, and says, “Did anything more come up after your email on Friday?”

I look down and try to find words. Why is it so hard to speak sometimes? I’ve been talking in full sentences since I was two. This should not be so hard. “I…there was…..I wrote this….messy list. I didn’t send it….I wasn’t sure…I don’t know…I couldn’t decide…it’s messy…and….I just wasn’t sure…”

“Do you want to get that out? Or maybe I should get out your email? I know I said there were things we would talk about on Monday.”

I realize I’m digging my nails into my ankle, and force myself to stop. I look down and see deep marks left behind. I’m still disconnected from myself. I wonder if Bea noticed this, and I hope she didn’t. I hate that I catch myself doing these things at times now that it’s harder to pick at my fingers. I can’t figure out what to say. I look around Bea’s office, but keep my gaze focused on the floor. There aren’t any answers to be found. I shrug. I don’t know. 

She waits a moment, maybe trying to figure out what I need. “Do you want to start with a 2 minute update on Kat’s session on Friday, since hubby brought her?”

I nod, relieved. 

Bea fills me in on how Kat was letting out a lot of anger on Friday, anger that Bea would call rage. I confirm that Kat was very angry all week with me, and it seems she is having trouble with managing it. Bea agrees, and says that it felt like to her that Kat simply needed someone to hold and contain her anger because it was too much for Kat. I nod. I’m sure Kat needed that. Because I don’t hold her anger very well at all. It triggers me, and scares me. I react to it. I don’t do well with managing my own anger; I push it away or react too much– how am I supposed to hold and contain and help regulate my child’s anger? This is all so hard and unfair. I should have learned this lesson long ago. Bea tells me everything is okay, Kat is okay, it is all okay and is a process. Because we are talking about anger, and I am struggling with huge feelings of guilt, I’m having trouble staying present, but I know she says something about it all being a process and we will see how things unfold, or something like that. 

I end up getting out the messy list and giving it to Bea. “I…there’s too much in my head. I don’t know….it’s…I’m not sure what to even start with or how to get through it all……so I just….I don’t know….can you just read this and you read my email and just decide what to talk about? Just….I don’t know…do something…because it’s too much,” I tell her. Then I hide my face and cry a little. I hate feeling like this. But it’s almost as if I have been waiting all weekend to cry. All the anger in me from the weekend was really covering all this hurt and fear. Now I am in place where it is safe to let it out. It’s sort of amazing that it took me until now– I’ll be 32 this month– to find a safe place like this, to be able to feel my feelings, to be able to do any of this. But of the other hand, it’s sort of amazing I am doing any of this at all. 

————I’m going to continue this in pieces, because the rest of the session was Bea responding to my messy list. If I include even just parts of the list and what happened in session this is going to turn into a very long post. We covered so much in this session. So, to be continued. 


Daily updates: lost, foggy day

Today was one of those foggy, floaty, yet functioning when I need to days. I haven’t had many days like this as of late, and it definitely threw me for a loop. 
I drove right past the road Kat’s school is on this morning. I made it a good 1/4 mile or more past the road, the whole time Kat saying, “Mom. Mom you missed the road. Mom turn around. Mom. Mom.” I finally had that experience of literally snapping out of it– kind of like when you are nodding off to sleep and jerk awake for no reason, feeling as though you could have been asleep for hours but somehow knowing it was really only seconds? Yeah, that’s how it felt. I turned around, and got her to school on time. No problem. Except I had 3 conversations with 3 teachers, and it all has a very dream like quality. I almost had the feeling that I could say or do anything because this wasn’t real. Except, I logically knew it was, and I did my best to let Miss Perfect run things. 
It actually scared me quite a bit, how much I zoned out in the car. If I’d been alone, it wouldn’t have mattered much, but Kat was with me. I usually always drive with the GPS on, and directions set, even if I know where I am going. Now I remember why. 
After I dropped Kat off at school, I drove to the grocery store. I didn’t really want to shop, but I needed to go and knew I wouldn’t want to go tomorrow or the next day, either. I managed to pay better attention, and had the GPS going, so I made it there with no problem. 
Shopping… It was fine. There were a few times where I completely lost my place. The first time was when I was in the pet isle. I was supposed to get dog treats and kitty litter. I got a little distracted and lost some time sorting through different dog treats and trying to pick the best ones for my dogs. When I had picked them, I looked up and started walking before I really realized what I was doing. So I stopped walking, feeling lost. I don’t know how to explain it. I knew I had gone shopping, I knew I was at the grocery store, but it’s like for a split second, I forgot where I was and couldn’t place myself in time or space. It’s like walking down a flight of stairs, and going to take a step down, only to find that you had already gone down all the steps. Then I realized my cart was behind me, and I had been walking away from it. I turned around, feeling embarrassed and stupid, looking around to thankfully find myself alone in the isle. I lost myself again in the cereal isle, but this was partly because I was reading the caloric information on the cereal I buy for myself, and then checking food labels to make sure they are allergy free for Kat. But still. I either don’t zone out to this extent very often, or because I was in my coping state all summer and this wasn’t happening, I’m able to better notice it. 
The rest of the day was that blurry, sort of fuzzy and then slightly more clear, just that wall-of-glass-surrounding-me-nothing-is-quite-real feeling when I was with Kat and forcing myself to function better. One thing we did today that I am very excited about was go to the bookstore. Kat has the kindle app on her iPad and we buy her books for it, but we also like to buy real books. As someone who loves to read, and who took a lot of comfort in reading, it always made me sad that Kat had no interest in books. The last few months, she has become very interested in books, and loves to be read to. So, we went to the bookstore, and came home with two mini American girl dolls– Rebecca (because she looks like Kat and is wearing purple which is Kat’s favorite color) and Mary Ellen (because she looks like me, and I love 50’s style clothing and she has a dachshund for a pet….she is me, lol). We also got the “journey” books that go along with each doll. The journey books are like the choose your own adventure books I remember reading when I was a kid. I remember liking the idea of controlling the story, but getting annoyed that I would have to read some of what I already read to get a new story. That should work out well for Kat, though, as she likes to read the same books and watch the same shows or movies until they are comfortable and she knows what will happen next. She also likes routines and rituals, so I plan to read a little bit of the story to her each night once she is tucked into bed. We read tonight, and it was lovely. Just simple, but sweet. I love to read, and I love sharing that with my daughter. I loved my American girl dolls well past the age most girls play with dolls, and I’m glad I can share that with my daughter, too. Those 20 minutes felt real to me, I felt solid and like I was connected to the earth.     
While I wouldn’t call today a great day, I think it was better than it could have been; I’d call it a win. I functioned. I didn’t snap at Kat, and I got one errand for this week taken care of. I also started a new bedtime ritual with my daughter that is as much for her as it is for me. 

A little below the surface: random triggers

Monday morning. I’m anxious about tomorrow’s meeting, and really unsure if I even want to go to therapy today. But I feel this need to see Bea, to hear her remind me I’m ready, and it will be okay, and I know she isn’t going to ask me to dig into stuff when I have to function like a grown up tomorrow. So, Hagrid and I head into town, park and take a quick walk before heading into Bea’s building and up the stairs to her office. 
As usual, Hagrid beats me to the top of the stairs, and I hear Bea greet him. When I arrive, she smiles and says, “Good morning.” 
I return her greeting, and get comfortable on the couch. For a while, we talk about how I am as prepared as I can be, and Bea reassures me that Kat is okay, that everything in her therapy sessions point to her being okay and working through social stuff, anxieties, but no big scary things popping up. 
After a while, we land on the topic of the ABA tech who is has more challenges with Kat. “She and Kat got into another stand off on Sunday,” I tell Bea. These fights between them really cause me stress, and emotionally drain me. 
“What happened?” 
I explain, how we had all gone on an outing and then the girls were going to do some baking, when Kat lost her cool, screamed, and locked herself in the upstairs playroom. 
“Oh dear. And nothing seemed to trigger it?” Bea questions.
“No. That’s the thing. I couldn’t pin point anything at all. And then Kat wouldn’t come out, and the tech couldn’t stay to wait her out, and Kat came out as soon as she left. It’s just…I don’t know.” I shake my head. I’m frustrated by the whole thing, and I want it to stop. 
“Does she ever do a ‘repair’ with Kat?” Bea asks. 
“No…never,” I say, something slowly dawning on me. 
Bea must see something in my face that peaks her curiosity. “What are you thinking?” 
“I…well, she just pretends everything is fine the next time she sees Kat. Like it’s a blank slate. I don’t know…’s really glaringly obvious– that disconnect because of the days between sessions…..but it’s…well, she is like my parents. And that…it’s no wonder why she triggers me.”
“Yes, this makes perfect sense. It would be triggering, because we know how hard those disconnects were……” Bea says. 
“She can’t handle anger…really any bad emotion. But anger….it’s like my parents.” 
Bea nods, and I think she says something validating, but I’m sort of in my own head right now. I’m thinking how confusing that disconnect has to feel to Kat, and how incredibly hard it is to be around someone who can’t handle all feelings, especially when we make a point to teach Kat that all feelings are acceptable. 
Bea asks me something, and I look up at her, confused. She repeats herself, maybe realizing I’m lost. “How did your parents handle anger?”
“It just wasn’t…allowed. I don’t know. Distraction maybe. But more like, well…like…they didn’t.” I shrug, and dig my nails into my palm. “I remember once, getting very angry, stomping off and slamming my bedroom door. And my parents took my door.” 
Bea looks surprised. “You mean took it, right off the hinges?” 
I nod, feeling an urge to giggle at the absurdity of it all. “Yup. They took it. Because I got mad.”
“What did you get mad about?” 
“Hmmm…I don’t know. Really, it couldn’t have been anything serious. I mean, I was standing at the end of the hallway that connected the bedrooms and the living room. And my mom was sitting on the couch, and my dad was in his chair. So it’s not like there was a serious discussion going on. We weren’t at the table.”
“But what you remember was really getting in trouble for being mad,” she says. “That is very much like mad wasn’t allowed.” 
“My brother…he got sent to his room for something, I don’t know what. He was maybe 7, 8? And he was mad. He picked up this toy hammer and hit his mirror so hard it shattered. He didn’t have a mirror…”
Bea interrupts, adding in some humor, “No more mirrors for him? Your mom didn’t want any more than 7 years of bad luck?” 
I laugh, but then I nod. “That room still doesn’t have a mirror, and he’s been moved out for how many years now?” 
Bea shakes her head. “Your mom was serious, huh?”
I nod. “He wasn’t allowed toy hammers anymore, either.” 
“It really felt like you were being punished for being mad. And so of course mad is very hard for you,” she validates. 
I nod, thinking about that. Punished for a feeling. Ugh. 
“What were you saying about serious discussions? Those happened at the table? What kind of serious discussions did your parents have?”
“Oh you know. Grades. College. PSATs. I don’t know. Driving, responsibility.” I shrug. Normal stuff, I think. 
“You got really good grades. What kind of discussions could you be having?” Bea is really curious. 
“I don’t know……you know. Like, why was this grade lower? And how many weeks I had to fix it before grades came out. And the plan to fix it. I don’t know.” 
“Then it wasn’t just unspoken pressure, pressure you somehow sensed, were aware of. It was spoken, discussed, their expectations of you.”
I nod. “But really. I had parents who were involved, who cared. Did I have a right to be upset by that? To complain now? When there are kids who would do anything to have their parents involved like that?” I feel guilty. I really don’t have a right to be this upset. 
“Well, yeah. There is being involved and supportive, and there is being over involved and needing your child to succeed because of your needs. There is a big difference.” Bea tells me a personal story, about her experience of being over involved as a mother. “It’s been repaired now, and my daughter and I are okay, but I was too involved, I needed her to be good at somethings to satisfy my needs, it wasn’t all about her.” 
I love that she will admit to being imperfect, that she will share her screw ups. For a minute, I wish my mom would do that, repair all this mess with me. But then I realize how vulnerable I would feel in that conversation, how scary and unsettling it would be. I feel panicky just thinking about it. I shake my head to clear it. “I’m still afraid I’m doing the same to Kat. I tried so hard not to need perfect, not to show her that perfectionism. And she still is a perfectionist. I’m screwing her up.” I look away as I’m talking. Even if Bea will admit to her parental screw ups, I’m still ashamed to address mine in front of her. 
“You aren’t. You are parenting with self awareness. That’s all any of us can do. And just try to be aware whose needs are running the show.”
I shake my head. “Kat really is still asking things like ‘will you like me if I spill this. If I hit? If I’m grumpy.’ I don’t know….”
“Do you feel like you over react when she spills or does something like that? I have one mom who does, and so we are working on things to make it easier on her.”
I shake my head. “No. Not really. I might be annoyed. Maybe. And I make her clean it up–” I glance at Bea, checking if this is okay, and she nods, yes it’s fine– “I…well, the person I’m mad at..if I spill, I yell at myself. Out loud.”
“It’s perfect to have Kat clean up her mess,” Bea says. “And the rest of it, well, this is where self compassion comes in. Because Kat does hear you being mean to yourself and so she might wonder how you feel about her in similar situations. It comes back to self compassion.”
I nod. “I did finally take her hand, spill some juice and then told her I still liked her.” 
“That’s great, that was a great thing to do,” Bea tells me. She sounds like she means it, too.
“I was just hoping that if she experienced it, she could maybe believe it,” I explain.
Bea nods. It makes sense to her. Our conversation then easily flows from Kat to talking about the meeting, again. 
As we are saying good bye, I pause at the top of the stairs. “I’ll probably email you after the meeting. Just to let you know how it went,” I tell her.
“Please do. I’d like to know what happens,” she says, like it really matters to her.
We say goodbye, and I head home. I have so much to finish up, notes and planning and preparing for this IEP meeting. 
All through that, though, I keep coming back to the reason the one ABA tech is triggering to me: she reminds me of my parents. Maybe I’m not as numb to everything happening with them as I thought.


I’m just a kid pretending to be a grown up…….

Today is my daughters IEP meeting. Hubby has to work, and I feel like he isn’t really interested in  helping anyway– although he will be the first to point out all the things he does not like.  I have our BCBA going with us, and she is smart, well spoken, confident and strong. I feel very supported by her, and Bea is waiting to hear afterwards how it went, so I feel Bea’s support, too. The thing is, this is a big deal, and I’m feeling like a child playing at being a grown up. Keep your fingers crossed for me and Kat today, please? Because it is Kat’s life, I’ll ask for and take all the support I can get. 

Play therapy 

I have therapy in the morning. I’m not sure if I’m ready to pop this fragile bubble I’m in. It’s not the tough bubble of denial and self harm and eating disorder. It’s a bubble of…well….I guess of doing what I have to so that I can function. But it’s fragile. And I’m unsure of I pop it what will happen. Maybe nothing. I think part of me is scared that even if I pop the bubble, I’ll still be numb, detached. That I’m back to my “old normal” in some ways. I don’t know.
On Thursday, we talked about random things. I honestly don’t remember the conversation, but just being there, knowing Bea is there was enough. Before we finished our session, she did say she knew there had to be a lot going on under the surface for me, even if I wasn’t showing it. She said she could almost feel it. I thought about that, later. I feel numb, mostly. Numb and detached. I don’t want to think about how I feel. I don’t want to think about Fall, and October, and all the mess and ugly that come with it. I don’t want to think about my daughter starting school, and all the triggers that sets off in me. 
I say I am not feeling anything about any of these changes, that I am fine. But, I notice I’m not sleeping, and when I do, I’m back to waking up hourly, and nightmares chase me as I drift off to sleep. I find myself so full of unexpressed, unacknowledged anxieties that I wake up realizing I have been grinding my teeth, or holding my mouth closed so tightly that I bit my tongue and drew blood. I notice that my daily headaches are back, despite the medications, and that migraines are more frequent. My body pains are back– worse than they have been in months. Maybe it’s a fibro flare, or maybe it is me being detached from my emotions and feelings. I notice my tolerance for noise, for change in plans, for anything really, is very low. I notice that I mostly just want to be left alone to get the through this— whatever this is.  
I didn’t write about Thursday’s session, because it was just more of me avoiding. Perhaps the most significant thing that happened in therapy last week happened in Kat’s session. I had stayed for all of Kat’s session, which is unusual these days, but she asked me to, so Hagrid and I snuggled on Bea’s couch and read a book on my kindle app……..
Towards the end of the session, Bea smiles at Kat, and gives her the 5 minute warning. “We have a few minutes left of our game, and then you can choose which animals are going home with you today.” Every week, Kat borrows 2 small stuffed or 2 small plastic animals from Bea; it’s a way to stay connected throughout the week, and to reassure kids that they are coming back. “How would you like to end our game today?” Bea asks Kat. 

Kat has an elaborate plan for ending the game, so I offer to clean up while they finish their game. I pick up figures, furniture, monsters, dried beans, blankets, wooden blocks and puzzle pieces. We finish our separate tasks at the same time. 

“I’m taking the kitty home, and one of the little hard ones.” Kat bounces over to the container of animals. She looks through all of them, and in the end she can’t choose between 2 kittens. “Please can I take 3?” 
You can take 2,” I remind her. 

“We can save one for next time,” Bea offers. 


Kat finally chooses the one she will take home and hands me the one she is leaving behind. “Speak him, mom,” she demands. Kat likes grown-ups to speak for her toys. It is her favorite thing. 

I look at the little kitten in my hand, and walk him over to Bea. “Hi,” I make him say. 

“Hello there,” Bea says. 

“I’m going to stay here a while. I need someone to take care of me and help me when I get scared,” I make the kitten say. 
Bea looks at me, then at the kitten, and says, “I can help if you would like me to.”

“Will you take care of me?” The kitten asks.

“Yes. I will take care of you,” Bea says. 
Will you keep me safe from the scary things?” The kitten asks. 

“I will do my very best to keep you safe. I want you to feel safe,” Bea tells the kitten. 

“Okay,” the kitten says, and he jumps into her out stretched hand so she can save him for Kat, for next week. 
And those 3 minutes were about as close as I got this week to talking about how scared and lost and overwhelmed I am. How much emotion is just rushing at me, and how much anxiety and tension I feel from my life right now. How much I just need someone to be there, to help me when I am scared, and of course to keep me safe.


Creating my map: mental health

This is one of those all over the place posts. My thoughts are messy, and I’m working on sorting them out. I wanted to get some of this down and write about Friday’s therapy session before my mind got too mixed up.

I saw Bea on Friday last week because of Hubby’s work schedule, and I won’t see her until Thursday this week, because of the holiday and school starting. After that, we’ll be back to our regular Monday and Thursday schedule. Thank goodness. I’m not a person who does well without a schedule. I need that in my life. I’ve looked and found some morning yoga classes, too. So hopefully, therapy can get back to normal, Hagrid and I can get back to our walks, and I can get back to yoga. When I have a routine, I get more done. Right now, my house is a wreck. Seriously. It had been better, and then Kat had a two week break from camp. Which meant no routine at all. It’s been rough.

I saw my medical Doctor, Dr.S, and she prescribed me a sleeping pill. I’ve always been against them, mostly because I overdosed on them as a teen. But I need to sleep at night and get up in the mornings to get Kat to school on time. So, I’m willing to try sleeping pills. I’ve been taking them faithfully every night. While they do knock me out sometimes, I’m usually able to fight off the drowsiness and sleepiness they cause. Which has now shown me just how much I fight sleep. I always knew I fight it; that it is hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s how I always remember being. Even my parents will tell you how I never slept as a child; they claim I’m just a person who doesn’t need a lot of sleep. The effect of these pills is strong, though. And yet, I fight it, and 5 out of 7 nights, I win. What does that mean? Nothing good. Maybe I’m just not meant to sleep. Maybe my nightmares have been so bad, that I’m now just afraid of sleep? I don’t know. One thing I do know, is that I’m able to sleep in longer chinks of time than before. Where I used to sleep in small increments, now once I do fall asleep, I manage to sleep for 4 or 5 hours at a time. I should probably talk about this in therapy. I haven’t even mentioned my nightmares or sleeping pills.

On another side note, related to routines, I sometimes wonder if I should just have an eating schedule. I freaking hate meal plans. Hate them. I don’t want another set of rules and lists regarding food in my head. I have enough already. But….I think I’ve messed with eating, starving, binging, barfing so much that I honestly don’t ever feel hungry. I just eat when people usually eat. Which means it is easy to miss meals, not eat, eat junk, stuff my face and bar. It just is this messy cycle. I don’t know. So maybe rules around when I eat, a routine of sorts would be good. Ugh. I think I started thinking about this because on Friday, Bea mentioned that maybe we would talk about the eating stuff more this year. I wanted to throw something at her and scream that it was not happening. That would be the pissy drama filled teenager part. I’m pretty sure she is the part that has the ED. Or controls it. I don’t know. Either way, huge internal reaction.

She also said that she has made a point to help keep me on the surface, but she knows it has been a hard summer. She said she has a list of things she wants to touch on, ask me about when I’m in a place to go below the surface again. She said she is waiting on my cues, and I’ll know when I’m ready. It’s funny that she has this list (I’m thinking it’s in her head because Bea is not super organized. She’s sort of my opposite in this. She admires organization, and wants to be organized, but has said it is something she struggles with. It’s probably a good thing for me, in all truth. The last thing I need is an OCD shrink.). Anyway, it’s funny that she has a list, because I have a list, too. Mine is in a folder on my iPad. It’s taken from journal entries, blog posts, emails I wrote and then deleted, random things I wanted to talk about but then didn’t really want to talk about. I have brought it to therapy with me, open and ready to hand over all summer. But I never hand it over. I just keep adding to it. I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it feels safe enough to write down a few things, a reminder that I need to go deeper on these topics, but I don’t feel safe enough to go very deep.

Bea told me that she hasn’t really asked me how I am, or how I am feeling because she knows that might be too much. I thought about it. When she said it, I told her I didn’t even know the answer. And that’s true, to a point. If I ignore it all, and keep it pushed away, then I have no idea what I am feeling. If I try to feel my feelings, I can’t. They are all over the place, bouncing around. Like crazed ping pong balls of emotions flying at me. It’s too much. I have to duck and run. I’ve been staying as much on the surface as I can this summer. It’s different than the numbing and ignoring and pretending I used to do, though. This time, I’m well aware that there is a mess, and that I’m doing what I have to in order to function until I can sort through the mess. It’s like I’m getting getting through the high stress, would be crisis time because I have support, new healthy coping skills, old- maybe not so healthy- coping skills that I’m not shamed for using, and new ways to care for me and ground myself. This….it’s different than before. Of course, it’s not intense crisis, either. It’s more like a….I don’t know….just stressful time, I guess. Maybe it’s normal people stress mixed with my trauma stress. Either way, I feel a difference in how I’m handling it, even if it doesn’t look that different on the outside.

Last night, I was lying in bed, and I realized something else. Bea is always saying how I’m missing that piece of human connection, of hugs and comfort that hubby can give me. But Hagrid was snuggled up next to my side, and my arm was around him as I was watching a show, and I felt safe. I think I can get that piece of safe touch from Hagrid, for now. With hubby, I either freeze, and deep down I feel frightened and tense (with anyone, really, who hugs me, I feel frozen inside, even though I am very good at just going away so no one would ever notice),although he wouldn’t know it. Sometimes, if I stay more present, I can let a simple hug feel good, but then that hug always turns to something more, and then I go away and end up feeling bad. Dirty and sick. But Hagrid, he really is safe. I don’t have to go away, and nothing happens. I had this realization, and I both hated and was thankful that I have this in my life. I hated it because I don’t want to be so broken I need my dog to help me feel safe with touch. I hated it because it is sad that I can’t hug my own husband without a huge mess happening, one way or the other. I was thankful that I somehow was given this amazing gift of this dog who is able to be this for me. It made me want to tell the person who gave him to me exactly how much Hagrid has meant to me in these few short months.

On Friday, with the holiday coming up, Bea asked what I wanted to do; did I want to try to come in on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or just see her one day next week? I thought through the schedule, and told her I didn’t see it working on Tuesday, being the first day of school, and it seemed silly to come Wednesday when I had an appointment on Thursday. I told her I would just come on Thursday, and I would email if I had a breakdown before then. She kinda smiled and said okay; probably because she would have offered a phone call but figured I’d have to be basically dying for that to happen. Even this, though, is improvement. Last year, I would have been freaking out, panicking, over the idea of missing a session. There would have been a lot of rearranging of schedules and trying to make an appointment work on Tuesday, or taking a Wednesday appointment and trying to move the other one to Friday. It would have been a mess. This year, I can accept that there is a holiday, and my schedule does not allow me to see her twice this week but I can email her if I need, and after this things will be back to normal. I sorta feel like I have grown up a little bit.

We did talked about Kat and all the changes with school. I thought, in my head, about how when I started school, everything changed. It was one of those thoughts that just pop into my head; random, out of nowhere, a thought that belongs to me but feels almost like its is not mine. I didn’t say it out loud, though. I usually don’t say these thoughts out loud. This one, in particular, was going to lead me somewhere I did not want to go. We talked about how the nanny being part of her life once a week, and me not playing on her level was setting her up in a way to make friends her age in school. In a sense, because Kat doesn’t have us playing on her level on a daily basis anymore, she will have that desire to socialize. Hopefully.

We worked on my map a little bit, too. All the family members are added in. It’s 5 big pieces on paper glued together, so the map is pretty big. On Friday, we added in mental health– substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, trauma. I color coded each thing, and started coloring on my map. My Mom’s family, I could only add in depression for my one cousin and her mom (because during one of our wine tours that cousin told me they were both on medication for depression) and substance abuse for another cousin. On my dad’s side, we added in depression for several people, bipolar disorder, trauma, and schizophrenia. When we got to my grandpa, I paused. I knew depression. I wasn’t sure about anything else. There were whisperings of schizophrenia, but that didn’t seem right to me. I don’t know. Bea told me it was hard to say. She said severe depression can even manifest as psychosis, which could have been his breakdown. We ended up leaving it just with depression, knowing there could be more.

Once that was done, we spread the map out on the floor, and looked at it. I know I want to add in a kind of timeline of significant events, but I am not ready to do that. I know I want to add in the Smiths, but I’m not ready to do that either.

Bea interrupted my thoughts, saying, “I think the most significant thing about this thus far, for me, has been seeing how young your parents were, and where they were in life, what happened before, what was happening.”

“I’ve told you before, I think.” I said. I couldn’t be sure. Sometimes I think I’ve said things that I haven’t.

“You have. Something about seeing it like this has really stuck out to me, though,” she told me.

I nodded. “It’s why I wanted a map. To see things. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“We need to add you in. You still aren’t really on the map,” Bea pointed out to me.

I was aware of this. I just didn’t want to add myself in. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to see all my ugly stuff, right there in black in white.

“And your grandpa. We will have to mark his death at some point, too,” she said. It was said kindly, and in that way Bea has of being gentle but firm. She won’t let me live in fantasy land.

“I know. It’s just…then I’ll have to look at all that stuff, all the time when we have this out. Maybe….maybe we need…I don’t know. It’s just having it all there, like that, it makes it…” I shake my head.

“It’s hard, isn’t? Something about seeing it all in there, written down, makes it very real.”

“Maybe….maybe we need to put it on a post it or something, so we can take it off so we don’t have to look at it,” I suggested.

Bea nodded. “Then we can have it on the map, when we are on a place we can handle it. And it can be put away and contained when it’s not able to be faced.”

I nodded my head. “Yes.”

We talked a little more about making the Map, and I admitted to finding it hard to put certain things on the Map. I also said something about wanting to see more of the story, the events, on the Map. At one point I jokingly said that the Map was one of my dumber ideas, and Bea laughed.

“I’ve never thought you to have a dumb idea. In fact, you are one of those people who when I am stuck on a problem, I think what would Alice do? You have very good ideas, in life and in therapy.” Bea spoke firmly, but almost like a conversation, authentic, but one of those on passing type things you say. It was one of the nicest things someone has ever said to me. I didn’t reply, because I really couldn’t. I suck at accepting compliments. Maybe the perfect part of me said thank you, I’m not sure. I was able to be present enough to hear what she had to say and remember it, at least. I think that was mostly due to the very casual way she spoke.

So, the map continues to bring things up, create questions, and provide answers all at the same time. It’s giving me a sort of clear direction and having a visual is helpful for both Bea and I, I think. Perhaps on Thursday I will add in the hard things about myself and my Grandpa on post its, so they can be removed. This map is leading me in directions I didn’t expect, but it’s good. It’s made me share things with Bea that I never would have, and it’s given her more context of my family, I think.