Some things I can’t talk about……..

Trigger warning for talk about sex….

Sex is such a confusing thing to me. And shameful. So very shameful. Logically, I know it’s just a biological drive, nothing shameful there. But emotionally? That’s a different story. I don’t understand why I seek out this thing that terrifies me, disgusts me and hurts me. I don’t understand how I can want to be touched like that. I hate that I feel like half a wife because I don’t typically have sex with my husband. I hate that I am sickened and confused and embarrassed. 

The day we get back from camping passes by in blur. I know I felt bad, overwhelmed. That night, I crawled into bed and snuggled up to hubby. There wasn’t a grown up on board at that moment. Maybe the little girl, maybe a teen part, was running the show. It’s like I could see it happening, but not stop it. At first it was just cuddling, and nuzzling, but then she sat up, and straddled her legs on either side of hubby. She started it. I started it. Kissing, and touching, and she was fine with all of it, until hubby turned his focus more on her, and touching between her legs. One moment, he was hubby and things felt good and she wanted it, and this next moment, it wasn’t hubby anymore, and something bad was going to happen, and I couldn’t handle it. The touching felt nice but like it was too much, too intense and I wanted to squirm my body away, but I couldn’t. And I knew, I just knew, he was going to hurt me after this, because it would be his turn to feel good, and it was going to make me hurt. I started to cry, and scream at him to please don’t hurt me. After that, I don’t know. Hubby stopped, right away, and I hid under my blanky, crying all night. He sat up with me, but I couldn’t talk.  

And now, hubby hasn’t touched me, even to hug me, or hold my hand, or kiss me good morning. I say I hate being touched, but now I feel like he saw exactly how disgusting I am, and he can’t even stand to hug me. I don’t want to be his broken, sick wife. 

I feel like there is more I should say about this. But every time I catch some of the words I want to use, others escape. 

(Also, I’m way super embarrassed about this post, but I honestly can not sit alone with this stuff anymore right now. I feel like I’m losing my mind, and I hate this aspect of myself. Does anyone understand? Am I the only one? How do I cope with this? I’m so lost.)

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In the nighttime (camping)

I hear voices, male voices. I bolt upright in bed, on high alert. My heart pounds. I can’t place where I am, I’m lost, I’m trapped, what is going on? A full minute later, I remember. I’m camping, I’m in our cabin. People are walking by, outside, and I’m safely locked inside. I’m a grown up. My husband is next to me, and my daughter is in the room opposite ours. 

Except, that doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real to me at all. I feel like a child, maybe 8 years old, that is pretending to herself she is a grownup because grownups can do whatever they want, and that sounds pretty good to her right now. 

I can’t get up and go for a walk, like I would back home. It’s not safe to go walk outside when it’s dark. (In retrospect, I’m sure it was safe, but it didn’t feel safe at the time). I get out my iPad and type out an email to Bea. I tell her exactly what is wrong, the nightmare, the fears, the feelings. All of it. And then I delete it. It’s all too embarrassing to tell her. 

I try to lay down, but I still can’t sleep. My heart is still racing, and I’m like a watch dog, scanning the room around me, listening for any sounds out of place. It doesn’t feel safe to lay down, so I use my pillows to prop myself up. I type out another email to Bea, and delete this one, too. 

I want to write about this thing that has been happening since the reunion weekend, when all the things were massively triggered. I want to write about it and I’m embarrassed. And maybe there should be a trigger warning at this point for, well, I don’t know. I guess for sex words and feelings. 🙈

I think this is happening because I’m more present in my body, and I’m more aware of things I am feeling than I have ever been. For example, I bruise easily, and two years ago, I would bump into a corner of a table, not feel it and have no memory of where the bruise that would later appear came from. Now, though, I tend to know what caused every bruise because I feel it when I bump into things. I think this newfound groundedness is allowing me to feel my body more, and lots of those feelings are triggering for me. 

My nightmares have been causing me to wake up…aroused. 🙈🙈🙈 Flashbacks have also been having the same effect. Even talking about memories has been causing feelings of wanting to be touched. I feel disgusting over this. It makes me feel like a shameful, worthless whore. I HATE feeling sexually…..you know, excited. 

The worst part about these new feelings is they don’t seem to go away easily. Even when I am feeling sick and disgusting and wanting to die because of how my body physically feels, the feelings don’t go away. I don’t know how to explain it, really. It’s not an emotional experienced at all. I’m not wanting my body to feel like this. It feels almost like a betrayal, to have my body feeling things I don’t want to feel, to have the body crave sexual touch. I feel dirty and broken and wrong. 

I know sex is something that is okay between two consenting adults. I know that in theory there is nothing shameful or disgusting or wrong about having sex with my husband. But I feel wrong. I feel bad. I feel like I am disgusting for having pleasurable feelings. 

Feeling sexually aroused makes me want to hurt myself. Having sex with my husband and enjoying it makes me want to hurt myself. It all feels bad and wrong and not okay. 

I can’t even talk about it because of the intense shame and self hated I feel over this. How can I ever share this with Bea? I’ll never be able to look at her again. 

I reacted during the games that Kenny played, and I reacted when the boyfriend was….well, whatever you want to call it. Maybe I am just over-sexed, maybe I was just born slutty. I don’t know. But I reacted it, and things felt good, and it doesn’t matter that sometimes I hated it even though things felt good, because I also sought him out, I wanted him to touch me. And now, I have these nightmares and flashbacks and when it’s over, my body craves touch. But it’s not just any touch, my body wants his touch. 

I’m sick. Twisted. There is something really, really wrong with me. How does a person deal with this? How does a person cope with all of this? I’m at the end of my rope, and while Monday’s session helped some, and almost all of me believes Bea is here, a part of me also believes that if she knew all this, she’d think me disgusting and she wouldn’t be able to look at me without wanting to vomit and she wouldn’t be able to keep working with me, even Bea won’t be able to contain this. But I need help. I literally want to cease to exist when I have these feelings, and those combined with being triggered and overwhelmed and having no resources left…….I need Bea to come back soon. I won’t see her for almost a week because of her vacation. I’m also truly terrified that she won’t come back and be herself. I’m so afraid that will happen, I’m almost thinking about emailing and cancelling that whole week and the next. 🙈

Oliver

(Last week, Tuesday when we first got to the campground)
Driving across the state, I leave pieces of myself scattered behind. I must shrink in order to fit into the mold of Ms. Perfect. I lose pieces of myself; bread crumbs I will follow when this trip is over, to find my way back to being me again. 

I find myself becoming more agitated and panicked the closer we get. I woke this morning in a fit, scared and full of nightmares that aren’t just scary stories. It made me grumpy as soon as I left my bed. Poor hubby bore the brunt of the adrenaline pumping through my system, sending me into fight or flight mode. 

I try to breathe as we drive. I try to focus on the scenery, on what I see out the window, I can’t calm down. Hubby reaches for my hand, and takes hold. I grip his hand back. I sit like this trying to really feel his hand around mine. I don’t often allow myself to be fully present for any kind of touch and focusing on this now, I want to cry. It’s as if I can feel hubby with me, I can feel hubby on my side. It’s uncomfortable because he is here, now, but I don’t trust he will stay. I don’t trust that he is capable of being here the way I need him to be. I know as soon as I show any emotion, he will be retreat. But this display of care and support? It’s sort of overwhelming. I’m not sure what to so with it, and so I drop his hand, and drift back to far away places. 

When we get to the campground, we first have to check in at the little campground office and store. It’s the same as it was when I was a girl, and I can picture us kids running up there with our spending money to buy candy and little tchotchkes. When we get to our cabin, my parents have arrived already, but my brother — Oliver– is still on the way. By the time we finish unloading our things, Oliver has arrived. Kat is so excited to see her cousins, and we decide that the kids are old enough (his kids are 14, 12 and 10 and Kat is 7) to walk through the campground alone this year. 

Being at the campground is okay, during the day. Having Oliver there seems to off set my mother’s craziness and that helps. Somehow my conservative proper parents created two liberal, artistic, emotional, hippie children. Oliver is more relaxed than I could ever be, and truly doesn’t care if my mother approves of him or not. He never has, and that attitude helps create some balance for me now. Years ago, I didn’t get Oliver, or how he could just not care, how he could shrug off the criticisms and laugh about it. I didn’t understand, and it annoyed me. His attitude then only served to create more tension in the family because I would stick with my mom and her upset in his behavior. This was back when I was still stuck in the pattern of having to agree with my mother, so she solid be on my side. Now though, his attitude gives me freedom to hold onto some pieces of myself after all. It gives me a chance to be more myself around someone in my family. It’s easy and fun, the banter and joking and giving my mother a hard time they way only your children can. We play cards, and laugh about how my Grandpa taught us to play “bullshit”. My mother almost has a heart attack over that. 

It’s good, this new relationship I seem to be building with my little brother. We’ve never been close as adults, but we are closer now. It’s a good thing, a happy thing.

Weekend Flashback 

Family Reunion weekend. I should have a lot to say, there should be too many words showing up on this page. Instead, I can’t figure out how to explain the triggered dissociated mess I became. Teen Alice was completely running the show by the end of the weekend. 

I typically enjoy the weekend. In the past, we have hired sitters for the kids, rented a limo and visited multiple wineries on day one. Day two is typically a beach/movie/kid friendly activity day. This side of the family really is a blast. I enjoy them all and look forward to seeing them. 

This year though? We didn’t do the traditional touring of several wineries. Festivities took place at my parents’ house. Everyone brought wine to taste (which was actually pretty cool, we got to try wines from all over the country), activities were set up for the kids, as well as yard games and a photo booth for adults and kids alike. 

It was too much like the parties thrown in my childhood. Being at the house all weekend was just on much for me. The first day was okay. I felt really distanced from everyone, just extremely disconnected from the world, and from myself. 

The second day, my mother and I got into it, and that sent me into a giant tailspin. At first I was so angry with her that all I wanted to do was rage at her. I attempted to vent to hubby, but he just kept saying, “okay” as if I were lecturing him. I desperately needed some feedback, understanding, validation, so I emailed Bea. 

Bea,

I want to throw something. Or cry. Or scream. Or hide in the closet. Or drop a giant bomb and ruin everyone’s lives. Or just run away back to my home and forget about my mother and my childhood home and all that goes with that. 
I’m so angry, Bea. I’m never good enough. That’s the truth. It’s not me being dramatic, or something. It’s just a fact. I’m never good enough for my mother. Oh, when she is talking about me and my life and Kat and hubby, everything is said a if I am still Ms. Perfect. 
But to my face? I’m a giant fucking disappointment and I can’t manage to do anything right. Ugh! Why do I let her get to me like this? And the teen part, omg, she is so strong right now, everything is being colored by her, I know that but it doesn’t stop the feelings. 

My mother is mad because I can’t manage to follow her schedule. I’m sorry! I have an autistic child who is sensitive to crowds and changes in schedules and traveling and sleeping in places that aren’t her own home and I need to do whatever will help my child deal with traveling and transitions and changes. It’s not my job to take care of my mother, I’m not her mom! It’s my job to take care of my child. Grrrrrr. Ugh. My mother got all upset with me because we weren’t doing what she was doing with all the kids downtown/at the beach. Well, Kat had 3 meltdowns and I was dealing with that, so it might it just a little difficult to be right where my mother wanted is to be at that particular moment. But you know, she hasn’t gotten to see Kat at all this weekend, and somehow that is all my fault. But she made her choices to follow what the other kids wanted to do. She could have told them that they were gonna do x,y,z for a while, but she didn’t. She chose to spend her time talking and hanging with the grownups yesterday. 
I’m just so sick of never being good enough. Even Ms. Perfect isn’t perfect enough. 
I’m just so angry right now. What the hell does she want from me? Why isn’t it a good thing that I am respecting my daughters needs and helping her learn to cope with stressful situations and regulate her emotions? Oh right, it’s not okay because that all takes time and being present and dealing with emotions and admitting to not being perfect and it might possibly ruin your perfectly laid out schedule. Argh. 

Oh, and another thing?!?! She’s all upset we haven’t didn’t anytime together this weekend, but every time Kat or I have tried telling her something or asking her to do something with us she gets distracted by other family members, and they get precedence. So how is this my fault? I don’t understand. But somehow it is and I can’t fix it and I can’t be what she needs and I’m so tired, I barely slept last night and I know that’s not helping but ugh. 

You always want to know where’s the anger? Well, here is it. I hate her Bea. I just want to scream at her and throw everything in her face and then go home. Just be done with it all. 

I won’t, you know. I’ll lock it all down and smile and nod and apologize and be appropriate and whatever. But right now, everything in me hates that. I don’t want to be here not here. I don’t want to be far away. But, I also don’t want to be here at all.

Alice 

(Bea’s emailed words are in bold) Sounds frustrating and triggering for sure. As you say, you can’t meet her needs and Kat’s needs both, and your kid has to come first.

Thank you for saying this. I really just needed to feel like someone was on my side. I spent my whole life in that house feeling alone and not good enough and broken. I don’t often feel that way in my real life anymore. But this week….ugh. All those feelings are back in full force. 

 I hope the anger can dissipate enough for you to enjoy the rest of the weekend.
I don’t know what happened. Anger didn’t really dissipate….it just sort of got shoved down. I don’t know. I ended up far away and spacey and trying so so hard to be perfect and do whatever I thought my mom wanted me to be doing. Which basically meant trying to be perfect all the while feeling like a failure in everything. Eventually I just went so far away that being sociable and talkative was too difficult. It was the far away can’t easily orientate to what is happening in the present and can’t get words out. That doesn’t happen often in public—- it’s definitely a teenage Alice thing I think. Of course, that only added to my mother’s annoyance because she felt I was sulking and being unsocial and rude. So….yeah. 

Honestly, I think I was struggling too because we were at the house the whole time, not out at wineries. Being in the house and having a big party in the backyard……well, I lived that as a child. Lots of parties in the yard as I was growing up.

I don’t know. I wavered between angry with my mother and numb and frozen triggered and feeling exactly like teen me trying to be perfect and failing miserably —and honestly, bouncing between all 3 of those feelings, I could feel exactly why I overdosed or cut my wrists. I couldn’t keep going on feeling like that. I couldn’t understand why I felt like that, I felt like I was crazy. I had parents and a therapist who thought I was broken; something was innately wrong with my personality, with who I was. I just wanted everything to stop. I didn’t even care if that meant someone helping me or actually dying. I just needed things to not be like they were. I feel like that’s when I got really good at pretending. I don’t know. It feels like maybe before that time period I did still have a part of the real me, I still had this tiny piece of me that knew who I really was. But that had to go away. I buried that last bit of the real me and learned to pretend and be perfect. Do you know I can be having a panic attack, literally feeling like my heart might explode and I can’t breathe, and I can smile and continue talking like I have not a care in the world? Well, maybe I can’t anymore. I don’t know. But I could at one time. That’s how disconnected I became. Anyway. I think I got off point. 

I guess we are still dealing with teen stuff. Yeah, some of it is present day stuff but mostly it’s teen stuff getting mixed up in present day stuff. And you know what I keep thinking? That was 20 years ago! The Kenny stuff started almost 30 years ago (28 years ago, to be exact). And (at times) it all feels like it happened yesterday, or this morning, or 10 minutes ago. It all feels very right now, it feels present day. Does that make me crazy? 

And…..there was purging and cutting. 😞🙈 I failed there too. I just couldn’t cope. Ugh. It was all just too much.

Alice, 

Ugh! I hope by now you are already heading home. It was just too much, as you say. Do something fun that you like here, in your grown up life now–go for a swim in the lake, or something else grounding and not related to your life at home. Once your now life fully sinks in I think you’ll feel a sense of relief. If not, it’s okay to just be wherever you are right now:)

I’ll see you tomorrow,

Bea

I’m back home, and yet I still don’t feel grounded or safe or really okay at all. I’m still far away, afraid to be more present. Everything is triggering right now. I’m hoping that seeing Bea will help. There’s just too many feelings and memories and mess for me to contain by myself. Even with Bea’s emails, I feel as if I am floating in the middle of the ocean, with no way to get to shore. It’s as if I keep looking and looking for someone to come, but no one does. I’m treading water furiously, but no one is showing up to help me make a raft or swim to shore or call the coast guard to rescue us. When my mother shows up, she wants me to help her stay afloat, she needs my help. When Bea shows up, she is showing up just to be there with me, so I’m not treading water alone. She says we can figure out together how to make a raft, swim to shore or call the coastguard. I hope that seeing Bea will help settle all the parts because I really need that right now. 

Morning time 

I wake just before 3am. I’m covered in sweat, my heart is pounding, I can’t breathe and I’m trapped. I can’t seem to move my legs, or sit up in bed, something is pulling at my legs, twisting around and I can’t escape. My body feels as if every nerve is over exposed, and my emotions are raw and seem to be draining out of me, making my feelings apparent to anyone who enters my breathing space. Eventually I realize I can move, that it’s just my sheets, tangled from all the tossing and turning I’ve done. Even after I realize that, I’m too agitated to stay in bed. I get up, but can’t focus on anything. I can’t think to clean, or pack my bag and lunch for the day, I can’t think to organize more summer school work or activities for Kat. 

I can’t seem to go far away to defend myself and everything I’m feeling is too much. Bea would say that I had swung from hypoaroused to hyperaroused. In the past, when I got like this, my answer was also self-injurious behaviors. Instead of going right to cutting, I grab my phone and headphones and pull up an audio book. I put Hagrid’s leash on him and go for a walk. 

I have to keep pausing and rewinding my book, so I finally just stop playing it and enjoy my neighborhood in the early morning. Lots of people in this neighborhood and the one next to mine are into gardening, so there are lots of gorgeous flowers to look at. Several people have morning glories planted and they are beautiful. One road runs alongside the canal, and I watch swans swim back and forth. Another road runs along side the lake and I enjoy being near the water. It’s blue and sparkling in the early morning sun. After my walk, I stop and the beach and sit on a swing at the playground and meditate as I watch the waves. 

 

More boundaries 

Boundaries. Boundaries have been very much at the forefront of therapy the last few weeks. Boundaries are hard, they feel frightening to me. Bea says that dissociation is a boundary, and it’s the only boundary the little girl had, so I learned to use it very well. I learned to use dissociation to keep uncomfortable, scary things out, but I also learned to use it to keep things— like emotions, or thoughts– inside. It’s automatic for me now, to go away. And dissociation is the only boundary I truly feel safe setting. 

Three weeks ago, Wednesday:

The little girl is so present today, she is driving the ship, and she is frozen and scared. Nightmares of Kenny and my mother not being there are very present and very real right now. 

Bea tells me that she could really sense the vulnerability and need to be cared for and how easily the little girl could be confused about who is safe. She says she can feel and see how when the little girl is in this submissive state it would be so easy for her to be hurt by a bad guy. Bea says that this is a reason we need to work on boundaries, that being dissociated was a good boundary for the little girl but the grown up can have other boundaries, boundaries that can empower her and not put her into a submissive place. 

The grown up me gets what she is saying, and is fully behind it, but Little Alice? She doesn’t understand, and is suddenly very frightened that Bea wants to hurt her. I end up in a weird here but not here at all place, and Bea and I end up emailing a few times before the next session.

Two weeks ago, Monday: 

I’m scared walking into Bea’s office. I’m aware enough now of my parts to know its Little Alice who is scared, and the teen who is feeling so wary and mistrustful. I sit down and curl up on the couch immediately. Quickly I dig through my bag and almost throw my notebook to Bea. “Here,” I whisper to her in a feather soft voice. 

Bea takes my notebook carefully. “You’re really feeling a need to protect yourself today. I think I’m going to get your blanket for you and just set it next to you.” 

I shrug, and Bea sets the blanket next to me. She starts reading, and when she pauses to reply to something I’d written, I throw the blanket over my head, terrified and embarrassed. I had written out this fear that Bea wants for hurt me in some way, explaining how to the adult this notion is silly and embarrassing, but to the little girl there are so many parallels to be drawn. Kenny listened to the little girl. Kenny wanted her around. Kenny liked her. Kenny wanted to spend time with her. Kenny didn’t need her to be perfect. Every one of those things could also be said about Bea. I wrote about how I– the adult– knew Bea wouldn’t hurt me, but Little Alice heard Bea say it, and was scared. 

Bea sits up, feet on the floor, and leans forward. “In therapy, there is this idea…..hmmm, it’s abstract, in a way. Can I be a little shrinky for a minute?” 

I shrug. It takes a long while for me to answer. I know Bea wouldn’t ask if she weren’t sure it would be helpful, and I know she is finally able to understand what shrinky is and why it scares me, so I finally whisper, “Okay.” Even after agreeing, I still feel very apprehensive. 

“So, there is the idea of transference and counter transference, right? So the idea is that these things take place in what we call third space. It’s sort of like a thought bubble that is between us, where thoughts or reactions that aren’t really part of who you and I are occur. So, when I can sort of feel this feeling of how easy it is for the little girl to be hurt when she is in a submissive state, when I can feel how Kenny might have felt, those feelings aren’t part of me. They are part of third space, of the thought bubble. Does that make any sense?”

“Maybe…..a little.” I whisper. Little Alice does not like this idea of a giant thought bubble separating her from Bea, and the teen is not sure about this idea, that it is true, but she’s willing to at least think on it. 

“I know this is hard. I know it’s really scary for the little girl. That’s why it’s important to have the adult online with the little girl. You both need to be present. Little Already will feel so much safer with the adult present, too,” Bea says to me. Instantly, I am farther away. Little Alice wants Bea, she doesn’t want the grown up. She knew Bea didn’t really want her. 

Two weeks ago, Wednesday: 

The little girl wrote to Bea a lot in my notebook. She is scared of so many things. Bea reads and replies as she reads. “I don’t want to get rid of the little girl. That is not why I asked if we could have the adult on board with her. I don’t want her to go away, that’s not what I was suggesting at all. Can I talk to little Alice? Would she let me do that?” 

I shrug. I don’t know. Everything feels mixed up, and the adult me is embarrassed over my reactions, and the little girl is scared and sad and ashamed. 

“Okay. Little Alice, you can just listen if that is available to you. If not, that’s okay too. I don’t want to get rid of you. You aren’t too much. You didn’t make me feel anything bad. You are okay just as you are. I want you to feel safe, and I think if you let the adult on board with you, you will feel much safer more of the time. It’s okay if you aren’t ready to let the grown up on board the ship with you, yet. I can hold you and contain all your stuff, and I can support the grown up while she learns to be on board with you and keep you safe.” 

I don’t say anything, I just shrug again. The little girl hates this. She hates everything. She ruins everything, and she is sure this is all a trick. The trick is that Bea will get the grownup part to always be with the little girl and then Bea will leave because if the grown up is on board then Bea will be able to say “see? Healthy normal adult. You don’t need me anymore, I can leave now.” 

“It’s a trick.” I finally whisper. 

“No, no tricks,” Bea says gently. “I know Little Alice was tricked in the past, so it’s okay if she needs to wait and see, but I can promise her this is no trick.” 

The little girl is unsure she believes Bea. She just can’t trust that this isn’t a huge trick. It hurts to not trust Bea. 

Last week, Monday: 

Bea is reading my journal again, because I have no words. 

Leaving. What is the deal with my fear of being left? Bea asked me about that last week, why the little girl is so sure that Bea will leave, that hubby will leave. I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never really been physically left, except when my mother went to the hospital when I was nine. The fear of being left seems to stem more from emotionally being left. It’s more this unspoken rule of *if you aren’t ABC and don’t do XYZ, then you don’t belong, you won’t be accepted, and we will leave. We won’t be able to love you or want you.” It’s every therapist leaving (or perhaps more accurately, allowing me to leave and not fighting for me), it’s my first grade teacher not following up on the picture of monsters I’d drawn and told her that the monster comes in the nighttime and plays games and hurts you. It’s my aunt who divorced my uncle and left the family, but she didn’t stay in touch with me, even though she was more like mom to me than my own mom at times. It’s my Dad being checked out (because his personality is to not deal with emotions and to be sort of zoned out in his own head) and my mom emotionally leaving me time and time again. It’s this sense that if I need too much, if I’m not perfect, if I don’t be exactly what others need me to be, then they will leave me, they won’t love me, or want me. This obsessive fear of people leaving me could be because I have been more real, admitted mistakes, shown my imperfections, had feelings and displayed them, showed my vulnerabilities and admitted to having needs. These things are dangerous in my world, it’s breaking all the rules and it is very scary.

“All of this makes sense. It all makes perfect sense why people leaving would be such a big deal, why it would be a real fear. This is all a big deal, and when it’s all put together, it’s a pattern, in a way. And now, here, you are breaking that pattern. You are having feelings and I’m not leaving. That’s different, and scary and hard to trust. It takes time.” 

We talk about leaving a little bit more, and Bea reassures the little girl (as much as she can be reassured) that she is not leaving. Then, she asks if she might share something with me from her SP training over the weekend. “I try not to bring the trainings up, or to bring anything that might feel too *SPish* into our therapy time because I know it can be really triggering. But I think this might be helpful and relevant.” 

“Okay….” I say the word slowly, like molasses pouring from my mouth and mixing with the air around me. 

“At training this weekend, we were working with and learning about child parts. I know this is more of an internal family systems type child part, so these are very integrated parts of non-traumatized people. Your parts are more separate, I know that, but this still was helpful for me, and I think it might help you, too. The person I was working with, their child part was definitely running the ship, and it didn’t feel to me like his adult was online at all. I asked if the adult could come back online a little bit, and instantly he was fully back to adult and the child part, the child feelings, were gone. The trainer told me that sometimes, when people have to hold everything on their own as children, when they have no healthy adults around to go to, or can’t go to adults to help, if a therapist asks for the adult to come back a little bit, the child part feels this to mean the therapist doesn’t want to deal with it, that the child should just take care of it on their own like they always had to.” She lets that sink in. “I was wrong. I should have let the little girl just be, and not made her feel as if she had to deal with it all on her own. It’s no wonder she has had such big feelings about being all alone and having no one. I can handle anything the little girl needs from me, I’m here for her and I’m not leaving. I’m glad she trusted me enough to tell me she didn’t like me asking her to let the adult on board with her.” Again, Bea pauses, and I feel some relief that she isn’t going to be trying to force the little girl to let the adult on board. After a moment or two, Bea continues, “We need to work on building resources for the adult, so the little girl can feel safe with the adult one day. That is the goal at some point, because Little Alice will feel so much safer with the adult around. That is something to work towards, not something to do right away. And it will take as long as it takes, there isn’t any rush.” 

I shrug. I know I should say something, so I whisper, “Okay,” even though I’m unsure it really is okay. It sounds like she is apologizing and saying she is wrong for rushing the little girl to let the adult on board, but the ultimate goal is for the grown up to always be *online*. Once again, adult me understands and fully supports this. The little girl, however, is hurt. In her mind, Bea just wants to get rid of her. 

This week, Wednesday: 

I’m far away. Between a nightmare I can’t speak and Bea talking about boundaries and SP, I can’t be here. It’s too much.  

Bea pauses, and suggests that a pillow might be nice to hug. She picks up a giant fried egg stuffed animal type thing. “This guy is so soft. I sometimes feel like hugging him. I wonder if a pillow or stuffie would feel like a boundary, if it would feel different than the blanket or the same. Here, feel how soft he is,” she says as she tosses the fried egg stuffie in my direction. I’m instantly back in the room, or at least most of me is. I toss the egg back to Bea. She gets up to set the blanket next to me, and as she does she talks, “If you want anything else to hold, you know anything in this room is available to you. We could experiment with different things, play a game to see when you need stronger or larger boundaries, and when smaller ones will work.”

*No. No game* I think to myself, and I go far away, almost instantly. 

Bea’s talking, asking questions that are too hard to answer. “Is there something that signals you to go far away? Is there an emotion or a feeling?” I don’t respond, and so she continues. “You and I, we’ve been doing this a long time, and one thing I notice is that sometimes it is easy for you to come back, and other times it is very difficult. Like when I threw the stuffed fried egg to you, you came back pretty quick, but if I asked you to look at the flowers right now and be in the room a little more, I’m not sure you would. Maybe some of it is about control?” 

I want to tell her that it’s not like that, not exactly. I want to say that it’s more about what is being talked about, and why she is wanting me to come back. I want to say if I need to come back to get ready to leave or if she is talking about normal everyday things, then it feels safe to come back. The content of the conversation in the room is safe. But if she is asking me to come back, because she feels I need to be more present in order to process what we are talking about, then it’s a no go.  

Bea talks and I listen, and we sit in silence. “I don’t like silence. It is scary,” I say. 

“I know. It’s why I usually talk to fill these silences, and it would be very easy for me to do that. But I wonder if I’ve dome you a disservice by doing so. Maybe I am blocking things that might otherwise come up by talking.” Bea’s voice is very serious. 

I shake my head. This is uncomfortable. I hate this. Tears well up, and I angrily brush them away. I don’t like what she is saying. Some part of me, not the grown up part, maybe the teen part is really hurt by this. How can Bea feel like this? If she hadn’t talked and filled the terrifying silences, I would have left therapy. I never would have been able to write to her like I did. I would never have begun sharing anything with her. I wouldn’t be healing, I wouldn’t be where I am. So how can she say that filling the silence was a disservice? It’s like she is once again comparing how we did things in therapy before SP with after SP and only the SP way is the “right way to process trauma”. Why does it matter how it is processed? Isn’t the point to feel safe enough in the therapy relationship to be able to share the ugly stuff, all the feelings, the things that are scary to say out loud, with your therapist? Well, I felt safe enough because of how we did things. It’s like she is saying none of that stuff counts because it wasn’t the *right* way, and that she has to change everything so that we are doing things *right*. I hate it. I hate this, and I want desperately to say all of this to her, to have a conversation about it, but I can’t find any words. 

She says something about how in order to work through my nightmares we have to give my adult more resources, I have to be able to stay more present, to control this going away a bit better and that this child needs to be able to allow the adult online to help. It’s not all said at once, but for some reason, my brain lumps these words together. Little Alice wants to stomp,her feet and scream. It’s not fair! Bea won’t help with Nightmares until I do all these things. It’s like being told I’m not good enough to be helped, or being punished for needing to go far away in order to set a boundary. But it’s not fair. Why do I have to do all these things I hate, that are uncomfortable, just to work through another scary thing? It’s not fair. 

By the end of session, I’ve said nothing and I leave feeling disconnected, sad, frustrated and a little angry at Bea. 

Not  hiding anymore 

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

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

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

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

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