Terrible week

It’s been a terrible week, last week and this week. 

I’ve written posts, and not posted them. I’m in a really bad headspace, of not wanting to communicate, not wanting to connect, not wanting to talk to anyone, and then feeling so horribly, terribly alone. 

Really, this started after the wedding. Well, I mean, I held it together for a few weeks, but when October hit, there was just too much to deal with. My birthday, the new schedule (it’s wonderful that Kat has a new school, but I’m still dealing with the new schedule and trying to find a happy medium type of scheduling or planning), my grandpa, past suicide attempts and the memories of the why, the whole underwear memory, leaving the boyfriend, finding out I was pregnant.

 And then going into November, it doesn’t get better. There are memories of having an abortion, the wreck I became afterward, Bea turning shrinky, the realization that I had no control as a child, and of course, this entire election mess. To top that off, I have been dealing with sinus crud since October (the usual), migraines from stress/anxiety/flashbacks (does anyone else get migraines after particularly bad flashbacks?) and that sinus crap turned into a full blow infection I couldn’t get rid of and then I ended up with an earache. 

And let me tell you, this earache business is no joke. I know exactly why babies and kids scream and cry. It’s like having a friggin’ migraine in your ear. I can’t even. And those homeopathic earache drops they make? Those a a joke. Seriously. They don’t do a thing, except add to the pressure in your ear and make your ear feel like you need to clean it out, except you can’t because you have an ear ache and it hurts like nothing else, and sticking a q-tip in your ear when it hurts like this is a dumb idea. Inprofun doesn’t help either. It’s a racket. And my ear hurts. 

I called my doctor on Friday, and her office only had opening with a male physician. I declined the appointment, stating the time wouldn’t work, and hubby took me to urgent care later that day. It was awful. At least the doctor was female. But she kept asking me if I had damaged my ear, of I had caused trauma to my ear, of I had shoved a q-tip on my ear and damaged it. I kept saying no, and she kept asking. It was like she was accusing me of lying. It was so upsetting. I mean, I clean my ears after a shower or bath with q-tips sometimes, but I think I would remember if I hurt my ear! Right? 
The pain started in the middle of the night of Thursday ,that itchy something is in my ear uncomfortable feeling. Friday morning, at 6:00am, it had turned into a constant dull pain, that achy throbbing kimd of pain, like a headache, and it was punctuated by sharp pain, and this feeling of my ear being stuffed with cotton or water, clogged somehow. So I’m pretty sure it’s not something I did. She eventually said it could be that the sinus infection spread and that it was possible the sinus stuff was putting pressure or had created a middle ear infection. She said all she could see was some dried blood and some pus. She prescribed antibiotics after fighting with me about amoxicillin. She wanted to give me the Amox, and I said no because it gives me a terrible rash, and the rash only gets worse each day I’m on it, to the point my doctor had to treat with a steroid shot the last time someone prescribed Amox. She kept telling that was a side effect, not an allergy, and that the rash does not mean it shouldn’t be prescribed. Eventually she wrote a script for z-pack and I was on my way. I wanted to cry. I felt like I’d been verbally attacked. And after 4 days of z-pack, my ear still hurts. I called my regular doctor’s office, and made an appointment for Thursday. My doctor is out of town this week, so I’m seeing the female nurse practitioner. Of course now I’m afraid she is going to accuse me of hurting my own ear, too, and yell at me. Ugh. I’m hoping my ear gets better before then because I really don’t want to have to go to the doctor again. I have a lot of anxiety about this right now. 

Between all of that, the grown up Alice is struggling to stay present. The little girl has been ruling things. And she likes to hide, to stay cut off from people. Well, she wants people around, but she is afraid to ask. She is afraid to say she needs anyone. She’s terrified of reaching out, needing something, and finding no one there. She can’t do it. And so here I am, holding onto posts I wrote over a week ago, reading blogs and writing comments that I then delete instead of sending, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Either there is nothing wrong with me, or everything is wrong with me. 
(I wrote this on Monday. Since then, I have been back to urgent care, this time with a different doctor. She looked at my ear and said it was a really severe infection and prescribed stronger antibiotics with ear drop antibiotics too. The doctor warned if it wasn’t better by Wednesday to go to the hospital because I will need IV antibiotics. She was concerned about the infection going into the bone. This doctor, and the nurses, were really kind and compassionate. I was crying and upset and I know the little girl was running things but they treated me very kind and were really gentle. I got a shot for pain so I could sleep that night, which helped a lot. Now it’s Wednesday and my ear still hurts quite a bit, but it is better than Monday. I’m not sure if ‘better by Wednesday’ meant no more pain or just better than it felt on Monday. At the moment I’m planning to take Kat to school and to go to therapy. After that, I’ll see.) 

Deeper down the rabbit hole part 5 (she’s home)

Somehow I made it through until Wednesday morning. At 3:00am, I ended up emailing Bea. I wrote to her that I was afraid she was assuming I was okay because she had not gotten any emails from me, but actually, I wasn’t okay, nothing was okay. I needed her to know that the little girl was feeling unseen, and triggered and needed to be seen. I needed her to know I was struggling with believing she was back, really truly back, before I even set foot in her office. I gritted my teeth, wrote the email, detached and numbed myself out enough to send it.  

It wasn’t until I was in my car, driving to her office, I felt so anxious I thought I might throw up. Walking into the little house that Bea’s office is in, I feel massive amounts of apprehension. I’m so worried she is going to be mad at me for walking out. This past week, I’ve been able to pretend it didn’t happen, detach from it all, and now it all comes rushing back to me. 

I walk in with my head down, unable to look at Bea. She’s sitting in her chair. “Hi?” I whisper. 

“Hey,” she says easily, smiling up at me. 

I nod my head at her, but I can’t get words out. I sit on my spot on the sofa, throwing my coral orange colored bag down next to me. It is holding all my writing from this week. 

“So,” Bea says slowly. “I got your email, I’m glad to have gotten it. I wasn’t thinking that you were okay. I was checking my email, watching for any mail from you. And I did wonder how you were. Because things were left really not settled. So I was worried about you, and I did think about you. But I won’t usually email people. Because if I had emailed you when I was feeling worried and was wondering about how you were…..it just, it might have been more about my needs, and not yours. I just, I think contact needs to come from you, not be initiated from me. Of course, you know, it’s not to say I won’t email or be the first to contact, I just think therapists really need to let their clients initiate contact. But I really never thought things were okay. And I was thinking and worrying about you and hoping you were okay.” Everything she says is said in a gentle way, in this caring and careful way. 

“How was your vacation?” I ask her, smiling. It’s as if she hasn’t said a word at all about me not feeling okay at all. Miss Perfect— this part of me is so determined to pretend things are okay and normal and fine and to smile and behave within the realm of the social niceties I grew up with.

Bea plays along for a minute. She’s says she had a good time, and tells me a quick silly story about her trip. Then, she is back to business. “I wondered if you wanted to start by looking at your journals or anything you had written this week, or if there was something else you wanted to start with.” 

“I….I just…….I don’t know.” I sigh. I dig my journal and loose sheets of paper out of my bag. 

“Alice, I want to make sure that the little girl knows she is being seen today, that she isn’t alone. So whatever you need today, okay? I’m here.” Bea says softly. 

I shake my head. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I need.” In truth, I’m not sure I trust her enough in this moment. If she’s not back, and I hand over everything I wrote and felt and struggled with this week…..well, it won’t end well for me.

“I’m back. I’m here. I feel very here and very present and I just want to follow your lead.” Bea says firmly.

I sit there for a while. I’m holding my journal tight in my arms, and I’m unsure if I can hand it over. Finally, I whisper, very softly and cautiously, “Are you really back?” 

“I am. I’m really back.” She says. She sounds present and here. 

I’m still unsure, and so we sit in silence again, until in a small voice, I ask, “Are you sure?” 

“Yes. I’m very sure. I’m here.” She says seriously. 

I stretch my arm out, holding out the loose leaf papers and then my journal when she had taken the papers. 

Bea begins to read, and I bury my face in my knees. I can’t look at her. I’m too afraid, too ashamed. 

“Mmmhmmm. Yeah, everything is flipped. There is a lot of shame, but the little girl did nothing wrong,” she says as she reads, commenting on my words. “The teen was protecting the little girl, I think. The teen wasn’t sure I could be trusted to be present when I was gone, and so she took care of the little girl. That’s okay. I can see what the teen wouldn’t trust me, why that would be hard to think of trusting me again.” And then, “I know you won’t like this, but I’m sort of dancing in my chair right now, that you could hate me. I’m glad you had a place to put those very bad feelings. You were mad. And that’s okay. I’m glad you could hate me, that you could,let yourself hate me. That’s a good thing, as strange as that might sound.” She really is sounding okay, upbeat…..not in this way that she isn’t taking my feelings seriously, but that she is actually seeing it as a good thing I could hate her. Bea reads through pages and pages of writing, some of what I have already posted in part 1, 2, 3. She acknowledges how badly I was feeling, and how the little girl was really running things and how it feels to be fighting with hubby. 

In all honesty, most of the session after that point is pretty blurry. A lot of it was focused on the little girl, and shame and bad, scared feelings. We will have to talk through it all again, when I’m more present, but until then what I do know is Bea was quite adamant the little girl was not to blame. She was understanding and sympathetic to the confusion and fear and revulsion I had been feeling. She acknowledged that things feel very out of control and told me it was okay, and understandable. 

And then, I get the feeling I just couldn’t continue having this conversation, and the adult me took over things. From that point forward, we talk about hubby and our fight. 

“We just keep circling…..ugh. It’s like the same fight, over and over.” 

“I know. I know it really feels that way. Do you think that there is anyway to talk to him about this? I know that’s not what you want to hear, and I am on your side, but I feel like in order to be on your side, I have to push a little.” Bea says. 

“I can’t. I don’t know. Anything I say, I’ll just be accused of putting words in his mouth, or he won’t listen anyway or who knows what else?” I snap back at her. 

“Okay. What if we stepped back and tried to draw out what happens between you?” She asks. “So you can show him, say that you identified what keeps happening?” 

“No. No-no.” I mumble. I’m too not here, and I don’t want to be more present than I am. 

Bea attempts a few more times to get me to act, to try something, to get a bit more here. And I refuse. I just can’t. 

“Have you given more thought to couples therapy?” Bea asks me. 

I shake my head. “I’m afraid. And I don’t…I just…I’m afraid.” 

“I think that if you found someone who understood trauma and who is comfortable working with couples, it could be a really helpful thing.” She says. I know it’s coming from a place of caring and wanting to help, but I’m annoyed. 

“Just stop. Stop it. I can’t do therapy with him! Didn’t you see that whole list of why I don’t trust him?” 

Bea nods. “I did. And I believe that those are all valid reasons to feel vulnerable and afraid to trust. But you know that in relationships if we don’t give people chance, if we don’t test those things that feel unsafe, it’s really hard to find trust and safety. We have to give people a chance.” 

“I don’t wanna talk about this. About relationships. I’ll think on it,” I say. 

Bea nods. “Okay.” 

We wrap things up rather awkwardly, but it’s okay. Nothing feels resolved or fixed, but it’s okay. Bea is back. She’s home. And she’s really back. Like really, truly, back. So, I’m not upset. I feel okay. Things are okay now. It’s okay. Bea is home.  

But she’s supposed to be my anyway friend……

It’s only Friday night and Thursday already seems like a month ago. I’ve been on this crazy emotional roller coaster all week. I’m exhausted. 

Thursday’s session…..I talked about my kid, about a meeting I’d had with the school the previous week that ended in me yelling at everyone. I don’t get mad like that, and it was very unsettling– even if it was an appropriate reaction (as my daughters behavior analyst who also attended the meeting assured me). In fact, it was so unsettling I ended up texting with Bea later that night, simply because I couldn’t calm myself down and stop the feelings of anger– a feeling that leads to shame and fear. 

I’ve felt extremely vulnerable all week. Being cut off from Kay, hearing that our friendship is just over, has sent me down a dark and twisty rabbit hole. I’ve gone from emailing Bea, and texting Rory– just to make sure they are still here and not angry with me, too– to being livid with everyone. When I’m stuck in those feelings, it’s all I can feel, and I can’t control it. When I’m able to step away, I can see that Kay leaving has sent me into this clingy mode that then turns into a pushing away mode. My life has been a regular party this week, let me tell you (why isn’t there a sarcasm font yet????). The little girl, the teenager and the miss perfect grown up part have all shown up. 

So, I drove into therapy really needing connection and reassurance that Bea was still here and everything was okay. Unfortunately, the perfect me showed up in Bea’s office, and chose to focus on Kat instead of me. I’d been emailing with Bea since Kay’s text message, though, so she knew I needed more than just talking about Kat. I’d even emailed her about my self destructive behavior, which isn’t something I usually admit to so easily. I think I needed to test Bea a little, and make sure she wasn’t going to leave me just for being bad. 

Me: I was really bad last night. I made pizza for dinner with the intention of throwing up. And then I felt like crap after and didn’t feel better and that just sucked. And then I had nightmares most of the night until I gave up on sleep. Boyfriend nightmares.  

Bea: Kay was there for you and witnessed the horror of the boyfriend stuff. Feeling abandoned by her no doubt took away some of your safety, and your sense of yourself as having been wronged. “Bad” fits with that. Of course you weren’t “bad” yesterday–you were trying to cope and self soothe in the way you knew how. And being self destructive goes right along with your guilt.

I loved that she told me I wasn’t bad, that I was reacting in the way I knew how to and trying to cope. Kay leaving like this has triggered all kinds of crazy in my head. Thankfully, I have the miss perfect part of me to function in daily life; she’s so very, very good at acting normal even when I feel like my world is collapsing. She should be good at it though, she’s had 27 years to practice her act. 

Even with miss perfect showing back up and taking over, my trust issues were triggered. And so, I sent another email. 

Me: So you don’t think I’m bad? And you aren’t going anywhere? Even if I tell you no about something, or get mad, or disagree with you, or mess up? 

Bea: Yes, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. You can disagree with me, get mad at me, and act as obnoxious as you want and I will still be here.

Just what I needed to hear. 
I also sent a text to poor Rory. We had been texting all week, but this was maybe the most vulnerable one I sent her. And while it sort of sucks to be that vulnerable with anyone, I think it’s progress, because a year ago I would have either pretended everything was fine, or I would have found something to be angry with Rory about, and push her away before she could leave me. 

Me: Okay, I know this is incredibly ridiculous but I just need to make sure you are still here and not mad at me for anything. Because I’m sort of freaking out a little bit. 

Rory: Not mad in the slightest. Not even one shred
Me: I’m just feeling a little unstable at the moment.

Rory: It is ok. You aren’t nuts. And you and her have had big fallings out before 
Me: Not like this. I’m always the one who shuts her out for pushing me too much on something i don’t want to deal with. This is different. She left me. I didn’t do the leaving. 

Rory: I am sorry. But I won’t leave. 

The only person I didn’t double check things with was hubby. And not because I didn’t want to, but because he is seeing this falling out as typical girl drama and I am so not in a place where I can be vulnerable with him and risk feeling rejected.

So, Bea was aware of all my ups and downs because we had been emailing this week. She eventually changed the Kat subject into how I was dealing with everything. I froze and drifted away a little. I finally told her I had no words, that I just didn’t even know what to say. Bea asked some questions then, and helped me get started talking. 

I told her how Kay probably was more in the caretaker role early on in our friendship, that it was definitely unbalanced, and she was giving more than I was. The friendship, in the beginning was certainly more about her helping me, picking up the pieces of whatever mess I’d made, and keeping me from killing myself. But, I changed, and became more stable (even if that was a somewhat masterful illusion that didn’t fully hide all my flaws from Kay) and the friendship balanced out. It’s a different friendship than I have with Rory; in some ways, offering advice, or support, or taking care of Kay feels a bit like a child offering the adult help. But, Kay has always been the person in my life with the answers. I don’t know. I told Bea that although things started out unbalanced, and at times I worried I wasn’t a good enough friend, I did think they were more balanced now. She told me that I am caring and emphatic, even with her in the capacity of therapy, or when she has seen me interact with other adults (like the moms in a playgroup Kat was in, or when there is a client before or after me) and she couldn’t imagine me being less than that in my other relationships. I didn’t tell her, but that surprised me. It was unexpected. I don’t expect others to view me as kind; I’m always assuming they think I am selfish and self centered. It’s maybe the first time I’ve really thought that people truly don’t view me as I view me. 

I told Bea how Kay is my anyway friend, and I’m hers. She the one who sees all the ugly, hears the mean things I have to say, sees my hurt and tears and crazy, but she loves me anyway. And I saw her emotional ups and downs, her anger at her wife, the regrets she has, the hurt and pain caused by an insane ex-husband, and more, but I loved her anyway. An anyway friend is someone you don’t have to hide things from, you don’t have to be afraid of what parts of you they have seen, you don’t have to perform well, or be something you aren’t. Because they love you anyway. And an anyway friend is not supposed to leave. 

I don’t remember much of what I said in session, but I do remember saying this. “She left. She’s not supposed to leave. She left. And if she could leave, anyone could leave. And I’m freaked out over that. She left. But she’s supposed to be my anyway friend.” 

I don’t remember everything Bea said. But I do remember peeking at her and seeing her face. She looked sad, she looked like she really could feel my hurt, and like it made her sad for me. “I know. I can hear the little girl is really worried that anybody could just get mad and leave if Kay could leave. I’m still here. I’m not leaving. Well, I’m leaving this week for vacation, so I won’t see you Monday, but I will be back on Wednesday and I will see you Thursday.” 

It hit me then, how bad I really felt, and how scared I was that I could lose everyone. I started to cry, but forced myself to pull it together, knowing that the time was almost up. When I left, I stood by her office door, and asked very quietly, “I can email, right? Even though you’ll be gone, you’re still here and I can email?” I was embarrassed to ask this again, but the little girl desperately needed to know. 

“Yes, you can email. I’m still here, and I will be back. I’m not leaving.” Her tone was kind, and her voice was soft when she told me this, but there was something that said she was very firm and serious about this. 

I left feeling connected but sad. I still feel sad. And really disconnected from everyone right now. I’ve checked my email, hoping that Bea would email for some random reason, even though I haven’t emailed her today. And I saw her today when Kat was at therapy. (But Kat’s therapy session and subsequent conversations at home have been massively triggering for me, so I’m extra unsettled tonight….that’s a whole different post though). I’ve thought about emailing Bea, even just to say I feel floaty and lost and alone and as if I have no anchor and that I’m scared. But I haven’t, because I feel silly. Instead– for the moment at least– I’m going to curl up in bed with my dog and watch some Gilmore Girls. They always make me feel better. 

Don’t wanna think anymore

I don’t want to think, I don’t want to feel. The past is too close right now, and if I stop and think, I’m likely to end up sucked into memories and feelings that I really don’t want to deal with. I spent the whole weekend avoiding and distracting myself from all the yuck. And now it’s Monday morning, and I’m in Bea’s office. 

“Let’s see if we can switch gears and talk about you,” she says, changing topics. We had been talking about Kat, and some of the struggles she has been having since going to back to school. It is something that we need to talk about, both because I need support in how to deal with Kat, and help separating what is really going on now from the past feelings that tend to show up when Kat is involved, and because, as Kat’s therapist, she needs to know what is going on with Kat in day to day life. “I didn’t hear anything from you this weekend, how were things after Thursday?” 

I don’t know. Her asking a direct question like that makes it harder to avoid thinking and feeling. I feel a little floaty, and a lot frozen. I’m still sitting with my knees tucked to my chest, but my head is up. I’m not really seeing anything, though, even as I look around the room. 

“Maybe, let’s try something a little more concrete. How did you sleep this week?” Bea sort of sounds far away. 

“I…..I don’t wanna talk about sleep.” I mumble the words. Sleep has been rough, more so lately, and I don’t want to face the nightmares. I’m unsure if I’m even allowed to talk about them, or if I’ll be told I’m too far away to talk, and the little girl is too afraid to open up only to find that Bea isn’t as there as she believed. It’s not a risk she is willing to take. Things might be feeling a lot better between Bea and I, but it’s still as if we are on uneven ground and working to find our footing again. 

“That makes me think it’s not so good.” Her voice is soft, and understanding. “We don’t have to talk about that. We can talk about whatever you like.” 

I shake my head. The little girl wants to tell Bea that she is afraid, and confused. She wants to scream and cry and ask Bea to make everything how it was, to not change anymore. She wants someone to hear how much she is hurting. She wants Bea to know she is afraid to fall asleep, and that the nightmares are almost as bad as living through it the first time. But I don’t say anything at all. 

We sit in the quiet for a minute or two, and then she breaks the silence. “What do you think about getting out our pictures and the markers, and working to orient back to the external, in the moment? Now you are focused more inside, and farther away, this would be a chance to be in control of being far away or more present.” 

Slowly, I nod. I don’t want to do this exercise again, but I make myself say, “Okay.” In the long run, it is meant to help, no matter how uncomfortable it feels in this moment. The idea is if I can be present with what is happening in the room, in the relationship, in the moment, for even a few seconds, I can start to retrain my brain to see that it is safe to be present now. And the more I can do that, and feel safer in the present, the easier it will be to control how dissociated I am, and the safer it will be to work through the memories, feelings, thoughts and physical memories left behind from trauma. I have a feeling this is going to be a long process. 

Bea gets out the markers and our pictures, and she starts to color. It takes me longer, but eventually I pick up a marker and color, too. I don’t mean to, but I end up talking about hubby. It’s in that sort of disjointed, hard to focus on what I’m saying, pausing frequently, sort of far away but trying not to fall down the cliff into the past, dissociated way I have sometimes. I desperately want to stay distracted, and I don’t want to think or feel. It’s all too much. 

We talk about how supportive he was over the dentist stuff, and how I had my hopes up that things were changing between us, and then nothing really changes and my feelings are hurt. I explain how it seems like hubby blames everything on my PTSD. It’s so frustrating to have every reaction that isn’t “happy and nice” be blamed on PTSD. Sometimes, I’m upset simply because I’m upset, and would have been upset even if there was no PTSD in my life. Bea is listening and validating my life experience. She tells me that more education about trauma would be helpful for hubby, because unless you have experienced it, the symptoms can be very confusing and hard to understand. 

Eventually, when the conversation pauses, Bea says, “Let’s see if we can focus on this moment, on coloring…..” 

I shake my head. “I can’t. Not….just…” 

“Okay. That’s okay. Can I maybe talk about my picture?” 

I nod my head; yes, okay, she can talk. She talks about colors, and how she chose the colors she did, what she was thinking, her reactions to certain colors. Then she tilts her head towards my page. “Which color is your favorite that you’ve used?” 

It’s a struggle to even focus on what I’ve used, to even label the colors in my head. “Orange. Orange is my favorite color.” 

“I did know that.” She smiles at me. “I really like that blue you are using now. That is my favorite blue, I think. What do you think about it?” 

I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know. I guess…..I was thinking it was the same blue as these sweatpants my mom used to love.” 

“It’s funny how we can’t really look at, or experience a color without relating it something else, isn’t it?” Bea asks. 

“I don’t know. Can we be done?” I ask softly. The little girl is afraid of making Bea mad, but I can’t do this being present thing anymore right now. 

She nods her head, and starts picking up markers and putting the pictures away. I gather my things quickly, wanting to get out of there, to run home, to hide. “How do you feel about this, how do you think this is going?” Bea asks, as I am heading towards the door. 

“I don’t know,” I mumble. I feel very put on the spot. I’m so sure that for her, this is a simple question, but I feel like it is complicated and twisty. 

I think she takes my uncertainty to mean i don’t think it is working well, or I’m not finding it helpful, because she begins to make other suggestions of things we can, other senses we can use besides seeing. I’m overwhelmed, and it all seems like too much. 

“Okay. Okay, sure,” I say, and then I tell her goodbye and rush out of the office. 

A Real Relationship

“I expected to get an email after Monday’s session. That was a lot to process.” Bea lets her statement hang in the air, waits for me to respond, to say anything. So far, I’ve said hello to her, and not much else. I’m finding it hard to speak today; it’s as if the defiant teenage part of me showed up to therapy, and I am fighting the idea of being here, of being vulnerable. Bea takes a drink of he tea, continues speaking. “Maybe you weren’t feeling safe enough to send an email. Maybe you weren’t sure you could trust me to respond.” I feel my insides freeze at that. It’s almost exactly what happened. I wasn’t sure. I was afraid. But I don’t want to admit it. “I would have responded,” she continues, “Sometimes, like this morning, I don’t respond right after I read an email, especially the longer ones. I got an email this morning that I read, and I’ll respond later, once I have some time to really think it through and process it. So even if I haven’t responded right away, it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it, or haven’t read it.”

Great. Now she thinks I have expected her to reply really quickly. It’s not like that. I really have never expected anything beyond a replay within a day, or maybe the same day depending on the content. The last email, which went 2 — almost 3– days with no reply, and was the first thing I wrote or said that let anything big out…well, that hurt. And her reply felt off. It felt like she wasn’t really there, wasn’t getting it, I don’t know.

“I bet you have been writing since I saw you last, even if you haven’t emailed.” Bea’s voice says she likes the fact I write, even if I haven’t shared it with her.

I finally nod. “I always write. It’s just…me.” I shrug. I think about pulling out my iPad, pulling up, email I wrote and didn’t send, but I don’t. Instead I stare at the floor, think about what I wrote about.
I must have dissociated far away, because the next thing I know, it’s like I’m jerking awake– although I wasn’t asleep and Hagrid is head butting me– and Bea is talking.

“I haven’t asked about your Grandma lately,” Bea says, “Have you talked to her?”

I shake my head, slowly. “That’s a funny story,” I say. Crap. I meant to say it was funny she was asking that, funny as in ironic. Being so out of it means words get easily mixed up when I speak.

“It’s a funny story?” Bea asks, not sure she heard my whispered voice right.

“No…not funny. Funny you asked.” I explain. And then we sit in silence for a moment while I gather my thoughts. “She’s here. In [state].”

“Oh. Wow. Are you going to see her?”

“I…tonight. For dinner. With the…with him.” Hagrid noses his way onto my lap. I pet his back.

We talk about how Grandma texted me to ask about meeting for dinner, and how it’s just going to be Kat and I going.

“Hubby…he hurt my feelings. It…I tried…” I stumble with the words. “He has to work. And you know I haven’t talked to him about anything since like, May, but I asked him if he was could work 9-4 today. He said no. But then asked why. So I started explaining. And he…..he starts laughing. He wasn’t even listening. He was reading emails. That’s how much I matter. And he then told me he can’t change his schedule today, no matter what, so why he acted like he could, I don’t know. But…ugh. I don’t know. It didn’t matter.”

“You were really reaching out to him, asking for support and not being seen really hurt.” Bea echoes and validates me, and I feel like I can breathe a little.

“Yes.” I nod.

We talk over this, me crying about hurt feelings, Bea echoing how it really hurts to have your husband, your partner ignore you.

“Did you have something you wanted me to read?” Bea gestures to my iPad, which is resting near my right leg. I don’t even remember removing it from my bag. “I don’t want to invalidate this experience, or rush you, or stop you from talking about it, but I also don’t want to miss something you wanted to talk about.”

I nod, and pick up the iPad. I open the email, and scan it. Yeah. All the scary crazy stuff is still there, in black and white. Ugh. “No. There isn’t much to say. I’m seeing my Grandma. It feels yucky because of the boyfriend. My husband doesn’t see me. And my feelings are hurt. That’s really it. So…here.” And I hand her the iPad. After, I curl into a ball– sitting up– and say, “I wrote it Monday night…Tuesday morning…it’s an email, I guess. I just didn’t send it because. I don’t know why. I just didn’t send it.”

“Okay.” Bea’s voice is neutral again. I have a feeling she has thoughts on why I didn’t send it, but I don’t much care. Mostly because I’m sure she is thinking I wasn’t sure it was safe enough to send it, and she’d be right.
I’m thinking again. Of course, I’m thinking again. It’s 2:00am, and I’ve had a nightmare and can’t get back to sleep. So I am thinking.

I’m thinking about one of the questions I thought about this weekend: why is it so hard for me to talk relationship stuff? Why does the very idea of that make me frozen and sick to my stomach and itchy all over? Why does it feel so incredibly not safe and why am I so convinced that in discussing those things I am going to get hurt? Is this just normal, I’m human and being vulnerable is scary stuff, or is it more than that? And what am I supposed to do about it? Because now I’m in this weird place….this sort of limbo feeling, of not being able to go back to pretending that the relationship piece doesn’t matter, of not being able to pretend there is nothing wrong in the real relationship or nothing to talk about….but I also am too damn scared to talk about if. So what am I supposed to do? I have this feeling that I am going to lose people I care about of I don’t do something. But the idea of calling Kay and talking through my ignoring her because I didn’t want her trying to force me to face reality, of maybe telling her that I love her but sometimes she is so honest and blunt she scares me and overwhelms me…..well, it’s too much. I can’t. Or the idea of telling hubby that I feel like we are existing on opposite sides of the world, that I feel very far away and isolates right now, that I feel like he doesn’t see me, maybe doesn’t really want to see me, and that makes me feel so afraid, it really triggers me, takes me right back to being a child and not being seen, and so I lash out by being nitpicky, by snapping, with passive aggressive comments, even just outright yelling. No, I’m not there yet. But I’m also unable to pretend.

And I’m thinking about this idea of limbo, and it really feels like I’m in this weird limbo place. Maybe that is just what therapy is. I don’t know. But it’s like I’m beyond believing it was all a game, but I’m I’m not really at this point where I can say I didn’t do anything wrong, either. I still have a lot of doubts about my behavior. Logically, I can say, and easily believe that kids are never to blame. But if I try to insert my name into that statement, or even just say “the little girl is never to blame”….I almost feel this strong physical reaction, like that sentence is wrong. And the first thing I feel is….I don’t know, maybe really deep buried mad, and I just want to scream that the little girl is awful and bad and disgusting and no one will ever love her. I feel like I’m in this weird limbo where I can say that Kenny had a part in everything that happened, he gets half the responsibility. Which I couldn’t believe, or even really think before. But it only brings up questions of why, and more questions of were there others– the girls from the other families in our group, his sister? And I don’t know. I don’t like this limbo place. Maybe i really wasn’t okay before, but at least I was sure of something. Now it feels like I’m more unsure of things in my life than ever before. And that scares me a lot.

I’m thinking about my parents. I talked to my mom. She called to tell me my grandma and her boyfriend had come back for grandmas high school reunion, but not told anyone or seen anyone while they were here. People found out via facebook, but my mom didn’t want me to see my grandma posting she was in this state and feel like she had hidden something from me. So I cried. And we talked about it for a bit. And then she said something…I don’t remember exactly, I was feeling not so grounded. But it was about her hiding things or ignoring things when I was growing up, and she said she is finding in therapy that burying things never fixes anything in the end, eventually it has to be dealt with. She said she spent most of her adult life hiding and burying things and she won’t do it anymore. She’s happy. She is happy in therapy, more grounded and more real than I’ve maybe ever experienced. She said she goes twice a week. That she is thinking of seeing this nutrition counselor her therapist recommended. I wanted to scream. This should be good. I should be happy. It’s everything I have said, time and time again, I wanted from my parents. But…ugh. NO. It doesn’t feel okay. It doesn’t feel okay at all. I changed my mind. Maybe I’m not capable of having more than a surface relationship with anyone in my life. Kay might be the exception. Because she can tolerate a lot of uncomfortable feelings and yucky stuff; I really do believe she can handle more than most people. So, it’s like even though she has always demanded more than a surface friendship from me, she’s been able to handle and tolerate all the yuck for both of us. Or something. And I think, like you said you are always thinking of where I am and what I can handle, she does that, too. Which is the only reason that works. But. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to have that kind of relationship with another person (you. I don’t have a surface relationship with you.But you are my shrink, so it’s not like a surface relationship would really make sense). So. No. I change my mind. I don’t want this real relationship with my mom. I don’t want her to try to repair things, or talk about the past. There’s too many hurts I’m afraid she will go to. It’s not just my fear that she will maybe realize that she knew and ignored the situation with Kenny. I need, or a part of me needs to believe she had no clue. I don’t think I can handle it if I knew for sure she knew. It would hurt too much. So much, I’m just numb even typing that; I feel completely disconnected from my body right now. But don’t worry, Hagrid has been barking at me and head butting me a lot today– he is doing his job and seems determined to not allow me to get too far away. Part of me, irrationally so, fears she will realize that I’m the one who made her sick and landed her in the hospital, or that she will realize if I hadn’t been so needy, or such an out of control teen, she wouldn’t have had the problems she had and she will be so disappointed in me, hate me. It’s obviously a fear from the little girl, nothing based in reality. But…..still. There it is. Part of me is afraid she will try to talk about the times she punished me instead of being there emotionally– taking my car keys after I cut my wrists, making me attend school two days after I over dosed, not allowing me to buy a new dress for the Christmas dance because she caught me throwing up, lecturing me about how I was ruining my life when Kristin called her to come get me from college. All of those things almost hurt too much to even type onto a page. I can’t talk about them. And I really can’t talk about them with her. I don’t know. I just know I want the fake story back.

I NEED to know I have the option of saying it was all a game. That I have the option of saying it didn’t matter, that it wasn’t a big deal. That I am being a drama queen, because that is my role in my family, it’s what I do. I need to be able to say I’m being crazy, making things up. I need to be able to tell myself it didn’t happen the way I think, obviously, because no one else is telling the story I am telling. At least a part of me is holding onto the belief that none of this is real. A part of me needs to think I’m crazy, because the alternative is just too horrible.

And it makes me so freaking angry with her. Why does she get to do this now? I was forced to live in her crazy perfect world. I had no choice but to be perfect, because I truly believed they wouldn’t love me, wouldn’t want me if I was anything less than perfect. Heck, sometimes I still believe that. But now, when I NEED her perfect family version of our history, her perfect daughter version of my history…NOW she wants to change it? ITS NOT FAIR. And I don’t want explanations or reasons. I don’t want to understand from her viewpoint. I just want to be mad. I just want to be hurt. Because, (illogical though it is) even though she has no idea about any of this, I feel hurt. I feel like once again, I’m being left emotionally. And it’s almost worse this time, because all I needed was for her fl maintain the same stupid story she has always told as the truth. And she can’t even do that. Now she wants to be real. Not when I NEEDED her to be real. Oh no. She couldn’t possibly have been real when I overdosed. Or when she caught me cutting. Or when I went through a starting phase and passed out at cheer practice. Nope. She couldn’t be real then. Not when I needed a mom who could be real. But now? Now when I need anything but real, she chooses to lead to be real. Argh. I think I’m in this little girl headspace, maybe sometimes even this teenager– like young teenager– headspace right now. I don’t want to talk things out and understand other people’s viewpoints. I just want to be upset and for someone to get that.
Bea reads. And I’m silent. She says “mmhmmm..” several times as she is reading; it’s what I have come to think of as her verbal nods. She makes a sort of snickering laugh sound at one point, and I’m assuming it is in reference to my comment about her being my shrink and so a surface relationship wouldn’t make sense– or she is laughing at the swear words and angry tone peppered throughout the email, as those are so uncharacteristic of me. But I’m betting it’s the shrink comment.

“I haven’t finished this yet,” she says at one point, “but I want to comment on this limbo feeling. It makes sense, it makes perfect sense. And it is scary. It’s like having the ground pulled out from beneath you and no safe space to run to. And it makes sense why the old story, even if it was scary or not safe…it’s familiar. So it feels safe. I was also thinking, your grandpa, your grandpa and your grandma, that is where you found safety as a child, and it’s where you have found safety as an adult. They were real. But your grandma is changing things. And that is unsettling. You can still find safety there. The safety you found as a child is still there.”

I don’t say anything, just let her words sink in, and let them roll around my mind. I need time to let that idea sit.

She reads the rest of the way through. “Wow. Wow. This is a lot.”

I shake my head. “Is it? Or is it life?” I sometimes wonder if I just suck at living life.

“It is a lot.” Bea repeats. “Your mom…this is good stuff. She is growing, and it’s good. But she, you…you and her are on different healing paths right now. She needs to be on her path. You aren’t there yet. You still have things to grieve and hurts to feel and work through.”

“I feel so guilty.” I whisper.

“Because you aren’t happy for her?”

“I should be.”

“Well…should is a logical word. This isn’t logic. It’s feelings. And there is a lot of grief here. A lot of anger. A lot of feelings that could not be felt then, and that need to be felt and worked through to be able to move on.” Bea says. She says it like this is so natural, so normal.

“She’s…she’s getting better.” It’s what I have always wanted. But it feels too late.

“And we want that for her. But you don’t have to be happy about it. You can have all your feelings. It’s okay to be mad. Of course you are going to be mad she couldn’t be better when you needed her to be. How could you not be? These things hurt. They were real hurts.” Bea says. She looks back over the hurts I’ve listed, and asks “what’s a starting phase?”

I feel lost for a minute and then realize. “Auto correct. It must have…auto correct.”

“So it’s?….?” And then Bea realizes. “Starving phase?”

“Yeah.” I nod, grateful I didn’t have to spell it out.

It’s quiet for a moment and then Bea asks me, “Was she crying, too? Your mom, when you were talking? Did it feel like she was trying to connect?”

I sigh. I don’t want to remember. It was scary for me. I feel floaty, just thinking about it. “I…she was…but it was like…she was happy but…like….relieved? Maybe? Is that the feeling?”

“Uh-huh…mhhmhhm….like she has this relief at not living under this weight of perfectionism or hiding any longer. Yes. That makes sense. And she is trying to tell you she is sorry for how things were, but she is relieved not to be that way any more.” Bea sounds a little bit excited, like she is putting the pieces together of a puzzle. She goes on to say that my actions– distancing myself, not following all the family rules, doing things that were right for me, might have pushed her towards making changes.

I shrug. “I can’t…I’m not..I don’t want this.”

“I know. And you can distance yourself and let her be on her path and you can be on yours. But I think one day, you’ll be able to have an honest conversation, to be real, and have a real relationship with her.”

“No…no, no. I can’t. I don’t. I can’t.” I shake my head, and tears are falling at this point. They are tears from too much pent up emotion. Tears of anxiety and frustration. Tears of grief and pain and hurt. Tears of anger and fear.

“Not now. But one day.” Bea says softly. She says something about having a relationship with my mom, a real relationship.

I shake my head. “I think I am only able to handle surface relationships. That’s it. It’s all I’m good at.”

I hear the smile on her voice, the kindness and the sadness when she says, “That’s not a relationship. That’s day to day interactions. Relationships are what make life worth living. They are the reason we are here. But the surface stuff? That’s just daily interactions.”

I shake my head. “Well. Those surface relationships passed for relationships for 30 years of my life. So….I think they count as relationships.”

Bea disagrees, and tells me again that the deeper relationships, real connections are what make life worth living. She says those connections are what all of us are looking for. It’s something we all need.

I don’t say anything. I don’t like this conversation. I have been thinking a lot about relationships and feelings and connections, and I have been wanting to talk about it with someone. It I don’t like the way this conversation is making me feel.

“All this stuff you are dealing with, it’s a lot, but it is sort of the nuts and bolts of life. Relationships are the nuts and bolts of life. They are so important and those connections, while at times…”

“Scary? Terrifying? Frozen making?” I supply some adjectives, ones that I have a feeling are very different from hers.

“Well, yes. Being vulnerable and opening yourself up to a relationship is scary. Especially when it is a new thing for you to do. And this is a new thing for you. You haven’t even liked to discuss, or admit even the importance of our relationship.” Bea says.

“Because then…it’s saying I need someone. And I don’t want to need anyone.” I say softly.

“Well, no. Of course not. If you need someone, you are vulnerable.”

“Is it always that scary?” I ask her, after a minute or two of quiet.

She doesn’t answer right away, except to say, “No.” Then she gathers her thoughts before speaking. “It might be uncomfortable at times, but it’s not going to be scary forever. It’s scary now because it’s a new thing, and you aren’t sure you can trust it.”

I nod. Okay. Maybe. I’m not sure I trust that answer.

“With Hagrid…it’s easy, safe to open yourself up to him, right?” She asks me.

I nod. Slowly.

“With dogs, we only get good back. We don’t get rejection or hurt. So it’s easy and safe to open up and really attach and let them in. And that’s a good thing. It’s great. And Hagrid is doing his job, being there and attaching back to you, giving you a safe attachment.” Bea says.

What she says reminds me of studies I have read about horse therapy. I also wonder if that is the reason Bea has been so happy that Hagrid was brought into my life. Why she has talked about him and supported him coming to therapy and asked about how sleeping and nightmares are with him around.

I nod, letting her know I hear her.

Bea says more, maybe, about relationships. I’m not paying much attention.

“My mom is going to see a nutritionist.”

“That has to feel maybe a little threatening, unsettling at the very least.”

“I don’t know. It’s just…I don’t like it.” I sign. It makes me want to scream and yell and hide. But I don’t know what I feel, exactly.

“Does it feel like it is threatening your eating?” She asks me.

I shake my head. I don’t know. I disappear the rest of session, I can’t handle talking about my ED.

Hagrid’s barking, and Bea’s laughing.

“He’s not letting you go too far away,” she says happily.

I nod, feeling fuzzy. Damn it. I hate it when I zone out this much.

“We need to stop anyway, work on grounding you, okay?” Bea asks me.

I nod. “Can you just talk?”

“Well, I tried to bring my golden with me to work on Tuesday, to see how he would do as a therapy dog.” I can tell by the tone in her voice that things didn’t go well. By the end of the story, I’m cracking up, and I also now have an explanation as to why two puppets are missing from the puppet bucket.

I leave feelings grounded, but with a lot to think about and process.

The first thing: part two

Bea is reading, and I am shaking and crying, curled in a sitting up ball on the couch. Hagrid has pressed himself into my side, and he licks my hands and arms every once in a while. It’s taking what feels like forever for her to read what I’ve written, and I’m ready to bolt out the door now, let her keep my iPad. Instead, I force myself to sit and wait, and I cry from the massive amount of anxiety I am feeling. 
Just when I’m about to speak, to tell Bea she isn’t talking and that’s bad, that I’m mega freaked out, she starts to talk. “Let me say again, how sorry I am for not getting to your email sooner. I know how important it is to get a response, and I am really sorry.” 
I want to scream that it’s not important, that it didn’t matter, and that I don’t want an apology. But I don’t. Because it did matter. But I don’t say anything, instead I try to shrink into myself even more. I don’t know. I don’t like this. 
“The truth is, I have been busy and distracted these past few weeks. Like everyone else, getting into a new routine, new schedule. It’s not an excuse, but it’s what happened. I saw your email, and meant to reply and it got pushed down in all my emails. So it got answered later than it would have.” She pauses for a moment, then. I get it, what she is saying. It’s exactly what I had thought– logically. 
“That doesn’t take away from the feelings of rejection, or hurt. And I am sorry. I know how important getting a response to an email is. You don’t know this,– because how could you know this if I don’t tell you?– I am constantly judging what kind of state you are in, what you can handle, if I should push or back off, or protect you and keep you from digging too deep. I am thinking about you are where you are emotionally all the time. That is very important to me. And this summer, I was very aware of needing to help protect you, keep you from digging too much. There were so many high stress events and changes happening in your life, and I knew that you just needed to stay together and cope until these events passed. But I have no expectation that you will always be able to cope, or that you won’t get upset, or that you won’t fall apart sometimes. You can’t fail, because I have no expectation of that whatsoever. I’m not leaving, not at all. I’m not going anywhere. I might, at times, email you back to say I’m taking a two hour break ands will email back after that, or I might at times be busy in sessions and have to email back that I won’t be able to respond until tonight. But, I am not going anywhere. And if you do email, and I haven’t emailed back as quickly as you needed a response, then please send me a text, just saying you need me to reply to an email. That’s okay. I’m perfectly okay with that, because I am a therapist that believes if your therapist is going to encourage you to go to these yucky scary places, then your therapist should be there to support you, so you aren’t alone. Does that sound fair?” 
I’m still shaking, and a little zoned out, gone, but Bea’s words are sinking in. It might take a while for me to process them, but I’m hearing her. I nod my head. “Yeah…..I didn’t….I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad.” 
“I know you weren’t, that’s not what this letter was about. I’m glad you wrote it. You were right, this was the first thing.” Bea’s voice is genuine, not a hint of anger in her tone. I don’t understand it. “I don’t have more affection towards coping Alice than broken Alice. In fact, when coping Alice is around, I wonder about the little girl, and the broken Alice and all the other parts. I like this part, this honest and creative and vulnerable and authentic Alice who wrote this. But again, it’s not this or that. They are all you. The Alice who organized everything for Kat for school, who impressed the school officials and teachers with her organization and comprehension of her child, the Alice who fought and got that IEP? That’s the same Alice who is hurting so much right now. They are all parts of you.” 
I shrug. Nothing feels like parts of me. Everything feels separated, smashed into a million pieces. I wonder if I should say something. I really can’t, any words I might have are lodged in the back of my throat. I’m just….stuck right now.
“It makes sense to me, that the little girl would be feeling like this. It’s like starting over, in some ways. She needs to know I can still handle her feelings, still contain things, still keep the space safe. She’s wondering if I’ll still be there. It makes so much sense. And it’s okay.” Once again, Bea pauses. I sniffle. She gets it. Even unsure and wary, I’m grateful to have all these feelings validated. 
“I do think, this year, I am going to expect that we do some work around the eating stuff. Not right now. Not this moment. It doesn’t feel very urgent to me, but I don’t think it’s entirely unfair of me to feel that we need to do some work on this, talk about this a little. What kind of therapist would I be if I just ignored a major symptom? Not a very good one.” 
I know. I know. I get it, I do. But I just….ugh. I’m afraid of that mess, too. But she didn’t say right now. So I tell myself to let it go for now, not to worry about it. Of course, even Bea’s simple statement, even her belief that she can’t take my eating disorder from me, even knowing that she just wants to have some discussion about it, make it real, terrifies me. It makes me feel like that defensive teen, and it makes me want to grab onto the eating disorder with both hands and never look back. 
“I’m not surprised that the dreams about the boyfriend and his list are back. They are kind of that internal voice, working towards stopping everything you are working for. Those dreams, that list, it helped keep you separated, making it harder to be one integrated whole.”
I shake my head. “The list….it’s….” I can’t finish. 
“I know. It’s cruel. Just cruel. It says nothing about you, or who you are.” 
“It’s true…I mean…he…it was….he listed out true things…” I blink back tears, but it’s a wasted effort. And they fall down my cheeks, which are heated with shame. 
I think I must have gone farther away for a minute, because the next thing I know, I’m literally snapping out of it, and Bea is talking about my parents. 
“It’s not fair. It’s not. I need them to go back to their old story. The fake story. I just…..I need them to.” I feel like a whiny little kid. 
“This really doesn’t feel safe,” Bea muses. It sounds like she is re-reading what I’d written. “I wonder….what is it, specifically, that makes this feel so unsafe? I get the sense it’s more than just a safety net being gone, or a fear of your story being real now. This feels…bigger maybe. What is is that makes your parents changing their story, being real, so scary?” 
“I don’t know. It just is. It’s not okay. They need to stop it. It’s not okay.” 
We circle around like this a few times, until Bea asks, one more time, “What is it that makes them being real so threatening?”
And I know, just like that. It’s more than feelings, odd thoughts now. It’s words. And everything in me revolts at it. “No. No, no, no…no, no….no no…” I whisper the words like a mantra, shaking my head as I do so. 
“What is it?” Bea pushes gently. 
“I….they might know…I mean…we know my mom knows…and I can’t…I can’t….no…no…if they knew…..and…no, no…no, no……” 
I hear Bea’s sigh, and it sounds very sad. “Yeah. That’s…impossible to understand. But I don’t think you have to worry about them facing anything like that anytime soon. Most likely, it would be slowly, not wick. 
“I just…if they knew and they didn’t do anything…didn’t stop it…thus didn’t care…or they thought I was bad and started it…I don’t know….I just…I can’t know this. I’m afraid. I just can’t.” 
“It feels like too much right now. I really don’t believe your parents would have thought you were bad, or started it. That I can’t believe. You weren’t, you didn’t.” 
“They made me be perfect…when I really was hurting. They made me love in that stupid fake world. They should have to go back to that stupid fake perfect world.” I tell Bea. I hear venom in my voice, and I don’t like how angry and scared and upset I feel right now. 
“Of course. They stuck to that story for years. Even when it hurt you. Now you need them to stick with if. It’s not fair they can’t do that.” Bea echoes what I’ve said. Good grief does it feel like exactly what I need right then. 
We sit in silence, me calming down, Bea sitting with me. And Hagrid doing his thing to help ground me. 
Bea laughs at Hagrid and tells me that she is going to give him a treat every time he catches me going too far away, and train him to be my grounding dog. “It seems he was made to ground you. He’s even low to the ground, a visual reminder,” she says, smiling. 
“He is….I never really thought about that…..you can’t give him all those treats though…He’d get so fat. I’d have to walk him way more than 2 miles a day. And he wouldn’t just be close to the ground, his belly would be on the ground.” I laugh with her. 
We chat for a minute more about nothing type thing– coffee drinks and morning rituals, walking the dog, household chores– and then say goodbye. As I’m leaving, Bea reminds me, “You’ll have to test the email situation again, okay? I’m here, and you can email, and I will write back. I’m not leaving.”
I nod. “Okay.” But I’m not sure I’m ready to test out email quite yet. I feel like someone just cut me in two, or maybe in fours. I’m tired, drained. I’m ready for bed. I’m not sure I trust that she will be there, and part of me is afraid she will be there for the first email because she is expecting me to test her, but then she will falter later, when I feel safe and trusting of her again. It’s all so confusing. I have a feeling I’m going to be processing this for days. 

The first thing: something I wrote 

When I was cleaning and thinking, this is what I was thinking about. Here is the something I wrote, that I gave to Bea to read.
The first thing I kept thinking about is the email I sent you, and your later than usual reply. I wasn’t upset because logically I understand that things happen, you are very busy, and that you did email and even acknowledged that you had meant to write back and hadn’t had time. But, and this is that big scary but (at least for me) emotionally, it’s not that simple. It felt like I had finally let something out, after holding so much in for months, and you weren’t there. It felt like maybe you had decided I was “better” or something, so I maybe didn’t need a reply as quickly as I used to. I don’t know. And then when you did reply, some of the reply felt like I’m expected to cope all the time now, and not fall apart, or end up in the bubble, because I coped this summer. It felt like because I was able to function this summer, and able to still be aware that I was shoving things away, burying them in a box until it was a better time to deal with them, that I’m expected to function like that all the time now. Which led to thoughts of “Bea thinks I’m just a drama queen. Bea is annoyed with me and my meltdowns. Bea is tired of dealing with me. Bea is sick and tired of needy broken Alice and she likes coping Alice a lot better. Bea thinks I should be over this crap by now, and is tired of hearing me whine.” And so on, and so on. And while most of me is pretty sure those are crazy thoughts and not true, a part of me is pretty sure they are true. And I’m pretty sure you attempted to talk about some of this that next session with me; I really wasn’t very there. I think I dissociated enough that I don’t remember that conversation very well at all. As soon as you brought up the email, I felt frozen and scared and like this was too much. I know I didn’t say a lot. I hate talking about the relationship. I hate talking about hurt feelings, or stupid thoughts like the ones I just wrote down. It’s so uncomfortable. Really, calling it uncomfortable is like saying that a severed finger is “just a scratch”. But I feel like somehow we need to talk about this, i just have no idea how to do that. Just writing this is making me sick to my stomach and itchy (did you know I sometimes break out in hives when I’m really anxious or upset?). And I think the little girl is sort of wary again, in a way. Because I trust you, because logically you have never given me a reason not to, because you’ve always done everything you’ve said you are going to do, and because you really hear me, because you see me and still accept me But I think the little girl is afraid of the new expectations (possibly perceived, but still very real to her), and afraid to fail and have you go away because of that. She’s afraid if she does reach out, you might not be there now. I actually went back and forth about emailing you again, that weekend, to ask if you had gotten my email, or if you thought I was crazy, or if you were mad that I had said I just couldn’t talk about the eating stuff. I even wrote an email asking those things, talking about you not emailing back, and hurt feelings. I just didn’t send it. Actually, I think, it feels like the little girl decided not to send it; she needed you to email without her asking you to. A test, I guess, maybe. Stupid. Childish. I hate that. So. I guess this is important to talk about. But I don’t like it. It scares me to talk about all this. And that’s another thing; I don’t understand why this is all so scary and hard to talk about. And it’s not just with you. It’s with hubby, Kay, Rebecca, Jamie. (obviously my parents, but that is them as much as me, I think) It’s anyone I am close to. I don’t know. I think I haven’t really talked to Kay for months because I don’t want to discuss the uncomfortable stuff, and she will. She is fine with it. And Jaime? She hurt my feelings, not on purpose, and we talked it out through text and it’s fine, we are okay, except we aren’t because I still feel like there is this weirdness there and she is mad at me or doesn’t like me anymore or whatever. I don’t know. Ugh. And before I would have just ignored it all and pretended everything was fine, and maybe have been so stuck in my head that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because I wouldn’t have felt any of this. But now. Well, I can’t pretend it’s all okay. But I don’t know how to talk through it either. Ugh. This is so frustrating to me, I’m angry with myself for not being able to act like a grown up and have a simple conversation. 
I thought a lot about the whole ABA tech triggering me thing because she doesn’t do any repair with Kat, and pretends everything is perfect and fine. And I thought a lot about being punished for my emotions; whether it was concrete punishment or just my parents not being there emotionally. And I just, well, I don’t know exactly what, but this all feels really very significant. These triggers, like this, over well, I don’t know how to put it, just normal daily stuff, not trauma stuff, it’s just…ridiculous. I feel like I’m being…I don’t know what. Silly, maybe. But, either way, I can see it so clearly now. Friday, watching Kat and the tech and listening to them, I could just see it, and see exactly how it could remind me of my parents and pretending everything is okay. I kept thinking how I was punished for bad emotions. Anger. Sad. Anxiety. Anything really that isn’t upbeat, happy. I don’t know. And I wonder if that is why it’s so hard for me to cry around people. I mean, I cry in front of you now, but even hubby, I run to the bedroom, and hide if I’m going to cry. I feel almost….guilty, or something, for subjecting others to my bad emotions. Maybe shame. I don’t know, exactly. It’s like I’ve done some thing wrong. And seeing, naming the fact I got punished for feelings, it makes sense why I always feel like I am being bad for feeling certain things– sadness, anxiety, fear, frustration. And anger. Ugh, anger. I don’t know what to do with anger. And I wonder if it’s because I just never was allowed to be angry. And now….I don’t know. How does a person let out the mad feelings without turning into a monster? I mean, emotions like sadness are easier, in a way, because you cry, and you feel the feelings and maybe talk about where they are coming from, but you cry and get the sad out. But what in the world does a person do to get out anger? 
I was so angry with hubby for so much of this weekend. I snapped a few times. Mostly I just made those awful passive aggressive comments– the way he usually does. And I hate that. I don’t like that Alice. I don’t want to be that angry passive aggressive person. But I just….I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. And I can’t even explain the anger I have toward him, except it’s just this general feeling of him not being there and not seeing me and not hearing me, not paying attention. It’s that trigger of “he doesn’t care enough to see me or hear me”. And no matter how many times I try to explain, he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care to. I don’t know. 
And thinking about how much they pretended everything was okay, leads me to thinking about how they are no longer pretending. And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that. It scares me. Because that means the story I have told all along is real. I can’t fall back on the fact I the only one telling it, I must be crazy, I must be a liar, making stuff up, ext, ext. If means that everything was that crazy making, that ugly, that…I don’t know what. And I still….well, I think, like you said on Thursday, even though we have talked about it, it is still so taboo and it feels far away and very separate and is hard to bring up…..I think it’s because I keep it separate, in a way, like, I keep it in that realm of “this MIGHT not be real, so it’s not REALLY part of my story, not really”….I don’t know if that even makes sense. I just know I am afraid of my parents being more real. It terrifies me. Like makes my insides feel frozen, and my chest tight, and I can’t breathe and my body feels frozen, too, and I feel like I need to run away and hide. It doesn’t feel safe. It’s like my safety net is being taken away, and my story is real. Which really, really scares me. 
My nightmare is back. The boyfriend nightmare. Where he is listing everything out. Sometimes it’s different….times…but always, his voice, listing things out. I don’t know. Maybe I need to talk about this, about him. But how am I supposed to talk about this, when I can’t even write it down, because of the words? Ugh. I hate how afraid I am of certain words. It’s ridiculous. And I head his voice in my head, telling me that no one is going to want me now, I’m ruined, a slut. And then I wonder if hubby had known me, instead of fake perfect me, if he would have wanted me still? Because I sometimes think he is refusing to see me, because he is waiting for the me he married to come back.