I don’t want to hurt anymore 

Please be safe if you read this post. I was very blunt about eating disordered behavior, self injury, and sex. I’m a mess right now, and this post is a whole lot of crazy dumped into one place

I’m not okay. I want to be okay, I’m in this trying to act like it’s all fine place, but I’m not okay. I am absolutely, 100% not okay. 

I spent the weekend….(well, really it started when Kay informed me that I don’t exist for her any more)………in bulimia land. Binge. Barf. Stuff my face. Eat crap I NEVER eat. I ate 17 mini Reese’s eggs. Seventeen. And then I threw them up. Later, it was tacos with cheese. And pizza. And French fries. 53 French fries. Muffins. Ice cream. 3 mini ice cream cones. A blizzard from DQ another day. Chips. Fried cheese sticks. More French fries. 46 this time. Eat. Barf. Binge. Purge. I’m gross. I feel gross. I’m ready to swing the other way, to the no eating at all and being a control freak. Because I can’t keep doing this. I’m gross.

I had sex with my husband. 3 nights in a row. I wanted comfort, I wanted him to love me, I wanted to feel, for even just a moment, that someone in my life wants me and isn’t going to leave. So, I instigated things by a real kiss. And when he kissed back, that slutty little girl/teenager part took over. I was so far gone it’s like it wasn’t me. I felt like I was sitting somewhere behind myself. So far gone, it was fine. No freak outs in the middle of the act. I was fine. Until I wasn’t. But that was okay, because after he went to sleep, I simply added a few new slices to my body, and then I was okay again. Except I’m not okay at all. 

My daughter has been making her dolls play “kissing games”, pretending to be pregnant and to have her baby be “born” and she told me this weekend that her private area felt moist and steamy. I was already so triggered by her play, the use of the phrase “kissing game”. It doesn’t matter that Bea assured me it was normal and healthy play. It is triggering and scary and I struggle with that. And then, she says that. And I couldn’t breathe or think. When I didn’t respond, she told me “not to worry because it feels nice”. Oh my god. I want to die. Or throw up. Maybe both. And hubby realized something was wrong, so he set her up playing video games, and I stayed frozen, stuck in my own head, physical memories attacking me. 

When I finally could move, I hid in the bath tub. No, first I ate ice cream and tacos. Then used the running water to cover the barfing sounds. Then I took a bath, used my razor to cut some more, and proceeded to hide in my bed, dissociated and staring at nothing. When hubby came to bed, I kissed him, stripped off my clothes and went far away, except to know that he was there and wanted me. I’m disgusting. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be normal? And of course neither of us mentioned my frozen no talking freak out earlier in the day, and he never even asked what happened. 

I texted Rory several times this weekend, either just saying hello, or checking that she still wasn’t mad at me. We made plans for a weekend away together. I don’t want a weekend away. I want to leave my life. I want to pack up my car and disappear. They’d all be better off without me. 

I emailed Bea. I told her I was a mess, that I was being bad, that I felt bad and wrong for bothering her on her vacation, that I didn’t know why I was even bothering to email. She wrote back, telling me it seems like I need a secure base, that it’s okay and everyone needs that, and she said she was here. But then in her second email, she said  that I’m not out of line (oh my gosh. Out of line. Does this mean I’m close to being out of line? Or have been before? Or she expects I will be? I feel like a kid that just got reprimanded) and that it was fine to bother (and what does that mean? Is she just using my language, or am I a bother? Does she mean I do bother– annoy, bug, make her wish I would leave her alone– her, but it’s okay that I do so? Or that I’m not a bother? What does that mean?) her although it may take her longer to respond to emails. And I emailed her back —–even though a lot of her wording felt bad and cold and scary, I emailed back and tried to reach out again, because I very well might have been reading it wrong, or who knows—– about the triggery mess the day was yesterday, and about being mad at Kay for just leaving me. She said it was okay to be mad at Kay. And that she hoped I had been able to shake this yucky feeling. I told her how I feel like a 32 year old woman behaving like a 5 year old child, how I am instigating things with hubby, how I have been in bulimia land all weekend, and maybe I just want her to know how bad I am being to test her to see if she will stick around even when I’m being bad, I told her I felt lost and like I can’t trust anyone, and this sense that everyone is going to leave, that I was so stupid to think otherwise. I dumped an awful lot of my freak out into that last email. And then she responded. And it seems I have hit her limit for having compassion for my neediness, for wanting to be there for me, for being able to validate my feelings, to be a secure base and to help me be able to maintain trust in her. I think she’s done. I hit her limit, like I knew I would, and now, she is all gone too. He email was cold and shrinky and it didn’t sound like her. It sounded like a shrink wrote it, like a standard, fill in the blank response. 

This is my fault. I present myself as this normal, together person. I’m so afraid of people knowing I have trust issues (and honestly this was so second nature to me I didn’t even know I did it until like a year into therapy) that I react with the amount of trust I think a normal person would have. So, if a regular girl would trust her good friend this particular amount, that is what I portray. But inside, I’m freaking out, and I trust nothing. And I did the same thing in therapy. I trusted Bea as much as I thought I should. I also kept a lid on all my reactions to her for a long time– anything she said that hurt my feelings, made me mad, made me feel like she didn’t get me, or didn’t care, or really wasn’t going to be there, I kept it to myself. Oh, I wrote about it, I even wrote her emails that I never sent. But I was not about to let her know the depth of my crazy. And while I have gotten better, recently, at being honest and even emailing after the fact to say that something she said hurt my feelings or made me worried, I still don’t let her know the depth of the crazy in me. Because, oh my gosh, if she knew how alone I feel and how much I worry about trusting her, and second guess everything she says, and how I so easily feel left and triggered over nothing (seriously nothing), she would declare me too crazy and too broken to work with and she would leave. 

And I spent the morning today with migraine. I was irritable, and not able to tolerate anything. I literally wanted to hide in my closet and never see or speak to another person again. I wanted d to run away, and never acknowledge my past life. I thought about downing a bottle of pills chased with a bottle of wine. So, then I did some sewing. It was as close to coping skills as I could access. I have been sewing for Kat’s (and mine) American Girl dolls. I think the little girl part of me really likes making things for the dolls, setting up the doll stuff, dressing them, and styling their hair. It’s a good thing for the little girl, and it’s a distracting activity that can keep me somewhat calm feeling for hours. But then Kat came home from school, and it was just her and I all day. And I yelled at her. I don’t mean I yelled because she did something bad. I mean I just yelled. I yelled because I’m mad, because I hate everyone and everything and the whole entire world. I yelled the way a child or a teenager yells; to be mean, to show hurt and anger and rage and pain. I yelled. I apologized, I explained that mommy was having a grumpy day and it had nothing to do with her, I told her mommy had no right to yell like that, I told her I was sorry, I told her it was okay to be mad and hurt that I yelled. I realized I needed to get us out of the house, and to not be alone, or I would most likely yell more. I texted a mom friend of mine– who is a very good friend, actually– and asked if she and her daughter wanted to go to the pool. We met at the pool, and the girls played and we sat in the hot tub and talked, and it was okay. I told her I was having a bad day, that I was irritable, and not in a nice mood, and she accepted that. I just didn’t have the energy to put on my miss perfect Mary sunshine face, and I’m so sick of lying to people who are supposed to be my friends. So I didn’t pretend. I didn’t go into major details of way I was in a bad mood, but what I really needed was someone to accept me where I was. And she did that. 

I texted hubby while I was still at home, after I had yelled for the 5th, 6th, 7th time. His response? “Do I need to come home?” It didn’t feel supportive. It felt like he was saying, “I don’t have time to deal with this, but I am stuck with a crazy, broken, defective wife, so I might as well ask if I need to come home and takeover for her before she screws up our child and turns her into an emotional wreck.” I  told him no. 

I don’t know what I want, or what I need. I only know I’m mad, and hurt and confused and scared and sorry. I hate that whatever happened in my childhood has once again turned my daughter into a giant trigger. I hate that I have put myself in this place of not trusting anyone, of always being scared of what they really mean and what they really think and what they are really going to do. I hate that I feel like I have to have sex with my husband so that he will love me. I hate that Kay leaving me has made me this crazy person, terrified of being left and afraid to trust anyone with anything. I hate that I feel disconnected from everyone in my life right now. I hate that I’m so dissociated that everything is a blur, and I’m numb and gone, and I hate that I’m too afraid to do anything to be more grounded because that means feelings and I can’t handle the feelings. I hate that Bea is on vacation, because right now, I feel like I could go to therapy everyday and that still wouldn’t be enough to contain this mess in my head or help me feel like I’m not alone. I hate that my parents weren’t there emotionally like they should have been, and that I’m unable to cope with anything because of that. I hate that it’s 4:15 in the morning and I only slept a little more than an hour because of nightmares about Kenny and the boyfriend together. 

I hate that I’m a broken, out of control mess, and the only way I know how to fix it is to be a control freak over every aspect in my life, so that nothing can get screwed up, and so there is no time to think, or feel or be scared. I hate that being that way means everyone in my life will think I’m okay, including Bea, and I won’t say otherwise. I hate that I can see myself turning from this healing road and heading down this path, and that I know it is a bad path, but I want to follow it. I want desperately to follow it. And what does that say about me, that I would choose to follow the fork in the road, the bad path, instead of the healing road? But it’s safe. It’s familiar. Nothing bad or scary happens on this path. I know it’s a path that ultimately ends in hurt and mess, but for a while, when I’m on the path, it’s clean and bright and filled with flowers and pretty trees and cute little forest creatures. I don’t really want to follow this path. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.  

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Don’t tell

I saw Bea Monday morning, like usual. It’s been just over 24 hours since that appointment, and I can hardly remember our conversation. What I do remember is telling her about the weekend, and her response that it seemed I had dealt with things well. She mentioned how I hadn’t been triggered by Kat, that I had been in protective mode. She asked what it was like seeing my mom play with and spend time with my daughter? I have no idea how to answer that. I’m not very present when I’m around my mom. It’s mostly like I have no feelings, wherever it is I go when I am with her, and the ones that do trickle in tend to be more triggery feelings. So I have no idea how I feel. Fine. Happy. I don’t know. What am I supposed to feel? That is sweet, seeing my mother and daughter together. Right? Then that is what I feel.

But she’s wrong. I didn’t deal with things well. I just left out the things I did to deal. Not once have I given her a run down of my weekends, or my days and willingly said, “well, we went downtown, hung out, and then Kat was all done so we drove back to my moms. While my mom and Kat played and my hubby helped my dad with some manly outdoor project, I stuffed my face with ice cream and vomited. Then I say outside and played with my mom and Kat. After dinner, I went to the store to get some hair color, and colored my hair. While the color processed I ate a bunch of junk food, and then threw up a second time that day when I was supposed to be showering. In the middle of the night I had nightmares, hid in the closet, and got caught hiding by my hubby. Which only made me feel ashamed and vulnerable. But it was fine because once he fell back asleep, I went to the bathroom, found a razor and cut. And bye-bye bad feelings.” I don’t talk that openly. I still expect to be shamed, judged, condemned, or lectured for my behaviors, so as soon as I admit them, I figuring out how to back track. I purposefully leave that stuff out. It’s my filter, and it’s second nature. I don’t know what else to say about it.

I think part of me was disappointed she didn’t question me about how I was saying my behaviors were out of control and yet according to my story of the weekend, nothing happened. A part of me wanted Bea to back me into a corner and force me to answer or talk about those things. Because they are scary. I think a part of me thought she knew me well enough to realize I would leave those things out, always. Of course, a part of me is thankful she has left well enough alone. I don’t quite trust that she won’t ditch me if I was truly upfront about things.

I wasn’t very there, and she knew that. I told her how my parents talked of renting the cabin this year, so our families– mine and my brothers– and them could all go for a long weekend. I don’t want to go back there, but then again, there is that idea….if I went back, maybe some blanks would get filled in. Maybe memories would be triggered. I don’t know. We are going camping and to a theme park for my daughters birthday with my parents and niece and nephews. We will be staying in a campground, at campground rustic style cabins. It’s were we always stayed with the smiths when we went. I’m both looking forward to a fun trip, a really nice way to celebrate Kat’s birthday, and already despairing that I won’t be able to function or be okay. But this is for Kat, so I know I’ll do it, and even if I’m dissociated the entire time, I’ll function normally.

I almost told her. About the memory I do have of the cabin. Well, one of the memories anyways. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Well, I was going to. This is what happened…..

It’s getting towards the end of the session. I feel like I’ve floated off, like I’m not tethered to anything. Bea is supposed to be my anchor, but I’ve been working hard to cut her off, she’s too close. So, I feel disconnected, not here. I feel like I’m all alone and no one understands. She’s mentioned that I hadn’t been triggered by Kat, but she’s wrong. I just didn’t say it, because I’m mad at myself over it. And I didn’t have a lot to do with Kat this weekend, minus the party, so it was limited.

“We are getting close to our ending time today. I wanted to let you know in case there is anything else you feel like you want to talk about that we haven’t talked about,” she says. She’s calm and present and everything Bea always is. Except things feel different right now. I know it’s because of me, because I’m so disconnected.

I shake my head. I’ve been crying the last few minutes. Over what, I don’t remember now. Bea told me, as she stated in her email, that she is aware the past is right here. But she believes it’s all the anxiety and stress of current day life that has made my defense go down, and she feels that all the triggery past stuff has slipped in because of that. Maybe she’s right. Does it matter? The point is, she keeps redirecting the focus to the present, and it’s the past I need to deal with. The present is all good stuff, or stuff that is being handled. It’s not what is causing me distress, no matter what she thinks. She might be the shrink, but I’m the one living in my head.

“There doesn’t have to be anything. I just wanted to check.” Her voice sounds firm, but underneath, maybe wavering. Is she feeling a little lost in how to deal with me? Has my floatiness confused her, made it harder to read me? I don’t know.

“I just…I have..I’m afraid to say it.” I sigh. How many times have I said this sentence?

Maybe Bea responds, maybe she waits. I’m not sure. Eventually, she does ask me if I want to talk about it. Maybe if she knew I wanted to, needed to talk about it she would help me figure out how.

“I don’t know.” I tell her honestly. I feel so lost. I’m not sure which way is up, if the memory is real, if it changes anything. I’m not sure about any of it. I want to talk to Bea, to figure it out, to not be alone, to share my confusion with someone I trust and who will be steady and not confused. But I’m not sure now. She doesn’t feel connected to me, she feels far away. Her emailed responses seem rote, and not her. I feel like she isn’t really here with me anymore, like she is done with me, annoyed over how I have been acting, how much time I take up, all my whining. I don’t know. Part of me can argue with that. But these teenage and child parts, they feel this, and they are running the show.

“Then I feel like it would be better to wait, to try to get you back to a more grounded place. I don’t think talking about things that are going to send you far away is the best thing when you are already so far away. I don’t want to send your farther away. We talk about pacing. We have time to talk about this. Maybe on Thursday, if you are feeling stronger,” Bea says gently.

I nod. “Okay.” My eyes fill with tears. I blink, furiously, trying to keep them from falling. I needed her to help me talk, not shut me down. This only confirms my thoughts that she is annoyed and done and not really here with me. My feelings are behind hurt. The person I have trusted most, even more than Kay, the person I have shared my ugliest memories, thoughts, feelings with, the person I was just beginning to believe could maybe handle my anger and my fears and the worst behaviors and worst memories has basically told me to not tell. She’s no different than anyone else. Don’t tell. Smile. Pretend it’s all okay.

“Does that sound okay?” She questions. Maybe she is uncertain of her choice. I don’t know. I don’t care. She made the choice, it’s what she really believes. Maybe she sees her choice is shutting me down, and she is trying to backtrack, so I don’t close up. Because she can’t do her job if I close up.

I look up at her, briefly meet her eyes. “It’s fine.” And a tear or two falls. I swipe at them, angrily. I don’t want her to know that she has hurt me. That’s not okay. We’ve been heading here since her insistence on focusing on my current world happenings. I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve felt on edge about her and whether or not she was getting it, and my feelings had already been raw and slightly hurting.

“Are you sure?” She presses, and her voice sounds like she really wants to know, and maybe she does, but I already know my role. Smile. Go along. Don’t tell.

I nod. “I’m okay.” And with that, I grab a tissue and wipe at my face. I’m sure it’s a mess.

I don’t remember the rest of the session, really. I know I smiled and nodded and tried my best to act okay.

Now I’m in this weird, fake okay, not here place. I spent the rest of Monday in bed, watching old movies and being oblivious to the world. I ditched swimming and yoga and didn’t do any cleaning. I have no desire to talk to anyone. I spent today doing the much of the same. Tomorrow, I need to get up and function and be okay. No more moping. I’m not even sure what I’m moping about. The fact that my shrink feels not here, like she doesn’t care? The fact that she shut me down, much the way I shut myself down for years? The fact that I’m a horrible mom, triggered by her kid, and even aware of that unable to fully control my reaction? The fact that I feel like I was nothing more than a living sex toy for most of my childhood and even into my teen years? I don’t know. I’m confused. I’m lost. I’m all alone.

Flashback fallout

Flashbacks, eating disorders behavior, sexual abuse, self injury. All of these things are in this post. It’s been a day. A very bad day. And I haven’t slept, and I need a place to put this all down and get it out. In a few hours, I’ll see Bea. Maybe she can contain this mess. I don’t know. But in the meantime, I’m posting this messy post. It might be triggering. Please be careful. Skip reading it if any of the above mentioned things might be triggering for you. Xx

I have to be up in 3 hours. I can’t sleep. If I’m still up in an hour, hour and a half, I’ll give up and start drinking coffee. This is so typical for me. I’ll be thankful that I have the nanny until 2 tomorrow, and maybe nap and then feel guilty, or lounge in bed and do nothing and feel ashamed and lazy, or do household chores and feel exhausted and then have no energy to give my daughter in the afternoon. But really, what will be new? Mom hasn’t had the energy to live up to her usual “mom-ness” anyway. But today, today, I cleaned and cooked dinner and ate almost nothing. A few handfuls of cereal, coffee, tea, water. I cut. I maintained control. I had a flashback, but I got through it. Life went on. I yelled at my daughter, a burst of anger over nothing, something dumb, something so typically 4. Ugh. But I kept control, I reigned it in. I scared myself. But I stopped the yelling. I cleaned, I made dinner, I played a little, I painted nails with her. I have a plan to be better tomorrow.

Why is it that I only seem to be able to maintain control of my life if I’m starving and cutting and barely sleeping? I don’t understand myself. Why is it when I’m falling apart at the seams, breaking in pieces, and hiding, I can accomplish nothing but extreme hatred of myself? And if I’m working through things in therapy, sleeping and working through the nightmares, the flashbacks, the memories, attempting to eat (it may not be “good” or “right” but eating is eating and there are only so many safe foods out there) and not throw up and not cut and not hide and be honest, I can’t seem to do anything, keep up with simple daily tasks like laundry and dishes, sweeping, cooking, grocery shopping, lesson planning, dusting, ext. Oh, yes, it’s these times when things get organized, furniture gets moved and big things get done; whenever stuff gets too much, and I don’t want to think, I’ll find a big project. But the day to day stuff lacks.

I don’t understand myself. Shouldn’t it be better when I’m not hiding, not faking okay, not shoving everything down? On Monday, Bea read the angry list out loud. And I lived, and she didn’t decided I was this terrible awful person. And I started to really think about the ideas of “Mom left me. He hurt me. I didn’t have a choice.” I thought I was okay with that, with the idea of it, becoming more real. Tuesday and today I hid behind chores and perfection. The bubble is back, a little. But not in the good way. All the out of control, scary feelings are right there.

I had this memory, this one thought, hit me today, out of the blue. I don’t know what even triggered it, exactly. I think it was partly Kat, something she said. And I just flipped out. But even as I was yelling at her, there was this memory right there, this picture, this feeling. His insistence on helping me change into pajamas, and tuck me into bed, and just this huge overwhelming feeling that I didn’t need help, I was big, but he was in charge and I couldn’t say no, and standing at my dresser, pulling out pajamas, looking out my window wishing my parents would be pulling in the drive way, but knowing they wouldn’t be home yet, it was too early, and feeling so lost and just left, and….I don’t know, not okay, because she left.

And so later, when Hubby got back home, I took a bath to try to feel human again, and calm down. I ended up cutting. And then I focused on cleaning and organizing. And Kat didn’t get a lot of mom time, I played while I cooked dinner, and I played during dinner, and after dinner we painted nails. But that was it. And it was dinner time when I realized I hadn’t eaten, and panicked over the food on my plate, and chose to not eat. And I felt more in control, and stronger. Calmer. Better. Like it was really okay, finally.

There was another memory pop up, when I laid down for bed. I had pulled the blankets down and folded them back, remade the bed with new sheets earlier in the day. And when I sat down and went to pull the blanket over me, it was like suffocating. I couldn’t find my breath. He would pull my blankets in over me, tuck me in, rub my back and it would all be so normal. Singing Jesus loves me. Like it was just a regular thing, nice. I hate that song. Hate it. He didn’t leave though, after. He stayed. And pulls the covers back down. I can’t do anything. There isn’t anything to do, except what he wants to do. But I can’t leave, or hide, or say no. I already agreed before. I already played this secret game, and promised it would be a secret. And he’s my friend, and he is in charge and it’s okay because it doesn’t hurt and it does feel good sometimes, and there is no reason to feel sick in my stomach or scared like this. But I do. And I didn’t understand why, not really. It was all confusing. There wasn’t anyone to talk to, or ask, or tell. Not my mom. She left me. She left me with him, and she left me emotionally. Not my Dad. He doesn’t see. They need perfect. And good, perfect girls don’t play secret games like this, I’m pretty sure of that.

And so it’s 3:46am, and I’m still awake because a memory that popped in my head has felt too real, and too frightening, and I’m too afraid too sleep. I’ve read a book, watched a TV show, and now resorted to writing it out. Because there is nothing left to do.

I’ve completely chickened out and moved myself out to the living room, turned on every light available, and made a cup of strong coffee. In all honesty, if there were a few more lights to turn on, I’d be happier. I’m sure Hubby will lecture me about it in the morning, when I get home from therapy. He’ll tell me how I should have gone to bed, how he got up at such and such time and couldn’t believe I was still up, just reading a book, or worse, he will have woken and realized I was up and out of bed at some ungodly hour, and he won’t be able to believe I would get up like that when I complain about not sleeping and am supposed to be working on fixing my sleep cycle. I’ll get defensive and mad, snap at him, push him away. He’d never think to approach it in a way that is gentler. Like asking me if it was a rough night, giving me an opening, to tell as much or as little as I like. Instead he criticizes me for things I can’t help, and makes me feel dumb, small, silly…..it’s yet another opportunity to open up to him that won’t happen because of his approach. Because it makes me feel like I don’t matter, like I’m not good enough, like I’m screwing up and doing things wrong, ruining his perfect world.

Coping with hell

I’m in Bea’s office, curled on her couch, holding my chai tea in my hand. I feel like I can finally breathe, like I can relax, like I can just be. I can stop trying to pretend I’m okay, I can stop feeling guilty that I can’t seem to pretend anymore. We’ve talked about Kat, and how she played on Friday in therapy. It concerns me, but Bea seems to feel it was good, although she can see why it would feel disturbing to me. I try to hold on to the idea that the play means Kat is working through her stuff.

“So how was it, being back at your parents?” Bea asks, switching subjects from Kat to me.

I stare at the floor, play with the rubber band around my travel thermos. I don’t want to answer. I want her to know, but I don’t want to have to tell it all. It’s too much.

“You were sick, did that get better? There was a lot you were dealing with already before the weekend.” Bea looks at me. She’s referring to a situation with Kat, that had sent me into a panic, emailing Bea and begging her to help and make it okay, to give me a reality check. I had known, that being sick, and all the flashback crap I was dealing with, I wasn’t objective. Bea had emailed back quickly and reassured me, as well as pointed out several things that gave me a reality check.

“It got better. I was okay. We left for my parents Saturday.” I tell her this, and my voice feels a little robotic.

“Did your mom have stuff planned?” Bea asks.

I nod. I look up at her. “It wasn’t a good weekend.” My voice cracks, and tears threaten to fall.

After a minute, when I don’t continue speaking, Bea says,”You know, I think Easter is a hard holiday, maybe the hardest. It’s all about purity, and renewal, about joy and innocence. Even on the surface, the symbols of Easter, bunnies and baby chicks are about new life and sweetness. That can be hard to be around, hard to feel, when so many ugly truths are sitting inside your head. It can feel like you are completely at odds with everything the holiday stands for.” Her voice is kind, and understanding. Everything she is saying makes sense.

I start crying, cover my face. I don’t want to do this today.

“Did you go to church?” Bea asks.

I shake my head. “No…I…no.” I lose track of the conversation, but somehow I’m telling her how hubby came to church one year, probably the first year we dated. “We always go to sunrise service. It’s really beautiful,” I tell her. “Hubby was surprised…..he was raised baptist (at this point, I will apologize to anyone who identifies as baptist. I realize not all baptists are like this, but this is how hubby was raised.) so he was surprised how my church was.” I ask Bea if she knows much about the baptist religion, and she shakes her head. “It’s hellfire and brimstone, it seems like you believe because you are afraid not to. There’s no dancing, no singing. It’s very strict. His parents didn’t follow that….but, it’s the church they went to, so the God hubby came to know was scary.”

Bea doesn’t tell me what she believes, or even if she goes to church, but when I get worried she could be baptist, and I could have offended her, she assures me she is not. “My husband did go to a baptist church, and then he became Lutheran, so I have a little familiarity.”

“Okay. My dad was Lutheran, my mom was Methodist. I was raised non-denominational. It’s about the most lax you can get. We sing, we wear jeans….well, my generation wears jeans…it’s about God loving us, forgiving us, not about being afraid. So Hubby was surprised. He doesn’t do church now, though. But I couldn’t…I just couldn’t do sunrise service. My mom went. I stayed home, I said I was feeling sick.”

I lose track of the conversation again. Bea is talking about church, Jesus, God. I don’t want to have this talk. While I had been explaining hubby’s experience and mine with church growing up, I had lifted my face to look at her. Now, I hug my knees to my chest, bury my face.

“Do you know who Jesus hung out with?” Bea asks me.

I sigh. “I don’t want to have this conversation.”

“Okay. Can I say something about Jesus the man, the person? No theoretical religious speak from me, I’m not a religion scholar.”

“Okay.” I’m too tired to argue. And part of me really does want to have this conversation.

“Jesus hung out with the poor people, the sick, the prostitutes. He hung out with the people looked down on by society. He didn’t hang out with the high and mighty. My mom….she was an immigrant, she was poor when she moved here. Eventually, she moved to a more affluent area, that was heavily Christian and a lot of the neighbors had been talking about the gays, and the poor, and the riff raff, and saying terrible things. She finally got mad– and my mom doesn’t get mad, so this was a big deal– and she said, ‘who do you think Jesus would be hanging out with if he were here? The very people you are putting down!’ And she was right. There’s a new book out, Zealot, about the life of Jesus, as a man. The author is Muslim, but his wife and mother are Christian. He writes about Jesus and the good life he led, the people he spent his time with. And he says, even though he doesn’t believe Jesus is the savior, he wants to follow his example, because he led a kind life. That’s who Jesus was. I think your version of God, of forgiveness and love sounds about right,” Bea’s words come out in a rush, and I can hear pride in her voice when she speaks about her mom standing up for her beliefs.

“I’m not talking about this.” But I file the name of that book away in the back of my mind for later. I wonder, did Bea read it? Or has it just been one of those newsworthy books?

“Okay. I do think this is going to be important in your healing. I know it’s caused you a lot of pain. And I know I started talking on and on. I’m sorry,” she apologizes. I’m surprised. I wasn’t even feeling upset or mad, or anything, but her apology, and acknowledgement that I had asked to not discuss it but she got lost on a tangent, soothes me. It makes me feel like I have worth, like I’m allowed to speak up. Like it’s okay.

I lose track again, and then I’m telling her it was a bad weekend. “Saturday…” I shake my head. “Saturday….” I can’t get past that word. My breathing speeds up, my heart is racing. I’m shaking, and my eyes are darting around, even with my head down. I try to shrink into myself, scoot back, be small. I’m afraid. I can’t talk. I need Bea to know, but I can’t talk. How am I going to tell her? Can I text it to her? Is that stupid? I don’t know. I can’t do this. I need to hide. There is a closet in Bea’s office, it’s filled with toys and art supplies. Can I hide in the closet? Probably not. She’ll think I’ve lost it for sure if I try to go hide in her closet.

“Something really bad happened. Something very scary happened on Saturday,” Bea says. She doesn’t sound worried, or upset, or anything. She sounds fine. Her voice grounds me a little. “Did your mom pull out more pictures?”

I want to shake my head, but I can’t seem to.

“Okay. Did his parents come over?” She asks.

No. Not his parents. I can’t think. I just keep replaying those few minutes over and over.

“I wish I could just pull this out of your head, so you didn’t have to say it,” Bea says. She knows how hard talking can be for me. Sometimes, once whatever it is, is out there, I can talk around it, without naming it again. But the actual naming of it is painful.

I’m crying, and shaking, trying to control my breathing. I don’t want to have an anxiety attack.

“Is there anything I can do to help you, to make this easier?” Bea sounds like she might be a little sad or something, I don’t know. Like she really wants to help me and it pains her that I’m struggling so much.

I shake my head, hold my knees tighter. “There’s nothing you can do. I just want it to go away.” The words float out, a whisper, a plea, but they don’t come easily. Every syllable is a fight.

“It’s just really hard. This was really a bad thing,” Bea says. She knows it wasn’t good. I don’t know why, but I know, deep down to my bones that she believes me. It’s okay.

We sit in silence, Bea just being there, believing me and wanting to help, and me, trying to breathe and calm myself.

“Did you write it down?” Bea asks me.

Her question knocks me of kilter for some reason. “Yeah. Yeah I did write it.” I’m surprised. I wrote it down. Why didn’t I think of that?

“Is it here?”

“Yes…well..it’s in my iPad. On my list…it’s unedited. I don’t really turn in things unedited.” Except last week, I gave her the whole list, unedited and messy, and it was okay.

Bea gives a small laugh. “That’s something we have in common then. I don’t have many things I’m OCD about, but editing things is one of them. I won’t judge,” she says, and then almost as an after thought, she adds, “You might not get an A, though,” with a small chuckle to let me know she is joking.

I smile. “I don’t know. I need to have perfect grammar, and get an A.”

Bea laughs for real now. “Alice, you’re funny.”

I smile, laugh under my breath quietly. “I know.” And we both laugh again, as I lift my head and wipe my eyes.

I grab my iPad out, pull up the list and scroll down to where I wrote about Saturday. I sit, staring at it. I don’t move. Bea is quiet. It’s okay to give it to her, I tell myself. It takes some convincing, but I hand it to her, and immediately bury my face. I don’t want to see her face when she reads it. I don’t want to see any emotions play across it that may mirror my own. I don’t want to see nothing, either. No matter what her initial reaction is, I’ll be upset. Why is it that there is no pleasing me? Was my mom right when she said no one would ever make me happy, there was no pleasing me, I put people in impossible positions, I’m so needy, I take and take, I drain people of all they have? I hide because I can’t face Bea right now.

She reads about Saturday.

He brought a cake. Saturday afternoon. I can’t even write about it. He said hi to me. Like it was normal. Hi to hubby. My mom chatted with him, like he is the perfect person he pretends to be. Hubby talked to him. They had a conversation. I stood there. In the kitchen, frozen. There was a knife in front of me, and I thought about grabbing it, cutting. I didn’t. He left, I smiled, waved, said nice to see you, bye, happy Easter. Oh my God. What the hell is wrong with me? I can’t do this. I think he knew. I thought he might tell hubby how disgusting I am. He knows I told the secret. It’s crazy, I know I sound crazy, that there is no way he could know, but I swear he knows and it’s not okay. It’s not okay at all.

While she reads, she makes an mmmhmm sound, and then, “This is terrible. Very terrible. No wonder you feel like this, it is horrific. Your own personal hell, knocking on the door.”

I’m afraid, suddenly, that she is going to make me talk about it. I don’t know why I’m afraid of that. She’s never made me talk about anything. She’s talked and I’ve listened in uncomfortable situations. But she has never made me talk. I’m done hiding and lying and pretending though, so I say, “Please don’t make me talk about this.” My voice is tiny, and scared. But she needs to know what I’m feeling.

“I won’t,” she says seriously.

She continues reading, even though there is nothing more about him being at the house. It’s a list of the weekend, of things I dealt with, things from now and from the past that were in my head. Last time she had read something on my list, she asked if she could read the rest of it. This time, she just reads, and that’s okay. I had almost said to her to read it all anyways.

“This is your voice,” Bea sounds excited, like she has discovered something amazing. “Right here, in your writing, you are finding your voice. This is your voice: ‘I’m so tired of lying. I’m tired of saying I’m okay when I’m not. I’m tired of smiling when I want to cry. I’m tired of not being mad, when I should be mad, and hiding from mad so well, that I can’t even feel it.’ That’s you. That’s real.”

I listen to her reading my words back to me, and realize they are true. I’m tired of it all. I just want….I don’t know what. To be real. To be me and not afraid, to have a life, my life, without hiding.

“This is good, this is you finding you.” Bea sounds almost giddy. I don’t know why, but her happiness makes me feel lighter.

She goes back to reading. Next on the list is the memory of the kiss up north, when I was 12. I’m feeling hazy and light headed when Bea talks to me. I can’t focus on her words, can’t grab onto them. All I have is this overwhelming sense of rejection. He pushed me away. He didn’t want me. Why? What did I do wrong? My mother was horrified by my actions. She didn’t dig deeper. Why? What did I do wrong? They both left me. I can’t escape this feeling of alone. Isolated. Confused and hurt.

“There’s nothing before, nothing after. What was I thinking?” I finally say to Bea.

“I don’t know,” she tells me honestly. It’s one of the things I admire about her; she is honest and up front. She won’t lie to me. She says something about it being okay to be angry with my mom.

I shake my head. “I can’t….I don’t know. It’s so messy.”

“It’s going to be messy for a while. It just is.” She says, matter of fact about it.

I shrug. “Hubby talked to him. They talked.” I sound shocked.

“That was really scary. Did hubby say anything about it to you?”

“No. It was just a normal chat. I hid in the kitchen.” I’m shaking again, and all those feelings are threatening to come out. I shove them down. I can’t do it. I need to be numb, or at least as numb as I can be.

“There has to be rage there, even if you didn’t feel it. You wrote about the knives, looking at them, thinking about cutting. But you didn’t cut. I wish you would have wanted to hurt him.” Bea says. She pause a moment, and backtracks, “That was a strange thing to say, I’m sorry.”

I shake my head. I get it. “I think you just want so badly for me to be mad at him, and not to be hurting myself. That’s all.”

“Yes. The truth is, I’m mad about the injustice of it all. I’m mad at how badly you were hurt, and how much you were isolated and shut down and hiding all these years. It makes me so angry. But, I have to separate that anger from this work. Because if I’m going to walk with you on your journey, I can’t push my feelings.”

“That sounds hard,” I say. I’ve thought about it before, how hard that has to be, but we have never talked about it.

“Sure, it can be. As you know, we’ve experienced my feelings getting in the way. But you told me you needed to feel like I was on your side, not trying to get you to do something else. So I backed off on the hubby stuff. At times, I want to say, I’m calling your parents and giving them a piece of my mind, I’m emailing kenny and telling him all the damage he caused and to stay away, and send hubby in here, drag him in here and I’ll set him straight.”

I smile, despite myself. I feel protected for a minute, safe. Bea is acting like my lion at the gate. “You can’t call my parents, or email kenny.” I laugh. “I might let you have hubby, though.”

Bea laughs. “You can send him in whenever you are ready. I’m here.” There’s something reassuring in her words. Just the idea, when I’m ready, she’s here. That’s huge.

A realization is slowly forming in my mind. “I told you to back off.” I say slowly.

“Yes, you did.”

“I told you to back off, and you did. And it was okay.” I say, slowly again.

“Yes…?” Bea says, an unasked question in the air. She doesn’t know what I’m getting at. I’m not exactly sure, either, it’s something I feel, something I can’t quite get into words.

“I didn’t think about it. I just asked. I said I needed to feel like you were on my side. I wasn’t afraid to say it. I didn’t second guess myself, or anything, I just said it, and it was okay.” In my head, I add that she didn’t get mad, that she listened, she was still there, she didn’t leave.

“Ohhh. I would say we have a good working relationship then. You know it’s safe to ask for what you need. That’s good, you are learning to say what it is you need. And it’s okay to have needs.” Bea says.

I don’t say anything, just nod.

“Have you talked to Hubby about anything? How did he handle your snapping at Easter?” Bea asks.

I shrug. She’s read the part of my list that says:

I could not pull it together this weekend. I skipped church, I’ve never done that on Easter ever. We always go to sunrise service on the bluff. I did not go. I couldn’t go pray and sing and worship and proclaim that I’m saved, and act like life is perfect. I could not find my facade. I couldn’t fake anything at all. I was mean, short tempered. I snapped at so many people, including my mother. My poor mother and hubby took the worst of it. I couldn’t relax, couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t be present, I didn’t want to socialize, or talk, or be around noise. And anyone who messed with that was snapped at. I tried, and tried, but I could not fake it. I don’t seem to have it in me anymore, not like I used to. I’m so tired of lying. I’m tired of saying I’m okay when I’m not. I’m tired of smiling when I want to cry. I’m tired of not being mad, when I should be mad, and hiding from mad so well, that I can’t even feel it. I couldn’t fake it. So I claimed I was still really sick. I hid. I took a bath and cut myself with someone’s razor. I stuffed my face with Reese’s eggs and the cake he brought, and threw up. I coped. Not well. But I coped.

“My mom….she just acted like it was because I was sick. She needs it to be like that.”

“I guessed that,” Bea says.

“Hubby…well, there was one point where he gave me that look…the one that says I had gone too far….but he just pushed it all away,” I tell her, sadly, “I married my mother.”

Bea laughs at that, and then turns serious. “I was thinking that same thing, except, Hubby has the capacity to be different, to really be there for you. When we told him your past, his reaction and his plea to me to help him know how to help you the day he came in, those things show me he can change. You just have to be willing to open up to him. If he knew what you were dealing with, if he had an idea…send him in here for tune ups on a regular basis, so he stays aware and doesn’t fall into detached mode, I think it would really help, thing would be different.”

I sigh. “That’s scary.” As much as I trust Bea, the idea of hubby and Bea talking on a regular basis terrifies me. I’m not sure I like that idea. I’m paranoid about people in my life hating me, finding me annoying and needy, and to have them talking about me….I don’t know.

“It is scary. It’s an idea. When you are ready.” She pauses, and then continues, “Did you guys talk about you being mean?”

“No. It’s not worth it.” I sigh. I’m tired, so tired. “I tried to talk to him. Friday. It was…not okay…confusing…..I don’t know. Didn’t you read it?” I’d written about the sex and the questions and how messy everything got.

“No, I didn’t see it.”

I sigh. I’ll probably kick myself for doing this, but I tell her that it’s above the Saturday thing. She scrolls up, and reads. I cringe, knowing what she is reading.

“He wanted something solid, a reason, something he could fix,” Bea says.

I nod. “He can’t handle my not okays and I don’t knows. And that is a lot of what I have.”

“This was a good conversation for you guys to have. You told him you weren’t okay. That was big.” She keeps talking, but I’m not listening. She’s right, I did try to open the conversion, and that was good, but I don’t want to hear her talking about sex.

“It’s okay to have needs. You see allowed to have them. It’s not bad to want sex.”

I freeze. I don’t say a word. Inside, I’m shouting at Bea. You’re wrong, you’re stupid. Shut up, stop it. It is not okay to want sex, to like to be touched. Bad girls like that. Dirty girls, slutty girls. It’s wrong,wrong, wrong, bad, bad, bad, shut up, you are wrong, it’s not okay. I’m lost in the tirade in my head, holding it back, not allowing the words to escape. How odd, how very, very, strange that I’m normally fighting to get words out, and now, I’m fighting to keep them in. I won’t be mean to Bea. I will not be mean to the one person I trust and believe in.

“I want us to slow this down, to start coming back, to try to get to a good place.” Bea says.

Her words cut off the angry rant in my head. I nod.

We sit for a minute in silence, and then I say something about my mom, and it being hard ro be around her.

“I imagine it is right now. You might have to back off for a little bit, take some time for you again, like you did in the beginning. Going back there, to your parents, has given you lots of good things more recently, but I imagine being back in that house is like time stopped, in some ways.”

“There’s so many things now…grandpa’s anniversary memorial, Mother’s Day, June birthdays….” I sigh.

Bea stays quiet, and then she gently reminds me that I have choices.

“I don’t have to go,” I whisper. “But I’ll feel bad…she’ll feel bad…I don’t know..”

“Yes. We don’t have to figure this out right now. What’s important to remember is that you have choices now, you are aware you have choices, you aren’t powerless.”

I think about that. A year ago, I didn’t realize there was a choice, that I could choose to not go to family events, and that the world would not end if I did that. Now, I know I have a choice. I have a choice.

“You lived through your worst nightmare, in some ways, this weekend, and you survived it. You coped,” Bea tells me.

“I feel like one of the zombies on hubby’s video game,” I confess.

“Half alive?”

I nod. She gets it.

“How could you not? It’s almost unfathomable for the psyche to understand. It will take a while to process, I think.”

“I’m tired. I’m just so tired,” I cry. I don’t mean tired like I want to go to bed. I mean tired like emotionally beat down, like I can not take another thing.

“I know. I know.” She soothes, in a voice that might be used with a child, gentle and calm. “You survived, you are here. You are back in your world, your life, your house and routine, with your things. He’s not here, he’s there. Even your parents can’t come visit without your permission. This is your world here. You survived, you coped.”

I sniffle. I think of how I coped this weekend. I was mean, snappy. I was dissociative. I cut myself multiple times. I picked my fingers to a bloody mess. I stuffed myself and vomited. I stepped on the scale and obsessed over the numbers. I coped. “Not very good,” I finally say.

“Doesn’t matter. You coped, you survived, to come back to your life. You survived a version of your own personal hell.” Bea says. She’s serious, too. She isn’t condemning me for how I coped.

“I like my life,” I tell her. And I do. When I think of my friends, my daughter, homeschool, our ABA team, our gym, our routine, our neighbors….I like my life.

“I do, too. I want your life,” Bea says, laughing.

“You can’t have it.” I laugh. “Well, if you take it, you gotta take all the ugly stuff, too.”

“I suppose that’s true of anyone’s life. We all have ugly stuff with the good stuff.” Bea turns serious, and contemplative. “You might not see it, or feel it, but you have come so far. You really are healing. You’re just in the middle of the hardest part, the feelings, the confusion, the trying to understand something that is beyond comprehension. You’re digging down deep.” Bea sounds….almost proud or something. Pleased, maybe. I don’t know.

“I think….when I think about it, it feels like I have changed. I can talk more. I know feelings, I feel them. But I don’t know…it hurts more. Things are more real and they hurt more…..” I trail off. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say.

“Yes. This part does hurt more. You’re more present than you used to be. You do talk more, and have your feelings. You’re seeing it might be okay to have needs. You’re finding your voice.” Bea smiles at me.

I sigh. “It’s hard.”

“It’s very hard. A lot of people don’t get to this point. But you’re here.”

It’s silent again, maybe each of us digesting what we have just talked about.

I sit up, grabbing my things. I look up at Bea, and feel like crying with relief. The only thing on her face is kindness and caring. “I’m okay,” I tell her. “Well. Not okay. But you know.”

We talk about the plan for the rest of the day and the next few days. “I think it’s going to be important that you really try to stay grounded in the now. To remember you are here, and safe, that you survived.”

Somehow, as I’m leaving, sitting on the edge of the couch, we start talking about Kenny having a kid. I don’t know how that came up. I bury my face in my hands for a moment.

“He has a little boy, right?” Bea asks me.

I nod. “They thought they were having a girl………..the ultrasound showed a girl….” My stomach turns. I remember how sick I felt at the thought of him having a daughter. I wonder, if he’d had a girl, would I have said something?

“How old is he?” Bea asks me.

I think. Was I living here, or back home at the time? Or in college? I can’t remember now. I think it was when I was living here. “9? 8?…..I think he’s 8 now. I can’t remember. I was relieved when they had a boy.”

Bea looks unsure of what she is about to say. “I’m not sure it always matters,” she says slowly. And now I know why she seemed reluctant to say what she was saying. “It makes us feel better that he doesn’t have a little girl, but I’m not sure it always matters.”

I look down at the floor. “Sometimes…..I feel guilty….” I can’t finish the thought.

“Because you didn’t tell?” Bea asks.

“Yeah. What if he….and I could have stopped it by telling?” I stare at the blue of the rug, let it go blurry. This conversation hurts.

“It’s not for you to worry about that right now,” Bea tells me softly. She says something else too, something comforting and kind, but I’m not listening fully.

“I’m the adult. I should…I don’t know…it’s my job, as a grown up to be responsible.”

I don’t remember what she says. It’s the right thing, kind, and reassuring, and not a lie. She doesn’t placate me.

Bea helps me come back present, grounded. I leave with her reminding me that I survived, that I got through it, I coped.

I didn’t fall apart completely. I didn’t put on my miss perfect facade. I was mean, and I hurt myself, I let my ED take control for a while. But I survived the weekend of my own personal hell. I coped. As bad as things are, I feel like things are changing, I’m changing…and it hurts and is hard and I’m on unsteady ground, but I think it’s going to be good, eventually.

Easter

Easter. I was raised in church, so for me, Easter is about Christ rising, saving us from our sins. It is about being saved. It is about eternal grace. It is about the love of the cross. It is a time to remember when we accepted Christ’s gift, and were saved.

Easter weekend and all it stands for is a constant reminder of my sins, of the things I have done that can not be forgiven, of the fact I am going to hell.

It’s a day that I’ve put on a happy face and proclaimed “I’m saved!” along with the rest of my friends and family. It’s a day that I’ve spent remembering how Jesus wiped away my sins….except, He didn’t. He couldn’t. Nothing and no one can wipe away the things I’ve done. No savior, no matter how loving and good could ever forgive me. It is what it is.

This weekend, I’m struggling to put on that happy face. I’m just coming off being sick. My defenses are down because of that. My bubble has been popped by Bea. I just don’t have it in me to pretend. I’m snappy, my temper is short, there is no patience in me. I don’t want to be social, to talk to to people and smile. I don’t want to greet our guests, and talk about how my family is doing. I don’t want to smile and nod when my mom proclaims my “accomplishments” with Kat and her ABA and homeschooling and autism insurance coverage; let alone to talk about those things and answer questions. I can’t pull the facade together. It’s not there, it’s not in me to act like things are perfect. Things are so far from perfect. I don’t even know where to start. I hate feeling like this, being like this. I can hear, and feel myself reacting in anger, in frustration, but I can’t stop it. The fact that I am mean is only further proof that I’m bad.

So, I avoid people as much as I can, claim I’m still feeling sick, dissociate without meaning to. I take a shower and end up cutting myself with a razor someone left sitting on the shelf. I stuff myself with carrot cake and Reese’s eggs and run to the bathroom to throw up. It’s not a good weekend.

It’s made worse because of what I know, what I remember. A snapshot, a wisp of a memory, something I don’t want to grab onto, but that I can’t seem to stop from looking at. It’s like when you pass the scene of an accident– most people driving by can’t help but look at the wreckage. And so I look at the horror of the snapshot in my mind. It makes me question everything. Summer. 1996. I was 12. We’re at the pool. Up north. Kenny and I. His hand had been between my legs, and my mom had walked up. He moves back, and she doesn’t notice. I lean towards him, and kiss him, a real kiss, in front of her. He pushes me back, disgusted, shocked. My mom is horrified. I’m in trouble. I don’t have a memory of that, a snapshot, but I have this…feeling…this knowing, that I was talked to about having a crush, and acting appropriate, because what I did was not appropriate. I want to vomit. I feel cold. Abandoned. She didn’t see what was right in front of her. I’m being a drama queen, but I feel like she left me. Like she didn’t care enough to ask, to think, to do anything. I don’t know.

That’s it. There’s nothing more. No before, no after to the memory. Just a wispy snapshot, nothing, not even a moment really. But it’s enough. It’s yet another sin to add to the list.

She brought her sledge hammer

“So…I had to send an email to Carly, and I told her that I really did hope Jaime knew it wasn’t personal, that we liked him, it just wasn’t a good fit and that if she felt it was appropriate, she could pass that on to him. So I didn’t send anything to Jaime, but…well. It seems okay. Carly emailed back that I don’t need to apologize and that it’s okay.” I finally take a breath, and smile at Bea. It’s Monday morning, 8:10am, and I’ve been up since 4:30. I’ve also had two pots of coffee, done the laundry, planned dinner, unloaded the dishwasher, and swept the floor. Then I got ready for therapy, made a shopping list and headed out the door.

“Well, it sounds like you found a way to have some closure. That’s good,” Bea says.

I shrug. “I had to do it in a round a bout way, but I did it. Kind of.”

“This time, it was a round about way. Maybe not the next time. I think you handled it fine.”

And then, there’s nothing. Silence. I don’t like silence, and Bea isn’t talking. I find some idle chit chat to try to fill the silence, but Bea isn’t letting me go there. Okay. Now what? I’m lost.

Bea looks at me, and I have a feeling this is going to be bad. “I was thinking it might be a good time to talk about symptoms.”

I just stare at her for a minute. What? Why? No. That’s all I can think. No. “Umm. Well, I’m okay. You know that.”

“Yes, I know you are okay on the outside. But I haven’t brought up symptoms for quite a while. Some people might say I have been negligent to not bring them up. I really felt that unless you told me you were in a bad place, some trauma needed to be worked through in order for us to even work through the symptoms. I would dare to say you are in a healthier place with the trauma stuff now, and so it seems a good time to do a symptom check in. I’m not saying anything has to change, but we need to know where you stand right now. That’s all. Dealing with the past, processing through it, that’s good, but there’s no point if it’s not helping you in your present, and symptoms are kind of like present day manifestations of trauma,” Bea says.

As she has been talking, I’ve been slowly pulling my knees to my chest, and burying my face in them, covering my head with my arms. And then it’s quiet again.

“You know. I have a new client I’m seeing, and he tells me I talk too much in his sessions. In my head, it’s funny, because I have this other person, who tells me to talk more. But I think it’s time I stop talking so much, and let you see what comes up. I need to stop filling in the blanks for you.”

What? I’ve been working so hard to talk more. I have been talking more. I feel like I’m being punished. And she’s doing this today? On the day she is insisting we talk about symptoms? I don’t want to have this conversation.

Bea sighs. “Okay, symptoms. Have they been better? Worse? The same?” And that’s all she says. She means it. She doesn’t speak up, even after I’m quiet for another few minutes.

Finally, I say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Talking about it means admitting I am not okay. Talking about it means ripping myself apart. Talking about it means talking about why symptoms are worse. No. No, and no.

She’s silent for a second. “Okay. Can we talk about why? What about talking about it feels bad?”

I don’t answer. I don’t have an answer. I just don’t want to talk about this.

“What is the it you don’t want to talk about?” She finally asks me.

I don’t answer. I feel like a defiant teenager. Like an odd reincarnation of my fifteen year old self. Snotty, bratty, stubborn, and mean. The only thought running through my head is all of it, I don’t want to talk about any of it, and you can’t make me.

Bea can apparently be stubborn. But, I’m in the mindset of either waiting her out, or just leaving. I wonder if I can just walk out. If I have it in me. Just as I decide I do, she breaks the silence. “So, symptoms. We had sleeping, nightmares, picking, cutting, eating. And others I’m sure I haven’t listed. I always feel like it’s the cutting that increases in frequency when someone is in pain– emotional pain.”

I’m not in pain. I’m fine. I’m okay. “I’m okay.” I don’t know if I’m trying to convince Bea, or myself now. My head is spinning. I’m pretty sure she told me earlier that we are all done talking about trauma stuff, that I’m in a healthy place with that now, and it’s onto symptoms. She’s ready for me to be gone. I’m supposed to be over the trauma now. And I’m not. I finally was just starting to feel like I could talk about it. Oh my God, I’m such a failure. I can’t even do therapy right.

“All right. You’re okay. So where are these symptoms?” She asks again. Why is she pushing so hard? I hate that she brought this up. It’s not fair.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Maybe you don’t want to talk about it because it feels like I won’t be able to handle it. Maybe you don’t want to talk about it because it feels like I could freak out and say, ‘oh no, you can’t be doing that.’ I’m not going to. And I’m not going to take anything away from you. I’m not asking you to change what you are doing to cope. This is just a check in. That’s all,” she says. And then, she hits my perfect facade with a sledge hammer. “I never assumed you stopped cutting. I never assumed that the eating stuff was fixed. But those things are doing too good a job now. Nothing can get through to you, and nothing is getting out.”

I can feel myself cracking. She knew. She knew I hadn’t stopped, and she knew that I was worse. Someone saw me. Crap.

“The cutting. Is it still happening?”

I nod. And feel a tear escape. Damn it.

“How often?” She asks me, but I will not answer that, so she adds, “More frequently?”

It feels like I sit for a very long time in silence. Finally, I nod my head.

She goes through the same questions for eating, and I nod my head. Yes, there is still an issue. Yes, there is an increase in the symptom.

I don’t know what else is said. I cry a lot, and feel very broken and overwhelmed and like a failure. I don’t know what I’m doing. My head is spinning, and I can feel a migraine coming on. I hate this. I hate that she did this. I need to be okay. Why is that such a bad thing? Why couldn’t she just let me be okay?

I think Bea tells me acting perfect and stuffing all my feelings and needs down inside is a step backwards. I think she says something about how I need to see that I’m not allowing myself to exist. That I’m turning all my rage inward, and hurting myself. That the perfect act is not sustainable. But I don’t really hear her. All I can think is that she really is sick of hearing about my ugly stuff. That she is done with needy me, and it’s time for me to move on, deal with my symptoms and get out of here.

Somehow, I make it to the end up the session. I wipe my tears with the back of my hand, my head still buried in my knees.

“Do you want a Kleenex?” Bea offers me.

“No. I’m okay,” I tell her.

“Why do I have a feeling you have some in your bag, anyway?” She says. I’m always prepared, always organized. She knows this.

I shake my head. “I actually think Kat used all the ones in my bag. But I have some in the car, anyway.”

“Well, I have boxes of them, so take a few and throw them in your bag if you need them,” she offers one more time.

I don’t answer. Instead, I say, “I really just wish you had never brought this up.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” She’s quiet, soft spoken about it. She’s sorry I’m upset, but I don’t think she’s sorry she brought it up.

I say good bye, and leave. I try to realign my facade, but someone hit it with a sledge hammer.

Disconnection completed

This post is full of potential triggers– self harm, eating disorder and suicidal ideation. Please, please read with caution and be safe. It’s raw and mostly unedited; messy and very, very real. I’m in a scary place right now. I will be okay, I somehow still believe that, still want to be okay and heal. But this post isn’t pretty or nice and light reading. So please take care of yourselves, and skip it of any of the above mentioned things are triggering for you.

I don’t know what happened on Monday with Bea. The whole session felt off, wrong, scattered. I was dissociated enough that I only remember bits and pieces of the session, and Bea never once noticed how “not here” I was. I need to rewind, though. Because this story really starts Thursday, after therapy.

I left therapy on Thursday feeling sad, not quite right, but connected, like Bea was there. I cried off and on most of the day, had nightmares that night, and felt pretty awful. I wanted to do nothing more than avoid everyone and hide away from life, and everything that hurts so much. But I made it through. Friday, that started out okay, I took Kat to therapy, and then out to lunch. I was so disconnected and just “not there” that it almost felt like “zombie me” was living my life for me. It’s the feeling of going through the motions, but no one really being home, not even perfect me was up for the job of getting through the day.

Friday when I got home, hubby and I had a fight. It started because I had yelled at Kat for dumping juice all over the car. She’s had a thing lately about leaving cups upside down, and juice goes everywhere. I had told her several times to put the cup right side up. She didn’t. Hence, the yelling. And so, hubby and I fought. He said I was this terrible person, mean and selfish, and that he is only able to stick it out because he knows one day I’ll be like I used to be, and be normal again. He said some horrible things; listed out every bad thing about me that he can think of. I already know what an awful person I am. Now I know he agrees. The final straw was when he told me that Kat would be better off being raised by his mother (the crazy, narcissistic mother. See my “bat crap crazy mother in law” post to learn more about this woman). He said the words, and I had immediate visions of slitting my wrists.

I ran to the bedroom, packed a bag. Hubby promptly took my car keys. I was stuck. Which triggered me even more, if that’s even possible. So I hid in the closet. And while I hid in the closet, I held a bottle of my pain pills and debated downing all of them. I really, really wanted to in that moment. I was so hurt by hubby, beaten down by everything else being thrown at me from the past and the present, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Instead, I emailed Bea. I emailed her about the fight, not about the suicidal feelings. That’s not something I easily admit to. She emailed back, reframing the fight. It didn’t help. She wanted me to talk to hubby, tell him what I am dealing with, make him a partner….because, after all, the point of going through all this is for authenticity and to improve my life now, in the present, and part of that is taking a risk and allowing hubby in to be a real partner, for an authentic marriage. It felt like she didn’t get it at all. Like she wasn’t seeing that this, his words, were the last thing I could handle. Like she didn’t get how hurt and desperate and falling off the edge of the cliff I am. And there was the beginning of the disconnection.

Saturday was spent going through the motions. Hubby is on a short vacation from work so I put on the facade of okay, and smiled my way through a day of family time. We went out to dinner, and ran into the child who assaulted Kat last year. The child and her family acted like nothing was wrong; the little girl ran over to Kat and hugged her, asked her to come over for a play date. I was so sickened by it all. I’m sorry, I know she is just a child, but I can’t stand her. Kat has been clingy and confused ever since.

Sunday was family fun day again, after a short ABA session. We took Kat to an indoor water park. It was a disaster. There was a kiddy slide, and it was empty, Kat wanted to feel the water first, so we walked around to the pool side, and when we went to put her toes in the water, the lifeguard blew his whistle at us. I tried explaining that she just needed to feel the water before sliding down the slide and landing in it– she’s 4. I mean, that can not be so weird. And it’s not like there were people waiting. He was all “you have to go down the slide to get in the pool, then exit the pool. It’s not for swimming.” I played the autism card. I never play that card. I don’t like to, I don’t believe we deserve special treatment, but sometimes accommodations should be made. And we weren’t holding anything up. No on was around! And he said “she doesn’t look like she has autism. She doesn’t look retarded.” And I lost it. Lost it. Yelling, swearing. In the past, I would have calmly and politely requested a manager. Now I lose it, screaming mad. I’m not a mad person. And then, I couldn’t reign it in. Every teenage male life guard got yelled at, flipped off, cursed. By me. I was the crazy screaming lady. Oh my gosh, I am so ashamed by my behavior. And later, I looked at that and thought, wow. I yelled at every male teen employed there. Kenny and the college boyfriend were both teenage males. Odd how they were the same age, yet years apart.

And so….Monday. I saw Bea. I don’t know what happened. I told her about the water park, omitting the fact I couldn’t reign in my anger; refusing to admit to the giant rage that had been in me and come out. She didn’t even see it, make a connection between teen boys who confused me, who hurt me in the past and the teen life guard who hurt my child (and me) with his words.

I know I cried a lot in the session, and hid my face, and couldn’t get words out. She pushed and pushed for me to talk to Hubby. Really pushed. I think that’s the point where I decided she wasn’t on my side anymore, and she just wants me to be okay. And so I pretended to be okay. Walls pulled up and around, armor on, dissociated and disconnected, I went through the motions of therapy.

At one point, towards the end, she asked me how the adult me feels about sexual attraction. I tried to answer, tried to let down the walls. It felt like she had a plan, like she was going somewhere with this. I couldn’t. She said she thinks the disgust and confusion and everything else is the little girl part of me. Thinking about it, I feel like the little girl is the part in charge of sex stuff; or, at least she’s in charge of how I feel about sexual attraction and sexual stuff. I don’t know. I don’t think there is an adult part of me for those things. Maybe I got stunted and never continued developing normal. Maybe I was just an over sexed little girl, who seduced a teenage boy. Because I’m screwed up, gross, evil. I don’t know. But I said none of those things.

I didn’t tell her how I sat in the closet with a bottle of pills, or how my cutting is out of control the last few days. I didn’t tell her how I have screwed up the no eating rule, and stuffed my face and vomited it back up more times than I care to count lately, or how the few times I have stuffed my face and been unable to throw up and the panic and terror I felt. I didn’t tell her I felt disconnected after her email, like she didn’t get it. I didn’t tell her how incredibly alone I feel; more so now because I have seen and felt what not alone is like. I think being alone was safer, better. No one hurts you that way. It sucks knowing how bad alone really is. I didn’t tell her how numb and overwhelmed by emotions and feelings and memories I am all at the same time, even though that is such a paradox I can’t seem to understand it. I didn’t tell her I just want to disappear, to cease to exist. I did not tell her any of that.

I did say I felt like everything was too much, that I could not do this anymore. I said that everything makes sense to her, but nothing makes sense to me. And Bea reframed it, telling me that just like Kat, she thinks I’m at a point where I need to know others in my life will provide safety and containment for me, but that I am capable of taking care of my own needs. Disconnect complete.

It feels like she’s done with me. Like I was too needy, too crazy, too broken. Like she only wants for me to be okay, to show that perfect facade I have. Like she is no different than my parents or my husband.

Everyone only wants perfect Alice. They don’t care that I’m so far down the rabbit hole I think I’m never getting out. They don’t care that I’m stuck in this hell my mind has created, or that I’m so confused and scared because I never know how I’m going to feel or act from one moment to the next. They don’t care that a single second can feel like forever when it’s his face I’m seeing in my mind, or his hands I’m feeling on my skin. They want perfect Alice. So perfect Alice they shall have.