Where I’m at, or something like that……..

I saw Bea today. We didn’t talk about anything, really, I just cried and cried. But I came home, found my words and wrote this to Bea. It’s long, there should be a trigger warning, and probably really convoluted. But it’s the most words I’ve had for what feels like a long time. 

Hi Bea, 

I do not know where to start. I haven’t really stopped to think, to feel, for weeks now. I don’t want to stop and feel or think, because there is an overwhelming amount of messy yucky confusing painful sad mad mixed up feelings and memories and irrational thoughts and just crap whirling around in my head. It was in a box, much like the box I always used to store all the crap in, the one that is so deep and wide, with really thick sides and a giant lock on the top and nothing can get out of it— and staying so busy and worrying/ only focusing on other ppl (Kat), using maybe not so awesome coping skills, staying numb and gone and any down time turns into time to read, or watch a movie, or find a project so I don’t have to think or feel or deal with anything at all, and everything is shoved back into the box. And so you see me not using the perfect facade or not being in the bubble, so you see it as healthy, using distraction and being able to ignore things because in the last year and a half it has been really hard to ignore things. But that’s not right. Or not exactly right. But of course I couldn’t just say that today, oh no not me, because why would I act like an adult and talk to you? Instead i just went farther into the headspace of “no one gets it.” I think it’s sort of like this:

✳️Childhood, teen years, college, twenties—- I had the box with the lock on top and kept everything shoved down. Yes, I needed to cut and starve and binge and throw up to keep things locked up and I was dissociated and not present in my life at all. It wasn’t healthy. I don’t really want to go back there, except for when everything feels really out of control because that time feels like this space where I didn’t have to live this reality of Kenny and my mom knowing and the boyfriend and the abortion and not telling and not knowing what to do and just feeling like little girl lost. And that is hard stuff. It’s hard to accept that is all real. So this place of being perfect and in the bubble, and not feeling at all, it sounds nice sometimes, like a break, like I could maybe breathe again. But then if I try to go back to that, now, it doesn’t feel good. It feels just as bad as having the mess out and running my life, just Ina a different way. 

✳️The last two or three years, then things have been leaking out, and I was emotionally a giant mess and that was before therapy and maybe the beginning of therapy, and I was soooo reactive and up and down and living with nightmares and flashbacks and really struggling to shove it all back in but I couldn’t contain it all any longer for some reason (even though I held it together for years and years and years before that) and so I needed help. And then the box broke when I named the things that were leaking out and there was no ignoring anything, just dissociation and cutting and eating disorders and hiding in my closet. (Which is what I think you were thinking about this morning?) 

✳️Now, it’s like a mixture of the two, me trying desperately to go back to the place where I could ignore everything and be just fine, but it’s not working, I’m failing at that, and maybe ultimately that is a good thing but right now it really hurts and it does not feel good at all. So,I am left with this messed up broken container and crap whirling around my head, and it’s like I’m existing in parallel worlds. The world where I focus on Kat and don’t allow myself to think or feel, and this world where everything hurts and I’m literally being suffocated by memories and feelings. Except that I have been so closed down since the wedding that I can’t figure out how to really access the feelings to actually feel them or make sense of them, it’s just this undertow of yucky feelings that are trying to drown me and I can’t put words to any of it, and I try to write and journal and make sense of things and write the feelings and the memories but MY WORDS ARE GONE. And that makes me feel sort of hopeless. MY WORDS ARE GONE, I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER ANYTHING AT ALL, DON’T TELL ANYONE, NO ONE UNDERSTANDS, I AM ALL ALONE, I ALWAYS SCREW UP, AND I CAN NOT FACE ANY OF THIS. That is what is going around and around in my head. There are so many different things going on in my head, so many different parts, but that is the overall theme. 
Then there’s the mad voice. She’s is just livid over having no control. She’s mad at mom for just leaving her with Kenny and for not seeing or knowing or caring or whatever the heck it was, and she is so angry at Ryan for saying yes to Kenny even though he didn’t know what or who he was saying yes to. She’s mad that I never said no, not once did I say no. Not to Kenny, not to the boyfriend, not even to my husband. I don’t say no, and she is full of anger that I DID NOT SAY NO. She is mad that I was either perfect or horrid, and just….UGH! She is mad that I missed him, and that I was the inappropriate one, she is mad about the underwear incident and mad that mom wasn’t there, and mad that no one got it, that no one ever gets it, mad that grandpa is dead. Mad about everything, mad at the world. I don’t need to type it all here, you already read it in my journal, two weeks ago maybe. But under all that red hot mad is the little girl. So mad is better because then there are no overwhelming sad painful grief scared hurt feelings. 

There’s the detached voice. She just doesn’t care, just wants to float through life, fuzzy and half gone, so there doesn’t have to be all these big big feelings.  

There is the shame filled part, shame over Kenny, over the boyfriend, over the abortion, over not being perfect, over being nothing but a disappointment. Over big things and small things. It’s over how I am as a mother. It’s over all the screw ups I just keep making. Shame that sometimes I have no idea what to do. That I’m the one always asking for connection and needing something, and then the one who is always pulling away and being too scared to follow through. Shame for being too much. 

There’s the part that feels very not seen and not heard and that part gets mad every time anyone in present day life doesn’t see or hear me, and the reaction is huge and out of proportion. She never used to get mad like that, it was more of a sad, defeated, not good enough to be heard or seen feeling. Now that she feels some of that, but also she feels so angry; this giant huge mad, that is sort of separate and sort of part of the mad voice.  

And this scared, sad, feeling alone, afraid to talk little girl is there too. She is so afraid of losing everything, and afraid to be vulnerable and get hurt, and she feels like everyone keeps leaving, and she is struggling to feel connection with anyone because…..I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s October. Maybe because all the being closed down, and not really talking and connecting in therapy and she feels like you are different somehow, like everything just keeps changing and she doesn’t like it, and not connecting with Ryan and being too afraid to even try, and Kristin not really being a part of my life, and missing her but realizing things will never be the same again, and that is really painful and hurts. And she is really afraid you are angry or not happy with her, or that you are sick of her and her nonsense and maybe you don’t care anymore about her or maybe you don’t care as much as you did, and that you just want her to go away because she is a pain in the butt and is wasting your time by not talking for so much of the summer and the fall. She feels like you are just gone, and I don’t know why, and it’s probably really me being and feeling so closed off and not really anything to do with you at all but it makes the little girl feel really sad and alone and unsure. And of course lots of parts of me do not like that you became this important, and I don’t really understand why that bothers me so much, why that feels so dangerous and not okay, and like something to NEVER EVER talk about. 

And right now, I’m sad because I miss my grandpa, and I don’t want to go to my parents to celebrate, and I don’t have a choice. I haven’t gone to celebrate there since the last birthday with my grandpa. It’s been 3 years. Why does it still feel like it happened yesterday? I miss him so much. I don’t want to go celebrate like we used to. It hurts too much. My mom is so excited I am coming “home” for my birthday. I just feel so sad. I’m going to ruin everything, because I can’t force myself to be happy, and I have too much whirling around in my head, a whole box of trauma and hurts and pain and anger swirling around in there, and as much as I want to find that perfect happy facade, I’m struggling to do so. I can’t maintain it for long at all. So we both know I’m going to ruin the weekend, or end up just not there at all, really far away and this weekend will end up for fuzzy and foggy and not feeling real at all like so much of my life. 

Lately, I often want to just disappear from my life. I’m stuck in that mindset of all good or all bad– black or white, no grey space. Just one or the other. And I somehow always come up in the all bad, never good enough, all I do is hurt everyone and ruin everything and I’m no good at all space. Part of me realizes this is just a state, maybe even old feelings coming up because it’s fall, because it’s October, but that doesn’t make me feel like less of a failure, like less of a screw up. I don’t know. I don’t know how to fix this, or how to change things or what to do. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I want to just hide away under my blanket in the closet and be left alone forever. And at the same time, I want someone to get it and to know how much everything hurts and how confused I am right now and what a mess it all feels, and how even saying that makes me feel like a giant drama queen who should just shut up and stop wasting your time because nothing is really so bad, none of this is a big deal, I seriously need to stop whining; I have this really good life— I have like, most everything I could really want, I should be happy and peaceful and like, normal and functioning and fine. But no. I can’t do that. I have to make big deals out of things that aren’t a big deal at all. I don’t know. 

So, okay then. There is where I’m at. I’m sorry I’ve not been able to say where I am and made things feel really….idk…like we need a plan. 

~Alice 

Letters to and from my doctor 

Hi Bea, 

I sent the email to my doctor. And she wrote back. 

Dear Doctor S, 
Thank you for calling to check on me. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone, or return your calls, I just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened last week. I’m really embarrassed over my reaction and behavior during the exam. I’d like to explain what happened and why I reacted in the way I did. I would prefer if we can keep this between us; this isn’t information I want in my medical history. 
I have a history of trauma, and a diagnosis of PTSD. Pelvic exams are always hard for me, but I’ve always been quite good at holding things together, at sort of dissociating away my uncomfortable feelings, and not letting anyone know I’m less than okay. Having a male doctor present and performing part of the exam really triggered me. When he touched me, that just sent me back to that very scary trauma place. It was too big of a trigger for me to dissociate away, and I fell apart. I’m glad you asked him to leave, and I’m glad you covered me up. I feel so embarrassed for how I reacted, and that is going to make it very hard to walk back into your office.
I know I need to come back in, and finish the exam. I feel very apprehensive about that. I don’t want to put myself in another situation where I’m triggered and scared. I also don’t want to put myself in a situation where I need to be able to come to the doctor and feel like I can’t. I’m working through what happened with my therapist, and I will schedule something as soon as I feel okay about it again.

~Alice 

Alice, 

I wasn’t aware of your trauma history, or how difficult pelvic exams can be. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’ll keep this out of your file for the moment, although we may want to discuss adding some information so that these situations can be avoided in the future. I’m sorry you were triggered and felt so scared. I don’t think differently of you, and would like to have you come back in so we can talk about how to best proceed with any medical exams/treatments. 
Take care, 
Cheryl

Ugh. This feels awful. All I can think is she knows, she is having all these terrible thoughts about me, I can’t face her ever again, why did I send that email, ugh, ugh, ugh. I don’t want to talk to her, she wants to talk, I’m not talking. I can’t do this. I don’t like her reply. I don’t know why. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked any reply. I can’t even think to send an email back. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’m so angry that I sent this, I don’t even know. I just. Ugh. I wanted this to be done with, I didn’t want to keep talking about it, I don’t even know. Nothing felt okay. It seemed just…ugh. I don’t know. Yesterday, I don’t know what I needed. I felt like everything was off, and I was just not okay. So alone and wrong and sad and I didn’t want to keep talking about feeling like that, and I didn’t want to hear about how it was maybe just a pattern or whatever, because that felt terrible, and like it didn’t matter or wasn’t “real” or I don’t know what. So I said lets talk abut the letter. But then I was just annoyed and didn’t want to talk about it, or hear that I needed to do something, and I didn’t want to think about it, or why it was really a big deal, and I was just frustrated and annoyed and almost mad at you and that wasn’t feeling okay, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me or why I was so upset with you, and I wanted to be done with it. So I said ‘if I say I’ll send the email can we be done with this?’ I knew it was this very teenage response, and part of me was trying so hard to just have the conversation and be okay and behave like a grown up and talk through it and send the email and be fine, but I just couldn’t keep talking about it, so I guess I just shut down the conversation as quickly as I could. It hurts too much to think. 

And now it doesn’t even matter because I sent the stupid email when I got home yesterday, still feeling irritated, and not really thinking it, just sending it in a fit of frustration and annoyance. And then after I sent it, I freaked out and wished there was a way to unsend it. And then I wanted to email you but I couldn’t because I was still annoyed. I don’t know. I just want someone to be mad at for what, I’m not sure. To blame, to be angry at for me freaking out, for me needing to tell someone else the secret, for someone now knowing and judging, for even having a secret to tell to begin with, mad because you believed her secret. I don’t know. I don’t know what is wrong with me, why I’m having this ridiculously big reaction and feelings over this. None of this feels right or okay. And I feel like this giant whiny drama queen over this, and that just makes it harder to try to talk about. I’m stuck in my head, and I feel alone and like no one understands. It’s like this crazy mix of teenager and little girl running the ship. Angry defiant teenager, but scared of being judged and thought of as a drama queen, scared of being told her feelings don’t matter, or that they aren’t real, or something. Little girl who is afraid of everyone leaving, of hurting people, of not being perfect enough, who just wants to hide, and wants someone to fix it all and make it better. I don’t know. None of this is rational. 



Alice,

My first reaction was to want to “fix” this by talking to the doctor, and if that is something you would like me to do I would gladly do it, but I don’t think it’s probably the best option. I’m still viewing this whole situation as an opportunity for growth and empowerment for you, difficult as it might be.

I don’t think you would have liked any reply except maybe, “it’s okay, I’m waving a magic wand and you will never need to go to the doctor again.” I think, objectively, that it was good reply and you can work with it to express what you need next. If you want, we can talk about that on Monday.
Your reactions make sense to me, of course. And if it helps to be mad or to blame me please feel free to do so. I am okay with that–I was pushing for this after all!

I have somebody coming in a minute, but in terms of the patterned emotions, what I think we want is just to be able identify them as such. Of course they still feel just as bad and are just as “real.” Just not genuine, healing expressions of emotion–which, when you think about it, are probably pretty rare in comparison. I don’t think you have to worry about any of that right now. Just engage in self care and self soothing if you’re still feeling yucky. This doctor thing will pass…..  

Bea

Emails and not okay

I emailed Bea on Thursday night. I knew she had training all weekend, and that she might not be able to email me back, but I was so alone and lost and confused and there felt like there was so much I hadn’t said in our session. 

So….things went like I said— go home, clean, get ready for Kat’s party, be okay, be fine because that is what I always am. Except for driving home. I cried the whole way home. It was those tears you just can’t shove down, no matter how hard you try. And about halfway home, I recognized this feeling…this crying, everything wrong, failing at life, messing everything up, can’t do anything right, too many bad feelings, overwhelmed and scared, can’t breathe or think and just want it all to stop feeling. It’s a feeling of being a little kid, alone and scared and vulnerable and really wanting mommy to come and fix it all— like I said this morning. But it’s also a teenage feeling, that desperate, overwhelmed, I need to fix this but can’t because I don’t know how or where to even start, so someone please fix it for me, and make it all stop. And I remember feeling like this, and the person I always went to when I was a teen and felt this way was Bethany– my aunt. And then she left. So I couldn’t go to her anymore. So there was no one. And then later, in college and after, Kay was the person I went to. But she left, too. I wanted to call her so badly today, driving home. But she is not here anymore. She left me. I did text her on her birthday, sent her a message that basically said I hope she was having a happy birthday. Nothing major. She texted back, asking me to please respect her wishes to be left alone. So. That was Wednesday. The day after the doctor appointment. Like I said, it was a bad week. 

Lots of loss and abandonment coming up. I’m sorry I didn’t know about Kay and the birthday text. That is sad and very tough because she’s taken away your voice. I’m very sorry to hear that!

It really isn’t “just” the doctor appointment and needing to write a letter. It’s…I don’t know what, exactly, I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just this feeling of needing everything to stop, to go away, to disappear. I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to think, I just want everything gone. Maybe, on some level, this is all about identity. I’m not angry, or defiant, over this. I’m scared. I DON’T know who I am. I’m afraid to try to even find out…..it just feels like whoever I am, beyond my perfect and nice and happy facade, is going to be ugly. Or maybe there is nothing there. That’s just as scary. I don’t know. 

Basically it’s about the okay part and the not okay part. The okay part has thrived because it avoids the not okay part at all costs. When stuff like the doctor happens the okay part is forced to share space with its foe. This is scary and confusing and not okay. No wonder your identity feels messed up. As we work through these things, however, they become less separate and unintegrated. You move towards health. We are on the right track with what we are doing. We may have more parts to touch base with is all.

There is an angry part…but it’s not what I’m feeling mostly. And when I do start to feel angry over how I’m feeling right now, it’s like that feeling you get when you barely miss being in a car accident or something. That like, heart pounding in your throat, stomach dropping, can’t breathe, anxious and scared feeling. That’s how I feel about this mad. It’s scary. And I don’t know what or who I’m mad at, or why, or where it is coming from. But it’s not okay. And it makes me scared and anxious. 

We’ve talked about there being a “fight” part. It wouldn’t necessarily feel directed at someone–just your defensive reaction to being activated.

We go to my parents on Saturday. What I wish, and what can never happen, is to just sit and cry with my mom, and for her to just let me cry and be upset and wrap her arms around me and let me cry as much as I need to, and tell her nothing is okay, and everything is wrong, and that I just need it all to stop, and then for her to tell me it will be okay and to have her fix it. But it’s stupid to feel that way, to want that. Because she wouldn’t fix it, she can’t— it would just be more secrets and lies to cover up all the bad stuff. And we don’t hug like that in my family. We give quick little, almost one arm hugs to say hello or goodbye, but we don’t just hug someone to hold them and let them cry. Not even when my grandpa died did anyone do that. It’s just not done. They aren’t touchy feely people. Even when I was little. It’s just not how things are. And crying is something to be stopped, to be distracted from, to end it as quickly as possible. Ugh. I don’t know. It is what it is. 

I think it’s good that you want that–to be held and to be comforted. That is the “attachment cry” part that I learned about tonight. Attachment is an important resource. I wish you could have that with your mom too. I’ll bet you will get some sense of it this weekend in your interactions with her, even if not as much as you are craving.

And really, you did offer to write a letter to my doctor, so that would fix that part of the problem. So I shouldn’t really even be crying over wanting someone to fix it. But I’m not 5. I’m not a little kid, I shouldn’t always need someone else to “fix” things for me. So as much as part of me really wants to say, yes, just write a letter, fix it, I don’t want to deal with this, make it better, part of me just can’t, because it feels too much like being an adult acting like a child. And I did enough of that already at that awful appointment. Ugh. 

We can tell the 5 year old that there is a grown up part ready to take action. 

A week ago: Sunday emails 

It’s been awhile. I’ve been reading everyone’s posts, I just haven’t had the words to comment. I’m sort of here and gone. It’s messy. 

Last I wrote, I had seen Bea on Friday during Kat’s session. And that hurt. It was hard. I spent the weekend very numb, very much in this bubble of perfection. I did some crafty things, some sewing, and the usual housewife and mom type things. I didn’t stop to think, until Sunday when hubby went out fishing and our old nanny (who is now like family to us) came to visit and hang out with Kat. I should have gone out, and ran errands. Instead, I took a bath, and with that down time, all the worries and hurt and confusion came rushing at me. 

I did the only thing I knew to do. I wrote Bea an email. 

I literally feel sick and scared when I think about coming to therapy tomorrow. A part of me is so afraid that this is the beginning of the end. The teen believes that everyone leaves, no one wants to deal with her, and eventually they all get rid of her, and it just took you longer than most. Crazy, I know. Nothing that bad has happened, I am really over reacting and this is not what is happening and that I am being this drama queen, but I can’t stop my feelings. Well, I can stop them for a while, but they come back. So annoying. Part of me wants to go to therapy tomorrow and just smile and be perfect and okay and really shut you out, but act like nothing is wrong. The teen wants to either not go, or if I make her go, she wants to sit in silence and be petulant. The little girl wants to go, and give you this insanely long letter and talk and have you say everything will be okay. And maybe the teen wants that, too, in a way, but she is too scared that you will say nothing is okay and that she has to go. 

There was more, but that was the gist of it. So, that email began this long email conversation, which essentially resulted in me deciding I could show up to therapy and feel mostly okay with it. 

I’ve copied the more important parts of the emails below…..(it was a LONG talk, lol)

From Bea: I’m glad you sent this! I understand that it will be hard to come tomorrow. The main reassurance I can give is that I’m working really hard on my own self-care so that I can be emotionally available. The loss of a secure base and a person offering unconditional positive regard is huge, don’t get me wrong, and I am taking responsibility for that. Engaging in my own self-care is the path to repair. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m committed to repairing the situation. It’s actually surprising that I haven’t hit one of these patches before this–nobody can be “on” as a therapist all the time. It’s a good time for me to reevaluate my boundaries and self-care to keep this from happening more often. Again, it was–and is–about me and my stuff. I’m sorry you have been suffering with all these thoughts and worries:(. That makes me feel bad. Please let yourself off the hook!

From Alice: None of this feels okay. I’ve read it, thought about it, read it, wrote back, deleted what I wrote, read it again, cried, tried to distract myself…..but it doesn’t feel okay. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry because I want to be okay with everything. All of this scares me. I sent my email so I could feel less anxious and nervous about all this and about therapy tomorrow and I only feel more worried and scared and upset. This boundary talk scares me. And I don’t want you to feel bad. I really, really don’t. I know everyone has stuff, even you. You’ve told me that before, and I do know that. But I’m scared. I’m scared your stuff means you aren’t okay, and I want you to be okay. In a selfish way, yes, but also just because I want you to be okay for you. But selfishly, I can’t talk to you, I can’t make you listen to all my crap, or say things I’m afraid will make you feel worse, or I don’t know, I just can’t do this if I am afraid you aren’t okay. I’m freaked out. 
And I just want to talk to you, but I also don’t want to talk to you at all. I can’t do this. It’s too hard. I’m scared and upset and afraid. And I really just want you to be okay. Nothing feels right. 

From Bea: I am okay! There isn’t anything you can say or need right now that will change that. My stuff is always going to be there, and I always have to manage it just like everyone else does. I know how to do that 99% of the time, and I am feeling back “on” again. I’m not worried about my stuff continuing to be a problem, and I hope you can stop worrying about it as well.  
Increasing boundaries and self care just means staying on top of my needs, just like I hope you and everyone I see will do. If I’m working too many hours in the evening, I need to cut back. If I need to spend half an hour meditating in the morning, I need to make space for that. If I need to stop reading the news because it’s overwhelming me, I need to do that. Whatever it might be that any of us do for healthy self care and boundaries, I need to do it. It’s my professional obligation to you and everyone I work with. It’s just time for me to give this some extra thought
You can say whatever you need to, and please do. Nothing is going to make me feel worse, I promise! None of my stuff is originating from my work, and nothing that you need to express is going to make me put up a wall or withdraw or anything–I’m no longer experiencing that need to protect myself. It’s okay!

From Alice: I want to believe it’s okay, I really, really do. I’m just…I don’t know the word. Like, I read this and thought, okay, it’s okay, she’s okay, okay. But the next thing I think is, “or she is saying that to make me feel better and stop freaking out.” My rational guess is that you aren’t just saying it’s okay, and I’m only worried about that because I am a person who will say things are okay just to make someone else okay….ugh. You know what I mean, I think. 

From Bea: I’m not just saying it–I am okay! (She also explained why she had such a hard time being present when she came back from vacation, and that actually helped a lot. It was reassuring. I’m not posting that here, because it’s not my stuff to tell.) 

From Bea: The little girl need not worry– I’m not going anywhere until retirement. 🙂 Yes, send the long letter if it feels right.

I sent the long letter, which was basically a culmination of all my freakouts the weekend she was gone, and all my fears and triggers around her emails, and her not really being here even when she came back. I’m not going to post that because a lot of it is similar to what is written in the few previous posts and it’s very, very long. 

From Bea: Dare I say I’m not surprised by any of this??? It all makes sense, and it fits with what I kind of figured was going on? Your lack of emails to me always speaks as clearly as your emails, quite honestly. I want to check and see when I sent the “shrinky” and distant emails last weekend. I will then be able to explain why they had that quality. It was indeed lack of availability on my part, for various reasons, and I’m curious to see what was going on when I sent each of them. I should have given disclaimers with them, but I’ll at least give them after the fact. I was well aware that you were suffering–but also that I couldn’t really do anything about it. 😞 I think going through this tomorrow would be very healing, if difficult. Two things stood out to me as very positive–first of all, your writing was outstanding, and secondly, you were finally really expressing big feelings about Kenny. You may feel ambivalent about that, but I thought it was a real breakthrough!!!

From Alice: Okay. Tomorrow, we will go through this. Just one more stupid silly question. You aren’t retiring anytime really soon are you? 

From Bea: Hahaha! No, I probably won’t be able to afford to retire for another twenty years!

And so, the flood of emotions and worries and confusion lessened, and I started to feel like I could breathe again. 

Email of random thoughts  

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



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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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

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


🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀🎀

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


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

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



💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜The next group of emails on this topic went like this…….💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜



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

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

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

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


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

Now what?

Monday, after that intense yet so detached and dissociated session, I went for a long walk. I thought and I sorted through some of what we talked about. And then I sent Bea an email. (She did eventually respond, acknowledging that she had not gotten to it, and promising she would later in the day. Her responses are in italics and quotes.)

Hi Bea,
You asked me about sleep and eating. Sleep, we covered. Really, I think in some ways I sleep worse when I’m not dealing with feelings and stuff, I’m more restless in sleep, more anxious. I have more nightmares sometimes, when I don’t talk about things– like camping and Ferris wheels and all that ugly stuff. But really, the main thing is I don’t sleep and I do it to myself because I fight sleep. I can take a Benadryl and be almost knocked out from it and still fight falling asleep. So, it’s my own doing. Eating…..I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it. I feel like maybe at some point we have to, and for some reason that scares me as much as talking about the trauma stuff scares me. It’s almost like that is where I have safety and control and I am not giving that up completely, or even risking the idea of giving it up, or even going to make myself vulnerable enough to really talk about eating stuff. 
I think you have to separate talking about it from feeling that anything has to change. First we have to make it real–right now I feel like it dwells in this shadowy land where you–and I–can pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does! It’s very real, and while it’s giving you a sense of control, from the outside it appears more that it’s controlling you. We need to do some work with it as it is now, not as we’d like it to be. That’s not real either! What is it right now? It’s meaning, it’s shape, it’s color. What are it’s attributes? We need to make it real, to put it on your circle as part of who Alice is. No judgement, just what it is.


We should continue talking about–and trying things–with sleep too.”
And you asked about being present or dissociated. I said I didn’t know, and then I said it was sort of both. But then Hagrid and I went for a nice long walk, and I really thought about it. And I have a messy, confusing answer. 
I am present but not. It’s strange, and I’m not even sure I have the language to describe it, to explain it. It’s like I’m split, somehow. Part of me is away and not here and everything in my life that is going on has a very unreal quality to it. And part of me is present, at least on the surface, and able to function and be “normal” and here, even if there isn’t much feeling or emotion attached to what is going on. It’s like I’ve found a box to bury, or store, all those feelings and emotions in. And I guess depending which part I’m more aware of at any given time kind of influences my answer to the “internal weather report” question. But if I really were to take a step back, it would be more that I’ve split things; the me who is not here and none of this feels real, and the me who is present and has to function on the surface and all the feelings are buried and boxed up. I had to think about this, because answering that it felt like both, or that I didn’t know, wasn’t exactly right. I just wasn’t sure how to explain. And now I think I figured out how to explain it, and I feel crazy. I feel like this sounds crazy. 
“I think being split is a very accurate description in many ways. It’s very helpful when you have the ability to put things in a container–this is a good skill, not crazy!”
You didn’t see me being far away this summer, and really, you wouldn’t have. I wasn’t, and I was. It was just far enough away to function. But…there is that feeling of, I KNOW we went camping, I KNOW I rode on the Ferris wheel, I KNOW that there were a lot of changes this summer. I KNOW that Kat and I swam a lot and she swims like a fish now, and I KNOW I took Kat to school on her first day and left her her even though she was upset. But it might as well be someone else’s life I’m talking about, it doesn’t feel quite real, it’s not….I don’t know. I mean, I have it all organized and in control and people are impressed by how on top of things I am,but I might as well be talking about someone else’s life I organized. But oh my word is that a crazy, scary thing to really put into words and then write down on paper. And then to share….ugh. I don’t know. It just sounds crazy making.  
It has worked when you needed it to. That’s what I was referring to in terms of feeling more confident when things start spinning out of control–you have a coping state that you can get back to.”
Mostly, especially the last two weeks, I’ve felt like I’m balancing on a high wire without a net, very precariously and that I have to be very careful to keep this balance and not fall over either direction. I suppose that might be leading to more anxiety, or panic, or something. I don’t know. But I think if that box of feelings gets open, I will fall off the wire. And that’s not even thinking about all the mess that fall brings with it. Or the fact that I can’t add my Grandpa’s death to my map, or my own personal stuff to the map. It’s almost like starting over, in some ways; I’ve spent the whole summer fairly locked down, detached from myself in some ways and my feelings and emotions and even, in some ways, I guess, my life, and now all of that is past, and therapy can resume, but it’s like I forgot how to find where I buried my feelings, where I buried the past– be it the recent past or the distant past. It’s like the break was needed so that I could get Kat through the transitions, but now I’m not sure how to do this anymore. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ll end up overwhelmed. I’m afraid I will fall apart. I’m afraid that because I was “fine” and “okay” and made it through this summer with no issue, no breakdowns or falling apart, that’s expected now. Now I HAVE to be be okay, no matter what. Because now you really know I can be okay. And that’s probably not what you meant, about the summer showing us things about therapy, but now….it seems like that is what you meant, or something like it. Like your expectations have changed, or you see that I can really be okay, no matter what is going on. Ugh. So I can’t even try to find that box, or talk bad dreams, or talk eating or anything because I might fall apart. And then what? It’s not okay. I guess the cost of always being okay is that I can’t deal with feelings and emotions and anything else. I can only deal with concrete, day to day, functional daily living things. Nothing deeper. Because then I will be break into pieces, and I might not function as well, or something. This is so frustrating. Like I’m caught between worlds; now I’m aware of some of these things, but I’m too afraid to change it or do something different, where before I wasn’t aware of it at all. I don’t know. And I guess the cost of being okay is nightmares, and not sleeping or sleeping restless, and having moments of panic during the day where I can’t breathe and the eating stuff and whatever else. But maybe that’s not so bad. 
“Well, now we can really start to open up the container slowly and continue working on all this–but trying to preserve your functioning as much as we can while still moving on with this. I could feel the stress of the last two weeks. It was real, legitimate stress!!! Anybody would have been precariously balanced!”
Is any of this making any sense whatsoever? I feel like I just keep trying and trying to explain how I feel, and I’m not sure it makes sense, that it even can make sense to someone else. Or maybe I’m afraid it just sounds crazy. Maybe both. And maybe, this is just life, and I’m being a drama queen. Plenty of parents sending their kids to school had changes and transitions this summer and whatever, and aren’t all kinds of crazy like I am. Which is hard for me. Because I feel like I should logically be able to deal with this stuff and not be split, or dissociated, or detached, or whatever else. Faking normal wasn’t working, I couldn’t hide everything from myself or anyone else anymore. So I came to therapy. And now I can see things I didn’t before, and I can feel my feelings and name them, and I’m more aware than I used to be. But I’m still not “normal.” Or maybe I’m just….I don’t know. Making a big deal out of things. Ugh.
It all makes a whole lot of sense! I’m going to send this now as I’m out of time to write.”
~Alice 

And then she didn’t respond. I was anxious and vulnerable and feeling left. I don’t know, exactly. But I couldn’t reach out to her. Maybe I needed to see if she would respond on her own; a kind of test. One she sort of, eventually passed. Because she did respond. But it was so much later than usual, and the first thing I put out there, that I opened up about, she didn’t seem as attuned as she once was. I don’t know. Maybe I am really losing it, or looking for reasons to avoid opening up again. But I feel….hurt. Like she left me, or like I’m lower on her list of priorities now that she knows I can be okay, no matter what. I don’t know. I have therapy in the morning, and I feel rather like a sulky teenager, angry that I “have” to go. I don’t like this feeling, this fear, any of this. I wanted her to pass this test….this stupid test that I didn’t even see as a test until now. But I wanted her to pass it, so I would know for sure it’s okay, and safe to talk. But she didn’t exactly pass. Now what? 

Dear Bea, I feel like you left me

Bea is on vacation, and my life is spiraling out of control. Bea always talks about how we need to walk on the edge of the cliff to do trauma work. If I’m functioning in that superficial, detached mode, then I’m too far from the cliff and I can’t really feel anything at all. Sometimes, that is needed. But now, I’ve gone over the cliff. Bea left. I know she is on vacation. I know she did not really leave. But I feel like she left me. I wrote her the longest email ever at like 2:00am this morning. I didn’t send it, I was afraid. So I wrote this email, instead, asking if I could send a long and messy email. It just came out. I haven’t sent this, either.

I think a part of me is hurt and angry with her for leaving. It does make me wonder if I’m angry with Bea, or if it’s the little girl me, who is angry at her mom for leaving when she was 9. I’m afraid, too. Because what I wrote means Bea is important, and I don’t want her to matter that much. It seems wrong, not allowed, or something, for my therapist to matter that much to me. I really need her to tell me that she didn’t leave me, that she cares, that she will come back and that I am safe. In needing that, I feel like a stupid little girl.

Dear Bea.

Everything feels so very screwed up and hard. I feel like the scared little girl and I really want to send this long, convoluted, insane and messy email to you but I’m afraid. I’m afraid it’s too long, I’m afraid I’m being too needy, I’m afraid that you’re going to get mad, that it’s not okay to send long crazy emails right now, and I’m afraid if i keep asking if you are mad or if you will get mad that that will make you mad. I’m pretty much just afraid that everyone in my life is mad at me for not being enough, not being able to handle everything, for falling apart and being up and down and I don’t even know. I think I’m afraid that everyone is leaving me. Hubby is here but he isn’t “here.” The rest of my people are all falling apart, in one way or another. And I can’t fix it all, and I really need everyone to be okay so that I can be okay.

And this is stupid and I am so embarrassed but I wish you were here, and that I was seeing you on Monday, because this all feels like too much and I really need you to be here, but you aren’t here. And I’m afraid you won’t come back, even though I rationally know you are coming back. And I don’t want to tell you this because I don’t want to be that needy, or that vulnerable, and I don’t want to tell you this because I am afraid you will be mad that I am upset you aren’t here….but I’m really afraid and so alone and I can’t make this go away. And I rationally understand that you are on vacation and that is okay and you are coming back. But I feel like you left me and I am alone with all this scary, too much stuff, and I can’t figure out what I did wrong, to make you leave, and I’m afraid you are not coming back because you are upset with me. And I know you have been emailing me and said you are still here, but it doesn’t feel like you are here, it feels like you just left me all alone. I hate that I am this needy, this attached, this….I don’t know the word. But it is nothing good. I’m an adult, I should not be feeling abandoned by my therapist, especially when you have made every effort to be here, even while on vacation. And I don’t want you to be that important to me. Really, I don’t want anyone to matter that much to me, that I can feel left by them. Because it hurts. I don’t know. I hate this.

Please come back soon. I can’t do this by myself

~Alice
PS. Please don’t hate me