In the nighttime (camping)

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

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

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

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

I want to write about this thing that has been happening since the reunion weekend, when all the things were massively triggered. I want to write about it and I’m embarrassed. And maybe there should be a trigger warning at this point for, well, I don’t know. I guess for sex words and feelings. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

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

My nightmares have been causing me to wake up…aroused. ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ Flashbacks have also been having the same effect. Even talking about memories has been causing feelings of wanting to be touched. I feel disgusting over this. It makes me feel like a shameful, worthless whore. I HATE feeling sexually…..you know, excited. 

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sick. Twisted. There is something really, really wrong with me. How does a person deal with this? How does a person cope with all of this? I’m at the end of my rope, and while Monday’s session helped some, and almost all of me believes Bea is here, a part of me also believes that if she knew all this, she’d think me disgusting and she wouldn’t be able to look at me without wanting to vomit and she wouldn’t be able to keep working with me, even Bea won’t be able to contain this. But I need help. I literally want to cease to exist when I have these feelings, and those combined with being triggered and overwhelmed and having no resources left…….I need Bea to come back soon. I won’t see her for almost a week because of her vacation. I’m also truly terrified that she won’t come back and be herself. I’m so afraid that will happen, I’m almost thinking about emailing and cancelling that whole week and the next. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

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There but Not Hereย 

There are some seriously huge shifts happening in my life right now. Big things, or at least things that feel big even if they don’t sound big when I write them out. One would think that these shifts would make things more clear to me, when instead all they do is make things more muddled and mixed together. 

The mom stuff that has been coming up since around Mother’s Day is unfortunately still very much here. It’s not going away anytime soon. It seems the only way out is through the pain and grief. I have to find a way to move through the pain of the hard truth that real me, authentic me, isn’t good enough for my mom and never was. It’s why I went to such lengths to be perfect. It’s why I never could tell her or show her my true self. My mother doesn’t love me, she can’t accept me or see me. She loves Ms. Perfect. 

There is this giant ache inside me, an empty space that can’t seem to be filled lately. It’s a hole that was created when I realized real me isn’t good enough for mother. I’m not super close with my little brother, but we had a good talk (via text) this past week. We discussed how mom plays with our kids the same way she played with us. She would play board games, that had structure and rules. She would color, do paint by numbers. She would build Legos if they were a full set that had the directions. She rode bikes, went for walks, took us sledding and skiing. She kissed us good night, said “I love you’s” and hugged us good-bye. She did things with us, which makes it all the more confusing. Its not as if she was just completely gone, or wrapped up in herself. She simply needed everything to be very structured. There was (still is) a wall around her that even her children couldn’t penetrate. There was no such thing as free play with her. 

“No moments of connection at all this weekend?” Bea is surprised that I spent the whole weekend before the Fourth of July with my mother and there was no connection there whatsoever. She came to my home, and I’m still hurt and angry enough that I was able to use good boundaries with her, and simply be myself. (Two notes about this– One, this must be what Bea is talking about when she says anger is telling is something, it is energizing, it helps me set boundaries. And two, even if it was just because I am hurt and angry, I am awful proud of myself. I set boundaries with my mother. I was ME all weekend. I actually looked at her and said ‘well, this is how we do it in my home’ when she got upset that I wasn’t cleaning dishes as I cooked breakfast, and when I left the spilled waffle batter my 13 year old nephew spilled while making waffles until he was done making all the waffles. Then, we cleaned it up together, with me assuring him it was no big deal, not a crisis at all. I was ME!) However, the impact of that, of my mother’s clear disapproval and disappointment is only now beginning to be felt, almost a full week later.  

“No….it’s just…..we were just two grown ups. It wasn’t…..she just….I wasn’t…” I shake my head. I have no words. 

“What about those little inside jokes that families have? Those light hearted moments?” Bea asks. She is searching for something, it seems. Either she doesn’t really get how emotionally dead my mother is (and I don’t think that’s it, because we have laughed about her having the emotional capacity of a cardboard cutout), or she is feeling her way around, trying to see what it is that needs to come out. 

I flinch a bit. I can’t think of any inside jokes my mother has, unless you count her *joking* about me being a drama queen, or telling her *funny* story about how I talked so much, from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed– I truly wouldn’t shut up and I would even follow her into the bathroom to continue talking, I just drained everyone with all that talking. People were grateful for silence when I went to bed. I know I have light hearted jokes with my family now— me, hubby, Kat. We have jokes, we laugh about mishaps and silly things that happened. I can’t think of any right now, but I know we have them, and with them comes this warmth, a comfort, a sense of belonging. 

Bea notices the flinching. “Goofy kind jokes, not mean jokes directed at you. You were a kid, being a kid. Nothing more.” 
I shrug, as if it’s no big deal, but inside I’m glad that she caught it, that she saw the flinch, that she knew why I flinched. 
“Do you have any memories as a kid of cuddling up with your mom, or just being spontaneous? Just being silly, relaxed? What do you and her do now that gives that same sense of connection?” Bea asks. 

I want to scream at her, I want to throw the wooden blocks that are in a box next to me on the floor. I want to walk out. NO. No, I don’t have those memories, there is nothing I can do to feel connected with my mother, unless I want to be perfect again. But she wasn’t not there. She interacted with us, we had a very busy schedule, always going, going, going, doing, doing, doing. But snuggles? Open ended play? Messiness? Curling up in bed in the middle of the day to read a book and that ending in a pillow fight? Creativeness that wasn’t reigned in and structured? It was not to be tolerated. Instead, I shake my head no, slowly and carefully. 

It seems Bea isn’t really here after all, she isn’t really seeing me. She’s not getting it. I can’t be me and be Ms. Perfect. I can only be one or the other. It’s gotten harder and harder for me to have Ms. Perfect running the show. I don’t want to feel fake anymore. I just want to be me; messy, imperfect, talkative, loud, emotional, worrywart, goofy ME. I don’t want to pretend anymore. But by choosing authenticity, I’m not longer on the same side as my mother. She can’t love what she can’t tolerate in herself, she can’t accept or see what she can’t allow to exist in herself, and so, real me is something to despise, to pray for, to fix; she is a cancer that must be excised from Ms. Perfect. 

It hurts. It hurts to realize that had I been myself as a child, I would have been rejected, not accepted. It is painful to realize that any attachment I had with my mother was between her and Ms. Perfect, and that I will never have that connection with her. It hurts that I’m not good enough. It doesn’t matter what I rationally understand, it hurts. This is pain and grief and intense loneliness. It’s unbearable. 
I’m deep in this grief and pain, I’m drowning in it, and Bea is nowhere. She’s somewhere on the surface, not able, or not willing to dive down with me. Her absence has created some giant hurt feelings, and an even more intense alone-ness. I’m hurt because she promised to be with me. And while she’s there, she’s not really here. She told me we had the whole summer, (because there weren’t many breaks planned, just a day here or there to be missed) to work through all the memories and dreams and fear and disgust and shame and horror and hurt that have been bubbling up since Mother’s Day. But she’s not really here after all. 

My dancin’ shoes

So I’m okay today. I had a freak out last night and made hubby bring me home– all the way home, like hours of driving home. My mom may or may not be speaking to me. I’m not sure at this point. I feel raw, ripped open, spilt in two. I feel numb and as of I’m going to be swallowed whole by these bad feelings, as if the anxiety and thetoo real feelings, terrified, sick feelings might kill me. But I’m home. I texted Bea last night, and she was there, just like she said she would be. She was really there.  I read the comments on my blog, too, throughout the night, going to the restroom and taking a breath. All of your combined voices encouraging me and standing behind me helped. 

So, as promised, a picture of my shoes, and one of my dress as well. The picture of me might come down after today, just because I don’t know if I can feel safe leaving it up. But I wanted you guys to see my pretty pink dress. Even though I don’t love that everything always has to be this designer label, this thing back in country club land, I sure do love this dress. It really is beautiful. And, it has pockets! I know right?!?! How awesome is that? 

the very pink dress I wore to my brother’s wedding


the not designer, not fancy, not perfect shoes I wore to my brother’s wedding

Today I was real

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving (and beyond) catch up

Thanksgiving weekend. It was good. Really good, actually. My parents were really there, engaged, present, real. They let me be upset at times, and at one point during the weekend, my mom helped me to calm down enough to talk about things (things being a general overview of my arguments with hubby). We played board games, watched a movie, shopped. We just spent time together, just being. I didn’t have to be anyone, or do anything for them to want me there, they just wanted me. ME. It was this amazing feeling, like I was okay, and whole. Things weren’t perfect, but that was okay. I felt taken care of, and loved. It was a break that I desperately needed from my current life. 

Coming back home was hard. I hadn’t wanted to leave, because I knew reality awaited me. And it really didn’t go well. Kat acted out an awful lot, and hubby said some hurtful things. He insinuated that Kat behaves better without me around, and that he was able to do all “my” chores, so I should not have the difficulties that I do. I don’t know. Coming home was hard. I had missed my little family, but it felt that they didn’t miss me, need me or even want me around. I quickly slipped into this feeling of indifference about everything. 

Monday, I saw Bea. I can’t remember most of what we talked about. If I don’t write about my sessions soon after they end, most of the content and conversations get lost somewhere. I do remember a few parts of the conversation, though. 

I had been telling her about my weekend with my parents. 



“It sounds as if you felt very taken care of, like a lot of your needs were met. Maybe even some old needs were finally met,” Bea said. 

I nodded, agreeing, and we moved on to talk about hubby. The conversation went in circles, as it usually does, because the only person who can really help solve the problem was missing– hubby. 



After a while, Bea looked at me, and said, “I’m trying to figure out who is here today. I get the sense you don’t feel like this is the real you, but I am not sure who this is.” 



I shook my head at her. “It’s not…me. Not real me. I don’t think. I don’t know. But I don’t know who.” My head was messy, and I felt very far away, hiding out in my head, not feeling my body. It was that feeling of things going on around me, and myself reacting but it doesn’t feel like it is me because me is not really here. Nothing feels real. I wish I had the words to describe it. 



“If you pause and focus, you’ll know if it is the real you.” She talked about the observer part everyone has, and how the observer would know who was here today. 



I didn’t get what she was saying. “Everything is just….gone. I was so upset..last week? Tuesday? And I know I was upset. But I can’t feel it, cant even remember what it felt like.” 



“Being able to put things in a box, a container, that is a skill. It’s a good skill to have,” she told me. 



I wanted to tell her it wasn’t like that. But I really just couldn’t. I was too tired, and didn’t really care that she had it wrong. 



“I bet by Thursday you will have your feelings back. They can’t be contained forever.” She reminded me that our feelings are like the weather, they change. 

I don’t even remember how we ended things, but I have this general impression that I didn’t really want to leave, and that I felt sad. I wanted to talk about so much, but it was all under the surface, hiding from me, because I was so indifferent. 

The rest of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday passed in a blur. Monday night I decided that hubby and I needed couple’s therapy. I emailed Bea, and asked what she thought. I wanted her opinion because I knew enough to know I was so very indifferent feeling right then that it seemed a great idea, but other parts might not be so okay with it. “I sometimes feel like my entire life has been a lie, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. I can make a choice, now. I want a marriage where my husband is my secure base, where its him I want for comfort and support– not my best friend or therapist. (There is nothing wrong with needing my best friend or therapist for support, but my husband should be on that list, too. He should be on the list of people I trust, and he is not. And that’s just not okay anymore.) So….. I don’t know. Is couples therapy a terrible idea?” 

She emailed back, saying it was okay, and that she understood wanting the things I wanted out of my marriage, but something about her wording threw me off and sent out alarm bells that she felt this was a very bad idea. I wrote back, explaining that her wording was making me feel like even though she said it was an okay idea, she didn’t really feel that way. I felt like that was big progress on my part, because I never would have written that second email a year ago. I would have done nothing and stressed out that she thought I was making bad choices. I can see now that feeling so numb and indifferent helped out in that way. 

 Bea emailed back, and explained further; she didn’t think therapy as a couple was a bad idea, but she was concerned about what would happen when I was asked to expose more of myself than I am comfortable with in a session. She stated that we could talk about this more the next day in session.  

Wednesday night, I woke up from a nightmare, and started writing. I had written some after the session before Thanksgiving, and so I added on to that, with the intent to give it to Bea to read. I wrote a lot about everything. I never really did fall back asleep, and the morning passed quickly. I got Kat off to school, and headed to Bea’s……………………………

(To be continued……..)

Everything is changing

There are a million things I should be doing right now. If I started cleaning right now, I would be able to get my kitchen back to normal, the living room too. I could catch up on laundry, and probably get the playroom organized enough to get out the big american girl dolls and maybe have time to give the dogs a bath and cook dinner. Its 10:00 am. I could clean and organize until 12:35, when I have to go pick up my daughter, and then clean and organize from 2-5 while her ABA tech is here. That’s 5 hours. I could get a lot done in 5 hours. I am very efficient. But I am struggling today. I feel lost, frozen and alone; I have this anxiety, this tension in me. It came out this morning as frustration and yelling at Kat when she didn’t follow directions or listen to me. I feel like a terrible mother. Everyone feels so far away from me. I don’t know. I know October is a hard month, but I feel like I just don’t have the right to be falling apart. The harder I try to hold it together, the more anxiety and tension, frustration, anger, comes snapping out. I hate this version of me. 

I saw Bea yesterday. I barely remember the session. We talked about the weekend, seeing my mom. I couldn’t find the words to explain it all, to tell her how it is different with my mom right now, how she is different. I was afraid to even talk about what my mom talked about with me, because so much of it involved eating disorder behaviors. I was afraid that Bea would turn it into an opportunity to talk about my stuff. I didn’t want that to happen. I remember Bea suggesting I give her a play-by-play, a transcript of the conversation, and try to leave the emotion out of it. I think I tried, but failed. I don’t know. I’m afraid of what I am feeling. I’m afraid of how everything around me is changing. 

I had put Kat to bed, and mom was cleaning up the kitchen. She left some dirty dishes in the sink, and said she would take care of them tomorrow. This is unheard of. She doesn’t leave anything left messy, left undone. There is always this nervousness, this anxious tension, this trying to be perfect and control everything feeling that….well, people around her feel it, and they almost feel this fragilness in her, this feeling of needing to help her control things, keep them prefect.  

Bea nodded, agreed with me. I remember her saying something about that is what I had always done; try to be perfect and help her have the perfect, in control feeling. She said something about having so much internal anxiety and chaos leads us to try to control things on the outside. 

I was so surprised that my mom was leaving dirty dishes in the sink. But she was calm and fine. All that nervous, anxiety, tension….I don’t think it is there anymore. I said, joking, being silly, ‘where’s my mom? My mom doesn’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.’ And thats when she started talking about how therapy has really helped her, and how she has been doing so good. She told me how she isn’t stressed out so much, how she doesn’t try to hide things that aren’t perfect. She talked about how she is eating better, how she is seeing a nutritionist, how she doesn’t even go to the gym anymore and just walks with her dog and my dad for enjoyment. She talked about how she and my dad are doing so good and learning to communicate. She talked about hoe my dad is doing so much better; he’s doing things again, they are spending a lot more time together. She talked about how she feels guilty that I learned her habits for dealing with stressful life stuff. She wasn’t crying, or upset, or falling apart. It wasn’t her telling me this so that I could take care of her, ‘fix’ it. She was just talking. She obviously felt bad, and she obviously has a lot of guilt, but she was in control of the conversation. This was a person who had worked through this stuff and could handle discussing it. She was being the adult, she was being a mom. And i hated every minute of the conversation with her. I felt uncomfortable. My skin was crawling, I had the hot and cold feeling– the one where you feel burning hot but icy cold and frozen at the same time. I felt like I wanted to cry, or yell, or run. 

I think Bea asked me how present I was during this talk with my mom. I told her ‘not very.’ The truth is, I was just gone. I felt those uncomfortable feelings, and hid in the room in my head. The whole scene with my mom feels fake. It’s that unreal, this isn’t my life feeling. Bea asked if I was angry, and I remember shaking my head no, and her saying that she didn’t feel anger from me today. I told her I just didn’t understand why my mom couldn’t do this when I needed her to. I remember her validating that, maybe saying what she felt from me was sad. I don’t know. I just remember her saying that one word– sad. I remember her saying that and I know we talked about those feelings. I remember feeling tears in my eyes, but refusing to let them fall. I have this fuzzy vague memory of Bea wiping at her eyes, under her glasses. I remember telling Bea that my mom ate pizza this weekend. I have never seen her eat pizza. I know Bea said something about feeling lost, feeling uncertain because my mom isn’t acting like my mom. I think she asked if I was having a hard time because my mom is separating herself from me. I don’t know if I responded. 

I don’t like how things have changed with my mom. Logically, I am happy to see her and my Dad both doing so well. I am glad to see her facing things and being real and authentic. But I am having a hard time trusting that, believing her. She can do this today, and be present and real, but what happens when I respond in a real way and not the rote, drilled into me way? Is that when she is going to fall apart and it will be my fault her life– the life she is finally actually living– falls apart? I can not be responsible for another mess. I’m not sure I trust that this is for real. I’m not sure that I believe it will last. I don’t know. I was really just can’t go there with her right now. And I am hurt. I don’t understand why I didn’t matter enough for her to do this when I was a kid. I want to go back in time, I want a redo, and I want to take the person my mom is now back with me. I want that woman to raise me. 

I am almost afraid to believe the person my mom seems to be becoming is real. Because if it is real, then everything I didn’t have is very apparent, in stark contrast to who she is now. I’m afraid because all of that makes me angry and it makes me feel like sobbing. It is this big huge hurt, this giant pain, that is raw and sore and it makes me so full of deep, deep sadness and rage simultaneously that it’s too overwhelming. And a very big part of me believes I have no right to these feelings, that they are absolutely not okay and not allowed. 

I remember my session with Bea ending, very quickly telling her about a conversation I had with hubby (which I will write about later) and her asking me what I was doing the after this. I told her I was actually meeting Kay for coffee, and I think that surprised her. After all, i have been avoiding Kay for almost 6 months. We discussed a scheduling thing; I needed to let her know a day that Kat may be late. She let me leave not long after, and Hagrid and I met my best friend for coffee, just down the street. 

A Real Relationship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh. Wow. Are you going to see her?”

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

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

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

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

“Yes.” I nod.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I feel so guilty.” I whisper.

“Because you aren’t happy for her?”

“I should be.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nod. Slowly.

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

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

I nod, letting her know I hear her.

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

“My mom is going to see a nutritionist.”

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

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

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

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

Hagrid’s barking, and Bea’s laughing.

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

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

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

I nod. “Can you just talk?”

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

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