I think I’m going to be okay

This might be triggering; I talk about details of specific memory pieces. Please just be careful. Xx

Therapy Monday. I’m sitting in my usual place, with Bea across from me. We’re still discussing the memories, images, physical sensations, feelings. “I don’t know. I…..it’s just a stupid thing,” I tell her. 

“If it’s there, and bothering you, it’s important. Maybe it needs to be said.” Bea is calm, always so calm. I gave her my notebook to read earlier in the session. I’d written that I didn’t understand how she could go over and over the same questions, constantly reassuring me, responding to the same worries and fears. She said it was okay, that she would reassure me and answer the same questions as long as I needed to ask them. 

“I…..it’s just….in my head…..I see……it’s….” I stop, try to slow my breathing, calm down. “I like to sleep on my stomach.” I start over, from the beginning. 

“Okay. You like to sleep on your stomach,” Bea echoes.

“I sleep on my side when he’s here. So I can see the door. I have to watch the door.” My breathing is faster now, I’m full of anxiety, and it feels like I’m there, waiting for him to come back into my room. I’m 5 years old again. 

“You need to watch the door. Yes, you were trying to keep yourself safe. You are kind of on your side right now. Can you feel that?”  

“Yeah…I’m on my side…..I…..I have to see the door. My room…all my furniture is cream and rose gold. My mom painted the walls that dusty pink color. I hated it.” It’s helping me to tell her about my room, what it looked like then. It’s important to the story, but it’s helping. 

“Mmmmhmmm.” Bea lets me know she hears me. My head is down, so I can’t see her. She makes these verbal nods. 

“My bed, it’s a day bed. The bed posts are round.” 

“Are they rose gold, or cream?” Bea asks. 

“Gold. My bed is cream. And you know how the sides….they slope on a day bed…so the posts are more level with your head…” I stop talking. I can’t breathe. 

“I see some shaking, and it looks like you are very scared right now. Let’s go back to your knees. Can you feel them? That they are strong?” 

“Now. They are strong now. Then…..but now they are strong and won’t move.” I whisper the words through tears that are falling now. 

“Yes. Then you couldn’t stop it. But now, now they are strong, and no one can move them.” She reiterates. 

I nod. “Okay. So….I have to watch the door. I have to see the door. So when he comes in my room, I know right away. And when…..when he’s closer….I…..those bed posts, they make a reflection like a mirror. But….it’s round…so it’s….like a funhouse mirror.” 

“Distorted.” 

“Yes. Distorted. So….I can see him…..smiling….but it’s…distorted….he’s happy. I’m not happy.” I sob the words out. 

“Your whole life was distorted,” she tells me sadly. 

“I was so scared.” 

“Can you see how your body is feeling? Is there anything you want to do?” She asks me. 

I shake my head at first. I’m unsure. “I don’t know. I can’t…I’m sorry, I don’t know.” 

“That’s okay. It’s okay not to know.” She reassures me. 

We sit with the feeling of not knowing for a while. Sitting there, feeling scared, and unsure, feeling like a 5 year old. And then, I know. “I want to push his hands off me. I want to push and kick his hands away.” 

“You want to push his hands away. Do you want to try an experiment? Try pushing?” She asks softly, carefully. 

“I….I’m scared.” I tell her. 

“I know.” 

“I…okay. I’ll try.” The words are choppy, and uncertain. 

“Okay. Do you want to push with hands or feet?” 

I shake my head. I don’t know. 

“Your right foot is pushing a little bit on your left foot. Do you want to push with your feet? I could put my hand under your foot, and you could push against it.” 

“Feet…..I don’t like my feet touched.” I tell her that, and it’s like something in my head clicks, and it makes sense why I have always hated having my feet touched. 

“Okay. If I put a blanket under your foot, would that feel safer?” 

“No….hands are safer than feet. Not feet.” I whisper.

“Okay. That’s something we know, now. That’s good. Do you want to try pushing with hands?” She asks carefully.

I nod. “Okay. With hands.” 

“I’m going to move nearer to you, okay?” Bea is keeping her voice gentle. 

“Okay. Okay,” I say. I try to breathe. I don’t look up, but I feel her moving closer. For a moment, I panic inside. It’s near impossible to stay in this place of two realities; the 5 year old who was scared and hurt and alone, and the grown up who is strong, and not alone. I have to work to remind myself that I’m in Bea’s office, I’m safe, it’s Bea next to me, not him. 

“I’m going to put my hand right near yours, and when your ready, you can push. If you want more or less pressure to push against, you can tell me. And if I’m too close, you can tell me to move. You are the one in control here, this rime.” 

“I can’t. I can’t. It’s not…I can’t.” I’m starting to freak out. 

“Nothing bad will happen. You are strong. Feel your knees. No one can move them. No one can open them. Your feet are strong, grounded. No one can move them.” She says. 

I unclench my fist, so my hand is open. I can’t do more than that, though. 

“You aren’t pushing me away. You’re pushing, but it’s not pushing me away. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.” She says. 

I place my hand against hers. 

“It’s okay. You aren’t alone now. And you can push his hands away now.” She tells me, speaking softly. 

I push against her hand. I don’t push hard, I don’t apply barely any pressure. But I push against her hand. Part of me knows she is moving her hand back, allowing me to push her away. But another part of me feels like I am strong, and that I pushed hands away. 

“You did it!” Bea’s voice is full of happiness, but she keeps it quiet and somehow still calm. 

“I did it.” My voice is a little hollow, and far away sounding. It feels like a dream; I did it. 

“You did it. And nothing bad happened.” 

“Nothing bad happened…..?” It’s part question, part statement.

“No, nothing bad happened. I’m still here, and nothing bad happened.” She repeats. 

It’s quiet, for a bit. Then she asks if I want to try again. I nod my head, and push her hand away again. Then we switch hands, and I use my left to push her away. Each time, it takes me a while, and I’m terrified to push those hands away. I’m still partly there, in the then, in a time when I couldn’t push hands away, or keep my knees pushes together, a time when I had to sleep on my side to watch the door. A part of me is in the now, though, and so I’m able to use my new somatic resources and realize that I’m safe and strong. 

“If anyone put their hands on you, you can push their hands away,” Bea tells me. 

I nod. “Yes. I can push their hands away. No one can move my knees or feet.” I push my knees together, and push my feet into the sofa. 

“I can push the hands away.” My voice is stronger. 

“You did good work today. Really good work. I know it’s hard, really hard, but you are doing it. This was good work,” she tells me as she we wrap things up. 

I’m exhausted, when I get home, I want nothing more than to take a nap. I end up taking a nap, a very long nap in the afternoon. I feel like I ran a marathon. This is hard work. I think it’s worth it, I have to believe it’s worth it. 

I feel calmer, in a way that feels very deep internally, like its there to stay. It’s like there is a pool of cool blue water, with orchids surrounding it, deep inside me. Like I have a place to go to feel calm. I have a place inside myself that is safe, safer than any closet I could ever hide in. Things feel scary and hard, and I’m surrounded by feelings and physical sensation, and I’m sad and things are messy, but deep inside I feel like I have a safe place. I think I’m going to be okay. 

You read and maybe I will color 

I’m not sure I want to be here, but I didn’t want to cancel, either. So, I sit, curled up on the sofa, Hagrid in my lap, unsure of what I’m doing. I’ve lost track of the conversation. Bea has been forced to lead the conversation, to try to pick apart what I might need to talk about, because I’ve shared very little. 

“Do you know what you will be doing for Easter? Are you going to your mom’s?” 

I nod. “Yeah….I think….I don’t know. I just want to go for the day, really, but it will hurt her feelings, I don’t know. So I can’t decide if we are just going Saturday, or staying through Sunday.” 

“I haven’t heard you worry about your moms feelings recently,” Bea states.

 
She’s right. I haven’t. I want to say this whole mess with Kay, and with her, means I am treading very carefully with my other relationships. I don’t want to hurt anyone else, have anyone else become angry with me and leave. “No, I haven’t. I’ve been more…I don’t know……making my choices based on what Kat or I need. But I just…I don’t know.” I shrug. I’ve spent most of re session staring at the floor. 

“It doesn’t seem as if it’s been as triggering, or as hard to go back to your parents home. Is it easier, now?” 

I nod, slowly, because I’m thinking. But she’s right, it has been less triggering lately. 

“Why do you think that is?” She asks.

“I don’t know. I just….it just is, I guess. I don’t know why.” And in that moment, I really don’t. But now, as I’m writing, I suspect it is a combination of better coping skills, of the grown up part of me being stronger, of my parents being more real. 

“Maybe it’s because you are able to be more in the present, now? The past doesn’t overtake you so easily, and you can stay in the present and see that that was then and this is now.” Bea suggests. 

“Yeah…..” I really do agree. It makes sense. 

“Are you worried about seeing him again?” 

I shake my head. “No. That was a freak thing. If we went to church, maybe…but we don’t go. My parents do, but we never have gone since Kat was born. But she did do Christmas service, so maybe they will expect…..I don’t know. But no. That was a freak thing, a fluke.” 

I see Bea nodding out of the corner of my eye. “What happened with your brother’s wedding? Is that…..?” 

“September. It’s this September.” 

“Are you worried about seeing Kenny there?” She asks. 

I pet Hagrid, unsure how to answer. “No…yes….I just try not to think about it.” 

I think there is some more conversation around this, but then she asks, “I’m sure this won’t ever happen, but hypothetically……..What if he wrote you a letter, taking all the blame, saying he was sorry and he did a bad thing to you and it was all his fault? How would that feel?” 

I stare at the floor, at the couch, at Hagrid. “I…..I’m not sure it would really matter. I mean….I don’t know if it’s really about him….I don’t know…..” I answer honestly, even though a part of me doesn’t want to say anything at all. 

“I know it’s hard to take in and hear me saying it wasn’t your fault, I just wondered how it would feel or change things if he said it, too.” She explains. 

“I don’t know that it would.” I whisper. 
She asks more questions, all around Kenny, and seeing him, and him being to blame for it all. I’m not sure what they all were, but eventually I get tired of them, and I look at her and say, “Why?” I’m not upset, exactly, more curious as to where all these questions are coming from. 

Bea pauses, thinking it through, sorting her thoughts out. “Well, I suppose I was wondering if it would feel different to see him since you have accessed some of that anger towards him. If you would feel stronger, or like you wanted to yell at him, or if you were worried about how you would react.” She takes a breath, giving me time to respond, but when I don’t, she continues. She talks about how when others she has worked with feel some anger towards their abuser, seeing that person can be very different from seeing them when that anger was split off. 

She also tells me— but I’m not sure when during the session that we talk about this— about a young girl she is working with who was sexually assaulted by a man at the park, and how that girl has talked about messy things, not liking messy things, and how when they were going to court, the little girl wanted to write a letter using her messiest handwriting, and using marker to make it messier. The mom asked Bea about this, and Bea told her it wasn’t surprising because almost everyone she has ever worked with who was sexually abused has hated messy, and used the word messy as an almost metaphor for out of control–exactly what things were during the trauma. (And the girl is doing really well now, and is okay with messy.) I don’t know why but I found this very validating, that so many people, including a little girl, would use the word messy in the same way. It’s always validating to know other adult people feel the way I do, but there is something about hearing that kids, do, too. It’s like it makes it okay for the little girl me to feel the way she does. But anyway……

“I guess that knowing you had some anger towards him, that you have been able to express it a bit, made me curious about how you were feeling now.”

“I’m not angry today,” I say softly. 

“No, I can see that you aren’t.” Her voice is just as soft. “You feel sad to me.”

I cover my face with my hands, and say to her, “This week was a really bad week.” My voice breaks, and tears fall for a moment before I push them back down. 

“I don’t know what happened, but I can hear that it was a hard week.” When I don’t say anything, she goes on to talk about how she had been sort of poking around, trying to see what I might need to talk about. I don’t remember how she said it, but she mentioned that when she doesn’t get emails from me, she feels a little lost because she has no idea what is going on in my life between sessions.

“I did write…not a lot but I did….but I was……I guess I was worried…if you aren’t really back and I sent it….that….” My voice trails off, as I’m not even sure how to finish that sentence. 

“That would have hurt worse, almost have been unbearable?” 

“Yes…..it wold have been too vulnerable making.” 

“Well, I really am back. And nothing you say is going to send me away, nothing you said or did was the cause of me going away before. I like getting your emails, knowing what is going on for you. I need to be better about explaining why, at times, I may not be able to write a long reply, or may not be as emotionally available as you are used to. But I always read them, and am glad to get them, and always hold whatever is going on.” I don’t remember everything she said, but it was all really healing and validating to hear. I came away believing she really is okay with my emails, and really does like the continuity it gives between sessions. 

“Did you want to talk about the bad week, or have me read what you wrote?” She asks. 

It takes a while, but I finally pull out my iPad, and read over what I had written. “I was writing about church….you’d asked things Monday, and I was thinking about church, so I was writing about it. But then Tuesday….I wrote a little more. It’s all jumbled together though, so I don’t know.” 

“That’s okay.” And then, she adds, “Do you maybe want to color and talk? Would that be helpful?” 

I stare at my pink Easter egg colored toe nail polish for what feels like 100 minutes. “I…..maybe you can read, and I will color.” 

Bea gets up, and starts putting the stuff out. Once she is sitting back down, I hand her my iPad and she starts to read. I pick up my picture, and some colored pencils, and start coloring. 

That doesn’t last long, however. As soon as she begins to speak, I cover my face and hide. I don’t remember what she said now about church stuff, but that wasn’t the important part of the session anyway. 

“Which Doctor were you seeing?” She asks me. 

“Dr. S. My general Doctor.”

“Was this like a check up, or was something going on?” 

“Just a check up….she makes me see her twice a year for check ups because my periods…I guess not having them regular makes it a higher risk for cancers…I don’t know.” I don’t have regular periods, and I never have. The so-called monthly friend shows up once or twice a year. Which concerns my doctor a lot, and she has wanted me to use birth control to fix that for sometime now, but I won’t. So the compromise is that I see her twice a year. I hate those kind of exams, but my doctor is really amazing. She doesn’t know my history, but she has always made an effort to make me comfortable. 

“Ahhhh. So you didn’t know she had a student with her until the appointment had started?” 

“No…they ask at the desk, when I checked in. But they didn’t say it was a male student. Just a student. So…I said it was fine. I wouldn’t have….but I didn’t know.” 

“It sounds like this was really retraumatizing,” Bea says softly. “I’m sorry you were so alone with it.” 

“I couldn’t…I couldn’t email you. And I just…I couldn’t say no. She asked. If he could….do whatever….and I just couldn’t…I couldn’t say no, I said okay….” I’m starting to cry now, and it’s like being back at the doctor’s office all over again. 

“Well, ‘no’ isn’t something you are used to saying. ‘No’ wasn’t allowed in your world for so long.” Bea’s voice is reassuring, and kind. 

I’m unsure if I want to talk to her or not, because the teen and little girl parts aren’t sure they trust her anymore, and miss perfect doesn’t want to admit to any weakness. I try to let the grown up part be in charge right now, at least enough so that I can tell Bea what happened. Because the grown up me does trust her, and knows that talking to her will help. The grown up doesn’t manage to keep running things right now, but she at least gets the story out, even through the little girl’s tears. 

“Were you getting a Pap smear? Like that kind of thing?” She asks. 

I nod. “Yeah.” 

“I want to know what freaking out looks like,” she tells me. She simply sounds curious, like this is a normal conversation and I have information she is interested in. I’d written that I had freaked out at the doctor and can never go back. 

I shrug, “I don’t know. Just…..freaked out…you know.” 

“Did you punch him?” She asks, being over the top to help me feel better about whatever I did. 

I shake my head. No. 

“Kick him?” She asks. 

“No.” 

“Swear at him, curse him, and shove him to the floor?” She asks me. 

I crack a tiny smile. “No.” 

We sit quiet for a moment, and Bea finishes reading. “I’m reading now about why you didn’t want to talk to me. I’m sorry. I absolutely in no way think you hold any of the fault, and I can’t see myself ever being tired of holding that position and telling you how I see things,” she says. 

“I know, I know you didn’t say any of those things. I know. But the little girl….the teen….they……I’m not sure, I don’t know why I heard that and not what you were saying.” I jump in, talking fast. I need her to know how grown up me feels. 

“Its okay. Sometimes it’s hard for the little girl part and the teen not to look for rejection, and to hear it even if it’s not there. I think hearing the words, the idea of someone, anyone, telling you they agreed with you, that it was your fault, can feel really scary. I do think you have a part that knows what he did to you was wrong, and not your fault. She might be very buried, very cut off from your awareness, but I do believe she exists. And I don’t think it was your fault at all. Not in any way, in any circumstance or planet could it be your fault. I’m sorry you were all alone with this, and then the doctor….that had to feel really bad.” 

I nod my head and sniffle. “It was a really bad week.”

“Do you want to tell me what happened, why you think you can’t go back?” She asks gently. 

“I couldn’t say no. I…she asked, but he was right there and I didn’t want to make him feel sad. I couldn’t say no.” 

“Of course not. Of course you didn’t want to make someone feel bad.” Bea interjects, and it feels so good to know she gets it. 

“And then…he was….and I couldn’t breathe. I just couldn’t breathe.” 

“Uh-huh….this was really retraumatizing.” 

“And I just….he….I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t say no, I was so scared and it didn’t feel okay, I wasn’t safe and bad things were happening and I was crying and I couldn’t move.” I’m talking fast, words jumbled together, hyperaroused and not here all at the same time. 

“It was really scary. And it really didn’t feel safe,” she says softly. “Did your doctor ask him to stop?” 

I nod. “She had him leave the room.”

“So she protected you. Did she finish the exam?” 

“No….I…she just draped one of those paper blankets over me, and sat with me for a few minutes.” 

“So you have to go back to finish the exam?” Bea asks. 

I nod. “I can’t….I can’t…I just…I can’t.” 

“I know. We don’t have to worry about that right now, okay?” 

“Okay,” I say tearfully. 

“So she sat with you for a few minutes and then let you leave? Or did she have you stay for a bit?” Bea asks, casually.

“Well…..I don’t know. She sat with me and then let me leave. But it could have been longer. So….well, I don’t know. You know, I do my everything is okay routine, and I just wanted to go home. So I went to that functioning but not here place.” I tell her. Bea has seen— and been fooled by—- the functioning everything is okay act, so she is well aware of what it is. 

“Ahhh, yes. And you really wanted to go where it was safe.”

I nod.”yeah.” 

“Were you able to feel better once home, safer?” 

“No…..I….I wanted my closet. But hubby was home, so I kept the functioning act going.”

“That had to be hard.” I’m actually listening, and her voice sounds sad, compassionate.

“And now…I’m so embarrassed.” 

“You have nothing to be embarrassed for. Women’s doctors are really sensitive to how vulnerable a position you are in during those exams.” Bea tells me. 

“I acted like a little girl. I behaved like a child…I couldn’t answer her questions. I just cried. I don’t know. I acted like a child.” I say sadly. 

“You were really triggered. And I’m sure you aren’t the first one to have a bad reaction. She’s probably experienced this before.” Bea reassures me. “Does she know your history?” 

I shake my head. No way. 

“She never asked?” Bea says. She sounds protective, like she is not happy the doctor never asked about my history. 

“Well, it’s just forms. I filled them out a long time ago. Before Kat. And now I just have to check my address, insurance, phone number. And the forms have the question, but I always marked no. I probably wouldn’t even mark yes now, if I were to redo the sheets.” 

“It doesn’t feel safe for her to know?” Bea asks. I’m sure she has to be thinking that it’s too late, the doctor has to know something now. 

“Well, I don’t want it in my file. Because then everyone knows, anyone who gets my chart knows.” My worst nightmare is having strangers know. 

“Okay, that makes sense.” Bea says. 
We talk a little more about the feelings and what happened. And then we start to talk about how I’m going to go back there. 

“I can’t go back.” I’m so embarrassed, so afraid of any judgments made. 

“Well, you could see a different doctor.” Bea’s tone is very neutral as she says this.

“No. I don’t want to do that.” 

“Okay. So, then we come up with a plan. Did the office follow up with you? Did she check on you after?” Bea asks.

“She called that night. I didn’t answer. And I deleted the message. And again called on Wednesday, but no message.” I tell her. 

“You weren’t ready to talk to her. That’s okay. But I am glad she called. I don’t like that she let you leave like that. So soon after.” 

“I was pretending to be okay. I’m really good at that. I’m great at being okay. So….you know.” I say. 

“I know, ” Bea says, “So, how are we going to get you back to the doctor?” 

“I don’t know what will make it better. I’m scared and embarrassed.” It’s not just embarrassment making me afraid to go back; I’m terrified of feeling frozen again.

 “We could write a letter, and I could help you do that.” Bea suggests. 

“Maybe. I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to say.” I tell her.

“Maybe hubby could go with you?” Her voice is a little tentative. “He’s been a help with the dentist.” 

I shake my head. “No. He can’t go. It’s just…no.” I don’t know why I don’t want him there. it seems too vulnerable, too difficult to bring a guy to an exam of my private area. Ugh.

“I could go with you,” Bea offers. 

I don’t respond. But I can’t believe she would offer this. I feel really supported and cared for. Like she wants to help keep me safe, like she really does care. I can’t respond to her offer, I can’t express my feelings of thankfulness for her; I can’t tell someone about my postoperative feelings for them without feeling shame. What the heck is up with that? “If we wrote a letter, we wouldn’t have to give it to her. Just write it to get my thoughts in order and then figure it out?”

“Nope, we wouldn’t have to send it,” she agrees. 

We wrap up a bit later, and I leave feeling okay. Well, not okay, but like I have Bea back. She’s not gone. She likes getting my emails, she likes hearing what the teen has to say, she wants me to feel safe, and she offered to go with me to the doctor. She does care. 

I don’t want to hurt anymore 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the time in the world 

This post may be triggering. I had a lot happen this past weekend. I need to write and work through some things, and many of those things could be triggering to others. Please be careful, and as always, take care of yourselves. Xx

It’s been a rough weekend. By Tuesday morning, as I am driving into the city to Bea’s office, I’m so highly triggered that I am numb. I had emailed her late last night, filling her in on some of it, knowing I wouldn’t be able to talk about it all. I wrote that I needed to talk, and not focus on safety and grounding, because I felt as if there was a hurricane, tornado and blizzard tearing through my mind. I was so afraid that being so triggered would send Bea into a grounding and safety model of therapy, and I just really felt this need to talk. She wrote back in the morning, assuring me that we would make as much space to talk as I needed.

I walk in, carrying Hagrid. Bea smiles at me, a slightly sad smile, one that says she knows how hard this is. “How’s he doing today?” She asks me. 

I blink back tears, and settle Hagrid on my lap as I sit down. “He’s okay. He can’t be jumping up or down or do stairs right now. And I feel like he looks really sad, even though hubby keeps telling me he always looks like this.” Over the weekend, Hagrid had strained a muscle in his back. Thankfully, it was a Sunday, so I only had to wait a day to bring him to our vet. Our vet does have emergency hours, and will meet you at the office during times when the office is closed, but Hagrid was walking, using the bathroom, and eating and drinking, and only crying or showing signs of pain when he jumped on or off furniture, so hubby had decided we could wait until Monday morning. The vet had said he pulled or strained a muscle, and gave him a laser therapy treatment, designed to reduce inflammation and speed healing. 

“He does look sad, just sort of shut down,” Bea agrees with me. She is really looking at him, and her face is full of empathy. She looks as if she would like nothing better than to make Hagrid feel better. “You know, animals know how to listen to their bodies much better than we do. Hagrid is listening to his body, resting so he can heal. It is a good thing. He’s okay.” 

I nod. It’s so hard seeing him hurting, and I feel so terrible. While my vet had assured me that we had done nothing wrong, and this is a common injury for dachshunds, I can’t help feeling as though I should have been able to prevent it. 

“You know,” Bea says, “If my dog was hurt, and my child had jumped and almost hurt him more, I would have yelled, too. I really would have.” Part of my breakdown this weekend had been because Hagrid was hurt, and Kat had jumped onto the couch where he was sitting– after just being told no jumping or bouncing around the dog– and I had screamed at her, like another child throwing a temper tantrum. 

“Thank you,” I whisper, grateful that Bea understands and is willing to share these kinds of things with me. 

“So your mom…….?” Bea prompts, letting her unspoken question hang in the air. 

“My mom,” I say. “I don’t know what to say. She just…..she was okay.” On Monday, after he had seen the vet, and hubby had left for work, Kat and I were sitting with him on the couch, when he let out the worst cry I have ever heard from a dog. I was so scared, and could hardly think. I had called hubby, asking him to come home because I was scared and worried and needed him. He responded very shortly with me, telling me to act like an adult and call the vet. I had called the vet (and gone back, had X-rays taken, and seen that his back, his spine, was just a bad strain), and then I had called my mom. I’d been so upset when I called her I couldn’t breathe or speak, just sob. And she had been amazing; calm and contained, and not backing away from my pain. 

“She really could handle you being so upset.” 

I nod. “She really could. I even told her, later, that I almost didn’t call because I didn’t want to upset her, and she said she could handle it, and it was her problem if she got upset, not my problem. It was….strange. I don’t know. Not like her. She was…..not my mom.” 

“She wasn’t the mom you were used to,” Bea says. 

“It’s funny. Last year, I was so anxious about thanksgiving and I didn’t want to go. This year, I am just so….it’s like I just have to make it through to Wednesday when I can leave, go to my parents’. I just…things have changed so much.” 

“So you are still going, then?” Bea asks. 

“Yeah. Hubby and Kat are going to his mom’s, so it is just me. I’m……I’m okay with that,” I say slowly. 

“A break will be good for you, I think.” Bea agrees. 

We talk about Kat, and some of the things that are concerning me. When at school, Kat is the picture of well adjusted. Yes, she needs some extra supports, and we’ve had to make accommodations for her, but it has all gone much more smoothly than I was anticipating. Of course, we had begun working towards Kat attending school this year last spring, so she was well prepared. Anyway, at home, Kat talks about school, and is sad. She had told me this weekend that her heart was broken by school, and she was very sad that she has to go there. It sparked a huge amount of concern for me, and I was very stressed and upset by her words. 

Bea talks about how much Kat has had to change to attend school, and how anytime we change, there is grief involved. She suggests that may be part of Kat’s broken heart feeling. She acknowledges how hard it must to hear that, but assures me that everything in Kat’s play is becoming more pro social, and is very healthy, even with things she needs help working through. As she is speaking, she looks at me, and tells me, “You are a good mother. You’ve had a lot of affirmation about this lately, the BCBA telling you that you are spot on in how to help Kat say goodbye to the tech that is leaving, Kat’s teacher telling you that you are her favorite kind of parent to work with because you get it, the other ABA tech telling you are her favorite family to work with because you are open and real and involved. But these things surprise you. You don’t believe them. When you first brought Kat here, I was amazed at how attuned you were to her. You were right there, with her and with me, doing therapy. For me, I had never worked with a parent so in tune to what was going on. It was like having another therapist in the room.” 

I’m shocked by her words. I shake my head at her. “I just…it’s like I somehow have you fooled, too. Even though I shouldn’t be able to fool you.” I sigh, and shake my head. She is my shrink. I’ve been so upfront with her about the times I have yelled at Kat, or ignored her, or fallen short of being a good mom. 

Bea laughs. “I don’t think you have me fooled. I think you are a good mom. But you just don’t see it, even when others tell you so.” 

“I don’t know. It’s like….they are fooled by me, or they are being nice.” 

“I wonder where this message came from? I don’t think it’s an old message, from the past.” She questions. 

“I don’t know. I really don’t. It just…is.” But now that she has asked the question, my mind is spinning, wondering, searching for answers. 

“There is….it’s not uncommon for successful people to feel as though they are a fake. It’s known as imposter syndrome.” As Bea explains what it is, I mentally nod my head in agreement. That is how I feel. But where she is explaining it as one area of a person’s life, I feel as though that is my life. I don’t respond, and we sit in silence for a few moments. Bea breaks the silence, saying, “I don’t want us to run out of time and not have talked about everything you wanted to talk about.” 

I nod. “I just…I wanted space to talk, but I don’t even know what to say.” 

“Was there one thing that is in your mind, more than anything else?” She asks. When I shake m head, she suggests she could get my email, but I shake my head at that, too.

“I….it’s like this whole weekend was one big trigger.” I’ve been aware, the whole time Bea and I have been speaking, that I’m wound very tight, on edge, just holding it together. 

“Okay,” she says, “So it was Sunday when Hagrid got hurt. That was the start?” 

“No….I think……Friday was the start.” I reach down, pull my notebook out of my bag. “I wrote…I was going to type it, email it. But then…I just didn’t.” 

“Do you want me to read it now?” He voice is soft and kind. 

I open the notebook, not really looking at it. “I don’t…I was going to edit it before I emailed it.” 

“I don’t care about editing, or something being typed,” she tells me softly. 

I scan the words I had written, barely remembering them. A good portion of it reads as though the little girl wrote it. “I think…I mean….not just grammar or punctuation. Not really edit, I guess. Revise. I mean revise.” 

“Ahhh, I see,” Bea says carefully. 

I start to read what I’d written, stop, and flip the page. I’m reading silently, trying to decide if there is any part of it that I can have her read. I finally slam the notebook shut, and throw it on the floor as if it is a snake that bit me. 

Bea has been watching all of this, but I’m not certain what she has seen, what conclusions she has drawn from my behavior. Softly, as if she is speaking to a scared child, she says, “Whatever is written in there is clearly very upsetting.” 

I nod. I can’t speak for a minute, and when I finally do, my voice is so quiet it’s barely there. I have my face covered with my hands. I can’t look at her. “I…we were playing uno. On Friday. Kat loves uno. So we were playing, after dinner. I…we always played. When I was a kid…when we would go camping, summer…I don’t know.” 

“Is there a memory associated with playing this game?” She gently asks. 

I shake my head. “No….I…maybe, sort of. Not really bad. Just….I was…it’s small things. But it…playing a game, so often played when I was a kid….I….well….maybe I was more in a little girl headspace?” The last part comes out as a question, although it wasn’t intended that way. 

“Mmmmhmmm, that makes sense.” Bea encourages me to continue. 

“So….I…after Kat was in bed…maybe….I was still in that headspace. And maybe hubby was…maybe he….I mean….we….you know.” I can’t get the words out. Why is it so impossible for me to say the words? We had sex. Three little words, but I can’t get them out.

“I know,” Bea says quickly, quietly. 

I breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have to say it for her to know, and continue. “I was…it was like…everything…just..flashbacks. And he didn’t see.” My voice breaks, and a few tears fall. “I…then Saturday…I was…..numb, gone. I don’t know. I don’t really remember a lot of Saturday.” What I do remember about Saturday is that I slept with my husband again, that night (but I can’t remember if I actually told Bea that, or not).

“And Saturday is when you wrote in your notebook?” She guesses. 

“Yeah. I…I just needed…I don’t know. Everything was too much. And then Sunday, Hagrid was hurt, and I just…I don’t know. And then I was watching a show before bed, and…..it…well, it was you know…and nightmares, and then hubby woke me up Monday morning, yelling at me and…..there was that mess…and I just was frozen. And everything felt so bad. I wanted…….to…..go away…..disappear……I just….” I break off from the story, not even sure what else to say. 

It’s a good thing I had emailed this part of the weekend to Bea. Sunday night, the show I had DVRed and was watching, the main character had an abortion. It wasn’t a main part of the storyline, but looking back, maybe I should have realized what the story was leading up to. I don’t know. And it wasn’t a long scene, but it was enough to put me on the crazy train. Then, sometime during the night, I had started my period, and woke up to a literal mess on Monday morning. My wake up came from hubby, screaming at me about mail I had left in the car, and he had found. I don’t know when I even got the mail, I never get the mail, but I had gotten it, and it had ended up buried under all the crap in my car. He has found it when he drove Kat to school, and it included a bill that he had needed. Then there was Hagrid being hurt, and the vet visit, and then hubby telling me to act like an adult to take the dog back to the vet on my own, and me yelling at Kat, and Kat being upset about school, and the Friday night little girl headspace. I was a mess by Monday afternoon; and a part of me was feeling extremely self destructive and as though all I ever do is ruin everything and hurt people around me. I felt as though everyone would be happier if I just disappeared. I almost called Bea. But, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I called my mom instead, needing to not be alone. And my mother surprised me by being the mom I had needed my entire life, that she was unable to be until now. 

“It was a lot. A lot to deal with, and a lot of triggers.” Bea is still speaking very softly, gently. “You were really triggered. It’s…when we get so triggered like that, and have these feelings that don’t fit with our present, daily lives, it feels very crazy. But you aren’t crazy. It’s as if you are being hijacked by old feelings. And we can work on that, so things don’t feel this much out of control. We have all the time in the world to work on this.” 

I nod, slowly. I wonder what she means by ‘all the time in the world’, but it feels like she means that we have as much time as I need, that she isn’t going anywhere. And for once, I don’t feel the need to question her, or worry over it. She’s not going anywhere, and I’m going to my parents on Wednesday for the weekend, where my mom will take care of me. Even though nothing feels okay, everything will be okay. I have all the time in the world to make it so. 

Things I’m afraid to say

I wrote this last night, at 2 am. It’s a letter to Bea. I have so much ugly stuff just moving around in my head, looping around, jumping around, making a giant mess. I need Bea back. I need to tell her these things. But I am afraid. So, I decided to share it here after so many of you told me you understand, that I’m not alone and that you are all supporting me.
This might be triggering, I don’t know. I don’t mention any details but I do talk about sexual abuse.

My parents are in therapy. What does that mean? I don’t even know.

On the surface, if you met our family when I was in elementary school, say second grade, you would have met a mom, a dad, a daughter and a son. The Dad went to work everyday during the week, and he was smart; usually much smarter than people around him and successful. He’s also quiet and soft spoken. The mom is talkative, social, a people person. She stays home and is the room mother for her children’s classes at school. She works out a lot, taking classes at the local Y, and runs. The daughter, she talks too much and tries to be quieter. She likes to read and play with her barbies. She dances and does gymnastics and is known for being very smart– she is already reading books meant for 5th or 6th graders. The little boy is quiet and follows his sister’s lead. He likes his trucks and GI joes, he struggles some in school but is talented in art and likes to draw and build things. The family goes to church every Sunday, and has a fairly large group of friends they see on the weekends. The kids have everything they could want, yet they are polite and other children and adults like them. They are close with the dad’s family who live in town. The family is perfect, really perfect.

That’s the story; the perfect storybook life my family has claimed to have. It’s the story I have told my whole life. The story, my story continues that daughter grows up, and does so well in school she graduates at age 16. She attends community college for a year because she is so young, and then transfers to school an hour away from home. She does well, but after a year chooses to take a break from “real” school because she was so young when she began her academic career. She attends cosmetology school and falls in love with the profession; she finds her real passion and ends up working as a colorist and then as the director of the color department at an upscale salon several hours from her hometown. She meets a nice boy, and they get married. They buy a home, and have a baby. There are many challenges with the baby, but the couple fight for what they know their child needs, and they eventually find people who help. When the child is 3, they receive a diagnosis of autism, and they find the best therapy for their child. They fight for insurance and healthy care. They accomplish a lot, because of their daughter’s diagnosis. And after all that, the little girl is doing very well, she is succeeding and happy and has made many huge strides. Because of his work on changing the insurance policy of his office, the husband gets noticed at work by the higher ups. They see his steady job performance, his dedication to his job, how smart he is, and how much he cares. The husband receives several promotions during the time the little girl grows from baby to toddler to a 5 year old. The wife stays home and takes care of the day to day stuff, she manages the house and the daughter’s therapies. She is organized and on top of it all. The family lives in a nice neighborhood, in a small town, on a lake. They have a private beach and small park in the neighborhood. Life is perfect. They are perfect.

But it’s not real. Or maybe it is and I’m crazy. I don’t know. Maybe it’s fair to say it’s real, but it’s not the whole story. I don’t know.

If my parents are in therapy, and my mom is gone because she can’t handle my Dad’s depression anymore, and they have been here many times before but never to the point of therapy, I don’t know what that means exactly. Maybe it means that what I’ve said all along, that the perfect life was false, a facade, is true. Maybe I can’t handle that being true. Maybe it’s easier if I am crazy and lying and making things up. I don’t know.

The other side of this story, isn’t so pretty. It’s about a woman (Olivia) who lost her mother (Monica) too early, and whose father (Joe) disowned her, along with her older brother (Matt) and sister (Bethany). No one talks about why, or what happened, and although joe lives in the same town, he is avoided at all costs. Olivia is estranged from joe’s entire family, although she does remain close to Monica’s extended family.

The man (Brad) she marries has a messy family history. His father (Tyler) and mother (Joyce) are divorced, the father remarried to a loving, kind person– Lottie. Joyce was emotionally abusive, and at times neglectful. She would lock her kids out of the house when she was entertaining her boyfriends. Tyler was hospitalized twice during his marriage to Joyce for what the family will only say was a nervous breakdown. The family rumor is that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but it has also been rumored that he was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder. AsBrad and his siblings reached the age of 12, they all chose to go live with their father and step-mother. By that time Tyler was on medication and stable. Lottie was also a stable and consistent person. After living with her father for about a year, brad’s older sister (Dana) disclosed that one of Joyce’s boyfriend’s had sexually abused her. Joyce accused Dana of flirting and trying to steal the boyfriend. Tyler and Lottie sent Dana to counseling, but that was all that was ever done. Joyce married that boyfriend; he became husband number 3. Many years later, it is rumored and whispered and wondered if Joyce did more than emotionally abuse her children.

Looking at this, it’s harder to know exactly what happened with Olivia but it is clear something ugly happened. It appears that she has had an eating disorder for a long time, as it has been hinted at that the eating disorder affected her pregnancy. Knowing Brad’s history, it is easy to see why he struggles with depression. I think he has refused to admit it or seek help because he doesn’t want to be “crazy” like his dad.

So. Olivia gets pregnant at 18, just out of highschool and they get married. Olivia is put on bed rest in July because of pregnancy complications. I’m born in October. A few years later, my little brother is born. Even when I was young, I felt a lot of pressure to be good, to be whatever my parents needed. It felt like I had to be good enough to be loved. My Dad didn’t talk a lot. He taught me to read before kindergarden, and he always told me he loved me before I went to bed, gave me a hug and a kiss. He sang funny songs– like the bumblebee song, but sometimes he would refuse to sing. He liked to go fishing, and he would take us with him. I always took a book and a drawing pad because he didn’t talk a lot when we would be out on the boat. It felt like he needed quiet.

My mom worked hard to be perfect; it was just something I knew from a young age. She did not like sad or mad feelings, happy is what mattered, what was allowed and acceptable. She would beat herself up over mistakes; like burning chicken for dinner, or spilling a drink. She threw up after dinner a lot. I remember thinking that was what moms did. I didn’t know. We had family friends, and the son babysat me. They lived next door. He played a secret game with me, and I didn’t understand it, not really, but I knew I was bad for playing the game and liking it and I was afraid of people finding out. But sometimes, I didn’t like the game and it was all so confusing. But I had no one to tell. Except, once, in first grade, I drew a picture of a little girl hiding in a closet. When my teacher asked about it, I told her I had to hide sometimes because scary things happen at nighttime. She thought it was about bad dreams. I remember telling her it wasn’t dreams, feeling so frustrated that she didn’t get it. I don’t know what happened after that, if anything at all. I remember thinking my mom would love me more if I were thinner like my cousin Angie. It was summer, between first and second grade. I remember my mom getting ready to go out, and asking her not to go. I remember too much, and not enough at all. I remember feeling left and like I did something wrong because she wouldn’t stay. I don’t know.

They ignored, turned a blind eye, and hid everything. No one could know about mom’s eating disorder. No one could know that their daughter was crazy. They didn’t see what was happening. Even my dirty, no not dirty, bloody underwear weren’t enough to make her question anything at all. I always blame my mom for not seeing, but really, my dad didn’t see either. He still believed, until this year, that I love the Ferris wheel. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about his depression, or how that was when I was a kid. I don’t want to know. No matter what, I always thought of him as so strong, so smart, believed he could fix anything. The little girl’s perspective of the super hero Dad. But it’s not completely true. I don’t know, I really need him to be able to fix anything. I remember that the day after I overdosed, I was grounded but still forced to attend my birthday party and smile like nothing was wrong. It’s all so screwed up. The summer before I was 13, when we were at the cabin with kenny’s family for a week. We went there without my parents because they needed some time to work through things. Was this because of depression and eating disorders and not just because of a crazy daughter? I don’t know. And the summer before Kat was born, there were problems. But then Kat was born, and family came to visit and they pretended things were perfect, like they always do. I don’t know what to think. It’s all so freaking messy and it makes me want to scream.

My mind is throwing ugly crap in my face no matter how hard i try to block it out. It’s all piecey and messy and chopped up. I’m little and he is there, touching me and I’m happy. Then I’m little and he is telling me to kiss him, down there. And I’m sick and frozen and can’t breathe but he is saying like a Popsicle and I think I might throw up and it all feels too real. And then I’m in my bed and I feel afraid and sad and I keep crying but I don’t understand why. And then I’m in 4th grade and my mom is gone, she left me, and I am kissing him, moving his hands to be on my body. It’s my fault, I did it, he hurt me but I did if. And I’m confused and I want to hide and I feel like a little girl that just wants her mom. Except that it’s my fault she is gone. And I’m older and kissing him in front of my mom and I’m in trouble and not being appropriate and he pushed me away. No one wants me. I don’t know. Why is my head so screwed up?

And maybe the nanny did something to sara, and maybe she didn’t. And maybe she did something to Kat and maybe she didn’t. I can’t really believe it, because it’s our nanny and I trust her. Except my parents trusted him. And he hurt me. But I wanted to play the game. Oh my god, this is all too confusing. And I tried to tell my teacher because she was nice and always listened to me and it didn’t feel like she just wanted me to stop talking and be quiet. But she didn’t get it, or maybe she didn’t believe it, couldn’t believe it because my family was perfect. So how can I not believe a different little girl? I don’t know. I don’t know. This is all so confusing and twisted and I really just want to run away but I don’t even have anywhere to go.

And I’ve been thinking about college boyfriend and all the things I allowed him to do, and how I just didn’t leave and how he could be so mean, and how much he could hurt me and how twisted he was and how I think he liked it when I was afraid or hurting. I don’t know, I don’t want these thoughts in my head but they loop around and around with the crazy kenny childhood memories and I can’t make them stop. All this ugly stuff pops up when it wants to and it’s stupid and I feel like a horrible, dirty, terrible person.

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. This is turning into another messy confusing paragraph.

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

The Ferris Wheel

Monday morning, 8:00 am. I’m sitting on Bea’s couch, left leg tucked under the right, with my right knee bent and hugged to my chest. I’m mostly relaxed, but a little apprehensive. I’m not sure what Bea is going to say, or do today.

“How was the weekend?” Bea asks me.

I tell her about Saturday, taking Kat to the fair and riding all the rides. I love all the rides that spin and usually make people my age sick. I tell her how we went hiking on Sunday for Father’s Day, and how hubby turned a one hour hike into a three hour hike.

“Was it grounding? To be out hiking? Was it a positive thing?” She asks. Bea always tells me that going for a walk, being out in nature is grounding for people.

I shake my head, unsure where she is going with this. “That’s hard to answer. I mean…I don’t know. I hate hiking, I hate the woods. It’s not positive, it’s something I find fairly miserable. My idea of nature is sitting on my deck with a glass of wine.”

“What I’m getting at is if you were able to be disconnected from memories and the past? If being out hiking, or even out with Kat was a break from all of that. I know weekends have been hard, and I was hoping that this weekend was maybe a bit better because you were out doing things not your normal schedule.”

“I don’t know. Maybe. I….hiking is boring. It’s one foot in front of the other, follow the trail. You don’t have to be very present for that. It’s an easy activity that lets me be stuck in my head. So no, I wouldn’t say it was grounding.” I have a bit of an edge to my voice. I don’t want to talk about hiking. There are too many memories of hikes with him, with my brother and his sister and our Dads, all of us hiking and having fun. Too many good memories of him are involved in the woods and hiking. And too many ugly memories are twisted in with the good ones. So, no, it wasn’t a break. It was like being flooded with crap I had left behind in the woods, locked away and buried. Hiking through the woods for three solid hours was just what I needed to have it all come back, full force and clear as day.

Bea says something about how what I say is true, it’s easy for a walk to be mindless, but that we could choose to watch for birds or observe types of trees, or something like that. I shake my head at her. “That’s stuff I’m not ever going to do. It’s something my Dad would pay attention to, or maybe hubby. It’s not for me.”

She backs off, and circles back to the weekend. “So, we talked about the weekend, and it all sounds relatively good. Was it? Or was that the surface version?”

I sigh, and cover my face with my hands.

“I’m asking, because you told me that you need me to keep it real. So, I’m asking, and because you asked me to, I don’t have to feel bad for asking,” she says softly.

I nod. “Just because I asked you to ask, doesn’t mean it’s any easier to talk about.” But at least I know she sees through the whole act of being okay. I need to know she sees through it.

“We’re you present or more dissociated this weekend?” She asks, giving me a starting point.

“I…I’m not sure. Both?” I stumble, trying to answer but it’s difficult to do so. “I didn’t sleep on Friday, not really. I don’t know.”

“We talked about some hard stuff on Thursday. Were you having nightmares again?”

“I had a hard time falling asleep, and then I had a bad dream. It just…I wasn’t…I didn’t sleep after that. Saturday night…I don’t know. I was so tired after the fair, and I took a benedryl and fell asleep, and then I was up at maybe midnight, and just stayed up. And hubby was working all night, and so…I don’t know. And last night I was up and down, and I just gave up at three o’clock.” I shrug.

“When did you feel the most present?” Bea asks.

I’m not sure what I feel when she asks that question, because on one level I know she is trying to help me figure out when I’m more here, but another part of me feels resentful, and like she is getting shrinky on me. I really don’t want her to give me the shrinky feeling, so I go with her question, answer it. “When Kat and I were running from ride to ride at the fair, trying to make sure we got each one, and then going back to all the super spinning ones.” I smile at the memory.

“How did that feel to you?” She asks me.

I freeze. I have a definite shrinky feeling now. I can’t answer. The word is on the tip of my tongue, and part of me wants to tell her I felt happy. But I’m not sure I trust this, now. Never mind the fact that Bea asking questions makes it easier to talk.

“Maybe happy?” She suggests.

I nod. “Yes, I was happy. Kat was happy. We were having fun.”

“So this was a good thing, you were able to connect with her and not be triggered by her.”

I nod, still unsure if Bea is Bea or if she has turned shrinky on me. I feel a little disconnected from her, but I don’t want her to know. The old fear that she will leave if things are not perfect is still there. Will I ever get rid of the fear my parents placed in me?

“Maybe you felt happy and satisfied, the feeling we get as parents when we see our children enjoying something, but also happy because you were enjoying it, too?”

I nod my head yes, agreeing with her, because she is right.

“So when did you feel disconnected? Was it later that day, or on Sunday?”

I shake my head. Neither. “I…we were having a really good time. But then..she….Kat asked me to ride the Ferris Wheel. I don’t..I had to tell her no.” I feel hazy just talking about that. It’s enough to send me away, I don’t want to deal with this.

“I think that’s okay. I grew up with a mom who didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel. She got stuck at the top when she was a kid, and was afraid of the ride after that. So, it was just a ride I rode with my dad. And that was okay.” Bea says.

“I told her daddy would take her on it when he brought her back up to the fair after dinner. So..I don’t know.” I pause, and breathe. I can feel tears forming. This is so stupid, to be upset over this. “I don’t…I can’t..I don’t ride that ride.” I tell Bea, and then tears do fall.

“That was the ride?” She asks. It seems that the picture has clicked into place, and she gets it now.

“Yeah. That was the ride. So I don’t..I can’t..I haven’t since…….” My voice trails off, and I look at Bea. I don’t even know what I’m feeling. Part of me is far away, but there is a piece of me that feels ashamed and upset and overwhelmed and dirty.

“It was the Ferris Wheel at [the theme park].” She says.

I don’t know what happens, exactly, but fear and sickness wash over me and I feel too hot. I feel trapped, no way out. And I can actually feel the gondola on the Ferris Wheel swinging slightly. It’s like he is right there, right next to me. I curl both legs up to my chest and bury my face. I don’t want to see or be seen. I want to hide. This isn’t okay. Nothing is okay. Everything is scary, and no where is safe.

“What just happened for you?” Bea asks me.

I can’t answer her. I can’t breathe. She is very far away, and I really don’t know if I trust her right now. It doesn’t feel like she is here.

“I saw something on your face. You were clearly very triggered. Was it a feeling? A picture? What happened?”

I shake my head. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I think she scared me. I’m not sure. Everything is a big, twisted mess, and no one is safe enough to trust. Everyone leaves.

“Can you try to breathe, try to be more in your body?”

I don’t know. I can’t catch my breathe. I can’t….I’ve been holding this in all weekend. The Ferris Wheel. I was so triggered when Kat asked me. Later, hubby took Kat back to the fair, and I stayed home. I felt like I could hardly function. I cut and then took a few benedryl, ensuring I would sleep and not have to deal with this mess.

“I think we need to figure out what happened, before we talk about what is going on now. That was a really powerful reaction you had. It looked like you reacted when I said [theme park]. It looked like pure terror to me.” Bea says. She seems so far from me, so disconnected. I’m pretty sure she is being gentle and kind, but all I feel is disconnect. And I’m afraid she is annoyed with me, tired of this, seriously irritated that I’m freaking out over a Ferris Wheel. Another part of me is thinking that maybe she is finally seeing how easily I’m triggered right now, and how big those things are and how little control I actually have over any of this.

I sit, shaking and crying and stuck in flashback land. I can’t escape it. I don’t know what to do. Bea is still talking, but I don’t have a clue what she is saying. I can’t focus on her words right now. Eventually I manage to calm myself a little, to come back. I feel off balance, like I’ve woken from a dream and missed something.

“We were talking about the Ferris Wheel,” I say slowly.

“Yes, we were talking about the Ferris Wheel,” Bea confirms. Maybe she thinks I’ve lost my mind. I don’t know.

“And then you said….you said the place. And I was really scared. I couldn’t think.”

“You looked terrified,” she tells me.

I’m quiet, I don’t know what else to say.

“Was it a big Ferris Wheel?”

I nod.

“Was it a single or a double?”

I’m not sure I even know what a double Ferris Wheel is. “A single.” I answer, but my voice is uncertain.

We sit, quiet for a minute.

And then, I start to tell her the story. “I…I wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel again.”

“When you were leaving? Or right after?”

“Right after. We’d already ridden. Me, my mom, Jackie, her mom in one. The girls in one, boys in the other.”

“It was one that held four people?”

I nod. “The cars…I don’t know. They were round, you know?”

“A gondola, I think they call them,” Bea supplies.

“Yes. That’s it,” I say.

“So everyone had already ridden, and you wanted to go again?” She asks.

“Yeah…so he said he would ride with me. The others…they went to the corkscrew. I didn’t want to ride the roller coaster anyway, so it was good. It worked. Everyone was happy.”

“So you really were left alone.”

“No…he was there with me. I don’t know.” I shake my head. I’m so confused.

“I wonder why he didn’t want to ride the roller coaster? Or why no one questioned why he would stay and ride with you?” Bea asks. I don’t know if she is asking because she is curious, or maybe she doesn’t believe me. I don’t know. Why is everything so confusing?

“Everyone was happy this way. I don’t know.” I say. A part of me wants to scream that he was a freaking Boy Scout, always there to help, always a good, helpful boy. So everyone trusted him. I don’t know.

“I still wonder how old you were?”

I’m starting to feel really alone in this, attacked. Like Bea is mad at me for not remembering enough, or not having enough of the answers, or for being so upset over something so stupid, or something, I don’t know what. “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I don’t remember, I don’t know. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” I’m pleading with her not to be angry.

“It’s okay. You don’t have anything to be sorry for. I just keep remembering how much older than you he is,” she says.

I hug my knees tighter, dig my nails into my scalp. I can’t do this. I really am so alone, and I can’t handle this all alone.

“What happened after the ride?” Bea asks.

I think that I haven’t even told her what happened on the ride, but I wouldn’t be able to tell her anyway.

“I don’t..it sounds weird,” I say, feeling like this is going to make it seem like everything is one giant lie. “I don’t remember what happened. I don’t even remember getting off the ride.”

“That makes sense. You probably dissociated.” Bea tells me.

I think she talks about how this is different than what he normally did, so very public, it felt different to her. I don’t know. I think she says something about this being about power, or control. Maybe she asks if I remember feeling scared.

“No…I…it’s strange. I’m sick and scared now, but I don’t feel anything in the memory. It’s just..blank. Nothing.”

“I think you had already learned to dissociate, and that anytime you were around him you maybe dissociated a little to protect yourself. Being around him was a trigger to dissociate,” she explains.

I nod. Okay. I don’t know. She asks me to think about what the little girl felt, and to maybe write about it, if I can. She suggests that this made things really hard on me, because no where was safe. Somehow anger comes up, and she wonders where my anger at him is.

That teen part of me that is usually quite buried pops out. “Why are you always wanting for me to be so angry?” I snap at Bea.

There’s a pause, and I think she is maybe surprised by my reaction. “It’s not about me wanting you to be angry. I just think that it is human to be angry. How could any human being in your position not be angry?”

I shake my head. I don’t know. She’s wrong. I’m not angry.

“That anger is there, somewhere. It has to be. We’ve seen it at your parents for not protecting you, at yourself for being part of this, even if that belief is misguided. But we haven’t seen anger at him, not yet. But it must be there.”

“I think you see this differently than I do,” I state in an almost monotone voice.

“Yes, I think so,” she agrees.

After a moment, Bea tells me we have just a few minutes left. I let the “perfect me” take over and pull on that mask of okayness. I smile at Bea, tell her I am okay and say goodbye.

It seems I can’t get off the Ferris Wheel. I’m still circling around and around, confused, alone, and unsure who I can really trust.

Nanny triggers

Jasmine calls me back just as I am getting home from therapy. I give Kat a quick hug, and motion to hubby that I’m going to take the phone call in our room. He nods at me, and I head back to the bedroom.

Sitting down on the bed, I say, “So….what’s going on? Is everything okay? The nanny just got here, right before I got home. And I have to be honest, you’re kind of freaking me out.”

“I’m sorry,” Jasmine tells me, “I don’t want to freak you out, not at all. I just feel like I have to tell you this. My daughter, she told me that Nanny touched her private parts.” Jasmine goes on to talk in more detail about what her daughter has said. She tells me that because of a situation earlier this year, and her own bad reaction to it, her daughter has been accusing people left and right of this– to get attention and to not have to be around them when they have done something to make her mad– so Jasmine is quite confident it isn’t true, but she felt she had to tell me because it would be wrong not to, on the off chance it was true.

I can’t breathe, I can’t think. I can feel his hands in me, and smell his cologne. I’m struggling, fighting to stay present on the phone. I dig my nails into thigh until I feel something. “I…thank you for telling me. It’s okay. I would have done the same…” I choke out the words, just as hubby lets himself into the bedroom. He takes one look at me and sees that I’m not okay.

“What is it?” He mouths at me. I shake my head. I can’t right now. I need to get off the phone.

I struggle through a few more minutes of conversation. “I’m going to email Bea about this, okay?” I say to Jasmine. It’s the one thing I can think; email Bea, it will be okay, she will have a solution, she will know how to fix this. I feel like I have to warn Jasmine about it though, because her daughter sees Bea, too. Back when Kat was the only one seeing Bea, I recommended her to Jasmine for her little girl, and they have been seeing Bea since then.

“Of course. She knows about this, and agrees with me….it was actually Bea who suggested it was not a true story, but one to get a reaction out of me, to get attention.” Jasmine is fine with me talking to Bea. Thank God. “Are you okay? Is hubby there?” She asks me, and I think she sounds really far away.

“I’m fine. I’m okay. Hubby is here. It’s okay,” I tell her. She promises to call me later to check on me, and I hang up the phone.

Hubby comes and sits next to me, and waits quietly, patiently for me to talk.

“I have to email Bea.” I pick my phone back up, and stare at it blankly.

“Hold on….just a minute. Breathe, okay? Can you just breathe for a minute?” Hubby says gently. I realize now how confused he had to have been, and I’m thankful I had been letting him in a little more lately. “What happened?”

I turn to him, and the tears I had been holding back start to fall. “Jasmine’s daughter said Nanny…touched her…I don’t know…you know…” I manage to explain it all to him, including that this has become something her daughter says to get rid of people who make her angry. “Can you please buy me a nanny cam….today? I know it’s crazy, but please, just please. Because I can’t do this. I really can’t.”

“Yes. We can buy a nanny cam.” Hubby has his iPad out and is looking for nanny cams right away. “I really don’t think anything happened, and I believe Nanny is a safe person, and Kat is fine. She shows no signs of being abused like that.”

I stare at my husband for what seems like forever. “Either did I.”

“Yes, I know. But I really believe Kat would tell us if something were going on.”

I shake my head. “I’m sure my parents thought that, too. The thing is…if it’s not scary. If it seems like a game, there isn’t anything to tell, not from a child’s view.” It’s the most information I have given hubby about my abuse, the most I have said as far as what I felt.

“I know. We’ll get a nanny cam, I’m ordering one right now. And we will continue to make space for Kat to talk to us. Okay?”

I nod. I curl up under my big soft blanket, and send an email to Bea, freaking out. I honestly don’t know how long it takes her to respond. It seems like no time has passed, and like a million years had passed. Dissociation and flashbacks can do that to you. She tells me that she can understand why I don’t know what to think, what to believe. She suggests that we can ask Kat if any grown ups have ever asked her to keep a secret, and also reopen a discussion about who is allowed to see our private parts, ext. And she says she is going to talk to another therapist, someone she sees for supervision sometimes, in a little while and she will bring this whole messy situation to him and get some more input. I feel a little panicked that she feels the need to bring this to supervision, like I have screwed up somehow, made a mess of things.

Hubby lays down next to me, but doesn’t touch me. He seems unsure of what to do. “Can I do anything for you?”

I shake my head, whisper, “No.”

“Do you want me to stay home today?”

“No…I’m okay, I’m fine.” The words are automatic. It’s not safe to need anyone. I blink back tears as I talk, because I desperately want him to stay home.

He studies me for a moment, and shakes his head. “No, you aren’t okay. I’ll stay home.”

I tell him I’m really triggered. That it all is too close, and it gets messy in my head. That so many feelings I’m having right now are from my past, so even if it doesn’t make sense I really need him to accept it, because the feelings are very real. He nods and agrees.

I don’t know how much time has passed, but hubby stays sitting silently next to me, keeping me safe. “Don’t laugh at me, but can you get my teddy bear? Kat ran off with him.” I say it softly, little girl voice, little girl needs.

“Of course. I’ll go find Teddy.” Hubby gets up to search the house. Teddy is a bear my Grandpa gave me when I was really little. I’ve had him for over 26 years. The little girl part of me clings to Teddy and believes he can keep her safe.

Hubby returns, and hands Teddy to me. I bury my face in his fur, and then hold him tight to me. Hubby sits next to me, holding my hand.

My phone rings, and I look at it. “It’s Bea,” I tell hubby.

“Answer it,” he says.

Right. Of course. Answer the phone. “Hello?” I say. My voice is little girl small.

Bea tells me that she and the other therapist talked through it all, and they both agree Jasmine’s daughter is telling stories. Bea is really certain and confident about this. She apologizes that she can’t fully explain why because of confidentiality, but that she truly believes our nanny is a safe person, and Kat is okay. I don’t really remember the conversation, other than that. We talked for a few minutes, that’s what I do remember.

When I get off the phone, I relay the conversation to hubby. He nods his head. “I really do agree with her, Alice.”

“I trust Bea. She wouldn’t ignore something like this if she thought it could even remotely be true,” I finally say.

“I trust her, too,” hubby tells me.

I go in and out of being completely dissociated; enough so that I lose time several times, and am surprised to find that it’s dinner time when 6:00pm rolls around. I skip dinner, and manage to actually fall asleep for an hour.

Hubby takes care of Kat, and of me. After he puts Kat to bed, he sits next to me while I try to fall asleep. We don’t talk much, but just the fact that he stayed and was there, and that I let him stay is huge for me.