On Wednesday, after my therapy session, when I brought Kat back, I had sat in Bea’s cozy waiting room and draw out the loop of what goes on between hubby and when we fight. I’d left the note with Bea, and emailed her about it later, as well as emailing about the therapists I had called.
When I walk in to Bea’s office on Monday morning, she has my hand drawn loop sitting next to her chair. “Hey,” she says.
“Hi,” I say. I’m in a more closed off shut down place than I had been, but I’m doing that here but not here thing right now.
“I feel like we have a lot to catch up on,” she says. “I know we didn’t get to talk very in depth about the last week on Wednesday, and I’m sure there are things from this weekend to talk about, too.”
I shrug. “We didn’t do much. My parents didn’t come to visit. We met them halfway. Which was maybe easier. I don’t know.”
“Oh? I’m sure there is plenty to after seeing your mom,” Bea prompts.
“Eh. Not really. It wasn’t any big deal. Kat and I visited a school on Friday.” I switch gears abruptly, not wanting to talk about my mother.
“Oh yeah? Where was the school? Are you sending her somewhere different this year?”
I shake my head. “Not yet. I want to, but she’s only on the wait list. It’s Montessori, it was private but last year they switched to being a charter school. It seemed so good. Even when we were sit waiting to fill out paperwork, a group of kids her age who had been helping clean up the playground came inside and they all were talking to Kat. They were really friendly, welcomed her to the school. And the director of the school was a therapist for kids on the spectrum before she became the school director. She was really amazing.” I name a well know therapy group and therapist for autistic kids in our area, one that Bea is very familiar with, and tell her that the director worked on that project.
“I think I know her. And she is wonderful if it’s who I think. It sounds like a good fit. We’ll keep fingers crossed a spot opens up,” Bea says. She allows me to talk a little more about Kat and school, and then she says, “I want to make sure we have time to talk about you.”
I nod. “Okay.”
“I’m curious what you told your mom about where you wanted to be seated.” At the end of last week, my mother had told me I needed to choose between sitting at the “kids” table where Kenny would be seated, or sitting at my parents table with his parents and my grandma’s boyfriend (who I can’t stand), and that I needed to let her know by the weekend.
“I didn’t choose. I told her I didn’t know. Because I just….if I could….” I trail off. I’m attempting to say if I could have mom move Kenny, I would sit at the kids table. But I can’t get the words out. I’m triggered just from this little conversation and so I’m shut down and can’t access my words.
“I have to say, the part of me that wants to protect you is feeling very protective and does not want you to sit at his table.” Bea tells me.
“That’s what I was trying to say. If I could have mom move him, then I’d sit at the kids table.” I whisper.
“Ahhh. That makes sense. Neither spot is an ideal spot to be seated. But I would think his parents are better than him.”
I nod. Probably she is right. I jut don’t want to deal with any of this.
Somehow the question comes up of them sitting at my parents table, and I shrug. “They are like family. Like, I don’t know.” I shrug. How do I explain that they are like my aunt and uncle, like my cousins? I don’t know how to do that. But Bea nods. I think the closeness of his family is really clicking into place for her.
Bea’s asking some other questions about the wedding, questions I can’t remember now. I do remember explaining to her that no matter how many times I double check the times, or ask my mom the other stuff, I can’t keep track of it all. It’s in one ear and out the other. I’m so lost. I can’t hold onto details about this wedding, because I don’t want to know.
“I’m just going to pretend the wedding is not happening. And then I’ll just detach and get through it. And we can deal with the fall out, okay?” I tell Bea.
“Yes. Okay, that is okay, as long as you have enough support in place to get through the wedding. Otherwise, I think we need to talk about it. At least to put support in place.”
“It’s fine. I’ll be fine. I am always fine.”
“But maybe I think you should be able to be more than just fine or always fine. And you don’t always have to be fine. It’s okay to be hurting.”
“I can’t. I just need to be fine.”
“Okay.” She says.
We move on, to discuss the therapists that had called me back.
“So I called 3, and only 2 called me back. The one I had written you about, and the other one called back, I don’t know, maybe Friday?”
“Okay. So did you call the first one back?” Bea asks.
I shake my head. “No-oo. I was waiting….to….I don’t know. I mean, I have appointments set with both of them. So,I just need to decide.”
“What’s worrying you?” She’s curious.
“I just…if I say the first one, and then I don’t like her but hubby does….I don’t know. And I really just….I mean, I wanted her to talk to you.” I say. I feel a little whiny, but it’s how I feel.
“Well, like I said in my email, you can tell her all the things I would have,” Bea says carefully, gently.
“But that wasn’t how….ugh!” I don’t know what I want Bea to say. “So, the first one, well, both of them, seemed nice and soft spoken. But I just….I don’t know. The first one, she was really nice and seemed soft spoken until I asked her to talk to you. And she said no, not until we had met with her and decided to see her, and she explained it like it was for my protection. But I mean….what about what I wanted? So I didn’t say anything and when she asked if I was still there, I told her that made me uncomfortable and she attempted to explain again and I just….I didn’t really respond and then I told her that it just made me uncomfortable. And she said that maybe I would want to talk about this with my own therapist, and if I decided that it was a deal breaker for me that she wouldn’t talk to my therapist before we met then, that was okay, it wasn’t a big deal and I could call and cancel, no problem. So you know, that’s not so good thing. But then she said she is used to working with couples and it didn’t freak her out or worry her that I hadn’t informed hubby I was calling and has no plans to do so until a day or two before the appointment, she said she was used to one person not wanting to be in therapy.”
“And where is her understanding of trauma?” Bea asks.
“She said she is used to one or both people having trauma in their history, she asked if hubby had trauma in his past, too. I said no, just his narcissistic mother, and she seemed aware of what that might have been like for him.” I take a breath. “So I searched couples or marriage or family therapist plus trauma or PTSD, and only got 6 people. Two were men, so I tossed them out the window. One was farther away, so I tossed her out, and that left me three. Oh, and this forest lady, she used the S word.” I cover my face. I’m so embarrassed.
“Because she doesn’t know you, or know how triggering that is. But you can tell her.” Bea reminds me.
“The second lady, she was really soft spoken too, and she said she would talk to you, no problem, just ask you to call her.”
“So that was a big difference.” Bea looks like she is thinking.
“And she said she works with a lot of individuals with trauma history. But she seemed…..I don’t know….to question me not telling hubby about calling.”
“Like she was curious?” Bea asks.
“No…..more like she was hesitant.”
“Hmmmm. I’m wondering if she isn’t as experienced in working with couples.” Bea is curious.
“I don’t know who is the right one.” I sigh.
We talk around it some more, and I start to think Bea has a definite opinion of it. “I think you have an opinion but you don’t think you should give it to me and influence me,” I tell her.
“No….I…” She pauses and takes a breath. She looks down at her hands and then at me. “I’m thinking that she has very good boundaries and is possibly following best practice by not speaking with. But when I get rid of my insecurities about not having firm enough boundaries, I always come back to it being important to meet people where they are. And where you were when you called was it being very Important to you that your couples therapist speak with your individual therapist before you meet with the couples therapist. If the situation was reversed, I would have been wondering why it was so important to you, what about me speaking to your therapist would make you feel safer? That’s where I’m curious about her boundaries. Because while boundaries are for everyone’s protection, I feel very strongly that meeting people where they are at is what is most important. Which is why I am more flexible. Did you tell her why you wanted her to speak to me? Do you remember what you said?”
I nod. “I wrote it down. So I can read to you what I wrote.” And then I read to her what I had said.
“Hmmm,,,,Yeah, okay. I’m wondering if because she wasn’t aware you were wanting me to give her some background on your triggers and trauma history, if she thought that you were maybe hoping to get her on your side. Because a lot of people, that is what they want to do in couples work. She might have thought she wanted to meet you and hubby, start with a blank slate and not have a relationship with your therapist. So the more I am thinking about this, the more I think this is a good opportunity for you to practice advocating for yourself. You can tell her everything I would have. You can write out what you might say and we can go,over together and I am more than happy to help you write it out, but this is good for you. I think this could really be an opportunity for you to learn a lot about yourself, and to show yourself that you are strong and can stand up for yourself.”
“Im not good at that,” I mumble, picking at my fingers.
“Now that sounds like the little girl. We know grown up Alice is very good at being an advocate for others. And for the little girl, I’m here to help. You aren’t alone in this and she isn’t being left to fend for herself.”
I shrug. “Maybe I just won’t go at all. Maybe we don’t need therapy.” I mumble.
“Think about it, okay? Don’t deprive yourself the chance to grow. I know you don’t like how this is playing out, but you want things worked out with hubby. Your marriage matters to you. So just take a breath, okay?”
I shrug. “Maybe I’ll email you.” I mumble the words, feeling a little snarky.
“Okay. I’ll be here,” Bea reminds me, and I stand to leave. Things feel unfinished, but it doesn’t bother me, because I believe that Bea is here.