Birthday week anger

After the camping trip, we celebrated Kat’s 5th birthday on Friday evening. I made her chocolate decadence cake, with a meringue vanilla custard flavored frosting. It was rich and perfect with editable pixie dust. We took her out to dinner and then to chuckee cheese, per her request. And today, we had a funday with her best friend; the mall for build a bear and the play place, a picnic lunch, then the movies, and last the zoo. Tomorrow will be our last bday celebration, with Hubby’s family. I’m tired. As much as I love planning and doing birthday parties, and birthday weeks, it’s tiring.

It was so important to me that this week be special. Kat wanted a big party this year, like she has had every year. She wanted the theme to be mermaids and fairies. I had great ideas, and really wanted to do it. But the child that hurt Kat took all our friends, except her best friend. How do you throw a big party when all the friends aren’t your friend anymore? The short answer is you don’t. You can’t.

So, I planned a super fun birthday week. We had a camping party with my parents and her cousins (my brother’s kids). We went to the amusement park two days in a row. We went to dinner at the place Kat chose, and chuckee cheese. She had a busy fun day with her favorite friend, and tomorrow she will celebrate with hubby’s family at county fair with rides and clowns and all kinds of fun stuff. I wanted the week to be so awesome, so fun, that she did not even realize she didn’t have a big party.

Tonight, though, as I was talking to hubby about the week, I felt so angry. I know she’s a child, but why does she get to have all the friends we shared? Why does she get to go where she pleases with no worries, while we have left parks and stores because we see that she is there? Kat was hurt by this girl, and Kat is still the one who is being hurt in someways. It’s not fair. It’s not right. The child who hurt Kat should be the one to leave places. She should be the one to have no friends. Kat did nothing wrong, and it’s like she is still being punished. I hate the entire situation. None of it is fair.

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Camping….confused, sad and happy

Yesterday’s therapy session was really ungrounded, I was confused and upset. I think Bea picked up on all of those emotions and was really able to feel them yesterday. I had spent all of Saturday night and Sunday trying to hold all of that overwhelming upset and confusion down, so when we started talking about camping, I started crying and telling Bea I didn’t want to go. I felt like a little kid begging an adult not to make them go. It honestly sucked. I can’t really write about the session because it was overflowing with confusion, and I was dissociated and trapped in the grief and confusion much of the time.

I had been putting off thinking about this camping trip. Even good memories confuse me. I don’t know. I have a hard time putting my two realities together. It’s like I can only focus and believe the good stuff or the bad stuff. I can’t hold the two together, at the same time. I was so anxiety riddled about this trip. The bad dreams started Saturday night. I didn’t sleep on Sunday, at all. I cleaned, I made a cake for Kat’s bday, I sewed, I watched TV. I did anything to keep my mind occupied, but still flashes of stuff ran through it. Campfires, s’mores, hiking trails, Ferris wheels. It’s as if one small picture flashing in my head imparts an entire memory and a felt sense of awfulness in an instant.

Now, we are actually here at the campground. Yesterday was okay. I had fun watching Kat with her cousins, and hanging out with my parents. That’s the thing. My Mom and Dad are fun, and easy to be with if I’m able to stay present and not feeling all the emotions from the past. Kat is loving every minute of camping, so it’s been easy to be there, in the moment with her and her 3 cousins.

Last night, sleeping was harder. Every noise, every little thing made me jump. I dreamed about masked men, monsters, coming into the campground and taking Kat and I away. They were chasing her and I and hubby, and then we were separated from hubby, and the monsters got us, took us away. I couldn’t keep Kat safe. I woke up not long after, sick and feeling frozen, terrified, unable to move or breathe.

This morning is better again, but I have this sense of sadness and feeling all alone. Bea talked about this; how it’s hard for me because no one I am with knows my other reality, and so things can feel split and confusing, and like I am crazy. She said it was like me walking into the lion’s den alone, while the rest of the people I am with believe we are all walking into a lamb’s pasture.

Sitting in the wooden swing in the little deck of our camping cabin, looking out across the lake and drinking my morning coffee, I can feel the sadness of my past and the happiness of this moment, of Kat celebrating her birthday with everyone. I feel weirdly peaceful. We are supposed to go to the amusement park today, but I want to stay here. I’m trying to convince the others we should go tomorrow because the weather will be better tomorrow. It’s like I’ve faced the demons in the campground, and feel safe here now. I want to stay here, on my swing, watching the lake and drinking coffee, feeling peaceful.

Smorgasbord of triggers discussed

I had this plan, to hand Bea my notebook right away when I got to therapy. I thought if she scanned through my notebook, read the list in it, then it would help us talk about the things in my head; the things I usually struggle to bring up. Unfortunately, I didn’t give her my notebook. We still talked through a lot, though.

Of course the first thing on everyone’s minds was Monday and the nanny trigger. “How are you doing with all of that?” Bea asks.

“Ummm….better than Monday. I just….I mean, I don’t know. I talked to Jasmine, Monday night, or maybe it was Tuesday. I can’t remember now. But she just seems so certain that nothing happened, and that there are thing going on with her daughter that are causing her to make these accusations, but they are untrue. And she is really beating herself up. She’s just so hard on herself, and I feel so bad for her. She is a good mom, she has reactions because she is human. I mean…geesh. I don’t know.” I shake my head, thinking about Jasmine. I really feel for her, and how mean she is to herself. It’s not fair, or right. She is such a good person, I just wish she could see that.

“Hmmmm…” Bea says, and she has this knowing smile on her face. Just as quick as its there, it’s gone. “I do think the accusations are untrue. I went over it and over with the other therapist. We looked at everything, talked about the families, what has happened in the past, I gave my impression of your nanny from the times I have met her. And we both felt that nothing had happened.”

I nod. “And I trust you. But it’s still hard. It’s all mixed up. I don’t know.”

“Of course it is. This is a huge trigger. We’ve been here before when the other situation happened with Kat.” Bea says.

I wonder if her comment about being here before means she is tired of talking about this nonsense, if she is annoyed with me. I should ask, say something. Instead, I say, “I am sorry about Monday.”

Bea shakes her head at me. “Not at all. Those were huge triggers. When I called you, it was like a little girl had answered the phone. I could tell how triggered you were. I was glad that hubby was there and staying home.”

“Yeah. I was really triggered. He saw it, and stayed with me.”

We talk through how Hubby was able to do some concrete things: order a nanny cam, stay home from work, get my teddy bear, and how doing concrete things always feels good to guys. We talk about my reaction, how I just hid in bed with my teddy bear, flashbacks and dissociating off and on. She says this isn’t a crazy reaction based on my history.

“You know, I was reading back through your email, and there was another thing that was maybe extra triggering. What Jasmine told you her daughter said about the Barbie doll?” Bea says. I guess she isn’t annoyed to be talking about all this, she is bringing up more of it.

I nod my head. I can’t really get many words out.

“Are you still having flashbacks with Kat?” She asks me gently.

“Yeah…well, no…I mean, I have been avoiding things that set me off as much as I can. Which makes Kat really upset with me. I don’t know.” I blink back tears, and feel so much anger at myself. I hate that I have had to stop playing any kind of character play with her. I just get so triggered by it all.

“Is it Kat or the play or the toys that triggers you? Do you know?”

“I think it’s…both. The play and the toys. But Kat, too. I don’t know.” I shake my head, trying to clear it, to find something that makes sense.

“What happens when you get triggered?” Bea asks. She’s never asked me something like this, so direct, before. It makes me feel anxious and worried.

“I feel crazy.” I mumble it, and Bea has to ask me to repeat myself. It’s a perfect excuse to get mad, to shove her away, but I don’t. I repeat what I said. “It’s…there’s….I’ll be holding a doll, a mini princess, or mini Blythe, and then it’s not..and there is a picture..so quick in my head of the barbies…and then just as quick another pops in there and it me…and him…but it’s quick, blurry and distorted and not in time or order and they jump from one to the next and I feel like I’m insane.”

“No, not at all. You aren’t at all insane. It’s a flashback. That’s a flashback.” Bea says calmly.

“It’s too much. And then I shout at Kat…I don’t know. I act like a 5 year old and shut down the play as quick as I can. But I’m not 5. And poor Kat.”

“Well, no, you aren’t 5, but I would guess the little girl is triggered by all this and she’s the one running the show when this all happens, and she is scared. So she reacts, just like a 5 year old. Because she is stuck there.” Bea tells me. How is it that she can just accept these crazy things about me? And act like they aren’t insane?

I don’t say anything, just listen and think. I hate these flashbacks. They are some of the more disturbing one I’ve had.

“I wonder what would happen if you tried to use the flashback protocol when this happened. Maybe even having your character name 5 things she sees, hears, smells. Have your character state your age, where you live. All of that. Work it right into the play.” Bea suggests.

“I’ll try.” And I will try. I’ll try anything if it can give me part of my life back that was working so wonderfully. It makes me so angry that this poison has touched a special part of my life– Kat and mine play rituals. It’s not fair.

“Okay. Let me know how it works, if it helps, okay?”

I nod. Okay. “I hate that I can’t play how she wants right now. I hate how I am so…ugh. I feel like I’m damaging her.”

“You aren’t. It’s okay for her to not always choose the play. You get a turn, too.”

I sigh. “She’s so used to me…playing with our little dolls was kind of our thing. I worked so hard to get her to play with me. And now she can, and I’m avoiding her. I’m awful. I feel like a failure. Like I’m hurting her. What’s wrong with me?” I rant about my awfulness as a mother and how I am destroying Kat’s life.

“No…not at all. You are not destroying Kat’s life. Remember what you said about Jasmine earlier? Now it’s time to give yourself a break.” Bea tells me. It’s a little like saying I told you so, except her voice is full off kindness, and so it’s okay.

I shake my head and groan at her. But I get what she is saying.

We sit in silence for a few minutes. Kind of abruptly, I say, “I had a breakdown at yoga on Tuesday.” My face feel hot, I am sure it would be beet red if I was looking at Bea.

“Did something come up? What happened?”

I tell Bea how Kris knew something was off, that I wasn’t present, and how she asked after Kat to try to help ground me before we got started.

“Ahhh, yes. Talking about Kat is helpful for you, except for when it isn’t.”

I tell her how I told Kris what was going on, and how I had fallen apart after sitting back in the chair. How Kris dealt with my falling apart.

“As horrible as that felt, it was good. You’ve really allowed yourself to become more vulnerable with people lately. Me. Hubby. Kris. This is good, so good.”

“If it is so good, then why does it feel so absolutely horrid?” I ask her.

I imagine she smiled at my question. “Well. It’s because right now all that vulnerability is new to you, and so you feel really raw. And it’s painful. Some of that will go away, and it gets less raw to be authentic and vulnerable.” Bea answers.

I groan at her answer. It’s not what I want to hear, that it’s always a little painful to be vulnerable. But Bea doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, she tells me the truth. Which is better. It means I can trust her. We talk about vulnerability and being open and scared.

As my session is ending and I’m getting ready to leave, Bea makes a comment about how being perfect hasn’t seemed like such an important need for me lately.

I’m caught off guard. “Well, that. I don’t know..I mean. I just. Well. If I figure out how to explain it, I’ll email you. Okay?”

“Great. That would be good,” Bea says.

I tell her I’ll see her tomorrow for Kat’s session, and then in a week from today. I hate that it’s going to be so long. There is so much in my head. But I have hubby and Kris, I remind myself.

“Yes. I wouldn’t be missing next week except I have that conference, I have to go to it.” Bea tells me.

I remember this. She really isn’t excited about the conference.

“Just try to find one good thing about it, and focus on that. It will make the whole thing easier,” I suggest as I head down the stairs. It’s not like she needs my advice, but I can’t help offering it up.

“I suppose the one good thing is there is this brewery near there, my one therapist friend says we have to go,” Bea says.

I turn back around at the name of the brewery. “Hubby like a beer made by them. It’s really popular, actually. I don’t like beer, but a lot of my female friends do like this beer, too.” I tell her the name of the beer.

“I’ll have to try it, then. If I’m going to have a drink, I like beer. Most of my friends like wine, and I’ve just never really cared for wine that much,” she tells me, laughing a little.

I smile. “You should do a few wine tastings. I’m a firm believer there is a wine out there for everyone. Tastings are good because you try everything from the very dry reds all the way up to the dessert wines. Even I, who used to only like dessert wines, have found a red wine I love, and several whites.”

“Hmmm. I should do that then.” She laughs.

We chat for a moment more about times we have drank too much wine, and now neither of us drinks more than a glass of anything these days. The. We say our goodbyes, have a good days.

I head home, thinking about vulnerability and about being perfect. The two are linked in a way. I just need to think about how to explain it.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day. I don’t know how I feel about it this year. In years past, my feelings have been all over the map.

In my early twenties, I felt guilty and ashamed on Mother’s Day. I had been pregnant and had an abortion (never mind that the pregnancy was the result of forced sex by the college boyfriend) and I felt all the pain and guilt of that choice on Mother’s Day. I don’t have the words, even now, to explain it. I’ve made this point to avoid thinking about it or talking about it.

Then, when I wanted so badly to have a baby with hubby, and month after month of failed pregnancy attempts and fertility treatments continued with no results, I felt envious and ashamed of that envy. I hated all those women who had children to celebrate Mother’s Day with. I wanted a baby. The day brought much grief and sadness to me.

When I was 26 and finally pregnant, Mother’s Day was the best day ever. I loved being pregnant, loved my baby bump, and felt amazing. I was finally a mom.

And the first Mother’s Day I celebrated with my daughter, the next year, felt like a miracle.

In all these years, all these ups and downs, I have always celebrated my mom. I’ve always felt it was a day she deserved to feel loved, and reminded of how special and important she is to me. It’s a day I celebrated the friendship I have with her. It’s the day I celebrated the fact she is my mom, and how blessed and lucky I am.

This year…I feel so terribly conflicted. I refer to my mom as my best friend. I have called her that for a long time. In many ways, she has been my biggest supporter, my biggest cheerleader. She has always believed in me. And yet. I feel like I can’t talk to her. I feel like I have to hide who I am, and pretend to be the daughter she wants. She rewrote history a long time ago….if I’m honest she rewrote it as it was happening, and I went along. Her version of our lives is so much nicer, so much prettier, so perfect. But it’s not true. It’s all a lie. We love each other, that part is true. But the rest? It’s not the life I remember. It’s crazy making, to pretend to be someone I’m not. To go along with this perfect version of history. It’s so much more tiring than I remember.

I love my mom. But I’m hurt and angry and confused. She is my best friend, but I can’t talk to her, I can’t share my truth with her. She loves someone who doesn’t exist. I’m still terrified if she knew me, she would reject me, hate me, be angry with me. I’m angry with her, but I love her and need her. A year ago, I would have said that a person can’t be angry and love the person they are mad at. Bea taught me that I can, and it’s okay. Anger isn’t the end of a relationship. It’s not the be all end all. It’s something to work through and to acknowledge, so the relationship can be repaired. I won’t get a chance to work through the anger with my mom. It is what is. Maybe I need to make peace with the fact that she only loves and knows the miss perfect part of me.

As for being a mom, this year I don’t feel like I deserve to be celebrated. I’ve made terrible mistakes. I’ve screwed up. I yell. I ignore my child. I can be mean. I think awful things in my head. I don’t stick to rules I make. I break boundaries. I let her watch too much TV. I dissociate often. I have flashbacks and am triggered by my own child. What kind of mother is triggered by her daughter? No, I don’t deserve to be celebrated.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a Mother’s Day brunch. I’ll celebrate the fact that my mom loves a part of me, that we are friends, and that I love her, despite my anger and hurt. I’ll celebrate the fact that I was blessed with a precious gift; the chance to be a mom. I’ll celebrate the ray of sunshine that my daughter is in my life. I’ll celebrate the fact that all her differences have forced my family to grow in ways I never thought possible. And, I’ll celebrate the fact that my mom and my daughter are both with me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Xx❤️

Real honesty and real trust

Please be careful reading this. It might contain triggers, as I talk about the sexual abuse.

My head is foggy even walking into Bea’s office this morning. I think I’m getting a sinus infection, to top it all off. I had stopped at my favorite coffee shop and ordered a red eye with vanilla syrup, hoping it would break through the sleep deprived fog I was experiencing. No luck.

“Hi..” I’m tentative, unsure of what she will be like this morning after my freakout over email about my daughter. I still harbor a fear that she will turn shrinky on me.

“Hi. I’m just catching up, organizing myself for the week.” She smiles and gestures at the datebook in her lap.

“It can be hard to come back from a trip. I always feel like there is so much to do.” I set my bag on the couch, and curl up. “How was your trip?”

Bea tells me a little about things she saw, how the weather was, small details like that. And then she looks at me and says, “It seems like there was a lot going on here this week.”

I cry about the situation with Kat, freak out, dissociate, worry. Bea listens and reassures me that I’ve done everything I can do. I shrug, stare at the floor. “I don’t want to do the wrong thing. What if my mom was unsure and wondering and then decided it was impossible and made the wrong choice?” I cry. I’m on unsteady ground. Horses or zebras? I just don’t know.

“I’m going to do my best to be your reality check. That’s why I wrote to you that any parent would be upset and confused and struggle with this. Your reaction is so normal. And the thing that I see as a big difference between you and Kat, is that you have given Kat opportunities to talk. You weren’t listened to or given opportunities to talk. As far as hubby acting like you are crazy, I think you are just making sure the horses aren’t really zebras. You are being vigilant and careful, and that’s all you can continue to do.”

I nod. “Okay. Right. Okay.” I focus on my yoga breathing, and we talk about it all for a bit more time.

“You said in your email that your were having physical memories from this. It’s easy to see why the past and present are getting tangled and confusing.” Bea broaches the subject of my physical memories gently.

“I can’t…” I shake my head. I can’t talk about this. We do talk about bladder infections and being sore as a child, the horror of it all.

After I’m silent for a few minutes, Bea asks if there was anything else that came up this week. I just stare at the floor, hug my knees tighter.

“I mean, this was enough, more than enough. It just seems….well, I wanted to check in that there wasn’t anything else.” Bea says softly.

Burying my face, I shake my head. “I can’t….” There’s too much. I don’t know where to start. Everything is a mess, hitting me and overwhelming me.

Bea waits, calm and just there with me.

“I can’t say it.” I tell her. In my head, I add that I thought I could, I wanted to, but I can’t.

“Do you want to say it?”

I nod. Yes. I want to.

“Can I do anything to help you say it?” Bea asks.

I shake my head. “I wrote it down. I wanted to talk about it.”

“Do you want me to read it?”

I think about it. I wanted to be brave and say it, and where it’s written is in an unedited and messy collection of thoughts from therapy sessions, or things I want to eventually talk about. Finally, I nod. “Yeah.”

“Okay.” Bea agrees.

“Maybe then it will be easier to talk about.” I shrug. I hope.

“Maybe.” Bea speaks quietly.

It takes me a minute to move, to grab my iPad out of my bag and pull up pages. I scroll through the list of random thoughts, of things that I had been thinking since she popped the bubble. I hand it to her.

She reads it, and I scrunch into myself. I’m scared that she is reading my unedited thoughts, but a part of me is relieved. I can’t do this alone. I need her, and I hate that I need her, and I’m terrified that I need her, but there it is, anyway.

“Should I keep reading?” She asks. She has gotten to the separation break I put between thoughts.

I shrug. “It’s not related…..you can. It doesn’t matter. It’s just all random thoughts. I don’t know. You can read it all, that’s okay.” I feel half gone, dizzy. But it is okay if she reads it. I can’t keep hiding from her, and I can’t keep pretending. I might as well let her have my unedited thoughts. I cant say them, but having her read them is the most honest I can be.

Bea reads. She pauses and speaks to me while she reads. “It’s been a really hard few weeks. So much is coming up, and happening. And you have done some serious thinking. It seems like the idea of none of this being your fault is starting to work its way in. I’ve heard you say, maybe three times now, that it wasn’t a choice, that you had no control. That’s hard. To really think about that helplessness, and vulnerability, it goes right to the core of the trauma, right to the fear and all the terror that it caused.” She keeps reading, and again pauses to comment. “You had something written about this memory, with his sister. It sounds confusing, and frightening. It makes me wonder what else was going on, how it was…..did you want to talk about this?” She asks gently.

“No, no. I don’t want to talk about that, no. Not now. I can’t, I’m sorry.” I’m shaking my head, and tears falling down my face.

“There’s no sorry. It’s okay,” she says, and it’s real and she means it, she is not upset at my refusal to talk about this.

I hide my face, I’m so full of shame. It’s all just too much.

Bea continues reading. “This…the dance and the jealousy. That’s so normal. It’s normal, and should have been healthy. It should have been safe. Little girls have crushes. It happens. And it’s normal. There are no repercussions, no hurting. You were hurt, but that’s not how it was supposed to be.” Bea says firmly.

I shake my head. I don’t know. I can’t think about it. I liked him. I can’t believe I’m allowing her to read about it. That I’m not running out the door.

“This is really deep work. I think a lot of these feelings are at the core of it all. Did you think when we started down this path that you would be digging this deep? Finding these feelings?”

I shake my head. “No. I had no idea. I never imagined I would be able to talk like this.” Which, granted, isn’t talking like some people can do, but for me, this is so much. It’s not what I thought I would be doing in therapy. I didn’t know I had all these feelings so buried in my soul.

“This…..everything you have written is about how you felt towards him. How did he feel towards you? Did he ever say anything, or make promises to you?” Bea asks the question slowly.

I sit for a long time. I think she keeps reading, talking intermittently to respond to what I have written. I’m not hearing her. I’m mostly back there. “He said…..I was special.” The words are strained and quiet.

Bea instantly is listening to me, even with my face hidden, I can feel her listening and paying attention. “Yes, he would have…..” I’m not sure what else she says. I’m floaty, her words are hazy.

“He said he understood me. That he would take care of me.” The words come out stilted and jumbled. Somehow, Bea still knows what I’m saying.

“Was this when your mom was sick? Near that time, or before or after?” She asks.

I don’t know. It’s just what I know, that he always understood me, that he was supposed to be there and make things okay. After a while, I blurt out, “He said he loved me…when…you know.” My voice trails off at the end.

“When did he say it?” Bea asks.

“When….we were….he was….you know. He said he loved me.”

Bea pauses for a minute. “R word?”

I nod. Yeah.

“I almost said when he had sex with you, which I think is how you were going to say it. But I didn’t. That wasn’t sex. That was the r word.” She tells me.

I can’t respond. I’m out of words.

“I’m guessing this memory…..when you were 12, at the cabin….is it another thing you blame yourself for? Another thing you see as your fault?” She asks softly.

I nod. “Yeah…kind of…yeah.” It’s not exactly that. It’s so messy. I can’t think. I don’t want to admit to it, think about it.

“Do you want to talk about this?” Bea asks me.

“No…that’s all I wanted to say. I’m confused. I don’t know. I can’t….can’t now.”

“That’s okay. That’s okay,” she soothes.

She’s back to reading, and I’m sitting, crying off and on. But it’s okay. I’m not alone. It isn’t so bad to let these feelings out.

“The shrink thing. Oh, I’m sorry for that, for making you feel like that,” Bea tells me.

“You haven’t gone shrinky on me long time. But I finally figured it out, and I just…well, I wrote about it. I don’t know.” I shrug, I don’t want to talk about this.

“Perhaps it is a defense for me– to be shrinky. It’s something I will be mindful of.” She says thoughtfully. Bea means this, too.

I can’t believe it. She’s saying I may not be wrong in my feelings about the shrinky things. I’m relieved, and shocked. It’s okay. Nothing bad happened, even though I have been super honest this session. She’s still here. “It’s okay,” I say to her. Because it is. “You haven’t been shrinky since the time I told you not to be.” Well, there have been the few times she has been, but she has prefaced it with a statement of ‘at the risk of being shrinky…’ so in my mind, that doesn’t count. She was aware of it.

“How are you feeling about Easter and going to your Mom’s?” Bea asks me.

I shake my head. I can’t think about that. “I don’t…I mean…I have been ignoring my mom this week. There’s so much..” I can’t say it, can barely feel it, but there is a huge anger at my mom for not being there, and for what the 12 year old memory contains.

“It’s okay to be mad at her,” Bea reminds me.

“No. For you, anger is okay. For me, it is not. It’s mean and scary.” I say.

“I know. It still would be normal to be mad at her. So many abuse survivors I have worked with are more upset and angry with the parents who didn’t protect them, than the person who abused them. It’s normal under the circumstances to be upset. So much of this with Kat is hitting so close to home.”

I shift, turning my head, but still hiding my face. I wipe my eyes. “How did she not know? Did she give up? Where was she?” I feel like I’m yelling the words at Bea, anger sitting under them, not contained, not safe.

“I know. How can you not wonder that? We don’t know. We can suspect she has her own trauma history, that she wasn’t strong enough to face facts, that she may have known subconsciously but blocked it from her reality, because it was too much to handle.”

I cry. I want to yell and swear and stomp my feet. But I don’t. However, the desire to do so is new, and so I figure in some ways, this is improvement.

“I find myself wishing your mom were sitting on the couch next to you, witnessing all the pain and hurt and fear and anger you have right now. That she would have hurt and horror on her face, shock. Because you have told me, and I know, in a lot of ways she was a good mom. And a good mom would be horrified at what she missed, and want to comfort her child.” Bea says.

I think she talks more. I don’t know. All I can think is that my mom wouldn’t be able to handle this. My hurt, my anger, she would fall apart under the weight of it all. The picture Bea paints would never happen. My mom doesn’t do ‘bad’ emotions. No. It wouldn’t happen. I shake my head at her.

“I want to give you plenty of time to come out of this, to go on with your day not so stuck in the past,” Bea tells me, and now I know she is aware of how gone I am. But I still have one foot here, and that is different than it used to be, too. I’m making progress in small ways.

“I have to go shopping for Easter.”

“Kat hasn’t shot the Easter Bunny yet, has she?” Bea asks me, laughing. She is referring to Kat’s plan to hunt the Easter Bunny, shoot him and take all the eggs for herself. (I so wish there was a sarcasm font for this next sentence.)Yeah;That’s my kid.

“No…he’s still safe, as far as I know.” I smile, despite myself.

Bea talks about present day things, and encourages me to take a vacation, even just an overnight, to get a break from it all. I think she thinks I’m depressed. I’m not. It’s not depression. It’s something…but it’s more just too much, too many triggers, too much coming up, too much everything. It’s not depression, not when I can still go out in the world and smile, and hide the hurt I have inside. I’m okay, as long as I can function, and stick to the routine I have created for Kat and I. And I’m still able to do that, mostly. This week, last week, have been bad, but I slowly getting it together, again.

As we are talking, I really want to ask her a question, but it’s more past related and I’m afraid because she has said it was time to come back and I don’t want Bea to be mad at me. I start to talk, but cut myself off.

“What is it?” She asks me.

“Nothing. It’s more..past. I don’t know if it’s okay to say it.” I tell her, and I’m again shocked at my honesty.

“Go ahead. I want to know, if you want to tell me,” she says sincerely.

“Okay.” It takes a minute to gather enough courage to speak. “Even if it wasn’t my fault when I was younger, even if I didn’t have a choice then, I had a choice when I was older, when I was with the college boyfriend, I stayed. I chose that.” I think I haven’t shared some of the things he did, that I excused and stayed with him even after those horrible things. I think that my fear of anger comes from my family never expressing it, and so as an adult I have no idea what to do with it, and it comes from the boyfriend, because he had no problem expressing anger; he was mean and scary when he did. So, my main experience with someone expressing anger is mean and scary.

“Ahhhh,” Bea says, and I can picture her nodding, and her face looking serious but kind as she takes in my words and thinks. “Well, yes, you had a choice, but not really, not exactly. By that time, I think you felt you deserved to be treated badly; you had taken in the idea that you were bad and dirty and believed it so deeply. And, with the other…even when you were older, there was a power imbalance, because of the relationship you had with him when you were little. It twisted things, changed things. A power imbalance like that doesn’t really go away. Even if you got involved with him now for some reason, I would feel it was not really a choice you were making because of that imbalance.” Bea goes on to talk about how in the therapy relationship, there is an imbalance, and how there is a law where we live that a therapist can not date a client for two years after the therapy is terminated, but many people feel that power imbalance remains forever, because in the beginning of the relationship, the therapist is viewed as someone with answers, with the ability to help, and as it progresses, a therapist is viewed as someone to contain all the hurt and other big feelings, it’s a definite power imbalance, with the therapist holding more of the power. I eventually block her out, because even though I know it’s not her intent, I hate thinking about the idea that she has all the power in this relationship and can leave, or change things at her will, and I can do nothing to stop her.

“I need to think about all this. It’s too much right now to figure out.” I say.

“It is, it’s a lot. Think about it, write about it, work with it,” Bea suggests.

I think Bea senses that she is losing me, because she asks me something, and we talk for a few minutes. She reminds me that she views working with someone and hearing their feelings, and their stories and helping them heal as a privilege, as an honor, and she is always mindful of that.

“I am trying to find one thing I’m grateful for everyday. And today, I’m grateful to be here with you today, this morning, to have this time with you, and share this work with you in our space,” she tells me.

“Wait….what? Why?” I ask shocked.

Bea doesn’t answer right away. She takes my question seriously. “Because, this is important work. You’ve been able to go deep and the willingness you have to face these things and go there is inspiring; you have so much courage. Because being able to be here for you is an honor. That’s why.”

My face feels hot. I’m embarrassed. I don’t like it when people say nice things to me. And she is really sincere; she means it. Which only makes it harder for me to accept. “Oh.” Is all I can mange to say.

It’s a struggle to leave, to pick up my head and face Bea after being so honest and vulnerable. When I finally do pick up my head, grab tissues, wipe my face, and take my iPad back, I still can’t look at her. I stare at the floor. I finally raise my head and look Bea in the face. It’s okay. She smiles at me, and it’s just Bea, not someone who thinks I am disgusting or bad. We say our goodbyes, and I tell her I’m going to use the restroom before I leave, and as I’m gathering my things, I can hear her heating water for tea, and checking her phone for emails. It’s reassuring, to hear the normal everyday sounds of life. It makes me think that even though I’m out of control, things will be okay.

All day, I keep thinking about her words. She believes in me. And even after reading my raw and honest thoughts, she said it was important work I was doing and that she was grateful to be working with me. I don’t understand it, but what she said is huge. Something has changed. I think I’m starting to trust her, really trust her, like I’ve never trusted anyone in my life.

Reverse split life

I start the session off asking Bea about her weekend trip up north to see her son and then talking about the time change; how Kat is adjusting to it, and how hubby’s first day at the new job went. I don’t mention myself or what is going on with me. Because I’m fine. I’m good. I’m miss perfect.

“That’s Kat, and Hubby. What about Alice? How are you?” Bea asks.

I shrug. “I’m good, how are you?” The response is automatic, the kind I’ve been trained to give by my mother since I was a little girl. I don’t even think when I give it; it’s given with a cheerful voice and a bright smile.

Bea looks at me. “I’m good, I had a nice weekend.” I snap back to reality, and I feel like an idiot. We’ve already gone over her weekend, and how she is. Ugh. “What happened with Jaime? Last week you were struggling with that, and we discussed talking to hubby about it, talking to Jaime about it, talking to Carly about it. Did anything happen with it?”

I take a deep breath. “Well. I ended up calling Carly. So….Jaime sent over meeting notes, objectives. I couldn’t believe it. Well, you saw them. And hubby and I discussed it, and he couldn’t believe it either. I had written a letter; to vent really, not to send, that hubby decided he wanted to send to Jaime. I didn’t want to send it because I felt like it was mean. Hubby felt like it was just to the point and blunt. Trust me, it was mean. But I felt like we needed to talk to Jaime,at least, give him the benefit of doubt still. Hubby said he would talk to Jaime, but first he wanted me to call Carly and give her a heads up that he was going to talk to Jaime.”

“What was the letter? I’m curious what you thought was mean, and hubby thought was to the point,” Bea says.

“I have it, and you can read it. But it’s mean.” I pull my iPad out of my bag as I warn her that it is a mean letter. I pull up the letter, and hand it to her.

She reads, and I hide my face. I hate having people read something I’ve written in front of me. Feeling like what I’ve written is mean, well, that makes its even worse, because I never want people to see that side of me.

Dear Jaime,

We really need to talk about ABA, and maybe more importantly, our family’s philosophy in regards to ABA and autism. I’m not sure that I explained it very well in the beginning, and I want to rectify that now. I don’t want to be difficult; one of the reasons I have hesitated to bring this up is that I don’t want to be one of those parents who complains all the time, and whom you dread seeing and working with. This really needs to be addressed, though, as things can not continue on as they are.

We aren’t looking for a cure for autism. We aren’t looking to make our child indistinguishable from her peers. Her brain works differently than most of her peers; we know that, we understand that, and maybe most importantly, we accept that. We celebrate her uniqueness. Autism isn’t a dirty word in our house. What that means to us, is that when there are inappropriate behaviors being demonstrated, we don’t just want to fix or change the behavior. We want to peel back the layers of the onion, and understand why she needs the behavior; what is the function? Why does she need this behavior? What purpose is it serving her? Then we want to give her tools to help her not need that behavior. (This doesn’t mean teaching –or maybe the more appropriate word is training– her to say hi instead of blowing raspberries at people. Maybe she is blowing raspberries because people in her face gives her anxiety, and so we teach her breathing exercises, we teach her to politely request that people back up, we teach her to greet someone. We teach her to think for herself, and discover solutions for herself. There are so many options, not just one that “fixes” the behavior and makes her look like her peers. The option that makes her look like her peers may not be the option that makes K the most comfortable in her own skin.)

It seems to me, that a lot of your behavior plans and task analysis look at the behavior, and are plans to fix that behavior, but aren’t looking at the layers underneath. We care about the emotional implications. I realize that isn’t something you have worked with a lot in the past, but it is a very big part of this program, and it seems to be lacking in your objectives. We care about what our actions and expectations say to K about her. If our expectations are constantly asking her to change, to be something she isn’t, that is saying she isn’t enough. That’s not a message we want to give. And it’s not enough to say it; our actions tell K how we feel on a daily basis. Everyone involved in her life needs to convey the message: “you are worth spending time with, you are enough, you are a joy to be around.”

I realize that not all parents think like we do, or are as involved as we are, however, I am used to getting copies of the meeting notes from the BCBA, and I am used to getting feedback from the data sheets we provide. I’m used to getting any notes sent out from the BCBA; if it pertains to my child, I have a right to that information. I haven’t received much of that from you. I am not sure how you can get to know our family, or our daughter without these things. I realize you have only been with us a few weeks, but I feel like you should be asking questions, and getting to know how things work. I don’t get the feeling that things are really clicking. I get the feeling that you want to be the expert, give the advice, and have us– the parents– blindly follow it. I should have informed you of this earlier, but that’s not how it works in this family; everything is discussed, problem solved and agreed upon together, BCBA, behavior tech and parent. You may be the expert, but I am, and always will be, the expert in my child.

I did get your notes/objectives from the meeting because I asked one of the behavior techs to forward a copy to me. I have to say, I was disappointed. We discussed so much more than what you wrote up. There were, of course, emotional/social components, and the new objectives of writing a task analysis of routines that are chained directions like “go to the bathroom, brush you teeth, put on your pajamas”. The task analysis you wrote up for teaching the ABC’s was lacking; I can honestly find more information by googling “how to teach the alphabet to preschooler”. I could have written up post meeting notes that included much more information than you included in yours; the lack of detail makes me feel that you were not giving your full attention to the meeting, or challenges being discussed.

I was quite upset the other day, when Leslie texted me, asking me what time she should arrive to overlap in session with the new tech. The last I knew, I had informed you of my concerns about bringing Leslie back out, and you had yet to acknowledge those concerns. I was not expecting Leslie to come out until those concerns were at least addressed, and I assumed I would have been informed about the addition of Leslie to the team. This put Leslie and I in an awkward position; myself, having to inform Leslie of my concerns and of the fact I wasn’t aware of her visit, and Leslie, having to handle something that should have been handled by you, when I brought up those concerns. The most astonishing thing is, my main concern was that bringing Leslie in and having her leave again after a short time could have repercussions like last time, and Leslie’s new position on our team is a long term position. This would have been a simple thing to inform me of, and it was a simple solution to my concerns. I realize that my concerns were about my daughter’s emotional responses, and those things don’t seem important to you, or very much on your radar. They are, however, quite important in this program, and in this family.

We like you and you seem to be a competent and smart BCBA. I have confidence that if our program were a standard behavioral program, you would be fantastic at running it. However, our program is very unique; our beliefs about autism are unique and our daughter is unique. Things are done very differently in this program. It can be a lot to understand and handle. We need to have people who are completely on board with our philosophies, and beliefs, or this won’t work. Not everyone is going to be the right fit for our family. If you feel like this isn’t something you can be 100% on board with and open minded to, please inform us of this immediately, so that we can meet with Carly and discuss our options.

Thank you,
Alice and Hubby

It feels like hours that Bea is reading that letter. Finally she finishes. “This isn’t mean. It’s well written, it explains what the issue is very clearly, and it states what you want for your child. I don’t see a problem with it at all. I agree with hubby. The only statement that I might change is where you say ‘blindly follow.’ I might change that to just ‘follow’; that was the only thing that seemed possibly a little harsh to me. I really do agree with hubby. This is an excellent letter. Really. This is excellent.”

I shake my head. “I feel like it’s mean. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway. I talked to Carly. And ended up telling her exactly how I felt. I didn’t mean to, but as I was attempting to give one complaint, to tell it nicely and explain that hubby was planning on talking to Jaime because I wasn’t getting through to him, I felt like she was making excuses….I just got snippy. I was like, ‘you know what? I wrote this letter, it’s not something I intended to send, but it’s not nice, and it’s to Jaime, about everything that is not okay with what is going on with him and his program. And Hubby read it, and he wanted to send it, because he is fed up with it, too, and he is upset that I’m upset. But I convinced him that it’s better to talk about it than to send a mean letter.’ And then I just went down the list in my letter of what the issues are, and explained that mainly, at the meeting it just seemed so obvious that he wasn’t getting the fact that you really need to look deeper at Kat’s program, and not just on a surface behavioral level. And that I was hoping his meeting notes would reflect that he heard and understood the discussion between Carly, and myself and the ABA techs, as we were peeling back the layers, but the notes didn’t reflect that, and I just can not do this anymore, something needs to change. So she said she can talk to Jaime, and the owner of the company, and she may be able to take our case back over in two weeks when the insurance is up for reauthorization. She isn’t really taking cases, her job is different now, so she will have Leslie coming out to do supervision a lot, but I’m okay with that.”

“Whew. So you did speak up. That’s good, that’s great.”

I shake my head. “But not to the person I have the conflict with. And I felt guilty and horrible the whole time. I was trying not to cry. Carly asked me if I was okay, at one point, because even though I’m so glad that this might all work out, and Jaime has to go because it’s not a good fit, I feel so bad, and I had to tell her I feel really awful about this. She told me I should never feel bad about fighting for my kid, and that as a mom she would do the same thing.”

Bea shifts in her chair, swivels a little bit. “You shouldn’t feel bad. I’m glad she told you that. It’s your personality type to feel strongly and be passionate about your beliefs. I can hear that in your letter. You have specific beliefs about how to handle autism, and how that works in your family, and no one is going to change that or mess with that system.”

I’m not sure why, but I feel like she is questioning my belief that for my family, we aren’t looking for a cure for autism, or to make our child indistinguishable from her peers; that’s not our goal, and it’s never been our goal, and it never will be our goal. “Well, I’m not wrong. If we tried to force Kat to be just like her peers, and ignored the layers underneath, and didn’t learn the function of the behavior and deal with that, then her anxiety would be sky high. We would be back where she was when we first came to see you. This is right for my family. I’m not saying it’s right for all families, but it’s right for my family.”

Bea nods. “I agree with you. I think what you are doing is right for her. It’s funny. I have several little ones about her age, and despite the social and emotional struggles she has, I think she is the one I would say is most ready for kindergarten.”

One part of me swells with pride at this; Kat is smart, and we have worked hard to help her be ready. Another part feels rejected, like Bea isn’t seeing the struggles and wants to lash out, saying that she sees Kat an hour and a half a week, and doesn’t see her the rest of the time, there is no way she can make any kind of assessment off that. I choose the part the feels proud, because that feels more reality based, and smile. “Thank you. Kat is so smart. I think some of it is we have worked really hard to get her there, and some of it is she is smart, and some of it is we have just always expected certain things of her, even when things were hard.”

“Like what?” Bea asks.

“Well, once she was walking, and it was apparent she understood what I said, her snacks and plates and cups were all moved to shelves that she can reach. And she helps get them out and set the table. She gets her own snacks, because they are where she can reach them, and she knows if they are in the pink basket they are safe (milk free) for her to eat. We’ve always asked her to put her plate in the sink after eating. She’s always helped put her clothes alway and to pick out her clothes to wear, since she was maybe 2. Obviously putting her toys away. Oh, she is in charge of feeding and watering the dogs and cat. And she helps clean the cat’s litter box.” I’m actually surprised when I’m done listing out the everything. That’s a decent amount of chores for a 4 year old. It’s no wonder she is ready for kindergarten; she’s been working on following directions for chores since she was 2.

“That’s really good stuff. Really good. I didn’t know she did all that,” Bea tells me.

“Yeah, I forget how much we have her help with around the house. She helps sweep and mop, clean windows, and dust, too. Pretty much whatever chores are being done, she has the option to help, play with her toys by herself, or take a rest.”

We chat about homeschool stuff, and Kat a little more. Bea doesn’t bring up preschool or social groups today. I’m thankful. I get so tired of feeling like I’m screwing up by wanting to keep her home. Maybe I am screwing up, maybe I am being selfish and wrong. I’ve thought about it. I’ve tried very hard to keep my feelings of wanting and needing to protect my daughter out of it, and I still come down on the side of traditional school won’t work for her. She will fall behind, she won’t learn. She will be full of anxiety and stressed out all the time, and come home and act out accordingly.

The conversation turns to hubby. “So things are better with hubby? It seems like you were able to talk and really work together and find some support from him in the Jaime issue.” Bea asks.

I shake my head, slowly. I don’t know. Yes, and no. “Well…..they are and they aren’t. He unpacked my bag. Did I tell you that? While we were gone, at my parents, he unpacked my bag.” There’s anger under my words, even I can hear it. Crap.

“He really wants to smooth things over, forget that fight existed, have things back to normal. What did you do?”

“I repacked it,” I say matter of factly; of course, duh.

Bea chuckles. “I like it. I’m glad you repacked it. Does he know? It sends the message that things aren’t fixed, the fight is not just erased and gone.”

“Well, it’s just sitting in my closet, so he might know. I don’t know. But he thinks everything is fine. And that’s the way it needs to be. He wants things on the surface, nice and neat, clean and easy. I never should have told him anything to begin with. He can’t really handle this. So this is better. I just can be perfect wife and mommy for him. And he’s happy.”

Bea sighs, looks at me. She has to be sick of this conversation. “What about Alice? Are you happy? You deserve to be happy, too.”

I think about how to explain it. “Well….if, I just keep things on the surface we can laugh together, and joke around, and be happy. We can like each other. If I go along with things he wants, then we are both happy, because he’s having fun, then so am I. We have fun together, we always have. And when it matters, like this Jaime thing, we stick together, we always have. In public, we always have the others back, we always stick up for each other, and are on each others side. In private, at home, we may disagree about it. Is that so bad? To pretend to not be mad, to pretend to let it go? To be perfect wife, because that’s what he needs, so we can be happy together?”

“Well, noooo…” Bea answers slowly, “There are a lot of couples whom that would be enough for, who would be thrilled to have even that. And, as we’ve said before, we don’t know that hubby can go deeper to have a more authentic relationship. But you won’t know until you try. And can you be happy like this? Without authenticity? How long can you hold it together before you break?”

I put my head down. “I held it together a long time before.”

“Yes. Yes you did. But you know what authentic feels like now. I’m not sure you will settle for less.”

I look up. “Well, I’ll have hubby in a box. The perfect box. I’m very good at splitting things.” I take my hands, and move them apart. I gesture with my right hand, “I’ll keep hubby over here, with perfect wife and he will be happy.” And then I gesture with my left, “Everything else is over here, and I’ll just keep them separate.”

The way I see it, I’m living a reverse life. At home, I have on my mask of Perfect wife. I’m in the box with hubby, and the Facade is firmly in place. Outside of my home, I can be more of the real me. Splitting things like this, living a reverse life is hard to do, but I’m capable. I’ve had lots of practice.

Bea shakes her head. “Speaking as Bea, and not as your therapist, my husband has such a similar personality, I know how hard it is to get through to them. They want everything perfect and nice, and they ignore anything that is not good, unless it’s a huge fire in front of their face. You just have to poke them a little bit from time to time. Ruffle their feathers. Remind them that life isn’t perfect, and that it’s okay. Like you could tell hubby, I repacked my bag. Just to give him a nudge that you are still upset.”

I shake my head. “No way. It’s been too long, and I really should just forget about it.”

“Think about this. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to Hubby about your brother’s wedding, the same way you talked to him about Jaime? To have the support and caring he gave you for the Jaime problem?” Bea asks me.

I shake me head. The only person I can even imagine talking to about it is Kay, and we aren’t exactly speaking right now. But I know she would react in exactly the right way, and say the right thing. She wouldn’t make me feel guilty, or like I need to protect her, or take care of her feelings, or like I need to protect other people from her. She is safe. I trust her. Hubby….well, I don’t trust him like that anymore. “I….no. I don’t want to talk to hubby about the wedding.”

“Well, there would obviously need to be some other talks first, like telling hubby the who. But then imagine the safety and support you could have.”

She doesn’t know. I’m going to have to tell her. “I don’t…..I can’t…” I put my head back down, and tears falls. “I don’t trust him. I won’t talk to him about this stuff again, not ever, I don’t trust him like that.”

“Ahh.” Bea seems to get it now. “He really hurt you. He took your keys, and unpacked your bag. He was controlling. That was scary.”

“He….everything he knows I’m afraid I am he threw back at me, he said. And now he says he didn’t mean it, but well…how do I know that? How do I know what he means? He said the worst things he could. It doesn’t matter how many times he says he didn’t mean it, I still worry and wonder if he did. He sounded like he did.”

“He said some things that hurt you really bad. Do you want to tell me what he said? What hurt the most? I know the comment about his mom taking better care of Kat was really painful, but I really believe that has more to do with him and how he needs to view his mom, then you. You are a good mom, he knows that,”. Bea says gently.

“He said he doesn’t even know what I do all day, that his mom would be better for Kat than me, that I’m crazy, that I’m mean, and selfish, that he only puts up with all of this because he knows one day I’ll be normal again, that I’ve been a terrible wife, he’s been having to do everything around here…….” I trail off, crying.

Bea talks about everything he has said, how it’s a guy way to attack, how saying that I’m not doing my “job” as a wife and mother is very much something men seem to do to stay at home moms when they get angry. She tells me that calling people crazy is an overused word.

I sniffle. “He didn’t really say crazy. He said I belonged in the loony bin.” At the time I was hiding between the wall and our bed, partway under my nightstand. But I felt safe like that. He had taken my keys, I was extremely triggered, and I needed to hide.

“Okay. So that means you were doing something he didn’t understand and he reacted very poorly.” Bea can reframe it all she wants. My husband thinks I’m crazy. And that’s the thing. Anything that doesn’t have to do with this perfect part of our life, he doesn’t understand, he reacts badly to unless we are in Bea’s office and he is being coached on how to react, and behaves like I’m crazy. It’s not worth it. He doesn’t understand me, and he just never will.

“I can’t do it. I can’t. I have friends to talk to. I can keep hubby in a nice little box, and everything else outside the box. It will be fine. It’s good.” I sniffle again, wipe my face with my hands, and look up.

“It doesn’t work like that. Life eventually collides. Things come out of the box. You can’t stuff it all down. It eventually blows up. The box opens.” Bea pushes a little.

“Well, that’s why I have lots of duct tape. And it comes in pretty colors now, for my pretty box.” I turn to acting like this is all a big joke, because I can’t handle it any longer. My marriage is falling apart, I might lose my husband. I HAVE to be perfect wife.

“Yes, duct tape does come in pretty colors now days,” Bea agrees with me. She’s going to let me get away with it, and change the subject, I hope.

We circle back around to the Jaime problem. I still am having a lot of guilt over complaining about him. “I really hope I didn’t screw up.”

“I don’t think you did. I think you needed to talk to Carly or Jaime and it’s good you did, you need to do what’s best for Kat.” Bea takes a sip of tea.

“I hope so. I tried really hard to make it work. Maybe harder than I would have normally.”

“How come?”

“Well…the whole crush thing. I really needed to know that the crush thing and my feelings about Jamie because of the crush weren’t affecting my decision to complain and ask for a new BCBA. If it weren’t for being afraid I was being affected by that, I would have asked for a change earlier.”

Bea smiles at me. “I’m very sure that the crush part didn’t play into this at all. You really were able to separate that out. Jaime wasn’t a good fit for your family. He maybe has some growing to do in the emotional development area, or maybe he just doesn’t have the capacity to work in that area.”

“Hmmm. Yeah. Maybe not. I don’t know. I just know Carly has an LMSW, so she has a therapeutic background. Leslie has a degree child psychology, but I don’t think she practiced. She got her bachelor’s in child psych, and then switched to a BCBA program. There are two other BCBA’s that have degrees with a therapy background– they just aren’t taking new cases right now. But I think that’s what we need, Jaime doesn’t have a degree in any of that.” I explain.

“That makes a difference. A huge difference.” Bea agrees.

We talk a little more, and then I pack up, and get ready to leave. I have yoga to get to today.

“I’ll see you Thursday. I’ll be interested to find out what happens,” Bea says.

I smile. “Yeah, me too. Carly is supposed to let me know today what they decide.”

We say our goodbyes, and wish each other a good day. I head out the door, and off to yoga. Its another place I don’t need my mask. How did it become that I need my facade of Miss Perfect at home, and can be more of my authentic self in public? I’m living a strange reverse life split off kind of life.