Chit chat about hubby session 

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. 

Deeper down the rabbit hole part 3 (fighting with hubby)

Continued from part 2…..and I still am going with that trigger warning, mostly for suicidal ideation. Im posting this because I am okay now. Most of these feelings have passed, now, and Bea is aware of how I was feeling. 

Sunday, hubby and I fought some more, and things were worse feeling. I needed to get away, and so I left under the guise of going grocery shopping. I ended up sitting in the grocery parking lot for the better part of two hours. I realized I wanted to talk to Bea. I wanted to call Kay, who had dealt with my bad feelings like this before. But Kay is more of an acquaintance now, a person who really doesn’t even want to think about me, let alone talk to me. I thought about calling Reagan, but didn’t want to bother her, when she had just dealt with my nonsense the night before. It sucked, because I realized how alone I really am. Yes, I’m married, but I have isolated myself, and cut myself off from so many relationships in my life, including one with my husband, that I was just really alone right then. The person I should have been able to turn to, my hubby, was the source of my pain, and was not someone I was about to turn to. All I could do is write a letter to him in my journal; a letter that won’t get sent.

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Dear hubby, 

I need you to go to therapy. I get that you are stressed out and that grumpy days happen, but I can’t keep doing this. I love you and I want us to really be together, to have the kimd of relationship where we ca talk about feelings and be open and vulnerable because it feels safe to do so, and right now, for me at least, it doesn’t feel safe to have any feeling except “happy”, “joy”, “love”, “calm”, “peace”. But that’s not life. And it really is not life as a type A, anxious person with PTSD who doesn’t feel very safe being attached to others or being in the present, or feeling emotions or somatic reactions. There’s a whole wide range of emotions and anytime I seem to display one of those emotions, you shut down, you emotionally abandon me. It’s just a repeat of my childhood and that emotional abandonment is sure to trigger all kinds of bratty destructive behaviors. I react badly because I’m hurt and scared and don’t trust that it is safe to talk about my real feelings. 

I think you need to work on communicating. You are so shut down and closed off from even your own feelings you don’t know when you are mad or grimly. But with tensions just coming off you and me asking you several times today if you you were okay or mad or whatever, I think at one point I even used the word grumpy, and you assured me “no, everything is fine.” And then later, really communication is needed because if you can not even state to me you want us all to go out to dinner as a family, well, that is a problem. I am not a mind reader, and “do you want White Castle?” does not mean go out to dinner as a family to me. I don’t even eat White Castle! I should not be expected to know what you meant, to translate your words, and I should not be punished for not reading your mind. 

The thing of it is, you want pre-therapy Alice back. You want miss perfect, in her bubble, with no feelings, who was just numb and zoned out. But she’s not coming back. Messy Alice is what you get. Messy and real. Life is messy. Add trauma to that and then a kid and it’s very, very messy. And that is not going to change. You need to find a way to accept the messy, to make your peace with it and love the messy me. Because waiting for Bea to “fix” me? Well, I’m more “fixed” than I’ve ever been. It just so happens that you don’t like this girl, this messy me. Maybe you can learn to. I don’t know. If you can’t, I guess we need to figure some things out. Because I’m so done with this. Every single time you abandon me emotionally, you set off these massive series of triggers because you are literally re-enacting how my parents chose to to react to me. It’s worse this time, because I’m already triggered from some crap Bea dredged up, and Bea is gone and the one time she was on vacation is was not good, so I feel pretty left by her, and now you, too. So I’m feeling really bad and scared and not okay, but the response I have is to act like a brat, be mean and loud and push harder because I felt you leave, and then I feel guilty and like a terrible person, when you become angry with me. And when you won’t talk to me about it or you split your attention to your phone when I’m talking as though what I’m saying is unimportant, I only spiral down more. “I’m awful, I’m terrible, I screw everything up, I’m the worst, I’m ruining everything.” And then I just want to go away, and disappear forever. I end up crying and hiding and hurt and fighting myself because parts of me feel so low they see no point in being here, and their solution is to swallow pills, cut my wrists, hurt myself badly enough that I disappear. It’s not easy. It’s a serious fight to not do those things. Kat is my motivation to not do those things, and so when you say how I’m screwing up as a mom, too, how I am as bad as my parents or worse, well, you take away the last bit of motivation to live. So good job, hubby. You didn’t want me around anymore, you wanted to leave. Well, you found the recipe. One of these times it might just work, and you won’t have to leave me, because I’ll be gone. Because I have no one. 

~Alice 
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I ended up calling Reagan on my way home from the store. Some of those suicidal thoughts were really strong, and, as I said in part one, there is a part of me that is determined to survive. We talked off and on the rest of the day and into the evening. When I exploded at Kat, yelling and having a meltdown, I called Reagan, and cried to her about it, and then told her I could not think clearly enough to figure out how to repair the fight with Kat. She gave me the words to use, told me I was okay, a good mom, and made plans to meet me in the morning for breakfast. 

To be continued………

A week ago: But hubby, I can’t talk to you

It’s Sunday night, and hubby has returned from his failed fishing trip. The trip was rained out, but he hung with his buddy all day, and is in this great mood. It was just what he needed. Kat is in bed, and so we are. I’m sort of cuddled up next to him, and I’m half here, half gone. Some part of me wants to kiss him. The little girl is conflicted; if she kisses him, she really wants him to say no, and stop things, but she also doesn’t want him to leave, and she wants to know he is there and loves her. It’s confusing. 

I ignore the little girl, and listen to his stories about his day. After a while, he looks at me. “You okay?” 

I shrug. I want to say yes, of course I am okay, but something stops me. “I don’t know.” I feel tears welling up. 

“What is it?” He’s concerned now. It’s his concerned voice that is coming out. Oh crap. 

“Nothing. I just…I had a thing with Bea. And I would normally talk to Kay, but she is gone. I don’t know.” 

“A thing?” He is confused. He doesn’t speak my language. He speaks the language of Miss Perfect, not the disjointed, jumbled, random mess that is the language of Alice.  

“Ugh. I don’t know! A….not a fight. Just….she came back from vacation but wasn’t really here. And Kay is not speaking to me so I have no one to talk to!” 

“You can talk to me.” His voice is gentle and kind and caring and I know he means it and he loves me. 

I don’t respond. I just nod my head. And hubby lets it go. So, just like that we are back to discussing a movie or show to watch. We choose a show, and I go away. Fuzzy, floaty, safe. That warm blurry space that is so familiar to me. 

I can’t stay there, though, so when a commercial comes on, I take a breath, focus on things around me. “I can’t talk to you. I talk….everytime……and then you are just shut down the next day. So I can’t. It’s no good.” 

“I don’t mean to be! I’m just waiting for you to bring it up again.” He protests. 

“It’s not even that…it’s…you just aren’t here. You don’t…I don’t know.” I can’t explain it. It’s some thing you feel. Not something easily put into words. 

“Well, what does Kay do?” 

“She’s just….she’s Kay.” I shrug. I can’t tell him what she does, or how she acts. He can’t just mimic that on the surface. It needs to be real. And that’s the problem, I realize. He can’t do much more than surface, and he can’t do abstract emotional stuff. 

“I want to help. Tell me what to do.” He means it, I can feel that.

“It’s okay. I just…I want us to be able to talk, and be real with each other. But you know….it can’t…we won’t be able to do that until I’ve worked through some of my stuff, and you’ve worked through yours. If you want to help me, if you want to understand what it is I need, go to therapy.” 

“Therapy? Okay. If you really think that’s it. Okay.” He says. 

I nod. “I do. Therapy will help.” 

“All right then,” he says, and unpauses the show. I guess our talk is over. 

To talk or not to talk

“…..and hubby…. He’s, well……I don’t know.” I look down, averting my gaze from Bea’s face, and feeling floaty. It happens so quickly, that going away because I’m uncomfortable, I’m surprised. I’m in my usual place on Bea’s couch, with my knees pulled into my chest, and Hagrid is curled up next to me. 

Bea just waits, giving me time and space to pull the words from my brain. Finally, I say, “He’s sort of….it’s like he’s afraid of me.” I’m feeling a lot of shame, over how I freaked out the other night, and now, hubby is being very distant towards me. It doesn’t feel like anger, though, it feels like fear. 

“It had to be scary for him to have you get so upset. He may feel like he caused it, and not want to do anything else to hurt you. Have you talked about what happened?” Bea turns her chair slightly, to be able to face me a little bit better. 

I shake my head. “No…I don’t know how to bring it up. I mean, I know, like you said in your email, what guy wouldn’t want to work on this? And I think he would. But then I’d have to explain it all to him. And I can’t…..I mean…..I don’t know.” After a pause, I tell her, “Well, I do know. I’m just embarrassed to say it.” 

“I think it would be good if you could try to say it,” she says softly. 

“I know. I know. I just….ugh. How do I ever explain..I mean…it’s like….ugh!” 

Bea lets it go for the moment, and we talk about Hagrid and his goofy antics for a few minutes. “He’s just so cute,” she tells me. I agree. 

I’m feeling calmer when I blast of bravery hits me. “I’m afraid to tell him….I mean….why it was okay….why I could…..with him….I mean……I’d have to explain that I wasn’t…..that I wasn’t here, before, when…..” 

“You would have to explain to him that you weren’t really present when you were having sex before?” She is so good at figuring out my messy fill in the blank sentences.

I nod. “Yes. And I feel like that is really hurtful. Because what guy wants to hear that their wife was only able to…….because she was gone? I mean….ugh. And then to go on and explain that now I’m more present and it’s making me freak out? That just seems so hurtful.” 

“Well, yes, it could be seen that way. It could be hurtful. But if it’s explained as this is so normal– because it is really normal given your history– and that you are just at a tricky in between place in your therapy, I think it could be understood as normal and okay and not hurtful.” 

I shake my head. I’m feeling really annoyed with her. She’s not getting how hard the would be. “If you were me, and you had to tell your husband these things, how would you ever do it? Wouldn’t that be really hard?” I don’t need Bea to be therapist Bea, I need her to be fellow human Bea, and to really get this. 

She doesn’t respond right away. At first I wonder if she is upset, if I had been snappier than I thought, but then I realize she is just thinking it over. Finally, she answers, and I can tell she has truly out herself in my position, and thought out how she would approach this with her husband.

“Thank you.” I whisper the words to her, grateful she took the time to really see, to understand as much as she can. “Also….I guess I feel like I don’t really trust him, in some ways. Because every time we have a good moment, he screws it up big time, and I let myself think things changed, but then…..”

“That change isn’t sustained, and it hurts.” She’s right. That’s exactly it. “I think if you can break this down, into small steps, and give him something concrete, he can do it. Guys like to fix things, and we’ve seen before how he is very good with concrete things. And I wonder if working on this with him, and experiencing him as safe, if that will help with trust.” 

I’m set to argue with her, I want her to be wrong. Instead, I swallow my words, because I know she is possibly right, and tell her another concern I have. “I don’t know if he can handle this. I mean…I can’t do this on my own. I need him to help me with…..being present and the feelings….like….” I’m feeling really vulnerable, but I say it anyway, “like you….with this…..I couldn’t have worked on being present and feelings if you didn’t help.” I hide my face then. It’s sort of silly, because clearly, her job description is to help, but this is as close as I’ve ever come to admitting needing her without screaming that I don’t want to need her. 

Thankfully, Bea doesn’t respond to the my needing her aspect of what I’ve said. She stays really neutral, actually. “I think he could do that. He’s shown that he can in other ways. My big thing is that I want to make sure he knows, that he understands you aren’t crazy. I think he needs a lot of psycho-education so he can understand how normal this is.” 

“I know. He just won’t read any of the books I got him.” 

“It would be helpful of you had a third party to explain it to him,” she says carefully. 

“I know. I just…I can’t….it…” I feel bad, because I’m trying to tell her I don’t want him here, or them talking, even if I am here. In a way, it feels like if I allowed him into my therapy space, I’d be saying everything that happened was okay. And I can’t do that. 

“It might not feel safe to bring him here after the emails. That would make sense. If that were the case, maybe you guys could see a different therapist together,” she tells me. I feel like her voice is carefully neutral, like she is not wanting to upset me. 

“Then I’d have to tell someone else….trust them…..I can’t do that. It be so much easier to bring him here. I can’t do that, either.” I want to scream out of frustration. I really need it to be safe to bring him here, but it doesn’t. As I’m writing this now, I wonder if it has to do more with hubby than Bea. She and I worked though it, but hubby doesn’t even know I found and read the emails. We haven’t worked through it. 

We run through different ways of talking to hubby. Bea suggests that keeping things very clinical, no feelings might feel safer to me, but she acknowledges that it would be really good if he could hear the feelings and the personal, to really understand how this is effecting me. I really feel like he needs to know the feelings. In the end, I decide that I’ll write a letter, and Bea can add in psycho-education where it is needed. 

We move on to talk about other things. “Were you going to email me the list of words?” She asks. 

“Well, I was….I couldn’t. It’s too embarrassing.” 

“Words can be powerful triggers. And I’m not comfortable with all words, either. As you saw last week.” She laughs at herself, and I smile. 

“I know, I just….it’s ugh! They are just words. They shouldn’t be this big a deal. I just…it’s crazy how much words can effect me…..” My face feels hot, and I suspect it is bright red. 

“It’s really normal to have words be triggers. It’s okay. But I think we can work on it.” 

“It’s not even those words though. I mean, like I had to ask you to use a different word on Thursday! I felt like such an idiot.” 

“You mean pleasure?” She asks nonchalantly. 

“Yes.” 

“Well, that should go on the list, too. Any word that is a trigger, should go on the list. We can work on it. Maybe you can get out the list, and we can each write out a copy to make a matching game. I really see this as being something that could be quite light hearted and comical. It will be okay.” She says. 

“I just…..I know. It’s just really hard.” 

“Maybe we start with just a few words, then. Or we use the least triggering. We will figure it out as we go.” I’m always amazed at her willingness to work with me and come up with ideas to help. Often, I too embarrassed or feel too silly to try them, but I’m getting better about it. The grown up part of me needs therapy, sure, but it’s really the little girl part that struggles with things the most. And often times, I feel like the ideas Bea has are for a child, which is maybe why they are idea that are able to feel okay to the little girl. I don’t know. 

“Okay.” I shrug. 

“Did you want to try doing the safe space exercise on Thursday? I kind of forgot we were going to try it today.” She swivels in her chair, and I can see her feet moving. She’s wearing striped socks today. 

“Yeah, okay.” I’m hesitatent, but I do want to try it. I rack my brain for where my safe space could be. Where have I felt safe, and protected and truly okay? I feel a bit panicky, because I can’t think of anything. And then my room at my grandparents pops into my head, along with the woods and gardens and greenhouse surrounding their home. I feel better. I have a space besides a closet. I have a safe space to use. 

“There’s other exercises we can do, too. One that I haven’t offered to you is the personal space exercise. But we could try that one day, if you felt like it.” 

I look at Bea, curious about how the exercise works. “What is it?” 

“Well, with kids, I’ve had them draw out their personal space with yarn, and I draw out mine. Then we practice going in and out of each other’s personal space. With adults, I usually have them define the space with their hands, and then we see what it feels like to have me step into the space, or what it is like to have me put a hand into the space. And then, we usually do something where I step into the space, and you psychically push me out of your space. That’s hard for a lot of people. To push me out.” 

I’ve been feeling farther and farther away as she is talking, and anxiety is growing in my stomach. I can’t do this. I can not do that exercise. “I….I don’t…not now. I’m not saying never, but not now.” 

“That feels like a lot, doesn’t it?” She asks me. 

I nod my head. It really does. I know Bea is okay with people in her space, because I’ve seen my kid climb all over her. And we have even stood close enough to hold a whispered conversation about Kat. But I’m in a totally different mind set then. This feels like a lot. 

“I’ve had people who don’t expect it to be triggering, and then it is. This exercise can be very triggering. With you, we could break it down into steps. Maybe we could start by even sitting on the floor, and using the blankets to define our personal space–you’d have a bigger boundary– and we could just talk about what it’s like to have that space defined. We wouldn’t have to do anything else.” 

“Maybe….maybe…that sounds better. So maybe.” Writing this out now, I’m thinking maybe we can sit there and color while we talk. 

I don’t remember how we wrapped things up, but when I left, I was okay. I went home and later that night I wrote a letter to hubby. I wrote everything I wish I could tell him, and maybe more. I’m a little afraid the letter is too much, and will overwhelm him and crush me if he can’t be what I need, after making myself so vulnerable. I’m half planning on giving it to him tomorrow night so that if it doesn’t go well, I’ll see Bea in the morning. I sent it to Bea to get her input. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m sure I will. 

Thanksgiving (and beyond) catch up

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

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

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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued……..)

Relationships: He can’t win

“So, I guess that’s really it. I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to talk about Kat stuff the whole time. But I did say I could spend a whole session on this.” I sigh. I’ve just spent 60 minutes talking about Kat. I really didn’t mean to take so much time. On the way here, I’d felt like I needed to talk about Kat stuff, but also that I wanted to talk about my stuff and not “waste” my time with Bea.

 

It felt good, though, to tell her how our BCBA validated my feelings about the school psych, and to hear that my ‘read’ of everyone at the school meeting matched up to hers. I don’t trust how i feel about people, I’m always unsure if my ‘read’ of them is crazy. If felt good to tell Bea how i met with Kat’s teachers and we are working on more ideas to help Kat be able to function at school, but also not be a mess when she comes home. It felt good to tell her how I had emailed (he called me back while I was in her office!) the super intendant to offer help with campaigning to get a millage for special needs funding passed.

 

She had been impressed that I had reached out like that. “You know, we are always looking for ways to allow you to turn your mind off, and this is a great way for you to do that. As we are digging back into to therapy and these scary places, we need to keep finding things that help you to get a break so you can function.”

 

I had agreed. “Research and having a cause gets my full attention. I like that sort of thing.”

 

“You’re good at it,” Bea had said in such a straight forward way, I was able to believe her.

 

Now, though, I’m out of Kat stuff to talk about, and I realize that I had needed someone to bounce ideas off of, and to talk things through with. I think this is the kind of stuff hubby used to be willing to talk through with me, even if I needed to repeat it a million times. Now, I am using my therapy sessions for this.

 

“Was there anything on your mind you were really wanting to talk about?” Bea asks.

 

I shake my head, slowly. I can feel that sort of change that always happens to me in therapy when we switch to discussing me and my stuff. Its like one minute I’m ‘Miss Perfect’; confident and chatty, animated and present– but its like just that surface perfect piece of me is present, the rest of me is in the room in my head, watching, so things don’t feel quite real. It really is hard to explain this internal experience. Even worse, I feel like my explanation makes me sound truly crazy. But now, we have switched to talking about me, and I look down, curl info myself, I mumble when I talk, and I struggle to think of words. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I was driving here thinking I needed to talk about my stuff, but I needed to talk about Kat, but i didn’t want to use all my time to talk about her. And then I did. But it needed to be talked about.”

 

“It was important to talk about. We still have a half an hour. I guess the question is how do we switch gears?” Bea leans back in her chair, looks at me.

 

I shrug. I don’t know. I’m sort of lost in this giant abyss of having too much to talk about.

 

“It felt, to me, that the most distressing thing for you, out of everything you wrote and we talked about Monday, was the way things are with hubby.” Bea says softly. I know she likes to see what comes up for me, but I am glad she is willing to give me some direction.

 

“I just…its…I am just done.” I say.

 

“I know. I think you have a lot of anger– rightfully so– and that this is very complicated and difficult.” Bea says.

 

I sigh. I’m so tired of this conversation. I feel like we have if all the time. “Well, he doesn’t listen. He doesn’t care.” I follow that with stories of him not listening, stories of me being sarcastic, rude, snappy. I look down, and trying not to cry say, “You know he never even asked how dinner with my grandma was?”

 

“Did you bring it up to him? There’s nothing wrong with saying that you need to tell him about dinner, that you want to share that with him.” Bea says.

 

I ignore her. Nope. Not doing that.

 

“Sometimes….with his personality type, he may just keep his mind on work, where he has control and things are easy. As long as you are in your corner, telling him you are okay, he’s not going to look too closely.” Bea suggests.

 

I snap at her. “Thats not true. He has time to think about hunting and fishing, he should have time for his family.”

 

“Thats very true. But you’re real, and you upset that balance of okayness in his life if he looks too closely.”

 

“Well. I’m sick of it. I’m done trying. He hurts my feelings all the time. It’s his turn. I wish I could stop caring at all. I don’t like how I’m being, I don’t like feeling mean, I don’t like any of this.”

 

“Then you need to tell him that it is now on him and that you need him to fix it. I know that feels kind of like telling a person what to buy you for your birthday, but it really would be good if you could let him know.” Bea says softly. Why won’t she back off about this? I don’t want to talk to him.

 

“Maybe he just needs to stay in his corner. I don’t want him to come out of his corner right now.” I say it quietly, but clearly. The thought escapes before I can think to stop it.

 

“Ahhh. Tell me more about that; about wanting him to stay in his corner.” Bea sounds intrigued.

 

I stare at blue rug on the floor. Hagrid isn’t with me today, he refused to get out of bed this morning, and stayed with hubby. The traitor. “I don’t know. I just think he should stay there.”

 

“Well, I have some ideas about how this feels, but what I really want is to hear your experience of it.” Bea’s voice is gentle, and honest. I am reminded of what she said on Monday– ‘I want to hear your stories.’

 

I try to figure it out. “If he stays there…its just….well……he….I…..it’s not…..I don’t know…….” I stop and start about a billion times. Finally, I have it. “I won’t have to talk to him if he stays there.”

 

“Yes. It’s safer if he stays in his corner.” Bea agrees.

 

I am having so much trouble putting this into words. If I had my iPad journal or my notebook in front of me, I might be able to find the words. But right now, I am at a loss. So I try something different. I ask Bea, “Why?”

 

“Well, it is safe because you don’t have to be vulnerable. You don’t have to risk being hurt. If he stays in his corner, and believes things are okay, you each go about your daily lives and you don’t have to be vulnerable.” She answers. I love that she takes me seriously, and attempts to answer my questions. I was a kid who asked a lot of questions, I wanted to know what made people tick, how things worked, what made the world turn? No one really took my questions seriously. They were annoying after a while, I’m sure. Mu grandpa always tried to help me find answers. He took me seriously. So did Kenny. But…ugh. Anyway, it means a lot that she always answers questions and that she is digging for answers with me.

 

“And afraid. I don’t have to feel afraid.” I can’t explain it; maybe it’s fear of connection, maybe it’s fear of being vulnerable.

 

“Yes. If he stays in his corner, you don’t have to be afraid.”

 

“I need him to change it.” I say softly.

 

“I feel that you guys have been in places like this one before. It seems to cycle. Can you think of what you have done before to get out of it?” She asks.

 

“We don’t get out of it, not really. I give up, act happy, perfect wife like he wants, and then he pays more attention to me, when I am happy, and so everything seems better.” I say. The thing of it is, though, its not better. Its not exactly pretend, at least not on his part, but I am going through the motions, not feeling much and eventually I reach a point where I can’t pretend anymore, and this happens. That is why there is a cycle.

 

“So you pretend to be happy, and he pays more attention to you?” She clarifies.

 

I nod my head yes, and realize that once he is paying more attention to me, I might even truly feel happier and more content. Because the underlying issues– not trusting him enough to be vulnerable and connect– are still there, never having been dealt with, I end up packing away hurts and things I wish I could share with him until the small box can not hold anymore and i start to snap, and make sarcastic remarks, and feel angry and alone. And my husband does not like the angry, sad, broken, hurting part of me. He tolerates it, but avoids that part and it is very clear he does not accept her. He wants and accepts the cheerful, positive part of me.

 

“This is an important clue about him, and what is going on for him.”

 

“I don’t get it. And I just…I’m so tired of being hurt.”

 

“I know….” Bea says. “Can you ask him for things, concrete things, like letting Hagrid outside? Can you say ‘I need you to let Hagrid out’?”

 

I think about it. “Well, I might ask him to get me a glass of water of I was in bed and he was up.”

 

“So it’s the emotional vulnerability that scares you. Other stuff is okay?” Bea asks.

 

I don’t know. I really have never thought about it. (Now, while writing this out, I think it is complicated. I’m not as afraid to ask for concrete things, however, I usually won’t ask if I am not already fairly sure of the answer. I’ve been like that as long as I can remember; some people may say I am spoiled and always get what I want. It’s more that I only ask when I know the answer. Being told no, feels like rejection to me. I’m very hyperaware of any sign of rejection or what feels like being rejected.) “Well, I wouldn’t ask if he wasn’t up already. Like if we were both in bed, I would just get up. ” I finally say. Its not exactly an answer, but it is the best I can so.

 

“I think it helps to practice asking for small daily needs, so when the big stuff comes up it isn’t this hard.” Bea is still pushing for me to talk.

 

“I don’t…I mean….I’m not even sure what needs come up daily, but it doesn’t matter. I am not doing that.”

 

“I can’t think of any, either, right now,” she admits, “You wouldn’t have to ask for anything. Just stating, ‘I am feeling really upset right now that I haven’t gotten to talk to you about dinner with my Grandma.’ Its just a statement, nothing directed at him and all about how you are feeling.”

 

“No. No, no.” I hate this conversation. It is making me sick. My head hurts. “It’s all BIG. Anything that is what I need is BIG stuff. It’s all BIG and scary.”

 

“Mhmmmhm,” Bea does her verbal nod. She says something else, but I’ve disappeared, and the world has that fake, not real quality to it.

 

“He can’t win. No matter what, I won’t let him win. He can’t win right now.” I don’t mean to share my thoughts out loud.

 

“Can we talk more about that?” Bea asks, carefully.

 

“Well…I’m terrible, mean. He can’t win right now……… Too stubborn for my own good. I…even if he did exactly what I wanted, what I needed, if he listened and whatever else, did everything, I wouldn’t believe it. I would think it was a lie, fake. I don’t know.” I’ve buried my face in my knees. I can’t look at her right now. I don’t want to be seen right now.

 

“You need to have the upper hand right now. It feels safer. Although I wonder if the not believing it if he did everything you needed is more about how you are feeling about yourself at the moment?” She questions.

 

I ignore the question– although i am thinking about it now– and say, “Having the upper hand, acting like this, feeling like this about him, I don’t like it. I tried to even give him the answers, telling him things like ‘this fight over this small thing isn’t really about this at all’ and whatever. I tried. I told him that he would have to ask me questions, convince me to talk, I tried to give him the answers, but he didn’t freaking listen.” The words burst out, unthought and unclear until I speak them. This is not how I do therapy; I filter everything, think about it, I rehearse it in my mind.

 

“Maybe he likes that you need to be asked, maybe that is safe for him, knowing he doesn’t have to be vulnerable: he can keep that door closed.”

 

I nod. I get it.

 

“Of course, we can’t know for sure what is going on with him because he isn’t here.” Bea says.

 

“I can’t…I don’t think therapy with him would work, anyway. I figured out when we are a ‘we’ and it is always for Kat stuff, or in public. So we would go, and be a ‘we’ and smile and fake it and say and do all the right things and the shrink would wonder why we were even there.” I’ve raised my head, and am glancing at Bea. I am expecting her to disagree, to push me towards therapy with my husband.

 

Bea surprises me. “I’m not sure couple’s therapy is the answer. I can’t speak for hubby, but I don’t believe– at this point– you would be able to feel safe enough to let the real you out. So you’re right, the fake you would go to therapy, and fool the therapist and nothing would be worked out.”

 

I feel very validated in this moment. I feel seen. Its wonderful, like a warm, safe hug, but at the same time, its uncomfortable. I look away. Rub my nails between my pointer finger and thumb– my new alternative to picking because my polish dulls the sharpness and i can’t pick.

 

“I wish you could tell him everything you just told me. Or even the part about him not being able to win right now.” Bea says softly.

 

I shake my head at her. “I can’t. Especially can not tell him he can’t win. That’s not….fair….what….I mean….I can’t.”

 

“It’s very honest. And it would put things on him, and he would know its on him.”

 

“But I said he can’t win. How do I put it on him, when he can’t win?”

 

“You said he can’t win right now. But you didn’t say forever. You said you don’t like feeling this way, being this way.” Bea counters.

 

“I am afraid.” I whisper.

 

“It would be very vulnerable.”

 

We sit together for a minute, quiet. The whole session since we started talking about hubby has had a very choppy, stop….start…push…pull feel to it.

 

“He would leave me.” I whisper. I don’t even want to voice the fear, I don’t want it to be real.

 

“Thats a real fear,” Bea speaks just as softly. She’s careful as she continues to talk. “I still see the two of you as together, as a couple who will fight to be together. I think you have a lot of affection for him. And he cares about you. I think you guys…you’re at the age where you should be solidifying your individuality, figuring out who you are. It would be nice if you could share part of that journey. If you could grow together. In marriage, theres going to be highs and lows, ups and downs, times where you grow closer and times where you are farther apart. You just want to be careful you don’t grow so far apart you can’t find each other again.”

 

I don’t say anything, but I am afraid that we have grown too far apart to fix anything.

 

“What you guys need is a weekend away together. To reconnect. They always say if a couple is struggling to find each other, to go away together. And if you can reconnect when you are away from daily life, you can fix it.”

 

Bea is talking, but I’m doing my best to hide a small panic attack. My very first thought is that going away means having sex; he will expect sex. “No. Not going away.”

 

“It doesn’t feel like a good idea when you are feeling very unsure and unsafe about being vulnerable with him.”

 

I shake my head, try to organize my thoughts. “I….well…no. It wouldn’t work. First off, I’m not sure if I want him out of the corner.” Then i think to myself that we would need longer. It would take me a weekend just to build some trust. I finally voice that, too. Then I try to say my first scary thougt. “And, well, if…the very first thing I thought was..that if we go away….its…a weekend away….I…umm…well…I can’t say it right now.”

 

Bea lets me try to get it out, but when its very obvious I just can’t, she steps in. “The intimacy part?”

 

I feel myself blush while the rest of my body freezes. I nod my head and choke out, “Yes.”

 

“It is one thing people think about when going away, even if the point is to reconnect emotionally.” Bea notices that I’m struggling to hold it together and says light heartedly, “Too bad theres not a place you can stay with separate dormitories for men and women.”

 

I’m able to easily add to her train of thought. “A catholic college, maybe?”

 

Bea laughs. “Here honey, I found this great retreat. We get to stay in separate rooms. It’s a catholic couples retreat.”

 

I laugh, too. “He’d be like never in a million years.”

 

“Do you want to go hunting?” She asks me.

 

“No. I don’t even eat meat! I’m not killing anything. I can shoot, though. Targets only.”

 

Bea smiles. “I was joking. I didn’t really expect you to go hunting.”

 

We giggle; the image of me hunting is truly ridiculous.

 

Before I leave, Bea comments on the ‘offness’ of our session today. “Things felt a little off, hard to find a rhythm today. I know you felt it too.”

 

I feel like I am ice cold all over, but at the same time I’m burning up. I frown. “I think it was me. Because I did and didn’t want to talk about this. So it was push-pull.” And I’m hyper aware of everything, and was afraid she was frustrated that i just won’t talk to my husband, or more on his side, or whatever.

 

“It was us,” she says firmly, gesturing at herself and me. I feel nauseous. Why are we talking about this?

 

“I’ve never been perfect, so you get all my flaws and messiness and imperfectness. And when you aren’t hiding, you bring all yours, too. And that is part of a relationship. It might not be perfect connection every time, but we are okay.” She says, making her point. (Which i may not have all of it, or the exactness of it. I was pretty anxious and gone at this point.)

 

Bea notices the anxiety and switches things back to a more playful tone with a goofy story. We wrap things up with some more silly stories, and light hearted jokes.

 

Are you okay?

Trigger warning for talk about sex, touching and mention of childhood sexual abuse. Please be careful, and take care of yourself.

I’m curled on my side, facing away from hubby. I’m trying to hold back the tears and the panic. He lays down, and curls himself around me.

“I love you,” he says. His voice sounds far away.

“I love you, too.” I whisper it, for if I speak out loud, I know my voice will crack and I will cry.

A half hour ago, I was sleeping with my husband. I think I instigated things again, but I’m not 100% sure about that. I remember snuggling up to him, and then the next thing I know, we are having sex. Well, not sex exactly, he was touching me, and my body was feeling good, and my mind was panicking.

He seemed intent on touching me until….well, you know. And I can fake it. But he was doing something that was overwhelming, and I felt out of control, and it was all too much for me to handle. I felt held down, I felt scared and alone, helpless, like I couldn’t stop it and I wanted the too good, too much feeling to stop. I felt like I was 5, maybe 6– a child.

Some part of me remembered I am a grown up, and that this is 2015. “Stop, stop!” I yelled, begged, pleaded. It took a moment, but he stopped touching me. He didn’t get it, though, didn’t realize I was stuck in the past, having a flashback, and he bent over me to kiss me, hands on my shoulders. I screamed again, “Stop, stop.” And rolled on my side, curled in the fetal position.

That’s when he realized it wasn’t okay. “Hon? Are you okay?” He asked.

I panicked. Old habits kicked in. I rolled over, smiled, “I’m good, come over here. I’m sorry. I’m okay.” I was dissociated and numb, but I made out with Hubby until he was convinced I was fine. And we had sex. I said sorry a few more times. Old lessons from the boyfriend told me it wasn’t safe to say stop, to ruin the mood. I wasn’t there, not really. I couldn’t feel or think. I was frozen. When it was over, and he went to the bathroom, I rolled over, facing away from him.

“Are you okay?” He asks.

I nod my head. I don’t think I can talk. The tears really want to fall.

“Are you sure?” He asks again.

I nod. “Yeah.” It’s another whisper. He holds me, and I let him. Even though he’s right there, I feel so far away from him.

I wonder what he would do if I had said I wasn’t okay? I think this over. Maybe this is the time to be honest and authentic, to be real. Maybe it’s time to start. “Hubby?” I whisper, in case he is asleep.

“Yeah?” He asks.

“Nothing. Just checking if you were awake,” I say stupidly. I’d wanted to ask him what if I said I wasn’t okay? What if I said I was feeling flashbacky and like I might cry? But at the last minute, I chicken out. I can’t be sure he will go along with the hypothetical, and let me pretend it’s really a what if in order to feel safer. I’m not sure he won’t be hurt by this. So I say nothing.

“Are you sure?” He asks.

I pause. He’s double checking, something I have wanted him to do. But now, it feels like he is distant, not really there or caring. “Yeah.”

“It doesn’t sound like you are okay.” He sounds serious. “You can talk to me,” he says.

I’m not so sure I can. I want to tell him I don’t know if I can talk to him, if I can trust him with some of my pain, and if he can hold that pain, not try to fix it, be okay with the broken parts of me. I want to tell him I’m afraid his reaction will be wrong, and I’ll only be more hurt. I want to tell him that I want so badly to talk to him, because I feel so disconnected from him, and that hurts. I want to say that I feel like crying, and I don’t know exactly why. That it was too much, and I felt out of control just like I did when I was a child, and that I’m really quite dissociated and feeling much more like a child than an adult right now. I want to tell him I’m afraid if I start talking, I won’t stop, and he will leave because it will be too much, because I am too needy.

Instead, I say, “I know.”

When he asks a third time if I’m okay, it’s because I jump when the dog gets up and loudly stomps to the kitchen for a drink. “I don’t know,” I say in response.

“What don’t you know?” He asks.

I’m quite for what feels forever, hubby even repeats his question. “If I’m okay or not. I don’t know.” I finally tell him.

“Why don’t you know? What is it that’s bothering you?” He asks. I’m sure it’s not, but his voice sounds very business like and annoyed.

“I don’t know, babe. Go to sleep, I’m okay,” I say, reverting to the familiar. He argues about it for a moment, but he finally rolls over and shifts around until he is comfortable.

I grab my iPad. “I’m going to read or write for a little while. Sleep good.”

“I love you. Sleep good, honey,” he says. He sounds content now. Things are back to normal. I’ve told him I am okay, and he can stop worrying. His life is back on track–smooth sailing, easy and calm.

How am I ever going to talk to hubby? I love him so much, I want to protect him, and allow him the calm, easy life he wants and needs. But….I love him so much, it’s lonely feeling disconnected from him, and it hurts. What’s a girl to do?