Head and Toes

I don’t remember much of Monday’s session. I remember wanting to leave. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to just go, just get up and leave. At the same time, I wanted to feel close to Bea, I wanted to know she was there, I wanted to feel like she cared, I wanted to talk and talk and talk until I had no words left. Everything felt unsettled, and off, yet I sat in my space in Bea’s office and I was still and quiet. You would never have known from looking at me, what was happening inside. 

I wanted so badly to be okay, for everything to be as okay inside as it was on the outside, I sat there, my face buried, telling Bea over and over, “I’m okay. I’m fine. I am okay.” At one point she asked me if I was telling her that, or if I was trying to convince myself that I was okay. I didn’t have an answer. 

She tried to talk to me about my doctor’s response. She asked if I had written a reply. I hadn’t. She tried to tell me that she really did think the response was good, and that now I can tell her what I need. She asked how I felt about having some information in my chart. I didn’t want to talk. I looked right at her, and lied. “I’m fine. I’m going to call and make an appointment. I’ll make the appointment and it will be fine, I DON’T need anything.” She tried to talk to me more, but some part of me wasn’t having it. 

She asked me something or said something, I don’t remember what now, and it shut me down. I pulled my knees to my chest and buried my face. I don’t know how long I sat like that. I wasn’t in Bea’s office then. I wasn’t anywhere. I was numb and far, far away. 

I remember Bea asking me if I was cold. She said my toes were shaking. I didn’t know. I told her I didn’t know my toes were shaking. I wasn’t cold. I looked down at my toes. I could see them shaking. They really were shaking, I just could not feel it. Bea suggested I focus on my toes. I tried. I didn’t want to, but I wanted everything to be okay so I did what she said. 

I focused on my toes. I could not feel them shaking and I wasn’t aware of it, unless I was looking at them. I wiggled them. I couldn’t feel them wiggling, but my head knew they were wiggling. It’s the strangest feeling, to be aware of movement, yet not to actually feel it. The more I paid attention to what my toes were doing, the more I realized they were shaking because I was tense. My whole body was tense, like a tightly coiled spring, ready to bolt at any moment. That was all I could think of. The longer I focused on them, the more I wanted to run away.

Bea asked if there were images, thoughts or feelings coming. I had the thought and feeling that I needed to get away, get out of there. I had images coming up of a time with the boyfriend. It’s not something I have ever talked about, and it’s not some thing I’m sure I ever will. There’s a lot of shame and hurt in that memory. So, anyway, Bea asked questions and I didn’t answer. 

I know towards the end of the session, I told her I had no words, and was sad and frustrated and hated not having words. She told me that it was okay, that she was there, with me in the frustration of needing to find the words and she knew it was hard. I feel like she might have said something about me not being alone. I know she told me I would find the words, that I would find them and I would email them to her. I told her I wouldn’t, that I wasn’t sure. 

Bea ended up being half right. I didn’t find the words, but I did email her. I emailed many, many words to her at 2:00am, Tuesday morning. I strung word after word together, forming sentences, paragraphs, a novel. It didn’t matter, though, because none of those words were the words I needed. It was okay, though, because the first thing Bea wrote in response to me was, “I actually think I know what’s going on. I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to write it all now, but I’ll try.

It’s about the parts. One part or more want to talk, and one part or more don’t. All parts have to be on board. Or, another way of looking at is that “manager” parts are trying to protect the vulnerable parts. Either way, we have to address each part in order to get them all in agreement. Make sense?

You did great work yesterday despite the words not coming to you!” And the last thing she wrote was, “I’m not sure I’ll have time to write more today, but even still I am here and thinking about you.” 

So. All the parts are riled up and messy. Things inside my head are a little crazy right now. And my toes are shaking. But I’m okay, because Bea is here and thinking about me. She hasn’t forgotten me, and she cares enough to be here and remember me. 

I just want someone to fix it

It’s pouring rain out this morning, so I leave Hagrid at home. When I arrive at Bea’s, the rain is literally coming down in sheets. Even my umbrella that is the size of a small car doesn’t keep all the rain off me. I walk into Bea’s office, brushing drops of water off my face, legs and arms. 

“This rain is crazy!” Bea smiles as she says this. 

“It really is. I had to leave poor Hagrid at home. He’d be a soaking wet dog if he was out in this!” I take my seat, and smile back. 

“I guess when you are barely off the ground even a little puddle can pose a problem,” Bea says. I laugh, and nod my head in agreement. It’s so true. 

Bea doesn’t give me much of a chance for chat type talk today. Just when I’m about to tell her about Kat’s Easter dress, and our plans for the goodbye party for her favorite ABA girl (which really was a great themed party I managed to put together last minute) she gets a semi-serious look on her face, and says, “I really thought you were off to a great start with your letter.” 

“I feel like this is silly to be spending so much therapy time on.” 

“I don’t think so. It is a big deal. This is how your trauma effects your life in a very real way. And aside from the therapeutic value of acknowledging what happened with your doctor, it’s also a practical life thing. You need to be able to go to the doctor, right?” Bea tells me. 

“Or…I could just pretend it never happened……and then I could just not go for like a year or two so she will forget,” I say hopefully. 

“She’s not going to forget. I’m sorry to tell you, but she’s not. And what if you get sick? You need to be able to go to the doctor.” 

I give Bea a look. I’m annoyed, because I know she is right. 

“I’m the last person to talk about not going to the doctor. I’m not good about going. I don’t think I’ve gone for like 4 years. But that’s not good. It’s hard to get into my doctor, but I could go if really wanted to. I have irrational fears about going. I think, if I don’t go, then they can’t tell me I’m dying of every kind of cancer there is.” She laughs at herself, and shrugs her shoulders. “It’s not the same, but I really do know it can be scary to go to the doctor. And I’d like you to be better than I am about going!” She laughs again. And I feel a little better, and less silly for needing to take so many sessions to talk about this. (This is the kind of disclosure that some people might find to be too much info, but for me, it helped me feel less silly and less like I was wasting Bea’s time. It made it okay to need to keep talking about the doctor in way that her just saying it was okay wouldn’t have. And even though her fear is surrounding cancer, it wouldn’t stop me from talking about my grandpa’s cancer, or any other instance of cancer…not because I don’t care about her fears, but I guess partly because she laughed at herself, told me it was irrational, and because I do trust her to take care of herself.) 

I pull my knees to my chest, wrap my arms around them. I shake my head. “I can’t…just that first paragraph the rest…I just can’t…” 

“What is it that feels like you can’t send it? What part of the letter feels like it’s not okay?”

I shake my head. “I don’t know. It’s just too much. I just….its just too much.” 

“Let me pull it up, okay?” She asks me. 

“Yeah….I can pull it up, too,” I say. I find the copy of the letter on my iPad and stare at it. It feels like the words ‘I was sexually abused for a good portion of my childhood by a family friend’ are written in bold, bright red, a scarlet letter on my forehead for all to see. I can NOT do this. 

“I think what you wrote and explained is great. I think you just need to finish it by saying something about needing some time before you come in again because you are feeling apprehensive about coming back to finish the exam.” Bea tells me, after reading through it again. 

“I….no….its just too much.” 

“Well, you could always go the other route of simply saying you have a trauma history, and a diagnosis of PTSD and you were triggered. You really are in control of how much you disclose.” She reminds me. 

“That’s….its…that’s just the problem. I can’t…I’m just…ugh!” I get frustrated, trying to get words out that feel insignificant and silly, and hard to sort out with all the mixed up crap in my brain. I take a breath, start again. “I’m a person who needs explanations. I’d rather have an explanation and the truth than some lie to hide things. I just…I need to truly explain things, even everyday stuff. It’s why hubby gets so mad at me for talking so much, or speaking a block of text at him or whatever it was–” here, we both laugh a little, because it’s just such a ridiculous statement– “so it feels wrong to send the generic letter. But the other one is too much.” 

Bea doesn’t answer right away. “I think this is about breaking the secret. It’s been something we have struggled with since the beginning. You had to keep this secret quiet for so long. And that was so hard to do. You still don’t feel like you are allowed to tell this secret. Maybe you just need more time before you can do anything with it. And that’s okay.” 

I’m quiet, withdrawing into my head. At some point, I bury my face because I know I’m going to cry, and I don’t want her to see me cry. I spent the rest of the session like this, hiding my face, crying and being very, very far away. I was farther away than I have been in a long time, to the point that everything I remember is choppy, and maybe even out of order. 

At some point, I tell her, “I just want everything to stop. I just want it all to stop. To hit pause and just….stop.” 
She tells me about how one summer, she and her sister drove by an Amish community and how she had this thought that it would be really wonderful to stop her life and go spend time there, being someone else. I smile, and tell her it’s funny, because I had just finished a book where the main character was Amish, and I had the same thought. That it would be so great to just go live someone else’s life for a while. 

But that’s not what I mean by wanting everything to stop, exactly. I meant I want to stop thinking and feeling and dealing with stuff and just…everything. I don’t want to talk, or be spoken to, i don’t want to cook dinner, or do laundry or play with my kid, or have nightmares or have to be functionable. I don’t want to do anything. I want it all to just stop for a while. 

Later, I say, “I don’t want it to be real.” 

“I know,” Bea says, “Who would? It’s heartbreaking to realize that the little girl you were was hurt in such a horrible, violating way. It’s painful. But it is real.” 

“I don’t want it to be!” My voice is firmer this time. And then the tears come. 

“I know. I know. And that’s where this telling the secret stuff is so hard. Because it makes it feel more real. But it’s real either way.” 

I cried a lot. I remember Bea telling me she wasn’t sure if this was a time when I needed to sit with the feelings or work on grounding, on orientating, on being outside of myself. 

“I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t want to be present, I just don’t. But I don’t want to be locked in my head, either.” I’m honest today. I don’t have the capacity to edit, or to try to appear perfect. I’m too tired. 

“Maybe I will get the coloring stuff out, so you can use it if you want to,” she suggests. 

“No.” It’s one word, but it’s all I can get out. I don’t want to color, I don’t want to be in the here and now. It’s dangerous. 

“Just being able to say that is powerful. That one word is so powerful,” she tells me. 

“It’s not. Its….not okay.” More tears fall. 

Bea sits with me, gives me space to cry. I’ve been holding onto these tears for a long time. They need to come out. 
“I just want everything to go away.” 

“What would that look like? Would something replace the everything?” Bea asks.

I feel like she is toeing the line of shrinky, but it’s a good question, so I let it go. “I don’t know. I just…I want it to go away, to stop. I’m failing at life. I can’t do this anymore.” I didn’t have an answer then, but now I see nothing, just nothing around me, nothing in me, just a clean bright white place, with nothing. Maybe that is what lies at the heart of my anorexic behaviors. Who knows. 

“Life is so varied, and huge, I don’t think you can fail at it,” She says. 

I’m staring at the chip in my candy pink toe nail polish. I need to fix that. “Well, it’s how I feel. If I could erase it, make it not true, I would.” I’m back to talking about the abuse. 

“Yes, I think most people would feel the same. But is there a part– even a teeny tiny part–that would worry you wouldn’t be the same compassionate, kind, patient person you are?” 

“No. If it…..no. I’d be…..” I can’t say it out loud. It hurts too much. I was going to say, ‘I’d be good.’ 

“You would be what?” She asks. 

“I wouldn’t be bad.” I finally say. 

“You aren’t bad. Not because you were triggered, not in how you reacted. You didn’t hurt anyone. You aren’t bad. And I hope, I really want you to know that you weren’t bad then, either. You didn’t do anything for this to happen, and you aren’t bad.” Her words are soft, and gentle. 

I shake my head. “But I am….its funny…not funny haha, but funny…that you think I am those things…” 

“Because you don’t think you are?” 

I can’t speak, I’m too ashamed to admit that no, I don’t think I’m those things, so I shake my head. 

“You are really feeling bad about yourself and having some harsh judgments today.” 

Somehow, this led to me saying that all this isn’t just about a doctor appointment, or needing to write a letter. 

Bea agreed. “No, it’s about much more. That’s just…the trigger this time. I think it’s about your identity, about who you are.” 

“I don’t know who I am,” I whisper. 

“This is the time to explore that. Developmentally that’s what your early 30s are for, it’s where you are supposed to be. It can be painful, but there is a fun side, too. Do I like to work with my hands, be in nature, enjoy physical activity?” 

“I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I’m NOT doing this,” I say. It’s not loud, but it’s said louder than I have been speaking, so the noise feels almost as if I have yelled. I instantly feel bad, which starts another round of tears. 

“I’m feeling some anger there, maybe some defiance– I’m not doing this and no one is going to make me,” Bea says. 

After some time, while I am still crying, I shake my head. “No…well, yes. But no. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, and so I am angry because it is easier. And I’m angry that I’m afraid.”

“Yes, that makes sense. It’s okay. Defiance is okay. Angry is okay. It’s okay.” She reassures me. 

There was more around this, I’m sure, but I have no clue what it was. 

I pull my knees closer, curl into a smaller ball. I feel like a little kid, who is alone and lost and maybe made a big mistake and who just wants their mommy to come give them a hug and make it better. 

“I have this sense of you really feeling like the little girl right now, very alone and scared and vulnerable,” Bea says softly. 

As hurt as I am, I smile a little bit, because she does get me. “I was thinking, feeling the same way,” I whisper. 

Bea “mmmhmms,” encouragingly. It’s what I’ve come to think of as her verbal nods– because I hide my face, I would never know if she were actually nodding or not. 

I continue, “And I really just want my mommy. I want her to fix it.” I burst into tears then. 

“I know. This is really hard, and painful.” She says. And then, after a minute or so, “What if your therapist wrote a letter to your doctor for you to send?” She says it with so much compassion and care, I don’t know, I could really feel her wanting to help if she could. 

“I….I can’t. I wish…but it’s…no. It’s too much like being a child. Like I’m not acting like an adult if I have you or anyone else fix even that part of it.” 

“I can see that. But it is okay if you decide you want a letter. That is okay.” She reminds me. 

“I just really want it to stop, I don’t want to feel like this. It’s too much, overwhelm and sad and scared, can’t breathe can’t think, need it to all stop right now hurting feeling. And even if I cried to my mom, she wouldn’t fix it. It would just be more secrets and lies to hide it all away.” 

“Maybe. It really feels that way. This is really, really hard work. It is. And you are doing it.” 

“I’m…. Secrets and lies and pretending nothing bad happens. That’s half my life. More than. Im so tired of secrets and lies and hiding things. But…it’s easy. It’s the easy out.” 

“It’s exhausting to hold the secrets and keep the lies going. But it does feel like it’s easier at times, until it isn’t.” She gets it. She validates exactly what I needed her to. 

“Sometimes, it feels safer,” I tell her. 

“Yes, it does. Of course it does. When that was the norm, of course it feels safer. But it’s only safer until it isn’t. You can’t hold all the secrets, and you shouldn’t have to.” 

I don’t know where things went from there, or where this happened, but at one point, I said something– I don’t know what, and it was just this really connected feeling moment, where I could feel that she does care about me, and I needed that. 

I say something, and am sobbing through my words, maybe about hurting or wanting someone to fix this, or wanting it all to just end, stop, go away, disappear. 
And Bea tells me, “That you are hurting so much just triggers the mom part of me. I wish I could make it better, make the hurt stop for you. If I had a magic wand, and could just wave it and make this all go away for you, I would.”

I just felt really so cared for, and actually believed, for a moment, that she cares and wants to help just because of me, that I am enough for her to care about. I sniffled, and got my sobbing slightly under control, and smiled sadly, even though she couldn’t see me. “But you can’t. No one can.” I wanted to add thank you, and that it meant a lot to have her want to, and that it was okay that she couldn’t because I really don’t expect anyone to be able to fix it, but I don’t do very well sitting with others having positive feelings for me, and I couldn’t say more. 

Towards the end of session, Bea got out the coloring stuff, and she pulled out a picture one of her teens had drawn. I was still hiding my face, but she told me that they had been discussing suicidal thoughts and feelings, and Bea suggested she draw them. “It’s sort of dark and morbid, but her drawing turned out so beautiful. She’s really talented.” 

I think Bea knew that behind the wanting everything to stop, to go away, to disappear is this desire to not exist anymore. It’s not exactly suicidal ideation, but sort of. And it’s the sort of scary thing I can barely allow myself to think. So instead, I want it all to stop. But Bea isn’t stupid, and I think she wanted me to know it was okay to bring it up. That things that were not allowed to be discussed, verbalized, or even thought of, when I was a teen are allowed with her. That it is okay to talk. It seems she often tells me little stories about teens she has worked with, or is working with, that match up really perfectly with my teen self, only Bea allows their thoughts, feelings and questions, and when I was a teen nothing less than perfect was allowed. It’s another healing thing, just to know that those things are allowed now. 

And when I left, I had pulled myself together, and said goodbye with a smile. But by the time I walked to my car, and paid for parking, the shell had cracked. I held the tears back until Jewel’s ‘you were meant for me’ came on, and then I lost it. While I’m not missing the love of my life, the way she is in the song, there is something about what she is describing that just feels the way my restless, can’t settle, nothing is really right, but trying so hard feelings feel. I don’t know. The last stanza always gets me. “Put on my pj’s and hop into bed…I’m half alive but I feel mostly dead…keep tryin’ to tell myself it’ll be all right, I just shouldn’t think anymore tonight…. Cause dreams last for so long, even after you’re gone…..”

That pretty much is exactly how I feel. I’ve put on my pj’s, and crawled into bed. I have my teddy bear and blanky snuggled with me. I feel emotionally drained, and heartbroken. I am half alive, but mostly dead, and it will be all right as long as I don’t think anymore tonight. 

I don’t see this being fixable

I emailed Bea, and told her I was not wanting to bring Kat to therapy. I didn’t want to have to go see her, and feel her being so far away, and have to try to act like things are okay so that Kat doesn’t know things aren’t okay, and then end up feeling worse. She wrote me back, and said that she was okay, and back to normal, and to rest assured that she would be there for both Kat and I today. 

I wasn’t sure about it, but I got Kat ready, and we piled into the car, and drove to Bea’s. We some how arrive early, and so we sit in the car for about 10 minutes. I sit, looking at Bea’s building, and feel tears in my eyes. Shutting down my feelings, I tell Kat we can head inside.

Bea says hello to both of us, and I can’t look at her. I try, but I can’t. I feel myself shutting down, and freaking out. I tell Kat that mom is going to go hang in the waiting room because I have some emails to write. Kat immediately whines that she doesn’t want me to go, and climbs onto my lap, clinging to me. I finally look at Bea, wanting her to tell me what to do, to help me leave. I can’t be here. 

We somehow convince Kat that mom will stay and help her and Bea do a craft, and then mom is going to go write her emails. The three of us sit on the floor, and start crafting a turtle out of a sock. I can’t look at Bea, and I feel stiff and uncomfortable. She says something to me about being okay now, being back to herself, assuring me she is really here for me and Kat. I smile a small smile, but I can’t respond. Maybe she is back to herself. I don’t know. I’m too shut down to be able to feel anything. I’m hurt. I’m confused. Why couldn’t she be what I needed? I want to move past this, but how? I was already in this state of not being able to trust anything, feeling floaty, anchorless, and alone. I needed Bea to be extra here, to be really open, to be very here, to be a very strong secure base. It’s not fair, but after everything that has happened with Kay, I needed Bea to prove to me that she won’t leave and that she will not judge me for anything, or be disgusted with me or mad at me. And she did the opposite. She left. I realize her vacation was planned prior to to the mess my life turned into, but she promised to be there via email, and she didn’t feel like she was there. She promised she would come back, but she didn’t really come back.  How can I ever trust that she is really here now? I can’t lift the bubble, I can’t risk the vulnerability, if I do and Bea still feels shut down, I won’t survive that. This relationship won’t survive that. And if the relationship doesn’t make it, I really won’t be okay. Without Bea and without Kay, I can’t do this; I can’t work to heal, I can’t be me. The me I am learning to be won’t survive. Miss Perfect will come back and take over, the bubble will be permanent and everything will be shoved down. I won’t be okay. 

 
As soon as the turtle is crafted, I practically run out of her office. I can hear Kat protesting, and Bea distracting her by asking her how they will decorate turtle. 

I sit on the floor in the waiting room, pull my knees to my chest, bury my face in my knees, and cry. I cry for maybe 20 minutes and then I force myself to shut it down. I end up just sitting there, dissociated and hurting and sad. I want Bea to be herself. This hurts. Seeing her, and feeling things are so wrong, hurts. 

When Kat’s session is over, I ask if they need help cleaning up. Bea smiles, and says they got everything cleaned up already. I help Kat gather her things, and she tells Bea bye. I don’t say anything, just follow Kat down the stairs. Normally, I stand at the top of the stairs, chatting with Bea while she makes tea, or straightens up. I hear her saying something, but it’s muffled. I call goodbye up the stairs, and she makes a surprised noise, and says goodbye. 

Things aren’t right, they aren’t okay. And I don’t see how this can be fixed. 

I don’t want to hurt anymore 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one who disappears everything 

Thursday…….I was tired driving to Bea’s, and still feeling that strange indifference. I was numb, and my feelings were definitely shoved way down deep. I felt fairly indifferent to everything, as if I didn’t really care anymore. 

She greeted like normal when I arrived, and I said a happy hello. I settled myself and Hagrid in our normal place on the sofa, and looked at her. I don’t remember now what we started with, but the conversation quickly flowed into one about hubby and couples therapy. 

“I’m not against couples therapy, I think it can really help. But you are my client, and so I am feeling a little protective over the parts of you that may not be ready for couples therapy. It would be much more ideal to have hubby start in therapy to work through some of his stuff, and have each of you working towards seeing a third therapist together.” She explained to me where the hesitation I had been sensing was coming from. 

I nodded, seeing her point, but argued, “It feels like I can give him an ultimatum about couples therapy, not so much about going to his own therapy. And it seems as if he would be more likely to agree to something we were going to together than on his own.” 

“I can understand that,” she said slowly, “I think the only way we will know is to ask him. I know it doesn’t feel safe to bring him here, and I get that. This is your safe space. But maybe we need to bring him in for one session, to talk about how to proceed with this stuff.” 

As she spoke, suggesting bringing hubby here and telling him how I have been feeling in our marriage, I lifted my hands to my face and hid. 

“Yeah….” Bea said softly. “There’s those feelings returning again.” 

I sat there, my face buried in my hands, unable to look up at her. The idea of bringing him here and telling him all of this felt devastating to me. “I can’t…I mean…..it doesn’t feel…..okay.” 

“It’s a little bit of a reality check, isn’t it? If you could maintain that indifferent feeling, then it would be okay. You could protect yourself in couples therapy. But not all the parts of you are so indifferent. The little girl is scared, this feels too vulnerable. Other parts of you don’t feel safe with this idea, either. I think that is why this is such a hard choice to make.” 

“But it’s not, not really. I need to stop whining over it.” I said, feeling angry with myself for being afraid to bring my husband to therapy. 

“I don’t see it as whining, I don’t think you are whining at all. But a part of you clearly does.” 

I shook my head. “It’s whining because there is a clear solution to the problem, but instead of acting, I just keep talking about it over and over.” I sighed, and explained how growing up, and even now in my marriage, once something has been discussed, it is over and done with, and if I bring it up again, it is being a drama queen, whining, nagging, talking something to death. It’s not okay. I explained that this is why I always ask permission to bring something up again and again. I have this fear that eventually she will think I am whining or being a drama queen, too. 

“And I just expect that things will come up again and again. And when all the parts of you have different ideas on things, well, that makes it hard to figure out a plan. Talking something through, more than once, is well, I just see it as part of your process.” She said gently. 

I looked at the clock, something I rarely do, and saw that there was still over a half hour left. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” I whispered. 

“Okay,” Bea said simply. She always just accepts my desire to stop discussions when I get too uncomfortable.  

We sat quietly for a few moments. I pulled out my iPad, opened the writing I had done much earlier that morning, and handed it to her. “I wrote this….I don’t know. I was going to email it but it got really long. So….I just…well, here….” 

“I was writing before thanksgiving, and then didn’t write again until this morning. But I combined them. Because…..I had wanted to give you the stuff from last week,” I explained as Bea took the iPad from me and started reading. 

11/24/15

I’ve been thinking about two things. Well, I’ve been thinking about a million more than that, really, because my mind never shuts off, but just two– or three or four at the most– things I wanted to write about: imposter syndrome and where this belief or message about my parenting abilities came from. 



First, I’m not sure that this feeling of being a bad mom, or of having everyone fooled into thinking I am a good mom came from anywhere specific. I can not think of a belief or message, besides the things I tell myself, that match it. I think it’s bigger, or deeper, or more than that. 



I think it’s not even imposter syndrome, not exactly. Because it’s….sort of this all encompassing thing. And it’s hard to even think about, or pick apart, because….well, I don’t know why, it just is. Maybe it’s sort of this childhood message of having to be perfect to be good enough, but never feeling like I was actually perfect and instead was just playing this part of this perfect girl who my parents loved but if they knew the truth they would hate me forever. I don’t know. I think that’s the beginning, maybe? 



But it’s more than that. (These are all general you’s or someone’s). If someone says I’m a good mom, either I have fooled them, or they don’t really mean it and are just being nice. If I act like I am okay and in control of my life, I’m a liar because I feel so far out of control that what people see is an illusion. If I tell you I’m not okay and falling apart, I’m a liar and a drama queen and I need to shut up right now. If I say I am a good cook, then I am bragging and making things up, because all I do is follow or tweak a recipe and it’s not a hard thing. If I am told I am good at something, then people just don’t know me, or they are being nice. If I make a mistake and am upset, I’m stupid and over reacting and ruining everything. If you tell me I am resourceful and have good ideas, then you are being nice because you can not believe how dumb I am, or I somehow got lucky with the idea I had. It doesn’t matter which direction a situation goes in, I can find a way to make it about being not good enough, fooling people, being dramatic, being lucky, I don’t know. It’s not even like I try to think like this. I just do. It just happens, instantly, quickly. You say good job, and I instantly think of everything I did wrong, all the should haves, and how I could have done better, and, at the same time, think that you are just being nice. 

“These are some really strong negative messages you’ve given yourself,” Bea commented. I think she said more, but unfortunately I don’t remember now. I think she said something about how a part of me needs to see another part of me as “bad.” I don’t know.

It’s like walking on eggshells everyday, certain I will be found out. I don’t know. Maybe it comes from being that perfect part of me for so long, because she never felt real, more flat and not really there. But that is who most of the world saw, even though I knew she wasn’t really me. 

“This walking on eggshells feeling….it has to be from childhood. Because you had such a big secret, so no matter what people thought or said or saw, there was always this secret, this hidden thing that you felt so bad about. It’s very much a split identity. The good you and the bad you with all the secrets. So, yeah, this feeling is so ingrained, it’s still present.” 

“But….even if I didn’t realize it? I mean…it would have been a subconscious thing, maybe?” I asked. Because I don’t remember feeling split or thinking about hiding this big secret. It was, unbelievably, mostly hidden from me.

“Yes, it would have been a subconscious thing. You wouldn’t have been aware of it. But being split like that, I imagine it would has felt like walking on eggshells.” She said softly, going back to reading.

I don’t know. I was also thinking that I should have just given you my notebook today. But it wasn’t pretty. I don’t usually, okay, I don’t ever write all of that stuff out, and never to share. But I did write it. And it was pretty choppy and sort of bouncing between the little girl’s voice and mine, and there was way more detail about a Kenny thing but also a present day life thing that caused the flashbacks and I just couldn’t have anyone know all of that. 

I sort of think this weekend is something to keep talking about. But maybe not. Maybe it’s over and done and I over reacted and it’s all nothing at all. I don’t know. But I don’t want to keep being “hijacked” and feeling like a crazy person. 



And I can’t leave hubby, move out. It’s crossed my mind. But I think it’s more of a running away idea, not having to deal with any of the mess or feel hurt or vulnerable or be open and honest and deal with what happens when I do that. That’s what I do, you know. I run away. But I don’t want to do that anymore. At the same time, I can not keep going through this being hurt by hubby because I keep trying and he doesn’t get it. So I need to just be in a little bit of a bubble when it comes to my marriage, and pretend it’s okay. But I want to be able to cry and be upset and sad or angry or whatever in therapy without the worry that you are wanting me to talk to him. We both know that might be the best thing to do, but I can’t do it. Not anymore, not right now. I just need a break from that.     

 “I don’t see you as a person who runs away. I’m not sure…well, I think you are a person who faces things. Look at all you have stayed and faced here, this year.” Bea said. And she is right, I have been facing things rather than running, but that is new for me. There have been numerous times I thought about running away from Bea, and therapy, but instead I stayed and worked through it. I’m learning to work through things. 

I shook my head and let out an exasperated sigh. I did not want to explain this. “I do….I um…well…..when things are hard…it’s why….I lose friends…..only Kay has stayed and that’s because she just…..think of all the times I leave her….and she….I don’t know. She just….and I run. I don’t know.” I shrug. “I could give examples, explain, but….I don’t…I don’t want to share them….ugh.” I stumbled over my words, wanting her to understand but not wanting to explain. 

“Kay knows it’s not about her. That’s why she stays,” Bea commented before going back to reading. I breathed a sigh of relief that she wasn’t going to ask me to explain more. 

12/1/15

Bad dreams tonight. I don’t want to remember them. I woke up confused and afraid, I felt like a little kid for a few minutes. I do hate that feeling. I barely remember the dream. Pieces, choppy like my memories. Ugh. I feel sad again, like I did at my parents. 



It’s like I felt safe and calm, peaceful and real while I was there. Even when I was upset, that was okay. I felt like they wanted me; just me. I didn’t have to do or be anything to be wanted, to feel loved. I don’t think I really ever felt like that with them before. And I should have, as a child, as a teen. I should have. I think, when I would go to bed while I was there, it was like I lost that feeling, and felt like I usually do there. I could remember feeling like that with my Grandpa, and Grandma and then when I would get home, it would be gone. Lost. Disappeared. Like I couldn’t hold onto it, remember it, if they weren’t right there. And so I was sad, it was like I missed something or someone, because I couldn’t hold onto that feeling, or trust that it would be there the next day. I don’t know. And I was sad that I never felt like that before with my parents, in my own home. Because I should have. And I wondered why now, why not then? What did I do wrong to not have this, then? And I worried; do I make Kat feel safe like that, or am I just like my parents when I was growing up? 



And then I would try to sleep and toss and turn. Maybe in that hyper aware state, where every noise had me jumping. But I’d fall asleep eventually, and then have this bad dream, the one that woke me tonight. On Friday night, when I woke up from a bad dream, I got up for some water, and my dad was up. He asked if I was okay, did I need anything? I shook my head, went back to bed. I remember sometimes, laying in my bed, too scared to get up, to even call for anyone, but just wishing so hard that someone would come and ask if I was okay, if I needed anything. But no one ever did. Sad. It made me sad. If only. But I don’t want to live in the “if only.” Ugh. So, sad. I felt sad. And then I would feel empty, hollow. With that falling down an elevator, empty feeling in my stomach. And I’d feel too anxious about the sad, and would put it all away. 

“This is what we were talking about, what we were saying about getting old needs met at your parents. And having those needs met, feeling like that, it raised your expectations for your own home. That’s a good thing.” Bea said.

I nodded my head, knowing where she was at in what I had written, but not having any words to say anything. 

You said you were trying to figure out which part of me was at therapy today. I don’t know. Not really. You were right, i don’t think it was the real me. It’s almost like the perfect me, but not. It’s a part who disappears everything. All the yucky feelings, memories, thoughts. This me is like very surface, functioning me. It’s indifferent and numb. This part just sort of exists. Underneath is some worry about the feelings and parts escaping. This part really just exists, and doesn’t care much. The part that was running the ship today is the part that keeps everything very boxed up. I think this part and the perfect one ran the ship a lot in the past. The problem is, this part maybe isn’t as strong as she once was, and I know all the yuck is still there. Even today, in therapy, I kept feeling like there was so much I wanted to say and talk about, but it’s all hidden and I can’t find it. So, I didn’t say anything, really. It’s like having a thought or feeling just at the edge of awareness. It’s that feeling when a word is on the tip of your tongue, but you keep searching for it. I don’t know. 

“Yes….I didn’t feel like it was the real you, either,” she agreed. 

Why is it always all or nothing with me? I hate that. It’s extremely frustrating. I know you think being able to put stuff away in a box is a skill, but it’s not. This is me. It’s just what I have always done. The thing is, I think you picture a box, like a Christmas package. There are sides and a bottom. The box in my head….if you open it, there is no bottom. It’s like a black hole, never ending. It goes on and on and on. And once stuff gets dumped down there, it is hard to find and get back. I don’t know how to open the box. I can barely find it. I don’t know how to let out anything, a little at a time. When I eventually have a breakdown then some of it will come up and out. I don’t know. I have no control over it. Maybe, maybe…….that is something, a reason to learn to control things. 

“This box…you can’t control it. It’s not….it’s another part. It’s not the same as the container I am talking about. This…it’s a different state of you,” she said. I think there was more, but she got that how I feel and put things away is different than her container. I had never thought of this as a part, once she said it, it made sense.

I nodded, thankful she got it. “I just….it’s not a good box. I don’t know. But yeah, it’s a part. It’s like the part that makes it all go away. So….I guess….it’s the one that disappears everything. But not….I don’t know. There aren’t feelings.” 

I peeked up and looked at her, and saw her nodding her head. “Yes. It’s a part that can put everything away and let you function. It’s a survival skill.” She went back to reading, not long after that, commenting that I had written a lot of good stuff.

I want to not care about the stuff with hubby. Well, I mostly don’t, right now. I feel very resigned to the fact that he is not going to change and that if I want support, I need to look elsewhere. I don’t know. He still sees everything as my problem, that I’m the one who needs to be fixed. And I used to agree; everything was my fault. Deep down, I felt like that, like I was the broken one and if I could fix myself then everything would be okay. Except, I am not going to go through therapy and end up being the perfect me that hubby met and married. That was not real. And I don’t believe I am the only one who is broken in this marriage. And I don’t even really want to be the perfect girl anymore. That’s not…..being fixed. That’s pretend. I want to be the me that says how I feel, and stands up for things I find important. The me that doesn’t yell, but speaks calmly, even if the words or the message is not kind. I don’t think hubby wants this wife. He wants the one who keeps trying to make things work with his mom. The one who blames herself, for not being good enough, kind enough, understanding enough, compassionate enough, forgiving enough. But I’m not that person anymore. 



And maybe I did get some of what I needed a long time ago from my parents this weekend. How did you put it? Old needs met? I don’t remember now. Did you mean the needs of feeling safe and accepted and wanted just as I am? I didn’t feel judged one time by them this weekend. It’s a strange feeling. And I find it hard to trust it, and it’s sort of very vulnerable making. I’m not sure why. But if I think too much about it, then I get very scared. My parents changing things still means flipping my world upside down. It still means my safety net is gone. And it means seeing everything I missed out on, then, as a child. I don’t know. 

I want to feel like that with my husband. I want to feel calm and real and like whatever I am is okay and wanted with him, in my own home. 

“You’re saying that here, that you want to feel like you did at you parents with him. Those needs being met did change expectations, and you are recognizing that.” Bea told me. And she was right.

It’s awful, but we are in a place right now where I feel much more here and like me when he is gone and it is just me and Kat. He was at work all day today, and Kat and I had such a nice day. We went to the store after I picked her up, and then we went to the vet and brought them cookies. Our vet is downtown, so we walked to the park with Hagrid, and we played there. I forgot about disappearing my feelings, about being anxious and worried. I just was there, playing with my daughter and running around, Hagrid following on his leash. And we came home, and played Legos and uno, and then had dinner and she watched a show while I read my book and we snuggled until bedtime. She fell asleep in my bed, and I felt so….right…like everything was okay and right, and I fell asleep not long after her. It wasn’t perfect. I got….I don’t know the word, I had to tell her she had to calm down at quiet time, that mommy needed quiet now. Like, all the talking and being present was a lot for me, and I needed to have some quiet and not talk, not be engaged with anyone. And I had to correct her at the store, because she was cutting in front of me and the cart, zig zagging around and I almost ran into her. But, it all felt like maybe normal stuff. No blowups or yelling at her like I am another 5 year old in the middle of a raging temper tantrum. Because that is what I feel like, when I do lose it and get mad. 

“I’m glad you were able to be present with Kat. That’s good. Really good for you.” Bea told me, her voice happy. 

I didn’t talk, but I nodded my head, remembering how good Monday with Kat had been. I had felt close to my daughter, and real for those few hours. 

My mom and I talked about that this weekend. It was strange to talk about that with her. But it helped me realize that I really do feel like a child throwing a raging tantrum when I get mad like that. It’s a different mad, it’s not the grown up mad I feel at hubby or his mother, or the mad I feel when a stranger makes a comment to Kat about her pacifier or about not smiling, or whatever. That is….maybe normal mad. I think it is the mad you talk about, that serves a purpose and makes people DO something. I didn’t understand that, before. But I think I am starting to. That I can be the “grown up” mad, and it can help me act, but I can speak calm and not yell. But the other mad, that is not….rational, or controlled. It is this angry little girl, screaming and yelling and out of control. Mom said that she didn’t get triggered or react to me when I was little, like I do with Kat, but that she did find herself feeling and behaving like a teenager with me when I was a teen. She said it was like two teen girls fighting and snipping at each other, and my Dad would intervene to stop us both. It’s funny, because I do not remember that. But I believe her, that we fought like that. I just don’t remember. 

“I want to hear more about this angry little girl part,” Bea said. She said it gently, without judgement in her voice.

I hid my face again, unable to talk, to say anything to her. After a few minutes of silence, I finally spoke. “I want….it’s not like…….it is like I’m a child. Just mad, not controlled. I don’t know. Just mad, crazy mad……..and then, later……I don’t even feel it…..I don’t know. It just…..I….it’s mad. Scary mad.” I tried my best to explain it, that crazy mad I feel, the feeling that I can’t access unless I am in that raging temper tantrum moment, but it’s hard to explain anything when you can’t feel it or really remember it. 

“It is mad,” Bea agreed, empathetically. “It does sound like a little girl. One who has a lot of anger, and I bet she has a lot of reason to be mad.”

I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. 

It got quiet in the therapy room again, Bea maybe thinking and me feeling pretty exposed and vulnerable, but still pretty numbed. 

“I’m wondering about the part that disappears everything.” She finally said. 

I shrugged. “It just….I don’t know.” 

“This might seem a strange question,” she said slowly, “Does this part have an age?” 

I sat for what seemed a long time. I knew the answer right away, but felt silly saying it out loud. Being so unfiltered, and letting Bea more into my head felt, and still feels, very exposing. And Bea talking about parts and split identities still feels very frightening and like I am not on solid ground. Finally, I said very quietly, “16…..17. Something like that.” I felt so embarrassed, although exactly why, I didn’t know. 

“Mm….mhmm. Is that an age where maybe you needed to not feel so much?” Bea asked me. She sounded like this was a perfectly normal conversation. 

“I….I needed to be okay. To be better……I had to get better……so I…..well,” I stumbled over all my words, unsure how to say what needed to be said. I felt so guilty, “I wanted…..I…..wanted to…..get away from……all of them.” The last part of my statement was mumbled and quiet, but Bea heard it anyway. 

“Yeah….you felt that if you got away, then everything would be okay.” 

“Well, I….I thought….I mean, I had to be okay. Put everything away. I couldn’t worry, or care. And I thought then, if I left, everything would be okay. But……then……” The entire time we had been talking, I had been fighting tears. The feelings were definitely back, and it was at that point that I couldn’t hold them back any longer and began to sob. 

“Lots of painful feelings. This was a really sad and hard time.” When Bea spoke, I felt like she was far away, not understanding, not really feeling all the hurt and pain that was falling out of the crazy box in my head. I felt like her statement was generic or something. Maybe it was because I felt like the part holding all the pain was as present as the very indifferent numb part. I don’t know. 

I didn’t respond, and just kept crying. Bea said something else– what exactly, I can’t remember, but it helped, and I continued what I had been saying before the tears interrupted. “I thought if I left, everything would be okay…..I would be okay. But then….it wasn’t okay at all. Nothing was okay.” 

“Ahhhh. Yes. You met the boyfriend, and nothing really felt okay.” Bea said. 

I nodded, and told her, “I just….everything was bad again. I….he….I don’t know.” 

“That was a really painful time. No wonder you needed a part that could turn everything off, disappear everything.” Bea said to me. She normalized it, helped make sense of everything. 

“I….it’s…I made a choice,” I finally said. 

Bea was quiet for a moment, and when I peeked up at her, I saw her shaking her head, a look on her face that just looked so open and caring and accepting. It made my insides hurt, and I didn’t understand why. “Well, I could argue that you didn’t get a real choice but you feel like you made a choice, and I want to make sure there is room for you to have your feelings.”

I was aware that I had heard her reasons before, but they never seem to stick in my head. So, I asked her, “What were……what would you say? I mean why you think it wasn’t a choice.” 

“I’d say….well, with all the sexual abuse memories, even unconscious, you were looking for a way to be the one in control this time. Repetition compulsion is so strong. It’s not a conscious choice.” Bea said a lot, and when she was talking, explaining her beliefs, I was feeling and understanding what she was saying. In that moment, I almost believed what she was saying. 

I cried a little more, and I think we might have talked a little more about feeling like things are my fault, and the need to put everything away and not feel at all. I’m not really sure, to be honest. I do remember eventually saying to her, “Can we stop talking about this?” And she said yes, that it was time to start wrapping up and grounding now, anyways. 

I don’t remember what we talked about after that, but I know I left feeling a little bit sad, a little bit numb, and a little bit lonely. I didn’t want to leave her office, where I felt supported and not all alone. But we said goodbye, and I headed out into the real world. 

Creating my map: mental health

This is one of those all over the place posts. My thoughts are messy, and I’m working on sorting them out. I wanted to get some of this down and write about Friday’s therapy session before my mind got too mixed up.

I saw Bea on Friday last week because of Hubby’s work schedule, and I won’t see her until Thursday this week, because of the holiday and school starting. After that, we’ll be back to our regular Monday and Thursday schedule. Thank goodness. I’m not a person who does well without a schedule. I need that in my life. I’ve looked and found some morning yoga classes, too. So hopefully, therapy can get back to normal, Hagrid and I can get back to our walks, and I can get back to yoga. When I have a routine, I get more done. Right now, my house is a wreck. Seriously. It had been better, and then Kat had a two week break from camp. Which meant no routine at all. It’s been rough.

I saw my medical Doctor, Dr.S, and she prescribed me a sleeping pill. I’ve always been against them, mostly because I overdosed on them as a teen. But I need to sleep at night and get up in the mornings to get Kat to school on time. So, I’m willing to try sleeping pills. I’ve been taking them faithfully every night. While they do knock me out sometimes, I’m usually able to fight off the drowsiness and sleepiness they cause. Which has now shown me just how much I fight sleep. I always knew I fight it; that it is hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s how I always remember being. Even my parents will tell you how I never slept as a child; they claim I’m just a person who doesn’t need a lot of sleep. The effect of these pills is strong, though. And yet, I fight it, and 5 out of 7 nights, I win. What does that mean? Nothing good. Maybe I’m just not meant to sleep. Maybe my nightmares have been so bad, that I’m now just afraid of sleep? I don’t know. One thing I do know, is that I’m able to sleep in longer chinks of time than before. Where I used to sleep in small increments, now once I do fall asleep, I manage to sleep for 4 or 5 hours at a time. I should probably talk about this in therapy. I haven’t even mentioned my nightmares or sleeping pills.

On another side note, related to routines, I sometimes wonder if I should just have an eating schedule. I freaking hate meal plans. Hate them. I don’t want another set of rules and lists regarding food in my head. I have enough already. But….I think I’ve messed with eating, starving, binging, barfing so much that I honestly don’t ever feel hungry. I just eat when people usually eat. Which means it is easy to miss meals, not eat, eat junk, stuff my face and bar. It just is this messy cycle. I don’t know. So maybe rules around when I eat, a routine of sorts would be good. Ugh. I think I started thinking about this because on Friday, Bea mentioned that maybe we would talk about the eating stuff more this year. I wanted to throw something at her and scream that it was not happening. That would be the pissy drama filled teenager part. I’m pretty sure she is the part that has the ED. Or controls it. I don’t know. Either way, huge internal reaction.

She also said that she has made a point to help keep me on the surface, but she knows it has been a hard summer. She said she has a list of things she wants to touch on, ask me about when I’m in a place to go below the surface again. She said she is waiting on my cues, and I’ll know when I’m ready. It’s funny that she has this list (I’m thinking it’s in her head because Bea is not super organized. She’s sort of my opposite in this. She admires organization, and wants to be organized, but has said it is something she struggles with. It’s probably a good thing for me, in all truth. The last thing I need is an OCD shrink.). Anyway, it’s funny that she has a list, because I have a list, too. Mine is in a folder on my iPad. It’s taken from journal entries, blog posts, emails I wrote and then deleted, random things I wanted to talk about but then didn’t really want to talk about. I have brought it to therapy with me, open and ready to hand over all summer. But I never hand it over. I just keep adding to it. I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it feels safe enough to write down a few things, a reminder that I need to go deeper on these topics, but I don’t feel safe enough to go very deep.

Bea told me that she hasn’t really asked me how I am, or how I am feeling because she knows that might be too much. I thought about it. When she said it, I told her I didn’t even know the answer. And that’s true, to a point. If I ignore it all, and keep it pushed away, then I have no idea what I am feeling. If I try to feel my feelings, I can’t. They are all over the place, bouncing around. Like crazed ping pong balls of emotions flying at me. It’s too much. I have to duck and run. I’ve been staying as much on the surface as I can this summer. It’s different than the numbing and ignoring and pretending I used to do, though. This time, I’m well aware that there is a mess, and that I’m doing what I have to in order to function until I can sort through the mess. It’s like I’m getting getting through the high stress, would be crisis time because I have support, new healthy coping skills, old- maybe not so healthy- coping skills that I’m not shamed for using, and new ways to care for me and ground myself. This….it’s different than before. Of course, it’s not intense crisis, either. It’s more like a….I don’t know….just stressful time, I guess. Maybe it’s normal people stress mixed with my trauma stress. Either way, I feel a difference in how I’m handling it, even if it doesn’t look that different on the outside.

Last night, I was lying in bed, and I realized something else. Bea is always saying how I’m missing that piece of human connection, of hugs and comfort that hubby can give me. But Hagrid was snuggled up next to my side, and my arm was around him as I was watching a show, and I felt safe. I think I can get that piece of safe touch from Hagrid, for now. With hubby, I either freeze, and deep down I feel frightened and tense (with anyone, really, who hugs me, I feel frozen inside, even though I am very good at just going away so no one would ever notice),although he wouldn’t know it. Sometimes, if I stay more present, I can let a simple hug feel good, but then that hug always turns to something more, and then I go away and end up feeling bad. Dirty and sick. But Hagrid, he really is safe. I don’t have to go away, and nothing happens. I had this realization, and I both hated and was thankful that I have this in my life. I hated it because I don’t want to be so broken I need my dog to help me feel safe with touch. I hated it because it is sad that I can’t hug my own husband without a huge mess happening, one way or the other. I was thankful that I somehow was given this amazing gift of this dog who is able to be this for me. It made me want to tell the person who gave him to me exactly how much Hagrid has meant to me in these few short months.

On Friday, with the holiday coming up, Bea asked what I wanted to do; did I want to try to come in on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or just see her one day next week? I thought through the schedule, and told her I didn’t see it working on Tuesday, being the first day of school, and it seemed silly to come Wednesday when I had an appointment on Thursday. I told her I would just come on Thursday, and I would email if I had a breakdown before then. She kinda smiled and said okay; probably because she would have offered a phone call but figured I’d have to be basically dying for that to happen. Even this, though, is improvement. Last year, I would have been freaking out, panicking, over the idea of missing a session. There would have been a lot of rearranging of schedules and trying to make an appointment work on Tuesday, or taking a Wednesday appointment and trying to move the other one to Friday. It would have been a mess. This year, I can accept that there is a holiday, and my schedule does not allow me to see her twice this week but I can email her if I need, and after this things will be back to normal. I sorta feel like I have grown up a little bit.

We did talked about Kat and all the changes with school. I thought, in my head, about how when I started school, everything changed. It was one of those thoughts that just pop into my head; random, out of nowhere, a thought that belongs to me but feels almost like its is not mine. I didn’t say it out loud, though. I usually don’t say these thoughts out loud. This one, in particular, was going to lead me somewhere I did not want to go. We talked about how the nanny being part of her life once a week, and me not playing on her level was setting her up in a way to make friends her age in school. In a sense, because Kat doesn’t have us playing on her level on a daily basis anymore, she will have that desire to socialize. Hopefully.

We worked on my map a little bit, too. All the family members are added in. It’s 5 big pieces on paper glued together, so the map is pretty big. On Friday, we added in mental health– substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, trauma. I color coded each thing, and started coloring on my map. My Mom’s family, I could only add in depression for my one cousin and her mom (because during one of our wine tours that cousin told me they were both on medication for depression) and substance abuse for another cousin. On my dad’s side, we added in depression for several people, bipolar disorder, trauma, and schizophrenia. When we got to my grandpa, I paused. I knew depression. I wasn’t sure about anything else. There were whisperings of schizophrenia, but that didn’t seem right to me. I don’t know. Bea told me it was hard to say. She said severe depression can even manifest as psychosis, which could have been his breakdown. We ended up leaving it just with depression, knowing there could be more.

Once that was done, we spread the map out on the floor, and looked at it. I know I want to add in a kind of timeline of significant events, but I am not ready to do that. I know I want to add in the Smiths, but I’m not ready to do that either.

Bea interrupted my thoughts, saying, “I think the most significant thing about this thus far, for me, has been seeing how young your parents were, and where they were in life, what happened before, what was happening.”

“I’ve told you before, I think.” I said. I couldn’t be sure. Sometimes I think I’ve said things that I haven’t.

“You have. Something about seeing it like this has really stuck out to me, though,” she told me.

I nodded. “It’s why I wanted a map. To see things. I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“We need to add you in. You still aren’t really on the map,” Bea pointed out to me.

I was aware of this. I just didn’t want to add myself in. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to see all my ugly stuff, right there in black in white.

“And your grandpa. We will have to mark his death at some point, too,” she said. It was said kindly, and in that way Bea has of being gentle but firm. She won’t let me live in fantasy land.

“I know. It’s just…then I’ll have to look at all that stuff, all the time when we have this out. Maybe….maybe we need…I don’t know. It’s just having it all there, like that, it makes it…” I shake my head.

“It’s hard, isn’t? Something about seeing it all in there, written down, makes it very real.”

“Maybe….maybe we need to put it on a post it or something, so we can take it off so we don’t have to look at it,” I suggested.

Bea nodded. “Then we can have it on the map, when we are on a place we can handle it. And it can be put away and contained when it’s not able to be faced.”

I nodded my head. “Yes.”

We talked a little more about making the Map, and I admitted to finding it hard to put certain things on the Map. I also said something about wanting to see more of the story, the events, on the Map. At one point I jokingly said that the Map was one of my dumber ideas, and Bea laughed.

“I’ve never thought you to have a dumb idea. In fact, you are one of those people who when I am stuck on a problem, I think what would Alice do? You have very good ideas, in life and in therapy.” Bea spoke firmly, but almost like a conversation, authentic, but one of those on passing type things you say. It was one of the nicest things someone has ever said to me. I didn’t reply, because I really couldn’t. I suck at accepting compliments. Maybe the perfect part of me said thank you, I’m not sure. I was able to be present enough to hear what she had to say and remember it, at least. I think that was mostly due to the very casual way she spoke.

So, the map continues to bring things up, create questions, and provide answers all at the same time. It’s giving me a sort of clear direction and having a visual is helpful for both Bea and I, I think. Perhaps on Thursday I will add in the hard things about myself and my Grandpa on post its, so they can be removed. This map is leading me in directions I didn’t expect, but it’s good. It’s made me share things with Bea that I never would have, and it’s given her more context of my family, I think.

Things I’m afraid to say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything feels so very screwed up and hard. I feel like the scared little girl and I really want to send this long, convoluted, insane and messy email to you but I’m afraid. I’m afraid it’s too long, I’m afraid I’m being too needy, I’m afraid that you’re going to get mad, that it’s not okay to send long crazy emails right now, and I’m afraid if i keep asking if you are mad or if you will get mad that that will make you mad. I’m pretty much just afraid that everyone in my life is mad at me for not being enough, not being able to handle everything, for falling apart and being up and down and I don’t even know. I think I’m afraid that everyone is leaving me. Hubby is here but he isn’t “here.” The rest of my people are all falling apart, in one way or another. And I can’t fix it all, and I really need everyone to be okay so that I can be okay. This is turning into another messy confusing paragraph.

This is stupid and I am so embarrassed but I wish you were here, and that I was seeing you on Monday, because this all feels like too much and I really need you to be here, but you aren’t here. And I’m afraid you won’t come back, even though I rationally know you are coming back. And I don’t want to tell you this because I don’t want to be that needy, or that vulnerable, and I don’t want to tell you this because I am afraid you will be mad that I am upset you aren’t here….but I’m really afraid and so alone and I can’t make this go away. And I rationally understand that you are on vacation and that is okay and you are coming back. But I feel like you left me and I am alone with all this scary, too much stuff, and I can’t figure out what I did wrong, to make you leave, and I’m afraid you are not coming back because you are upset with me. And I know you have been emailing me and said you are still here, but it doesn’t feel like you are here, it feels like you just left me all alone. I hate that I am this needy, this attached, this….I don’t know the word. But it is nothing good. I’m an adult, I should not be feeling abandoned by my therapist, especially when you have made every effort to be here, even while on vacation. Please come back soon. I can’t do this by myself.