The phone call 

Alice, just an FYI, I’ve had a cancellation and am free until 3:00pm of you would like to talk by telephone. -Bea

I stare at the email, unsure if I really want to call. I’m hiding out in our guest room, because the fan is the perfect noise filter so I can feel like I’m not being overheard. I have my water, my blanket, and my phone. I should just call her. I want to. Every time I read the email sent before the one offering to a phone call, I start to cry. If I read the entire thread, I feel hopeless, unheard, unseen, and alone, and all I want to do is quit therapy, forget about Bea. 

Instead I pull up her phone number and hit the call button on the screen.

“Hello?” She answers the phone with just the slightest question at the end of the word. 

Moments before, I’d been struggling not to cry, but now, all I can say is, “Hi.” 

“Hi there,” she says quietly. 

I can’t find my words, I say nothing. 

“I wasn’t sure you would call.” 

“Because you didn’t really want me to?” I whisper. 

“No! No, not at all! I guess I thought you might feel awkward because I know you don’t like to call me.” 

I don’t understand why she is telling me this, but not much makes sense to me these days. “Oh,” is all I can manage to say. 

Bea starts talking again, but I don’t hear her because Kat interrupts my phone call. She wants me to know she is going downstairs to play with her dolls. “All right, that’s fine.” My words are short and clipped, I’m annoyed. 

Bea has stopped talking, but I have no idea what she said before. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you were saying,” I tell her.

“Oh, can you hear me now?” 

“No, no, I could hear you, it was just Kat, I couldn’t hear you over her.” This isn’t going well. We aren’t connecting, it’s not better to be talking to her, we are just missing each other somehow. Why did she tell me I could call? Why did I take her up on it? 

“I’m sorry that I missed the mark earlier, that you felt more alone after emailing with me than before, I feel bad that I made you feel bad,” she says. Her voice is authentic, I can head that she is sorry, that she wasn’t trying to make me feel worse. 

I start crying, “I can’t do anything right, right now. I just keep screwing up, over and over. And I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”

“No, I know you don’t want to make me feel bad. I’m glad you told me I was way off base.” 

 
“I’m just so sorry I’m making everything worse. I’m messing it all up.” I’m sobbing now. 

“Did you get my other email?” Her voice is soft, almost a whisper. 

“Yeah, I got it.” I don’t want to talk about it. 

“I was afraid that if I said something, you would feel like you were messing up by not meeting some expectation I have for you. I don’t have any expectations, I am not even sure what that feeling is about, but I felt I needed to think about it, to sit with it, to try to understand it. It’s not a bad thing, not at all. I just need to think about what this feeling is telling me, if maybe I do need to push you a little more in the coping arena. That’s all it is, is something to notice and think about, talk about it.” 

I want to die. I literally want to curl up and die. She just told me to email as much as I needed to, that I could call, that she is here, and now she is telling me that she is having this feeling of maybe needing to push me in the coping arena. I am hearing that as I should be coping with this on my own and not needing her like this. “Nothing feels right. Everything just…..it all feels not okay. I’m not okay, nothing was helping. I thought, if I emailed you then maybe I’d feel better because I’d be less alone. But then, it didn’t help.” I’m crying harder now. I burying my face in my pillow. 

“I’m hearing you, nothing feels safe, just everything feels wrong. I’m here and I’m listening. But I can’t help thinking that you have a few more days left, before you leave. I wish for you that you could enjoy them. Maybe do some yoga, get out and swim at your beach, take Kat for a bike ride.”

“No! I can’t.” I’m crying harder now.

“Even that doesn’t feel okay. I know that is easier said than done, that it’s not so easy to switch parts like that. They sort of show up when they want to and take control. I guess this is more about my desire to fix things for you.” She says. 

“I don’t want you to fix anything! I just want to not be alone. I don’t need you to fix it. I don’t expect people to fix my stuff for me!” 

“I know you don’t, I know that. It’s hard not to want to fix things for you. That not on you, it’s just me, being human. I do know that when I feel bad, I don’t want someone to fix it, I just want someone to sit with me. Sometimes you want to fix things for people, don’t you?” 

“Yes. I want to fix everything for everyone I care about.” It hits me as I’m saying it. She cares. She feels a desire to fix it because she cares.

I sigh. How can I make her understand? “It’s like if I had more time…..I just….there’s so much that came up and now I just can’t…….if I wasn’t going camping, I would be able to just put this stuff away, put it in my notebook, box it up, and be back to myself, because I would know you and I would deal with it and I’d be okay. But this? This is like I’m stuck here. I can’t open the box with all the crap oozing out of it, because I know I have to leave in a few days to go camping. I can’t box it up better than it is because it’s all triggered and messy and awful.” 

“You are stuck in the in between. You can’t dig into it because then you will be all the more triggered and raw, and you can’t set it aside because then you would be letting down any defenses.” The tone in her voice says she is getting it. 

“I can’t come back to myself. I’m stuck here. And I’m just…I just want this week to be over with.”

“Yeah, I get that. Are you frozen far away, or the other end of the spectrum right now?” 

I’m trying to think of how to answer that, when she adds, “Are you more anxious with nervous energy, waiting for the week to be over, or are you more far away and fuzzy?”  

“It’s….like I’m over caffeinated. And I didn’t even drink coffee today. Or yesterday. For a few days. Because I feel too hyper. I can’t calm down. I had tea, but not coffee. And it’s caffeine free. I can’t…I don’t know. It’s like I’m running on a treadmill, but no matter how fast I run, I can’t….” 

“Get anywhere?” She suggests when I stop talking.

“No…..I can’t get away.” 

The words feel heavy, and are punctuated by silence. I think we both can feel the weight of them. 

“It’s very telling, isn’t it? The language. You can’t get away.”

“No. I can’t get away,” I agree. 

“What can’t you get away from?” She asks. 

I pull my blanket over my head. It’s silly, because Bea can’t see me, but I’m suddenly feeling too exposed and vulnerable. “I’d like Kenny to get out of my head now.” I say the words softly. 

More silence, and then Bea asks, “What?” I’m unsure if she just didn’t hear me, or if she isn’t following my choppy hyper over caffeinated thinking. 

“I want Kenny to get out of my head.” I say the words again, stronger this time. 

“Oh, okay. I didn’t know that he was there in such a big way.”

“It’s just….he’s…it’s….I don’t even want to be in my body right now. It’s all….I just can’t.” My mind is jumping all over the place, and I can’t think very clearly. Why didn’t Bea know that Kenny was a problem right now? Did I not tell her?

“I’m so glad you are telling me this now, that Kenny stuff was really triggered too. I know the mom stuff is awful and painful and full of grief, but it makes sense now, why you are having such strong reactions, so many flashbacks and nightmares and jumping from frozen far away to hyper running in place. It’s making a lot more sense to me now.”

“Monday…..I wasn’t really there, was I?” 

“No, you were really far away on Monday, it was next to impossible to keep you in the room. Wednesday you were more present than Monday, but not much. You really weren’t able to sit with much or talk about very much. We talked about your mom some, and how she hurt you by not accepting you, but we didn’t go very deep.” 

“I don’t think I could…talk about this before now.” Doesn’t it just suck when stuff won’t come up on therapy days?

“No, you needed to do this in layers, I think. You needed to be more here than you were.”

“I……he’s just…..I sent you that picture?”

“Yes, you sent me that picture.” It was a picture looking out my childhood bedroom window– the window on the side of the house. The window directly across from mine was Jackie’s window. The window to the left of my window was Kenny’s window. 

“I think, I just wanted you to see.” I’d snapped the picture and sent it after all the Kenny stuff had been stirred up. I didn’t have words, I couldn’t find words to tell Bea exactly how not okay I was feeling, but I had this picture of just how close Kenny had been. 

“You didn’t leave the house that weekend, did you? Normally you do the winery visits and that puts you in a much more adult place to start the weekend off. This time, you were at the house.”

“Backyard party,” I say woodenly. “Just like…I know, I know it’s not even the same group of people, I know that I’m an adult, I know all that……but…….I mean, I could see us all, as kids, running around. Back and forth between the yards. My mom put out the same yard games as we used do play. And the grown ups always sat on the porch. And the fire pit for bonfire later. It was all the same. So much the same. And I couldn’t…..I just….there’s no getting away.”

“Yes you are a grown up and you know all those things, but parts of you aren’t grown up and they were really triggered, of course they were really triggered. I can see it as you are describing it. When you sent that picture. I had a visceral reaction to how close he was, all the time, of course you felt like you could tell no one, he was always right there! And now you are describing how much last weekend was like those childhood backyard parties, and I can see it and feel it. It makes everything more real, doesn’t it? How could it not send you right back there? Of course you are really struggling, it makes so much more sense now, why this is all so bad right now. I’m so glad you are able to share this with me now, I’m just sorry I didn’t get it sooner, that I didn’t realize what had happened.”

“I just, I couldn’t figure out…it was all so right there, but I couldn’t tell.” I’m crying again.

“It’s okay. You needed time. That’s all. And I was very focused on the mom triggers, I wasn’t seeing anything else.” 

“I should have used my words earlier, I guess.” We both laugh at that. 

“I’m sorry I got so upset with you,” I tell her. 

“I’m not! I’m glad you could tell me you were upset. You couldn’t tell your mom when you were growing up that you were upset or that your feelings were hurt, but you feel safe enough to to tell me, now. That’s a good thing.”

“It was still hard .” 

“It still feels scary, maybe a little bit dangerous, to tell me when you are mad?” 

“Yeah.” I agree. It feels scary. 

“I think of it as a positive that you can tell me, now, when you are upset with me. It’s okay to be upset with me. I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to miss things, I’m going to screw up some times. But if you can tell me when I’ve made you mad, or hurt your feelings, or aren’t giving you what it is you need from me; if you can tell me those things, that is a gift. It gives me a chance to correct it and keep the connection we have and keep helping you heal. If I don’t get a chance to correct it, we can lose that connection, and I can’t help you of you are hiding things because you are afraid of my reaction. I’m glad when you trust me enough to tell me you are mad at me. And just because you are mad at me, that doesn’t mean we are on opposition sides. You can be mad at me, and I can still be on your side.” 

“I know. It’s just hard to be mad at you. I don’t like feeling like we are on opposite sides.”

“I’m on your side. Sometimes, we try things and they don’t work, right? Sometimes we try something and it brings up some feelings. We have to talk about it, otherwise how can we know what else to try or not try? I’m on the side of helping you feel better. If I suggest something or do something that upsets you, it doesn’t mean I’m not still on your side. And if you tell me I messed up, I’m on your side then, too. It just means you and I have more information to work with. That’s all. Okay?”

“Okay.” I say.

“I need to get off the phone in a few minutes,” Bea says. 

I don’t want to hang up. “Okay.”

“I am very glad you called and told me more about what is going on,” she says. 

I want to ask her if she is going to get rid of me, if I’m messing everything up, if she is really on my side. Instead, I take a breath, remind myself of everything she just said and tell her, “I need to clean and organize some things and I have some baking to do. I’m okay. I have stuff to be busy, I’m up and doing things and functioning. I just….I’m okay.”

“Okay, but not really okay at all?” She asks. 

“Yeah. That.” 

“It’s okay to not be okay.” The reminder is nice. 

“Okay. I’ll let you go,” I tell her. 

“I’m swimming in the ocean with you, all right? You aren’t alone. And I’ll see you Monday, bright and early.” She says. 

“See you Monday.” I hang up the phone. I sit there for a few minutes, trying to digest the conversation. Bea had no idea that so much more had been triggered. I honestly thought I told her when we talked about the picture I sent her. I guess I never said any of that out loud. 

I worry that she is feeling an annoyance towards me for not being all better, that she is going to decide I don’t need the option to email or call, or she is going to cut my session time or she is going to take away a session. I don’t want any of those things to happen. And I honestly think I cope with things pretty good, much better than I used to. But when all the things get triggered and I’m heading to place filled with more triggers, I can’t do it on my own. And it is nerve wracking to know that all the things are triggered, I’m going into another triggering situation and Bea will be gone on vacation. It is scary to know I’ll be home from camping for a whole week before I get to see her, that she will be on vacation, and it just really makes me feel all alone. At least she knows now why everything is so bad. Maybe Monday’s session will be better now that she knows. Or maybe she will just take away everything and leave me all alone to cope.    

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Letters to and from my doctor 

Hi Bea, 

I sent the email to my doctor. And she wrote back. 

Dear Doctor S, 
Thank you for calling to check on me. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone, or return your calls, I just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened last week. I’m really embarrassed over my reaction and behavior during the exam. I’d like to explain what happened and why I reacted in the way I did. I would prefer if we can keep this between us; this isn’t information I want in my medical history. 
I have a history of trauma, and a diagnosis of PTSD. Pelvic exams are always hard for me, but I’ve always been quite good at holding things together, at sort of dissociating away my uncomfortable feelings, and not letting anyone know I’m less than okay. Having a male doctor present and performing part of the exam really triggered me. When he touched me, that just sent me back to that very scary trauma place. It was too big of a trigger for me to dissociate away, and I fell apart. I’m glad you asked him to leave, and I’m glad you covered me up. I feel so embarrassed for how I reacted, and that is going to make it very hard to walk back into your office.
I know I need to come back in, and finish the exam. I feel very apprehensive about that. I don’t want to put myself in another situation where I’m triggered and scared. I also don’t want to put myself in a situation where I need to be able to come to the doctor and feel like I can’t. I’m working through what happened with my therapist, and I will schedule something as soon as I feel okay about it again.

~Alice 

Alice, 

I wasn’t aware of your trauma history, or how difficult pelvic exams can be. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’ll keep this out of your file for the moment, although we may want to discuss adding some information so that these situations can be avoided in the future. I’m sorry you were triggered and felt so scared. I don’t think differently of you, and would like to have you come back in so we can talk about how to best proceed with any medical exams/treatments. 
Take care, 
Cheryl

Ugh. This feels awful. All I can think is she knows, she is having all these terrible thoughts about me, I can’t face her ever again, why did I send that email, ugh, ugh, ugh. I don’t want to talk to her, she wants to talk, I’m not talking. I can’t do this. I don’t like her reply. I don’t know why. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked any reply. I can’t even think to send an email back. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’m so angry that I sent this, I don’t even know. I just. Ugh. I wanted this to be done with, I didn’t want to keep talking about it, I don’t even know. Nothing felt okay. It seemed just…ugh. I don’t know. Yesterday, I don’t know what I needed. I felt like everything was off, and I was just not okay. So alone and wrong and sad and I didn’t want to keep talking about feeling like that, and I didn’t want to hear about how it was maybe just a pattern or whatever, because that felt terrible, and like it didn’t matter or wasn’t “real” or I don’t know what. So I said lets talk abut the letter. But then I was just annoyed and didn’t want to talk about it, or hear that I needed to do something, and I didn’t want to think about it, or why it was really a big deal, and I was just frustrated and annoyed and almost mad at you and that wasn’t feeling okay, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me or why I was so upset with you, and I wanted to be done with it. So I said ‘if I say I’ll send the email can we be done with this?’ I knew it was this very teenage response, and part of me was trying so hard to just have the conversation and be okay and behave like a grown up and talk through it and send the email and be fine, but I just couldn’t keep talking about it, so I guess I just shut down the conversation as quickly as I could. It hurts too much to think. 

And now it doesn’t even matter because I sent the stupid email when I got home yesterday, still feeling irritated, and not really thinking it, just sending it in a fit of frustration and annoyance. And then after I sent it, I freaked out and wished there was a way to unsend it. And then I wanted to email you but I couldn’t because I was still annoyed. I don’t know. I just want someone to be mad at for what, I’m not sure. To blame, to be angry at for me freaking out, for me needing to tell someone else the secret, for someone now knowing and judging, for even having a secret to tell to begin with, mad because you believed her secret. I don’t know. I don’t know what is wrong with me, why I’m having this ridiculously big reaction and feelings over this. None of this feels right or okay. And I feel like this giant whiny drama queen over this, and that just makes it harder to try to talk about. I’m stuck in my head, and I feel alone and like no one understands. It’s like this crazy mix of teenager and little girl running the ship. Angry defiant teenager, but scared of being judged and thought of as a drama queen, scared of being told her feelings don’t matter, or that they aren’t real, or something. Little girl who is afraid of everyone leaving, of hurting people, of not being perfect enough, who just wants to hide, and wants someone to fix it all and make it better. I don’t know. None of this is rational. 



Alice,

My first reaction was to want to “fix” this by talking to the doctor, and if that is something you would like me to do I would gladly do it, but I don’t think it’s probably the best option. I’m still viewing this whole situation as an opportunity for growth and empowerment for you, difficult as it might be.

I don’t think you would have liked any reply except maybe, “it’s okay, I’m waving a magic wand and you will never need to go to the doctor again.” I think, objectively, that it was good reply and you can work with it to express what you need next. If you want, we can talk about that on Monday.
Your reactions make sense to me, of course. And if it helps to be mad or to blame me please feel free to do so. I am okay with that–I was pushing for this after all!

I have somebody coming in a minute, but in terms of the patterned emotions, what I think we want is just to be able identify them as such. Of course they still feel just as bad and are just as “real.” Just not genuine, healing expressions of emotion–which, when you think about it, are probably pretty rare in comparison. I don’t think you have to worry about any of that right now. Just engage in self care and self soothing if you’re still feeling yucky. This doctor thing will pass…..  

Bea

I have no one

I leave therapy, and feel like crying. I want to curl up in bed and sob for days. I’m so, so sad, but I can’t allow myself to feel right now. I make it through the rest of my afternoon, and then, while Kat is occupied with ABA, I crawl into bed. I pull my blankets over my head, and bury my face in my pillow to muffle the sound of my cries. 

I’ve felt alone and abandoned all week. Bea coming back was supposed to make everything better. Not better because I expect her to fix everything, but because I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I hadn’t wanted to talk, but I had thought…..I needed her to push and ask me how things really are and want to listen. I don’t want the bubble popped, but maybe I wanted to let her into the bubble with me, to let her see what the bubble is hiding. 

And while she is back from her trip, she still isn’t here. I’m devastated. It was like sitting in a room with my mother, being a teen….I felt like it was no different than the times I’d attempted suicide and my mom had talked about weather and church activities, planned a birthday party for me. My mother was so emotionally closed off and not able to be open at all, even during those times I really needed her to be. The thing is, with my mom, I was never surprised. Hurt, yes, but not surprised. I’m not even sure that she was even aware that she was so emotionally closed off back then. But Bea? Bea has never been closed off like that. I’ve shut her out, closed myself off from her, but she has never been like that towards me. I didn’t expect this. Not really. I worry about it happening, I fear that she will one day be done with me, but I never really expected that she would be shut down like this. And she knows how to not be closed off, she is capable of being emotionally open. That makes this hurt even worse. With my mom, I feel like ‘why couldn’t she be what I needed, what was so bad about me that she couldn’t leave be me enough to be what I needed?’ But with Bea, I feel like I have done something to cause this, like she was once able to accept me, be open for me, and I have screwed up and was too honest about my feelings and the mess in my head and so she now has to close herself off from me. When she suggested she was maybe protecting herself, all I could think was that she had to protect herself from how disgusting I am. I mean, why wouldn’t she want to protect herself from the pain and hurt and crazy and disgusting mess that I am? Who could blame her? 

It feels like I might never stop crying, but when my sobs calm down, I write a letter to Bea with tears still streaming down my face. I tell her that I am sad, and that I needed her to be Bea today. I tell her I think she is protecting herself from the grossness that is me. I tell her I’m hurt that she isn’t really here, and that I feel stupid for how I feel, and for even writing to her but that I think not addressing this type of stuff is what made the little girl feel like Bea wanted her to go away and that she wasn’t allowed to talk. 

I NEEDED you to be YOU today. I think I spent most of the weekend and week thinking that it would be okay because I’d come to therapy and tell you how I felt, and that I was freaking out, and having a mini breakdown, and that your emails made you seem farther away, and I was sad and scared and feeling like I was so alone and everyone left me. And even though I didn’t want to pop the bubble, I sorta wanted to talk to you, or at least give you my writing. But I couldn’t do anything today, after I felt like you weren’t on my side about the school stuff. And then it just got harder to bring anything up. You said you had a wall up, and maybe you were protecting yourself. I get it, the grown up me gets how hard it is to come back from vacation, and can see that you were acknowledging things felt weird and that it is okay and we will get back to normal on monday and it would be okay, and I know you are human and make mistakes and can’t be on all the time and that you aren’t going to always get it right, and that those things can be okay, because it means I can learn to work through this crappy scary relationship stuff. So, grown up me is okay. Unfortunately grown up me is not running the ship right now. And the rest of me, I already felt shut down from how yucky and triggered I had felt, and scared and mad and not okay, and then everything today just was wrong and off and I felt like maybe you had a wall up to protect yourself from how crazy and disgusting I am and you weren’t there. And I really, really needed you to be there. And I really, really don’t feel better, I just seem better on the outside. And I’m really, really not okay.

Bea wrote back. 

I’m SO sorry for me not being okay today. It was nothing about you, and I was very aware of what you needed from me and how you needed me to be, but I just couldn’t do it:( Please rest assured that it was not anything related to you! I know me not being okay triggered the little girl to not feel safe–no secure base. We all experience this at times as parents when we just can’t function emotionally as a secure base for our kids, and that was exactly what this was like for me this morning. Again, I’m SO sorry:(. Cognitively I’m very aware of how terrible that was for you–and I was aware this morning as well, but I just couldn’t unprotect myself. This was me being very human, unfortunately……

Her email didn’t feel okay. Maybe it usually would, but I am so closed off from her and afraid and she doesn’t feel safe right now. Nothing feels safe. I don’t understand why she couldn’t be how I needed her to be, why she couldn’t be herself. I’m hurt. And confused. I’m meant to pretend I’m not hurt, that her email made it all better, because I need her. I don’t know what the protocol is for being mad and hurt at the one person you need to support and help you and telling them how you are truly feeling. Normally, I would call Kay. I would cry and ask her what to do. Because she always has the answers. But I’m alone. I don’t have Kay, and I don’t have Bea. I have no one. 

She didn’t come back 

After a really hard weekend, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are better. Or, rather, better on the outside, because Miss Perfect is running the ship during the day, and she gets things done. Organizing, cleaning, dishes, laundry, sweeping, scrubbing, dusting, making dinner, baking treats, sewing, creating, playing with Kat, doing yoga, ext ext. I don’t have time to think when I’m like this, there is no tIme to hurt, or feel crazy. And if, for some reason, those bad feelings dare pop up when she is in charge, miss perfect has no problem starving the feelings, or binging them away, purging the memories, or cutting to be numb again. So, things have worked the last few days. 

The nights have been harder, but they usually are, aren’t they? I made sure to write a lot, and did some knitting, watched a movie, attempted to read and then listen to a book, and eventually turned to my old stand by, Gilmore Girls. Wednesday night was strange. I could feel myself shutting down even more, pulling the bubble of okayness more tightly around myself. I didn’t want to go to therapy the next morning. Everything about going was aversive, and felt like a terrible idea. Miss perfect didn’t want to go because she does not want this bubble popped, the teenager felt really hurt but was trying to hold onto being angry, and the little girl was terrified that she would go to therapy and Bea wouldn’t be there, that she wasn’t really coming back because I had hit her limit and she was done with me. 

Thursday, I force myself to get ready for therapy, to get into the car, and drive to Bea’s office. Even the drive to her office feels wrong. There is construction being done on the ‘main’ road that leads from my neighborhood in the boondocks to the actual main road. They are redoing the bridge, which means I have to drive all the way around the lake. The detour takes an extra 20 or 25 minutes, depending on traffic. I decide to drive in the other direction, taking a more direct yet somehow more round about route. It takes about the same amount of time, either way. But the drive in feels wrong, and several times (twice after I am back on the normal route) I look up at my surroundings only to feel scared that I don’t recognize them, and have no idea where I am or how I got there. The feeling only lasts maybe 10 or 15 seconds before I figure it out, but it’s terrifying when it’s happening. 

I finally get to Bea’s, park, and Hagrid and I walk up the stairs to her office. Hagrid beats me there, running into the office excitedly to greet Bea. I follow him, say good morning and take my seat in the usual place. 

Things don’t feel right, right away. I can’t explain it, it’s nothing I can put into words, but things feel off. I’m sure it’s me, wanting to talk to Bea but feeling so rejected from her email, and feeling scared and alone, and not really wanting the bubble popped but desperately wanting Bea to notice I’m not okay, so when miss perfect smiles and pretends things are fine, asks Bea how the weather was for her vacation, I’m relieved. We talk about weather and how the lake was, and our dogs, and other random things. 

In the middle of our chit chat, Kat’s one teacher texts me back. I read the text, saying to Bea, “This teacher has been texting me, she sent me the assembly and field trip schedule so I’d be able to prepare Kat better.” I tell her how I am just done with the school, and while I am being nice and polite, I am no longer collaborating with them. I simply have been giving them two choices of how to handle any given situation, and that’s it– they can choose one of those, and I refuse to listen to any ideas for a third option. 

Bea listens, and then asks questions, points out the good things they have done, suggests that Kat seeing me act less warm toward her teachers may be confusing. I become frustrated, and try to explained that as far as I am concerned, they lost the right to have much input, because of how they handled the last situation that arose, as well as how they behaved at the meeting, and how it is clear they simply have their own agenda and don’t really care about what is best for Kat. Bea says something to the effect that I can’t assume what they are thinking or feeling, and that sometimes we have to back off and give people a chance to make mistakes and correct them, to figure out their own rhythm with a kid. 

I shake my head. “They have had that chance all year. Clearly, they can’t make good choices for Kat. I don’t trust them. Maybe that trust can be earned back, I don’t know right now. But you aren’t going to change my mind, or make me less upset, or anything else.” 

She says something, I don’t even know what. I repeat that she isn’t going to make me change my mind. She tells me, “I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m trying to just put a few other thoughts in there. Because I don’t want you to lose sight of the big picture, or to only be able to think of the school as bad.”

I shake my head. “I’m well aware of the good things they have done. But those things happened when I was agreeing with them. I say no to one thing, and their true colors came out. I am not going to change my mind. It is what it is, and I am fine with how things are. I don’t need these people to like me, I don’t need them to be my friends. And I don’t trust them, at all, to,do what’s best for my kid, and not follow their own agenda.” 

We go back and forth a few more times. Bea feels very argumentative to me. Why is she so firmly not on my side? It feels like she is disagreeing with me, just for the sake of disagreeing. I have this thought, that if I told her the sky was blue, she would argue it was not. 

I had been writing to Bea since that email that sent me over the edge; unfiltered, raw, honest writing, that I wanted to give her today. Maybe. But now, I really can not give that to her. I felt conflicted over giving it to her, anyway, and this weirdness, Bea’s antagonistic behavior, all of it has made me certain there is no point in talking. 

We’ve fallen silent in the last minute or so. “Well, we’ve talked a lot about Kat, and school, and you did need to talk about that, but I wanted to talk about this weekend. Are things feeling better now, with the week routine back in place?” 

I don’t say a word. I simply float away, I can’t talk to her about this. I want to get up and leave, but that seems too final, too scary. 

Bea asks again if things feel the same, or better. 

“Sure, they’re better.” I sound far away, even to myself. This isn’t good. But Bea doesn’t even seem to realize I’m really far away. Whatever. 

“You were really judging yourself this weekend, pretty harshly. I don’t think of the cutting, the throwing up as bad. You really had gone through a list of coping skills, and you needed what worked, the familiar survival skills, so to speak.”

I don’t respond, I just stare at the floor. 

“Rory was on vacation this week, too?” She asks me. I nod. “And Monday was a week since Kay texted you?” I nod again. “It’s no wonder things felt so bad. I left, Rory left, and Kay had been gone a full week. That had to feel very scary.” 

“It was fine. I was fine.” I tell her. Even if she is right, I don’t want her to know how that felt. I don’t want to talk to her. Bea isn’t Bea today, and I don’t like it. She said she wouldn’t leave, she said she would come back from vacation, but she didn’t come back. She’s not here. 

I think she attempts to talk to me a few more times, but I’m not responding. When it’s silent again, I say, “I feel like you are waiting for me to say something.” 

“No, I was just trying…my head was spinning in different directions and I was trying to figure out what was the best way to go, what would be most helpful.” 

“Why?” I ask her. 

She pauses, takes a breath, and says, “I know this isn’t really going well right now. I still feel like I’m in vacation mode somehow. I’m still in a headspace of reading and going for walks and relaxing and not being very present or attuned to alone. In therapy, I usually feel this….kind of openness, this way of being that is open and able to really feel into your experience and be with you in this. Today…..it’s like, well, I don’t know, it’s like I have a wall up right now. Maybe I’m protecting myself.” 

Miss perfect smiles, and says easily, “I always feel like I need a vacation after my vacation.” 

She responds, agreeing with me maybe, but also says something to the effect that she would be mad if her therapist returned from vacation and wasn’t really here. 

I shake my head, laugh a little. “It’s okay. Really.”

I think I say something about the weirdness being from me, I have the okay bubble firmly in place, so it’s not like I was talking anyway. Bea shakes her head, and talks about how if she was open like she normally is, then maybe I would feel comfortable letting the bubble up a bit, and talking. She tells me that she will be better on Monday, things will go back to normal, and jokingly she says she will pop this bubble next week. I laugh, and tell her it’s all okay.  

I don’t know how things progress from there, but somehow we end up talking about dachshunds and swimming. Bea says that it’s no wonder Hagrid doesn’t swim, his short legs aren’t made for swimming. I laugh, and tell her that a lot of people with dachshunds say they are good swimmers. “Besides,” I joke, “dachshunds came from the sea.” 

“They did?” She asks, surprised. 

I nod, tell her abut a book called ‘how dachshunds came to be”. I end up pulling the book up on my kindle, and we read it together. I don’t know what it is about this book, exactly. I just love it. It tells the story of a little girl who is lonely when she has to leave her sea creature friends every night. The sea creatures decided to create a friend for the little girl, — they choose the best of their attributes to give to this new creature (like a long nose to nuzzle and cuddle the little girl, and a tail that can wag to show happiness and love– and with magic, love and the power of the sea the dachshund is created. And the little girl has a friend who will always be with her.

I’m fine 

I’m fine. I’m lost. I’m floating and alone. I’m so far away, I feel like I’m standing behind myself. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore; I’m not sure how I got here. Wasn’t it just a week ago I was writing out a list of all the ways I’ve made progress and feeling so good about that? 

I’ve fallen into this self destructive place, this self punishment place. I hate who I am. I’m needy and bad and wrong. I want to pack up my things and run away. Just get in my car and go. I’m a mess. This isn’t okay. But I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine because I have to be. I’m going to go do some sewing now, and try to interact with my daughter like a good mom. Which I’m not. I’m not a good anything. 

And my therapist is on vacation, and still I’m emailing. I can’t give her a break. I can’t be normal. And my one best friend is out of town, out of the state really, also on vacation, and my other best friend hates me and I think my husband wants to leave me, and only loves me when I sleep with him. I’m not okay. But I’m fine. 

How to ruin a friendship 

A few weeks ago– 4 1/2 to be exact– I got a text from my best friend, Kay. She wanted to meet with my therapist to discuss some family problems she has been having. I didn’t text back right away. I wasn’t sure what to say. I really wanted to give her Bea’s number, and be fine with it. But the thing was, I wouldn’t have been fine with it. I spent some time freaking out, and some time being angry that the whole email thing between hubby and Bea had happened, because if she had asked me before this, I would have given her the number and thought nothing of it. I texted my other best friend, and asked her what to do. If Kay is like my big sister, the person who I’ve known most of my life and who has always been this open and authentic person, Rory is more like my peer. She’s grown a lot since we met– 10 years ago!– and she can be so logical, and see things from all sides, and she is so smart and strong and has the biggest heart. Anyway, I asked Rory what to do, and she was livid that Kay would even ask to see my therapist. But then she switched to rational mode, assured me I was not insane for feeling like this, and counseled me to simply tell Kay the truth. We had a good text-convo, and I felt better. That still wasn’t enough, however. I texted Bea, too. I never text Bea. Well, I’ve texted her very few times, usually when it has to do with a Kat problem (like when Kat told me about an incident that triggered me to the point of not being able to function at all, and after the monster in law threatened to take my child away from me). 

But I texted her. I was originally just going to ask her to tell Kay that she wasn’t taking new clients or something, so I could give her Bea’s number and not have to face the conflict. But I couldn’t do it. I spent a lifetime lying, pretending, and hiding secrets. Kay is one person I’ve never hidden things from, and I didn’t want to start now. I trust her with all my secrets, all my crazy. So, I decided to trust her with this, too. Bea and I had a text-convo that left me feeling okay. She agreed with Rory, that I needed to just tell Kay the truth, but also informed me that she couldn’t see Kay anyway, that it would not be in my best interest. 

I tried calling Kay. She didn’t answer, and sent me a text back that she couldn’t talk right then. By this time, several hours had passed since her request, so I texted her back. I told her I didn’t really want to talk about this via text, but I didn’t want her to think I was ignoring her request. And then I explained that I really wanted to say yes, but that it didn’t feel okay to me, that things were just now feeling more stable with Bea, and that I didn’t want to hurt her or ruin our friendship, and I was very afraid to tell her this, but I wasn’t going to lie, either. She simply sent a text back saying okay. 

A few days later, I sent her a list of therapist names Bea had given me, and she responded back a simple thanks. I asked if she was mad. She told me that she didn’t think this was a good time to talk about it, that she needed some time to organize her thoughts. Since then, I’ve sent a text every Monday, just to let her know I’m here, even if she is really mad, that I still love her, and I miss her, and am worried about her and want her to be okay. She never responded (until today).

This whole time, I did miss her, and I hated us not talking, but I was okay. I was handling the fact that she was mad at me. It was okay that she was mad. I had said no, I had hurt her feelings, she was upset. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been okay with that. But she was mad, and I was dealing with it. I’d even discussed it with Bea; that I was okay, that i didn’t like it, but I was okay with her being mad at me, I could understand it, and I had enough trust in that relationship to not freak out. What an idiot I was. 

Kay has literally seen me through some of the worst moments in my life. I’ve seen her through some pretty bad moments, too, although I always secretly felt like she was the better friend and like I was a crap friend. She hated certain choices I made, but made sure I knew she loved me. She was just there. She didn’t let me run away from that relationship, or from my feelings, or my fears. She constantly encouraged me to stick up for myself, to voice my needs, to set boundaries. This is the friend who once stayed with me on the phone for four hours, to get me to go back to therapy with Bea and tell her how not okay things were; she talked all afternoon, the entire drive there, as I sat in the waiting room, and then told me I could call her if I needed her once I was in the office. She’s pushy about making me face certain things, but it’s not a bad kind of pushy. She is often in agreement with Bea. She’s not a bad person. She’s hurt, and she’s angry at me, and she’s freezing me out and behaving like a child right now. But she is one of the best people you could hope to know. Honestly. 

So today (well, technically yesterday), I texted her, and she responded. She said she’s hurt that I don’t trust her after everything we have been through. She said she understands fear and irrationality, that she appreciates me standing up for my needs, and that I do need to be able to see and talk to Bea, and get better and keep healing, but that she is hurt and angry and emotionally wrecked over my selfishness. And that she’s not sure she can ever forgive this. 

I sat and sobbed for most of the late morning and early afternoon. I emailed Bea, and texted Rory. The both told me I had done nothing wrong. Rory thinks Kay doesn’t like that I’ve said no to her, and that it’s hard for her to see me doing things I used to need her support for. Bea also questioned of maybe Kay was feeling as if Bea were taking over her role with me. Bea validates that it was a frustrating and hurtful day, she told me that what Kay isn’t seeing is that while on the surface it doesn’t seem a big deal to share your therapist, it actually IS a big deal. She mentioned how the email situation had caused such issues and that if she had seen Kay, that would have been the potential to cause many trust issues between her and I. She even simply said that Kay was being pretty mean. 

I don’t know. I don’t understand it. Maybe she hates that I’m talking to Bea and trusting Bea as much as I trust her. Maybe she is having a hard time seeing me get better, because she has tried for years and years to help me heal, and Bea has helped me do something she couldn’t. Except, that isn’t fully true. Kay helped keep me alive. She helped me through so much. She showed me I could trust another person. She showed me it was okay to be this angry ugly person, that there were people in the world that could see that part of me and still love me. If it hadn’t been for her, I would never have been able to consider trusting Bea; Bea’s openness and authenticity would have been seen as a trick by me. 

But I couldn’t have her see Bea. But maybe it would have been fine. Or not. I mean, I saw myself having trouble trusting anything either of them said if Kay was seeing Bea, and either being stuck in therapy and not making any progress and not able to really talk to Bea, and maybe eventually just giving up on therapy. I don’t know. I would have worried that they were talking about me, listing off all the awful things about me, everything either of them don’t like, talking about the bad choices I’ve made, what a bad person I am, ext, ext. And maybe that is crazy. But I can’t help it. I’m always afraid when people I know talk about me. I never think it’s good stuff, and I wouldn’t have believed either of them if they had said they had never talked about me, or if they had said it was good stuff. Or, at least that’s where my mind went as to what I thought would happen if I said yes. So I said no. But maybe I was over reacting, and it would have been fine. I don’t know. 

I don’t know much, except I wish I had just given her Bea’s number, and let Bea tell her no. Or maybe Bea wouldn’t have told her no, and things would have feel how they fell. I don’t know. I’m hurt, and upset, numb, and freaking out a little. I can’t stop crying. This hurts. The person I’ve trusted the most and the longest in this world, the person who knew the secret part of my crazy mind, is gone. And she’s gone because I hurt her and she felt the need to remove herself from my life. 

Status

The fight 

I don’t have the energy to post the whole story right now. I set a boundary with my best friend 4 weeks ago. She hasn’t spoken to me, or responded to texts messages (I sent one a week to let her know I was still here even if she was mad at me). Today she responded, basically telling me the friendship is over, that she can not forgive me. My world just fell apart. I lost my big sister, best friend, advocate and supporter. I don’t know how to do this without knowing she is there. I’m not okay. I’m really, really not okay.