I don’t want to do therapy today. I just don’t. I’m trapped in circular cycle of despair. It goes like this: I feel numb, with all these feelings and landmines underneath the numb. I can’t cope with the landmines on my own, it’s too BIG, too overwhelming. I build walls and go far away and feel empty and numb because the feelings are too much. The feelings leak through the walls anyway, and I feel panicky and alone. I need Bea, I need to not feel alone with this, I need her to contain it for me. I can’t feel her, though, because I am too far away. That means she can not contain it for me, or soothe me. So I feel more panic, more alone, more overwhelmed and I go farther away, which only makes it feel more like she is not here.
I log on anyway and when Bea says hello and good morning, I say hi back. My voice sounds wooden, hollow. Does it sound like that to her?
We talk about Kat, about school, about Halloween. Bea asks questions, and I answer them on autopilot. Eventually she asks about my birthday.
“My parents are coming. It’s fine. It all just feels far away.”
She nods her head. “That will be nice that they are coming. Usually you have a whole birthday week, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” She’s right, I do, and this week is birthday week. I just can’t get into celebration mode, though. (The back story is my Grandpa and I share a birthday. He and I had Birthday Month, and it was always really special. We loved our birthday. He always said I was the best birthday present ever, and that no gift would ever top the day I was born. He made me feel special and loved and like I was very important. He died right after I celebrated 29 and he celebrated 79. My birthday is bittersweet now, and for a lot of years, I didn’t celebrate at all. I miss him terribly. He was my favorite person on the planet. I wish everyday that he was here.)
“I haven’t forgotten about October being hard,” she says softly. When I don’t say anything, she continues, wondering out loud if that is part of what is going on.
I’ve denied that this feeling is the October feeling, and I still don’t think this has anything to do with October. It took two years, maybe three years of therapy to recognize that there is this October feeling, this pattern that has emerged. But once we saw the pattern, we worked to change it. Parts got less out of control, and I developed better coping skills and even though I always have this echo of the October feeling it is manageable. But THIS, this overwhelming, needing to disappear, wanting to die feeling? This is not October. Finally, I just bury my head in my knees.
“What’s happening for you right now? Can you tell me?” Bea asks.
“It’s not October. October is feeling like I am a failure, like I can do nothing right, like everyone is mad at me, hates me, is going to leave me because I am horrible. October is being mean and mad and pushing everyone away before they can leave me. October is sad, and it’s the teen freaking out, and it’s out of control and acting out, and wanting to die, and even I usually know I’m not acting okay, I am being mean and crazy but I can not stop it. THIS is not October. You know that! You know what October is.”
“No, this doesn’t sound like October. You’re right, I do know what October is and that it is really a hard time.” Then, she adds in her gentle voice, “But remember, I am not inside. I don’t know what things feel like inside, and I don’t think you have ever really described what October feels like. I only see the outside of it, that it is out of control, and painful and that there is lots of suicidal ideation happening. But I can see now that this feeling is not October.”
I don’t respond, but I am relieved she is finally getting it.
Bea talks, but I am farther and farther away, and it’s too hard. This is too hard. I’m alone, even though Bea is right here, talking to me, trying to help. When she asks me if I can describe the feelings that are too much, her words break through the fog.
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. I can’t, I can’t because you are too far away and it’s my fault anyway and I can’t do this.” The words are jumbled and repetitive and I know I am not explaining well at all. I hate this. Bea doesn’t feel like Bea, I can’t tell her anything, and I am trapped all alone in a head filled with nightmare images, overwhelming emotions and landmines.
“Why do you think it’s your fault?”
“Because. Because I am far away and that makes everyone feel far away, so I should not be so far away but I can’t stop it, I can’t do this by myself but I am alone because I can’t be here.” I’m whiny, I know I sound whiny but I don’t even care.
“Well, I think last time we met you felt like I was less far away after we had been talking for a while,” she says lightly.
“I can’t talk to you right now. You don’t feel like you.” I throw my blanket over my head as I say the words, afraid she won’t like that I am telling her this.
“Hmmmm. I feel like me, just Bea. I wonder who it is that feels like I am not me? Is there a part here that doesn’t know me, maybe?” Bea is so inquisitive. Usually I like that about her, but today I really hate it.
She might be right. It might be a different part that is here. This part, she’s not a teen part, or the little girl, or Ms. Perfect or the slutty part. She feels different. All of this feels different. But I can not say that. I don’t know why. I just can’t. So instead I whisper whine, “I don’t know. I’m just stuck. There are no good choice right now.”
“Yeah, this really does feel like a stuck point. It feels like we have been bouncing between stuck places for a while now. Either stuck in feelings and trauma or stuck in the numb place.”
“Are you frustrated?” I ask.
“It is frustrating, isn’t it? This is a hard place to be. Stuck places are always hard, and they always feel difficult and frustrating,” Bea responds.
I freeze. I knew it, I knew it. She is frustrated with me for not being okay, for not talking, for being far away and for anything and everything else. Vacantly, I say, “I knew you were frustrated with me.”
“No, not at all. No, no. I’m not frustrated with you or with the stuckness at all! Oh gosh, I’m sorry that was confusing. I meant that I know it is frustrating for you.” Bea’s words rush out, fast, like she just wants to make sure I understand she is not annoyed with me, or mad at me, or anything else.
“Okay.” I shrug, but she can’t see me because I am still hiding.
“I wonder if there is something I can do to help you feel like I am here, or to help any parts that don’t know me feel safe to share how they feel?”
“I never want you or anyone to fix things for me…..” I start to say and then I trail off because the second half of the sentence is too hard to say.
“I know. And I am a terrible fixer,” she says.
I feel crushed, and I start to cry. “I just wish this one time you could fix it.”
I think she says something kind and caring back, but I don’t know because that little bit of vulnerability sends me so far away I have no idea what is happening in the here and now.
“Alice, I think you’ve disappeared on me. I can’t see you, so I don’t know for sure but it feels like you are really, really far away. This is too far. I know you need some distance to feel safe, but I need you to come back a little, okay?” Soothing but firm, Bea pulls me back a little bit.
“Yeah.” I’m hollow and dead inside except not really because my voice breaks as I speak and the sobbing starts again. “I feel like my world is ending and nothing will be okay ever again and I just want to disappear. I spend all my time hiding in my head, and I can not stop it. I don’t get anything done, I’m not doing anything I should be doing. I just hide in my head.”
“That is a lot. This feels like new feelings, the depth of all this pain.” I think that this is meant to be soothing, but it feels so much like an analytical observation.
I have no words the rest of our session, I just vacillate between being numb and sobbing.
At 10:00am, echo reminds Kat to take her medicine. (I set this reminder for the summer, and now I can not figure out how to cancel it. Every time I ask echo to cancel all reminders, timers, routines, she says I have nothing scheduled. I also can find nothing in the app. It’s beyond annoying.)
“It’s time to go,” I say.
“Yes, but we can take a minute to try to get you back to a place where you can cope,” Bea tells me.
“I’m not coping, I’m not okay, I can not do this. There is no going back to a coping place, because I am not coping,” I snap at Bea.
“I know, I just meant to get to a place where you aren’t so upset….” her voice trails off. She sounds like she feels helpless.
“Whatever. It’s fine, I’m fine. You have to go, just go,” I tell her.
“Maybe this is a time where you could email me later. I have sessions until 6:30 tonight, but if you email, I will read it and write back then, okay?”
“Okay, sure, fine.” I’m wooden and numb and dead inside again. I sit frozen under my blanket.
Bea says something, but I don’t know what. I feel a sense of her not wanting to leave me like this and feeling helpless to comfort me.
I sit and cry for a few minutes after she hangs up. I don’t know how to stop this. I feel like I am dying, like my world is ended, like I am all alone in a place of complete darkness. I am not coping, I am not okay, I am not functioning. In all the ups and downs and scared feelings and aloneness and trauma and pain and confusion, I don’t think I have ever felt this bad before.