I should be writing…….

I should be writing. My daughter is home sick with a sinus infection. I’m sick with a sinus infection. We both have an middle ear infection from the sinus crud clogging the eustation tube. It’s nasty crud, but thankfully it’s the normal sick we experience every year at this time. It’s not even contagious because the sinus crud is a result of really awful seasonal allergies and the change in weather. With covid though, she is stuck at home until she is symptom free. I’m thankful for her school’s policy on this because it makes me feel safer sending her to school, but it’s also hard. She’s not handling being home without social interaction very good this time around. I’m surprised because she handled the quarantine from March through June really good.

But I should be writing. I should write about how this memory feels like it is slowly killing me. I should write about how there is this stuck point (well, many stuck points, but one that keeps coming up over and over right now) that leaves me feeling completely and utterly defeated. I should write about how in this memory, for a moment, maybe just a fraction of a moment, I thought it was over. I thought the sexual abuse was over and I would never be hurt again. And then, well, it wasn’t over. But that little girl part of me that was so relieved? She is crushed, devastated, hopeless. She wants to do more than disappear. She feels like she’s dying. Because that’s what it felt like then, in that moment when I realized I was wrong and it wasn’t over. It felt like I was going to die.

Standing up

It’s happened, guys. I’ve finally learned how to stand up for myself, to set a boundary and do it in a kind way. I’ve finally learned to state my difference in opinion without getting mean.

Saturday, my Daisy troop attended camp. During our camping adventures, there was a pretty big disagreement with my co-leader. It was over his unilateral decision that the girls— who will be brownies next year— wouldn’t participate in the bridging ceremony at camp because his own daughter is not continuing on. He ended up getting quite mean, and said some cruel things. I eventually snapped, but I held it together for a long time.

Things ended up okay, because a mom from our troop overheard the whole exchange, and felt that my point was valid, and that I was in the right. The troop moms discussed the thing, sided with me, and the girls were able to participate in the ceremony.

I wrote him a letter, not to send, but to get my feelings out. I’ll share that here.

Dear (co leader),

You were completely out of line, and extremely rude. What you said was cruel, and untrue.

I am saddend, and hurt by your feelings that I have consistently forced you to do what is best for my daughter, and have left your daughter out. In my heart, I feel that I did my best to treat all the girls equally, and to be a leader by choosing what was best for the majority of our troop, regardless of what was best for my daughter— or yours

I can not say the same for you.

We didn’t have snacks at meetings because it would spoil Katie’s dinner.

A parent was told not to bring pizza as a reward for hard work to wrap up cookie season bacause Katie doesn’t like pizza.

We stopped doing magic scrap during clean up because Katie got upset and cried everytime she wasn’t the one to find the scap.

You didn’t want to do SWAPS at each meeting because crafts with fine motor skills frustrate Katie.

You didn’t want to do crafts in general because Katie needs more time to complete things than we can allocate during meetings.

We didn’t sing songs because Katie doesn’t like to sing.

We weren’t allowed to play freeze dance as an opening activity because Katie gets too wound up when we do.

We couldn’t play games because Katie can’t handle losing.

And on and on. Almost every suggestion or idea I had was met with, “well, Katie doesn’t like that.”

I understand wanting to make things comfortable for our kids. I understand wanting them to be happy. As a parent, of course I understand that. It’s what we all want for our kids. The thing is though, when you sign on to lead a Girl Scout Troop— or really any small group of kids, be it scouting, or a school activity, or soccer, or a small group at church— it’s no longer just about YOUR kid. It can’t be. When you put yourself in a position of leadership, of power, over a group of children, the focus has to become what is best for the group as a whole. It can no longer be about what is best for your child.

I can think of one time where I said we couldn’t do something because my daughter didn’t want to, and even then the “we” was myself and my daughter— not the entire troop. Your main concern the last two years was not upsetting Katie. You have had a double standard the entire time you have been troop leader; if Katie wanted to do something, but another girl didn’t your stance on the matter was “too bad, this is what we are doing”, but as soon as Katie didn’t want to do something, then we just weren’t doing it. You made a huge deal and gave a special presentation for Katie bringing back a special swap for our troop flag when you took her to a special event, yet when a mom asked you to get a special award for her daughter who called 911 when mom was severely injured, you simply handed the girl the patch after the meeting was over. How is this fair? How is this not you giving your daughter special treatment over the other girls?

Your favoritism towards your daughter has been unfair to the entire troop. I also happen to believe that it is a disservice to her; one day she will learn the sun doesn’t rise and set on her shoulders, and that is going to be a painful, heart breaking day for her.

The decision that our troop wouldn’t bridge at the camp ceremony— along with all the other girls in our area— based upon the fact that one girl wasn’t bridging up to Brownies was unfair to the rest of the troop. I’m sorry you felt that I didn’t care if Katie would be upset. I’m sorry that you felt I wanted her to be singled out. This wasn’t a case of me not caring about Katie’s feelings. I care about Katie as much as I care about every other girl in our troop. I saw the situation differently than you, and felt that it was unfair to expect the rest of the girls in our troop not to bridge because of one girl. Had the situation been reversed, I never would have expected this. I would have explained to my daughter that she wasn’t bridging because we had chosen not to continue with girl scouts, and we could watch her friends bridge and be happy for them or that we could join in because she had completed two years of Daisies, and deserved to celebrate that. There didn’t need to be any hurt feelings, there were many options and ways to handle this situation. My concern was for the troop as a whole. The girls deserved to participate in that ceremony.

Clearly, you were triggered when I pushed back on this issue. The thing is, I pushed back calmly and from a place of curiosity. My question was “What about the 7 girls who are bridging? How is it fair to make them sit out the ceremony and watch every other bridging troop participate because of one girl who is not bridging?” I should have walked away when your response was a snarky, “I see. I see, it is just fine for my kid to be the one left out as long as no one else’s kid feels upset!” Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away, and tried again to have an adult conversation. “That isn’t what I am saying. I’m posing the question of if it is fair to have the rest of the troop miss out on something because one of the girls is not continuing on?” We went back and forth, me attempting to question why it was okay to keep an experience from the entire troop because of one girl and asking how you thought the girls would feel watching everyone else get to bridge, and you continuing to say that you didnt want Katie to feel singled out, or left out, or have her feelings hurt that she didn’t get to bridge, and then you finally going off on me about my spoiled daughter and how she and I have ruined your and Katie’s experince of Daisies. I regret my sarcastic, “Fine. Fine. Just do whatever will make Katie happy.” However, the way you behaved was way out of line. Firstly, because if that were something you felt to be true, you should have had a mature discussion about it with me way before now. Secondly, as I stated earlier, as a leader, we have to do what is best for the majority, not what is best for my kid or yours. Are there times where accomadaions had to be made for my daughter? Absolutely, because she is autistic. Not one of those accommodations were made at the expense of the troop, though. My daughter knows she doesn’t get special consideration because she is the leader’s child, or because she is autistic.

I did my very best to express my differnce in opinion from a place of kindness, of understanding where you were coming from, and with curiosity. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across to you in my words, but I truly was not trying to upset you, or hurt your feelings. I wanted to have a conversation, to share our different views and to come to a descion together. I’m sorry it did not work out the way I had intended.


Grappling with God and Why he lets bad things happen

What do you do when some of the things you need to work through are God and church related, and you have always kept those topics very off limits because they carry such weight and pain, but now you may have an opportunity to work on these old hurts? And not only work through them with your therapist, but have a church that could help you?

Because oddly –shockingly– enough, that is the situation I find myself in.

This all started back when we first attended our new church. The church, the people, the way the pastors taught and spoke, everything about this church felt open and real to me. There were some services that triggered me, and some services that just made me stop and think. But every service has continued to convince me that this is a church where I might be able to ask my questions, to have my feelings about God and to be authentic

On Sunday, the entire service was about #metoo, and how God intended for men to treat women. The talk started out with acknowledging that this could be a diffiicult topic, but that it is an important one, because the magnitude of #metoo shows that we have a seroius problem in our world. The pastor said this talk may be painful and triggering for so many women, but that it was important the church doesn’t hide from messy, hard topics. Then the main part of the talk was what the Bible says about how men are supposed to treat women, and how God intended things to be. At the end of this talk, when the pastor started to wrap things up, that was about how God sees sexual abuse, harassment, all of those #metoo things and how those things are never okay, and we can see God clearly condemning these acts in the bible. Then he said that it’s not just women who can claim #metoo, but girls, and sometimes very young girls and they need to know there is no blame towards them in God’s eyes. And then it was the usual praying with a point to say there were people available if something about today hit home, or triggered you, and that if you were going through something or dealing with abuse or trauma or anything you could use support in, that the pastors are available to talk, or to even email, that you dont have to go through whatever it is you’re going through alone. There was even a mention of hooking you up with a therapist if that’s what is needed.

On Sunday, I email Bea that I did church and it was hard and that I can’t write about it or talk about it even though I want to. She sent back a short “I’m still here. 👂👁🤝🐶🍫” message. Last week, when the teen got stirred up, I asked Bea to please be sure to respond to emails, but not to use words. They teen is very, very good twisting words around and making things seem really awful and bad when they aren’t. It’s a defense; if she can stir things up enough to create a big ruture with Bea, then whatever ugly, messy crap has come up to the surface gets shoved back into a big lock box so that the rupture can be dealt with. The wisest part of myself wants to avoid that this time. The teen needs help processing these raw painful feelings. So, we use emojis instead of words when we email for now. It may be silly, but its given the little girl reassurance that Bea has not left, and the teen a way to forrm a connection with Bea and be seen.

Monday then, Bea asked about chuch, and we talked. Well, she talked, raised questions, and I filed it all away for when I had my notebook and pen. It wasn’t until Wednesday, however, that I really started to process Sunday’s service.

There was this funny sort of acknowledgment that I have had this firm “no church or God talk” rule from the beginning of therapy. It’s really true though. It was a boundry because I was too afraid to go there, it was too painful. I don’t know if Bea reallized just how messy this all is, or how much hurt and anger and big feelings there are because I kept it all separate.

Its messy in the way that teen years are always messy; big intense feelings, emotional ups and downs, school and fitting in, parental expectations, all of those things. And then there is the confusion of crushes, and first kisses, and new feelings in your body, and peers thinking about sex and then you add on the church sex ed talk, the realization that I had been having sex, my belief in being bad and going to hell. Now, all of that is piled on this other layer from childhood. Littte Alice prayed and prayed for God to make it better— she prayed for kenny to leave her alone, for things to not hurt, for no more blood, she prayed to be saved. And God didn’t save her. So she tried harder to be good enough, to be perfect, to pray better, to deserve to be saved. The little girl remains hurt and sad and disappointed that God did not save her.

The teen is mad. Mad doesn’t even begin to cover it. She is livid. How could God not save her? It’s not okay. She can’t make sense of it. She understands that there is this thing called freewill, and that freewill means people can make choices to hurt others, like Kenny did. She knows that God can– and will– use all things for his glory. She knows that our pain is never in vain; God will use it. She knows that we can be given tough situations because it is those hard things that draw us nearer to Him. She doesn’t want to hear those things. They are rote responses to pain, hurt, suffering. The teen wants and needs a real answer. She is so mad, she may even hate God for being all powerful and doing nothing to stop the hurt.

And so, the grown up me is grappling with this. Bea has encouraged me to reach out via email and talk. I’ve reminded her that if I were to talk about the anger, I would have to break the number one rule: do not tell the secreet. Bea sugggested I say I’m grappling with this anger towards God, and that I am reaching out to start a conversation. She suggested I could explain all the things that have led up to my thinking about asking the pastor to help me find answers. I’m just not sure what to do. I suppose I’m going to grapple with that for a while longer.

Therapy and the what if

Wednesday’s session was weird. Not bad, just weird. It’s always like that when Bea has been on vacation, even if we only missed one session. I have this sort of compulsive need to talk about nothing and make sure she is still Bea, that it is safe to dig into the rubble of my life. I always need to do this to a certain extent; I need to form this more superficial connection, to test the waters before I hand over my notebook and bare my soul……..

It’s Wednesday, and Bea is back from her trip, and I’m back in her office and all is right in my world. She came back. I’m okay. I was okay while she was gone. And yet, I can’t settle down. I can’t get out my new notebook, even just to show off the pretty turquoise blue and cream striped fabric covering it. I love nice, well made, beautiful notebooks, and this is a really pretty one, with smooth cream colored paper inside.

I ask about her trip, and I tell her about Kat’s school, and we chat about nothingness. “I’m sorry,” I tell her, “I keep trying….I’m not trying to not talk. I just, I don’t know.”

Bea shakes her head. “You are okay. And honestly, these parenting things, and relationships, and all of that, these things you see as wasting time? These are things lots of people go to therapy to talk about. So I don’t see this as you wasting time.”

“I know, but it just..I beleive you, and I know that stuff can be hard, but for me, that’s the stuff I can usually handle no problem. It’s the other stuff that I need to talk about because I can’t talk about it anywhere else. I don’t know. Never mind.”

“Okay, so what other stuff do you want to talk about today?”

“I have writing.” I finally pull my notebook out of my bag.

“Let’s start there then,” Bea says.

I give her my notebook, but even as she is reading through it, I’m struggling to settle down. I keep talking and fidgeting. “I’m having a hard time. It’s the end, I mean the last two things I wrote about, I’m having a hard time.”

“Do you want me to stop reading?” She places the ribbon bookmark in my journal and closes the book. “I don’t have to read it, it is up to you.”

“No, read it. It’s just hard.”

“Do you want your blanket?” She asks, and I nod yes, so she goes and gets my blanket and drapes it over me. I can hear her sit back in her chair and start reading again.

“Okay,” she says once she has finished reading, “I think we need to talk about this dream, but can we just talk about the what if for a minute?”

“I….maybe. We can try. But I don’t…I mean….it’s hard.”

“I know. The second you want to stop talking about this, you say the word and we will be done. Okay?”


Mostly we talk about everything that is already in my what If post. Bea offers to call CPS for me, to not mention my name, but to report it. She would need his name and his address, but she can call for me. That just feels like too much telling. Like it’s this line I can’t go back from, once she has his name. It’s just….maybe a part of still wants to hide him. I don’t know why, but I can’t give up his full name. I just can’t. Another option is that I can call CPS and report anonymously. I just don’t know. We go around and around. Finally I tell her how my life, and my world are split. There is the perfect me, the old me, from my old life. Then there is me. Just me. From this life. And on this side of the state, I’m just me. But on the other side of the state, I’m still her— Ms. Perfect, the girl I used to be. I need that separation.

“It’s a boundary. A very real, physical boundary, but also, a felt boundary, a boundary that is emotional. You need that boundary to feel safe.”

I nod my head, even though she can’t see me. “I don’t need, or want justice. I don’t need to see him in court, sentenced to jail. I just want to keep my old life over there, and to be here, to be me. I want to live my life, and feel my feelings, and to be real. I want to come to therapy and process my stuff and learn and grow and be okay. That’s all. That is enough justice for me; that I still managed to learn to be me, to live, and I’m okay. I might be messy, but I’m okay.”

“It sounds like you already know what you need.” Her voice has a question in it.

“Except the what if.” I whisper.

“You aren’t responsible for anyone but yourself. You are only responsible for keeping yourself safe and healthy so you can live your life.” She says gently.

“Am I a terrible person for not telling?” I’m crying now, feeling guilty and awful because of the what if.

“No. No. Not in any way.” Her voice is stern. She wants me to hear her and to really listen.

We go around like this for a while longer, until I say I can’t keep talking about this. Bea says okay, and then adds, “It’s 25 after, I don’t know what time you need to leave by….”

We’ve gone over again. When I apologize, Bea says it was her choice and that she thought this needed talking about.

“If you have time, can we chat about the dream?” She asks.

“Okay.” It’s a whisper, because this, too, is a hard topic.

“You didn’t write much, and that’s okay, but can I ask if it’s a flashback dream, or a dream-dream?”

“Both. It’s weird. It’s…memories, but it all….it goes from one to the next, like it’s all the same time, the same age, but it’s not. I mean, these things happened, but not the same age.”

“Okay. Do these things, the memories, are they linked somehow?”

I shake my head. “They are awful. Just really awful. And I feel it. I just….I don’t know anything. But it’s there, every night, this dream is there.”

“Okay.” Bea takes a breath. “It’s coming up for a reason. I think we need to do some work on this. I think SP is a good place to start with dreams, process things from the ground up, take away some of its’ power. If you want to do some SP work.”

“I’m scared.” I tell her. This is becoming a pattern. She brings up SP, I feel scared, and we talk about It. I suppose the pattern has changed, because I used to dissociate and freak out, and refuse to even think about it. Now I get quiet, work to stay present, admit I am really scared, talk about it and then I warily agree to try it.

The pattern holds. We talk about what SP does and does not mean, and how Bea is not going to stop me from talking. Then I warily agree to try.

“Monday, then. We will work with this dream.” Bea says.

“Okay….” I say slowly. “I’ll try to write it down.”

“If you can, that’s great. If not, that is okay, too.” I peek out from under the blanket, and Bea moves her gaze from my direction, knowing that would be too much for me. She smiles at me before she does, though.

“Okay. I’ll try. I’m just scared,” I say again.

“I know. And that’s okay,” she assures me.

What if….?

This is more of a thinking aloud post, but I would like your thoughts. I need to talk this out, and while this was the major subject of therapy today– which I will post about later– I can’t be completely honest with Bea about it all.

My question today: what if? What if he has hurt someone else because I never told? What if he is hurting someone right now because I never told? What if he hurts someone tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, because I didn’t tell today?

But I can not tell. I don’t feel this need to punish him, to get “justice.” I just….what if he is hurting someone else?

Can I report anonymously to CPS? Would that make a difference? Bea suggested that I could call the police anonymously. Or that she could call CPS and keep my name out of it. None of that sounds like a terrible idea. It might be do-able.

Except…..and it is this except that I can not tell Bea. I just….I don’t know, but she won’t like this. So, except it’s a small town and people there will know him. If CPS is from each town or whatever, chances are they will know him and they won’t believe it. If I call the police in town, well….he is the police. He is the director of public safety. No one is going to believe me, much less investigate it. And whoever I talk to will probably tell him, and then he will know I told and no good can come of that.

So what am I supposed to do about this what if?

It’s all real

I need to make a trigger warning for talking about church, and about sexual abuse. Nothing very specific is written, but it’s just this sort of messy, mixed up thoughts in my head and raw feelings that I wrote about. So, you know. Be safe. ❤️

Forgiveness. Anger. Revenge. Hate. Love. Grief. Guilt. Innocence. These are things that have been on my mind lately. I don’t know how much airtime the Larry Nassar trials have gotten where everyone else lives, but here they are big news. Huge news. I live in Michigan, and so I have been surrounded by news of the trials and sentencing.

I had managed to avoid it, for the most part, until Sunday. You see, I’ve recently been back to church. Church is hard for me, it’s triggering in a way I can not fully explain. It’s a place I want to be, because it is familiar, and yet, it doesn’t always feel like a safe place.

But, I like this church. I like the people, I like the sermons, I like the community of it. I like that my kid can go to Sunday school, because they actually are aware of kids with special needs, and they work very hard to accommodate them and make the kids feel safe and welcome, like they belong. And this church, it’s not just a church. It’s a community center, where all people are welcome. They have comfy seating, and an indoor play area. They are open daily. I love it there, my kid loves it there, and even hubby has been going to Sunday service with me and paying attention.

So, on Sunday, we went to church. And the message was all about spiritual health. It was about how we form a relationship with God, and what it means to believe in Jesus and to live your life knowing you are forgiven by grace. That was all fine and well. Not an easy message for me to listen to, because where I stand with God, and Jesus, it’s well, complicated. But that was okay. The thing that hit home for me, that has stuck in my mind ever since, has been this video clip that was played.

Have you watched any of the testimony of the women and girls that Larry hurt? I hadn’t. I had stayed away from it on purpose. I knew that it would hit too close to home for me. But on Sunday, I watched Rachel Dellhollander confront her abuser. The teaching pastor had picked out a clip where she is speaking of God’s forgiveness, of Jesus’s grace. He said it was one of the best examples he had ever seen of what God’s grace looks like.

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well. —Rachel Dellhollander

Rachel was eloquent, and brave to speak out the way she did. Her words hit me right in my heart. It was like those words, sliced me in half. I sat there, listening to her speak, crying. *How? How is she forgiving him?* I thought. *She should be pissed, she should hate him, she should want him to suffer and burn in hell. She should hate him with every fiber of her being. I would.*

It hit me then. I’m so angry. I’m full of anger. I’m angry with Kenny, yes, but I’m angry with so many more people. I’m angry with my parents, his parents, other adults who should have seen but didn’t. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at God. So, so mad.

Oh, there is fear and nightmares, and anxiety, and this feeling of needing to hide, and there is grief and confusion, so much uncertainty, but there is anger there too.

I grew up in church. The perfect little church girl. And every Sunday, he was at church, too. And he was loved by the members of our church. He was so kind, and so helpful. He was such a great example of a Christian. That wasn’t true, though. He wasn’t good, or kind or loving. Even when he pretended to be nice and caring, he wasn’t good. He was evil. A monster. He was not nice. That’s maybe the worst part of this. I couldn’t let him be bad, so I became the bad one. I let myself believe he was nice, I let myself believe I was special. I let myself believe I mattered, and that he was my friend. In truth, he was a monster, and a part of me knew it. The part of me that hid in my closet, alone and scared, knowing something bad was going to happen; that part always knew the truth.

Even though I can see that clearly now, it doesn’t make things better. It makes the fear and the terror and the disgust and the out of control feelings real. It makes the little girl, hiding in the closet with her teddy bear, praying to God to help her, real. It makes everything all too real, and I don’t know what to do with that.

The toothache 

So, my life turned crazy this week. Well, really it sort of started last week. I don’t know. I really want to write it all out in detail and explain it and sort through it, but I’m afraid if I do that then I will never catch up to the things happening currently in my life, so, I’m going to just summarize it all as best I can. 

Starting with last week Thursday, something started to switch, a little. I’d been in this “very disconnected, super far away, nothing is real, I’m not me”, place. It wasn’t a good place to be. Bea had suggested trying to be present in the moment, aware of what is happening in the present. I had tried, but only managed to end up overwhelmed with feelings and shutting down. So, when I went to therapy last week, we talked about this. 

“I tried…..I just….I don’t know, I can’t.” I said to Bea, feeling frustrated with myself. 

“What did you try? Like, what things did you focus on to bring yourself to the present?” She sounded curious, and maybe a little surprised that I was allowing the conversation to continue in this direction. 

I shrugged, and it took me a while to answer, but I finally mumbled, “Washing dishes……knitting…I don’t know.”

“What kinds of things did you pay attention to? Can you walk me through the process?” 

I felt a little annoyed at her questions, partly because I was afraid that once I answered it would be obvious I had done it wrong, and partly because I didn’t really have an answer.

After a moment of silence, Bea began to offer up suggestions. “Did you pay attention to how warm the water was, or what the soap bubble felt like? Maybe the sound of the water running?” 

I was so confused. No, that wasn’t what I did at all. And that was when I began to realize that my “far aways” and my “being present” were maybe different than Bea’s, and that there were different levels of being not just far away, but present. I didn’t say this though, I just shook my head, and whispered, “I don’t know.” I told her how I tried to be present but had shut down so much that I didn’t even remember washing the dishes. 

At this point, I was curled up into my normal ball on the couch, my face buried in my knees. Bea suggested that, maybe, I needed to start smaller, find something simple and very non threatening to focus on when trying to be present. “I have these scented markers,” she had told me. “What if I got them out, and you picked one to smell and draw a line on paper with? You could guess the scent, and see if the color is is on paper matches the color you expect it to be.” 

I sat very still for a long time, wavering between wanting to nod my head and say okay, and wanting to go farther away. Just the idea of intentionally being present felt threatening. We talked it through, a little bit. I admitted to feeling so stupid for not being able to do something so simple. 

“The present wasn’t a safe place when you were little. You needed to be able to go,far away. It makes sense that the present still feels scary. But it is safe now. You just haven’t had the chance to learn that it is safe here, in this present moment.” When Bea said this, I felt so understood. It felt like a turning point in our relationship; I started feeling like she was still Bea, and like she was here. I nodded my head, and sat up. 

It took a long time for me to grab a marker off the table, and longer still to uncap it. Bea let me sit and take my time. She went through the exact exercise with the markers that she had asked me to try while she waited for me to start. I chose orange. It smelled like the liquid orange Motrin to me, and the color of the marker was a much prettier orange on paper than I expected. Just that little exercise was frightening and draining, and I felt like crying afterward. I shut down pretty quick, but not so much so that I couldn’t function. 

On Friday night, I woke up with a toothache. It was terrible. Even with hubby being so distant lately, and everything feeling very messy with him, he managed to be there for me. He took care of me all weekend, called a new dentist (my old one won’t see me anymore because I had cancelled too many times, and so I hadn’t been to the dentist for over a year), and made an appointment. He scheduled an appointment on Monday morning. 

I emailed Bea to let her know I had to cancel, and that I was sorry. She emailed back, and we ended up maintaining an email connection through the weekend, and on Monday morning. She told me that a lot of people with trauma are very afraid of the dentist, and that it makes perfect sense. It didn’t help get rid of my fear, but between her emails, and hubby doing his best to make the dentist trip as easy as possible on me, I felt supported, understood, and cared for. The wall between me and the world seemed to be lifting. 

I ended up needing a root canal, and was lucky that they were able to do it that day, and use twilight sedation along with nitrous for me. So the whole thing was a lot less frightening than it could have been. Hubby held my hand the entire time, and stayed with me. 

There was plenty that was triggering though, and on Tuesday, I emailed Bea about the whole thing. I told her how I cried, and how I can’t breathe, and how I hate laying back, and hate having things in my mouth. I hate that hubby has to take responsibility for my dentist stuff because I’m so scared, I just won’t go if I’m not made to do so. I hate that this dentist and the entire staff was nothing but kind to me, and all I wanted to do was run and hide but felt frozen. I hate that the dentist was concerned about what made me so scared, asking if there was something specific, a fear he could help alleviate or of I had just had a bad experience. I wrote to Bea that I have no answers for questions like that. I’m just scared. 

She wrote back pretty quick, and reassured me it was a trauma symptom. She suggested that if I liked this dentist, or whomever I decide to see longterm, I might want to communicate to them that I have PTSD, and that would help explain my fears, and hopefully stop them from thinking it was something a dentist had done to make me so scared. She also said that she was glad hubby was experiencing the reality of my trauma. That made me feel really looked after for some reason I can’t quite explain. 

The dentist trip– and tooth pain– wasn’t pleasant at all. And I won’t say it was worth it, but some good did come from it all. I felt like Bea was really there, like she was herself, and I was able to feel her support. I felt like hubby really did care about me, and wanted me to feel safe. I haven’t been able to feel any connection with anyone in my life since finding those emails, and even before that, I had been feeling like everyone was changing everything, and very unsteady. I still feel unsteady, but I don’t feel shut off from people who care about me anymore. 

Does it feel like your world is falling apart?

Last week, my world started to feel like it was falling apart. It started with the nanny who isn’t our nanny anymore texting me because she was having a breakdown. Hubby has been distant– it like he isn’t here– and I don’t feel listened to or seen by him. My friend who lives near me is having a really hard time lately, and I don’t know how to help her. Hubby and I had a big fight about Kat needing to get rid of her pacifier (hubby wants to just take it away, I feel it is a need and taking it would be cruel). Kat has been crying about camp and school and I’m terrified she is going to end up back in that “everyone hates me, I hate me, I hate you” place. Hubby and I are still in a weird place after all the stuff with his mom; it’s like he wants it to disappear and I want to talk through it more.

The big thing though, the one that sent me over the edge, was when I called my mom. I wanted nothing more than to go hide out at my parents for the weekend. My mom informed me that we could meet halfway between our homes on Saturday, but that she had rented herself a beach house and wasn’t at home right now. She said things were not good and both she and my Dad were seeing therapists. My world collapsed inward. I don’t know what else she said. I mumbled a lot of supportive things and got off the phone. Panicked is how I felt. The world can not be okay if my parents– who refuse to talk about problems, who wouldn’t even go to therapy with me when I was a teen– are in therapy. Bad things are happening.

When I saw Bea on Thursday, I handed her my notebook. I had scribbled a random list of all the things going wrong right now. It feels like I am holding on very tightly to many glass boxes, and if I let go enough to look inside one of them, I will lose my grip on all of them and they will crash to the ground; every last one shattering into a million pieces around me. I told her I felt silly, like a drama queen, to be upset over all these small things. She countered that they were big things, on top of some big changes taking place in my life, and that while they weren’t trauma things, they were still things that would send anyone over the edge.

She asked how I was doing. I shook my head. I was numb, and under the numb, somewhere far away from me, was panic and fear, anxiety and overwhelm. She nodded and told me numb was okay right now, it was good. She sighed and laughed a little, and said, “I’m not sure I should be asking this, but does it just feel that your whole world is falling apart right now?” I felt so relieved when she asked that. It was such a genuine question; like she was asking because that is what she would be feeling if she were me. I didn’t feel like such a drama queen after that.

We didn’t talk through much, I was too afraid of all the boxes shattering. I told her I have been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning. She said that was okay, a good way to find control in my life. At the end of the session, I told her I was heading home to organize the playroom and that I was running out of stuff to clean. She joked that it was really too bad it would be unethical for her to let me organize her house. I laughed and said maybe it wouldn’t be unethical if it was therapeutic. She joked back that she would let me go to work on her closet in the office. I laughed and said that would be great– I could hide out in a closet and organize to my heart’s content? What could be better when I’m panicked?

Too close to home

To my fellow abuse survivors, please, please be aware that this post deals with child abuse is fairly descriptive. Please read with caution, it could be very triggering.

The other night I recieved a text message from my friend Jasmine. It shook me to my core, and once again, I wondered how I had ever managed life before hubby knew about the sexual abuse I lived through.

I can’t talk right now but do not let Kat alone with M….She molested my daughter. I do not blame M but it can’t continue. I have already talked to Belle and I don’t know of she gets it. Someone is touching M and showing her this stuff…Its not normal child curiosity. text me tomorrow and come over to talk. A will be gone at 3 so I can talk about it..

A said finger in the front and mouth or kiss on her vagina. M was very aggressive and just sneaky and weird. A had no idea what was happening and she was scared. She said she never wants to see M again A also said it felt good. Damn it. How confusing for A .

I didn’t even know what to say. I was shocked. Speechless. I stared at my phone, and wordlessly handed it to hubby. M and A and Kat are the same age. M is admittedly more socially and emotionally mature than A and Kat, and she is a bit of a bully. Hubby doesn’t like Belle; he never has. He sees her as lazy and careless, as a user. I saw her as someone who needed help, as a person who was hurt and maybe didn’t have the opportunities in life I did, and I wanted to help her.

Her response to her daughter abusing another child…..I have no words. I don’t believe that young children just do these things. They learn them. I believe that M’s behavior is a form of “telling”. Belle refuses to see that. She is living in denial. She claims this is normal childhood curiousity, that Jasmine is over reacting.

I may not be the best judge of normal childhood anything, but I trust my hubby and when he says “not normal,” I believe him.

After it sunk in, I began to worry about if M had hurt Kat. I know that M has bullied Kat in the past, and called her names. I know there have been times after a play date with M where Kat has needed extra cuddles, and has slept in my bed that night because she has been so upset. I started to reevaluate, to wonder what had really happened. I thought it was being a bully, maybe not following all of Kat’s convulated, unspoken rules for play. Hubby, and later Bea, have each assured me that Kat has shown no signs of abuse, sexual,or otherwise. It still puts fear in my heart; the kind I can feel deep in my belly that makes me feel like I might be sick.

I can’t stay friends with this woman. Besides the fact that hubby believes Belle to be a toxic friend, I don’t feel it’s safe for Kat to be around M. I can’t risk my child’s safety. I can’t be around someone who takes the issue of child sexual abuse so lightly that they can deny it is happening. It’s not healthy for me to be friends with Belle.

If Belle decides to open her eyes, and see the truth to stop living in denial and allowing her child to be harmed, I will be there to support her, and M. Until then, I have to sever ties to keep my child, and myself safe.