Wednesday morning when I wake up, it’s cold. The temperature has dropped overnight. It’s still chilly when I get to Bea’s. Her office is warm and cozy, though, and I settle into my spot on the sofa easily. We spend some time talking about schools, because the window for application for school of choice enrollment to the district I would like to put Kat in, opens August 1.
“I’d forgotten, I’m not sure why I didn’t even realize, but Kay’s youngest son goes to the middle school that is attached to the elementary school I want to get Kat into.”
“Oh yeah? Did you see her this week?” Bea is curious. I don’t think I’ve talked about Kay since my decision about the baby shower.
“Yeah, Kat and I went to see Kay and the new baby.” I talk a little about Kat and Kay, and the gifts Kat had chosen for the new baby and how excited Kat was to visit.
Bea remarks,”It sounds as if you have distanced yourself from Kay and maintained the relationship more between Kay and Kat.”
“Yeah…….” I say, thinking. “I suppose I really have…..I hadn’t realized, but I think that is right….huh.”
“How does that feel for you?” She asks.
“It’s…well, I guess I feel sort of guilty, but not really….I mean, even when I learned my MIL was moving down the road from me, I didn’t even think to call her. Before, I would have NEEDED Kay. Now….I don’t know. I texted my friend Robin, who is vacationing with no cell service, so she didn’t respond, but I know she will when she gets service. And I talked to my friend Amy a few days later. And it was good. I don’t know.”
“Why would you have needed Kay?” Bea asks. I have a feeling she knows the answer.
“I needed her to fix it. Or to fix me if I had hurt myself during my reaction to whatever awful thing was happening.”
“Now I just….I guess I want to know my own feelings first, how I want to handle it, and then I just want someone to validate the awfulness, or to support how I plan to handle things, or to tell me they think I’m making a mistake. But not fix it for me.” I think for a moment and then add, “Well, usually. Sometimes, I do want someone to fix it. Or maybe to help me fix it.”
“We all need that sometimes.” Bea smiles. “I wonder….do you think Kay was getting something out of fixing you?”
I sigh, I don’t like thinking about this. “Maybe. Probably.”
“And when you didn’t need that anymore, things got complicated between you?”
“Well, I think maybe she was jealous of you, that maybe she thought you took her place. But then, she saw how much better I was, like really better, not pretend better, and she wanted that for herself, too. I think she tried to grow with me. It’s just she wanted my therapist. And I said no. And then she couldn’t be my friend anymore.” It saddens me now, but it doesn’t hurt like it did. Now I just hope that she is okay and that she finds a way to keep growing, to keep working on herself. “I still trust her, I mean, I would leave Kat with her, trust her pick Kat up from school. I still trust if something really awful happened, she would be there.”
“She’s like a family member that you love and trust but aren’t close with,” Bea suggests.
“Yes, exactly,” I tell her.
All of this opens up a discussion about friends and new friends and types of friendships and me being in healthier relationships overall. It’s funny, because I suddenly realize as we are talking that people I have chosen to be friends with now are very different from groups of friends I have chosen in the past. I’m not worried about fitting in or about impressing them. I’m just me.
“You are doing quite well in your adult life, and in your mom life— very present, very healthy.” Bea pauses and then adds, “I almost made a joke about how nice it would be to tell that shrinky guy therapist how great his ‘borderline’ patient is doing now that her trauma is being addressed. But then I thought that might not feel very good to you. I wanted to talk about that, about that label a little bit more because it came up at the end of session and I felt like maybe we didn’t get to really talk about it.”
I shrug. “It was fine.” I’m not sure I want to talk more about this. How did we even get to talking about this? I honestly can’t remember.
“Can I talk about this for a few minutes?” She asks.
“Sure, okay.” I shrug again.
“I really think, this idea of borderline personality disorder…..it’s just my personal belief, that this disorder describes a collection of symptoms that so clearly are trauma and PTSD symptoms. I don’t really think Borderline is a fair thing to label someone. Borderline is a person with trauma, that’s all. The label has become, and has been for a long time, so stigmatized. I never thought…it’s just not something I would label someone. I’d say trauma, PTSD, C-PTSD, depression maybe. But I’m not a fan of labels, you know that. I am still a little surprised this never came up before.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to tell you the label that just means I’m crazy and you don’t have to deal with me! I wasn’t going to give you the diagnosis that makes no one like……I mean…therapists don’t want to deal with borderlines. I didn’t want to give you reason to get rid of me.”
“I’m not going to get rid of you! And that label doesn’t apply here. You have trauma. Big traumas that we are working through. You aren’t broken or damaged, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you. You have some big traumas, and they are a lot, it’s a lot. You dealt with a lot. But you aren’t alone now, and we are working through this stuff.”
I feel as if Bea has wrapped me up into a warm hug. Those words, her words, mean everything to me. “I just…..now you see some of how I got the story that there is something really wrong inside me?”
Bea sighs. It’s one of those sighs that says she is not happy. “Yes, I see how you thought that. That therapist, he just labeled you so quick like that, though, one suicide attempt and he has put a neat label on you and checked all the boxes off.” Yep, it’s like I thought. Bea is not happy. She is angry with that therapist.
“No, not exactly……. I……I was seeing him before that,” I say, and the words are hard to get out. I like her being angry at him, and I don’t want that to change.
“Either way, you don’t label a teenager like that! You just don’t!” She says. She is going to be on my side in this, no matter what. I like that. It feels safe.
I’m quiet, just sort of sitting with this idea that Bea doesn’t think I’m crazy, that she is on my side, that she doesn’t think I’m broken.
In part two of this post, Bea and I talk about a suicide attempt and what happened afterwards. We discuss the details of my narrative of that night, so please read with caution. Xx