Easter

Easter. I was raised in church, so for me, Easter is about Christ rising, saving us from our sins. It is about being saved. It is about eternal grace. It is about the love of the cross. It is a time to remember when we accepted Christ’s gift, and were saved.

Easter weekend and all it stands for is a constant reminder of my sins, of the things I have done that can not be forgiven, of the fact I am going to hell.

It’s a day that I’ve put on a happy face and proclaimed “I’m saved!” along with the rest of my friends and family. It’s a day that I’ve spent remembering how Jesus wiped away my sins….except, He didn’t. He couldn’t. Nothing and no one can wipe away the things I’ve done. No savior, no matter how loving and good could ever forgive me. It is what it is.

This weekend, I’m struggling to put on that happy face. I’m just coming off being sick. My defenses are down because of that. My bubble has been popped by Bea. I just don’t have it in me to pretend. I’m snappy, my temper is short, there is no patience in me. I don’t want to be social, to talk to to people and smile. I don’t want to greet our guests, and talk about how my family is doing. I don’t want to smile and nod when my mom proclaims my “accomplishments” with Kat and her ABA and homeschooling and autism insurance coverage; let alone to talk about those things and answer questions. I can’t pull the facade together. It’s not there, it’s not in me to act like things are perfect. Things are so far from perfect. I don’t even know where to start. I hate feeling like this, being like this. I can hear, and feel myself reacting in anger, in frustration, but I can’t stop it. The fact that I am mean is only further proof that I’m bad.

So, I avoid people as much as I can, claim I’m still feeling sick, dissociate without meaning to. I take a shower and end up cutting myself with a razor someone left sitting on the shelf. I stuff myself with carrot cake and Reese’s eggs and run to the bathroom to throw up. It’s not a good weekend.

It’s made worse because of what I know, what I remember. A snapshot, a wisp of a memory, something I don’t want to grab onto, but that I can’t seem to stop from looking at. It’s like when you pass the scene of an accident– most people driving by can’t help but look at the wreckage. And so I look at the horror of the snapshot in my mind. It makes me question everything. Summer. 1996. I was 12. We’re at the pool. Up north. Kenny and I. His hand had been between my legs, and my mom had walked up. He moves back, and she doesn’t notice. I lean towards him, and kiss him, a real kiss, in front of her. He pushes me back, disgusted, shocked. My mom is horrified. I’m in trouble. I don’t have a memory of that, a snapshot, but I have this…feeling…this knowing, that I was talked to about having a crush, and acting appropriate, because what I did was not appropriate. I want to vomit. I feel cold. Abandoned. She didn’t see what was right in front of her. I’m being a drama queen, but I feel like she left me. Like she didn’t care enough to ask, to think, to do anything. I don’t know.

That’s it. There’s nothing more. No before, no after to the memory. Just a wispy snapshot, nothing, not even a moment really. But it’s enough. It’s yet another sin to add to the list.

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Fighting to stay real

I’m struggling to stay real, to not dissociate and to stay present. To not pretend everything is fine and okay. It’s the only defense I really have against the feelings, flashbacks, nightmares, fears and triggers that are shoving me further and further down the rabbit hole.

No therapy today. Bea is on vacation. This is the first appointment I’m missing that hasn’t been able to be rescheduled for the next day. I’ve been seeing Bea for almost a year now, so that’s probably pretty amazing. And she will be back for our Thursday appointment. So it’s one session. Just one. I’ll still see her once this week. She’s not really gone. I know this. Rationally, I know this.

So why then, do I feel like she left me? Last session, I was all broken and vulnerable and hurting and needy. I have the worst timing. I pick the week before she is going to be leaving for vacation to have a breakdown and to admit to myself and to her that I need her. I pick that week to be more open, to think about and really feel how not in control I was when I was a little girl. And everything has fallen apart even more, in my mind. Because now I let that awful feeling — the one of being helpless and alone and having no control and feeling scared and alone and dirty and bad and wishing for comfort and not being able to find it— in, and I can’t seem to get rid of it now, it’s just sitting there and Bea is supposed to be able to help me contain it, and be okay, and it’s supposed to be okay to need her, but she is gone. On vacation, gone, not here.

Part of me wants to use this as proof, to say, “See? You are too much, too needy, too everything. You exposed that part of yourself, and it’s so bad, Bea had to take a vacation after one week of you being needy. See? You are too much, and everyone leaves. No one can handle you, you drain people dry.” Rationally, I know that’s untrue. For some reason, it’s become impossible to grasp the idea that this feeling, this thought is false.

Bea told me she would be available by email or phone while she was gone. She gave me permission to reach out. I told her I wouldn’t call, and I won’t. I’ve thought about emailing, but what would I say?

Hi Bea,
This is really silly, but a part of me is freaking out about not having therapy today, and feeling like you went on vacation because I was too much, too needy, too broken– that exposing all of that last session just pushed you away. Rationally, I know you had this vacation planned when I was still in “perfect mode”, and that it has nothing to do with me or how messy and vulnerable and broken I am. But the feeling is still there. And it scares me, maybe because I’m afraid that in your head, you want to leave and not deal with me.
-Alice

I just don’t think so. I’m afraid to reach out to her, that she will not respond, or that she will change her mind and be annoyed that I bothered her while she was on vacation, or that she will reject me in some way. I don’t know.

And I’m very afraid of doing anything that will make her turn shrinky on me. I hate talk about transference, and projection, and whatever else. I don’t want her to be my friend, or my mother, or anything else but my therapist. But, in order to do this work and be honest about my feelings and the things that happened, to be able to talk about and process the traumas, I have to be able to trust Bea, I almost have to be let myself need her and be vulnerable and exposed. There’s no other way. Wouldn’t that be true in any relationship that a person was going to share the worst parts of them self? Wouldn’t it be true, that in any relationship a person will bring old patterns and lessons with them? For example, my parents needed perfect, and I felt like I had to do everything right to earn their love. I took that lesson with me into every relationship I have ever had– my marriage, and my friendships. So why, in therapy, do things have to get all shrinky and analytical? Ugh. Just because those same feelings and patterns appear in the relationship a person has with their therapist doesn’t make those feelings any less real. I mean, that’s like saying the relationship between a person and their therapist isn’t real. If it’s all transference and counter transference and projections and whatever else, it’s just a fake relationship. Which would mean the idea that the shrink actually cares isn’t real– it’s just counter transference from one of their real relationships, the feelings are being put on the client for whatever reason, but the shrink doesn’t actually care about the client because it’s confer transference. And the feeling the client has that it’s safe to let down walls and be exposed and need the shrink isn’t real, either. And if that’s all true, then what is the point of being in therapy? If that’s true, why is Bea trying to help me find the real me? How can I find anything real, especially the real me, in a relationship that is not real? Ugh. I’m not sure this is making all that much sense. It makes sense in my head, though.

I’m not sure how I feel about Bea, or therapy right now. I can feel the fake, miss perfect, control freak taking over. I need to be okay. I’m no where near okay, but I need the world to see me as okay. I’m somewhere between thinking its a good idea to find a new bubble and get inside it quickly, and telling myself to sit with how I’m feeling, to deal with it, to not go backwards just because I hate feeling needy and vulnerable. I’m not sure which part will win this fight, and I am not really even sure why part of me is fighting to stay real. Because being real hurts. Ugh.

Broken and Vulnerable

……..continued from “the bubble popper, part 2”

Today’s session was a mess. Everything is a mess. I almost didn’t go. I was afraid. Bea acted normal, like herself. I felt freaked out inside, but tried to smile and be okay. I wasn’t doing a very good job. She told me she was going to be quiet and see what came up for me. I couldn’t meet her eyes, or find my words. I’d sat in the car, trying not to cry, before coming in. I thought I had gathered myself together, but now I was back in the same place. Finally Bea suggested that a lot of new ideas and things were coming up for me this week. I don’t think I answered, but I thought that I don’t like new ideas, and I don’t want to feel like this.

Bea says something about in intense therapy like this, we all bring reactions and learned behaviors with us– my expecting her to be upset with me for being mad at her would be one of those learned reactions. My assuming I can’t need her and be mad at her is another one of those learned reactions that isn’t true in this relationship. She says something about therapy and learning to be dependent on someone before learning to be independent. That being vulnerable and needing her and having a positive experience could be used as a springboard, a secure base, to be open and vulnerable in my other relationships. She tells me that admitting to being needy was a big step for me, and she knows it probably doesn’t feel very safe. She tells me somethings that are personal to her, but her explanation kind of clears up why her last emails seemed so not like her, so much more distant and cold. It wasn’t all in my head, as I had thought. There’s a sense of relief at that, and I’m thankful she is honest with me, and super transparent.

I’m crying and covering my face, and I feel like a mess. “I don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to…..” I stop myself from speaking. I’d been about to say I don’t want to need anyone, but Bea and I both know that by anyone I mean her, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Instead I sigh. “I’m not mad anymore.” It feels important that she know that.

“Okay,” Bea says, “but it would be okay if you were.”

I shake my head at her. It’s not okay.

“It’s okay if you are mad at me, because I know some of that mad is about the past. I’m not afraid of big feelings, and I’m not going anywhere, no matter what you feel.”

I hear what she says, but it’s not really penetrating.

“You can be in this vulnerable state right now. It’s safe, you aren’t alone. You can let out all the feelings, and I can hold them. You’re safe, and I’m here.” Bea says. She maybe says more, but I don’t know what.

I shake my head. “No, it’s not okay! I can’t feel like this. I don’t want to!” I feel like I am shouting the words out at her. I want her to make it stop, to fix this. I don’t want to keep feeling broken and out of control and helpless.

“I know it feels really hard. This state, this vulnerable, helpless feeling, that is how the little girl felt. This is how you felt when you were a child. You didn’t have any control then, you weren’t to blame, you were vulnerable.” I don’t know what else Bea says. I want to make her stop talking.

“You’re wrong. Stop.”

“It’s hard and scary to feel like this. This is what we have been struggling with. This is what all your defenses are against, right? To not feel vulnerable and out of control. It wasn’t safe to feel like this then, but it is safe now. You were alone then, but you aren’t alone now. It’s okay to feel like this. I’m not going to let you stay in this state, or leave like this. But for right now, it’s okay to be vulnerable and needy.”

“I’ve been feeling like this for weeks.” I sob out the words. I’m surprised I have admitted to this.

“I know. And it’s okay to let it all out now,” Bea says soothingly.

I can’t though. I’m still trying to hold it all inside. I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t trust her enough to let it out. “I thought you were mad at me for not talking to hubby again.” I finally cry.

“No, not mad. I’m not mad.”

“Frustrated? Annoyed? You want me to talk to him, and keep trying, and I’m not doing what you think I should do.” I sniffle. This was hard, it feels like confrontation, it’s scary and too much, but I feel too broken and hurt to do anything else.

“No. There’s no should. This isn’t about what I think, and I am not angry with you for not talking to him. I do feel like hubby is at the center of this, and if you could have him for support, as a resource, then some of this wouldn’t feel so bad. And of course, seeing you hurting like this makes me want to say, ‘Send him in here to me.’ But I can’t help fix this for you in that way, unless it’s what you want,” She says gently.

“I tried, and I tried. And he just….I don’t know the word. But anything I tell him…he hurts me with it…”

“Ammunition?” Bea suggests.

“Yes. Yeah, that’s a good word. It’s all ammunition. And I can’t fix him. I’m tired of trying and trying and forcing him to be something he can not be, and I’m tired of being hurt. I just can’t do it. Everything feels so bad, and I just broken, and I can’t keep getting hurt like that when I feel like this.”

“Okay. That’s okay. We can see. It’s not your job to fix him. But whatever his reactions, or his need for perfection, or anything else, it’s about him, not you.” She says.

I had gotten my tears partly under control, and now I cry some more again. I just feel relieved that she is not mad. I keep waiting for something bad to happen, but it hasn’t yet.

“The bubble popping…I think, it feels like to me, that this is a chance for you to grow, like you could really grow from allowing yourself to feel these feelings. I know the walls have come down before, but this time it feels different to me.” Bea says. I think I may have missed the beginning of what she was saying, but I’m not sure.

“Because it’s really popped. In a bigger way.” I’m speaking so softly, I’m not sure she will hear me. I don’t have any great words or ways to explain what I’m trying to say, and so it comes out sounding like I’m a child. But it seems okay, because I am feeling very child like right now.

“Yeah. I wondered about that. Do you think that the bubble came back this time in response to letting me see what you think of as the baddness in you? After you let me read the thing, it seemed the bubble came back.”

I cringe, and then I nod. Yeah.

I don’t know where the conversation goes next. I’m kinda half here, half gone. I end up crying and sobbing to Bea that I don’t want to need anyone.

“It feels bad to need someone. It’s okay to need people. That’s the nature of being human, we all need someone.”

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“You don’t have anything to apologize for,” Bea tells me. It seems we’ve been here before during this session. There is quiet acceptance in her voice, that I’m going to keep apologizing.

“But I feel so bad,” I try to explain. I don’t know exactly what I’m apologizing for, but I feel bad, like I’ve done something wrong or….I don’t know.

“Do you think it would hurt my feelings if you said you didn’t want to need me?” Bea asks. I feel my face flush, and I ignore her question. Yes, I thought that. But I don’t answer. Answering seems like we will be going into shrinky territory, and I can not do that.

I still feel small and vulnerable and scared and alone. And I can’t stop crying. Bea tells me it’s okay, that I am allowed to feel this way. She says something about me being right where I’m supposed to be, and being perfect just as I am. I manage to sob out that I’m not perfect, I’m a mess, I’m failing at everything. She tells me that I’m perfect in my mess, and that I can’t fail at this. I don’t know all that she says, but it’s nice, and kind and somewhere along the way, I hear tears in her voice.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I made you sad, I’m sorry.” I’m off, apologizing as quick as I can. Writing this now, I can see it as a learned behavior– don’t upset mom, don’t make her worried or stressed or anything else, just be good.

“Don’t apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for. There’s nothing wrong with my tears. It’s okay. Do you think you don’t deserve tears? That you don’t matter? Because you do matter. I can see, and I wish you could see, all the beauty and kindness and wonderful things about you. The way you are with Kat, how you fight for her, the way you push through all these hard things, your creativity, and how much you care for others…..” Bea’s voice is strong, even with tears in it. She means every word she is saying, and I can’t handle it.

I float away. It’s too much, too scary. I can’t handle the idea of needing someone, letting them see all the ugly pieces of myself that I’ve kept hidden for so long, and then that person still caring about me, after really seeing me. So I go fuzzy, retreat in the room in my head. Finally, I say, “Stop.” And Bea listens. It’s quiet in the office for a few moments.

I don’t know where we go from here, but we talk about alone, and keeping defenses up. I talk about how I used to tell “fake” secrets. Bea is intrigued by this, and she wants to know what they were. I shake my head. “Stupid little things. Like, the real reason my brother got expelled, or what really happened when my cousin crashed her car. Stuff like that.”

“And was the secret the truth of what happened, or something made up?” Bea asks, and she sounds normal; I’m thinking it must be strange, to have a patient who went so far as to have fake secrets in order to appear just like everyone else, but she is handling this rather well, like its something she is told everyday.

“Oh, no, it was always the truth. It’s just it was stuff that didn’t really matter.”

“To anyone else, for most people, those would have been real secrets, big secrets.” She points out.

I nod. “That was the idea. Stupid and insane, isn’t it?”

“No, not at all. I think it speaks to just how deep the real secrets were buried, how much you had dissociated them away.” Bea says.

We talk about trust, but I struggle a lot, and dissociate away for most of it. I admit to trusting people on the surface, and to trusting people, or at least acting like I trust people, in the way they expect to be trusted, but really, inside, it’s not okay to trust anyone, it’s not safe. Bea seems to understand, and she talks about trust for a few minutes.

We return to the subject of anger, and Bea tells me once again that finding my anger and holding on to it is not a bad thing, that anger can be energizing.

“You think anger is a good thing. I think anger is…. Anger is scary and mean.” I tell her.

Bea has a way of explaining things simply, in a way that the child part of me can understand, without making me feel like an idiot, or like she is treating me like a child. “Well, anger is the feeling, right? But mean is what we do with our anger. It’s a reaction, and we choose our reactions. It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to be mean. They are two different things.”

“It still feels scary and mean.” I say.

“I know we’ve talked about this before, and I know you didn’t have any memories of this then, but are there any memories, or feelings that kenny was angry, and that he was scary and mean?” Bea asks softly. “Something from your past…that put angry with scary and mean…if he threatened you, or seemed really angry and that was scary?”

I sit for a long time. What first comes to mind is college boyfriend; he would get mad, and that anger made him mean which was terrifying. Next is a feeling…..a younger feeling, and one I don’t want to do to. And the only thought running through my head is don’t tell, don’t ever tell, he’ll know, don’t tell. “I can’t.” I cry, feeling helpless and scared and alone.

“Can’t what?” Bea waits for me to elaborate, but when I don’t, she repeats my words to me.

I don’t respond, it’s safer not to answer that question.

“I know he ruined your story with your barbies, and that was mean. But it wasn’t angry, not really. There might not be memories of him being angry and mean. That’s okay. It was just a question, something to help explain this fear of anger, and the feeling that anger is mean and scary.” Bea explains.

“I can’t.” I want so badly to talk, but I just can’t. I’m going further away, and heading into scary places, but I can’t stop it.

Bea seems to be thinking. “Okay, I don’t want to send you into scary places today, or go digging for memories. In fact, I want to spend a lot of time getting you back to the present, and grounded as you can be. Okay?”

I nod my head as hard as I can.

“Okay. Before we start grounding, was there anything you wanted to talk about? Any memories that you wanted to bring up? If there is, that’s okay. We can talk about anything that feels like it needs to be talked about. If you wanted to talk about whatever just came up, we can.” Bea reassures me. She’s always tried to let me be as much in control as she could, as I would be.

“I don’t know.”

“Does it feel right to you to start coming back, or do you feel like there is more to talk about?” Bea asks me gently.

It’s too much, I can not make any decisions right now. I fear any choice I make will be a and one. “You decide. Please.” I tell her.

“Well…I would table it for today, because I won’t be here next week, so it doesn’t feel good to me to have you going into scary places. I know you can’t control it, and things come up even if they aren’t being talked about, but talking stirs it up more.” She finally answers me, after a long pause.

“Okay,” I tell her.

She suggests some ideas to help me come back, be more grounded. We decide to listen to a new mindfulness CD she got for kids, but that isn’t as kid friendly as she thought. It’s more like simplified mindfulness for adults who have that little girl part that is stuck in the past and never grew up. Bea reads off a list of the choices, so that I can choose.

“Not the breathing one.” I say. I still can’t focus on just my breath without feeling triggered.

“Okay. How about the feelings emergency kit?” Bea asks me, and I nod.

I listen, and it’s easy to understand and follow along, and the woman reading the script gives lots of reassurance that feelings don’t last forever and that they can’t hurt you. For someone like me, this is a very good explanation, and exercises on sitting with your feelings. The problem is that mindfulness activities cause this weird anxiety in me. I feel numb and dizzy, like I’m spinning inward, into myself.

Bes turns off the CD player. “Did that make you go farther away?” I can hear her returning to her chair.

I don’t answer right away. I don’t know if I want to admit to being gone. “Maybe.” I finally say, and my voice is hollow.

“I thought it might have. That’s okay. Now we know that mindfulness is not a resource for you.” Bea says.

“Okay.”

“How can we get you to come back, now, though? Do you want some theraputty, or maybe a coloring book?” Bea suggests. Part of me jumps at the idea of a coloring book, like yes, okay, that wold help, but I can’t bring myself to say so.

“Gone is okay. I’m not in a scary place.”

“Gone is okay, sometimes, yes. You seem really far, and that’s not functional.” Bea says in a practical manner.

“Okay.”

We end up talking, and Bea gets out a new lotion she just got, and eventually I peek my head up. We talk about Kat, and I somehow admit that I am afraid to let her go too far from me. By the end, she says a few truths have emerged: I didn’t want to need anybody, I didn’t want to have to fix hubby, I didn’t want to be open with Hubby because I didn’t want to give him more ammunition to use against me, I might be the one not ready to separate from Kat, and I’m tired of feeling like this and don’t want to feel out of control anymore.

I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here, where although I am afraid and unsure, I feel safer and seen and not alone than I have in a long time– maybe, most likely, my whole life. I eventually force myself to behave like an adult, and say goodbye. I’ll see her in a week. It’s the normal amount of time between appointments for a lot of people. It will be fine. I’m afraid. And she’s leaving.

“I’ll have my phone, text, and email. I know you won’t, but if you do call, or text or email, it’s okay. I’m still here, I’ll be available.” Bea reminds me as I walk out the door.

I ignore it, and wish her a good day. I leave feeling needy and messy and hurting. I don’t like this, not one bit.

The bubble popper

“Hubby made Kat hug his Grandpa.” I’m curled up on Bea’s couch, but still looking at her. I’m so angry with Hubby over this, so sick, so triggered. Bea doesn’t say anything right away, she waits to see what else I’m going to add. I explain how I wasn’t there, but he asked her to hug his grandpa, and Kat said no. And then he took her bear– which is really my teddy bear from childhood, that has become a major safety object for Kat– and told her she could have bear back when she followed his directions. So she hugged his grandpa.

Bea is shaking her head. The look on her face says it all, that she understands my upset, and that she agrees hubby was wrong. “It’s certainly not the message we wanted given to Kat. Did Kat say anything about it?”

I nod, “Only that she hated Daddy and his Grandpa. And that she was mad and wanted to cry but can’t cry around Daddy.” My head is pounding.

“That makes it really hard, because how do you have a repair, or talk to her when you are mad as she is at the same people?” Bea asks.

I breathe a sigh of relief. She gets it.

“Did you talk to Hubby? Tell him how you feel?”

“No. What’s the point? We had discussed situations like this, and I thought we were on the same page. Apparently he says whatever I want to hear, and then does what he wants anyway. More reasons not to trust him.”

Bea starts talking about repair and disconnect in all relationships. I don’t know. I’m not really listening. It doesn’t matter. It is what is it. I don’t see how I can trust Hubby, and he keeps making missteps like this. I’m over it.

I don’t want to talk to Hubby, I don’t need to make things harder than they have been. I try to explain. “This week, last week was….just hard.” I stop talking because I don’t know how to explain that it’s been a struggle to maintain perfect, and I’m failing at it now, and the last thing I need is to feel worse from a conversation I have with Hubby.

“I’m not surprised, we stirred a lot up.” Bea looks sympathetic.

I don’t say anything. Maybe Bea talks, maybe not. I’m not sure. I’m kind of off in my own little world. I want to try explaining again, how hard this week has been. How much I’m falling apart. How I really just can’t take anything else. “Last week…it was…so bad…it was hard.” And I stop again.

“What made last week really hard?” Bea asks.

It takes me a minute to answer. My first response is, “I don’t know.” But then Bea waits me out, and I say, “My bubble popped.” By this time, my face is buried in my knees, and I’m hiding again.

“Ahhh. And I’m the bubble popper. There must be some feelings about that. What comes up for you?” She says softly.

“No. Nothing. I’m fine,” I say. I’m not mad at her. I’m numb in that regard.

Bea is silent for a minute. And then she starts talking. I think she sounds maybe matter of fact, kind, I don’t know. “Any time…..in an intense therapy like this, there are going to be feelings that come up………….you are going to get mad at me, or have strong feelings about me……………it seems to me, that you have never had a relationship where it was safe to have all your feelings………..I’m putting it out there, it’s okay here, now……..you can have all your feelings……”

I’m not really here, not really listening, so I only catch part of what she says. I’m afraid. I don’t want to talk about the relationship. I don’t want to hear that it’s safe to feel my feelings. I don’t want to be told she isn’t going anywhere, or that she can handle whatever I feel. So, I’m gone; off in lala land, somewhere, I don’t know. Just gone, floaty and blurry, anxiety and fears muted.

“I’m really not mad. Really,” I say when Bea stops talking. I put a smile in my voice, and speak calmly.

“Okay. But if you were, it would be okay with me.”

I shake my head.

“In fact, I’m waiting for the day you do get mad, and let me see that part of you,” she tells me.

“Because you’re crazy,” I say, and I smile for real this time. Bea laughs a little, too, but she reassures me again that she can handle my anger, if I were mad.

“Is the bubble the same as the room in your head?”

I have to think about it, for a minute, two minutes, longer. “I don’t know.” I slowly shake my head. “No. I don’t think so.”

Bea is surprised by this, I think. She expected they were the same, it seems. “How is it different?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. It’s….I don’t know.” I have no clue how to explain this. Eventually, we come to some understanding that the bubble is more of an outside thing, and the room is more internal. But I still don’t have a good way to explain it. It’s like….the room is maybe a way to distance myself, or be numb to things, or even to hide if I really had to– the room is almost like dissociation, or something– and the bubble is like the mask I wear and show the world, it’s the face of Miss Perfect, it’s always having everything be okay. I think the room and the bubble can work together to help me avoid things, but they are separate things.

“So, what was the bubble keeping out that isn’t being kept out now?” She asks.

“I don’t know.” But it’s an automatic response. “Memories….I just…I don’t know.” I shake my head.

“Are they new or old memories?” Bea asks.

It takes me a while to answer. “Some you know, some you don’t.”

“And that can be a lot to deal with.” She gets it.

We talk some more, I don’t know what about. At one point, she tells me that it’s really a choice to be in the bubble or not. And I think she doesn’t have a clue. I think she is being mean. I would be back in the bubble of I could be. But I’m stuck here, trying to stay afloat. I’m too busy to build another bubble. I don’t know.

Bea reminds me of the fact that she is leaving next week, and we will miss our Monday appointment. Normally, we would reschedule for Tuesday, but she won’t be back until Wednesday, so I’ll just see her on Thursday. “Now, I didn’t bring the envelope, I thought it might be better to wait until I get back, but if you want me to bring it on Thursday, I will. It’s your choice.”

“No, it’s okay. That’s fine.”

“Okay. So, next week, we will miss Monday, but I’ll have my phone, so you can email, or call.”

I’m a bit surprised. “Bea, I’m not going to call you.” She’ll be on vacation. I am not going to call her. I’ve never called her. I’ve texted her once, asking her to call me, and that was about Kat.

“Well, you should. If you needed to, you could, and you should,” she says, and she sounds just as surprised at my declaration of not calling as I was over her statement of I could call.

“I’ll be fine. I won’t need to call. It’s okay,” I say. I have to convince her I’m okay. It’s a huge thing– maybe an anxiety trigger in some ways– for me to think about people being worried about me. That’s not okay, I can not allow others to be worried.

“Okay,” Bea says. I think she says something about how it’s normal to need your therapist when they go out of town, or something. I don’t know.

I’m not sure what else we say. All I know is when I leave, I sit in my car and cry for what feels like a long time, and I don’t know why.

Where is the “real” me?

“Right now, this is the real you. The you in the present moment, the you who is talking to me about these pictures, giving your opinion, no judgement. She’s living in the present moment. I think that’s where the mindfulness piece, and the yoga can really help. That split? Both those states– all okay, or all not okay– is the past. Neither of those states are real, they are from the past. In a sense it’s your worldview, right? That you have to be all good or all bad. Neither of those is you in the present moment; in the present moment is where you find the grey. The real you is the you that is here right now, in the present. That’s the real you.” Bea is talking, and I’m hiding my face. We were looking at pictures of the lake that she had taken on a recent trip, and the way the lake has frozen is awesome and beautiful.

“That’s too complicated,” I mumble. I can’t wrap my head around what she is saying. I don’t understand.

“Yes, it can feel complicated. I think sometimes, it’s so simple, it’s complicated. We make it harder than it really is.”

It’s silent in her office for a while. I don’t know what to say. How to explain. Ugh. I hate this. “It’s…..like……well, kind of…it’s like auto pilot. Automatic, you know?”

“Mmmhmm, okay. Is it automatic, like you were in the moment and so that conversation just felt easy and natural? Or is it autopilot like you are dissociated, maybe like you are looking out from the room in your head? To me, it felt very natural and authentic, it felt like you were here.” Bea asks, and she is calm and sounds like either answer is okay.

I can’t answer. I’m afraid to say it’s autopilot like I’m in the room in my head. I afraid to admit that those conversations, those moments, where I seem real and like I am in the present are the very moments that I don’t feel real; they are the very moments I feel like I am in the room in my head and everything feels like it’s running on automatic, they are the moments I am there but not there. Finally, I say, “I don’t know.”

“Maybe that’s where we start then. Try to notice those moments this week, and see how you feel, what they bring up,” Bea suggests.

I don’t say anything back to her, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because the bad, gross, yucky feelings are spilling out, and I can’t stop myself from crying.

“It seems like something is coming up for you now,” Bea says softly.

I shake my head, and inside I’m repeating NO, NO, NO, over and over. I don’t want anything to come up. I don’t want to have this conversation. I don’t want to feel like this.

“Do you know what it is you are feeling?” She asks me.

I shake my head some more. “I don’t know.” My voice sounds small and tear filled. “Sick. I feel sick. Just bad.”

“It seems like this feeling is coming from the little girl. There was something in your email last night that really struck me. Let me grab it,” Bea says. I can hear her walk over to the table and grab her phone. After a minute, she has my email pulled up. “This, it just seemed like it was really hitting you and connecting, in a really deep way, like you were just realizing this and that it was really painful: ‘I never want to be a child again, being a child was scary because I had no power or control over anything, being a child meant doing what my parents expected and always performing and being perfect and good enough in order to earn their love, and it meant never saying a word about the bad things happening with Kenny, because I was a good girl, and good girls don’t play games like that. Even I knew that. But I couldn’t say no. I had no power to tell anyone no.’ That’s exactly right. It’s the truth. You didn’t have any of the control then.” Bea says this gently, but it still hurts.

I cry and pick at my fingers, curl more into myself. Oh God, do I just want to go away. This hurts too much. “No. No.” I tell Bea. I don’t want that to be right, I want it to be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

“You really didn’t have any control. You were vulnerable, and he took advantage of that. He violated you.” She’s speaking softly, and I think she says more, but I’m not listening.

I want to tell her to stop. I want to cover my ears. I don’t want to listen to her. I don’t want this to be true.

“The truth is, it’s not your fault. And you are good, and perfect just as you are.”

“Every time…..when you say it’s not my fault, I want to argue with you,” I tell her. It’s the closest I’ve come to saying what goes through my mind every time she says it is not my fault.

“I know. I know you do.” The way she says it, I think she really might know and understand.

I don’t say anything, but I feel bad, full of yucky feelings. Like a toxic, oozing green-black slime has coated me on the inside, and I can’t get it out of me.

“What would happen, what would it mean if you weren’t in control? If you could accept that it wasn’t your fault?”

I’ve been crying off and on, all session, and now all those tears escape yet again, and I cry so hard my body shakes. “I don’t know. I don’t. This isn’t, ‘I don’t know, I don’t want to answer.’ I just really don’t know.”

“Maybe that’s the scariest part of all. That feelings wise, you don’t know what it would mean. That can be really scary.” I hear Bea’s chair turn, she must have moved a little.

I don’t know why, but I just have all these thoughts in my head, and for some reason, I feel like I want to say them to someone. Maybe because the walls that have been surrounding me are knocked down, maybe because it feels safe to talk to Bea. I’m not sure. “You know what I did.” I sob the words out, little voice asking to be heard and understood.

“Yes. I know. And I’m still saying it’s not your fault, that you are good and perfect just as you are– imperfections and all.” Bea says simply.

“I made a choice!” I throw the words at her, attempt to yell them, but they are coming from a tiny scared part of me, a part that is just waiting to be rejected.

“Well, okay. I want to say you didn’t have a choice, but let’s sit with this feeling for a minute. You feel you made a choice, but was it a real choice? Or was it a choice within confines of what you had to work with? It might have been a choice, or felt like a choice, but it really wasn’t a real choice. It’s about survival, right? Kidnapping victims sometimes take on the traits of their kidnapper, adopting the religion, or whatever. It’s not a real choice, it’s about survival. Then as adults, we judge, and we wonder how we could have done that, made those choices, but we forget just how little power a child has, and how that choice wasn’t a real choice.”

I listen and let what she says sink in for a few minutes. I shake my head. I feel sick. “I…..he….I…”

Bea gives me time to speak, but when I can’t get more words out, she says, “it’s so hard to say the words sometimes.”

It seems like a small thing, but her knowing how hard this is helps. “I….I…he…..” I stop again, and cry. Through my tears, I sputter out, “I slept with him.”

“And that feels really bad. I can feel all the grief and pain. But it wasn’t a choice you were old enough to make, that’s why this feels so very bad.” Bea says firmly.

“I can’t get it out of my head. It’s just there, always there. I can see it, it’s just…there.” I shake my head, and hug my knees tighter. I want to be the smallest ball I can be. I can’t do this.

“I know. We need a way to let go of some of the blame, or, if that can’t happen, maybe a way to find some sort of acceptance.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know we keep having this conversation, I’m sorry, I’ll stop, I’m sorry.” I’m freaking out, crying and apologizing. I knew that I was too needy, that I was too much, I knew I was doing therapy all wrong.

“No, that’s not what I meant. This needs to be talked about, worked through. I just want a way to help you be able to stop blaming yourself. That’s all.” Bea reassures me.

“You aren’t…annoyed to be having this conversation again?” I ask.

“No, not at all. There’s still so much pain, and hurt, grief, that needs to be worked through. Yiu aren’t done with this yet.” She sounds like she means it, like it’s really okay.

I can’t help myself, though, and so, once more, I ask her, “You’re sure it’s okay? That you aren’t upset?”

“I’m not upset, not even a little bit. I’m pretty honest, you know.” I can hear a little smile in her voice.

I nod. “I know…I think so..I just…well, I just had to make sure.”

“Okay.”

I think for a minute, maybe two. “Do you still have my envelope?” I ask.

“I still have it. It’s safe, and no one has seen it.”

“I think……well, I think I need to….I don’t know…..deal with it.” I’m shaking, I’m so afraid of it.

“I don’t have it here, it’s at home with my files–” Bea says hesitantly.

I cut her off. “Not today! No, not today. Next week.” Oh my God, not today. I can’t do this today.

“Okay. I’ll bring it with me on Monday.” She tells me.

“I feel like…..like that is proof of my blame,” I stutter and mumble, but get the words out.

“Then it’s really important we talk about it,” Bea agrees. “I’m going to make sure I read through it again, to really be familiar with it, and so I know the whole memory. I only read it the one time when you gave me permission.”

I shake my head. “That’s scary to me.”

“I already know what happened. I’ve already read it. And nothing bad happened,” she reminds me.

“Yeah. Okay. You probably know it better than I do, anyways.”

“I imagine you were in a really dissociated state when you wrote it, maybe not really so much here,” she says.

“Yeah….I was really gone. And I didn’t, couldn’t read it, so I put it in that envelope.”

“It’s okay. I’m well aware what part of your mind that memory came from,” She says.

“Okay,” I nod my head.

“I’m almost afraid to say it..because even the idea of this can be scary sometimes..but..I think you are psychologically stronger now. Wanting to look at the envelope, thinking about the idea of it not being your fault. When you go away, you don’t feel as far away as you did. I think some pieces of the trauma are integrated, have been put in the past,” Bea says.

I don’t say anything for a little while. “I’m afraid of the envelope.”

“That’s okay. I’ll bring it, and we can decide what to do with it then, okay?”

I nod. “Bea?” I ask, and I know my voice sounds a little bit serious. I feel like a little kid, asking to be listened to.

“Yea?”

“I’m really afraid.”

“We don’t have to do anything with it on Monday. We can just decide what to do, or talk about being afraid,” she says.

“Okay.”

“You’ve really done some amazing work, being willing to go to these ugly places….” Bea is still talking, but in my head I’m blocking out her words. I want to shout at her to stop, that I’m a fraud and a fake, and I’m not amazing, I’m a mess, and I’m terrible. But I don’t. I just ignore what she says. I hate this. I don’t want her to think I’m amazing, or that I’ve done something amazing. I don’t want her to be concerned about me. No. No. No.

After awhile, I’m still crying, and I can’t get myself to stop.

“Try to just sit with the feelings, let them be heard. The little girl really needs her grief and pain to be heard,” Bea says. I think she is willing to listen to all that pain and hurt and grief, and I don’t understand why she would be willing to do so.

“I can’t.” I feel like I’m choking, like I can’t see my way out, can’t breathe, can’t function.

“It’s hard. But you’ve been doing it all session. Can you find some compassion for the little girl part? It seems that most of us either have compassion or hatred for the little girl. Do you know what you feel?” Bea encourages me to try to stay with the feelings. She is calm, grounded, and I believe she can contain the raging storm of emotion in me.

I don’t answer, but I know how I feel. I hate the little girl part. I hate her and resent her. But she is me. It’s confusing.

“It hurts,” I shove the words at Bea, wanting her to feel how much this all hurts.

“I know, I know,” she says it soothingly.

“It actually hurts.” I’m surprised to be realizing this, and surprised I’m admitting it out loud.

“Physically hurts?” Bea asks me, and I nod. It seems she is saying something validating, something that says she gets it, but I have no idea what the words are. I can’t pay that much attention for some reason.

We talk a while longer. I bring up hubby, but I can’t remember what we really said about him. We talked about Kat. I don’t know.

By the time I left, I was back to who I was when I arrived this morning. I’m able to hold a conversation without breaking down into tears. But as Bea and I talk about cleaning and everyday type stuff, I realize that while she thinks it’s the real me, me in the present, holding this conversation, it’s not. It’s me in the room in my head, a little bit not here, a little bit spaced out. It’s not exactly perfect me, but I think that this feeling is part of perfect me; it’s about being socially correct, appropriate, polite. It’s even about having conversation I enjoy. But it feels not real, and I’m not really here. Not enough that anyone will ever notice, but enough that this doesn’t feel real. But because I’m smiling and chatting pleasantly, the last ninety minutes of pain doesn’t feel real either. So where is the real me?

Looking for the grey and not okay

Monday night, before I managed to get my perfect facade back in place, I emailed Bea. I told her I maybe wasn’t okay. I told her I hated that she brought those things up. I told her that I was struggling. I said my feelings were hurt, and confused that she was saying we were done talking trauma; that maybe I was finally feeling like I was allowed to talk about the ugly things for the first time in my life. I said that maybe the fight with hubby was a lot worse than she thought, and I recapped the fight we had, although I left out the fact I debated ways to run away from my life permanently (I’m a little scared to admit that to my therapist). I said I didn’t understand why she wasn’t going to talk anymore, and that it felt bad and made me anxious. I said that I had maybe stopped talking about some things because I was afraid to keep bringing them up, that I thought she would get tired of having that same conversation, and that she would decide I was too needy, so I just put away the things I was talking about too much. I was really honest, more honest than I’ve been in a long time, despite the fact I kept things hypothetical by using “maybe” in almost every sentence. It feels safer somehow to do that. I even listed out symptoms, and admitted there was an increase, but I refused to say how much or how often. I sounded a lot like 15 year old me in the email; snotty and bratty, mean, and angry. But mostly? 15 year old me was scared, always scared, and felt really unloveable. She used the snottiness to keep a thick shell of perfectness and okayness around her.

Bea wrote back pretty quickly, thankfully.

Thank you for your honesty and for being the “real” Alice here–the one who has feelings, and struggles, and isn’t perfect. I will gladly bear responsibility for this, so if it helps you to rage at me then do so! It is that meaningful and important, and it wasn’t until today that I decided to try to break through the crust of perfection and “okayness” that has been so thick lately. I know the inside part of you, the part beneath the crust, has been denied its life lately, and while it might not be pretty it is real and authentic. And that counts. It has been denied its voice and its existence–warts and all–for too long.

It’s fine at times to have to function, right?! I get that. But that’s not our goal for therapy. Well, it is, but it’s to function authentically without sacrificing your real self to do so. I do get that the fight with hubby was really, really bad. I have been concerned ever since then. I don’t really know how we can move forward much more without bringing hubby into the picture. His need for you to be perfect and “okay” is about him, not you. He needs to understand what this is doing to you. You might be “okay” on the outside, but I feel like this is a big step backwards. We need not only you to step forward, but hubby and your relationship to step forward as well.

I didn’t mean it’s supposed to be over!!! Not at all. I just meant that it’s been less intense, with no new memories to process at the moment. I know there’s plenty more work to be done, but it hasn’t felt so intense lately. That is why I wanted to check in about the symptoms–that, and I also have been concerned about the fact that you have been stuffing your needs and feelings inside in order to function in your marriage.

Sorry for the trifecta today:( No, we aren’t all done I’m sorry, but I don’t regret it because it had to be done or I would be pretending everything’s okay too. And as a general rule across all my sessions, I need to talk less. I will be mindful of the stress–if you need me to talk more just ask.

Bea

I decided to write back, and her second response was that we are missing all the shades of grey, and that seems to be the biggest dilemma: how do we make it so the okay and the not okay parts can coexist at the same time?

I suppose the grey space would mean both parts– the good and the bad– would feel real. But how does that work? How do two ways of being, that both feel not real, merge and feel real? I don’t understand. Maybe it’s because my parents were professionals at living only the good and perfects parts, so I learned to split off anything ugly really early on. And thanks to Kenny, I had some really ugly stuff to push away and pretend wasn’t real. It feels like I have two me’s, two lives. I don’t know. It’s confusing. I keep trying to find a good way to explain it, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

This always seems to be what I come back to. I live in the black or the white, the bad or the good. If I’m living in a place where I am the good me, the bad stuff feels like it never happened, I can almost pretend it away, and I begin to believe that I’m a liar, and nothing really ever happened. Even then, I feel like I am wearing a mask, pretending to be perfect, pretending to be something I’m not. If I am living in a place where I am the bad me, I feel like the good parts are fake, and that I’m evil deep down to my core.

There’s the “good and perfect” story of my life, mostly the family/public version, and there’s the “story with the ugly stuff.” They might be about the same person, but the stories don’t really mesh. If I’m in a place where the good perfect story is what I’m living, then the ugly stuff feels fake, and like it can not intrude into my life or it will ruin everything. If I’m in a place where the ugly bad stuff feels real, then the good me feels fake. Well, even when I’m living the “perfect” story, the good me feels fake, like a very good actress, or someone who wants to be good but just isn’t. I guess it’s like how could it be real, feel real, when Friday night he was touching me, having sex with me, and Sunday morning we would all be sitting in church, and he would be a completely different person? It’s like I had to work even harder to be perfect so I could hide the bad things I did, but that perfect part doesn’t feel real, either; she hid all the bad, tried to be perfect, worked very hard to earn my parents’ love. That feels like an act, not like the real me.

It’s like only one of those “alices” can be real. Either the bad one who played the game, or the good perfect girl my parents loved. I don’t know. I don’t know how they are supposed to be combined. I wasn’t a stupid kid, I knew the game Kenny played wasn’t okay, that it was bad, and that I was bad for…well. Anyway. So I had to be perfect, and good, and pretend it was okay, and be okay, because I was a good girl, my parents couldn’t love a bad girl, and I knew good girls didn’t play games like that. I never want to be a child again, being a child was scary because I had no power or control over anything and oh my God, I really just realized that right now this moment. Being a child meant doing what my parents expected and always performing and being perfect and good enough in order to earn their love, and it meant never saying a word about the bad things happening with Kenny, because I was a good girl, and good girls don’t play games like that. Even I knew that. But I couldn’t say no. I had no power to tell anyone no.

And I’m not okay, and this isn’t okay, and nothing feels okay. But it only took me until late Tuesday morning to get my “outside okay” back. So. I admit it. I’m not okay. I’ve been pretending okay for a long time, but at least I was being mostly honest about the not okay in therapy and even a little with hubby, but then we had that fight, and all I’ve done is really pretend okay all the time, no matter what. Because I don’t know how else to be. Because if I really stop and think about everything, and stop hiding from feelings and the bad hard stuff, then I will fall apart, because it’s too much and it makes me feel out of control and crazy and like I might drown in the bad feelings. So, where do I go from here? I’ll admit, there is a small part of me that maybe is thankful someone saw through the crust of okayness. But I also hate it. Because now I have this mess in my head, and I don’t feel okay at all. I don’t want to hear that I will work through this. Or that I should sit with it. I can’t sit with it. It’s too much. Way, way too much, because it’s everything. It’s like I’m being smothered by it all.

I emailed Bea back, talking about the grey space. I tried to find the words, but it really was a convoluted mess of crazy. Mostly, it was everything written up above, me thinking out loud, trying to figure this mess out.

I don’t understand why things have to feel so messy, and so hard and so out of control if I’m not pretending to be perfect and if I don’t have that thick crust of okayness on. If I’m pretending everything is fine, I can ignore all the bad feelings, and smile and be fine. But, without that….I am falling apart. Bea cracked the shell on Monday, and the honesty filled emails I have sent since finished it off. It’s barely there anymore. The thick crust of perfection is more of a veneer now, and all my insides are falling out left and right. I’ve broken down into tears multiple times the last two days. I’ve caught myself dissociating and feeling fuzzy and not here. My eating habits are out of control. And cutting….well, we just don’t need to go there. Everything is worse.

I’m not okay. And I have no idea how to live in the grey.

She brought her sledge hammer

“So…I had to send an email to Carly, and I told her that I really did hope Jaime knew it wasn’t personal, that we liked him, it just wasn’t a good fit and that if she felt it was appropriate, she could pass that on to him. So I didn’t send anything to Jaime, but…well. It seems okay. Carly emailed back that I don’t need to apologize and that it’s okay.” I finally take a breath, and smile at Bea. It’s Monday morning, 8:10am, and I’ve been up since 4:30. I’ve also had two pots of coffee, done the laundry, planned dinner, unloaded the dishwasher, and swept the floor. Then I got ready for therapy, made a shopping list and headed out the door.

“Well, it sounds like you found a way to have some closure. That’s good,” Bea says.

I shrug. “I had to do it in a round a bout way, but I did it. Kind of.”

“This time, it was a round about way. Maybe not the next time. I think you handled it fine.”

And then, there’s nothing. Silence. I don’t like silence, and Bea isn’t talking. I find some idle chit chat to try to fill the silence, but Bea isn’t letting me go there. Okay. Now what? I’m lost.

Bea looks at me, and I have a feeling this is going to be bad. “I was thinking it might be a good time to talk about symptoms.”

I just stare at her for a minute. What? Why? No. That’s all I can think. No. “Umm. Well, I’m okay. You know that.”

“Yes, I know you are okay on the outside. But I haven’t brought up symptoms for quite a while. Some people might say I have been negligent to not bring them up. I really felt that unless you told me you were in a bad place, some trauma needed to be worked through in order for us to even work through the symptoms. I would dare to say you are in a healthier place with the trauma stuff now, and so it seems a good time to do a symptom check in. I’m not saying anything has to change, but we need to know where you stand right now. That’s all. Dealing with the past, processing through it, that’s good, but there’s no point if it’s not helping you in your present, and symptoms are kind of like present day manifestations of trauma,” Bea says.

As she has been talking, I’ve been slowly pulling my knees to my chest, and burying my face in them, covering my head with my arms. And then it’s quiet again.

“You know. I have a new client I’m seeing, and he tells me I talk too much in his sessions. In my head, it’s funny, because I have this other person, who tells me to talk more. But I think it’s time I stop talking so much, and let you see what comes up. I need to stop filling in the blanks for you.”

What? I’ve been working so hard to talk more. I have been talking more. I feel like I’m being punished. And she’s doing this today? On the day she is insisting we talk about symptoms? I don’t want to have this conversation.

Bea sighs. “Okay, symptoms. Have they been better? Worse? The same?” And that’s all she says. She means it. She doesn’t speak up, even after I’m quiet for another few minutes.

Finally, I say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Talking about it means admitting I am not okay. Talking about it means ripping myself apart. Talking about it means talking about why symptoms are worse. No. No, and no.

She’s silent for a second. “Okay. Can we talk about why? What about talking about it feels bad?”

I don’t answer. I don’t have an answer. I just don’t want to talk about this.

“What is the it you don’t want to talk about?” She finally asks me.

I don’t answer. I feel like a defiant teenager. Like an odd reincarnation of my fifteen year old self. Snotty, bratty, stubborn, and mean. The only thought running through my head is all of it, I don’t want to talk about any of it, and you can’t make me.

Bea can apparently be stubborn. But, I’m in the mindset of either waiting her out, or just leaving. I wonder if I can just walk out. If I have it in me. Just as I decide I do, she breaks the silence. “So, symptoms. We had sleeping, nightmares, picking, cutting, eating. And others I’m sure I haven’t listed. I always feel like it’s the cutting that increases in frequency when someone is in pain– emotional pain.”

I’m not in pain. I’m fine. I’m okay. “I’m okay.” I don’t know if I’m trying to convince Bea, or myself now. My head is spinning. I’m pretty sure she told me earlier that we are all done talking about trauma stuff, that I’m in a healthy place with that now, and it’s onto symptoms. She’s ready for me to be gone. I’m supposed to be over the trauma now. And I’m not. I finally was just starting to feel like I could talk about it. Oh my God, I’m such a failure. I can’t even do therapy right.

“All right. You’re okay. So where are these symptoms?” She asks again. Why is she pushing so hard? I hate that she brought this up. It’s not fair.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Maybe you don’t want to talk about it because it feels like I won’t be able to handle it. Maybe you don’t want to talk about it because it feels like I could freak out and say, ‘oh no, you can’t be doing that.’ I’m not going to. And I’m not going to take anything away from you. I’m not asking you to change what you are doing to cope. This is just a check in. That’s all,” she says. And then, she hits my perfect facade with a sledge hammer. “I never assumed you stopped cutting. I never assumed that the eating stuff was fixed. But those things are doing too good a job now. Nothing can get through to you, and nothing is getting out.”

I can feel myself cracking. She knew. She knew I hadn’t stopped, and she knew that I was worse. Someone saw me. Crap.

“The cutting. Is it still happening?”

I nod. And feel a tear escape. Damn it.

“How often?” She asks me, but I will not answer that, so she adds, “More frequently?”

It feels like I sit for a very long time in silence. Finally, I nod my head.

She goes through the same questions for eating, and I nod my head. Yes, there is still an issue. Yes, there is an increase in the symptom.

I don’t know what else is said. I cry a lot, and feel very broken and overwhelmed and like a failure. I don’t know what I’m doing. My head is spinning, and I can feel a migraine coming on. I hate this. I hate that she did this. I need to be okay. Why is that such a bad thing? Why couldn’t she just let me be okay?

I think Bea tells me acting perfect and stuffing all my feelings and needs down inside is a step backwards. I think she says something about how I need to see that I’m not allowing myself to exist. That I’m turning all my rage inward, and hurting myself. That the perfect act is not sustainable. But I don’t really hear her. All I can think is that she really is sick of hearing about my ugly stuff. That she is done with needy me, and it’s time for me to move on, deal with my symptoms and get out of here.

Somehow, I make it to the end up the session. I wipe my tears with the back of my hand, my head still buried in my knees.

“Do you want a Kleenex?” Bea offers me.

“No. I’m okay,” I tell her.

“Why do I have a feeling you have some in your bag, anyway?” She says. I’m always prepared, always organized. She knows this.

I shake my head. “I actually think Kat used all the ones in my bag. But I have some in the car, anyway.”

“Well, I have boxes of them, so take a few and throw them in your bag if you need them,” she offers one more time.

I don’t answer. Instead, I say, “I really just wish you had never brought this up.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” She’s quiet, soft spoken about it. She’s sorry I’m upset, but I don’t think she’s sorry she brought it up.

I say good bye, and leave. I try to realign my facade, but someone hit it with a sledge hammer.