Last week: therapy Thursday; I’m not doing my homework 

“So….hubby told me I could talk to him, and I told him I can’t.” It’s about 15 minutes into therapy when I announce this to Bea. I’m sinking fast, not sure what to talk about, and scrambling for something, anything, to keep her from turning her focus on me. 

“You did? When was this?” She asks. 

“Sunday. He asked me what was wrong, and I didn’t even know how to begin to explain, so….well, I just said there was a thing between you and me, and Kay was gone and I had no one to talk to. And he said I could talk to him. But I told him I can’t because he always shuts down, and then he said he doesn’t, and….ugh. I don’t know. I told him he does, he pulls away and I’m left alone. He said he just doesn’t bring things up the next day because he is waiting for me to bring them up! But it’s not that anyway. He’s just….gone. It’s not really something to put words to. It’s….like you were last week. He said he doesn’t mean to be that way, he just doesn’t know how else to be. So I told him to go to therapy, and he said okay…..well, I told him I want to be able to talk to him, but I can’t ….that we won’t be able to really talk and be real with each other until I work through my stuff and he works through his. And that even though I feel like I can’t talk to him now, it’s not because I don’t want to. I really do want to be able to talk and be real. So he needs therapy.” 

“Well, that wasn’t being in the bubble! That was a real, honest conversation. He clearly wants to be there for you, he just doesn’t know how. But you guys talked. That’s big,” Bea says. 

I suddenly feel annoyed with her, for some reason. I’m not sure why, but I can guess it’s because she is seeing hubby as someone who can be who I need. I don’t know. But I start to roll my eyes, then stop myself. “I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for him to go to therapy,” I say. 

Bea smiles at me. She likes this sassy part of me, for some odd reason. “You know, I believe that people are always working toward health, and just like you have grown and changed, and your parents—”

“And that only causes more problems and confusion–” I interject. 

“Yes,” she agrees, “Sometimes it does. But hubby is working towards health, too. I really believe that. When one person in the family unit changes, it influences the rest.”

I shake my head at her. “I’m still not holding my breath.” 

“Maybe this won’t be the conversation that gets him to therapy. But maybe it will. Either way, it was an important conversation. You were honest.” 

“We’ll see. I don’t expect anything will come of it. But now he knows where I stand.” I shrug. I made myself more vulnerable than I wanted to be in telling hubby how I feel. Granted, I’ve been more vulnerable, but after all the times he’s hurt my feelings, this feels pretty damn vulnerable to me. I refuse to get my hopes up and believe in him this time. I won’t be hurt again. 

Bea wisely lets the subject drop. “And you? How are you feeling? I didn’t get any emails, so I don’t know, but you seem lighter today.” 

That’s not me, I think, it’s the bubble. I want to seem okay, I desperately want to seem okay. I stare at the floor. I don’t know what to say. 

“Well, how did the dentist go?” She asks. 

“Fine. Well….yeah, it was fine.” 

“Did something happen?” 

“No, not really. Just, she wanted me to take a med that wouldn’t knock me out, but her assistant called it into the wrong pharmacy…and, I don’t know. It was a mess. I left here Monday, and went to run errands, and then got stuck in traffic, and was going to be late to pick up Kat, and no one was answering their phone, and finally hubby did, and he said he’d get Kat and  meet me at the grocery store so I could get my meds for the dentist and the groceries, but….well, I didn’t want to shop yet, I like to clean out the cupboard and the fridge and the pantry and have the kitchen clean before I get groceries and so it wasn’t time to go to the store, but hubby decided that was what we were going to do, so….ugh. We met at the store, he went to work, Kat and I shopped. I had to call ABA and have the tech meet us at the store because we weren’t going to get home in time, and then hubby said the pharmacy would have the meds by noon, and it was like 1:30, but they didn’t even have a script. So I text hubby, and he called the dentist and they had called it to the wrong pharmacy, but they fixed it. Except then I was already in the parking lot. So we went through the drive through but they said it would be 4 hours. So I cancelled it. Because I wasn’t going to drive all the way back to the store. And then I called the dentist and apologized for the inconvenience and asked if they could just call it into the little pharmacy by my house. And she got sort of snotty, saying she could but that she had already fixed it and didn’t have time to do it right then. So I just said that was fine, don’t worry about it, I wouldn’t want to inconvenience her due to an error she made in the first place. And then I hung up. And so I just took my normal med, that I still had some of, and took 1/2 the dose. So I was more awake than normal. But knocked out the rest of the day when it hit me. Plus I didn’t sleep Monday night, so I was really tired.” 

“That was a lot!” Bea tells me. “So it was okay on Tuesday though?” 

I nod. “It was.” 

“And you still like her?” 

“Yeah.” I think about it for a moment. “I do. I really do. Hubby was annoying me though.”

“How come?” 

“I don’t know. He just kept telling me I was doing a good job, but in that voice, you know…the one you use for crazy people? I don’t know. The dentist, and even her assistant were okay though.” 

“I’m thinking about Monday, and how that was a lot of loss of control,” Bea says slowly. “There are times now where you can handle that loss of control better than others. It seems there is a tipping point, where it’s too much. We’ve never really talked about it, or what happens. But maybe that is something to notice this week.” 

I don’t say a thing. I just stare at the floor. This isn’t what I need. This seems like something very concrete, and I don’t want this. But I don’t want emotions either. I don’t know what I want.

“It’s just something to notice, to see when it happens, what else it going on, how you handle it. Like, what happened when you got home from the store?”
“I put the groceries away.” 

“Were there feelings or actions you wanted to take?” She asks. 

Part of me is aware that she is making a good point. But part of me just doesn’t want to do this right now. “I don’t know. If I’d not had Kat and the ABA tech there, I’d probably cried in the car. I cried for a minute, just feeling really scared and like my whole life was spinning out of control after putting away the groceries but then I stopped and cleaned, and started sewing. And I sewed and sewed. Hubby came home, I was sewing, I told him I wanted to be left alone and not talk to anyone.”

“That was real, too,” she says, regarding what I had told hubby. “So, how did you stop the feelings?” 

“I just…I don’t know. I just turned them off. Like flipping a switch, I guess. I didn’t really get rid of them, so much as pause them. They aren’t….worked through. It’s not that I don’t feel things in the bubble, or let things in. I just…..switch them off. Until it’s too much and then I scream at life guards (I was referencing something I did last year while in this bubble of mine) I don’t know.”
“Makes sense,” she tells me. “It can be very useful to flip the switch when we need to function. But we have to let ourselves feel it, work through it. So it doesn’t all build up.” 

We sit in quiet for a moment, maybe longer. I don’t really remember. 

“So, do you think that’s something you can pay attention to, this week?” 

“That sounds hard.” I mumble. I want to explain why, to talk about it, but I’m at a loss for words. 

“Well, it’s not easy. But remember, you don’t have to change anything, or judge it. Just notice it. Do you think you can do that for homework this week?” 

Instantly, I’m on alert. Why is she assigning homework again– when she never has before? Does she think I’m not doing enough at home, working hard enough? Is she deciding I am wasting her time? “Why…..” I start to speak, then stumble. 
“You’ve never given me homework before, and that’s the second time you have this week.” I try to keep my tone light, laughing even. I think I succeeded.
“Well, it’s not homework– not like school. I just meant, it’s something to observe outside of therapy. That’s all.” 

“Phew. I thought you might be expecting a 500 word essay.” I’m joking, but in my head I’m wondering if that is all she meant. Oh my God, it’s hard to be in my head sometimes. 

We wrap up after that, although I’m not sure what we talk about. It’s St. Patrick’s day today. I should be meeting Kay for breakfast at this popular Irish pub. With St. Patrick’s day so close to her birthday (some years, it’s one and the same), the day has always been a day we go out— from morning until night. And living near a college town makes it easy to go out and party to celebrate st. Patrick’s day. She drinks green beer, I start with mimosas, and then move onto wine. But not this year. This year….well, I’m not out celebrating. But, I’ve already seen pictures she has posted to facebook. She’s out, with her wife and friends I don’t know. This day sucks. And I’m not doing my homework. 

Last week: therapy Monday 

Therapy last week. Ugh. It was hard. Monday sucked. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to talk through my long letter. When I got there, I talked about Kat, and hubby, and tried to avoid talking about real things. Bea wasn’t going to let that happen, though. She looked at the clock, in an obvious way, then looking at me, said, “We really need to talk about your letter, and I want to make sure we have time for that. I should get it out now.” 

I looked at her, and it was the teen that responded, flippantly “So, we’re doing this now?” 

Bea nodded yes, and I covered my face, but found I didn’t need to hide. I’d walked in numb, and was only growing more and more numb and gone now that we were going to talk about real things. 

I honestly don’t remember much of what we talked about. I remember her telling me that the amount of food I’d written down— really, I’d been freaking out over how badly I had been binging– wasn’t surprising to her, because she was sure she has at times eaten 53 French fries, or 17 mini Reese’s eggs. I couldn’t really let that sink in, but I think some of the shame around my eating was lessened, at least in terms of Bea. 

I remember her going through where she had been, what was going on, each time she responded to my emails. She shared that she enjoys hearing from me, even while on vacation, but that she should have written a disclaimer that she wasn’t as available as usual (like emotionally available). I remember feeling sort of hurt during this conversation, and telling her that I am aware that if she is on vacation, her responses my be shorter, or not as there, or whatever. I’m aware of that, and I get it, and it’s usually– has almost always been– fine. Except this time. This time was different because of Kay, and Rory was on vacation, too, and hubby is, well, hubby. I told her this, and she said, “I know. And I remember thinking that I hoped you weren’t as alone as you sounded, but also that you really were all alone right then. That made me so sad for you. You’ve been alone long enough. But there was nothing I could really do to help right then.” 

I nodded. “So you sent me strategy, and ideas, and tried to….well…it was shrinky.” She nodded agreement, maybe said something. I’m not sure. It seemed like sometime had passed when I said, “I wish you would have just written that you could feel how alone I was right then. That would have been better, it would have felt better than what you wrote.”

“It would have validated your feelings, and the situation. It would have been honest. I didn’t write that because it didn’t seem helpful, and I did want to help.” 

“You could have reminded me that you would be back, and so would Rory, that this alone-ness wouldn’t be forever. That it’s not the same as my past.” I told her. And she agreed. She said she should have, and she was sorry, and that in the future she would just be honest. 

She talked about how everything happening made sense to her, after Kay shut me out, and my other two supports ‘left’. She said it was okay. We talked about my craziness, the way I over think and freak myself out. I remember she said that is why some therapists won’t email, because things get lost in the written word with no facial expressions or body language to cue is into the meaning behind the words. 

“No….that’s not it. I do it all the time, email, talking face to face, texting. It doesn’t matter. I overthink and freak out, but I hide it.” I remember really wanting to make it clear to her that it wasn’t just an email thing. Even though I hadn’t wanted to send an email recently, I was very afraid she was about to set a boundary telling me no more emails. 

Bea surprised me, though. “I think email can be helpful for some people between sessions. So often, with this kind of work, it’s the days after therapy that things come up, that you process what we talked about. And if you can email it, and work through it a little bit instead of having to wait, because so much is always coming up, then it’s a good thing. And it doesn’t bother me one bit. I have time to be available. My kids aren’t at home anymore, and I work for myself. So I have much more availability than a lot of therapists, and I like hearing how you are, and what is coming up. I don’t have many people who need to email, and no one takes advantage of it, so I’m fine with emailing.” I breathed a sigh of relief at her words. 

I remember she talked about control, and how I feel about not being in control. I don’t remember the specific, though. That was a tough conversation, and I was really far away. She asked a few times if I was here, and each time Miss Perfect snapped to attention, smiling and saying I was okay, I was present enough. Finally, Bea stopped asking, and simply said, “You aren’t here.” She offered up some grounding suggestions, and I rejected every last one of them. 

“What’s happening right now? Where is your focus, where are you shining the flashlight?” She asked. 

“I don’t know. I want….. I don’t really want to be more here. I just…..I want to not feel. I don’t want to focus on the present.” I finally said, completely honest. 

I think we talked a bit more. But I’m not sure. As I was leaving, Bea gave me homework: to try to pay attention to where I was shining the flashlight. And then, I left, sad and not as connected as I had wanted to feel. 

Play therapy 

I have therapy in the morning. I’m not sure if I’m ready to pop this fragile bubble I’m in. It’s not the tough bubble of denial and self harm and eating disorder. It’s a bubble of…well….I guess of doing what I have to so that I can function. But it’s fragile. And I’m unsure of I pop it what will happen. Maybe nothing. I think part of me is scared that even if I pop the bubble, I’ll still be numb, detached. That I’m back to my “old normal” in some ways. I don’t know.
On Thursday, we talked about random things. I honestly don’t remember the conversation, but just being there, knowing Bea is there was enough. Before we finished our session, she did say she knew there had to be a lot going on under the surface for me, even if I wasn’t showing it. She said she could almost feel it. I thought about that, later. I feel numb, mostly. Numb and detached. I don’t want to think about how I feel. I don’t want to think about Fall, and October, and all the mess and ugly that come with it. I don’t want to think about my daughter starting school, and all the triggers that sets off in me. 
I say I am not feeling anything about any of these changes, that I am fine. But, I notice I’m not sleeping, and when I do, I’m back to waking up hourly, and nightmares chase me as I drift off to sleep. I find myself so full of unexpressed, unacknowledged anxieties that I wake up realizing I have been grinding my teeth, or holding my mouth closed so tightly that I bit my tongue and drew blood. I notice that my daily headaches are back, despite the medications, and that migraines are more frequent. My body pains are back– worse than they have been in months. Maybe it’s a fibro flare, or maybe it is me being detached from my emotions and feelings. I notice my tolerance for noise, for change in plans, for anything really, is very low. I notice that I mostly just want to be left alone to get the through this— whatever this is.  
I didn’t write about Thursday’s session, because it was just more of me avoiding. Perhaps the most significant thing that happened in therapy last week happened in Kat’s session. I had stayed for all of Kat’s session, which is unusual these days, but she asked me to, so Hagrid and I snuggled on Bea’s couch and read a book on my kindle app……..
Towards the end of the session, Bea smiles at Kat, and gives her the 5 minute warning. “We have a few minutes left of our game, and then you can choose which animals are going home with you today.” Every week, Kat borrows 2 small stuffed or 2 small plastic animals from Bea; it’s a way to stay connected throughout the week, and to reassure kids that they are coming back. “How would you like to end our game today?” Bea asks Kat. 

Kat has an elaborate plan for ending the game, so I offer to clean up while they finish their game. I pick up figures, furniture, monsters, dried beans, blankets, wooden blocks and puzzle pieces. We finish our separate tasks at the same time. 

“I’m taking the kitty home, and one of the little hard ones.” Kat bounces over to the container of animals. She looks through all of them, and in the end she can’t choose between 2 kittens. “Please can I take 3?” 
You can take 2,” I remind her. 

“We can save one for next time,” Bea offers. 


Kat finally chooses the one she will take home and hands me the one she is leaving behind. “Speak him, mom,” she demands. Kat likes grown-ups to speak for her toys. It is her favorite thing. 

I look at the little kitten in my hand, and walk him over to Bea. “Hi,” I make him say. 

“Hello there,” Bea says. 

“I’m going to stay here a while. I need someone to take care of me and help me when I get scared,” I make the kitten say. 
Bea looks at me, then at the kitten, and says, “I can help if you would like me to.”

“Will you take care of me?” The kitten asks.

“Yes. I will take care of you,” Bea says. 
Will you keep me safe from the scary things?” The kitten asks. 

“I will do my very best to keep you safe. I want you to feel safe,” Bea tells the kitten. 

“Okay,” the kitten says, and he jumps into her out stretched hand so she can save him for Kat, for next week. 
And those 3 minutes were about as close as I got this week to talking about how scared and lost and overwhelmed I am. How much emotion is just rushing at me, and how much anxiety and tension I feel from my life right now. How much I just need someone to be there, to help me when I am scared, and of course to keep me safe.