This is not October

I don’t want to do therapy today. I just don’t. I’m trapped in circular cycle of despair. It goes like this: I feel numb, with all these feelings and landmines underneath the numb. I can’t cope with the landmines on my own, it’s too BIG, too overwhelming. I build walls and go far away and feel empty and numb because the feelings are too much. The feelings leak through the walls anyway, and I feel panicky and alone. I need Bea, I need to not feel alone with this, I need her to contain it for me. I can’t feel her, though, because I am too far away. That means she can not contain it for me, or soothe me. So I feel more panic, more alone, more overwhelmed and I go farther away, which only makes it feel more like she is not here.

I log on anyway and when Bea says hello and good morning, I say hi back. My voice sounds wooden, hollow. Does it sound like that to her?

We talk about Kat, about school, about Halloween. Bea asks questions, and I answer them on autopilot. Eventually she asks about my birthday.

“My parents are coming. It’s fine. It all just feels far away.”

She nods her head. “That will be nice that they are coming. Usually you have a whole birthday week, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” She’s right, I do, and this week is birthday week. I just can’t get into celebration mode, though. (The back story is my Grandpa and I share a birthday. He and I had Birthday Month, and it was always really special. We loved our birthday. He always said I was the best birthday present ever, and that no gift would ever top the day I was born. He made me feel special and loved and like I was very important. He died right after I celebrated 29 and he celebrated 79. My birthday is bittersweet now, and for a lot of years, I didn’t celebrate at all. I miss him terribly. He was my favorite person on the planet. I wish everyday that he was here.)

“I haven’t forgotten about October being hard,” she says softly. When I don’t say anything, she continues, wondering out loud if that is part of what is going on.

I’ve denied that this feeling is the October feeling, and I still don’t think this has anything to do with October. It took two years, maybe three years of therapy to recognize that there is this October feeling, this pattern that has emerged. But once we saw the pattern, we worked to change it. Parts got less out of control, and I developed better coping skills and even though I always have this echo of the October feeling it is manageable. But THIS, this overwhelming, needing to disappear, wanting to die feeling? This is not October. Finally, I just bury my head in my knees.

“What’s happening for you right now? Can you tell me?” Bea asks.

“It’s not October. October is feeling like I am a failure, like I can do nothing right, like everyone is mad at me, hates me, is going to leave me because I am horrible. October is being mean and mad and pushing everyone away before they can leave me. October is sad, and it’s the teen freaking out, and it’s out of control and acting out, and wanting to die, and even I usually know I’m not acting okay, I am being mean and crazy but I can not stop it. THIS is not October. You know that! You know what October is.”

“No, this doesn’t sound like October. You’re right, I do know what October is and that it is really a hard time.” Then, she adds in her gentle voice, “But remember, I am not inside. I don’t know what things feel like inside, and I don’t think you have ever really described what October feels like. I only see the outside of it, that it is out of control, and painful and that there is lots of suicidal ideation happening. But I can see now that this feeling is not October.”

I don’t respond, but I am relieved she is finally getting it.

Bea talks, but I am farther and farther away, and it’s too hard. This is too hard. I’m alone, even though Bea is right here, talking to me, trying to help. When she asks me if I can describe the feelings that are too much, her words break through the fog.

“I don’t know. I just don’t know. I can’t, I can’t because you are too far away and it’s my fault anyway and I can’t do this.” The words are jumbled and repetitive and I know I am not explaining well at all. I hate this. Bea doesn’t feel like Bea, I can’t tell her anything, and I am trapped all alone in a head filled with nightmare images, overwhelming emotions and landmines.

“Why do you think it’s your fault?”

“Because. Because I am far away and that makes everyone feel far away, so I should not be so far away but I can’t stop it, I can’t do this by myself but I am alone because I can’t be here.” I’m whiny, I know I sound whiny but I don’t even care.

“Well, I think last time we met you felt like I was less far away after we had been talking for a while,” she says lightly.

“I can’t talk to you right now. You don’t feel like you.” I throw my blanket over my head as I say the words, afraid she won’t like that I am telling her this.

“Hmmmm. I feel like me, just Bea. I wonder who it is that feels like I am not me? Is there a part here that doesn’t know me, maybe?” Bea is so inquisitive. Usually I like that about her, but today I really hate it.

She might be right. It might be a different part that is here. This part, she’s not a teen part, or the little girl, or Ms. Perfect or the slutty part. She feels different. All of this feels different. But I can not say that. I don’t know why. I just can’t. So instead I whisper whine, “I don’t know. I’m just stuck. There are no good choice right now.”

“Yeah, this really does feel like a stuck point. It feels like we have been bouncing between stuck places for a while now. Either stuck in feelings and trauma or stuck in the numb place.”

“Are you frustrated?” I ask.

“It is frustrating, isn’t it? This is a hard place to be. Stuck places are always hard, and they always feel difficult and frustrating,” Bea responds.

I freeze. I knew it, I knew it. She is frustrated with me for not being okay, for not talking, for being far away and for anything and everything else. Vacantly, I say, “I knew you were frustrated with me.”

“No, not at all. No, no. I’m not frustrated with you or with the stuckness at all! Oh gosh, I’m sorry that was confusing. I meant that I know it is frustrating for you.” Bea’s words rush out, fast, like she just wants to make sure I understand she is not annoyed with me, or mad at me, or anything else.

“Okay.” I shrug, but she can’t see me because I am still hiding.

“I wonder if there is something I can do to help you feel like I am here, or to help any parts that don’t know me feel safe to share how they feel?”

“I never want you or anyone to fix things for me…..” I start to say and then I trail off because the second half of the sentence is too hard to say.

“I know. And I am a terrible fixer,” she says.

I feel crushed, and I start to cry. “I just wish this one time you could fix it.”

I think she says something kind and caring back, but I don’t know because that little bit of vulnerability sends me so far away I have no idea what is happening in the here and now.

“Alice, I think you’ve disappeared on me. I can’t see you, so I don’t know for sure but it feels like you are really, really far away. This is too far. I know you need some distance to feel safe, but I need you to come back a little, okay?” Soothing but firm, Bea pulls me back a little bit.

“Yeah.” I’m hollow and dead inside except not really because my voice breaks as I speak and the sobbing starts again. “I feel like my world is ending and nothing will be okay ever again and I just want to disappear. I spend all my time hiding in my head, and I can not stop it. I don’t get anything done, I’m not doing anything I should be doing. I just hide in my head.”

“That is a lot. This feels like new feelings, the depth of all this pain.” I think that this is meant to be soothing, but it feels so much like an analytical observation.

I have no words the rest of our session, I just vacillate between being numb and sobbing.

At 10:00am, echo reminds Kat to take her medicine. (I set this reminder for the summer, and now I can not figure out how to cancel it. Every time I ask echo to cancel all reminders, timers, routines, she says I have nothing scheduled. I also can find nothing in the app. It’s beyond annoying.)

“It’s time to go,” I say.

“Yes, but we can take a minute to try to get you back to a place where you can cope,” Bea tells me.

“I’m not coping, I’m not okay, I can not do this. There is no going back to a coping place, because I am not coping,” I snap at Bea.

“I know, I just meant to get to a place where you aren’t so upset….” her voice trails off. She sounds like she feels helpless.

“Whatever. It’s fine, I’m fine. You have to go, just go,” I tell her.

“Maybe this is a time where you could email me later. I have sessions until 6:30 tonight, but if you email, I will read it and write back then, okay?”

“Okay, sure, fine.” I’m wooden and numb and dead inside again. I sit frozen under my blanket.

Bea says something, but I don’t know what. I feel a sense of her not wanting to leave me like this and feeling helpless to comfort me.

I sit and cry for a few minutes after she hangs up. I don’t know how to stop this. I feel like I am dying, like my world is ended, like I am all alone in a place of complete darkness. I am not coping, I am not okay, I am not functioning. In all the ups and downs and scared feelings and aloneness and trauma and pain and confusion, I don’t think I have ever felt this bad before.

Metal Walls and Black Holes (part two)

“I can’t do this by myself.” I whisper the words, a barely there ghost like whisper.

“You don’t have to. I am here,” Bea says firmly. When I’m silent, she asks, “Do you feel anymore like you aren’t alone? Can you feel me here at all?”

I think about it. I’m not sure. “Maybe…..not like I feel it but I know it….sort of logical, maybe? I don’t know. Talking with you, and you listening and then when you get it, I know that would make me feel like you are really, really here. I just don’t feel it. So I guess so it’s sort of better.”

“That makes sense. I’m glad you can at least know I’m here, even if you can’t really feel it. You don’t have to be alone now. You were hurt so bad and so alone and not protected. You don’t have to be alone or hurt anymore. You deserve to feel protected and cared for.”

“Bea?” This comes out as a question, in the way kids will say *Mom* as a question.

“Yeah?”

“If he….if before was because I mattered, then why….that night when he…..why would…I mean….why did he if I didn’t matter and he didn’t love me and I’m not special, why did he do it?” I’m tripping over my words, my thoughts and my questions tumbling together in my head.

Bea is quiet for what feels like a long time. “Well,” she finally says, speaking slowly, carefully. “Well, I don’t think any of this, before or after was about love for him. He knew, sometimes bad guys know that kids need to feel like they matter, and he used that to get what he wanted. I think that all of this was about what he wanted and his pleasure. It was about power and doing what he wanted, and he used whatever he could to get you to go along with him.” She sounds so, so sad as she is saying this.

“Oh. It was mean,” I say.

“Yes, it was very, very mean.” Bea’s voice sounds funny.

“Are you okay? Did I do something wrong?” There’s a worry there about upsetting Bea, but it’s sort of dulled down from how it would normally feel.

“Yes, yes I am okay. I just wasn’t sure how to answer your question. I didn’t want to make you feel bad. Sometimes answering questions that…the answer might hurt, it feels wrong to me. I will always answer your questions and I won’t lie to you. I just…I feel very protective of you and of all the parts, and I was feeling some….like I didn’t want to tell the Little Girl about Bad people existing. I was feeling, am feeling protective over her.”

“I know monsters are real. They don’t look scary though. Just regular.”

“Yes, you do know that, don’t you? You’ve known that for a long time.” Bea breathes, and it’s the kind of breathing you do when you are trying not to cry.

“It’s okay. I’m not really upset,” I tell her.

“No, you are too far away to feel upset right now, aren’t you?”

“Yeah…..I wish I never wanted to be special, though.”

Bea won’t let that belief stand. “You did nothing wrong. Everyone wants to feel special and like they matter. Everyone wants to feel loved. He was wrong! He preyed on that need, he was a monster. You didn’t deserve to feel hurt then, and you don’t deserve it now. It makes me so mad that he is out there free, living his life and you are still hurting because of what he did, because he was selfish and mean and used you.” Bea stops talking, and then says more gently, “That longing to matter? That is that attachment seeking system, and it is a good thing. It’s okay, it is a good thing to want to attach, to want to matter to someone. Okay? I want you to know that.”

I feel like Bea speaking about attachment and needing to matter to others in this caring voice is very, very dangerous. The walls start to feel as though they are softening. “Stop, no, no, no. Just no. Stop. please, please, no.” I shake my head, cover my eyes even though I am still hiding under my blanket.

“Okay. Okay. I know that’s hard to hear right now. We can talk about something else.”

The walls harden back into place, and I slowly peek out from under my blanket. “Did you ever play that computer game where you click on the boxes and you are trying to avoid hitting the landmines? I can’t think of what it’s called.”

Bea shakes her head. “I don’t think so, no.”

“Oh. Well, there are lots of bombs and you click on the boxes and try not to hit them. That’s what my head feels like right now.”

“I can see that. I’ll try very hard not to hit any landmines, okay?”

I shrug. “I don’t know where they are. But it seems I keep bumping into them anyway. I hate this.”

“I know. What would it mean if a landmine was triggered?” Bea asks curiously.

“I….I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about this right now.”

“Okay,” Bea agrees.

We talk about how my being able to tell her in an email that I was upset is a big change. When I say that it’s different than what would have happened two years ago, maybe even a year ago, Bea smiles. “What is different do you think?”

“Well, before, I might have been hurt but I would have seen you not noticing under the surface stuff as you not caring, maybe a sign you were leaving me, or somehting and I would have been so hurt and so upset about it that I would have emailed but probably not been very nice about it.”

“Yes, maybe so. This time, though, you just said like *hey, this really hurt when I felt like you didn’t see how badly I am feeling and how not okay I am.* That wasn’t mean at all, but it was good sticking up for yourself, it is important to be able to tell people how they have hurt us.”

“I never wanted to be mean before, it’s just so much would spin out of control, I would be so triggered and panicked and scared. Relationships really terrified me, you know.”

“I know, the very idea of any relationship, any attachment was very, very threatening to you.” Bea says. She sounds proud of me.

“It’s still a little scary, sometimes,” I say.

“Well, yeah, of course it is. You were hurt in relationships, by attachment figures, by people who were supposed to care for you and love you and keep you safe. It’s always going to be a little scary to let people in after that. But you can choose now to let them in anyway, when you know they are safe, right?”

“Right. I choose now. Mostly.” I smile at Bea. I am so grateful to her. I worked hard, but I never would have gotten to this place without her.

“Reminder. Leave in 5 minutes to pick up Kat.” Every Amazon Echo in the house blares the reminder. We’ve run way over my hour.

“I’m sorry, I made us run over,” I apologize.

“Don’t be sorry. I had the time, and I think you needed it. I’m glad we had some time to talk today.” Bea smiles.

“Thanks.”

“Are you okay to go get Kat?” Bea asks.

“Yeah. I’m okay to go get her.”

“Okay. I’ll see you and Kat on Thursday, then.”

I nod my head. I hate that Wednesday is cancelled, but I’m glad she was able to see me today.

“Bye,” we say in unison, and I log out of teletherapy.

I don’t see this being fixable

I emailed Bea, and told her I was not wanting to bring Kat to therapy. I didn’t want to have to go see her, and feel her being so far away, and have to try to act like things are okay so that Kat doesn’t know things aren’t okay, and then end up feeling worse. She wrote me back, and said that she was okay, and back to normal, and to rest assured that she would be there for both Kat and I today. 

I wasn’t sure about it, but I got Kat ready, and we piled into the car, and drove to Bea’s. We some how arrive early, and so we sit in the car for about 10 minutes. I sit, looking at Bea’s building, and feel tears in my eyes. Shutting down my feelings, I tell Kat we can head inside.

Bea says hello to both of us, and I can’t look at her. I try, but I can’t. I feel myself shutting down, and freaking out. I tell Kat that mom is going to go hang in the waiting room because I have some emails to write. Kat immediately whines that she doesn’t want me to go, and climbs onto my lap, clinging to me. I finally look at Bea, wanting her to tell me what to do, to help me leave. I can’t be here. 

We somehow convince Kat that mom will stay and help her and Bea do a craft, and then mom is going to go write her emails. The three of us sit on the floor, and start crafting a turtle out of a sock. I can’t look at Bea, and I feel stiff and uncomfortable. She says something to me about being okay now, being back to herself, assuring me she is really here for me and Kat. I smile a small smile, but I can’t respond. Maybe she is back to herself. I don’t know. I’m too shut down to be able to feel anything. I’m hurt. I’m confused. Why couldn’t she be what I needed? I want to move past this, but how? I was already in this state of not being able to trust anything, feeling floaty, anchorless, and alone. I needed Bea to be extra here, to be really open, to be very here, to be a very strong secure base. It’s not fair, but after everything that has happened with Kay, I needed Bea to prove to me that she won’t leave and that she will not judge me for anything, or be disgusted with me or mad at me. And she did the opposite. She left. I realize her vacation was planned prior to to the mess my life turned into, but she promised to be there via email, and she didn’t feel like she was there. She promised she would come back, but she didn’t really come back.  How can I ever trust that she is really here now? I can’t lift the bubble, I can’t risk the vulnerability, if I do and Bea still feels shut down, I won’t survive that. This relationship won’t survive that. And if the relationship doesn’t make it, I really won’t be okay. Without Bea and without Kay, I can’t do this; I can’t work to heal, I can’t be me. The me I am learning to be won’t survive. Miss Perfect will come back and take over, the bubble will be permanent and everything will be shoved down. I won’t be okay. 

 
As soon as the turtle is crafted, I practically run out of her office. I can hear Kat protesting, and Bea distracting her by asking her how they will decorate turtle. 

I sit on the floor in the waiting room, pull my knees to my chest, bury my face in my knees, and cry. I cry for maybe 20 minutes and then I force myself to shut it down. I end up just sitting there, dissociated and hurting and sad. I want Bea to be herself. This hurts. Seeing her, and feeling things are so wrong, hurts. 

When Kat’s session is over, I ask if they need help cleaning up. Bea smiles, and says they got everything cleaned up already. I help Kat gather her things, and she tells Bea bye. I don’t say anything, just follow Kat down the stairs. Normally, I stand at the top of the stairs, chatting with Bea while she makes tea, or straightens up. I hear her saying something, but it’s muffled. I call goodbye up the stairs, and she makes a surprised noise, and says goodbye. 

Things aren’t right, they aren’t okay. And I don’t see how this can be fixed. 

I have no one

I leave therapy, and feel like crying. I want to curl up in bed and sob for days. I’m so, so sad, but I can’t allow myself to feel right now. I make it through the rest of my afternoon, and then, while Kat is occupied with ABA, I crawl into bed. I pull my blankets over my head, and bury my face in my pillow to muffle the sound of my cries. 

I’ve felt alone and abandoned all week. Bea coming back was supposed to make everything better. Not better because I expect her to fix everything, but because I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I hadn’t wanted to talk, but I had thought…..I needed her to push and ask me how things really are and want to listen. I don’t want the bubble popped, but maybe I wanted to let her into the bubble with me, to let her see what the bubble is hiding. 

And while she is back from her trip, she still isn’t here. I’m devastated. It was like sitting in a room with my mother, being a teen….I felt like it was no different than the times I’d attempted suicide and my mom had talked about weather and church activities, planned a birthday party for me. My mother was so emotionally closed off and not able to be open at all, even during those times I really needed her to be. The thing is, with my mom, I was never surprised. Hurt, yes, but not surprised. I’m not even sure that she was even aware that she was so emotionally closed off back then. But Bea? Bea has never been closed off like that. I’ve shut her out, closed myself off from her, but she has never been like that towards me. I didn’t expect this. Not really. I worry about it happening, I fear that she will one day be done with me, but I never really expected that she would be shut down like this. And she knows how to not be closed off, she is capable of being emotionally open. That makes this hurt even worse. With my mom, I feel like ‘why couldn’t she be what I needed, what was so bad about me that she couldn’t leave be me enough to be what I needed?’ But with Bea, I feel like I have done something to cause this, like she was once able to accept me, be open for me, and I have screwed up and was too honest about my feelings and the mess in my head and so she now has to close herself off from me. When she suggested she was maybe protecting herself, all I could think was that she had to protect herself from how disgusting I am. I mean, why wouldn’t she want to protect herself from the pain and hurt and crazy and disgusting mess that I am? Who could blame her? 

It feels like I might never stop crying, but when my sobs calm down, I write a letter to Bea with tears still streaming down my face. I tell her that I am sad, and that I needed her to be Bea today. I tell her I think she is protecting herself from the grossness that is me. I tell her I’m hurt that she isn’t really here, and that I feel stupid for how I feel, and for even writing to her but that I think not addressing this type of stuff is what made the little girl feel like Bea wanted her to go away and that she wasn’t allowed to talk. 

I NEEDED you to be YOU today. I think I spent most of the weekend and week thinking that it would be okay because I’d come to therapy and tell you how I felt, and that I was freaking out, and having a mini breakdown, and that your emails made you seem farther away, and I was sad and scared and feeling like I was so alone and everyone left me. And even though I didn’t want to pop the bubble, I sorta wanted to talk to you, or at least give you my writing. But I couldn’t do anything today, after I felt like you weren’t on my side about the school stuff. And then it just got harder to bring anything up. You said you had a wall up, and maybe you were protecting yourself. I get it, the grown up me gets how hard it is to come back from vacation, and can see that you were acknowledging things felt weird and that it is okay and we will get back to normal on monday and it would be okay, and I know you are human and make mistakes and can’t be on all the time and that you aren’t going to always get it right, and that those things can be okay, because it means I can learn to work through this crappy scary relationship stuff. So, grown up me is okay. Unfortunately grown up me is not running the ship right now. And the rest of me, I already felt shut down from how yucky and triggered I had felt, and scared and mad and not okay, and then everything today just was wrong and off and I felt like maybe you had a wall up to protect yourself from how crazy and disgusting I am and you weren’t there. And I really, really needed you to be there. And I really, really don’t feel better, I just seem better on the outside. And I’m really, really not okay.

Bea wrote back. 

I’m SO sorry for me not being okay today. It was nothing about you, and I was very aware of what you needed from me and how you needed me to be, but I just couldn’t do it:( Please rest assured that it was not anything related to you! I know me not being okay triggered the little girl to not feel safe–no secure base. We all experience this at times as parents when we just can’t function emotionally as a secure base for our kids, and that was exactly what this was like for me this morning. Again, I’m SO sorry:(. Cognitively I’m very aware of how terrible that was for you–and I was aware this morning as well, but I just couldn’t unprotect myself. This was me being very human, unfortunately……

Her email didn’t feel okay. Maybe it usually would, but I am so closed off from her and afraid and she doesn’t feel safe right now. Nothing feels safe. I don’t understand why she couldn’t be how I needed her to be, why she couldn’t be herself. I’m hurt. And confused. I’m meant to pretend I’m not hurt, that her email made it all better, because I need her. I don’t know what the protocol is for being mad and hurt at the one person you need to support and help you and telling them how you are truly feeling. Normally, I would call Kay. I would cry and ask her what to do. Because she always has the answers. But I’m alone. I don’t have Kay, and I don’t have Bea. I have no one. 

She didn’t come back 

After a really hard weekend, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are better. Or, rather, better on the outside, because Miss Perfect is running the ship during the day, and she gets things done. Organizing, cleaning, dishes, laundry, sweeping, scrubbing, dusting, making dinner, baking treats, sewing, creating, playing with Kat, doing yoga, ext ext. I don’t have time to think when I’m like this, there is no tIme to hurt, or feel crazy. And if, for some reason, those bad feelings dare pop up when she is in charge, miss perfect has no problem starving the feelings, or binging them away, purging the memories, or cutting to be numb again. So, things have worked the last few days. 

The nights have been harder, but they usually are, aren’t they? I made sure to write a lot, and did some knitting, watched a movie, attempted to read and then listen to a book, and eventually turned to my old stand by, Gilmore Girls. Wednesday night was strange. I could feel myself shutting down even more, pulling the bubble of okayness more tightly around myself. I didn’t want to go to therapy the next morning. Everything about going was aversive, and felt like a terrible idea. Miss perfect didn’t want to go because she does not want this bubble popped, the teenager felt really hurt but was trying to hold onto being angry, and the little girl was terrified that she would go to therapy and Bea wouldn’t be there, that she wasn’t really coming back because I had hit her limit and she was done with me. 

Thursday, I force myself to get ready for therapy, to get into the car, and drive to Bea’s office. Even the drive to her office feels wrong. There is construction being done on the ‘main’ road that leads from my neighborhood in the boondocks to the actual main road. They are redoing the bridge, which means I have to drive all the way around the lake. The detour takes an extra 20 or 25 minutes, depending on traffic. I decide to drive in the other direction, taking a more direct yet somehow more round about route. It takes about the same amount of time, either way. But the drive in feels wrong, and several times (twice after I am back on the normal route) I look up at my surroundings only to feel scared that I don’t recognize them, and have no idea where I am or how I got there. The feeling only lasts maybe 10 or 15 seconds before I figure it out, but it’s terrifying when it’s happening. 

I finally get to Bea’s, park, and Hagrid and I walk up the stairs to her office. Hagrid beats me there, running into the office excitedly to greet Bea. I follow him, say good morning and take my seat in the usual place. 

Things don’t feel right, right away. I can’t explain it, it’s nothing I can put into words, but things feel off. I’m sure it’s me, wanting to talk to Bea but feeling so rejected from her email, and feeling scared and alone, and not really wanting the bubble popped but desperately wanting Bea to notice I’m not okay, so when miss perfect smiles and pretends things are fine, asks Bea how the weather was for her vacation, I’m relieved. We talk about weather and how the lake was, and our dogs, and other random things. 

In the middle of our chit chat, Kat’s one teacher texts me back. I read the text, saying to Bea, “This teacher has been texting me, she sent me the assembly and field trip schedule so I’d be able to prepare Kat better.” I tell her how I am just done with the school, and while I am being nice and polite, I am no longer collaborating with them. I simply have been giving them two choices of how to handle any given situation, and that’s it– they can choose one of those, and I refuse to listen to any ideas for a third option. 

Bea listens, and then asks questions, points out the good things they have done, suggests that Kat seeing me act less warm toward her teachers may be confusing. I become frustrated, and try to explained that as far as I am concerned, they lost the right to have much input, because of how they handled the last situation that arose, as well as how they behaved at the meeting, and how it is clear they simply have their own agenda and don’t really care about what is best for Kat. Bea says something to the effect that I can’t assume what they are thinking or feeling, and that sometimes we have to back off and give people a chance to make mistakes and correct them, to figure out their own rhythm with a kid. 

I shake my head. “They have had that chance all year. Clearly, they can’t make good choices for Kat. I don’t trust them. Maybe that trust can be earned back, I don’t know right now. But you aren’t going to change my mind, or make me less upset, or anything else.” 

She says something, I don’t even know what. I repeat that she isn’t going to make me change my mind. She tells me, “I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m trying to just put a few other thoughts in there. Because I don’t want you to lose sight of the big picture, or to only be able to think of the school as bad.”

I shake my head. “I’m well aware of the good things they have done. But those things happened when I was agreeing with them. I say no to one thing, and their true colors came out. I am not going to change my mind. It is what it is, and I am fine with how things are. I don’t need these people to like me, I don’t need them to be my friends. And I don’t trust them, at all, to,do what’s best for my kid, and not follow their own agenda.” 

We go back and forth a few more times. Bea feels very argumentative to me. Why is she so firmly not on my side? It feels like she is disagreeing with me, just for the sake of disagreeing. I have this thought, that if I told her the sky was blue, she would argue it was not. 

I had been writing to Bea since that email that sent me over the edge; unfiltered, raw, honest writing, that I wanted to give her today. Maybe. But now, I really can not give that to her. I felt conflicted over giving it to her, anyway, and this weirdness, Bea’s antagonistic behavior, all of it has made me certain there is no point in talking. 

We’ve fallen silent in the last minute or so. “Well, we’ve talked a lot about Kat, and school, and you did need to talk about that, but I wanted to talk about this weekend. Are things feeling better now, with the week routine back in place?” 

I don’t say a word. I simply float away, I can’t talk to her about this. I want to get up and leave, but that seems too final, too scary. 

Bea asks again if things feel the same, or better. 

“Sure, they’re better.” I sound far away, even to myself. This isn’t good. But Bea doesn’t even seem to realize I’m really far away. Whatever. 

“You were really judging yourself this weekend, pretty harshly. I don’t think of the cutting, the throwing up as bad. You really had gone through a list of coping skills, and you needed what worked, the familiar survival skills, so to speak.”

I don’t respond, I just stare at the floor. 

“Rory was on vacation this week, too?” She asks me. I nod. “And Monday was a week since Kay texted you?” I nod again. “It’s no wonder things felt so bad. I left, Rory left, and Kay had been gone a full week. That had to feel very scary.” 

“It was fine. I was fine.” I tell her. Even if she is right, I don’t want her to know how that felt. I don’t want to talk to her. Bea isn’t Bea today, and I don’t like it. She said she wouldn’t leave, she said she would come back from vacation, but she didn’t come back. She’s not here. 

I think she attempts to talk to me a few more times, but I’m not responding. When it’s silent again, I say, “I feel like you are waiting for me to say something.” 

“No, I was just trying…my head was spinning in different directions and I was trying to figure out what was the best way to go, what would be most helpful.” 

“Why?” I ask her. 

She pauses, takes a breath, and says, “I know this isn’t really going well right now. I still feel like I’m in vacation mode somehow. I’m still in a headspace of reading and going for walks and relaxing and not being very present or attuned to alone. In therapy, I usually feel this….kind of openness, this way of being that is open and able to really feel into your experience and be with you in this. Today…..it’s like, well, I don’t know, it’s like I have a wall up right now. Maybe I’m protecting myself.” 

Miss perfect smiles, and says easily, “I always feel like I need a vacation after my vacation.” 

She responds, agreeing with me maybe, but also says something to the effect that she would be mad if her therapist returned from vacation and wasn’t really here. 

I shake my head, laugh a little. “It’s okay. Really.”

I think I say something about the weirdness being from me, I have the okay bubble firmly in place, so it’s not like I was talking anyway. Bea shakes her head, and talks about how if she was open like she normally is, then maybe I would feel comfortable letting the bubble up a bit, and talking. She tells me that she will be better on Monday, things will go back to normal, and jokingly she says she will pop this bubble next week. I laugh, and tell her it’s all okay.  

I don’t know how things progress from there, but somehow we end up talking about dachshunds and swimming. Bea says that it’s no wonder Hagrid doesn’t swim, his short legs aren’t made for swimming. I laugh, and tell her that a lot of people with dachshunds say they are good swimmers. “Besides,” I joke, “dachshunds came from the sea.” 

“They did?” She asks, surprised. 

I nod, tell her abut a book called ‘how dachshunds came to be”. I end up pulling the book up on my kindle, and we read it together. I don’t know what it is about this book, exactly. I just love it. It tells the story of a little girl who is lonely when she has to leave her sea creature friends every night. The sea creatures decided to create a friend for the little girl, — they choose the best of their attributes to give to this new creature (like a long nose to nuzzle and cuddle the little girl, and a tail that can wag to show happiness and love– and with magic, love and the power of the sea the dachshund is created. And the little girl has a friend who will always be with her.