Deeper down the rabbit hole part 3 (fighting with hubby)

Continued from part 2…..and I still am going with that trigger warning, mostly for suicidal ideation. Im posting this because I am okay now. Most of these feelings have passed, now, and Bea is aware of how I was feeling. 

Sunday, hubby and I fought some more, and things were worse feeling. I needed to get away, and so I left under the guise of going grocery shopping. I ended up sitting in the grocery parking lot for the better part of two hours. I realized I wanted to talk to Bea. I wanted to call Kay, who had dealt with my bad feelings like this before. But Kay is more of an acquaintance now, a person who really doesn’t even want to think about me, let alone talk to me. I thought about calling Reagan, but didn’t want to bother her, when she had just dealt with my nonsense the night before. It sucked, because I realized how alone I really am. Yes, I’m married, but I have isolated myself, and cut myself off from so many relationships in my life, including one with my husband, that I was just really alone right then. The person I should have been able to turn to, my hubby, was the source of my pain, and was not someone I was about to turn to. All I could do is write a letter to him in my journal; a letter that won’t get sent.

*************************************************************************************************************

Dear hubby, 

I need you to go to therapy. I get that you are stressed out and that grumpy days happen, but I can’t keep doing this. I love you and I want us to really be together, to have the kimd of relationship where we ca talk about feelings and be open and vulnerable because it feels safe to do so, and right now, for me at least, it doesn’t feel safe to have any feeling except “happy”, “joy”, “love”, “calm”, “peace”. But that’s not life. And it really is not life as a type A, anxious person with PTSD who doesn’t feel very safe being attached to others or being in the present, or feeling emotions or somatic reactions. There’s a whole wide range of emotions and anytime I seem to display one of those emotions, you shut down, you emotionally abandon me. It’s just a repeat of my childhood and that emotional abandonment is sure to trigger all kinds of bratty destructive behaviors. I react badly because I’m hurt and scared and don’t trust that it is safe to talk about my real feelings. 

I think you need to work on communicating. You are so shut down and closed off from even your own feelings you don’t know when you are mad or grimly. But with tensions just coming off you and me asking you several times today if you you were okay or mad or whatever, I think at one point I even used the word grumpy, and you assured me “no, everything is fine.” And then later, really communication is needed because if you can not even state to me you want us all to go out to dinner as a family, well, that is a problem. I am not a mind reader, and “do you want White Castle?” does not mean go out to dinner as a family to me. I don’t even eat White Castle! I should not be expected to know what you meant, to translate your words, and I should not be punished for not reading your mind. 

The thing of it is, you want pre-therapy Alice back. You want miss perfect, in her bubble, with no feelings, who was just numb and zoned out. But she’s not coming back. Messy Alice is what you get. Messy and real. Life is messy. Add trauma to that and then a kid and it’s very, very messy. And that is not going to change. You need to find a way to accept the messy, to make your peace with it and love the messy me. Because waiting for Bea to “fix” me? Well, I’m more “fixed” than I’ve ever been. It just so happens that you don’t like this girl, this messy me. Maybe you can learn to. I don’t know. If you can’t, I guess we need to figure some things out. Because I’m so done with this. Every single time you abandon me emotionally, you set off these massive series of triggers because you are literally re-enacting how my parents chose to to react to me. It’s worse this time, because I’m already triggered from some crap Bea dredged up, and Bea is gone and the one time she was on vacation is was not good, so I feel pretty left by her, and now you, too. So I’m feeling really bad and scared and not okay, but the response I have is to act like a brat, be mean and loud and push harder because I felt you leave, and then I feel guilty and like a terrible person, when you become angry with me. And when you won’t talk to me about it or you split your attention to your phone when I’m talking as though what I’m saying is unimportant, I only spiral down more. “I’m awful, I’m terrible, I screw everything up, I’m the worst, I’m ruining everything.” And then I just want to go away, and disappear forever. I end up crying and hiding and hurt and fighting myself because parts of me feel so low they see no point in being here, and their solution is to swallow pills, cut my wrists, hurt myself badly enough that I disappear. It’s not easy. It’s a serious fight to not do those things. Kat is my motivation to not do those things, and so when you say how I’m screwing up as a mom, too, how I am as bad as my parents or worse, well, you take away the last bit of motivation to live. So good job, hubby. You didn’t want me around anymore, you wanted to leave. Well, you found the recipe. One of these times it might just work, and you won’t have to leave me, because I’ll be gone. Because I have no one. 

~Alice 
************************************************************************************************************

I ended up calling Reagan on my way home from the store. Some of those suicidal thoughts were really strong, and, as I said in part one, there is a part of me that is determined to survive. We talked off and on the rest of the day and into the evening. When I exploded at Kat, yelling and having a meltdown, I called Reagan, and cried to her about it, and then told her I could not think clearly enough to figure out how to repair the fight with Kat. She gave me the words to use, told me I was okay, a good mom, and made plans to meet me in the morning for breakfast. 

To be continued………

Uncomfortable 

Things have been spacey and off all weekend. On Thursday, a close friend of mine comes over, but it feels more like a dream than something that is actually taking place. I feel like I’m separated from the world, as if I’m stuck behind a thick sliding glass door, so all my interactions are muted. Friday, I lose time and don’t have much of a memory as to what I actually did on Friday. Saturday was a “block party” for the neighborhood, which I attended, but I felt as though my behavior was off. Maybe I was too chatty, or not helpful enough, or did not mingle as much as I should have or maybe I wasn’t enough of something or I was too much of something. 
Sunday, I was a complete mess. I lost a few hours in the morning, at least in part because of flashbacks. I yelled at hubby; he was helping me to cut up veggies, and what I saw how he was cutting them, I snapped. I yelled that he was doing it wrong and I would just do it myself and that I did not need him. He was leaving to go fishing later that day, and anytime I am even a little triggered, and hubby is leaving, I yell at him and push him away first. Unfortunately, while I recognize this pattern, he does not see it at all. 
I was on edge all day Sunday, zoned out but uncomfortable, hyper aware, jumpy. I snapped at Kat, and struggled to convince even just some adult part of me that Kat is not the little girl we hate and find disgusting. I ended up texting our old Nanny, and she came and watched Kat for a few hours. That helped. I just could not be mom that day.  
I emailed Bea. And she responded fairly quickly, so we sent a few messages back my forth. But it was a struggle to hold on to the fact that she cares, that she wasn’t blowing me off, that when she writes things like “I am sorry you are having such a hard day”, she means that, and just that, there isn’t a judgement anywhere. She suggests we might try some sensorimotor therapy to build some resources or to sequence what my body has been feeling, depending on what I feel like.
Monday morning, I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve been up since 2:30am. I woke from a nightmare, and the lost a few hours, so by the time I gain control of myself, it’s 7:15 and I am rushing out the door to make it to therapy on time. Driving to therapy, parking, walking into Bea’s building, I feel off, wrong. Part of me wants to run upstairs and hide in her office and feel her presence, but another part of me is fighting this every step of the way. 
I obviously walk in, say hello, sit down in my normal spot on the couch, but I don’t really remember doing so. It’s just blank space. I don’t remember sliding my shoes off my feet, or. pulling my knees to my chest. 
I’m not sure, but I imagine we chatted about normal things for a few minutes. And then Bea asked me a question, something about how I was feeling. It’s where my memory becomes more clear. I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know.” 
Maybe she knows I wasn’t very there, or maybe she realizes something changed, but she maybe reframes her question, or maybe she starts the conversation over, with brand new questions. I’m not entirely sure. “Let’s start by having you take an internal temperature. Can you do that? Check in, see how things feel? That will help us know what direction to take. If you are so far away that you don’t know what you are feeling, we need to do some grounding before we can do anything else. If you are present enough to know what you are feeling, we can do some somatic resourcing, like we did before.” 
I don’t say anything. A part of me is so angry with Bea, I want to scream at her to shut up. I can feel her waiting for a response, and I finally manage to eek out one word, “Uncomfortable.” 
“Okay, good. So you’re feeling uncomfortable. Can you say more about that?” 
I open my mouth to speak, and then I shake my head. No. I can’t explain. 
Bea is thoughtful. “Is it uncomfortable like tension in your body, or uncomfortable like an emotion?” 
In my head, it’s both. It’s uncomfortable because the focus is on me, and what I’m feeling in my body. I’m uncomfortable because I feel put on the spot. 
“Hmmmm. If it’s hard to decipher what you are feeling, maybe doing some grounding work to bring you back into the room would be a good place to start.” She suggests, lightly.
“Okay.” I say the words, as I’m shaking my head no (I don’t notice this until Bea points it out to me later). 
Bea talks about being here, and now, and how it’s safe in the present, in her office, with her, and me, and how I’m grown up, and far away from bad things that happened, and she points out noises we are hearing, like birds singing and cars driving by. When it’s obvious to us both that I’m a bit more present, she asks me if I want to do some resourcing. “Do you remember last time you felt very out of control, and the body stuff was really front and center for you? We used a somatic resource, pushing away with your hands, and squeeze your legs together, telling yourself how strong your legs are and that no one can move them. That seemed to help give you some control back. I really do want to help you have some control, or at least be working towards a sense of being more in control and safe. What do you think?” 
“I’m scared.” I whisper to her. It’s why I don’t want to do this. Or at least, it’s partly why. 
“We don’t have to work with the scary memories or thoughts or emotions. We are just dealing with what the body feels. This is much less scary and activating if we separate out what we feel in our body, and just be curious about it. Just pay attention to it, see what is happening.” Bea says. 
Ugh. I’m so mad at her in that moment, I want to stand up and walk out. Instead I yell at her. “I can’t separate it out. We did not separate it out before because I can’t. I don’t know how to. It’s too hard.” Except, the yelling doesn’t come out as yelling, because I’m mostly frozen and wanting to hide right now. It’s more of an angry whisper. The little girl is running things, and she is very afraid of this anger. 
“That’s right, we didn’t separate it out before. You’re absolutely right. We worked with the whole memory,” Bea realizes her mistake, and agrees with me. 
“I can’t separate it.” I tell her, emphasizing the word can’t. 
“I can help you with that. We can work on that together. We can practice. It’s okay, it’s a skill like any other.” She is reassuring, and calm, and so certain that this is no big deal.
“Okay.” I shrug. 
“Can we go back to the uncomfortable feeling?” 
I shrug, then nod my head.
“What kind of uncomfortable feeling is it?” 
“Scared. I’m scared.” I tell her
“How do you know you’re scared?”
“I don’t know.” I shake my head. 
“What are you noticing in your body right now, that is telling your head that you are scared?” She pushes.
I shake my head. “Nothing. I just know in my head.” 
Bea gives me a moment, and when I don’t say anything more, she talks. “Sometimes, when I’m hungry, it seems like I just know I’m hungry, but really, all these little things going on in my body tell me that I’m hungry. Like my stomach might growl, and I might feel light headed. Maybe I feel a little bit slow cognitively. Maybe my mouth waters when I think of food. All those things let my mind know I’m hungry.” 
I stop and think about this for a minute. My first thought is that I didn’t think so many things went into knowing you were hungry. I never actually feel hungry. I go off a clock as to know when to eat. I’ve screwed up my body so badly. My second thought is to tell myself to focus on what my body feels. “My heart is beating really fast,” I tell her. 
“Okay, good. So that is one way we know we are scared.” 
Things get fuzzy then, and I can’t stay with it. My heart is beating too fast, and I can’t breathe and I’m scared and uncomfortable and we are talking about my body and it is not safe. It is not safe to feel this, and it is not safe to talk about my body out loud and it is really not safe to bring another’s attention to it. My attention to what is happening in Bea’s office fades in and out. 
She notices my fingers moving, and the very fact that she has called attention to them makes me freeze, go completely still. “It looks like you have gone very still now,” Bea says. 
I start to say something, then shake my head. 
“Who is shaking their head? I’m curious who that is?” Bea says gently. “I’ve noticed today, a part shaking their head no, saying no, even when you are saying yes today. It seems a part of you really wants to connect and a talk and be present, be here, and this other part of you is rejecting all of that. Maybe that part is scared?” 
“I don’t know who. I don’t know!” I tell her.
“That’s okay. We don’t have to know right now. We just stay curious about it. That’s all.” Bea’s voice is soothing and calm. 
I go floaty far away again, and Bea asks me if I can try taking some deep breaths. I try but can’t seem to do much more than barely avoid hyper ventilating. 
“You’re body just doesn’t trust that it’s safe right now. I can see that it’s really hard for you to even take deep breaths right now,” Bea says. “Just keep breathing. Nice slow, deep breaths.” 

Eventually I get my breath back, and then, I start to cry. I’m not even sure why, or what is going on with me, but I can’t stop the tears. 
“There is a lot of emotion coming up right now,” Bea observes. “What’s happening for you?” 
I shake my head again, and this time, I notice it, too. “I just….I don’t know. I feel like I’m messing everything up. Not good enough, or something. Like I did something bad, something wrong. Just I don’t know. I’m sorry.” 
“You don’t need to be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. What I’m asking you to do is incredibly difficult. And you aren’t messing up, not at all! It takes a long time, to be able to stay with the feelings and follow them. It goes against everything you have spent your whole life practicing. You learned a long time ago that it was safer to be far away from your body and not aware of what was going on in it. It’s pretty amazing that you have been able to feel the things you have, like your heartbeat. And the you were able to come back to your heartbeat. That’s amazing, it’s not messing up at all.” Bea says softly. 
“I wanted to talk about something. The little girl wants to talk about something.” I tell her, shyly. I’m afraid she is going to tell me no, or that she is going to tell me she isn’t interested or something. I don’t know. 
“She can always talk. Let’s use the rest of our time for her. What does she want to talk about?” Bea is very casual about it, very calm and quiet, so as not to spook the little girl. 
I very quietly get my journal out of my bag and hand it to her. This journal has a ribbon that marks the page, so Bea can easily open the page to what I want her to read. 
I curl up into myself, hiding my face again, and Bea opens the journal.
<><><><><><><>< I’m lost. Everything is triggering me. I’m drowning in triggers. Even yoga is triggering me right now. What am I supposed to do when the things I use for grounding are triggers now? [i wrote about something I’m not ready to share publicly yet] It’s my fault. I never told. Bea, I never said a word. Not that anyone would believe me. But I never told. You know, you have to know, where I’m going with this. I can’t fully think this, it hurts too much. But it’s my fault. Bad. Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad selfish needy self centered needy bad toxic. 
Sometimes I wanted to tell. I wanted it all to end, to be over. 
But then I don’t want it (yes, I wrote it in my journal as of it was currently happening. My mind gets confused sometimes, and I will write as if things are happening in the present) to stop at all because I am special to him, I matter, he cares about me. He loves me. Even my mom only loves me for who I can be and what I can do. 
And I like the touchy feel stuff. Sometimes. But my family is not huggy. My mom is not touchy feely, only hugs for good-byes and good nights. He is touchy feely, and huggy and cuddles me. It just always turns into more. It just turns into our special game. Always a part of our game. But I love him. I’d probably do anything for him. <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><

“Mmhmmmm……..oh, I see…..uh-huh….yeah……” Bea is saying as she reads what I have written, and her voice sounds sad. 
“What?” I ask, worried. I’m afraid of what she is thinking. Is she going to kick me out? Is she firing me? Does she think I’m terrible?
“Most children never tell, at least not while they are a child. It would be…..a child’s defense is to freeze, to separate out the reality they can’t face from the reality they can, and so the idea of telling something that is unknowable to the child….you are asking yourself to be super human. No one can expect that. You aren’t bad. You didn’t do anything wrong. Nothing is the child’s fault, ever, just because they didn’t tell.” Bea says. She wants to read me something, so she pulls out one of her sensorimotor therapy books, and some of what she reads to me is helpful in the moment, but I’m pretty spaced out again. 
Bea asks me to breathe, too try to sit up, to listen to what I hear, to look around the room, even if I can’t life my head she knows I can look at the floor. I try, but it’s hard. Bea reminds me that I need to get back to an adult place, that the adult me needs to leave. Somehow I manage to get back to a semi adult place, a semi grounded place.
“My mom wants me to come visit this weekend….she’s been asking and asking….and then she says that if I don’t come this weekend, then she will come to me. So, I guess I’m not getting a choice. I don’t get a choice.” I tell Bea. I’m half pouting, a little angry. “It’s even harder, right now because of all this stuff, and I’m not ready to go to my mom’s right now. It’s too much. So I just…..I don’t know.” 
“I’m sure with these painful memories, it’s brought up old feelings of anger with her for not protecting you. How could it not?” Bea says. She is on my side, on the little girl’s side, and on the teen’s side. 
“I’m not mad……not right now. I’m just….hurt. Hurt. Confused. I made her so mad.” I’m not really hear again. 
“You made her mad? When? In the past?” Bea asks. She is trying to follow the conversation, and she does such a great job at following my crazy leaps and dissociated head, but even she gets lost sometimes. 
I nod. “Yeah. Yeah. I always mess everything up. I did something bad, something wrong, and made her so mad.” I start to cry. 
“Alice, do you realize, this is the same thing you said earlier, that you felt like you did something wrong, something bad? You weren’t sure where that feeling and emotion were coming from. I’m curious if the feelings were old feelings related to your mom. What do you think you did that was bad?” 
“You know,” I say to Bea, stressing the words. 
“The underwear incident?” She asks. 
I nod. “Yes.” 
“You weren’t bad.” She says evenly, firmly. 
“I did a bad thing and she left. She was so mad and she just left.” I whisper, crying. 
“She left. Yeah. That was so painful. You didn’t do anything bad, but it really felt like it. And now, right now, in 2016, you haven’t some anything bad or wrong, no one is mad, and no one is leaving.” Bea reassures me. 
I cry a little more, and we slowly start to chat about nothingness, everyday chit chat, the kind of conversation that calms me down. By the time I say goodbye, I’m mostly calm again. I feel a little shaky, but not horribly so. 

Annoyed 

“And you? I’m curious how you are feeling now, if you still are feeling sad? It sounds like it was a really tough week.” Bea turns to me, changes the conversation from Kat and the school meeting and everyday things to me and how I am feeling and the email I had sent. 

I go from engaged and mostly present– or at least the normal, okay, functioning part of me was present– to feeling small and silly and ashamed. I can literally feel hot pin pricks of shame or embarrassment or something burn through my chest, my neck, my face, as Bea turns her focus on me. I shut down, looking down at the floor, wanting to hide. “I don’t know,” I mumble. 

“Is the sadness…do you know what it’s from?” She asks softly. 

I shake my head, mumble a response. 

“There are lots of reasons to feel sad. Kay, your mom, the situation with the doctor and facing your identity as a survivor. Lots of reasons. It makes sense to me that you would feel sad.” 

I sit, curled up and floaty, my hands over my face, not wanting to have this conversation. “I feel like everyone has left, or is leaving or will leave.” It’s a whisper, quiet and barely there. 

My words don’t manage to cross the space between us, and Bea says, “What was that?” 

I’m annoyed. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to have to repeat myself, but I do. 

Bea doesn’t respond right away. When she does, she is honest in her response. “My first instinct is to say I’m not leaving. To reassure you that I’m not going anywhere. But of course I can’t guarantee that. I don’t know the future. I can promise you that I have no plans to go anywhere. Kay did leave, and that is really sad. She’s not giving you space to have your feelings, she shut you out. And that hurts. Your mom, not being able to be there emotionally, that feels like she’s left you again, but I really do believe this is part of her process, her journey. That she will be back. You know as well as anyone that healing isn’t a straight path. I don’t see hubby or Rory leaving, they are here. Not everyone is leaving.” 

“I know. I know that healing isn’t a straight path.” The words sound like snapping in my head, angry and annoyed. They come out mumbled and quiet. 

“We talk about patterns of emotion, getting sort of stuck in feeling, and those aren’t helpful feelings. They aren’t authentic, healing expressions of emotion. Does this feel like sadness….like when you cry and it hurts but then you also feel lighter, and better in a way? Or does it feel like a pattern?” 

I don’t know what she is talking about, but it feels like she is saying I don’t really feel sad, or upset, or something, like she thinks it is a habit, like I just need to choose to be okay. I don’t know. I feel myself shutting down, closing her out, feeling upset and hurt. “I don’t know.” I whisper the words, because it seems there is an expectation that I respond, and I’m nothing if a not a good girl who does what is expected. And then I add, “You forget the last part. Everyone will leave.” 

She says something about everyone realizing at some point that they are alone, that it’s like this existential crisis or something. I don’t know. She talks, and I don’t listen. 

Finally, I say, “Let’s just talk about the doctor letter.” 

Bea laughs softly. “Nothing like contemplating why we are here, feeling all alone, talking about existential crisis to make the doctor letter feel like a good topic.” 

I shrug. I don’t have a response. Nothing feels like a good topic. I’m ready to go. I don’t want to be here. 

“I think we should be more grounded before we talk about this,” she says. When I don’t respond, she offers up suggestions for being more present. “Do you want to color while we talk? Do you want to look around the room and name colors you see?” 

I don’t want to do anything. I want to leave. “I’m okay. I’m fine,” I tell her. 

She doesn’t say anything right away. Then she says, “Okay.” But it doesn’t sound like she believes it. It sounds more like she has chosen to pick her battles, and she is isn’t going to push this right now. 

“Both letters are good,” Bea starts off the conversation. “You know your doctor and you know how she will respond to each.” 

“She isn’t…I don’t know. She’s just real. Like you are real, Kay…Kay was real.” 

“And you said she runs late a lot, right? Because she takes the time people need?” 

I nod. It’s true. I chose this doctor a long time ago because she’s real, she’s very caring and real. She’s also really smart, but not in a way that she talks down to people. She has always behaved like we are equals, until I behaved like a child. Ugh. 

“My doctor, I would be very boundaried and clinical with her. She’s not warm and fuzzy, she’s a ‘just the facts’ kind of person. But, my old doctor, I would have told her more, she was warm and it would have felt safe to give her more information.” 

“I don’t want to tell anyone anything!” The words slip out. 

“I know. I know. The choice is to find a new doctor, or tell this doctor something.” Bea says matter of factly.

We circle around, and around. I feel myself getting angrier and angrier. I’m mad at Bea. I want her to shut up, to stop talking to just leave it alone. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I tell her. I mean that I don’t know why I am reacting this way, why I am feeling so mad at her when all I want is to feel close to her, to feel not alone. 

“What do you mean?” She asks me. 

“Nothing. I don’t know.”

At one point she tells me I can tell my doctor what I need. I mumble that what I need is for this to not be real, for no one to make me talk to anyone, for this to not have happened. She doesn’t hear me, and so she asks me what I said. 

“It doesn’t matter,” I say. 

“I think it does matter.” 

I shake my head. “It’s not important, never mind.” 

“I think it is important,” Bea argues. 

I don’t say anything and she lets it go. I don’t know if I wanted her to push and fight with me that it is important, or if I wanted her to let it go. I have a thought running through my head, and it takes everything in me to say it out loud. I’m not sure I want to say it; the grown up part of me doesn’t want to say it, but the teen is fighting to get her words out. The teen ends up winning. “If I say I’ll send the email, can we just be done with this?” 

Bea busts up laughing, but it’s kind laughter. “That is such a teenager response,” she tells me, still chuckling. She is enjoying my snarkiness. She is not angry or defensive over it, and she’s not telling me I can’t behave like that. It’s not a response I’m used to. “We can be done talking about this,” she says, a smile in her voice. 

I don’t remember how we ended things. I do remember going home, and in a fit of anger, sending an email to my doctor. It was a very teenage feeling, a “I’ll show you, I’ll make you leave me alone” feeling. So, I send the email. Pressing the send button is like sticking a pin in a ballon– the big angry feeling deflates immediately, and I once again feel scared and alone. 

Wednesday emails 

Hi Bea,

I finished the letter to my doctor. I ended up writing two. I don’t know which one to send. I still really just don’t want to deal with it. I guess I just wanted to know what you think– which one. 

The school meeting was okay. Nothing major, and I managed to keep my mouth shut. 🙂

I’ve been writing and thinking about parts, and may have something to,send you later, but right now I’m still thinking and digesting and trying to make sense of it. Anyway. Here’s the letters. 

Dear Doctor S,

Thank you for calling to check on me. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone, or return your calls, I just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened last week. I’m really embarrassed over my reaction and behavior during the exam. I’d like to explain what happened and why I reacted in the way I did. I would prefer if we can keep this between us; this isn’t information I want in my medical history. 

I was sexually abused by a family friend for a good portion of my childhood. Pelvic exams are always hard for me, but I’ve always been quite good at holding things together, at sort of dissociating away my uncomfortable feelings, and not letting anyone know I’m less than okay. Last week, however, was different. I wasn’t aware that the student you had with you was male, until the two of you walked into the exam room. By then, it felt like it was too late to say anything, and I really thought I could just get through it, like I always do. When you asked if he could perform part of the exam— and it is good that you asked– I couldn’t say no, because I was afraid of making him feel bad, or appearing to be mean. I was already triggered, at that point, but I still really thought I could hold it together. 

When he touched me, that just sent me back to that very scary trauma place. It was too big of a trigger for me to dissociate away, and I fell apart. I’m glad you asked him to leave, and I’m glad you covered me up. I feel so embarrassed for how I reacted. I hate that all I could do was cry, and feel frozen. I know you were trying to talk to me, ask me questions and I hate that I couldn’t answer them. I wasn’t really in the present then, I was back in a place and time where I wasn’t safe, and bad things happened.

I know I need to come back in, and finish the exam. I feel very apprehensive about that. I don’t want to put myself in another situation where I’m triggered and scared. I also don’t want to put myself in a situation where I need to be able to come to the doctor and feel like I can’t. I’m working through what happened with my therapist, and I will schedule something as soon as I feel okay about it again

~Alice  

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dear Doctor S, 

Thank you for calling to check on me. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone, or return your calls, I just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened last week. I’m really embarrassed over my reaction and behavior during the exam. I’d like to explain what happened and why I reacted in the way I did. I would prefer if we can keep this between us; this isn’t information I want in my medical history. 

I have a history of trauma, and a diagnosis of PTSD. Pelvic exams are always hard for me, but I’ve always been quite good at holding things together, at sort of dissociating away my uncomfortable feelings, and not letting anyone know I’m less than okay. Having a male doctor present and performing part of the exam really triggered me. 

I know I need to come back in and finish the exam; I’m working through this with my therapist and will schedule something as soon as I feel less triggered when thinking about coming back. 

~Alice

(Bea) I think both letters are good. I guess it depends on how much you want to reveal–do you want the doctor to be more a part of your “inner circle” who knows what happened, or do you want to set a boundary about how much you’re going to discuss it with her? The second one definitely does that, where the first one exposes much more.  

I don’t know. They both feel like too much, or not enough. Maybe I feel like I have to explain, like I owe everyone their an explanation for my (what I think of as bad or maybe inappropriate) behavior. I don’t know. Ugh. I don’t want to add to people who know. I just don’t. But I suppose she must know something, anyway. So. Ugh. 

The response you get from her will probably vary accordingly. Your decision definitely depends on what you know of her and how you want to handle yourself moving forward with her–really up to you!

I’m afraid if I give less information, then her response will obviously be….I don’t know, maybe less personal or something. And even though I don’t really want to discuss it with her, my feelings will be hurt if her response feels cold to me. I don’t know. But I don’t want to talk about anything with her. I don’t really talk to anyone but you. So I don’t know. This is hard. I feel like no matter what I need to tell her that I barely talk to my therapist about things face to face, that I write more than talk, and I really can’t talk about this. I hate this. I really, really hate this. It’s too hard. It’s too much to figure out what is okay for people to know and what isn’t. It is like being in first grade again and wanting to tell but not wanting to tell. It feels bad. I just can’t explain it. But I need to do something soon, I know. 
I feel so alone right now. I know you’re here, but I’m almost afraid to feel it. It’s like hubby isn’t really here…but he never is really. And Kay left. And my mom just…I don’t know. I feel like I never should have trusted that things were different. I really needed her, and she couldn’t be there. I’m scared. I don’t like feeling like I have no one. 

I don’t want to stop and think, or feel right now because as soon as I do, I’m scared and sad and feeling like something really really bad is going to happen. It’s not just the visit with my doctor, or anything else that has happened. I don’t have words for it, there’s nothing actually bad happening. I know this. I just…I don’t know. Something feels wrong. Really wrong. I don’t know. I keep crying. Just random tears, crying when nothing is happening. It’s terrible. I just feel really, really sad. 

I took the chart of parts you gave me….I sort of…I don’t know…..like fit the little girl, the teen, the perfect part into the chart. I’m just not sure about how I reorganized if yet. I need to think about it more. I’m just having trouble thinking. I haven’t been very…present, grounded this week. I don’t want to think. Thinking hurts. 

Hi Alice, 

I’m here and very much “normal” Bea (oxymoron!) at the moment. I wonder why this week has been hard–I wonder if it is because of your mom going back to her old self–and that’s probably just a temporary part of her healing.

Or maybe writing the letter has stirred up exactly what you described–the first grader who wanted to tell. Who was very alone.

I’m glad we’re meeting tomorrow.  

I have someone coming in now, but wanted to respond. Maybe we can get the letter situation resolved tomorrow-that will feel good and scary both, I’m sure.

Bea

I don’t want to hurt anymore 

Please be safe if you read this post. I was very blunt about eating disordered behavior, self injury, and sex. I’m a mess right now, and this post is a whole lot of crazy dumped into one place

I’m not okay. I want to be okay, I’m in this trying to act like it’s all fine place, but I’m not okay. I am absolutely, 100% not okay. 

I spent the weekend….(well, really it started when Kay informed me that I don’t exist for her any more)………in bulimia land. Binge. Barf. Stuff my face. Eat crap I NEVER eat. I ate 17 mini Reese’s eggs. Seventeen. And then I threw them up. Later, it was tacos with cheese. And pizza. And French fries. 53 French fries. Muffins. Ice cream. 3 mini ice cream cones. A blizzard from DQ another day. Chips. Fried cheese sticks. More French fries. 46 this time. Eat. Barf. Binge. Purge. I’m gross. I feel gross. I’m ready to swing the other way, to the no eating at all and being a control freak. Because I can’t keep doing this. I’m gross.

I had sex with my husband. 3 nights in a row. I wanted comfort, I wanted him to love me, I wanted to feel, for even just a moment, that someone in my life wants me and isn’t going to leave. So, I instigated things by a real kiss. And when he kissed back, that slutty little girl/teenager part took over. I was so far gone it’s like it wasn’t me. I felt like I was sitting somewhere behind myself. So far gone, it was fine. No freak outs in the middle of the act. I was fine. Until I wasn’t. But that was okay, because after he went to sleep, I simply added a few new slices to my body, and then I was okay again. Except I’m not okay at all. 

My daughter has been making her dolls play “kissing games”, pretending to be pregnant and to have her baby be “born” and she told me this weekend that her private area felt moist and steamy. I was already so triggered by her play, the use of the phrase “kissing game”. It doesn’t matter that Bea assured me it was normal and healthy play. It is triggering and scary and I struggle with that. And then, she says that. And I couldn’t breathe or think. When I didn’t respond, she told me “not to worry because it feels nice”. Oh my god. I want to die. Or throw up. Maybe both. And hubby realized something was wrong, so he set her up playing video games, and I stayed frozen, stuck in my own head, physical memories attacking me. 

When I finally could move, I hid in the bath tub. No, first I ate ice cream and tacos. Then used the running water to cover the barfing sounds. Then I took a bath, used my razor to cut some more, and proceeded to hide in my bed, dissociated and staring at nothing. When hubby came to bed, I kissed him, stripped off my clothes and went far away, except to know that he was there and wanted me. I’m disgusting. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be normal? And of course neither of us mentioned my frozen no talking freak out earlier in the day, and he never even asked what happened. 

I texted Rory several times this weekend, either just saying hello, or checking that she still wasn’t mad at me. We made plans for a weekend away together. I don’t want a weekend away. I want to leave my life. I want to pack up my car and disappear. They’d all be better off without me. 

I emailed Bea. I told her I was a mess, that I was being bad, that I felt bad and wrong for bothering her on her vacation, that I didn’t know why I was even bothering to email. She wrote back, telling me it seems like I need a secure base, that it’s okay and everyone needs that, and she said she was here. But then in her second email, she said  that I’m not out of line (oh my gosh. Out of line. Does this mean I’m close to being out of line? Or have been before? Or she expects I will be? I feel like a kid that just got reprimanded) and that it was fine to bother (and what does that mean? Is she just using my language, or am I a bother? Does she mean I do bother– annoy, bug, make her wish I would leave her alone– her, but it’s okay that I do so? Or that I’m not a bother? What does that mean?) her although it may take her longer to respond to emails. And I emailed her back —–even though a lot of her wording felt bad and cold and scary, I emailed back and tried to reach out again, because I very well might have been reading it wrong, or who knows—– about the triggery mess the day was yesterday, and about being mad at Kay for just leaving me. She said it was okay to be mad at Kay. And that she hoped I had been able to shake this yucky feeling. I told her how I feel like a 32 year old woman behaving like a 5 year old child, how I am instigating things with hubby, how I have been in bulimia land all weekend, and maybe I just want her to know how bad I am being to test her to see if she will stick around even when I’m being bad, I told her I felt lost and like I can’t trust anyone, and this sense that everyone is going to leave, that I was so stupid to think otherwise. I dumped an awful lot of my freak out into that last email. And then she responded. And it seems I have hit her limit for having compassion for my neediness, for wanting to be there for me, for being able to validate my feelings, to be a secure base and to help me be able to maintain trust in her. I think she’s done. I hit her limit, like I knew I would, and now, she is all gone too. He email was cold and shrinky and it didn’t sound like her. It sounded like a shrink wrote it, like a standard, fill in the blank response. 

This is my fault. I present myself as this normal, together person. I’m so afraid of people knowing I have trust issues (and honestly this was so second nature to me I didn’t even know I did it until like a year into therapy) that I react with the amount of trust I think a normal person would have. So, if a regular girl would trust her good friend this particular amount, that is what I portray. But inside, I’m freaking out, and I trust nothing. And I did the same thing in therapy. I trusted Bea as much as I thought I should. I also kept a lid on all my reactions to her for a long time– anything she said that hurt my feelings, made me mad, made me feel like she didn’t get me, or didn’t care, or really wasn’t going to be there, I kept it to myself. Oh, I wrote about it, I even wrote her emails that I never sent. But I was not about to let her know the depth of my crazy. And while I have gotten better, recently, at being honest and even emailing after the fact to say that something she said hurt my feelings or made me worried, I still don’t let her know the depth of the crazy in me. Because, oh my gosh, if she knew how alone I feel and how much I worry about trusting her, and second guess everything she says, and how I so easily feel left and triggered over nothing (seriously nothing), she would declare me too crazy and too broken to work with and she would leave. 

And I spent the morning today with migraine. I was irritable, and not able to tolerate anything. I literally wanted to hide in my closet and never see or speak to another person again. I wanted d to run away, and never acknowledge my past life. I thought about downing a bottle of pills chased with a bottle of wine. So, then I did some sewing. It was as close to coping skills as I could access. I have been sewing for Kat’s (and mine) American Girl dolls. I think the little girl part of me really likes making things for the dolls, setting up the doll stuff, dressing them, and styling their hair. It’s a good thing for the little girl, and it’s a distracting activity that can keep me somewhat calm feeling for hours. But then Kat came home from school, and it was just her and I all day. And I yelled at her. I don’t mean I yelled because she did something bad. I mean I just yelled. I yelled because I’m mad, because I hate everyone and everything and the whole entire world. I yelled the way a child or a teenager yells; to be mean, to show hurt and anger and rage and pain. I yelled. I apologized, I explained that mommy was having a grumpy day and it had nothing to do with her, I told her mommy had no right to yell like that, I told her I was sorry, I told her it was okay to be mad and hurt that I yelled. I realized I needed to get us out of the house, and to not be alone, or I would most likely yell more. I texted a mom friend of mine– who is a very good friend, actually– and asked if she and her daughter wanted to go to the pool. We met at the pool, and the girls played and we sat in the hot tub and talked, and it was okay. I told her I was having a bad day, that I was irritable, and not in a nice mood, and she accepted that. I just didn’t have the energy to put on my miss perfect Mary sunshine face, and I’m so sick of lying to people who are supposed to be my friends. So I didn’t pretend. I didn’t go into major details of way I was in a bad mood, but what I really needed was someone to accept me where I was. And she did that. 

I texted hubby while I was still at home, after I had yelled for the 5th, 6th, 7th time. His response? “Do I need to come home?” It didn’t feel supportive. It felt like he was saying, “I don’t have time to deal with this, but I am stuck with a crazy, broken, defective wife, so I might as well ask if I need to come home and takeover for her before she screws up our child and turns her into an emotional wreck.” I  told him no. 

I don’t know what I want, or what I need. I only know I’m mad, and hurt and confused and scared and sorry. I hate that whatever happened in my childhood has once again turned my daughter into a giant trigger. I hate that I have put myself in this place of not trusting anyone, of always being scared of what they really mean and what they really think and what they are really going to do. I hate that I feel like I have to have sex with my husband so that he will love me. I hate that Kay leaving me has made me this crazy person, terrified of being left and afraid to trust anyone with anything. I hate that I feel disconnected from everyone in my life right now. I hate that I’m so dissociated that everything is a blur, and I’m numb and gone, and I hate that I’m too afraid to do anything to be more grounded because that means feelings and I can’t handle the feelings. I hate that Bea is on vacation, because right now, I feel like I could go to therapy everyday and that still wouldn’t be enough to contain this mess in my head or help me feel like I’m not alone. I hate that my parents weren’t there emotionally like they should have been, and that I’m unable to cope with anything because of that. I hate that it’s 4:15 in the morning and I only slept a little more than an hour because of nightmares about Kenny and the boyfriend together. 

I hate that I’m a broken, out of control mess, and the only way I know how to fix it is to be a control freak over every aspect in my life, so that nothing can get screwed up, and so there is no time to think, or feel or be scared. I hate that being that way means everyone in my life will think I’m okay, including Bea, and I won’t say otherwise. I hate that I can see myself turning from this healing road and heading down this path, and that I know it is a bad path, but I want to follow it. I want desperately to follow it. And what does that say about me, that I would choose to follow the fork in the road, the bad path, instead of the healing road? But it’s safe. It’s familiar. Nothing bad or scary happens on this path. I know it’s a path that ultimately ends in hurt and mess, but for a while, when I’m on the path, it’s clean and bright and filled with flowers and pretty trees and cute little forest creatures. I don’t really want to follow this path. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.  

The sex talk

Continued from “hope for a real life”. This part of my therapy session got much more serious, and we do talk about sex, and my feelings surrounding it. Please be careful reading, as I’m sure it could be fairly triggering. 💜
“So, we don’t have to talk about the sex stuff, but I do want to just say that sex is complicated. It’s complicated for everyone, and even more so when abuse is in the mix. I don’t know one person who was sexually abused that doesn’t have some part that just wishes sex didn’t exist.” Bea’s tone is careful, she knows this is not a safe topic for me. 

“It’s okay.” I realize I want to hear what she has to say, and I’m having one of those rare days where I want to talk, and nothing is upsetting me or triggering me as much as it normally does. “It’s okay. You can talk about it. We can talk.” 

“Are you sure?” She asks me. “You seem a little far away all of a sudden.” 

Hmmmm. Maybe that is why I am feeling okay with the idea of talking, “it’s the ‘old normal’ far away,” I tell her. This means that I might be far away, but it’s the far away I lived my life in for as far back as I can remember. I can function fine in this state. 

“Allright,” Bea says. “I can imagine how getting married, hearing people discuss your wedding night was very triggering for you.”

“It was really….yuck. Just not good. I don’t know.” My face reddens at the memory. 

“So this bit about not being able to physically say no? You aren’t weird. This is so common, it’s normal. This is why college campuses are changing ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes’. Have we talked about that? I think I told you about the ‘yes means yes’ campaign.” 

I shake my head. “Maybe. I don’t remember.”

“That’s okay. What’s been found is that many women can’t say no when they really do want to. So, a lack of saying ‘no’ does not mean consent. That’s why this campaign is saying girls should be asked if they want to engage in sexual activity and only yes means yes.” She explains. 
I find myself nodding my head, liking the idea of ‘yes means yes’. 

“It would be good if you could bring hubby into this. If you could express a need for touch, but not sexual touch, and to not have things turn into sex.” 

“No….I can’t. Can’t we just work on this with me first, and bring him in later, when I can handle it?” I ask. The idea of hubby and Bea together is still frightening to me. I’m also afraid to tell him how I feel, what has been happening, all of that. I’m afraid of to hurt him. 

“Yes. If that is what feels okay to you right now, we can start there.” She really sounds supportive, and it feels like she is here. “Maybe now would be a good time to talk about the words. I do think that, as you say, you’ll need to be able to use the words in order to tell your story. I think if we can work to make them not have the impact they have right now, that should be our goal. Maybe we can do something very silly, like make a matching game. To help lessen the impact, and the matching game can help make it less serious.” 

Inside, I groan. “I….I don’t know. I mean I….well…” I’m stumbling over my words, and struggling to say what I want to say, but Bea gives me space to talk. “I like…….I like that you are….willing to do….um….to be creative in ways to help me. But I feel……like…well…..ridiculous.” 

“Are you feeling like a matching game is over the top?” She asks and I nod. “It’s not. These words really effect you. They are a strong trigger. We need to work on desensitizing you to them. This is okay. It’s not too much.” She tells me firmly. 

“I feel stupid. They are just words. I should be okay. But I’m not.” I’m a little whiny right now, but I decide it’s okay. 
“Well, everyone has words that feel bad, that they react to strongly and negatively.” 

“Everyone?” I ask, disbelieving.

“Well, I imagine so. I have words that make me sick.”  

“You do?” 

“Yes, I do. So I understand how hard it is to need to use words that really trigger you, and can imagine that it is horrifying to need those words to tell what happened.” She’s speaking softly, but matte of factly. 

“Will you tell me your words?” I ask. The question slips out of my mouth before I can sensor myself, or question if it’s okay to be asking. Bea is a very open person, and she does tell me about herself. Usually it’s something relevant to what I’m working through, or it is a talk about normal day to day activities to help ground me. I’ve asked her to talk, to tell me a story before, but I’ve never asked her an outright question like this before. But the little girl needs to know, and so does the teen. The little girl wants to know so that she feels less alone. The teen wants to know because she doesn’t believe Bea has words that make her uncomfortable; she is worried that Bea is just saying that so she feels better. 

“I….well…..I don’t know. I’m not sure I can say it.” She sounds uncomfortable, and as of she is truly feeling the way I feel about my yucky words. 

“Can you write it?” The teen isn’t willing to give up so easily, or to let Bea off the hook. 

“Maybe. I think I can. Yes, I can write it.” She grabs her whiteboard, and a marker. I hear her writing. “I’m feeling sick to my stomach, and thinking how disgusting this word is. I’m feeling guilty for even writing it, and feeling bad for showing it to you.” I appreciate so much that she is describing her experience to me. A lot of what she is saying is how I feel about my words. 

“Well, I asked. You shouldn’t feel bad,” I tell her. “And you don’t have to show me. It’s okay.” The teen believes there is a word. The little girl feels less alone. I’m good. 

“Well, I will flip the board around, and you can choose if you want to look or not.” She sounds quiet, and uncomfortable. 

I lift my head, and glance at it. “Ugh. That is a awful word,” I agree. Bea erases it, and puts the white board back. “I think your word is probably upsetting and sickening for most people, though. My words….they are just…regular, I guess.” 

“And your reaction is very normal. It’s okay. These words are very triggering for you, and with good reason!” Bea is quite adamant about this. 

We talk a little more about words, and then she asks if I want to talk about the bad night. We don’t have a lot of time left, and so I’m on the fence about it. “This is one of those times where you have to ask yourself what you need? Are you going to feel alone and upset if we don’t talk about it? Or is this a time where talking about it just before leaving is going to feel really triggering and hard? Focus on the inside, and see what you need today.” 

“I just want you to read something,” I say. She hands me back my iPad and I find what I want her to read. I had not planned on doing this, but it feels okay to do so. I’d written out what happened Tuesday night, with a lot of detail (minus the words).

Bea reads through it. “This sounds really hard, and really scary.” 

I nod my head. I’m slipping back to the far away that is safe, farther away than I was before. I’m suddenly scared that Bea is going to reject me after reading about the bad night, and so I need to distance myself more. 

“Are you too far away right now?” 

“No. I’m okay, I can function like this. It’s okay.” I tell her, and it’s true. 

“Okay….” She is uncertain, but then she continues on. “How do you feel about just cuddling? If you didn’t have to worry about more, would cuddling be okay?” 

I think about it. I’m not sure. I can’t really separate the two. “I don’t know. It’s….I really don’t know.” 

“Okay, that’s okay. You know, hubby probably was very scared and he probably wanted to fix whatever happened. I think, when you are ready, he would be open to working with you on this. And he is so gentle, he is a good guy to do this with. When he was here, when you sent him in after we told him about the abuse, I remember him saying that he believed any kind of sex was off the table, and he was okay with that. He is clumsy at times, but he really cares about you being okay.” 

“Not now….I can’t…just not right now.” I tell her. 

“I know. And that’s okay.” Bea’s feet move back and forth as she swivels in her chair. “I’m wondering if….well, if this is not just about sex, but about anything that gives you pleasure. Like eating. Do you ever just eat a cookie for pleasure, and enjoy the whole thing and not feel guilty?” 

Her question is so foreign to me that I’m suddenly feeling more present, just from the shock of it. “I….well…..” I think about it. If I’m restricting, I wouldn’t eat a cookie. And if for some reason I did, I would have a running commentary in my head about how awful I am. If I were to binge on cookies, I wouldn’t really taste them. I might notice if they are sweet or chocolatey, but I wouldn’t taste them. And when I stopped binging, I would be suddenly more aware of what I’d just done, and I would feel horribly guilty and have to fix it by throwing up. If I were to eat a cookie with Kat, because I do that sometimes, to model good habits, I would be telling myself I was doing this for Kat, and I wouldn’t be very present at all. And I’d hate myself for eating that cookie. “No. No I always feel bad.” 

“I think this is maybe about pleasure, and being able to feel pleasure from things. Do you ever just feel pleasure from a hug?” She asks. 

“Well……no. I’m too worried about more.” 

“Is there anything you do that you just feel pleasure from?” She’s really pushing me today on this. I wonder if she is right. 

“I…I don’t know. But I need…I mean…..ugh…can we……um…..I need you to use a different word!” I mumble and struggle to say the words. Once they are out, I feel like a big giant idiot. I’m such a drama queen. “I’m sorry, I’m stupid.” 

“Yes, we can use a different word. I went with that word because I was hoping it would be less triggery than other words……do you have a word in mind?” She is okay, not upset or sounding like I’m crazy, or too much. 

“I don’t know. I just….I can’t…I need a different word. It makes me feel yuck.” I cringe, and my stomach feels upset, and I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. 

“It’s okay. This isn’t silly. It’s okay. What if we said enjoy?” 

“Okay. That’s better.” I breathe a sigh of relief, still feeling like a child who is a needy drama queen. 

“Do you get enjoyment from a hot bath? Like, just getting into the water, it feels really nice and warm, and you are just enjoying it, that moment and how it feels to you?”

“Yes. That’s a good one,” I tell her. 
I don’t remember where the talk went from there, only that it continued with the same subject matter. Then Bea said something about a part of me wanting a normal sex life. 

Oh my God, I wanted to throw up. “No….I don’t…I just…no.” I couldn’t even form complete thoughts. “It’s not…I don’t want…I want to make it go away. It’s gross.”

Again, I think parts of this conversation are missing. And then Bea asked me if I felt like I did not deserve to feel enjoyment? 

“No…it’s not that. It’s just…..it’s gross, wrong, ew, yuck, bad, disgusting, no. Ugh.” The words spilled out of my mouth at an incredible speed, and I shook my hands, holding them away from my body, in the way you do when you touch something revolting. 

I don’t remember Bea’s response. We wrapped things up pretty quick after that, Bea switching the conversation to normal things, and trying to help me be a bit more grounded. We talked about the fact I discussed and allowed so much to be said, both of us a bit surprised by it.
Before I left, Bea asked me to come up with a list of words that trigger me, and to try to think of things I get enjoyment from. 

I hate him 

I arrive to therapy a few minutes early so that Hagrid can have a quick walk. It’s too cold out for much more than that. By the time I head upstairs to Bea’s office, my nose is cold. 

She greets me as I set my bag down and get settled. Hagrid hops up next to me. I sit, uneasy and unsure of what to say. A part of me is still waiting for her to get angry with me and quit. 

Bea asks about Kat, and the Valentine’s Day party at school that is tomorrow. We chat about that for a few minutes, and I start to relax a bit. 

When our conversation pauses, Bea says, “I was so glad to get your email. Did you get my reply?” 

I nod my head, and look away. It happens so fast, that switch from comfortable, competent grown up me to nervous, embarrassed, afraid to talk me. “I just….I wrote back, but then I didn’t send it. It was late, and I was going to see you today….it seemed silly to send it.” 

“Maybe we could start with that today, then? What do you think?” 

“Okay.” I grab my bag off the floor, and get out my iPad. It only takes me a minute to find my unsent reply. “I didn’t really write very much,” I tell her, as she starts to read. 

“What did you think about not coloring today? Did that feel like an okay thing?” She asks me. 

I feel my face heat up, and I look down. “That’s fine. It doesn’t matter.” In her email she had said that maybe today we needed to focus on letting the little girl talk, and not do any coloring. I’d responded that I felt bad, guilty, for making her change things, for not following the expectations or rules or something. 

“I think it’s important that we really give the little girl some space to talk. She has been feeling very left behind lately, and she needs to know that she still has a voice, and that she will be listened to. But you need to be okay with whatever we decide to do today,” Bea says gently. 

“Okay. It’s…..okay.” 

She goes back to reading, and she laughs softly to herself. “Why am I being so nice?” She reads my question out loud. “Well, you are right, it’s not ‘just a job thing’. I care. I suppose I’m being nice because I care and because you deserve to be treated kindly.” 

I shake my head. “I just….I mean, it seems….you should be….I don’t know.” I shrug. 

“What should I be?” Bea’s voice is soft and curious. 

“Just….irritated. Through the roof annoyed with me.” I cover my face with both hands as I speak. 

“Oh. You feel like I should be irritated with you, and acting like that, instead of being nice to you?” She questions. 

“Yes.” I realize that if she were mad at me, and acting annoyed, I wouldn’t question that at all the way I question her being nice. 

“Okay, I see that. I don’t feel annoyed or irritated at all. I’m curious, about the different parts, and your thoughts and feelings. I suppose the only time I feel anything like annoyed is when something I suggest trying doesn’t work. But it is not towards you. It’s more of a ‘darn, that didn’t work’ and then a curiousness as to why it didn’t work. I don’t feel irritated with you at all. You’ve done nothing that would irritate me.” 

She finishes reading, and we sit in silence. It’s probably not even a minute, but it feels like a long time to me. “And here you are, telling me I can talk, that you will listen, and I’m still not able to talk.” What is wrong with me? 

“It’s been a long time since the little girl has talked about anything. It’s okay. It’s hard to find words for things that are unspeakable,” she says gently. 

“I don’t know what to even say.” 

“Well, were there things in your notebook you wanted to talk about? Is there a specific memory or nightmare that has been coming up? And if it’s something we’ve been over before, that’s okay. We can talk about things as many times as the little girl needs. If it’s coming up again, it’s there for a reason. I want to listen to what she wants to talk about.” 

I nod my head. There is one, and it has been terrorizing me for weeks. 

“Do you want to say what it is?” From the corner of my eye, I see Bea’s hand reach down and pick up her cup of hot tea from the floor. 

I’m very still, and very quiet while I think. “I was going to say ‘I don’t know’ but I do know. I just…I’m afraid of the words.” 

“It’s really hard, I know. Is this a new memory? Or one we’ve talked about before?” She asks. 

“It’s not new.” 

“Well, remember, we had come up with names for a lot of the memories. Could you tell me the name of the memory?” She suggests. 

I’m embarrassed and I feel like an idiot. I want to cry, or to run away and hide. Instead, I mumble, “I…..I can’t even think of names right now. I just…I can’t think.” 

“That’s okay. It’s okay. Do you know how old you are in the memory?” She tries another route.

I nod my head. 

“Okay, good.” 

“I…it’s….when my mom found…….my underwear…….it’s what happened before. With him.” 

“That has really be very real for you lately, hasn’t it?” She asks me.

I nod. 

“That was 4th grade? So, you were 9, maybe 10?” She prompts me. 

I nod. “Nine.” I sit, curled up on the couch, words running through my mind. They are words I want to say loud. I just can’t. “I have words. I just…can’t.” I tell Bea. I feel defeated. 

“It’s hard for the little girl to talk. It’s hard to believe that she will be listened to now, and that someone will believe her this time.” 

“They didn’t listen to me.” I tell her sadly. 

“No, they sure didn’t,” she agrees. 

“I say that….I tell you no one listened. But I didn’t….I really didn’t tell.” I whisper. I’m so afraid she is going to be mad. 

“Not in words, no. What words did you have then? What could you have said? But you did tell, in every way you were able. You did tell.” 

“I never…..” I sigh, take a deep breath, and let the words come out. “I didn’t want to get in trouble.” 

“Of course not. Kids don’t ever want to get in trouble. And all you knew was this felt bad, felt yucky. Of course you didn’t want to get in trouble.” 

I sit with her words for a moment, wondering if she could be right. 

“How did your mom end up finding your underwear?” She asks me, when I don’t say anything more. 

“I….I hid them. They….I don’t know. We cleaned up, before bed, and…I had hid them.” 

“Where were they?” 

“My bed…I had a day bed…with the pop up bed underneath? I always was shoving things I was supposed to pick up under there. So….she found them.” 

“Did she say anything to you?” Bea asks me. 

I think. I don’t know. “She was mad. She….asked why my dirty underwear weren’t in the hamper. She was so mad.” 

“And that felt really bad, so painful, after already being hurt that day. To feel like she was mad at you for what happened.” 

I nod. “Yeah.” 

“Do you remember how much blood? Do you think she noticed it?” Bea asks. 

“I…..I…I was so scared. Something was really wrong.” 

“That she didn’t notice, or that she was mad? That felt wrong?” Bea’s voice is very gentle. 

I shake my head. “With me. Something wrong with me. I….thought I was really sick.” 

“Yes, of course you did. How scary to have blood down there, and not understand why. That had to be very scary. Did you realize that it was connected to earlier in the day?” 

“No…I don’t…I didn’t think…I didn’t know. I didn’t know.” 

“You had no reason to know. You were a child. Children don’t know about those things, they have no words for what happened to you.” 

“But I didn’t even……I feel so stupid. I didn’t know…..” I cut myself off, I feel too dumb to continue speaking. 

“Why do you feel stupid? What is it?” 

“I didn’t know…I mean, last year…when…..” I start and stop a few times. Finally, I say, “When I told you this memory, the first time? Well, I probably wrote about….”

“Yes, you wrote about it,” she confirms to me that she remembers, 

“I…me, now, I didn’t know……I didn’t..not until you said…..I just…..stupid.” 

Somehow, even with all the blank spaces between my words, Bea knows what I’m trying to say. “You mean when you didn’t know he had raped you?” 
“Yeah. I didn’t know. I told the whole story, and had no clue.” 

“That’s not stupid. That whole memory, it was frozen in time. That’s where this little girl part comes from. She holds so many of these memories and scary things. She stayed frozen in time, too. You weren’t looking at it from a grown up view point. You were seeing it, living it, remembering it from the little girl’s view. And she has no reference for things like rape. How would she know what that was? You weren’t ready to face that, not then. Now…..you are starting to be able to see things from the little girl’s view and the grown up’s view. It’s becoming more integrated.” 

“But how could I have not known? I didn’t know what happened to me!” 

Bea talks some more, about the child’s perspective, and tells me a story about words she remembers using as a child to talk about sexual things. The words include “stuff”, “things” and other nondescript words that I often use when talking about my past. 

“It hurt.” I tell her quietly, and I start to cry. 

“I know,” she says. I wonder if she knows that I mean physically, as much as emotionally. After a minute, when I’m still crying, she asks me if I want a tissue. 

“No,” I shake my head and sniffle. 

“Okay,” Bea says.

“I….sometimes…..I hate him.” I whisper the words, barely able to believe I’ve spoken them out loud. 

“Yeah? You are really feeling mad right now. Good. It’s okay to hate him.” Her voice gets stronger, and she sounds firmer, and as if she is 100% in support of my anger. 

“He lied.” I snap the words at her. “He lied.” 

“What did he lie about?” 

“He was supposed to be my friend. He was supposed to care about me. He was supposed to be nice to me. He said it was just a fun game, that it was okay! He was supposed to to be my friend. He lied. He was pretending. He lied and I hate him. I hate him, I hate him!” My voice has been getting louder as I continue to talk. 

“He was supposed to be your friend. It wasn’t a fun game, he did lie. He didn’t act like he cared about you that day.” She validates. 

“And then….I say that, feel like that, and I feel like this horrible person.” 

“For hating him?” She asks me. I think she sounds surprised.

“Yeah. I shouldn’t hate him.” 

“It’s okay to hate him. You have every right to hate him. He hurt you, he raped you. You are okay to hate him, to be really, really mad.” 

“I just….I don’t know.” I shake my head. “I didn’t say no. Or stop. So…..I don’t know.” 

“This is where….well, he had been abusing you for years. Why would you have even thought to say no? This is part of the plan, to make you feel involved, to feel blame, but you weren’t a partner in this. You weren’t.” 

“My mom …….I…..if I’d gotten her. I don’t know. I was too afraid of being in trouble.” 

“Where was your mom?” Bea asks me. 

“Home.” The answer is simple, quick. She was home. Of course she was home. I’ve always remembered being afraid of being caught. She was sewing that say, with his mom. He was watching us kids. But then, where was my brother and his sister? I don’t know. I’m confused. Where was she? This isn’t making sense. I don’t know. But she was home. She had to be home. In my head, she’s home. 

I think the wheels in Bea’s head are spinning and she is surprised. She wonders why he was there, then, that he was too old to be hanging out with me like that, and why didn’t anyone wonder what was going on? I think she doesn’t like that no one ever caught him. I don’t explain, but that weekend, he was home from school. I’d been really sad when he left, and it was his first time home, and I was so happy. 

“I just didn’t want to be in trouble.” I whisper to Bea. 

“I know. I know you didn’t.” She tells me. “You aren’t in trouble.. You didn’t do anything wrong, or bad. It’s hard to fathom, you were afraid of being in trouble for being raped. Wrap your head around that. When the grown up part is back in control, think about that. You were afraid of getting in trouble for being raped.”

The r-word makes me freeze; it sends icy cold chills through my insides. I keep breathing, though. “He hurt me, and I didn’t understand.”

“I know. He really hurt you.” She repeats, softly. 

I’ve been curled up, knees pulled into my chest, face buried this whole time. Hagrid snuggles against me as I cry some more. 

Bea tells me the time. “I want to give you lots of time to come back,” she says, “You’ve done a lot of really good work today. We’ve talked about a lot. How are you feeling? I think you’ve stayed in the window, feeling really uncomfortable, yes, but able to still speak and not shaking or getting too overwhelmed.” 

I nod my head. She’s right. I’ve been more here than I have been before when talking to her about memories. I don’t feel as floaty and numb to it all, but I also don’t feel as overwhelmed and terrified as I usually do. 

“Is there anything more that you want to talk about right now? Or are you ready to start coming back?” She asks me. 

“I don’t know.” I whisper. I’m sort of frozen feeling now, afraid of either option. 

She waits to see if I have anything else to add, and then asks, “Do you want me to decide?” 

“No….” I tell her. If she decides we are done talking, I know I’ll feel shut down and like she doesn’t want to listen to me. “We can be done talking.” 

“Okay. You did a lot of hard work today. You talked more about your feelings involved than I’ve heard before. You did good. And we can talk about this again, on Monday if you want.” 

“We can talk again if I want to? But we don’t have to?” 

“Yes, that’s right. We can see where you are at on Monday.” She reminds me. “I’m glad the little girl shared today. I’m always glad to listen.” 

“Okay,” I say. I still have tears falling, randomly, and I sniffle. 

“I’m wondering what we can do to help you come back and feel really grounded before you leave. Maybe focusing on Hagrid, or looking around the room and naming colors you see?” 

I don’t say anything. I’m not as far away, or as frozen as I have been in the past, but focusing on the present still feels like a scary idea. 

“Is it easier if I leave for a minute, go heat up my tea and give you some space? Or would that feel too much like I left you right now?” She is really thinking of the little girl and her fears of rejection and being left. 

I don’t want to admit to not wanting her to leave right now, but something I say or do clues her in, because she stays. “I’m sorry,” I tell Bea. 

“For what?” She sounds truly confused.

“I…..I’m not sure. I just…I’m sorry. For being difficult. For taking things so slow and just taking forever to do anything. I don’t know.” 

“You are doing really hard work. Integrating trauma memories, that takes time. The little girl part needs us to go slowly. That’s usually true of anyone who has frozen in time little girl parts. Things need to move slowly. That’s okay, I’m okay with that. You don’t have anything to be sorry for. We need to be careful with the little girl. She is the most vulnerable part.” 

“I just….I feel like crying.”

“Crying is okay. You did a lot of processing today. Your brain has to work through that. Maybe there is some grief, some sadness there. That is okay. It takes a long time to process this stuff and work through it.” 

I nod, and almost ask her if I have changed, of I’m different than I was almost 2 years ago when we started therapy. Sometimes I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress, and things are changing. Other times, I feel like I’m no different than I was, or like any progress is so small, it’s not noticeable. After a bit, I slowly sit up. “Can we just sit for a minute?” 

Bea nods, and she sits with me until I’m calmer and more grounded. “It will be interesting to see how this memory feels to you after today. If it feels less confused. Right now, you are working on letting the little girl tell her story, so the grown up can start to hold the memories for her, and all of you can know it’s the past.” 

“We can talk about this, come back to it on Monday?” I ask one more time. 

“We can come back to it whenever you want,” she tells me. 

Once I begin to gather my things together, Bea doublechecks that it is okay, and then goes to heat up her tea. We chat about Hagrid and Kat, about silly light topics. And then I say goodbye, and she wishes me a good day. I head home, and I feel…..okay. I’m not far away or frozen, and I don’t have this intense need to go hide in the closet or cut myself. I feel a little bit sad, but not alone. I’m okay.