There is a light 

I haven’t written, and my sincere apologies for that. I know I tend to worry about you all when I don’t hear from you.

But I am fine. I am better than fine. I am happy. I am okay – and happy. There’s some relationship bumps occuring right now, and my husband and I may or may not make it. But the marked difference is that I can see myself being fine either way because I can stand on my own now. 

My break went so well. So many differences than before. I kept waiting to separate from myself but never did. 

Here’s the thing – I have realized it isn’t about never feeling things. It isn’t about completely forgetting what has happened or even ‘getting over it’. That was never going to happen. 

It ended up being an internal process I am not even sure I understand. It ended up being about acceptance, both of myself and others and perspectives that will never unite. About accepting that feelings will come and they will be hard and sometimes they will not be of the time and place. Sometimes they won’t be accepted by others but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. 

Healing ended up being about a whole bunch of stuff I never expected. It ended up being about release, of expectations and grief. About facing really ugly parts of myself and learning to love them (I am still learning and I imagine it will be a few more runs with the lie monster before she’s gone. But the runs are less intense, the high is less satisfying, and the lies are imbued with a vulnerability and a truth). 

And healing isn’t a finish line. It will never be work that I am done doing. But I can see the picture now and when I fall down or fail I don’t hate myself. I don’t feel the need to give up completely. I don’t expect failure. I ask for support. And I don’t see the fact that I will never be done as depressing. I see it as opportunity for growth. 

I am currently sober and plan on staying that way for quite a while – until I am confident I don’t need alcohol as a medication to salve emotional wounds. I don’t feel like I need A anymore to live or survive, and that is terrifying to me but so exciting at the same time. Today in our session I exclaimed to her that I didn’t hate her children! She has noticed this marked shift. I have work to do around my relationship with my husband and my family. I have to pay attention to things to stay healthy. Staying in tune with my emotions is going to be like exercise – its a muscle that will get weak. And I will be taking it one day at a time. 

But this phase is done. When I cried for five days in December I released a lot that needed to go. But today when I left therapy I knew for sure with a solidness it has taken me so long to find that I had shifted and that I will, no matter what happens, be okay. 

It was a combination of things that got me here and I imagine the recipe is different for everyone. I needed the support I have in my friends and husband. I needed the therapeutic relationships I have had in the order I have had them. There needed to be Em before there was A. The flexible job and career. The resources I found and have read. The mistakes that I made – some I learned from right away and some that loudly knocked me upside the head over and over again until I listened. The courage to make hard decisions and the resilence to never give up. But I am living proof that it is possible. This is possible. 

And the outlined next steps above that means that I am done writing for a while. My story is by no means over and I plan to update you all, but I don’t need to write here anymore, and forcing it is only going to hamper my progress. 

I will always always be grateful for this blog, the friendships I have formed, and I encourage you to never lose sight of the light in the darkness. I’m living proof this is possible. 

You can do this.

Back in the day a fellow blogger emailed me as she left her own journey for a while. She told me that no matter how hard it got I was to promise her I would never give up. 

(Rachel, this is a special note for you. Because I printed that out and when things got hard (and holy shit did they ever) I clung to those words like a life raft.)

And it is a gift I pass on. 

No matter who you are or what it is that you are stuck in, promise me you will never give up. 

Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Bye for now and thank you for everything,



Things Are Not Awful

I am at home and things are not awful. 

I don’t know how to compute this. How to collect it. I’ve seen my brother and his family. I have talked to my Mom and shared some of how I feel and what I need. I have cried at night and let myself feel the old emotions.

While staying away for a year was good for me it was also bad because it let me villanize people who were really doing their best. I villanized my brother. And some of what he used to do and used to be deserves villanization but not all of it. We survived being around each other and we are having dinner with our parents tonight.

Most importantly I feel like my own person this time. I’m connected to my core, to who I am back home. I don’t feel like I have shed one skin for the other. I feel more like a chameleon – adaptable but sure in who I am at my core. 

And this is confusing and terrifying. Being able to delineate between now and then, to be making progress by seeing my family (although I was angry about not having my husband here I was able to express that to my Mother and she acknowledged that it would be hard and make me angry). 

Through texts with my good friend Jared I was able to articulate my feelings about what transpired – anger, sadness, grief, but also happiness and joy – and then sort them out and explain them calmly to my mother today when the opportunity arose. 

My family are not horrible people. We are all doing our best. And it has been very weird to have a successful trip (so far). 

What growth. 

May 2018 Be The Year I Stop Living In My Head.

May 2018 be the year I stop living in my head. 

May 2018 be the year I stop feeling lonely because I will not let anybody in. 

I am packing for the first trip home in over a year, and I am reflecting on how lonely I feel. I feel lonely with my husband in the next room. I feel lonely even after text and FB conversations with my best friends today. I feel lonely even after messages from people ecstatic to see me this coming week. 

And I think about messaging some other people. People I shouldn’t necessarily message. People who are celebrating Christmas Eve with their families. And even if… even if I mentally place myself with them – I am still lonely. 

I am lonely if I am at my friend Alan’s house with his giant family and perfect dog and his girlfriend and his amazing Mom who would wrap me presents and treat me to gifts like I am one of her own kids. I was invited there and if I wasn’t going back that’s where I would be. But I would still be lonely. 

I would be lonely if I was with my own family tonight. 

I would be lonely if I was in Africa, visiting Kenya, another place I was invited but cannot afford to be right now. I would be in the warm and sunshine with four pseudo siblings and another set of parents so excited to add to their Christmas and treating me like I am one of their own. 

No matter where I am today, I would feel lonely. 

A work friend, a very good work friend I’ve referred to here before (can’t remember the name I gave him) made a great observation last week. I wasn’t feel great, had been kind of walking around aimlessly at work and ended up sitting by his desk. He said “need to talk?” And I said “no.” He said “let’s go” and we went to a boardroom and he said:

It must be so incredibly lonely to be you. You know you needed to talk. You still won’t tell me what. And yet I am here, we are friends, and even if you want to share – you won’t. People like you. People love you. People respect you. There are so many people in your life who care. And until you let them in, you’re going to keep being lonely. 

And this has stuck with me. 

And he is correct. 

So may 2018 be the year I let down my guard, may it be the year I learn to let people close. May it be the year I confront the anger and grief I have over so much of my childhood. And may it be the year I learn to let in these emotions and when they rise to the surface give voice to them instead of run from them, or bury them in alcohol. 

As an article I just read states:

“It’s very important that you take it easy, and allow blocked feelings to slowly surface. And then have supportive people to discuss those feelings with. Unfortunately, you usually have to feel a significantly worse before you can feel better. But you will feel better.”

I shared that with a friend, someone I am letting in to this pain and process, tentatively. Because I am afraid. He said:

As hard as it is the thing to remember is that it is only at first, it’s won’t be shitty forever. And I promise that even though 2018 will start shitty we are gonna make sure that it ends with you better.

We are going to make sure it ends with you better. 

2018 is the year I stop feeling lonely when I am surrounded by people who care. 

There are people who love me. People who want to help. People who are there right now and two people (my husband and Lu) who have patiently been loving me for so long now. 

It’s time to add to that arsenal and let the feelings rise up. 

It’s time to stop living in my head. 

Therapy Is Nuts

And so needed. And so welcome. But a bit nuts. Very weird sometimes. And yet this human sits across from me acting (or even believing) that it is all normal. That everything is a manifestation of my trauma. And that to get through it we have to sit with it. 

But I sat there this week with an emotional flashback playing through my brain. I had one at work that I couldn’t kick, I couldn’t get rid of. This was our second session this week (the first on the phone on Tuesday after three days of me being unable to get out of bed). 

And I am trying to tell her and I can talk around the feeling but everytime I try to talk about this flashback I get stuck. I can’t make a sound. I can’t verbalize what’s happening. And it’s weird because I want to, but I can’t. Normally if I don’t talk it’s avoidance. So I say “I am trying to talk. I’m not avoiding this. It feels like I can’t. Like I am not allowed or not able to.” I tell her it doesn’t feel like my body so she gets me to move and wiggle and feel if it helps (I hate every second of this). 

And it does a bit but not with making sound. So she asks how old the memory is, and I say 7. And she asks what the 7 year old needs and I said I don’t know, she won’t talk to me. So then I say “but she will talk to teenage me”. And so A is just like “that’s wonderful!” And I am looking at her like ‘your 29 year old client just told you that her inner 16 year old is talking to the 7 year old that belongs to this memory and you’re like this is great!? Where are the men in the white coats come to take me away?” 

She encourages me to listen to what they need. I hear ridiculous things like chocolate and a trip somewhere sunny but somewhere in there is “to draw a picture”. And I kind of ignore it cause it doesn’t feel right, it feels weird. And then it gets louder and sassy “don’t ask if you don’t want the answer!!” 

Alright then. 

“This is going to sound weird but I think, I think she wants to draw something.” Me. Tentatively. Thinking wtf am I saying. This feels weird to me. I am not saying it IS weird because I understand how we fragment and parts of our memories get all split off during trauma. So I know it in and of itself is not weird. But I feel weird. Because this is new. 

“She does!? Right now?” A is excited and looking for a pen and paper and I again look at her like she’s nuts. 

“No, not in front of you. Later. She will bring it back.” 

“I don’t think she is ready to speak to me or have me speak to her so tell her that I am very happy to have her draw for me and I can’t wait to see what she brings.” 

See? Weird. 

My therapist literally said – excitedly – you, my 29 year old client should tell your 16 year old inner self to let the 7 year old know I am so happy to have her draw for me and bring it to session. 


Therapy is nuts. 

But it is working. Because I can see the image and know exactly what it will be. And it so explains not being able to talk. 

So therapy is also awesome. Because the only way out is through. 

The PTSD Reaction

It still catches me off guard.

Our bodies are incredible.

I sent an email today back to my brother – one I spent a lot of time writing and thinking about.

And immediately after pressing send it started. My palms got sweaty, my heart raced, my neck hurts in that spot. It’s not as bad as when I receive the email. But it’s still there.

And I’m sitting with myself and it and going “okay, just breathe. You know what this is.” This is not a strange thing. Five seconds in, five seconds out. You are safe, this is old. But I still shake.

Calming myself down is difficult.

So Many Emotions

And they aren’t all mine.

I reached out to my brother earlier this week, while drunk (that whole sober thing has NOT been going well since A and I had, whatever it is we had last week).

Today he emailed me back. It’s surprisingly less vitriolic than usual, but I still got the same PTSD reaction to it. It’s still toxic and accusatory in some ways, but really just reflective of a hurt person in a lot of other ways. A called my emails skillful when I saw her tonight.

I am scheduled to see her Friday and now twice next week because I am a fucking mess.

I get the palms sweaty, knees weak (arms spaghetti?), heart palpitations, can’t breathe, ache in my chest, panic, flashbacks PTSD reaction still when he emails me. Even if its not that bad I’m hypervigilant and I am not totally here. I had forgotten what that felt like.

It had been a year, and I had forgotten what that felt like.

His messages totally derailed my day although I had expected the response to not be completely amicable and loving, and it wasn’t awful either, but it still caused a reaction I didn’t expect because I forgot what it was like to feel that way.

I reached out and offered tea, he answered and was basically like “why now after you’ve hated me” and also had a lot to say about my husband. I wrote back basically being like “this is a mistake, I just want to move forward” and he was like “you won’t even answer my questions? You have shown your hand and are refusing to take blame.” Which I mean, we are both to blame.

So I am toying with a response, or not. We will see.

It feels like I’m glossing over this, but I’m tired. PTSD reactions will do that to you. I’d like to get 7 hours of sleep, so I’m typing fast.

Alternatively things still aren’t good with A and I. I know its largely because I am mad at her for things out of her control. I wrote this after last weeks session.

Ok. Fine. I am angry. 

I am angry that if I want to see you I have to pay you. I am angry that you mean more to me than I will ever mean to you. I am angry that you are so fucking focused on emotions that you can’t see I am trying to tell you something else and yet I am also angry when you don’t push harder because clearly emotions are my weak spot. 

I am angry because if I hadn’t brought up the drinking today I doubt you would have remembered to check in. I am angry because I’m 99% sure you have forgotten your promise to watch Inside Out in exchange for me reading The Body Says No (which I have done, by the way). I’m sure you will figure out a way to watch it. Or not. The point is you probably forgot. I’m forgettable. 

I am angry because there are at least 15-20 people, probably more, who are more important than me in your life. I am feeling so stupid for ever letting myself get attached to this. Attached to a relationship that costs me both monetarily and emotionally. 

Here is where I am today. I am tired of digging into my emotions. I just want to be held but I want to push you away because you are too close. I am angry that you are so focused on the fucking feelings, and I am so pissed off that every session we have reminds me of all I have missed. And I don’t have access to you between sessions which fucking sucks. I will go home to <home> and will have to pay you for any time you can give me. 

It’s stupid. I hate that I have feelings for you on the odd occasion that are stupid and embarrassing to talk about, so I don’t. And I won’t, so don’t even try. 

Some days I really have to convince myself that you would care about me if I didn’t make you money. I don’t have a great relationship with money and parental figures. 

I’m angry that me being messed up equals your payday. 

I am done coming back week after week to poke at a wound that feels like it is never going to heal in a relationship that only exists within these stupid fucking boundaries. 

I don’t want to need you, need this. I loathe that I need this. I hate everything that happened and I hate that this is all coming up before the holidays which is the worst time of year for me. Not that you’d remember. You have 15-20 stories to remember a week, I’m kidding myself if I think mine matter more than the others, or occupy any special spot in your brain. 

You’re going to give up on me. I’m going to get to that point where I am too much and you are going to leave. 

I hate that I care about our relationship. I hate that every week leaving feels like abandonment. I hate that I can’t talk to you when I am not here. I hate feeling this dependent. 

That’s what I wrote – and what I would have read to her today if we didn’t have to spend the whole time basically calming me down and dealing with the letters and email from my brother, and I am still not sure I am going to write him back, but I have drafted something and we will see.

I can’t talk to her and look at her at the same time right now. She asked me to look at her again this week, and I shut up. But when I looked away, I could speak. And I commented to that effect “I can’t do both” I told her. She said she had noticed. From that point on, we really just kept talking, because I really couldn’t do both. It’s like my voice freezes up if I acknowledge she is in the room with me.

Time flew today. At the end, I said “It still doesn’t feel like we are okay”

And she said “It doesn’t? Why not?”

And I said “I only have five minutes, right?”

And she said “Yes, unfortunately I can’t make it longer today.”

And I said “I don’t want to talk about it then. I am trying to get calm enough to leave the room, and that conversation will only upset me.”

She acquiesced, but I could see something there. Hurt? Confusion? Worry?

I don’t know what it was.

I’m not okay.

My brother and I both have very strong emotions about everything that is going on and we are both right to have them – but we aren’t going to get anywhere because while I am willing to meet halfway, I’m pretty sure he isn’t. And I don’t know how many angry emails I can take before I break (although they are SO much better, did I mention that? No swearing, no name calling, no maliciousness in them. Just tiredness. Maybe there is hope).

And The River Burst Forth

I think the dam holding back the wellspring of grief and loneliness burst forth after my session last week.

Our first real rupture, A and I.

It was a weird session. There was a rupture where I got weird and silent and then angry at her for being SO FOCUSED ON EMOTION. I wanted to other talk. Then about half way in, she got the most defeated I had ever seen her and was like “I am clearly missing the mark with you today, so I am going to be silent and you can tell me what you need.

And then I told her about my week and how this wellspring of grief seems to have emerged now that I am not drowning my sorrows in alcohol. And oh my goodness did I ever spend our session crying. And I needed her to stay longer, I needed a longer session, and she couldn’t stay today. And now I’m wondering if she remembered her promise to watch Inside Out before Christmas.

I felt so disconnected from here even though it ended well, after us sharing some MnMs. And she didn’t really do anything wrong. And then I feel like I wasted time getting angry even though she did that weird thing therapists do where they are happy you are angry. And now I’m at home wondering if she’s mad at me.

It tapped into that old little voice that is going “I don’t want to be alive anymore/I don’t deserve to be alive” which for the record I KNOW is old, and I am not even close to being in danger, but usually that’s my defences coming up when they’ve been penetrated.

It’s just soooooo exhausting. I wanted her to hold me while I cried but didn’t ask cause its still weird to me and then we shared MnMs and I said I hate crying, and she nudged me and said yea, but how do you feel, honestly. And I said I did feel better cause that was honest, I did feel better after crying. I sobbed. I sobbed.

Now I don’t see her until next Wednesday, and that makes me mad at her for not being here. Like, be my Mom already. But also adult me completely understands the impossibility of that statement and where it comes from.

I started by telling her our relationship helped me not drink for a while, and then she wanted to talk about our relationship, which is a topic I avoid like the plague. And then I tried to move on, and she redirected once which happens, and I get, she tries to route me back around, but then I said I wanted to tell her something, which I KNEW was going to end in me talking about my feelings anyways. And it felt like I needed to tell her, but she STILL redirected – what is with all this emotion talk even though I say I need to say something else!?

Then she was trying to understand and being like “I’m not getting something here” or “I think something I did upset you, can you help me fix it.” And then I couldn’t tell her what I need, and I was counting by 3’s (but couldn’t tell her that either, cause I didn’t trust it), and I was also doing that thing where I endure. I should have told her that’s what I was doing, but it didn’t feel safe to talk.

And then she tried like 18 ways to work around it, and none worked, and then I started FINALLY talking but she asked me to look at her while I did. I was pretty far away, in her defence, but I was finally talking, and she interrupted that. And then I didn’t trust her anymore and didn’t want to say anything.

And I had already spent two days feeling so lonely, that not being able to talk to her was made so much worse.

Then I just sat there, staring at her, maybe glaring, and went “I can’t tell you the story while I am looking at you so pick what you want. The story or eye contact.

I got all huffy.

Then she told me how glad she was anger made an appearance (how therapisty of her), and that I am allowed to be angry.

To which I replied “I AM NOT ANGRY” 

And then I went “Fine, fair point” considering I had yelled.

She responded with “I am clearly missing the mark with you today, so you tell me what you need when you are ready and remember that it is okay to be angry.”

And then I did tell her. And I cried. Forever.

I read through the above and see how skilled she is. But I also see how hurt I am by this rupture. How I don’t trust her. How I’m 100% sure she doesn’t remember the deals we make (her watching Inside Out in exchange for me reading When The Body Says No), so on and so forth.

I don’t matter to her as much as she matters to me, and that is the reality of the situation.

The dam broke forth… and we had our first rupture.

My defences are broken with her, and it’s getting harder to handle. I also really struggle to talk about our relationship which means the struggle will continue.

I’m thinking of quitting. Therapy, I mean. It doesn’t make much sense anymore. Torturing myself with what I could have had, but didn’t, and won’t have, because as much as I wish differently she is not my mother, and can never be that.

It’s a relationship that doesn’t make sense, and is currently causing me more pain than anything else.

(Which, by the way, she’d reframe in the context of her experience and I’d just end up feeling guilty for making her feel bad).

Things are a bit messy right now. Hold on to your hats.