The Aftermath

In the aftermath, I was happy and glowing. I shared my breakthrough with two people. Not fiancé though. Some part of me wanted to see if he noticed a difference at all. That backfired. He’s been cranky with me and I, in return, have been snippy back. But how, exactly, is he supposed to know what’s going on if I am not talking to him about it? For that matter, why aren’t I talking to him about it?

In the aftermath, I’m tired and not feeling well but I did manage to get 8 hours of sleep last night. I am aiming for that again. I also scheduled four more yoga therapy sessions. Only one in October but then weekly for the first while in November. I can’t afford A twice a week, so yoga once and A once will have to start to do. 

In the aftermath, I have yet to take a sip of alcohol. But my God, I want to. Drinking would make this more bearable. Drinking would numb this pain. These feelings. The happiness and hope and the sadness and grief. The anger. Opposites and new emotions and all of them at once. I am on sensory overload. And I don’t know how one appropriately reacts to any of this.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s breakthrough, I’ve felt different. Newer. Shinier in some ways. In other ways I feel like there’s sewage just leaking out of the hole we have created in the fortress. Usually my lemmings would be trying to fix it, to patch it up, but we are just watching it from afar. Being observant from a nearby hill. The fortress is coming down.

In the aftermath I am grieving. I am grieving hard. I spent 28 years aching through my whole body for love and compassion and understanding like A showed me yesterday. Love I should have had every. single. time I felt angry and sad and upset and confused as a child. Love I did not get. Love I now have to provide myself.

In the aftermath, I’m exhausted. 

In the aftermath I both very much want to see A, and very much don’t want to go back there. She feels safe and not safe. She feels like home to this new me but also foreign and dangerous. 51% of me wants to be there, 49% of me does not. I know who will win but I don’t know who will show up.

In the aftermath I am happy, but there is this layer of sadness. This heavy, achy feeling that won’t leave me alone. There is so much uncertainty. What am I supposed to do with all these feelings that want to be seen and heard all of a sudden. I feel like a mom with eight kids, all of whom want her simultaneous attention… except all those kids are tiny versions of me hurting in different ways. I can’t help them all at once and I don’t even know if I can help them at all. There is one who doesn’t want my help, or A’s help. There is one who hates us for this.

In the aftermath, I’m having panic attacks. Moments of hyperventilation when I think about being betrayed by A, or that yesterday wasn’t real, that it was a dream and A won’t know what I’m talking about if I bring it up. I almost have myself convinced it wasn’t real. I have had to gather myself and sit in a corner and actually hyperventilate in a boardroom at the idea that that was a one off and I will never get all this emotion out but now I know how good it feels to release it. So wouldn’t that suck. Or this fear that I won’t be able to get there again or I will screw up yet again at this real opportunity for healing with someone I trust. Or this fear that I imagined it. I am afraid that it isn’t enough or that I am not good enough or didn’t do it properly… and I am desperately afraid of feeling that way again even though I now know I can survive it. Yet I wouldn’t trade all this feeling for the numbness of before.

In the aftermath I’m losing my ability to process this. In the aftermath, I’m closing up again. I can feel it. I don’t want to close down. I want to move through.

In the aftermath, I wonder how A knew. I wonder how she knew it was coming, that I couldn’t stop it, that I wasn’t going to be able to drift away and numb out. I wonder at how expertly she navigated that entire situation. How she knew when to move closer, how she knew when to push and when to be silent. If she was guessing at it I had no idea. And I marvel at our relationship and am overwhelmed with gratitude.

In the aftermath, I can’t help but wonder if that experience was as powerful for A as it was for me. Or if she got anything out of it. Otherwise it feels too unequal, like I didn’t give anything to her.

In the aftermath, I can’t help but hope that I can get back there, to release more. I need it to happen again but I know I can’t force it and I also know that I cant wait another 6 months.

Because in the aftermath I have found new layers of pain, betrayal, and grief, that I didn’t know existed before.  Yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg. There are old memories coming back and along with them so much feeling. They want out.

And In the aftermath, that both terrifies me, and gives me hope. 

I Let Go

Holy Shit.

Holy.

Shit. 

I had a breakthrough. 

I feel so different. And I feel lighter. Also very cautious and wary and tired. And it wasn’t easy but after five months of trying so hard to avoid feelings – today I broke down with A. 

It wasn’t immediate. I started by telling her about yoga and the feelings it brought up and the whole experience. I told her I felt really vulnerable – and I told her about my eyes leaking, cause that’s what it felt like. And she told me she thought that was beautiful – even though I insisted that vulnerability wasn’t good. She insisted the opposite. 

I told her about losing that connection to myself yesterday night and today – about being really angry today – and the whole time I am talking about it my centre is just on fire. I tell her I wasn’t able to access it, that when N (the yoga therapist) suggested I touch the part of me that I consider to be the centre, I couldn’t. 

I told her about the images that followed my tears on Monday. I had a really hard time talking about the fortress and the baby animal… eventually I decided to read from my blog. I felt ridiculous, and she closed her eyes to try to picture it better and I really appreciated that… because I think she knew it was easier for me to share then. And afterwards, I told her I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust myself to protect me. The fortress is meant to keep everyone out and everyone away from little me, including myself.

She asked me if she could go in. 

I told her that she wouldn’t want to. That it’s ugly, dank, foul. It’s where the worst parts of me live. I told her nobody makes it out of there. She responded with “right now PD, nobody makes it in.” 

“Touché”

We get into the emotions – she is using my name more as I drift away, and she is talking a bit more, and I am regretting telling her that those things work to keep me grounded. I tell her I am afraid of how ugly those emotions are – how I was told for so long they were the worst part of me. I tell her I am afraid to let them out and that she will think I’m ugly and horrible and never let me come back.

I am afraid to let them out because I don’t think little me can take anything else. Yes I was resilient and strong and got here, but I don’t think one more misstep is survivable. And how awful if I was the one to get me here only to be the cause of my own demise. 

She is reassuring and calm and at one point I throw out “Fuck you brain, I’m so angry right now, and I need you to take us away and you won’t and the part that wants to feel is winning. And I don’t want to feel but I do and it’s overwhelming. I feel like running. I feel like fighting. I have so much adrenaline.” I am literally shaking, trying to prevent these emotions from surfacing.

And she asks if she can move her chair closer to me. I nod. She asks if how close she is is okay and I nod again, silent tears have started to fall. I am not sure it is okay that she is that close – 49% of me is saying “get out and don’t come back. This isn’t safe. This is a trap. Tell her to move” – but I don’t, because that extra 1% has shifted to the side that is currently (barely) winning. The side that wants to participate, and is tired of living trapped. The side that gets us to counselling week after week and to yoga. The side that shows up is winning. And I’m trying to get away from the emotion and I’m trying to get out but for the first time I am unable to drift away into numb and nothing – I can’t disassociate and this is terrifying me and she’s sitting and waiting and looking at me even though I am not looking at her and I go “I am so terrified and so so angry” 

And she goes, “where is the anger living, PD, where is it” and I say “where it always lives” and she says “can you show me? Can you put your hand there?” I had told her earlier it wasn’t a possibility for me in yoga cause I didn’t feel safe enough yet with N.

I shook my head no. “It’s okay, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want, just try when you’re ready PD.” She puts her clipboard with notes and her pen on the floor and I can tell she knows I’m losing the battle to disassociate and that if I am ever going to experience these emotions and let them out, for the first time, because there will be many times, it is going to be now. She knows how close I am to letting go. 

At some point something in me decides it is now or never and I put my hand on my sternum and say “it’s here. It’s right here”

I start to cry, in earnest, but silently, and my god it hurts. She’s like “that’s so good PD, thank you for sharing.” She’s less than a foot away from me now. 

Have you ever turned on the tv or radio and someone has left it on really loud? It felt like someone had dialled up my emotions to 50 and left it that way and I can’t find the dial down button. I can’t turn them off. Like the pressure that has been building in my chest for twenty plus years is about to explode out like a volcano. 

I choke out “I am going to die. This is going to kill me” – I am panicking, and I am literally choking on my tears. 

She says “PD my hand is right here if you want it” and I grab it and hold on like my life depends on it, because it feels like it does, and she holds back and then the tears come and I actually let out an incredibly loud series of sobs and she goes “you are safe. You are not in danger” and says things like that throughout my tears, “you are okay. I am right here. There is no danger. I am here with you PD as long as you need me.” and I’m starting to hyperventilate and saying “it hurts so much” and she is going “PD I know it hurts, I need you to breathe. This is just a wave of emotion – I know it feels like you’re dying but you’re not. You are okay. I promise. It will end. It will end soon, it is survivable. I won’t let harm come to you right now.” I am still crying, harder than I have ever cried in my life. She is alternating gentle shhhs with soothing phrases and telling me she is right there. I’m thinking about what a mess I am and at the exact right moment she goes “no matter what emotion you let out right now, I will still care for you. I will still love you. I will still be here. But you have to breathe.” That last part comes out as in her command voice, the firm one I imagine she uses with her children, and I respond to it as the chaos starts to wash away. 

I begin to breathe, she’s still being encouraging and gentle and breathing with me. My sobs eventually slow, then stop, I grab a Kleenex with my one hand. She gently drops my other one at an appropriate time – once she feels I have my emotions back under control and I am clearly no longer in the throes of it. 

And my god, did it hurt. I literally thought I was going to die. It reads so quickly here but I was desperately sobbing for a good twenty minutes. It was the most painful thing I have ever been through. 

But it was worth it. 

She leans back in her chair but is still pretty close to me. I didn’t look at her the whole time. I’m still not looking at her. After a few minutes I go “stop being over there all proud of me” and we both laugh… And then I go “hey, A” and she goes “yes PD” and I go “did you know emotions won’t actually kill you?” And she chuckled again and goes “I did. I thought they would kill me once too.

I briefly picture A crying with a T she loves years earlier and think what a beautiful way to take tragedy and move it forward. That now I have made it past a major hurdle because she made it past her hurdles.

I look at her, I smile weakly. I go “I am exhausted”. She goes “I bet.” And then she says “how else do you feel?” And I said “I wish I had words for it. Exhausted. Worn. But also proud. And as much as I don’t want to admit it because I resisted it for so long – I feel lighter and like everything is sharper. Like I’m suddenly living in an Instagram filter.” She chuckled and said “yes, yes PD. That’s it. It’s new. And that’s going to feel a little scary, and that’s okay”.

“I also feel empowered and hopeful and super human.. like I could leap buildings in a single bound.”

That isn’t the last time that will happen, is it? I am going to have to do this again.” I asked her – and she got solemn, “no, PD, this will probably keep happening… but hopefully as you trust it and me and this process it gets less painful, and less difficult, over time. And at the end, you have this. This moment of raw connection and beauty. Of letting your emotions have the air they deserve and nothing bad happening because of it. There is something different about you right now. You won’t be able to bottle this feeling, but this is an incredibly healing moment.” 

I told her she needs Pom-Poms because she’s so excited now that she knows I’m okay she’s waving her hands around. This is a hilarious image if you know A – she is a tomboy and has short hair and wears men’s shoes and used to be a wildfire firefighter out in the wilderness. And the image of her with bright pink Pom-Poms has us laughing. She says she should keep them under her chair for moments like this. 

I had a moment soon after where I was ashamed of my tears and my outburst and she quickly shut that down – literally saying that these moments are a sign of such growth. That these moments are why she does what she does. I believe her.

We have another ten minutes and I tell her I am afraid to leave. I feel new – I don’t know how to be this me out there. I mean I know I haven’t changed on the outside but on the inside, I let a part of that ball of emotion go — and there is this space. And I feel like I don’t know what to do. And she says “PD, what you will do is go out there and discover more space and more life and more moments. And then you will come back and no matter what happens I will be here on Friday.

I thanked her for holding my hand and she said “thank you for trusting me and taking it“. Part of me is worried she will see that as a mistake at some point and I so hope she doesn’t. It was perfect. I needed it. It was not too much, and she let go at the perfect time. I also told her the words she were saying were so helpful. I needed to know she was there, and I needed to be reminded I was safe. I did not feel safe. She told me she was glad they were helpful. I told her I was incredibly grateful for her. 

She has decided to actively refer N to her clients which I thought was a really nice professional nod of sorts, some respect for the yoga therapy side of things. I imagine some professionals wouldn’t see the benefits of a movement based therapy – instead seeing it as new age and hipster or a fad, so that was really quite nice. I plan on telling N next session. 

As I (reluctantly) left and we hugged she said “amazing work today” and I told her I was taking two handfuls of MnMs. And I did. 

I went to the NHL game with my fiancé but we left after period two. And I didn’t drink. I know that I am feeling okay right now but I also know there is going to be an aftermath. I am too calm and a bit numb. Also though, in that empty space there is an ache, and some quiet happiness. I don’t know what the aftermath looks like yet, but this is new so I am going to tread carefully and put myself first. 

But I am amazed, in awe of myself, and so grateful for A. I lived through a defining moment today. I let go. 

Not a great day

I don’t really know what is going on with me right now. 

I’m exceptionally tired, stressed from the wedding, and I can’t access that part of me I found in yoga on Monday and that’s so frustrating. Because as much as it was painful I’ve never been able to witness that part of myself – like I did earlier this week.

It has become clear to me that I don’t trust myself. The fortress/baby seal imagery was the first time that part of me revealed itself in any way other than just a block of emotion… Now I think I understand it better. 

That part of me is wounded and has bottled up all the emotion from the past 28 years and it is terrified and doesn’t feel safe. From the outside it looks like a massive guarded fortress where nothing gets out and emotions are stuck there. 

From the inside though, it’s a suffering baby animal that wants to be held and comforted and take care of but is too afraid.

I’ve never been that close to my emotions before and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Today, I’m just sad. I’m just melancholic. I don’t want to be at work and I don’t want anything to do with anybody. 

My Eyes Are Leaking

I would call it crying if that was what it was, but it’s a more kind of quiet, subtle letting go. Literally like my eyes are leaking on their own.

I could feel my centre so acutely when I fell asleep last night. I came home and ate dinner, listened to the debate (thank you America for feeding my love of all things ridiculous and politics similtaneously), had a hot shower and went to bed. 

As I was falling asleep my eyes started to leak. I wasn’t crying, really, just shedding these random tears that were pooling. I did my best to notice them and was like where is this coming from? The centre part we focused on in yoga was so loud and so front and centre.

My eyes were closed and I actually had these images pop into my head. 

I am walking across a field to a giant fortress. The closer I get, the bigger it seems. It is overwhelmingly large, and solid, all the way around. There is no drawbridge or windows, this is not a castle. Things that are inside don’t get out. There is a door, a wooden one with slats, and a knocker.

I reach out for the knocker but recoil. The whole building seems to groan at the idea of my touch, defensively, as if it isn’t safe for me to touch it. 

All of a sudden it transforms into this injured baby animal. A seal, an otter, whatever it is it’s adorable and it is hurt. It wants to be held but it is so terrified it won’t allow me – I reach for it and it recoils. I try to soothe it as you would a small child, shhhhing it and being calm and gentle, but it won’t let me touch it. Each time I try it goes to bite me, baring its teeth. It is crying out and I am helpless as I try to calm the injured baby. 

I fall asleep at some point, with tears pooling on my pillow, the image of that hurt wailing baby animal in my head and heart. The ache is till there this morning and to my surprise so were the tears.

That centre part of me that has been on lockdown for so long, it’s come alive. It is part Fort Knox, an impenetrable fortress that nobody dare knock on. It is part baby animal, helpless and hurt, refusing help despite wanting to be held and cared for because it doesn’t want to hurt again. It doesn’t want to hurt more. It can’t take it. It cannot survive more hurt. 

Yoga Therapy was supposed to help me get in touch with myself, this part of me. And it did. I am just not sure what to do with it right now. I am glad that I am aware of it and curious but it would be really great if my eyes would stop leaking. 

I am, at once, both the baby seal and Fort Knox. And my eyes are leaking. 

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy.

I’m leaving feeling centred, and uniquely aware of my body. At one point I was looking at my toes, and I remember thinking “Hey, I have toes. Those toes are mine. They belong to me.”

Her studio is an apartment that has these amazing hardwood floors and these twinkle lights. We don’t use music, because it takes away from the experience of connecting with your internal self.

There were multiple points at which I may have cried had I known her better. It didn’t feel safe yet, but she talked about holding space and being curious and exploring and all those things I believe are absolutely necessary for healing and growth. 

She is kind, and gentle, and hands off, and continually emphasizes choice. She practices with you, because to just watch may cause this emphasis on the external when what we were trying to do is connect to the internal. Every position was optional, rest or stopping was always an option, and I could share or not share.

At the end she asked if I had anything to share or if I wanted to save it and I mentioned a few small things. I loved her demeanour and that she expected absolutely nothing from me which allowed me to participate my way.  

I feel safer and more trusting of myself right now. One key takeaway was that she invited me at times to look at my centre, wherever that may be – and for me it’s my sternum, where the emotions live that A and I look at. She said that I could put my hands there or not, and as I breathed and observed them I noticed part of them really wanted to be touched. And another part of them, a loud and terrified part, was screaming out against it. So I left it. But I noticed it. 

My favourite words of hers were “choice” and “curious” and “invite”. She was constantly reminding me that I had a choice of doing what was right for me and my body and that was really quite empowering. She was inviting me into positions or flows or staying static and allowing my choice to be mine with no judgment. 

I find inversions and openings particularly painful – the vulnerability – and that is where I would notice the most sensation through my centre. Any folds or positions where I was mainly holding myself felt really comfortable and my centre part calmed down. She skillfully led me between the two, and we didn’t spend too much time in either spot. It was stress and then relax, repetitive. Stressing that centre and holding it close and noticing it, and then relaxing and feeling safe again. I imagine had I not followed her (I did the whole time), she would have checked in or adjusted. 

And as I write about that centre part it is activated again – almost like it prefers to go unnoticed. 

But my favourite word was the word “curious” – she kept inviting me to be curious about any sensations, to just observe them. She kept saying that maybe there was nothing, and that’s okay. That whatever I was feeling was okay and that I didn’t have to change it or do anything about it but just notice it.

And maybe that’s the key. I spend a lot of time fighting it, or not feeling at all. And maybe I need to just notice it. 

I am very tired, so when I get home I will have some food, a hot shower, and crawl into bed early… but I think yoga therapy will stick. I think this is really going to be a great complementary practice to trying to explore those emotions. 

I’m happy right now. Isn’t that something.

It was nice to spend an hour free from judging myself, or guilt, and embrace my own experience. It gave me hope. 

Hope that if I can slowly, and surely, and while supported in the studio, observe and be curious with my feelings more and more, that one day I can do that always, for myself. And the thought brings tears to my eyes. Guys, there is hope.

Must Do All The Things (and SQUEE!)

It was a long week. The goal was to take yesterday to calm down but that didn’t happen. 

 I had my dress fittings (excuse me while I squee like a small child – SQUEEEEEEEE!) and two friends came and we laughed a lot – and I had a lot to do but after a miserable week it was so nice to drive around town in my friends van and sing Hamilton at the top of our lungs that we decided to get sushi. These are two girls who know all of me and it took me so long to get to this point – where I have people I can sit in a van with and tell about so much of me – I just didn’t want to go home.

Sidebar: squee with me at this freakin’ dress should you desire. I have never felt happier than I do thinking about who I get to marry in this thing. 


Then fiancé and I got a good deal on tickets to a local sports game (free!) and went to that and then he treated me to dinner on an impromptu date night. Which was so lovely. 

However, the side effect of this is now I have so much to do. Like an unbelievable amount. There is no way I will be able to fit it into today.. But I will try. And in trying I will forget to take care of myself and will get stuck pretending I don’t have emotions.

I had to go to the clinic and get a refill of my celexa and then fill it (speaking of which I should take it now too). I did the dishes and now am on the way to a massage (amazing, I’m so excited). Then I have to clean, do wedding details, confirm things, and do all the freelance things because this upcoming week is insane. I also have to do some finances which is never ever fun. 

Monday I have work and my first yoga therapy session, which actually is bringing me a lot of anxiety (as anything new with any new practitioner ever does). 

Tuesday is a day long conference for work that we are putting on that quite honestly is shit haha – I’m not responsible for it but I know that there is no way that it is being planned properly and I offered my help a month ago and nobody took it and last Thursday they were like save us and of course I can’t say no. 

Wednesday I see A and then go to a hockey game at night (again for free – a prize I got for volunteering last year). 

Thursday I get my hair cut and have a meeting with a friend.

Friday I have counselling again and then a group of people and fiancé and I are going out and I am exhausted just thinking about the social exhaustion coming from it.

It’s also the last week I see A twice for a while, her office is under renovation and I’m extremely busy up until and including the wedding… and that’s scary because I need her to remind me to stay with my emotions and not do what I am doing – being so busy and productive that I pretend I don’t have feelings.

So today I must do all the things, or I am setting myself up for extra stress in an already stressful week. But by doing all the things I let the super productive part of me front and it chokes away the emotions into Fort Knox. 

Hmm. Dilemma. 

Does She Even Believe Me (Part Two)

I ended up quite angry before Thursdays session. I knew, that when she asked me how I was, I would tell her “I am angry.” It would be the first time in 5 months I answered with something other than “I don’t know”, or “I’m fine”. 

I practiced saying what I wanted to say to A in the bathroom at work, to myself, etc. Eventually, this is what I told her. 

I am angry. I am angry with you and I hate when I’m angry with you because I can’t distinguish between logical anger and the validity of my feelings or if it’s overblown or if it’s coming from another place or what is actually going on. Yesterday when you asked me why I defined it as sexual assault – why does it matter?

Why does it matter what it is or what it is supposed to be defined as. Isn’t how I feel what counts? We are taught early as women that any unwanted contact is defined as assault. Unwanted contact of a sexual nature is defined as sexual assault.

It was unwanted contact of a sexual nature so by the definition of what I was taught doesn’t that make it sexual assault? But you confused me yesterday when you talked about it being sexual assault or not and asked me why I chose those words. And I assume you didn’t mean it that way but I kind of felt the implication then was that I am overreacting and it was my fault it happened and – because I didn’t move away or assert my needs earlier and then all the onus is on me. If only I had been smart enough to assert myself. So much for my intelligence. 

And yes, I should have asserted myself. When I became uncomfortable I should have asserted myself. There was a period of time where I enjoyed the contact and then I didn’t and when it switched I should have done something. And I hate that I didn’t and it has made me all kinds of angry. But who says he would have stopped? I am not psychic. And it’s no secret I suck at asserting my needs or even knowing what they are.

All I know is at some point, when he started kissing me, I pushed away and he didn’t stop. That when he was lying on top of me with his fingers inside of me and I was watching the blue jays with glazed over eyes that I lost the ability to tell him to stop and his whole weight was pinned to me. I wasn’t going anywhere, I knew that. It was easier to just lie there at that point. And I couldn’t get out of my head or stop thinking about what everyone else needed or out from underneath him until the dog decided she had had enough, growled, and I found my voice and threatened that she was going to start barking and I needed to go to bed.

And we talk about the difference between the lies and this event and you keep asking me to remember the difference – I know the fucking difference. I have spent a lot of time living with that lie. One happened, one didn’t. And you say well, one was violent. And it’s like yea so that diminishes what happened last Friday? The violent one wasn’t real but does that make the actual event less of a real thing or something that affects me less? That because he didn’t hit me or threaten me or leave a mark it doesn’t count? It felt aggressive. It felt angry. It felt like someone was taking something from me that they weren’t meant to have. But now I’m questioning my right to be angry about that. I am questioning my right to have any sort of emotions towards him. Perhaps I should apologize to him for even just being a woman or having boobs or being in his presence or being in a house I belong in way more than he does. I am questioning my right to define this as my experience and I am regretting having talked about it at all. 

And while I’m angry and at it, in the future try not to check in with me about if I have lied to you within minutes of me telling you my greatest fear right now is not being believed by you. It doesn’t inspire confidence that you have believed a word I’ve said about anything. And I brought it up in the moment but it kind of felt like a cop out when I asked if you believed me and you said “all that matters is that you feel believed” or “look at me and tell me what you think you see”. I need you to say “PD I believe you” because it matters to me that you believe me. Because I’m done talking about this if you don’t. Because what I did or said in the past isn’t supposed to determine things now. If I am not allowed to project current me to the future then if you are bringing past me to the present isn’t that hypocritical? And In my head you’re not saying “I believe you” outright because you don’t believe me. And I don’t know how to navigate this and if you don’t believe it’s true then why am I bothering to trust you with it. 

You keep telling me it doesn’t matter – the actual definition of what happened – that all that matters is how I define it and how I see it – but it sure as hell feels like it matters to you.

All I know is somebody I trusted took something he wanted from me without my permission, that I am angry and I feel violated. That I feel like it was my fault. And I know that right now I don’t feel safe talking about it. And so I’m talking about why that makes me angry instead. 

I said this all to her, and yelled at her in person and got mad and then ended up just staring at the wall. 

She talked about believing me and everything I tell her at face value and about how much she values our relationship, she was trying to keep me engaged and from disassociating… I was angry and just staring at the wall (I used to stare out the window, but she closes the blinds now, cleverly). She asked for my eyes, if I could look at her. I said no, so she told me to take my time. Then I said I felt like an adult throwing a temper tantrum and she said that was more than okay. She said “PD, you expressed valid hurt that is reasonable. You have every right to feel hurt right now.”

I said I felt like we were back in month one where I couldn’t look at her, and she said “ah yes, but we have a relationship now. One that is safe. Can you please try to look at me? I have something to tell you, something important.”

I looked and she said, completely sincere and genuine “PD, I believe you. I believe you.” 

I started to cry. I said thank you. She said “what did that mean to you?”

I told her that any time I reveal any part of myself, it is a big risk. It is a big risk for me to show up each week. I tell her things that have gone poorly when I’ve told others. I trust that she holds some of it, and when I thought she was judging me it felt impossible.

That I know that our relationship is her focusing on me and not equal but I need to genuinely feel like she is there. And then she said such a lovely thing. 

Yes, PD, our relationship is one sided in many ways – it is my job to care for you and hold space for you. But I want you to know that I learn SO much from you. You challenge me and make me better. I have to be on my game and growing as a counsellor because you will call me on things I do in error, like today. I am so grateful you brought what you did up because I can see the connection you made between lying and me not believing you and you teach me something every day. I want you to know I am so grateful for you. And for our relationship because I am learning and growing as a counsellor in this room too.”

We talked about the labelling, and how I didn’t even notice and she said “and yet it was such a big deal to me, as a mistake, that I think I over corrected.” And I said “we had two different interpretations of the same situation” and she said “that is an excellent observation, and I am sorry, PD.”

I told her that defining my experience was too difficult and that it just felt too big. That the experience felt too big for the words – like some languages have 17 words for love I didn’t feel my vocabulary was big enough for my feelings.

And she asked me how that felt. And I answered – maybe sadness, and grief.

She asked me to sit with it, and it became difficult. My emotions are difficult, I find them so hard. I kept trying and she kept saying “PD, I’m right here” and “PD, stay with it.” I tell her saying my name helps me stay and she tells me that’s good to know.

Eventually I float into my safe and numb place and I count the ceiling tiles and she says “where did you go, where are you” – and I say “somewhere safe and numb” and she says “okay, that’s okay. It’s okay to be there” and I tell her “A, I feel like I’m making no progress at all” and she tells me “PD you stay with it for so much longer now, it’s okay, you’re doing so well. I love you and I’m proud of you.”

She helps me ground and come back, and I realize I like that she doesn’t shy away from the L word. We do some scheduling, I get my hug and MnMs and we totally don’t end up doing payment which was interesting. I called her from the lobby and we agreed to move it forward to next session.

I’m proud of myself for articulating my anger and I’m so grateful to A for handling it. A while ago this would have been a multi week rupture of me refusing to talk, so it’s better this way.

And she believes me. Which means we can start to heal.