I saw A. I read her an abridged and also added to version of the last post. Things were fine and we were talking. I felt connected. Then about half way through, they weren’t fine anymore.
We had been addressing my critical voice. It’s something I worked really hard with Em to shut down, and it had been successfully minimized for so long. It only ever came out when I was about to share, to warn me it wasn’t safe. It was after A affirmed that Wednesdays session did in fact happen and that it was powerful that the voice rose from what I thought was the dead.
I’m guessing that since I chose to ignore it, and let A in, and that it actually happened, it’s motherfucking angry. I leaned against her couch and all I could hear was “you are the worst. You were supposed to take care of them, your parents, your brother, and now after you know the pain of being abandoned you are leaving them behind? You are walking away from the people you swore to your dead Grandma (who was the most important person in the world to you, the person who kept you alive, might I add), you’re walking away from the people you were supposed to protect? What makes you better than them?
You selfish, undeserving brat. How dare you. How dare you heal and leave them behind now, after all this, after all they’ve done for you. You are a piece of shit.”
And I’m shaking my head and shaking and I can vaguely hear A in the background going “PD, where are you? Your affect has changed, and the expression on your face has changed. Something is going on. Can you let me in?”
And I go to respond and ask her for help but nothing comes out and my mouth is frozen in this perfect O and all I can hear is “ha, see! You’re so selfish. You’re going to make this connection with someone who isn’t family and leave your own family behind to rot. After they’re spending $20,000 on your wedding and have gifted you a $500 hotel room. Such a spoiled brat. Not to mention all the other stuff they’ve done for you over the years. And you can’t even bring them on a healing journey with you – you are too good for them, you’re going it alone. Leaving them in the dust. You’re such a fucking hypocrite. You’re useless.”
A is concerned or curious but definitely aware something is happening, I can tell because she is leaning forward in her chair and trying to catch my eye contact. “Let me in PD, let me share this pain with you. Let me hold it with you.”
“You think you’re in pain, what would your family think if they knew what you were doing. You’re telling all their secrets to a stranger. She only knows your side of the story and you’ve never tried to let your family in. You just skipped that and now are going to go get better and abandon them. Don’t talk to her. That’s a betrayal of your role in this relationship. How many times do you have to learn talking to others isn’t safe. How many times do we have to do this before you finally listen to me. Things were fine before. And now things are changing and that is bad. That is very bad. And it’s all your fault, and you’re going to get it. So stop. Don’t make it any worse.”
I am staring out the window and choke out “I am a horrible daughter and sister. I’m leaving my family behind.”
A is answering me and there’s something about generational pain and giving a gift and me being brave and her being there and me being safe but she’s being drowned out by the critical voice – this internal threat.
“Brave would have been not speaking to her, and not falling apart. Since when are you the one who falls apart? Since when do you trust? I tried to tell you this was a bad idea. One day you’ll learn. You’ll learn when she betrays you or when your family finds out what you’ve done. You’re so selfish.”
I say out loud “there is a part of me that is so hatefully angry at me right now. It won’t let me get to you.” I am visibly shaking.
“Now you’ve done it. Can’t do anything on your own, can you. I thought this was your ‘safe space’ (mockingly), I thought this was where you could be you and you could be whole. Guess not, huh. Was it worth it? Was it worth trusting her once to lose your whole family? They arrive next Thursday, they’re going to know. They’ll read the betrayal all over your face and then A will leave you and you will have nothing left. Everyone will know who you truly are.”
This narrative is going on and on and it’s so self deprecating and so overwhelming and I want to get to A but I’m slipping further and further away and resisting her more and more and I don’t want to be but that critical voice – it is winning.
A has put on her you-need-to-listen-to-me voice and is telling me to breathe, asking me to look at her. I do but it’s not me – it’s hard to explain but I am completely believing this angry voice. I am one with it now – and it’s taking over and looking at her, but defiantly. Like “PD may not be able to defy you but I can. We are going to do what you want so you leave us alone.” This defiant part of me isn’t connecting with A, it’s more like it’s in a staring contest with her. Normally I look away really fast because the connection overwhelms me but not now.
“PD, I honour your pain. I honour this part of you that is hurting. I can see you struggling and I invite it into this room with us.”
“Therapist bullshit 101” echoes my inside voice and I have to work hard to not actually and literally roll my eyes. I think this part of me is trying to shame me away from A, to kill the connection. It feels threatened, and like it has failed, its purpose in life has been to keep me safe and it was okay with growth until I trusted someone and now that I trust, well, “we just can’t have that.”
She asks me to put my feet on the floor and she has to ask me twice. I’m throwing this attitude at her that I don’t want to throw her way but it’s like I’ve lost to this critical voice. I truly believe I’ve done something horrible by connecting with her and that I’ve done something awful by coming to therapy at all and I’ve done something absolutely unconscionable by sharing my story with her. I have betrayed everyone who has ever loved me. And how awful of a person do you have to be to betray your own family.
She asks me to breathe, I cross my arms and sarcastically breathe with her or breathe just enough for her to let it go. I know I’m not fooling her but I also know I need to play along or she will – actually not sure because it’s never happened – but she would say something I’m sure. I’m behaving so differently than normal, and she’s not stupid. She knows something is going on, but we are out of time and it’s not like I’ve let her in at all.
I feel briefly connected to her when we hug, and a different part of me whispers save us before we leave. The critical voice is back and going “shut up, we don’t need her, she’s just going to hurt us, let’s go” and we leave and it calms.
One part of me shamed another part of me into total silence today… And I was helpless to do anything about it.
And I am on the bus and I want to cry but that part of me is having none of that because according to it “we are done crying, we are done being selfish, and we most certainly are done seeing A. I didn’t keep you alive this long for you to throw it all away.”