Angry

I’m angry. And resentful. And for once in my life I’m not chastising myself for feeling that way. 

Okay, I am. But not as much as normal.

My parents are well off. I grew up in a family that had a lot – I lacked nothing material. What I lacked emotionally my mother made up for by handing me $50 as if a shopping trip would change the fact that there had just been a massive meltdown in the house. 

As a result I learned zero money management. As a result, the last week has been spent with my husband and I fighting over money. As a result I am now faced with the next ten years of debt payment and seeing A is conditional on what I make while freelancing. 

And I’m angry. I’ll take ownership for the fact that I never listened to my husband in the first 8 years of us dating… but I am also jealous and resentful of my brother. 

My parents pay for everything for my brother. They pay his rent. They give him their car whenever he needs it. They pay for his mother fucking therapy each month. The only reason he started talking to me again last year was because my Dad threatened to cut him off if he didn’t. And meanwhile I don’t know if I can afford to see my counsellor week after week. They pay for him to chase his career dreams of music. They pay for so much of his shit and they don’t even make him be accountable for where it goes! It goes to booze and cabs and all this other crap he doesn’t need.

And I have always defended it and been like oh, they paid off some stuff for me at that age. And I’ve been like oh, it’s okay, I don’t really want them to pay for me. But that’s a cover up. I do. I want them to be like “heres money for a couple months of therapy while you recover honey.” I mean they buy what my therapy costs in alcohol each month!!

I’m resentful. I’m angry. Because if I did say “Mom, I am having heart problems due to stress. Most of it is about money.” She would go “can’t your husband pay for it?” I’m being punished for having a husband who knows what he is doing with money (and no, he can’t pay for it. He is busy padding an emergency fund and saving for our house and car). My SIL sucks with money too, and my parents do so much for them. I am being punished for having a husband who is responsible. 

I realize I sound like a spoiled brat – and here’s the thing. I have ZERO expectations of my parents when it comes to finances. I am 28. But when I look at the differences between me and my brother and watch them throw over 2 grand at him a month – and then struggle to pay my therapist – I get angry. Because it’s another freakin example of how I am a second rate citizen in that house. It’s another example of how things I never ask for (wedding) are held over my head. It’s another example of the fact that I am held to different standards and expected to simply figure it out.

Ugh. I hate this side of me. What I’m mad about isn’t the money, it’s the inequality. It’s the blatant fact that I am second. That they say all the right things but there’s no meaning behind them. My Mom offered to fly out to help yesterday (by making my heart problems worse? Like how would you being here help. Oh, I know, it wouldn’t, but it means you get to escape being there).

I feel mean today. I can’t sleep. And I’m angry about my sexual assault too. And I’m angry that I feel dirty and bad and that I let someone have that power over me. 

I’m just fucking angry.

I was taught that I am second best. I was taught that inequality was normal. I was taught to be a doormat. And that makes me furious when I think of all I’ve lost.

I’m Tired Of Being Touched

I’m craving some space for my body.

Due to a variety of medical needs the past four days – not a day has gone by where somebody I do not know well is touching me in some way or another and I’m over it. I am so over it. 

I have had hands on my chest (ecg), wrists (pulse), under my arms (after I fainted), in my mouth (root canal), on my back (before I fainted), my left arm (blood taken) and I’m done. I’m done being touched. 

Each time was consensual and I was asked about my choice of practitioner and each time I simply went with the flow of things and gritted my teeth and got through it. 

And I’ve realized that’s how I got through a lot of my childhood. I gritted my teeth and said nothing because at some point it was easier to shut up than to try to advocate for myself… and that’s carried over to adulthood. None of these professionals did anything wrong – they don’t know me. They all asked about my preferences and I didn’t tell them so it’s not like they’re mind readers (with the exception of my dentist who does know me very well and is trauma specific. She just caught me at a tough time or I would have been fine with her). 

I realize this is a pattern – to put up with things regardless of if there is an opportunity to do something about it to change my circumstances. And how sad that is. And in how many ways that has changed my life. 

I need to not be touched for a while.

Unsettled

For the last two weeks I have dreamt every night (unless I take a sleeping pill but that’s followed by more arrhythmia issues #connection). More often than not I wake up with a sense of loss and an ache.

The dreams all center around my brother and unlike when he was yelling at me – where my dreams were violent and aggressive – now that we are estranged the dreams are different.

This set of dreams isn’t true but more reflects my feelings – whereas the more violent set had anchors of truth. 

Two from last night stand out to me. The first, I was supposed to drive somewhere with my best friend, and my brother and SIL. It was my birthday and I never got to use the car. And they had some piece of technology in the car that wasn’t plugged in or anything but that I couldn’t move. But if I didn’t move it there wasn’t room for all of us. And suddenly they ended up with the car and my best friend and I was alone on my birthday with my mom and dad telling me to suck it up because they “needed it” more than I did.

The second dream I’m at a college or school of some sort and I’m so tired and my SIL and brother are supposed to pick me up somewhere. Of course they don’t so I am late to school. I call my best friend to come get me and somehow hear a voicemail my SIL has left for her about how ungrateful I am and how she was calling all my friends to let them know about the true me that abandons my family – how I am not worthy of any support or any friendship ever. And how nobody should ever love me. And how if people do love me, it’s only a matter of time before they leave me.

Then there is this project so I miss this test and my teacher and I are trying to find a room to take it in (because I texted her to tell her that my life was falling apart). And in every room is my brother or SIL telling me I can’t be there, that I don’t matter, that I’m a liar and a victim and selfish. 

And in the last room is A. And she says “you can do whatever you want in this room, take your test, but after hearing the truth, I can’t support you anymore. You’re on your own.”

And I am so fucking unsettled by these dreams. I woke up feeling incredibly alone, save for my arrhythmia.

Yoga Therapy, Sex, and the Hospital

TUESDAY – Yoga Therapy 

I still have no real idea how I feel about this weeks session. I think I’m done talking about my family with N. The whole session was really good except for the one time she said something that didn’t resonate quite well with me regarding my family – and it was innocent but hit a nerve. I knew she knew she did it too, cause she followed it up with “you know I’m 100% here to support you in this, right?”

After that we moved through a variety of sun salutations that were actually really awesome and had me sweaty and gross like a normal intense yoga class. She said a few things that resonated, like “you are stronger and more powerful than you think you are” as she encouraged me through a series of planks and I told her I thought it was funny she thought I was capable of it (my arms are not strong as with most runners that don’t do strength training) and she said “you’re capable of a lot, and you have an incredibly strong constitution.” 

We also talked about what else she could do to support my work with A (A’s answer was being grounded and breathing through vulnerability and stress… thanks A). And we talked about how I associate coming from a place of kindness and compassion with being a doormat. And how she would like to see me reframe that into the fact that it is powerful to choose to come from that place. 

When I got home I fought with my husband and was feeling really resentful. Which only matters as we talk about Wednesday. 

WEDNESDAY – A 

TW: sex, sexual assault 

There were so many things I could have talked about with A this week. I am really feeling the strain of only having one session but I can’t do more so I will work with what I have. 

I wrote a letter to my brother, realized I was afraid of talking to my Mom, I was full of resentment and anger, and my husband and I have been having issues with sex – that are all my issue – and that I haven’t been open with him about. 

Of course I intend to avoid the last topic but for the first time in 7 months we spend a majority time discussing my relationship with my husband, the sexual assault, and how it has changed things for me. The lack of ability I feel to stand up for myself if things go sideways is really hampering my enjoyment – for the record, he has never crossed a line in that regard with me, ever. I have no reason to believe he would. And yet, I am terrified of sex right now. I feel out of control and angry and it’s so unfair to my husband.

I still feel guilty and I still feel like I deserved it and I really need to hear A say that I didn’t and I don’t want to ask for it. I can’t remember if she said it early on when we first had the discussion, but I am not processing this well (or at all) and I need to go back to basics with the sexual assault before I categorize it as “something that happened to the other me. The me that lives in MO.” I caught myself doing that this week. 

FRIDAY – The Hospital

First, don’t panic. I was in the emergency room yesterday for about six hours, but I am back home and doing okay. It was cardiac related. Not that that makes it better than mental health related but I know everyone would be worried about the more natural conclusion when the word hospital is mentioned.

I’ve been having heart palpitations all week. Monday they started after a binge drink the night before and lots of coffee. They didn’t hurt and I figured if they would continue I would see the doctor on the weekend but basically whatever way I moved after being still my heart would rapidly fire for about 15 beats, rhythmically, and then suddenly drop down. 

So I cut out alcohol and caffeine (except for Thurs evening) and then felt a bit better but still with these flutters that are incredibly destabilizing and knock the wind out of you. 

So yesterday I’m at work and they are happening again but this time they hurt, I am having chest pains and super dizzy. I have been drinking water all day and being really careful. I decide to go to a walk in clinic which is no longer taking patients and then a second one which is closed for the day and eventually I’m like fuck it, and I go to the ER. 

Of course this results in an ECG, bloodwork, and lots of waiting. There is nothing like an emergency going on – but I hate ECGs and feeling vulnerable on a tiny gurney in a hallway with my breasts exposed (there’s a curtain of course but I don’t do well with people touching me even when I’m not having issues with my recent sexual assault). And I’m already dizzy so the bloodwork ends up making me faint. 

I realize I have this tendency to grit my teeth and endure, to simply accept situations as reality and unavoidable. The ECG man said “let me know if you would prefer a female tech” and I said “no, it’s fine” – which right now I’m like umm WTF self?! I was handed the opportunity to state my needs on a silver platter. And I didn’t – I couldn’t – mentally I was like “this is the situation you have no right to ask for anything – the sooner you shut up and comply the sooner it is over.” And I checked out. And floated away. 

So of course I finally get to see the doctor – my heart has been painfully palpitating on and off this whole time (except when the ECG is happening) and he is firstly gorgeous and second so friendly “I’m Dr Lee but you can call me Chris”. Great bedside manner. So I am still lying down in a gown cause I was told not to sit up without an adult after fainting, and he grabs my wrist to take my pulse as I move and tells me to do all the things I can think of to trigger the palpitations – and NOTHING happens. Of course the 5 minutes I get with the doctor it doesn’t happen. 

He did take a moment though to tie my gown for me. I told him I didn’t want to stand up with it open as I have vulnerability issues and he obliged and I said “I’m sorry,” and he said “no, patient safety and comfort is a priority for me” which made me feel safer about being in a tiny windowless room with him half naked. 

So we discuss it and he is like “I believe you but I can’t treat a cardiac issue I can’t see” (fair point, hot doc) – he mentions arrhythmias and a complicated series of words. But because it’s coming with chest pains and my family history of heart disease I get a holter monitor and a cardiologist appointment next week along with an instruction to ensure I’m walking 15-20 mins a day but no strenuous exercise and no alcohol for about.

Oh, and to avoid stress (I laughed out loud when he said that) and rest as much as possible. And come back if it’s happening at a frequency where I am in severe chest pain, if I faint, or if I think they can catch it. 

Of course he leaves the room and it happens immediately as I pull my legs up on the bed. And the entire taxi ride home. And all last night. And this morning. 

To top it all off yesterday was the day my husband had my phone with him to switch it out for my new phone. So I spent $3 on a pay phone yesterday. And 6 hours people watching. 

It’s been a long week, and now my heart is misbehaving. 

Maybe the grief really did break it.

Nobody Can Be Trusted

Nobody can be trusted… nobody can be trusted… nobody can be trusted. 

It’s the hardest narrative to erase and it makes it even harder when people you thought you trusted do or say something, even if it’s innocent, to set off those alarm bells in your brain. 

Space is better. You should quit. Get a new job. Nobody wants you here. And anyways, they can’t be trusted…. you should trust nobody. 

Immediately I picture myself going to see A and telling her nothing. Saying nothing because nothing feels safe to say. And I know that this is all inside my head, that something in my environment (someone, and I know who) has accidentally (sure of this) pushed a button which makes me feel like the whole world is suddenly unsafe and not to be trusted. And so I’m in the bathroom writing an email to a safe person and allowing myself to regroup. 

I am still doing kind of okay, kind of stable… pretty wary. Hope and I occupy the same space but hope is at least 10 yards away from me at all times. Today her and shame and hurt are hanging out together.

Now that the family stuff is a bit more stable I’m finding a lot coming up about the sexual assault… and I’m having difficulty discussing it with my husband and A, or anyone else – I feel judged and dumb and stupid and silly for making a big deal of it, I feel like it was my fault and karma gave me a swift kick in the ass. I feel awful about it, really. 

So in the family department, I am stable. For now. But there is other stuff that was hidden that is rising – uncomfortable stuff. Stuff I don’t really want to talk about with anyone. Stuff I should talk about. 

Emotion Log

Now that I’ve started to master the art of defining an emotion, and not simply feeling “something” or “a pit” or “lighter than yesterday”, I’ve been keeping an emotions log for N for Yoga. 

I’m kind of curious what we will get up to doing with it. I am also curious as to the things I’ve been feeling over the past while, what they may mean. The connections between them. I definitely don’t feel everything, but I am also able to define some emotions and where they live or show up in my body. 

I’ve fully categorized grief, shame, and sadness. If they appear (when they appear) I can identify them, know where they are, and for the most part accept them and breathe into them and move through them. Sometimes I talk to them out loud. Last Tuesday with A I said “oh hi grief”, in the middle of a sentence, fully able to identify what was coming up for me. 

This skill is one that I think is so important and represents a real breakthrough for me. I am more able to identify what I’m feeling, although some emotions still escape me and combinations are super confusing. After literal decades of not being able to understand my emotions, I am starting to be able to pause as they arise and react appropriately. 

I think this is in large part due to yoga teaching me that they aren’t scary, and also because A and N both model such exceptional emotional management. 

This is my emotion diary for the past week. I write them down if they are significant enough for me to recognize that they’re happening. 

Wed: joy, trepidation, gratitude, relief (after my amazing session with A)

Fri: fear surrounding contact with my family (after a text from my Mom wanting to catch up)

Sat: sadness, a longing (after discovering I’ve been blocked or unfollowed by my brother in all social media mediums)

Sat: held, cared for (after remembering Wednesdays session) 

Sun: grieving, sadness (after having a relatively innocent conversation with my Mom)

I’m starting to trust my intuition more, to lean into emotions, to let tears leak out or to be visibly grumpy or annoyed if I am actually visibly grumpy or annoyed. To vocalise my needs. 

I wonder what we will do with that log tonight in practice. It amazes me that I’ve been able to start doing this, with emotions. It really does. How is dealing with emotions for you? 

Emotional Emancipation (weaving together the heart)


I walk into A’s office Wednesday afternoon.

A: “You look.. no, I will let you talk

PD: “I look what” I smile broadly 

A: “You seem different today. Lighter

PD: “I am.”

I have never trusted her or myself the way I do on this day. And I decide to read her something very personal. Something I’ve re-written a hundred times. Something that will lead to us discussing my second least favourite topic – our relationship. I read her this: 

I feel like a competent adult and I have no idea what to do with that. 

I don’t think it’s escapism competency where I front as this super high functioning person… like most of my life. It’s different. I think it’s the beginnings of simply functioning. But I don’t DO normal functioning and problem solving. I certainly don’t do stability. I don’t know how. The lack of problem to solve or be blamed for is unsettling.  It’s weird, life is kind of new, and I felt this huge weight lift when I spoke up for myself. But it’s so unknown that it’s scary. A part of me misses that burden and that part of me is panicking.
That centre part of me doesn’t feel walled off and it doesn’t even feel full of emotion, it feels like it was purged last weekend in the midst of the grief that almost killed me. I am experiencing more happy and hopeful emotions than anything else, for the first time in a while. I stood up for myself and the world didn’t end. I am loved by people in my life who are trying to help me through this.

That’s nuts. That’s insane. It can’t be real. 

And I’m weirdly upset over the lack of tension or problem to solve – I am upset that I can’t seem to find anger or sadness or guilt or shame in every moment. If I look deeply I can feel this dull grief that will surface and sink every once and a while. A grief that is reasonable and easy to handle now that I know the depths I’m capable of feeling. 

I think I’m afraid that the comfort and reassurance I’ve received in this relationship is going to suddenly stop. Or you’re going to decide we are done when I feel like even though I’m functioning better that there is so much more to talk about. I am afraid that when I am stable and coping and feel integrated and whole you’re going to be like “good job, time to leave, your feelings don’t matter anymore” and there will be no more relationship here. That things will abruptly end on your terms. That I won’t have a say. (That if I’m not broken you won’t love me anymore) 

And I recognize that feeling. Often it kept me in the cycle of lying or exaggerating to continue to get care from people because I wasn’t getting it elsewhere… and I’m feeling that way now. Like I need to have another crisis, or have things be worse, to force care. I caught myself half way through concocting a story to prolong myself feeling needy and sad – as if my life as is isn’t enough of a reason to continue to receive care from you, or anyone else. The idea that I don’t have to make up stories to feel loved is insane to me. And I’m catching myself thinking about doing it – which makes this a very vulnerable conversation about my second least favourite topic to discuss… but at least it’s an honest conversation. 

I read her the letter and we eventually get around to me admitting great need and care and even love for her. We talk about the fear she may leave and the doubt combined with the fact I know she’s staying.

A:”It shows great emotional depth and health – to look at the situation like you just did. It’s not black and white and you, you just told me that. You’ve never done that before

I look at her, then look away. 

PD,” she catches my eye, “can I tell you something? This relationship will not end until you want it to end. Unless you break the boundaries we discussed or I end up moving or changing careers, which I have no plans of doing right now – we may end up knowing each other until we are old ladies. And I am okay with whatever you chooose. I am here for you. I know it’s scary that you need me and I know there may come a day you are afraid because you don’t need me. But this relationship is in your hands – yours, PD. I am not going anywhere.”

At this point I look away. I feel tears coming, but they’re a different kind of tears. They’re gratitude and joy based. “I think, I think two things. One, I no longer doubt that I am capable. I am not naive enough to believe that I am always going to feel okay. I know there are difficult things left to talk about and I know that there are going to be hard moments – but I know, too, that I am capable of moving through them. If I can survive last weekend – I can survive anything. And… second” the tears really begin to fall, “I think I have forgiven myself for lying to <husband>. I can’t find the guilt. It doesn’t exist. He forgave me a long time ago, and I have punished myself for much longer than he ever punished me for it. It was something like two years ago when he said that if I couldn’t forgive myself we would never achieve our potential because I would constantly be putting him on that pedestal and thinking less of myself. But A, today I woke up, and I saw my equal. I can see where the lies came from, where they originated from, why I told them – it’s not an excuse but it isn’t worth punishing myself over. For the first time in, well, ever, I look towards the future with hope, and feel like I can start leaving the past behind me. Emotional emancipation, if you will.

I look up at her, and she’s crying. It catches me off guard – in the best way. I have decided, on this day, to let my walls down with her. 

That.” She pauses. More tears. “That is incredibly beautiful.” 

I look her dead in the eyes. We are both crying. I remember 7 months ago I couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t articulate any of it. 

Thank you. Thank you for saving me.” 

All she can do is nod. I hand her the Kleenex box and go in my best A impression “so how are you feeling today” and we both laugh. I’m like “I need to get you those celebratory Pom Poms.”

She laughs and goes “it’s not pride, PD, although I am incredibly proud of you. It’s gratitude. Thank you for saying what you said. Thank you for showing up here every day and putting in the work. Thank you for making me not only a better counsellor, but a better person.

I go “since I just learned to say I need this relationship and it matters to me and we’re already here I want to tell you why you’re such an effective counsellor.” And I share how her boundaries have helped me, how she uses self-disclosure is helpful. And how I really feel heard when I come in angry even though she doesn’t always give me what I want. How the fact that she doesn’t pretend to be perfect gives me permission to be flawed as well. I continue “I know that you will tell me I’ve done all this work, and I know there is more work to come, but please know that your effort and work and commitment to me and love for me has made such a huge difference in my life.”

We pause. 
Her: “I’m so glad you came in today.

I am so glad I came in 7 months ago.”

Me too. Me too. Thank you. That was such a nice session to have on my birthday” (I didn’t know it was her birthday)

And then the lights went out because there was this weird power outage, and it was super dark, and the moment and connection changed. But it was amazing.

And perfect. 

Emotional emancipation… I think I’ve survived the worst. 

I finally opened up with my counsellor. I was finally 100% vulnerable. And it was worth it.