(Little disclaimer, I currently have quite the potty mouth)
I saw A today. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am currently exhausted and feeling completely broken. But I also feel heard and validated and cared for.
I had followed strongs advice and made a bullet point list of everything that has happened since last Friday – and fuck, there was a ton of stuff.
I wanted A to read it, and she said it felt different, and important, for me to read it. Of course I was having none of that (the first part was literally “something you said last week upset me”) and told her “fine, if you really want that, we don’t have to talk at all.”
She paused. And then said “remember why you show up here.” Which just made me defiant.
She asked me some questions about a variety of things and I didn’t answer her. She paused again, and said “what are you feeling.”
“I don’t know”
“Well I knew that, but it’s good you can name it. Why don’t you want to share with me?”
“It doesn’t feel safe. Nothing feels safe.”
Eventually, I can’t remember how, but it was skillful and very A, she drew me out and I said “fuck, fine, I’ll read it.”
I did. And she was like “that, that is a lot. PD, that is a lot for anybody.” Another pause. “Do you want to tell me what I said that upset you?”
“It’s silly. I know you didn’t mean it.”
“Tell me anyways, it’s ok if it’s silly. I want to know. It’s how I grow. I want to avoid upsetting you next time if I can”
So I told her that she was like “oh good” when we were scheduling and I was reducing my hours – she honestly looked so shocked – I knew then she didn’t mean it but she was like “oh no PD you thought I was happy and excited and couldn’t wait to push you out?! Oh no, oh no no no. How often we see each other and for how long is up to you, within boundaries that we both know and understand. I do not want out of this. I want to be on this path with you. I’m so sorry that my words had that impact.”
I wasn’t looking at her.
“PD“, she said. “PD” – a little strong now. I looked, “I care about you, and I want to be here. How hard that you felt so disconnected from me and then your family stuff started. You know I want to be here yes?”
I nodded. We started to talk about my parents and the message from my brother and OMG it’s so overwhelming to even recount now… but she was like
“I want to talk about your parents, I do. But I need to address us one more time. Can you answer me out loud? Do you, in any way, feel rejected by me?”
I shook my head and said “no. Not anymore.”
“Okay. Because I do want you here. Whenever, within limits, you want to be here.”
I’m gonna come right out and say I really really needed to hear that from her. I didn’t realize how much I had bought into the idea that I didn’t matter to her, half a day before I got those messages from my family.
We talked about the messages. I told her I was proud of myself – and we talked about that for a while. I told her I was proud that even if I can’t separate the emotions or gain clarity that way, that I can intellectually realize that not all the emotions I’m having are present emotions (thanks Rachel). And then I told her what Lu said to me today, that even if I couldn’t see it I was making so much progress and drawing a line and really showing up for myself, and that she was proud of me. And I don’t know if Lu knew the impact that had on me in that moment. I needed to hear that from someone who isn’t in love with me and someone I don’t pay. Someone who I trust to always be honest with me.
And then A said “I see the proud wagon going by, and I need to get on it. Because I’m proud of you. Not only for making it this far but for trying to be in the emotions, and trying out identifying them. And for drawing a line and drawing a boundary and not giving in. And for the fact that you are always so brave in telling me when I’ve said or done something that is upsetting to you.”
I said to her “a part of me wants to give in to them because it would be easier. Doing what they want would relieve me of so much pain and be easier.”
And she said “yes, but a large and growing larger part of you wants to draw a line. And Lu supports that, and I support that, and husband [fun PD note, that autocorrected to Gunther, which gave me quite the laugh, which felt really good] supports that.”
We talked about my text messages and how I felt, when I was reading them to her, how mundane and normal they felt. How the only part of my brothers message that hurt me was the cutting me off part – the rest was, well, mild. She looked surprised when I said that that was a nice message.
She said that it spoke to how incredibly painful and manipulative and difficult my childhood must have been – because I was really looking at her as if it was normal. Like those messages weren’t anything out of the ordinary. And she said “they are not normal, and the fact that these are mild to you, and you’re looking to my reaction as to figure out how you should feel, gives me insight into how traumatic your childhood was at times. I love and care for that child who went though that, and I love and care for the woman she has become.”
We talked about how I wanted to see her again tomorrow, but felt bad cause I had just cancelled that time – but she said not to worry and she made time for me (an hour) at 8am. I don’t really have the money because I sent money to my Mom to get her to shut up, but I will have it, and it will be fine. I am not in dire straits by any stretch of the imagination, just being careful.
Then we started talking about being scared of everything. She asked if I wanted to talk about how I was feeling. I said it’s like an emotional assault on all my senses – auditory memories, nightmares, dreams I don’t know whether or not happened in real life, a leaf blowing by or someone who looks like a member of my family – anything out of the ordinary is startling and upsetting and can spiral me out of control so quickly and I’m so, so, tired… because there is nobody to tell about this that will understand really at work. I’m in charge of millions of dollars of advertising spend and employees and I can’t be jumping every time someone walks by me – even today at work I don’t know what the trigger was but suddenly I was hyperventilating and covered in goosebumps. I also don’t feel safe in my normal safe places – my bed, my bathroom. I can’t turn off the stress response.
I told her I felt crazy. It felt crazymaking, like I am nuts. She said “it’s a normal trauma response. It is more normal than you think.”
We talked a bit and I was suddenly just crying and felt myself slipping and then she was like “PD, PD you’re leaving, you’re going somewhere else. Can you stay here with me? You’re safe, we are two grown women, here in my office. Can you hear me?” I nodded, “Good, that’s good, can you look at me? Can you see me?” I didn’t answer, I was caught up in a memory that was eating me from the inside out. “Hey, PD, I’m going to move closer to you now, okay?” I nodded again and she came closer. “Can you look at me? It’s really important that you are here with me right now, and breathing. It’s okay, you’re safe, I know you’re safe right now even though you don’t feel safe.” I looked over and nodded and then we breathed some. I think that’s the closest I’ve come to completely checking out on her.
We grounded and talked about emotions and talked about how it is okay and how I’m safe with her and how our relationship is fine – she was reassuring and validating and helpful.
Then she looked at me, dead center, and said “PD, are you safe? You are going through a lot right now, and I need to make sure that you feel like you can stay safe.”
“I am not okay but I am also not going to do anything I shouldn’t. I think the greatest thing I can do for myself is get healthy – so when or if my family wants me back in their lives I have something to show for all the work I’ve done. And I can’t do that if I’m self-harming, or drunk all the time.”
She gave me one of her ‘I-am-in-awe-that-came-out-of-your-mouth’ looks.
“If that changes, you have the crisis plan to follow, yes? And you know I’m ok with seeing you more if you need it.”
I said yes. It’s true, I do know she is ok with that. I also know she checked on purpose because of what I brought up and I like that about A – I like that she owns it. It’s helpful for me to see that modelled.
I am mother fucking exhausted. And my biggest issue right now is thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. That I’m totally way off base for feeling any of this. That it’s laughable I think this is worth anybody’s time or energy… and that’s the hardest part.
I was pretty sure I was handling things well. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were hard. Monday and Tuesday were easier and I thought it was because I was moving through the emotions. And I was, at least at a level I could handle. But when I was with A, after she made it past my defiance, I was open and felt everything. And it was overwhelming and I am exhausted. Fucking exhausted.
I’ll just keep going. That’s all I can do. But I’m really grateful for A, and Lu, and my husband, and all of you.