I didn’t know what to expect today. I was still foggy-ish when I saw A. I can tell because I got no anxiety around going, despite being high functioning and relatively normal all day. It’s a bit of a roller coaster really, being stuck between the resistant part that is so determined to feel nothing, so skeptical and untrusting of A and the part of me that wants to go to her and trust her.
And I told her this. That the narrative of I don’t matter and shouldn’t be talking about this, that it’s all coming back. And she looked thoughtful and said “I am really torn right now PD. Because I really don’t want to dismiss this resistance. I don’t want to worm my way past it when it is really making itself known, while it’s hosting this rebellion. I want that side of you to know I see it and I honor it and I am not going to go where I am not welcome. But there is also this part of you that desperately needs to speak, and I honor that too. But I don’t think I would be able to focus on hearing it if I know it’s only speaking because I dismissed a part of you that so needs to be respected. I want your rebellion to end because I have earned my way past, not because I have knocked any walls down. So I think I have to earn some trust here first, unless of course I’m wrong.”
She wasn’t. What she said really resonated with me and I was suddenly so grateful. And we talked for a while, and she wasn’t pushy but more guiding me when something did come out. And it suddenly felt so safe to be mad. To be motherfucking angry about everything. And she was commenting on me being angry today and she was like “I am going to be careful how I say this, because I don’t want to put you in a specific frame or accidentally make you feel belittled but this is a very parent + child esque like thing we have going on right now and I’m going to just say it and call it out. This is the work. This attachment work is what we are doing. It’s not a secret I’m trying to keep from you. This, and maybe I am wrong, but this is likely the first place in your life where you are allowed to experience the entire range of human emotions and a parents job is to sit through them, and love a child through them. To accept them regardless and to resolutely be there. And that’s why I tell that part of you that she can leave if she wants, and she can push back, but it is my job to not leave (within reason). That’s the issue with insecure attachment – you don’t get to feel what you needed to feel and you didn’t have your feelings honored. Thankfully we are malleable and can learn that life doesn’t have to be like that. This is the work and it’s okay that you both want and don’t want me around. That you both do and don’t want to quit. We are involved in a very intricate and attached relationship. And you’ve come so far but as we go deeper and as you get more open we are going to run into this resistance over and over and that’s why I was so glad when I read your letter because you being so real with me is a sign of trust and growth. You censor yourself in here sometimes PD, and you don’t have to. And I tell you this so you understand that this is OK. That being attached to me is alright. That this is what we are supposed to be doing. And it doesn’t last forever and there is no shame in it. And you’ve said you feel crazy and I get that. I do. But I truly believe healing can’t take place without this work.”
I really like that she just laid it out. Right there. She was like. This is what it is. And I know how you’re feeling because I’ve been there myself. And it’s alright, and you’re not crazy, and I’m going to be here even if you push back. Her addressing it before I addressed it made it so much easier to discuss. I was able to reach into this place after and find the words to express just how heartbroken I was for teenage me. Her diaries are all about needing to change for other people. Lists and lists of unattainable goals. Wanting support from anybody. Simply wanting to be loved. And together we kind of acknowledged how incredibly fucking strong she was. And how amazing it is that I got here in one piece. I told A that I’m so proud of it, because I was up against some crazy insurmountable odds.
And she said “more than you know, probably”
And it was really nice to have her and me honoring that survival instinct. Not only do I have a husband and a successful career but I’m no longer financially or in any other way dependent on my parents. And A really emphasized how much strength it would have taken and how much work it would have been to break those patterns. To even recognize the good kindness and character of my husband and not look for someone who fit the pattern of abuse in my life. And I’m so grateful for Dave and my job that they let me leave early to see her and really truly understand the need for therapy but don’t ostracize me or treat me differently. And I took a moment to honor that.
And I told her I’m so afraid I’m remembering it wrong. Because I remember things that nobody else seems to acknowledge. And it’s crazy making. And A tapped her head and said “you need to focus less on what’s up here and more about how you feel. Because we will never know what memories are right or not and we can never fact check. And that’s a mind fuck. And we can get lost there. But your feelings are real and true – how you feel is true – I look at you, shaking, or crying, and I see the body memories enter the room, and PD I don’t even question if it’s true. I know it’s true. I believe you. I will always believe you regardless. And I never question what you tell me here. Because my mission is to show you that I am here regardless of what you do or do not have to tell me.”
And that – on all the levels… in all the parts of me. That – it was exactly what I needed to hear. I am allowed to have whatever memories I have there. I am allowed to feel whatever I feel there. I will be heard in that room. I don’t need to be different, or clean, or anything other than what I am. I am cared for and thought of exactly the same way whether I’m carrying a human heart or that dark black diamond. And that – that’s opened something for me.
At some point, with about 20 minutes left, I had a flashback. Its rare it happens with her. Usually I wake up from them as a nightmare… especially the last month. But I suddenly caught my breath and had to close my eyes but that made it worse and I choked out “this has been happening, recently, I remember this, and…” then I was shaking and unable to breathe. And she was like “okay. Let’s ground. Before you tell me anything you need to be here. So let’s do what I know you know how to do. You do it outside of here without me and now I’m here, so let’s breathe, and feet on the floor, okay, good. You’re not even close to resisting me – this must be some memory.” I hate grounding work and I am incredibly resistant to it. She seemed genuinely surprised. And it is some memory. I can’t even write about it.
She asked how often it had been happening and I told her. We talked briefly and she was like “it sounds like it needs to be addressed. You tell me if you want to address it. You do not have to tell me any details but it seems like it’s coming up for a reason.”
And I said to her “honestly, A, I don’t think I can address it in 20 minutes. I would not be able to leave here safe.”
And she looked like she wished she had her cheerleading pom-poms. She was like “I am so proud of you right now. You can see that it wouldn’t be safe, and are prioritizing your safety. That is amazing growth PD and I want to acknowledge that. Given the control it has over you though, we should likely look at it soon.”
And we rescheduled my session for next week kind of set aside to deal with this memory (that involves all of my greatest fears – fire, my brother, death, closed spaces, and crazy clown faces).
But I think most notably from this session is she managed to skillfully (really skillfully) ally herself with both sides of me. She honored the resistant side and didn’t force her way anywhere or dismiss it and told me that she applauds trying to keep myself safe. And she also honored the side that needs her.
A lot of the choices I made are serendipitous in that there is a domino effect since I moved here of leading me to this place where healing is possible. And I feel really whole right now and although messy, like it’s OK. Somehow, today, A made me feel like all of me is OK. And maybe all of me is potentially lovable.
I don’t know how she does it but my god she is so incredibly skilled, and I’m really glad I found her and exceptionally grateful for her boundaries as well.