What Do You Need?

I started by telling her about my pap next week, that I scheduled it before our session. I wanted to move right along but she jumped on it with:

“PD, slow down, let’s talk about this. What do you need from me next week to feel supported?

(I should know by now I can’t blow by things without getting caught)

“I don’t know”

Let’s figure it out. Let’s figure out what it looks like.”

Eventually we get into the fact that this is new, supporting myself through this experience is new, and we talk about what I normally do (Ativan and drink), and how I’ve put all these things in place to make sure that it isn’t an issue. 

What have you put into place?

I tell her about finding a doctor I trust, and bringing Lu and getting lunch with her after, how I am taking the day off work and getting a confidence boosting photo shoot in the morning, how I scheduled with her, and how I am doing it before my husband leaves on his trip so I’m not alone.

She was like “wow, good job. This is so new for you, and you’re doing great. That IS really supported.”

We talked about me feeling undeserving and guilty. About how I lied about all those things and yet I am still getting support that people don’t get, and she kept asking me what was underneath that, what core emotion (fear, sadness, anger, etc).

Eventually I deviate and tell her all about what happened with the TV show. For context, that post the other day about consent and drinking was inspired by the TV show. In the show, a girl gets really drunk at a party and is raped – well, she has sex she doesn’t remember. And she goes to her Mom and in the context of ‘this happened to a friend’, asks for her Mom’s advice. Her mom goes “that’s terrible”. And the girl says “that she drank so much?” And her Mom goes, “no, that she was raped.” 

That scene hit me SO hard. In my first year of University, one of the first nights I had been drinking outside of the safety of my home (my parents didn’t do a ton right but they nailed the alcohol thing), I got super drunk and the guy across the hall and I ended up kissing, when he took it further. We didn’t have sex, but I didn’t want it regardless. He grabbed my hair and it was the first time I had ever seen or touched or whatever that part of the male anatomy. I remember waking up feeling awful, and gross, and like I couldn’t get the feelings away. 

I went home and in the same context of “this happened to a friend of mine,” asked my mom about it. And her reaction was not the reaction of the mom in the video but instead was “maybe she shouldn’t have drank so much.” I realized two things Sunday that sidelined me. I realized what support looked like from a healthy (also idealistic) family, but I also realized I had been sexually assaulted long before I thought I had. 

I told A all that. She had to ask me to stay connected a few times, “PD, you can tell me the story but look at me while you do, please”. I told her about the things I’ve lost because I’ve never known them – I’ve never known about consent and alcohol. I never realized I wasn’t responsible for my brother’s behaviour. And A encouraged me to sit with that immense sadness. 

I say again how so many have had it worse, and she tells me that’s another way we try to keep ourselves in the same narrative. It’s a way of staying stuck. That’s been coming up a lot lately – as a theme – people telling me I’m keeping myself stuck. It is the best excuse to avoid how I feel, tell myself I don’t deserve to feel that way.

We ended by me saying I miss being rescued. That that feeling is the one I was going after all the time by lying. That I miss her having to reach for me, in therapy. That I miss the feeling of being rescued because she knows me and my limits so well now. She was blown away by my honesty and awareness, that I miss having the pieces picked up. But she also addressed how much closer that makes us. 

And she ended with the same question she started with – “what do you need to be supported next week

And I paused for a long time and then said to her, “I am going to regret this I think, but I will need to talk. I need to not be allowed to withdraw. I need to address my feelings. I’ve set up these supports, I need to use them. No matter how different or wrong it feels.”

And she said “I will remind you you said that.” 

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12 thoughts on “What Do You Need?

  1. PD, I’m reading this quite a bit after you wrote it, and you may be thinking about other things by now. But I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that this happened to you. There is no excuse for it. A person can’t do whatever he feels like to you just because you are really drunk. On the contrary–if you are really drunk, he shouldn’t do ANYTHING because you aren’t in a state to give consent. What he did was wrong and terrible and absolutely qualifies as sexual assault.

    I’m also very sorry that your mom doesn’t know this. There is a lot of misunderstanding in our society about consent and about who is responsible for egregious violations. It’s awful and infuriating that so many people, including your mom, still react with something like, “she shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” It doesn’t mean, of course, that she doesn’t love you, but rather that she unthinkingly buys into harmful cultural conventions. Not that this makes you feel any better about it!

    It’s a good thing that you can talk about this with A and write about it here. It’s a very good thing that you now understand that this was a sexual assault (as sad and painful as that knowledge is). These are such important healing steps, as you know. I want you to know I grieve with you and at the same time admire your courage. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve done really well to set up supports for yourself, and you do deserve them. The feeling of never knowing what you didn’t have, and then realizing it, that hurts. It’s overwhelming and painful. But I think working through it is ultimately helpful and validating. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 🙂 That last part. And I’m really sorry your mom didn’t respond the same way as the mom in the show. You deserve support, both back then and now.
    By the way, I’m 99% sure I know the show you’re watching, and I think I’m watching it right now too, but the newer episodes. Either it’s the same show or that same scene is in multiple shows. May I take a guess as to what it is? Or I can email it, up to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And she is awesome, she really knows what’s up. I credit it to the fact she was in therapy (is, actually) herself and knows what good looks like. Also, she’s just awesome 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing insight. Your reasons for the lies has me really thinking about my past and some of my behavior. That really hit a chord in me. I also understand the “stuck” part too. Well, not totally understand, but I am also being told I keep myself stuck. I am thinking about this now too from a different perspective. You have really put a lot of thought and safety planning into your situation coming up at the Dr. This is such a good example of how to do that and to know that it’s ok. I agree, make sure you lean on and use them! I will be thinking about you.

    Liked by 2 people

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