A Poem From A In My Inbox

​The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

–Mary Oliver

That Mom Shaped Hole 

I know that at some point I have to accept that she will never be what I need her to be. And I have to decide what I want my relationship with her to look like beyond that point.

I’m so tired of platitudes. Hell, I’m just tired. She’s picking up on it now but what can I say? What do I say?

It would help if I didn’t long for something I’m never going to get. It would help if I didn’t have this unrealistic idealism that maybe one day she will morph into what I need her to be. 

She’s not capable of it, for her own reasons. But I know I’m not okay with our current relationship. I know I don’t want to stay there at Christmas. I know that I am avoiding the conversation… and the emotions that come with it.

I knew I shouldn’t have picked up today, at work. I know better. I know better than that.

No amount of friendship or love or support replaces what is supposed to come from her.

I don’t know. I’m tired of having the same conversation to appease her when I’m hurting so much. 

I don’t know where this leaves us. And I guess I have to figure out what I want. I’m tired of hearing myself whine about this. 

I shouldn’t have picked up.

I’m just going to have to grieve it and accept it so contact with her doesn’t render me useless. As much as it sucks I know better. I do. I just have to accept that this is the way it is. 
I’ve got a mom shaped hole that will never fill.

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.” 

Keep Holding On

Some nights, I wish I could go back and redo some of what got me where I am in this life.

And some nights, some nights I wouldn’t trade my past for anything.

My birthday was recently. For the sake of privacy I’m not going to say when, but it was within the last week.

I got a really amazing gift this year. One I didn’t really expect. One I had gotten myself without even knowing. One that A, and Em, and Lu, and Dave, and my husband, got me.

I woke up on my birthday morning, completely and utterly in love with myself and my life.

And after years upon years of hating myself… and loathing who I was, and just not being on my own side… after years of working so damn hard…. it was the best damn gift.

I rolled over in bed on my birthday morning into my husband’s arms and went “babe, I really like myself.” And he hugged me because God knows, him, of all people, knows how much work that’s been.

And I swear, this was all for something. All this work, to no longer want to jump in front of a train every day. To have worked so hard, and to have it be worth it. To wake up, on my birthday, and just LOVE myself. 

Whoever you are, wherever you are, promise me you’ll keep holding on.

Because one day you may wake up completely and totally in love with yourself and your life.

There’s a lot left to work through, but its so much easier when you believe you are worth it. It’s so much easier when you actually believe you’ll be okay… and I do. I do, and its incredible. I do believe I’m going to be okay.

I want to yell it from rooftops.

I am so grateful that I didn’t give up.

Promise me you won’t give up.

Learning Emotions As An Adult

Ever since cranio, my emotions have surfaced in a way I really didn’t expect. Part of that could also be hormones, with my period coming. In hindsight, putting those things together weren’t a good idea. 

But it’s more than that. My emotions won’t lock down as easily as they used to. Even before cranio. I used to get angry or sad or emotional and stuff it away, be able to secure it in that Scrabble pouch in my chest and pretend they didn’t exist and either they’ve lived there forever or I took them out on myself later. And even though I found freedom moving far away, I would get practice everytime I went home to MO. I haven’t been back there in almost 8 months. That’s a long time for me.

Now, when I experience emotions, if they come out, they’re huge. HUGE. I got mad at an old lady the other day for a really justifiable thing, but then I yelled at her. It took me a second to realize I was yelling at an old lady who didn’t speak English and I walked away. For the record, being angry was right, yelling like that was not. 

And last week the sobbing on my bedroom floor. Feeling like everything is life or death. Like it’s the end of the world. I was sad, but the hysterical sobbing and snot dripping emotional level of outburst was out of proportion with the events.

Emotions that have been stored up for years are pouring out whenever they sense an opportunity. 

(And six days later I’m not at work again. I’m imagining a really fun conversation about that is coming)

The show I was watching, am watching, managed to hit a lot of the things I didn’t expect it to. A lot of nerves rubbed together. Sexual assaults and the fact I’ve lied about things like that in the past. The guilt associated with all of that. The questioning of my own experience. The jealousy as the girl in the show has parents who rally around her. That really real and raw and deep sense of loss and grief. The fact that I pay to experience the attachment that I should have been gifted as a child. Confusing emotions around my relationship with A. 

Emotions are hard to learn as a child but I am guessing it’s harder to learn as an adult. Because I’m trying, but when I throw a tantrum or yell inappropriately that’s not what adults do.

Sometimes, for brief moments, I wish I never unlocked this growth.

All The Trigger Warnings

All of them. Rape, consent – all the trigger warnings. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I’ve been accused of doing that a lot lately so just – consider this your all encompassing trigger warning.

I have a question brought up by a show I’m watching. 

Do you think if a girl is really drunk, and doesn’t remember a night, and has sex but doesn’t remember it, that it’s rape? That if the guy has sex with her but she’s too drunk to consent, that it is rape? Is drunk sex just another equivalent of rape?
Or is it just two people having a thing.

Can a man really be held responsible for being drunk even if he’s 100lbs more than the girl and just as drunk or even if she consents but is drunk? 

What is consent? How does consent with alcohol work? 

I don’t know. And I am not sure I want to. 

Caught Off Guard

Sal: Make sure you get enough sleep and drink lots of water. The emotional implications of this may catch you off guard.

Me, in my head: ‘ya, ya, I’ve been through a lot. This is nothing. I feel great!’

Sal warned me, I just didn’t expect the amount of emotion that was coming my way. I had to work later than I wanted to last night, until well after midnight. I then had trouble falling asleep. As I kept drifting off, I was dreaming of that girl from the barren wasteland. At one point it was me and her, sitting on this stone in a secluded area, with a couple toddler mes and a baby me playing outside on the grass. 

And my teenage self looked at me and says “they needed some fresh air”

And I say “thank you for giving it to them.” 

And that’s it. 

I woke up this morning after not enough sleep so full of emotion that was close to the surface. My husband is still angry with me from the behaviour I exhibited just over a week ago, and has not felt like touching. I get this, and I don’t think he is doing anything wrong. If I didn’t feel like being touched I wouldn’t want him forcing it on me. But this morning I asked him for a kiss goodbye, or some sort of contact at all and he said ‘no, I’m not ready yet’ and I deteriorated into this mess.

And by mess I mean emotions everywhere. Sobbing on the floor of the bedroom, in the fetal position, unable to form coherent sentences. It was this sense of being denied comfort, it was this life or death feeling of not being heard. It was WAY out of proportion for what had happened but Sal had unearthed that longing and sense of loss and my husband managed to tap it right on the head with his “no” to contact this morning. 

I could not convince myself to go to work. Dave, my boss and good friend, ended up convincing me I would feel better in the office and I shouldn’t be alone, so I took an Ativan (the first time I’ve ever used one during the day) and got through my work day.

Now I’m at home making quinoa and salmon, alone while my husband is at our sports game (that I captain, but I just could not go tonight – plus I can’t play). 

I’m finally taking some time and taking some breaths. I still feel like those emotions are much closer to the surface than before seeing Sal and I definitely better understand the need for space between sessions of cranio. 

I will listen more closely next time. 

I’m also curious if this will last until I see A on Thursday. I am hopeful it does, honestly. I’ve come in contact with some very real and very raw emotions around longing and loss, about self sabotaging, and about my preoccupation with receiving male comfort, as if it could fill that need gap. I also have this desire to just be held. 

It’s going to be an interesting week.