First let me say that I am AGGRAVATED that I wrote this post already and then lost it in the ether of the interwebs. What follows is a re-creation of my former brilliance, at least to the greatest extent possible 🙂
So today I walked into the lunch room at my office with some co-workers and a spider web, not an intricate one, was stretched across the backs of three chairs – inevitably creeping people out. I posited aloud that perhaps it had floated in from somewhere else – allowing for the possibility that there was NOT a creepy spider somewhere in the room. As I sit here at this very moment in my office, I find myself wishing that I could be like that web – floating gently on a stream of air – ephemeral. Wispy. Strong.
What I am instead is tired behind the eyes. I don’t know if anyone gets that feeling – like behind my eyeballs exists this layer of me that is just so emotionally exhausted that it is pushing against my optic nerves and begging me to give in.
This is something I go through every week on Thursdays, to some extent or another. Thursday is the day I see my therapist, K. I’ve been grappling with the fact that for five years I have been fairly consistently coming to therapy. This is the longest I’ve been in any therapeutic relationship, and I’m feeling some type of way about that. I can’t yet nail the correct feeling, so that will have to suffice.
I first entered therapy five years ago because I was not sure that I was “straight” enough to marry my husband. I know that not because I carry around an accurate historical clock in my head but because I have just celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary. By the way – I still haven’t figured out the answer to that question – I’ve just learned that it’s not a question I necessarily need to have an answer for RIGHT now.
K is significant because he is the first therapist who has had boundaries strong enough for me to feel safe. Safe enough to disclose the exact nature of my abuse – safe enough to be able to name a confusing set of behaviors and feelings AS abuse. In some ways K introduced me to my personality system.
I had no language before for what I was feeling and struggling with. I just knew that something was not right and did not “sync up.” At different times I would alight on the possibility that I was actually a multiple and “crazy.” Then I would skitter away and not allow myself to visit crazy town for a while.
Before K I kept searching for some big bad secret that I had repressed that would justify to me all the signs and symptoms of being abused- I was searching out my cast of family and friends for men who had in some way irreparably harmed me. What I remembered of my interactions with my mother I could not categorize as abusive. Odd, new-age-y, or “crazy mother behavior,” but not abusive.
I thought that in five years I had at least uncovered enough truth to heal. Neither one of us particularly subscribes to the belief that I have to remember everything. Just today we were speaking of how he believes that a person’s personal power resides in their ability to move forward from today, not go back and “restart.” My own interpretation of that is that you stand on the platform, you pick up your baggage, and you march forward. When something falls out you pick it up, examine it, and figure out what to do with it.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think there would be five years of this. Then again, when I started I had no idea that I would eventually disclose what I did. I’m not saying this because five years means to me that I’m crazier than someone who needed three years, but because five just seems like such a big number to me. When we first started down this road, I think we were a bit over a year in. Don’t hold me to that. It could have been yesterday for all the accurate I can be. I remember inquiring in some fashion how long this would take to “get over.” In fact, I think I had not even yet made the first disclosure of inappropriate mother-daughter behavior. I think we were talking about how long it would take me to be able to be in the moment enough to keep track of the food I put into my mouth, so that I could begin to accurately address my long-standing obesity problem. I remember him gently telling me that I would learn these things “over time.” He was vague and by the look on his face I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the truth if I pushed for a number. I’m glad I didn’t because I distinctly remember thinking “crap, he thinks I’m going to be here like another year.”
Just last week we accidentally hit a trip wire. We were addressing the obesity and how unaware I am of my body unless I accidentally get a glance in a window or a mirror. He suggested that I purposely make contact with a mirror a couple of times a day. He seemed exasperated when I was resistant. I remember telling him it felt scary. Then I dissolved into a puddle of tears. The kind of tears that flow and come with little gasps, and where you want to speak and explain what’s going on but you can’t force the words out of the back of your throat.
Pictures, in flashes, the smell of mothballs mingled with shampoo, and the kick to the stomach. That’s what I remembered. As I struggled with the emotion I recalled the scrutiny of being my mother’s mini-me. Even now it’s as hard to hold as sand. The best I can compare it to is those pictures that are supposed to be identical except for a few minor differences. The game is to be able to identify all six in the shortest amount of time. That’s my memory of mirrors. The intense inspections, the brutal comparisons, and the warnings/threats of what would happen to me when I “became a woman.”
K uses the word “terror” a lot. In his office that day I was finally able to identify with the word terror. The screaming in my head, the need to crawl out of my skin, feeling trapped in the path of his eyeballs. I wanted to slit or claw at my wrists – as if I could unzip my skin and run for safety.
I left his office feeling raw, which has happened before and is no big deal. I remember feeling bad that I was still crying – I didn’t want his next client to feel scared of what he was walking into 🙂 What followed for the rest of the day was just this feeling of being UN-synced. Like a oreo cookie where the cookies are askew and you can’t make it match up without cracking it. I was tired behind the eyes. Functioning in my work persona, quite capably, but feeling like I was dragging a sleeping child around with me. All that dead weight that I just wanted to give in to.
I realize that this is not like the last post – the one I lost and thought I was going to re-create. I know there is more I want to say, but it is more important to us right now that we stop writing. It is raining outside – a beautiful summer rain and I want to frolic in it on my way to the car.
Be well. I’m sure going to try to.