Argh

Can I say I hate this month? I hate everything about it. I feel exhausted and wound up and alone and hopeless and angry and stupid. I hate myself more completely and overwhelmingly than I have in a long time. I can’t think of anything in my life that is going well right now. I am losing my job in 3 months (I have expected this for almost 2 years) because of a lack of funding. I’ve been worried about my eldest daughter and I’ve written about some of the things that have happened over the last few months. I haven’t written about the extreme anxiety my youngest, a boy, has started to experience. He is almost 10 and is having extreme reactions to his fears that start small and end up with him so worked up that he is completely irrational. Eventually he calms down usually with me or my husband holding him but sometimes it takes a long time for that to help. I’m starting to worry he is having problems outside of the range of typical 9-10 year boy ones and am thinking of having him assessed professionally.

I am being triggered and having problems with my relationship with my parents and FOO. Some relate to my daughter and her reaction to them. Last weekend I went on a weekend trip to Las Vegas with my 2 sisters and 6 of my first cousins, all women between 42-56 and related through my mother. The weekend was in parts amazing, fun, wild, and interesting. It was also triggering as we relayed stories of our mothers/father as parents and their shared dysfunction. It was remarkable to see how we reacted and adapted differently to the same events but for the most part none of these people have spent much time reflecting on their childhood, how it shaped them, and how they’ve defended themselves emotionally as a result. Everyone is clear that our parents were abusive in many ways but most people think that how they are dealing with it is the right way to deal with it so everyone else is wrong. This creates a lot of conflict considering some people think avoiding and denial of how they feel is the best solution while secretly hoping their parent dies soon and others want to talk about it with therapists, friends, relatives, and their children. The talkers believe that keeping secrets is what is damaging to us and the avoiders think that what is damaging is acknowledging or recognizing things. It culminated in a screaming and yelling match between five of us (me, my two sisters, and two cousins from the same family who grew up closest to us geographically). The most frustrating part is that I don’t think the fight helped resolve anything. I think everyone finished just as sure they were right about things as before and the other people are wrong. I know that is true for my 2 sisters because they both told me so. I learned some things from how my cousin has been working through her own sexual abuse and talking to her own children about it. But I’m tired.

Then I came back prepared to meet with M and having no shortage of topics to discuss. After a few minutes discussing the trip I told M I wanted to return to what we were discussing before the trip regarding therapy and caring/comforting, how therapy can work better between us, etc. He said okay what do you want to discuss and I couldn’t speak. At first I was trying to put my feelings/ideas into words and they didn’t sound right at all. They were all things I’ve said before and haven’t helped or they didn’t describe exactly what I wanted to say. Then the silence grew longer and M asked if I thought we were interacting during this silence. I said no the silence felt like waiting. He agreed and said that he was waiting for what I told him I wanted to say and he felt like if he said anything he would be interrupting me. I said I understood but still said nothing. As the silence extended I realized that I didn’t feel like I usually do when I can’t speak. I wasn’t upset at M leaving me alone, I wasn’t feeling misunderstood, instead there was an element of “f*** you” to my silence, like I have all this to talk about and I’m not sharing anything with you.

Eventually I told M that I felt like there was no point in discussing my family or my triggers or my children if we didn’t discuss how therapy could work moving forward. I also said that I was keeping quiet because I think the only outcome to discussing how therapy can work will be quitting therapy and so the silence is almost like a holding space cause I’m not sure I’m ready to quit. M said that he didn’t think that quitting was the only outcome of a conversation about how therapy works but he understood I felt that way. He suggested to me in that therapist way, that I was avoiding the end of therapy because I was afraid of it but as a defense I was disconnecting from the process of therapy. I admitted that was true but maybe it was for the best because I’m not sure about quitting and maybe I need to realize that therapy isn’t working and how awful it is before I can quit. He suggested that it wasn’t fair to evaluate if therapy could work by refusing to connect. He said it was a false proof because the conclusion was I couldn’t talk to M and the proof was I was refusing to talk to him. I said maybe I can’t talk to you because I’ve tried and failed so often I’m afraid of the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies those failures. He asked me if I thought the feeling of hopelessness I had during this session was any better.

Mercifully the session finished.

I left knowing that I’m so angry at him but I know my anger is completely irrational and unreasonable and that I can’t be angry at him in person. The only people I can be angry with in person are my husband and kids. Any other confrontation I have is over the phone much like sending M and angry email or leaving him an angry message. Over the last five years I’ve moved from never confronting my parents or siblings about things because I only felt really angry when I wasn’t with them to calling them on the phone to express my anger or disappointment about how they have treated me.

I hate feeling like I have no control over myself. I thought I’d spend the session talking to M about my trip and discussing therapy. I had no idea I would walk into session and just be silent while I had a million thoughts cross my mind and the slightest hints that I felt something other than extremely sad and hopeless. I am supposed to have a session with M tomorrow and I am sick to my stomach at the thought.

So much anger directed at me

M cancelled my session today because of bad weather. I suspected he would but I was still upset when I got his email. I wanted to talk to him about wanting him to respond to something I say and then when he doesn’t respond feeling like I have to stop talking about it. What I didn’t want to talk about was my conversations with my eldest daughter over the last couple of days but we had another painful one tonight.

Four days ago my 16-year-old told me she wanted to talk to me about something. She started by telling me she wasn’t going to university after high school (she just finished a week of exams) and I wasn’t thrilled to hear that especially since she doesn’t seem to have any plan at all. I thought that was what she wanted to discuss but actually that was just her warm up topic.

She tried to stay calm but eventually yelling at me that she was so angry at me that I was overweight and unhealthy (I am morbidly obese and have some physical limitations because of it.) She told me she is afraid I’m going to die young and that isn’t fair to her and it makes her so angry that I won’t even try to lose weight (and I feel like I try to fail at losing weight everyday.) It was painful having her attack me at my weakest point and I struggled to accept her feelings. I told her I knew she loved me and that I accepted and understood that she was angry at me. Then she got more upset because the fact that I accepted her anger made it even worse because I clearly wasn’t going to change how I ate. I told her that It was a complex issue that wasn’t going to be amenable to an easy fix. She says she knew that but she was still angry that I didn’t care about her feelings enough to change. It was a difficult conversation but I thought we weathered it together.

The next night we started discussing my eating and exercise habits and how they developed in my childhood. I hoped sharing with her some of my difficulties would help her understand me and hopefully defuse some of her anger. I talked about my parents incredibly critical attitude where they had me convinced I was fat in the second grade. I stopped taking or eating lunch at school in grade 4 and they didn’t notice. We talked about how my parents but their sons in all kinds of sports but not their daughters. These things weren’t new to her (she has had her own experiences with my parents judgement) but I was trying to describe how events in my life have impacted my view of myself and my eating habits. I was struggling because my daughter knows that my parents were neglectful in many ways but not about any overt abuse.

While I considered what or how much I could say, my daughter surprised me by asking me outright if I had been molested as a child. I didn’t consider lying and just said yes. She was surprised even though she had asked the question. I told her I wouldn’t tell her any details but that the perpetrator was someone who was part of my large family and that I saw throughout my life. I also told her that I had told my parents when I was 14 and they had never mentioned it again and we all continued on like I had never said anything. I don’t think my abuser knows I told my parents and they certainly continued treating him and me the same. I managed not to cry and the conversation moved on to other things that happened in my childhood and early adulthood. After I worried that I might have made a mistake telling my daughter.

Tonight my daughter asked me if she could ask me more questions about the abuse although she knew I might not be willing to answer them. I agreed. She started by asking me if anyone else in my family was molested and I told her I wasn’t comfortable telling her other people’s stories but I told her I thought I was the only person who had been abused that way for years. Then she told me that she didn’t understand why I still talked to my parents. She got really angry asking why I didn’t cut them off when I was an adult, how I could keep seeing them, that what they did (ignoring what I told them) was so wrong she didn’t think there is any grey area. They aren’t good people and why in the world would I continue a relationship with them. I know she was angry at them on my behalf but fairly quickly she also got angry at me for not cutting them off. I tried to explain my attempts to maintain a relationship with all the members of my family but she couldn’t understand. She kept asking me if I knew it was wrong and that came close to asking me what was wrong with me that I could keep seeing them. It was so hard because while I do know my parents were not good parents, I am still not comfortable with so much anger expressed towards them. I feel like no matter what happens my daughter is angry at me. Eventually I told her I was sorry I told her and that made her furious and she called me a bitch because she was glad she knew and it explained so much of her life but she just needed to understand why I didn’t cut them off. Eventually I had to tell her I didn’t have an explanation that would satisfy her because it was such a black and white thing for her that she couldn’t imagine my position.

I’m afraid that I’ve hurt my daughter more than enlightened her and I don’t know what more I can say.

Where do I go wrong? or why do I get stuck?

I am feeling frustrated in therapy again. I feel like therapy helps when I am able to talk about things with M, particularly the first time I discuss something. I’m not sure what is supposed to happen next but what usually happens is I stop talking, feel like M isn’t understanding how difficult it is for me, I get angry at M and at therapy, and then the rupture. So if I try to describe it I am hoping someone will tell me where I go wrong. Is is that I give up talking about it too soon? Is it that I have unrealistic expectations about what therapy can do so I’m always disappointed by it? or something else.

The trigger:

I have an infected tooth that is going to required a root canal and crown. I have had several of these before and I always go to the same specialist for the root canal. During my appointment he asks me why I haven’t had a different tooth extracted (which was his recommendation). I tell him that the oral surgeon wouldn’t extract the tooth unless I was willing to start the long and expensive process of getting an implant (9 months and between $5000 and $6000). I say I can’t afford that. He asks about my insurance and I explain that it has an annual limit of $1500). He says he understands and tells me he will write the surgeon saying I need the tooth extracted even if I do not get an implant. He then examines the current tooth and tells me it needs a root canal. He walks me to his business officer so I can book an appointment and says something to her I don’t hear. The business officer tells me that the root canal costs $1535 total but the dentist is waiving his exam fee today of $150. I get very upset and start crying. I find it very upsetting when someone gives me money or a discount on a fee like this. I feel like I owe them and that is really bad. I don’t mind borrowing money or negotiating a lower fee or when someone says if you buy two of those I will give you 10% off the price. It is being given things that upsets me. I’ve stopped seeing professionals after they have done that for me because I find it so difficult to face them again. I know I have a problem with this.

Last week – session 1:
I tell M about what happened at the dentist and how I started crying in front of the business officer. I tell him how awful I feel. M asks me if I can discuss my feelings with my dentist and tell him I would like to pay the full fee (which I am not sure is what I want, … really I want to stop feeling bad about it.) M suggests I don’t feel worthy and I would have been uncomfortable about any gesture the dentist made that was more than I expected. I said no, it is about the money. In the past, this same dentist has called me at home in the evening after a difficult appointment, left his cell phone number, answered my call while he was out to dinner, and another time gave me his number so I could contact him over a holiday weekend if I needed him. At the time I appreciated his concern.

After the session:
I thought more about the issue and started to feel really bad that I was okay with the dentist giving me his personal numbers or that I called him when he was at dinner. I feel guilty. I think about other times I’ve been uncomfortable with people buying me something or giving me a gift even with friends. I also start thinking about a couple of awkward situations that involve money and M that I’ve never discussed with him but have bothered me.

Session 2:
I tell M about my realizations about feeling uncomfortable with a lot of things but how money is especially triggering. We discuss how it relates to my childhood. When I was a child my brother paid me in quarters and candy for sex acts (at least I remember him promising me them I don’t remember him paying me). I express frustration because I understand that makes the issue of payment complicated for me but I also understand that I professional giving me a discount is not expecting sex or a friend paying for my coffee is not going to say “now you have to do something for me.” I still feel really bad though. M says that understanding doesn’t make the feelings disappear. I want to know what will and he says continuing to talk about it. I tell him about one of the awkward situations involving him and money. Several years ago (about 5), I showed M some pictures of me on my iPad. M came and sat beside me on the couch while I did and then went back to his chair. At the end of the session, I found some change on the couch and said this probably fell out of my purse. I scooped it up and put it in my wallet without really looking at it or counting it. All of a sudden I remembered he had been sitting on the couch and it was more likely change that fell out of his pockets and I said so. He reached into his pocket and said probably. I start to take out my wallet saying I’m not sure how much it was and he says forget it. M says he remembers the pictures but not the change. I say “of course not you aren’t crazy” M tells me I’m not crazy I have reasons to be hyper-vigilant.

When it first happened I couldn’t forget about it. I obsessed about it. How much money was it? (a handful of change but we have dollar and two dollar coins so $3) Does he think I took his money on purpose? How could I return it? Should I leave it in his outer office? what if someone else takes it? what if he doesn’t realize it is from me and that I’ve returned his change? should I try to do it to his face? After my first session last week I was right back to obsessing over it. After the session I send M and email telling him about my obsessive thoughts.

This week – session 1:
M asks me more about my obsessive thoughts about the change incident but I have difficulty telling him more. He doesn’t seem to understand why I am so bothered by it. I wonder if he thinks I should give him some money for the change (like he suggested I pay the dentist). I don’t know what I am expecting but I feel like I am not really getting a response from him about this issue. I also have no idea how embarrassing myself by telling him about this is going to help me resolve my feelings around the issue of money and gifts. I start to get frustrated with M. He seems to be saying that this is how I feel and I can’t change how I feel. He says I need to have some compassion for myself. I feel like I do but that doesn’t help. Nothing helps, I told him something that has bothered me in the past and it didn’t make a difference except I feel stupid and that he knows how stupid I am again. I feel like therapy isn’t working because M isn’t doing anything. By the end of the session I am saying very little and feelings upset.

After the session
I realize that once again, I wanted M to do something to make me feel better but he didn’t because that isn’t what therapy is about. He doesn’t try to make me feel better. He doesn’t say anything about the change because it isn’t an issue to him. He won’t say I am not worried about the money or you aren’t worthless or anything I can interpret as him caring because he never does. I’m just angry because I want him to but I know he won’t so it is just wasted anger. I leave him a message telling him I feel sad that I feel this way and that I do have some compassion for myself that this is so difficult and painful for me but nothing changes and I still feel sad.

Session 2 (tonight):
M asks me if he understood my message and if his email response made sense to me. I don’t say much. He asks me how I feel. I don’t feel much. I tell him I don’t want to talk and I think it is because I don’t want to get upset. He asks me if I think I get upset because I talk to him about things or if I get upset anyway. I am frustrated because I understand I get upset by things other than therapy, the triggering event had nothing to do with therapy. Eventually I tell him talking about upsetting things leads to me being upset at him, that I get angry that all he can do is tell me that I feel the way I feel and I can’t change it so I must have compassion for myself. I think he should do something but even while I’m angry I know it isn’t his fault so why talk about the anger. So I feel stuck and I don’t want to talk about this anymore, which leads to me not wanting to talk about any of the other potentially stuck issues in my life, which means we are sitting in silence again and I’m crying. M says I keep hearing that my feelings can’t change but that isn’t what he says. He says if I keep talking about my feelings and my experience that will make a difference. I say I can’t do that . He says I did do it before. I leave and now I’m wondering what am I supposed to do.

My father calls

I have had a draft of this post I’ve been working on for weeks so I apologize in advance for its length and any mistakes I haven’t found.

The week before Christmas my son handed me the phone and my father said “it’s me, Dad”. I can’t remember him calling me before. Once he called me because he had an episode and couldn’t remember where my mother was or what he was doing alone in the house but I have no other memories of him calling. For much of my adulthood we spoke only when I called my parents house and my mother wasn’t home so my father would take the opportunity to talk to me. Those conversations happened less frequently over the last seven years as I’ve distanced myself from my FOO so I call my mother less often and I share less of my life with either of my parents. He asked me if I remember the conversation we had last spring. I said “I thought you would never mention it again.” Now I need to give some history but rather than go back to our conversation last spring I’ll start earlier.

My childhood

I was sexually abused by two older male family members. They lived with my family and were over ten years older than me. I should make it clear that they didn’t know about each other. They both abused me separately. The abuse started when I was very young and I think ended by the time I was 10 but I’m not sure because I don’t remember much clearly, a few specific incidents that happened in my bedroom or the bathroom. Memories that are like snapshots with no beginning or end just flashes. During my childhood I told nobody what was happening. I was sure it was all my fault and I was to blame. I had a lot of fears as a child. I was afraid of the dark, I had nightmares. I frustrated my parents and my older siblings (I am the fifth of my parents six children).

My teens

When I was 14 years old one of my abusers moved to the city my family were living in and my parents invited him to stay with us until he got settled. It was very difficult. I was struggling with being a teenager, trying to figure out how to be like everyone else when I felt disgusting and my parents were overly controlling. I wasn’t allowed to have any money, go to stores, go out in groups with boys (certainly not individually). They didn’t trust me which added to my guilt. It is ironic that they paid so little attention to me as a child and didn’t have the slightest clue what was happening under their noses but once I passed the age of 13, they were prison wardens. Those rules didn’t apply to family members though. So I spent several months trying to juggle all these different things. My family member might pick me up after school and take me out for a ride or a movie. One night he showed me my first porn movie. Eventually he told me that what had happened between us when I was little (4 or 5 by his memory) would never have happened with anyone else because I started it. He said I was special and he loved me and he hadn’t found anyone else to love like that in his life. It was overwhelming. I was 14 and he was almost 30. I felt so guilty, look what I had made him do. I was confused by his confession and things got even more confusing when he stopped talking to me after and focused all his attention on my younger sister.

Eventually, I told my parents. It wasn’t planned. It happened because another family member told about being abused by a different family member and that is when I learned that I wasn’t the only one this had happened to. My family was filled with offenders and victims and there were hidden layers that I had not glimpsed before. When I told them my father was upset and hugged me and my mother had no reaction. My father asked me why I hadn’t told him before because he was worried when my relative started spending so much time with my younger sister and stopped talking to me. I told him I never left them alone. I asked if I could see someone so I could get help (I was thinking a therapist) and my father said yes we would get help. We went to sleep and when I woke up it was like I had never said anything. We continued to see those family members. I waited for my father to bring it up but he never did. I went to their weddings and celebrated holidays with them. My mother continued to treat me like I couldn’t be trusted. After about a year I admitted they were never going to help me and I was furious but I couldn’t do anything because I was still under their complete control.

As an adult

There is no way to summarize what happened when I was an adult. If you have experienced something like it you can imagine. I was furious but couldn’t admit it because my parents have always told me how much they loved me and how perfect our family is. If I didn’t come home for every family dinner, or didn’t call home enough, or didn’t listen to them, then they were disappointed and made sure I knew it. I tried to put it behind me because it was all over a long time ago. I knew what had happened. I knew they couldn’t deal with it but there was no point in still being angry about it because I was an adult and I could take care of myself. I got married, had three children, remained close to my family. I had occasional fights with my parents where I got angry at how they told me what to do, how to parent my children, and my mother would cry because she had to tell me what to do because she loved me so much. Fighting with them didn’t help, they didn’t change how they behaved and I couldn’t stay away from them without feeling very guilty.

I started therapy at 38. My presenting issue was my weight. I was morbidly obese and I couldn’t control me eating. My parents had been telling me my whole life how unhealthy I was, how I overate, how I was lazy and didn’t exercise like my siblings. When I was pregnant my father told me I was hurting my children by bringing them into the world with such an unhealthy and damaging environment (he meant my obese body). I told M about the abuse when he took my history. I told him I was over it and it didn’t affect me. I said bad things happened to lots of people and this was mine but it was in my past, not my present or future. It might have been believable if I hadn’t broken down into uncontrollable tears during that speech. It was the first time I had talked about the abuse in decades. I went home that night and sat in bed crying, while my entire body shook.

When I was 40 my eldest child (a girl) graduated from middle school. When she excitedly showed my parents her dress, my father told her it looked like it was too small for her and she would have to avoid all sugar and treats until after graduation. At the graduation, my mother spent 15 minutes before the ceremony telling me how fat I looked in my dress, asking if I had gained weight, and acting like she didn’t believe me when I said no. I decided I had to confront my parents and tell them they weren’t allowed to comment on the weight or appearance of me or my children. It lead to a huge fight. Why was I so sensitive? couldn’t I hear some advice? that is just how people their age and nationality talk about appearance, it isn’t insulting. When I wouldn’t back down my mother switched tactics and started to cry and tell me how much she loved me and she was sorry for anything she had ever done that had upset me or I had been hurt by because that was never her intention and how could I believe that of her. That fight led to individual phone conversations with each of them later on.

During those conversations I told them I was angry at them for doing nothing about the abuse when I had told them about it 25 years ago. My mother said “what do you want me to do? say sorry?” and then explained there was nothing to do because the abuse was over by the time I told them. My father told me that I didn’t understand how complicated and difficult it was for him because the family members were my mothers’ family and not his. He told me he didn’t know what to do and that I hadn’t told him when I was a child. I was glad I told them I was angry but their response was all about them still.

Last spring

It has been 2.5 years since I spoke about the abuse on the phone and we’ve never mentioned it again. I’m talking to my father (on the phone again) about my asthma and he starts to explain how it is caused by my obesity and how I became obese because of my eating as a child. I disagree with his story and tell him so. He gets angry and tells me that if I were a reasonable person I would listen to what he says. I get so angry I see red and I tell him he doesn’t get to call me unreasonable. He doesn’t get to tell me what I do wrong as a parent or a person. As far as I’m concerned he failed me by doing nothing about the abuse and so I don’t want to hear his opinion about anything. I say he lost the right to speak to me like he knew better than me when he did nothing to help me as a child. He says I didn’t know what was happening when you were a child. I say I was still a child at 14. You were the adult and you found it difficult. Imagine how much harder it was for me. My father switches and says he doesn’t know what he can do to help me but he is willing to meet me to discuss the abuse in my childhood “once and for all”. He doesn’t know what good it would do but he will do it. I am surprised and tell him we should discuss it in the future. Then I didn’t hear from him until just before Christmas.

Back to the present call

My father says I’ve been thinking about our conversation last spring and I want to set a date to meet to discuss it. I don’t know how it will help or how we could meet. I ask him if he is calling because my mother isn’t home. He says yes and I realize that if we have this conversation we have to do it without letting my mother know about it. He starts to get emotional and talks about how he is getting older and he doesn’t know how much time he has and he doesn’t want to leave this unfinished between us. A lot of different things go through my mind, like did he find out he is sick, why is he asking now? I have to leave the room because I am sitting with my three kids at the beginning of this conversation so I start to head for some privacy and by the time I get to my own room the conversation has switched.

Now my father is telling me about his life. He is talking about his young adulthood when he went away to school and wasn’t married. He talks about his childhood in another country. He tells me how unhappy he is because he has nothing to do and my mother won’t do anything he wants to do. They usually go away every winter but she won’t go where he wants to go. She has turned down three ideas and he is miserable. He talks for 45 min with me saying very little. I’m trying to figure out how this went to talking about me and my pain into his memories. I’m torn between feeling angry that he seems to have forgotten me as he talks on and on without even needing me to say anything and feeling sorry for him. When he first said he wanted to talk about my childhood there was a part of me that was so happy it was like I was finally getting my heart’s desire. Another part of me was so worried that he was upset and worried about dying. I wanted to tell him it was okay, I was okay and we didn’t have to talk about anything about him. Then I was angry that he was ignoring me again. It was so disorienting, like on of those funhouses where the floor isn’t flat and you can’t seem to walk.

I managed to ask him if he was worried about his health or had received bad news and he said no but at his age it could happen any time. I suggested that he write some memoirs while he was stuck here for the winter because it was something he could do without my mother’s permission or help. Then I started to get off the phone. He said he would like me to make time to meet with him in January because it would have to be after the holidays. Only after the call did I realize that he had managed to dig up this just in time for our huge family gathering where we would all pretend to be happy and nothing bad has ever happened. It wasn’t easy. Now I’m avoiding answering the phone because I’m not sure what I want to say.

Why doesn’t therapy help when things get difficult?

Why does therapy suck worse the harder my life is going. My session tonight was terrible. I spent almost all of it hiding under a blanket. I was crying so much I was so ugly I pulled the blanket up to cover my face while I dried my eyes and blew my nose. Right away I felt better. I hate M watching me while I cry. So I kept the blanket up. After a few minutes M asked me if I knew why I felt like hiding. I just cry behind the blanket. He asked me if I felt like a did something wrong? I cry behind the blanket. He asked if my daughter thought I did something wrong? I cry behind the blanket (I think I will shorten that to Icbb). He asked me if I was ashamed. Icbb. Time passes. somewhere in the middle of the session M tells me he would like it if I would rejoin him. I realize I can’t. It feels like if I drop the blanket it will prove how stupid I was to hide behind it in the first place. He will see me and be disgusted. So I’m stuck. At first being behind the blanket was a relief. I felt like I could blow my nose and look ugly and cry and he couldn’t see. Now being behind the blanket feels like I’m in jail. I can’t go backwards. I hid and now I can’t stop hiding without M seeing how stupid and childish I am and me seeing him seeing me and being disgusted. Icbb.

After a while I check the clock behind me and realize there is still 15 minutes left in the session. Why do sessions go so slowly when they are agonizing? Icbb. M sighs a lot, pours tea, shifts in his seat (I can tell because I can hear his chair move). Icbb. It is getting ridiculous because I don’t know how I’m going to leave his office with a blanket over my head. I tell him I want to go home. M can’t hear me and asks me to repeat myself. Icbb. Eventually I say it again. He says if you feel like you need to leave then you can. Icbb. I can’t leave without moving the blanket and there is no way I’m coming out from behind the blanket. M tells me he is sorry I’m in so much pain. I say “I need you not to look at me”. He says okay I won’t look. I can’t be sure if he is looking or not without moving the blanket and I can’t risk that so I fumble around with my hands looking for my purse and recorder and can’t find them. M sees this and says I’ll go over to my desk. I should be relieved but I just feel left alone and now I don’t want to leave. I tell him I’m sorry and I don’t know why I do this. I tell him I can’t come back from this and he doesn’t understand. I say I can’t take off the blanket now that I’m hiding behind it. M says I think you can come back from this. I say no. He says maybe you can write down some of what is going on for you tonight (I think he means email it to him but I’m not sure). Then M says we can talk about it on Monday which means time is up. I say “no I can’t come back from this so I can’t come back”. He says there is nothing here we can’t come back from but he’s wrong. I’m trapped behind this blanket and it is suffocating me. I get up and say “no we can’t come back from this. I hide because I am so ashamed and I hate myself and it is okay with you” He says “it isn’t okay with me, I wish you weren’t in so much pain”. I try to explain he left me behind the blanket for most of the session but he doesn’t understand that it proves he hates me or can’t help me or something. I am so sad.

So that is how terrible my session was tonight. What was so difficult in my life before the session and why did I hope the session would help me? I wrote this post about my daughter telling me one of her friends was being molested. My daughter tried to convince her friend that she should tell a teacher about the abuse and offered to go with her. When that didn’t work she told her friend that she had told me and I said we had to report it. I met with the friend last friday night and talked to her about why I couldn’t keep it a secret. I told her it wasn’t her fault and she deserved to feel safe in her home. I told her she didn’t have to protect her parents. I told her I would help her report it or I would report it and later that night I did. The authorities interviewed the girl and contacted her mother. Then they called me and asked to interview my daughter. I agreed as long as I was present. We are going for the interview tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile my daughter’s friend is angry that my daughter “opened her big mouth”. Her mother doesn’t believe her and thinks she is causing trouble. My heart is breaking for the girl and my daughter. My daughter did the right thing but is getting a lot of grief about it by the girl and the one or two other people who know about the situation. Tomorrow my daughter has to have an official interview with the authorities because she is trying to help her friend and she knows it may not matter if the girl is not willing to tell them what she told us. I feel overwhelmed and then I go to my session and I just feel worse.

What is a therapeutic relationship?

The last couple of days have been very difficult for me and it seems that soon after things get difficult for me then I will experience a major rupture with M. To try to give some background before my daughter told me about her friend admitting she was being molested I spent my session on Monday afternoon talking to M about the difficulty I have trusting anybody to not abuse my children (including my husband but mostly coaches, teachers, activity leaders). In an unrelated conversation last week I asked M about his birthday (which I knew was coming up). I bought him a copy of The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein, wrapped it, wrote a birthday card, and then purchased a couple of gourmet cupcakes and took them all in to my session last night. It was a big step because in the last few years I’ve only given him disposable gifts like candy so he wouldn’t have anything permanent that reminds him of me.

So I sit down in my session putting the bag beside me on the couch and instead of starting with the cupcakes and gift instead we start discussing my daughter and her friend and what I can do to support my daughter and get help for her friend. The conversation is overwhelming and it doesn’t take long until I am completely flooded with overwhelming memories and feelings. I know from personal experience how things might get more difficult for this girl. Her mother might not believe her. Maybe nothing changes except her abuser her knows she told. M asks me how much resonance I am experiencing in this situation and how it reminds me of my own life. I collapse into a sobbing, crying mess unable to answer questions lost in my own thoughts of how bad this is. At some point I look over at the bag and realize how ridiculously stupid I was to bring cupcakes and a present to my session. It is meaningless in the face of what we are discussing, worse than meaningless actually offensive. I start to feel like therapy is just endless pain because I know that the session is almost over and I am not going to have to leave feeling alone with all this (feelings, memories, powerlessness, fear). M tries to say something about how difficult this is for me and my daughter but he is glad that we have the opportunity and strength to try to help. I hear “blah, blah, meaningless blah”

As I stand up I realize I have to cancel my session on Monday and I go to shake hands when M gestures to the bag on his couch that I’ve forgotten. I say “it was for your birthday” and as I start to choke out “have a good one” I burst into tears and run from his office. I am angry because I think he must have known that I brought something for him and not wanted to receive or discuss it. I write him an email telling him how stupid I feel for bringing cupcakes and acting like this is an actual relationship, like there might ever be a moment in a therapy session where we could eat cake. Then today for most of the day he doesn’t respond to that email. After lunch on my way to a work function I call his office planning to leave a message asking if he received the email and could he respond to it and he answers his phone. I am so surprised I hang up and then realize he has read my email, he knows how hard the session was for me, and he still couldn’t find time to respond to me today. I am so angry and hurt by this it almost takes my breath away and I have to hide myself to survive the afternoon with my work colleagues. When I got home tonight I checked my email and M and sent me a short response after I had hung up the phone. Part of it says the following “Yes this is an actual relationship but it is a very special kind of relationship that develops in therapy. That doesn’t make it a non-relationship that only a very specific type.” I don’t what that means to M but I think it means something like “it isn’t the relationship you want and you can’t count on it but it can help” and I doubt it but I’m trying to remember that this has been a very difficult week.

Triggered

Tonight my teenage daughter told me that one of her friends admitted that her father has been molesting her but not really badly. I won’t got into any more detail but it was an incredibly difficult conversation for me. I asked if she thought the friend could be persuaded/supported/encouraged to tell her mother or counselor at the school. She said no because the girl didn’t want to mess up her family. I told my daughter that the family was already messed up and that the girl wasn’t to blame but she probably did blame herself whether she could admit it or not. I also told her I thought her friend was talking about it because she wanted help. My daughter wants me to promise not to tell anyone. I had to tell her I couldn’t promise that because I couldn’t ignore what she told me. My daughter got very angry and my husband seemed to disagree with me. He said that I didn’t actually know that there was a crime. I told them both that I would never know that this had happened but I couldn’t wait until I had proof because I think it is serious enough that I should give my information to the authorities so they can investigate. So my daughter is angry at me. I don’t know the name of the girl and I worried that my daughter had made up the “friend story” because she didn’t want to admit it happened to her but she assures me she hasn’t and she was okay with discussing it with my husband. I stayed calm while I was talking to my daughter but afterwards I was extremely upset, crying and shaking. I wrote M an email entitled “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck” and then curled up in my bed staring at the wall.