My therapist sent me an e-mail this morning, even though I was going to see her within the next few hours. She e-mails me a few times a week. I save every one, because she always writes something useful or something I will need to remind myself of later.
This e-mail was full of links. Links to portable door locks for my room, links to apartment listings, and a link to an art and poetry site she thought would interest me. She actually took the time to look for these things for me.
I thought it was a little odd that she sent me apartment listings out of the blue. We have been discussing future living arrangements, but never in-depth and never as an immediate need. When we started the session today, she asked me if I read her e-mail. I told her I did, but that I read it on my phone on the bus so I didn’t get to look at everything. Then she got serious.
She doesn’t think I will be able to progress in therapy and in healing in my current living situation. She said she hadn’t made it a priority before, but I think after group yesterday, everyone realized how much the situation is affecting me. There are a lot of things that have gone on and continue to go on that I haven’t told anyone about except my therapist. I never want to be home. I never feel safe here. It is causing me to constantly be on the defense and have my alerts up and running. Those defenses are still in place even when I’m at therapy, so it prevents a lot of work from being done. I’m rarely able to sleep, I don’t eat much because my food goes missing, and it leaves me with little energy left for anything else. It’s just not good for me here.
The conversation eventually switched to yesterday’s group therapy. I told her I felt like a failure because I wasn’t able to be fully there. She tried to tell me I wasn’t a failure. I was doing fine until the session about the wise older self when I got triggered. She tried to tell me that being in therapy for so many hours talking about a subject like that has the potential to be triggering to anyone, and that it was okay. But it wasn’t okay to me.
Then she asked about what happened when I got triggered. She asked about the voices. I didn’t want to talk about the voices. I still have trouble admitting out loud that these voices even exist. I hid that from the world for so long because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy. In some ways I believe that if I don’t say it out loud, it won’t be true. I told her it didn’t matter, but she pushed on. I told her the voices had been bothering me for days, and I wanted them to go away. She asked if it would be alright to let them take control so she can talk with them. But I didn’t want to. I told her I didn’t want to deal with this anymore. I just want it to go away. I want to be normal.
I told my therapist I was having trouble feeling. A sense of physical numbness had taken over me. You could have smacked me in the face right then I wouldn’t feel a thing. She sat next to me and held my hand in hers and tried to get me to feel it, but nothing was there. It took a few minutes of pressure and concentration to get me to feel again. Even then I was still partially numb.
She continued to hold my hand and talk to me. I don’t even remember what we were talking about, when she stopped and asked me if I realized what I was doing just then. I told her no. I had been trying to pull my hand away. She said that it happens a lot when she holds my hand. I never noticed or even thought about it. I had been doing it unconsciously this whole time. She asked me if I had any memories involving my hand. I told her I didn’t. I don’t remember anything like that. Then she talked about body memories and how it could be related to that. I didn’t think I had any body memories. Why would I be pulling my hand away? Why can’t I remember anything about it, but my body does?
At one point, I had become so exhausted that I pulled away and rested my head on the arm of the couch. I don’t remember what my therapist was talking about, but I started to feel panicked so I reached out to hold her hand. I felt like my mother was coming for me. My therapist tried to comfort me and tell me that I was safe. We tried to get my breathing under control so I could relax, and I was eventually able to calm down. It usually takes me a while to get back because I’m used to managing panic attacks on my own. It’s better when someone is there beside you. It’s best if you don’t have them at all.
Towards the end of the session, my therapist brought up what I colored in group yesterday. She asked why I chose to color the word hope in black. I told her I just did. Then she explained that people sometimes try to send nonverbal cues when they aren’t able to or not sure how to say what they need to say out loud. Why can’t a color just be a color? Why does there have to be a meaning behind it?
She was right, though.
In that moment, I felt that hope was dead.