I am a very visual person. I have to *see* projects and information in order to process them well. Add that to a need for concrete things, and discussing child abuse in therapy (or any non-logical topic) can be interesting. My therapist, bless her, helped me design a project that will allow me to visually release bad memories and difficult emotions regarding things that happened between my mother and me. When I went to actually complete the project, though, something occurred to me: I’m not ready to put it all away yet. I don’t mean this in terms of avoidance. The project we worked out will be brilliant. Eventually. Right now, I feel like I haven’t even taken the lid off the memories sufficiently, so putting them away would merely disguise them further.
On that note, Thursday’s session was an exercise in overcoming fear. I walked in to the therapist’s office, planning to explain calmly that I wasn’t quite ready to go through with the exercise, but what came out was a jumble of disjointed words– ‘I’m not ready to put this away. I *need* someone to understand what it was like. I don’t know why I need that, but I do. *Someone* has to know…’ At that point, she put up a hand to stop me and told me in no uncertain terms that I should tell her.
We spent the next hour talking about three specific memories of situations involving my mother. I kept apologising for shaking whilst I spoke. As I talked, the therapist tried to help me see the illogical nature of the events. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know my mother had DID. If you know much about the diagnosis, you know mental health professionals often mistake it as schizophrenia. This is the case for my therapist, as well, so we talk about my mother in terms of an untreated schizophrenic. Right or wrong, I’m OK with this. I’m not in therapy to be a champion for getting my mother a proper diagnosis, nor do I care whether the diagnosis is applied to me. That said, the therapist came up with something I’d never even considered– in feeling like things were my fault, I have been basing my reality on someone whose sense of reality was distorted. Maybe it isn’t my fault, after all. No one else has ever got me to even consider believing that.
I left the session seriously questioning whether I was my mother’s biggest trigger, an idea I’ve held all my life. This has brought up more Stuff the therapist and I will need to work with. Even in her death, I feel a need to protect my mother. When things I describe lead the therapist to say my mother was cruel at times, I feel like I am misrepresenting her. She wasn’t a heartless monster who enjoyed hurting her children. I feel like that’s the picture I’m painting of her, even unintentionally. That, to some extent, makes me feel at fault again. I feel like I’m whining about what my mummy did to me, childish and spoiled. Still, the smallest inkling of hope in me exists that perhaps the blame was not entirely on me.
On the surface, it looked so safe
But it was perilous underneath
That’s the place you shoved your doubts and
Hid your ugly scars
God forbid if word got out
About your house of cards.
~ Mary Chapin Carpenter, “House of Cards”