My weekly therapy appointment was last night. I came home completely drained.
My therapist decided we could skip the installation process of my safe space for now. We had a brief discussion about whether this is a problem for other traumatised clients. I had felt like such a failure for not being able to identify any place as safe. She assured me it has happened before with long termers, people who have been dealing with severe PTSD for a long time.
To be honest, even that felt fraudulent to me. Hey, I just had my love betray me and leave. Happens all the time. Get the fuck over it, Paula.
And I know to try to be kind to me. That what I am experiencing and feeling is real, and I shouldn’t feel bad about my reaction. But I do.
Kirsty just reiterated that my response is justified as it is the result of a lifetime of layers of trauma that I have minimised to ‘cope’ with. It’s real. And understandable. My safe place was Roger, and he was never safe. He cheated and lied from the very beginning. He manipulated and gaslighted, and made me feel I was doing something wrong, as he kept fucking and flirting with other women. I always minimised this, explaining to my friends when they questioned his behaviour, as him just being a friendly guy. I was never outwardly jealous. I patted myself on the back for being such a tolerant partner.
Instead of installing my safe space, we worked on processing a ‘lesser’ distressing memory. She relisted my memories from last week, and asked me to pick one to focus on. To draw on a mental picture.
I chose the moment my parents told me they were divorcing. I never looked back on this moment as too distressing until after Leanne texted me she had been fucking Roger. In the years since then I have realised I worried about how I processed this time in my life.
As we worked through the EMDR processing of this event, my distress increased, and there were silent tears flooding down my cheeks at certain times, my body convulsing as I tried to contain my pain. I told Kirsty I had just felt kinda nothing about it. And huge guilt for feeling nothing as I now feel totally undone by my own divorce. As I looked at that picture of Mum, Dad and me, I started to pick apart my memory. It happened after my bursary exams ended. These were the final secondary school exams. I am sitting in our family room, on some cane furniture – how mid 80s can you get – with a blonde perm, and in my school uniform. So many things wrong with that memory. I didn’t have either blonde hair, or a perm since at least two years earlier. And we were the only year my school had mufti, not a uniform for their final year students. So we must have sat exams in street clothes, not uniforms? I am pretty sure my brothers were probably also there?
Anyway, as I sat pondering that, and nearing the end of the session, it hit me. That moment was the end of me ever feeling safe in the world. It changed everything. I brushed it off as I was moving to the other end of the country in a few months, to go to university. Farm was sold. I never came home to my home ever again. My father pretty much disappeared from my life for around a decade. He was never a great presence anyway, Mum did all the parenting really. But I realised that I honestly had never felt safe since then, except when encased in Roger’s arms, breathing in the calm of him. The relief I would feel riding my motorbike home from work to him. The making of a new home with him. It was him who I felt anchored me. He was my rock when Mum died. I felt his family was closer to me than my own. Losing Mum removed our family anchor. The loss of his family when he decided to sell the ‘family’ farm – their fury and anger at us – just bonded me to him even more securely. The way I had always felt deeply uneasy every time he made a decision to move. My roots being ripped from the ground I had been growing in. I always hated leaving my home. It wasn’t as bad the first time. Leaving our first love nest, to the new home we built, but it always felt like his parents’ place. Even though we bought the farm off them, they still lived in the main home.
Moving to our last farm tore me apart. It took me months to find my feet. (By which stage he was already balls deep in Leanne.) My role had been discontinued. I was no longer a full partner in the business of running a farm. I had to start from scratch, taking on a low paid admin job, teaching myself the role. It was heartbreaking being discounted by Rog, and I was determined to do a good job. To earn his respect back. Ugh.
Ever since my parents announced their divorce, I have been an anxious person. Not good enough. Seeking a home.
That caused me to drive home in floods of tears. Weeping and aching for that young woman who then constructed her identity as strong, tough, resilient. Who cared about the fucking parentals?
All the while I just wanted someone to love me. Think I was too amazing, wonderful, helpful, lovable, to leave. I loved hard.
No wonder I was drawn to geographies of home! No wonder I have such intense nausea and vomiting at the lake house. No wonder I was so unhappy in the home he kept fucking Leanne in. That he brought his replacement wife appliance, Trinket – seeing how she fit into his life – into to fuck, when I begged him not to.
No wonder I hated my home after a ‘friend’ viciously raped me in mine. My home has never been safe since my late teens.
I wept buckets for that poor kid. Who truly believed she found her soulmate. Her safe person. Her safe place.
And how that kid has been traumatised by her safe person’s deception and duplicity. By his lies as she begged him for truth. By his rejection as she pretzeled herself to be what he wanted, to heal from his treachery. Then cast her aside just as she announced with great relief that she had achieved his goal, and felt better. Rebuilt. Renewed. Had healed herself from what he did. Through years of hard work, introspection and forgiveness. Only to have him respond to her relief with I’ve Met Someone Else. WTAF? I did what you wanted, you fucking arsehole!
I get to do it all again now. Start over with the fucking therapy. I work damn hard on my shit, while he plasters over his with new women. Happy happy joy joy.
Yep. It is going to be a long painful process. This was just processing one, lower distress level memory. And I worry I don’t have the stamina. I am so fucking tired and broken right now. Work is a fucking nightmare. And I have a sick kid at home.
D was diagnosed with an auto immune condition a couple of months ago. Which explains a lot really. Her poor appetite. Her always getting strep throat under pressure (she’s been on antibiotics at least six times in the past year, and I only twice in her entire life prior to that…) I think it has been a bit of a chicken and egg story. Depressed/anxious because of it, sick because of anxiety, in a continuous cycle. She is still coming to terms with how she can help herself. Has stopped her own counselling now. She needs to work on her immune system now. Is getting regular B12 shots, but I have been trying to gently suggest she see my naturopath or the immunolgist I consulted after radiotherapy. She will only do things in her own time. I get that and am being patient.
Meanwhile, despite taking good care of myself, I am dealing with multiple infected ingrown hairs. Making me feel miserable. And gross. While bleeding heavily with these damn new periods. FFS. This was not what the doctor ordered!
I honestly just feel wiped out. Emotionally and physically drained. No matter what I put in to replenish myself, the hole in the cup is still gaping. I know the EMDR is not a quick fix. But I sure hope I get some relief soon.