I'm tryng to adjust to a new reality.
I don't know where it's going to take me.
It's a place I have never been before and I don't recognize the landscape.
It's slightly familiar, and yet completely unfamiliar at the same time.
I know I have seen something like this.
But not this.
Never this before in my life.
Inside I am different. Changed.
I have rewired my brain.
My relationship with my therapist, Deena, is what caused this change. A reparative relationship. A healthy, connected, and respectful relationship, that we built together over a long period of time. Deena has given me tremendous doses of love and patience. She makes it possible to heal parts of me that were so wounded I could not own them as mine. It took me eight years to begin to trust her. She has given me all of the space and time in the world.
I sit with Deena and I connect with her in a way that I should have been able to connect with my mother.
Every child needs to be able to connect with a safe mother.
Mother is safe and strong.
Unconditionally loving and accepting.
Mother wants to protect me.
She wants to hear me and to know me intimately, the good and the bad.
And it is safe to let her in.
She wants what is best for me in a real way. Deena can not take away the bad that happened to me, but she holds it and contains it with me.
And the biggest miracle of all, is that I let her!
I let my therapist be a "do-over" mother and come close.
And I let the hurt parts of me close.
And I let her hold me.
It is a role play I call, "If you were my mother."
It makes me think of the children's book, Are You My Mother? I have read it a thousand times to my own children.
I ask Deena scary and risky questions.
Scary, because I don't know the answers and I need them.
Risky because the parts of me that did not have a safe mother are right here,
listening and hoping for an opportunity to heal.
"If you were my mother what would you say to me, the little girl who was sexually abused?"
My real mother could not, and did not want to know about the sexual abuse.
She didn't believe it happened when I finally told her twelve years after the abuse ended.
She said, "If it really happened I would have known."
Children know instinctively what is not OK to talk about in families. I was a bright kid.
I knew my mother could not protect me. I knew that she could not see that I was hurt, nor hold my pain.
But my therapist can.
My therapist is. And she does.
We walk together on a breathtakingly beautiful and dangerous ledge...I, somehow, trusting that I won't fall because she is with me.
When a child has a parent who is safe and strong, it makes her safe and strong inside of herself.
From my therapist, I am borrowing safety and strength I never got from my parents. And I'm beginning to understand on an emotional level how some children actually feel safe inside their bodies, and in their lives.
At a very early age I was intolerably hurt and hopelessly alone.
I was not safe.
There was no one I could trust.
Now, I am allowing something completely different to happen.
I am allowing safe connection with another human being, a safe mother figure.
I am allowing trust in a way I never knew was possible.
I am not alone, and I do not have to ever be alone again.
Deena tells me things that I often tell my own daughter, but have never heard from my mother.
She tells me that every part of me is precious.
She tells me she wants to hear what happened.
She wants to hear about everything that makes me happy and sad. She wants to know all of my questions and all of my thoughts.
She tells me I am good and wonderful and beautiful.
My body is good. The bad things that were done to me do not make me bad.
The shame I feel is only because shameful things were done, but it is not my shame or my fault. She tells me I am lovable, and safe, and real. She encourages me to be connected and present in my world, and in my life, with people who are good and safe.
My therapist has a question for me.
"If I was your mother what would you need from me?"
The question catches in my chest. It is an unexpected and wonderful and dangerous question, because I don't know if she can give me what I need until I take the risk and tell her..
I need so much.
I need everything I didn't get.
I need to tell her everything that I could never tell my real mother.
Everything that happened and everything that hurts.
Everything that sometimes feels like it is still happening, even though I know that it is not.
I need her to know how scared I was of my father and my grandfather.
I need her to find a way to protect me somehow, even though I knew it was impossible.
I need her to understand that something was very wrong, even though I don't have words to explain what it was.
I need her to believe me that it hurt too much, and I blamed myself.
I need her to help me understand what happened to make it hurt so bad, and tell me she will take care of it.
I need her to see where and how I was hurt.
I need to know that my body is not shameful, even though it was shamed, and that she can look at me and see me, and know that it hurts.
I need my therapist to hold me.
All of me.
Including the parts that my mother could not look at, name, or know of.
Most of all, I need her not to disappear, as my mother did, when I needed her the most.