The Repair Part II
This is the second part of a two-part series, for the first part see The Repair Part I.
I ended the last post having just done a bang up job of expressing my anger at BN. I told him that it had felt good to just let rip with that, but it also felt very wrong. He told me that it was really ok I was angry at him, that my anger was real and it was safe to express it, that it was important for me to learn that being angry didn’t mean that I couldn’t appreciate and value the relationship nor would I destroy it. When he said that I became conscious of a very deep fear. I sucked in some air and told BN that I needed to ask him something. Would he be able to hang onto that for me? He asked me what I wanted him to hang on to. I told him I needed him to remember that all of the gratitude and respect I had expressed for him weren’t gone even though I was so angry. In one of the most powerful moments in the session (which is saying a lot, trust me), he looked straight at me and said “AG, it never even crossed my mind to think that. “ Cue waterfalls. I seriously started sobbing in relief. I told him I had been so scared that I had lost him. He told me that I could not lose him, he was right there.
We went back to talking about my father and my anger about him. I was trying to let myself feel it in the moment and BN was telling me it really was ok, when I got really triggered. I was absolutely flooded with terror and started hyperventilating and dissociating. I was working really hard to slow my breathing down and open my eyes, when BN asked me what was I feeling? Anger? I managed to gasp out “No. Fear.” BN told me that I didn’t need to be scared anymore, that it was safe to express my anger to my father. It got really, really intense with BN telling me it was ok, to just express the anger and tell my father that he wasn’t allowed to hurt me anymore. He was actually suggesting things I might want to say to him, because I was still paralyzed with fear. Somewhere in the midst of that, I found my voice and started screaming at my dad.
***TW: Really bad language and graphic speech
“You don’t get to f***ing hurt me anymore. You hit me, you better make sure I don’t get back up. You m*****f***ing son of a bitch, what kind of person does this to their child? You are a piss poor excuse of a human being and an even poorer excuse of a man. Do you think raping your daughter makes you a man? Because it doesn’t, you were never a man. I f***ing hate you for not protecting me the way you should have and instead being the one to hurt me. Who does that, who f***ing does that to their own child? Touch me again and I will f***ing kill you!” ***End
It was frightening and powerful and a relief to actually allow myself to feel and express the rage I never could. I remember being surprised when I was done to still be there. BN told me that what had happened to me was terrible and I was justifiably enraged. That our anger is there to help us protect ourselves but I was trapped in that horrible bind of needing my father too much to be able to give voice to my rage. That it was important to do what I did and allow that rage to be voiced. He described what he had seen, including that I had become mildly dissociative. I told him I was bordering on a flashback, that at one point, I had actually been scared he was going to hit me although I realized that was really about my dad. One thing, that only dawned on me later, was that BN in encouraging me to voice my rage, said a lot of things I might want to say but that also made it clear that he was pretty angry about what my father had done.
I realized later when I had time to reflect on what happened, that BN went back to those terrible moments where my instinctual reaction of rage, because I was being so hurt, HAD to be shut down, but this time, with his help, I recognized that I could finally express that anger. I have dug so deeply into the hurt, but I think BN was right (shocker huh?) that I needed to be able to FEEL that rage that could never be expressed in the moment. It was a very profound reclaiming of power, of recognizing that the powerlessness of my childhood no longer holds true.
I think it was about then I glanced at the clock and realized that we were out of time. I said to BN that I was trying to calm down and he told me it was ok, we had ten more minutes (we went another 20. BN very rarely lets a session run long, but has done it when I am not in a regulated state. So much of his behavior during this session made it clear that he realized both how difficult and important the work was.)
We were sitting and talking and winding down, when I told BN that I was a little worried that since I was trying to express my anger that it wasn’t ok if I felt scared. But that the fear was such a reflex. BN kind of stopped me and explained that he didn’t have an agenda. That he, of course, remembered our last session and knew we would need to discuss it more, which was reinforced by my calling the night before (OK, inward sigh of relief, he had not forgotten). But other than that, he was open to whatever happened. He had no plan in place, he again mentioned not being smart enough for that. He told me that we both knew that there was no controlling what went on between us, that what we needed to bump up against would come up. That yes, he couldn’t get around that he was my therapist, but that the closest parallel was a parental relationship so that I was safe to express my feelings. That I needed to learn that I could rage against my parents and not be destroyed by them. Which set me off again. I told him that I had never experienced that. He told me that was why it was important that I could get angry with him. Just as a parent wouldn’t say to their four-year old “Fuck you, I’ve had a bad day too” he wouldn’t make it about his feelings. That he truly understood why I was angry and wanted me to be honest about it. That while he was my therapist, this was real. In fact, he said “this is as real as it gets.” He told me again how moved he was. It’s hard to convey because words are inadequate, but his care was palpable. It is in these moments that I am truly sure that he loves me. As my therapist. 🙂
He told me about another patient earlier in the week who was really angry about the fact that he was having feelings. In the middle of discussing it, he said the man reached out and slammed my heart box closed and said “I don’t fucking want it open.” We smiled at each other and I said “pretty clear message huh?” and BN said “yes it was.” It was his gentle way of letting me know that my gift to him was helping someone else. We sat for a few beats, then I quietly asked “who opened it back up?” And the utterly wonderful answer “I did” came back. I told BN “thank you, that really means a lot.” He laughed and said “until you come in next week and see it closed and get pissed at me.” I laughed too and said the open and closed thing never bothered me, it was just having something else in the space (we finished that sentence together). I told him I knew I shared him with other clients but I was not ready to have a symbol of that in front of me.
We got up to make my next appointment and I realized that we had gone 20 minutes over! As I was thinking “ok, that was pretty rough,” BN said, standing over his appointment book “I think sooner rather than later right? How about Monday?” I was just hoping for an appointment some time next week, so that was lovely to hear. I think of BN as being so rigid sometimes but the truth is that he does flex, he just saves it for the really important times. But all of this added up to conveying to me how very much I truly matter. Those moments of screaming at my father, and if I am honest, being open about anger at BN I had been holding at bay, felt very significant. Especially taking back my power from my father (I never had to do that with BN since he had never taken it). I felt a lot more at peace walking out, but very drained. I think its going to be good to be able to talk to BN about what happened on Monday; I think the ripples will be spreading for some time.
Thank you all so much for your support through this. I know I have been in a funk, not to mention throwing a temper tantrum, and have not had a very reasonable view of what was going on. I appreciate everyone sticking with me through it, normalizing and accepting my feelings, while continuing to gently prod me towards reality. This community really helped pull me through.
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