The Questions I Never Wanted to Face – C: Week 30
I’ve been avoiding writing this entry, in part due to a continuing malaise with being arsed to do anything, never mind soul-searching and expunging myself across the internet. But it’s not just been that. There’s nothing that I am going to say that is unknown amongst the circles that read this blog, but talking about this shite in therapy and then making it a concrete black-and-white reality in a journal make it real, and it is not allowed to be real, not by me at any rate. So I have been avoiding it. You should note that I am deliberately going to refrain from putting some details here, due to their personal nature, but I am sure you can forgive me.
Thursday’s session with C was one of the most frank and revelatory that I’ve experienced to date. It was a strange meeting, because initially I thought it was going to be one of those useless, ‘let’s both stare at the floor’ encounters, but if anything it ended up becoming one of the more useful (if difficult) sessions I’ve had in psychotherapy, because we finally began to face some of the stuff I’ve been so strategically avoiding in the last six months (and, frankly, for much of my life).
I was greeted with that usual opening gambit of, “so where would you like to start?” I know why he does this (“the dyad is a co-construction but you have to help inform it by raising issues of concern” or some such, no doubt) but seriously, is it really so much to ask for him to just ask me a question about something he thinks is worth discussing? Although I wasn’t in the same agitated mood that I was last week, I sort of shrugged off the question and we looked at each other.
Two points of interest arise for me here. One – why do I have such trouble just telling him where I would like to begin? Let me try to articulate how I feel in the moments immediately subsequent to his opening question. I suppose the closest I can really get to it is to say that it just feels inappropriate. Is this a boundaries thing? Is it something to do with a possible perception on my part that he is an authority figure? It just feels like I’d be breaking a rule, that it is something of inherent embarrassment to me, like I’d be showing myself up like a child humiliated by her teacher or parent.
Two, regular readers will know that C has directly confronted me – if I may use artistic licence with the term ‘confront’, for want of a better one – about the fact that I hide from him. I mean that I literally hide, not (just) metaphorically: I have fairly long hair, and I either wear it loose in his office and hide behind it, or I take it down from a ponytail in his office, and hide behind it. I also put my hands over my face to avoid him. How, then, is it that I can stare him out at other times (note that above I stated that we stared at each other for a bit)? In fact, I do the stare with such intensity at times that I think I unsettle him – whether or not that’s correct, at the very least I usually win ‘stare-outs’ with him. I stare and stare and stare, confrontationally, challengingly, defiantly even, all in a strange dance of intellectual seduction, no doubt designed to avoid actual exploratory psychotherapeutic work, which is no doubt exactly what this o’er weighty prose is also designed to do, so I shall forthwith desist from it. To try and answer the question, though, my suspicion is that the ‘hiding’ occurs when I am vulnerable or open with C, and the staring when I feel confident or (probably erroneously) believe myself to have the upper hand in the dyad. I am a walking Freudian stereotype.
The beginning of the discussion – and in fact the first 30 or so minutes – were really pretty innocuous. One thing that completed cracked me up was that he made enquiries as to the nature of my finger injury. Initially I was slightly taken aback by this – why the fuck would he show friendly concern over a cut finger? That is at most a medical problem, surely? However, I explained the circumstances in deliberately pedantic detail.
He nodded and smiled slightly in that irritating ‘oh-right-that’s-nice way’ that he does when I have said something that he deems irrelevant (which was most frustrating in this case, as he instigated the discussion), seeming apparently satisfied with my response. I wasn’t going to let him off with it though (more avoidance?) and said, “you thought I did it deliberately, didn’t you?”
He hesitated; I think he was reluctant to answer that, but for once he did give me a straight response, stating that, “that had been [his] thinking.”
For some reason I found this preposterously hilarious, and laughed and laughed. Although he tried to humour me, C was clearly puzzled by this amused lunacy, and retrospectively speaking, so am I. OK, so trying to severe my finger hasn’t exactly been my self-harm MO to date, but then this is the girl that recently bought, for the purposes of cutting herself, a surgical scalpel from eBay, and as a young child tried to amputate her foot. His supposition was not that terribly unreasonable when you think about it.
By whatever means of progression, we ended up engaging in a fairly length discussion about ‘They’ and the VCB’s prescription for an anti-psychotic to combat ‘They’. C, correctly, kept calling ‘They’ ‘them’ when ‘They’ were the objects of his sentences. He then went about correcting himself and apologising to me, apparently believing his ‘incorrect’ term was some sort of invalidation of me (because throwing a whole ream of hard work back in my face isn’t, but whatever), but I honestly couldn’t care less. It doesn’t matter what C calls ‘They’ – it’s not exactly going to rid me of their malice, is it? And his ‘mistake’ isn’t a mistake – he’s correct. Allow me to honour Dr Freud again; does my refusal to name ‘They’ in correct grammatical terms hark back to childhood trauma, when such niceties of the English language were only beginning to be understood? No, it probably doesn’t, so let’s move on.
The discussion of ‘They’ led on to further perusal of my recent psychoses (as detailed in the ‘They’ post and in this tweet); namely, the knocking, whimpering and music. I told C how I sinister I found them all, in particular the heinous music, but that in some odd, vaguely altruistic way, the whimpering was the worst. My desire has been to help the whimpering creature, to rid it of its obvious pain, but of course I cannot do that as, oddly enough, it isn’t fucking there because it doesn’t fucking exist. On the other hand, I explained, even if I could find the source of the whimpering, my pathological fear is that it is a trap laid by ‘They’ to somehow torture my mind further…or indeed worse (if you can euphemistically call taking me out ‘worse’, and I am not convinced that you can).
Anyhow, so far so tame. Well, not so for a normal, but yeah – let’s stick with ‘tame’ anyway. Unfortunately I walked into a trap at this juncture. Well, that’s unfair; C didn’t mean to dig into something right at this point (or at least I don’t think he did), and even if it had been a probing question, it would not be fair to consider that entrapment. He merely asked how I experience these sounds.
I won’t go into my answer nor the next 10 minutes of conversation, as this is the personal information to which I alluded in the opening paragraph. This remains private, between C and me, and no one else; all I’m willing to say is that it relates to me protecting myself. I’ll make only two other points about it. Firstly, this particular subject could have been horribly uncomfortable and awkward – and with the wrong person, it indubitably would have been. But I felt at ease with C, relatively speaking, and thought he dealt with it with tact and sensitivity. Secondly, this part of the session ultimately led to one of the topics I have been dreading to face in detail.
“You’re opening a Pandora’s Box here,” I cautioned at this point.
“Do you want to tell me what’s in the box?” C responded on cue.
I very deliberately turned round to look at the clock, noting only 10 minutes remained of the session.
“What a shame we don’t have time for that,” I smiled, probably patronisingly.
He took another route. “Can you even tell me the name of the box then, or give some details as to its contents?”
I took a deep breath. “You are aware of what happened with my uncle.”
He nodded, and what followed was some slightly circular discussion about my continuing worries about MW and his soon-to-be sibling (my cousins twice removed, or third cousins if you prefer the more common, yet inaccurate, assessment), and how that’s diminished a little of late*. Another point was regarding MMcF’s husband’s exact relationship with me – ie. that he is my uncle by marriage. There was subtle reference as to what extent the incident (lovely word) has consciously impacted upon my life in the last 16-ish years.
Finally he said it. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “you haven’t told me it all, have you?”
That sounds like he phrased it in a sort of blaming fashion, but honestly, he didn’t. I just remember that it wasn’t something like, “there’s more to this”, because I’d have said ‘yes’ to that, whereas the correct answer to the question above was ‘no’.
I didn’t feel like a child, or at least I don’t think I did. I did, however, bow my head, look up at C from this submissive position and shake my head slowly, sadly and in a horribly resigned sort of manner – just like a child does when faced with a similarly awkward position. Submit submit submit. You lied to him, you little bitch, you lied.
I would reiterate that this is my thinking and that I got no sense of blame or recrimination whatsoever from him. Still, I hate the fact that I actually outright lied to C about this matter in our early discussions. I hate it. I hate it almost as much as confronting this bollocks itself.
We didn’t talk about the whole shame issue I mentioned in the sex abuse post, simply as there wasn’t time. We did spend the few minutes that were left exploring who else was privy to the information – A is one of only two ‘real life’ person to whom I’ve actually spoken the word ‘rape’ in this context, though a few others will have now found out thanks to reading the material I’ve written on the blog.
The other person who heard me use the word was my mother. Her reaction to the whole thing is a subject for several sessions with C as, to be honest, her way of handling it wasn’t exactly in my best interests. I gave C the brief version, which is what follows, though of course it will be revisited I’m sure. When I first confessed to my mother that anything happened, she said that I had misinterpreted McMF’s husband’s actions, as “he loves children” and would touch them in innocent, companionable sorts of ways – that must have been what happened, SI, you silly girl! Mum still holds to that position, on the very rare occasion that there is some sort of reference to the INCIDENT. When I told her, on a separate occasion, the full extent of the INCIDENT, she – knowing I am not a fan of the McF dynasty – said I made it up to avoid going to their house. Cheers mother.
Of course it was not just the INCIDENT that permeated this period in my ‘relationship’ with McMF’s husband, though that was always the worst bit – well, obviously, I suppose. The fact that I mainly have flashback-like recollections of the worst part – ie. my wriggling under him as he pushed me down and did what he wanted – is presumably suggestive of dissociation from there onwards, for which I am both grateful and resentful. There was more to it than just than one day too, and God forgive me, I played up to it. I did. I played up to it. I would wear short skirts in front of him and make suggestive comments to him – not because I wanted him to touch me ever again, but because I wanted him to suffer (the rationale being, “oh, you want me, do you fuckhead? Well, you can’t have me!”). When he did later touch me again (once in a room full of other children – thanks for that memory, mind), I would seize up and eliminate myself from the situation with as much speed as possible. It makes my skin crawl to think of this.
Yes, it makes my skin crawl, and my reaction to it makes my skin crawl. I know I was a child, and I know flirtatious and sexualised behaviour is a common response to child sex abuse, but I feel like a grotesque little slut nevertheless.
Readers, I cannot do this. I cannot face the enormity of not just this hideous link to the past, but also that of the first boyfriend saga, and that of the desolation of grammar school, amongst others. How can I face this all with C? How? I can’t even face it with me! I am not strong enough. I am weak. The word flows through my blood and inhabits every cell and fibre of my being. Weak, so, so horribly, pathetically weak.
OK, I have totally digressed. This post was about a session with C, and I have turned it into a mini discussion on child sex abuse and my failure as a human being. Sorry. To return to the point, C and I had to finish the session after the talk about my Mum not believing what I had told her about her brother-in-law. A Pandora’s Box indeed. I should have kept my mouth shut – the next few weeks are, I suspect, going to be tough.
And yet I should not have kept my mouth shut because it needs to be confronted, and in this way I am heartened too. Even though I don’t think I can do it, it is a real development. It’s only taken six months, but what’s half a year between therapist and client! 😉
The session ended with C advising me that both offices on either side of him are being renovated shortly and that as “we can’t do work of this nature with such noise”, we’ll have to have an office change. It will be the second, which is a completely cuntified state of affairs – but there is an upside to it. The building work, which is starting in two or three weeks or so, is due to last for 12 weeks. Our current therapy contract is due to end on 26 November which would mean only two more sessions, which from my point of view simply cannot happen or I’ll be straight into the bin (or the ground – who’s discriminating). But C said something like, “so we’ll have to move out during that time…”, which is an excellent statement, as it strongly infers a continuation of treatment for the foreseeable future. Certainly, he once told me before that there would be a minimum of a four-week preparation period prior to any cessation of therapy, and very clearly that has not come to pass, but whatever way he phrased his words it sounded like he still expects to see me back in the current office when the work is over, so that’s a decent extension to the current timeframe.
What I expected to be a reasonably short post has turned into my usual 2,800 word bullshit. I see, reading back, a lot of pontificating about words and language. More avoidance?! Anyway, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, dearest readers.
* I’ll blog on this in a future post. Suffice to say, I saw MMcF’s husband the other week and he really is a pathetic shadow of his former self which, for the benefit of his great-grandchildren at least, is a most beneficial state of affairs.