As I was putting the photos back in the crate, I mentioned I was feeling less of a need to bring all that stuff to future sessions.
Carl: I’ve heard you say the blanket might help you feel safer during our work together. Do you still think that might be the case?
Me: Maybe. I don’t know. I’m starting to feel quite safe with you. Maybe I don’t need the blanket.
Carl: I would encourage you to bring the blanket to future sessions. I think it may still have value in our work together.
Me: Yeah, maybe.
Carl: Did you wrap up in a blanket when you were a kid as a way to feel safe?
Me: Yeah. I wasn’t allowed to show emotion. I’d get in trouble for being sad or angry. So, I’d wrap up in the blanket—it was the flannel quilt my grandmother made for me—and allow myself to feel and sometimes even silently cry. I knew no one could see or hear me being sad if I was under the blanket. But, I’d always have to listen for someone coming. If I heard someone coming, I had to straighten up quickly and pretend I hadn’t been crying under the blanket.
Carl: Ouch! (Hand on heart) Ouch!
(We had about ten or so minutes left of session time. I didn’t want to read anymore of the letter to my dad today. I just didn’t feel up to it. So, I asked Carl why he thought I felt such a strong need to protect my mom.)
Carl: In what ways are you protecting her?
Me: I haven’t told her I think I was molested by “X.” I don’t want her to feel bad—to feel guilty—about something she had no way of knowing about then and something she can’t do anything about now. I don’t want the last days of her life to be filled with guilt. She doesn’t deserve that . . . and telling her wouldn’t make me feel any better. There is no benefit in telling her.
She knows I was in therapy a couple of years ago. I told her part of the reason was because I was processing the trauma of the attempted sexual assault by my boss and the stress of sliding into financial ruin. I felt okay telling her about those events because she had nothing to do with them.
But, I haven’t been able to tell her I’m still in therapy because I don’t want her to know the magnitude of the damage from which I am healing . . . I don’t want to have to tell her about the stuff in which she had a part. There is no reason to do that.
Carl: Are you saying you experienced a sexual assault other than the molestation by “X”?
Me: Yeah . . . I guess I haven’t yet told you about that yet. There have been a few different assaults. They weren’t that big of a deal . . . I mean, they were attempted assaults or minor assaults. It’s not like I actually got raped or anything.
Carl: There is no such thing as a minor sexual assault. Every assault is a big deal.
(I didn’t know what to say so I just looked at him and nodded a bit. He quietly watched me for a few moments. When I didn’t respond further, he continued . . . )
Carl: Let’s go back to your question about protecting your mom. Are you asking for my opinion on the matter?
Carl: I think there are two different issues here. One involves protecting your mom in here—in other words, in our therapy sessions. I think it is healthy for you to begin not protecting her so much in here, in our private conversations.
Then, the second issue involves protecting your mom outside of here by managing what you say directly to her and what information you expose to other people about your history with her. There can be benefits to saying nothing and benefits to saying some things in a responsible manner. We can talk more about that at a later time, if you care to.
Me: Yeah, that would be good.
(We were down to two minutes. I picked up the letter to my dad and started looking it over for something quick we could cover . . . I often have random ponderings that I save up to fill the last few minutes of a session.)
Carl: We are just about out of time. I think it is best if we not jump into something new.
Me: I agree. I was just looking for something very quick. But, I don’t see anything quick so I think this is a good place to stop.
(Small pause . . .)
Carl: Let me ask you . . . did you just feel scolded or interrupted or cut off by me when I said it is best if we not start a new discussion?
Me: Oh, no, not at all. I understand where you were coming from and I agree with you. Plus, you have such a gentle spirit about you that even if the words bothered me, I know your intention is gentle and kind. So, no, I’m fine with how you handled it.
Carl: Okay, I just wanted to check.
Me: Thank you. I appreciate your care and thoughtfulness.
And that brought us to the end of the session.
This was a relaxed and relatively “fun” session. I think I needed a session like that. I needed to show him another side other than just always crying and being in pain. Also, I am scheduled to do a 30-minute piano performance for the Rotary Club tomorrow and I’m not ready for it yet. So I’m really stressing over what all has to be done in the next 24 hours. I felt like I couldn’t handle a heavy session today. I’m glad it played out like it did.
As I was driving back to my little town, I realized there are a lot of pieces of my history I haven’t told him about: the abortion, my sexual preference, the traumatic impact of my financial downfall, the promiscuity of my twenties, the black-outs from drinking in college. . .
There are still many parts to my story we haven’t gotten around to yet . . . I guess, in time we will get there. Or, maybe not. Is it really important I tell him every little thing . . .??