Trust or bust!!

There was a time when if someone asked me whether I had trust issues, I would have said no, and I wouldn’t have recognized the irony of simultaneously having suspicious thoughts like, “What are you hinting at?” or “Why exactly are you asking?”

Lucky for me I’m in therapy.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty sane. No flashbacks. Totally present with my family. Sleeping through the night. All good, normal stuff, leading me to indulge in a fantasy of scaling back on therapy.

Gong! Turns out it’s a bad idea.

Healer Lady and I discussed it a bit during this week’s session, but came to no solid conclusion. Then, after not having much else to discuss, about 40 minutes into the 50-minute session, she asked how I was doing with trust in my relationships.

My internal response – are you fucking kidding me?! I’m mildly exhausted by the fact that she’s like Superman with x-ray vision of my head.

My answer to her question was pretty much guilty silence. So, my fantasy of scaling back will remain just that.

Watching Nugget interact with a cashier at Rite Aid later that day, it hit me that I may not be capable of teaching my daughter to trust. I might screw her up on this one. Instead of saying hi back to the guy, her initial instinct was to duck below the counter so he couldn’t see her. I could totally relate. But being able to relate to that urge of wanting to be invisible may muck up things up on my end.

If I were to be really honest, my trust issues result in my desire to be actively and aggressively anti-social. (As I wrote that, I realized that my friends are so screwed.) But unless you’re some sort of eccentric recluse of stature, like J.D. Salinger, you can’t get away with that shit and not end up like this dude:

Unabomber. Infamously a recluse who needed serious therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, hoping not to become a total weirdo and hoping not to raise one, trust is next on my therapeutic agenda.

Trust or bust, baby!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Penn State of Mind

I’ll ‘fess up that when I see Nugget skillfully kick a soccer ball I think that she maybe the next Mia Hamm. Or when she places the “tethescope” on my belly and provides the diagnosis that I have squirrels in my stomach I conclude that she will be a brilliant doctor. Or when she attempts to negotiate every term of her dinner it’s clear to me that she’ll be a damn good lawyer. Or when she jams on her guitar like Ani Difranco it’s just a matter of time before she’s a total rock star, but only after she gains a good sense of herself so that she doesn’t Lindsay Lohan her life.

Rockstar

Regardless, we’re one of the few lucky American families that have just enough disposable income to sock away a little each month for college, so we do it diligently in the hopes that we can send her to a good, well-respected college or university.

Then something like Penn State happens and I’m left wondering what exactly is a “good” or “well-respected” college or university in this country?

Since I began therapy, I’m generally unable to read the news because the rampant salacious headlines are triggers. Instead, I go straight for any other section that’s not likely to cover the latest murder, sexual assault, etc.  I can’t hack that shit.

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Sleepless in Vermont: Night Terrors and The Exorcist

Nugget has had night terrors for the past several nights.  If you’re one of the lucky ones whose child has not had night terrors, think Linda Blair.  The fact that my daughter looks like she’s possessed while having night terrors is not inconsequential; I absolutely hate anything having to do with the subject of being possessed, and its entertainment value is completely lost on me.

When I was around 10 years old, I was minding my own business, watching TV with my parents one evening.  There was a trailer (we called them commercials back then) for The Exorcist.  I nearly shat my pants. Before me was a crazy-eyed kid, about my age, crawling on the wall, making sounds like a cat in heat.

Note: In an attempt to post a photo of the possessed child of The Exorcist,  I Googled “Linda Blair” and the images of her in costume from the movie gave me a minor heart attack. Seriously.  But I discovered that she saves animals through her organization Linda Blair World Heart and her make-up is much better in real life, which is sort of a corrective experience.

I was surprised when mom and dad expressed excitement about it.  They called it a classic flick. That 15-second trailer revealed a new fact of life: the devil or one of his minions was lurking around my bedroom, waiting to pounce on me.  I was absolutely terrified.

My parents’ excitement for the movie indicated that they would be useless in my defense, so in anticipation of it being on TV, I hatched a game plan that involved being at the far end of the house while they watched it.  Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil.

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Lessons from Animal Kingdom

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when Sweetie came up with the great idea [insert sarcasm here] to get a couple of goldfish for Nugget. I’m uncertain what inspired this sudden affection for the cold-blooded vertebrate, but she was fixated and Nugget was beside herself with excitement, so we decided to add to our little version of Animal Kingdom.

We hit the pet store first thing because we wanted to beat the mad rush to the fish tanks. This is when Sweetie gained my total buy-in and respect, because for just $.39 a fish we could buy our daughter’s love and affection.

Driving home with the plastic bag that housed the two freaked out goldfish, I began to feel for the little guys/gals. I thought about their life experiences, and how much it would suck for someone to pluck me from my home, toss me in a Glad zip-lock bag, and take me to an unknown destination. It was then that I determined we would make them a happy home/tank.

At home, the tank decorating commenced. We dumped in Nugget’s choice of fluorescent pink pebbles, poured in distilled water, jammed a couple of plants into the pebbles and placed a fake cave-like rock in the center. What fish wouldn’t be thrilled with this?

Apparently one of them didn’t like it, because he/she offed him/herself overnight and we had a floater on our hands the next morning. In hindsight, I’m not sure why Sweetie and I hadn’t thought about this.

Going into emergency responder mode, I plopped Nugget in front of Elmo so I could take care of business. I was unclear about how to dispose of the fish. Nothing seemed dignified. Trash? Toilet? So, I fed it to the Feline. Joking. I chose the toilet option and watched him/her swirl down the hole, all the while thinking what a dark place that must be.

For days after this, I couldn’t shake the memory of my childhood dog, Doogan. Doogan was a mix between a Terrier and a Dachshund. Some might say he was really a mix of a rat and bat.  A scrappy little guy, he was 12 pounds of pure muscle, resembled a gremlin, was known to chase cars, and had humongous ears.  Check him out.

Doogan

Although he was the family dog (Note the professional photo.), he was really my dog. Doogan slept with me, followed me everywhere and was loyal to me through and through.

For example, one afternoon I was pulled from my algebra class because he had walked the couple of blocks from our home into my high school, looking for me. He must have gotten sidetracked by the screech of our choir as he was found in the choir room, howling. I was asked to escort him home.

You may be asking yourself, “Why wasn’t your dog fenced?” Well, I’m not sure why. When we got him, we always let him out the front door and he would scratch on the door when he returned, usually after making his rounds with the neighbors. Everyone loved him.

But, the honeymoon was over when the dog catcher told us to lock him up, or else. As you can imagine, Doogan didn’t go for being fenced in the backyard, so like the prisoner that we made him, he dug escape routes under the fence.

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I met my inner child in a yoga studio.

I have a love/hate relationship with yoga.

The “hate” stems from the fact that my girls are 34DDs and yoga clothes are not designed for large-breasted women, regardless of what the nice sales woman at the yoga clothing store says.  My breasts become unruly during yoga, which leads to an issue with breathing, particularly when in the Downward Facing Dog position. After initially smacking my face, they calm down only to bury my nose in my own cleavage, leading to suffocation.

Historically, the “love” has been in part about how good I feel after yoga and in part about my perception of what yoga can do for my body. I say “perception” because I’m a little on the heavy side and although I carry it like nobody’s business, there’s usually a skinny, bendy thing on the yoga mat next to me who inspires illusions of a thinner, more flexible me. This hasn’t occurred.

That said, I’ve one upped that expectation by meeting my inner child in the yoga studio.

It happened when I took a community class. The community aspect means free, lots of incense, candle light, groove music, poor college kids crammed in, a few throw-back hippies with copper bracelets on, and couple of token moms and seniors wishing they had chosen the 6am class.

Something was off with me that day. I couldn’t say what exactly, but when I saw my hippie yoga instructor, to my surprise, I kinda wanted to hug him.  Feeling uncharacteristically warm and fuzzy toward a stranger, I wanted to bolt. But surrounded by all the yogis, my ego said stay.

The vulnerability went out the window and was replaced by disgust and irritation when somebody farted about 10 minutes into the class. I realize it’s un-cool among the yogis to lob harsh judgments at the release of toxins in any form, especially because it’s bound to happen to you or someone you love, but I’ve got issues with bathroom-type things that I have no desire to resolve in therapy. In fact, even with a 3 year-old in my life I haven’t really loosened up about it, so I prefer that people release their gas on their own time and in their own, private space that is located far away from me.

But, I digress.

Finding my focus, I was able to hit a Zen place and became completely relaxed by the end of the class. Laying face-up on the mat, with my eyes shut, I heard a guitar.  Hippie was strumming a sweet, soft tune while we collectively lay silent and that’s when it happened.

Initially, I thought of Nugget, giving myself a “bad mama” talk because I hadn’t signed her up for yoga, which I think she would love. We do a couple of positions at home, but she may appreciate the real deal. Then I began to think about her interests, and one thing led to the next. Who would she become as she grows older? What will she look like? How will her voice sound? Already smart, will she be athletic, artsy, a mix? Then suddenly, Nugget morphed into me. A 7 or 8 year-old me; my inner child.

She looked a little like this:

Mini Me

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EMDR, Francine Shapiro and Vibrators

Does anyone find it strange that you can hold two vibrators to rewire things in your brain?  I can’t shake this thought as my therapist hands over the mouse-like vibrators used for EMDR. I know there’s a headphone option and some eye thing that you can do, but I started with the vibrators and I’m a creature of habit.

Still, I couldn’t help but to think about the person who thought “Eureka! Vibrators are the answer for trauma survivors!”  I googled EMDR and voilà, up came www.emdr.com. How easy they made it.  Apparently the brilliant person is Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. She looks nice enough.

Healer Lady talked to me about EMDR several times before I finally took the leap. I was chicken about the whole thing. Mostly it was because I just didn’t get it. It was a little too hippie-dippie for my taste. I couldn’t imagine how rolling my eyes around, listening to an annoying beep or holding a vibrator in the wrong spot was going to do me any good.  But  Healer Lady pressed on in that therapeutic way she does and I finally caved.

One EMDR session later and I was a believer.  It was amazing. I thought I was damn near close to Continue reading


Hot for Therapist: Part 2

Walking into Healer Lady’s office last week was like walking into a republican’s campaign headquarters. I felt like a total impostor, and I fantasized about taking bold action that would sabotage the success of the candidate – in this case me. But my friend’s voice was in my head, telling me to suck it up and tell Healer Lady about the hots.

I think I said the usual “hi,” but I can’t even be certain of that because I was too busy having an out-of-body experience.

Taking my place across from her in the chair that I always feel like such a slouch in, she asked, “What are we doing today?”

Ugh. The moment had arrived.

The details are murky, but what I do remember is that I stated that I had something incredibly uncomfortable to share. I took the very valiant (it was indeed valiant) step and said something to the effect that I kept thinking about her. At some point she asked if my thoughts were “romantic,” which I distinctly remember because a) I wanted to throw up, and b) I hate that word. It conjures up this:

Nice pecs, but still gross.

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Hot for Therapist

It’s true. Somehow, I’ve got the hots for Healer Lady.

Not my therapist.

When I recognized it, I told myself it’s that she’s easy on the eyes, good at her job, has a friendly personality and a southern accent – so what’s not to like.

The attempt to minimize it failed and I completely freaked.

There is one problematic layer after another with this. Let me name the top issues:

  1. She’s my therapist. Statement of the obvious, but I still need to put it on the record.
  2. I haven’t had the hots for anybody since Sweetie came into my life. No, I’m not asexual. Sweetie can attest to that. And there’s really not a day that goes by that I don’t check somebody out. Sweetie can also attest to that. But having the hots is different.
  3. I see Healer Lady twice a week. There’s no escape.
  4. It’s wacked.

So I talked to a friend about this situation. She was completely blasé, and laughed as I squirmed. Speaking in an utterly amused tone, she informed me that it’s a common occurrence in therapy and that it actually has a name called transference.  As relief began to settle in she dropped this doozy:  “If it’s interfering with therapy, you gotta tell her.”

Fuck that!

Picture of a confession.

The prospect of sitting across from Healer Lady and casually dropping that I’m preoccupied with thoughts of her helped me readily determine that everything was copacetic and it would all pass like a bad cold.

Wrong.

The unfortunate revelation that the hots were indeed impeding therapy forced me to reconsider telling her.

Here’s the problem: for a couple of weeks, I’ve struggled to talk about the teacher in therapy. Shame manages to  overwhelm any ounce of courage and suppress language. I literally can’t speak at times, and I’m uncertain how to say what needs to be said.

Throughout therapy, this has always been the case when discussions have led to the teacher, but the difference now is that there is something that feels oddly similar about my relationship with Healer Lady and the teacher. I can’t articulate it. It’s just a feeling.

So, I told her.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Confession.


I heart Linus.

I’m generally uneasy in social situations. It’s not that I don’t like people; it’s that to feign normalcy I have to muster up conversation and some of it has to be about me.

It makes me feel like this guy:

Linus

Sharing opinions or personal information like whether I like crunchy or smooth peanut butter is lost on me. I mean, who cares?

Healer Lady would probably suggest that I fear intimacy. She’s never actually said this, but she recommended a therapy group that focuses on communication and intimacy. I can take a hint.

Still, I have solid proof that…

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Black Widow

Inspired by one of her pals who recently liberated herself from the diaper, Nugget made the request to put on underwear.

Allelujah!

She’s adorably delicious, but I can’t wait to get as far away from her bodily waste as possible.

I yearn for the day she does this. (Pic from weebooktada)

We granted her wish to wear underwear and she proudly pranced (As a feminist, I don’t use that word lightly to describe my daughter) around our house, frequently asking, “Wanna see my underwear?” A pause would invoke a more aggressive sales pitch: “They’re purple,” she would add.

As she pointed out the details of the design on her underwear, her innocence and vulnerability almost hurt to witness. My mind wandered again to Penn State and to my own history.

In a lot of ways, there’s nothing shocking about how the perpetrator was able to do what he did. It’s classic. Charming perpetrator places himself in a position to gain access to children. He impresses the community, the families, and, most sadistically, the children who looked up to him.

The person who sexually abused me for 2 years was my teacher. In my case, the perpetrator was a woman.

She was the most popular teacher. She was hip, cute, and fun. She was married to a handsome guy and she knew the words to the most popular songs, which endeared her to the students.

Healer Lady described her as “shiny,” and that is a spot-on description. She was shiny and everybody wanted to be next to her.

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