I don’t want to do that. That seems like it could just stay like that. Avoiding her seems to be working so far. I just don’t want to work that hard. I don’t think I ever need to face her now.
Those are things I said in therapy this week. It’s hard to admit that, to read those, and to feel like that.
It seems that I could be standing in my own way right now. The former me, the pre-me, the ashamed me is hiding in a corner. She’s trying to get out. But she’s shoved way back in the dark where nobody would dare to go to drag her out. And I just pretend she’s not there. In fact, I really never thought about her as a separate person who needs to be discussed or healed in any way. She’s a separate person to me and I’ve been ok with that because nobody has ever pointed her out to me. Very few people have ever seen her or know she’s there. And then all of sudden this week a giant light lit up right in that corner and I was stunned for awhile. And now I can see her so clearly. She’s the reason I don’t have my maiden name, but instead a name I created for the me I like and the me I am most comfortable with being each day. Nobody needs that girl in the corner, least of all me. So why unlock the door and clean out the cobwebs at all? I mean, I like the me I am today and life has been really wonderful most of this year. Right?
But can I really rediscover me AND avoid the girl in the corner? Maybe for a while. Apparently my therapist feels that is unlikely to be a good path to a healthy future. Of course, she is probably right and she makes good points. But I just feel like I’ve done SO much work already and doing more isn’t really what I expected to have to do. After all, I made it through a 12-week group which included A LOT of really challenging steps and the ENORMOUS moment when I made a full disclosure of my sexual assault to my peers. I’m healed, right? It’s over, yes? I mean, that is what a lot of people say–it’s good that is all behind you, now you can move on, at least you don’t have to think about that anymore, and now you can be done with therapy.
In some ways, those things are what I was thinking would happen after group just as other people thought. I did take a break from my individual therapy after group ended because I didn’t feel I needed weekly support and processing if I was done with group. I was just waiting for my original therapist to come back from maternity leave so I could go in for a few weeks to tell her how well group went and how much I was able to get in touch with the vulnerability that was hiding inside me and holding back the healing. And I was feeling so thrilled after that disclosure and group that I sometimes couldn’t imagine what I would need to talk about anymore with her. I made it through the messy feelings I had before deciding to move out, I worked through how I felt living separately from my husband, we worked on our marriage to see if there was still a marriage for both of us, and I struggled and then faced the decision that-at least for me-it was no longer a marriage I could remain in and be happy. I worked hard in therapy to come to terms with the fact that my marriage was over and worked through my feelings of failure and grief over the ending of the marriage. Therapy is the reason I felt confident enough to go into group and was the support I needed to get in touch with my individual feelings which came out during the group sessions.
That IS all behind me now. So what would I even need to say? I’m healed and happy. I’m successfully navigating my life as a divorced woman with two kids. I bought a house and have a job and lots of supportive family and friends. I’m even dating which I really didn’t think I’d even consider for a very long time yet.
But…there she is, that girl in the corner. Peeking out once in a while now because the past and present are colliding in some ways. And because with some of the major shame lifted off my shoulders I can see other layers of me that need healing. Layers that I didn’t recognize as needing healing because sexual assault clouded everything else and took over who I was since it happened.
She was just sitting there looking smug during last week’s therapy session. And I ignored her until my therapist said, “so let’s talk about the girl you just pushed off into the corner, how is she feeling?” What??? How did she see that?? I’m sure you know by now that I have some issues with inappropriate laughter. So naturally that’s what I did, I started laughing. And then I got choked up and realized that she really is there in that corner. She’s another piece of me, the former me, the me I put away a LONG time ago and never really wish to see again. My therapist wondered if that girl in the corner is really hurt, or angry, or scared, or all of that and more. She suggested writing that girl a letter, giving her a break for what she went through, and trying to understand that girl in terms of what I would expect of someone who is the same age today.
I haven’t written a letter, but I keep thinking about that girl. I know it’s true that I don’t give her a break. That I don’t respect her and that, in fact, I don’t even like her or recognize her as having worth. She’s pissed off and has reason to be, but instead of having compassion for her, I punish her for not being good enough. For not being better. Smarter. For not seeing what wasn’t right and making better choices at 15, 16, 17 years old.
I’ll keep thinking about how I want to handle that girl in the corner. I know from my disclosure how she got there and I think I know why she’s trying to step out. I’m not looking forward to it and I’d really rather forget she’s there.
But I’ve got to face everything if I really want to move forward completely. And I really do.
I’ll look at the girl in the corner and I’ll help her come out of hiding. I know I have to do it. I know it’s time.