Those Hard Things

Thinking about the deep things I avoid is kind of tough for me today. I feel myself wanting to avoid all of those things, even letting them in feels like too much right now. I know that I don’t need to pressure myself to finish that list today, but I want to get it done because if I don’t, I will lose it. I won’t finish that list before my next appointment in two weeks. I feel myself start to dive in and then as soon as I come upon an actual memory or even ounce I pain, I surface again. It’s like I like to pretend everything is fine instead of digging deep and actually working through these things.

When my therapist moved from the location where I met her to this new location, there were months that went by and we never were able to get as deep as we were before. Part of it was that I was still broken from how she did it. As a newly trained counselor, she asked great questions, but we were covering so much, so intensely that I had therapy hangovers for days. I couldn’t function because I was so sad about how much was bubbling up. When she told me she was leaving counseling, it took me awhile to see this new person. And initially her availability was weird and it took us until earlier this month to get into a regular rhythm. I feel like we got into a good place but now I know we need to go deeper. I am scared to. I am scared of what is under there.

One of the most revealing things I found out with my first therapist was that under the bratty, high-energy, monster of child was someone in a ton of pain who couldn’t understand what he was going through. That he knew who he was but everyone was telling him he was something completely different. His parents were unhappy with the person they created biologically, so they tried to socially change this kid into the daughter they thought they had. And they damaged him deeply, maybe irreparably. This child is struggling to figure out who he really is, what he really believes, and how to become the person he feels he is. Like think about how long this person has actually been acknowledged. If that time equals his age, then he’s about 6-7 years old. How does a child know what they stand for when they’ve only ever been told they are a specific way that doesn’t feel genuine to what’s inside them? Imagine getting your first bike and you are beyond happy, only to find out it’s this pink, ugly thing. And when you ask for literally any other bike, you are told to be grateful for this birthday gift you despise. When you ask to pain it, you are told no. So you start intentionally scratching it up as much as possible because you figured out it’s all silver underneath. It never occurs to you that the shape is different too.

How do I tell a therapist that I was sexually assaulted and raped repeatedly as a child, teenager, and adult and that most of your life you felt like you had no value and you deserved to be assaulted? Like by being alive and present you were agreeing to it? But you sort of know that none of it was your fault and you could’ve revoked consent at any time. Or you froze and locked up and couldn’t say no. You did what you do best, you disassociated like you always do and watched all of this happen from a distance above your own body. And disassociated you shook your head sadly and told you that it was all your fault…again.

Can I actually say out loud that my mother told me often that if she could do it all over again, she would’ve still married my father but had no children? And that she needed me to just get away from her when I tried to hug her. That she resented everything about me because I was just like her older sister that she hated. Or just like my father’s sister that everyone hates. Can I tell my therapist that I never wanted to go home as a child and teenager and I ran away all day often, but came back because I was hungry.

Speaking of hunger, can I tell her how I still struggle with binge eating sometimes? That I still feel like I need to eat everything on my plate? That I still either don’t get the signal that I’m full until I am really full or I ignore it because I MUST FINISH EVERYTHING ON MY PLATE. Because there’s nothing more to eat later and I will be hungry later. Or that when I wake up hungry in the middle of the night, it’s triggering. That after I binge I often cry because I feel so terrible. That I look in the mirror and blame myself for every extra pound because I used to have so much self control that I NEVER ate. Although that’s a different type of eating disorder, not really self control.

Can I talk about the terrible things I’ve seen and heard while in the Air Force? The things that caused me brutal nightmares that I have to medicate away or I will never sleep again. That visualizations and intrusive thoughts still haunt my waking hours sometimes. How I feel like I was morally injured by careless leadership that dismissed the havoc that we were wreaking on civilians. How damaged I felt after learning we were losing lives on the ground as we flew overhead.

Should I even tell her that for 22 years I thought seriously about suicide? That sometimes the thought creeps back in when I feel overwhelmed but it’s no longer a daily thought? I don’t want to get committed anywhere and I don’t feel like a danger to myself or anyone else. I mean, my teenager frustrates me, but I don’t think I will hurt him. I survived the older one and he was way more frustrating.

Do I tell her that underneath all of the smiles and laughter and extroverted act is a small child who is still scared of everything and thinks he is completely worthless and doesn’t seem to really believe he is worth acknowledging? That once in a while he feels happy, like he will get to really come out and let everyone see who he is as a whole person and not just pieces and parts showing through the facade of someone totally different. He’s been wearing a costume his whole life and that person is just a fake, conditioned replica of a real person.

And what about the couple things I have never said out loud at all that only three people besides me know? That I once told an online therapist part of all that and he was supportive and helpful. But I still haven’t said what actually happened out loud and I am not sure I can. Getting the secret out in the open was helpful but it’s still kinda there, still hurting me a little. Still causing a tiny bit of guilt. And leading to some other problems I dealt with.

Yesterday I mentioned to her about the domestic violence I witnessed at the babysitter’s house, but I didn’t really tell her how that made me feel and how witnessing that as a small child was so damaging. I know that she knows, but we didn’t get into that damage and how that interconnects to everything else.

And I guess every single piece of this is all part of the facade that the little boy wears. This pain hides behind the facade with the little boy. It’s part of him too. He is not the cause of any of it. And nothing was really my fault.

My goal is to consistently believe that I am a good person who is worth people spending energy getting to know and being friends with for life. And stop hiding behind what I think everyone wants to see. I want to stop prioritizing everyone else’s comfort and happiness above my own. I deserve to take the very best care of myself and that includes letting my mind rest and recover when it’s had too much. I don’t want to be owned by guilt anymore or obligation to surrender to everyone else. I want to unleash Little Zander and let him just be. No more hiding and no more shame for not being what everyone has told me I am supposed to be.

Huh…I guess I just made that list of hard things I have been avoiding. Thank you for reading, for subscribing, and most of all for supporting me on my journey to unleash Little Zander and drop the facade I have been hiding behind all of my life.

Me at about 3 years old after my parents cut my long hair off. I loved Spiderman so much at that age. I vaguely remember that pajama shirt and I am pretty sure my parents took it away from me because it was too small and I wouldn’t give it up willingly. This was before any traumatic events happened and before I learned that the little boy I thought I was offended everyone.

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