Can I Just Hibernate, Please?

Man I wish I was a bear. Sleeping through the winter sounds like a really good solution. I'm starting to find that with each passing year, I dread the holidays more and more. The few family members I was close to have all died in the past couple of years, leaving me to try and look forward to fending off questions about my constant single-ness and underhanded comments by my mom about never having grandchildren. That's Thanksgiving in a nutshell. This year, to make it worse, my mom invited her dad and stepmom, who just recently moved back to the area after living 23 years in Oregon. I have seen them maybe 5 times since I was born.

He scares me. After all the stories I heard of how mean he was when my mom and her brother and sisters were kids, it is hard to want to get to know him. She is nice enough, but has brain damage from a very bad bout of pneumonia that left her without oxygen for too long. She is unpredictable in a childish way; lifting her shirt to show me a scar (god help me) or bursting into tears when talking about her nephew that died. They aren't my grandparents. I don't even consider them family.

It pisses me off that I have to pretend to want to get to know them (as I would never be blatantly disrespectful to them or my mom). I had grandparents. Ones that took care of me, played with me, talked with me, loved me. And now they are both gone and I am not looking for replacements.

Thanksgiving was so uncomfortable. I did anything I could to avoid being in the same room with them, only to be cornered by my aunt who succeeded in calling me a "titty baby" a few times for not getting plastic surgery to fix the after effects (loose skin) of losing so much weight. The only time I actually enjoyed myself was when I was with my sister, her boyfriend, my cousin and his girlfriend. We are all about the same age and it was nice to be able to sit and chat about things that we wanted to; movies, sports, school, etc. We sat down and played cards for almost 2 hours as well. I enjoyed that, but couldn't wait to leave.

And now that brings me to Christmas. Something I dread as well. First and foremost, I enjoy Christmas for the ability to celebrate the birth of my Savior and give back to the community. The thing I enjoy second most to that is being able to go out and see my Dad. With my work schedule, this is one of only two times a year I get to see him. I struggle with everything else.

Christmas with my other family makes me defensive. I don't want their obligatory gifts. The fact that you are buying me something to show me you care just because the date is December 25th ticks me off. You don't show you care any other time, so I don't want you to even bother now. Save your money, it'll just be wasted on someone who can't appreciate your half-hearted attempt "showing love." It's a lose-lose situation, because my family has always worked on the belief that you show how much you love someone by how much you spend on them. I wish every year that my desires of just a small gift card or maybe a new Vera Bradley purse were honored.

Knowing it never works that way, I'm stuck with trying to balance gift giving for everyone else in my family. My sister I tend to spend a little more on because she's still in school and has no money, but I do not want to go overboard on her. The bad thing is, she has experienced much more of the "I love you this much because I bought you this much" message since that is how my Dad is with her. I can see the disappointment on her face when I give her just one thing, or maybe two when she was expecting more. To her, it means I don't love her. Then she goes and spends money she doesn't have on things I don't need to try and show me she loves me. It's a freaking great situation we've got going on. >:(

As far as my mom goes, I'm to the point that everything I think of getting her is so lame (slippers, gift card, etc) that it hardly seems worth the effort. I'd rather find something that we can DO together as opposed to something I can just give her. My sister however, always goes overboard. I swear she spends at least $500 each year on her and wants me to go in on everything she buys. I just don't see the point. My mom would be just as happy to spend time with us as she would with whatever crazy contraption my sister has decided she needs this year. So this year I'm taking my mom, sister, and two youngest nieces to an art studio here in town where they let you paint ceramic plates, bowls, coasters, ornaments, etc and they glaze and fire them for you. My godmother used to have a store like this when we were kids and she would always let us paint something for Christmas. My mom used to do this very often as well so I thought it'd be something fun for all of us to do together. She was so excited about the idea, especially being able to bring the girls and starting a fun tradition with them. My sister on the other hand was like "That's it? What else are you getting her?" *sigh*

All of this "fake" love and obligatory actions tends to put me in a very depressed, somewhat passive-aggressive mood. It doesn't take much to trigger me into a deeper depression, where I fall into the traps of old habits and thought processes and re-route all my pain, anger, sadness, everything that the holidays brings me into myself, where I hold onto it and let it eat me alive. But I'll always put on the happy face... until the holidays blow over and I'm left with a dark cloud of depression and anger that will take me months to get out of. Yay, Christmas.

Finding Calm Among Chaos

I've been praying a lot lately. Praying for strength and guidance to do what the hard work ahead of me. Praying for humility to be able to ask for help when things get to be too much. Praying for faith. Above all, I want to know that God is there for me. That in the midst of all the chaos in my life, He will be there for me.

Today was hard. I ended up going in to see V even though I wasn't scheduled today. We talked a little bit about our last session (resulting in a panic attack with some things that she is bringing out of denial with me) and how I went home and coped with it. For me, coping is cutting and because I didn't do that last night it manifested itself in other ways. I didn't sleep well... and when I did, it was riddled with horrible dreams. V discussed the importance of me finding a way to relax so that my body doesn't hold onto all the bad feelings I am constantly processing. Somehow we got on the topic of ego, and how she thinks that mine has completely run away with me.

Everything that I process gets a negative spin put on it, regardless of whether or not it actually was negative to the objective viewer.

"They just did that because they felt obligated. They're only your friend because they want something from you. Why bother, it's not going to last. Asking for help just means you are weak."

The list goes on and on. And on and on. For whatever reason, somewhere down the line I decided that it was safer to view things negatively and it has spread like wildfire. V asked me to come up with some positive things about myself, to which I had almost nothing. Everything that popped in my head felt contrived and cliche. I told her I didn't really have anything that felt like it separated me from anyone else. Then she asked me to think of myself at 13 (pre-abuse) and describe positive things about myself. That was much easier. I had a whole list of things that V wrote down, all positive things that even put smiles on my face while recalling and remembering how happy I felt. From there she asked me to take each one of those things and try to connect it to me now. The few things that were constant were being active in church and enjoying service/volunteer work. She scribbled a few things on the paper then handed it to me.

Down the center of the paper was a line, splitting the two parts of me in half and on it were the words ABUSE, ADDICTION, DIVORCE.

"Look at those two parts, Lily. The person you are now is not who you really are. That line that is drawn down the middle are the things in your life that are not your fault. Even though I know you don't believe it, you are not to blame for your abuse. Your parents divorce was not caused by you or anything you did. Your dad's addiction is a disease, which again cannot be your fault. All of these things you did not cause, but you are holding onto the blame and punishing yourself for them. And all of that punishment has changed who you are. That list on the right (of who I am now) is a cover-up of who you really are. Who you are supposed to be. Who you are not allowing yourself to be."

I lost it. It took everything in my power not to weep. To feel like you are two different people is one thing, but to be given proof of that and to feel acknowledged, validated and understood all at the same time brought on this rush of emotion that I could not have prepared for. The little girl inside of me is screaming "Finally! Someone else knows I'm here! I can't be ignored now! She knows I'm here! She's going to get me out!" I just sat there and cried, trying to take in everything she said, all the crazy thoughts being thrown around and then trying to verbalize what I was feeling physically and emotionally once I calmed down. That didn't work too well. I don't have words for this. I tried to start, but the tears just took over again. All I was able to get out is that the tears I was crying were sad tears, genuine grief. I could feel it. Like I felt with my grandma. That tearing pain inside, the one you think will never go away.

After what seemed like hours of me just sitting there crying, V jumped right to the chase. The only way I am going to get a hold of who I really am is to go back to what I did at 13 and do what I know made me happy. Would I be willing to sign up for service projects? Sing in the choir again? Play? It seems so absurd. I'm in my 20's! I don't play! I haven't sung in choir since right before I was abused, then being the center of someone's attention like that became the worst thing I could ever think about doing!

V gave me a lot to think about. She even joked about how she sends me home with more to process and think about than anyone else. I took that as a compliment, maybe that means I'm working harder than everyone else? She suggested that because it was so nice outside, I don't go home and hide, but go to this park that is near her house. It has a huge lake and fountain, park benches, a walking trail, and fishing docks. I absolutely love the water and find solace in the sounds it makes. I left her office and drove straight there. The sun was beginning to fall behind the hills and houses, but the atmosphere was perfect. I just sat there and listened to the life around me. It helped clear my mind and control my emotions. Things suddenly felt less out of control, more doable. God answered my prayers and showed me that He is here, giving me the calm I want so desperately in the midst of all this chaos.

How Big Are Your Rocks?

V had me do this activity yesterday that I really enjoyed. One it let me learn a little more about her, and two it helped me pinpoint some of the specific things I am carrying around with me.

She handed me this backpack and told me to hold it out while she asked me a few questions. It was really heavy. I asked her what was in it, but she said I couldn't know yet. She asked me various questions, all fun/happy things. It was harder to concentrate on what she was asking the longer I stood there because the heavier the bag felt. Apparently that's exactly what is "supposed" to happen. The bag represents me, what was inside represents what I carry around. Everyone has their own bag, their own weights. The longer you hold onto them, the heavier they feel, even though the weight itself hasn't changed. People often do unhealthy things to temporarily forget their weights (maybe even convince themselves they completely got rid of them) but eventually they return to reality to find out that nothing changed. Quite possibly, these unhealthy things could have created new weights. V thinks my cutting has gotten to a place where it's starting to add weight. When I was younger, self injury was an unhealthy coping mechanism, but it got me through harder things that I had no clue how to deal with. At some point, however, it went from denial of my weights, to contributing to them.

We sat down, she opened the bag and pulled out a rock. It was painted with a word on it. SCARED. She told me that we were going to go through and pull out a rock, one by one, and discuss how big of a weight this was in our own bags. V doesn't strike me as anyone who gets scared a lot, but I was relieved to hear her say that she gets scared at night when her husband is gone and she's home with her kids, or when she's walking to her car alone at night. Thank God I'm not the only one who thinks this!

My first rock was WORRIED. This is a pretty big rock for me. I constantly have to (or attempt to) plan for escape routes and back-up plans when I am doing something outside of my normal activities. I can't ever be taken off guard or surprised. I never get to enjoy myself when I'm doing something different because I'm worried it'll take a turn I wasn't expecting.

V's next rock was ANGRY. First we talked a little bit about why anger is an appropriate emotion for anyone, but that the unhealthy side of it comes out in how people choose to respond to that emotion. She gave me two examples that make her angry. One that doesn't really weigh her down all that often, but she can't stand when she's not being heard. Meaning she is trying to explain or compromise on something, and another party is just not open to it or trying to understand. The second she says weighs on her more. She gets really mad when children get abused. In her line of work, especially working with children and families a bit more than adults, she sees this often and it makes her so angry.

My next rock was HURT. Physically I have been lucky. Never broken a bone. Up until May I had never even had to go to the hospital. Emotionally, that's a little different. I gave her an example that stood out in my mind. My dad was commuting back and forth from where my sister and I lived, and where he lived with his new wife, a good 10 hours away. He'd always come home for our visitations, but didn't live in the state any other time. When I was getting ready to graduate high school, I asked him if he was going to come and he told me no. High school graduations aren't that big of a deal. He'd come when I graduated college. That hurt. A lot. V asked me if I wanted to add anything about cutting with that rock, and I didn't. I don't view cutting as hurt. I view it as relief. She nodded and agreed.

V's next rock ended up weighing on me, a lot. It was GUILTY. I learned a lot about V through this rock, some of which I knew a little of already. V was a teen mom. She grew up in the city. Her parents immigrated from Mexico before she was born. She is Catholic and apparently they feel guilty about everything (she jokes). When she got pregnant at 17, she said telling her family was really hard. She is still married to her high school sweetheart, and their son is 14 now. They also now have a daughter who is 14 mo. old. She told me a few weeks ago about being a teen mom, which I couldn't believe. She volunteers for the advocacy center, leads trainings for other therapists on addiction and abuse, and works with our local school district to provide support for other teen moms. I have so much respect for her beating the odds and making something of herself, when most people would use it as an excuse. She said that when she had her son, something clicked in her. She was not going to be another statistic, especially being a minority. She wanted to be a good role model for her son. Her drive is amazing to me. Anyway, in her story she was telling me how other people tried to make her feel guilty. A girl called her and commented on how she couldn't believe the rumors were true, that SHE was the one who was pregnant. Her response to that girl: "What? So I had sex..."

The normalcy of that statement affected me greatly. It took me a while to recover and I know I missed out on what she said right after that. It pains me to think that most people are able to view sex as anything but a terrifying occurrence. It pains me to think that at 17, I could have been as blase about it, too. But instead, I'm in my 20's and can't even let a man touch me let alone go that far. There's no way she could have known something so little could affect me so greatly.

My next rock was CONFUSED. It took me a while to connect something with this, but I finally identified my spiritual side. We talked a bit about this, but she said we'd go more in depth when we had more time.

Her next rock was EMBARRASSED. Again, V seems someone who is very comfortable with who she is, but she told me a funny story about how she and her husband went out with some friends a few months ago and he congratulated them on being pregnant. They were not. LOL I couldn't help but laugh. I could tell she was still mortified!

My next rock was SAD. This has been a big weight for me lately with the deaths of my grandparents and Tayler, all in less than 2 years. I talked more about Tayler than my grandparents, because her death still affects me. I never have understood why. She was not the cousin I was closest to, but I feel like I lost a sister at times. It confuses me. V asked me some questions about her and was shocked to hear that she was 13. She looked at me and said "My God. How much horror can you take at the age of 13? For you it was abuse, for Tayler it was death. I wonder if her death affects you so much because of that. Or if part of you feels like you died at the age of 13 as well." We have talked a bit about how different I became after the abuse, so she might really be on the right track there.

The next rock she pulled was DIVORCE/ADDICTION. She handed that to me. Cheater, LOL. I identified that the divorce itself wasn't that big of a deal for me, since my life up until that point was mostly a one parent deal, but for me it was how my mom was affected by it and the parenting choices she made that made that rock a huge weight for me. As far as addiction, I know it contributes weight to my bag, but I am just coming out of denial about that so I couldn't really say much.

My turn was next, even though I had just gone. I had avoided picking up this rock that my hand touched next, but went ahead and pulled it out. ABUSE. Crap. I told her I didn't want to talk about that, but recanted and said I would at least acknowledge that it is a weight in my bag, and that it is not just sexual abuse, but emotional abuse and neglect as well.

Two rocks left. V pulls out JEALOUS. She tells me she sometimes gets jealous of people who have "easy" lives, those who don't know what suffering really is. That's understandable.

The last one for me, I pull it out and it says SECRETS. I laugh and tell her this game is rigged. She laughs and agrees. She knows what the rocks were and therefore, which ones to stay away from pulling herself. I look at the rock for a second and tell her this is probably the biggest one for me. It is connected to almost every other rock in my bag, which messes with my mind even more. My whole life has centered around the fact that I couldn't ever say or feel things in front of other people. So the other weights in my bag became secret too. Hide the weights. Pretend they aren't there.

I learned a lot about what I'm carrying around inside of me yesterday. Just acknowledging that was a huge step for me. I left V's office still reeling over her statement to the girl on the phone. I tried to sit and journal to see if that made me feel better, but ended up having a panic attack. I decided that I needed to e-mail V and let her know just how much I was affected by that (and those conversations in general) so that she would know and not accidentally trigger me that way again. As always, she was so gracious and understanding. I am so blessed to have found someone like V.

Don't Feed the Monster

The more I work with V, the more I am finding that God has lead me to her because she is so experienced in the fields that I need; trauma, first and foremost, and as I'm finding out, addiction. Partially for my own struggles with cutting that in my opinion are borderlining on addiction, but more for my family's addictions. I've never told anyone, but my dad is an alcoholic. I hesitate to even say that because my idea of what an alcoholic is is what you see on Cops; messy demeanor, stumbling over, slurring words, etc. That's not my dad. My dad is (and always has been) well kept, clean and high-functioning, so I never really thought there was a problem.

Today in our session, V and I began by talking about the cutting, since I had e-mailed her about it yesterday and she wanted an update on things. She is very realistic in her expectations with it, not expecting me to quit just because it's unhealthy, but rather she is trusting that I will make strides to include healthier choices for coping as they reveal themselves through my work with her. She will allow me to talk about it whenever I need and will make sure that she does not excuse or condone the behavior, since it is not healthy, but will not make me quit for her. I know that once I make the decision to quit, she will be so vital in me being able to do so. I'm just not there yet.

In part of our discussion with the cutting, she asked me if I use it as a mechanism to feel pain, and I told her it is basically the opposite. I cut to take my mind off the pain that I feel like I carry around all the time. The pain that is too great to acknowledge full on, so it backs me into a corner. She asked me the last time I fully acknowledged any feeling. I had to think hard about it and the only thing I could come up with in the past 5 years was my grandmother's death. The day after her funeral I was so overcome with grief and instead of holding it back, I let myself cry. And cry. And cry. I cried for 8 straight hours. That was really scary for me, for more than just the obvious reasons. I didn't think her death would affect me that much, so to be so shut down by that grief was very hard to accept. I have things that I know have affected me greatly that I haven't processed or felt completely. How in the world are those things going to affect me if I acknowledge them?

She asked me if I have ever acknowledged the abuse. Big fat no. She went on to say that not acknowledging those real feelings basically planted a "monster" inside of me (LOL, I told you she works with kids a lot, but this analogy really helped me to understand) that lived off of that expectation that I'd never pay attention to the real feelings and keep feeding it lies. The longer I neglected the real feelings and continued to feed it lie after lie, the bigger that monster came and the more it took over my life. And right now it's gotten to a point that I've built up so many walls to keep that monster in but it's gotten so big with all these lies that it is just consuming my mind (which is true). I feel like the abuse is the source of all of my issues and the sole reason for all of my problems. I've always felt like that and never understood why it seemed no one else (A mainly) felt that way, too.

We talked a bit more about why I chose to ignore what I was feeling and "feed the monster". My family was far from supportive. We were a put-on-a-happy-face type of family. Never let anyone see anything is wrong. So knowing that it wasn't OK to ever talk about things, I stuffed my feelings. And even now I am continuing to do that because I'm afraid of what acknowledging those feelings will do to my (already rocky) relationships with my family. What happens if I start processing things and it changes how I interact with my mom, or my sister, or my dad? I can't be the one who changes the dynamic. Don't rock the boat.

V had this smirk on her face when I was talking about all of this and I couldn't help but laugh. I've noticed she gets this look on her face when she has something pop into her head that she wants to tell me.

"You want to know what I thought of when you were telling me all of that?" she asks.

*laugh* "That's what I'm paying you for!"

*laugh*"That is a classic underlying theme for a child of an addict. Don't rock the boat. You're messing with our system. And even though your abuse rocked your world at 13 years old, I think that the fact that your foundation was laid with the unhealthy messages of a family of addicts set you up not only to be taken advantage of by your abuser, but to also not be able to cope with it. In my opinion, that has affected you more long term than you can even begin to understand. And it's my hope that we can begin to process and work through some of that."

The last few minutes of our session she pulled out her laptop and showed me a powerpoint that she uses when she leads trainings on these topics. She went through the slides that focused on the common feelings/rules/thoughts/beliefs of children of addicts. I said yes to about every one of them and was shocked.

I think V could even tell I was shocked. She looked at me and said, "Sweetie. You are a child of an addict. It is as clear to me as anything could ever be. Some people like the label, it gives it more of a realness. Others hate the label, they don't want anything to do with being seen as "this" or "that". How do you feel?"

In all honesty, I told her it scares me. I don't like feeling like I have this label of a child of an addict because it sounds so horrible. And in that awfulness it could make me think of my dad in a bad way. I don't want to think of him as bad. I love him. I've worked really hard to accept him for who he is, and throwing this into my mix is not something I planned.

Something she told me as we were closing up tonight I don't think I'll ever forget. She said "You don't have to think anything bad about him. You don't have to hate him. Hate the addiction."

The Reflection Doesn't Match

V works with a lot with children. Her office is covered with pictures, toys and games. At first I was a little worried about working with her as an adult because I wasn't sure how much she'd be able to help me (definitely not worried about that now!). As we get deeper into things, I'm finding out that the little girl inside of me that stopped growing and maturing as a result of the abuse is about to claw her way out.

On Saturday, V took me to a separate room that was wall to wall figurines. Little plastic ones that you get in doll houses, kids meals, cereal boxes, etc. There had to be at least 5,000 things to choose from. And then there was a sand tray. A place for you to arrange the ones you chose, forming a snapshot of something. I had heard of this form of play therapy before, but wasn't expecting to ever participate. When she told me what she wanted me to do I was immediately nervous. The adult side of me was off to the races in making sure I didn't set up any snapshot that I wasn't ready to talk about. I was 5 steps ahead at all times, not really following my intuition or instincts. Knowing that I couldn't possibly plan for all the interpretations she could come up with made me so scared. What if she saw something that I didn't think could be interpreted that way? For the most part her interpretation was exactly what I set it up to produce, but there were a few things that she noticed that were eye opening for me, if not even a little hard to hear. I left feeling like I had opened a door to something, but there was nothing there. At least, nothing visible.

The rest of my weekend was super busy (thankfully) and I didn't actually get to stop and have any time to myself til Sunday night. I was washing my face getting ready to go to bed and I looked up at myself in the mirror. Ugh. My first thought "Why do you look so old?" (I just turned 27, so believe me, I'm not). So I messed with my hair and tried to remove my eye make-up that I thought was contributing to the dark circles under my eyes. No luck. I took my wrinkle cream (yes, you read that right) and made sure to saturate my crows feet and laugh lines, not forgetting to get my chin, lest it sag down one day and make me a turkey neck. I am TERRIFIED of getting older. I am confused why I look so different than what I feel. I feel like when I look in the mirror I should see a younger version of myself looking back at me. My reflection doesn't match. And it wasn't until last night that I even made the connection.

That little girl inside of me, the one who quit growing at age 13, is starting to take over the adult side of me. Little by little she has gained ground. Enough ground to make it very hard not to acknowledge she's there or what she's trying to tell me, but not enough to take over. I still have the upper hand. I'm fighting it tooth and nail, but I can feel that I'm losing the fight. Over the past few months I have felt so much like I am just playing "dress up." That I literally am a 13 year old masquerading as an adult, doing and saying adult things but feeling as small and confused as a teenager. Wanting the things I never had as a kid; the freedom from responsibility, the naivete of any sexual immorality, the ability to live in the moment. Things that realistically I can't have, but WANT. God, this little girl wants this so bad.

Even V picked up on how much I squash that girl (based on some things from the sand tray) and decided that she needs to cater to that side of me today and help me learn how to do this as well. She went to Hobby Lobby and picked up all sorts of crafty stuff for me to create a box. On the outside I am decorating it so that it portrays the "adult me". What I let people see, my facade. On the inside will be the "little girl me". The one that no one ever sees. The one I never acknowledge. The one who has been stuck for the past 13 years.

I shared some journal writing with V tonight about my realization that I'm expecting a different reflection in the mirror and it's connection to that little girl inside of me. She was so respectful of my thoughts and has really given me the comfort to know that I can share just about anything with her without fear of judgement. I'm still a little worried about being left again, but I don't know if that will ever fully disappear.


This is probably going to be extremely disjointed, so I apologize in advance.

I have had a week unlike many others. I had a panic attack in session with V on Saturday, which was completely hideous and vulnerable for me. When I saw her again Monday, she jumped right into some things that I wasn't prepared for. Things I have NEVER talked about, not even with A. Things I rarely even allow myself to think. I answered some of her questions, but she could tell it was too much for me and changed our path. I wasn't planning on seeing her again until Wednesday, but while I was at work Tuesday I had a panic attack come out of the blue in the middle of class. No warning. It lasted for a very long time so I called her and she talked to me for almost 20 minutes and asked me to come in that evening to see her again. I did, and she helped me process some of the things that might have attributed to that attack. She let me stay for an hour and didn't even charge me. I saw her last night and was feeling much better. Our session focused on "easier" things she needs to know, about my family history, family dynamics, etc. I was feeling great about going until Saturday without seeing her again. For the first time in a very long time I felt calm enough to actually sit down and watch some TV. I caught up on the Biggest Loser and started watching the new L&O:SVU for this week.

Bad idea.

That episode triggered more in me than I ever thought possible. I have NEVER had the feeling like I did last night. I completely dissociated. I remember sitting on my couch, hearing the words, understanding their meaning all too well, but not being able to see anything. Just darkness. My mind shielding me from the images that I so often see? Who knows.

I e-mailed V (who is freaking awesome with e-mails, she e-mails me to check up on how my days are going!) and explained to her what happened. She sent me the most wonderful series of responses, reiterating what I need to hear. She understands how hard this is for me and that she cares about me. I can't push her away with what we talk about. She's not there to hurt me, only help me.

I'm still afraid. Afraid that this situation is too good to be true, that I'm going to do something to mess it up, push her away, make her can't stand to look at me, etc. What would I do then?

You Passed The Test

I was not having a good night last night. I was dwelling with the rocks, the deepest of the deep. I wasn't suicidal, I just felt this overwhelming cloud of hopelessness. I took a chance and e-mailed V. Testing her commitment.

Me: I'm not even sure where to start... Panic attacks have a way of throwing me into a funk that is hard to pull myself out of. When I have multiple attacks per day of a multiple day period, it starts messing with my mind.

I don't feel safe. I have done nothing but sleep and kept myself locked in the bathroom since I got home from your office. I'm starting to feel like I did a few years ago; not sure how I'm going to get through my responsibilities of life and take on the level of commitment I need to actually heal. Something I thought I was doing over the last 2 years, but it's obvious to me that I never let myself fully invest in it. Right now I feel like I'm living for 2 hours a week of safety. 2 hours out of 168 a week is a crappy percentage. I'm already worried about going out of town next weekend. I know I won't enjoy it. The only thing I can focus on is that Wednesday to Monday is a long time to go without feeling safe.

I cut last night and for the first time ever, it didn't help. It scared me to think that I might have to "up my game" to get the results I was getting before. It scares me to think my back-up plan might be falling apart. How am I supposed to cope now?!

V: First of all, thanks for letting me know this. This is all very hard. I am here for you. Please don't give up on yourself. Your unhealthy side is feeling a bit of loss of control because your healthy side is wanting to come out. There is a battle going on inside you. Please call me if you need ANYTHING, even if it's the middle of the night. You deserve a great life. You are worth it!! If for ANY reason you are feeling unsafe and might need more support, it is OK to call me for help. If not me, it's OK to call 911, too. Let me know if I can do anything. Think positive.

Me: Well, I'll go ahead and tell you I will never call 911 for this. I don't need people thinking I'm crazy. If things get bad enough, I'll call you, but I'm not going to disturb you in the middle of the night. You have your own life and family to attend to, you shouldn't have to be on-call for me.

I just don't feel good at all. Like down to my core, I feel completely beaten down and unfixable.

V: Got it about 911, but I'd still prefer you call me if you need me. That's my job. It isn't special treatment or pity, I care about you and want to help. You just have to let me. I am so sorry you are having a hard time. You are fixable and have so many great things about you.

Is Michael Buble playing?? (We had talked earlier that day about how much I am in love with him) Where is that cutie when you really need him?! If you don't start listening to him, I am going to call you and sing it myself!!!

Me: LOL, Well played. You made me smile, even chuckle a bit. Michael is not on right now, but my DVR is being dusted off. I'm only about a month behind on my shows. I probably won't be sleeping tonight, so I figured I'd make a dent.

I'm not used to letting anyone do anything for me. It's against everything that seems natural to me. It floors me that you would even offer to have me call you in the middle of the night. Still something that I can't ever imagine I would do, even knowing it's OK with you. What happens if I push you away too? Then I'll have no one to help me, at any time of the day.

V: Keep pushing, I am still not going anywhere. I am not here to hurt you, only to help! I am VERY stubborn, for real, like I have developed this quality into an art form. Enjoy your DVR time. I personally love The Real Housewives and the Kardashians! I am here if you need me. Seriously.

I can't tell you how much this sequence of communication made me feel better last night. Something so simple as responding to an e-mail calmed my nerves and my fears and made me more level-headed. I feel so unbelievably lucky to have found someone that can do that for me only after one week.

Life Is Just Another 4-Letter Word

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever enjoy life.

It seems as if my life is nothing but impossible task after task, never getting time to stop and smell the flowers. Or even be happy.

I had a panic attack in session with V today. Freaking fantastic.

I know finding her was God's will. She is an amazing person. I have felt so supported and respected in the last week (today being exactly 1 week since my first session with her) than I can ever remember feeling with anyone. I truly believe her when she says she cares about me and helping me get better.

I feel safe when I'm with her, even if it is resulting in panic attacks.

Only problem is I am only seeing her 2 hours a week. 2 hours out of 168. The other 166 hours of the week, I'm praying for time to pass. Praying that it gets here fast so I can feel safe.

I am seriously considering taking time off of work and entering IOP.

I cut last night and for the first time, it didn't make me feel better. And for an instant I wondered just how much I was going to have to "up my game" to keep getting the results I wanted.

Life isn't supposed to be like this.

In Limbo

Loved the game as a kid.

Hate it (metaphorically) in my life right now.

I feel so out of control, trying to adjust to so many changes in an area of my life where I want the most control I can have. I'm fine when I'm in V's office, talking with her is easy and she has some amazing insights that have helped me validate my own feelings more so than I ever had before. But when I leave, I feel disconnected. Like I have no home, no safe place, and it is causing me to be triggered at the drop of a hat it seems. I had two panic attacks Wednesday night (after coming home from an intense session with V) then had to ward one off Thursday night. Last night I went out with a friend from church and found out that she and the other girls I hang out with had all been invited to go out of town together next weekend to our college homecoming, but not me. I came home and had all sorts of things racing in my head. It shouldn't have even mattered, I already have tickets and plans to go with other friends, but it's the principle of the situation. They didn't even ask. I kept telling myself, maybe they didn't ask because I had already said I was going, but I can't remember if I did or not. I kept trying to tell myself I can't control what others do or think about me, that I am who I am and I shouldn't have to do anything special to be included. But it doesn't work. The same thing happened about a month ago (which was what triggered my relapse in cutting and the ultimate demise of treatment with A). They all went to the state fair one Saturday, posting on Facebook about the same time about how excited they were to go, and I was at home. No one even asked if I wanted to go, too.

It's stupid. I feel like I'm 12 years old. No one is inviting me to play. Poor me. But I'm finding that I have some serious abandonment issues and as much as I like keeping people at an arms length, I need to know I'm wanted.

And I'm just not getting that.