I am required to get a certain number of training hours outside of school each year to maintain my certificate. Most of them I get during the summer, but I normally don't knock them all out in the summer and have to take a Saturday to finish them all up. There wasn't a whole lot offered that really pertained to me, but I did see one that caught my eye titled "Addiction/Abuse". Of course it was to be centered on how to help students who are suffering or come from families who deal with that, but I thought it might be helpful.
Knowing that V has done trainings for my school district before, I figured she was leading this one too since it is right up her alley. I talked to her about it and sure enough, she was going to be the presenter for it. I asked her what she thought about me attending, and she said it would be totally fine. I did a little thinking about it before I signed up, but decided that since nothing else that was offered was really on target with what I needed professionally, that I could go see her presentation and learn things both professionally and personally.
We talked a little bit in my session Thursday about what to expect as far as how she would interact with me (basically she'd pretend she didn't know me, keep the eye contact at a minimum, etc) and an idea of what she'd be talking about to help prepare me for anything triggering. I left feeling a little nervous after hearing some of the things she was going to talk about, but knew it was because I heard it with my "therapy brain" and it would not be the same when I was hearing it with my "professional brain".
So Saturday I walked into the training and signed in, picked a spot to sit and immediately got so self conscious. I felt like I was hiding this huge secret and shouldn't be there. We went around and introduced ourselves and when she got to me, it was so strange knowing that we were both pretending not to know each other on purpose. She started her presentation and I was shocked to find that I was almost immediately withdrawing without even having anything triggering me. I struggled to focus on what she was talking about. I struggled even with looking up at the screen because it was too close to where she was standing.
I spent a lot of the presentation staring at the handouts, the ground, my table, my nails... anything to avoid making eye contact. I felt like I did for so long after I was abused. I couldn't look people in the eye for the longest time. It was like that simple act meant that everyone could see what had happened to me and what I thought. I haven't felt like that in a long time. Like I was hiding some secret that everyone could see on my face. And I was hiding a secret...
Not only that, but I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching V discuss all these things, many of which pertained to me and my life, with all these strangers. It felt like I was watching all these people learn about my deepest and darkest secrets thinking it was about random people, but I really knew it was about me. And hearing V speaking the words made it stir inside of me differently.
I never realized how much her voice is connected with feeling things for me. Any time I approach things that require me to feel anything, she's there supporting me, pushing me and talking to me. Her voice has become one of those things you don't even realize is so embedded in your brain. It's like how a smell triggers a certain memory, I found that her voice triggers certain feelings. It was all very overwhelming. I didn't really take much from the presentation because I had all of this swirling through my head.
V sent me an email today asking how I was after the presentation. She picked up on the fact that I was having a hard time and wanted to know if she could do anything to help. I basically told her what I wrote about here. I'll be interested to see what she says in response.