She’s back! We are back! Woohooo!
My first session back was so great. I mean I came out in floods of tears at the end… but you can’t have everything hahaha.
Seriously though, it got a bit serious at the end which obviously isn’t so great feeling, but it was essential processing of the CSA dreams so it’s natural that that stuff is upsetting. Despite that, the session was so positive because I’d done so well over the break and it was so lovely seeing her again.
When I got to the door, she opened it with a big smile and she immediately gave me a hug! It was such a lovely hello and a surprise as it isn’t often she does that.
Once settled in her office she asked how I’d been and I told her how well I’d done, that time hasn’t slowed down to snail’s pace, so the 12 days passed easily.
Sienna got up and went over to her desk, she said I brought something back for the little ones and she gave me a red box. Inside it was a little snow globe with a scene of where she’d been. It was so lovely.
We’d talked weeks ago about her bringing back something from her holidays, a sort of object relations things to help the young parts remember that Sienna doesn’t forget about us when she goes away. And she had suggested a snow globe. I’d told how in my 20’s I went through a phase of collecting them; the bigger ones with a music box. But the subject never really came back up and I just assumed it was one of those ideas that was tossed out there but never took off.
In our last session, she’d brought me a shell she’d once collected from a beach somewhere. I think it was meant as a transitional object, something of hers to give me comfort. I liked it at the time because she’d thought of me and was really trying to help me feel okay about the break. But over the break, I never really bothered with it. The trouble was that it wasn’t personal enough. I didn’t associate her with that shell so how could it comfort me? I did look at it and hold it at the beginning of the break, because even though it wouldn’t comfort me or make me feel close to her, the memory that she’d thought of me and wanted me to be comforted by the shell was still appreciated.
I think I’d have been more comforted with a scarf or a cardigan or something she’d found or bought or even wrote that was meaningful to us. I don’t know. I don’t know if any object is really all that comforting to me.
However, this snow globe, this is something special to me, because she thought about me on holiday and as it turns out snow globe souvenirs went out with the 90’s so she really had to search for one! LOL and the fact that she made that effort on her holiday, that she thought of me on her break, makes it really special and heart-felt. And now, when I look at it, I will remember that I am real to her. She remembers me, even when she is on holiday.
I know she still has the little silver owl charm I gave her before the April break. She keeps it in her wallet and it makes me smile that she wants to keep it there and that she remembers me when she sees it. That’s lovely isn’t it?
I know it might seem strange; a grown adult needing objects from another adult, for comfort. I know lots of people reading this blog understand it though.
For the longest time, I thought I just disappeared to people. That unless I was standing in front of them, then they forgot about me. That I wasn’t important enough to think about or that I was something unpleasant to have to think about. So when therapists wrnt away on holiday, I felt like I disappeared. Like I just didn’t exist anymore. And similarly, they disappeared to me too. I didn’t forget about them, of course not! In fact I was fixated on them, thinking about them all the time, wondering what they’re doing, worrying if they’ll come back, scared that they are dead. I literally couldn’t hold them in my mind. They didn’t seem real anymore if I wasn’t in regular contact with them. I remembered them but that was because they were special, elevated people but I didn’t feel worth remembering.
And even though I’m a bit better now at knowing that Sienna does think of me often, even on holidays, it still comes as this big beautiful surprise to hear it or see evidence of it. It feels really special and magical even that this person whom I hold in such high regard, who is so very important to me, thinks of me too.
I spent a lot of the session chattering away about all the things that had been happening. Sienna said she thought I was looking really well and bright. She was pleased how well I’d done.
I told Sienna about some of the challenges of last week that I’d successfully navigated and the discoveries I’d made about my family members (just family dynamics stuff) and I spoke about how I felt unseen by my brother and mother last week. I said that it just made me really sad to feel so unseen and unheard too!
And that brought me last Friday, the morning of the two CSA dreams. I hadn’t intended to get into the details of it or even talk about it other than to say they’d occurred and that that was the only morning out of the whole 12 days that I’d been really tempted to get in touch with her. And another element to telling her was that I’d tried to tell my husband about the theme of the dream without being too graphic or detailed and he made a sort of flippant comment which seemed to indicate that he didn’t want to talk about it. And that made me feel unseen and unheard for a THIRD time in the same week and it made me feel very alone. Without Sienna there, I literally had no one to tell, no one to process it with and I suddenly felt so alone with it all.
At the time it made me sad that I have such a small support network in real life. Sienna and my husband are the only ones I can really trust, especially with things like trauma and abuse stuff. And even my husband was looking like he might not want to hear about the CSA stuff. And that just leaves Sienna. And I am aware that she isn’t always going to be available and I feel like I don’t want to just rely on her alone. Well… I do want to rely on just her, it’s only her I want during those times of distress but I know that isn’t realistic. I know that there will be times she just can’t be there for me, like when she’s on holiday or something.
I think what made me start crying was that I heard a young voice speak when I said to Sienna “ I had no one to tell.” I was referring to Last Friday but with that young voice I heard how poignant that statement was. That the child felt like there was no one to tell. The child was saying “ I had no one to tell.” The adult was saying that she had no one to tell this week and the child back then didn’t have anyone to tell and suddenly it felt like the present was echoing the past.
Sienna explained about some of the reactions people have to hearing about child abuse and why they might move away from hearing it. And it makes sense. But it doesn’t make it any easier for the person working through this stuff when they just need another human being to lean on. It leaves the abuse firmly with the victim, it perpetuates the shame and secrecy and leaves the victim with all the responsibility. And people don’t do that to abuse victims/survivors on purpose, it’s more about not understanding or not knowing what’s being asked of them, I understand that. But nonetheless, it’s lonely.
******* Trigger Warning, some fairly graphic detail of child abuse ahead************
I said to Sienna through tears “ I don’t know who to tell, I don’t have anyone to trust with it. But when it happens (the CSA dreams and the body memories) and I want to be able to say and get support for that and…. It’s horrible…..”
Sienna nodded. She said softly “ And do you want to talk about it just now?
I hesitated. Yes. No. I didn’t know. Yes, I did but I didn’t know if I’d find the words. I can’t say the words of the dreams.
Sienna asked “ Do you know who it was? Who was in the dream?”
I nodded and told her “ yes I know who it was, but in the dreams it’s all different people, so I don’t think it’s relevant who it is because it’s not accurate memories. Sometimes it’s not people I know and sometimes it’s not even me in the dream and I’m just watching it, like a movie but I’m experiencing it as I’m watching it, so I feel what the child feels. Or sometimes it’s me it’s happening to.”
Sienna said “ Is it the same theme all the time or is what’s happening in the dream always the same or does that change in the dreams over time?”
I explained to her “ This one was different… is was more…. Like what was happening was different.”
I stumbled my words trying to explain in a way where I didn’t have to use the explicit words I was trying so hard to avoid. This most recent dream was different because it featured… ugh, I’m struggling to even write this down knowing it will be read by others.
Okay, be brave Sirena.
Okay……. It featured anal penetration. (Arghhhhh this is cringe.) And that is new.
I can’t say those words to Sienna. So I say “ I don’t remember all the other dreams right now but this one was different. And the dreams are getting clearer now and I’m in them more now, whereas before it used to be just really bad things happening to a child… not me, it was happening to other people.”
Sienna explained that that’s normal for this process, that as my brain tries to make sense of things, especially through dreams that things begin to become clearer, even if they are metaphorical.
I nodded. “ They’re starting to involve people I know now rather than just unknown characters and they involve houses that I’ve been in, now.”
I explained to Sienna how I get these dreams so often now that sometimes I wake up totally numbed from them. Completely dissociated from the horror of them, and they bother me but I just ignore them. But sometimes I wake up not dissociated or less of a numb dissociation and more of deeply dissociated and still feel the terror or the body memory and those are the ones I usually reach out to her about.
I said to her “ Those ones where I wake up deeply dissociated and still feeling the dream as if it’s still happening are the hardest to deal with.”
Sienna nodded “ I’m not surprised.”
I said “ And there’s nobody to tell, there’s nobody to…… and it’s hard to find the words anyway. And I don’t want to tell people that stuff because it’s horrible and I don’t want people to look at me and know that that’s in my head.” My voice waivers with emotion and shame.
Sienna asked “ When you have the body memories, is it usually vaginal based?”
Oh-My-Fucking-God, she used the V word. I cannot deal with this!
I try to act normal.
“ ermmm…. Not this time but sometimes.” How could I tell her that this time it was NOT vaginal based but the other place? Sometimes it’s like speaking in code and I’m never sure if she gets what I am getting at.
I thought about how to describe it. “ Sometimes I get pains, inside.. like quite far down. Kind of like when you get cramps?”
Sienna validated how normal that was for CSA survivors to experience those types of body memories.
Sienna asked how long the body memories took to stop usually. I told her that it depends on the dream, it depends how dissociated I’ve been coming out of the dream.
I’ve had some body memories last all day.
I let out an involuntary sob. I was feeling very sorry for myself in that moment. Feeling the full horror of all of this. The full weight of what it means.
Sienna came over to my sofa and put her arm around me. I kept my head down, tears constantly spilling over.
“ I don’t have anyone to tell.” I don’t know at that point if that was the child speaking or the adult who’d turned up to the session. It felt like I was voicing both of them.
I felt defeated. I sighed. I felt grief.
Sienna talked to me about all of this still being early days, that I’m still trying or just starting to find the words to put to the dreams and all the feelings that go with it and how huge a step that is for me. And that one day I might feel like I can tell someone else about it.
As she talked to me, I listened to her and I was so glad that she’d came over to sit with me and it was comforting to have her arm around me. I felt this huge pull to just cuddle into her just like I do when the young parts come out. But it felt less easy to do because there was still a lot of adult me present and I didn’t know if it was okay to do.
When I usually cuddle into her, lying my head on her chest, I’m usually very regressed and dissociated and it’s just a natural thing to do. And normally she’ll sort of pull me in. But this time, with more of the adult present, maybe she felt that adult presence too and that’s why she just put one arm around my shoulder and one of her hands on my forearm.
But eventually, I just let myself move in for a proper cuddle. It felt a bit inauthentic or “clunky”… I’m not sure the word… it’s just that I didn’t move into it so easily as I do when I’m in child mode. It’s like, I really want the comfort of a proper cuddle, yet as an adult I didn’t know how to do it or I wasn’t sure of myself, wasn’t sure it’s okay, yet knew it would be okay… ugh!
But yeah I just folded in for a proper cuddle and Sienna obliged by putting both arms around me and smoothed my hair intermittently.
I cried. A lot.
I told Sienna that I felt scared to speak to my husband about the abuse, I felt guilty for potentially putting those images in his head, of making him hear the most horrible things I dream. It doesn’t seem fair. And I felt guilty and ashamed to tell her, for the same reason. I asked her tearfully
“ but how do you hear it? How can you hear those things?”
Sienna explained what her process was, how she was able to hear the worst things and hold it for both her and the client.
I told her my worries that sometimes I can’t put the words to the images. That I have the words, I know the words to describe what’s happening but I can’t say them. And I am scared if I do say them that that’s all she’ll see when she looks at me. I told her
“ It’s like having a veil of dirt over you. And that’s what people will see first. (if they know)”
I feel like if people knew, then every-time they looked at me they’d see the child who’d had sex. They’d see the shame and the dirt that clings to me.
Sienna challenged that gently. She said she didn’t think that was necessarily true but she understands why I think that.
I told her more details of my dream. Crying and angry.
Eventually Sienna went back over to her own seat as we spoke more about some deep family secrets and other things to do with CSA and how it connected.
The session was ending soon and I was trying to bring myself to a place where the emotions weren’t so raw.
I looked at Sienna and said “ I feel heartbroken right now.” I broke down.
Sienna said “ no wonder! No wonder you’re feeling heartbroken right now. When that happens to a child it robs them of so much. It’s a loss. It takes a part of their soul, part of their being.”
I said “ It’s funny, as a child you don’t feel it that way, you don’t associate what’s happened as losing something or taking part of your soul. You don’t think of it like that. It’s not until you’re older and you understand and maybe it’s the meaning that you make of it that makes it worse.”
Sienna spoke about how the trauma of it comes later when you’re old enough to realise what happened wasn’t right or “normal” but then the confusion comes in because the perpetrator was nice or funny or gave you gifts etc and so it must be yourself to blame, that you went along with it, so what does that mean?? Etc
I told Sienna “ I’m not even there yet, because I don’t have the concrete memories of it. I have the knowledge of it but not the concrete memories if that makes sense.”
For me it’s a knowing it happened, I know how it felt, I know the routine of it… I just know, but I don’t know how I know because I don’t have solid memories that tell me the who, the where or the when.
Writing this now, I have no idea why I spoke so candidly about it to Sienna. I’ve never been so open about this stuff. Never spoken with admittance that I believe myself, that I believe it happened. I don’t know why I did on Monday.
But I already know I’ll go back to not believing it possible. I know I’ll go back to denying it and thinking I’m a liar.
I said to Sienna with angry tears. “ Do you know the worst thing about it all, for me? It’s not the fact he/they did it, it’s the amount of doubt in my own self and my own experience that I’ve been left with. It’s not what they did to me but how I’ve been left with it. How I’ve been left doubting my own self for decades. I’ve spent decades knowing something happened or at least feeling like it might have but have convinced myself I’m a liar, a fucking idiot, a psychopath, and attention-seeker for even thinking these thing!”
I broke down.
“ I am so angry. That’s the worst part… just remembering it and only having bits and pieces come back at a time and dreams of it hinting at what might have happened. Tormenting me.”
Sienna said softly “ I know.”
I felt murderous rage in my gut. I felt so angry at whoever did this.
I said to her “ I don’t know what I’m going to do with the anger. I can feel it already, I don’t know what I’ll do with it when it really gets here.”
Sienna said “ It’s part of the process and we’ll learn to let you deal with it in a healthy way. It’s part of the process and you can’t avoid it, you need to go through it.”
I said “ I want to fucking kill someone!”
Sienna said “ Yep, I’m not surprised. We’ll work through it.” She added jokingly “ go kill a teddy or something.”
I burst out laughing. “ No!! It’s not the teddy’s fault.”
We began to wind up the session and Sienna said “ You’re doing okay, Kid and I’m glad you’ve had a good week.”
I’ve never heard her call me kid before it was cute. ( Also… I’m not really a kid anymore but still, nice to hear it.)
I laughed, mopping my tears up. “ I did have a good week, despite all I’ve just cried about.”
Sienna said “ and it’s a sign of how strong you’re getting.”
I laughed and said “ I’m going to be an awesome human being at the end of all this!”
Sienna exclaimed “ You ARE, you’re already an awesome human being anyway.” I laughed.
As I got up to leave, Sienna came by my side and gave me a long hug and said “ You are going to be okay. You are SO special and important.”
I said to her “ thank you. I love you lots, and I’m glad your home.”
I felt so warmed by her hugs at the beginning and end of session. Both are quite rare so it was lovely to get.
And even though there was a very heavy element at the end of the session, I came away feeling happy and contended and cared for and just so glad Sienna is back.