So we finally saw M face to face, it was fantastic to be there again, odd initially – I didn’t recognise the receptionist but she didn’t seem to recognise me either so I think she must have been new, but the funny thing about DID is I can’t be sure.
I was half worried I wouldn’t recognise M either or that I’d not be able to hold onto the front as I sat in the waiting room among the other patients, waiting rooms trigger me and I find I have to actively force myself to stay present.
I had a brief but deeply triggering moment just by noticing a teenager on a chair in the corner doing her best to dissolve her tiny frame into an oversized cardigan, head down, pretending to be invisible. I caught her absentmindedly wrist checking and had a pang of anxiety ricochet through my body as my anorexia radar went off and I had to fight a surge from Bel for a moment just not to fall down the comparison rabbit hole. She wasn’t stealing this session from me, this was mine, I needed this and I won – I’m stronger than her, and she knows it.
So much has happened since the last time we had been there, externally and internally. The operations, the chemo, our dad dying, our eldest child moving out of the house another driving. The physical and mental toll of keeping everyone internally safe and where they need to be while it’s all been happening just do we don’t fall apart.
I’m trying so hard here, to be strong, to take care of us, particularly during some of these medical things that we are so terrified of, so triggered by but have to have done.
It used to make me angry, the fact that I was always the one who had to ‘take it for the team’ when shit got real. I cursed them when I somehow got lumped with the hardest things, but I’m learning to reframe it now. I’m strong enough to survive it. I’m proud of myself for this, for standing up and trying even when it feels impossible, when it is impossible for the others, I keep going anyway.
I now try to look at it as protecting not just the others, but Us as a whole. I do it because I am able to rather than looking at it as being forced to suffer because of their weaknesses.
M appeared around the corner smiling the most welcoming smile, she hugged me – I’m not a hugger but it felt so comforting coming from her.
It was all the same, her office I mean, the picture of the horse and the beach hung in there familiar locations and I knew it was going to be okay. We were going to be okay.
It’s the little things like that make us feel safe in that space, our space, a place where we get to share our truths, ourselves, our crazy – and still after 5 years nothing bad has happened, still it’s okay to be us, she still hasn’t changed her mind and decided she hates us or that we are too crazy or too hard or awful to be around. Here We are okay, We are safe and We can be real and learn how to be unafraid.
So much of my personal growth has been about reframing my mindset. I’m learning to forgive through self (and selves) acceptance while also understanding the reality that the lives those that have wronged us had also been hard. I know they say hurt people, hurt people – but as my beautiful friend L says, it’s an explanation not an excuse and I realise now that even in the instances when there wasn’t ill intent, I was still hurt and those realities can co exist without making my pain any less real or valid.
This path of acceptance doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s always been my mentality that it’s okay not to be okay, except for Me. I’m the exception to the rule and I need to be okay all the time or I’m a failure.
M repeatedly says things like “this isn’t your fault” and then my walls go up immediately as my brain tries to find reasons why she’s wrong and I could have been better, done better somehow, even as a very little kid.
If it was somehow my fault, then there’s something I can do better, something I can do differently to protect us in the future, something I can control.
If it’s NOT my fault then I have no control and how could I ever feel safe?
I’m consciously trying to acknowledge just how far I have come and how far We have come as a system. After we caught up on the goings on of my crazy life I told M that now I need to heal us, that the old traumas that haunt us need to be processed and soon because I want to die whole, connected to all parts of my self and they to me.
If my life is going to be cut short because of this cancer then I need to start the hard work as soon as possible. M agreed, she says she feels I’m ready now and so do I.