There are moments that you wait for all of your life. You imagine it. You dream about it. You plan for it. And then it happens. All of your plans and thoughts dissolve away and you realize that you are frozen. You have no idea what it means or what to do. It feels big and important. It brought you peace and scared you at the same time. There is a part of you that isn’t sure you heard right. There is a part of you that isn’t sure that it’s true. There is a voice that whispers in your ear. It tells you to be careful. It reminds you that it is dangerous to trust people. It tells you to put your guard up in a place that you had started to take it down. It begs you to question everything that you have ever believed.
They were just words. Anybody could have said them, but nobody ever did. That is, until you did. And when you said them my yetzer tov jumped up and down and yelled “Finally, finally somebody said it!” But my yetzer hora stamped his little foot and laughed. He found a tiny little hole and poured a big bag of doubt in to it. He spoke quietly and said “She only said it because she knew you wanted her to. It wasn’t real. Be careful. This could hurt you in the end.”
I’ve spent a life time talking myself out of the truth. Not allowing myself to accept things I knew deep down were real. I am the master of rewriting stories. I can spin a story until it sounds exactly the way I want it to. I can explain away any detail that does not fit. I can shut off my feelings and emotions and pretend that they don’t matter. I can hold my back straight and put one foot in front of the other and you will never know that I am in pain. I can smile and laugh joke around and no one would ever guess that I am afraid of anything at all.
I spent my entire childhood searching and looking for someone to ask all of my questions to. I desperately wanted to confide my secrets to somebody. I looked in to the eyes of the adults around me and wondered what would happen if I told. How did I know I could trust them? Was I willing to risk losing them? How would they feel about me if I told them? But the scariest thoughts of all were what if they could not tell me what I wanted to hear? What if they would say that I was overreacting? What if they did not believe me?
That fear kept me silent. I would never tell. I was so afraid. I prayed someone would ask me so that I would know that they even noticed. No one ever did. I wanted to tell. I wanted to ask. I wanted to be told that I was ok. I wanted someone to tell me that I wasn’t bad, or dirty or evil. I wanted someone to see me and not just what he had done to me.
One time I tried to tell and all of my fears came true. They called me a liar. They said I exaggerated. I lost the only life I had ever known. I was alone and afraid. I promised myself I would never tell again. I had seen the damage it could cause. I swallowed it down and tasted the bile. I walked away and decided to never think about it again. I was ashamed and I knew that talking about it would destroy any chance I had at a future. I held to that. For over 30 years it all stayed buried deep down inside of me. It would have stayed there forever if not for you.
You made me want to be better. You made me want to get better. It hurt so much to tell you my story. Every detail shamed me and made me worry that you would find me gross and disgusting. Each week I gave up bits and pieces of myself and feared that you would one day say it was too much and just walk away.
You kept asking me if I trusted you and I could not even look you in the eye. How could I trust you? How could I not? You hold the key to my recovery, and I so want to recover. If I wanted this to work I had to let myself trust you. You will never be able to understand how hard that decision was for me. Would you be surprised to know that I still question it? Any time I think I may have insulted you or hurt you or overwhelmed you, I berate myself. I doubt myself. I wonder if I made a mistake. I keep waiting for you to give up on me or get bored or to just walk away. I keep wondering why you don’t.
In all this time, in the past two years I have spent in your office, there has always been wonder. I wondered if you believed me. You never said, so I never knew. Each week I work so hard to keep myself together and I feel foolish when I can’t get the words out that I want to say. Each week I tell my story over yet again, adding more details but repeating so much. You ask questions, you comment, but you rarely give an opinion. The one question I have always wanted to ask went unspoken because I was so afraid of your answer.
So when you said that you believed me it filled me with so many mixed emotions. I couldn’t help but ask if you really meant it, but not because I doubted you, it was because I had given up hope of ever hearing anyone say it. It doesn’t feel real. I need to know it wasn’t forced or coerced, or just said because as my therapist you thought I needed to hear it. Those words are so important to me. They scare me and they excite me. They hold a promise of healing and learning to let go and move on.
They were just words. Anybody could have said them, but no one ever did.