I texted Nikki today: a short, simple message to let her know that the surgery on Monday had been cancelled, and that I’d been back to the burns clinic tonight and the surgeon has put me on the emergency list for Monday.
I thought for a long time about how to sign off.
“Just thought you should know?” Yeah, and if she sent back a simple “Thanks for keeping me updated“, I’d lose my shit and probably decide to quit therapy forever. Not a good idea.
“Feeling pretty shit?” No, not helpful, we’re not doing therapy over text and the chances of getting a response I’d like are a whole lot lower than the chances of getting a response that will make me want to kill her and then set fire to her grave.
“Wondering if we can talk today?” No, because I’m sure she would make time to call me (even though it’s her day off and she has a toddler), but I don’t actually have anything I want to say to her. I wish I did – that would be easier, somehow – but I don’t.
So, why was I contacting her at all, then? I think what I wanted was really just to implicitly acknowledge her as a person who is in my life enough that she probably wants to be in the loop about the operation being postponed, and to try to shift some of the aversion a little bit before I see her again next week, by connecting rather than keeping myself distant, in a punishing way. I decided to go with “Wanted to let you know what’s happening“.
She replied within 5 minutes, with a nice message: “Ah Rea! More waiting. So sorry to hear that. Was thinking of you. I hope you’re doing okay! Let me know if you need anything!”
I felt an initial sting of “She’s ending the conversation, she doesn’t want to talk to me,” but it passed quickly. And I was just confused. What does that mean?
I need a lot of things right now. I need a hug, the long kind where you get to curl up and bury your face in their neck and maybe cry a little.
I need $60 to take a taxi home from the hospital, because the friend who’s springing me from the hospital can’t drive and she won’t let me take public transport.
I need somebody to come be with me in the hospital until I get my laptop back, and I need somebody to be there when I wake in a puddle of my own blood at 2am and I can’t walk the four steps to the bathroom to re-bandage myself.
I need somebody to talk to my boss, because the surgeon told me I have to take two weeks off work but I don’t want anybody to get suspicious so I’m only planning to take one day.
I need somebody to look at the burn with me, and compassionately help me to believe that it is bad, because I’ve hurt myself so many times that I can’t see it anymore, and so needing surgery just makes no sense to me.
I need a lot of things, and she can’t offer me any of them. She can offer me a session, or she can offer me a phone call, but that’s pretty much all she does. She’s my therapist. And so I don’t understand what she means. Is it just an olive branch, meaningless except to demonstrate care?
I felt sad, thinking about it. Not over the therapeutic relationship being limited, or anything like that. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s this kind of hopelessness of feeling like there’s nothing anybody can offer that will make me feel better. That I’m alone not because I don’t have people who would be willing to be there, but because there’s something wrong with me; I think about telling my “Jewish mamas” about what’s happening, and their distressed and protective reactions, and I feel sick to my stomach, and like I want to hurt myself. I want to isolate and tell nobody and lick my wounds by myself, even though I feel sad about being alone. (Not literally lick; I’m not that flexible.)
Something in me is just broken. Other people feel comfort from connecting, but I don’t. Talking doesn’t help me.
I look back at what I’ve just written, and I’m being so fatalistic. I wouldn’t still be spending $200 a week on therapy if I was really so convinced I’m irredeemably fucked. I’d probably be lying in a bathtub full of m&ms with razor blades waiting once I ate my way to the bottom.
I need to really figure out why this operation, and the last one, are such a big deal to me. I’m so angry at Nikki for not understanding how much it matters, but at the end of the day, I don’t know why it matters so much. And when I try to think about it, I get this clench of white-hot anger in my chest, the sensation of being shoved back, hard, and a child’s voice saying “Of course it matters!“. A big part of me believes that thinking about or explaining something is the same as denying that it’s important, because if you really believed that it was important then you wouldn’t need to think about why, would you?
I don’t know if I even make sense any more.
I put my phone aside for a few hours, because I couldn’t figure out what to say to Nikki. Eventually I realised that that was probably exactly what I should tell her: “Wish there was something you could do to help but nothing comes to mind!”
She replied in under 5 minutes again, offering me a session tomorrow if I wanted, and telling me to take care of myself over the weekend if not. (Ouch – take care of myself? Aren’t you going to come over and take care of me?)
I let her know that I couldn’t come in (a 6 hour Board meeting followed by a management meeting), but I think that if I didn’t have a completely full day, I would have considered it. So, I guess the six-text conversation was a success.
(Why don’t I feel better?)