“Let Me Know If You Need Anything.”

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?)

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“Let Me Know If You Need Anything.”

22 thoughts on ““Let Me Know If You Need Anything.”

  1. So man thoughts – I’m sorry you’re hurting so much right now. I felt a pull to be that person you are needing and to be compassionate and tell you that it’s okay and we’ve got this – but I know my means of helping are limited.

    I have to admit at chuckling at the bathtub full of MnMs sentence though.

    Rea, you’re hurting and that’s okay. Meet yourself where you’re at. Trust that they wouldn’t tell you you need surgery if you didn’t. Reach out to trusted people despite wanting to isolate, if you can, or isolate if that feels better. Above all know that I am here.

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  2. Sirena says:

    Oh Rea, 😦

    I wish you would tell your jewish mamas. You need their care and attention. You need some wholesome mothering. And it came to me as I was reading your post that you’ll never get comfortable with asking for help by avoid doing it.
    I understand the pain of the therapy boundaries, and why when things are this dire, can’t she just come to your house and help you? But I bet she feels similar frustrations and she probably does want to see you and take care of you in that way. It’s just not allowed. 😦
    On a positive note, you are trying to reach out to your therapist, you are thinking about how to get your needs met and that is a really great step forward.

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    1. I am being stubborn and digging my heels in – Nikki thinks I should tell them, so I’m not going to. It’s very “you don’t get to tell me what to do”. I can’t really tell whether I’m asserting my boundaries or avoiding connection. Ergh. Sitting in the hospital bed in a butt gown waiting to go in for surgery…

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      1. Me?…you must be thinking of someone else. Ahem. Okay, probably not. I have an appointment with Nikki tomorrow, hopefully I can make it there and I can actually be honest about whatever’s going on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Parts of this blog made me laugh “getting a response that will make me want to kill her and then set fire to her grave.” But I really hear the lonliness too. It would be really good if you could reach out to people in your life, you shouldn’t have to go through this alone. Your Jewish mamas sound fab and they would want to help you.

    Im at the end of an email whenever you need a chat 🙂 sending hugs xx

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  4. Rea, dear Rea. Longing for something you can’t imagine actually getting, something you wish would come without having to ask for it, because after all, asking means the person can’t just see how obviously you need that loving care. And if they can’t obviously see it, that means you don’t really matter. I’m guessing, but that’s the way I think about myself and my pain, and it’s what I think I’m hearing in your words.

    If that resonates for you at all, maybe this will too: it’s hard to ask, but the truth is there are a lot of people who would like to help and don’t know how. They are afraid that just showing up might be too intrusive. But if you said, “can you come to the hospital with me” or “can you come sit with me part of this weekend,” there are people who would feel happy to show you their care that way. I have to tell myself this because it’s very difficult to ask.

    I so wish I could be with you through this. I think it’s a huge deal, very serious, and I’m very concerned. I want you to heal from this injury. I care about you.

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    1. I am fresh out of surgery, and much less groggy and in far less pain than last time. So those critical voices are popping up and scolding me for being so dramatic, for making such a scene about this when it’s obviously not a big deal at all. It is helpful to read and reread your message and try to convince myself that you don’t think it’s shameful and ridiculous to have been so anxious about it, so maybe it isn’t. All the same, I’m confused and wishing it was worse and glad it’s not and wondering if I should hurt myself again when I get home. Maybe I’ll feel better when I’m in my own bed.

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      1. It’s normal to be nervous about surgery. Doctors are messing with your body, and you are completely relinquishing control (also a difficult thing to do!!). I’m glad you are less groggy and not in a lot of pain right now. It might be more painful later, and if so, I hope you’ll be kind to yourself and take any medication and tend the wound the way you would for someone else. You don’t need to hurt yourself again. You can write about what’s aching inside, and I’ll care and be concerned and send you loving thoughts. No more pain. Let yourself rest from that a bit, please. You deserve to heal.

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  5. Oh, and I had an idea of something Nikki could do for you. She could snail mail you caring messages sometimes. I was very, very low yesterday, and I said that in a text to Elsbeth. Today in the mail, I got an envelope from her. I opened it and found a small card with a bird on it and the message, “I’m here for you.” Though she’s not literally here, it’s a loving, tender message, and I find it comforting.

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    1. Damn. I was absolutely convinced that I was right and that there was nothing she could possibly do, and then you prove me wrong. I never quite grew out of that little – child love of getting mail. I don’t think I am at the stage where I can ask Nikki yet, but I could ask my brother C. Thank you for the suggestion, Q. If I ever pluck up my courage enough to ask, then it will mean a lot to me.

      And I’m very happy to hear that you asked E, and she responded. It is so good to hear that she is able to bring you some comfort, though I wish you weren’t feeling so low. If I could, I’d send you a card too, a favourite one that I have framed, with a bunny cradling a bird on the front. (Not a cutesy cartoony one, a beautifully illustrated one.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rea, I bet you are in surgery at this very moment. So I am happy you will have my comment waiting for you when you get out, and are back online.
    I applaud your decision to text at all; I know how excruciating it is/can be to reach out when feeling so vulnerable and full of shame. And to want to be reached for. Oh how I know that longing. And the pain of not being reached for. It is so, so, so very painful. I am really sorry you have that pain inside of you.
    Hoping your body and heart heal together, slowly. The deepest healing tends to take the longest. Sending my love. xx

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    1. You timed it so perfectly – I saw the notification of your comment pop up just as the nurse came to tell me I was going in to be prepped, but I didn’t have time to read it, so all the time I was nervously waiting and enduring the endless attempts to get the IV in, I knew it was there waiting for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rea,
    I’m sorry to hear of the self-harm. It is a big deal. You are important. You do matter. You’re not just being dramatic. And most importantly, you are loved.
    I want to give you that kind of hug – the long kind – as you come out of surgery. And every day. Or at least, whenever you need it.
    You’ve said, “Something in me is just broken. Other people feel comfort from connecting, but I don’t. Talking doesn’t help me.”
    I’m going to challenge that, Rea. You’re not broken. The way other people have treated you for much of your life is. This world that we live in is. Heck, even the therapy system often is. You do feel comfort from connecting, but your connecting is not what many people find to be connecting (mine isn’t either). You long for something deeper than words – the big long hug (that I want to give you). A deeper connection. To be known and loved. What is wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with that.
    I love you, Rea. I hope that is okay for me to say. ❤

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  8. hi rea, I am hoping surgery is a success on Monday, will be thinking of you, i have posts to catch up on am way behind on blogs…ug thats what happens when you follow a ton of them! anyways, take good care of you and be safe, sending many safe hugs, xxx

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