She Didn’t Reach Out (So I Did)

It’s 10.30PM. The hospital is quiet – for once, nobody is screaming. I’m stuck here overnight, even though I tried to persuade four different nurses that I’m fine to go home. (If they’d agreed to release me, I would have felt disposable and devastated.)

I felt very small while they were prepping me this morning. It’s hard to be confident and self-assured with five people crowded around your bed in a small room, one inserting a canula, another taking your arms out of the gown while trying to keep your breasts covered, with a third sticking heart rate monitors on your collarbone while the registrar explains the procedure and shows you where to sign. Even though I was familiar with the process, I felt kind of lost, and like I’d surrendered – no matter what they wanted to do, I would have obediently lifted a limb or rolled to the side or followed whatever instructions they gave. That isn’t me, and I don’t like it when the compliant child parts are running the show.

I’m sad that I didn’t feel scared, or even nervous. I did the first time, and the second, but skin grafts are just old hat now.

My heart rate dropped during the surgery, and it stayed low after I woke, so I was groggy and out of it for hours. When they called the anesthetist back to check on me in the ward and she asked me if I knew where I was, I had to really think about it.

The visitor’s chairs have been empty all day. I decided not to tell anybody what was happening. While I drifted in and out of wakefulness, I surreptitiously imagined Nikki walking in the door, bringing me fruit salad, offering to drive me home, holding on to my arm while I struggled up the stairs to my apartment. Mostly I knew it wasn’t going to happen, but I still hoped.

I came out of the recovery room at 10.30am, but I didn’t get my bag with my phone until 4pm. I turned it on, hoping, hoping….but she hadn’t texted.

The monitors by the bed started beeping, alarmed by my blood pressure. It felt like something was squeezing my heart. When I had this operation last year and I’d only been seeing her for a few months, she still texted to check on me. When I was last in hospital, she came to sit with me. But this time I had to grow up and deal with it on my own. This time she was just my therapist, nothing more, and there were boundaries and I’d see her in her office on Tuesday and that was that.

I know she’s supposed to encourage me to reach out for support from my other relationships, and that being there for support unsolicited isn’t really therapeutic. She’s all over the fucking place and there’s counter-transference and frustration and god knows what she’s feeling towards me right now but I don’t doubt that in general, she does care. It’s not the end of the world. It’s fine.

But I wanted her here.

For half an hour, I debated whether or not to text and ask if we could talk for five minutes.

She’s going to think you’re needy and dependant and she’s going to regret the times she’s supported you and she’s going to pity you. Don’t be pathetic. You made the choice not to ask anyone to come be with you, and you have to deal with the consequences of that. It’s not appropriate to go whinging to Nikki when you brought this on yourself. 

You’re running out of chances to have the experience of reaching out. She’s leaving in a month, could be less if the baby comes early. Just this once, don’t be so rigid about living up to your own exacting standards. If you don’t reach out, you’ll regret it later.

So I texted, and she called, and we talked for fifteen minutes. I told her about the two opposing sides at war in my head: the one that is so angry and shaming me for not hurting myself badly enough, for being stupid enough to bother getting the operation when the injury is nothing, so minor that they’re willing to send me home tomorrow, that wants me to hurt myself again but properly this time; and the one that’s so sad and just doesn’t understand how I can be expected to go on with life like normal and get back to work tomorrow when something so major has happened.

Talking to Nikki didn’t help. It didn’t make me stop aching for a hug. But that wasn’t really the point. The point was to believe that I matter enough to reach out, and to push past the shame of being needy and do it anyway. Even though right now I kind of wish I didn’t, I’m glad I did.

This sucks, guys. I wish someone was here to tuck me into bed.

She Didn’t Reach Out (So I Did)

20 thoughts on “She Didn’t Reach Out (So I Did)

  1. Sirena says:

    This makes me so sad. I’m sorry you’re going through this yourself. I’m sorry that you feel like you have to treat yourself so severely. But there’s one glimmer of hope in this…. that small voice that is getting bigger that gave your permission to reach out. You will build on that with the right help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That hospital looks like such a drab, depressing place to have to stay. I wish I could paint the walls Little Rea’s favorite color, put flower decals on the window, set up a hot chocolate machine (or would you prefer a smoothie machine? I guess it’s summer there), deliver you a giant teddy bear, and replace those boring sheets with mounds of beautiful, fuzzy blankets.
    Sending hugs. ❤


  3. I can empathise with how profoundly disempowering it is being a patient, especially where invasive procedures are involved, no matter how many times you’ve been through it. I feel like this when it is me even though I do it to other people for a living. At the heart of it is the fact that you genuinely don’t have the power in that situation. For all the talk about patients and treatment teams being a partnership, they have their perception of what is *necessary* and the timeframe they consider appropriate, and if they don’t get what they want by being collaborative they’ll just take over and do it their way, even if the threat is more to their convenience than your life.

    I am sorry that you don’t have someone to be there with you and comfort you. I think it is awesome that you took the risk to reach out to J.


  4. I wish I could be there in person with you. I am not much of a talker, but would want to be there. there are others who want to do that for you too. I hope you let them. I am so proud of you for pushing past and reaching out to Nicki. It is a good thing to recognize the Waring sides even though it doesn’t make it easier to deal with. Sitting with you in thoughts and heart (hope that isn’t too cheesy!)


  5. Hello, Rea dear. I’m sorry that my travels have kept me out of touch, but I’ve been thinking of you each day. I’m sorry you needed another skin graft, sorry that you felt you had to injure yourself so badly that you needed the skin graft. That part that wants you to hurt yourself, that is a very confused and aching part. I’d like to wrap it up in affection and safety and acceptance, tell it stories and play a few simple card games, just hang out until it calmed down a little.

    You are so deserving of love. And you easily awaken it in other people (just look at all the affection from your WP friends on this page; think of the Jewish mamas; remember Nicki’s loving care for you). There’s so much love swirling around you, wanting to wrap you up and keep you safe. And as you know, a lot of that love comes from me. Many hugs to you. Be gentle with yourself, just for today. Treat yourself as you would treat another person who needs to rest and heal. Love love love to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks BP – it’s really good to hear from you. I’m just hanging out here trying not to lose my mind. You know, the usual. But I’m doing okay. Hope things are okay for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks DV. Everything was too overwhelming and I had to let WP go for a bit, but am hoping to start writing again soon. I’ve been thinking of you all and I hope you’re doing okay.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. pink says:

    Hey Rea, been thinking of you as well-I hope you’re doing ok. You’ve been through so much-i read through your whole blog in 2 days recently & it’s just horrific how little stability you’ve had with therapists. What you’re going through now must hurt so much. I hope you’re ok-thinking of you, pink


    1. Thanks so much for your message, Pink. By “normal” standards I’m kind of a mess but as far as things go for me I’m actually doing okay-ish. It means a lot to have people checking in on me – I’m hoping to start writing again soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pink says:

        Thanks for your message Rea. I’m so glad you’re safe, and really glad to hear you’re doing ok. Take lots of care and don’t put pressure on yourself to write-we’re all here when you’re ready. Just do what you need to to care for yourself. Thinking of you, Pink


    1. Thanks for checking in, S. It’s nice to know that I haven’t been forgotten even though I’ve been AWOL. I keep writing posts in my head but not actually getting them down on paper, but hopefully I’ll start writing again soon. Hope things are okay with you xx

      Liked by 2 people

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