I’m going to spend a long weekend with my family, not this coming weekend but the one after. And just the thought of being around my dad has made Doubt start to creep back. Doubt is the one who tells me that I made up the part about my father sexually abusing me. Sometimes she makes me feel disgusted with myself, but I’ve realized now that she also has made it easier for me to be around my dad over the years, to satisfy the need I have to love my dad. She made it easier for me to hold things together to finish my education and get my career going.
Nothing is only one way or the other. Doubt is not only negative for me; she has also helped me. But I probably need to spend a lot less time with her than I used to. My dad is not only irresponsible and obliviously selfish (though he is that) but he has also been a source of fun and love for me. It’s complicated.
I had a session with E. today and talked about this and about my sense that I have been minimizing what my dad did so I can be around him. I get very caught up in thinking about what his motivations were, why he could have thought it was okay to sodomize a little girl. He probably thought it wasn’t such a big deal. So maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. So what’s my problem? Why am I still so disturbed about it?
E. suggests I am taking this line of thinking too far. “You could be right,” she said. “Maybe he didn’t mean to cause you such harm. He wasn’t intentionally choosing to mess up your sense of yourself. But regardless of what he thought he was doing, it was a big deal. It did mess with your sense of yourself. His actions were harmful and caused a deep injury.”
We talked about the upcoming trip. E. asked me, how could I tend to the feelings of the girl along the way? How could I protect her on the airplane, on the car ride, at my sister’s house? At first I thought, well the most likely thing is I’ll just bring Doubt along, and she will chase the girl away. That’s how I’ve coped up til now. But that would be a defeat for my “believe the girl” project. Or I could burn myself. I’ve used that strategy more than a few times before. Probably not the healthiest option though.
It was quiet for a while. I moved to sit on the floor, which is where I seem to end up in most sessions lately. Then it seemed so obvious to me. “I think I should take something with me, something physical.”
E. nodded, “I like it. Something physical will also be grounding. What should it be?”
More quiet. I was envisioning maybe some cards I could make for my girl. I could put them in my purse and re-read them or look at the pictures whenever I needed to. Something small.
“What about a box?” E. wondered. “You could take Doubt in it, with the top on to keep her in. But you’d know you had her and could let her out if you felt a need to. But I’m not sure if that works with your image of having sent her to the beach.”
It’s not a bad idea. Maybe a box for Doubt. Maybe a box of little notes and pictures for the girl. Or maybe a little charm on a bracelet. We talked about the type of symbols I like the best, which are the ones that can hold multiple meanings. I’m not sure yet what I’ll choose; we didn’t settle it today. We’ll revisit this in next week’s session before I go. “Think about it this week,” E. advised me. “Ask the girl what she needs to feel both believed and protected.”
The session was grounding–it stopped the floating feeling and has given me something to constructive to focus on.