Therapy Session Part I: Not Being Brave About Stephen

The_Great_Goblin1In my most recent session with E., we had two topics to discuss. One was for me to share with her my writing about Stephen. Stephen is one of the goblins from my past who haunts me periodically. He pokes at me from every angle and tells me I am dirty, cheap, disgusting. He wants me to believe that I should be too ashamed to show my face in the world. I thought I had succeeded in making him somewhat smaller than he used to be. But clearly not small enough, as I found myself unable to hand my writing over to E.

“I think I need to do some editing first,” I told her.

“Ok,” she said. “What kind of editing did you want to do? Fixing some typos? Adding more details? Taking something out?”

None of the above, actually. It’s just a stalling tactic, and she knows it.

“I think I’m just not entirely comfortable handing it over. I guess I still feel ashamed of it.”

“You are worried it will change the way I’ll see you?” E. asked. “You think I will judge you the way you have judged yourself?”

I know I can trust E. And yet there’s still a fear that with the full story about Stephen (much of it previously described here), she will see me the way I have seen myself. Though I have used the word “rape” to talk about it, it feels like I was far too complicit in what occurred to justify that word. So one of my edits will be to take out that word. I walked into that and let it all happen.

At the same time, I don’t want to be too hard on myself when I remember Stephen. I knew and yet didn’t know what would happen. I had never developed an ability to sense danger. I had spent years hating myself and felt I deserved mistreatment. There are real reasons that this assault occurred.

But I didn’t say all of this to E. Instead we talked about a phrase she uses often: Go only as fast as the slowest part of you feels safe to go. (This is also the name of a book she likes and which I just ordered.) We decided that at least some part of me didn’t feel safe to go there yet and held that topic for another day.

“Taking my time so I’ll feel safe” is a gentle interpretation that part of me likes. But another part says I am not succeeding in my effort to “be brave.” I’m avoiding the hard stuff.

Ah well, perhaps it’s a journey with a very winding road.

CREDIT: Goblin image gratefully borrowed from the Lord of the Rings wiki


  1. I love how insightful you are and how YOU dictate how fast or how slow you want to process your stuff AND that your therapist is not pressuring you to follow a time line. Abrazos amiga xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad that you chose not to share when you were not ready to. I, personally, think you should not take the word rape out. I think it was not consensual sex at all. You needed a place to stay, he offered, and then took something that was not his to take. Just like your father. Of course, you couldn’t say no. That is what you were taught. It takes time to find your voice and you had not yet.


    • But I was grown up by then. And I knew, at some level, what he was like. I could have left before it got all scary. The fact is that I didn’t, and this is the piece that makes me ashamed and makes me afraid to share it with E.


      • I know. But you did not know then what you know now. You were vulnerable. You did not know how to leave or say no. You were probably dissociated. Maybe the Girl was driving the bus. But, you know now. You , the adult, are driving the bus. It won’t happen again. I did a crazy thing its the abusers when I was in my 20’s. It’s almost impossible to be all the way grown up and not let the little kid parts drive the bus when you’ve experienced what you did. At least before lots of good therapy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, thank you, these are enormously comforting words to read. My challenge is to get to a place of fully believing those words and forgiving myself.


  3. Idk. I think knowing when to slow down or speed up is also an act of bravery. Self-care, to me, is courageous. You’ll share when you’re ready.


  4. I think you actually are being brave about Stephen by even considering to open up those very painful and scary memories and emotions. You will share when you are ready, and “chickening out” just sounds really judgmental to me. There is no mandate on healing and growth, you know? You could avoid and repress and bury those feelings forever, but you’re considering how and when to share them. That sounds really brave to me.


  5. I think the fact that you were able to own up to not wanting to share the info – rather than use excuses – points to your courage. You’re not chickening out.

    I have similar incidents in my past, and yes: I question my complicity every day. I use the ‘R’ word then back step; it wasn’t that bad, I let it happen, etc. A violation is a violation; doesn’t matter if you were conditioned to accept it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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