Day 210: Unexpected Call from Doctor (trigger warning)
It was a big, big day today. First of all, I am starting to open up to another friend (someone from work). She's also a health care provider, I don't know yet how to nickname her. She is feisty, hard working, organized, and compassionate. She's a nurse. We have been warming up to one another for some time now. She indicated an interest in being friends several months ago. It took me this time to determine if I felt I could be vulnerable with her. I realized when she mentioned friendship, I can't accommodate any superficial relationships right now. I'm in a weird place in my life where my healing process consumes much of my energy outside of work. Also, I'm not able to conceal it very successfully in the small number of hours between work and home. When I have time away from both, I feel pretty much overrun by the grief. So, if someone becomes my friend, they are going to see it. I can't help it.
I went to a movie with her about a month ago and we had a really good time. I took her measure and determined she is probably trustworthy. AF trusts her and cares for her. They are also friends. If AF feels that way for her there is a good chance she is the kind of person I could also have as a friend. She and I also went to lunch together last week. At that lunch I decided to tell her about my history. I didn't tell her then; I simply let her know I have a painful history I would like to share with her the next time we got together, if she was comfortable with hearing it. I wanted her to have an out. Not everyone can cope with the kind of story I have to share.
Today we had that lunch. This was before my doctor's office called me (more on that in a moment). She first shared with me that she became a nurse because she wanted to help patients who were coping with trauma recovery. She explained what she saw happening to these patients and why she felt compelled to specialize in this domain. It helped me to hear that. It told me she would be able to hear my story and be OK. She wouldn't take it in, she wouldn't judge, and she would understand. She has heard many such stories and helped many patients. I clarified with her that I am in T and not seeking or wanting her health care knowledge. We came to agreement about that and then I told her my story . . . all the main points anyway. She was understanding and compassionate. She thanked me for sharing it with her. She said she knew how hard it was for me to tell.
It was hard. I was a little shaken by it. I fought off dissociation a couple times. But, the big news is I was able to tell the story without truly dissociating. I was able to go back to work afterward and shake off the feelings it engendered. I didn't feel any SH impulse. I didn't feel panic. I felt heard and I felt OK.
Then, a couple hours later I got a call from my doctor's office. My labs came in and my doctor wants to see me tomorrow morning. I agreed to the appointment and even mentioned I might want to ask about my bladder problem. I don't know for sure if I will, but I wanted enough time to allow for the possibility. After I got off the phone I texted AF. She replied almost right away and offered to go with me. I was relieved she offered and I accepted. The reason I accepted was that I feel emotionally labile. It is possible during the appointment I could become overwrought. I wouldn't want the doctor to have to deal with that. She is likely to have other patients in clinic at that time of day. My other appointments have been at the end of the day and no other patients have been in. She's done that for me. But, it wasn't an option for tomorrow's appointment.
This appointment is more difficult for me because I might ask about my bladder but also because it's in a clinic where other colleagues of ours work. It feels very exposing, which caused my anxiety to ramp up through the roof today after I texted AF. I did my best to finish my work day, but I was dissociated the remaining hour. My co-worker in my office knew what was happening. She's one of the people who knows what's going on with me. I knew a time like this might come up and told her for just that reason. Well, it happened today. She was very understanding and patient with me. She told me it would be OK and to call her tomorrow if I couldn't come into the office. She would clear my calendar for me.
AF came and picked me up. She spent the last three hours of the day with me. When I was in my office I just wanted to lay my head on the table and cry. And I knew that was actually possible based on how I was feeling. So, I felt panic starting to form inside me. I was tempted to jump in my car and drive as fast as I could to try to run away from the emotions. When AF got me we found a shady spot (it was 41 degrees Celsius, 105 Fahrenheit, here, so shade was essential). As hard as I tried not to, I still ended up crying my eyes out as she held me for about an hour. She was going to take me to get something to eat and could tell I was dissociated. She asked what I needed, to go home and sleep or to eat. It took a lot for me to admit what I needed most was to be held. She pulled off the road, told me to take off my sunglasses and seatbelt, and pulled me into her arms. I don't know why she's so kind to me, so patient, so loving. I told her I'm not worthy of her. She said that wasn't true. I told her it is hard to put in context with my life the kindness and safety she gives me.
When I was raped by the doctor it cemented my understanding that the world is consistently, yet randomly violent to me. When my bosses at my previous job used my TBI against me, I came to believe all health care providers are harmful. I felt like there could never be refuge, never be love or compassion for me. Just a world that allows me to work hard taking care of others. I would never experience what it was like to be taken care of.
Anyway, AF comforted me and reassured me yet again. I said I am afraid of how much I need this. She reminded me of how much I have processed. She asked me if I felt better from processing those other memories. And, yes, the answer was definitely yes. I always feel remarkably better after I share something with her and am able to cry. She said it has already gotten better and it will keep getting better. She told me to stop being so hard on myself. I cried and cried over the fear and pain I felt for all these years. Even after the abuse was "over" I faced such pain at work. I didn't understand kindness and love until this year, from you all and from her. Now I am seeing it all around me.
She reminded me my doctor cares about me. She knows my history and doesn't judge me. And, I know that's true. In fact, I sense the same compassion in her that makes AF such a wonderfully remarkable friend. I think the two of them are a lot alike. AF also reminded me of all of the love that comes from you all here. And I added the other people in my life (PF, BAF, my friends in my former town). I thought about it a little longer and also added, "me." She squeezed me really tight when I said that. "Yes. You! I was hoping you would say that." She told me she loves and values me. She needs me. I cried really hard at her words. It is such a struggle for me when I feel that love. She is just so extraordinary. How can she find me to be as she describes me, "amazing, a miracle, a wonderful friend"?
After I settled down we went and got food. I thought as we drove along I need to stop seeing myself as unworthy of her. It's not healthy for the friendship. And it diminishes me in a way that is hurtful to Little Intrepid. I don't see Little Intrepid as unworthy, so I shouldn't see me as unworthy.
AF, I love you and I have decided I am worthy of you.