I managed to bring up trust, and my lack of it. He was straight in with the 'how do you feel about the trust between us?' Ts. So needy-sounding, so predictable. Anyway. He hadn't done this in a while, a blissful absence of conversations about our relationship, so I tried not to eye roll while he shared that building trust had been difficult for us both - I do appreciate that I am very guarded and he at least labelled my passive aggressiveness as a coping strategy, rather than focusing too much on how miserable it made him feel.
Hopefully he didn't take my reply to the next question as more of the same.
T: So how do you think you are with trusting me now?
Me: Talking is easy when there is a finite number of sessions left, a clear deadline... Four weeks ago you hadn't shaved, and the week after you seemed shaken and confused days of the week.
T: yes. I was having a tough time, going through some personal issues.
Me (nodding): it was worrying. So that's how trusting I am. I was worried.
Does that sound like a massive non-sequitur? Starting exposure therapy while watching your T start to crumble... Not good. And as I had already told him, I've built myself a to-do list of all the stuff that isn't on the five-more-sessions-of-therapy list. Formidable, as I described it, forward-looking, mine. Yep, he asked to see it, yep, I said no. But in my ham-fisted, ungainly way, I think I managed to get across that I'm trying to not lean too hard, because I see, and I worry.
I then managed to divide 'trust', which I can sort of do, sharing 'secrets' with him, and needing 'which I would rather walk barefoot through a box of rattlesnakes than do'. So a fair way to go, then!
Reassessment no 2 is multi faceted. My husband finally said he 'would do anything to make [me] better', so I bought him a book, 'When someone you love has PTSD'. Then got increasingly angry when, true to form, he failed to read it. We talked about this, eventually, he started to read, then on the first day, held my hand and cried. Really cried. I have never seen that. He cried, and talked.
Today, he asked me if I thought his mother - fainted in her living room, broke neck, now years later tetraplegic, widowed a month after fall while still completely paralysed, suicidal, has panic attacks, has clearly described dissociation to me - has PTSD. Yep, thinking so. It had occurred to me, I'm just not in a place to try to help.
I then shared something that occurred to me about my father. How incredibly stressful a major heart attack at 35 must have been. How he never got any help with that trauma, or living with the threat of early death. How when he had an affair with a woman who had had cancer and understood that a little better... I really wish I had been older and better able to understand that when he talked to me about it, and to show compassion.
My husband then made this spot on observation, that that must have been really important for my dad, as he could imagine my mother's reaction:
Dad: I almost died
Mum: think how awful that would have been for me!
Dad: I was really frightened; I still am
Mum: think how awful that would be for me. I would have no money. What would I do? It would be too awful for me.
Sadly, he is spot on about my mother, who is, as I told my T, one of the two things that make me feel close to suicidal. Spot on. SPOT ON.
What I wonder now... My T has suggested my dad was a narcissist. I wonder... Maybe he was struggling. Maybe the controllingness, the rages, maybe they were PTSD too?
Sigh. The other thing we discussed in my (very busy) T session was my tendency to get into abusive relationships, touching on my way of acting the apologist for their bad behaviour. And this is how I trap myself in my own knots... Right now, with my dad, am I understanding or condoning? Does the first of those excuse abuse, does the second justify a fear of being kind and making allowances for people?
Knotty knotty knot knots. Someone lend me a sword...