I had a particularly good therapy session today. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been doing a lot more thinking as opposed to avoiding (which I’m pretty great at), or if it was maybe because Eli wasn’t there this time to distract me. But one thing today’s session really drove home is that I am far better at discussing and dealing with all the emotions related to Eli’s injury with strangers and in writing than I am with my husband and friends.
It’s not because I don’t have an incredible husband or great friends (because I do have both of those things). It’s not because I don’t know what to say or how to say it. It’s just…difficult. I find that even when I’m talking to my therapist (who I really, really like), I can’t look her in the eye when I discuss some of the tougher things because I don’t want to see the look on her face.
I don’t do well with emotions in general, so sharing them with anyone, regardless of who it is, is inherently difficult. But baring my soul to people who will then see it over and over again is a huge challenge.
There’s a part of me that fears the reaction that I’ve already gotten. The, why can’t you just suck it up? Why can’t you realize your child is fine and this isn’t a big deal? And I don’t know how to answer those questions. Of course I know that what happened to Eli wasn’t the end of the world. I know that he is fine, that he will be fine, but for whatever reason, I am not fine. I can’t explain it, and that’s why I’m getting help. I should be fine, I am so incredibly acutely aware of that fact that it’s part of what’s making this whole experience so difficult for me. My mental illness isn’t because I’m out of touch with reality, it’s because something is wrong with me. And I am working so very hard to fix it.
It’s also just really challenging to admit to the people who love me that I am damaged. I am really, really good at holding myself together when I’m around people, even my husband. I save my breakdowns for the middle of the night and occasionally solo car rides when no one else has to see or hear them, so to many if not most people, I seem fine. I think deep down I’m afraid that if my husband or friends understand how mentally and emotionally damaged I am, they won’t treat me the same. That once they see that I’m broken, that they’ll never unsee it ever again.
And maybe that’s me underestimating them and maybe it’s unfair.
It’s easier for me to write, to talk to someone I barely know (my therapist, I don’t walk up to strangers, I swear) than it is to tell the people I love how hard things are right now. I think I sometimes burden my online friends with these things because I don’t have to look them in the face and say these things. I can hide behind my computer. It’s easier for me to make jokes when things get serious than it is for me to go to a serious place and seek support from the people who are most able to give it.
I am trying. I truly am. And though it may not show just yet, each day is another small step forward and hopefully someday I won’t have to hide because all the breaks will have mended.