In 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.
It’s a gentle interpretation that part of me likes. But another part says I am not succeeding in my effort to “be brave.” Ah well, perhaps it’s a journey with a very winding road.
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Goblin image gratefully borrowed from the Lord of the Rings wiki