17: One Hour to Fall Apart
The next day, I took the girls to their now-weekly counselling appointment at SAS.
As always, we reported to the front desk and got the look of sympathy from the receptionist’s there. Please don’t get me wrong, these women were always professional and kind, but at times, it was too much. And this was one of those days.
Liz and Bridie came out to meet us. I don’t know if it was the fact that I couldn’t take my sunglasses off, or what it was, but Liz asked Bridie to take the girls into the playroom so that she could have a quick chat to me.
I walked into Liz’s office and lost it. I cried as I recounted the previous evening and the way I felt about dropping that bombshell on Mel and Grant. I cried about it being unfair to put that responsibility on me, as now I felt guilty about what I had done to their obliviously happy little family.
Liz was very proactive. She wanted me to speak to a colleague of hers who was a generalist counsellor whilst she had her appointment with Kate. So, I did.
This was the first counselling session that I had since the disclosure three months earlier. In the hour that I spent with the counsellor, I spoke to her about my feelings around the events that happened AFTER– the time we began our “new normal”. I told her that I felt guilty for sending the kids to school AFTER. She was the first one to explain to me that it was okay, because it was that day that the kids’ lives got better…it was ours that changed for the worse because of the new knowledge that we now had. I’ll not stop being grateful to her for that insight. It gave me some peace.
It was during this session with the counsellor that I was also able to articulate my resolve to not feel guilty for the things that Leon did to our girls. I decided very early on, that I would simply drive myself mad if I continued to question every decision that I made that afforded this man the opportunity to do what he did to our girls. I did not make him do it, he chose to be the monster that he is. I think that my determination to keep this mindset got me through some of the toughest of times.
I returned to Liz and Bridie a different woman than the broken one that left them. When Liz asked me if I was okay I told her, “I just needed an hour to fall apart and then put myself back together”.
The reality was that I couldn’t give myself longer than that at the time…the girls needed me to be strong for them. I’m not trying to make myself sound like a martyr here, the reality was that I had to be strong and keep things as “normal” as I could for my kids. I had to show them that this wasn’t going to break our family and I couldn’t do that if I was falling apart in front of them.