Chapter 4

Tracy is better off without me, Riley’s depression took over after one last huge hit of panic on Saturday night.

“I lost my mom. I mean, it feels like I lost my mom,” Riley says as the tears she tried to wish away drifted down her cheeks.

“Is that the first time you’ve said that?” Blair asks.

“Out loud? No. No, I’ve said it before, with Tracy.”

“I can see how much she means to you,” Blair tries to validate, while Riley continues failing at holding back tears. “If it feels ok, we can stay here for a little bit.”


Blair continues the intake, with permission to shift a bit. Riley held herself with her arms as she described the panic and anxiety that has taken over the last couple weeks. Blair is empathetic and peaceful. She is knowledgeable about trauma, the nervous system, and somatic experiencing. She understands trauma responses and the vagus nerve, and seamlessly inserts herself into Riley’s “parts” language.

But she is not Tracy.

Riley scans the room. Her heart aching for her mom to reach out to her. To check in, to ask her how she’s doing, to make sure she’s ok after her dad was physically aggressive Saturday night. She scans the room for safety, wondering how this could work, how her little parts could be safe here, and wondering if she could ask for help and touch and co-regulation from anyone else besides Tracy. Riley’s eyes dart around the room, fear rising, looking for shelter, like the closet in Tracy’s room, noting no options save for maybe wedging herself between a bookcase and the couch and the wall. I can’t do this, Riley thinks and then reality sinks in as she remembers how devastated she has felt and how alone and abandoned parts of her have struggled with through the recent shifts from Tracy.

Riley takes a deep breath. And another.

I was so burdensome to my mom that her life is better without me in it.

“I… don’t want to be a burden. It’s 3:50, do you need me to go now?”

Blair jots down probably the word “burden” on her intake note and looks at Riley softly. “Burden?” She says.

“I just don’t want to go over the time and I’m not sure…”

“I appreciate your attention to the time and I am watching it, you don’t need to.”

Riley left 10 minutes later, 100 degree heat scorching her face and began to plead to God. Blair will be helpful but Riley felt suffocated by Tracy’s absence and wished she had been telling Tracy about Saturday and receiving a hug from Tracy for the entire hour. For the entire last 5 days.

God, please, help me fix this. Please, I need my mom.

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