Last session was different. In a good way I think.

I don’t want to describe the whole thing. Just a few things. After the previous session, I’d written Ron an email somewhat like my last post. A little softer, but I made my points. He didn’t reply except to offer a day and time change that would mean I’d have a few hours after work to decompress before going in to see him.

Therapy day, I actually worked part of the day from home, which also helped me be less buttoned up.

In the session, it seemed like Ron had heard me. Or, um, read me. He asked me questions instead of just gazing at me, so I felt as if he was more present. For my part, I didn’t launch into chat about my week or about work. The whole session was more about my psyche and about parts. Although sometimes I need to deal with the everyday, the everyday stuff takes up time. And it basically is my adult voice, leaving other parts shut away in the dark as it were.

We talked about a dream I’d had, of being chased by a panther while driving through the desert in a jeep with my ex. I find relating dreams in therapy quite powerful – they evoke a lot for me.

Both V and B had a say. These were the really sad, traumatized sides of these child parts. It’s so hard to deal with this. Because while letting them speak is a relief, they don’t just subside again after the session. They come up trailing a lot of really bad feelings. So I’ve been feeling less fragmented and less fake, but also in more pain.

I was so surprised that Ron changed his approach just because I wrote him an email. He didn’t directly address what I said, but he’d obviously taken it to heart.

I’m not sure what to say about our relationship. In a way, it was less personal. He acted like a therapist. And I acted like I was in therapy. This wasn’t a friend to whom I was relating the events of my week. I was there to address the damage of the past however I could. He wasn’t there to offer suggestions. He was more there to witness and to draw me out. So I feel cared about, but in a kind of impersonal way, if that makes any sense.

Dissociation is hard to describe to people who don’t have it as a major coping tool. And, it’s hard to figure out how to heal it. For one thing, the usual therapy type interventions basically target the adult me, leaving parts untouched. I could be therapized forever and would never feel better, because the feelings aren’t coming from the adult.

These parts are full of emotion, and not a whole lot of reason, though V has a lot more than B does. It’s like taking a leap, letting them speak and letting them express how they feel. It’s kind of hard to do, in a way, and I imagine it’s also hard to listen to and deal with. Traumatized children take a lot out of you.

I had the feeling afterwards that this was really worthwhile work that felt meaningful and deep to me.

Therapy has not been helpful lately. I believe that I do have to do my own work, my own healing. It’s not magic happening in the therapy room that will do the trick.

I have felt absolutely full of criticism, complaint and hurt feelings concerning Ron. His style of therapy seems unsuited to my situation. I’m not sure I want to write out all the mental criticism I have of him, because I’ve been working on letting it be. Not thinking about it any more. I considered quitting, but am not quite at that point I don’t think.

It doesn’t help much to bring it to him, because a lot of it is just how he practices. This is what he offers. If I don’t think that’s what I need, I should try something else, or be therapy free for a change.

I am somewhat better for going to therapy. But, the things that are better, Ron doesn’t even see. They’re not things we ‘worked on’. It’s just that because he is supportive, I’ve been able to feel things and think about things during the week that have helped somewhat.

I’m still in parts. One of the most hurtful things Ron did was last week, when it somehow came up that I’m not sure therapy is helping, was that he thought because I’m not speaking from the parts lately, or leaving session in such a dark place, that this means I’m better.

I’ve been going to session right after work, and am in this buttoned-down coping kind of a place. So I haven’t had parts speak, and haven’t accessed any difficult emotions. Sessions are boring, where I tell Ron I don’t know what to talk about, things are OK. Or I talk about some things that bother me, but this doesn’t really go anywhere and the conversation peters out.

Does this mean I’m better? Because I can’t relax enough in therapy to feel anything?

So, that hurt my feelings. Plus the idea he has that if parts just stop speaking, they have integrated magically. Does that happen by magic? I don’t actually know, but it hasn’t happened in my case.

Another big divide we have is that Ron has no vocabulary about therapy, on principle. I do believe that if you have no vocabulary, you can’t really work on anything in any systematic kind of a way. So I feel that I don’t know what I’m working on or what I’m trying to do. Everything is just one big ball of badness.

I wrote him some of this in an email last week, to which he didn’t really respond. We did agree to try a different time, later in the day, so I have a few hours to come down from work.

I’m intending to work on parts. That’s who needs Ron. I’m personally fed up with him. I know a lot of people go to therapy for a sympathetic ear. I’m wanting more.

The other thing is his super receptive attitude. To me, it reminds me of my very very withdrawn mother in particular. The whole session seems up to me – he doesn’t offer much direction, if any. I can see how it can be good, to simply be receptive. How it can be a practice for the therapist even. But for me, it feels like too much emptiness. Especially if I go there without much of a plan, if I’m reluctant to plunge into hard topics….It feels just like not much guidance.

I believe there is some transference/counter transference stuff going on, but this is not Ron’s area, so we don’t discuss it. I wish he did have knowledge in this area.

So I’ve complained about Ron afterall. Couldn’t resist. But since I’m not ready to quit, I want to stop resenting him, stop criticizing him in my mind. It reminds me of how I get when a relationship goes wrong – this is familiar territory. It feels bad to think so negatively. I want to be able to soak up the goodness Ron does provide, and stop thinking of how I wish he were different!

A difficult weekend, after several in a row that seemed better.

I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. It’s all I watch at the moment. Not sure what that’s about – I can see very well it’s a soap opera, the situations are so exaggerated as to be ridiculous, the characters, well, operatic. And yet. I believe a younger part of me loves this show. As well, it is about emotions, and I want to think about emotions, and about how people are relating to each other, and this show lets me do that.

Several situations and characters remind me of my own dilemmas. In one episode, a short man has had botched surgery in China to lengthen his legs, and winds up in the hospital in danger of losing his legs altogether to infection. He defends his decision to have the leg lengthening surgery – how he can’t get any dates, how his life is a misery, how he has no confidence and no success, all due to his short stature.

And you watch him, and it’s pretty obvious his height has little to do with his problems. It’s like seeing shame on display. He feels so unworthy, so defective, that he needs to blame the length of his legs. He needs a focus for his misery. Yes, he’s slightly homely – by American TV standards he is not handsome. He would be average in everyday life. Lots of average people find partners. It’s his shame that’s the issue.

I identified with that feeling of being tainted, just doomed because of who I am. I ran into some more criticism at work last week. One of the clients I’d worked with previously in this job had complained that I’d lost one of her projects, which was ridiculous, but the complaint went through several rounds of emails without anyone ever trying to figure out if it was true or not.

Then this same client didn’t want me to document a procedure for her. She spoke to her manager about it, with me standing right there, saying it was too complicated for me to comprehend. Apparently, I ‘didn’t get it’, and had done a terrible job with a previous document. I’d thought this client and I were on friendly terms, but we’re not.

Then on the same morning, QC ‘failed’ one of my documents, and this was copied to several people.

And so I felt ashamed. So ashamed of my work, my skills, my worthiness. I almost broke down crying that morning, despite having back to back client interviews. I actually insisted on a Starbucks break so I could get away for a few minutes and replenish, which I’m pretty sure is not really allowed.

I feel that shame a lot. Not good enough. Even if I don’t run into headwinds like i did that morning. My face is just wrong. My reactions are too much, not right. I say the wrong things. My questions are wrong. My voice is wrong. Just bad.

Ugh. Luckily I don’t think I can fix it by flying to China for life threatening surgery! It’s not that I’m ‘too short’. But that feeling of shame displayed by the character who had the gruesome leg surgery – I so get that. That feeling that you’d do anything to ‘fix’ what’s so very wrong about yourself.

My work situation has calmed down somewhat, for which I am grateful. I was having hours of intense anxiety around being fired, and that’s mostly stopped now, though I relapsed for about an hour or two Friday. Friday is the traditional ‘firing day’. Well – could be I’m too harsh, I don’t know. The contracting company is looking for a specific product, and if the people they hire don’t already know how to produce that, they don’t have time to teach them.

I didn’t meet my quotas, but I assume what I did produce was fine. The project manager then reduced my quotas, but at the same time, my projects became much less complex, so in the end, I didn’t have enough to keep me busy. Yet, I’m still there. Earning the big bucks. I wish.

I’m working on sleeping without pills. It’s hard. I can fall asleep, but I can’t stay asleep, and then I can’t fall asleep again. But sometimes, I can. So that’s confusing.

I feel off balance trying to write again. My energy was going into surviving and coping with the practical side of life. I’ve never been good at the practical side. I don’t have much of a ‘game face’, where I present well to the world but am crumbling inside. That’s not really me. I think I look like I’m struggling often, and I struggle to do well. It’s not really lack of talent, more, so much internal turmoil to deal with, there’s not enough energy left over to deal with life.

Therapy is a bit of an after thought at the moment. I’ve been going in right after work, so I’m firmly in work mode. Which is a little too tightly wound to really dig into emotions much.

I have been pondering whether my therapy is helping much at this point. I’ve been going for years after all. There is no real plan, no goals as far as I can see. In a way, that’s fine. I’m not looking for someone to set concrete goals for me. In another way, I really do not know what I’m trying to do, mostly.

I feel too tired to really challenge the therapist or try and find out what I’m trying to do. Though I do ask, often towards the end of a session. Last time, I had discussed a troubling visit to my parents’. Ron said he thinks I need to try and speak some truth to my parents, or at least try to ask them what they mean by the various things they do. I’d gone over to pick up my son, who was not ready, so I had coffee with them and some neighbours who were visiting. I’d felt that my father had disliked me, but couldn’t really articulate what he had done.

I tell Ron that my father is a narcissist. The whole family has always revolved around him and his needs. Conversation is about his pet interests, or else he won’t take part. Everything is kind of tilted towards his approval. Then I acknowledge that Ron doesn’t believe in labels. Ron says he does informally, if you’re angry with someone, you can call them a narcissist, or self-absorbed, or whatever.

I hate this aspect of Ron. That he won’t call anything by name. Plus he doesn’t seem to get how my family is. You can try and say things, but nothing helps. Maybe I’m scared to try. But they’re unbelievably knit together. I just think it would be very hurtful to try and speak up. If you believe in narcissism, it helps you understand patterns of how people operate and the webs they weave. I just feel like I’m wading through pudding trying to describe it to Ron.

At the same time, I feel connection to Ron so am reluctant to leave. But what if someone out there could actually help me? Someone who could help me with dissociation and parts? How to find that person?

Last session also, I tried to feel into a trigger that happened, as I’d had to go to the dentist for a cleaning. Form me this is a trigger. It’s like a piece of blackness dislodges itself and floats around my system, making my life black and heavy.

I did feel some of it in session. The next day, I had such a severe headache I couldn’t make it into work. But then, that black feeling dissipated quite a bit, and it may be that trying to feel some of it in session helped.

My life lately has been all about work, surviving work, recovering from work. It’s a pressured situation and it’s really hard on me. Ron was on vacation last week, so there’s no therapy update.

I’m not sure what to say. My problem is how to calm down this PTSD body so I can have a life. In one of our sessions, Ron was saying I need to try and do whatever I can to have a life. Make decisions that support me having a life that I want.

I don’t know how to do that because I’m just. too. tired.

Another person was let go from my project at work. So I’m one of four survivors out of seven hired a month ago. Now they’ve actually ramped up the project and hired ten more writers, two of whom were also let go after four days.

I’m not quite making my targets, but hanging on nonetheless. My work is of decent quality, so I guess they’ve decided to keep me for now. But I’m constantly dreading being let go, and it tires me out. It would be OK if I was. It’s just a contract, and I wouldn’t be alone in being fired.

I am always looking for some way to come back into my body after work, so I can feel things besides fear, and so I can sleep. This kind of situation is not that that good for me. Though there are good parts – I do like a challenge. There are no severe people problems at work. The work is challenging enough that I am fairly engaged. I don’t have the problem of too much downtime and low expectations.

It’s just very cut-throat. It’s how I’d heard business was, but never experienced personally.

I went to my 12 step group, and after a few weeks of feeling more connected, once again felt alone and misunderstood. I don’t connect well to people in this anxious state. I shared about it, but maybe came across badly.  Some people I knew pretended they didn’t see me after the meeting and it hurt my feelings.

Anyway. I’m glad to be working and don’t feel I can quit at the moment. If I could just calm the f down.

One thing that really is hitting home for me from this week’s evening session is the realization that I’m being triggered.

Work continues to be an enormous struggle for me. This has been a theme for me pretty much since I started in the workforce, basically seventeen years ago. The difficulties change, but it remains the case that I am struggling pretty hard nevertheless. Usually the trouble is not the work per se, but troubles with bosses, with co-workers, or sometimes with such low level work it bores me to tears.

This particular contract seems to be triggering massive anxiety for me. A second person was fired from our small team at the end of last week. They don’t even get their two weeks’ notice – they’re just gone. We’re told the person was being difficult with the client. Who knows what their side of it is.

And the fact is, I’m not meeting my metrics unfortunately. Last time I did, kind of by a fluke. But this week, I have to fix up last week’s documents, as it turned out I was writing in a different way than what is required. Would have been nice to get that feedback sooner, but oh well. The thing is, fixing up these ‘old’ docs is taking precious days away from the seven new docs I am to produce over the next two weeks.

Anyhoo. I had a real low Monday. I came home completely overwhelmed and convinced I too was about to be fired. I had the overwhelming urge to quit this job, both to avoid the stress of it and to forestall the humiliation of being let go. But – I knew I had just quit another job recently. What’s with all the quitting? In addition, ye olde bank account was crying for funds.

I decided to phone people to ask for advice. My friend J was home, and after I’d semi hysterically explained my situation to him, I started to feel better. He actually came over and brought me food, he was so concerned, which was kind. It was amazing how much more tolerable the situation became once I could discuss it. It was difficult to explain why I was so sure I too was about to be let go, and I realized the situation wasn’t that clear. Though I think the relief I felt had more to do with telling someone else what was going on than with re-jigging my thinking. Maybe it was both.

I went to therapy and explained about the job, about my fears, about my extreme need to quit and how I dealt with it the day before. Ron asked if I was anxious, and I told him I thought I was having massive anxiety, and did I seem anxious. He said he thought there was a layer of anxiety over top of a lot of other feelings. And that I am likely triggered by the work situation into past feelings.

There is a part, V, that has been loud and prominent. This is a young teen part of me. That part experienced so much pain, loneliness and rejection. I spoke a bit about that time of my life, how I more or less stopped speaking to anyone. How I was depressed all the time, and sure this was my fault and my failing, but not able to work out what I could do about it. I remember the heaviness and hopelessness of that time.

So lying there on Ron’s couch, I started to feel some of those feelings. They hurt to feel, but feeling them reduces the anxiety.

At work, my co-workers have been commenting, asking if I’m OK or doing better. I guess I’ve been giving out distress vibes. I’m trying not to do that – I want to be seen as capable as anyone else.

If my feelings at work are kinds of emotional flashbacks to my past, at least my extreme feelings make some sense. Those feelings of alienation and helplessness are feelings I had as a teenager.

Today we had a meeting at work with the big boss. I felt completely alienated, and he actually asked me if anything was wrong. I stood there, as the meeting progressed, and started to acknowledge to myself that a lot of these feelings were coming from that part, and from the past. And it helped a lot. I tried to focus on the here and now, where bad things are not currently happening to me. I was then able to engage a bit with the meeting, asking some questions not in a hostile way, but just in a normal conversational way, and the response was good. So then I again felt more a part of the meeting, and more a part of the team, and less under threat, and less angry.

Ron said that the task is to separate the present from those past feelings. And I knew that before, really. But for some reason this thought is really meaningful to me right now. There is nothing so terrible happening right now. I have a job with some challenges, but also some good points. The boss/PM continues pleasant and seems actually good at his job. He seems to see his job as helping the team get things done rather than harass us or whip us into shape. My co-workers also are fairly decent and we all rub along. And I’m earning good money.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense that I keep falling into despair or fear because of this contract. It makes a lot more sense if I see it as flashbacks to my past.

A post on work and on my therapy session. I’m on a bit of a high from work, kind of overlaying all the exhaustion. Because, ladies and gents, yours truly finished five procedures for the end of our two week ‘sprint’ (today). I didn’t think it was going to happen, but due to circumstances I was able to pull this off. An advantage of having a big challenge is that it does feel good when things come together and I meet the goal.

Work is still exhausting me very much. I suspect it’s the massive anxiety that I am dealing with throughout the day. I’m constantly worried I’m not going to measure up, that I’m falling behind (which I was), that people perhaps don’t like me and are avoiding me, etc. etc. This would wear anyone out.

Another bad thing happened, which is that the only other woman writer on the project was let go yesterday. So I wasn’t wrong that this organization is sizing us up and pretty much ruthless in getting rid of someone who they don’t feel is measuring up. She was dismissed after six days on the job. This included her working many unpaid hours at home trying to catch up and learn the project.

I was the only one on the team to express any dismay about this at all. I felt bad for her, I felt she was judged too fast, and I also feared for my own position on the project. At that point I was behind in documents delivered and had so many fears of not measuring up. Mixed in with anger at organizations who treat people unfairly and expect the impossible.

So that happened. I found it hard to believe the five men on the team had no response to this whatsoever. I know it’s politic to CYA….and I guess they might have been disturbed by this but wanted to show positivity to the bosses. My impression though was no one cared one bit. They didn’t identify with this woman, felt they in no way resembled her, and that what happened to her had nothing to do with them. An attitude I found disturbing.

I am lucky in the PM on this job. He’s a young guy and seems to have a cheerful optimistic temper. He has never been short with me, or even pushed me much, let alone yelled at me. He is all about ‘metrics’, which I find off putting but I realize that’s what PMs do. His job is to care about the quantity of work produced, not the quality.

Now my session. It’s been moved to Tuesday evenings, a day I’ve never yet been to sessions on previously.

Therapy was helpful. I’ll have to discuss later because I’m too tired to type further!