There is something about therapy that seems inherently frustrating often. We want things from the therapist we don’t even know we want, but feel the lack of desperately.
Today I went for therapy on a different day, as Monday was a holiday. Ron seemed pale and tired. I was his first client of the day. I was scared to be there as usual, but at the same time looking forward to seeing him.
E. So, last day before your vacation…
R. Yep. So how do you feel about my going away?
E. I wish you weren’t going. Even though it’s only fifty minutes once a week, I wish you were staying in the city taking care of me. Like you should.
R. Uh huh…
Ron talks about whether I want to join his group, which he runs once a week during the fall and winter. I can’t decide. I tell him I’m pretty tired after work, and really in survival mode, so not sure I’d have the energy. I’d be in coping mode basically. He says then that’s what I’d bring to work on in the group. I say I wouldn’t really know I’m in it. He doesn’t understand, and we drop it. A lot of things, Ron does not understand about how things work with me.
I’m considering his group, as I’ve never tried group therapy, and I do find value in groups. I’m kind of attracted to the idea, but also wary.
E. So things aren’t going too badly. Started a new role at work, though there’s no work so far.
Then we talk about how I’m trying to talk more with people at work, be friendlier. How in the past I’ve been ostracized by groups, how sometimes I tend to ignore people, as in not seeking them out. How my friend J inspired me by being so friendly to strangers when we were away. It’s a very emotionless discussion, I’m calm and adult. I’m glad I can talk rationally, congratulating myself a bit, but also noticing I’m pretty scared of being there. So I mention that.
R. Are you afraid of me, or the situation…
E. I’m not afraid of you. I guess I’m afraid of what I’m going to talk about. It’s like I’m breaking the rules.
Then Ron asks me about any body memories. I say I haven’t had to many, at least not intense ones, as I have flashes of things all the time. Just one basically, after swimming, as exercise brings them on. So I tell him a bit about what this one is like. How I can’t actually remember what happened, but I feel choking and disgust and a sense of badness, a sense of things pressing in on me. It’s a very definite experience that I have to recover from, though it has a vague content.
So I go into that memory a bit, and again feel the badness of it, but don’t remember anything else. It’s so odd to be half in a memory and half sitting on a couch in an office. Ron says that I’m pushing in two directions – the memory is trying to come up, and I’m pushing it back down. I don’t feel like I’m pushing it down, but maybe I am.
Now that I think about it, Ron is going right in the direction of ‘breaking the rules’ here. I didn’t notice at the time. Good for him. He seemed pale and tired and kind of out of it to tell the truth, but I guess he was still busy being a therapist.
I mention that he asked me last time if there seemed to be other parts, and it seems to me there are two others, besides the kid. The kid really wants to talk to him, and she’s the most vocal. The others talk to me a bit, but are less eager to talk. So after this swimming memory, I was talking to the ten year old about it. I’d thought I was talking to the kid, but she said it wasn’t her. Plus the dialogue was with someone who had logic. The kid as no logic whatsoever – she blurts out whatever she thinks as she thinks it, in any order.
Ron suggests I ask the ten year old if she knows what has happened, or is happening, and who is doing this. So I try, and I am half in the memory, but she doesn’t answer me these questions. I knew she wouldn’t, as I’ve tried asking similar.
I don’t really get what is going on here. I re-experience, but just bits. Ron says the memory has fragmented, so I get the sensations, but not the pictures. I say shouldn’t I be feeling things, sadness for instance….Because I’m just having these odd experiences, but I don’t feel much about them. Then I start to feel a muted kind of anger as part of the memory, and I do feel a disgust and aversion to the whole thing. That’s about it though.
There are only a few minutes left in my session, so I tell Ron the kid really wants to talk to him, so I’m going to stop this memory now. So I take a minute to come out of that, and the kid starts talking. If I didn’t let her do that, she would ‘beat me up’ at home. Or maybe would just be so sad it would make my life miserable. How can she beat me up?
Kid – So I like to talk about happy things not sad things.
R. What do you do when sad things happen?
K – I cry. But there are lots of happy things too. There’s my back porch where I like to sit a lot. It’s got a tree and it’s like I’m sitting in a treehouse. And I can have drinks, I can have juice with ice in it. I can eat ice cream also…..
R. So how do you feel about my going away?
K. Don’t say that! (kind of a howl.)
E. The kid part doesn’t deal too well with your going away – she is going to miss you. She’s just young.
R. So it’s OK to be sad. Maybe there’s some strong feelings there.
K. So why are you going? I will miss you. Why can’t you stay here with me?
The kid asks Ron about how many kids he has, does he have a dog or a cat or a gerbil….Ron answers. No pets, though one died. The kid is upset about the pet that died. Three kids. All older, the kid says sadly. Ron’s youngest is nine. Do they have blue eyes? (Ron has blue grey eyes.) No. What’s it like to see out of blue eyes, is it different? (My eyes are brown.) Ron smiles.
That’s the end of the session.
I’m cheered that the kid got to talk. Or she is, and that cheeriness spreads to me. I’m spaced after discussing the swimming memory. I am sad I won’t see Ron for three weeks and hoping it will be OK. He said he checks his email every few days when he goes into town, so I can write to him.
I do feel lacking in something, not really sure what it is. Ron and I kind of connected, and kind of didn’t. He really responds to the kid part actually….kids can be charming and direct. They also need a lot of care….that’s the part Ron doesn’t see. Without the adult to keep things running, they don’t do too well.
I kind of think the key to these memories lies in the parts that are having them. Ron tries to talk to me about them, or I’m trying to tell him, but I don’t know much.
I think the lack is that as an adult, I don’t connect too much with Ron. I want him to like me, and it’s not that he doesn’t, but not that he does either. It’s the kid that has his attention, and she basks in it, but I’m here also. I’m just kind of shy and don’t talk that much. The kid doesn’t have a shyness problem.