I have mixed feelings about therapy. Sometimes I feel it is helping me a lot, and other times it just feels like torture and a waste of money to boot. I don’t know.
Friday Ron was in jeans for a change, unshaven….Casual Friday! I say, and he grins and says yes.
I’m not going to describe the whole session. We always seem to start talking about the group. Ron thought I’d had an easier time being present, and I replied that actually I’d ended up fairly dissociated.
E. But I did stay adult the whole time. That was good.
Ron nods thoughtfully.
We talk about whether I could interrupt whatever was going on to talk about my problem in being present. Ron talked a lot about how groups help you and how he tries not to have rules….but there could be natural consequences for acting in certain ways. I felt his group operates mainly by focusing on one individual per evening, and he said not necessarily…..
It’s actually too soon for me to discuss the group, as it just happened the night before. I’d rather a few days go by so I can figure out how I feel. However, that’s not possible.
Ron gives me these staring looks a few times when I say something about some individuals in the group – I’m not sure what that meant, and it bothers me once I’m home. Does he think I don’t take other people’s pain seriously? It’s not the case, but I don’t ask him.
We start talking about what happens to me in the group. I’m actually not totally sure what happens, but I try to explain as best I know.
E. Well, first of all I’m scared. Then the teenage voice starts shouting at me, and the kid fidgets.
R. What does that voice say?
E. She always says the same thing. Very gloomy. She wants to kill herself.
R. Could you share that with the group?
E. I don’t think so. It would just traumatize the group. They wouldn’t understand. I don’t understand myself, and it’s happening to me.
I’m kind of outraged at this idea. This is such a bizarre symptom – sharing it would make me a freak as far as I can see. It’s bad enough I’m admitting it to Ron in the privacy of a therapy session.
R. Why would it traumatize them?
E. I just don’t think it would be a good idea.
R. So then what happens?
E. Well, I get a few body memories coming up. I think they’re triggered by all the fear I’m feeling. Then I guess I shut down, so then I end up dissociated. And I don’t like feeling like this, and I want to be sure therapy doesn’t make it worse.
R. So ending up dissociated is the end of a chain reaction.
E. I guess.
R. So how do you come out of it?
E. Well, feeling things would do it. Sometimes it seems like I have to let the memories happen….
R. Could you feel something else, something that’s not bad? Like feeling something about someone?
E. I don’t know….maybe.
I’m not too sure what he’s talking about. Maybe feelings of love or connection…would bring a person out of this? Could be. Is he offering himself as someone I feel connected to? Having someone I care about to tell as I’m getting dissociated would probably stop the process. I don’t know about once it’s already happened.
I wondered after the session whether this is true, what I said. It does really happen like that. But I wonder if it’s a problem with relating to the group and to Ron in the group that sets this off. That if I felt more accepted by the group this wouldn’t happen to me.
We start talking about how the dissociation feels to me.
E. It’s like there’s a knife. Like the line, but it’s more painful. It’s across my pelvis this time.
R. Is it painful?
E. It’s not physically painful, but it is emotionally painful. It really hurts.
I kind of switch into parts and talk about how it hurts, in a more childish way.
R. Who’s wielding the knife?
E. I don’t know…Nobody.
I sit for a while feeling this knife. It is a very unhappy feeling. I don’t know what to say.
R. How do you feel?
E. Bad. It’s cutting me in half. I don’t want to be cut in half. It’s like a blackness…
R. Is the blackness inside or outside you?
E. It’s inside….it’s like a black slide – I feel like I could drown in it. Or slide down into it and be lost.
I feel a kind of desolation and a sense of danger – that this blackness will swallow me and that I won’t survive.
R. Could someone go into the blackness with you?
E. I don’t know…. (quavering…I’m really scared).
We sit. I get more upset.
E. It’s like there’s a playground. There’s a metal slide. There are climbing bars, but they’re high and I might fall off.
I take off my glasses and throw them on the small table.
E. I want to break my glasses.
R. You’re angry….
E. How’s breaking my glasses going to help? This doesn’t make sense!
R. Breaking your glasses won’t help…but expressing your anger another way might. It doesn’t make sense right now, but it may in the future.
Hmm….I didn’t realize even that wanting to break my glasses was a sign of anger. It’s obvious looking back at it. That’s how literal I am sometimes – I don’t make connections at all. I don’t actually feel the anger other than wanting to break the glasses though.
Then I come out of the vision or whatever it is. The knife is still there (the feeling of the knife cutting me in two). But I’m not more dissociated at least.