Therapy Friday

I again have no recollection of what Ron was wearing. I know to group he wore a suit, dark shirt, no tie. What on earth was he wearing on Friday when I saw him? Again, I’m not really seeing him. How strange.

I always pay him when I first arrive. This time our eyes meet (eye contact – I’m working on it) and he has this almost unfriendly look that I’m not used to. I sit down and don’t want to talk.

I can’t remember the first part of the session well. We talked about the group, and Ron got theoretical and I followed what he was saying at the time, but don’t remember now what it was. 

E. So I went to the group last night.

R. Yes

E. It was OK. I kind of fought with E. Do you think I did damage?

R. I think you hurt her feelings.

E. All I said was I couldn’t relate….that’s not mean. Well, saying that what she was talking about was really stupid…that was not good.

Ron nods his head. I hadn’t actually said that, but I’d implied it anyway.

R. It seemed like you didn’t respond to anyone’s comments. You just shut them down.

E. Well, I was trying to explain my situation but it was difficult.

Ron stares at me. He nods his head.

E. I’m having this trouble at work. I go to meetings and it’s like I’m in the wrong state. Like I’ll want to cry, or I’ll be really angry.

Ron nods his head.

E. It’s like you’re trying to sympathize, but you really don’t.

Now Ron launches into his theory, and I’ll try and remember the gist, though most of it escapes me.

R. I can sympathize when you’re open and share. I find it more difficult when you shut down. Like you did in the group, and you do here. You would talk about this, but then you would switch to something else, like you were closing it down all the time, and not going into the substratas. And you shut people down. Like when E. said that she felt guilty that she couldn’t offer you any feedback.

E. What was I supposed to do with that comment? (I’d just said that’s OK.) Anyway it’s bullshit. She just probably had some negative comment she was censoring, most likely.

R. You don’t allow yourself time to consider and take people’s responses in. It’s as if you chop everything into pieces.

I think that’s what he said. I’m hazy on this. I kind of got stuck on the part where he admitted he couldn’t sympathize with me a lot of the time. That was hurtful to hear.

All through this session, I’m unable to really make eye contact with Ron. I kind of look him in the eyes, but never feel connected. But I don’t want to go through this whole conversation again like last session….I thought that had been ‘fixed’ last session, but apparently not. Very mysterious. 

E. This week has been tough. I’ve been having these body memories again, and they wipe me out, and then I can’t sleep, and also they interfere with my ability to work. At work I was a mess.

R. Well then that’s what we should be talking about. So what are they like?

I then describe how they are. Choking, feeling angry, feeling held down, that it seems as if my father is there, the setting our old apartment from when I was a child.

I’m kind of reliving this as I tell it, and end up in a part that can’t really talk. It’s the worst feeling – some kind of disabling emotional pain. At one point I get up off the couch and kind of hide in a corner behind the coat rack. I have no idea why I do that.

Ron is saying some things….How do you feel in your body….Try to keep talking about what is happening….And he asks some questions which I don’t reply to, but I do keep talking to him.

It’s a scary experience to be in a part that can’t function.

E. I’m horrible…

R. So how come you decided it was your fault?

I go back to the couch and me the adult takes back control. I kind of shout to get back.

E. Argh! That part is not functional!

R. So maybe you were not functional as a young child.

E. No, I was. So shouldn’t you be getting me back together? We have like four minutes left.

So Ron obediently tells me to feel my feet on the floor and stuff like that. I pay no attention. I’m still partly in the part, and I couldn’t care less what he says. But I need to be functional to get out of the office, so I switch into the kid.

E. So I like snow. I hope it snows…..And I liked the kleenex box that was for kids that you used to have here, because it was for me.

R. I’ll get that kind when I go shopping next time.

E. Thank you. And I should go home and eat lunch….

R. So that kid part is a part from before you were hurt…

I don’t say anything to what Ron is saying, because I don’t care. Plus I’m too overwhelmed to talk. I grab my coat, say thank you, and head out the door. Ron seems a bit upset. I pause on the steps, staring out the window, trying to get it together to drive home.

Switching into the kid really comforts me. The kid and Ron don’t have the troubles that I have with him, and she tends to be cheerful and at least she wants things and enjoys things in a kid like way. She seems to be about life.

I don’t know what the memory was about, except that I was being hurt and was in pain. I would have been under eight years old, as we moved out of that apartment when I was seven. I wonder if I’ll ever remember this stuff in the regular way.

At home I am kind of shocked and trying to process this. I also get upset that Ron said he couldn’t sympathize with me. I write him an angry email, and he replies in this cryptic complicated way. So then when I wake up at night, I send him an email that I’m quitting the group and therapy most likely. And he emails back he doesn’t remember saying he didn’t sympathize, and could it be part of the memory I had?

No it wasn’t. He said it. But it’s true I don’t make good decisions when I’m processing trauma, so I’m putting off the decision to quit things.

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14 comments
  1. Hi ellen,I'm not having much fun at the moment either. I'm doing physio one a fortnight and doing some physical exercises to help with some bad muscle pains. The net result is that I'm digging up lots of stuff that is old and unpleasant.Last night was quite rough and brought up stuff from my own childhood. Today I've been quite emotional. Then this evening I open my mail and find a seasonal begging letter from a charity that helped me. Their letter started with "Imagine in that….." and then went on to describe the scenario that happened to me that this charity helps others with. Naturally it brought stuff up and was a little upsetting.I wrote them a polite "I don't have to imagine I've been there now go away and leave me to recover" letter.I think all the pain and distress we feel is the price of healing. My dreams are about pre-trauma trauma. Stuff that I'd rather forget. It seems it still impacts on my life. Dealing with it seems to help with my relationships today.I wish this was easier. I wish things were easier foe you. I think the reality is we don't have the choice. We just have to muddle through.Stick with it. It's not fun but the courage you have and that grows with this changes the rest of your life. Mike.

  2. Paula said:

    I would be very sorry if you quit. No, Ron does not have to behave according to your liking. You have reached so much with him and still threaten yourself (and indirectly him) that you quit. That is the not so disciplined part of Little Ellen. All of us have this part in our Little One's. We did not one miss love but loving discipline. It tough, its hard and it is rewarding to stick to it. Hugs and love, Paula

  3. gniz said:

    Hey Ellen, Sorry for the difficulties this week. Very painful. I'm not sure, but Ron may have been trying help you see the difference between expressing your feelings in ways that are helpful to yourself and others–versus just expressing anger or negative emotions and opinions in a way that shuts down further conversation. Expressing emotions in a constructive way facilitates healing and bringing things into the light, whereas expression of emotions that is very attacking or negative can sometimes make people afraid to talk or further discuss things.It's a tricky subject and not that easy to figure out at first…I don't know for sure that Ron was saying this to you, but it's an important point nonetheless (imo). It's good that you're starting to be more true to yourself, speaking up in group and beginning to express anger, but I think part of Ron's job is also to help show you how to process and express anger in ways that don't make people feel completely attacked and shut down by it.Since you grew up in a family where feelings were not discussed, tolerated or respected–you've probably not learned some basic tools to express them in healthy ways. That's okay Ellen, It's not your fault at all. Not at all.But now is the time to begin to sort through these things. Expressing yourself at all is a great step and a huge step. Now phase 2 can begin. You have more power than you seem to realize. People do in fact care what you think and value your opinions and thoughts. With that comes power. So you also have a responsibility to try and be compassionate and kind with your words, even at times where you express anger and difficult emotions.This is a balancing act. It's subtle. It's not easy. Emotions and feelings are difficult for every single one of us. You are doing great work. Keep sticking with eye contact and also trying to smile and relax even when tension and anger and sadness come in. Remember to be true to yourself but also compassionate to others. Treat yourself as Little Ellen, being kind and compassionate and gentle. Also treat the people around you as Little versions of themselves. Inside we are all very small and vulnerable. It's important to try to see that even through the anger, and to thus learn how to express it in ways that can be helpful to everyone.Good parents still get angry with their children. The difference is that a good parent knows how to express the anger in ways that are not threatening or cruel, and how to also teach the child that these moments are okay and happen and to move past them…Best of luck Ellen. Don't give up!

  4. Ellen said:

    Hi Mike,Sorry that you are also processing difficult painful things from your past. But it's so nice to also know I'm not entirely alone with this struggle. Any kind of physical work, like massage etc, brings up my issues also, so I entirely know what you mean. I'd say we're both courageously facing our pasts. It was great to get your message and hear you're in a similar space today. take care

  5. HubCats said:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. HubCats said:

    Here's what I wanted to say…you had a bad week. you weren't feeling the love from Ron. You ended up taking it out on group, and it actually made you feel better. I'm familiar with that feeling I think, there's a sense of being in control, invulnerability, of clarity, rationality. What Ron was doing possibly, was pointing out the social costs of handling your emotions (or being handled by them) that way, rather than sharing your vulnerability, letting others approach you, and being open about your bad week.

  7. Ellen said:

    @ Paula – Thanks for wanting me to stay in therapy. I feel better now after a few days and no longer want to quit. I think you have a point about the discipline, and the threatening to quit not being too mature. It's true. Huge@ gniz – I like the points, about expressing feelings in a way that doesn't hurt others. I'm really not sure if that was the point Ron was trying to make. I'll ask him for sure. Quite honestly, Ron tends to be trying to 'stir up trouble' in the group. Not in a bad way, I suppose, but as a way to get us interacting. So when a member was talking in a general way about something he saw in the group, Ron wanted him to name names and get very specific. Group therapy is really not a social occasion at all. Not sure where I'm going with this. Hmmm…it's all very confusing. I'm definitely taking your insights on board and considering them. If they're not exactly the cause of this situation, they're still good points in general for me to work on. Thanks!@ HubCats – Great to meet you HubCats. It may be that that was what Ron was doing. Though group therapy is not really a social occasion at all…I will ask him this. Yes, I've definitely felt those things on expressing anger – sometimes your mind seems sharper, you feel in control…..I don't know about in this case. I did actually share, twice, about my bad day with not a whole lot of response to that. I didn't describe that part. I definitely was being handled by my emotions rather than handling them though. I liked both your comments BTW. Next time just leave them all. Do you have a blog?Take care

  8. Dear one, I know it is tough and there have been times I did not want to talk in t. I would get frustrated inside (always wondering if my t. could notice my frustration) and wanted the session to end. But, finding out in the end, that talking helped much more than keeping it in. True, we are all on our own time table of opening up and there is not "time limit" to how long or when to speak. I finally understood that talking helped me much more than keeping my feelings in. I did that for way too many years. Ellen, speaking for myself now….."I had to come to a place with what I would say, I could trust my t. and would not be judged." Blessings and safe hugs.

  9. HubCats said:

    hi ellen, I found your blog on Harriet's blogroll. I've admired your comments, there. I have a private journal/blog that I share with my therapist on and off.By social costs, I mean the cost to your relationships. Perhaps being "ignored" when you were sharing also had something to do with what happened.it seems like a great thing that you can also process what happens in group with Ron – I hadn't appreciated that, before. I don't imagine you've gotten that spontaneously angry with Ron, and this was the next best thing!Laura

  10. Ellen said:

    @ JBR – Thanks for sharing your story about not wanting to talk in therapy. I see I'm not alone in this feeling. Blessings to you also@ HubCats – Oh, you're Laura! I do know you from Harriet's blog of course. Nice that you came over to visit. Being somewhat ignored may have been part of it. Also I had major PTSD symptoms happening and didn't know how to deal with them.Ron is actually using the group in his therapy sessions. I think he likes that because he's actually there, as opposed to if I tell him about a scenario that happened at work or with friends….We could spend all our time just on figuring out what happened in the group, but I don't want to do that, as I need to also process memories and other things. 50 minutes is pretty short for all that!And I have been angry with Ron actually. I'm an equal opportunity angry person. :-)take care

  11. HubCats said:

    been angry with him to the (same) degree, of hurting his feelings? I read in your blog that you wouldn't want him to read it, because you've been critical of him… that sounds like you protect him from your anger.yes, having the group leader be the same as your individual therapist seems like a great advantage – if the therapist is good, which Ron seems to be.

  12. Ellen said:

    Hmmm…I wonder when I said that. I think maybe some time ago. I've been very much angrier with Ron than with this woman in the group. She simply annoyed me momentarily, and I feel bad now for how I acted. With Ron, we have an actual relationship, and he can really hurt me. I've told him he lies, he doesn't care, he just does what he does for the money – and at the time, I was furious with him. I've written him emails containing the f word (not name calling, but still). Then I calm down again and apologize.It is interesting, having the therapist have a group with only his clients. I think a lot of the therapy part of the group happens in the individual sessions actually….Yeah, Ron is a good therapist. thanks. take care

  13. di345 said:

    I'm sorry group and your personal therapy session was so difficult this week. I can relate to feeling like quitting because I often feel that way and I sometimes do quit. Then my T tells me he will hold the appointment for me and he hopes I come in and so far I always do.I think that it would be triggering to have group therapy with my individual T and his other patients. I would spend way too much time feeling less than others and thinking he liked them better. Actually a few years ago my T was teaching mindfulness meditation course and I was interested in teaching it and he told me he thought it would be confusing and it would be better for me to take a course led by someone else. At first I was upset but now I'm relieved.Di

  14. Ellen said:

    Hi Di – Thanks. It must be very stressful for you to go on that 'quitting' roller coaster so often. I've only threatened to quit one other time so far, and thought seriously of quitting maybe two other times but kept it to myself. I always find it an awful feeling. Yes, being jealous of other clients is tough. Plus in my case they all seem younger and more attractive. Or sicker, so Ron puts extra effort into them it seems. It is also a reality check though – it becomes really clear that Ron has a lot of other clients, it's his job….I don't know how to explain it. It's not all bad.I'm glad you didn't take the course though. thanks, take care

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