My intent this week for therapy was not deep digging if at all possible – just stability, and reassurance for parts that Ron is still there and everything is OK.
This time I purposely notice what Ron is wearing – oh, it’s his blue suit. Now what kind of shirt – I don’t know. I again am not really seeing him, except I remember wanting to know what he wears for my write-up, so I note the blue suit before lapsing into unconsciousness once more.
I sit and am somewhat afraid as usual. Ron simply waits for me to speak, as always.
E. What shall we talk about?
R. What about the emails.
E. Oh yeah, the emails.
I’m embarrassed – I exchanged emails with Ron after my last session in such a different frame of mind, I can barely remember it.
R. Do you remember what I said, that made you think I didn’t sympathize with you? I don’t think I said that.To me, the emails came out of the blue….
E. Yeah. You said you didn’t. I said that you were trying to sympathize with me but couldn’t really, and you said you could sympathize when I was being vulnerable, or something like that, but not when I’m closed or shutting people down or something. But that’s what I’m in therapy for – because I have these problems. What did you mean by that – that I switch around topics or don’t stay in one piece?
Ron now launches into some theory about me that I cannot remember at all. Sigh. I know it made me angry. Something about parts, being split into parts by trauma, and building connections and integration.
R. So does that seem true to you?
R. It makes you angry….that I’m not understanding you?
E. It’s OK….it doesn’t matter.
R. Yes, it matters. You need me to understand.
E. Well….I don’t understand either. I’m just trying to understand the situation myself….I wish you’d stop saying that about integration.
R. Why? It’s bad for you to be split into parts. Integration would mean all of you would be there all the time…the teenager, the ten year old, in every decision you make, they’d all be there.
E. How would you feel….it’s like you want to kill the kid.
R. Well…that would feel really awful.
R. You seem to lose a sense of connection with me altogether when something happens, like after the last session, just like that….
E. I know. When I used to have a boyfriend, not that I’ve had a lot, but the last one, he did say to me – did you know you switch moods very very fast? It’s true – I’d lose a sense of trust in a flash. It feels awful when that happens.
E. Do you think I have borderline personality disorder? Cutting, suicide attempts, female. Well, I have one of those.
I’m bringing this up because one of the symptoms is really fast switches in how one perceives important people…either all good or all bad, and the same person can be relegated from good to bad really quickly. I do lose trust very very fast.
R. I don’t like that label. It’s kind of been twisted and used against people….
E. A. seems to find value in it, she keeps mentioning it. It maybe makes sense of her experience…that must cause issues for you, if you don’t like the label.
E. I have PTSD – do you believe in that?
R. Yes, more so…it hasn’t been used in the same way.
E. I’m really scared of you. I’m scared of you, and I need you. Both at the same time.
R. For you, a caretaker is not reliable.
E. But you are reliable.
R. When you were a child, your caretakers were not reliable. They both hurt you and you needed them to protect you.
E. Oh….I felt really bad about how I spoke to E in the group, hurting her feelings. I wanted to call her and apologize, take her out for cake….
R. You didn’t notice at the time you hurt her feelings?
E. I just couldn’t sympathize with her. It seemed like she was overreacting to the group ending.
R. You missed a lot of what she said when you were out of the room.
E. That’s true. I did miss a lot.
R. She was angry with you.
E. I just didn’t feel like it was really about me though. I didn’t feel a connection at all. Mainly though I was having really bad symptoms – body memories, I’d had a horrible day, a voice was screaming…I just didn’t have patience.
R. Yeah, and the group didn’t pick up on that part at all.
E. Well, they’re not going to are they. They’re going to be interested in the drama, any confrontation…they’re not going to care about the background story.
R. You think they don’t care about you, about what your family was like?
E. No. They don’t. It’s natural though….Anyway, E was the focus, not me. It wasn’t about me.
R. Did that make you angry, that you weren’t the centre of attention?
This is the one thing that Ron says that bothers me, though I don’t respond at the time. Does he really think I’m the kind of person that must be the centre of attention always? I hope not.
R. So you emailed that you’re quitting the group. Have you thought any more about that?
E. Oh yeah. Was that one of those 4 am emails? Those are great.
E. I don’t know….I was wanting to quit everything. But I know I overreact sometimes. Those emails are just baloney anyway.
R. Well, they expressed how you felt. You felt unsupported – like I dropped you, abandoned you.
E. Yeah. I felt like that. Though you actually did support me in the group. Just not so much in the session. You didn’t ignore me in the group. You said my name, you said I’d had a different reaction to the group ending than E…..And I must have trusted you in the session. I would never go into a part like that, a memory, if I didn’t.
Ron nods his head.
I kind of wonder if I should have written that I felt better about therapy, when we exchanged emails. Once I felt better, I just thanked Ron for exchanging emails with me, but didn’t say I was feeling better. I wonder for the first time how these emails affect him. I’d assumed they didn’t much affect him. Maybe they do and I should be more careful to communicate that I’m doing better again. I don’t say this at the time, but I’ll ask next time I see him. Odd that this never occurred to me before. He does seem quite concerned about them.
E. I went to a family dinner last Sunday at a restaurant. Both my parents have birthdays in December, so it’s a tough month. Lots of family events.
E. It’s difficult to reconcile – I’m having these extreme experiences in therapy, remembering abuse, and then my family seems so rational and normal.
Ron kind of relaxes, uncrosses his legs and seems to start really listening carefully to me. I wish I had more to tell him though.
E. I’m mainly mad at my siblings. They treat me as if I’m not even a person. As if they’d just met me…..After the dinner, I’d assumed I was driving my sister and BIL home, as they don’t drive and always want a lift. So the BIL says something like, Oh, we’ll have you drive us home Xmas Eve, we’ll save you the trouble tonight. He always always wants a ride, so this is unusual. So I ask my brother, who also doesn’t drive, do you want a ride? He gives me this serious look and says no, they’ll take the subway. So then on the way home, I realize my sister and brother likely made plans to go out together after the dinner, and didn’t want me along. I know they socialize with each other and not with me. Still, I felt bad about that.
R. So you’re saying they are being rational and reasonable?
E. My siblings aren’t. They’re treating me the way my parents used to treat me as a child. My parents don’t do that anymore, but my siblings are carrying it on. As if there’s something wrong with me but they’re too polite to mention what it is.
E. My sister might be thinking I don’t do enough for my parents. She’s up there all the time….I rarely visit.
E. So what do you think I should do?
R. There’s a lot of supposing going on. You could check some of these things out.
E. I suppose.
E. So are you going to your farm for Christmas?
R. After Christmas.
E.I’d actually prefer if you didn’t take vacations. Which is stupid. I actually don’t even want to do therapy over Christmas. Just….
Ron nods at me.
R. Would it help if we checked in next week by phone?
R. We’ll set up a time and you can phone me. You know you can phone me anytime. And email….
I’m really pleased at the thought of phoning Ron next week. Yay. I suppose he thinks I’m fragile – he’s concerned about me. I like it. I feel relieved he cares. I probably wouldn’t phone him without an arrangement.
R. If you’re in crisis, you can phone.
E. I don’t go into crisis. I just go to bed.
R. Well, maybe that’s a kind of crisis.
E. It took me all weekend to process that memory from last session. I don’t remember doing much on the weekend. Though luckily it didn’t trigger off other memories with it.
R. Uh huh….
E. Wait! I forgot to use the blanket!
I get the fur blanket the kid loves from where it’s tucked into the arm of the couch and spread it across my lap, stroking it fondly. Ron grins at me.
E. I’ll get beat up if I go home without using the blanket.
E. Oh, and I had a dream! I was going to tell it to you. I forgot about it entirely.
R. You can still tell me, and I can hold it for you for next time.
I’m touched at this – the offer to hold difficult things for me. He is able to do that too.
E. Well, that’s OK.
E. So I have a present for you.
I get up to get the present.
E. It’s a plant. Do you like plants?
Ron bends over to look at the plant.
R. Yes, thank you.
He seems pleased. He’s kind of acting as if I’m a kid who has just given him a gift. That’s OK. I kind of am anyway…the whole session, I’ve been tentative and kid-like. The kid definitely was giving him the present.
E. It’s an amaryllis. It’ll bloom in about a week. Well, if you’re going to the farm, you can maybe give it to someone else.
R. No, no I want to keep it.
We arrange a time to call, I wish him a good holiday, and I leave.
This is one of the few sessions where I’m not massively upset afterwards. I cry a bit at home, and pace, because I feel lonely that Ron is going on vacation and I will miss him. But after that, I feel fine. Warm and connected.
I’m not sure it’s OK to be so dependent on a therapist. But I am feeling so much better this Christmas vacation, so far, than last, and it’s because of him. If it helps, it can’t be bad. I’ve really needed something to help me. Being dependent on Ron is the situation right now. Won’t be forever.