Therapy Friday

Therapy today was a complete mixture of things. I hope I can remember what happened – I have the feeling I blocked out most of what Ron was so therapeutically trying to tell me.

We start on the minute on time. I have been looking forward to seeing Ron. The kid missed him terribly. I don’t have anything special to discuss though. Ron looks cool and rested. Frosty even. On the way in, I see a group member, E., the one person in the group I have trouble liking. She has a little smile on her face. Ron likes her – how can he? I don’t like her at all. I’m childish for sure. She doesn’t see me.

E. So you’re back! In your office, where you’re ‘supposed to be’. Did you have a good holiday?

The kid had written Ron something like this – I’m trying to make light of it.

R. Yes. smiles a bit

E. So I hate farms, and donkeys, and snow….especially snow.

R. All the things that took me away from you….

E. What should we talk about?

R. Well, it’s been an eventful time. Why don’t you tell me what’s been happening?

E. I had a nice new year’s. I invited friends over for dinner.  I made a ham, the butcher told me what to do, he sold me mustard for the glaze, he gave me a recipe…..

R. Who did you invite?

E. My friends E, J and my ex husband. They all said they couldn’t stay until midnight, but they did. It was interesting, they are all introverts, but they were all talking away…..

E. Otherwise, I had two weeks off. I was a bit lonely. I didn’t like Christmas.

R. What happened?

E. I went to dinner at my parents’. I went early, to help.

R. Yeah?

E. I went for a walk with my brother. But I got dissociated from it, so then I was dealing with that also.

R. What did you talk about?

E. Just everyday things. Soup. Renovations on his house.

R. Your brother is friendly?

E. Kind of. I was happy he was talking to me, because normally he doesn’t. Of course, if I was emotional or talked about some topic he didn’t like, he’d stop talking to me.

R. What would he do?

E. He’d just stop talking.

R. So he only accepts you if you’re not real…..What did you do when you were dissociated?

E. I went to lie down upstairs. There’s a couch. And I took a pill. I don’t think it did anything.  I never know if it will.

E. Then at dessert, I got sarcastic. I think I hurt my mother’s feelings.

I explain about the hundred teas and many pie possibilities. Ron looks a bit surprised.

E. So then I said, if it was up to me, there’d be two tea pots – herbal and regular. No more choice! That’s it. Then at pie time, I said if it was up to me, you’d have to choose – no choosing both kinds at once. One kind, that’s it. I mean, it takes about an hour to serve dessert, with everyone ordering an individual tea and pie.

R. So what’s everyone else doing, if it takes an hour to serve dessert. Do they say anything?

I think about this. The possibility of anyone else saying anything hasn’t occurred to me. It’s like they’re all hypnotized to respond with delight.

E. No. I mean, they’re walking around, chatting. They’re not necessarily sitting waiting for dessert.

R. Why do you think your mother does this?

E. She wants to be perfect. She wants every person to have exactly what they desire I suppose.

R. What do you think she is feeling?

E. I don’t think she is feeling anything. She’s been working since the crack of dawn to make this happen – she’s just focused on making it all happen.

R. So your mother isn’t there as a person at all – and you’re the only one that notices.

This is the one time during this session where it seems Ron kind of likes me. The rest of the time he is pointing out faults and problems, I feel like.

E. Yeah, maybe.

I lose interest in this topic. I don’t feel like feeling depressed, I want to stay happy that Ron is back. I look around the office. I guess I’m switching in and out of the kid, but the kid is not talking. To the kid, the details of the office are very important, so I keep looking around, noting what’s there. There are quite a lot of things in the tiny space.

E. So there’s not group to talk about.

R. It’s starting again next week.

E. Oh. Group is tough for me. What am I supposed to do, if I’m like last time, where I just felt horrible. I talked about it. Then I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so then the group moved on. Then I just couldn’t manage with the rest of it.

R. You were feeling suicidal. And the group was going on about ordinary things, and you didn’t like it.

E. Yeah, what is it I’m supposed to do?

R. There’s no supposed. You tried something, and there were certain consequences. Maybe next time, you’ll try something else.

Sigh. Actually there were no consequences, so far, as that was the end of the group when I got into a bit of a fight, and it hasn’t met since. The only consequence was I thought Ron didn’t like me, because I was mean to E. But then he said that wasn’t true, two weeks ago….I don’t say any of this though, as for some reason I want to stay on light topics.

E. I don’t want to go to the group! I hate the group.

E. I’m having trouble working from home. I don’t get much done. I try to work all day, I feel guilty, but I can’t do much.

R. What happens? You go to sit down at your computer, and what occurs.

E. Nothing. I mean, I can sit down, I work for half an hour, then I get too bored. So I look at a website. Go wash the dishes. Read my novel. Go lie down. That’s really bad if I lie down.

R. Why?

E. It’s bad. I might fall asleep.

R. So the work is boring….

E. Yeah, but the problem is my mood. I get so depressed, I think I’d have trouble with any job. And staying at home, the parts get active. If I’m in the office, they stay more hidden automatically, but at home, they feel free to bug me.

E. So when I phoned you, I was scared. It was odd, because I hadn’t even started missing you yet. That started the next week.

R. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind for next time.

E. I don’t think I was scared of you though.

Ron had said at the time that maybe I was scared he’d turn on me.

E. I think it’s more of a parts problem. So I was phoning you, and, and this happens all the time, I was determined to be an adult. You were being adult, and I was an adult. But the thing is, the parts come rushing up when I talk to you sometimes. So I’m busy pushing them down. Which ends up scaring me. Does that make any sense?

Ron looks thoughtful but puzzled.

R. It’s starting to….

E. Like in everyday life, I push them down, because they’re not helpful, I need to be adult.

R. How did you feel after the call?

E. I felt very anxious. But the next day, I felt furious with my family, all day. All this crap happened to me, and they didn’t do anything to help me. I was so mad. Then the next day, I was back to normal.

R. So normal is not feeling angry? Do you think you felt angry with me?

I look at Ron and consider this.

E. No. Maybe unconciously, I feel angry with you. But as far as I know, I don’t.

Ron nods.

R. I think you might be unconsciously very angry a lot of the time. For very good reason.

E. Yeah? Maybe that’s true…..

I don’t know what to say to that. I don’t feel angry.

R. What does that mean? Do you think it’s true?

Ron gets irritated when I say maybe something he’s said is true. 

E. I don’t know. If it’s unconscious, how would I know?

R. For instance, the teenager part, she is very angry.

E. Yeah…she’s not a complete part, like the kid.

R. No, she’s not as independent. Have you ever been her when she wasn’t angry?

E. No, I guess not.

The teenager seems to have impressed Ron. It’s kind of funny really.

E. In general, being in parts is strange. But it seems key to my depression. So if I’m depressed, like for instance yesterday, I was working at home and I was getting depressed, if I do something the kid likes, it cheers me up a lot. We decided we needed kid DVDs, so we headed off to the library to get some, and instantly I was all happy. Then I’m going up the stairs, and the librarian waves at me, like you would to a kid. So  I wave back. I’m totally in kid space.

Ron smiles.

R. What DVDs did you get?

E. I got Einstein Love Squared, or something like that, and 102 Dalmations. Then I watched the Einstein one. But it was too old for the kid. The kid seems to be very specific in what she likes. It was OK, but it didn’t give that kid joy….For instance, the kid loves the cartoon Arthur. Do you know Arthur? She thinks that’s wonderful. But then the next cartoon that comes on after that, she doesn’t like. She’s very specific.

R. Yeah, I know Arthur. So you’re taking care of the kid part, and it makes you happy.

E. Yes, but I’m older.

I’m exasperated. This is not good – I’m pushing fifty, and I’m watching cartoons. Come on. This is not good. But I don’t say that.

R. That kid part got left behind. Your parents – your father especially – didn’t make you happy. Making you happy could have made him happy, but he didn’t know that. So now, you take care of that kid part, and that can make you the adult happy.

He says more on this topic, but I kind of tune him out unfortunately. I’m switching into the kid quite a bit, and that seems most important.

We sit in silence.

R. What’s happening.

E. The kid is going to talk.

E. So I’m going to talk. So you’re back! So I like it when you’re here. I like being in your office. I like the carpet, it’s got teapots. You don’t have the coffee mug, silver, with black things?

I look around.

E. I like the chair at the desk, it’s a funny shape. I like the coat rack, its’ so old, it’s all tippy….So for Christmas, I got two boxes of chocolates, and one bag of truffles. Good. And I got a book with pictures, and another book with less pictures. There are stories – The Gingerbread Man, Country Mouse and City Mouse…

R. What was Christmas dinner like for you?

E. It was OK. I liked the pie. And ice cream. There was a Christmas tree…..

The kid is sad about the dinner.

R. Did you get to talk to anyone?

E. No. Well a bit to my uncle. E. doesn’t know I’m there. She used to be my friend, but now she isn’t. P is grown up!

The kid remembers my brother as a baby only. The kid is getting bummed out, so a topic switch is in order.

E. I like Christmas at our house better. We had a huge vase of flowers. And Jesus Mary and Joseph as a Christmas ornament. And there was a bigger version, and we almost bought it, but it was too expensive, so we didn’t buy it.

E. So it’s time to go? Yep. So bye. Thank you.

R. Bye. Remember the group starts on Thursday.

E. OK…..I’ll be there.

I feel OK at first, for a few hours after therapy. Then sadness and exhaustion hit me. I don’t really see what I’m sad about. We didn’t go deeply into anything, and didn’t do any trauma work whatsoever. I don’t like talking about my family, but none of this is news to me.

Then I also feel that Ron doesn’t much like me, and that we didn’t really connect. Though writing this out, we did cover a lot of ground, and he definitely was present. I kept switching topics as I felt like keeping things light. Lightish…

I’m also scared he will support E in the group and not me.

I’d kind of forgotten what therapy is like I suppose, and this session was very talky. It is an opportunity to explore feelings though. Next time I’ll do more of that. I was happy that the kid got to talk. That seems key to me, and it is satisfying, even if Ron is maybe a little bored by the kid. The kid chats. But that’s what kids do.

I’d say I wasn’t taking things that seriously, and Ron picks up on that and doesn’t like it. I don’t think analysis is going to help me, though it’s interesting, when I can take in what he’s saying. And the problem  with parts is uppermost for me. I’m kind of switching in and out of parts while sitting there, talking, and so the talking doesn’t seem quite real and important to me. So then Ron is a little offended I think. He’s said before that my being in parts makes our relationship more difficult, or affects it, or something. I guess that is what is happening.

  1. It sounds like he might be a bit overwhelmed by your switching because it's new to him (in relation to other people he may have treated before you). It seems he has some catching up to do because the parts aren't just going to go away because he hopes they will. It won't help your relationship with him if he is only wanting to talk to certain parts and could cause some parts to feel bad. Sorry, I know it's not nice when people criticise someone you care about but it just seems clear that if you're feeling resistance from Ron when the parts happen it is going to be a problem. Do you think you could speak directly to him about this and how you feel?

  2. HubCats said:

    this is what I make about his remark about your last group session (tell me if you think this is analysis):You felt lousy, and you tried to connect with the group, they moved on and were paying attention to E who had mere trivia on HER mind. You blasted E which had the short-term effect of making you feel better. was that your "strategy"? perhaps it's a pattern. The consequences of that pattern and helping yourself to feel better in that way had consequences in that a) you were worried about your connection with Ron, and b) you hurt E's feelings (this is a theory, at this point) c) you felt some degree of regret over that, and d) you probably had an impact (as yet, unknown) on your relationships with the rest of the individuals in group.I think Ron might be getting ahead of you in saying that you will try something else, next time. I'm not sure that I would regret blowing up, in your shoes. Ron might be the only person there, whose feelings you care about. You might feel that E was a deserving target of your feeling passed over by the group. (You felt bad already, group was making you feel worse (momentarily), and you don't like E anyway.)If you WERE feeling tortured by remorse, Ron's remark would put the incident in perspective

  3. Ellen said:

    @ Candycan – Its fine to criticize Ron – hey I do it constantly. But I think I am explaining myself badly. Ron is not indicating he hopes the parts go away in any way. He is pretty welcoming and open to them actually. I know dissociation is not his specialty, but I'm attached to him and I think we're muddling through OK. The switching I was talking about that he didn't know about was more like fading in and out, if that makes any sense. The kid was kind of fading in and out, and not talking…so he wouldn't know this was happening unless I told him. It's true we're not really on the same page many times….though more so than the other therapists I've tried. It's as if we're both trying to figure out what's going on still. Ron believes dissociation is on a continuum, so he thinks you basically apply the same principles as for other problems….you allow things to happen and try and get into a dialogue with what is occuring. I'm really interested in your opinion Candy because you do have more experience with therapy for this than I do. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Ellen said:

    @ HubCats – Well, it's a theory. I think parts of it resonate with me. Oh and analysis is fine from commenters – it just irritates me when Ron does it. It's true I was feeling lousy, and didn't know how to cope with sitting in the group anymore. I wouldn't say I 'blasted' E. – I commented that I couldn't relate to her problem (of the group ending) and then went around the group and determined everyone there was coming back. Then she got mad. I kind of felt I was being truthful, as Ron constantly tells us to be. But I know I was also driven by feeling so bad. I wouldn't say it was a 'strategy' – my usual strategy is to withdraw and go to bed actually. You are right on about the consequences – well put. I think I regret going further than saying I can't relate. That was unnecessary and almost made fun of E's concern. But I don't totally regret saying I couldn't relate – that was simply the truth, whatever the background was. So I agree with what you say on that basically. I don't feel she was a 'deserving target' though. I'm not sure what I would do differently next time except limit my protest to a sentence or two about how I feel. Maybe take a pill also. πŸ™‚ My question to Ron was serious – what does he think I should be doing. Which he didn't answer, as he doesn't see his role as giving advice (or he doesn't know). It'll be interesting to see what E has to say next time. I'm sure she'll have things to say – she's like that. Which is OK.Thanks for the analysis hubcats. Made me think this through more closely.

  5. HubCats said:

    sorry if I misconstrued what you wrote about the last session. I'm probably projecting! Glad you were able to get something from my comment. You know best where you departed from what you needed to say.I recognize the post-session sadness you mention, and I'll bet you're right about it being because you didn't connect (although I'm pretty vague about connection). Is that the cost of keeping things light? Of not taking off your big coat?

  6. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura – I guess we're both in our email tonight! You didn't misconstrue barely at all – and I'm sure I don't explain that well in the first place. I was very interested in your interpretation and it helped me think it all out more clearly.Yeah, that probably is the cost of keeping it light. Sadly. Though the kid part of the session was important and meaningful to me. In a way it seems like a no win situation – hit the big horrible issues, even if not feeling that bad in the first place, and feel devastated after a session, though connected to the T. Or keep it lighter, don't hit devastating emotions afterwards, but less connected to the T, so kind of sad anyway…Cheers

  7. HubCats said:

    call me cynical, but I think that's how they get us to do the "work".

  8. Harriet said:

    It's so hard to get started again after having a week off of therapy, and I think it is harder if it is the t who has gone away. Then we are just left behind. I was away last week and didn't think about missing therapy because obviously I was on vacation and had other things to do and think about, but I don't like when my t goes away.It seems like you had a great recall of everything that you and Ron talked about. I notice that you frequently say that you have offended him, or he doesn't like something, or he doesn't like you. I'm sure he isn't saying those things though. I wonder if it is the nature of therapy that causes us to project these feelings onto our therapists, because they never tell us how they feel, or if they don't like something we say. I think I would like to know what my t is thinking or feeling in response to something I say, but I know that is not what therapy is for.It has been helpful for me in the past to mention to my t that I think he is mad, or offended, or he thinks I'm boring or weird. Then he can tell me how he feels, or more likely we will talk about why I think he is feeling what I imagine he is feeling.

  9. Ellen said:

    @ Harriet – It does seem better to leave than to be left Harriet! :-)I don't see why we shouldn't know what our therapist is thinking or feeling, if we need to. Ron will tell me if I ask him. Just usually I forget to ask. I might try to bring this up. I think for little stupid stuff, I'd have to catch it in the moment. For big stuff, yes it's good to bring it up any time. Therapists get so tricky don't they.

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