Saturday therapy

I’m not sure what the traffic will be like on Saturday, so I’m at my street parking place early, and wait in the car. I’m scared as per usual, so I try a bit of chanting to calm myself down.

This time a dark haired man in his thirties walks out of Ron’s office ahead of me. I’m briefly jealous of him, analyzing Ron’s ‘take care’ for depths of meaning – does he like this client more than me? lol.

I walk in and sit down.

E. Smells like coffee!

Ron nods agreeably.

E. What were you doing yesterday? Or is it private and personal?

R. It was a PD day, so the boys were home, and I went to teacher interviews.

E. Oh.

I completely lose interest in this. I don’t want to hear about Ron’s family I guess.

Now I can’t remember what else happened. Sigh. I’m going to skip around a bit and paste together things that happened. I think in future I have to get this down sooner.

R. I thought in group you were a lot more open and direct than you have been. You responses were less clipped.

E. Yeah? That’s good. I was so upset after the group. I cried for two hours. Thanks for responding to my email – that helped a lot.

Ron nods.

R. Why do you think you were so upset?

E. I’m not sure. Like I wrote you, I’d had these flashbacks in the afternoon, and they were still really affecting me. But I’d talked, been the focus, all evening last time, so I didn’t plan to talk that night, so I didn’t talk about it.

R. Umm

E. And R. asked me if I was OK….I was so touched that, I suppose he kind of cared.

R. You’re surprised someone would care?

E. He seemed to mean it. And I wish I’d said something about this, but I didn’t. I was actually still shaking from the flashbacks. Usually if someone asks me if I’m OK, they mean, pull yourself together or check into the looney bin, or else they’re just looking for the cheery, fine, how are you. They don’t mean they actually want to hear how I feel.

Ron seems startled. I’m sounding kind of harsh and angry.

E. Then I interrupted D. So bad. But you’d told me to, if I felt I needed to leave, you told me to talk to you instead.

Ron nods vigorously. Yep, he agrees to this.

R. Did you think I returned to D too fast?

E. Well, rationally no, you should have done what you did. I guess emotionally, I would have liked if you’d stayed with me longer. But man, her issue is exactly this, not being taken account of by her family….and then I interrupt her. And it was very clear that you wanted her to talk, that was totally clear.

R. Did you feel I was angry with you for interrupting?

E. Not really. You’d told me to do that.

R. Yes.

E. Twice in the group I mentioned how much fear I was feeling. Actually, it was like panic. It’s unusual for me to feel panic – usually I leave, or I dissociate. So from my point of view, it was successful, because I didn’t dissociate, I stayed.

E. I was kind of pissed off by some people that night.

R. By who?

E. Well, E. I didn’t like how she compared us to her co-workers, who wouldn’t step up to present, how she had to rescue them and do it all herself. I mean, fuck off. If I want to sit in the group and not talk, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not up to me to give her the experience of the group she’s looking for. And when I said one time I didn’t like the group, she scolded me as if I was a child – ‘am i not taking this seriously…’ Honestly.

R. You could bring that in. I think that’s what’s missing, that kind of visceral response.

Sigh. Ron also seems to want me to provide him with the group experience he is looking for.

E. And D, the way she responded to me….Sort of passive aggressive I thought. Like, yeah, I’m down in the ditch here, everybody kicks me, you’re kicking me too, but I’m used to it….Yep, that’s going to make me feel better about interrupting her. She looks so downtrodden. And she’s pretty – she just doesn’t do anything with her looks.

I’d just noticed that this woman is attractive. She always wears a big beige cardigan, glasses, and looks down at the ground all the time. But if she stopped doing that, she’d be very pretty. I’m envious of women who have that gift actually. I think they’re less likely to be lonely. Though of course things can still go wrong…can and do.

R. Did you feel angry with E right away?

E. No, I didn’t notice I felt that way until this morning. I was watching Will and Grace, and I realized that I feel angry with E. That’s why it’s good for me to wait a day before discussing the group, I never know how I feel right away.

Ron has some kind of reaction when I mention Will and Grace. I wish I’d asked him about it, but I don’t, as I’m intent on other things. Later it bugs me, and I decide he thinks I’m gay. Which bugs the hell out of me. It’d be fine if I was, but I’m not, I’m just not good looking, and there’s a difference. Anyway, this is kind of stupid, but it ends up really bugging me. It’s been a recurring impression I have, that Ron might think that. OK, am I projecting, I secretly fear I’m gay, but can’t accept it? Not that I know of, but you never know with therapy. Anyway, I don’t go there this time.

E. But I know E. triggers me. I feel like she’s rescuing and controlling. This happens to me a fair amount in my life. One time I had a boss who triggered me like that and I ended up fired from my job. I think she reminds me of my sister. My sister is like that, she steps in to rescue situations.

R. What’s an example of your sister stepping in to rescue a situation?

E. Oh, like say my mother is cooking a huge dinner, and is overwhelmed, my sister steps in and starts telling people what to do, what potato peeler is best, what salad oil is best, how to chop the onions…..And then if I don’t help enough, she looks at me like I’m scum….I don’t know.

R. Hmmm…..

He doesn’t look too impressed with this example. I’m not either, but can’t think of anything else right away.

E. I’m still scared actually.

R. What scares you?

E. I don’t know. I’ve been coming here now for over a year, and I’m still scared every time.

R. Speaking about things that happened to you must scare you….

E. I guess. I guess that’s it.

E. This PTSD – it’s a real problem for me. The other day at work – my boss came up to talk to me unexpectedly, and I needed to talk to her because I was confused about some policy, and I just couldn’t get the information from what was written down, I’d have to talk to her, and I was shy to go do that, so when she came over, I started to ask her about this, and I turned into a really scared upset kid…God it was embarrassing.

R. What did you say?

E. Oh, just that I was confused…I don’t know. When I realized what had happened I tried to stop talking right away. My voice kind of shook….

R. I think the more you get into dialogue with that kid part of you, the less often this kind of thing will happen.

E. Maybe.

I actually don’t think so. I think the ongoing confusion triggered the kid – the hurt kid part is nothing if not confused.

E. And the flashbacks are bad….shouldn’t you be helping me with that?

R. What happens?

E. I started doing this chanting, and that brought up the memories, like I told you about in my email.

R. Can you feel them now?

E. Yeah, they’re right on the surface. You think I should go into them? This is what you recommend?

R. Yes. If you don’t experience feelings….you can’t process them or change them.

E. Well, OK. Um….it’s like I feel choking. Then there’s someone sitting in an armchair. Then…..I feel like I’m floating?

R. So you left your body when this happened….

E. I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t want to do this….

I sit there, feeling really bad, for a few minutes. I’m stuck in a memory but it’s not progressing or going anywhere. I just feel really horrible for a while.

E. I really don’t want to do this. And….and…and you don’t care at all.

R. Maybe it’s part of the memory. Someone didn’t care.

E. Yech…..

E. Well, this isn’t like my flashback at all. This is just really strange. Should I do some chanting, to call up the memory I had before?

Ron is sitting back in his armchair, legs crossed. He doesn’t seem involved in this at all, like he sometimes is anyway. Sometimes he uncrosses his legs and kind of leans forward towards me, if I’m in a memory. Not this time. But I’m too overwhelmed by this experience to say anything about this. Afterward though, I really feel like I went through it alone. Sometimes in the past, I’ve actually felt Ron was helping me hold the memory, and it made it a lot more bearable. I guess he isn’t always able to do that. Not sure why that is.

Anyway, I start chanting. It’s a very low repetitive chant. Like I thought, it brings stuff up right away. This is more an experience without pictures. I start choking and crying….

R. What do the parts have to say….

E. I don’t like it. And why don’t you stop it? And why is he doing that?

I cry a bit. Then I stop and just sit.

R. Where did you learn to chant like that?

E. I feel really horrible….

R. Horrible how?

Now I can’t remember how the session ended. I know Ron started saying something complicated to do with integrating the parts. I couldn’t follow him at all. I ask him to repeat what he’s said, and I repeat each phrase, thinking I’ll be able to understand that way. Nope. After a minute or two I give up.

R. You don’t want to talk about integration?

E. I just have no idea what you’re talking about. None. I can’t understand what you’re saying.

Ron seems frustrated by this. I’m not accepting his interpretation (well, I can’t, as I can’t process what he’s telling me). I feel entirely alone, as he doesn’t seem to see the kind of pain I’m in at all. 

Anyway, integration is a laugh. Neither of us really knows what is going on with the parts, who they are, what they have to say. And he wants to integrate them. First understand WTF is happening, then try and fix it. I don’t say this, because I’m overwhelmed by the trauma stuff. But it irritates me a lot actually.

Now we have a kind of painful dance around the session ending. I look at the clock – two minutes left. I start folding the fur blanket.

E. Well, time to go…

R. I think we still have a bit of time. We started a few minutes late.

So I talk about something. I forget the time for a minute, then I see Ron getting impatient, I see it’s two minutes past time.

R. We’ll have to wrap up…

E. Oh! Sure.

I hate being told to leave, which is why I keep a close eye so I can leave myself. This time it didn’t work. I feel guilty and resentful at the same time. Stupid I know.

E. OK, thank you. Sorry.

R. Take care.

I spend a few hours feeling quite good. Then I crash, as per my last post.

This session was a mixture. I didn’t feel I connected to Ron, I didn’t feel supported. But in a way, I also did. I can see he is trying, he is gentle, he is concerned. Sometimes I think he’d rather have a continuous conversation that goes places, than deal with parts, and memories, and bits of things. I might prefer that also. I think I’d feel more like I’d had a conversation with another human being then. Instead he has to be kind of a babysitter, sounding board type of figure.

  1. gniz said:

    It does seem like you are talking more from a "real" place, giving your opinions, speaking out. Maybe had you been raised in a proper environment, you'd naturally be one of those plucky, confident, witty people–and maybe that's what's starting to emerge for you now in little ways.I don't think you're a wilting flower or anything, that's not the vibe you give off from your descriptions of things. You're just recovering, and who you will become is only just starting to emerge.Don't forget about smiling! It helps so much! Even when you're by yourself…good job Ellen.

  2. Ellen said:

    It's funny you say that Aaron. Not funny ha ha, but because of what I imagine someone is thinking if they were to make it through this long post. That they'd be thinking…oh, she doesn't like Ron, she is critical, she doesn't accept his help…That is the impression I was thinking I'd be making. When I don't feel like that at all. So it's interesting that you see it like this. I'm glad you think I'm being more real. I think the group is helping a lot with that, and also Ron's style of therapy. I'd actually never really considered saying much of what I really think – it always seemed too dangerous, and it never occurred to me that someone might be interested. Your comment made me smile, and I thank you.

  3. i think the only beauty that matters is the beauty that comes from within. also, as they say, and it is so true for me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. survivors are beautiful. lesbians are beautiful. masculine women and feminine men are beautiful. we are all beautiful. that means you, too.

  4. Ellen said:

    Oh God, and you've actually met me Catherine. There you go.Attractiveness is a fact of life. I agree that it's not true that for instance 'lesbians are ugly', that is ridiculous. We're individuals. True though that you forget what someone looks like once you know them…

  5. Laura said:

    I also don't seem to notice that I've had an emotional response – until later. what do you suppose that's about? I think it's that all my listening apparatus is focused on the other person, somewhat tensely focused. looking for signs of danger, perhaps….and I notice how often you say that Ron is feeling this or that – annoyed, startled, thinks you're gay, is unimpressed, un-involved, frustrated (just in this one post!) – you are extremely attentive to what HE is feeling, and how he's responding. Maybe that's what we do instead of attending to how we're feeling?Does the kid come out when you're threatened? like, don't hurt me, I'm just a kid? your way of being non-threatening, and hopefully endearingly cute – to disarm someone who seems threatening? I've done that.How old would you have been when you had these experiences?you come across very attractively here: honest, vulnerable, grounded, sensitive (and I'm not gay, either).

  6. Ellen said:

    @ Laura – Well, as one non-gay person to another…lol. Well. I hope no one gets the wrong idea about me, that I don't like gay people….ouch. I do. I have two long term friends, and one of them is gay. It's fine. You could be right about the delayed emotional response. I just don't know. I feel confused in general.I hadn't realized I'd been so obsessed with what Ron might be feeling. Yikes. And since I didn't verbalize any of it, I could be making it up entirely. I think what I need to do is check these things out more actually – talk about them. Huh. The kid comes out if I'm scared, and half the time I don't realize I'm scared until this happens. But it's not a cute thing with me, though that does make sense. Because for me these parts have actually separated more than in most cases, I think it's a bit different. I was abused very young – I was maybe four or five. Then there are other memories where I might have been older also. They are partial memories, so I don't have a lot of info on that at this point. Thanks for the kind words. There are many ways to be attractive after all, and I appreciate your compliment! Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. Candycan said:

    It would be a bit of a jump to assume you are gay because you watched 'Will and Grace', but then who knows what goes on in these therapists minds?!Dissociating into a memory can cause a fuzzing in the brain (i should be writing the books shouldn't I? lol… but you know what i mean) and sometimes I find I cant make sense of anything my therapist is saying. I just explain now that this happens to me sometimes and so I can just say it to them when it happens. It makes things easier. It's a sign for my T that she needs to take things down a notch and help me settle too. I understand why you'd be annoyed with Ron for talking about integration, if he is suggesting that this is going to happen right away. If he is, it does suggest he doesnt understand things very well. I hope for your sake that he has been doing his reading into this too though. It's not just as straightforward as some issues might be. Take care

  8. Ellen said:

    @ Candy – Yes it would, lol. The thing is, he kind of jumped when I said I'd been watching this, but who knows what his reaction actually was about. Maybe he hates or loves the show himself, I don't know. I've had the impression before he thought I was gay, especially when I first started seeing him…we'll see. We're going to talk about it, as I sent him an email on it.Yeah, I have no idea what he was talking about re integration, as that was about the only word I caught in the 'fuzz'. It's like severe static. My impression is he does not have specialized knowledge of people with parts. That is a downside to Ron that I accept. He is good at the attachment stuff, and other aspects of therapy, and I hope we can learn together about parts. I'd much rather be in my situation, with someone I can trust and who is good in a crisis, than one where the person has technical knowledge but isn't able to be there for me. Yes, if he thinks I'm about to integrate parts just like that, it's not going to be happening. Thanks Candy. take care

  9. Candycan said:

    Well, they say (the research papers I've read) that the most important thing in healing from DID (and so likely other similar disorders) is the quality of the therapeutic alliance. I read a book called 'Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder' which gives a really good explanation of attachment disorders and how these are created in children often with DID. It explains how this is worked out in the therapy scenario as well. Very interesting although my attempts at expressing that probably aren't!

  10. Ellen said:

    That is a very hopeful viewpoint then for my situation. Hoping it is true in my case. Sounds like a great book too, maybe I'll try it sometime. Thanks Candy

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