Therapy Saturday 2

An enjoyable walk yesterday. I love walking at dusk, when the light is all yellow, then fading to purple grey.

Today there were truffles – especially good was the pink sugar one. Pink sugar outside, then white chocolate inside. I thought I like dark chocolate only, but this pink one was the best.

OK, back to therapy.

First I have a different opinion today about it than yesterday. It was good I had the session. Ron came in just for me, so that shows he cares, for sure.

Plus it helped me process the overwhelming experience I had in the group. Now I’m no longer feeling the kind of pain I was. I’m emotional and sad, but I don’t have to keep lying down and paying attention to this pain, the way I was. I don’t know what Ron does….it wasn’t what he said. It’s something about the way he holds a safe space. I can kind of come down off of the craziness and more into ordinary troubled feelings.

Back to the session:

E. I drew a picture of how it felt to me. Do you want to see it?

R. Sure.

Ron scoots over to sit on the footstool, puts his glasses on, looks cute. I pull out my drawing book and turn to the picture.

E. It’s not good…well, it’s the kid who draws. Here, I also drew two pictures earlier in the week to show how I was feeling. I was feeling depressed, and this is what it seemed like to me…..

The first picture is thick crayon stripes, black and red and yellow, with a black ground. There is some curvy scribbling in the centre that might be a figure….

R. (pointing to it) Is that you?

E. I don’t know, could be. Or I was just trying to get started. That’s how the feeling seemed to me, like these red and black stripes….So here’s another one I drew.

The second picture is a grey rectangle with round corners, divided into four. There’s a small figure in each section, each in a different colour, and a word with each. There is a large tree towering over the grey box.

E. This is kind of like those boxes chocolates come in….there’s a kind of chocolate that comes in a clear plastic box….

R. Ferro Rocher?

E. Yeah – mmm…those are good. So I felt like I was stuck behind clear plastic and couldn’t get out…trapped.

R. Huh….

I flip to the third picture. That has a small purple stick figure girl in the centre, surrounded by a black cave, with bits of yellow also.

E. This is what I saw in the group. Me, alone, very small…..

R. Uh huh…..

I put away the drawings.

R. So how did it feel to show me those?

E. OK. Good. They’re how I feel, because I can’t explain it.

R. It’s a different language…

E. Yeah, a different language.

E. I still don’t know what happened to me in the group.

R. I think the fact that these experiences happened to you in a different language is also part of it.

E. I grew up speaking both English and German…..

R. How come?

E. My mother is Canadian…so she spoke English to us. So we learned both. But I thought in German….One time, we visited my grandparents in Canada, and stayed a few weeks. When we came back, we couldn’t speak German. We’d switched to English. Well, in a few days we remembered German again.

R. Wow…why would that happen?

E. Just because we were so young (me and my sister).

There was also a part about the group and parts.

R. You said in your email that the kid talked in the group.

E. Yeah, she talked to Z. Just told her she was nice.

R. Do you, the person I’m talking to now, do you give permission for the part to talk?

E. Well…sometimes it’s kind of like that. It actually happens all the time that the kid says something or other. I mean…when I switch by accident, it’s usually a part in it’s, um, I won’t say bad, since you’re a therapist, I’ll say traumatized aspect….so it’s pretty badly behaved. But otherwise, the parts are just like kids.

I think Ron is interested in the parts, and it’s kind of funny really. He thinks they just appear. But he could talk to them. The thing is, he doesn’t talk to them when they show up. It’s like he’s too intelligent to talk to kids. So he keeps talking to me, so then I reply back, and he doesn’t get to talk to parts. It’s up to him really. They’re not going to talk to him if he doesn’t talk back. 

Now there’s a part about my mother.

E. I have to go to a family holiday thing tomorrow…What is it you say I should do at those, to deal with my family?

R. Well, I don’t think I say one specific thing. You can try saying how you feel….

E. That doesn’t work. My mother is really bad with feelings. Say I say I feel depressed….she would be all sickly sweet – Oh, don’t be depressed (I say in a high fake voice). Or if she was threatened, like if I was angry, she’d start pretending I wasn’t there.

R. Well, for now, you could try just saying how you feel, apart from her reactions….you probably wouldn’t want to talk about fragmentation at this point….

E. Are you kidding me? Of course I wouldn’t be talking about that. I’m just thinking of tiny things….

R. Because often, you have the feeling of needing to leave, just as you do in the group.

E. Yeah, I do. And I wouldn’t want to get into any overwhelming feeling like I do in the group. 

Now there’s a part about my family.

E. I don’t see how this happened. I’m in parts. I mean, my family is pretty normal.

Ron looks at me, squinting his eyes a bit and tilting his head sideways.

R. Normal? Your dad not talking to you for years was normal?

E. Oh yeah, I forgot about that. But that happened when I was older, a teenager.

R. The man who was able to do that was able to mistreat you when you were younger. And your mother is unable to be her own person, to have her own point of view…that’s maybe not uncommon, but not normal either.

E. Um….

R. Sure, a lot of things were in place for you.

E. Yeah, I mean, a lot happened and it was all for the family. Like we went on vacations every year, camping, we went hiking on weekends….I mean, it was decent stuff.

R. How did you like camping?

E. I liked it OK. It was canoe camping….

R. What was it like?

E. Well, it was a lot of work. You’d canoe all day, then set up the tent, then cook supper…..Kind of like a military operation really. Sometimes we’d have a rest day. I’d swim, read a book….

R. Who did you spend time with, when you were camping?

E. Well…no one in particular.

This question makes me feel sad. My sister and brother tended to stick together, and I was on my own.

R. I go canoe camping also…I like it.

E. You go with all your kids?

R. Sometimes. Sometimes not.

E. This is making my stomach hurt.

R. How come?

E. Well, these things my parents did. They all sound great. Like my dad grows his own vegetables, they have an organic garden, they go wilderness camping, they support the arts…it all sounds good.

R. But there’s a darkness underneath all that….

E. And you…well, you like the same things. The environmental car…that’s something they would also do. They don’t have one, but it’s in the ballpark. And what do I know about you? You probably go home and beat your kids…yell at your wife. How do I know? I just know what you’re like as my therapist, that’s all I know.

R. You’ve seen me as other people’s therapist….

E. So? You’re being a therapist. How do I know what you’re like in real life?

I have been looking at the clock. But before I can totally stop, Ron is right on the dot. I wonder if he watches a minute hand, waiting for the precise second the fifty minute hour has expired. In a soft voice…

R. We have to stop for today.

I leap up off the couch and head to the door.

E. Thanks a lot for coming in for me today. I really appreciate it.

I keep my head down, not looking at Ron as I leave.

R. You’re welcome. Take care.

I dash down the steps from his office. I don’t want to walk down with him to the parking lot, so I make a fast exit. I feel kind of angry with Ron. But the haze of pain I was in has lifted. I can think about food, for one thing, and go off and buy nice things to eat.

Ron did a good job. He was so calm, which I can read as detached, but I felt I was losing it, so somehow this conversation with him, where I stayed adult and didn’t open up anything new, was what I needed. I also felt as if we did connect, I didn’t have the feeling of being completely alone. I’m really trying to explain what things are like for me, and he is really trying to listen and understand, which is a good feeling.

  1. Laura said:

    it's funny how 'nothing' sessions can seem completely different the next day, isn't it?and I just realized that they want to help with the processing that we do. Our processing is where we go awry. We try to process FIRST, then talk to them, after we've put our cards straight and in order.It's really great to be able to think out loud and not feel that you have to watch what you say.Have you decided that you can't describe the group sessions?I'm glad the misery has receded some.

  2. Ruth said:

    It is nice when you feel like you are being heard. I talked about my family doing stuff that all seemed good from the outside but some how something was wrong. I think emotions are a language all of their own. I continue to use drawings to help with how I feel. Sometimes just running the pencil or crayon over the page calms me down. I noticed that as I think about the session during the week I slowly feel differently about how it went.

  3. Ellen said:

    @ Laura – Yeah, the feelings about a session certainly change. Don't know why that is. 'Nothing' sessions are sometimes actually powerful, just quiet. It was good to go in feeling really bad, and emerge feeling better, or at least more functional. As opposed to the other way – kind of keeping it together, then the lid gets blown of in therapy, so then feelings worse. If that makes sense.I might blog the group session….I feel more guilty, since we aren't supposed to discuss with anyone. Plus just a little lazy I guess. Thanks Laura@ Ruth – Your family sounds a lot like mine. For deeper emotions, I seem to see them in colour and image, so it's natural to try and draw that I find. Hopefully I'll be able to express them in words at some point. Thanks

  4. gosh i relate to how you feel about your family. i get stuck in that place of feeling like my parents did their best so why am i like this sometimes you think your initial bad feelings about the session were partly because something he said made you compare him to your father so you started to feel things about him that relate to how you feel about your dad?

  5. Ellen said:

    Hi Candy – Interesting we are so similar. I get very confused around my family. I think I likely do get Ron confused in my mind with my father. Not sure about this time in particular, but in general, that happens. Thanks!

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