Monsoon type weather on Friday, and I walk into Ron’s office just on time. On the way in I pass my frenemy E, who for some reason gives me a huge smile and says hi. Whatever. Ron’s door is open, so he is waiting for me. He’s reading a book.
This time I do wish to talk to him. That’s a relief. That feeling of not wishing to talk was getting old.
E. It’s a monsoon out there! My jeans are wet…..
Settling in. Ron nods.
E. I had a really rough weekend. I really couldn’t function at all. Though I did something…oh yeah I cooked for a friend.
R. What was it like?
E. It was that memory I had in your office. I know it didn’t look like much from your side, but it really hit me hard. I felt kind of devastated, in pain.
R. How did you deal with it?
E. Laid down mostly.
R. Did you listen to music?
E. Sometimes. I didn’t remember anything else. I remembered I had a sieve….you know those sieves they gave kids for sand?
E. Then, I don’t know….Just bits of things that didn’t make sense. I think there were bits of voices too. I should have written it down, I can’t remember it now.
We sit for a bit. I’m surprised Ron is so interested in this. Usually he wants to focus on the group it seems, but I can see he was concerned with this memory I had. So then I wanted to discuss the group.
E. I got dissociated from the group last night. I came home, was hyper alert and keyed up, I was separated from my body, couldn’t sleep without a bunch of pills. Then I’d wake up exactly when the pills wore off, and needed to take more.
R. When did you dissociate? After you got home, or in the group….
E. It happened in the group. I don’t know when it happened. I never notice this until I get home by myself, then I realize, oh no, I’m dissociated.
R. Was it right at the beginning, or when you were talking with Z, or with E….
E. Maybe it happened when I was talking to E. I don’t really know. Also…that voice, ‘I want to die…’ that voice was really strong when I got home. I don’t see why. Group wasn’t that bad this time. I stayed adult.
E. So I don’t see what else I can do for E. I tried to show I was hearing her, I listened….What can I do? She still hates me.
R. You can’t fix it for her. She didn’t say she hated you. Do you see how you are exagerating? If you stop doing that maybe you won’t get so scared.
E. I’m not scared.
R. A part of you was….scared of E’s comment about kicking.
E. Well yeah, part of me was. So OK, she doesn’t hate me. She dislikes me.
R. She said she is feeling more closed to you…not as open.
Grrr…..I don’t respond to this. This comment of hers irritates the heck out of me, but in this conversation, I’m not really noticing that.
E. Well, I don’t care that much.
R. Yet you are focused on E, she’s taking a lot of room in your mind.
E. She’s taking up a corner of my mind only.
R. What’s going on in the rest of it?
E. I was thinking about R. R is really important to me. I’ve been giving him rides home, and we have these really intense conversations in that short time. Last night though I didn’t give him a ride, and I missed him.
When I started in the group, I felt so alone, that no one liked me. Then when R said he liked me, it meant an awful lot. But….well, it’s kind of odd. We have these intense 15 minute car rides, but then it doesn’t go anywhere….
R. What do you have the intense conversations about?
E. Oh, for instance about what it’s like to be in therapy with you….The group is off limits, but therapy isn’t. And he told me a bit about his family….
R. So what did you say about being in therapy with me?
E. Oh, nothing really. Just, we do have that in common, so it makes sense we talk about it. And I’m really lonely – I don’t really have anyone to talk to. So it’s really nice.
R. Well, it seems important, discussing what therapy is like. You seem defensive about it.
E. I seem defensive? Um….well, not really. These are just short conversations. There’s nothing actually that you don’t know about. We discussed whether therapy is helping us…we’re not sure. Then I was having some kind of issue with you, and R said to keep bringing it up, that you were good with conflict. That’s about it.
E. It’s just….I think R is keeping a big secret actually. It seems like he is maybe gay. It’s odd for someone his age to not be out though….and you’re straight, so it’s odd he wouldn’t go to a gay therapist. I….I like gay men actually. I have a friend, he’s older, and he is not out, he never discusses it. It’s like a blank space in his conversation. But then, when he was young, it was actually illegal to be gay. It does make a rift though, that blank space.
Ron is looking at me with an inscrutable expression on his face. I don’t care. I know he will not say anything on this topic, I just feel like talking about it. I’m by no means certain that R is gay, but there are a few signs, which I won’t go into too much. He has a few mannerisms that are often gay, and he’s working in the arts, and, which is the problem, there is a gigantic hole in what he’s talked about where any past or present relationship would be. It’s a blank space entirely. Which is why I’m thinking it’s a sexual orientation issue. In a way, it’s not my business. In another way, this is a huge secret to be keeping in group therapy, where a goal is supposed to be openness, and I find it confusing. It wouldn’t have to be an ‘issue’ to be dealt with, but if there is no issue, it could at least be mentioned in passing.
E. I guess, because I like R, I haven’t really engaged with him in the group.
R. You don’t engage with people you like?
E. No….you do have to engage with people you like, if you want to keep a relationship. But….I guess I like that he likes me, so I’m leery of upsetting that, I want to keep it.
This topic peters out. I’m glad I talked about it. I wanted to get it clearer in my mind, for one thing, and I didn’t feel like keeping a secret from Ron. Not that it was a major secret, but he saw us leave group together a few times, so it seemed good to talk about it.
E. There. So now I hear the suicidal voice again. I don’t get why.
R. Does that voice want to say more?
E. No. Voices are like that, they say the same stupid things over and over.
R. Try speaking from that voice.
And so I switch.
E. OK…I want to die….Because….because no one cares. I’m going through all this pain, and no one knows about or gives a shit.
R. softly. Who doesn’t care?
E. You. You don’t care….
R. Why am I asking you about it?
E. Because you’re paid to do that. And the group…the group doesn’t care what I’m going through. I go, and no one cares about it. And I just have to cope. Like with everything else. I can be grown-up and try and negotiate relationships, I can split myself in half and do that.
R. softly. What else do you have to cope with?
E. crying. Work. I go to work, and everyone acts all normal, and no one gives a shit about me. My family…..my sister….and it’s so hard. I’m in pieces, and dealing with it is so hard, and then….I don’t do very well. Like when I was married, I had to lie down all the time, I wasn’t much good.
I’m really crying hard now. There is so much sorrow at how hard things are, and how nobody sees me….
R. And no one helps you….
E. No one helps me.
And I cry.
E. And I’m in pieces. I am a crazy person. In parts.
R. You needed to split yourself into parts to survive….so you wouldn’t become crazy.
E. In the group, they think I’m crazy. Especially if I start talking from parts. And one part believes one thing, and one part something else, and it’s crazy, and they wouldn’t understand.
R. Maybe not. But I would understand….
E. So I can see why that voice came forward after the group. I’d been feeling so intensely sad from that memory, and then I didn’t talk about that at all, I pretended that it hadn’t happened, so then this voice kicked in in protest.
R. Ellen….it’s almost time to go. Are you going to be alright to go?
E. I still have two more minutes. I’m going to sit.
We sit and I try and pull myself together.
E. OK, so the time is noon for next week, so thank you, so….
An internal jolt like a kick in the stomach stops me cold. I let out a small scream.
E. Oh! Shit!
R. What just happened Ellen?
I don’t reply to this. What’s happened is when I switched out of the suicidal voice, to cope with leaving the office, that voice got furiously angry with the part that was talking and kicked. Which sounds ridiculous I know but that is what happened. I’m so stunned I don’t know who can reply to Ron, so I don’t say anything else and dash out the door.
I accomplish quite a few errands on my way home, and then I go to bed and stay there.
For some reason, I’ve regained the feeling that Ron cares about me. It makes a huge difference to go through pain with someone who cares. It’s a good thing.