Therapy Friday 1

We mainly talked about two things in my session on Friday. 1. How I feel after swimming and 2. my visit to my family on the weekend.

Did I mention it’s hot in my city? I arrive at therapy a few minutes early, take a seat on a park bench, and am attacked by a butterfly! It seemed to think I was a flower.

I sit down. Ron looks evenly balanced today, and is wearing a light blue shirt that suits him. Anyhow.

E. There are a bunch of things I could talk about today….

Ron as per usual doesn’t say anything.

E. After last session, I was depressed for the rest of the day….but by Saturday, it was basically over. So it wasn’t too bad.

Ron nods.

E. I almost stepped in front of a car on the way here…I did step in front of it but it stopped. I need to be careful.

Ron nods.

E. I’m still afraid, coming to see you. After all this time. But I’m not afraid of you, otherwise I wouldn’t come to  you for therapy. That wouldn’t make sense. The best explanation I can think of is that it’s a part. When there’s the same response over and over, that doesn’t change, it always seems to be a part.

R. Maybe you’re afraid of what comes up during sessions. Like going to the dentist. You like your dentist, but you’re afraid to go there because of what gets triggered.

E. Maybe. You’ve said this before. It doesn’t seem the same to me, but maybe that’s true.

E. You know, for that last group session….I was feeling a lot of fear before hand, so I tried this meditation, where you feel the feeling and forgive it for being there. Anyway, that’s what I’d read about so I tried it. I’m not happy about having the fear.

Ron has this skeptical look when I mention meditation. I’m too engrossed in what I’m saying to ask him about it – maybe I’ll ask him next time if he has something against it.

E. So what I realized was….that a huge issue for me is belonging. I was worried about whether I was accepted by the group and if I belonged….I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal. I mean, of course it’s an issue in the background for everyone, we all want to belong….but for me, I wasn’t realizing I felt like that, what a big deal it was for me.

R. So belonging was a big issue for you?

E. Yeah, I guess it was.

This doesn’t go anywhere else.

E. I started going swimming again. I find though I get dissociated from it. I love to swim. The kid loves it. The water, the coolness, the little kids.

R. When does the dissociation happen?

E. I don’t know.

R. Is it at the pool, while you’re swimming?

E. At the pool everything seems fine. I’m not really thinking about how I feel…it just all seems fine.

R. So when do you notice it?

E. Well, when I came home, at first I was OK. I think I made lunch – food becomes an issue when I’m dissociated, but I still made lunch, so I must have been OK. Then I must have tried to work, and realized I couldn’t. I felt – two-dimensional, like I was made of paper. Then I felt an overwhelming need to lie down…so I fell asleep.

R. How did you feel when you woke up?

E. Still dissociated. Bad. It’s like I’m two-dimensional, then there’s this wall around me, and behind the wall, there is a bad thing, pushing against the wall. But I can’t really feel anything except this looming vague badness…

R. So that wall…that is you.

E. That is me? So then….I ended up breathing into this, and underneath were a bunch of body memories….the same as always, choking, struggling. I hate them. Any time I try and do anything, I get them. They’re ruining my life.

R. What happened ruined your life. Not the memories….

E. So what should I do?

R. Integration. You listen to them.

E. That’s it? You told me about listening to them the first time I came to see you.

Ron nods. I’m looking for more input here. It seems like his job should be to help me with this – is listening all he’s got? Jeeze Luise. I feel a little frustrated.

…to be continued

  1. I don`t think I would like to hear my T say what happened ruined my life. How did that feel. Does it bother you.I can relate to looking for more information or help than `listen to them`. Sometimes I want to say don`t just tell me what to do tell me how to do it. Have you talked about meditation before with Ron.I hope you got out today and enjoyed the weather.di

  2. hi attached, i think what he meant was that it was the original trauma that is causing the problems, not the memory of the trauma… a valuable difference. our memories don't have to have the power to overwhelm us once we realize that they are just a reflection of the past, not a reliving of it in a sense. learning this is one thing that has made my trauma work possible. until then, the memories were so distressing they resulted in many trips to the psych ward because they triggered such suicidal feelings in me.

  3. Ellen said:

    @ attached – It bothered me a bit – yes. I hate to think my life is ruined. Also though, what Catherine is saying is true – that is how Ron meant this, and I understood that. It is a great point, because often I blame the symptoms, instead of the original cause. I know. All that money and effort – couldn't they provide a bit of a road map? Then after I'd written that, I thought, well, actually it is quite profound. My strategy was to block it all out, so listening is a huge change. I haven't talked directly about the value of meditation with Ron, and I may do that to see what his take actually is. And I had a good day yesterday – went out for lunch with a friend on a patio – yum. 🙂 Thanks di.@ obd – I am sorry your memories / flashbacks were so very severe. That is the point though, exactly, they are memories, not the actual thing that happened, though it feels as though it might be happening again, it's actually not. It does help to think of it like that. take care

  4. Laura said:

    hi ellen,I experience this frustration, that he should be doing more, but it seems like we wouldn't have the courage to listen to ourselves, if they weren't there with us. (I think that's what you were saying, too).the fear you experience with him is such a regular feature, and it seems like that was a useful comparison – with going to the dentist. How is it different with Ron, do you think? How do you know it's fear? what is it saying? or picturing?

  5. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura,Ron is extremely non-directive…he will never say what I should do. Sometimes I wish he would but other times I'm OK with it. The fear is pretty well constant, though it usually fades during the session. Because it never changes makes me suspicious it's a part's feelings….The feeling of going to the dentist is completely different actually. I don't feel fear going, just vague dislike. I anticipate the dentist with dread, but I am not feeling fear going there or while there. I know the dentist will bring on flashbacks, so I don't want to go, which is completely rational IMO. With therapy, I am actually afraid while driving there – I feel fear, as if a bear was around the corner type fear. I'm not aware of any particular thoughts or images. It's just emotion without any reason to it it seems. Interesting you picked up on that because I think it's important and I don't understand it.

  6. Ruth said:

    Hi Ellen,I used to call my counselor's office the torture chamber. The only day I felt comfortable was the last day when he wasn't poking around my head and feelings. For me, I learned that I feared my past. It was a consistent fear and the counselor just kept encouraging me to go there. Now, I accept my past was just that my past. Really bad things happened and I did not enjoy remembering. However, in remembering I was able to stop trying to suppress it. I was able to process how I felt from an adult perspective. By remembering, I was able to let go. I know that sounds very contradictory but that was how it worked for me. I notice that my counselor only talked a few minutes out of a 45 minute session. Only when I was missing a key concept of living did he talk more than about 10 minutes. He really did ignore a lot of what I said unless I kept bringing up the same thing over and over. Your counselor sounds fairly consistent with how the two counselors I worked with behave. Take care,Ruth

  7. Laura said:

    well said, Ruth, and a good point… Is it Ron who is frightening, or is it the impending session?such a nice distinction, Ellen. Is the dentist different because the flashbacks won't occur in his office, but later, at home (if that's true)? is it like the feeling you described when you were dissociated after swimming? badness behind a wall?

  8. Ellen said:

    @ Ruth – I like how you say that in processing you were able to stop suppressing. That's what I aim to do also. I am afraid of aspects of my past for sure. Maybe that's what the fear is about for me also, I just don't know. At the same time, Ron provides some comfort….so I don't hate going to see him. Interesting how you see our T's behaving similarly. Thanks!@ Laura – I'm not sure why I have the fear at this point, and why it's different from the dentist. Yes, it's true, at the dentist I get dissociated, then flashbacks after….The most difficult effects of therapy also occur after the session though. It's a mystery to me. Maybe it is Ron the person who scares me after all. Thanks for commenting.

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